Posts Tagged ‘Celtic tribes’


Turning towards birdsong,
Letting cold dawn filter
Fevered loves from traversed darkness,
Edges mapped, the contours of velvet lands,
Moonless, drenched in ocean tongues.
A rain of whispers, pattered leaves,
Gulped breathless,
Slight, shadowed.

They rise in moonless mist
Sway in cauldron of suns.
Mirrored on bright waters,
Vulgar, unsullied,
Possessed and possessing,
Mapping the lines of light,
Stirring the small white seed:
The fog of becoming futures,
Hungry for eyes and rhythm,
An enclosure of centres.

Through, rising upon, resting upon,
Dancing the mists of dawn,
Continuing on paths –
Trails whispered along moonless nights.
Silver mirrored glint,
Soft, percussive gold.
Day and night their rhythm
Adopting the breath of stone,
The gesture of forest.

Entrance motions into air
A new cascade, wave rounded, keeled
A fishing cast out, hauling silver gold
Mind numbed movers, serving sinuousity,
Snake-winded, breath-warmed,
Yeast of need.

Spinning internal spaces
(That certainty of axis upon sound).
Finding the betweens,
A devotion to subtle orbits.

Every thought a dancer.
Spin away centre to centre
Tight-whorled, fine thread
Tied time to time
Place to place.
Confirmation of possession
(A test of understanding).
Dressed ghosts on pathways familiar.
Clap and footfall, the song of breath.
Building up rhythms
The birds of dawn.
Rolling back on itself
The river clothed in light.
Doors to others eddy open and close
The eyes of ancestors,
Their tongues along lines.


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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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Sun, becoming burnished, cherry red,
Rolls up that hill,
A golden road to golden day.

This is our land, none better
For our long days,
As days stretch and darkness glistens.
A rich land for rich hearts.

We rise upon our high, green seats,
Our green thrones, rise towards the sky,
Lifting the land, a cloak, a wing, a song.

This vast curve of life:
A shield against all dismay,
A pool, heaven reflecting.

Islands arise from the morning,
Hearth fires radiate into the dusk.
This is our birth,
Rolling up the glorious hills.


I forgot about this one that I scribbled down a few days ago as dawn came up.
The Votadini were a tribe inhabiting South East Scotland up to the Firth of Forth, present day Borders and Lothian regions.
Their territory is characterised by big hilltop enclosures with large walls and banks ,(examples are Eildon Seat, Yeavering Bell and Trepain Law in East Lothian, which was probably their primary seat until it moved to Dun Eidyn (Edinburgh) in the 5th century).
The name probably means ‘fort dwellers’, though has also been interpreted as ‘those of the wide places’. Their name becomes transformed into the Early Medieval British kingdom/confederacy Gododdin ( ‘w’ sounds change to ‘gu’ in many Celtic tongues), well-known for the Welsh/British poem that records the disastrous defeat they suffered at the Battle of Catterick.

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Soaring over whin and wild barley,
Watched and watching,
The eagle, cloud-friended, glorious.
The small ones, still, bright eyed,
Amongst the grey rock, stoat and hare.
The grey rock, the grey rock,
Still they stand, scribed and measured,
A dancing floor, a gaming board,
Dyed bright as day, mist-cloaked, wild.
We claim the heights,
For they are hers.
The Highest, folded, pleated,
A plaid of keeping.
Bright, uttermost, tower of light,
Our home, our name.

We hear the voices from the deep dwellings.
The liquid tumble falls towards the dark centre,
Scouring the grey smooth, a constant choir
Feeding the stone, feeding the soil.
From the heights we descend
And return spiralling, victorious.
Radiant cloud, rainbow mist, sharpened rain,
A slingshot of ice, a glance of gold.
Exultant, we look down, we look down,
We who dwell within the Highest,
Look down, reach down, sweep up.
Clasped firm, swinging, sky-borne.


