Deenagh: The Pictish Years Chapter Five – Childhood

This is a Disabled Pagan Voices Project Submission

There was no such thing as formal education within the Pictish community, because it was believed that the children of the village learned best from being a part of village life, which meant that they could spend time with any of the skilled trades folk, and a child’s curiosity was nurtured and fed withinformation as and when it showed itself. Deenagh loved her village. As a child there was noexpectation on her to do anything she didn’t want to do, and she naturally gravitated to those people she enjoyed spending time with. Being independent, Deenagh spent alot of time alone, enjoying her
own company. She was a likeable child, and the village clans folk allowed her a greater freedom thansome of the children may have had, because they sensed her fearless Spirit, and the need to develop in her own way. They also spoke of Deenagh as being touched by their Earth Mother, the Goddess, because they believed Deenagh could speak to the Spirits, and so it was assumed that she would be the next Shamaness. She was said to be a child with the Spirits in her and around her, and as such was thought of as natural born to the role of Shamaness.

However, Deenagh had other things on her mind, and from an early age, Deenagh belonged to the Anoc-Par Tribal Dance Troop, and she was so proud to be a part of the entertainment that performed at The Sacred Mountain at the Clan Gatherings. Deenagh was able to show off to an audience, just as all the children of the Pictish community were encouraged to do, as it helped boost a child’s self esteem, as well as giving the younger members of the village a sense of purpose. Deenagh loved to dance and she was gifted with rhythm and the ability to listen to the sounds of the drums that the Tribe danced to. She quickly learned the dance moves and her mind allowed her to be creative and she had ideas of her own, and soon was designing dance routines for their group. Despite her young age, the rest of the Tribe of girls listened to Deenagh, because they respected her passion and enthusiasm.

There were about thirteen girls in total that belonged to the Anoc-Par Tribal Dance Troop, but it was traditional that dances were performed in groups of no more than five girls, so although they all practised together, only five would have the chance to actually perform at the Gatherings in front of
the other village clans folk. However, Deenagh was not a child that constrained herself to tradition and she made new traditions, incorporating more than five girls into their dances, because to Deenagh it was simple, there was no rule that said they couldn’t have more than five dancing at a time. It was more important to Deenagh that the story was conveyed through their dance routine, and she could envisage what she wanted to portray. The dances would be practised and then preformed for the
village on special nights of celebration, such as Naming Ceremonies and Full Moon Ceremonies, so there were many opportunities to dance. The Tribe was well organised and met regularly to put together their routines for the coming Clan Gatherings. There was a healthy competitive rivalry among the Dance Troops of the other villages that attended the Gatherings on The Sacred Mountain, and the young girls would look to other routines for ideas so they could use them in their own dances. The adults enjoyed the entertainment, with many of the women recalling their own younger days as Tribal Dancers with fondness, and pride at their own daughters now carrying on with the same tradition. The young girls took their role seriously as they were not only representing themselves and their families, but they were also representing their extended family of the village they lived in. They all wanted to do themselves proud, and they worked hard at perfecting their performances.

All Dance Troops had musicians in the way of Tribal Drummers, normally about three to five young men, and they kept the rhythm going for the girls to dance to, playing for them in their practice sessions. These drummers were joined by others at the Clan Gatherings, in a communal drumming
session that raised alot of energy and helped the girls to lose themselves in their dances, giving the best performance that they could possibly give. Deenagh loved how she could express herself through dance, and the beat of the drums helped her to connect with her Earth Mother, whom she always felt that it was to the Spirit of the Earth and to her Ancestors that she was really performing for. Deenagh loved her Dance Troop whom she thought of as her Tribe, the group that she felt she belonged, because
there was such a feeling of comradeship and deep friendships developed due to the amount of time the group spent together. She learned much about the ways of social interaction, as well as the benefits of working as a team. Deenagh was not to know that belonging to her Tribal Dance Troop helped her to gain confidence in teaching and guidance, as well as developing her creativity. Deenagh was a part of her Dance Troop the entire time she lived in Anoc-Par and she had the fondest memories of the
Gatherings as they revolved around her dancing in one way or another.

The stories that were told through the dance routines were mainly stories of the Earth Mother’s journey around the Sun, and the seasons of the year, which were represented in the Earth resting in Winter, then slowly awakening to emerge adorned in Her green cloak once again in the Summer. Deenagh used these stories to create new dance routines, and she thought alot about her Pictish beliefs and wondered at their Creation story. She spoke with her Tree Mother, and they discussed the ways of the people and what influenced their beliefs. Even though Deenagh was still a young child, she could ponder on the bigger questions of the Universe and how her people came to be. The Dryad encouraged Deenagh to be open minded, and would allow her to reach her own conclusions, mainly answering Deenagh’s questions which generally led to more questions.

After much conversations with her Tree Mother, Deenagh had decided on her own version of the Pictish Creation Story, which she named The Legend of the Earth and the Moon. Deenagh herself loved the story so much and was so proud of it that she had to share it with someone else. So she
chose to tell it to the younger children as they sat around the Wizened Hawthorn Tree one afternoon as the sun shone brightly in a blue sky. Deenagh was not to know that the Old Shaman was listening in on her story and he spoke to her afterwards and asked her if he could tell the story to the Pictish people at the next Clan Gathering. Deenagh felt that she needed to think about this and asked the Old Shaman if she could let him know as soon as she could, which bemused the Old Shaman but he accepted this. Deenagh consulted her Tree Mother and asked her for advice. They talked about the concerns of it being revealed that Deenagh had created the story, because as the Dryad stated, if the rest of the clans folk knew it came from Deenagh, then she would be taken immediately and trained as the next Shamaness. The Dryad reminded Deenagh that her Mother Maebh had wanted her daughter to grow up with the freedom to choose her own path when the time was right. So Deenagh agreed with her Tree Mother on the best course of action. Deenagh spoke with the Old Shaman and said she consented to him telling the story at the next Clan Gathering but on the condition that he does not disclose that it was from her. The Old Shaman at first wanted Deenagh to be credited with this story, but he understood her concerns, and so he told her that he would comply with her wishes
and tell the people that he had been given this story by the Spirits of their Ancestors.

So it was at the next Clan Gathering, at Samhain, the Old Shaman told the Legend of the Earth and the Moon, and he named it their Creation Story. Deenagh was there when her story was told, and she loved it as much as when she had told it to the children in Anoc-Par, and to hear it from her Old
Shaman was a special thing indeed. Those who heard the story were enthralled, and most of the people who were listening were filled with emotion, from deep sadness to a sense of optimism. There were many tears shed openly and privately in the Old Shaman’s telling of the story, but all left with a renewed sense of hope to continue with life after the loss of loved ones.

This was the only time that the Old Shaman told the Pictish Creation Story, because he died three days after the clans folk returned from the Samhain Clan Gathering at The Sacred Mountain. He was an old man, almost eighty years old, much older than any of the Pictish people had lived, and he had
achieved all that his Spirit had set out to achieve, his time had come to rest. The Old Shaman was greatly missed by all the Pictish people for he was the greatest Shaman that the people had ever known.

My name is Deenagh Jackson and the process of my writing has helped me understand my own Pagan beliefs in this modern day, while also helping me to connect with my Ancestors of old.

The Deenagh series of books which I started writing almost 2 years ago are about the main character Deenagh who can remember her past lives and each book tells the story of the lifetimes she has lived and the lessons learned, with her Spiritual beliefs at the heart which are important to Deenagh.
This is the first time I have shared my stories outside my close circle of friends, but as a wise man once told me “a stranger is a friend yet to be”, so feel free to contact me by email 
Brightest Blessings, Deenagh