In Celtic civilization, the value of writing is denied as a vehicle of transmission of traditional knowledge. In fact, it is only used for divination and magic, which is why there is no ancient Celtic texts revealing the philosophy of the bards and druids who fascinated Julius Caesar.
However, the Celts spread civilization far ahead of their time in the social and cultural fields. It was the victim of Roman, Christian and Saxon expansionism. The two volumes of Barddas, a compilation of ancient Welsh teachings edited by Llewelin Sion in the eleventh century, gives us an idea of the depth of the philosophy of the ancient Celts. Other older works, but influenced by Christian thought, reveal filigree frame of spiritual thought as the Celtic saga of Arthur. The cycle of Welsh legends is perhaps the most mystical and deeper.
The Ogham is the first original system of writing used in Ireland and the Celtic world.
This alphabet consists of vertical and oblique lines registered from a base line. Only Oghams engraved on the stone survived the passage of time without too much damage, however, remains in wood but also in bones bearing traces of Ogham writing have been found here and there.
According to legend, the Oghma the bard, son of the
Lord of Knowledge helping souls to win passage from their earthly life to the intermediate heaven before the next rebirth.
The Celts, in fact believed in metempsychosis, transformation infinite of the souls into an evolutionary spiral.
The Lord of Knowledge was a particular being, a member of the Tuatha de Dannan tribe (who call themselves the son of the goddess Dana), it is a sort of Heracles, in short, a demigod born of the mythical land of Tir Na Nog.
This alphabet was secret, according to legend, with magical powers. Designed to communicate with trees and benefit from their wisdom, it was used also as a means of communication and power with beings of the Other World and the deities. This alphabet found its moment of glory in Ireland and Scotland during a crucial period of history between 300 BC and 600 AD. Of 375 entries recognized, 316 are found in Ireland, 55 in Scotland and 40 in Wales. There are many similarities with the signs found in Etruscan, a Celtic tribe of the Italian Alps.
The vertical line represents the body of a stick or a menhir. These letters could write any Gaelic words. That’s why, unlike the runes, Ogham was used to write complete texts, with its original twenty letters.
It evolved into a series of 25 characters named
Beth Luis Nion. 20 species of sacred trees were first associated to it, and a lunar calendar of thirteen months. Two trees are found elsewhere in the Runic characters: the birch and yew. The choice of these sacred trees clearly shows the Celtic character of these species that grow in most of Western Europe. Only the vine seems to be alien to the British Isles and Brittany. However, ancient texts show that wine culture existed in these regions, long ago, and may be more abundant than at the present time.
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