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The Celts

Sacerdotal India--and perhaps also Atlantis--in early times sent
pioneers into the West to spread religious teachings amongst their
energetic inhabitants; those who settled in Gaul and the British Isles
were the Druids. "I am a serpent, a druid," they said. This sentence
proves that they were priests, and also the Atlantaean or Indian origin
of their doctrines; for the serpent was the symbol of initiation in
the sacred mysteries of India, as also on the continent of Atlantis.

We know little of their teaching, which was entirely oral, though it
covered so much ground that, according to Caesar, not less than thirty
years of study were needed to become a druid. The Roman conquest
dispersed them by degrees; then it was that their disciples, the
bards, committed to writing more or less imperfect and mutilated
fragments of the teachings of their masters. Their "triads"[123] are
undoubtedly akin to Hindu teachings; Evolution results from the
manifestation of the Absolute, it culminates in man, who possesses a
maximum of individualisation, and terminates in the personal,
conscious union of the beings thus created with the ineffable All.

The Absolute is "Ceugant"; manifestation, or the Universe, is "Abred";
the divine state of freed souls is in "Gwynvyd"; these are in the
three circles.[124]

In "Ceugant" there is only the Unknowable, the rootless Root. Souls
are born and develop in "Abred," passing into the different kingdoms;
"Amwn" is the state through which beings pass only once, which means
that the "I," when once gained, continues for ever. "Gwynvyd" is the
world of perfect and liberated souls, eternal Heaven, great Nirvana.

During this long pilgrimage, the Monad--the divine fragment in a state
of incarnation--undergoes an endless number of rebirths, in myriads of

"I have been a viper in the lake," said Taliesin, the bard[125]; "a
spotted adder on the mountain, a star, a priest. This was long, long
ago; since then, I have slept in a hundred worlds, revolved in a
hundred circles."

It was their faith in rebirth that gave the Gauls their indomitable
courage and extraordinary contempt of death:

"One of their principal teachings," said Caesar,[126] "is that the soul
does not die, but passes at death into another body--and this they
regard as very favourable for the encouragement of valour and for
inculcating scorn of death."

Up to a few years ago, belief in the return of the soul to earth was
still prevalent in those parts of Brittany in which civilisation had
not yet exercised its sceptical, materialising influence; there even
existed druids--probably degenerate ones--in Great Britain and France;
in the Saone-et-Loire district, they seem to have been called the
"Adepts of the White Religion"[127]; both in them and in their
ancestors, belief in rebirth remained unshakable.

Next: Ancient Greece (magna Graecia)

Previous: Chaldaea

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