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The Celts

CEILE, Eng. Celt, a spouse, a fellow, a "cell-mate;" OIr. cele, a way-farer, traveller, sociable, based on the Celtic verb kei, "to go."; allied with the Brythonic Kei, shaded, covered, the earth. Similar to the Irish Gaelic sétig, from sét or cet, the "way." Hence a fay-folk, those banished from the haunts of "true men." From this celidh, a gossiping visit, a social hour, a meeting for fun, music and gossip. Note also Céitein, May-month. This is the Old Irish cétam, the month of rites of the Tuatha daoine which were termed the Samhainn. Mcbain breaks cetam into cét + sam and translates it as "the first weather of the sam or summer." He fails to note that Samh is the goddess of Summer incarnate, perpetually renewable, and like the Norse goddess Hel, full of "hellish" fire, a "parti-coloured goddess." The male equivalent of this lady is the day god Aod. Perhaps his name (like that of Hel) is also related to ceil, conceal, hide and the Eng. hell. Note also ceilt, the act of concealment, and ceileach, military arts, war. The Norse hildr, the Anglo-Saxon hild, war. The root may be gel, to slay, to "freeze" the blood. Kilt may derive from these sources.

The name given the first transalpine people to emerge in recorded history. A language group, they confer with the mythic Hyperboreans and the ancient Gauls, and their numbers included the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish. In an expansive mood by 900 B.C., they already possessed great skills in working metals, particularly iron, a metal only then beginning to be used by the "classical" world. Their first settlements in Britain may have dated as early as 2000 B.C. but their major influx to the islands was made in the second century A.D. when their European empire began to decline. During the sixth century they had colonies in northern Italy and were in constant war with the expanding Roman Empire. In 390 B.C. they had defeated the Roman armies and sacked Rome but eventually the Romans reasserted their independence. The Italian Celts were swept into the Empire in 196 B.C. Although Julius Caesar led two expeditions to Britain in 55 B.C. and 54 B.C. it remained independent of Rome until 43 A.D. The Empire had to be content with walling off the Picts of northern Scotland and never conquered Ireland. Celtic civilization was finally smashed by the expanding French and English empires.

The text on this page is courtesy of Rod C. Mackay.


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