LUGH  |  LUGH Art Association



Lughnasadh 2007 - Zámek Kačina u Kutné Hory "Bohyně Birghit jako pramatka zemědělství"


Inspiratory letter 


Brighid, the Mother Goddess - of Agriculture


Anyone who knows at least a little about Celtic mythology will be aware of the fact that even simply stepping on Celtic ground is tricky. And it’s far trickier for those who are unprepared. But even those who are prepared usually do not take into account that distributed among firm ground there may also be peat bogs, swamps, moorlands or snowdrifts and sand dunes. One can easily become caught in a trap of definiteness. The trap woven of words, images and stories that literally disappear under the hand exactly at the moment when the sight wants to catch them to fix their final shape. The stories that may or may not have happened, or may have happened in a different way. Despite this someone tries to tell us how and where they really took place, who particularly was involved, what was his name, what did he look like, what did he eat, what he could do and whom did he love. As if he was losing something he did not want to let go of, but without ever really having it. But this sort of effort is totally non-Celtic. Not without reason Celts have been calling themselves Celts since Solon times. They are a mysterious nation because they know about various traps of existence. They take them into account, they consider them as their team-mates. But where these traps can be found – this is the Celts’ natural secret. However, it’s a secret they never keep. Why should they? Let’s put it straight – it’s not ours – the Celts’ fault, the dullness of the Romans and those who followed them. You can not explain a poem to one who does not get poetry at all.

For Celts there was always just one god, but he had many appearances. When sensing the central god, one has to take into account the variety, uncertainty and non-connectedness with one particular image not only of him, but of any other of his appearances. But one thing should not be forgotten. The one and principal god of Celts was always a female. Not a man, as it is anywhere in the world in other religions in the present day. Why so? Because only the giving one is fertile, not the taking one. Even immortality itself, eternity, has feminine features and a man’s face would not suit it at all. Would it? Where there is a triple Mother Goddess or the Mother of Gods one can be sure that this entity represents still one and the same divinity, whatever the name depending on the territorial, tribal, clan, time, generation or other determination. I have written about this in the inspiration texts for past exhibitions. However, we are now entering quite new territory, other circumstances, and there is quite a different task ahead of us. In search of a clue to this task we will be joined by new people. Therefore, it is worthwhile to sum up and resume the substance of this issue.

Probably the most well-known appearance of the Great Mother Goddess, Mother of Earth, harvest, fertility, wells, waters and other vitally important things is the Goddess Epona. Her roots reach very deep – as far back as the times of the ancient Indo-European Anatolia, where the Celts also come from. We could go even further into the past, but perhaps the decisive times for the migration of a larger group of Anatolia’s inhabitants westwards across the Bosporus and Dardanelles were related to the sudden and unexpected fall of the Phrygian empire. Phrygs, unlike other surrounding populations, principally worshipped the Great Mother (Kybele). Their king was Midas, and his spouse was the Greek princess. The empire of Phrygs was destroyed by the fierce attack of Kimmeri, the horsemen emerged somewhere from Caucasus, who also adored the Great Goddess as their main deity. Whatever the reason, at least the passion of the two life-and-death struggling women caused the departure of the defeated one. Here we come to an interesting feature encoded in all the oldest Celtic myths: the Goddess Epona has two main appearances totally contrary to each other. One is light, the other is dark. One is a beautiful lady, sitting astride a horse (a strong erotic touch)- it is the ancient symbol of the Sun traveling across the sky to the west and giving fertility to the entire land underneath (the Sun used to be of the feminine gender; this feature was changed much later). The other is a woman with her face hidden behind the rim of the black robe that cloaks her whole figure. She rides a black refulgent steed through desolate country (as a Goddess of War), or she rides the black horse with her face wrinkled and dressed in black (as a Goddess of Death and the Netherworld). At this point we suddenly realize how big the disappointment and bitterness of Frigs was when they were facing the collision of two strong nations, the only two nations ruled by the same Big Goddess in the sea of a strongly patriarchal world. Even today we notice the traces of the two-in-one face in all Celtic mythical stories introducing the Big Mother - whatever her actual name - representing still the same person.

