Monday, January 30, 2012

Celtic Statuary for sale... but please leave your brain behind the front counter

Chas Clifton in a recent post made mention of an online web merchant called "Sacred Source", and posted some interesting ratios of god:goddess statuary which was featured by the site, further subdividing it into cultural or traditional focuses (Celtic, Norse, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Etc.). Interestingly enough, but surprising no one who reads this blog, I was drawn to the breakdown of Celtic statuary. The ratio of goddess to god statues was almost 4:1. The goddess featured are Brigid, Danu, An Morrigan, Arianrhod, C(K)erridwen and also Medb, and the Sheela-Na-Gig. The gods featured are Lugh, C(K)errunos (and an odd three headed one which is supposed to represent Goibnu-Luchta-Credne, but with antlers?), a "wild wisdom god", and the "Green-man of Death/Rebirth".

Oh boy.

I'll start with what I like, there is an absolutely gorgeous statue/candle holder of Brigid, accompanied by a fancy triskelle and items associated with her areas of typical influence. There is also an interesting Lugh statue which I have seen some folks actually make use of on their shrines or altars. But that's it.

So the bad, and trying to pick somewhere to start is tricky, because there is just so much that is utterly wrong and utterly ignorant of even the basics of "Celtic" myth. Okay so there is an overly "sexified" statue of just about every one of the goddesses (except, perhaps, for Medb and of course the Sheela-Na-Gig). But "sexy" Brigid is a tad unsettling for my taste.

There is the issue of why some of these statues are included at all; certainly the Sheela-Na-Gig is debatable as a pre-Christian figure, let alone a deity. Mebd is included, and while there is good reason to associate her with a possible goddess of the same name, well the folks writing the descriptions just aren't that bright. So, yes, lets look at the "wild wisdom god" and "green-man of Death/Rebirth". So the later really galls me, because as a devotee of the actual Gaelic god of the dead, it pisses me off that some nuage/neopagan fantasy is being credited with the job. It is the Wiccan "Greenman" who is equated with Pan and Silenus, so what this has to do with anything even remotely "Celtic" is an absolute mystery. I find it odd that they left out deities which could easily fit the kind of "god roles" these twits promote, and would be known by people on "Celtic" paths; gods like An Dagda or Angus Og.

At first they got my dander up, but after reading the fifth or so, tragedy had become comedy. They betray such an abundant amount of ignorance about all things "Celtic", but especially the mythology, that one can't help but chuckle at them. My favourite by far is one for an now out of stock An Morrigan statue:

Morrigan is the Celtic Goddess of Destruction/Creation. This image depicts the Irish triple goddess: Ana, the fertility maiden; Badb ("brave"), the boiling mother cauldron, producer of life; and Macha, the death-crone symbolized by the carrion-devouring raven.

Oral tradition says the Celtic dying god Cu Chulainn was met by the beautiful chariot-mounted goddess with red eyes and cloak. She cursed him to death that his blood might fertilize the earth, then transformed herself into Badb Catha, the Raven of Battle who induces panic in warriors. Morrigan evolved into Morgana Le Fay, sorceress of Arthurian legend.

[Derived from an Epona plaque.]
First and foremost, why is Ana (did they mean Anu) included as an epithet for An Morrigan? Were the available goddess who were already associated too much of a stretch to put into a "fertility role"? Which then makes no sense whatsoever, because they associate the mother figure with fertility too; except that the mother figure is Babd. BABD, the skald-crow, is not the "death crone", cause that would actually make some kind of sense, mythologically. Nope, Macha, a mythological figure who is known for giving birth after running a race, while pregnant, is the bloody "death crone". But it gets worse.

CUCHULAIN IS A DYING GOD!?! I realise he dies, and he does so spectacularly, but equating him with being a "dying god" is almost as bad as having him be a god of peace. Apparently though, his awe-inspiring final moments are wholly ignored, and instead he is "cursed to death" as some sort of fertility ritual? This is just sheer laziness, the Ulster cycle is probably the most well known and easiest to find material in Irish myth, and they couldn't even do that right.

The other product descriptions are just as misinformed/ plain fantasy, and they reek of the worst sort of neopagan veneer; but then again those are just the kind of misinformed individuals who would frequent such a website. What blows me away, however, is that the product descriptions statues/images from other cultures, are actually well informed. Almost all of the descriptions for the "Norse" goods, are adequate (if again overly laden with fertility symbolism), and even good when compared to the "Celtic" stuff. Is this perhaps indicative of a more discerning customer base for Norse goods, or maybe a better read description writer? I'd probably say neither, but that Norse myths are a little more cut and dry, and available, than the Celtic. Also the northern folk do not seem to get lumped in with the MMC/fertility god motif anywhere near the extent that Celtic mythical figures do. I suppose that considering how influential the VVictorian view of the Celts were on both Wicca and Wicca derived neoPaganism, this isn`t surprising. Irritating, laughable, but not surprising.

I mentioned earlier that two of the statues are decent enough, but I think as much as I am enamored with the Brigid statue, I could not in good conscience actually buy something from such cretins.


  1. Over all, pain and nothing to add but...the one thing that they got correct is associating Anu (or Anann, but we'll take Ana rather close given all else there) with An Morrígan. In several versions of the listings in LGE IV There are variations which don't include the name and one makes her a fourth of the three and a detailed genealogy which will just confuse a lot of those who think *Danu is the Primal Mother. ~;) Sorry, I'm not going to chase the page numbers, I have tried to sort this stuff out quite a bit the past many months but I'm a bit past working on that bit now. And no, not because it's all sorted out. But I tend to favor the idea of them as "Badb, Macha and the Morrígan, whose name is Anann."

    1. Well you learn something new everyday. I was not familar with Anann's association with An Morrigan; being more familair with the Babd, Nemain and Macha triplism.

  2. Nemain seems to linked into the triad related to An Morrígan quite recently, including by such Celtic Studies biggies as MacCana. Due to that I don't kick myself to hard for my thinking She was in "the Sisterhood" for some time. But actually, She is not listed as a daughter of Ernmas and is connected via being Bé Néit with Badb or with Fea as well as being listed, as well as Fea as a daughter of Elcmar who is usually brother to the other three, er six (Ériu, Banba and Fódla being the first three daughters of Ernmas). So She seems to always be part of a pair, rather than a threesome unless you include Nét as one of three with His wives.

    I'm quite entrenched in this,, I mean more than usual.

  3. Loved this! All totally apt...thanks for the laugh, I needed it.