Celtic myths, stories and resources

In If Women Rose Rooted, I use the term ‘Celt’ and ‘Celtic’ repeatedly. When I use these terms, and talk about the ‘Celtic nations’, I’m referring to the six countries (or regions) which are usually identified as such on the basis of similarity in their native languages: Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany. There are also many similarities in the arts, culture and traditional belief systems of these nations, including their mythology. If you want to know who the Celts were, or whether they actually were at all, and would like to explore the complexities and controversies surrounding use of the term, you can do no better than to begin with Barry Cunliffe’s The Celts: A Very Short Introduction.

The stories in If Women Rose Rooted come from two sources: either from the folkloric tradition of Britain and Ireland, or from early Irish and Welsh literature.

If you are interested in the folklore of the Celtic lands, one of the best sources available on the web is at the ‘Sacred Texts’ website, where you can find the full texts from old, out-of-copyright books. This website also contains translations of some of the major works of old literature.

If you’re interested in early Welsh literature and mythology, The Mabinogion is the obvious place to begin. There are several translations available.

If you’re interested in early Irish literature and mythology, a good place to begin is Early Irish Myths and Sagas, translated by Jeffrey Gantz (Penguin Classics).

If you’re interested in following up the threads on Celtic women in history and mythology, here are some of the books I particularly recommend:

Peter Berresford Ellis, Celtic Women — a good overview of the position of women in history.

Miranda Green, Celtic Goddesses

Rosalind Clark, The Great Queens: Irish Goddesses from the Morrigan to Cathleen ní Houlihan

Mary Condren, The Serpent and the Goddess: Women, Religion, and Power in Celtic Ireland

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