Monday, May 22, 2017

The Pictish Runes That Never Were Pictish.


In many of these posts I’ve concentrated on explaining various symbols. In my dealings with the designs, and over years of carving, I’ve occasionally been asked to do some designs that, though billed as real, are historical fakes - symbols that have been made-up! Like this lot here...




I thought I'd expose here the so-called Pictish runes (see above pic). Putting it bluntly these are a complete fabrication, little more than a modern invention. None of these designs feature on any Pictish stone I’ve encountered - and I’ve been to many of the sites and I have many tomes filled with Pictish designs. These ones just don’t exist! 

The Picts were tribals folk living North of The Antonine Wall. Little is known about them. They fought with neighbouring Brythonic speaking Celtic Tribes and finally succumbed to Scottish dominion. By the 11th century A.D. their cultural identity had been absorbed by that of the Scots.  

Their legacy is revealed in numerous monumental stones, covered with carvings that often feature a unique plethora of symbolic motifs.  The problem is that no-one truly knows the symbolism of the real Pictish designs. There is a lot of speculation, but really, not even the experts can explain their function for certain. With a lack of written records, and the lengths Christianity went to destroy lingering refrains of paganism, it is impossible to know their exact symbolism. But the ‘Pictish runes' or 'Pictish alphabets' used by the likes of ‘Pecti wiccans’ are little more than modern fantasy - which is fair enough, if you recognise them as such. 

So Called 'Pictish alphabet - Yet another invention.

However, in saying this I find it amusing that they have joined the lexicon of Pictish motifs; that, although not historically true, are used by people out there with good intentions. I don’t think there is anything wrong in this. Personally my take on magic, items of divination etc, is that they function as trigger mechanisms that help focus the mind in particular ways. But if a wee heart symbol  makes you aware of love, or feel loved, or respect love, then it works - if it is a symbol for strength or fire with all its associated meaning, given as a gift to a friend, the intent is powerful - and the act of giving is potent in itself. 

The symbol doesn’t need to be of ancient origin. Though I find older symbols are pregnant with meaning and imbued with a  timeless Quality that modern efforts lack - that is possibly a personal choice, but it is one that I feel that I sense intuitively. 

Chaos magic is a modern magical tradition with its methods rooted in a sort of wry scientific/experimental magical approach. Chaos Magicians are encouraged to make use of modern and ancient symbols/items for magical/symbolic/ritual purposes. While respecting older magical traditions practitioners are not beholden to them. For example, the innards of a circuit board could be sectioned into rune-like symbols for divination. Though the symbol might be modern the thought process is the same. So while I’m pointing out that the Pictish Runes aren’t authentic, I’m not saying they are without worth. 

At some point I will attempt to write more about  Pictish symbols, I’m still researching the subject amongst everything else, but I will get around to the real symbols eventually. They are mysterious, enigmatic designs that deserve a few posts. In the meantime here’s a few pics to wet your appetite. 

Hilton Of Cadboll Stone

Sueno's Stone