Saturday, November 27, 2010
Winter With The Ancient Celts
As I write Celtic/Romances, I invite you to come with me back through the mist of time to the ancient tribes of the Celts in early winter. Many changes marked the transition from fall to winter: salmon returned to spawn in the river pools, white, waxy mistletoe berries were the last autumn fruit to appear, also the tribes brought their shaggy red cattle in from outlying pastures to a nearby field or an enclosure within the village and the first of the winter hay would be set out for their feed. The Celts' sleek, agile horses had to be bought in too. One of the main ways the tribe prepared for the dark cold days was with cattle raids. Any tribe that didn’t have enough livestock to get them through the long, cold winter would consider grabbing some from a neighboring tribe.
Here’s an excerpt of a cattle raid from The Wolf and The Druidess:
“No, he is in danger,” Seren snapped.
“It is our only chance. If we lose milk and beef, the entire tribe could starve during the winter.” Hywell shook his head.
“What harm could possibly befall me? The Silures cannot hurt me if I turn them to ice, first,” Gwydion said.
“My mother would not warn me unless the threat was real,” Seren said. “I myself sense danger, but it may not be from the Silures. You must be careful.”
“Seren, he is a god,” Hywell said.
“Yes, what could happen to me?” Gwydion said.
Rather than answer, she peered into Gwydion’s eyes. “Swear to me, you will take heed.”
“Yes, I will return to you unharmed.” Gwydion pulled his wand from the pouch tied to his side and brandished it high. “I am ready.” He swirled the ash stick, decorated with Celtic spirals, through the air in a sweeping motion.
“Foes of the Ordovices
Your raid is condemned.
I forbid your flight.
Shall halt your escape,
Frozen like ice.
For the tribe to find.”
A blue light with the power of a lightning bold shot from the wand. Gwydion knew everyone in the village could feel the surge, and he noticed Seren and Hywell had clung to each other during the mighty blast.
“It is done,” he said to them.
“Now you must shift into wolf form,” Seren said to Gwydion as she released her hold on Hywell.
After Gwydion eased off his horse, his body blurred from one form to the next as his limbs shortened and his flesh shifted into a pelt of white fur. The wolf stood before Seren once more.
Hywell gasped. “Gwydion, do not get too near the cattle, you will spook them.”
The wolf nodded, and as he darted off, Seren goaded her horse into a hard gallop. Hywell followed.
The main food for the ancient Celts during winter was porridge or what we call oatmeal yet they did supplement their diet by hunting, and boar was a favorite animal to hunt.
So here’s a boar hunting excerpt from Druid Bride:
Loud grunts and yells assaulted her ears as a charging beast and warriors headed straight toward them. She barely managed to jump out of the way of a raging, sharp tusked boar. A warrior burst out of the woods with more fierceness than the wild beast. He leapt like a deer. Beneath his short tunic, his long, lean, bare legs raced at the speed of a bird in flight. He pulled to a halt with the flexibility of a leather thong, bent back and then leaned forward to launch a long, black spear. The weapon soared through the air, struck hard, and impaled the beast. The boar’s high-pitched squeal tore through the forest air as it twitched in its death throes.
Tanwen nodded toward the warrior and his prize. “Good throw.”
Of course one of the main things for the ancient Celts was to figure out how to stay warm on those long winter nights.
Here’s a heated excerpt from Druid Bride:
Tanwen’s fingers played with the golden torque around her neck as she gazed at Brude. She drank in his masculine beauty as he gulped the sweet, thick mead. After the feast, she would honor him in her own way in their chamber, in their bed. Tanwen silently vowed they would heat their bedchamber in the dead of winter, hotter than the glowing hearth fire. Brude gnawed on the leg bone, ravishing it as he gazed at her with fire in his eyes. She burned for him. The pit of his stomach tingled, and it wasn’t from the mead. Her pulse pounded from just gazing at him. She studied the inviting mouth and arresting eyes on his lean, tan face. She reached out her hand and covered his wrist with hers. Lacing his fingers in hers, she squeezed his hand. His lips came down on hers in a slow, shivery kiss. Her mouth burned.
When the harper began to play and the dancing started, Brude stood, taking Tanwen’s hands in his, and pulled her to a standing position as he gazed into her eyes. “I would rather dance with you, alone.”
“Yes.” Tanwen whispered.
Arm in arm, they strolled to the wheelhouse, and as soon as they reached the door, Brude covered her mouth with his. She wrapped her smooth arms around him. Her pulsating heat shot through him. Lifting her off her feet, cradling her in his arms, he carried her inside and laid her on the smooth bull hide draped over the soft pallet. She let out a low, whispery moan. His heart beat erratically.
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