S2:E8 Animist Truths of Ancient Britain (with Sam MacLaren)
Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week's episode of Shaman Talk. My name's Rhonda, and I'm your host. And this week, we're doing things a little bit differently. We have Sam McLaren with us this week. Sam is from Pratani Wisdom Traditions, is a British animist and academic and someone from whom I learn a lot about the ancient cultural wisdom from the British Isles. So I thought I'd invite Sam on to Shaman Talk to discuss some of the things that we talk about to discuss some of her new research from her degree that she has recently finished, and just some other stuff that I'm curious about that I'm sure you might be curious about, too. So welcome, Sam. Thank you for coming.
Thanks for having me. It's nice to be back.
My first question for you is we've been discussing recently, you and I, the word Celtic, and you've been sharing with me why your research shows that this may not be an appropriate term for the ancient people of Britain. So let's kick it off. I would love for you to share your findings with us, please.
Okay, so why Celtic might not be an appropriate term for the people of Britain, in short, is that it was never a term that was applied to the inhabitants of Britain before the 18th century. The Britons as an ethnic group, if you like, first emerged from Prehistory in the late Iron Age, from a writer called Pytheus of Masalia in the fourth century BCE. So we owe the name of Britain to Pytheus, who traveled to Britain in around, I think it was 325 BCE. And recorded all the local names of the places that he visited. So, unfortunately, Pytheus's original writings don't survive, but they were widely used as a source by other ancient geographers, such as the first century BCE greek author Diodorusiculus, who recorded the island's name as Britannica.
In classical Greek and Latin texts, the P often mutates to a b, which rendered it as Britannica and later Britannia. But the original Greek P spelling was a rendition of a local name for the land itself. And the word Pretani, from which it came from, was a local word that most scholars now accept was the name by which the people called themselves collectively outside of their tribal identities.
So, like a self identifying thing? Like they would call themselves?
Yes. Yeah, that is what they believe. So and then in his writings, the infamous Julius Caesar specifically refers to Celts as being the people who inhabited the areas of modern France, Spain, and parts of Europe north of the Rhine. He states that these people were called Celts or galley or Galatae in his language. And he states quite categorically that the people of Britain were tribal and mentions individual tribes. But these tribes are collectively referred to as Britons in his writings, never Celts. And all of our earliest surviving medieval literature, all the indigenous literature of Ireland and Wales, also refers to the indigenous population as Britons and never Celts. And in fact, there's no ancient word for Celt in the British indigenous languages. It only exists as a modern loan word. But in Welsh, the word predine.
Notice the P means Britain, and the population is referred to as pradenur, or Brithonyide, but as referring to Britain's. And in Irish Gaelic, and you'll have to excuse my really poor pronunciation because it's not a tongue for me, but Britain, the word is bradnach, with a similar sound in Scots gallic. So you can detect that linguistic connection there. And my final bit of evidence is the truth is that nobody, and I mean this nobody in the British Isles had ever referred to themselves as Celts until the 18th century. So around 17 seven, we start to see this word arriving, and it's the result of a Welsh Oxford academic by the name of Edward Lloyd.
And he published a book called Archaeologia Britannica, and in it, he categorized ancient British languages as Celtic, based on what are now considered questionable comparisons to modern Irish, Welsh and Breton, and the surviving cognates with the Gaulish languages and other early European languages. In his research, he determined that the languages all had a single Celtic root. But this is a theory which has since come under scrutiny, because directly linking languages and ethnic groups is now seen as overly simplistic. His timeline was imprecise. Celtic language spread peaked much later in the Iron Age than he suggested. His data was very limited and relied far too heavily on the classical authors, so the Greek and Roman accounts. And finally, he was strongly influenced by desires to establish a noble Celtic origin for British history. We have that.
But in the 18th century, his classifications lent this kind of scholarly shine, if you like, to grouping these different languages and cultures together as Celtic. And his influence established the concept of an identifiable Celtic cultural identity inhabiting ancient Britain and Ireland. Prior to that publication, nobody had ever referred to themselves as Celts in Britain. They were collectively Britons, as opposed to Anglo Saxon English in the surviving literature, and ultimately self identified within their own regional subgroups. So, like Scottish Irish manx Cumbri and so on.
