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Observations placeholder

Totem group – Picts – Planets - 00 Overview



Type of Spiritual Experience


The number 7 refers to the seven symbolic Planets.  There were  12 Signs of the Zodiac and 7 Planets in the mystic systems of the time.  The legends indicate that there were as a consequence 7 clans for each Planet each with a Totem animal or a Symbol that represented that tribe.

A description of the experience

T C Lethbridge – Painted Men
tattooing in ancient Europe appears to have taken the form of the clan animal or symbol.  Even some Greek clans were tattooed in this way. Some of the Highland clans were certainly totemic.  We have the Epidii (the horse people), the Orc people (the tribe of the boar), while Clan Chattan (the men of the Cat) remains to this day and gave its name to Caithness.


In search of the Picts – Elizabeth Sutherland

Pictland, as we have seen, was roughly divided into seven provinces, each ruled by, a king who may have been capable of becoming a high-king. Each provincial king is said to have ruled over seven lesser lords, and there were about half a million subjects scattered throughout the country with the bulk of them living in the north and east.

The number seven may have had a mystical meaning not to be taken literally, but the point is that each province had its own king and under him a number lesser landowners and their retainers.

These lesser landowners may have been relatives of the provincial king. Apart from administering their territory and collecting dues in kind from the local farmers, they may have paid taxes to their overlords and provided warriors for battles and the small inter-tribal or inter-family skirmishes which were part of daily life.

Of course borders would shift from time to time, overlords would be overthrown and kings killed or deposed. Each regional set-up seems to have been a minor reflection of the national system where the high-kings would have expected the backing of the provincial kings. The clan system of later years was itself a modified reflection of Pictish society.


In search of the Picts – Elizabeth Sutherland

Once upon a time there was a king called Cruithne, son of Cing the Champion, who reigned for a hundred years. He had seven sons who were called Fib, Fidach, Floclaid (or Fotla), Fortrenn, Cat (or Caitt), Ce and Circenn.

These seven brothers divided Alba into seven portions of land each called after himself.

  • Fib ruled for twenty-four years over Fife and Kinross. Professor Watson suggests the name may be personal and the meaning obscure. In the Book of Deer the people of Fife are called the cu-sidhe - the fairy hounds.
  • Fidach ruled for forty years over Moray, and Ross. The name translates as ‘woodsman'.
  • Foltlaig or Folla ruled for thirty years over Atholl and Gowrie. Fotla was a goddess of Ireland and a name for that country. Thus Atholl means 'new, Ireland'
  • Fortria (Fortrenn) ruled for seventy years over Strathearn and Menteith. The name is thought to be the gaelicized form of Verturiones. Its meaning is obscure but may be connected to the River Forth. It might mean 'people of the slow winding river'.
  • Cat (Caitl) ruled for twelve years over Caithness and Sutherland. The name means 'cat people'.
  • Ce ruled for fifteen years over part of Aberdeenshire including Bennachie. Ce may survive in the name of Keith in Banffshire. An ancient Irish legend tells of certain Frigriu who eloped to Ireland with the daughter of a man from lona.  Frigriu is called the 'artificer of the Pictish plain of Ce' [a skilled craftsman or inventor.].
  • Cirech or Circenn ruled for sixty years over Angus and the Mearns. The name may mean 'crest-headed'. A battle was fought on the Plain of Circinn against the Scots. W.F. Skene mentions a certain Crus, son of Cirech, who was a chief warrrior of the Picts.

A little like the Jewish story of the rise of the Children of Israel, this was perhaps the Pictish way of accounting for their past. The story of Cruithne appears with variations in three of the texts of the Pictish King List, and the seven provinces are listed in a survey called De Situ Albanie attached to List One.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items


Totem group

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps