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Thread: Are Germanics a Sub-Race of the Celts?

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    Senior Member Wulfram's Avatar
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    Are Germanics a Sub-Race of the Celts?

    Are Germanics a Sub-Race of the Celts? I don't understand why this possibility upsets some people.
    If we have no evidence for the origin/ethnogenesis of Germanics then WHO did they descend from?
    They did not just emerge out of thin air, already a great people.
    Last edited by Wulfram; Friday, March 18th, 2011 at 04:50 PM. Reason: off-topics and complaints beyond PM removed.

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    May I request of the mod in question that the posts from the other threads be merged into this one?

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    Celts and Germans

    Stephen A. McNallen

    The chieftain towered over his seated warriors in the smokey hall. Clatter and chatter faded and all eyes turned to this mustachioed, muscular figure who was their leader.

    Raising the mead-filled horn high over the throng, he toasted the High God, the one who carries the spear and has ravens hovering about his shoulders. All shouted their approval, and another warrior rose to his feet, lofted his horn, and praised the name of the Thunderer. The others echoed him, and in the warmth of their cameraderie, they might have well been in the great hall where warriors go when they die, served by the maidens of battle from the meat of the ever-reborn swine.

    A scene from viking history? An evening in a typical Germanic mead hall? No - the word picture painted here is of a feast among their cousins, the Celts.

    Like most of us, it wasn't news to me that the two main tribal groupings of
    ancient Europe had a lot in common. Both are part of the greater Indo-European family. Their mythology shares a common structure, the material aspects of their culture are much alike, and the general heroic worldview unites both Celt and German. But this, as it turns out, is only the beginning!

    The distinction we make today between these two branches of our kin arise, in no small measure, from the observations of Julius Caesar. Essentially, he declared the tribes on one side of the Rhine to be Germans, and those on the other to be Celts. In actuality, it was not that simple. Scholars now think that some groups we once labeled German, were really Celtic. Other tribes might have belonged to either classification, because we don't know what language they spoke! The clear implication is that the physical artifacts they left behind were indistinguishable, and that language is the only definite marker between the two.

    Physical appearance is no clue, because the Roman commentators describe the Germanic peoples and the Celts in exactly the same terms. Both were tall, tending toward the blond, and light skinned. The word "Teuton", by the way, is cognate with the Gaelic "tuath", meaning people or tribe, which certainly points to a fundamental kinship!

    For me, the clincher came when I read Hilda Davidson's Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe (Syracuse University Press, 1988). Significantly, it's subtitled "Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions". Page after page and chapter after chapter, she documents the similarities between the mythology, folklore, and ritual of the Germanic and Celtic peoples. I began making a list as I read, and it wasn't long before I had a couple of sheets covered with scribbled notes. I won't get bogged down in the minutia of these, but some comparisons beg to be made. To make the bulk of this material more easily accessible, I've lumped my comments into some broad categories:

    GODS and GODDESSES...

    The Celtic Lugh and our own Odin are much the same. Odin is father of the Gods, keeps two ravens, carries a magic spear, and has one eye. Lugh is first in the Celtic family of Gods, is linked with ravens, carries the Spear of Victory, and closes one eye when he performs fantastic deeds on the battlefield.

    The Nordic Thor, whose name means "Thunderer", prizes his mighty hammer. He rides about the heavens, laughing in his red beard, in a wagon pulled by supernatural goats. Taranis of the Celts, whose name also means "Thunderer", drives a chariot behind sacred bulls. He wields the thunderbolt, whose name in the old Gaelic tongue derives from the same Indo-European root as the name of Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Taranis, too, is pictured as having a flowing red mane.

    Tyr, as our tales tell, lost his hand binding Fenris the wolf. He used to be
    the Sky God, scholars say, until Odin took his place. The Celtic Nuada lost his arm in battle against the Fomorians, and so Lugh - the Celtic equivalent of Odin - became leader of the Gods.

    In the domain of fertility and plenty, our own Frey rules supreme among
    Asafolk. One of his favorite beasts is the horse, which just happens to also be sacred to Dagda, "the good God", who is Frey's Celtic equivalent.

    other divine beings...

    Giants? The Celts have them just as Asafolk do; they're called the Fomorians, and the Celtic Gods battle mightily against them. Moreover, the role they play is pretty much the same - representing the forces of inertia and entropy in the cosmos.

    Valkyries find their reflection in the Morrigan, fierce Goddesses of the
    battlefield who grant victory, spin the fates of war, and serve the heroes in
    the afterlife. This twin aspect - fiends of blood and death on the one hand,
    enticing lovers on the other - is found in both cultures. Similarly, both
    Celtic and Germanic sagas tell of supernatural women warriors who instruct and initiate the chosen heroes. Brynhild teaches Sigurd hidden magical lore, and the female chieftain Scathach ("Shadow") takes the Irish Cu Chulain under her care and makes him the warrior he is destined to become. It is probably no accident that Sigurdand Cu Chulain are descended from Odin and Lugh, respectively.

