The Green Man
The Sun and the Moon
Dragons and Serpents
Whales and Dolphins
The Knight's Templar
The Romans did not destroy the Celtic culture, which was to last until the Middle Ages. At this time, a new religion arrived in Europe from the east - the religion of Christianity. It spread with great speed throughout Britain, leading to the building of churches and cathedrals all over England. Sadly, it was at the time perceived that Christianity could not be compatible with the Pagan beliefs. Over time, the Christian priests claimed that the old religion of the Celts was blasphemous, and embraced the powers of evil. The Celtic woodland gods, with their animal features of horns and tails, were said to be incarnations of the Devil, and the faeries and elves believed to be Angels who fell from Heaven out of their disloyalty to God. The Celtic rituals were wholly condemned as practises of black magic, leading to the burning of those who were accused of witchcraft. Gradually, Druidism became crushed under the power of the Christian church and its relationship with the monarchy, which constantly assured that anybody practising Pagan traditions would be condemned to eternity to Hell.
It must be noted that despite its intolerance of the Celtic religion, the Christian church was never able to rid Paganism without trace and in many cases, Druidism had to be integrated into the practises of Christianity. The images of the egg and new-born animals used by the Celts to convey fertility, for example, were adopted as symbols of Easter, while the idea of rebirth was carried across as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The hare, one of the strongest of all Pagan icons for its sacred powers connected to the Spring, was transformed into a character of ridicule in later times - the Easter Bunny. The holiday of Samhain became All Soul's Day.
At times, however, the leaders of both religions did try to lend a sense of unity between the cultures. As a symbol of both Celtic and Christian traditions, the Celtic Cross was formed, combining the Christian cross with the circular and knotwork designs of the Celts. This symbol is still seen widely today, particularly in Ireland where a strong Christian tradition still pays homage to the Gaelic peoples in the art and architecture of the church. Even in the ancient Christian texts, we read of Joseph of Aramathia coming to the Pagan lands, and sharing greetings and blessings with the Druids.
As told in one of the greatest Celtic legends of all time, the legend of King Arthur, the Celtic way of life disappeared beyond medieval times. However, today we are beginning to increase our understanding in the unique and special culture which was the Celtic Pagan tradition, and the wide gap between Paganism and Christianity is slowly closing. We are starting to realise that the Celtic peoples were not the evil devil-worshippers as portrayed for so long. They in fact shared far more Christian values than Satanist, and like Christians of today, they regarded the Earth as the property of far more divine forces than human kind, and treated the land and all its creatures with respect and reverence.
Celtic Cross, available at the Spiral Online Shop