We tend to think of the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations as being relatively accepting of homosexual acts and relationships in comparison to the Christian culture that superceded them in Europe. But we have been misled. The Greeks and Romans tolerated same sex activities only in certain circumstances, most famously that between adult and younger men, the erastes and the eromenos. This relationship was seen as one of the foundations of the stability of society, but other forms of gay love were not applauded, and the passive partner in the sex act was looked down on.
Plato is sometimes quoted as praising the spiritual potential in homosexual love, but he went on to have a change of heart and spoke against it. Aristotle dismissed his ideas, and pointed out that the Celtic peoples of the north accorded it a special honour. Aristotle’s word for the passionate friendship between men was synousia. Among the Celts the passive partner in homosexual intercourse was respected.
The Greek philosopher Posidonius, 1ST century BC, traveled into Gaul to investigate the truth of the stories told about the Celtic tribes, and put it very simply: “The Gaulish men prefer to have sex with each other.”
“Although they have good-looking women, they pay very little attention to them, but are really crazy about having sex with men. They are accustomed to sleeping on the ground on animal skins and roll around naked with male bed-mates on both sides. Heedless of their own dignity, they abandon without qualm the bloom of their bodies to others. And the most incredible thing is that they do not find this shameful. When they proposition someone, they consider it dishonourable if he doesn’t accept the offer!” —Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian living in Roman Empire, 1st century BCE, writing about the Celtic Europeans.
Eusebius of Caesarea, wrote that “Among the Gauls, the young men marry each other (gamountai) with complete freedom. In doing this, they do not incur any reproach or blame, since this is done according to custom amongst them.” (4th centtury CE)
Bardaisan of Edessa wrote that “In the countries of the north — in the lands of the Germans and those of their neighbors, handsome [noble] young men assume the role of wives [women] towards other men, and they celebrate marriage feasts.” (2nd century CE)
“Celtic mythology is riddled with deities who do not fit neatly into rigid, stereotypical gender roles. There are Goddesses of war and battle and Gods of love and poetry. There is also a tradition of male praise-poets who wrote about the kings they served as a lover writes of their beloved. Many historical commentaries on warriors and monastics speak of devoted companions who shared a bed and often the love between these companions is celebrated in poetry and songs.” http://veryjoeandbullish.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-celtic-brotherhood-homosexuality.html
Legends say the Celts fought their battles naked and had no fear of death. Even Julius Caesar commented on this, and recorded that the Celts were quite confident of the existence of ‘the otherworld’, a fairy land type parallel reality that souls return to at death.
If you look up History of Homosexuality on the net you will likely find the starting point to be commentary about ancient Greece, perhaps with some references to Egypt and the ancient Middle East. But the truth about Celtic Northern Europe is hidden away from sight. It’s time to raise the veil and reveal that old Europe was a very queer place.
As the hidden history of the queer people of planet Earth gradually becomes more known, we are learning that when European explorers set foot in the Americas, north and south, same sex love and transsexuality were often considered quite normal. What’s more these attributes were often associated with the shamans, the medicine people, the priests and wizards of the tribes. In Buddhist China and Japan homosexuality was considered a privilege enjoyed by the monastic classes.
The Dagara tribe of west Africa has retained their ancient understanding of the gatekeeper role to this very day – in her book, The Spirit of Intimacy, Dagara teacher Sobonfu Some writes, –
“The words gay and lesbian do not exist in the village, but there is the word gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are people who live a life at the edge between the worlds – the world of the village and the world of spirit. Though they do not marry in this world, they say they have partners in other dimensions.
“What they do, they don’t like to communicate to anyone. It is their right to keep it to themselves. Everybody in the village respects that because without gatekeepers, there is no access to other worlds. Most people in the West define themselves and others by sexual orientation. This way of looking at gatekeepers will kill the spirit of the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers in the village are able to do their job simply because of strong spiritual connection, and also their ability to direct their sexual energy not to other people but to spirit.
“The gatekeepers stand on the threshold of the gender line. They are mediators between the two genders. They make sure there is peace and balance between women and men. If the two genders are in conflict and the whole village is caught in it, the gatekeepers are the ones to bring peace. Gatekeepers do not take sides. They simply act as “the sword of truth and integrity.”
“In the village homosexuality is seen very differently that it is seen in the West, in part because all sexuality is spiritually based. Taken away from its spiritual context, it becomes a source of controversy, and can be exploited. In the village, you never see gatekeepers, or anybody for that matter, displaying their sexuality or commenting on the sexuality of others.
“Gatekeepers hold keys to other dimensions. They maintain a certain alignment between the spirit world and the world of the village. Without them, the gates to the other world would be shut.
“Gays and lesbians in the West are often very spiritual, but they have been taken away from their connection with spirit. My feeling is that without that outlet or that role in the culture, they have to find other ways of defining themselves. This could be one of the reasons why they would want to get married or make themselves look as though they do not have a unique purpose.”
Pic of a druid rallying people to resist the Romans