The role of the goddess in ancient Celtic society

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The Celts

Women in Ancient Celtic Society: their role and symbolic influence.

Modern day people of Celtic descent in Europe are concentrated on its western shores. They predominately live in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Ireland. At one time, however, the Celts were spread over a large part of the Continent, and in 278 BC one roving band even penetrated as far east as Asia Minor, where they gave their name to Galatia. Until the rise of roman power, the Celts were a force to be reckoned with. They had even sacked Rome itself in 385 BC. Although largely incorporated into the Roman Empire, the Celts continued to worship their own gods and goddesses right up to the time of the adoption by the Romans of the Christian faith.

Prior to the adoption of Christianity by the Celts, women were largely admired and had an important role in society.

The number of goddesses evident in their myths is testament to the Celtic tradition to honour women within their society.

Women had an important role and were revered for their ability to give life. "Women were highly honoured, female symbolism formed the most sacred images in the religious cosmos, and the relationship with motherhood was the central elements of the social fabric ...the society was held together by common allegiance to the customs of the tribe loosely organized around the traditions of the goddess" Condren, Mary. The Serpent and the Goddess. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989.

Celtic women had legal rights that included their right to inherit property, which was a novel concept compared to other societies that existed at that point in time. Descent was often traced through the mother's side of the family and great importance was placed on the relationship with the mother.