Celtic Life, Myth, and Art: a Lost Civilization

A Celtic letter “C” designed by Penelope Moseley inspired by granddaughter, Lacy’s art work.

Since my trip to southwestern Ireland in September 2013 and my upcoming trip to Northern Ireland in December 2014, I’ve been intrigued with the Celtic culture. Even more so when I saw firsthand, the Celtic cultures of northwestern Spain this past June. Is it the years that I’ve put on since World History in high school and undergrad work or is it the fact that classical, traditional history classes doesn’t cover a lot about the Celts?

I purchased an animated film The Secret of Kells.  It is beautiful!  Celtic art is very curvilinear, with Celtic symbols and designs containing spirals, interlacing patterns, knot work, stylized animal forms and exquisite color.  This film has all that and more. I wanted to know how to spell some of the film character’s names and was curious about making ink from oak berries, as they did in the film.  You gotta love “Google”!  This is a brilliant blog spot that gave me the answers: http://cabinet-of-wonders.blogspot.com/2012/01/secret-of-kells.html


I just emailed off a proposal to the Appalachian Summer Regional Governor’s School for June 2015.  I’ve taught Economic Development through Arts and Culture in Southwest Virginia for the last three summers.  I want to switch it up a little this time.  I have learned so much in doing the research for the class I hope to teach at Wytheville Community College, Art 195-1: Topics in Art, Celtic Life, Myth, and Art: a Lost Civilization.  We’ll draw our inspiration on Ireland’s ancient Tree Lore, Mummers, Ogham, an ancient from of writing, and The Book of Kells, a 5th century CE Irish monks’ decorative manuscripts.  The brightest high school students will earn college credits for these engaging arts projects: Create an Ogham clay pendant, learn Celtic Calligraphy, create their own Kells-type manuscript, research and create a representative mummer character-mask, preform for the class as a mummer using a poem or story from their research.


I am boning up on my knowledge and beginning to prepare a Power Point presentation.  I started early to make the most of my research trip to Ireland in December.   While there, I am interviewing a mummer, I’m going back to Trinity College Library in Dublin to see the Book of Kells and I’m opening my mind and spirit for all Celtic cultural experiences that pass my way.


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Penelope Moseley