    Consider the "lesser" beings, the ones that seldom figure in myth and poetry, but who make the life of the common man and woman more bearable. The land spirits, for example, are alike in both cultures. Elf lore, and the connections of these wights to the ancestors, was recognizably the same to the ancient Teuton and his or her Celtic contemporaries.

    RELIGIOUS LORE and PRACTICES...

    referred to virtually identical warrior paradises in the scene which opened
    this article, but the overlap between Celtic and Germanic lore goes far beyond this.

    Bogs throughout Northern Europe received sacrifices from Celt and German alike. Weapons and armor captured in battle, food and beakers, miscellaneous items - all were deposited in lakes and marshes in the same way, to the point that we can't even tell which finds are German and which are Celtic.

    When the Druids sacrificed to the Gods, the blood from an animal was sprinkled with a sprig of greenery on the assembled people, so the divine energy inherent in blood could be directly transferred to them. In historical Asatru, our forebears did exactly the same thing in the course of a sacrifice or blot..

    (Today, modern practitioners of both religions use mead or other fermented
    fluid in this role.)

    Across the length and breadth of our European homeland, our ancestors honored the Gods in the open air, because we thought it inappropriate to shut them up into limiting, lessening structures like the Christian churches. Similarly, in the earliest days, our representations of the Gods and Goddesses were simple indeed - often carved from pieces of wood to which Nature had already given the basic shape, awaiting only a few refinements from human hands.

    These customs accurately describe Celts as well as Germans.

    Tribesmen of both groups used intoxicating drink in religious ritual. Often
    this was mead, but it could be ale as well. And, while we're considering
    altered states of consciousness, let's remember the fit or frenzy of the
    Odin-gripped warriors, the berserkers. In old Ireland, essentially the same
    warrior's madness bore the name of "{\i ferg} ".

    Readers of the Norse stories will remember how Sigurd the Volsung killed the dragon Fafnir and roasted its heart. When he burned his finger, he stuck it in his mouth and found that he could understand the speech of birds. The Irish hero Fergus gained the same gift when he singed his finger while cooking a salmon over a fire.

    MAP OF THE UNIVERSE...

    When we look at the cosmology of the Teutons and that of the Celts, we can't help but see the likeness. Both have the giant tree, the center of the cosmos and indeed the framework in which all the worlds are found: to Asafolk, it's Yggdrasil; the Celts call it Bile.

    The other key component of the universe in ancient Germania was the Well of Wyrd, containing the deeds that make up the past. Drinking from its waters gives wisdom, and Odin gave up one of his eyes for the privilege. As it turns out, the Celts have an almost identical well; hazel nuts fall into it where they are eaten by the Salmon of Wisdom.

    IN CONCLUSION.....

    The only real differences between Germanic and Celtic religion seem to be the names by which the Gods are called. A viking of the tenth century would likely have felt quite comfortable in a Celtic ritual among the Gauls a thousand years earlier. Celtic religion deviates from the "Asatru norm" no more than do, for example, a priestess of Freya in Iceland and a warrior pledged to Wotan in Germany in Herman's time. Indeed, one is inclined to say that there is only "European religion" - and that the Germanic and Celtic beliefs are two expressions of it.

    So what are the implications of all this? Well, it means that the Irishman need not feel out-of-place calling on Gods more often associated with Norway's fjords than the Emerald Îsles hills and valleys. Ultimately all us Northfolk are spiritual as well as genetic kin.

    Also Celtic-Germanic unity flies in the face of the sometimes-herard assertions that since Europeans often boast roots in different countries we're somehow mixed ancestry. How often have you heard someone say "I'm a Heinz 57 blend... part Irish, part Swedish, with some Englis h and German thrown in?" Clearly that's not mixed at all, because the Northern peoples are essentially one, in both their physical aspects and in their ancient religions. We musn't let people divide us on the basis of superficialities!

    Thirdly, the catalog of our similarities measn we can use the one to fill gaps
    in our knowldge of the other. As we reconstitute the tapestry of our ancient
    Asatru beliefs, there will be holes where the moths of time and persecution
    have done their work. But if we know the common pattern and how it's woven in the Celtic material, we can patch the holes with greater confidence.

    Enough! All this scholarship makes thirsty work! I'm going to pour a fine
    bottle of Guiness into my mead horn, and toast all things Celtic/Nordic...
    Skoal, and Slainte, to you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronan View Post
    Are Germanics a Sub-Race of the Celts?
    The prevalent races of these people are older than the ethnicities themselves.
    "Nothing is more disgusting than the majority: because it consists of a few powerful predecessors, of rogues who adapt themselves, of weak who assimilate themselves, and the masses who imitate without knowing at all what they want." (Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronan
    Are Germanics a Sub-Race of the Celts? I don't understand why this possibility upsets some people.
    As a general answer, I would say no, Germanic tribes are not an offshoot of a greater Celtic nation. These are simply two cultures of the greater Aryan migration of Europe some thousands of years ago. Whether or not Germans are the autonomous Celt tribe that moved north during those migrations could be likely that a separate culture developed.
    Unfortunately we only know of them trough the Classical historians and of archeological records. They're described almost identically as their German counterparts: giant in stature, hairy, blonde, blue eyed, extremely superstitious/enigmatic in ritual, and fond of war. Where we draw the line between the two is language, location, and aesthetic cultural design. Though of all the Indo-European diaspora, Celts and Germans share the most in common in terms of comparative myth, racial makeup, and all around cultural comparisons.

