Deenagh: The Pictish Years Chapter One Battle Born

This is a Disabled Pagan Voices Project submission from Deenagh Jackson

The Pictish people lived in Ireland around six thousand years ago and they were a Spiritual race who believed in the Spirit of the Earth, as a living, breathing Spirit. She was their Earth Mother who could provide them with all they needed to survive and thrive. The Pictish people had respect for their Earth Mother and Her creatures, of both the physical and Spiritual realms. She was honoured in the celebrations and festivities of the clans folk, by sending Her positive energy of fun and laughter, for they believed that it was in living their life to the fullest and being happy that was the greatest gift they could give back to their Earth Mother. When the Pictish people died, they knew that it was to their Earth Mother they would go, and to Her that they would recount their lives, telling Her of the lessons they learnt and then She would decide if they would be reborn.

The way of life of the Pictish people was simple, yet ordered, as there were obligations and duties to fulfil, so each member of the village had a role. Children were not formally educated, instead they were encouraged to be creative in dance and music, and when they showed an interest in an
apprenticeship, it was encouraged. There was a wide choice of apprentices for a young Pictish child, such as spear maker, warrior, Shaman, hunter, weaver or metalworker.

The villages were under constant threat of war, normally from outsiders who would try to take the and they lived on and enslave the people. So each village had its own warriors, trained in the ways of battle and the first line of defence when they would find themselves under attack. Villages may
call on other Pictish villages to aid their battles, to preserve their way of life. However, there were occasions when the Pictish people would quarrel among themselves, sometimes whole villages, but a truce would be called and enforced by the Head Shaman, when the people as a whole would attend the Clan Gatherings.

At the head of each village was a Chief, and he or she organised their community so that everyone was happy and therefore productive, adding to village life. The most important role of each village was the Shaman or Shamaness, who was primarily the healer, both physically and Spiritually. It was the Shaman who held the greatest power and influence over the village, because even the Chief would respect the counsel of the Shaman.

The village of Anoc-Par had a population of around eighty people, including children, and it was named after a Wizened Hawthorn Tree that stood in the centre, around which circular houses were built in an ever expanding circle. The village was in a clearing in woodland, on a valley between
mountains that towered over the village like Guardians, ever watchful, a symbol of endurance and strength. The woodland was an ancient one, undisturbed for thousands of years and it had a variety of trees, from mighty oaks to the high reaching beech, birch and ash, as well as copses of hazel. There were many hedgerow bushes from blackthorn to brambles of various berr ies, among which stood the elder trees, sacred to the Goddess. With this abundance of tree and plant life, there were many insects, which fed the small birds. There was a great many mammals of mice, vole and rabbits which helped sustain the magnificent birds of prey of eagles and owls. In the woodland roamed giant elk and packs of wolves that hunted the variety of deer. There were great mountain cats and huge bears
that were largely solitary creatures. Rivers and streams flowed close by, a source of drinking water as well as its cleansing qualities, in which swam the creatures of water, from beavers to otters, as well as the variety of fish. This was a beautiful world, an environment unspoiled, and the Pictish people lived in harmony with nature, and their Earth Mother was able to showcase her finest creations. There was magical energy all around, and this was a joyous world for a newly born Spirit to find themselves in.

The villages were part of a bigger community of the Pictish people, and on four occasions throughout the year, there were great Clan Gatherings, when the majority of the people would travel on foot to The Sacred Mountain. They would spend three days and three nights in celebration with feasting,
story telling and exchanging knowledge, thereby always learning, developing and growing. These special times marked the journey of the Earth around the Sun, as the people celebrated the Summer and Winter Solstices, the longest and shortest days of the year. The other two Clan Gatherings that were important to the beliefs of the Pictish people were Samhain, which marked the start of Winter, and Beltane which marked the start of Summer, special times when the veils between the worlds of
the physical and Spiritual were thin and thereby it was easier to communicate with the Spirits of Ancestors at Samhain, and the Spirits of Nature at Beltane. The Pictish people had a Head Shaman or Shamaness, who normally resided in the village they were born to, and it was the Head Shaman who preformed the great ceremonies at the Clan Gatherings, as well as offering support to the individual villages if their Shamans had asked.

The climate of Ireland six thousand years ago was of two extremes, the blistering heat of Summer and the harsh cold Winters, two seasons of contrast that tied the people to the seasons, and they learned to work with their Earth Mother, who helped them flow with the tides of the changes of
nature. However, the seasons generally changed gradually as Summer gently moved towards the cooler nights and the leaves of the trees began to change their colours and fall to the earth below them. The seeds buried themselves safely below the ground, waiting out the snows of Winter to
return once again for the cycle to continue anew, as the land slowly warmed enough to allow new shoots to appear on the trees and the rising temperatures allowed the return of hibernating animals, as well as the nesting birds, as their Earth Mother adorned Her green cloak again.

