Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The La Tène religion of the Celtic elite ― part 25: In conclusion

Coat of arms of La Tène, Neuchâtel,
Switzerland. The former municipalities
of Marin-Epagnier and Thielle-Wavre
merged on 1 January 2009 to form
the new municipality of La Tène.
The design refers to the many Celtic
swords found in the lake.
Even after twenty-five parts, I have only scratched the surface of this topic. I could have included many more examples from the Gundestrup cauldron and Celtic coinage, but this is a blog, not a book. Even so, twenty five parts were still necessary to cover the basics. Archaeology is poorly equipped to deal in matters of religion and this is demonstrated by the frequent use of the word "ritual" in archaeology literature. Ritual is just one aspect of religious practice and rituals are often enacted without the slightest idea of their origin and meaning. Yet, no meaning is attached to the word in such literature and it really doesn't take a degree in archaeology to make guesses based on nothing about what one is looking at. It would be better if such objects or the arrangement of objects at an archaeological site were stated "perhaps to have religious significance", or even better, " the meaning of... is unknown to the excavators".

It seems, also, that many archaeologists have similar problems in understanding Celtic culture. Culture is nothing if it does not speak of world-views. Whenever you read that "there was no unified Celtic culture" you are reading the words of someone who is trying to define culture without using language, religion, and art to do so.  It would seem that the scope of modern archaeology is far more limited than is commonly believed. Any archaeological site or any of contents can be a point of departure for looking into cultural matters, but without any knowledge of these other subjects not much can be said with any real substance.

The main problem with defining the ancient Celts is that culture is often tied to nationalistic or biological factors.There is either no science being used in such cases, or science is being used improperly ― as little more than a veneer, and we must look to other motives, either political or personal, as to why this is done. It has everything to do with the present and nothing at all to do with the past.

As a way to avoid a lot of these problems, I proposed a classification system whereby the ancient Celts could be divided into two approximate cultural frames: Celtic A is defined as those people who used a Celtic language, and Celtic B were those people who, in addition to using a Celtic language, also made and used objects in the La Tène linked styles. Any classification system is subjective and is constructed to serve the needs of people today. The classification system that I proposed, eliminates all of the problems that had been tried to be resolved by substituting "Iron Age" for "Celtic".

Another subject that is absent in archaeology, but not in mythology, is psychology. Not only do we have to be mindful of the psychology of the ancient people we are studying, but we also have to be mindful of the psychology of those who are studying them, the latter because everything that we say and do is filtered through our own psychology. I have noticed that there are a considerable number of people in professional archaeology who exhibit the Jungian "Extraverted Thinking Type". In recent years, however, postmodern attitudes have lessened this problem. It hit its peak in the "New Archaeology" of the seventies, that might be better defined as "scientistic" rather than "scientific". The myopic views about what constitutes culture that I have mentioned above are symptomatic of the extraverted thinking type. Jung explains the type in General description of the types:
"This type will, by definition, be a man whose constant endeavour―in so far, of course, as he a pure type―is to make all his activities dependent on intellectual conclusions, which in the last resort are always oriented by objective data, whether these be external facts or generally accepted ideas. This type of man elevates objective reality, or an objectively oriented intellectual formula, into the ruling principle not only for himself but for his whole environment. By this formula good and evil are measured, and beauty and ugliness determined. Everything that agrees with this formula is right, everything that contradicts it is wrong, and anything that passes by it indifferently is merely incidental. Because this formula seems to embody the entire meaning of life, it is made into a universal law which must be put into effect everywhere all the time, both individually and collectively. Just as the extraverted thinking type subordinates himself to his formula, so, for their own good, everybody around him must obey it too, for whoever refuses to obey it is wrong―he is resisting the universal law, and is therefore unreasonable, immoral, and without a conscience. ... The fact that an intellectual formula never has been and never will be devised which could embrace and express the manifold possibilities of life must lead to the inhibition or exclusion of other activities and ways of living that are just as important. In the first place, all those activities that are dependent on feeling will become repressed in such a type―for instance, aesthetic activities, taste, artistic sense, cultivation of friends, etc. Irrational phenomena such as religious experiences, passions, and suchlike are often repressed to the point of complete unconsciousness. Doubtless there are exceptional people who are able to sacrifice their entire life to a particular formula, but for most of us such exclusiveness is impossible in the long run."
The above quote explains, fully, why there can be no further clarification when the term "ritual" is applied in most archaeological writing. It might also explain why the subject of archaeology is so theory-laden. There are a lot of people, in this psychological type looking for new laws to follow when the old laws do not seem to be serviceable to them, or when the old laws are drawing them toward neuroses. Another way to put it is that these people have their noses squashed firmly against the glass at the Logos end of the Mythos/ Logos spectrum. You do, however, see it in religion where metaphor is so utterly repressed that those who exhibit it are "infidels" who must be killed. Joseph Campbell points out how the meaning of "demon" has been changed in spelling and meaning by such people to signify evil. It's original form is daemon and the Oxford English dictionary gives "An inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force: Socrates claimed to have lived his life according to the dictates of his daimon". In other words, Socrates was revealing his Introverted type if he did, indeed, say that. Those who claim Socrates was an extravert sometimes use quotes from other extraverts like Cato the elder who said: “Socrates was a big chatterbox, who tried … to dissolve [Athenian] customs, and to entice its people to forming opinions contrary to order”. What could be more extraverted thinking than that statement of Cato?

