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Caractacus: The Celtic King Who Defied Rome

Caratacus (Brythonic *Caratācos, Middle Welsh Caratawc; Welsh Caradog; Greek Καράτακος; variants Latin Caractacus, Greek Καρτάκης) was a first-century British chieftain of the Catuvellauni tribe, who led the British resistance to the Roman conquest.

Before the Roman invasion Caratacus is associated with the expansion of his tribe’s territory. His apparent success led to Roman invasion, nominally in support of his defeated enemies. He resisted the Romans for almost a decade, mixing guerrilla warfare with set-piece battles, but was unsuccessful in the latter. After his final defeat he fled to the territory of Queen Cartimandua, who captured him and handed him over to the Romans. He was sentenced to death as a military prisoner, but made a speech before his execution that persuaded the Emperor Claudius to spare him.

The legendary Welsh character Caradog ap Bran and the legendary British king Arvirargus may be based upon Caratacus. Caratacus’s speech to Claudius has been a common subject in art.

Caratacus is named by Dio Cassius as a son of the Catuvellaunian king Cunobelinus. Based on coin distribution Caratacus appears to have been the protégé of his uncle Epaticcus, who expanded Catuvellaunian power westwards into the territory of the Atrebates. After Epaticcus died about 35 A.D., the Atrebates, under Verica, regained some of their territory, but it appears Caratacus completed the conquest, as Dio tells us Verica was ousted, fled to Rome and appealed to the emperor Claudius for help. This was the excuse used by Claudius to launch his invasion of Britain in the summer of 43 AD. The invasion targeted Caratacus’ stronghold of Camulodunon (modern Colchester), previously the seat of his father Cunobelinus.

Cunobelinus had died some time before the invasion. Caratacus and his brother Togodumnus led the initial defence of the country against Aulus Plautius’s four legions, thought to have been around 40,000 men, primarily using guerrilla tactics. They lost much of the south-east after being defeated in two crucial battles, the Battle of the River Medway and River Thames. Togodumnus was killed (although John Hind argues that Dio was mistaken in reporting Togodumnus’ death, that he was defeated but survived, and was later appointed by the Romans as a friendly king over a number of territories, becoming the loyal king referred to by Tacitus as Cogidubnus or Togidubnus) and the Catuvellauni’s territories were conquered. Their stronghold of Camulodunon was converted into the first Roman colonia in Britain, Colonia Victricensis.

Resistance to Rome

We next hear of Caratacus in Tacitus’s Annals, leading the Silures and Ordovices of Wales against Plautius’ successor as governor, Publius Ostorius Scapula. Finally, in 51, Scapula managed to defeat Caratacus in a set-piece battle somewhere in Ordovician territory (see the Battle of Caer Caradoc), capturing Caratacus’ wife and daughter and receiving the surrender of his brothers. Caratacus himself escaped, and fled north to the lands of the Brigantes (modern Yorkshire) where the Brigantian queen, Cartimandua, handed him over to the Romans in chains. This was one of the factors that led to two Brigantian revolts against Cartimandua and her Roman allies, once later in the 50s and once in 69, led by Venutius, who had once been Cartimandua’s husband. With the capture of Caratacus, much of southern Britain from the Humber to the Severn was pacified and garrisoned throughout the 50s.

Legends place Caratacus’ last stand at either Caer Caradoc near Church Stretton or British Camp in the Malvern Hills, but the description of Tacitus makes either unlikely:

[Caratacus] resorted to the ultimate hazard, adopting a place for battle so that entry, exit, everything would be unfavorable to us and for the better to his own men, with steep mountains all around, and, wherever a gentle access was possible, he strewed rocks in front in the manner of a rampart. And in front too there flowed a stream with an unsure ford, and companies of armed men had taken up position along the defenses.

Although the Severn is visible from British Camp, it is nowhere near it, so this battle must have taken place elsewhere. A number of locations have been suggested, including a site near Brampton Bryan. Bari Jones, in Archaeology Today in 1998, identified Blodwel Rocks at Llanymynech in Powys as representing a close fit with Tacitus’ account. SOURCE

Caractacus: The Powerful Celtic King Who Defied Rome

The Speech of King Caratacus

Caractacus

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Goddess Ostara – What is Known

As much as is written and as many websites along with Youtube videos you can find regarding the Germanic Goddess Ēostre (Ostara, Ēastre), so little is known historically. But does this mean we disregard her as a true Goddess? I say no because as we see with Gods and Goddesses of other Pantheons such as the Norse, Celtic and Slavic, it does not lessen their importance. So being that Spring has begun I felt the need to offer this post to my readers to get a deeper insight and see other opinions regarding Goddess Ostara.

