I come of Brythonic stock but do not feel that the Romans were “my people”, very far from it and I don’t like the concept of “power-over” which the Romans had in spades; consequently I always feel bad about the Roman occupation of these lands even if not quite as bad as about the Norman invasion. Although the Romans, in general, had a fairly tolerant approach to religion however they (like the Normans) followed the concept of title held through the male line: a lot of Boudicca’s problem was that the Romans refused to recognise her husband’s wishes and allow her and her daughters to inherit the kingdom. While they produced impressive cities and palaces, and had a killing-machine of an army, they should not be considered superior in culture to the Celts they had conquered. Look at the prehistoric artwork of this land for evidence of that – BTW, it makes my teeth grate that we call anything pre-Roman prehistoric and tend to do so with a somewhat denigrating attitude.

Furthermore, the term prehistory often includes the idea that folk who have no [found] written records were necessarily dumber than those whose writing we have discovered. Writing is perhaps best preserved in stone, done with some form of chisel. Some parchments have been found in very dry climates. Writing on paper has mostly been found where cities have also enabled good preservation atmospheres. Now … I must quote here , “absence of evidence does NOT mean evidence of absence!” Making paper is not particularly rocket science, nor is making ink; for instance look at the way the South African Neanderthals were able to manipulate ochre. Paper rots down very fast – go look in your compost heap if you have one. Similarly hides generally rot down quite fast, say 70 years or so. I see no reason to believe our ancient ancestor – like those who made the 40,000 year old flutes recently found or the Antikythera mechanism – could not write. Quite likely they used hides and/or paper which has long been reborn into other atoms and molecules since then.

by Chesca Potter

Sovereignty and elen of the Ways – sometimes seen in the storyof how she drew the Roman macsen Wledig to her and wed him – are the deep underlying powers in the lands of the Boreal Forest. They are the  underlying concept of Sovereignty was anathema to the Romans; they would feel completely undermined by it; but it was and is fundamental to Celtic tradition. As they had no concept of the feminine, nor of Sovereignty, they are bound to misinterpret our ways. They also had no concept of the King being the guardian and protector of the Queen so any concept of what “John Barleycorn” or the Eleusinian rites of the Greeks are truly about would be off planet to them. And, of course, to any historians whose reputations rely on Roman tracts for their own perceived wisdom. Everything such “historians” say should be taken with a large pinch of salt and read in context with what would have been important to those historians. We should remember that Pausanias, Pliny, Tacitus and the other writers of the times were, in effect, the Rupert Murdocks of their day, writing what would please their patrons and attempting to write history to show the Romans to their best advantage. What we “know” from them is what Tacitus-et-al thought and felt about our people and their practices – not what we-the-people actually knew and believed.

History is a strange chimera of a beast, continually shapeshifting under the hands of her writers as they manoeuvre her to fit with their own ideas and prejudices. It happens to me too but I try my best to think about context, how it would be to be a Roman, of that culture (for instance) and seeing our ways from that perspective. I do my best not to put any historian up on a pedestal but always to use my own nous and gumption (not sure these are still taught in the general curriculum!) to check things out; to say does that make sense? What might be the purpose (and not some TV-simplistic one) for that action or ritual? And I go to the sites whenever I can, ask the spirits of place how it was. This latter is generally very difficult for university-trained academics; they stare and titter and ask how I can possibly expect an answer from an inanimate object or place. My answer, of course, is that objects and place are not inanimate!  This causes even more consternation and often a strong desire in the academics to consign me to a strait jacket *g*.

There have been archaeologists, like Heinrich Schliemann who found Troy and Frederick Bligh Bond who did very interesting work at Glastonbury, who do ask and speak with the spirits of place where they work. Unfortunately there is currently a debunking attitude prevalent amongst many pagans which doesn’t help true research at all. I’m not sure what this fear of working with spirit is about, it seems completely nuts to me to profess druidry, witchery, paganism, shamanism and then to deny the ability to speak with and learn from spirit. But then, I’m a bear of very little brain and not at all au fait with current fashions.

To return to the Romans, an interesting people on whom it seems to me the current USA is modelling itself, with similarly disastrous results. Dominance, power-over, superiority over, and all related traits are not good in any century. These traits do instil a sense of security in those who don’t wish to think for themselves but this is a house built on sand, it will be washed away as reality rears her head and shows us – if we are willing to listen and see – how things were and are. I feel no alignment with the Romans; I hate what Suetonius did on Mona and to Boudicca along with all the other dreadful things the Romans in general did to the peoples they subjugated, consider Vercingetorix, the real person behind Asterix the Gaul.

No, I feel no affinity at all with the Romans.