Family Values in Ancient Times:
Many people of the present make some very grave and disturbing assumptions about prior unethical behaviour by humans. My theories may be biased and overly appreciative of a time before Empire and there is less data due to the destructive power of Empire and the hegemony to go on. However, that data is more pure and less likely to have been promoted or propagandized for the interests of power-mongers. Top scholars and those who are regarded as great academics still debate whether women ever had equal rights and some state there never were matriarchal societies of great note. It would be a surprise for me if there were not many different approaches used in various cultures and millennia before the Ice Age we just experienced and thereafter, leading up to what we call history. Much of history today has all the markings of hegemony akin to the Middle Ages according to John Ralston Saul who says it “has come to resemble the obscure and controlling scholasticism of the Middle Ages.” (1)
Could it be that ethics and moral behaviour had higher importance in the communal houses of the Kelts and North American Indians, as well as other societies throughout this awesome world? We now know it has been traversed by ancient humans who loved and played all over the place for a far longer period than we have been lead to believe even though many may not be aware of these facts. Is it possible that basic principles were easily communicated and respect was the goal of people long ago? Why even debate the point about power and money – they had little need of it. Western society still has much of the ingrained misogyny of millennia of macho Mediterranean mores and the rest of the world is far worse. What greater issue is there than incest and family violence? It rots the fabric of families and society as a whole. This quote from respected anthropologist Carlton Coon about the ‘hunting societies’ of prehistory sets a stage we need to appreciate and evaluate.
“While under certain circumstances, in some societies, a young man may marry a woman past menopause, he may manage to have sexual relations with other women, and may eventually get a nubile second wife.” (2)
This seems a workable arrangement that includes education and the planning of families to avoid unnecessary abortion or mouths who aren’t truly cared for, doesn’t it? The older woman presumably would be able to satisfy the early sexual energy of the young man, without leading their social or tribal culture into all the problems associated with children having children such as often happens today. The young man might even develop some sexual techniques and understand his urges better than pure lustful infatuation or the need to run off to fight in order to get rape and pillage payment for some Lord or Caesar. Then when financially and emotionally prepared for parenting he might actually do a decent job. Coon was able to observe this still exists in some Neolithic societies of the present day. When the second wife arrived it might present some problems but in most cases the first wife would probably enjoy helping the new wife to understand her opportunities better. Yes, I do overstate the case, I suppose, but in the Keltic clandoms it was even better than I am suggesting.
Kids were a resource and source of pride for the whole clan. In the dynamic of raising a child this allowed for many things to occur in a more mature environment with less emotional blackmail. That does not lessen the aspirations parents have for their children but it makes for a lot less vicarious pressure, as parents have to spend all their waking hours attending to the needs of kids; who see a way to get what they want by playing to the unrealistic parents who have yet to learn what they need to know. There are aspects of North American Indians tribes that show a similar approach to child-raising. The Stadacona Indians sent some of their children with Cartier, much as the Kelts shared educational opportunities with trading partners. Aunts and uncles do the disciplining of children among the Cree. The extended family and communal living is very clannish and even Gibbon noted there were heraldic Indian regalia that mirrored those of British heraldry.
The Hurons and Iroquois are most like the Irish or Norse Kelts in their social structure. Crimes committed by a member of a family or clan (tribe) are paid for by the whole family. With this kind of policing or morals bureaucracy would starve for want of something to do. The compassion and behaviour modification of a family is better than that of the police or prisons, I think. The women of the Iroquois were the decision makers in most cases except the daily running of a war once it was approved. These women owned the assets or leaseholds. No one owned land just as was true in the land use laws of the Kelts which the English had to expunge along with all other just and fair culture when they finally forced Ireland under their rule. The Indians still practice Potlatch or the giving of respect and assets despite the 1920s law against it in Canada. We can all imagine the Tax collectors don’t like this kind of custom. It was much more than mere taxes the government sought and the Supreme Court has ruled the government and Catholic Church were intent on the total destruction of Indian beliefs, in recent rulings.
“In any event, the incest tabus recognized in any given hunting society bear some relationship to his choice (or to his and/or her parents’ choice) of a marital partner. Of these prohibitions there are three basic and quite different incest tabus, prohibiting intercourse between father and daughter, mother and son, and brother and sister. These prohibitions are not based on instinct or the inductive experience of the genetic consequences that sometimes result Like the idiots and haemophiliacs or sexual deviates who lead us as a result of ‘noble’ heritage – to war and other great heroic endeavours.. Some individuals violate them, but if so the violations do not result in marriage.
To a considerable extent these primary incest tabus are based on two kinds of antisocial results. Parent-child intercourse would disrupt the lines of authority between generations, lines that hold the family together. Brother-sister intercourse during adolescence would inhibit intermarriage between families, reducing their interdependence. Were a married woman to have intercourse with her brother, it would create a state of serious conflict between her husband and his brother-in-law, two kinsmen by marriage who, in certain cultures, might need each other’s confidence and help.” (3)
The ‘controlling scholasticism of the Middle Ages’ referred to by Ralston Saul was part of the continuing effort to destroy these real family values. The marriage laws of the Kelts had to be eliminated because these laws were equitable and fair to women and children. Bastards were not ever possible in Keltic society and the idea of a single mother was totally different than it is today. Of course, the payment of mercenaries including the rape and pillage which enabled men to gradually lose all decent tabus or constructs based on the ancient means of care for each other that were part of all the systems Brotherhood developed, through common sense. The elevation of Gods from the state of hero (mere human) to Divine Rights and separate from Nature, is at the root of a lot of it. Heyerdahl thinks Odin was a Keltic king in southern Russia around the time of Christ and I find that entirely likely. When man began to say other men were unable to comprehend nature and needed an interpreter for the collective soul of humanity and all life, things began the downward drift to the hegemony that often even denies man has a soul.
The extent of character assassination by academics that do not delve into the reasons for Caesar’s propaganda or quote others who did not employ due diligence is as evident today as it ever was. The people who focus on Keltic sacrifices and trophy head customs are telling a fact but not the whole truth. What is abortion and capital punishment if not sacrificing the life of people, perhaps for a common good? Victorian prudishness developed the ‘sins and demons’ fear-mongering of Jehovian greed even further. In fact the Western Tradition has succeeded in the destruction of all Ancient Knowledge if you were to believe what is allowed to be disseminated through ‘official’ or educational channels. The Temples of Saphos and Mesopotamia joined all Mediterranean cultures in some form of forced prostitution for women, while the Biblical ‘Devoted Ones’ were sacrificed when the priest or his cronies were through with other obvious and disgusting uses of them. Often the orphans and waifs caused by the changing laws and racial unrest and prejudice fomented in these times, led souls to a place worse than the Hell ruled by the Catholic created Satan. The excellent book called The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer gives ample evidence from credible sources about burning Red Heads and women of all classes being forced to sell their bodies and give the money to the Temple. It may have started with Abraham (and other Ur-Story proponents with their harems) and his baby-factories but it was certainly not the way of ancient Kelts even after his time. The Indians of North America and the natives of Hawaii are ample testimony of the diversity of Keltic egalitarian approaches.