Tag Archive | celts

New Year’s sillies – Are you a true Scottish American?

Are You a True Scottish American; Celt or Gael?

Any of the first statements are automatic qualifiers.

You must:

  1. Like the taste of haggis and eat it willingly.
  1. Have red hair. This includes eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic hair and mustache. (ladies too.)
  1. Like and collect bagpipe music. Will willingly endure an indoor bagpipe concert. The sound of massed pipe bands make you cry and not from pain.
  1. Wear a kilt in public, no matter what your knees look like or whether the wind is blowing. (fishing weights can be wonderful things as well as bike shorts. Regimental can be chilly.

You should:

1.     Accept that your ancestors as well as being royalty were also horse thieves, cattle rustlers, sheep thieves and murderers.. Be especially proud of the latter.

2.     Realize that dessert will be shortbread, trifle, or have oats in it and be excessively sweet. Do Not Expect Chocolate. Unless it is that curious thing called a deep fried Mars bar.

3.     Occasionally contemplate how well your enemies heads would look in wall niches.

4.     Know the Gaelic word for Englishman. Use it as a cuss word frequently

5.     Keep your sporran at the correct height, men, It was originally to protect your private parts. Although how much protection a bag of oats is a subject for discussion.

6.     Realize that you are usually on the losing side of a war. That’s how your ancestors got to this country isn’t it? But you’ll fight anyway, it’s the fight that counts, right?

7.     Realize the dour expression on the face of most Scots comes from wearing woolen underwear. It’s not polite to scratch.

8.     Bathe regularly, remember the English hated us because we did. They couldn’t smell us coming but we could sure smell them.

9.     Always play with your target before going in for the kill. There is a reason so many Scottish clans have cats on their clan badges.

10. Remember the old saying: The Irish drink as an avocation, the Scots do it as a profession. That’s why whisky has no “e” in it, so you can ask for it quicker.

11.  Be able to identify your clan badge or tartan at 50 yards. Be able to identify your enemies at a 100 yards, especially Campbells.

12.  Pick your most obvious and least favourite physical characteristic. You will spend the rest of your life named for it; i.e. Cross-eyed Mairi, Big Nose John, Cameron means crooked or broken nose and Campbell means crooked mouth in Gaelic.

13.  Remember that this is also the country that invented Covenanters and Presbyterianism, Some of us are rabid teetotalers and no fun is allowed! (except for making sure no one else is having any either.)

14. Remember that the Scots take the saying: Never suffer a fool gladly, literally. Don’t be an idiot more than you need to be.

15. Remember, it is your nature to sulk, bear a grudge, take vengeance and switch sides. After all, the Highlanders are still mad at the Campbells after 300 years. The Scots have hated the English since at least 1200 A.D. Why should you be any different?

16. Remember that your little Scottish granny can still beat the crrrapp out  of you. No matter how tall or old you are or how tall or old she is.

17. Believe in faeries and second sight if just to have an excuse for the results of a whole night spent a drink that started with Glen…. If you do have second sight be as vague as possible. The more vague the more famous you will be.

18. And last but not least, the Scots have no internal emotions. All emotions are external, at least in Gaelic. I love you; Tha gaol agam ort, translates I have love for me on you. Romantic, huh?

Do you still want to be a Celt/Gael?

Suas Alba!

Slainte’ mhath, slainte’ mhor

A h-uile latha

Chi’s naic fhaic.

Dree yer ain weird – A Pagan Blog post

Something most Scots have heard if their family still keeps its culture. To “Dree yer ain weird is to follow, practice, suffer your own destiny.

The underlying theme of growing up is to find out what you are meant to do and do it. But how many of us actually do, do it? Sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow or what our parent’s ideas of what we should grow up to be.

Oddly enough it goes handily with the Church of Scotland/Presbyterian view of predestination and the belief in free will that I was raised with at church and that doesn’t change with my paganism. I do think we choose our own individual destiny even if it’s in not choosing and going with the flow. It’s still a choice and you still exercised free will to not make a choice.

And in a weird way, coming out as a lesbian helped me make choices other than what my parents had in mind because once I had decided to throw out the conditioning to be straight and settle down and provide grandchildren, I was free to decide what I did want to do. I could decide who I lived with or if I lived with any one at all. I was free to choose my dreams. I’m free to write anything I get an idea to write about and thanks to technology be a published author.

It freed me to take the next step and follow what my grandmother had been teaching me and expand into a pagan life. It freed me to determine my own spiritual beliefs and ethics and not to blindly do what I was told without thinking about it. From what I read on Facebook, a lot of my high school contemporaries are still living their lives the way their parents did. The ones I find interesting are the ones who by some circumstance have made their own choices and are not the people they were in high school. Sometimes, not always the best choices but they made choices outside of what would have been pre-determined by their parents. I just found out a friend in high school who I really liked a lot and admired his creativity died of AIDS 10 years ago. He made his own choices to not grow up in Glendale and get married to a nice girl but to be a creative human being and from what I know of him in high school, come out, and I wonder if he regrets those choices or loved the time he had after making those choices.

I think we choose lessons to learn before we return to earth. Each time we return we choose new lessons. We choose the people we have those lessons with. Sometimes it’s learning that certain people are toxic and are working their own set of lessons.

The choices we make after we are born put us in circumstances to learn those lessons. And if we don’t complete the lesson then we get another chance if we would like in the next life. I hope I always choose lessons of love and creativity.

So do ye choose ta dree yer ain weird or are ye dreeing someone else’s?

More thoughts on The Philosopher and the Druids

I just finished The Philosopher and the Druids. Something is sticking in my head. It tells of the famous Greek philosopher of the Stoic tradition’s journey through the Celtic countries and he writes about a funeral tradition of the Gauls of what is now France. He said that the people believed that when someone died they waited somewhere before reincarnating but when a person was cremated that everyone who wanted to communicate with their own dead would write a letter and put it on the funeral pyre so that the person being cremated would take the people’s letters with them to their dead. A sort of cosmic mail person.

Through most of Posidonious’ writings he is pointing out how strange some of the Gaul’s customs were but what he doesn’t point out as strange struck me, were all the people literate? If everyone is writing letters to the dead and their dead can read them then that is a very large literate population for those times, (around 90 BC)

I know that the Irish had universities in 600 AD that people from all over Europe sent their sons to for education that was allegedly better than that found in the rest of Europe. And I know that Scotland has always had a huge tradition of literacy. The English liked to portray William Wallace as a barbarian and country bumpkin who somehow managed to unite Scotland but he had been to universities in France so how big a barbarian could be have been, Mel Gibson’s idiot portrayal not withstanding?

And Posidonius writes that everyone , men, women and children wrote letters. Yes, they ran naked and screaming into battle and deafened the Romans with trumpets and screaming but that was to scare the bejebus out of the Romans and sometimes it actually worked.

The inscriptions from that time period were in Gaulish so they obviously had a written language that was accessible to all. How big a barbarian could you be if you can read and write? Yes, they practiced human sacrifice but was that really any different from Romans putting people in the arena to fight to the death? I don’t think so and I bet there were fewer sacrifices by the Gauls than deaths in the arenas that every city had for contests with captured slaves. Posidonius makes a point of saying that the Gauls kept far fewer slaves than the Romans did and this is at the end of the Republic before the Empire would really raise the ante.

So I’m still pondering what a Greek had to say about the Celts of Iberia and Gaul. And really wanting to do some genetic testing to find out what gene pool I swam in versus what I was told was family history. I also wish my brother was still alive because he was the last of his line.


St Bride’s charm from Carmina Gaedelica

St Bride’s Charm

The charm put by Bride the beneficent
On her goats, on her sheep, on her kine,
On her horses, on her chargers, on her herds.
Early and late going home, and from home.

