About the Thesis.
Celtic mythology is a vast religion which, at one time, covered much of modern day Europe. Because the Celts were never wholly unified over a single rule, much of the mythology differs over location, with well over 300 deities recorded and worshiped. Of these 300 deities, there are several large figures which permeate throughout the religion, suggesting some sort of organized pantheon that was transferred throughout the tribes by means of oral tradition. Many other figures are counterparts of the ancient Greek and Roman religions, spread through routes of trade and conquest. Even the legendary King Aurthur and his court make significant appearances in Celtic mythology.
The myths of the Celts are encompassed in four different cycles: the Mythological, the Ulster, Fenian, and Cycle of the Kings. These cycles include stories of wars, invasions, kings, heroes, and of the Tuatha Dé Danann (a race of gods, faerie, and magic). Many of the characters, both human and Tuatha Dé Danann, likely coincide with actual persons in history. Monuments were built to honor these figures, and many of the architectural and natural sites depicted in the myths can be found in Ireland and Western Europe today. It is important to note that not a single original text of the Celtic mythology remains. What we now know of the Celts has been uncovered through archaeology or secondhand recorded accounts. This resulted in confusion and differing stories, many of which were later evangelized or misinterpreted.
We live in a society which idolizes fame and fortune, placing individuals on a pedestal. Growing up immersed in a household of mythology and fairy tales, the idolization of these individuals seemed off. These ordinary celebrities were, to me, the same as the Celtic heroes and heroines that I read about before going to bed. Fans, fan-culture, and followers of these people were obsessive akin to the way that cults were formed around the Celtic gods and goddesses. Starting at a young age, children were, and in the sense of some modern religion, are indoctrinated into these factions of cults. From young girls in the hills weaving dolls as offerings to the goddess Áine for fertility, young girls today areindoctrinated into the cults of fandoms, covering their bedroom walls in photos of their idols, some going as far as to get permanent tattoos devoted to their so-called heroes. But how many of these individuals really do any good? How many of these celebrities that are worshiped deserve the praise and unfaltering admiration of the general public?
Págánacha Nua is the Irish translation of the phrase “New Pagans”. A critique on the idolization of celebrities and popular culture through the perspective of an Irish American, the work shown here depicts recognizable celebrities as their counterparts in Celtic mythology. The characters I chose to represent are significant figures in the Celtic pantheon, permeating the stories. As with all mythology, the lessons and stories it holds transcend time to give the reader a connection and parallel into their own world. As much of Celtic mythology is lesser known to the masses, many of the parallels it holds are overlooked by the general populace. To the average individual, the drawings featured here are nothing more than celebrities dressed as kings and queens. They are simply cast in a new role, similar to how they are normally in media productions. Eventually, like the kings and queens of old, these celebrities will become nothing more than legends themselves; icons of the past, and of a forgotten world.
Celtic Knot-work: An Overview.
Celtic knot-work has a rich, yet debated, history. Starting around 400CE, the tradition of weaving Celtic knot-work began to unfold. Whether this was due to influence from trade and interaction with other cultures, namely Christianity, is debatable. Interlace pattern work holds its origins in the practice of weaving and tying knots, skills that were instrumental to any culture. Interlace designs are not unique to the Celtics, and are seen in many cultures throughout the world, from Roman sculptures and friezes to Chinese jade carvings and ornamentation. Even still, interlace design has become a hallmark of Celtic art and a signifier for what is, or is not, expected to be Irish. The interlace patterns that individuals and popular culture identify as Celtic have an involved history that has been shrouded and forgotten over time much like the mythology of this diverse and rich culture.
The Triquetra, or Celtic Trinity knot, was adopted by the Church over time, but maintains its roots in the Celtic tradition of worshiping the connection between the gods, earth, and humans. Alternatively, it is believed to have originally been a symbol of the triune goddesses of Celtic myth, representing the Maiden, the Crone, and the Mother. Much of Celtic knot-work is based off of these simple three-pointed knots, using them as a building block to extend and re-imagine. The knot-work shown in my work is a combination of basic, traditional Celtic interlace pattern work, as well as my own designs and interpretations intended to compliment the character and individual they are representing.