What is Mythology?
What we refer to as ‘mythology’ today was actually a framework of ideas and beliefs used by our ancestors to understand the world around them.
In the absence of modern-day science and technology, these people used an approach based predominantly on observation and deduction over an extended period to make sense of the things they saw in their lives and in their environment but could not explain. Instead of developing theories or hypotheses to articulate those explanations as we would do today, they developed narratives or stories that used those observations and deductions and presented it in a way that people could understand. This is why so much mythology is connected to the larger questions of creation such as ‘Where did we come from?’ ‘Where did the moon and stars come from?’ or explanations for uncommon natural phenomena such as giant waves, earthquakes, rainbows, mists and so on. These stories, and others that helped to guide how people should treat each other, formed the basis of the Celts’ cultural belief system.
Since the colonization and erosion of what are generally referred to as the Celtic Nations, the cultural beliefs of those societies have often been seen as something to be looked down on and many of the important cultural narratives have been classified as fantasies or relegated to the status of children’s tales. As a result, despite the affection that people of Celtic heritage feel for such stories, very few actually understand them today. That lack of knowledge – the result of a great disconnect from one’s cultural heritage – means that, in contemporary times, we’ve come to believe in skin-deep, almost cartoon-like caricatures of our own cultural origins.
The Irish Imbas: Celtic Mythology Collections Project is our attempt to haul Celtic stories and beliefs back out of the shadows and to counter the centuries of misinformation around the different Celtic cultures today. At present this consists of: