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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in tribe of witches
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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Samhain Is When They Count Us

Samhain is when they count us.

That's what my old high priestess back East always used to say.

Samhain is when they count us. And if there are more of us this year than there were last year, then next year we'll be even more.

And if there are fewer of us than last Samhain, then next year we'll be fewer still.

So. If you're wondering whether or not to make the time in your busy, busy life and get your butt out to the ritual this year after all, then I say to you: Do it. It's important. It's a matter of Peoplehood.

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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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In Praise of Tribalism

Among the chattering classes on both the Left and the Right, it's become fashionable to decry what they call “Tribalism,” meaning solipsistic hyper-partisanship.

You'll notice that none of those doing the decrying actually belong to a tribe.

Those of us who do know that, in fact, they're wrong.

Tribalism is not the problem. Tribalism is the answer.

It's the lack of true tribe that is the problem.

Human beings are tribal animals. We're born with a need to belong: to be part of the life of an ongoing people, a group larger than a family but smaller than a nation. This provides us with a sense of belonging that nothing else can satisfy.

Since the longing to belong is inherent, when we don't have it, we seek it out. The tribe-substitutes that we end up with instead are all too often either something destructive—like a gang, or the Party—or something ephemeral and utterly trivial, like the Game, or the Concert.

Pagans, I would contend, are an emergent tribe, at least in potentia. Thou mayst not be a pagan alone. All pagan religions are tribal religions: they come with an inherent affiliation to a particular people. A paganism without a people is an incomplete paganism.

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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.

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How Do You Extinguish a Sacred Fire?

The gathering of the Tribe is over.

The sacred Fire of Gathering, which was lighted when the Tribe first gathered, must now be extinguished.

But how do you extinguish a sacred Fire?

Well, here's how the Tribe of Witches does it.

On the final morning of our Grand Sabbat witch-moot, we gather around the Fire, and make the same offerings and prayers to It that we've made on every morning of our gathering.

Then we quench the Fire with offerings. At the Grand Sabbat, for reasons that I won't go into here, we use red wine to do this.

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