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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Dobunni
Why Does the God of the Witches Wear Antlers?

 “...for witchcraft is as the sin of rebellion....”

 

Why does the god of the witches wear antlers?

Well, there are reasons, and reasons. Here's one.

In the a-borning days of the Younger Witchery, soon after Billy the bastard came with his accursed Franks, he made it known that all deer in the realm belonged to the nobles, the Nor-men, and only to them, and that it was now forbidden for anyone else to hunt them. (For this reason, for deer meat, we say, to this day, venison: a Norman word.)

For a yeoman to “poach” a deer, then, meant blinding, or the loss of a hand. You need good eyes to hunt, and two hands to draw a bow.

Let no one think that this stopped us. Since the dawning of days, the Horned gave us deer, which run free and cannot be tamed, to be our food forever.

Like the deer, we People of the Deer run free, and cannot be tamed.

In the old days, the god of the witches, our champion, wore horns of many kinds—bull, goat, ram—and sometimes he still does.

But mostly in our day he wears the antlers of a buck.

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Stallion of Three Tails: A Fantasia on Historical Themes

 You are a Stallion, lord, greatly to be praised:

worthy of sacrifice, lord of life and death.

(Ceisiwr Serith)

 

Among the more interesting titles of the God of the Witches is “Stallion of Three Tails.”

The three-tailed stallion features prominently on the coinage of the Dobunni, the Keltic people ancestral to the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce, Stephen P. Yeates' “Tribe of Witches.” Yeates suggests that this figure—in effect, the symbol of the Dobunnic people—represents the tribe's patronal god.

The god of Witches is well-known for his association with horned animals, but as Lord of Beasts he not infrequently takes the form of other animals as well. The stallion is a well-known symbol of virility and ferocity: equine society centers on the herd-stallion with his “harem” of mares, and woe to the younger stallion who encroaches on the territory of the King of the Herd.

In fact, the stallion is associated with kingship across the Indo-European world, and the sacrifice of a stallion marked the king-making among many Indo-European-speaking peoples, including many Keltic peoples. As the stallion is father to his herd, so the king is—metaphorically, one presumes—father to his people.

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To Those Who Would Ask, “But is It Historical?”

 Well now, there's history

and history. And if it were

indeed that we were once

one people, of this-and-so

a time, and this-and-so

a place: now, would that not

be a fine and shining fire

to warm your heart at,

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A Silver Stater of the Dobunni, Circa 30 BCE

 Heads: the diademed Silver Lady,

Mother, looks to the left.

Tails: tails flying, Sire,

the Stallion of Three Tails

gallops to the right.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In Praise of Cackling

Zombies shamble. Werewolves howl. Witches cackle.

I'm not sure just when witches first began to cackle. Personally, I suspect the cackling witch to be a fairly recent development, perhaps even as late as the “Twentieth” Century. It may even be that we owe our cackling—as with so much else—to the Great Green-Faced Mother of Us All, the immortal St. Margaret Hamilton.

Still, whenever it is that we first began to cackle, we've made the sound our own. You hear “cackle” and you think “witch.” It's pretty delightful to have a verb of one's own.

It was not always thus. “Cackle” is an old word—all the Germanic languages have some version of it—denoting (probably imitatively) the sound made by a hen when she lays an egg.

The ancestors were astute observers of the world around them. If you've ever actually heard a hen cackle, you know what a distinctive sound it is: shrill, brittle, with a note of triumph to it.

The underlying metaphor here, then, is witch : hen. This actually makes a good deal of mythological sense. The sacred bird of the God of Witches is the—well, let me be coy here and say “rooster.” A cock's head figures on the coinage of the Dobunni, the Keltic tribe ancestral to the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce, the original Tribe of Witches. Witches, so they say, are hens to the Devil's cock, cows to the Devil's bull.

Oh, those earthy ancestors.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Why Witches Have All the Best Stories

Long ago, in the dawn of days, the Great Mother gave to each people their own proper stories.

To the Cornovii, she gave the stories of the Cornovii.

To the Dumnonii, she gave the stories of the Dumnonii.

To each people, she gave their own proper stories.

And to our people, to the Dobunni, the tribe of Witches: to us she gave the best stories of all. So it is that, to this day, our stories are the best of all stories, and our storytellers the best of all storytellers.

So it is that, when you hear an excellent story among some other people—among the Cornovii or the Dumnonii, say—it can only be that this story has been stolen from its rightful owners, which is to say, from us, from the Dobunni, to whom, in the dawn of days, the Great Mother gave all the most excellent stories.

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The Tribe of Witches: A Story for Our Day

This is the story of the Tribe of Witches.

Five hundred generations ago, a people called the Hwicce (HWICH-eh) lived in the basin of the River Severn in what is now England.

Their forebears, mostly Angles speaking a Germanic language, had come from the Continent, and settled in the tribal territory of a Keltic-speaking people called the Dobunni, the “People of the Two Tribes.”

In time, as is the way of things, these two peoples became one people: and this was the making of us. For from their union, some say, Kelt and German, sprang those that today we call the Tribe of Witches; and, indeed, we still bear their name.

And this is the main thing: that from our very beginning, we have been a mixed people.

Look at the Wheel of our Year: sunsteads, evendays, and cross-farthings together: the Keltic with the Germanic. We are a mixture of peoples, and our lore a mixture of lores.

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