Welcome to Everything you want to know about The Celts

Hello there! We are a modern day Northern European Style tribe called Maers Khohias. We are of both Norse and Celtic decent here. Come sit. Warm yourself by our fire!! We want you to feel at home as we share some of our Celtic tribe's hospitality. Come. Join in our sitting circle, round the central cauldron and have something to eat, in our Celtic round house. Once fed, sit back, relax, read and listen to some of our stories. Here you will find great information, taking you back in time to meet the ancestors.

If you have the opportunity to come in person to Crawford Bay, BC and take in our courses taught at our school, you'll hear more information, on the Celts and the Vikings, not shared here, as well as live music. We'd love to hear your stories too!!

In no time, you'll be dancing, sharing some good mead or ale and adding to the rooms boasts and toasts.
We Northern European Celts and Vikings are waiting for you.

Having and event? We offer lots of props to choose from as well as great musicians and entertainers. This will be the icing for your Celtic or Viking medieval style event. Need some costumes or warrior gear? We shall help you there too. ... Or Maybe you are the studious type and want to study Celtic ritual, dance, music and beliefs, or have a you have a gift. If so you might want to take a course from our Druid/Bard schools. See here.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Celtic Thought, their Tribal Structure & Laws

The Celtic People's Thinking

In order to understand the tribal Structure below, we must understand the ancient way of thought.  True paganism.  All of ancient Celts were organized in a similar fashion in accordance with a complex hierarchy within a Celtic tribe and the hierarchy extended within its occupations.  All the clans (tribes) of the area had some liberty to adhere to a main tribe, or ruling tribe.  The degree of dependence determined whether an effective part of that tribe and the distance of its commune (or gathering house), had influence it enjoyed within the main tribe council.  obviously then, the lesser tribes on the outskirts of the main tribal territory were the most independent communes.   In other words, everybody had a part to play and everyone's actions rubbed off on the whole of the tribe and working functionality of the tribe.


In order to assure some protection in case of war, the Chieftains and/or his/her representatives of these smaller independent fine/clan houses, who attended the gatherings of the tribe,  would each promise to send soldiers to the neighbouring tribes if the need arouse.  These troops were considered to be auxiliary troops, who had to obey the commanders of the main or central tribe.   

Having said this, it was very rare that the many tribes would gather together for the good of the whole.  There are only 3 times, I can think of, off the top of my head, - Vecingetorix, Caradoc and Arthur, (mythical or not), as all of these names are believed to be titles now rather than names, based on the clans or Royals totem, so Arthur could very well be real.  A study most people do not know is that Arthur is mentioned as far back as the 6th century and in the 9th century by the monk Nennius prior to any stories being written.  In his earliest written mythology form, he is all through the Mabinogi and right along side with the other Gods Mabon etc. 
These persons mentioned above, were made a sort of 'High King' which means the Top dog or War Chieftain who unites all the lesser tribes for as long as the threat lasted.  This usually would last a year and a day, and then everyone went back to being faithful to their own tribe.  As you can see then, this title was short lived and therefore these people would NOT actually be listed as a King in historical documents but as ancestral heroes, godlike as they believed.  The most repeated and rewritten story branches of Celtic mythology, lasting longer than any other Celtic tribal regions faiths, about one of these such 'Kings', is that of the Arthurian tales whom followers, unbelievably, still exist today.  These tales began when Britain and Wales were one, yet he is known in Scotland as well.

 As with many cultures, all tribes could be broken down into subtribes, and these subclans broken down again into fines or family units and the bonds to these connecting tribes were always way more stronger than any religious beliefs.  I want to clarify that Clan and Tribe in the ancient days, was the same thing.  Today it is different as clan now refers to individual family names.  They did not bicker back and forth about what is right and what is wrong about their beliefs, as the ridiculous banter that goes on today, they each had their own way period BUT each followed a land law based on an honour code system, one of the virtues that was gladly adhered to by all.  

As said in one of my other articles, so many people focus on making a religion exclusively to the Celts as a whole, confusing the Celts to all have the same ethics or be of a 'race', failing to understand they were all different and the Celts are NOT a race.  They share a similar language.  But regardless of all that the most important point of all they did all share - Tribalism.  None of these other things matter, if you do not keep of one's promise, the promise to be ever faithful to the tribe.  Their word to another, no matter what disagreements came their way, was like gold.  They were loyal to the end, as a lie meant never to be trusted again and shamed.  Tribalism was so important, that no matter what came, the tribe would grow and thrive, as a unit.  You can't join a tribe then a few years later change your mind even if it was a disagreement.  It worked together and 'faced' their fears, for the facing of each other, was the most courage one could show and the most growth in advancement of enlightenment and life lessons.

