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Celtic Britain did not have a royal family as we know it today. There were many regions and tribes that all had their own leaders, known as kings. Each country had a High-King, and the other kings in his country were his chieftains, his council and court.

The position of High-King wasn't hereditary. It was a position gained by show of strength, wisdom, ability and sometimes cunning. If a High-King did not rule his country well, he would likely face one, if not several challengers for his place. And there was always someone who thought they could do the job better. There were, however, times of peace, as there were many High-Kings who ruled well and were respected by their people. Such as Arthur, King of Britain - around whom many debates still rage. Was he real or just a myth - an amalgamation of several real kings of Britian? Whatever he was, he epitomised the great wisdom all kings aspired to and the great folly some became victim of. Merlin, the great wizard and keeper of the lore, again symbolised the Bards and Druids the kings relied on for advice and guidance in all things, especially spiritual and religious, but also the general well-being of their subjects and lands.

The three elements of Celtic aristocracy - Bards, Druids and Kings - all worked together (most of the time) to ensure the well-being and advancement of the Celtic traditions and culture. Whether we understand their roles and achievements is not necessarily a reflection on them, but maybe a reflection on the generations that followed their eventual demise. While some remembered snippets of the lost lore and tales, most forgot and moved away from their teachings and knowledge or romanticized it so much it became unrecognizable. If we are to re-discover the messages they left for us, maybe all we have to do is look inside ourselves to find that eternal place of truth and self-knowledge. And listen to the storytellers of today, who all share the same well of inspiration that all bards through the ages have actively delved into, the place of Awen, the source of inspiration and soul.

See an image of The Whirling Castle by Chris Down, here.

[back to the high court]

Painting by Miranda Gray © Arthurian Tarot Pack

You will find credits and links to the generous souls who have provided the Celtic art, music, poetry and reference material free on the Web, as well as a bibliography of the books and publications that make up a large part of my library and have been a rich resource for these pages in the Credits list.

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