Just let me ask you this. Would so you mentioned there this idea of cultural identity and how the word Celtic has kind of lumped Britain altogether in the 18th century to shine up this idea of, like, a noble origin. Is it this evidence suggesting that the word pratani would do the same thing? Would that end up just replacing the word Celtic, and that would be our noble origin? Like, what is the difference between pratani and Celtic in terms of this noble, shiny origin that you mentioned?
Well, my first thought about that is, do we need a noble, shiny origin? Yeah, because unfortunately, Lloyd's theory added fuel to this 18th and 19th century movement known as the Celtic revival. The celtic revival movement that emerged at that time was fundamentally an imaginative rediscovery and most importantly, a romanticization of ancient so called Celtic culture, languages and folklore. But it was driven much more by modern ideals and sort of modern fantasy than any kind of historical accuracy. The movement constructed this imaginary, mystical view of a Celtic shared past, heritage, ethos and used it to shape national identities and political views.
In the case of identity, a Celtic background offered a sense of identity and deep roots, especially in diasporic contexts like Irish Americans or Scottish American peoples being displaced and politically, culturally assertive forms of Celticism developed in reaction to, quite obviously, British colonialism and cultural suppression, and absolutely understandable, too. And these two points are still the main drivers at work today and why an adherence to the Celtic label still persists within indigenous groups. To try and answer your question, I'm not sure that we need that sort of shiny connection, as it were, but just more of an acceptance of what the history is. And pratani is a much less divisive term because it basically encompasses all of the tribes of Britain.
So my question my next question would be then, in terms of national. You mentioned national identity and British being this idea of all these nations lumped together, but I think perhaps you were sort of saying that pratani is the same. It was the name that covered all of the British Isles. So I'm wondering what the difference is. If you could explain that.
Okay. Yeah. So I think we have to sort of go back to the act of Union in 17 seven, which brought all of the separate indigenous nations together, whether they liked it or not, really, and cementing this idea of a united Britain and becoming British. And perhaps Edward Floyd's publication coming out at the same time as it did was a bit of a response, a reaction to that act of Union. And I think that's sort of filtered down through the years that modern indigenous populations of this island have a very negative reaction to the words British and Britain as a result of the union and subsequent colonization. But I suppose my perspective is that the word Pratani, or Briton, is actually indigenous as opposed to the identity of British. It's difficult, but there is a separation there.
Yeah. I see. So I think you're saying as pratani predates any of the political strife of that time in history, and it was when those barriers didn't exist and Britain would have all these little tribes which collectively were called pratani, and that is how they would have identified, whereas British is somewhat placed upon the nations as they are now. So that's where the difference lies, is that right?
Yes, it's a very loaded term, is British for a lot of people, but an identity of a Britain is a completely separate entity.
This is really fascinating. Now, I am curious. I do have a wee question that I was pondering this week, and I've heard you say this in other interviews as well, but you said that when you went to Uni, you learned about this inappropriate moniker. And I think I've heard you say that you were a bit aghast that you weren't a Kelp. You were like, what? Why dare you tell me I'm not a Celt? I've heard you say that. So I was interested because your degree is called a BA in Celtic Studies. I'm wondering a few things, so I'll just chuck the questions at you, and you can see what comes out. Right. But my questions would be, so, in the next, say, five to ten years, how do you see that playing out in terms of encouraging people to switch a term?
Let's feels like, so ingrained in popular culture. How important do you think is it to switch? And then what did your professors think? Is any of that lot in university or academia decided that maybe they should switch the term? So, yeah, those are all my ADHD musings about this really cool piece of research that you're presenting me with. I'm like, what are all these things? How does it go?
I guess I would like to think over the next five to ten years, some changes take place, but really, more than anything, just an acknowledgment of the origins of the term. So one of the primary arguments used against this perspective is, oh, but the classical authors were biased and therefore unreliable. And, yeah, to an extent that is true, but only when making comparisons between themselves and the people that they were writing about. So Caesar wasn't actually interested in very much except warfare and the glorification of Rome from his perspective. So he had no reason to fabricate the names of the tribes and groups of people. Those were simply observations.
His accounts became questionable when he starts to describe the religious practices of the Gaulish druids, for example, tales of giant wickermen and people and animals being burnt alive and groves of trees festooned with human entrails. These accounts have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Would that be like a propaganda thing for Rome? Right, okay.
So it justified the slaughter because these people were seen as barbaric less than the society of Rome. But his naming of the European tribes, for example, on the other, it doesn't serve a propagandist purpose. He was just recording them. And I think that moving forward, there might not be a need to switch the terms as such, because we don't need the word Celt in a modern context, much as we don't really need the word pratani in a modern context. We have our own separate identities. Separate from Anglo Saxon? So, Irish, Scottish, Cumbri manx, Cornish, Breton. But for me, this is more about honoring the ancestral connection, so that when I speak in a historical context about pratani, I'm using a more appropriate term for them.
When I'm engaging in my animistic work, I feel far more comfortable using pratani to address the ancient ancestors of this know. It's like where you are in Scotland, it's usually termed as the land of the Picts. But Picts is a Latin term, not an indigenous one. As far as we can see linguistically, the northern tribes of Britain was a very similar term, but it was Preteni. Not Pretani because of the language differences. Yeah. So because most of the island spoke Brethrenic language, so an early form of Welsh, but there were regional dialectical differences. The tribal people in the north of the island were collectedly, referred to themselves as Priteni. So the Romans heard that and produced the word pikti.
My lecturers at Uni all agreed that Celtic wasn't an appropriate term based on the current research, and my very Welsh nationalist lecturer in Ancient History was very vocal about that. And I think the problem for that particular degree course is finding a name that encompasses all that it teaches, because it does not just teaching us about Iron Age history, but also about indigenous medieval literature and mythology. From wales and Ireland, right up to modern themes like the troubles in Ireland or the impact of the First World War on indigenous communities and stuff like that. So Celtic Studies is a convenient blanket term and is much less clunky than something like the history of the indigenous Britons, for example.
So it's a convenient gateway term and then once inside, you're like, wow, look at how this opens up into something way more nuanced and probably interesting as well.
Well, I think that's what my Uni was doing in calling their degree course Celtic Studies, because you certainly lured me in with fantastic romantic promises and then slapped me about until I learned the actual history. And as you say, it was a shock to my system. So, yeah, it can be used definitely as a way of luring people into the snare, as it were. However, I'm experimenting, I guess, with my own business and actively avoiding using the Celtic term. So instead I speak about the material I work with in the context of its point of origin. So, like, for my wheel work, I don't say that it's Celtic because it's Irish, and what's more, it's medieval Irish, 1000 years removed from the time of the Celts. And that's an important thing to remember.
Working in this waste absolutely respects the literature, it respects its origins, rather than lumping it all together into a kind of Celtic milieu. If we don't differentiate origins, in my opinion, we run the risk of merging different mythological themes. And I've seen it happen. Some people believe that Celtic is the same whichever part of Britain and Ireland you come from.
So I think what you're saying, your message is awareness. Be aware.
It's vital to honoring the teachings, to recognize where they come from, rather than just lumping all things together.
Well, that leads me nicely onto my next question, Sam, which is an area that I know that you love to talk about, and it's certainly an area that I now love to talk about, thanks to learning from you. There's a lot of things out there that say that it's Celtic. So, in terms of what is thought to be ancient British spirituality and what isn't, what are your top five teachings that are broadly accepted as Celtic or Ancient British, but really are not at all? And why are they not? Right, let's go. Come on, Sam. Right between the eyes.
Courting controversy there, I see. I like it. So this is where we get to meet the villain of the Celtic story, as it were, because a good 75% of Celtic misinformation can be attributed to this person, robert Graves.
So in 1946, novelist and poet Robert Graves wrote his so called study on Celtic mythology, a book called The White Goddess, and it was published two years later in 1948. Some of the things that he talked about as being ancient Celtic Iron Age customs are things like the following. So my favorite one to debunk is the Celtic tree calendar.
A lot of people get quite upset when they hear that. That's just new.
Yes, I know. But it purports to be the representation of the changing year, referencing trees instead of calendar months, and the changing of the trees being linked to the lunar cycle of 28 days, meaning there were 13 trees in the year and not the regular Roman twelve. So sort of from an outside perspective, you immediately think, oh, yeah, that sounds more real, that sounds more like what we would do. But in his work, Graves sort of borrowed the idea of the early medieval Irish Ogham alphabet, as some of the ogham characters were believed to be based on trees, and rearranged it, if you like, to suit his own invention of a Celtic tree calendar, naming 13 months after these trees. But the ogam alphabet itself dates from the fifth and 6th centuries, and it's a form of writing.
