**(A special thank you to Farwater and Cernacas for helping me with the linguistics and choosing terminology, you guys are wonderful)**
The concept of a ‘soul’ has been a much debated and extrapolated topic within the varied Indo-European polytheistic efforts. This follows that there is plenty to draw from and yet plenty that can confuse in regards to such a concept. To extrapolate a ‘Belgic’ soul, both Germanic and Celtic schools of thought must be examined, along with comparative Indo-European cultures such as Greek, Roman, and Indian.
To start, we may look at how Druidic classes/schools were displayed in thinking of the soul. Brunaux, in his synthesis Les Druides: Des philosophies chez les Barb, summarizes it as thus:
“In Gaul, specifically, these theories had been developed, through the study and teaching of the druids, to a point that they had little to desire from what was known in Greece. We have little direct attestation of the concepts the druids had about souls, since they themselves have not left any writings and such considerations hardly interested their foreign observers. Posidonius however had noted two characteristics conveyed to us by Caesar (“Souls do not perish after death”) and Diodorus Siculus (“Souls are indestructible”). In other words, they were conceived as immortal. The belief in transmigration of the souls compels us to conclude that, for them, the soul was also endowed with a particular ability to move.“
This means that at least one concept of the soul had a quality of immortality/indestructibility to it, a quality shared with the concept of Atman in Hinduism. But even though we know that there was a soul, and it was immortal/indestructible in one school of thought, how was the soul conceptualized?
For this we can look at the idea of Atman itself linguistically and compare it to attested words in the Gaulish language and even Germanic languages. Sanskrit आत्मन् (Ātmán) would give us multiple connotations, but one that concerns us firstly is the one of ‘breath’. The two words we can see are anatiâ (soul) and anatlâ (breath).
Both Matasovic and Delamarre agree that anatiâ is related to breath, but Matasovic insists that both Insular Celtic branches receive their words of ‘soul’ from Latin Animus, stating on his entry of *Anamon (soul) that ‘in both branches of Insular Celtic, the reflexes of this PCelt. etymon were influenced by Lat. anima.’ and in the entry of *anatlā, ‘anatlā presupposes PIE <*h2enh1-tlo-, while Lat. animus and Gr. anemos come from < *h2enh1-mo-.’ While the linguistic changes seem minimal, it can be speculated that Latin influence did permeate theological ideas of the soul during Romano-British and Gallo-Roman eras.
Though it may be odd to transition fast from Latin influence to Greek, the idea of the Roman soul is harder to pin down. For this, we will assume that the Hellenic version of the soul was similar to the Roman version. This works in our favor and we can kill two birds with one stone as well since Greek cultures and Gaulish cultures did participate in cultural exchanges and trade.
According to Klaytonus Silvanus of the Hellenic Faith blog, the Greek version of the human soul is a bi-part soul (the rational soul and irrational soul, woven into each other) which is able to be analyzed in a triad; Ousia (Essense, Substance), Dunamis (Power) and Energeia (Activity). The Ousia of a being/soul is it’s most fundamental self, what it is made of. The Dunamis is what the soul can do (examples: Growth, imagination, perception, opinion, thought that moves the body, desire for good and evil, intellection, memory etc). Energeia is the power in action.
(To simplify it, Klatytonus himself gave me the example: I am me. I can punch someone. What am I doing? Punching.)
The rational soul is created by the Celestial Demiurge and is immortal, where the gods underneath create the irrational soul (the shade in Greek religion). Upon death, the rational soul will either be reincarnated or brought into unison with the world soul, where as the irrational soul would either go to Tartarus for purification or become a shade and dwell in Hades realm or Elysium.
When Henosis occurs, the cycle of rebirth for the rational soul ends and irrational soul takes permanent residence in Hades realm .The shade in Greek religion would be what is attributed to their version of ancestor cultus, as the cognizance of the shade doesn’t appear until it is gifted offerings. The rational soul upon Henosis still engages with the world but also the greater whole of the cosmos, and can also be venerated..
The Germanic version of the soul is thought to be universally multipart. The most complete extrapolation comes from the Anglo Saxon Heathenry blog Wind in the Worldtree, therefore we will use it for comparative purposes.
The parts: The Lic (body), Ealdor/Æþm (breath of life), Hama (membrane/skin), Hiw, and the Ferþ/Mod (inner self which is composed of Huge (thought) and Myne (memory)).
To quickly summarize the idea: The Lic is what houses the spirit/soul. The Ealdor/Æþm is connected to the Lic and the other parts of being, which upon separation/death leaves the Lic lifeless. The Hama is what spiritually and yet physically surrounds the Lic, and can also be thought of as connecting a person to their Lic. The Hama is what also can be thought as what remains in the gravemound or afterlife (which may form the basis for hauntings according to the blog’s author).
The Hiw, according to the author, is the shape the Ferþ/Mod takes outside of the Hama and Lic or is an extension of the Hama outside the Lic, which allows for it to be malleable and shapeshift. Hyge is the portion of the Ferþ/Mod which is the thinking and deciding portion where bravery and courage resides, where as Myne is explained as the memories of a person and the ability to recall them. The conclusion of the extrapolation is similar to the Greek concept in that portions of the soul journey to different afterlives upon death, though are different in where those locations are.
To back track to Hinduism, there is a similar concept to the multipart self we see in the previous cultural expressions. These are the five coverings (Koshas) that represent ‘being’; Annamayokosha (physical/material body), Pranamayakosha (energy, vital force), Manomayakosha (mental-rational section), Vijnanamayakosha (wisdom), and Anadamayakosha (Bliss). These all surround the core of being ‘Ātmán’ (as stated above).
As we can see, the idea of a multi-part being/soul is historically precedented, and with that we can extrapolate one for Senobessus Bolgon.
|Hindu||Five layers around the soul/self.|
|Greek||No layers except the material body.|
|Germanic||Arguably at least three layers around the soul/self.|
If we do a comparison then with the Hindu layers and Germanic (specifically Anglo-Saxon) parts and layers:
|Hindu||Body: Annamaya||Energy/Air: Pranamaya||Mental Function:Manomaya||Wisdom:Vijnanmaya||Bliss:Anadamaya||Self: Ātmán|
|Anglo-Saxon||Body: Lic||Energy/Air: Æþm||Mental Function: Hyge||Wisdom: Myne||Bliss: None||Self: Ferþ/Mod (combination of both Hyge and Myne)|
To average this out, we know that we need a concept of material body, breath/vital force, mental functions, wisdom, and self. Considering the connection between the Gaulish tribes and Germanic tribes in the Belgic confederacies, we can guess there may have been a similar structure in the idea of being/soul. For the next table, we’ll compare Proto-Germanic and Gaulish with the Anglo-Saxon parts/words that mean roughly the same thing.
|Mental Function (Mind)||Hyge||*Hugiz||*Britus|
As one can see, there’s a little bit of a linguistic divide between the Anglo-Saxon, Proto-Germanic and Gaulish concepts. Because it’s the goal of Senobessus Bolgon to extrapolate a connection to the Germanic and Celtic, we will attempt to do so by taking most of Proto-Germanic cognates of the Anglo-Saxon parts and Gallisize them as if they were borrowed/loaned/exchanged.
|Proto-Indo-European||Proto-Germanic||Early stage of Gaulish||Middle stage of Gaulish||Late stage of Gaulish|
|Skin/Membrane||*Kám (cover, clothes)||*Hamô (Cover, Skin)||(*Camos?)||(*Camos?)||*Amos/Gamos|
|Body||*Līg (image, likeness)||*Līką (body, corpse)||*Lîcon||*Lîcon||*Lîcâ|
|Mental Function||*Kʷk-í-s or *Kʷek- (“see”)||*Hugiz (thought, mind, sense, understanding)||*Cugis||*Ugis||*Xugis|
|Self (Hearth/Spirit)||*Perkʷ-(body/life/spirit/tree)/*Mō/*Mē-(Endeavor,will, temper)||*Ferhwą(body/life)/*Mōdaz (mind, sense, zeal, boldness, courage)||*Erpon/*Moudos||*Ercuon/*Môdos||*Ferxuâ/*Môdâ|
Now we have the completed table for the Gaulish parts (with most of the borrowed terms from the hypothetical early category, since I like the aesthetic):
|Mental Function (Mind)||*Cugis|
Senobessus Bolgon Interpretation:
To quote Mr. Beofeld (in a way), ‘The *Lîcon is us, and we are the Lîcon’. It is our material/physical body. The *Amos/Gamos is our skin, but also connected to a spiritual membrane around the entire *Lîcon, akin to an ‘aura’ but more. Our Anatlâ is our breath of life, our vitality. It is connected to the Lîcon and our *Erpon/*Moudos (The *Erpon is comprised of both the *Cugis (thinking/thought) and *Menmû (Wisdom/Memory), but once our death comes, our Anatlâ separates from the *Lîcon, and disconnects the *Lîcon and *Erpon.
The *Erpon stays inside the *Lîcon for a time. It can take the form of the *Lîcon or another before traveling to its next destination. Unlike the *Erpon however, the *Gamos does not retain it’s *Cugis or *Menmû, though it retains the form of the Lîcon. The *Gamos stays with the remains and is what is offered to at gravesites for one possible type of ancestral cultus, likened to Alfarr or the Shade as mentioned above. The *Erpon however can be reintroduced into the world via metempsychosis/reincarnation, which is determined by it’s journey from the *Lîcon.
If it completes it’s purification (see Brunaux’s idea of ‘Druidic’ theology above), the *Erpon may split into the separate parts *Cugis and *Menmû. The *Cugis would then join the gods and can be offered to and interacted with (similar to the rational soul and example of Herakles apotheosis), whereas the *Menmû would travel to another afterlife of indeterminate destination (Ex: Isle of the Blessed, Helheim, the Otherworld, or just where their family beckons), potentially coming together with the ‘collective ancestors’.
This would reconcile and make possible for simultaneous three afterlives; 1) Gravesite Ancestor Cultus 2) Reincarnation/Purification/Joining with the gods upon death 3) Collective ancestor cultus in any hall/kingdom/domain of a god.
**NOTE** One could easily switch out terms from P. Germanic, or to strictly Gaulish terms, should they decide so.
1. Les Druides: Des philosophies chez les Barb by Jean-Louis Brunaux p. 154
2. Bhagavad-gita 2.12 (That which pervades the entire body is indestructible)
4. Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise by Xavier Delamarre (2003) p. 44-45
5. An etymological lexicon of Proto-Celtic by Ranko Matasovic p. 34-35
6. https://hellenicfaith.com/the-soul/ by Klaytonus Silvanus
7. https://windintheworldtree.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/the-multi-part-soul/ by Joseph Beofeld
8. An Introduction to Hindu India’s Contemplative Psychological Perspective on Motivation, Self, and Development by R.W. Roeser (2005)
9. Five Sheaths or Koshas of Yoga by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati