The Celtic Diet – Part 1 – The Deipnosophists

Athenaeus was an ethnic Greek and seems to have been a native of Naucrautis, Egypt. Although the dates of his birth and death have been lost, he seems to have been active in the late second and early third centuries of the common era. His surviving work The Deipnosophists (Dinner-table Philosophers) is a fifteen-volume text focusing on dining customs and surrounding rituals. This is an extract about the eating and drinking customs of the Celts: –

“The Celts place food before their guests, putting grass for their seats, and they serve it up on wooden tables raised a very little above the ground: and their food consists of a few loaves, and a good deal of meat brought up floating in water, and roasted on the coals or on spits. And they eat their meat in a cleanly manner enough, but like lions, taking up whole joints in both their hands, and gnawing them; and if there is any part which they cannot easily tear away, they cut it off with a small sword which they have in a sheath in a private depository.

And those who live near the rivers eat fish also, and so do those who live near the Mediterranean sea, or near the Atlantic ocean; and they eat it roasted with salt and vinegar and cumin seed: and cumin seed they also throw into their wine. But they use no oil, on account of its scarcity; and because they are not used to it, it seems disagreeable to them.

But when many of them sup together, they all sit in a circle; and the bravest sits in the middle…and the man who gives the entertainment sits next to him; and then on each side the rest of the guests sit in regular order.

…And those who act as cup-bearers and bring round the wine, bring it round in jars made either of earthenware or of silver, like ordinary casks in shape. And their platters on which they serve up the meat are also made of the same material; but some have bronze platters, and some have wooden or plaited baskets.

And the liquor which is drunk is, among the rich, wine brought from Italy or from the country about Marseilles; and this is drunk unmixed, but sometimes a little water is mixed with it. But among the poorer classes what is drunk is a beer made of wheat prepared with honey, and oftener still without any honey; and they call it corma. And they all drink it out of the same cup, in small portions, not drinking more than a ladle at a time; but they take frequent turns…”

Athenaeus – The Deipnosophists


Precession of the Equinoxes

Did our ancestors know about the precession of the Equinoxes (i.e. every 100 years the zodiac moves back 1.4 degrees) and the cycle of the year?

The following examples illustrate how the knowledge of ‘the great cycle’ was stored around the ancient world.

Although there is no written testimony of a recognition of precession before the Greeks, it is clear from Greek testimony (such as from Aristotle), that Egyptian and Babylonian sciences were shrouded in mystery and only available to the ‘initiated’. However, this lack of written evidence by no means precludes such knowledge from being understood, as the numbers that represent the precessionary cycle (see above), can be found in the dimensions of ‘sacred’ structures and mythologies from around the ancient world as the following examples illustrate: –

Turkey – First recorded division of the sky into 12 equal parts. Metsamor was identified by Livvio Stecchini as an ancient oracle centre. It lies at the foot of Mount Ararat, and archaeology has shown that the area was home to a sophisticated culture that was present in Anatolia from c. 6,000 BC.

Sumeria – Gudea, a ruler of ‘Lagash’, of Sumeria, recorded that he was given instructions in a vision. “A wise man that shone like the heaven,“ by whose side stood “a divine bird,” “commanded me to build this temple”. Gudea employed a male ‘diviner, maker of decisions’, and a female ‘searcher of secrets’ to locate the site. He then recruited 216,000 people for the job.

Babylon – The Babylonian historian Berossus (third century BC) ascribed a total reign of 432,000 years (120 shar’s of 3,600 yrs each), to the mythical Kings who ruled the land of Sumer before the flood. He also ascribed a period of 2,160,000 years to the period ‘between creation and universal catastrophe’.

The King-List known as W-B/144, records the following:-

‘when kingship was lowered from heaven, kingship was first in Eridu’

The following lengths of time were given for each ruler:-

Alulim – 28,000 yrs
Alalgar – 36,000 yrs
Enmenluanna – 43,200 yrs
Enmengalanna – 28,800 yrs
Dumuzi – 36,000 yrs
Ensipazianna – 21,600 yrs
Uburtutu – 18,000 yrs

The Sumerian text W-B/62, adds Larsa and its two divine rulers to the King-List, also multiples of 3,600.

