Harry Potter Portal into Celtic Mythology
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In other sections, we’ve examined the influence of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology on the Harry Potter books, and then learned a little more about each of them with stories about their gods, goddesses, and heroes. One other major mythology influences the books—Celtic mythology. Celtic mythology was the belief system held by the people of Britain before it was ever even a far-flung outpost of the Roman Empire. The mythology of the Celts did not have quite the influence on Harry Potter as Norse and certainly not as much as Greek, but there are a few influences we’ll explore.
The Celtic people were not a unified group of people, nor did they live in one general area like the Greeks. The Celtic world consisted of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, West England, some areas of France, Germany, and even down into Spain and Italy. When we think of the Celts today we usually think of the Irish, Welsh, Scottish, or English. Because they were not a unified group of people, they did not have a unified mythology. There is no one creation myth as we see with the Greeks or the Norse, nor is there one pantheon of gods and goddesses. The Celtic gods and goddesses had many different names and aspects, depending on where they came from. Some carried over from land to land and from people to people. The god Lug, for example, was a god popular from Ireland all the way down into southern France and Spain. Others were only popular in one particular area. For example, there are many gods and goddesses and heroes specific to Ireland or Wales. Another way in which Celtic mythology differs is that it ultimately became influenced by the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire conquered much of Europe, including France and Britain, and so its influence is felt on the Celtic gods and goddesses. In some areas a local Celtic god was subsumed by the Roman one and people turned, for instance, to worshiping Mercury instead of Lug. The one exception was in Ireland where they did have a distinct pantheon and a creation story. The island of Ireland was a little more isolated than the Continent or even England, and so the people there were less influenced by other cultures or by the Roman Empire.