White Mothers: Epona, Danu, Anu, Anni, Dộn, Rhigani, Rhiannon, Étaín Echraide, Edain, Etan, Ethne, Ériu, Fódla, Brid, Bride, Brega, Brighid, Brighit, Bridget, Brigindo, Brigantia, Brittania, Banba, Mugain, Tailtiu, Tea, Tlachtga (in connection with a horse) a Boand, Boyne, Boann, Damona (in connection with white cow).

Black Mothers ( Goddesses of War): Morrígan, Morgana, Badb, Badba, Badh Catha, Macha, Medb, Medh, Maeve, Mare, Nemain, Nemetona, Andraste, Bubona (sometimes in connection with a black horse). One interesting feature of Big Mothers reaches into the very present –the Goddess Mare appears in the expression ”Nightmare”, the Goddess Danu was appearing in Leicester in the UK as “Black Annis” (as a bogy scaring kids) as late as the 20th century. Morgana – originally a local Big Goddess in Welsh Glamorgan (Morgannwg)- became one of the main baddies in the Arthurian legends at the time of their resuscitation in the 12th century. However, we can observe an interesting shift in the original ancient mythical tradition of the antagonistic appearance of the twin Big Goddess (black and white). Instead of a versatile duality of the same divinity of one blood (Epona- Morrígan) here comes another antagonistic couple of the blood relationship – this time brother and sister (Arthur and Morgana). It is a fascinating thing of Celtic mythology - how faithfully it can stick to its starting base for almost 3000 years while its stories still live, as if they will never expire.

The Celts never really liked the Romans. That’s why they never fought in the Roman army. Even as favored mercenaries of the ancient world, they were always in the forces fighting against the Romans. In all known battles of the Greeks against the Persians (and later the Carthagians against the Romans), thousands of Celtic mercenaries took part (4000 Celtic horsemen and infantrymen with Hasdrubal). In connection with our story, it is very important to realize why. The main reason was an awareness of their close relationship with the Greeks from the times when they lived next to each other in Anatolia. Probably not by coincidence, the Celts participated in the war of Troy on the Achai side, according to Celtic myths. We know that the wife of the Phrygian king Midas was a Greek princess. We also know that druids were using the Greek language in their communication with the outer world, both spoken and written. Celts also fought Etrusks (in neighborhood quarrels), but at the moment when the Etrusks began to be threatened by Romans, Celts joined their side and tried to assist them (which also led to a raid on Rome by their chieftain Brennus, which violation was finally avenged by the Romans only after 200 years at the Battle of Talamone, and after another 200 years by the final Caesar’s subjugation of Celtic Galia). One would assume that the Roman panic over the Celts was finally finished. But it was not. It was over only at the time when the Emperor Tiberius gave out a death warrant for all druids in Galia. But even this was not enough. When there was no-one to be executed, Tiberius sent a legion to the overpowered Mon peninsula in Britain (the holy place of all druids) to liquidate the still strong spiritual elite of the Celtic world. Only after its total abolition did the Romans heave a sigh of relief. At that particular moment it seemed that the past of the Celts was definitively over (the druids were the living universities of all important knowledge of the then known world, and they were the vehicle for the heritage of the Big Mother Goddess over the past 1000 years). It is nearly miraculous how quickly the Celts were back on their feet again after all the setbacks they suffered at the turn of the millenium. In the conclusion of this text there is a note about the Celts constructing the first ever reaping machine at that time. In other words: the baton of knowledge was passed to the smiths. The only Celtic divinity taken over to the Roman pantheon was the ancient goddess Epona. She became a popular Roman goddess of horse-riders and horse-riding. No wonder that the Celts living in subjugated Galia quickly abandoned Epona as a representation of the Mother Goddess and found another one (for the Celts, the name and the appearance is not important. The content is important and that it remained unchanged). The new figure was the Egyptian goddess Eset. She was not only the defender of life and eternity (her attribute was the loop of life – the Ankh cross), but also she became a favorite goddess of sailors and sailing all over the then Europe. That fitted the Celts, as they were planning to move from the continent to their brothers in the British Isles. What better mother could be offered, than Eset, the patron of sailors? They only exercised a minor amendment of her name – and Eset became Scota (with the same attribute). She gave the name “Scotland” to Ireland for a short period of time, but when St. Patrick came to the country and offered Christianity to Celts, it was accepted by them without major problems, and the new Big Mother of Irish Celts became the Virgin Mary, approved in 431 at the Efess council. However, Scota was not abandoned, she only moved to the north to the neighboring island among close friends. That’s how Scotland became Scotland and the new Big Mother became the mother of those Celts in the whole world, who respect the Celtic tradition lasting for 3000 years. We can say that this situation remains unchanged until the present day. And the fact that the contemporary name of Ireland (Éire) is derived from the name Ériu, one of the Big Mother Goddess appearances personifying Ireland (Terra Mater), is not in a conflict with that, according to the above mentioned explanation.

