IN13 Shining Bear
The bear is no longer indigenous to the British Isles or to Ireland and it does not appear in old Celtic stories. But we begin with the bear, because its veneration is so ancient that the Celts received It from their European Stone Age ancestors in the forms of the goddess Brigid, King Arthur, London's Artemis cult, and the site of Thomas the Rhymer's abduction. Stone figures of bears ft6m the pagan Celtic period were found in 1840 during the rebuilding of Ireland's Armagh Cathedral. There is a bear carved in the eighth century C.E. into a relief found at Meigle, in Perthshire and another fearsome bear on one of the slabs at St. Vigeans. And the bear also appears in illuminated manuscripts prepared by Celtic monks. The earliest ancestors of those ursine products of skilled monastic whimsy can be found on the walls of caves.
There are reasons for suggesting that early wall paintings were done by shamans. The deliberated distortions of detail on some animals - additional legs or incredibly large horns - suggest that they may have been painted in an altered state of consciousness. Also, they seem to have been painted by a form of oral spray painting rather than by brush. Spitting was a Shamanic way of projecting oneself onto the wall. It has been suggested that Chauvet's cave is a sort, of Palaeolithic cathedral, for it even contains an "altar" - a bear's skull, carefully perched on a rock.