Celtic Cultural Identity: Art, Language, Hierarchy–Apollo’s Raven


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The animal envoys of the Unseen Power no longer serve, as in primeval times, to teach and to guide mankind. Bears, lions, elephants, ibexes, and gazelles are in cages in our zoos—Joseph Campbell

Introduction

Celtic symbolic lore conjures images of magic, warriors, hill fort castles, and animal spirits. Each Celtic locality throughout Europe had differences, but there were common cultural characteristics that spurred the 5th Century BC Greek writer Ephoros to describe them as one of the four great barbarian peoples, together with the Scythians, the Persians, and the Libyans, who lived beyond the confines of the ‘Classical Mediterranean world’. Common threads of art, language, and hierarchical structure weaved these tribal communities into a distinct Celtic cultural identity.

Celtic Cultural Identity

Craftsmanship

During the La Tène period beginning in 450 BC, the Celts were on the move and seeking riches and glory by plundering. Also the Celtic warrior society was developing a unique craftsmanship that was distinctive from the classical art of peoples they invaded along the Mediterranean. The Celtic craftsmanship was more abstract—elusive, dream-like, shape-shifting, fantastical, and zoomorphic. The Irish novelist and broadcaster, Frank Delaney, described the art as ‘a tendril of a plant teased into itself, then spun outwards until it becomes a pattern, a whorl, a whole inner world, leaping, coiling, dancing.”

Celtic Gold Clasp

Two-headed Celtic Gold Clasp

This eloquent craftsmanship reflects the rich mythology of a Celtic-speaking people who at one time spread from Britain across continental Europe to Russia and Turkey. These patterns symbolized their belief that worlds of the living and the dead connect with each other; souls reincarnate into other living beings. Why should a warrior fear dying in battle when life and death hold hands in a continuum? Brass cauldrons were crafted with images of zoomorphic gods featuring both human and animal forms. The antlered god, Cernunnos, was possibly the patron of the chase and lord of the forest. Warriors called upon animal spirits for their strength, swiftness, and cunning. Another favorite was the goddess Epona, who the Romans adopted as their own for protecting their horses.

There are different theories as to whether the widespread discovery of La Tène artifacts was the result of Celtic acculturation or invasion. Surely, the southward and south-eastward expansion was the result of raiding on rich cities and sanctuaries replete with prestige objects. And of course, the lands of wine they craved. Although these tribal communities displayed a degree of unity in their craftsmanship, there were distinct differences in the local communities. For example, the La Tène art was rare in Spain and Ireland.

Celtic Round House Blacksmith

Celtic Round House MetalsWorker

Most mainland Celts built square houses, while those of the islands and parts of Iberia built round ones. Wheel-made pottery appeared in the mainland La Tène core but was not used in Britain until first century BC.

Celtic Hill Fort

Celtic Village Round Houses

Celtic Language

Although a common Celtic language was spoken over very extensive regions, its characteristics were complicated by the likelihood that its speakers were in close contact with speakers of a variety of other languages. It has been difficult to reconstruct the ancestral language as most written accounts were derived from Greek and Roman historians. We can’t assume that there was monolingual uniformity in any inhabited area in ancient times.

The classical authors disrespected the Celts because of their reluctance to commit to writing. Rather, Celtic priests memorized their rituals. Minstrel bards sung of a ruler’s bravery—or ridiculed them—depending on the noble’s generosity. Nonetheless, Celtic words and inscriptions have been found on ceramics, weapons, coins, and metal and stone monuments at various locations throughout Europe. The scripts employed were mostly borrowed from neighboring people: Etruscan, Phoenicians, Iberians, Greeks, and Romans. Though the linguistic evidence is fractured and incomplete, it provides evidence that Celtic was indeed spoken from Spain to Turkey, from Ireland to Pannonia, and from Belgium to Italy.

Other Common Markers of Celtic Identity

Other markers for Celtic identity were religion, warfare, and hierarchical structure. But even these attributes varied from region to region. For example, the war chariot was an integral part of warfare in 1st century BC Britain, but had been abandoned in Gaul (modern day France) at least a century earlier. Previous posts on Apollo’s Raven described how Briton charioteers reeked havoc on Roman legionnaires in Caesar’s invasion in 55 BC.

Replica Celtic Helmet Britain

British Celtic Helmet

In general, the La Tène society appeared to be highly hierarchical in their communities, though inlet Britain probably had a simpler, more egalitarian structure. Celtic rulers were originally considered semi-divine figures, but by the 1st century power was in the hands of an aristocracy with one or more chief magistrates in Gaul. In his accounts, Julius Caesar regarded only two classes of any status in the Celtic society—the druids (spiritual leaders) and the knights (noble warriors)—which were evidenced in Irish and Welsh culture.

Celtic Chieftain's Round House

Celtic Round House of Chieftain

 Conclusions

The Celts had profound local and strong diversities, but they also had common craftsmanship, language, and hierarchical structure that gave them a distinct Celtic cultural identity. The next series of posts will delve into the warrior and spiritual culture (spirit warriors) that inspired the rich Celtic mythology.

References:

John Davies, The Celts: Prehistory to Present Day;  2005; United States: Sterling Publishing Co., New York.
Julius Caesar, translated by F. P. Long, 2005. The Conquest of Gaul; United States: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Delaney, Frank, The Celts (London, 1986)
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers; An Anchor Book published by Doubleday, New York, 1988

Apollo and Coronis; Apollo’s Raven; God of Healing

Apollo and Coronis

In Greek mythology, there is a tale of Apollo falling in love with Coronis, a Thessalian princess of unsurpassed beauty. He ordered his divine messenger, a pure white raven, to guard her. Though Coronis was pregnant with Apollo’s child, she gave in to the advances of a mere mortal, Prince Ischys, and betrayed her divine lover. She never considered that Apollo, the God of Sun and Truth, could never be deceived by her lies.
Lovers Swedish Royal Palace

Depiction of Apollo and Coronis

When Apollo’s Raven brought news to him of his lover’s infidelity, he became enraged that his avian messenger had not pecked out her mortal lover’s eyes. Apollo flung a curse so furious the raven’s white plumage was scorched black by his solar flames. He killed Ischys and sent his sister, Artemis, to slay Coronis with her deadly arrows (other accounts indicate Apollo killed Coronis himself).
Apollo-WaltersArs

Apollo, God of Sun and Truth

After his act of vengeance, Apollo felt a pang of grief as he watched Coronis be placed on the pyre and the flames ignite around her. At the last moment, he removed his son from her womb and gave his newborn son, Asclepius, to Chiron. The wise centaur mentored Asclepius in the art of healing herbs. Thereafter, Apollo became associated with healing through his son, Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. Coronis was set among the stars as Corvus, the crow (korônê in Greek).

Mythological Raven

Apollo’s Scorched Raven


Rome’s Association of Apollo with Healing

The Romans closely associated Apollo with healing. The Roman historian Livy recounts a plague in 433 BCE when the Roman people vowed to build a temple to Apollo and performed rituals to quell the wrath of the gods so the pestilence would not spread. Two years later, the Romans dedicated a temple to Apollo who they attributed for ending the epidemic. Up to the time of Emperor Augustus, the temple of Apollo Medicus was the only temple of Apollo in Rome. In 212 BCE the Romans instituted games in his honor, Ludi Apollinares. After the Roman conquest of Gaul, archaeological research shows inscriptions at Gallic healing sanctuaries combining “Apollo’ with the native names such as Apollo Belenus or Apollo Grannus.
Lycian_Apollo_Louvre

Apollo, God of Healing

References:
Fritz Graff, Apollo; Printed 2009 by Routledge, New York.
Edith Hamilton, Mythology; Printed 2013 by Back Bay Books, New York.

Hostage-Taking, Caesar’s Invasion of Celtic Britain; Part 5—Apollo’s Raven

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The ultimate adventure, when all barriers and ogres, have been overcome, is represented as a mystical marriage of the triumphant hero-soul with the Queen Goddess of the World. This is the crisis at the nadir, at the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of the earth, at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle of the temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber of the heart—Joseph Campbell

 

Introduction

This is part 5 of historical and archaeological evidence supporting the theory that Julius Caesar’s invasions of Ancient Britain in 55-54 BC helped establish Celtic dynasties in southeast Britain loyal to Rome. The subsequent political unrest between rival Celtic tribal rulers provides the backdrop to the epic historical fantasy, of which the first unpublished novel, APOLLO’S RAVEN, is a tale about the heroine, Catrin—a spirit warrior destined to meet the great-grandson of Marc Antony and to become queen of her Celtic kingdom.

In the previous four posts of the APOLLO’S RAVEN blog, the significant events of Caesar’s first and second invasions were highlighted. The Roman general wrote extensively about the role of hostages in Britain. In addition to using military armaments in conquering and building the Roman Empire, hostage-taking was another stratagem in his arsenal for overcoming enemies.

Ancient Roman Ship Replica

Model of Ancient Roman Ship

Hostage-Taking in Roman Empire

The modern day image of hostages associated with terrorism and war crimes is where one group retaliates against another by inflicting torture or deprivation of an innocent prisoner. Criminals use hostages to force some kind of demand—a personal ransom or safe passage from a besieged position.

In Rome, hostage-taking represented another scheme to ensure conquered peoples met their treaty agreements and to alter their way of thinking which was akin to the Roman elite’s. Hostages were not treated like prisoners, as they were allowed to move freely in public places with minimal security measures to prevent their escape. They could communicate with ambassadors from their native lands and at times take family members and material possessions with them. The hostages were frequently young males, although taking females was not unheard of, and they came from royal families. The Roman patrician watching over them could serve as patron, father, and teacher.

Hillside Deal UK

White Cliffs Hillside Deal

Julius Caesar’s Demand for Hostages

Julius Caesar retained hostages from thirty-seven tribes in Gaul (modern day France) and powerful tribes from Britain. He boasts that along with loot he plundered during his military campaigns, the detention of several hostages won him political advances in Rome. In his most famous battle at Alesia in Gaul, he held hundreds of hostages, among other concessions. In order to persuade the Roman masses of his military accomplishments—critical for his political survival—hostages played a prominent role in representing him as a great military leader.

In Caesar’s accounts, he recounts his demand for and manipulation of hostages from Britain. Prior to the first expedition to Britain in 55 BC, Caesar had first asked for hostages from Britain with little success. Word of his preparations to cross the British channel prompted several tribes to offer hostages, a promise Caesar encouraged them to fulfill. Nonetheless, he never received any hostages and was met with stiff resistance on his first landing. It was only after he won a decisive victory, the chieftains again promised hostages, but the tribes delayed and regrouped. The cycle continued where Caesar scored additional victories whereupon he demanded double the number of hostages. Despite his efforts, he only received detainees from two tribes. Subsequently, on his return to Britain in 54 BC, he not only accomplished his objective of defeating the Britons, but he succeeded in acquiring several hostages from the most powerful tribes and he mandated a yearly tribute to Rome. He had to make two trips between Britain and Gaul to transport all of the hostages.

Caesar’s Motivation for Taking Hostages

What Caesar was seeking from the tribes in Britain was a sign of their acceptance of Roman hegemony in the region. Securing hostages represented the manifestation of his authority. His written accounts were intended to put him in favorable light with the Roman senate to gain their support. He took credit for not only defeating the Britons, but for mapping their island, observing their ethnic habits, and gauging the degree of their civilization. For the most part, most of the senators judged his expeditions to be successful based on the number of hostages he retained, though in reality he had failed to control the island or gather any substantial riches. Notwithstanding, the invasions of Britain added to Caesar’s mystique.

Cliff side White Cliffs of Dover

Dover White Cliffs

Conclusions

The Romans continued to influence the dynasties in Britain long after Julius Caesar had left the island. Hostages may have impacted the interactions between tribal rulers and Roman politicians. As long as the southeast tribes continued to meet the Empire’s demands, there was not a strong impetus for Rome to invade and occupy Britain. That all began to change at the turn of the 1st Century when some of the Celtic rulers began to harbor anti-Roman sentiments.

Cork Oak Tree Arundel

Cork Oak Tree England

 

To be continued:

The role of hostages will be discussed in the next post as it is relates to Celtic Britain. Thereafter, historical and archaeological evidence will be presented that supports Rome’s influence over tribal dynasties prior to the invasion of Claudius in 43 AD.

References:

Joel Allen, Hostages and Hostage-Taking in the Roman Empire; Printed 2006 by Cambridge University Press, New York.

Julius Caesar, translated by F. P. Long, 2005. The Conquest of Gaul; United States: Barnes & Noble, Inc.

Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces; 3rd Edition Reprinted by New World Library, Novato, CA.

Caesar’s Invasion Celtic Britain 55 BC;Part 2

The Call to Adventure: The first stage of the mythological journey—designated as the ‘call to adventure’—signifies destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown—Joseph Campbell

Introduction

The unpublished historical fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, is envisioned to be the first novel of a trilogy set in Celtic Britain, Gaul (modern day France), and Ancient Rome prior to the invasion of Claudius. In 24 AD, the heroine Catrina Celtic spiritual warrioris called to adventure when she is enslaved by the Romans at the age of thirteen.

Based on historical and archaeological evidence, there is evidence that Julius Caesar’s invasion in 55-54 BC helped to establish dynasties in the two most powerful tribes of southeast Britain who owed their loyalty to Rome. The political unrest of competing tribal rulers provides the backdrop for the story of Catrin who is destined to meet the great-grandson of Marc Antony and become warrior queen in her tribal kingdom.

Below is a continuation of Caesar’s first expedition to Celtic Britain in 55 BC (Part 2).

Julius Caesar Statue

Statue of Julius Caesar

 

Caesar’s Invasion Celtic Britain: First Expedition

Tidal Phenomenon 

After Caesar defeated the Britons near the Kent coastline, the tribal leaders surrendered, promising to serve his every need and to let him use the natives at his disposal.

On the fourth day of the Roman expedition, eighteen ships carrying the cavalry were driven back by a sudden storm. On the same night, the full moon brought a tidal phenomenon that Caesar was ignorant. Waves surged up the beach and destroyed or damaged most of his ships.  Caesar ordered some of his soldiers to repair the damaged ships using the timber and copper from the worst wrecks while he directed others to forage for corn in the surrounding fields.

Ancient Roman Ship Replica

Model of Ancient Roman Ship

There was a marked change in the attitude of the Celtic chieftains who secretly met and pledged to take up arms again and starve out their invaders. They covertly called upon their followers to fight. Caesar was unaware of their treacherous designs as there were no suspicious hostile movements by local inhabitants who continued to farm and visit the Roman encampment.

That all changed when outposts outside the main camp reported to Caesar there was a cloud of dust in an area that had been taken by the Romans. Now suspecting a new plot had broken among the natives, Caesar ordered a battalion to march a considerable distance to where Celtic warriors in chariots had ambushed some of his soldiers foraging for food.

Pathway Dover Cliffs

Dover Cliffs Near Caesar’s Landing

Chariot Fighting

Caesar had not previously encountered chariot-fighting which threw his infantrymen into dire confusion. The Celtic charioteers, galloping wildly down the whole field of battle, terrified the Roman soldiers by charging their horses into the melee of fighting. A Celtic warrior would leap out of the chariot and fight on foot. Meanwhile, the driver would take position a short distance from battle to retreat with the fighting men if they became overpowered. Thus, the Celts combined the skill of an infantryman with the mobility of the cavalry.  Even on the most treacherous terrain, the charioteers had perfect control over their horses.

Pebble Beach Deal UK

Caesar’s Probable Landing at Deal, Britain

Final Roman Victory

Though these chariot-fighting tactics tried the military discipline of the Romans, Caesar returned back to camp with his remaining troops. In the meantime, news of Rome’s weakness and an appeal to expel the invaders from their entrenchments spread throughout the countryside. Caesar resolved to crush the advancing enemy forces on foot and horse by charging them with two legions. The Celtic warriors could not withstand the Roman attack and many of them were killed. Several of the farms were burned to ashes.

Celtic Village of Roundhouses

Ancient Celtic Village of Roundhouses

Tribal leaders agreed to surrender under the terms that the number of hostages previously imposed would double. With the equinox close on hand, Caesar feared his repaired ships might not withstand the ocean’s storms and thus he sailed back to the Continent with a few of the hostages. When he ordered the remaining hostages from Britain, most of the tribes refused to send them.

During the following winter months, Caesar ordered his generals to build a fleet of newly designed ships that could better handle the seas in the British Channel for his next invasion.

Ancient Roman Ship Frieze

Roman Ship Image on Frieze

(To be continued)

References:

Julius Caesar, translated by F. P. Long, 2005. The Conquest of Gaul; United States: Barnes  & Noble, Inc.

John Manley, 2002. AD 43—The Roman Invasion of Britain. Charlston, SC: Tempus Publishing Inc.

Graham Webster, The Roman Invasion of Britain; Reprinted 1999 by Routledge, New York.

Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces; 3rd Edition Reprinted by New World Library, Novato, CA.

 

Caesar’s Invasion Celtic Britain; Part 1— Apollo’s Raven

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Celtic Tradition of Raven: I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech (Taliesin). The raven offers initiationthe destruction of one thing to give birth to another. For deeper understanding, the heroine must journey through darkness  to emerge into morning’s new light. 

Celtic Britain Setting

The unpublished historical fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, is envisioned to be the first novel in a trilogy that spans from 24  to 40 AD in Celtic Britain, Gaul (modern day France), and Rome prior to the invasion of Claudius in 43 AD. Though Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain occurred 80 years earlier in 55 and 54 BC, there is archaeological evidence that Caesar’s invasion was not a momentary diversion from his conquest of Gaul, but was instead an effort to establish dynasties of the most powerful tribes of southeast Britain who would owe their loyalty to Rome.

Julius Caesar Statue

Statue of Julius Caesar

The next series of posts will summarize historical and archaeological evidence of possible events that precipitated the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD, commencing 80 years earlier with the invasion by Julius Caesar. The political unrest of competing tribal rulers provided the backdrop for the trilogy about the heroine Catrin, destined to become warrior queen of her Celtic kingdom and the lover of the great-grandson of Marc Antony.


Caesar’s Invasion Celtic Britain

Planning

In 55 AD, Caesar was anxious to invade Britain because powerful chieftains had dispatched auxiliaries to secretly abet the Gauls in their war against Rome. Most of Caesar’s limited information was derived from traders. Thus, he wanted to learn more about the island’s size, the names of tribal leaders, their military state and organization, and the harbors suitable for landing larger vessels. He dispatched Commius, a king of the Atrebates tribe from Gaul, to impress upon the Briton leaders the need to cooperate with the Romans, whose general would soon visit them in person.

Collapse White Cliffs Wall Britain

Coastal White Cliffs Near Dover

As Caesar prepared his fleet for invasion from a port near modern day Boulogne France, news of his intentions were conveyed by traders to Briton leaders. In response, some Celtic tribes from southeast Britain sent envoys promising to give Caesar hostages and to acknowledge the suzerainty of Rome. Encouraged by their willingness to negotiate, Caesar sent the agents back home.

Roman Landing

In late summer at midnight, Caesar disembarked 80 ships, sufficient to transport two legions (about 10,000 soldiers). He left instructions for 18 ships to transport the cavalry further north on the coastline. When his first vessels reached the British shores early the next morning, the whole line of hills (modern day Dover Cliffs) was crowned with Briton warriors. There was little space between the sea and rising white cliffs from which spears could easily be hurled down. As landing was impossible, Caesar directed his fleet seven miles north to an open, flat expanse of shingle beach. Celtic horsemen and charioteers followed Caesar’s ships on the hilltops as they sailed up the coastline.

 

Ancient Roman Ship Replica

Model of Ancient Roman Ship

Battle with Celtic Horsemen

Caesar’s forces had difficulty getting ashore as a result of Celtic warriors battling them on land while his men fought in shallow waters.  Laden with heavy accoutrements, Roman troops were forced to jump overboard into the channel without knowledge of the bottom. While trying to maintain their footing in the surf, the Romans had to fight the Briton warriors who outmaneuvered them on land using trained horses and fighting from chariots.

Replica Celtic Helmet Britain

British Celtic Helmet

At first, the Romans panicked in battle, but Caesar then relied on warships to hurl hot fire of sling-stones, arrows, and artillery at the Celtic troops, driving them from their point of vantage. Caesar recounts that an eagle-bearer from the Tenth Legion emboldened his comrades by leaping into the water and shouting, “I, at any rate, shall not be found wanting in my duty to my country and general.”

 

Pebble Beach Deal UK

Shingle Beach near Dover Cliffs

The battle was fiercely contested between the Romans and Britons. The Romans found it impossible to keep in formation, while the Celtic warriors seized very opportunity to dash in with their horses at isolated groups of soldiers struggling with the difficulties of landing. Once the Romans were firmly on land, their troops charged and routed the Britons.

Vanquished in battle, Celtic tribal leaders sent envoys to Caesar with promises of hostages and submission to his orders. Accompanying these envoys was Commius, who, it will be remembered, had been sent into Britain to herald Caesar’s coming.

(To be continued)

 References:

Julius Caesar, translated by F. P. Long, 2005. The Conquest of Gaul. United States: Barnes  & Noble, Inc.

John Manley, 2002. AD 43—The Roman Invasion of Britain. Charlston, SC: Tempus Publishing Inc.

 

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 6)


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 The images of myth are reflections of the spiritual  potentialities of every one of us. Through contemplating these, we evoke these powers in our lives — Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 6)

Photographic Journey

On June 13, 2012 the photographic adventure was completed with my eleven-year-old granddaughter, Maylin. She posed as the heroine in my unpublished novel, APOLLO’s RAVEN, a historical fantasy about Catrin—a Celtic spiritual warrior from Ancient Britain.  Below is a continuation of the photographs  and excerpts from APOLLO’S RAVEN which best captured my vision.

Excerpts APOLLO’S RAVEN

Catrin took the red-jeweled sword from Mor and pointed the blade toward a raven flying over the chalky cliffs.

Soaring Raven

Raven Over White Cliffs Britain

The brilliance of the sun escaping the cover of the horizon momentarily blinded her.

Celtic Warrior Princess

Catrin, Celtic Spiritual Warrior Summons Raven

A biting wind carrying the smell of salt roared across the water as she beseeched the raven’s spirit. “Let me see my enemies.”

Celtic Woman Warrior Summons Raven Spirit

Catrin Summons Raven

Her spirit shot like an arrow into the soaring bird. A light flashed in her mind and she became one with its spirit. Sparks burned through her legs and into her spine and arms; her muscles contracted in synchrony with the bird’s wings. Now she could see the world through raven eyes.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Catrin Spiritual Warrior Joins Raven

 

(To be continued—Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure; Photographs and Excerpts)

 

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure—Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 5)


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Since brevity is the soul of wit, I will be brief,” said Polonius in HAMLET—wise advice for writers.

Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure of Celtic Spiritual Warrior (Part 5)

Photographic Journey

Finally on June 13, 2012 the photographic adventure was completed with my eleven-year-old granddaughter, Maylin, who posed as Catrin—the Celtic spiritual warrior in my unpublished novel, APOLLO’s RAVEN, a historical fantasy set in Ancient Britain, 24 AD.  All the challenges for this shoot had been successfully met:

  • Maylin was costumed in leather chest and wrist armor based on actual replicas from archaeological digs.
  • The hills next to Fairview High School in Boulder, CO provided an ideal landscape similar to the Dover Cliffs hillsides in Britain.
  • A stencil was uniquely designed as a template to paint a raven on Maylin’s forehead.
  • Maylin’s long hair was braided; leather strips and feathers were tied into her hair.
  • Maylin was armed with a Celtic sword.

Isabelle Kai made-up Maylin at the South Boulder Recreation which took approximately 1 ½ hours. Some young girls watched with fascination as Isabelle transformed Maylin into a Celtic warrior princess—not a typical event one would expect to see before a workout.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior Close-up

Catrin–Celtic Warrior Princess

After Maylin was made-up and dressed, she met Rebekah West and three of her assistants (Isa, Emily, and Shevek) beside the high school’s concrete wall, the backdrop for a stone fortress. Amazingly right before the shoot, a raven landed on the roof and cawed at us—a wondrous start for the shoot. Maylin embodied Catrin and the scenes from the story came alive.  At sunset, a hilltop and a pine tree grove close to the school set the stage for the final photographs.

Below are photographs and excerpts from APOLLO’S RAVEN which best captured my vision.

Excerpts APOLLO’S RAVEN

Catrin silently walked through a grove of trees and stepped over a few brambles to find several warriors sharpening their swords. Catrin waved to one thirteen-year-old girl. She thought to herself, I’m the same age as that girl. Why wasn’t I asked to fight? 

Celtic Woman Warrior Prepares for Battle

Celtic Woman Warrior Prepares for Battle

 

The breaking dawn provided light for Catrin and Mor on the cliff top pathway. When they reached the summit, they could see clouds in the eastern horizon aflame with orange. Mor tied feathers into Catrin’s golden braids and using blue woad, painted wings on Catrin’s forehead.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Catrin, Celtic Spiritual Warrior

(To be continued—Quest for Catrin: Photographic Adventure; Additional Excerpts and Photographs)

 

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)