Archive for June 1, 2018

“Celtic” Ancestry?

First off, particularly with the coming of comparatively cheap DNA tests,  people keep coming into Celtic Pagan/Druid & Celtic polytheist communities all excited about their DNA results- I found out I have Celtic ancestry! I guess that means I should worship Celtic gods, right? How do I do that? Well, that’s cool that you got your DNA results but what do you mean by “Celtic” ancestry?

The generally accepted definition of Celtic both by people within Celtic nations and their diasporas and within academic Celtic studies is for people who speak, or in comparatively recent memory spoke a Celtic language. There’s also archaeological definitions, though they are more debated*. Though frankly the diasporans & fans of various forms of Celtic music and dance commonly argue with it a lot more, because “Celtic” stuff is romanticized. So “Celtic Pagan” gets used about as sloppily as the label “Celtic music”. It’s much more precise and respectful to be more specific.

You can have ancestors who immigrated from Ireland with Norman, English, Ulster-Scots,  Norse and yes, Irish Gaelic ancestors. There’s also the Irish Travellers, a distinct ethno-cultural/linguistic group who sort of branched off from settled Irish Gaels centuries ago. They have faced discrimination and exclusion from settled Irish Gaelic society as well as the British when they ruled Ireland.

You can have Scottish ancestors from the Lowlands, the Highlands or both, the Lowlanders being more Anglo-Saxon Northumbrian by ancestry as well as Gaelic, and the Highlanders, Orcadians, Shetlanders and Hebrideans being more Gaelic & Norse. Then there’s the people of the Isle of Man, the Manx, once again a mix of Gaelic & Norse.

The modern Brythonic peoples are the Welsh and Cornish, also in Britain, and the Bretons in Brittany, France- they settled there from Britain long ago. So those are the 6 modern Celtic nations, peoples and languages.

The Galicians and Asturians in Spain are sometimes seen as having a kind of honorary status as modern Celts, they do not speak a Celtic language but their music and culture is seen as having Celtic influences.

More distantly many more people in continental Europe likely have descent from Celtic tribes but that gets a lot more historically murky with tussles with Romans and Germanic tribes.

The good news is regardless of your DNA contents, you still *may* be able to be some type of Celtic polytheist or pagan. I’d highly recommend trying your best to study a Celtic language and finding other ways to respectfully participate in and support modern Celtic communities. I’ll have more tips on how to do this in a later post, experiences I’ve learned from as a diasporan in how best to interact with folks who are native to, or more recently culturally connected with Celtic nations. At that point, I’ll probably narrow it down to Irish & Scottish as those are groups with which I’m most familiar.

 

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June 1, 2018 at 8:08 am 4 comments

Intro: Why Celtic Paganism is not usually Alt-Right friendly

I’ve spent a fair amount of time for several years reading thru articles about the Alt Right and closely related political/cultural factions that say they aren’t Alt Right, but have many of the same ideas & tendencies. Yes, this has included looking at Alt Right websites, forums, even watching some of their YouTube videos. Reading blogs by folkish & Alt-Right sympathetic polytheists, Heathens & Pagans as well. It’s not exactly a fun way to spend my time, but I’ve considered this research a harsh necessity in today’s world. Likewise, I know many of these folks do the same research in the other direction towards people like me, the “Social Justice Warriors”.

Anyhow, I’ve encountered in several of these places frustration, bafflement and so forth at how most Celtic Pagan spaces do not include them or even that our communities (both online & off) are too feminist/SJW dominated. Typically I see this as a good “problem” for us to have! Alt-right leaning ideas (or ones easily mistaken for them)  do indeed exist in our spaces, as well as in non-Pagan centric Celtic cultural spaces. We don’t always agree on what “counts” as bigotry and cultural appropriation, and in particular I’m not going to call people racist or appropriative, because I feel those terms have become so broadly used that it isn’t clear what they mean. Heck, I myself have been accused of cultural appropriation and various kinds of bigotry, in spite of all my attempts to try following intersectional social justice ideology.  I’m not interested in a debate with any hard-core Alt Righties. I’m open to potential civil discussion with people who don’t dehumanize people who are different from them, and to be fair I’ve had a tendency to do that myself to some folks- and I’ll be talking more about ways I’ve behaved badly and been hypocritical. I’d appreciate people who disagree with me to do the same.

For anyone who isn’t comfortable, that’s fine you do not need to participate. I’ll still be moderating comments for nastiness. I also think we need to have discussions among liberal/left-wing/progressive Pagans & polytheists and I will make it clear when those are internal discussions, likewise with discussions between liberal/leftists who are of non-Pagan religious identities and non-religious identities.  Whew! That was a lot, and that’s just the intro post.

This post series is being done from a primarily religious and cultural viewpoint as an many generations removed Irish/Scottish diasporan American polytheist rather than a secular political viewpoint. If I get ambitious enough I’ll adapt them for a non-Pagan Irish/Scottish cultural interest audience (for both diasporans & natives, whoever’s interested in my blatherings, I’m also happy to link to folks grappling with similar issues in their communities.

This post was inspired by & an indirect response to #9 Politics in Melas the Hellene’s Polemical Topics in Polytheism series.

 

June 1, 2018 at 1:42 am 10 comments


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