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The Analects of Confucious
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New Scientists Books Staff, New Scientist
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Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Celtic Mysteries: The Ancient Religion

Celtic Mysteries: The Ancient Religion - John Sharkey Of the three books about the Celts I've been reading, the others being [b:The Cut-throat Celts|423925|The Cut-throat Celts |Terry Deary|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1310939578s/423925.jpg|413020] and [b:The Celts: A History|256526|The Celts A History|Peter Berresford Ellis|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1436215824s/256526.jpg|248625], this is the one I'll be sending to my quite young nieces. It has all the inadvertent, excessive farce of a hippy would-be artist producing something like [b:Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics|391156|Why Cats Paint A Theory of Feline Aesthetics|Heather Busch|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320511507s/391156.jpg|380763], but the full-colour, full-page photos of decidedly nonCeltic looking stone works gives solidity to its focus on the otherworldy. I've read the end twice without remembering a single word, but any photo of ribbons around a wishing well can almost say it all.

The following claims are less believable than ever. There are close to a dozen examples where I just scrawled "What?" next to the text. As I prepare to type these out, I would surmise that all the translated ancient Celt stories in total are just a little more than the total number of pages in this short book. Why haven't I just read those old stories instead?

-- "the oracle stone screamed...during the inauguration of a new king."
-- "female fighters had equal status with men in the Celtic warrior class"
-- "the Celts had no pantheon of gods...but were at one with the elements and the Great Spirit" What? Not true about their lack of gods, btw, and not sure they were Native American
-- The Celtic Otherworld, called Sidh, "embody the halfway state between one world and the next, a vital theme of Celtic art and myth."
-- 'Hag of the ford' - a goddess of death which a doomed hero sees washing his bloodstained clothes.
-- "All sacred wells are protected by the threefold mother goddess"
-- "Twin circles represent the overlapping outer and inner worlds." (what?)
-- "In Greek legend, as in Celtic, the moon is identified with the triple goddess"
-- "Celtic burial, in which the possessions, dependents, and even family were ritually burned with the body of the dead chief."
-- "Celtic belief that human sacrifice was essential to promote human fertility."
-- "As the giver and taker of life, the triple goddess presided over the birth, mating, and death of the king, her earthly consort"
-- "Hercules reappears in many guises in the art and legends of Celtic lands."
-- Irish tales have "hilarious descriptions of godly attributes in terms of food and sex."
-- "The main body of stories, and the most interesting, centre around the warrior incarnation of the Celtic gods."
-- The Dagda had his harp "that can play three airs, the sleep strain, the grief strain, and the laughter strain"
-- "A Celtic context, without the Christian need for a moral duality showing good and evil as separate forces."
-- 'When they dine...they often fall into an altercation and challenge each other to single combat; they make nothing of death'. "For once the Classical writers and the Irish poets had been to the same movie."
-- "Many Celtic coins show a marked resemblance to the Uffington horse."
-- "The famous Irish wakes and funeral games, which ritually re-enacts parts of the ancient burial practices, have always been loud and humorous, with...elaborately mimed phallic rituals...Our present day casual attitude to the death ceremony is probably unique in the history of the planet, and a sad comment upon our barbaric civilization." (HaHa)