Chair: Richard Glyn Roberts
I analyse institutional festivals as social and symbolic performativity, arguing that in the European Celtic fringe, Celtic festivals constitute an organized form of consumption allied with personal belonging. It is not the case - as often claimed - that such festivals are a repository of ancestral customs. They publically express the conditions under which the ethnic group under consideration may integrate with a large and modern Celtic fringe, but while this fringe exists beyond the political state, the ethnic group may yet not exist apart from the state itself. I demonstrate how this process demands an invention of memory that allows us to engage in a more intense debate on post-colonial topics within the European Celtic fringe, and also in academic debate on Celticity on many levels.
From Merlin's relocation of Stonehenge to Glendower's 'spirits', Celts have been associated with magic. The historical roots for this assessment of Celtic culture have been the subject of extensive discussion on Celticism and Celticity. This paper examines a specific aspect of this broad field, namely the perception of Celtic culture through the esoteric movements of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A.E. Waite' commentaries on the Tarot and Celtic mysticism, W.B. Yeats' 'Red Hanrahan' and Jessie Weston's Grail seeker have contributed to the concept of Celtic esotericism. These ideas influenced literature at the beginning of the twentieth century, most notably Eliot's 'Waste Land', and they continue to appear in fantasy literature, modern Tarot praxis and its spinoffs. In this context, the esoteric Celt has created a participatory fantasy which plays out in speculative fiction, 'Celtic' Tarot cards and their elaborate explanatory books, Internet blogs and role-playing games.