    (Centum-satem isogloss)


    And then there are those fringe ideas that the Aryan migrations came from the West, in the supposed homeland of Atlantis, which would also account as a likely explanation for the Native American myths and folktales of red haired giants and bearded Gods, and those pesky Caucasian skeletons.

    Mr. McNallens essay is correct in most parts, but most of it I see is just trying to reconcile being a Germanic heathen with an Irish surname. It's not just between Celts and Germans but across the entire Indo-European spectrum, From Rome to Hindu Kush do we find these myth correlations.

    If we have no evidence for the origin/ethnogenesis of Germanics then WHO did they descend from?
    We have evidence, it just depends on what you believe.
    Indo-European origin


    A good article I read

    First Europeans came from Asia, not Africa, tooth study suggests

    I would also recommend reading H. Hubert's "The Rise of the Celts (History of Civilization)", perhaps your local library carries it instead of paying $144 for it on Amazon

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    I am fed up reminding people of this: Celticism is CULTURAL - NOT racial.

    Celts in Halstatt were Aryan. The Celts in Belgium were Aryan. The Pictish Celts in what is now North Scotland were Aryan. The Etruscans (who were largely Celtic - for example, the Roman war helmet was based on prior Celtic designs that proved capable) who preceded the Romans were Aryan.

    Germanic = Nordic/Alpine/Dinaric.

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    In the genetic studies that I have seen, e.g the Irish cluster right inside the Germanic group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronan View Post
    Are Germanics a Sub-Race of the Celts? I don't understand why this possibility upsets some people.
    Read your statement again and see if you can't figure it out.

    Your wording suggests that you view Celts as the superior race and Germanics as a smaller, perhaps less significant subset of the greater Celtic nation... That does not sit well among Germanics, especially those of us who have read about the Nordic Stone Age, Nordic Bronze Age, Nordic Iron age, all of which existed in what is now Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Northern Germany well before and concurrently with the Celtic cultures of what is now France and the Alpine areas in the years 800-400 BCE.

    To say that one owes its culture to the other is disingenuous. Both owe their cultures, in great part, to the Proto-Indo-European, but the regional cultures that were even older had their impact as well, altering the flavor of the PIE element to fit the region and history of the respective groups. Thus Germanics became Germanics, and Celts became Celts. Later migrations put them in contact at various levels, but their cultures were formed independently.

    As to races, well, these had a similar parallel genesis, with some significant differences according to their region. The Celts of today I know as being more emotional and less stoic than Germanics, more likely to think first with their hearts rather than with their heads. Does this imply they originated in a more southerly region, where such emotionalism could be well afforded and efficiency was not as important to survival, as it was in the colder north? Maybe so...

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    In his article McNallen himself referred to the relationship between Germanics and Celts as cousin cultures, so his isn't an argument supporting the idea of Celts being our parent panethnicity either (a title which, as has been stated, clearly belongs to P-I-E culture). That there would be similarities in religious practice is very much expected: pagan faiths contain reflections of primordial natural history as an early common foundation, shared development within P-I-E culture, and association by close proximity for as long as each culture has existed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elessar View Post
    Mr. McNallens essay is correct in most parts, but most of it I see is just trying to reconcile being a Germanic heathen with an Irish surname.
    I agree, but quite honestly I don't think he or f.ex. other Americans with Irish ancestry need to pursue such attempts at reconciliation to validate being Germanic heathen. Celtic and Germanic are biological-cultural or genetic-memetic categories, and the distinction lies most significantly with the memetic, while the genetic difference is but one of type predominance and averages (since the racial makeup of neither Celts nor Germanics extend further than the European spectrum, and no European subrace is alien to either). It naturally follows that someone with minor or major Celtic ancestry can be imprinted with the Germanic spirit, at which point that person would be Germanic, and the Celto-Germanic label redundant.

    Quote Originally Posted by McNallen
    Thirdly, the catalog of our similarities means we can use the one to fill gaps in our knowldge of the other. As we reconstitute the tapestry of our ancient Asatru beliefs, there will be holes where the moths of time and persecution have done their work. But if we know the common pattern and how it's woven in the Celtic material, we can patch the holes with greater confidence.
    I disagree with this conclusion. We have been disconnected from our native faith for too long and we're too far away from having it once again thoroughly intertwined with our culture to be confident that we wouldn't be compromising Germanic spirituality if we were to start incorporating elements from other cultures, even cousin cultures. Besides, mixing and matching between faiths is the playground of Wiccans and other universalist new-ageists, not pagans.

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    Celtic and Germanic are language families not races. And Celtic is closer to Italic than to Germanic. Germanic is the wildcard in IE but most recent studies place it closest to Albanian now. If Germanic turns out within a group called Western Indo-European it will still be outside of a superfamily called Italo-Celtic that has extremely strong support.

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