Ēostre (Ostara, Ēastre) is an obscure Germanic and Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and dawn, and is thought to be the namesake of the Christian holiday Easter. Her festival is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring.

Her name is thought to mean “to shine”, therefore Ēostre is seen as a goddess of the dawn. However it is also thought that Ēastre is the ancient word for “spring”. There are also links to the name Ēostre and “east”, the direction of the sky where the sun first rises, which gives Ēostre the name “Eastern Star”.

Ēostre is connected with growth, renewal, abundance, new beginnings and fertility. As symbols of rebirth and fertility, eggs and rabbits are sacred to her, as is the full moon.

Ēostre represents the transitional time between childhood innocence and adult passion, and reminds us that life is full of untold possibilities and adventures. SOURCE

Ostara/Spring Equinox Vernal Equinox March 21-22

A point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year. Night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But the year is now waxing and at this moment light defeats the dark. The natural world is coming alive, the Sun is gaining in strength and the days are becoming longer and warmer.

The gentle whispered promise of Imbolc is fulfilled in the evident and abundant fertility of the Earth at Ostara. It is time for the hopes of Imbolc to become action. The energy is expansive and exuberant. It is the first day of Spring!

Ostara takes its name after the Germanic goddess, Eostre/Ostara, who was traditionally honoured in the month of April with festivals to celebrate fertility, renewal and re-birth. It was from Eostre that the Christian celebration of Easter evolved, and indeed the naming of the hormone Eostrogen, essential to women’s fertility. The Goddess Ostara has the shoulders and head of a hare. SOURCE

The changing of the seasons, phases of the moon, even our personal experiences-all are reflections of the Divine Feminine. Create a stronger connection to the sacred world and your own divinity by welcoming these thirteen powerful Celtic and Nordic goddesses into your life.

All About Eostre – The Pagan Goddess of Dawn

Goddess Ostara

OSTARA: Saxon Goddess of the Dawn and Spring

Who is Ostara?

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Saxo Grammaticus – Danish Historian

Saxo, who lived in the latter part of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, was probably a canon of Lund Cathedral (then Danish). He was secretary to Archbishop Abslon, who encouraged his gifted protégé to write a history of his own country to emulate those of other nations, such as Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Absalon was able to supply him with a large amount of material for the last few of the 16 books, since, as a warrior archbishop, he had taken a leading part in the Danish campaigns against the Wends of North Germany.

The work is a prosimetrum: in the prose text of six of the first nine books he inserts poems, some quite substantial. The poetry, he tells us, are meant to put into metrical Latin verse some of the narratives he had found in old Danish (and probably Icelandic) heroic poetry, such as the courageous last stand of Biarki and Hialti defending their lord after a Swedish ambush on the royal palace. He begins his work with the ancient myths and legends. Only in Book Nine does he start to introduce recognizable historical figures, after which he proceeds through the lives and activities of Viking kings, like Cnut the Great, ending in 1185 with the earlier exploits of Cnut Valdemarson.

As the first major Danish historiographer, Saxo’s work is a valuable fund of material, even though, like many other medieval historians, his accuracy can be variable, sometimes to the extent of invented episodes. Nevertheless, he is the only source available for the period in places. Needless to say, he favours the Danes against neighbouring nations like the Swedes and Germans (we read a great deal about the treachery of the Holy Roman emperors), and he is keen to trace the rise and spread of Christianity in Scandinavia.

The Gesta Danorum is also the first outstanding work of Danish literature. Although his general style is elegant and complex, he is a consummate story-teller, and when he gets his teeth into a good yarn, he can relate it in a swift and lively manner. These narratives range from heroic tales like those told of the tough old warrior Starkath (who loathes German sausages), to the tender love stories in Book Seven, and the early books are full of dragons, witches, wizards, and tales of the supernatural, including one about a vampire. He often displays a wry sense of humour, as in the story about a drunkard who persistently defies the king’s edict forbidding the brewing and consumption of beer. One of Saxo’s claims to literary importance is his inclusion of the first-known version of the Hamlet story. The fortunes of his Amleth foreshadow those of Shakespeare’s hero in surprising detail. SOURCE

Saxo Grammaticus about Jelling, 1644 edition

The nine books of the Danish history of Saxo Grammaticus

The Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

Saxo Grammaticus (“Saxo the Learned”)

Saxo Grammaticus – Danish Historian

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Nerthus, The Earth Mother Goddess

Nerthus, the Earth Mother Goddess of the Norse Vanir Gods. Lady of trees and sacred bogs, Lady of the fertile earth plowed up to give us food, Lady who is always veiled, and whose face is death to look upon.

