The Old Ways

The Old Ways

Our Ancestors, until the Romans arrived towing in Christianity hot on their heels, followed The Old Ways. They lived in close connection with the land and the things that lived on the land; the animals, the plants and the trees, they had a relationship with them, knew their ways and learned from them.

The Old Ways didn't die out they slowly went into hiding after Christianity arrived (during some periods it was absolutely essential) and that is more or less where they have been ever since (hiding). The practitioners are here still as well, although you will have as much trouble finding them.

It has only been around 1500 years (give or take a few) since Christianity established itself enough to have a total grip on most of the British Isles (our Ancestors have been here for what is now thought to be 1 million years - The Old Ways are our indigenous culture), although that grip was always more tenuous in the rural areas and it has tended to be the more rural areas where the customs and practices of The Old Ways have remained and where there is a strong body of them still remaining today - although they are still hiding; in the customs & practices, the folk stories & song of this land.

1,000,000 years ago - off the bottom of the chart

Given that farming only began 7,000 years ago taking around 2,000 years to spread cross the British mainland means that there was a preceding period of some 993,000 years when our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers.

This lifestyle over this vast period of time is where the knowledge, information and world-view of The Old Ways was born.

Our Ancestors followed the deer; Reindeer to start and then as the weather warmed the Red deer that replaced them. They drew images of these animals as their sacred totems on their cave walls.

Paleolithic Art - Creswell Crags - discover more
Star Carr Frontlet - Yorkshire Museum

Headresses made from Red Deer skulls, used by Shamans in ritual practice - from the Star Carr Mesolithic archaeological site, dating to around 9000 BC.

Playing an important role in Shamanic ritual & hunting ceremony (at times, one and the same thing), their relationship with the deer permeated every aspect of their lives. One of the oldest deities that we have is 'Elen of the Ways' - a female antlered goddess of Sovereignty (of the land) and guardian of the ancient trackways of Britain; a role that hearkens back to her very beginnings with our Palaeolithic Ancestors.

Over the aeons of time Elen has worn many masks, each one appropriate for the age; She still lives on in Wales in the form of three trackways that bear her name 'Sarn Helen' (Helen being the Christianised form of Elen).

So it is with the Old Ways, whilst their substance does not change they also do not remain static - they cloak themselves appropriately for the times in which they are living.

To become practitioners of The Old Ways we are therefore spared the requirement of going back to living in caves & hunting and gathering as our sole way of providing for ourselves.