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The Dobunni: The Tribe of Witches ...

 

Did the original Celtic Tribe of Witches originate with the merger of two boy-bands?

Likely, we'll never know for sure.

Listen as I weave my tale.

 

2000 years ago, a Celtic-speaking people known as the Dobunni, the “[People of] Two Bands”, lived in the Severn basin of what is now England.

(600-some years later, they morphed—maybe I should say shape-shifted—into an Anglo-Saxon-speaking people called the Hwicce, the origin and namesake—so say some—of today's Witches. But that's another story for another night.)

Though the origin of the Dobunni's name is disputed, if indeed it does mean the People of the Two Bands, there are parallels with the ethnonyms of other Celtic-speaking peoples: the Continental Tricorii and Petrucorii clearly mean “Three [War-] Bands” and “Four [War-] Bands” respectively.

But the koryos—war-band—for which these peoples were named was not just any kind of war-band.

 

How, you may have wondered, did the Indo-European-speaking ancestors manage to conquer, populate, and bequeath their languages to virtually all of Europe and much of Western Asia?

On current evidence, it would appear to have been a kind of franchise operation.

 

The traditional pantheons of most Indo-European peoples featured, not one, but two gods of war. (In current terms, we would denote these Thunder and the Horned.) These were respectively the patrons of two different fighting forces: the teutâ (in Witch English, this would be thede, “tribe”), the initiated, adult men of the tribe, and the koryos (WE here), the uninitiated youths still in training for full adulthood. Each of these fighting forces had its own patronal god: Thunder to the thede, the Horned to the here.

(Ah, just savor that alliteration. Sometimes the language seems to be expressing an opinion of its own, doesn't it?)

This explains why, to this day, it is the Horned who presides both at initiations and at the rites of man-making of the latter-day Tribe of Witches.

 

According to Kris Kershaw in his 2000 monograph The One-Eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-) Germanic Männerbünde, the boys of the koryos/here lived together in the wild—often the forest—while they learned the skills and lore necessary to adult men of the People. Set apart by their unkempt dress and hair—think dreads*—and wild behavior, they had a reputation for being the fiercest, most fearless, most unrestrained fighters of all. Unmarried, owning nothing, testosterone-fueled, they had nothing to lose. It was they who reived the cattle of neighboring tribes, and terrified the Red Crests by charging into battle stark naked, wearing nothing but a neck-ring and a belt.

(Easy, when you don't own armor or a helmet to don anyway. Say what you will, though, that's bravado!)

Since it was only after full initiation into tribal manhood that one could marry and acquire land and property, it was these bands of uninitiated youths who spearheaded the Indo-European expansion. Once the thede had settled down for a while, available land and goods would become scarce.

In search of new territory and herds of their own, it was the boy-bands who led the charge.

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Emotions like Waves of Water

 Well, faithful readers, this blog post finds me with emotions all over the place. I realize that the sign of Cancer the Crab can be sensitive, but this is ridiculous. In part, I know it is largely due to the loss of a very dear friend of mine for a little over 20 years. Her name was Cheryl Ann. She was a giving, kind, artsy spirit with a joyful laugh. She loved organic food, belly dancing, theatre, and traveling. I’m so glad she was able to make her dream journey to Greece and Italy come true before she passed away. It hits close to home when someone disappears so suddenly, and young. Life is such a strange and fleeting thing, so we’ve got to savor every moment we’ve got, and let those know who are important to us, how much we deeply care for them. I believe Cheryl Ann knew that about myself and our mutual friends. I will dance on for her, the best that I can.

Astrological Influences

 And the passing of sweet Shelley Duvall strikes a chord, as well. She was a great inspiration for our musical parody, “Shining in Misery: A King-Size Parody.” A true comedic and serious talent both–her sensitivity and talent will be missed. I have always had many close friends who are Cancerians, Astrologer/Medium/Reiki Master, Lynette Corsten, being one of them. She is a beloved return guest on our “Women Who Howl at the Moon” podcast and came up with a splendid idea to do randomly chosen readings for five of our listeners this month! There are some great overviews for the remainder of the year for Capricorns and Pisces, so you’ll definitely want to give this fun new format a listen! You can learn more about Lynette and the services she has to offer at her website.

