7 Celtic Proverbs on Life and Love
The Celtic tradition is one of the oldest and most extraordinary traditions in the entire world. Its customs, legends and history are very attractive to the curious-minded, thanks in part to movies and television series. Celtic proverbs are also still an excellent source of real wisdom.
Although their territories were mainly concentrated in Great Britain, their domain extended, on one side, to the east of Europe and, on the other, to Spain and Portugal. It still has influence today in areas such as Galicia in Spain, where you can still see the forts, called “castros” that served as refuge in times of war.
The Celtic people were great fans of the arts. That’s surely where some of their wisdom comes from, which gives rise to the famous Celtic proverbs. They stand out for their sincerity, overwhelming honesty and –most of all — their inner wisdom.
7 Celtic proverbs on life and love
1. A constant guest is never welcome
Being hospitable is a virtue. But abusing the host’s good faith is impolite. If you’re going to visit a family member or friend, remember to stay an appropriate length of time. You must not forget that you’re in a house that’s not yours and therefore you are only a guest.
The days or weeks you’re there, try to help with chores. Be polite and courteous, and before leaving, give the owner a small gift. That way they’ll know you are grateful and may invite you again in the future.
2. If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas
This is one of the best known Celtic proverbs. Be careful who you interact with, especially if you know that they’re not good, especially if you trust them and it may turn against you. Many times we approach people who aren’t good for us, so being smart about this can also give us a great advantage.
After ignoring the warnings, if you are harmed by your decision, the responsibility will be yours.
3. When wrathful words arise, a closed mouth is soothing
Faced with insults, shouts and threats, the best thing to do is not to counterattack. An angry person often sends a message without thinking about the content, the form or either. Don’t fall into the temptation to get involved, and be prudent, especially if you value the relationship you have with that person.
Good sense and knowing how to choose your words are essential skills to keep a heated discussion from getting personal and causing deep wounds. Containing yourself demonstrates your goodness and wisdom: if you stoop to their level, usually they will sooner or later take on your attitude. In addition, you will have earned their respect and admiration.
4. Some of the sweetest berries grow among the sharpest thorns
Many times we get discouraged with our life goals. We realize that we’re trying our best, but we don’t see the results. We work hard but maybe it doesn’t pay off in a job. The Celts tell us to try to make sure the situation, though surely difficult, ends with some hope left over. With effort and perseverance, you have positive results, although not always what you expected.
Hard work is best friends with luck. The road may be long and bumpy, but the reward will always be worth it. Think about how finding inspiration doesn’t do much good if we’re not working at the same time.
5. Face the sun, but turn your back to the storm
We all have good and bad times; no matter how much we love routine, life has a dynamic nature. This is a Celtic proverb that invites you to look towards the future with optimism, and to turn away from the negative. The Celts tell us to try to keep a healthy balance between hope and caution, adventure and “just in case”. This is how you grow.
In this sense, a brave person is not one who ignores their fears, but one who works to overcome them. A person who dares to take risks and accept the consequences of their decisions.
6. Forgive, but never forget
Forgiving is wise, but forgetting is foolish. Forgive those who have hurt you and forget the details, but keep in your memory what you learned. Especially if the damage caused was not intentional, you’ve asked for forgiveness or they’ve tried to make up for it.
Forgiveness will make you stronger and at the same time wiser. Use the lesson you learned to understand how others may feel when you make mistakes. Think about how living in harmony is, above all, an exercise in empathy, especially in and before errors.
7. A lie travels farther than the truth
Sometimes we’re so afraid of the truth that we prefer to listen to the lie. We deceive ourselves so as not to face things… when deep down we know that’s a mistake. Acceptance is the first step towards change, towards moving and even towards resignation when there’s no other choice.
In the long term, if a lie is deep, it ends up doing more harm than the truth. Think about whether you would prefer a quick, but limited, blow, or a chronic wound that’s hard to heal. Your choices are how you can exercise control over what happens to you.
These Celtic proverbs prove that the Celts were a people with understanding it would be hard to improve upon. In addition to being strategic, they were pioneers in allowing women to have access to private property without having to depend on any man.
Today, their teachings are more important than ever. They show us that tolerance, prudence and understanding the world were things people were reflecting on over a thousand years ago, reaching conclusions and premises that are still intelligent compasses for us in the modern world we live in today.
Illustrations by Ethan Mongin