The Mysterious Connection Between Native Americans and the Druids
Speculating on the controversy about the similarities between the Ancient Celts and the Native American culture brings me to wonder who is right? Did the two cultures evolve independently, or did the Celts explore long before Columbus or Ericson? Did those of ancient Druid religion travel up the Arkansas River, trail across the American southwest leaving nothing but etchings that are dead ringers for the Ogham (tree language) - in petroglyphs that demonstrate the timing of the Solstice and Equinox perfectly? Or, did Native Americans just happen to build their culture around those celestial events with almost the same ceremony and physical design as those in old England and Ireland? Just happenstance.
I speculate that the connection is there whether or not the scientists agree with each other. As a speculative fiction writer, I can think of several ways that the energies between these cultures could connect. Ways that perhaps society, mainly the scientific community, cannot explain - at this time. Aha! A new book series evolves?
One question I have about the ongoing academic discussion about Celtic influence is the petroglyphs found in Colorado and other places in Midwestern U.S.
The rock art above is found at Luther Elkins Petroglyph Site in Wyoming. Several researchers, particularly Dr. Barry Fell, a Harvard emeritus, now I believe, think this is from the ancient tree language of Celtic origin. (Poor Dr. Fell's theories have been debunked rudely many times.) Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I tend to agree with him, based on my TreeSpeak necklace that I bought from a street Wiccan in San Francisco fifteen years ago.
I wear this often. It spells "Friendship" by the way.
Just look at it. The controversy about the ancient Ogham language (tree language) in the Native American past is now solved.
I should tell someone right away.
Okay, being more serious, here is an excerpt from 'THE OGAMS OF THE SUN TEMPLE' from Bill McGlone:
On the walls, and within a cave of a group of tower rocks in Colorado, various inscriptions have been found that appear to be comprised of letters of the Ogam alphabet. Ogam was in use, principally in the British Isles, between 400 and 900 A.D.. Some examples of Ogam have also been located in mainland Europe, but it is not considered to have been brought to the New World, particularly before the time of Columbus. The script found in America also contains certain properties that, specialists say, are not inherent in the Old World version of the Ogam script. On that basis, they have been dismissed as unauthentic. Nevertheless, when translations of the Colorado Ogams have been attempted, they appear to make linguistic sense and refer to certain astronomical and solar alignments that have subsequently been observed to actually occur. Certain engravings, associated with the inscriptions, also appear to contain affinities with an Old World religion.
The rock art shown above (the canyon wall, not my Friendship necklace) does have similarities to tree language. It isn't such a stretch, really. But many feel that there couldn't be, indeed doesn't need to be, a connection. A researcher, Dr. Sally Cole came to this conclusion:
Cole researched and wrote Legacy on Stone and is one of the most intimately familiar scientists who study rock art of all forms - carved or painted. She is convinced that the Crack Cave etchings were done by Plains Indians. John Gooding, at the time supervising archaeologist for the Colorado Department of Highways, indicated that the etching interpretation of the Fell group was interesting, ‘very interesting’ but beyond that, what further evidence might they have to prove that Celts roamed in Colorado? Without that further evidence, Gooding said, free interpretations of how the glyphs got there are hard to believe. If ancient Europeans were in the vicinity they would have left a trail of trash or something other than just inscriptions. Gooding reminded everyone that Native Americans looked at the sky and the stars too. Northern Colorado author Joseph C. Nemeth, a precision algorithmist and OBOD member, seems to agree and documented his interesting experiment of how ancient societies of the world calculated an accurate view of the heavens and the circumference of the Earth independently from each other. (Yes, the ancients and most everyone else except for a few knuckleheaded clerics in medieval Europe knew that the earth was round.)
She is the scientist, she is the expert, and I bow.
But, it does seem, coupled with all the other similarities between the ancient Druid practice and that of the Native American, that it is possible. What are these similarities?
1. The reverence of living things - Nature gives the inspiration
2. Importance of the cardinal directions. The number 4 and the use of circles for places of worhip
3. The centrality of fire and water in their spiritual and everyday lives
4. Sweat houses for purification
5. The sacred use of music and chanting
6. The belief in animal spirit guides.
7. The occurrence of the Raven in stories
8. Identifying with natural sites - a mountain, a spring. These protected by spiritual guardians.
Just speculating here, but if, as Dr. Cole says, the similarities in some of the markings and the knowledge and practice of celestial movements and ceremonies and calendars, and language and cultural identity with nature are merely similar, spontaneous expressions of differing cultures that never connected with each other, then why don't we see Chinese-type logograms? Instead, there are numerous petroglyphs that display tree language-type etchings.
I think this is a good question - in my speculative mind, anyway...
In the practice of Druidry, I am finding out, the connections between many cultures around the world are discussed. The similarities lead to conjecture about Druids traveling, meeting other people in other societies and sharing beliefs and practices. I like how one Bardic scholar whose recordings I am investigating explains it (always looking for ideas and stories, am I.) She says that actual contact between people may not be necessary. She says that perhaps it is the similarities that call forth from the eternal principals communicated by Nature herself that form cultures. Those that are close to the earth, cultures that can hear the tempo of earth's energy - the energy that connects us all - may express very similar belief and ceremonies.
In my book, the Celtic/Druid past definitely connected with ancient Native American culture - - somehow.