Women Mythology

Celtic Woman Warrior in Forest

Mystical Celtic Woman

“In the traditional mythological tradition, the woman is there. All she has to do is to realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to. When a woman realizes what her wonderful character is, she’s not going to get messed up with the notion of being pseudo-male.”

—Joseph Campbell

Women Mythology

Since childhood, ancient mythology has fascinated me because of the significant roles that women played in the tales. They were powerful goddesses, mothers, warriors, creators, and destroyers. Women were not only associated with fertility and birth, but with warfare and destruction.

Epona Flanked by Horses

Mother Goddess Epona Flanked by Horses

Women have already had a power that men did not have—the power of creating life. Early ancient civilizations acknowledged this power through the Mother Goddess who ruled supreme over all. The ancients held women’s ability to create new life inside her body in awe and feared the mystical blood flows that synchronized with the phases of the moon. Women were considered magical and the intermediaries between the physical world and spiritual world. They could serve as seers, priestesses, healers, oracles, lawmakers, judges, and agents of the Great Goddess Mother who gave birth to the Universe.

Macha Curses Men of Ulstur

Mythology Women Macha Curses Men of Ulstur

The hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell is a journey to the depths of our psyches where we discover spiritual meaning to our lives. It allows us insight into our souls where there are no boundaries between the spiritual and physical worlds. The ancient myths celebrated a female’s courage and cleverness to rescue their family, to be a partner on the hero’s journey, and to spin ways to overcome the giants in their way.

Boudica Statue

Statue of Boudica in London

It is no wonder myths have flourished throughout history because the tales and symbols reflect our universal struggle to find spiritual meaning in our everyday lives. Universal symbols in myths and dreams are connections into our creative, intuitive side. Unfortunately, the evolution of paternalistic societies and the emphasis on science, analytical reasoning, and technology in modern times have often left a void where people feel they cannot connect to each other and discover the spiritual meaning of their own lives.

Statue of Minerva, Roman Goddess of Wisdom and Battle

Minerva, Roman Goddess of Wisdom and Battle

Heroine’s Journey

The heroine’s journey has always existed in epic myths, but it was often understated. Many ancient myths were unfortunately rewritten to reflect the religious and cultural beliefs that depicted women as seductresses and witches, or as pure-minded maidens and mothers.

In today’s society, women oppressed by the hero quest see only two choices:

  • Be the sobbing princess needing rescue
  • Be the hero, taking on the masculine qualities to success

However, the heroine’s true role is neither to be hero or his prize. The power of women was reflected in the worship of the Great Goddesses who battled darkness. Her worship once dominated ancient mankind. She was the earth and sea from which life was created. She offered her feminine qualities of beauty, imagination, and compassion.

But she also offered death and savagery. The primal goddess reigned uncontested for centuries as Ishtar, Morrigan, and Cybele who could be cruel and lustful goddesses.  Many of these tales celebrate the metaphoric death of the inadequate self to resurrect into a higher plan of existence.

Relief Depiction Ishtar

Queen of Night relief often representing Ishtar British Museum

For both men and women, myths helped their passage from childhood into adulthood. In the original ancient tales, heroines were brave, resourceful, and clever. They accustomed to saving themselves and their princes. Myths are the collective conscious of humanity to help the next generation face conflicts and journey to self-discovery.

Complexity Women’s Roles

When I began writing the APOLLO’S RAVEN series, I grappled writing about my heroine, a Celtic warrior princess. Ancient mythology gave me insight into the complexity of women that provides them with both the courage and wisdom to overcome the monsters in their lives. Women not only ascend into the heavens as goddesses, but delve in the Underworld to face the shadowy parts of their souls. From these destructive forces bring forth new life. The heroine must use her darker feminine side to balance compassion and cruelty when overcoming evil forces in her journey.

Triplicate Mother Goddesses Displayed at Bath UK Roman Baths

Triplicate Mother Goddesses Displayed at Bath UK Roman Baths

Only after the heroine understands her dark side can she gain the wisdom to guide others needing her counsel, especially children. The heroine travels between the mortal and spirituals worlds to become a goddess and protector of others.

To Be Continued

The next posts will further explore the heroine’s journey with particularly emphasis on Celtic mythology of powerful women and goddesses.

