The Summer Sun          Lughnasadh 1999
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On Celtic Purity  

    The Summerlands, thankfully, continues to be a place of refuge from the spirit that would divide people. At this very moment, there is a discussion going on on one of the Summerlands boards about how we may even better extend the hand of welcome, friendship, and family to those of different religious and spiritual beliefs while retaining a core of common ground. It is a daunting feat; in the Summerlands the challenge has been met and the encounter will continue to be refined, I have no doubt.

    Outside of the Summerlands? Well, that is another story. Many of us have been touched harmfully recently, as well as in the past, by the few who would build walls and measure earlobes in the search for an imagined "Celtic purity." Certainly, the germ of a good idea inspires these. The virus of arrogance and the ignorance of language and human relations destroys it.

    Allow me the indulgence of reprinting some observations I recently posted to a list in which such distastful things have been occuring. I can assure you: the message was lost, perhaps because I failed to phrase it correctly. Still, I hope that we of the Summerlands, and our friends and visitors, may take some of what was lost, and make it found.

    I don't believe I have ever posted to this list, preferring to lurk in the shadows where one can avoid the slings of arrogance which are defended as civil debate. However, since I am considering to show mercy to both my computer and my sensibilities by joining the mob who have unsubscribed from this list, my own arrogance demands at least a single expression here.

    I am an outsider to this culture, not being a Celt at all, and if it wasn't for the the fine Celts I have met elsewhere (and some do post to this list), and if my experience of Celts were to be based solely upon this list and the news from Northern Ireland, I would find no greater pleasure than in not being a Celt.

    Although my own ancestors were the vehicle for the destruction of the Celts, I have been fascinated by Celtic culture both ancient and modern. My wife is Irish, and if she isn't a Celt, then why do I go to bed each night thankful that my head and body were able to continue their intimate relationship for another day? I have read on Celtic subjects somewhat extensively, and am struggling to learn Irish Gaelic, despite the fact that it wrecks havoc with my tongue, my brain, and my romantic sense as to how many consonants you can string together before you begin drooling. Still I do not consider myself an expert and never will, and though others have referred to me as a Celt, I doubt that I will ever be able to do so without my tongue in my cheek, where endless consonants have lodged it.

    What confuses me the most on this list is the obssession with a culture that is long gone. It seems to me that if one wishes to emulate an ancient Celt to the greatest possible degree, then one must find the nearest barrow and bury one's self in it. There is such arbitrariness here. Questions arise in my mind, as they have in others', such as: Who can claim to be the arbiter of the purely Celtic? What year, what day, what hour, and in what individual historic person, can be found the epitome of Celtic-ness? How can one dismiss 1000 years of Christianity as part of the spirit of Celtic culture? How can one even speak of these things without sounding like the future author of "Mein Celt?"

    I'll admit that it is a sketch, but once the Celts spread across Europe, and apart from a brief Celtic revival at the hands of evangelizing Irish missionaries, the history of this people, like that of so many others, is one of decline. We speak of "Celtic arrogance and individualism," and a huge amount of it is viewable on this list, with a tender humor. Yet, from Alessia to Belfast, it seems to me that this very thing is the character flaw that has doomed the Celts to an island and some shores, a seemingly rejected diaspora, and a language gasping for breath. If a culture and a people is to be truly alive, then like all living things it must experience evolution and change in order to avoid extinction. In the tone of the discussion that has been going on here, and note that I do say "tone," I don't see intellectual growth as much as I smell the graveyard of an idea.

    I fully agree that to be called Celtic, a thing, a practice, a belief, a person, must, in fact, be Celtic. Yet I cannot believe that a pan-Celtic gathering of seven or eight individuals can determine just what that is (and here I am not referring to the gathering on this list). There are people here who are proudly announcing that they are on the way to further studies, which is absolutely laudable. At the same time, these same people find it easy to make the proclamations of the masters. Evidence is promised and never appears. Rather, intimidation and subterfuge is utilized to belittle others and language is shamed by the manner of its abuse. This is Celtic? Here: I claim to be a master of arrogance and thus proclaim that it is in abudance on the Nemeton list. Please pray that both claim and proclamation are false.

    "The truth against the world?" Well, when the Truth is wielded dishonorably, it remains the Truth, but the World wins.


The above editorial expresses the opinion, fictional or otherwise, of the editor alone.
It is not intended to represent the corporate opinion of The Summerlands
or the publisher of The Summer Sun.
Do not try this at home without proper training and supervision.
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and may be considered for publication.