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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Dobunni

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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Was the Wansdyke Originally Built to Keep Out the Tribe of Witches?

The Wansdyke is an early medieval earthen wall-and-ditch—clearly a defensive fortification—that extends for miles across the southern English counties of Wiltshire and Somerset.

The Anglo-Saxons later named the mighty earthwork after the chieftain of their gods—Wódnes díc, Woden's ditch, of which the modern name is an eroded form—but the fortification was built, not by Saxons, but by Britons.

Traditionally the Wansdyke was thought to have been raised by southern Kelts against incursions from the West Saxons to the north but, in their 2017 The Complete King Arthur, husband-and-wife team John and Caitlin Matthews make another suggestion: that it was originally built to keep out the Witches.

It would seem that the Wansdyke marks the old border between two late Keltic tribal territories: the Durotriges to the south and the Dobunni to the north (51-2).

The Dobunni are the Keltic predecessors to the later Anglo-Saxon tribe (and kingdom) of the Hwicce, whom maverick archaeologist Stephen P. Yeates identifies as the original Tribe of Witches. He makes a strong case for cultural and ethnic continuity between the Dobunni and the Hwicce, which has been borne out by subsequent archaeological finds and genetic studies.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
One for the Price of Three

A witch once came before a king bearing three books.

“Sire,” she said, “I have here three books of prophecies. I will sell them all to you for ten thousand gold pieces.”

“Ten thousand gold pieces for three books?” said the king. “Good mother, have you taken leave of your senses?”

“Let a brazier of fire be brought,” said the witch.

A brazier of fire was brought, and the witch proceeded to burn one of the books to ashes.

“Sire,” she said, “I have here two books of prophecies. I will sell them both to you for ten thousand gold pieces.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    You've got a good memory, Anthony. I first came across the story back in Latin 1--though I think it was the Senate that the Sybil
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I have read this story before. As I recall it was the Sybil who presented the king of Rome with three books and the king only bou

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Name (Tribe)

There's a conventional usage in the First Nations press which I think, for various reasons, would be a good fit for the pagan community as well.

There it's customary to identify someone both by name and by tribal affiliation:

Winona la Duke (Anishinabe)

Arvol Looking Horse (Dakota)

This makes perfect sense. In traditional societies, you don't just need to know who someone is; you need to know who her people are as well. In traditional Dine (Navajo) culture, when introducing yourself to a fellow Dine, you mention not just your own name, but your maternal and paternal clans as well. This gives you not just an identity, but a context.

Since pagans come in different kinds, it seems to me that this makes sense for us, too:

Isaac Bonewits (Druid)

Alison Harlow (Feri)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Happy Summersend

We don't know whether or not the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce—the original Tribe of Witches—celebrated Samhain.

If they did, we don't know what they called it.

It's generally acknowledged by historians that, both demographically and culturally, the Hwicce emerged from a Keltic-Germanic meld. If so, and if they kept Samhain, they may well have called it something like Samonios.

Among their latter-day descendants, the November quarter-day generally goes by one of two names: Keltic Samhain and Germanic Hallows.

Samhain (however you choose to pronounce it) is an Irish name for an Irish festival. The word's original meaning is not entirely clear; likely it derives from samh, “summer.” Folk etymology would read it as “summer ends” or “summers' end.”

It's a good name, an ancient name, but it is and will always be an import.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Nicely put, Courtney; I thoroughly agree. Our work, it seems to me, is not just to know and to transmit the Lore faithfully, but a
  • Courtney
    Courtney says #
    I've always been okay with the name Samhain b/c half of the modern Wheel came from the big Celtic festivals. But I'm also not look

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Boy Who Never Complained

A Lost-Found Dobunni Folk-tale

 

There was once a man who, feeling the approach of death, summoned his sons that he might divide his wealth among them.

When all that he owned had been distributed, it was found that he had overlooked his youngest son.

Father, is there nothing for me? asked the boy.

Alas, my son, said the man, There is nothing left but this old copper kettle. But I give it to you with my blessing.

The boy took the kettle without complaint.

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