Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who's a Celt now?-1

When I blogged the recent local Celtic music festival, I promised more on the tangled web of Celticity. This foggy, rainy, sleeting night seems a perfect time to begin.

Take the assertion of Stephen Oppenheimer, an anthropologist who has published on the ancient populations of the British Isles:

"Celt" is now a term that sceptics consider so corruped in the archaeological and popular literature that it is worthless.

In music, however, "Celtic" is a genre. Compare "Country and Western," which requires performers and listeners to be neither rural nor residents of the North American West in order to enjoy it.

Be glad you have the music, because in genetic, cultural, linguistic and perhaps even religious terms, "Celtic" means nothing in particular.

As Marion Bowman said in her important 1993 article, ""Reinventing the Celts" (Religion 23 (1993): 147-156), "Celtic sells." She later gave us the wonderful term "cardiac Celt," for someone who knows in their heart that they are "Celtic," in other words, "less tainted [by modernity] . . . repositories of a spirituality that has elsewhere been lost."

Not just Pagans but some Christians have reinvented themselves as cardiac Celts as well.

More to come

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Anonymous darkly said...

I like the term 'cardiac-Celt' very much as it perfectly describes those in my inner circle who wear knotwork and listen to Loreena McKinnitt. :)

I'm a leetle tired of the purists who insist that you must actually *be* Celtic to embrace Celt culture. Purists! Snort! I mean, really. ::laffs::

9:06 AM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

And what does "being Celtic" mean, being fluent in a Celtic language? It has nothing to do with genetics, that's for sure. Most of the population of Ireland, for instance, has its genetic roots in Iberia and has been there since the Neolithic Age.

9:15 AM  
Blogger branruadh said...

Heck, "Celtic" music is usually Irish or Scottish. Cape Breton Scots? World music. Breton? World music. Cornish? Wait, you mean there is such a thing?

3:33 AM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

As someone whose first coven ran on the music of Alan Stivel, I would say that we considered Breton to be Celtic too. But that was a more innocent time.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

That should be Stivell with two l's. Here is his official site.

1:07 PM  

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