The Windsmith Elegy is based largely on Celtic Mythology. There may be some terms that are unfamiliar to the lay reader and, having used my artistic license, I have interpreted them in my own way, so here’s a glossary to hopefully clear matters up! Many words are Welsh and to help, here’s a brief guide to pronunciation:
Abred: The circle of rebirth. ‘The circles or spiral of Abred: emerging life – up to the human.’ (DJ Roderic). ‘Where the dead is stronger than the living, and where every principal existence is derived from the dead, and man has traversed it.’ (IM)
Afagddu: literally ‘utter darkness’. In the Welsh legend of Taliesin, he is the ill-favoured son of the wisewoman Ceridwen, who brews a potion of wisdom for him. Unfortunately, Gwion Bach, a local boy charged with stirring the cauldron for a year and a day, receives it instead and, although he is pursued by the enraged Ceridwen, eventually he becomes twiceborn through her as ‘Taliesin’ (the shining brow). Thus, Afagddu is deprived of the potion’s benefits. Neglected by legend, ever since, he has roamed Annwn, devouring the light of others, becoming the Eater of the Dead.
Afterlands: (neologism KM) – the different realms of the ancestors within Shadow World
Andraste: Icenian Goddess of victory and revenge, Roman-British warrior queen Boudicca famously released a hare to her to prophesy the outcome of battle.
Annwn: (Welsh). Celtic land of the dead, where our world seems mirrored, albeit through a glass darkly (see Shadow World). aka The Source, the first stirrings of life, almost a primeval state of existence. ‘The outermost from God, not abyss but outer darkness.’ From the Barddas of Iolo Morganwg (IM), a questionable but fascinating reinvention of bardic lore by the eccentric 18th Century druidic revivalist.
Awen: (Welsh) bardic word for inspiration; literally ‘flowing spirit’.
Bard: (Welsh) A master storyteller, poet, musician, and remembrancer for the tribe
with a huge repertoire (350 songs or stories) and an extensive knowledge of the genealogies and landrights of the elite families. His or her mandate was to compose elegies for their noble patrons. Their satires were feared and their praise was sought. Their extensive training in British bardic colleges took 12 years.
Barrow: Bronze-age burial mound of varying shapes and sizes: bell, saucer, ring.
Bird-ally: sentient totem animal-spirits associated exclusively with one windsmith, and maintaining a telepathic link. As individual as their masters.
Bobac: small mammal of the steppe, whose flesh is prized by hunters.
BCE: Before Common Era (commonly accepted as being marked by the birth of Christ). However, BCE recognises other faiths and ideologies, and is used as an academic term of reference.
Bronze Age: the period from about 2000 to 700 BCE that usually followed the Neolithic and preceded the Iron Age, corresponding to the introduction of metallurgy, notably bronze-working, for making tools, weapons, and ceremonial objects.
CE: Common Era (aka AD). Starts with the supposed birth of Christ, Year Zero.
Caer: an Iron-Age hill-fort (Danebury). The largest hill-forts were referred to as ‘oppida’ (small townships).
Cerne Abbas: the ithyphallic chalk giant wielding a club, standing proud over the Dorset village that gives him its name. Of unknown date, although it has been associated with Herakles and Oliver Cromwell. However, Ogmios was depicted wielding a club.
Ceugant: The seat of the Godhead. The radiating sphere of the divine (DJ Roderic). ‘One falls, yet returns to the centre, the divine Ceugant.’ (IM)
Chalk Giant: a symbolic figure carved out of the turf revealing the chalk beneath, common in the chalk downlands of England.
Coelbren: A wood-based alphabet, a runic variant on the Ogham.
Cromlech: the former entrance to a neolithic burial chamber, eroded away to leave only the entrance stones, normally 3, capped with a lintel.
Cythrawl, or Cythraul. Iolo Morgannwg’s dark element of chaos and evil, said to dwell in Annwn.
Daanu: (neologism KM) river flowing from the Bone Mountains, source at waterfall below Mount Anu, the White Mother. Akin to the River Danube, whose valley cradled early Celtic civilisation.
Dark Speech: another name for the Ogham, also referred to as ‘the secret language of poets.’ Essentially a code only the Druid caste were able to interpret (like Latin to the Christian priesthood)
Druid: Celtic priest, judge and master of ceremonies; literally meaning ‘oak-priest.’
Drunemetom: the sacred meeting place of the Iron Age Galatians of Asia Minor, etymologically connected with ‘Druid’ and ‘Nemeton’ – the sacred enclosure of the Druids, or the ‘sacred oak enclosure.’
Gramarye: word-magic, literally ‘grammar’.
Grey Warrior: a Thracian armoured iron-sword wielding foot soldier of the steppe.
Gwynvyd: aka Gwynfid. The white life/place – ‘where the living is stronger than the dead, and where every principle existence is derived from the living and life, that is God, and man shall traverse it; nor will man attain to perfect knowledge, until he shall have fully traversed the circle of Gwynvyd, for no absolute knowledge can be obtained but by the experiences of the senses, from having born and suffered every condition and incident.’ (IM). This sounds akin to the Buddhist Wheel of Life, the realm of earthly existence.
Hun: predominantly warlike horse-nomad of the steppe. The most famous being the warlord Attila.
Iron Age: the period between the end of the Bronze Age (c. 700 BCE) and the spread of the Roman Empire (27 BCE-CE 68) associated predominantly with the main era of Celtic civilisation, in which iron replaced bronze for tools and weapons.
Karma-serfs: Celts who work off debts of honour and wealth in the Otherworld.
Kenning: an Anglo-Saxon concept of describing something in a poetic way to avoid using its direct name, out of respect. ie Whale-Road (sea). Possibly connected to their predilection for riddles and fondness for thinking laterally.
Kurgan: (steppe) Scythian name of burial chamber.
Long Man of Wilmington: chalk giant of West Sussex, 234 Ft high, a featureless figure wielding two staves, on barrowed Windover Hill, part of the South Downs.
Metenaidd: the four ore-tribes of the Daanu Valley, who live along tributaries rich in the metal they mine, work and trade.
Ogham: the Celtic tree alphabet, each of the 25 letters representing a native tree. 5 groups: vowels, consonants, dipthongs… Coel-bren?
Saiga: antelope species of the Eurasian steppe:
Scimitar: curved sword of the Asiatic warrior
Scythian: tribes of nomads that originated in Iran and inhabited the Eurasian steppes in the 1st millennium BCE. They were collectively referred to by the Ancient Greeks as the “Scythians”, a name that probably derives from an Iranian word skuta (archers).
Shadow World: (neologism) Otherworld connected to Earth symbiotically.
Sigil: a sign or seal. The geometric patterns Kerne sees in limbo, letters of fire which he discovers are a development of the system of ‘woodwords’ used by the windsmiths. They are effectively mnemonic symbols of words of power.
Steppe: (from the Russian step’, “lowland”) An ecosystem in temperate regions in which grasses and herbaceous plants are the dominant vegetation, commonly used to describe the treeless, undulating plains that extend from Hungary and the lower regions of the Danube basin, through Ukraine and southern Russia, into northern Kazakhstan and Siberia as far as the foothills of the Altai Mountains. Other steppe regions lie farther east in Mongolia and north-eastern China. The width of the Eurasian steppe belt varies between about 300 and 1,000 km (186 and 621 mi).
Suslik: ground squirrel indigenous to the steppe.
Tarpan: short stocky black-maned horses native of the Russian steppe and extinct since 1919.
Thracian: Warlike people of Macedonia. Although homeland of the master-bard of Greece, Orpheus, who famously entered the realm of Hades to win back his beloved.
Tuirgen – Cyclical Celtic notion of destiny, analogous to the Anglo-Saxon concept of ‘Wyrd’.
Turgen – Celtic name of a shamanic feathered cloak worn by priests.
Underworld: The realm of the ancestors and chthonic deities, akin to ‘Annwn’.
White Horse of Uffington: the stylised horse or dragon overlooking the Vale of the White Horse, 3000 years old.
Windsmith: a magician of gramarye, able to summon the wind. Each windsmith is associated with a particular caer and has a bird-ally.
Wood-priest: (neologism) another name for windsmith, effectively, a druid.
Woodword: (neologism) a kenning for an ogham name