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Ancient Celtic Coin Art

26 27 A circular flan of metal has no top or bottom, no right way up, so images can be orientated in any way. While Classical coins stayed true to figurative realism by having an exigual line indicating the ground, Iron Age artists enjoyed playing with the rotation of their designs, creating multiple images and upsidedown reflections. Amongst the Celts, as with other tribal peoples of the world, the Otherworld of spirits exists, at least in part, beneath the ground, and is conceived as a reflection of our own world. Thus, unusual reversals often identify the locationspirits with feet pointing backwards, trees with roots upwards, fish flying in the air, and so on. Using reversed images evokes the forces of the Otherworld and links them to human actions. The ancestors dwell within the earth, the very place where the metal ores for coins are gathered, emphasising the bridge that coinage creates. Ultimately, all magical operations and religious ceremonies work through reflection a symbolic act performed in this world produces a reciprocal result in spiritual realities, which then reflect back and manifest on earth once more. Image reversal is a constant reminder that actions in one reality influence every otherall acts become spiritual acts. REVERSALS HIddEN IMAGES gateways to the otherworld a. b. c. d. e. f. g.
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