The problems thus become complex when introverts and extraverts are looking at past people who are themselves both introverts and extraverts. Societies and cultures, too, exhibit more of one trait than the other. No one could accuse Buddhists of being extravert, for example. However, societies and cultures mostly express their "collective consciousness" with "its wretched 'ism's and 'ology's"( to quote Jung), so we can see that the more introverted views of some of the core founders of such societies become more extraverted in the subsequent mass mind.

Thus we can see that the introverted founders of religions (how can they be otherwise?) eventually vanish to be replaced by more extraverted followers who are attracted to the "system". From that pool, then, new leaders of the same religion emerge and it slowly becomes something very different from its origins. Then you eventually get "fundamentalists" who actually see only the remains of a religion (expressed by its laws) and have no idea, whatsoever,  what the religions was really about in its early days. You get enantiodromia.

In the La Tène religion, the early symbolization of the ivy as a "dark" or winter plant that is born again, slowly change to where its descendant forms are more subject to the extraverted thinking (and more primitive) view of ivy covering everything and holding it all together. Much of the life is drained from it in the process and we end up with the conservative and tired last forms of the mirror style.

The Druids, in their syncretization with Greek Pythagorean and Dionysian beliefs started with the peak experience of having previous ideas about belief as metaphor because of their travels across Germany and Gaul reinforced and expanded by contact with Greek philosophy in Italy and beyond. But their roles as judges gradually eroded that and we can never be certain as to what degree the transmigration of souls remained as a religious concept or was changed to enable the rulers to obtain vast amounts of gold by being known as a people who thought of death as only a temporary inconvenience, and that if they fought heroically in their current life, would find themselves promoted in the next. By the time that Caesar wrote about the Druids, they had not only changed, but their doom was on the horizon.

I knew that the great numbers of deities represented by later inscriptions could not possibly have developed only in the La Tène period, and was even unlikely to have developed in the previous Hallstatt period (the utter conservatism of design in the Iron Age Hallstatt, anyway, spoke loudly of the lack of religious change). I also saw syncretizations, through Celtic coin imagery, of much earlier beliefs. It was when Euan MacKie noticed that alignments at Maes Howe reflected the traditional Celtic religious celebrations of Samhain, Imbolc, etc. that I realized that what had been identified as Celtic religion was really much earlier than, most likely, even the Celtic language. Thus, there was no specific religion identified in the literature that was being expressed in the La Tène period. But the blossoming of that art could mean nothing other than religious peak-experiences. The new religion was there to be seen, all along, but modern archaeologists of the extraverted thinking types had dismissed everything that the classical authors had written about it because it did not fit with their personal psychology and, in any case, they are absolutely incapable of discussing religion, save to condemn it. Euan MacKie had experienced this psychological type when one of his papers had failed the "peer-review" process, not because his observances were flawed in any way, but because his "peers" did not believe in archaeoastronomy. But, as I said, times are changing.

Transdisciplinarity has yet to be practiced in mainstream archaeology as the subject is, of course, dominated by extraverted thinking types (the very type you would expect to rise in academia). The reason being that it deliberately violates the classical logic rule of the excluded middle, and comes about that because of the very different nature of reality that is being proven by quantum physics (String Theory being already a move back towards Newtonian physics by reason of its "physical" connections that are quite different from the related Implicate Order theory of David Bohm). Also, those who were receiving their education during the time of the "New Archaeology" are now among the "old guard" who see anything postmodern as "anything goes". In other words, lacking the formal rules that are the currency of the extraverted thinking type.

Unfortunately, changes are only likely to happen through independent studies because the academic world is subject to the same phenomena as everyone else. Joseph Campbell goes even further by suggesting that the academic world can actually prevent psychological maturity through its peer-dependence:

No comments:

Post a Comment