Gutuater



They found it in the ground:
A basement shrine beneath
the site of a Roman villa;
Hidden, even then and for
two-thousand years since.
The villa’s Roman owner,
was also a Gaul, descended
to worship his gods, and spirits 
among them dru, a priesthood 
passed by then into the spirit world 
and invoked here with inscriptions 
on an altar and thuribles containing 
traces of cannabis burnt there
to scent the air, and to aid the vision.

Was the rite conducted by a gutuater?
(‘master of voice’, ‘inspirer of song’)
chanting to inspire a modern awenydd
stepping down into the smoke of the chamber,
hearing the uttered syllables, riding the waves
of sound in the torchlight, finding a way back
to that world, re-creating, even as they did,
a rite that is alive in vision, in the presence
of those spirits called upon to officiate
as before, and again when invoked
in that cellar, and so now in this present,
in this voice which calls and shapes a prayer
from out of the Cauldron, out of the depths
of an Otherworld of song here with us.




For ‘Gutuater’, a  word found on inscriptions in Gaul, and for an account of finding the cellar while excavating for a car park in Chartres,  see Miranda Aldhouse-Green Sacred Britannia (2018) pp.29-32.

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