It's nearly always found on monumental stones and generally references the names of the person buried there, or local deities. The Celtic tree calendar is an invention of his mind. Okay, popular.
I wonder what is about these things that really capture the popular imagination?
Because we're all we are desperate to reconnect, aren't we? I think I've said it before that the rise of shamanism and animanism and things like that has taught people in far greater depth how to connect with the spirits of the land and stuff. And we have the eyes to hear and the eyes to see now that we didn't have before. And people are really searching for that connection. And that's the reason why I do the work that, you know, I want people to have as an authentic connection as is possible. Number two is not one of Graves's inventions. But it's the Celtic animal zodiac.
Oh, I didn't even know there was such a thing as well.
Yeah. Me being born in August makes me a salmon, apparently. Yeah. So have a look at your Celtic animal. This arose as modern interpretations from British indigenous sort of mythologies. We know that our ancient ancestors revered nature and believed in the significance of animals, but the actual Celtic animal zodiac is very recent origins and it's a creation of contemporary interpretations of Celtic symbolism or pratani symbolism, which was concocted into a workable format by modern Celtic pagans over the last 50 to 60 years. So we're talking 1960s, 1970s, and they usually drew from a combination of folklore, mythology and modern astrological associations.
All right, number three.
Everybody hates this one.
Oh, no. What is it? Go on, debunk some the four elements. Yeah.
So the incorporation of the four elements earth, air, fire, water into modern pagan practice in Britain, again, is traced back to the mid 20th century and the emergence of modern pagan and neopagan movements. So the concept of the four elements has ancient roots and can be found in various ancient cultures and philosophies, so it's particularly those of ancient Greece and ancient Egypt. But the modern adoption of the four elements into pagan practice in Britain and other Western countries emerged within a context of the revival of interest in nature based spirituality. Again, in sort of Roundabout, Robert Graves's book coming out 1940s. And one significant figure associated with the popularization of the four elements in our modern pagan practice is Gerald Gardner, who I'm sure you've heard of.
So he's often referred to as the father of Wicca, which is modern pagan religion that draws inspiration from various pre Christian anti cult traditions. So in the mid 20th century. So from the 1940s onwards, gardner played a crucial role in the public emergence and promotion of Wicca, which incorporates elemental symbolism into its rituals and practices. So it's again a very mid 20th century invention and not an indigenous belief system.
And specifically, are you talking about earth in the north, air in the east, fire in the south, water in the west, which is what I was taught during Martin and I now know, because of you. That's not correct. So just to take it off piece slightly for a second, but there are elements in the mythology, it's just not laid out in that way.
Is that correct? Yeah. As you know, more than four, like nine, last I checked.
Nine super. Okay. All right. That was a big one. Right, what we want four, five.
Okay, so this is another one from Graves, robert Graves. And that is Ogham Divination. So it's another one of his know for the reasons that I outlined above with the tree calendar. So Oghum obviously early medieval system of writing used for marking names, territory, memorials and the OD local deity. And as part of his Celtic tree calendar associations, graves assigned mystical meanings to the augum symbols, connecting every single one of them to a tree. But in reality, only a few of the augum symbols have actually been academically linked to any aspect of trees. Peter Beresford Ellis is your man for sorting fact from fiction in relation to ogham. His work's quite heavy going, and I will send you that document today. It's very dry and academic, but very well worth reading.
So there's absolutely no evidence to suggest that the Ogum was ever used in a mystical interpretation as a form of divination might have been, but really it's a system of writing. And apparently the ogham kennings that do sort of mention trees here and there. There was apparently an early mnemonic for children to learn their alphabet. Five, this is the one that's going know, probably get me stoned to death.
But we can upset the apple cart. Let's do it.
Absolutely. So it does cause a great deal of consternation amongst modern pagans when they find out that the maiden Mother Crone triple Goddess figure is not indigenous to the lands. And it's a huge topic. So I'm going to do my very best to summarize. Okay, I'll give you three guesses who posited this as a yeah. Yeah. So he claimed this overarching a goddess figure and tripartite structure was present everywhere in Celtic and British mythology. But of course his assertions are not supported by the available evidence. So academic scholars like my favourite Ronald Hutton, have argued that there is no evidence at all in existing sources for a uniform Triple Goddess archetype. The maiden Mother Crone categories are not present in folklore anyway at all. No, not in that way.
So figures like Brigid and the Morrigan have these complex multifaceted roles, but none of them fit neatly into those three particular aspects. So with Brigid, for example, she's one of the most revered Irish goddesses. She's associated with poetry, healing, smithcraft okay. Three seemingly disparate areas that show her multifaceted nature. So she's linked to hearth and home, but also wisdom and war. So she defies characterization as just like a young maiden or an old woman. She has that tripartite connection as smithcraft, healing, poetry, but none of those are anything to do with maiden Mother Crone. And the Morrigan is portrayed as this fierce battle goddess in Irish legend, appearing as crow or raven. But she also appears as a protective mother like figure. So she nurtures the hero Kuhulin. She shifts shapes from an old woman to a young woman in different stories.
But both Bridget and Morrigan have domains that blend sort of domestic and martial themes. They hold the power over life, death and fate. Their stories show them initiating sexual relationships rather than being passive objects of desire like the traditional maiden. And neither of them fits neatly into the stage of motherhood either. Morrigan appears to challenge that maternal stereotype because she's a dangerous destroyer. Okay. And Brigid is associated with poetry and Smithing, not motherhood. And both goddesses defy this crone aspect as solely postmenopausal women. So the Morrigan's dangerous sexuality and Bridget's hearth domain connect them to the more regenerative, powerful womanhood that exists beyond childbearing years. They certainly don't die away like an old crone. Yeah.
Now, what is coming to my mind there when you're talking about that, there's a sense of like what you're talking about when you're describing Brigid and Morgan as this beautiful, strong, well rounded feminine with all of the wondrous aspects that women hold right. Whereas the mother maiden crone feels a little bit more like, oh, some old white dude who's like, oh, I know how I'll categorize the feminine, I know how I'll categorize women in the 40s. It feels a little bit like that. And once I started, I've never resonated with mother maiden crone. It's not something I've ever worked with myself. But when I found out that this was something that was invented in the it really was loud and clear to me.
I'm like, this is like some bloke trying to bring down or belittle or box in the power and strength of the feminine. That's how I experience that realization. Would that be what you would say?
Well, that sort of hits the nail on the head because the maiden mother crone concept imposes modern preconceptions of female life stages onto ancient myth and folklore in an incredibly oversimplified, reductionist way. So it projects, as you say, those contemporary assumptions about women and aging and gender rules onto past societies and belief systems that actually don't have any basis in fact. So specific figures from British folklore highlight the problems with imposing triple goddess ideas. For example, the kayak in Scottish folklore is often considered a crone, but she's also portrayed as youthful and beautiful, powerful and complex in the stories, and she can't be narrowly boxed into a single archetype.
So, as you say, most scholars now accept that the maiden mother crone is a modern projection of feminine experience by predominantly male scholars in the early 20th century, rather than reflecting any actual content of British and European mythology. So in short, the scholarly analysis finds the triple goddess complex entirely flawed and inaccurate. When examining the sort of diverse body.
Of British folklore and myths and such a deep subject, we could probably do two podcasts on it, really, especially what feels like at the moment, the resurgence of the power of the feminine, not of women, but of the feminine women as well. But I like to always be clear with when I talk about the feminine, I'm talking about the feminine, not about women specifically, those different things. But there is this rising of the feminine. And I love this time of year as well in the dark, which would be the feminine half of the year. And it's really real time for me to really connect with that mystery, the mystery of creation. That's great. Anyway, I'm going to take a wee segue sam with you, if that's all right. Something else? Okay.
For some people I've heard discuss the fact that in some folk magic circles, they talk about this idea that inner work is not important in folk magic. Right. I've heard this quite a lot, and I find that to be not true. For me, I find that inner work, to me, is almost the point of the path to become a full vessel and to be able to live a full human life with the joys and griefs and sadnesses and excitements and all the things that come along with life. Right. Kind of the point for me. And I really love that aspect of my spiritual life. So I'm curious, as a British animist, how much do you think inner work is important to the path you walk?
Do you think it improves your connection, or is it, as some say, not necessary on animist or a folkloric path? What's your thoughts on that?
Well, to be absolutely blunt, anybody that says that is an Egypt, in my opinion.
I thought I'd get the academic perspective in case I'd missed something.
Well, this is my non academic perspective. This is my personal perspective based on my own personal experience. Because to say something like that just reeks. It reeks of spiritual bypassing and lack of accountability. For me, inner work is like everything. It's like we need this constant internal reflection is essential for developing a strong connection to my spirits, for example, to the world around me and to the people in my life, because there's not an end destination when it comes to inner work either. My guide keeps informing me the work will continue until I pass into the next life. And if I haven't done enough, it will continue there. If I'd not confronted my shadow countless times, I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today. I wouldn't have gone through university. I wouldn't be speaking to you now.
I wouldn't be developing my own school of animism, teaching other people. I'd still be a drug fueled drunk party animal, okay? Throwing weight around and just being a drain on society. I was a troubled youth. You might have deduced that from the last statement. Stepping onto my spiritual path in earnest in my 20s forced me to stop and confront myself and the reasons for my self destructive and antisocial behaviors. And it's a process that's still ongoing.
And as you know, two years ago, got involved with a narcissist, and to cope, I started smoking and drinking again. But ultimately, held up this mirror where I needed my deepest healing, and the relationship ended. I did the necessary work, and it was horrendous, I remember. But to anybody that says inner work's not necessary, I give you Eddie Shake.
Well, I'm glad it's fun to tap into non academic sam. Yeah. For me, no apology needed. To me, it's like I said. It's like, literally, the point of what it is that I do anyway, with my work is like the work that I do saved my life in so many ways. And this Animist shamanic connection to the spirits of these lands just is something that, when met with open hearted dedication to self and when focused on self, this is a big I'm going off piece again, but there's this big thing that happens, I've noticed, in spiritual communities, and there's a big outward focus. So it's like, how can I help other people? What can I do to help other people? I'm going to help my friends. I've had messages for you. There's just this big focus.
Oh, I did a journey and I saw you in my journey. That means, therefore I have a message for you. And there's not a lot of that I see anyway. Or maybe people who do this just don't talk about it as much online, maybe. But to me, there needs to be this big shift in turning away from the external and bringing it to the internal. And when people do that, the magic that happens in the world is amazing. I've seen people who've done that simply through using eye language. In my big group, Sam, we've got this eye language rule, right, that people get really annoyed about because they can't tell other people what to do. That the people who really have embraced that wholeheartedly and then have taken out into their lives say that their families have changed, their lives have changed.
That's one thing. Just eye language, just talking as if you're talking from your own heart and from your own experience, rather than tell you you. It's III. It's amazing. Anyway, now, final question for you, Sam, for today. If you could share one British Animist practice with the audience, one thing that you'd really love people to connect with, what would it be and how would they do that?
One of my most favourite practices is very simple. It's one of the things that I teach, seership training. And it is this tell the land spirits your stories as a way of making friends with them. I'll try and give you an example of this whenever I move to a new location. So my first job after connecting with the spirit of the house is to go out onto the land and begin the process of befriending the local land spirits. I think it's really important that people understand that a friendship is not a foregone conclusion. I've learned this very well over the years. Our land spirits have absolutely no reason to trust us at all after all that we've done to the environment and the way that we've been so long disconnected from them.
So when I first moved to our current location in Somerset, I went every day on the land, introduced myself, told them who I was, why I was there, asked for their permission to settle in I left offerings. I said prayers day after day after day. Nothing came back, not a peep. You see, I'd asked the spirits as well for a very specific sign to indicate that I'd been accepted. And that sign was an unusual bird, because birds make great signs from spirit as they're so closely connected in our mythology. So one day, I was getting a bit upset that I'd not received my sign, so I sat in my sacred space that I'd found and had a little weep.
