I’ll never forget my first five minutes at a Scottish cultural event, many years ago. I recall walking through the gate and immediately being surrounded by lads in kilts, ladies in bodices, and edged weapons. Not far away, bagpipes were sounding. As far as the eye could see, men and women of European blood were celebrating our culture and, by implication, honoring our ancestors. My eyes immediately filled with tears of joy.
On that emotional day in central California, I had “come home.”
Since then, I have attended many such gatherings and I have never been disappointed.
For the last two days, Sheila and I have been at the “156th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games” in the town of Pleasanton, on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area.
What follows is a report, and a plea. These events are powerful, both spiritually and culturally – and this inner power is essential for the survival and destiny of our people.
We arrived in the early afternoon on day one. We started with the vending area, where you can buy just about anything Scottish, Irish, or English. Clothing (from kilts to tee shirts), weapons, food, books, jewelry, and artwork were available in abundance. Also present were genealogical resources – if you want to find out more about your family history, this was the place. All the major clans were in attendance, as well, and were accepting memberships from those qualified.
Thor’s hammers were for sale, and along with other Norse items, were quite popular. I was glad to see that; unfortunately, many of the people wearing them likely had no connection to Thor or to the Nordic gods in general. Sooner or later, however, at least some of them will find their way home to their ancestral faith.
Many of the of the attendees were non-Whites. No surprise there; the Bay Area has a high non-White population. They were generally not pretending to be Scots, nor were they offensive; they were people just out enjoying a weekend (and supporting our culture in the process). More objectionable was a seller of Scottish traditional clothing who, despite wearing a kilt, was obviously some variety of Asian – and we pointedly avoided him.
The food area was more of an insult. Many – maybe most – of the vendors were Mexicans selling tacos and burritos and the like. Fortunately some British Isles ethnic foods were available, and also typical American fare like burgers and hot dogs and ice cream cones, so we did not have to go hungry or thirsty.
A number of Celtic musical groups were present, ranging from the raucous (Tempest) to the traditional (The Brown Sisters). Pipes, drums, and guitars carried the day…along with the didgeridoo. This last instrument may sound alien. Technically it is, but archaeologists have known for some time that European Bronze Age instruments produced the same sound. I found the music, whether rowdy or romantic, produced a visceral connection with my ancestral roots which at times had me on the verge of tears.
Every event of this sort features Gaelic athletic events. This includes things like the caber toss, hammer toss, the hay bale throw and five-a side football. On a less physical note, there are competitions at everything from whiskey to sheepdog trials…If anyone had told me a week ago that I would find sheepdog trials interesting I would not have believed them, but dogs and sheep alike were amazing! Those dogs have higher IQ than certain politicians, and actually accomplish something useful, to boot.
“Heavy athletics” is inspiring. Modernity scorns massive men and valkyrie-quality women, but these are good models for our young, or even some of our not-so young. Strength matters!…And it always runs deeper than mere muscle tissue.
“Pipe and drum” marching bands also compete at these events, and they stir the soul. For many years, the English outlawed the pipes as a weapon of war – and understandably so. The pipes don’t kill men, per se, but they kill fear…and they inspire love of country and Folk. Right now, we need to kill fear in our hearts and instill fear in the hearts of those who would hurt us, or attack our culture, or think erroneously that they can replace us. Go to a Celtic event and watch these bands! Let the sound speak in your heart. Take it into your marrow. It will transport you to a new level.
Where does this leave us?
Celtic Fairs and Scottish Games are powerful weapons for the soul of our people. Go to them. You don’t have to actually be a Celt; I am a proud combination of Scottish, Irish, English and German with a touch of Scandinavian. These games appeal to every part of me. It is the Folksoul writ large. Here are some possible points of action:
- Go to the event. The very fact that you attend is a point for our side. Own a kilt? Wear it! If you don’t have one you can get a “utilikilt” (utility kilt) at the event for a relatively low price. Go there to enjoy the environment, not to harangue people. Be humble; you’re there to learn. Be subtle but be prepared to meet people and jot addresses.
- Encourage friends to go with you. Share the fun!
- Support vendors who are members of our Folk. Avoid those who are not.
- Eligible for membership in a clan? Consider joining.
- For me, going to these events is a spiritual thing. Be open to the magic of your blood. Take the music, the inspiration, the learning deeply into yourself. Fall in love with your heritage.
- “Attending Scottish Games is a revolt against the modern world.” (A quote from Stephen McNallen, about thirty seconds ago.) Enjoy the hell out of it!
See the resource below for where and when to find these events!
Highland Games and Festivals – U.S. Events