The Brigantes were a powerful confederation of peoples across the North of England, specifically focused on the high lands of the Pennines, the central limestone lands that run down the centre of the country as far south as Derbyshire. The name means ‘high ones’, ‘upland peoples’, ‘people of the High One’. Brigantia is the name of a deity, translating as ‘Highest One’ or ‘Highest Goddess’. Limestone country is characterised by exposed platforms of rock, water-eroded into ‘pavements’, and deep sinkholes that open into complexes of water-carved caverns.

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The Giving of Names (continued 5)


A space between the stars.
Dark, we are wrapped, wringed,
Unnamed even,
A smudge in the night,
Inked, marked, shaded.
Climbing from mud
No thoughts of our own,
Blameless we destroy,
Blameless we create.
A shadow of the master,
A wish of the mistress,
A whisper down the dark glen
A breeze turning a cold cheek.
Iron in our word,
Iron in our hand.
Our word is iron, our grip, iron
Cold, certain, untainted.
Our way: a dance, a mesmeric shimmer.
Holding serpents, owl beaked.
Our silent gift a sudden end.
Blue grey the steady eye,
The black red bite of blood,
A howl at the throat, stifled.

We writhe through the night,
Shadow dance and skitter
Inhabiting the corner edge
Breathe on your smooth neck
Assay, test and mark the footfall.

In and out this world
A quick needle sewing new days.
In trance we enter in and out
Flow water-curved, spiral-tuned.

If you do not know our language
If you do not know our ways
If you do not sing the fierce heart’s song,
It will only be fear and endings for you.

Ghosting through dawn’s slice
Nothing but a dream we were
Returning, filtered, fading,
Explained away, laughed off.
It is you are deeply severed,
Surely marked out,
Stripped of doubt,
An offering, a promise.
The sign cannot be mistaken,
It cannot be washed out.
We who were chosen, have judged
And chosen. No backing away.

At dusk it will be the dreams.
At night fall, the voices begin.
The nightjar shall call you,
The fox mark your path.
Delineated, made edge,
An invisible will
You shall move silent,
A hush,
A fireside tale,
A moth’s flicker
A tremor of dust.
There and not there.
Painted warrior.


This arrived late last night. I wasn’t sure which tribe was ‘speaking’, except that it was probably from Scotland. The Picts (Pictii), was what the Romans called these peoples: ‘the Painted ones’, because of their use of body art. Body art was common amongst Celtic and Germanic tribespeople, so the Scottish tribes must have been in a league of their own in this regard. The Selgovae inhabited the Southern Uplands of the Scottish Borders, around the Upper Tweed basin. Their name means ‘hunters’.


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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, part three)


We are the people of the corner lands
The ones dwelling at the edge,
Catching the first of the sun.
Rippling out into the waters
The ribbon ocean wrapped.
White walls our fortresses.
White walls and long pebble walls,
Walls of rock, walls of water.
First home is our home,
First land is our land,
Nooked, swathed, sun-warmed
Honeyed. A hum of bees
In the woodland,
A hum of birds at roost.
Harboured, wave-rocked,
Sea-light our hair, sea-bright
Our faces. Wind-cradled.
The gulls on the tide,
The rushes hiss rippled light.
The forests silent now,
The deer move out to graze
In twilight. Our moon scythe,
Grains of stars, ripe, fall
To our winnowing.


The horned ones
Gather together.
The delicate, fierce ones
Tree-headed, call
Into the dawn air.
A clash of antler,
A clash of bone on bone,
The learned dance, the wild dance.
Sap-sweet, Spring’s blood
As it rises. An arc of lust,
A braying horn, a mighty host.
Dappled, we move in silence.
One by one from shade to sunlit pool,
Grazing, given grace, guardians
Of the deep wood. Stepping light,
A crown upon us, a host of spears,
Scattered glory of light,
We emerge, we disappear,

( the Cantiaci give their name to the county of Kent, in the SE of England. The name means ” peoples of the corner land”. The Cornovii occupied the middle west of England, towards what is now the borders of Wales. They are one of many tribal peoples who name derives from something along the lines of “the horned ones” or “people of the horned one”. In Staffordshire the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is still performed, where the dancers wear caps attached with sets of deer antlers.)


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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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