Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Parios

Journaling the illustration of an Ueletorunoi oracle deck, my Druid and Bardic exploration for my Candidate year within AODA.

Parios – The Basics

Letter Correspondence: p/b
Role: Bardos (Bard)
Meaning: Cauldron

Keywords: A secret, Something unknown, Best left unknown for now, Something lost, Chance, Danger, Struggle, Success through perseverance in the face of adversity, Choosing what is beneficial, Knowledge, Wisdom, Lot, Addiction, Loneliness, Stagnation.

Parios – My Interpretation

Iagis had been my favourite runos until I got to Parios. Looking back on the deck as a whole, Parios isn’t my favourite execution-wise, but I had fun with the concept and it remains a significant runos to me. When seeing the meaning, I immediately thought of Awen, which has its place in some modern Gaulish practices as Auenâ. I associate cauldrons intimately with Awen, but also rebirth, the containment of all matter, and source of knowledge. So the keywords also sang to me – loss, addiction, loneliness, stagnation – as the plight of our inner spark. As someone who finds Awen in sorrow and hiraeth, I can relate to the ups and downs of the creative process.

I chose the imagery of The Hanged Man from the Tarot de Marseille and Rider-Waite Smith deck. This represents the adversity and stagnation the bard faces in expressing his creative spark. It also marks him as one who traverses the boundaries of society in order to chase inspiration, praising friends and mocking enemies through his art. I wanted him suspended over a cauldron and so I felt this card, which is one of my favourite tarot cards, would work really well with this concept.

The bard hovering above the cauldron perilously represents sacrifice and rebirth, as seen on the Gundestrup cauldron’s ‘cauldron of rebirth’ plate. Miranda Green in The World of the Druids puts forth the idea that like their Germanic neighbours the Cimbri, Gaulish tribes may have had sacrifice rites involving buckets or cauldrons, and that the large figure is a druid. Other scholars believe it is a cauldron of rebirth scene similar to that in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, where a god is plunging a fallen warrior into the waters so his soul may undergo transmigration.

Dobunni coin, featuring a goddess who is likely Cuda speaking

I credit the findings of Chris Rudd at Celtic Coins for inspiring the golden faces, representing the divine speaking to the bard. They are based on Celtic coins where the gods minted on the coins appear to be talking, and he delves deeper into them in his article Talking Heads.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Orbios

Journaling the illustration of an Ueletorunoi oracle deck, my Druid and Bardic exploration for my Candidate year within AODA.

Orbios- The Basics

Letter Correspondence: o/ô
Role: Touta (Tribe)
Meaning: Inheritance, heritage

Keywords: Union, Customs, Group, Family, Home, Freedom, Group Order, Interactions, Inheritance, Heritage, Material possessions, Property, Increase of possessions, “reaping what you sow”/achieving reward through effort and planning. Slavery, Totalitarianism, Homelessness, Lack of Customs, Poverty.

Orbios – My Interpretation

I painted this while I was in Mid Wales, a happy memory. I wanted to draw something that would reflect unity. Both figures are meant to be androgynous, as unity between people has no defined gender. It is not always a union of opposites that forms great things. Unlikely unions between particles and matter of all types formed our universe.

I wanted to also include a reference to the material side of orbios, depicted as a bucket and vase. Pottery and material artifacts like buckets are how we know what we know about many of our ancestors, so it also ties in with inheritance.

Catuvellauni coins from the reign of Cunobelinos depicting ram horned serpents

At the centre, the horned snake eats her own tail. The horned serpent is a common Gallo-Brittonic motif, appearing on coins as well as on the Gundestrup cauldron. It doubles as the ouroboros, signifying the cycle of all that is.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Nertos

Journaling the illustration of an Ueletorunoi oracle deck, my Druid and Bardic exploration for my Candidate year within AODA.

Nertos- The Basics

Letter Correspondence: n
Role: Uicios (Fighter), Corios (Warband)
Meaning: Strength

Keywords: Resistance, Need, Desire, Self Reliance, Responsibility, Hardship, Delay, Restriction, Poverty, Strife, Conflict, Will to overcome, Taking action, The coming solution to the need/desire or hardship, Distress, Toil, Lazy.

Nertos – My Interpretation

This was my first true attempt at drawing a Gaulish warrior. It is however very innacurate and mostly conjured from my imagination. At the time I was happy with it, as I wasn’t used to drawing in this style and depicting people had a huge learning curve to it after I stopped drawing them in hooded cloaks.

I plan to redo Nertos in a second edition of these tarot cards that focuses more on the Deuoi and their attributes. I have an image of Boudicca and the hare I envision for strength. That is what I like about these runes. Branos, the creator of the rune system, finds Auenâ (Awen) through symbols. I love symbols, but the Deuoi speak to me through images and icons. So using these magical symbols I can meditate with Awen to conjure images.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Mî

Journaling the illustration of an Ueletorunoi oracle deck, my Druid and Bardic exploration for my Candidate year within AODA.

Mî – The Basics

Letter Correspondence: m
Role: Eurisis (the devotee)
Meaning: Me

Keywords: Self, Divine Structure, Awareness, Social, Receiving help from others, Exchange, Friends and Family, Forethought, Vision, Psychic sense, positive change through labor, Toil, and Examination of life lessons, Depression, Morality, Blindness, Isolation.

Mî- My Interpretation

Uatis Eye by Drunemeton

I chose to lean into the idea of the devotee, divine structure, relations to the divine, and vision. The figure is hooded, their eyes obscured but with the eye of the Uatis overlaid, to represent the unseen. It also represents the Uatis, the Ovate, a particular vocation which was very important within Celtic society. The Gods, knowning as the Deuoi, hold their hand. The smoke from the offering bowl becomes the clouds of Albios, the heavens and Upper World.

Two panels of the Gundestrup cauldron featuring Gods adorned with torcs.

The Gods are depicted in a style inspired by their appearance on the Gundestrup cauldron, where I tried to emulate their hairstyles in order to pay respect to these depictions. I’m not strong at small-scale facial expressions, but I wanted to give them positive energy to show their willingness to guide the Uatis.

It reminds me of the cantos ratî- the gifting cycle. This is a concept some Gaulish pagans incorporate into their practice, consisting of a cycle of giving and receiving between the devotee and the Deuoi. This can be achieved through expressions of devotion, offerings, and things of that nature.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Locos

Journaling the illustration of an Ueletorunoi oracle deck, my Druid and Bardic exploration for my Candidate year within AODA.

For a more in-depth analysis of Locos, please see Caromaros Caitogabros’ article here.

Locos – The Basics

Letter Correspondence: l
Role: Drûið (druid)
Meaning: Lake

Keywords: Life, Prophecy, Divination, Revelation, Intuition, Imagination, Creativity, Vitality, Flow/Change/Growth/Renewal (water associations), Success, Mysteries, The Deep, The hidden, The unknown, The Underworld, The fickleness and unpredictably of Nature and Fate, Unconscious, Fear, Avoidance, Decay, Withering.

Locos – My Interpretation

I chose to make the figure a cross between a Druid and a Cuculati, to represent both the Deep and the hidden. The Druid aspect is relayed through the golden sickle and acorn. The Cuculati aspect is preserved in the hooded garment. The Cuculatīs, called Genii Cuculatti in Latin, are hooded figures who sometimes appear with Goddesses or on their own.

Two examples of Cuculatīs in Britain, near Dobunni territory (modern day Cotswolds).

The Cuculatīs have been interpreted as fertility and nature spirits. They often stand holding offerings, as if they are bestowing gifts upon the Goddess. Which makes one ask, what is the reason for the gifts? Are they demonstrating that these spirits are providing for the Goddess, or perhaps offering their loyalty? Nature and the wilderness would have been part of the Dobunni tribe’s every day, and perhaps that is which drew them to develop myths about a Mother Goddess and Her ancient retainers.

The lake on which the figure sits is decorative plants along with a lake, to harken back to the meaning of the runos. I chose to accent it with gold and draw a spiral ripple to draw the eye toward the figure.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Cridion

Journaling the illustration of an Ueletorunoi oracle deck, my Druid and Bardic exploration for my Candidate year within AODA.

For a more in-depth analysis of Cridion, please see Caromaros Caitogabros’ article here!

Cridion – The Basics

Letter Correspondence: c/k/g
Role: Gobanios (smith), cerdu (artisan)
Meaning: Heart

Keywords: Wisdom, Knowledge, Artistry, Creativity, Passion, Love, Sex, Strength, Inspiration, Courage, Endurance, Transformation, Offspring, Disease, Inability, Lazy.

Cridion – My Interpretation

I attempted in Cridion, like in Iagis, to depict the human figure. I wanted to depict a craftsperson holding a tool and the fire of creativity and passion. Behind them stand some effigies carved from wood, connecting the passion of creation with reverence and the divine. This is a fairly straightforward depiction. I thought a lot about how Awen brings that passion to create.

The pattern above their head was based, initially, on the shapes within La Tene metalwork. I used the following mirror, made of bronze, to reference the shapes- I don’t think I quite succeeded in achieving what I desired, but it was an important practice in getting the sense for future artwork.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Iagis

Journaling the illustration of an Ueletorunoi oracle deck, my Druid and Bardic exploration for my Candidate year within AODA.