References

Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand FacesBollingen Series XVII Third Edition; Joseph Campbell Foundation; New World Library, Novato, 2008.

Valerie Estella Frankel, From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend; McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2010,

Maureen Murdock, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness; Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, MA, 1990.

Celtic Heroines: Golden Age of Warriors and Queens

“We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly know. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path…And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all of the world.”—Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Introduction

The epic historical fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, is the first novel in the Spirit Warrior Chronicles set in 1st Century Britain and Rome. The primary character is Catrin, a Canatiaci warrior princess in southeast Britain. Not only is she trained as a warrior, but she uses raven mystical powers to help her parents defend their kingdom against a rival tribal king and her half-brother. She meets the great-grandson of Marc Antony, Marcellus, when he accompanies his father, a Roman senator, to arbitrate a settlement between the rival tribal kingdoms. Catrin and Marcellus bridge their cultural differences and form an unlikely friendship that develops into a deeper relationship which could threaten the political powers in Britain and Rome.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Catrin, Celtic Spirit Warrior

This unpublished novel is inspired by historical accounts and mythology of Celtic heroines who had significant roles as warriors, rulers, and spiritual advisers in the Celtic society. Celtic women were distinctly different from their Greek and Roman counterparts, as they had more liberty, legal rights, and status. This may be due, in part, because females often fended for themselves at home while their menfolk plundered, invaded, or served as mercenaries in foreign lands. Ancient classical historians also provided accounts that women incited, participated, and led battles.

Celtic Heroine Warriors 

Classical writers described Celtic females as not only strong and courageous warriors, but they were beautiful with comely bodies. Classical writer Diodorus wrote Celtic women were “nearly as tall as the men, whom they rivaled in courage.”

Roman historian Marcus Borealis further elaborated: “The women of the Celtic tribes are bigger and stronger than our Roman women. This is most likely due to their natures as well as their peculiar fondness for all things martial and robust. The flaxen haired maidens of the north are trained in sports and war while our gentle ladies are content to do their womanly duties and thus are less powerful than most young girls from Gaul and the hinterlands.”

Celtic Woman Warrior Prepares for Battle

Celtic Woman Warrior Prepares for Battle

Ammianus Marcellinus wrote a lively description of Celtic woman in battle as follows: “…a whole band of foreigners will be unable to cope with one [Celt] in a fight if he calls on 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.”

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Celtic woman warrior in sword fight

Though men usually held the highest political authority, it was not uncommon for women to rule as queens and military commanders. The 1st-century Roman historian Tacitus wrote the Britons “are used to women commanders in war,” and offered detailed reports on the exploits of two warrior queens—Cartimandua and Boudicca.

Celtic Heroine Queens

The Sleek Pony

Cartimandua, known as the sleek pony, was queen of the Brigantes, a vast tribal confederation in north-central Britain. Although Cartimandua ruled with her husband, Venutius, she held the real power to the kingdom. When the Romans invaded in 43 AD, both Cartimandua and Venutius realized the political advantages of siding with the aggressors and thus their kingdom because a thriving Roman client state around 50 AD.

However, Cartimandua lost popularity among her subjects when she betrayed the famous rebel leader Caratacus, turning him over to the Romans after he had sought asylum in her court. Her power eroded when she divorced Venutius and then married his armor bearer who she made the new king. Her actions prompted a civil war with her former husband, the Romans entering the fray and helping her to defeat Venutius in 71 AD. Though she may not have been viewed favorably in history, she still nonetheless was a powerful leader.

Celtic Woman Warrior with Sword

Celtic Woman Warrior with Sword

Boudica

Boudica was a charismatic warrior queen who united several British tribes to drive the Romans out of Britain in 61 AD. A bronze statue of Boudica driving her chariot is prominently displayed on the bank of the Thames (London) in honor of her valiant attempt to overcome her oppressors. Roman historian Dio Cassius described her as “very tall in stature, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, harsh in voice…and with a great mass of bright red hair falling to her hips.”

Boudica Statue

Statue of Boudica

Like the Brigantes, the Iceni had formed an alliance with the Romans that at first gave them prosperity and independence. That changed when her husband, King Prasutagus, died in 60 AD and she became the leader of the Iceni. He willed half of his personal estate to Rome in the hope the gesture would demonstrate his fealty and appease the Roman Nero. The other half was bequeathed to Boudica.

But Nero would not settle for half the fortune—particularly to a mere woman. He ordered his subordinates to seize Boudica’s estate and annex the Iceni territory. When Boudica protested, the Roman soldiers flogged the queen and raped her two teenage daughters.

But the Romans would soon face her fury. The details of this rebellion will be provided in the next post.

References

Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Ph.D., Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History Hidden Heroines; 2002; Warner Books, Inc., New York.

Cassius Dio: The Neronian Revolt of the Iceni under Suetonius Paullinus; Book LXII, Chapters 1-12 (AD 61)

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

Historical Fantasy–Balancing History and Spiritual Beliefs

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One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


Balancing History and Fantasy

I envision my project as a historical fantasy trilogy set in Celtic Britain and Ancient Rome in the 1st Century. The first unpublished novel of the series, APOLLO’S RAVEN, has been completed; the second manuscript, RAVEN’S BLACK FIRE, is nearly finished. One of the challenges I have faced in writing historical fantasy is balancing historical accounts with fantastical elements of Celtic spiritual beliefs.

The story is about the heroine, Catrin—a spiritual warrior destined to become a queen in her Celtic kingdom. Enslaved by the Romans, she begins a perilous odyssey where she meets her Roman ally and lover, Marcellus—the great-grandson of Marc Antony. The trilogy will provide both the Roman and Celtic perspectives of the political unrest in Rome and Britain, where powerful Celtic kings competed for power before the Roman invasion of Claudius in 43 AD.

Fantastical Elements

Based on Celtic ritual and spiritual beliefs, Catrin believes everything in the physical world is alive and has a spirit, including: humans, animals, plants, and watercourses. Certain animals are revered by the warrior for specific qualities, such as valor, speed, ferocity and fidelity. By adopting the raven’s emblem on her clothing, armor and face, Catrin believes she will be granted the same qualities as her animal protector. The everyday physical world exists side by side with the Otherworld of the gods and the dead. Catrin can enter the mind of her raven protector to obtain guidance and prophesy. The most important ceremonies takes place within sacred groves of trees.

The evolution of introducing the raven spirit into the story gives fantastical elements to the historical setting of the trilogy. Further, both Celts and Romans believed omens foretold their destiny, and they could base decisions on these prophetic visions. Catrin and Marcellus believe divine powers have predestined them to be together despite their cultural differences.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Catrin, Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Roman Influence in Celtic Britain

Another challenge in writing this story is the limited written accounts of major events in Celtic Britain during the time span between the Roman invasions of Julius Caesar in 55 – 54 BC and of Claudius in 43 AD. Although Romans did not occupy Britain for almost a century after Caesar’s invasion, they still had cultural contacts and political alliances with some of the powerful tribal rulers. Archaeological findings of minted coins, wine amphorae, pottery, and other Roman goods strongly suggest active trading between southeastern Briton tribes and Roman merchants.

Not unlike today where countries protect their global interests, Rome influenced political maneuverings between the Celtic tribes. Emperor Augustus maintained close ties with Britain through agents. In 9 AD, he may have used his power to negotiate a peaceful compromise between two powerful Celtic kings, Cunobeline and Dubnovellous, both who had legitimate claims to the Trinovantes kingdom. A civil war could have empowered anti-Roman factions. It was in Rome’s interest for an amicable agreement to avoid strife resulting in disruption of its lucrative trade in Britain.

Overview White Cliffs Britain

White Cliffs Britain

The next series of posts will provide more detailed background as to what is known about Celtic Britain prior to the Roman invasion by Claudius.

References:

Stephen Allen, 2001. Celtic Warrior. New York: Osprey Publishing Ltd.

Graham Webster, 1993. Roman Invasion of Britain.  New York: Reprinted 1999 by Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group

 

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 7)

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Furthermore, we have not even risked the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world. Joseph Campbell

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure — Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 7)

Impressions of a Heroine

Before completing the series of the photographic adventure of Catrin, the heroine in my unpublished historical fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, I wanted to post some comments from my eleven-year-old granddaughter, Maylin, about her experience posing as a Celtic warrior princess. Needless to say, it is not everyday a crazy grandmother asks her granddaughter to dress up as a warrior and re-enact sword fights and summoning a raven. In addition, I asked Maylin about her favorite mythological characters and young adult novels she enjoyed reading.

