Considering Mesolithic Britain
Article ID: 14435
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Verda Smedley
Posted: May 1st. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,255
I have been asked, why spend a lifetime studying Mesolithic Britain. It is prehistory about which virtually nothing is known. The archaeological evidence is scant and what has been discovered is often shrouded in mystery. The word prehistory has a way of implying unknowable; something lost forever in the remoteness of antiquity, until you view 6000 years ago on the geological timeline. Then you realize it was just yesterday. Within the “why” of such endless research was something very simple, deeply palpable, a persistent and sometimes sad longing to know my own tribe, the shamanic hunter-gatherers of Mesolithic Britain. It didn’t take me long to understand that they weren’t Celts. I finally found that there existed a tribal people indigenous to the British Isles and I devoted more than thirty years of my life seeking them out. I have to concede I have a passion for them.
Hundreds of books came and went from my life. I was repeatedly shown nothing more than vague accounts of my people’s destruction by aggressors and invaders. So I turned to the sciences and poured through archaeology, geology, ethnobotany, and many other fields. My search extended into animal magic and quantum physics; I studied mythology as though it was the very pump that filled my lungs with air. And sure enough a picture emerged; not a mere glimpse but a full-blown, vibratory understanding that resonated in my blood.
It is my hope that I can bring this exhaustive research, little by little, to the public domain and continue to write stories and essays about these amazing people. They have a profound and vital message, representing as they do the time in history when we as a species might have had it right, living lives that were profoundly spiritual, mystical, magical, and filled with devotion to our planet, true of Mesolithic Britain and the entire hunter-gatherer era worldwide.
I couldn’t find any evidence that suggested that these people worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses as recognized in later Neolithic Goddess and Pagan religions. I was continually left with the distinct impression that their worship was of the Primordial Goddess, an Earth religion wholly overflowing with shamanism and yet utterly Pagan. It was the heart and soul of both ancient mysteries and Earth mysteries as well. I based my absolute belief on the ethnobotany of Mesolithic Britain that I painstakingly reconstructed over many years. And it required many more to get into their minds before I grasped the scope of mysticism in their everyday lives.
The magic of Mesolithic Britain had to have been borne out of a comprehensive knowledge and devotion to the natural world, the Earth Mother. Hunting tools were created from powerful plants; each believed a spirit with specific attributes. But the concept of tools was far more sophisticated than the physical objects themselves. There were washes and smoke medicine that purified and empowered the hunter and his weapons. Other plants afforded him protection from malevolent spirits and injury. Some plants made him attractive to his quarry; others protected him against the elements. This was true of tanning too. The plants that were used to process, preserve, and tint hides all had magical properties and imbued those hides with their power.
Every feature of life was mystical including weaving and basket making because the species of plants selected had magical powers. Some saturated articles with specific attributes; others separated the spirit of the maker from the finished product. This was true of drums and flutes, pigments for fiber arts, even tattooing. Many things were made for ritual intent and therefore selected with deliberation and not just harvested from the local environment because it was convenient or readily available. Spirit, it was all spirit, not a single one of which was unfamiliar or unknown.
The essays I have written address in far greater detail these wonderful areas of real possibility. An appendix of indigenous British species organized loosely by property can be found on my website: www.verdasmedley.com. Should there be a thing as fate I hope to produce more essays in the near future about subjects such as the protection for home and hearth; garden magic and companion planting; and companion magic organized by nature’s ecosystems. I would like to add to that list essays pertaining to sacred cycles and shamanic exorcismal practices that sustain balance and harmony; and medicine bundles, bags and prayer sticks. Mysticism can be found in feast foods, sacred first foods and famine foods. I will hopefully address them too. I found that every area of life held the potential to be steeped in magic and it was easy for me to speculate that the Mesolithic people of the British Isles lived deeply spiritual lives. Like everyone else on this planet I have ascended from a tribe, some ancient group that didn’t plunder or exploit and called the Earth, Mother. I found my tribe in the British Isles.
Please note that my studies were limited to the indigenous species of the British Isles. To grasp the resources of the Mesolithic people of Britain might have had at their disposal I had to research many other Temperate Zone tribes. I concluded there was no reason to doubt that tribal Britain didn’t use those species similarly to other tribes’ application of them. In the absence of definitive proof I was left with informed speculation, and although respectably comprehensive, my assertions remain, in the end, speculative. Conversely, there is no reason to believe that many more uses, beyond our understanding now, were known, as well as uses for many other species that now elude us or are, sadly, extinct.
My grama taught me that the plants were disappearing because we didn’t take care of them anymore. My passion isn’t merely to be informed and share that knowledge with others. It is my way of remembering them and honoring our beloved Primordial Mother Goddess, the Earth. I have tried to illustrate that even simple lichens must be remembered if they are to remain our companions on this incredible mystical journey we call life. I want you to remember as I remember so that these extraordinary species and the spirits of our ancestors that revered them don’t leave us.
A full bibliography can be found on my website
Copyright: I hold the copyright on all my work
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Author's Profile: To learn more about Verda Smedley - Click HERE
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