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"Scottish Witchcraft & Magick: The Craft of the Picts"

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  • "Scottish Witchcraft & Magick: The Craft of the Picts"

    Has anyone else read this book of his? We have scant information on the Picts as it is, but as always, Ray puts it all together and breaks it all down in language that can be equally appreciated by all (including the merely curious). I will say though that it's geared more toward solitary practitioners, and so been an immense inspiration to me personally. Whether you're familiar with PectiWitan traditions or not, pick it up! Also replete with Celtic legends and recipes.
    Close thine eyes so that thou may see.
    --from Lady Macbeth Backstage

  • #2
    It looks like an interesting read. One thing that I am curious about, is the use of the word pectiwita. It's been established before that at least the term witta cannot exist in Gaelic. Aamzon lets you look inside this book, and I noticed that Buckland mentioned that Scotland was known as Pictland, and didn't become Scotland until as late as the 11nth century. However Scotland was known as Alba, until after the 9nth century when it was known as the kingdom of united Picts&Scots.

    Raymond did mention that the Scots were immigrants from Ireland. Scot comes from the Latin Scotus that means Irishman, who colonised Scotland, but he also uses the word "pechts". Pict comes from the Latin Picti, a reference to the Celtic tribes of Britain. The Picts were in Ireland as well, and the only thing that distinguishes them from being Irish is referring to them in either Gaelic, or Latin. Another prominent tribe in Ulster was called the Cruthin. Pict cognate to the Brythonic Pritani, being what we know as the Picts of Northern Britain. In Irish, the Pritani, and Irish Cruthin are both referred to by the same name (Cruithni/Crithin), but Irish authors writing in Latin referred to the Picti as solely the Picts of Northern Britain. Therefore it's "technically" wrong to call the the same, but other than one being matrilinear, and the other following the Irish derbfhine system, they were.

    Therefore, the Picts aren't as 'mysterious' as made out to be, and the book seems to make a lot of references to these "pectiwita" runes? It looks like an interesting read, with some historic notes touched on, but given Llewellyn's Modern Witchcraft Series introduction as the first thing in the book, I think it's important to recognise it as a modern witchcraft tradition "inspired" by the Picts, opposed to actual historic traditions concerning them.
    Semper Fidelis

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    • #3
      Most of it is a mishmash of neoWicca/Wiccanesque material and bits of Gaelic, Norse and Gypsy lore thrown in. Much of it references F Marian McNeill's The Silver Bough (a four volume series on Scottish Folklore) and other works like the Carmina Gadelica and John Gregorson Campbell as well, but the references are very selective, IIRC, and not representative of what McNeill or the other sources wrote about as a whole. I think calling it 'Pictish' in any way, shape, or form, is misleading at best.

      It's kind of on a par with McCoy's Witta, for me, although in fairness, I'd say PectiWita at least doesn't make any claims about potato goddesses. I'd say that neither of them present an authentically ancient tradition, in spite of their claims to the contrary, although I'm sure they both present a very satisfying and enriching path for some.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Seren_ View Post
        I think calling it 'Pictish' in any way, shape, or form, is misleading at best.
        Well taken from someone that lives in Scotland, in reference to a book called Scottish Witchcraft&Magick-The Craft of the Picts, I'd unhesitantly take your word on that one

        Although I'm sure PectiWita is a very fulfilling path for some, I couldn't help but have thoughts of McCoy's "Witta" light up in my head upon seeing that term. Good to hear there's no spud goddess at least.
        Semper Fidelis

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        • #5
          Yes, most of that is discussed, except the use of Alba (it may be in there, I just don't recall it).

          There are mysteries though (What did they call themselves?); but mystery isn't quite what's presented here on the whole.

          As to the term PectiWitan, this is from the book:
          "The late Aidan Breac, a respected teacher and practitioner, termed it PectiWita, or 'Pictish Witchcraft.' From just how far back it comes it is impossible to say, but it is certain that it differs in many ways from the Wicca of England; of the Gardnerian, Keltic, Saxon, Alexandrian and other varieties."

          One thing I love about the guy is precisely that he does point you in several directions for further reading. Give it a shot...
          Close thine eyes so that thou may see.
          --from Lady Macbeth Backstage

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          • #6
            The word 'PectiWita', like McCoy's 'Witta,' just isn't possible in Pictish (according to what we know of it) or Scots Gaelic (like Irish, there's no W). Plus, the whole book is based on the assumption that Wicca itself is the indigenous, original religion of the British Isles. This book was written before Hutton's Triumph of the Moon, and I think for all of Hutton's faults he did a good job of showing that Wicca is not Ye Olde Religion as it was popularly believed when I started out as Wiccan 15 years or so ago. As such, the whole premise of this book - presenting an authentic Pictish tradition - is highly suspect and I for one wouldn't put too much store in it.

            There are a lot of factual mistakes in the book - at one point, Pictish is even referred to as a Q Celtic language (it's P Celtic, a big difference), and he claims that witchcraft was regarded positively - just not true! Also, if you crack open a book on the Picts, nowhere will you find 'Pictish' runes, or much at all on their pre-Christian beliefs. The runes are a modern invention.

            At the end of the day, the book is so full of anachronisms and bits that are mished and mashed from here there and everywhere that it's so far removed from anything Scottish or Pictish as to hold very little meaning in that respect. If you really want to learn about Scottish Witchcraft then I'd recommend getting hold of the books on folklore that are mentioned in the book. Look at F Marian McNeill, Ronald Black's The Gaelic Otherworld (John Gregorson Campbell's books with commentary by Black - excellent stuff), Carmina Gadelica, maybe even Davidson's Rowan Tree and Red Thread. As I said, these sources show a much different view of what witchcraft really is/was in Scotland, compared to how you see them used in the book, when you see every thing in its proper context.

            Books like this often attract people who are looking for something historical and rooted in a cultural they love or are fascinated by. They're looking for something that rings true in their hearts, and this is what the book sells them. Really, though, it's little more than Wicca with tartan knobs on. Literally McWicca, if you will. If that's what you're looking for, you've got it, but I would say it's nothing to do with the Scots or the Picts, it's thoroughly modern. If you're really looking for something with historical, cultural roots, then I'd look to the books I mentioned above and start from there. It's not going to look like Wicca.

            I'll point you to a couple of reviews as well, who also raise good points:

            Ecauldron Review
            Cyberpict's Review

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Culain View Post

              There are mysteries though (What did they call themselves?)
              That's not uncommon though. The same can be said for the Irish, who adopted the name as a foreign reference to themselves. Being the Gaels of the ethno-linguistic Gaelic group, a modern version of the earlier Goيdel, a borrowing from a Welsh reference to the people of Ireland, Gwyddel(Guoidel) , believed to either mean "wild/forest person", or "foreigner." The Irish had a similar term, féni, but we know Féine septs proudly adopted this Welsh term in the plural for themselves, Goيdil, and in turn the Welsh reference to the Irish language, Gwyddeleg, became Goيdelc/Gaeidhilg/Gaeilge/Gaelic.

              The same could be thought for the Picts. I'm sure the book should mention that that Gaels/Scots didn't refer to themselves as Scoti, and these foreign references are common, as it's a popular belief that the term for Picts-Picti, Latin for "painted", was a nickname given to the Northern Celtic tribes because of their war-paint&tattoos. It's a mystery as to what a lot of peoples called themselves, in turn their language&religious beliefs.
              Semper Fidelis

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