The Picts – Intro

(For context, this was originally written for a spirituality group where people were looking to reconnect with their heritage & hopefully reconstruct a pagan belief system/practice based on that in order to avoid appropriating from other cultures. See ✨ at bottom of page for more info)

📝Additional Note: specific terms like “Picts”, “Gaels”, “Norse” & broader umbrella terms like “Celtic”, “Germanic” etc refer to cultural/language groups. They do NOT refer to genetic groups. So, there’s no such thing as “Pictish DNA” or having “Celtic blood” – a Pict is just someone who lived with Pictish culture & language, then those who were alive through transition to Gaelic language & culture later became Gaels, no change of DNA & no being wiped out by a mass invasion. This is important to understand not only for accuracy but also the outdated idea that these things are genetic is often pushed by racists, so let’s not contribute to that.

Now, on to the post…

Wee post on Picts – hopefully useful to those interested in Scottish practices as there’s quite a bit of misinformation out there from the likes of Buckland etc…

First of all I feel it important to point out that the area that comprises modern Scotland has never been occupied by a singular cultural or linguistic group – there has always been some degree of diversity. This diversity still shines through in variations of Scottish folk beliefs in different areas & even more simple things such as place names. We’ve had Gaels, Picts, Britons, Norse & even Anglo-Saxon amongst even more ancient influences at various points in time.

That said, the biggest, or at least most famous, influence on Scottish folk belief that has survived to this day is Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) culture & language due to the formation of the Gaelic kingdom of Alba in 800AD. Before this, large areas of Scotland were ruled by the Picts. Unfortunately, their language & most of their culture, beliefs etc have been lost to us, though there is evidence that they were a Celtic culture & they are thought to have spoken a Brythonic language related to Old Welsh, so P-Celtic rather than Q-Celtic. This is important to know as sometimes people think Picts & Gaels were the same when this isn’t the case – Gaelic culture simply became the dominant culture in Scotland due to changes in the Elite, religion etc which caused Pictish culture & language to fade away over time.

So, if you’re learning about Saining – for example – you’re learning about a Gaelic practice, not a traditionally Pictish practice (it may be that they had something similar, but the fact is we sadly don’t know).

Here’s a good wee series of books for a general overview of Scottish history up to the clan period (tried to link to a site that wasn’t a sales site): The Making of Scotland

I could go on about this for ages lol but have tried to keep it as short & simple as possible – please feel free to ask any questions 😊 I’ll end this post by linking to a few projects etc based in Scotland that are good for learning more about Picts:

I’ll be adding other, more in-depth posts on the Picts on areas such as religion, language etc under the “Picts” topic tag 🏷

✨ “Seems Like Your Spirituality is Just Cultural Appropriation” or SLYSCA started off as an anti-racist, ethical spirituality group on Facebook run by Visibly Racialised People. Sadly the group is “under review” by FB, but SLYSCA lives on through a page, a patreon & a YouTube channel so please go have a look 👀 ⚠️ EDIT: as of 2022 the page & patreon have also been taken down, & the YouTube has only a few activism videos left up – this is due to the volunteers running them being unable to continue doing so…there are a lot of entitled people out there who would rather attack groups like this instead of trying to learn, so running them can be very draining 😞 If you can use Tumblr you can try to have a look through what was archived, such as screenshots from the groups etc, on their account which at the time of writing is still up ⬅️

(📸 Featured Photo credit: Me)


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