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The Religion of the Ancient Celts

Page: 99

is to neglect the fact that the customs are closely bound up with Celtic life, while it leaves unexplained the influence of such customs upon a people whose own customs, according to this theory, {225} were so totally different. The evidence, taken as a whole, points to the existence of totemism among the early Celts, or, at all events, of the elements which elsewhere compose it.


Celtic animal worship dates back to the primitive hunting and pastoral period, when men worshipped the animals which they hunted or reared. They may have apologised to the animal hunted and slain—a form of worship, or, where animals were not hunted or were reared and worshipped, one of them may have been slain annually and eaten to obtain its divine power. Care was taken to preserve certain sacred animals which were not hunted, and this led to domestication, the abstinence of earlier generations leading to an increased food supply at a later time, when domesticated animals were freely slain. But the earlier sacramental slaying of such animals survived in the religious aspect of their slaughter at the beginning of winter.


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