Those who spoke truths about even their feelings, right or wrong, were always helped as nothing was kept in.  No one had to tell them what to do because every occupation and purpose was clearly defined and every single person was important to keep this running smoothly.  If someone did get out of line, everyone had an honour price, and whatever was handed down in judgement was carried out to save 'face' and show others that they can be trusted.  This real wealth (as in money is not real it is a promissory note) affected the entire clan.

What is interesting is that the people whom we would think would be in power did not have the same kind of power as we would view it in modern day thinking.  For one, Kings or Queens were elected by the people.  When it came time to choosing a successor, the entire tribe voted.  In fact the higher you were in the hierarchy chart, the less rights and the more obligations and geasa you had put upon you.   The people ruled period.  It was never until later when they met the Roman and Norse areas influence that the successor was the first born.  Kingship was not inherited by birthright.

The freemen or working class peoples were put into occupational castes ad this was done by inheritance but not forced upon one if they possessed the interests or natural skills to choose another.   Following in your parents footsteps was a honour to your families name.  Wealth for the Kings was not handed down to their own family.  It would be used for the tribe.  If they had personal items and passed away, these things would be acquired by their fine.  

Now here is another example where their virtue Honour and their tribal system, becomes was a more important way of life, then any religion system.  Kingdoms are too big to rule for one person so each Clan was responsible for the actions of every member.  If you had one bad apple, you were all labeled the same.  This alone kept everyone in check.  The worst punishment was to be sent out on your own, alone in others lands, with no honour price.  If you made a wrong, you had to pay for the crime usually your honour fee and the clan paid it if you didn't.  Every action you took, the clan was responsible for.   You can see how no one would want to turn their back on their own family or even a member that pissed you off.  This would not happen unless the greatest of crimes was done.    Family always stucktogether through thick and thin, it was a responsibility, sadly people do not get this today.

Self initiators of todays newer pagan traditions, do not get  this concept.  They even thumb their nose up at sacred lineage, usually because the those untrained traditionally are not taught the reasons behind initiation or its lineage.  

Lineage behind you gives great power and, as with any power, it must be held in a responsible manner, not to be just given over to another without permission from the original tribe who holds it.  It provides a tangible link to the tribe, its tribal area and its proof of permission to be included in thus family, is given only at the ceremony and permission by the one who is the leader of the tradition that passed it to you.  Anyone caught doing so without permission, or even giving the secret and/or similar ritual, even if parts were changed, is thought of as dishonorable.   You cannot take claim of the common ancestor unless adopted for life by that tribe.

Lineage ensures the right to form your own clan, teach that way, or use the clan's items.  It gives one legal protection to an individual.  Even the apprenticeship of a Celts occupation song dance, rite or the holding of a particular tools, must be given in honour.  For example, a warrior cannot just choose to carry a  sword or carry a blade, without the rights handed down.


When the occasion arose, that a person showed a talent for a different profession, he would be shown to the teachers of that profession and accepted for training there as an adult.  As a child, all went to a foster clan for their coming of age to adulthood.  Unlike the quick give me a title attitude of the new-age pagans today, the priest Castes took 20 years to receive their titles and they went by a sort of degree system, receiving a new title to show where they were in their training.

The warrior caste made lots of work for the tribal blackmith who was considered a brilliant magical artist.  One piece of Armor that I find funny is that they associate the vikings with horned helmets yet none have been found there BUT the Celts had a horned helmet, like two cones, and these have been found.  For a great view of it, see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celts   but don't put much credence in some of the article. ... or mine for that matter.  It is best to weigh every scholars writings with others and things you've found in order to make an educated opinion, let alone voice it.

The art of true learning is to listen.  Those that spend time talking or disputing do not know how to truly listen, but that is another lesson & that is not what this article is about.

Each clan was responsible for the education of the entire tribes young.  At certain ages, the child was sent to be fostered by a neighboring clan thus ensuring the bonds of the whole of the tribe.   He would first training to learn its cultural knowledge then move on and become an apprentice at his or her chosen or inherited profession.  

The women had gaitherin's in the 'Sun' room or kitchen ceilidhs where both male and female elders, Grandparents and so on, would pass down these tales, sacred clan or tribal song or skills such as knitting.  The clan always helped each other in accordance with abilities per age groups so that they could produce their share and occupation for the entire tribe.  Sometimes, this made the children closer to their foster parents then their blood parents as shown with the 'games of Lugh' which he held in honour of his foster mother or the tales of Lancelot or other legendary heroes based on relationships with foster mothers.  This foster training system was still going on in some areas up until the 18th century.

Structure of the Banquet Festivals

Seating at these affairs was always done with great ceremony, with the trumpeter or orn blower ( the Announcer) introducing the entrance of the Chieftain leader of that Clan and each clan sitting in order of rank.  They had even a special task for the honoured shield carrier who would come in and place their shields on the walls for their leaders in a procession prior to the entrances as well.   The meat was first served to the chosen champion (warrior) who had showed the greatest courage .

