Celtic women were druids and warriors, and were part of a culture whose traces have survived to the present day. A group of communities that began to emerge in the Iron Age (from the 12th century B.C.) and that continue to fascinate us today.
And, among all their figures, the role of Celtic women stands out in particular. Free, warriors, brave and with other admirable qualities that define their interesting role within the collective. Join us on this journey to discover it.
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The divine role of Celtic women
Celtic peoples had different deities, but many of them were female. Like the goddess Epona of fertility, who also protected horses and their riders.
Dea Dama, the mother goddess. Who, in this case, is represented as a triad of women with different attributes. Although in its origin, the Celts did not have humanized physical representations of their gods.
The divinities were equivalent to concepts, states or changes. It was much later and, after their symbiosis with Roman culture, when they took shape. Thus, similar attributes began to share a common figure.
Nevertheless, there is still speculation that Celtic women could have been druids. In this case, called druids or driads and were like priestesses. This is why they sometimes speak of Celtic matriarchy.
Besides having other roles related to the religious aspects of their tribes. Thus representing, on earth, the role of some of their goddesses. Especially in ceremonies or rituals.
The duties of these priestesses were very broad and complex. Not only from the point of view of religion but also as transmitters of knowledge.
Different druids and their tasks
There seemed to be two types of druids. The Ban-druaid were to protect the sacred fire and the Ban-fhilid were poetesses. The latter sometimes acquired their status after marriage to a druid.
But in some areas this was not the case. For example, in the area of Gaul, where there were three different roles within the role of druidesses. The main or highest-ranking role was that of a virgin and dedicated woman.
Their life was centered on their work in the temples, their role in rituals and their cultural responsibilities. They were followed by married women who lived in the temples.
They were in charge of tasks related to order, cleanliness and obedience. But they could only visit their husbands once a year. And, we arrive at the third group or level, that of the wives who did live with their husbands.
These last ones shared responsibilities with the previous ones. Thus, they had to attend to certain tasks in the temples, at the same time that they were in charge of the education of their children.
The temples had responsibilities similar to those that nowadays could have the city councils. Although in relation to religion. Governed by women, they made decisions that affected the entire region.
But these decisions were only assessed by women. This was because men were forbidden to enter these places of worship. That is why they had a great responsibility.
Celtic women and their warrior mother nature
The Celtic peoples gave great importance to the spiritual and the natural. The seasons, lunar cycles, atmospheric or meteorological phenomena. As well as the qualities of different trees and plants.
All together offered them the sustenance for their life, both at an external or physical level as well as internal and personal. For this reason, they had a great respect for Mother Nature and, consequently, they took care of everything around them.
Druidesses were supposed to protect the trees. And, according to a legend, there was a group of 9 celibate priestesses in charge of watching over the sacred forests.
These forests were located in Brittany. Specifically on the island of Sein, also known as the island of the Druids. And, because of its condition, it was an island prone to flooding and famous for its storms.
It was said that ships that dared to approach it would be swept into the storm. In addition to punishing its occupants with dire visions that would torment them until the day they died.
The 9 virgins protectors of the places of Sein had great powers. With their songs they raised the seas and drove the winds mad. But they could also heal terrible diseases only to the most daring!
An oracle that aroused equal parts respect and fear. Thus, the Celtic women received gifts in exchange for favors. Like cures or news of their dead relatives. But they never accepted money.
Celtic women and their physical features
Everyone says that Celtic women were tall. They had blond or brown hair and gray eyes, a color that is now considered almost a genetic anomaly. But were they really like that?
The truth is that it is not possible to consider that the Celts as a race as such were homogeneous. Since, through the skeletal remains that have been found in different countries, structural changes can be appreciated.
That is why it is difficult to specify a single appearance for Celtic women, but we can come close to it. And, indeed, they were tall and strong women. They were usually blondes, redheads or with brown hair.
Their eyes were clear and their features were not as rugged as you might think. Because they took time to take care of themselves. For example, they washed their manes with chamomile water, to strengthen them and to make them lighter.
They also took care of their bodies to keep them strong, but slim. So did the men, among whom it was common to penalize with a fine those who let their waist exceed an established maximum.
This leads us to think that, despite their extroverted character in general, Celtic women appreciated beauty, aesthetics and hedonism. These characteristics are linked to the innate discipline we know about them.
In addition, their physical concerns were matched by their intellectual curiosity. And perhaps the deposits of Ireland are the ones that can shed more light in this regard. Especially on the racial issue.
Since the Romans never conquered Ireland. That is why it is believed that they suffered less “mixing”. Although it is curious that many of the descriptions of the Celts are preserved in texts of Julius Caesar and his contemporaries.
How Celtic women dressed
Celtic women were extremely attractive. They used to wear their hair long and fastened with needles or buns. They also used to braid their hair, which created a great attraction for men. Legends say that many men fought to have pleasurable relations with the same woman.
About the Celtic women’s clothing, they used to wear long tunics fastened with a belt. They also used to wear a cloak or sagum that covered their bodies. Another very common garment in Celtiberian clothing was the wide checkered skirt wrapped around the waist. This skirt showed the ankle.
As accessories, they wore ankle bracelets. In addition, they wore all kinds of jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets, which they accompanied with light facial makeup made from strawberry extract.
Another important element of their clothing were plaid skirts and jewelry around the neck, wrists and arms, as well as makeup.
Celtic warrior makeup
The makeup of Celtic warrior women was based on lines of war paint around the eyes, on the forehead, as well as a stripe under the lip.
Legends about Celtic women who acted as druids and guides
Some authors describe druidesses or druids as fearsome. Women who could appear in the villages in the middle of the night in search of men. To sacrifice them as an offering and then read their entrails.
They performed rituals to attract rain or abundant harvests, among others. And it is said that another group, this time of 7 driadas, were consulted before battles.
Their symbol or tool was a sickle, because its curve was related to the feminine. It represented the powers of the Moon and Saturn. And they used it to defend themselves, to attack or in agricultural work.
Also from Ireland we have legends of groups of virgin sorceresses and warriors, and their roles in victories and defeats. All of them druidesses and revered warriors. Whose names and exploits have transcended them, thanks to a multitude of findings.
As that of the warrior queen Boudica, a druidess consecrated to the goddess of victory, Andraste. And who led her Celtic people during the fight against the Romans. In the year 60 A.D., at which time they began to disappear.
Celtic women could freely choose a husband and participate in social and political life on an equal footing. All this was demonized and disappeared after the Roman devastation or the establishment of patriarchy and Catholicism.