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Friday Friend Festivity: Prayer for Pagan Partnership

Perhaps what you need most is a partner to support, encourage, and collaborate with in your magical workings which can best be done on a waxing moon Friday night.

Gather together:

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37,300+ Apple Cross Section Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty ...

 

Newcomers to the priesthood sometimes make the mistake of believing that the priest gets to be the star of the show.

(“Look at me! Look at me!”)

They couldn't be more wrong.

(Being myself a man, I write in the male generic, but—alas—beginning priestesses are just as prone to the same misapprehension.)

No: in any given ritual, the priest's job is not to be the focus, but rather to direct the focus.

They're not the same thing at all.

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horned god ...

Calling the Horned Back Into History

 

With the wreck of the ancient world, it seemed as if the Horned had turned his back on history.

Never did he turn his back on the world itself, of course. Seedtime, harvest, the rutting, the yeaning, the running of the deer: these continued as ever they have and ever they shall, while ever the world endures.

But of history, of human history, he seemed to have taken final leave.

Then he came back.

Why?

The answer is both simple, and profound.

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Vikings, Runes, and a Fern

The Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana) is a bit unusual as most ferns go. The first time I saw a row of them at the edge of the meadow, from a distance I thought they looked like a line of aliens coming out of the woods. On closer inspection, I saw that they were very weird, indeed.
      As it matures, this fern develops into a vase shape that reaches three to four feet tall and has fertile and sterile fronds. In the early spring, the upright fertile fronds appear first with a section near the top of the plant with brown spore-producing leaflets. After releasing the spores, these leaflets fall away leaving a gap along the stem. The sterile fronds sprout up around the fertile fronds and create the plant’s graceful shape.
      As usual, I wanted to find out more about this plant I’d never seen before. The species name honors Virginia botanist John Clayton (1694 – 1773) — standard stuff — but the genus proved to be far more interesting and a little obscure. Osmunda is in the Osmundaceae botanical family, which is also known as the Royal Fern family. It was so named because the fertile leaflets, which usually appear at the top of the fronds gives the plant the appearance of wearing a crown. Except for the species in my field, which is interrupted and not crowned.
      The origin of the genus name is not certain, but it is said to honor someone called Osmund, Osmundus, or Asmund. One story associated with it comes from Saxon mythology and is about Osmund the Waterman of Loch Fyne on the west coast of Scotland. According to the legend, he hid his wife and daughter on a small island covered with these ferns to keep them safe during a Viking raid. His daughter is said to have named the fern after him.
      Although Saint Osmund of Salisbury and the Swedish archbishop of Skara, Osmundus, are often cited as potential name sources, so too is Åsmund Kåresson. The names Osmund, Osmundus, Asmund or Åsmund have a Norse/Germanic/Icelandic origin and are composed of the word Os or Ás meaning “god” and mund, “protection.” In terms of the runes, these meanings are found in the Younger Futhark symbol As, and the Anglo-Saxon Os, which are versions of the Elder Futhark Ansuz. This brings us full circle back to Åsmund Kåresson who was the earliest known rune carver in the province of Uppland, Sweden. The eleventh-century Ängby Stone is attributed to him.
      Magically, like most ferns the Interrupted Fern is associated with protection, defense, and security. Allied with the runic interpretation of Osmund, it may suggest special protection from deities. This plant’s energy is an aid for runic study and readings. In spending some time with this fern, I concluded that its interrupted feature carries a message. Life will always throw curveballs that knock us off course and there are times when we need to put things on hold. Life interrupted. However, sometimes they can provide a meaningful break, an interlude and chance to reassess things. Don’t be frustrated by an interruption, instead, find out what it means.

 

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Return from Darkness

Photo caption: Happy hubby in better days

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