For a more in-depth analysis of Iagis, please see Caromaros Caitogabros’ article here!

Iagis – The Basics

Letter Correspondence: i/î/[consonantal y]
Role: None
Meaning: ice, stasis

Keywords: Self-control, Patience, Waiting, Standstill, Turning inward for clarity, Reflection, Accepting the inevitable, Death and rebirth, New starts, Losing and regaining through hard work, Concentrated Self, Ego, Consciousness, Dullness, Blindness, Ego Mania.

Iagis – My Interpretation

I imagined a woman lying on ice, though she is only inches from life and green pasture. In her hand she holds a knife, ready to strike- but her posture is still and dormant, symbolizing stasis and turning inward.

Iagis was my chance to dive into how the ancestors portrayed the human figure. For this I primarily referenced the Gundestrup Cauldron. The cauldron is among my favourite artifacts which survives to this day.

I spend quite a bit of time contemplating the cauldron with other practicioners, sharing our theories and ideas. The cauldron seems to transcend culture. This is not a purely Celtic design- it was likey made in Thrace, sporting an Eastern Gaulish art style, with references to Scythian mythology and imagery found in the Near East. However, a lot of the iconography does seem to have a Celtic influence.

There are two plates on the Gundestrup cauldron that depict women in full body. One plate depicts a goddess flanked by her attendants, one tends to her hair and the other seated on her shoulder. The other is the base plate of a cauldron, where a woman in warrior garb hovers above a slain bull.

I’ve already done some studies on the human bodies, so I explored the different poses we see on the cauldron. For on many of the ways the humans are posed, the anatomy structure is changed to fit the composition. Arms become shorter or longer, hips change their shape, and generally 8 head tall humans are depicted with their knees bent to fit them in the composition. The humans depicted in a standing position are usually about 5 or 6 heads tall.

I find it difficult to pose things when the proportions are not set in stone. As I did some studies for the leaping warrior, I found I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to pose her legs. I used a similar pose for Iagis, but at the time I covered her legs with a dress and eyeballed the proportions. I’m not great with memorization most of the time, but after drawing human bodies thousands of times it does start to become a bit like muscle memory. It starts by breaking the body down into smaller details before rebuilding it, a very alchemical process.

If I had decided to depict the woman from Iagis in trousers, I would have not been able to hide the positioning of her legs as easily. So I probably would have done what I did below- create a quick gesture or stick figure outlining the pose and then draw around that.

I mention some studies of the figures in the Gundestrup cauldron here as well, where I go into detail about their proportions and how they depicted hair. Basically I’m trying to think back to how I was taught and apply it to the cauldron and coins. Things like gestures and counting heads. Except I am picking up on little details that make the art style what it is, and adding it in. So while trying to fill in the skeleton figures I’m thinking about the different shapes.

  • Noses and foreheads form a scales triangle shape, similar to a beak
  • Arms are noodle-like with little definition and change drastically in proportion
  • Hair often forms a cowlick shape perpendicular to the back of the neck.
  • Thighs are defined, as are calves
  • Shoulders and hips are same widt
  • Torso is rectangular with defined abdomen

If one wants to explore the drawing of figures in more detail, this article is similar to one method of figure drawing I was taught. I’ve skipped a bunch of steps on the way, as the Cauldron features highly stylized depictions of a humans and I am approaching it very much by trial and error.

Iagis is my favourite runos, and this was my favourite one to work on. I cracked the ice of stasis when I began depicting full-body humans in this Cauldron-inspired style. There is something about depicting humans which makes me feel more driven in where this is going, as the human figure is infinitely complex.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Epos

It has been awhile but this is another thing I have been waiting for this month to do. I’m working on my Candidate year within Ancient Order of Druids in America, and these entries are a part of my studies. I am learning divination using the Ueletorunoi (Runes of the Seeing), which is based on the Lepontic alphabet. I am also creating an oracle card deck for them.

Mostly, I’m trying to develop a style which incorporates elements of Gallo-Brittonic coins and the Gundestrup cauldron, as well as Hallstat and La Tène artefacts. The goal is to be able to use this style to depict scenes from mythology and perhaps uncover a different energy from them. I’m doing this to connect with the ancestors, so it becomes part of the realm of offerings.

For a more in-depth analysis of Epos, please see Caromaros Caitogabros’ article here!