Nerthus still to present time is quite the mysterious Goddess seeing how there is so little known about her. Some feel she is a Goddess just of Germanic tribes but there are some hints and clues that lead to showing that not only is she of the Vanir but may possibly be Njord’s sister and possibly Wife. Despite the mysterious origins of her I feel she is deserving of honor.

Nerthus is associated with Spring, cycles, health, energy, peace and prosperity. Her symbols are fire, chariots and soil.

We first learn about Nerthus from the Roman historian Tacitus, who was writing in the first century C.E. He called Her ‘Terra Mater’ (earth Mother) and noted that She was worshiped by several Germanic tribes. He describes a ritual setting in which an image of Nerthus stands concealed in a cart within a sacred grove. Only Her clergy were permitted to touch or approach the sacred image. All others were put to death. Tacitus writes that this cart would be driven in a holy procession, after which the statue and its accoutrements would be tended to and cleansed in a special lake (and the slaves who assisted with this would be drowned in that lake). (Simek, p. 230). Simek considers Nerthus to have been a Baltic and/or Danish Goddess, since the tribes Tacitus specifically refers to settled east of the Elbe River. He also associates the ritual washing of the statue and its gear with the sacred marriage, or hieros gamos. (ibid).

Because Tacitus, in good Roman fashion, compares (or syncretizes) Nerthus with the Roman Terra Mater, examining how the Romans viewed their own Earth Mother may provide valuable clues into the nature of Nerthus. (Krasskova, p. 88). The Romans had no sentimental illusions about Terra Mater. She was a nurturing and gift giving Goddess of the earth, but She was also the terrible Goddess of earthquakes, famine, flood, storm, and destruction. There was bounty, but also tremendous danger and outright terror all contained at once in the holy presence of this Goddess. (ibid). Tacitus specifically talks about the mysteries of Nerthus as begetting “terror and a pious reluctance to ask what that sight can be which is only seen by men doomed to die.” (Tacitus, chapter 40). In this, it would seem, Nerthus contains within Herself the embodiment of holy power and perhaps holy terror as well.

In surviving Anglo-Saxon writings, there is a ritual (Æcerbot or ‘field remedy’) for blessing the fields prior to ploughing and planting. Despite its rather late provenance (11th century) in this ritual “Eorðan Moðor,” or Earth Mother is invoked. Contemporary Heathens, particularly those with an Anglo-Saxon focus, look to this rite for one of the Holy Tides: Charming of the Plough, which usually occurs in late February. While few of us today are bound to the earth in the way that our largely agrarian ancestors were, we can still honor its cycles and honor the gift of our own creativity too in such rites. SOURCE

Useful Sources: “Dying for the Gods” by M. Green, “Looking for the Lost Gods of England,” by Kathleen Herbert, “Boar, Birch and Bog” by Nicanthiel Hrafnhild, “Exploring the Northern Tradition” by Galina Krasskova and “Dictionary of Northern Mythology” by Rudolf Simek

The Germanic Kingdoms and the Eastern Roman Empire in 526 CE

Nerthus and Njorun: a Norse Mystery

The Goddess Nerthus

Goddess Nerthus

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Norse Talk: My First Episode

Last week I joined as a guest for the first time on a live Tiktok known as Norse_Talk and the discussion was the Havamal stanza’s 19-22. After that we had an open Q & A with the viewers and it really went great! They have a Youtube channel which the lives are uploaded and are filled with great people I know. I definitely plan to be on more episodes in the future.

Havamal resources

Hávamál
The High One’s Words
A STUDY GUIDE

The Hávamál

Hávamál – The Sayings of Hár

Norse_Talk Youtube Channel

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Horses: Their Spirit, Lore and Mythology

The Horse throughout history is one of the oldest animals found in ancient Indo-European culture, folklore and mythology. The Horse holds such significance in many cultures for not just providing a mode of travel but even as a source of food and milk like Airag, the Mongolian fermented Mare’s milk drink. From the Middle East, Mediterranean, Asia and across Europe, The Horse is wrapped deeply in many cultures and local mythology including the close relationship of the Horse with certain Gods and Goddesses. Of course still to this day many relate and have themselves connected to the Horse spirit animal. Which is why I decided to put this Blog post together for everyone who has any connection or interest in all that I will include regarding the Horse.

Horse symbolism changes depending on whether the Horse is wild or tethered. When the Wild Horse enters your awareness, often there is more than enough energy to motivate you and carry you through anything. As you read through the in-depth collection of Horse information, take some time to meditate on it. Consider what kind of spiritual gifts Horse bestows on you and how you should work with the creature’s Energies.

A Wild Horse brings vitality and freedom in on its galloping hooves. There is no constraining Horse when it runs with the wind, but the creature also enjoys the company of family and friends. It’s always more fun to gallop together in a setting where individuality never gets lost. That’s why Horse symbolism speaks to your social nature and how you connect with those you hold dear.

Carl Jung suggested Horses symbolize personal power, the things you master in your life, and your natural gifts. Horse is a creature representing success and self-actualization. When you know what drives you and puts the awareness of your motivations to work, you can get much further and faster than you ever imagined possible.

When tame, Horse represents those parts of your personality you restrict and confine, like sexual urges. The tame Horse also symbolizes service and trusting relationships. If Horses show up in images where they’re in a stable or tied up, it could be a message that something is holding you back and limiting your autonomy. It may also speak of low energy levels and the need to pay attention when using your physical resources. Continue reading HERE.

Automedon with the Horses of Achilles; Artist
Alexandre Georges Henri Regnault (1843-1871)

Horse Symbolism, Meanings & The Horse Spirit Animal

Horse Spirit Animal Meaning & Symbolism

Horse Spirit Animal

Horses and the Heavens

Some of the oldest myths in the Indo-European tradition concern the existence of supernatural or divine horses. The earliest text in Sanskrit, or indeed any Indo-European language—the family that includes most of the main languages of Europe, South Asia, and parts of western and central Asia—is the Rig Veda, a collection of sacred hymns written sometime in the late second millennium B.C., during the Bronze Age. Among its more than 1,000 hymns are prayers and poems appealing to and honoring the gods. At the time the Rig Veda was set down, the myths it references were already centuries, if not millennia, old, but it was during the Bronze Age that Indo-European-speaking peoples began to travel and trade across great distances, carrying with them beliefs that were then communicated across a vast territory, stretching from Asia to Scandinavia.

Archaeological evidence collected in Europe provides the strongest parallels for early Indo-European myths first set down on the Indian subcontinent, says Kristian Kristiansen of the University of Gothenberg. One of the most important of these shared Bronze Age myths is that of the sun cult, wherein the sun’s daily journey is symbolized by a horse drawing a chariot across the heavens. This is also widely interpreted as the journey from death to the afterlife. Continue reading HERE.

Ultimate List of Mythical Horse Names

Mythical Horses

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Landvættir: Spirits of the Land

The Landvættir also known as Wights or Spirits of the land are spiritual beings that have always fascinated me and even have had my own experiences with them ever since I was a child. Much like the Vantavættir (Water spirits) or Hafvættir (Sea spirits) which I also have had experiences with, the Landvættir hold great importance for those who know of them in Norse and Germanic Lore and yes I do believe these Beings do indeed exist. So I felt the urge to share with you all some really great sources that are worth taking the time to have a look at.

Landvættir are Land-Spirits who are the guardians of particular places or countries. Landnámabók, The Book of Settlements, states that dragon-prows of ships must be removed close to land in fear of disturbing or offending these spirits. Egil Skallagrimsson left a niðstöng, a scorn-pole topped by a horse’s head and inscribed with threatening or offensive runes, in Norway in order to upset these land-spirits so badly that they would drive Eirik Bloodaxe from his kingdom; within a year Eirik was gone, deposed by his brother Hakon. Clearly, these are beings to be reckoned with.” – Somerville and McDonald, The Viking Age: A Reader (Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures: XIV, 2010), pp. 104-105.

Landvaettir-land wights

Land Spirits

Supernatural Beings in Norse Society

Landvaettir

Landvaettir the Land Wights