Posts Tagged ‘Britain’


Here is a map of the main Celtic tribes of Britain. The areas vary from map to map, but this will give you a rough guide to what is generally accepted as accurate. There are many smaller subgroups named in Classical documentation about which we know almost nothing….

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Darkness sinks into the earth.
The mountains rise up:
Horizons of light.
Our shadows leap
To the far distance,
The cauldron that is time,
The cauldron that is space.

It branches dark and branches golden:
The tree from which we spring.
Black ash, bird-filled, singing.

See in the deep valley floor,
The slow wide valley floor,
The light-reflecting rivers,
Sky echoes, draped across fields.

This is the deep cup: our land
Filling with a rich wine of light.
We drink and remember our distance,
Our road here, the long miles,
The union of footfalls, the meeting of strangers.
A land of meetings, a land of unions.
Dark and light
Rivers, waves, shadows.



The wide sky roars with white cloud stallions.
The wild, graceful horse whose name is wind.
The land lies folded, calm as a foal in sleep,
Mare’s milk full, it is gentle, replete.
Bird-bright is the morning,
Their song, the jingle of harness and rein,
Bronze, red, golden blue, the wheels upon us:
The sunlit world, green pasture, filling wheat.
We are the riders of the world, the horse people,
Proud-maned, stepping lightly.
Walking, running, galloping, moon-footed.
The golden horizon we place upon our necks,
Wound, wrapped, a promise of return,
A promise of returning.




( The Dobunni were a confederation of peoples living between the Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds in the southern Midlands of England. Their name has been related to roots such as ‘dark’, ‘cauldron’, ‘black ash’, ‘people of two origins’, ‘people of the cauldron’, ‘people of the black ash’.

The Iceni were a powerful tribe occupying Norfolk. Their name can be translated as ‘people of the horse’. They are renowned for their working of gold torcs, large neck rings that signified the empowerment of the spirit and allegience to the deities of the land.)


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THE GIVING OF NAMES (continued part2)


Wrapped deeply
Within the green fold,
The red red bones
Of the mother beneath us.
We, the ones of the deep,
Self-buried in rich soil, become the world,
Who are the world, who recognise the deep,
Resounding valley, water fed, oak shaded.
We are the sound of deep drums,
The rolling thunder on the high moor
Where the red soil rolls back to wrapped valley
And all is weathered grey earth bone, and
The high, wild airs where the dead still live,
The ones who watch, sturdy, rooted.
We are the ones who return, who sleep deep,
Pile on ourselves, ourselves, mulched, turned.
Who feeding, feed the land when we sleep,
Who climb the steeps and cry the clouds down,
Raven -bright our eye, hawk -sure our grip.
We sound, resound, reverberate

( the Dumnonii of Devon in the SW of England, where I live, and the Damnonii of the rolling lands of western Scotland inland from the Ayrshire coast, both derive their names from the root words for “deep” and “earth”. The Dumnonii were unusual at the time in that they buried their dead, rather than using cremation.)


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I promised 47whitebuffalo that I would write something on the names of ancient Celtic tribes. This is not exactly what I originally had in mind, but it is how things seem to be arriving in these early grey deserts of pre-dawn!

petersfield cernunnos3

THE GIVING OF NAMES (a beginning)
The day alights wrapped in cloud,
A gift given to memory.
Trees wait, their eyes lidded,
Savouring those names rich and round –
The roots and seeds so swallowed,
Buried, taken up, changed.

Hollow sweet, the pierced song:
The puffed, cold-breasted birds
Chant, waiting for warmth.

Huddled all, by the crackled fickle flames,
Memory feeds
( shapes and faces, laughter, even).

The light is hungry for names.
It reaches behind ice-stiffened grasses,
Bitter ivy and brown yarrow.

Lost in fog and short horizons are we,
Diminished at each forgetting.

Remote, aimless paths are the paths we move
Without their remembrance.

Small-minded, shadowless,
Pinched and petty,
Fogged and mired do we proudly become:
Stretched ghosts without root or reason,
Withered, starless, slack-handed.

I shall sit, mind naked, pool eyed
Drinking rippled waters.
Stirring, stirring the surface patterns
Resolving, returning, resonant syllable.

A speckled, dull dunnock, unexpected sweet song.
A circling crow, mist moving, lifting a world,
Stumbling between doors of dream.

The first are the shaping ones,
The givers of form, far-famed,
Makers and singers.
Gold of sunlight, silver of moon, movement of stars,
Hammered, forged, chased into meaning.
The returning spirals,
A path in and out of time.

A clatter of magpies
Searching root, rock, wood, chill clear water.
A house for the invisible, clothing mystery.
The laughter of ravens,
The warm agreement of cattle.

These islands, named from them,
Whom no-one has superseded.
Their knots and philosophy
Sewn into the landscape,
The manifestors of story,
Witnesses of return.

The upright ones, the proud ones,
The stiff ones, the tumescent ones.
Upholders, unbending.
A fountaining tree from our loins
Showering gold bowls of grain,
The seed of fat lands, high lands.
The tree of our lord, a king of horizons,
A shelter to all, a song of breezes,
A tumult of battle hymns.

snake rider

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We are adrift in sunshine and birdsong.

The green fields turning golden hay.

Grandchildren like chirping sparrows.

Fresh breeze from the hills.

Nothing to report,
Lost in time and space……


Basho by the pond.

He turns to listen:
The sound
Of one hand

(Some more words scribbled down from my diary. It’s been a busy summer. Just recently missed a great flurry of strong words. It’s so important to write when those times arise, as the fuel that fires the flow is soon consumed..)


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