My granddaughter was quite the trooper during the photo shoot and interview. But Maylin finally admitted that at first she wondered if she had been thrown under the bus when her mother graciously volunteered her to do the photo shoot.

Thank you, Maylin, for sharing this wonderful adventure with me.

Interview with Maylin

Question 1. What were your first thoughts when your mother volunteered you to pose as a young Celtic woman warrior?

Answer: At first I wasn’t  happy. I asked my mother, “Why would you want to throw me under the bus?” I did not want to go through the fuss of make-up and dressing up like a warrior. The only reason I did it was because I loved my mother and grandmother. (Note: Always the perfect answer for a grandmother.)

Question 2. What type of characteristics would you like to see in a heroine?

Answer: Heroines should be fighters and stand up for what they believe in. Yet they should protect people who they love. I liked Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games because she traded places with her sister to protect her. Heroines should have a soft side, too.

Question 3. What is your favorite mythological character?

Answer: Poseidon is my favorite because he is a god associated with the sea and water. I liked the character Percy Jackson because he was the son of Poseidon, a demigod, in the series of novels written by Rick Riordan. I like to swim on my school team. My favorite monster is the serpent-like hydra that has many heads. For each head cut off, it grew two more heads back in place of one.

Question 4. If you were given the opportunity to have supernatural powers, what powers would you like?

Answer: I would like to have the power of telekinesis. Specifically, I would like to read the minds of other people and levitate objects. I would like to read my friends’ thoughts to know if there is anything wrong. Possibly I could help them.

Question 5. What comes to mind when you think of a raven? What types of powers would you envision a raven to have?

Answer: A raven is a bird. Nothing comes to mind as to what raven powers would be.

Question 6. How did you feel as you were being transformed into a Celtic warrior princess for the photographic shoot?

Answer: I was pretty amazed at what could be done with make-up, particularly the raven tattoo. The whole process of dressing up and re-enacting Catrin in an ancient time was pretty amazing. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Celtic Woman Warrior Sword Fight

Question 7. What were the favorite aspects of the photo shoot for you?

Answer: I like the photographic shoot of the sword fight in the forest. Not until I saw my facial expressions in the photographs did I realize how much I really got into role-playing the part of a warrior. I particularly liked the scenes where I had to sword fight with Shevek, an assistant off-camera.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior in Battle

Celtic Woman Warrior in Battle

Question 8. What are your favorite books and authors?

Answer: My favorite series of novels were the mythological adventures of Percy Jackson written by Rick Riordan. What I liked best is Rick Riordan actually went into some of the original Greek myths in his book. I also liked the Harry Potter series and the world created by J. K. Rowling. Finally, I liked Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins.

Reference: Joseph Cambell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers; Published by Doubleday; New York, July 1991.

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 4)


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Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 4)

On his first expedition to Britain in 55 BC, Julius Caesar wrote in Conquest of Gaul the following description of the coastal white cliffs: “…on his approach the whole line of hills crowned with the armed forces of the enemy. There was so little space between the sea and the rising wall of rock, that the shore was easily commanded by any spear thrown from above.”

 

White Cliffs Overview Britain

Coastal White Cliffs Britain

The final challenge in the photographic shoot for transforming my eleven-year-old granddaughter into Catrin, the Celtic spiritual warrior in the historical epic fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, was to provide a realistic backdrop of the hillsides leading up to the white cliffs along the British Channel. The adventure is set in 24 AD Ancient Britain where the army of Catrin’s father battles with Roman who have allied with his Celtic rivals in their plan to overtake his kingdom.