Epos – The Basics

Letter Correspondence: e/ê
Role: Matreiâ (Bond, Relationship)
Meaning: loyalty, teamwork, partnership, duality

Keywords: Teamwork/Partnership, Loyalty, Trust, Harmony, Movement, Change (especially swift or abrupt change), Creative solutions, Determination, Overcoming fear and doubt, Alliance, Union, Marriage, Offspring, Betrayal, Duplication, Disharmony, Mistrust, War

Epos – My Interpretation

This was quicker for me to grasp because ‘epos’ is a noun, and having a concrete something to ponder on helps visuals become more coherent to me. The hard part of this truly was figuring out how to draw the horses. Animals do not come easy to me in any style. I do draw animals a lot as they are a big part of my worship, but I struggle with being able to depict them consistently- and I certainly cannot depict them accurately without a reference.

I took my inspiration from a few coin styles of the Trinovantes tribe:

As well as this coin from the Boii tribe:

I did end up using synergy between two concepts to learn how to draw horses, reflecting the dual nature of this runos. This is the process I used:

First, I split the main parts of the horse into shapes based on the Boii coin to get a sense of the general anatomy, where the joints are and how long the torso is.

Then I did some gestures, which is where you look at a reference and quickly sketch as much information as you can to get it across. Often gestures are done in a span of 30 seconds so I tried this with the horses. So I looked at images of horses in movement online and created gestures from them. Gestures aren’t supposed to be correct, just get the energy of the form across. They are like stream-of-consciousness words that become sentences once you refine it.

I then took the horse from this Trinovantes coin, which is made up of the popular circular designs of Celtic coins to work out the proportions. I kind of wound up nowhere because it turns out drawing the circles freehand is way harder than I expected. But I worked out what drawings those different shapes would entail and then decided to use the gestures I had been doing as a guide for the abstract shapes.

For my own attempt, I used another Trinovantes coin and did a quick gesture of its pose to see if I could find some unity between the loose but energetic gestures, and the bold and deliberate shapes of the ‘circle’ style. I found it quite relaxing to do in the end, and much less intimidated by the need to depict a stylized horse.

In this case the visuals came quickly- I would draw two horses at a liminal time of day (sunset), to symbolize that horses are somewhat liminal beings themselves. But the process of trying to draw this style of horse took me on a path of synergy and union between two forces, something which the runos Epos represents.

Ueletorunoi Oracle Cards – Adgarman

In the Gaulish space I’m part of, many of us utilize the Ueletorunoi created by Branos, who is the founder of the organization Galatis Litauiâs of which I am a member. I found I could resonate with this system, so to learn divination and also offer something to the community I have been creating oracle cards based on each of the runoi.

Without further ado, first up is Adgarman.

I will mostly be talking about my inspirations for the visuals here rather than the meaning of the runos itself. I highly recommend reading Caromâros’ in-depth analysis of Adgarman, as it helped me understand and resonate with the runos.

Adgarman – The Basics

Letter Correspondence: a/â
Role: Gutuatir (Master of Invocation)
Meaning: news, announcement, accusation, gossip

Keywords: Intellectual achievement, Communication, Receiving a message or messages, Insight, Foresight, Clear vision, Truth, Wisdom, Success in negotiations and transactions, Words, Secrets, Ancestors, Leaders. Manipulation, Delusion, Misunderstanding, Boredom.

Adgarman – My Interpretation

Immediately whilst meditating on Adgarman, the image of a Carnux came to my mind.

“Their trumpets again are of a peculiar barbarian kind; they blow into them and produce a harsh sound which suits the tumult of war.” (Diodorus Siculus, Histories)

Used by the ancient Celts in battle, we see carnux (also spelled carnyx) on the Gundestrup cauldron. This cauldron, discovered in Denmark, seems to be of Thracian metalwork but displays Celtic imagery. My belief is that it was a Thracian work gifted to a Gaulish tribe or king, or perhaps commissioned by them.

Gundestrup cauldron panel, showing a war procession with carnux players

The carnux is an instrument of battle, and when played in unison, blaring and ear-shattering sound rising over the hills to greet enemies. It is no wonder the Gauls and Britons were seen by other nations as ferocious and frightening in battle. However it could have served ceremonial purposes too, as one carnux in Britain was discovered to be ritually buried.

The carnux was an announcement of battle or ceremony, both life-altering events. Thus it seemed appropriate for Adgarman, as it could be seen as the breaking news of a tempestuous moment. I chose to depict many in unison, to show the dual aspect of the carnux- a battle cry to symbolize the fury of war, invigorating to the Celts but horrifying for the opponents. The carnux tells us to listen carefully for what is coming our way, and the knowledge that with a balanced and clear mind, understanding can turn it from a harbinger of war to an announcement of ceremony and cultural unity.

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