Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 3)


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I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech —Taliesin’s Song of his Origins, 6th century

Raven Tattoo

One of the challenges in the photo shoot was to transform my eleven-year-old granddaughter, Maylin, into the adolescent Celtic warrior princess, Catrin—the heroine in APOLLO’S RAVEN. Isabelle Kai, a makeup artist from Boulder, worked with Rebekah West (Rebekah West Photography), and myself to design a raven tattoo for placement on Maylin’s forehead. The raven is the protector animal that guides Catrin and helps her prophesy.

Isabelle created a unique stencil template that was used to spray paint the raven on Maylin’s head. The British Celts were known for tattooing their bodies by using the leaves of the Woad plant to create a viscous blue dye. The indigo paste was tapped into the skin with needles to force the stain under the skin layers. In addition, feathers were pasted on Maylin’s face to highlight the strength she garners from her raven spirit.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Catrin, Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Mythological Raven

The mythology of ravens is widespread throughout the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. Ravens have been associated with prophesy and wisdom, but they also conjure dark images of bad luck and death (discussed below).

Raven Animal Protector

A spiritual warrior society, the Celts revered animals as protectors and teachers. They believed the physical world is one level of existence. Overlaying this mortal world is the Otherworld, the world of spirits and forces which can guide and help us. Ravens, in particular, were revered for their ability to bridge these two worlds. They served as messengers from the Otherworld and acted as guardians and protectors.

Celtic Warrior Princess

Catrin, Celtic Spiritual Warrior Summons Raven

Raven Light Symbolism

In Greek and Roman mythology, the raven was associated with both Athena (Roman: Minerva) and Apollo—deities closely affiliated with the sun and the light of wisdom. Apollo was an oracular god, and thus, the association between the conversational raven and the god of divination made sense.

Mythological Raven

Apollo’s Raven

In Norse mythology, the god, Odin, was pictured with two ravens on his shoulders: Hugin representing the power of thought and active search for information; Mugin, representing wisdom and its ability to understand by intuition. Odin would send these two ravens out each day to spy upon the lands. They would return to tell him what they learned on their journeys.

Raven Dark Symbolism

Ravens are associated with predators, particularly wolves, which kill prey for ravens to scavenge. As human civilization became more war-like, fostering conflict and the spread of disease, ravens often picked at the bloody remains of fallen warriors in battle. People interpreted this predictable biological response as a supernatural sign and came to view ravens as omens of bad luck and harbingers of death. The sight of elongated beaks pecking into corpses reinforced the nightmarish images of ravens.

The Morrigan was the shape-shifting Celtic Goddess of war, fate, and death. She soared over battlefields in the form of a raven and frequently foretold or influenced the outcome of the conflict.

Soaring Raven

Raven Over Battlefield

The Norse god, Odin, was also known as the Raven God. His daughters, Valkyries, would transform into ravens and whisper to the souls of fallen Norse warriors to follow them to Valhalla in the sky.

My next series of posts will continue to unfold how Rebekah West prepared for the photo shoot that transformed Maylin into a Celtic warrior princess based on historical accounts in Ancient Britain.

(To be continued—Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure)

 

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Woman Warrior (Part 2)


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Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Woman Warrior (Part 2)

 “…a whole band of foreigners will be unable to cope with one [Celtic Gaul] in a fight if he calls in his wife, stronger than he by far and with flashing eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge white arms, begins to rain blows mingled with kicks like shots discharged by the twisted cords of a catapult.”

–Ammianus Marcellinus


Historical Background

The Celtic heroine, Catrin, in Apollo’s Raven is based on reliable evidence of first-century warrior queens of powerful tribes in Ancient Britain (Ancient Roman Britannia). These real-life  female rulers and military commanders were recorded in historical accounts by the Romans who invaded Britain in 43 AD.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior in Battle

Celtic Woman Warrior in Battle

Tacitus, a first-century historian, wrote in his Anals: “it is not the first time that Britons have been led to battle by a woman.” He wrote extensively on two Ancient Britain warrior queens:

  • Cartimandua (Sleek Pony): Queen of the Brigantes, a north-central British tribe; Roman client queen in 50 AD.
  • Boudicca (Victoress): Queen of the Iceni, a Northeastern British tribe; military leader of both female and male warriors in major revolt against Roman occupation in 60 AD.

The rights and position of Celtic women far exceed those in Rome, where the male head of the family (paterfamilias) had complete control over his wife and family. Further, there was historical evidence for the existence of female druids—spiritual leaders—in the Celtic society. Boudicca may have been a priestess of the goddess ‘Adrasta’, the goddess of victory.

Celtic Woman Warrior Battle Dress

One of the challenges for Rebekah West [Rebekah West Photography and Creative International; Website: http://rebekahwest.com%5D was to locate authentic costumes and weapons in preparation for the photo shoot on 13 June 2012 when my granddaughter, Maylin, posed as Catrin, an adolescent Celtic warrior princess. Rebekah’s son, Shevek, who had a background in theater arts, provided Celtic swords used in the various settings. Just prior to the photographic adventure, he practiced with Maylin in the proper handling of the sword.

The more difficult obstacle was to locate authentic wardrobe for a Celtic woman warrior. My original vision was based on documented battle gear of Celtic male warriors: multi-colored tunics, mail-shirt or leather chest armor. In advance of the photo shoot, I provided key measurements to Rebekah for outfitting  Maylin. After an extensive search, Rebekah finally located a woman’s leather chest and wrist protectors based on actual replicas from archaeological digs. And just in case—a local artist was ready to weave a mail-shirt as back-up wardrobe.

Below is a photograph of Maylin posing as Catrin in battle dress (leather chest and wrist protectors and earth-brown tunic) and armed with sword.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior on White Cliffs

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

 

(To be continued—Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure)

Reference:

The Roman History of Amminus Marcellinus, published in Vol. I of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1935; Book XV, 12 The Manners and Customs of the Gauls, p. 197.