Friday, February 1, 2008

Ancient Origins of Pagan Belief

When dealing with the subject of "Pagan Origins" the first duty is to determine the sense of which the term "Pagan" is being referred to. In this particular article, it is used as a reference to the countries in historic times, that have been at one time or other mainly of Celtic speech and origin. There is nothing clearer than the marvelous persistence of immemorial modes of thought regarding whatever ideas on Paganism that any may bring to the table. This writing is based upon the scanty remnants of all Celtic religion that are examined, the clearer it becomes that many of the characteristic features evolved during the vast period of the ages of stone. During this time, men evolved into a working philosophy of life. Any who study the origins are compelled to realize that the names of deities, rites, folk-lore and legend, the fundamental groundwork for the basic ideals of all Celtic religion can be seen as far back as the Paleolithic man.

It is not settle in history as to whether the Paleolithic man survived the Ice Age in Celtic speech originated countries. There is evidence however, that there is continuity between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. So somewhere civilization must obviously existed. We know, from some of the drawings and carvings that have been uncovered,that at some point the life of man changed from a hunter to a tamer of animals. What we do not know is what motivated the change. Some believe it was a kinship that man developed with the animals suggesting a "magic" developed between them or at the very least an alliance with the animals to protect man from hostile spirits. In all probability, we shall never know the true motivation of the alliance.

The spiritual/religious ideas of man in Neolithic times came into correlation with his development. Evidence abounds in striking illustration with uninterrupted stone circles and pillars of the world stand witness to the zeal of mans mind that was almost haunted by stone. As you delve further into historical origin, commonalities between the Celtic, Italian and Greek tongues suggest contact with men of different speech. The more the relics of Celtic religion are investigated, the more complex do its contributory factors become. In the long ages before history books, there were unrecorded conquests and migrations innumerable, and ideas do not fail to spread because there is no historian to record them.

Looking back Caesar tells us that Mars had at one time been the chief god of the Gauls, and that in Germany that was still the case. In Britain, also, we find that there were several deities identified with Mars, notably Belatucadrus and Cocidius, and this, too, points in the direction of a development of religion under military influence. This is not something most that study the origins of Paganism wish to shed light upon.

It isn't until late 300 BC do we begin to see what is considered now to be the fantastic Celtic art of Paganism. From the sketches of Celtic civilization it is seen, as well as elsewhere, that religious development is closely related to the development of the civilization in general. Bear in mind though that all parts of the Celtic world were not affected in equal proportion between the religious development and civilization development. This is part of the extreme complexity of studying the history of Celtic religion. One can not be certain as to the degree of progress either in civilization or the religious progress, nor the ideas that pervaded the interests of man at that time. In addition, accounts given by ancient authorities that were written do not match up with indisputable evidence, carvings, nor inscriptions.

Primitive man came to seek a solution not of the Universe as a whole (for of this he had no conception), but of the local Universe, in which he played a part. In dealing with Celtic folk-lore, it is very remarkable how it mirrors the characteristic local coloring and scenery of the districts in which it has originated.

The same holds true even today. Those who seek a solution to the true origins of Paganism can only mirror the characteristic of their own universe in which they live in. The true nature of Paganism itself is reverence and honor to all things. Since even the Stone Age, historically it is fact that primitive man held nature at its very purest form in a place of honor and respect. To that end, I subscribe to the theory that Paganism was, is, and always will be a part of the universe as we know it to be. For all man kind has taken heed to the energies of nature, be it a perceived positive or negative energy.

In conclusion, I hope that the brief sketch, which is based on an independent study only, will interest students of religion to pause and reflect without subjectivity, not only the dominant modes of thought held in the midst of our highly developed and complex world of today but, with openness of mind and spirit, allow that which is folk-lore and customs to show them selves as we all grope towards the light of understanding and spirituality.

All work is copyrighted upon publication by Ashira.

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