Depending on the tribe, some celebrated four festivals, some a different four, some 6 and some 8, depending on the surrounding influences and tribal ideas.  More on this, in my Medieval Feast article.


A chart from top to bottom of the Whole tribe & how each part is run.

In this section, we will look at the breakdown in tribal structure and the laws that govern that.  On closer observance of the law books, we can really start to understand the terms used in the groups within groups of the tribes. It really was quite brilliant, and almost the same as a company needs to be run today. Any company or group, that truly wants staying power, must have a hierarchical chart, as without one, all groups will be short lived. If you never learn your place and find the importance of one's place, all vying for false 'power', for title does not mean power.  Title means to serve other, not that one is more important, better than, or more intelligent than others.  All of this can be studied in more detail in Volume four of "The Ancient Laws of Ireland", translated then printed in 1879.

Oh by the way, keep in mind that this was written down when Christianity was prevalent, so some of the laws were adjusted to this new age & but most was maintained.  It doesn't give any light on woman occupations but does give insight into their rights in relationships.  We do know from other evidence that women also ruled and led armies.

Knowing this now, here goes the actual terms of the Structure;

Fine - The original Family the Irish called the "Geil Fine".   This family must have the male parent and four children.  The geilfine means the "Chief" of this fine but others say it means "hand family".  When this Chief dies, the sons split from this group and form their own.  If not each stays and becomes larger.  So the largest a fine can be of 5 males. 

Sept - Once a family becomes larger than five original males, these males with four sons of his own must form his own own fines.  When there are five fines, they can now can grown up to 17 men large and these are called Septs, but all these still belong and are under the rule and sometimes protection of the original Chief.  Now if any one of these sons or his sons sons made the Sept have 17 members, the eldest of the Sept would be booted out and lose all his privileges of being first son but this would never be the original Chief who would always remain.   It is written that these children could be also be adopted so these clans were not necessarily of the same blood.

Clan/Tribe - The five groups from the Four Septs and the original one, each of 17 persons.  Family rank was by the youngest or newest member, not the oldest or longest like we would do today and of course still with the original Chief or Chieftain.  The youngest would recieve all the inheritance when Chief died and the eldest would be kicked out or lose dignity as he aged.

*Tribal land was called a kingdom. If you study ancient Ireland alone, there were approx 150 kingdoms. There were no measured borders, just as far as the eye could see.


After reading the above, the most important thing that I want you to take away from this is that nothing was considered 'owned' by an individual, including knowledge, it was the clan or tribes alone.  So in modern terms, You could not be trained by a group, then take this training elsewhere without permission from the whole, or the founder of that tribe or tradition.  Not even the land where they held their rites can be used by others as the ancients did not consider land individually owned but shared by "the people" (the tribe) whose traditions and Gods are there.  

Another silliness of modern persons is taking and worshiping somebody else's Gods.   For one they are not on your land, they are tied to the land they come from.  They are not "out there" in the sense of the Christian God, they are the energies in your particular lands surroundings.  They bare also considered that lands ancestors.  You cannot choose to take someone elses' mother.

Miscelaneous Celtic Facts

  • Goddesses mostly ruled the land and the Gods the sky in later iron age and possibly bronze.
  • Kings before they married a bride had to undergo a ritual to marry the land itself. (Gerald of Wales (1146 – 1223 CE). Sex with white mare, drank broth from flesh.
  • Kings have to be perfect. If they are missing any body parts or are scarred in anyway or if they could no longer have sex, they could not be King. Why because they strongly believed he would cause the land damage.
  • If you disrespected the Goddess you would cause wasting of the land as well.
  • The Hero to be King, it was said, had to go through severe testing by the goddess to make sure they were worthy of her hand. The earliest tale of this is Niall and his brothers. Arthurian legends retains it as well – Gawain and Raglan, and also if a King treats his Queen badly. Queen most definitely is directly linked to the Goddess in physical form.
  • We see from historical facts that Cartimandua (sleek pony), leader of the Brigantes, and Boudicca, leader of the Iceni, they were warrior queens in their own right and clearly were considered Goddess by their very names.
  • If a Queen rules , the King is only her consort – Queen Maeve shows this.
  • Wore torcs for divinity or aristocracy
  • we know for sure they had a need to sacrifice valuable objects to their gods.
  • - we know there were in Swizerland tribes as the bogs filled of Celtic items 100 BCE, lake Neuchatel.


Some of this way of life, in my opinion, should return to modern day and with it would come more respect for our fellow man and the earth and its creatures.  We need to learn to live on natural replenishing resources, not irreplaceable secondary products that will be used up like oil and gas. 

Brahva Cwmevos

"LaurieLee Mills"

Copyright February 08 2011

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