May 9, 2010

Gwrteithia Brofi

Although mayor parts of it are already extinct, and the few places that still venerate this culture are seldom and secluded, the Celtic culture is one of the most interesting parts of history to me. It maybe because of their legendary figures and beautiful language, or because some time I’ve wished I lived during that time. But what definitely attracts me the most is their unique relationship with nature, such a devotion led to the development of a strongly naturalistic religion.

Until their Romanization, the Celts believed in the existence of spirits controlling nature as well as the representation of such spirits as fairies or pixies, but like many other cultures they also believed in gods. Most of their believe system was regionally based as the Celtic world was too large for information to spread around it. One of the greatest differences between Celtic religion and other of the time is that they didn’t show their gods in creature form until their contact with the Romans.

I was always attracted to understanding the Celtic religion mainly because of their belief in fairies, as they are my favorite mythological creature. But the rest of the beliefs seemed strange to me, as the talk about feeling the trees breath and the forest id filling them with live. I thought I would never understand this deeply spiritually connection the Celts had with nature, but one day I discovered that you can hear the tress breath.

San Antonio, Texas is probably the last place I would have ever thought that I would find this, but this is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge books by their covers. Last year I spent the summer with my grandmother in San Antonio, because I needed a change of scenery. After I’d been there for a couple of weeks already, my parents flew in and my grandmother decided to give them a tour while they were there. Every day we would go to different churches and historic places, and one of them really stood out for me.

Our Lady of Atonement is an outdoor church near Sam Houston Army Base in San Antonio. I’m completely against going to churches as I don’t really like the stuffy, uptight atmosphere inside of them, although I do admire their architectonical beauty. But there was something different about this one. The main chapel was under ground in a caver, hidden in the middle of a huge park. The bigger masses where celebrated in the top part of the cavern that over looked a beautiful patio. The paths connecting the four corners where weathered and old, it was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.

The trees where the most impressive thing of all. The paths winded around the trees that looked centuries old, as the huge roots winded over the top of the ground and held on very tightly to the soil. They looked old and wise, as if they could tell a million stories, and teach a million lessons. I was merely waiting for one of them to spring to life and start talking to me. In that moment I got close to one of them and whispered as if I was telling someone a secret, “It’s ok I won’t hurt you if you talk to me. I’ll listen and learn from you.” I felt vey silly in that moment but it felt natural like I was supposed to do that.

Then I understood the Celts’ beliefs. The trees, the rocks, the ground itself felt as if it was breathing. The air of the park was so dense with church’s incense that it felt as if the spirits where around me. The experience convinced me that to some degree the Celts where right. Nature is alive and you can feel it.

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