To keep them from rocks and ridges
From heels and the horns of one another
From the birds of Red Rock
And from Luath of the Feinne.

From the blue peregrine hawk of Creag Duilion
From the brindled eagle of Ben Ard
From the swift hawk of Tordun
From the surly raven of Bard’s Creag.

From the fox of the wiles
From the wolf of the Mam
From the foul smelling fumart
And from the restless giant hipped bear.

From every hoofed of four feet
And from every hatched of two wings,


One of the reasons I love Lammas is that it’s a baking holiday like Yule and it makes me feel connected to the long line of bakers I descend from. It makes me wonder how far back does the baking go? Is it like one of those ever reflecting mirrors where you see the same image repeated into seeming infinity?

Because my background is fairly homogenous almost a 100% Scottish and Swedish with one of the clans emigrating with William the Conqueror from Normandy in 1066, I can imagine a long line of people who baked loafs for Loafmas and earlier for Lughnassad. It makes me feel as if I have a strong foundation to stand on.

What was it like to bake bread in a brick or clay oven? I’ve baked bread in a dutch oven in a campfire? Did they? How did they learn how to regulate the temperature? What did they do if the yeast died? For yeast is a living being and can die. Did they grind their own wheat or oats or rye to make their bread or did they pay the miller in town? Did they grow their own? Did they let their neighbors use their ovens when they were done to cook their meals? Did they share what they had with people who did not have enough? I was raised to bake for others and share and I can’t imagine that is a new thing? Food should be shared like love.

And knowing that many of the male bakers were Master Masons, did they use magic in the baking like I do? Baking is a lot like alchemy. It’s alchemy of food. Taking diverse ingredients like wheat and milk and lard or other shortening and adding minerals like spirits of ammonia (the precursor to baking powder) and calcium carbonate and the living yeast, how did they learn to combine them to make something wholesome to eat?

Who was the first to smell the magical smell of baking bread? Who decided fresh churned butter and preserved fruits would taste so good together?

Who offered their first loaves to the Lady after the wheat harvest? Did they wonder about the future? Did they keep their recipes secret or did they share them if asked? Did they wonder who would bake after them?

Last night I baked my loaf. My first in years as I tasted it after it cooled I wondered about those other bakers.

Celtic women in battle

I’m reading a fascinating book of my great-grandfather’s called, The Scottish Gael or Celtic Manners as preserved among the Highlanders. It was published in 1833. It was written by James Logan and our copy is very very old. It even has the address in it my great-grandparents were living at when they came in 1901. They were living over the bakery on Vermont Ave. Never knew that before. It’s one of the most peculiarly organized books I’ve ever read. Its chapters are broad topics and the only indication that the subject has changed is a few words at the top of the page.

That being said, I was trying to do some research on Highland holidays which turned out not to be there and got lost in the chapter on women in war that starts with Roman times and then goes forward.

At one point he is talking about how many could be raised as an army and states that Boudicca had 230,000 people in her army. The Romans only had 40,000 which might explain how they lost so badly to her.

He talks about Veleda, Aurinia, and Boudicca as being regarded as bearers of divine will and were venerated and followed into battle because they were touched by the divine. The Romans described the women as “the women attacked them with swords and axes and making a hideous outcry, fell upon all those who fled, as well as their pursuers, the former as traitors and the latter as enemies; mixing with the soldiers, with their bare arms, pulled away the shields of the Romans and laid hold of their swords, enduring the wounding and slashing of their bodies to the very last with undaunted resolution. It talks about them screaming and yelling at the men to excite them before going into battle. It also says they did the same when the Romans attacked the Druid’s sacred isle of Anglesea.

He says: “The great respect which Celts paid to their women was due to many amiable qualities and the estimation in which military acquirements were held by these people gave an incredible weight to the authority of the heroine…. Such women were regarded as having supernatural gifts and in the name of the deity they governed the people.”

From there he goes on to talk about the role of Bards and Druids in battle.

Love old books!