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Introduction to Mythology


 

Walter Evans-Wentz (1878-1965)

 

The Celt in all ages of his long history, like the ancient Greek thinkers with whom his ancestors were contemporary, has always been inclined, unlike modern scientists, to seek an explanation for the phenomena of evolutionary life by postulating a noumenal world of causes as the background to a phenomenal world of effects.  Today, the rapid march of scientific pioneers, chiefly those in psychical research, is bringing our own cold and exact science very close to that indefinable boundary which separates the two worlds; and for that reason alone a presentation of the Celtic theory of the causes operating to produce death and birth will be, at least by way of suggestion, of some value.

Walter Evans-Wentz, The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries (1911), page 493

 

 

American anthropologist, Walter Evans-Wentz, and English Quaker nurse, Barbara Bruce, in India circa 1940.

 

 

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Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz (1878-1965) was an anthropologist, writer, Theosophist and Tibetan Buddhist.

 

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He was born in New Jersey, received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Stanford University, studied Celtic mythology and folklore at Jesus College, Oxford, and graduated from Oxford in 1910. 

 

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From 1907-1909, he made a comprehensive study of the Celtic people's belief in Fairies.

 

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The results of his study were published in 1911 under the title The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries.

 

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Subsequently, he traveled extensively in Mexico, Egypt, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and India.

 

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In 1919, he arrived in Darjeeling, northern India where he became familiar with the major Tibetan Buddhist religious texts.

 

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He oversaw the translation and edited four major Tibetan texts, most notably the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

 

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Actual translation was performed by English speaking, Tibetan Buddhists, primarily by the  Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup (1868–1922).

 

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Wentz became a disciple of Lama Dawa-Samdup and a Buddhist practitioner.

 

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In 1942, the Japanese invasion of Burma and eastern India compelled Evans-Wentz to return to the United States.

 

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He lived in California for the last 23 years of his life, where he supported local Buddhist and Theosophical organizations.

 


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