Hillside White Cliffs Britain

White Cliffs Hillside Britain

Rome’s Influence on Ancient Britain

Although Caesar mounted two expeditions to Britain in 55-54 BC, Rome did not invade and occupy this island until 43 AD. Even so, coins minted after Caesar’s expeditions suggest Rome heavily influenced the process of establishing dynasties in the two most powerful tribes in southeast Britain. Establishing loyal client-kingdoms outside the areas under Rome’s direct control was standard foreign policy. Celtic client kings may have spent their youth growing up in aristocratic Roman circles to learn the Roman culture and even to gain experience in the Roman army. In addition, there is archaeological evidence of extensive trading between Britain and the Continent as early as 100 BC.

Although the narrowest point between the Strait of Dover is only 21 miles between Britain and France (Roman Gaul), the logistics of moving soldiers, cavalry, and supplies proved to be a formidable task. Invasion of Britain was a high priority for Augustus, but other crises in the Empire may have influenced his decision not to invade. The Roman historian, Tacitus, records that in 16 AD some Roman soldiers were cast ashore in Britain and promptly returned to Rome by a local ruler.

Wildflower Hillside White Cliffs Britain

White Cliffs Hillside Britain

The above historical assumptions of Rome’s influence on the political climate in Ancient Britain set the backdrop to APOLLOS’ RAVEN.

Photographic Challenge – Setting

The photographer, Rebekah West [Rebekah West Photography and Creative International; Website: http://rebekahwest.com] had to find a suitable location in Boulder that looked similar to the grassy and forested landscape of the white cliffs’ hillsides. The British coastline is known for encroaching fog while in Colorado most days are arid and sunny. Further complicating the shoot, Colorado had a severe drought. Throughout Colorado, several forest fires raged, creating a smoky haze along the front range.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Celtic woman warrior in sword fight

The final location of the shoot was Fairview High School situated next to open space in Boulder. The school building served as the backdrop for a stone fortress while the open space provided a grassy hillside and groves of trees.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior on White Cliffs

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

 

On the evening of the photographic shoot, the air cleared and the approaching sunset provided fabulous lighting for the photographs.

Celtic Woman Warrior in Battle

Celtic Woman Warrior in Battle

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

References:

“The Conquest of Gaul,” Julius Caesar; translated by F. P. Long; The Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading, 2005, pg. 94.

“AD 43 The Roman Invasion of Britain,” John Manley; Tempus Publishing, Inc., 2002.

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.

Quest for Catrin: Adventures in Massilia Roman Empire (Modern Marseille) (Part 6)


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Quest for Catrin: Adventures in Gaul (Part 6)

Massilia Roman Empire (modern Marseille, France)

Mediterranean Sea Adventure

Leaving the coastal town of Marseille, France—the ancient site of Massilia—my daughter, Sonja, and I took a sea adventure on a motorboat to Cassis.

 

Against the backdrop of towering white cliffs, the Mediterranean Sea was turquoise along the shallow shoreline.

Calanques Limestone Cove

Calanques Limestone Cove

When the motorboat escaped the protective harbor of Marseille, my daughter and I reveled in the spray of sea water slapping our face as we jostled up and down on the open deck. The Calanques—steep-walled inlets, coves, or bays—lined the Provence coastline.

Calanques—Steep-walled Limestone Inlet

Calanque Provence Coastline

 

The limestone cliffs were sparsely vegetated with evergreen shrubs such as sage, juniper and myrtle.

Provence Calanques Bay

Calanques Provence Coastline

 

After we traveled half-way to Cassis, I turned to Sonja and with a big grin, I said,  “Let me take your picture.”

Her face was as white as the cliffs. “No, I’m sick.” Unfortunately, she spent most of the remaining journey in the belly of the ship with a few other seasick passengers.

Sunset Marseille Frioul Archipelago 

After a short recovery time from her seafaring journey, Sonja graciously watched the spectacular sunset with me behind the Frioul Archipelago, a group of four islands close to Marseille. I took copious notes of the fiery colors which set the stage for the final chapters of APOLLO’S RAVEN.

Sunset Marseille

Sunset Frioul Archipelago, Marseille

 

Sunset Marseille Archipelago

Sunset Frioul Archipelago Marseille

 

This was the end of the Gaul Adventure for my daughter, but the beginning of our renewed relationship after

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure

After the adventures in France to research APOLLO’S RAVEN, I wanted to create a photographic vision of Catrin, the spiritual warrior in APOLLO’S RAVEN.  My original intent was to photograph my daughter, but we both agreed that I needed to someone younger closer in age to the thirteen-year-old Catrin at the beginning of the story. The next choice was my eleven-year-old granddaughter, Maylin.