We can be fairly sure that the Sumerians were aware of the cycle, as we can see from the table above that it offers a natural division of both time and space into 360°, from units of 6 and 10. The Sumerians are the earliest culture to measure both time and space in units of 6 and 10. A system called the Hexi-decimal system.

Remarkably, time and space are still measured today by the same units of measurement. For example, we can see the year divided by 12 months, with each day being divided by 24 hours, each one divisible by 60 minutes, and each minute by a further 60 seconds. Similarly, the earth is divided by 360 degrees, each degree being divisible by 60 ‘minutes and each minute by a further 60 ‘seconds’ of an arc.

Since the Druids were noted Astrologers, it is reasonable to assume that they too were aware of the cycle and the precession of the Equinoxes. The tropical Astrology used today is based on the position of the Vernal Equinox (March 21) at 0 degrees Aries from research from 2000 years ago.

However, as we can see from the ancients Astrology our zodiac needs updating in line with the Sun’s precession through the Zodiac, since they kept diligent records and were aware of it. We are indeed in the age of Pisces and many of us have the Sun sign that precedes that which we have been led to believe is our true sign.

The Origins of Astrology

The oldest records of Astrology were discovered in Mesopotamia, with a hoard that also shows the earliest accounts of creation and a worldwide flood, which predate the accounts of Hebrew scribes by over a millenium. Four pioneer archaeologists stand out, Henry Rawlinson, Austen Layard, Paul-Emile Botta and native Kurd Hormuzd Rassam. During the mid to late 1800’s, these brave men (who risked life and limb to remove massive stone tablets) laid the foundation for Mesopotamium archaelogy. Rawlinson was the first to decipher the Assyrian language, now called Akkadian.

Of particular interest is the library of King Ashurbanipal (king of Assyria from 668 BC). He was particulary learned and was able to read ancient cuniform tablets in Akkadian and the earlier Sumerian languages. As well as being a competent mathematician, he was also an accomplished Astrologer. He received his education from Balasi, a famous Astrologer of the time. His library was a time capsule and he set out to preserve these texts for future generations. A book was also discovered, with ivory pages and wax impressions of cuneiform tablets. This includes the Astrological writings, Enuma Anu Enlil, named from it’s opening words, “When the Gods Anu and Enlil..”, informing us that Astrology was the concern of these two gods. Anu was the God of heaven and Enlil was the God of Earth. Even in today’s Astrology, the relationship between the two realms (both physically and spiritually) is key to Astrology.

The Mesopotamiams viewed both realms as complementary, depending upon one another. The earliest Astrological predictions were concerning Kings and affairs of the nation, or catasphrophies, which we now refer to as Mundane Astrology. None concerned personal birth charts. An early text, though, provides the first mention of a Zodiac and the first indication that it was divided mathematically into 12 regular signs. A tablet recording Venus setting in the sign of Pisces dates from 446 BC and the Babylonian diary for 464 BC used both zodical signs and fixed stars to coordinate stellar geography.

Astrology was to change, however, after the Persian invasion of Assyria. The emphasis moved from mass “Mundane” Astrology to the individual natal or birth charts. This new perspective was supplied by Zoroastrianism, who believed in a supreme God, Ahura Mazda, together with an immortal soul with a free choice of good and evil. The first known natal chart, from Babylon, dates from 410 BC, probably April 29th. While it uses zodical signs, there is no mention of degrees.

The mention of degrees, however, does occur in three tablets from 258-235 BC, which give zodical degrees for the Sun and all planets, except the moon.

The Druids, however, placed great emphasis on the moon and the Persian influence on the Druids is undeniable. The Dasturs of Zoroastrianism are very similar to the Celtic Druids. Astrologers of the ancient world were called Mage, or Magi and Julius Caesar applies this to the Druids. Unfortunately, records of Druid Astrology don’t occur until the 6th century, but at that time, the zodiac was very much preserved as it is today. There are some exceptions, such as Leo, being identified as a Hound. However, the majority of signs have been preserved as they were from the earliest writings.

Druids and Astrology

One clear night before dusk, as far away from light pollution as you can, go to a high place, either a hilltop or if you live in a flat area, travel away from the buildings and do not obscure your view by the trees. Observe as the sun sets in the West. What do you notice?