Anoc-Par was one of the largest villages of the Pictish people because it was so strategically placed in the landscape, with an array of food and shelter, and so the village thrived. However, this came with a cost, as outside villagers constantly warred to take control of Anoc-Par for themselves, so
sought after it was that clans were prepared to go to war in order to claim the village as their own. So the village of Anoc-Par had one of the best warrior armies in all of Ireland, not only because it had to, but also because its warriors had much practice in keeping out would be usurpers. Everyone in Anoc-Par was taught in the ways of battle, because there may come a time when all the clans folk would have had to fight for their home and their freedom. The reality of defeat would mean that the villagers who were not killed in battle would be enslaved by the conquering clan, and become the lowest ranked members of the community with no rights and no quality of life, to some a fate worse than death.

Maebh was a great warrior of Anoc-Par, one of the greatest the village had ever known, and her bravery and courage was so revered that the village awaited the birth of her offspring so this line of warriors could continue for generations to come. It was for this reason that Maebh chose not to tell
anyone that she was bearing child, because she wanted her child to grow up and chose her own path, not to be forced into becoming a warrior just because it was in her bloodline. So Maebh continued to fight and protect her people and village, right up until the night she gave birth to her daughter.

While the child was in her Mothers womb, there were rumours of an outsider clan from the West that was intent on claiming Anoc-Par as their own, and their army was being led by its Chief, a vicious man who held no regard for the sanctity of life, and his instructions were to kill all in the
village, leaving none alive. The Shaman of Anoc-Par was able to track this group and kept the Chief abreast of the whereabouts of this enemy that was heading their way. The warriors of Anoc-Par remained vigilant, and ensured they were battle ready, having their swords sharpened by the
metalworkers, and their armour ready to shield them against the sword of their enemy. The days went by and the tension in the village grew as the inevitable war was drawing closer. The warriors were filled with an energy which had to be kept within until the moment of battle, and then it could
be directed at their enemy. The warriors of Anoc-Par had succeeded many times before, and there was no reason that they would not be triumphant once again, but battle was such an unpredictable thing, as the outcome was never straight forward, so although everyone remained optimistic, the
waiting only heightened the sense of the unknown.

All things come to those who wait, and so it was that on the night of Maebh’s daughters birth, the enemy came to Anoc-Par and the battle raged around the village, swords clashing on swords and armour, death and destruction all around, for the enemies numbers were much greater and the village of Anoc-Par suffered many losses. In the height of battle, Maebh felt herself ready to give birth, and she had to leave the battle field, an act that could cost her life at the hands of her own people as it could be viewed as desertion, and as no-one knew that she was bearing a child, she
would’ve been seen as a coward. But she left unnoticed and went into the laurel bushes a short distance from the village, and she gave birth to her daughter. This brave warrior woman looked at her child for the first time and realised how much she loved her, and the desire to get back to her as
quickly as she could filled her with a renewed sense of purpose, and in beserka fashion, she ran straight to the enemy Chief and stabbed him with her sword through his heart, while at the same time, the enemy Chief stabbed Maebh. Now with the enemy Chief dead, the war was over and those enemies who were left surrendered to the warriors of Anoc-Par and peace once again reigned. However, it cost Maebh her life, because she was not to know that in giving birth to her daughter, she was bleeding internally and it was this that caused her death, although the villagers believed she
died from the wound that the enemy Chief inflicted at the same moment she took his life with her own sword, so she was seen as a hero.

Maebh never did get to return to her daughter and the child was found by the village Shaman who knew the ways of the Spirits and had been told of a child battle born in the laurel bushes. He arrived while the battle raged on around him, and to quieten the crying child, he cast a spell on her to send
her to sleep, as he was fearful that they would be heard, putting them both in danger. He took the child to the safety of Duira and his mates dwelling, and he told them that they have their daughter now, as only hours earlier they had a stillborn daughter whom they were grieving for. The Old
Shaman told this bereft couple that they should care for this child as though she were their own, it being fortunate that the woman could lactate and feed the child as her body was prepared for it with the birth of her own stillborn.

So it was that Deenagh was born into the world, a time of war and a night of bloody battle, but due to the actions of her brave warrior Mother Maebh, the village of Anoc-Par could live in peace for the next twenty years, so great was their victory that it sent a warning to any would be conquerors to stay away and that the village of Anoc-Par had a mighty warrior army that could stand up to anyone thinking they could claim the village as their own.

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.