Celtic Poet-seers

hawthornAlong with the Druids, the island and continental Celts also had a class of people called Poet-seers.  These poet-seers had similar training as the Druids but more focused on reciting oral histories and shape-shifting poems.

Their role was important in sculpting and preserving the Celtic cosmology.  Much of their poetic language was deeply embedded in phenomena of nature and local place-names.  By reciting, and sometimes singing these things, the poets kept the local relationships between people and people, people and the land, and the people and the Otherworld ~ alive and well.

It’s interesting to note that when the Romans started to undermine the Druids, the Poet-seers began to take on the role of Druidic practices as well so that the knowledge would be retained.  They were less of a target and their knowledge-base and practices actually survived well into the 14th and 15th centuries.

The words of a Poet-seer were regarded as coming from divinity and were sacred words.  The actual shaping and recitation of the words imbued the air with meaning and richness.  Their words actually were known to shift reality and could cause harm if they recited a satirical poem toward someone in the community that was abusing power.

In the spirit of honoring this lost way of poetry…I have written a poem in the style of the late Poet-Seers.  Enjoy this taste of a lost way of expressing…

I am the white blossoms of the hawthorn…
I am the long-eared listening deer…
I am the moon, heavy with glow…
I am the morning dew dripping off the leaves of oaks…
I am the land that meets the water…
I am the roots that nourish great thoughts,
and like ripe fruit,
they are eaten and enjoyed…

I am the stillness before a storm…
I sit in tree branches and wait for insight…
I run in open fields to gather strength…

I open my throat to the sky
and call out my name – each time
a different sound.

When I am hungry
I combine the best foods…
I gather them
in the forest
in a glen
by the lake
in the river…
I realize that I am these foods
And I am the seasons
that slowly walk over the land…

Bird song – calming
Morning light – awakens
Wind blows – listening
My senses reveal language and knowing…
A skilled poet catches them in words
and recites them with skill.

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