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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Dobunni
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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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Thews of Witchdom

The old-time Tribe of Witches didn't have a separate word for “religion.”

Or “tradition.”

Or “morals.”

They had one word for them all.

The Hwicce—the Anglo-Saxon tribe (and later, kingdom) that (according to some) gave rise to the name and lore of today's witches—spoke their own dialect of Old English, the language which (after a crossbow marriage with Norman French) gave rise to Modern English.

Living in a state of cultural wholeness that we can only fantasize about today—what culture critic Stephen Flowers would call “integral culture”—their word ðéaw denoted many of the shared things that together make a people a people: Religion. Custom. Tradition. Usage. Virtue. Conduct. In the plural, it also meant virtues, (good) manners, morals, morality.

Imagine a world in which all these things were the same thing. That was the world of the witches.

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Why We Speak English

In this season of the ancestors, I remember Horse and Hench, the legendary brothers (some would say, lovers) who led their people to the Promised Land.

England, that is.

You may, perhaps, know them as Horsa and Hengist, as they would have been called in their own day: literally “horse” and “stallion.” Hench is a worn-down form of hengist: a henchman was originally a hengist-man, literally a horse (or stallion)-man: i.e. a squire or groom.

Some would claim them as historic figures. J. R. R. Tolkien—himself a Hwiccan lad— certainly thought so. But of course it's not that simple.

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Consider the suffix -ry or -ery,*  which comes to us from Latin (-arius) via Old French (-er, -ier) via Middle English (-erie) and, attached to a noun or verb, can mean either a craft, study, or practice (husbandry, midwifery), a collective plural (Jewry, nunnery), or a place in which a particular activity takes place (bakery, hatchery).

So witchery can mean:

  1. Witchcraft,

  2. Witches collectively, and

  3. Witch Country.


One of my favorite lines from the Charge of the Goddess has always been: For behold, I am Queen of all Witcheries. Apparently there are multiple witcheries, and She's queen of them all. Andrew Mann said of Her in 1597: She has a grip of all the Craft. That's quite a claim.

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World's Witches Get Official Tartan

AP: Minneapolis, MN

If Steven Posch has his way, the witches of the world will soon have their own official tartan.

“Hopefully, it will be a done deal by next Samhain [Halloween],” he says.

“The process is surprisingly straightforward,” he adds. “You submit your pattern to the Scottish Registry of Tartans. If it's not already on file, you send them a swatch, pay the fee, and—yan, tan, tethera [one, two, three]—it's official.”

Is the Witch tartan an ancient pattern?

“The Dobunni [the ancient British tribe which, according to some, are ancestral to the witches of today] must have had their own traditional plaids,” says Posch, “but those have all, alas, been lost to the mists of time. This Witch tartan will be a new one, designed by a select Midwest artist.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Your posts never cease to amazing and amuse me - thanks!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witch Country

They call it the Driftless Area.

What strange forces spared one isolated region along the Upper Mississippi River, asks Timothy S. Jacobson, from the repeated crushing and scouring effects of massive continental glaciers during the last million-plus years? What pre-Ice Age throwbacks survived here in this unique refuge that holds more Native American effigy mounds, petroglyph caves, strange geological features, and rare species than anywhere else in the Midwest?

Every tribe has a territory. In this, the Midwest Tribe of Witches is no different from any other.

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Why Witches Keep Cats: A Folktale of the Latter-Day Dobunni

They say that long ago, before things were as they are today, the Moon fell in love with her brother.

She tried everything she could think of to get into his bed, but he was having none of it. Only Cat shared his bed, no one else.

So Moon goes to Cat one day and says: Cat, trade shapes with me.

And Cat, being Cat, says: What's in it for me?

Says Moon: Someday I shall bear a great many children, and my children will always make a place for you at their hearths.

And Cat, being Cat, says: What else?

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  • Miles Gerhardson
    Miles Gerhardson says #
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    So it is.

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