Take a pencil and paper and draw the pattern of the stars in the West as they appear. You may see a bright star appear soon after the Sun sets. If you look carefully through binoculars, you will see that this bright star may have a crescent phase, or be full, or any stage in between (just like the moon). This is not as star at all, but a planet. Named both the morning star and the evening or falling star, watch Venus is it descends. It will not stay around for long and notice that it disappears in the West (the same as all the planets).

You may also see a fainter star (usually below Venus). This is Mercury and like Venus, never stays long in the night sky and quickly descends.

You will notice that when other stars appear you may be lucky enough to draw them around Venus and Mercury. Concentrate on the Western horizon. The stars in the West are said to be in descent.

If you turn directly towards the East you will notice other constellations appear. Draw them. These stars are in ascent.

Lay on your back and dot out the patterns you see above you in the night sky. You will notice that slowly, the stars and constellations stay fixed in their positions and always move like the Sun from East to West. If you did this over a few nights, you would notice anomalies. These anomalies are the planets. It make take a long time to notice anomalies with Jupiter and Saturn. That is because they travel much slower through the constellations than planets that are nearer the Sun.

You may notice a red star, however, changing position. Some nights it will be further East in the constellation than the previous night as it travels through the zodiac. Other nights it may seem further West and move eccentrically (this is of course, the planet Mars that lies before the asteroid belt and Jupiter. This is what is known as retrograde movement. Of course, planets all go around the Sun in the same direction, but don’t forget that the Earth is a moving object too and planets travel at different speeds. So as the Earth also travels around the Sun and the zodiac, as we pass planets, or as they go towards the Sun in their orbit, their position is not fixed.

Astronomy and astrology can be taught in books, but to get a deep appreciation and awe look up at the night sky and observe. Personal experience and observation cannot be found in books. However, once you gain that awe you are ready to progress with a much deeper appreciation than any head knowledge can bring.

Before continuing, purchase a planisphere, or Atlas of the night sky. You will see the constellations you have marked out and be able to identify them. For thousands of years humankind have charted the skies in the same way and been filled with awe and wonder. We now know that everything in the solar system doesn’t revolve around the Earth, but the Sun. We also know that some of the stars we see are thousands of light years away and not a canopy around the Earth with pin pricks of light shining through holes.

However we live on the Earth, so the place where we live is our own Universe. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. So what we see is from our own personal viewpoint.

Druids as Astrologers

Do we really know that much about the Druids?

Historians generally recognise that a lot of the Roman writings that indicated Druids were cannibals, or performed human sacrifices was propaganda to try and bring land under Roman rule. It is the same as the parliamentary debates today. Lies are levelled at opposing parties to undermine their rule, with the soul aim of usurping and taking control. Don’t let the propaganda mislead you.

Though Pliny recognises the priestly functions of the Druids, he applies the name magus (indicating links with magicians of the East) to them. In Irish ecclesiastical literature drui is used as the translation of magus. Magi is used in Latin as the equivalent of druides. The Tuatha De Danaan learned Druidry from the four great master Druids. Thus in Ireland at there is clear evidence of the great magical power claimed by druids.

What is magic? Energy exists on many different levels. Magic is science that science cannot yet explain. If you brought someone from the 1700’s and showed them the technology of today that would be magic to them. The healing qualities of plants are now appreciated by scientists worldwide, but those women who lived in rural areas, who offered herbal cures and remedies were own time considered witches and during the witch trials were burnt at the stake.

Astrology is the same. It has universal links with religions all around the world and the earliest mentions go back to at least Babylonian times. The Bible is full of Astrology. Ezekiel’s description of wheels within wheels, could easily describe an ancient planisphere with extra wheels added for the planetary movements. The Magi were able to locate Jesus by following astrological signs in heaven. Interestingly, the Magi is also translated as Wise Men. The links between the Magi and those with the wisdom of the oak (the Druids) shows a Universal bond between Astrologers worldwide.

Stone circles such as those found at Stonehenge are aligned with the summer solstice or the moon at 15 degrees in Scorpio. Julius Caesar identified Druids with astrology. We are following in the footsteps of our ancestors by observing the same stars they did, combining their mythology that has passed onto us using their Gods to identify the planets. Astrology has been passed down through thousands of years. The Babylonian zodiac is not unlike the Western zodiac used today, so it is likely that a similar zodiac was used by the Druids.