After this long, but necessary introduction we are coming to the inspiration for the Lughnasadh 2007 Project participants as such. The invitation to exhibit in Kačina Castle in 2007 has brought quite a new dimension into our long-term Project of the Lugh Association (fulfilling, through the visual arts, the Celtic heritage left in our lands by our ancient predecessors). On the one hand, Kačina Castle is relatively new and it has seemingly nothing to do with Celts. On the other hand, the condition of the organic and non-accidental connection between the artwork on exhibition and the venue was always kept in the hitherto one decade tradition of Lughnasadh exhibitions. But we succeeded in meeting the conditions of the tradition for the forthcoming exhibition, too. Furthermore, this was achieved in several ways. Firstly, Kačina Castle, as the seat of the Czech Countryside Museum, is part of the National Agriculture Museum. The relationship of this subject to ancient Celtic agriculture is especially strong in the Kolín region – the largest number of archeological findings linked to the Celtic agriculture within the Czech Republic is in the Kolín Regional Museum (samples of these findings will be displayed at our exhibition). Secondly, the Celtic relationship to the Kutná Hora region (Kačina Castle is 6km away from Kutná Hora) is the mining and processing of ores. This is the key link for agriculture that could not have existed without the Celtic smiths, who played the main role in our countries at the beginning of the new millenium. Here we come to the person that should necessarily be an overarching presence at our exhibition and the accompanying events. This was always the role of the Big Mother Goddess in the Celtic world - the agriculture, the water springs and the Earth itself were always under her protection. Many names were mentioned earlier in the text that conceal several appearances of the same and the only Goddess, taking care of the Earth’s fertility. In our case we will focus on corns given by Earth, the ores also given by Earth, and the skills of man, who can add something else to these gifts. In the end of the day, Lughnasadh is the Harvest Festival, during which all the creators can show what they have succeeded in creating.






Lughnasadh 2007 - Zámek Kačina u Kutné Hory "Bohyně Birghit jako pramatka zemědělství"


Lughnasadh 2006 - Muzeum Českého krasu Beroun "Atributy keltského světa"


Lughnasadh 2005 - Praha Vyšehrad, Gorlice a Galerie "Domov keltských božstev"


Lughnasadh 2004 - Muzeum Českého krasu Beroun "Keltská vodní božstva"


Lughnasadh 2003 - Hrad Seeberg "Velký jam přichází"


Lughnasadh 2002 - Hrad Seeberg "Zrození jezerní panny"


Lughnasadh 2001 - Praha Vyšehrad, Gorlice a Galerie "Vyšehrad"


Keltský znak


Emailing list

News delivering on your email: