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Eightsome, Strip-the-Willow, Reel of the 51st Signal Sloane Migration to Eastern Scotland


Extracting Insecure Scribes from Our Writers‘ Cave for 1st Wednesday Date

Approaching solstitial heat brings global rise in temperatures, snowmelt in Iceland, German exodus to beaches on North Sea, as world leaders cautiously advise population mobility for the summer of 2021. North American population either on the move again, or thinking about it. Thereby hangs a tale.

Across the Water in Britain, the Royals—bravely—TRHs Earl & Countess of Strathearn (their title while in Scotland) have been out-and-about walking, driving and sailing the outdoors in a widely-covered expedition into their past, setting an example for the future, and simultaneously enjoying the backwoods.

Original royal Strathearn founder CUSTATIN FILIUS FORCUS (811-820) 9thC Christian King of Picts & Scots reigned from dual capital Forteviot—ancient Fortriu—where this Dupplin high cross stood. Original now in museum, replica stands in royal meadow overlooking Strathearn’s strategic power centre, q.v. Interlace drapes cross over royal rider, Latinized inscription gives his lineage

see Forteviot Arch , Pictish Kinglist Custatin

From start to finish, vitality has been the vibration of the current royal catchup-with-Northern Britain: sentimental journey to where they first met, packing in fun & games, fish & chips, while blasting the horn of their fave charities to help essential workers take a day off! The explosion of joy streamed across nations and seas, as social media pounced on them, setting an example for us all.



‘Ve haf owr vays’

The Eightsome Reel Ghillies ball at Balmoral thanks to ©James Fraser on Vimeo.

It takes something special to tap us (Insecure Writers) gently on the shoulder and wake us up out of our (perennial, mostly to other people, boring) state of creative existence down the rabbit, er, writing hole to emerge into daylight unshuttered, aka the real world.

But after a year on the gravy train’s opposite track, we need a thrill—something to entice us—into joining in once again. So easy to lose track, the knack. Social distancing, self-isolating requirew self discipline, care, self-awareness.

But wasn’t that what we were always told we were good at?


Royals Lead the Pack Back into the Countryside

While we weren’t looking, it seems, over the last 35 years or so, most of us—even the most hibernating of writers—have seen the change in society, an almost imperceptible trend towards the metropolis: a citification, joining others in an urbanization of country ways. Nations holding traditional country ceremonies had their celebrations curtailed; ancient traditions stopped dead. The world—both Western ‘city’ style and ’emerging’ nations dependent exclusively on the earth directly for their food—stopped. Everyone went indoors, switched off the metaphorical light.

Official advice throughout prolonged enforced isolation has been health-related, breathing fresh air, keeping mobile, with outdoor activities actively encouraged by world governments as soon as it was #safe to do so.

So it’s both refreshing and deep-down psychically encouraging to find the Royals’ first engagement after their release from the regal stronghold-cum-retreat was to revel on tidal shores of Forth and Tay, share a love of fresh countryside and take part in famliar traditions far removed from city smoke. HRH Prince William succeeded in expressing the embodiment of his northern kingdom’s ancient roots—as Earl of Strathearn, (Fortriu territory early-Christian 9thC combined kingdom of Picts and Scots in Perthshire), pictured top. His consort, HRH Countess Catherine, actively engaged in providing much-needed recreation for key care workers who have had little relief.

St. Andrew’s, middle/bottom l. university town perched on Fife tidal foreshore, was focus of early church of Pictish King Custatin (Forteviot high cross after Roman Constantine) sarcophagus still dominates ruined 9thC cathedral. Strathearn inherited title last used in 1299. TRH Earl & Countess top l. attend Church of Scotland general assembly with Moderator, Edinburgh as HM Queen’s High Commissioner—but as an ordinary subject, as protestant dictates.

Early Christian monasteries like Lindisfarne, Deer in Buchan (Book of Deer) and Iona (Book of Kells) kept illustrated, illuminated gospel prayer books like simple monk’s doodling, right, as teaching tools and to while away the hours.

