Wednesday, May 24, 2006

About This Blog Site

This blog explores issues relating to the authentic old legends that Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code either ignored or missed. As many Americans first encountered this subject area via TDVC, I should explain these are mainly legends associated with the early Celtic or Apostolic Church Of Britain which became the Church Of England … hence its title, Codex Celtica. The perspective is British, rather than the fundamentally American one of vast international conspiracies as the novel and others of its genre are. If you are looking for all-out conspiracy theory, rehashes of the 'HBHG' * or ‘holy blood, holy grail’ theory, as dramatised in Dan Brown’s TDVC, then you will easily find these - elsewhere, by using Google. Similarly, if you want to find sites debunking TDVC and telling it’s all nonsense and you can safely forget all about it, the same Google search should also turn up a range of church-sponsored websites, press campaigns, and books by Christian clerics.

* HBHG: Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baignent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln (1981). For neophytes, this was the bestseller that established the idea that the Grail, the “san greal” or “sainted grail” of Old French Arthurian Romance, should be interpreted as sang-real, or royal blood, referring to a French dynasty which carried a sacred bloodline deriving from Mary Magdalene. It also postulated that there were clues to this in paintings (in this case not by DaVinci, but by Poussin), part of an esoteric tradition maintained by the Knights Templar and then a secret order called the “Priory of Sion.” (Sound familiar?)

However if you are interested (as I have been for some years) in the authentic historical background and cultural traditions of largely Celtic provenance which predate the various modern hoaxes, forgeries, and conspiracy theories, then you may find this site of interest. The first items in the blog concern The Da Vinci Code itself, as this is the starting point for many who have just become aware of this subject area, especially with the just-released film being seen by those who didn't get around to reading the book. So we're starting with 'TDVC' as a familiar point of reference, but we will soon be expanding subject coverage farther afield. (If you want to send anything in for review, email me and I'll send you the postal address.)
This blog is independent and has no connection with any interests other than my own.

I hope to update the site every week. I’ve been giving talks in this general subject area for some years, and have a number of resources I plan to use on the site.

Why "Codex Celtica"?
"Celtica" is a term that traditionally refers to the domain of the Celtic people, and their culture. The Celts of early Europe were not not so much a race as a society and a culture, and the name should be pronounced with a hard "C" (rather than an 's' sound). The early Greek writers who were the first to mention them never gave the name as 'Seltoi' (with an initial letter sigma) but as 'Keltoi' (initial letter kappa).
"Codex" is the Latin original of our word “code”, though the original meaning was different. The term was originally used to mean an early form of folded and sewn book, and later was used to refer to a volume containing a legal 'code', but I have used the term here to refer to ancient manuscript compilations, regardless of their actual physical binding. Scholars apply ‘Codex’ as a prefix name to a collection of ancient documents hand-stitched together in the pre-printed-books era (as with the Nag Hammadi Codex or various collections of writings by Leonardo da Vinci) whose text they are studying in order to decipher it, and to determine its sources, its authority etc. My premise is that you need to look at TDVC and its progenitor HBHG, and now the various follow-on books and documentaries, in a similar way to avoid confusion. That is, if you have just become interested in this subject area after seeing the film TDVC, you have come to it via several layers of source works, which themselves may not be what they seem.
First, it is a dramatisation of a novel which claims its background is all factual (it isn’t) and which is largely inspired by a 1981 book (HBHG) which claimed to be original nonfiction. This 'inspiration' was the basis of a recent London court case brought by two of HBHG’s co-authors against the publishers of TDVC for copyright infringement, claiming that "the whole architecture" of their 1981 book had been reused in TDVC. In one of the more important copyright decisions of recent times, the judge ruled there was no infringement, as the similarities were not specific enough to be covered by copyright, though he reduced the damages as he said he believed Dan Brown had lied saying he hadn’t read HBHG before he wrote TDVC - Brown's personal copy of HBGH, when produced in court, was covered in annotation marks. On the other hand, he ruled that HBHG was itself not entirely original and exclusive in its 'nonfiction' aspect. Complicating the issue was the argument HBHG’s own narrative construction itself was historical fact. This impinges also on the idea that the Bible, which many Christians believe completely factual, had been subject to historical revisionism (the basis of the novel and film's own conspiracy-theory plot premise). HBHG’s own cited main evidence was a set of documents which proved forged, planted in national archives for dubious political ends post-WWII. Nevertheless, since HBHG became an international bestseller in 1982, other writers have adopted its 'sang real' holy bloodline thesis, and elaborated on it. (It was one of these other works, rather than HBHG, that Dan Brown had said in court inspired his plot.) Here, we’ll try to avoid simply rehashing the sort of confused retelling that is already proliferating.
Unlike other writers on both sides, I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers, but if you want to explore ideas and sources along with me, you are very welcome. Some early manuscript sources survive, and we can use these as our "codex."

The Origins Of ‘Pridian'
To avoid unnecessary puzzles: my blog username “Pridian” is taken from a word, itself obsolete, that derives from the Latin pre dies meaning “relating to yesterday”. I used it not only for its apt meaning and its own antiquarian status as a word, but partly because coincidentally it matches the Celtic root of early words referring to Britain - Celtic Prydain, Roman-Latin Britannia -- here implying someone who is a Briton - which is what I am. (In Celtic languages, incidentally, the emphasis is put on the penultimate syllable: pri-DE-an.) The authentic legends I refer to above have - as you will see - a largely British background, rather then the French one HBHG and TDVC focus on. (This was the result of the fact the forged documents they drew on as evidence or inspiration were created by a group of French surrealist pranksters backed by a French monarchist clique.)
My own interest in British and Celtic history, including the ‘holy grail’ and related mysteries, was initially perked by reading a 1959 book, Guardian Of The Grail: A New Light On The Arthurian Legend, by John Whitehead. (If you’never heard of him, he seems to have been a former Civil Servant who apparently wrote just this one book. The aristocratic writer on occult mysteries The Right Honourable Brinsley le Poeur Trench spoke highly of it in his 1963 Men Among Mankind as one of the great forgotten pioneering works in the field.) It was an early attempt at a revisionist history of post-Roman, an engaging (if not entirely convincing) attempt to rationalise the Grail legends in terms of real political events and Dark Ages catastrophe affecting the south of England, where I was born and currently live. And long before HBHG made startling revelations about conspiracy and coverup regarding the Crucifixion and Resurrection, I read (in 1965) about this in another largely now forgotten predecessor work, The Passover Plot by a British Bible historian, the Jewish scholar Dr Hugh S Schoenfield.
(When Jesus Christ Superstar came out, I wondered if it, with its "conflicted" Judas, was inspired by his book.) You can read about his work here [Wikipedia] and obtain the book’s details here [Amazon] .
If you want to 'google' this site, to find other 'Codex Celtica' posts and feature pages, you can do so by clicking here.