My next series of blogs will describe the photographic journey I undertook with Rebekah West, a photographer with an artistic flare from Boulder, CO (www.rebekahwest.com), who transformed Maylin into a Celtic warrior princess.
(To be continued—Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure)

 

Quest for Catrin: Adventures in Gaul (Part 5)


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Quest for Catrin: Adventures in Gaul (Part 5)

Massilia Roman Gaul (modern Marseille, France)

Continuing the journey that Catrin takes in APOLLO’S RAVEN, Sonja and I enjoyed exploring the town center of Marseille, France—the ancient site of Massilia Gaul—next to the harbor where several open storefronts were ready for business and ships were waiting to sail for adventures on the Mediterranean Sea. Ferries transported people to the Frioul archipelago comprised of four islands, one of which is the location of the Château d’If—the prison made famous by the Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

Below is a picture of me taken at the Château d’If overlooking the Marseille Bay.

Linnea Tanner at Château d'If Marseille

Château d’If Prison Marseille

The picture below provides a side view of the prison. The different shades of blue of the Mediterranean Sea—turquoise at the shallow shoreline and cobalt blue in deeper water—continued to amaze me.

Prison overlooking the Marseille Bay

Château d’If Overlooking the Marseille Bay

 

Lion Bites Hercules

While exploring the harbor of Marseilles, I couldn’t believe my eyes when we approached a statue of a  man, grimacing and  grabbing at his buttocks. I turned to my daughter and said, “That statue reminds me of a man with hemorrhoids!”

“No way!” Sonja replied. “There’s something behind him. Let’s get a closer look.”

When we finally saw the side view of this statue, we finally understood this man’s pain—a lion was chomping away at his rear end. This was not the image I had imagined for the Greek hero, Hercules, who successfully completed his first labor by grasping a lion in his mighty arms and choking it to death.

Hercules and Lion Struggle

Hercules and Lion

(To be continued—Quest for Catrin: Adventures in Gaul)

 

Quest for Catrin: Adventures in Gaul (Part 4)


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ADVENTURES IN GAUL (PART 4)

Massilia Roman Gaul (Marseille, France)

Sonja and I continued our journey on a train heading south alongside the Rhone River to the coastal town of Marseille, France—the ancient site of Massilia Roman Gaul where Catrin, Celtic warrior princess, and Marcellus, her Apollo-like Roman love interest, journey in APOLLO’S RAVEN.

 History of Massilia

Ancient Massilia was located in the Roman province known as Gallia Narbonensis, previously known as Gallia Transalpina (Transalpine Gaul). This city was founded by Greek colonists, Phoacaeans, around 600 BC. The Greeks introduced crops such as olives and grapes which were grown around the colony.

 

Marseille France Panoramic View

Marseille Panoramic View

 

Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian, stated the native Gauls (Celts) had an insatiable desire for wine which the Greeks and later the Romans exploited by exchanging slaves for amphorae of wine. Narbonensis served as an important area for trade routes due to its location on the Mediterranean. Further, the soil, vegetation, and atmosphere were quite similar to Greek and Latin lands.

 

Mediterranean Sea Along Provence Coastline

Mediterranean Provence Coast

Taxi Ride Adventure

Laden with heavy luggage, Sonja and I deboarded the train and descended and climbed several stairs and ramps as we searched for a taxi that would transport us on our next adventure. Finally after one hour of struggling with our suitcases, we found a friendly driver with a broad grin. “Sure, I take you.”

On our wild drive to the hotel, Sonja and I gripped at anything—the edge of our seat, the door handle, armrest—as we swerved and jostled in the back seat through the city street, then under an ancient fortress, and finally around a hillside to our accommodations next to the Mediterranean Sea. The splendor of the aqua-blue water shimmering along the white limestone coastline exceeded our expectations.

 

Coast of Provence

Shoreline Provence Coast

 

After a night’s rest, we were ready to continue our next day’s adventure in the city and on the sea.

(To be continued—Quest for Catrin: Adventures in Gaul)

Reference

Website Massilia: http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Places/Place/324496