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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witchbury

In the tribal territories of the Hwicce, the old Anglo-Saxon Tribe of Witches, stands a hill called Wychbury Hill. The name means “Hill-fort of the Witches.”

It was once our tribal capital.

The old Northern ancestors didn't live in cities. Most people lived dispersed on their own holdings, but in every clan territory there would be a burg or hill-fort (= Keltic dún): a hilltop fort surrounded by high earthen walls topped with a wooden palisade. At the foot of the hill stood the village, the thatched houses of the yeomanry.

In the burg itself stood the main hall of the drighten, the chieftain, and the homes of the dright, his war-band. The dright prided themselves on having been born within the walls; it meant that you were nobility. But during times of war, the entire village would take shelter behind those walls.

As, whenever we cast a circle, we still do.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Alas, Haley, the answer to your question is lost to the ages. Really, though, one has to imagine a certain amount of ribbing on th
  • Haley
    Haley says #
    So, then, would those born behind the wall in wartime be noble as well?
De Tribu Huicciorum: Concerning the Tribe of Witches

With all due respect, Uncle Gerald got it wrong.

Witches aren't a religion.

We're a tribe.

A tribe: what in the old Witch language would be called a thede.

Some of us are lineal descendants of the old English tribe of Witches, some not. But that's the way of tribes: you don't need to be born in to belong. You can marry in, you can adopt in, you can 'enculturate' in. Tribes have porous boundaries.

That's not to say that we're not all related. Of course we are.

Old Hornie sows his seed wherever he will, far and wide.

So you'll find us all over the world, on every continent (yes, even Antarctica!). Naturally (as one would expect) we come in different clans.

But wherever we go (and we go everywhere), we do share a certain family resemblance.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    We're tribal animals, we humans. We've lived this way since the beginning, and chances are we'll be doing so again in the future.
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Steven. I hear ya!
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    So mote it be.
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    I really enjoyed this reminder. Tribe is a focus for me--intentional tribe calling. Thank you.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Reinventing the Wheel

If the orientation of the monuments that they left behind is anything to go by, the peoples of megalithic Britain observed both quarters (sunsteads and evendays) and cross-quarters (Samhain, Imbolc, etc.).

Just like we do.

Different peoples, different ways. As they've come down to us, the cross-quarters are largely a phenomenon of Keltic cultures, the quarters Germanic; hence the names by which they're generally called.

For this reason, some purists have decided to restrict themselves to observance only of quarters or cross-quarters. Well, everyone gets to make his or her own call. My own position is that purism is its own punishment.

According to maverick historian Stephen J. Yeates, the Anglo-Saxon tribe known as the Hwicce—the original Tribe of Witches—settled in the territory of the Keltic people known as the Dobunni, and both archaeology and genetics suggest that there's strong continuity between the two peoples, both demographically and culturally.

In other words, we would expect the tribe of Witches to be (culturally) a Kelto-Germanic amalgam.

Which, of course, is exactly what we are.

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Was the Keltic "Tribe of Witches" Originally the "Two Tribes"?

According to archaeologist Stephen J. Yeates, the original Tribe of Witches was the Anglo-Saxon people called the Hwicce, who inhabited the Cotswolds and Severn Valley of what is now southwestern England.

These were previously the tribal territories of an early Iron Age Keltic people known as the Dobunni. Both genetics and archeology suggest strong demographic and cultural continuity from the Keltic to the Anglo-Saxon periods.

The name Dobunni, known from inscriptions and Roman historians (Yeates 2-3), is of uncertain etymology. Yeates himself does not discuss a derivation.

It may be, though, that this ethnonym preserves a memory of the origins of the tribe itself.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Sacred River of the Witches

If you look at a map of England, you'll see on the southwestern side of the island, between Cornwall and Wales, a large waterway reaching inland from the Atlantic. This is the Estuary (in Witch, it would be “Firth”) of the River Severn.

The Severn, Britain's longest river, is traditionally considered a “female” river, its patron deity a goddess.

In its valley and throughout its watershed there dwelt, some 1300 years ago, the Anglo-Saxon tribe known as the Hwicce, from whom, some would say, derive the witches of today. And indeed, plenty of witches still live along the Lady Severn, though most of us now live elsewhere.

In any given landscape, the names of the largest rivers will always give access to the oldest reachable underlying linguistic substratum. (Think of the Mississippi, Ojibwe for “Big River.”) And so it is for the Severn.

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Earth and Her Two Husbands: A Folk-Tale of the Latter-Day Hwicce

Well now, Earth had a dilemma on her hands, and no mistake.

Two she loved, and how to choose between them?

Sun: so beautiful, so steady, him of the piercing insight.

And Thunder: so passionate and irascible, so wild and unpredictable.

And how to choose between the two?

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Becoming Flame: A Folk-Tale of the Latter-Day Hwicce

One day the youngest warlock goes to the oldest and says:

 

I don't understand. I sing the songs, I make the offerings, I dance the prayers. But in my heart, I am not there. What more should I be doing that I am not already doing?

 

The eldest rises, lifts his hands, and splays his fingers. At the tip of each finger licks a tongue of fire.

 

My son, he says, If you will, you can become entirely flame.

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