So I get quite emotional about these things, and it was a beautiful, hot summer's day, one of those days when there's not a single breeze in the air and the air hangs and it's still and it's warm. And I started telling the spirits the story of our disconnection about the coming of Christianity and what happened to us as a result. The tears were flowing as well as I was speaking. I was like total emotional outpouring. And I will never forget what happened next as long as I live. When I got to the part where I told them that were taught that the land spirits were evil and demonic, right, suddenly, out of nowhere, this huge gust of wind just roared through the trees. And it was so much like angry response to what I'd said that I just cannot believe it was anything else.
There had been no breezes that day prior to that moment, but it suddenly just ripped through the trees the moment I finished uttering those words, right? And I went on to tell them that there were millions of us now doing our best to reconnect reestablish our ancient relationships. And again, I kept calling in my sign that had been accepted, this unusual bird. So I closed my eyes and started my meditation. And I'd been meditating about five minutes, and I heard this plop noise, like when a fish comes up for air. I thought, oh, well, that's my sign then, I guess, because I was seated next to a stream. But when I opened my eyes, oh, gosh. Sitting on a branch not 2 meters away from me with a fish in its beak, staring at me in my eyes, was a kingfisher, right?
That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
And he just sat with me for about 30 seconds, just looking straight into my fit. And my eyes were, like, streaming with tears, and I was overwhelmed and trying to stay quiet so I didn't scare the bird away. And again, he sat with me for about 30 seconds and then just flew off. And at that point, I crumbled into an emotional heap and just said thank you to the spirits. And then in the middle of the daylight was answered by an owl that hooted three times. Some might say, oh, it's all coincidental, but I don't think so. But the point is, it took me three months of daily effort and connection before I was accepted, before they actually came out and said, right, okay, we accept you now.
So now when I go and sit in that space and pray, I'm visited by squirrels, water voles, Robins King Fisher, and even I've even had a red kite come and sit on the know. It's like they've received the memo that I'm not a danger. And we all so you have really.
Noticed on a tangible level the difference that so I talk a lot about giving your time and attention. It doesn't necessarily have to be fancy, it doesn't have to be things you've bought, but when you give your time and attention to the land where you live, magic happens. And that's really a beautiful story. To illustrate that, I would encourage anybody who wants to do that to give it a try and maybe go and find Sam on Instagram, where you'll find her at Pratani Wisdom Traditions and share with her, if you do this, what the differences are in the land where you live. And Sam has trainings that she does. Sam works in person, is that right, Sam? You don't work online?
Not yet, but it's coming, it's coming.
So, in person, what we didn't touch on, which you did mention it briefly, which was the wisdom wheel that your research has allowed you to build up, and then also you've worked with it yourself over many years and you now have this class that you teach on the Wisdom wheel, which is really amazing. I love the work that you do on that and bring some of it into my own work as well. Now, you've got one coming up next year, I think, isn't it March or something? Is that right?
Yeah, I've got several. I've got one in Ireland in February, 1 in Somerset in February, 1 in Dortmore in March, another one in Somerset in May time. So they're going out all over the know and I'm quite happy to have venue will travel, as they say.
Yeah. So if you want to book onto Sam's course, which I highly recommend, she's been up to Scotland to do it as well. WW pratani UK is where you'll find Sam's live in person wisdom wheel classes. And if you follow her on Instagram, then you'll get first dibs at whatever our new course, which I know what it is, but I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you, so we'll just have to yes, you so Pratani Wisdom, which is really exciting, and I can't wait to take the course, never mind anybody else. So. Thank you, Sam. I've had a really lovely conversation today. It's great to get that slightly I mean, it has quite a different perspective in the sense of the kind of wider Celtic landscape.
I do try and bring quite a lot of debunking into the work that I do, but I do it in a way that you do, too. I try and do it in a way that's like if you love the things that you connect with, please do that. Nobody's saying don't work with Ogum divination. Nobody's saying don't work with the tree calendar, the Celtic tree calendar. What we are saying is here's some information that you might find interesting and useful. So if you love what you've heard, go and check Sam's workout and I will see you guys all again really soon. Thanks so much for listening. And one last thing, thank you so much for tuning in. And if you enjoyed this episode, the best thanks you can give us is to subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen.
So thank you so much to everybody who's done that already, and thank you to those who go and do that right now. So until next time, may the wisdom of the ancients guide you, the warmth of your hearth comfort you, and the sacred cauldrons within you find harmony and balance.
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