Revered Pictish monks St. Serf (Culsalmond) and St. Fergus (Dyce) Aberdeenshire used scrollwork within familiar fish symbols to teach the illiterate Christian: ICHTHYS*=fish (Gk.)followed ancient knotwork traced in fish body.

*shorthand for Jesu Christos son of Theos most high. Dyce cross slab is inscribed in fish-shaped ogham lettering.

Whirlwind Royal Visit Achieves Media ‘Massive Strides’, Touches the Heart

While us creative types still plug in and turn on in our daily writing routine, it’s seratonin-inducing happy-making encouraging to have rôle-models—especially youthful, genuine, energetic, fit and motivated national figures.

The Royal family have maintained their privacy during this last year, ending charismatically with the death and funeral of HRH Prince Philip (of Battenberg, Hohenzohlern Hesse-Coburg & Greece & Denmark). By innovating/initiating a visit by the younger generation—with a romantic connection to a beloved countryside—the Queen played her trump card. William, as High Commissioner of Church of Scotland’s General Assembly in Holyrood Palace in the nation’s capital, converted the Moderator’s stoney heart, captivated audiences worldwide.

Writers (Insecure or Otherwise), journalists, scribes of all faiths, Panic Not. Remember. Thereby hangs a tale.

Jas.Fraser’s video at Balmoral of the annual Ball, above, shows the secret language of dance that the Royals use, based on a shared schooling background in Scotland, and the traditional form Scottish Country Dancing can take.

Prince Philip was so enamored of Morayshire’s ‘Outward Bound’ Gordonstoun School, he had all his children attend. Charles is reputedly no fan [his children William & Harry schooled at Eton instead]. But HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, has been supportive and a Governor of the Board of the campus at Duffus-Elgin on the Moray coast for over 20 years. Both her brothers, Princes Andrew (dancing with her in the reel) and Edward attended along with her children Peter Philips and Zara Tindall who graduated there.

Secret Insider Dance-spotting Detective Trick

Like all establishments in the so-called ‘public school’ aka private system in Britain, Gordonstoun encourages outdoor pursuits, personal excellence, a full schedule of examinations and activities—including country dance. Annual balls like the (winter) Holly Hoolie, & Aberdeen Beach Ballroom Children-1st Touch of Tartan Ball (revitalized after a three year hiatus as New Tartan Ball for Barnardo’s along with (summer) Donside Ball (WWF), Ghillies’ Ball, and an array of private dances in school holidays when skirts and kilts join in merrily.

One teeny giveaway of the #hardened #seasoned kilt-swinging tribe—you can see from Anne’s twirling with her brother Andrew that they’re serious about their reeling—is footwork. No, no pointy points or ballet posture as in Ladies Highland Dance. It’s important to be as low-profile, un-pas-de-bas as possible, slushing into the swing, slushing back out to await next partner.

Within Northeast Scotland’s dancing élite, this style is known as #Aberdeenshire.

When Haddo House hosted weekend parties for Princess Margaret (until her death) and later charity events for some of Prince Edward’s charities, held in the old Canadian-built WWII wooden Hall, dance style is relaxed—kilts to the fore, with familiar slushy footwork. Haddo Hall’s Reel of the 51st Battalion is truly a magnificent sight. While an Eightsome dots the room with individual circles interweaving [vid above], Strip-the-Willow gets dancers lined up in rows, but pièce-de-résistance Reel of the 51st has the building shaking, all dancers somehow entwined in a communal embrace.

Now, that’s Aberdeenshire.

So when next St.Andrew’s Day (November 30) or Feast of Fergus or Colm or Giric or Blane you feel like dancing the night away, you may remember least stressful most physically satisfying style adopted by Britain’s leading families snakes back to its country beginnings on Scotland’s North Coast.

That in itself is encouraging for a future (outdoor-trending) lifestyle. Breathe fresh air, breathe health, breathe well. Thank you for listening. May we all fare well through our next Muse-directed experience. ©2021MarianYoungblood

June 2, 2021 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, environment, history, nature, pre-Christian, publishing, ritual, sacred sites, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment