Monday, October 22, 2007

Bulldike: Celtic Lesbian Warriors and Queen Boudica's War

Today's Bitchin' Queer Quote is about the Celts, who lived in what became Great Britain, arriving there around 1500 B.C.

Celtic women in this ancient time wielded authority, owned property, and the older women were the ones who taught the young men how to fight. "The martial arts teachers of the best-known legendary Celtic hero, Cu Chulain, were two powerful women, Buannan ("The Lasting One") and Scathach ("The Shadowy One".)"

"Groups of women warriors (ceremonial Lesbians with institutional power) called gwiddonot are recorded in a medieval saga, Kulwch and Olwen: these women fought in battles, lived together, and uttered prophecies for the tribe."

After the Roman occupation of the British Isles, and their refusal to acknowledge a woman who ruled a people, the Romans seized even more land and property, and persecuted the Druid priesthood. When the Celtic Queen Boudica protested, they flogged her and raped her daughters.

Queen Boudica planned her revenge: She plotted with the other Celtic leaders and raised the largest army ever seen in Britain - 120,000 people to fight the Romans!

Queen Boudica and her army took Colechester, London and one other town before the final battle with the Romans - in which over 230,000 people participated.

The Roman historian Tacitus described Queen Boudica on that final day:

Boudica drove round in a chariot, her daughters with her. As they reached each tribal contingent, she proclaimed that the Britons were well used to the leadership of women in battle. But she did not come among them now as a descendant of mighty ancestors, eager to avenge her lost wealth and kingdom. Rather she was an ordinary woman, fighting for her lost freedom, her bruised body, and the outraged virginity of her daughters. Roman greed no longer spared their bodies, old people were killed, virgins raped. But the gods would grant a just vengeance: the legion that had dared to fight had perished; the others were skulking in their camps and looking for a means of escape. They would never face the roar and din of the British thousands, much less their charges and their grappling hand-to-hand. Let them consider how many they had under arms, and why! Then they would know that on that day it was victory or death. That was her resolve, as a woman; the men could live, if they liked, and be slaves.

Ultimately, the Romans won the hard fought battle and the war, and Queen Boudica took poison. The Romans hunted for her grave, not wanting any memory of her to survive...

And now I have to quote Judy Grahn, who wraps up this amazing history (or should I write herstory) perfectly:

Perhaps Boudica and some of the other Hicca women in that war were ceremonial Lesbians; perhaps like other tribal folk they also had special homosexual gods of their own and special rites concerning their social functions. In any case, through their slang, her descendents and others like them gave to Lesbians - the most rebellious, armed, "masculine," warriorlike, dangerous, and deserving - and give them still the ancient, proud, frightening, street-talk title: bulldiker, bulldagger, Boudica.

The next time you hear the word "bulldike," realize the power, majesty and proud herstory behind it, and behind all Lesbians, everywhere.

Oooh! I LOVE learning about this stuff!



The above is culled from pgs. 134 to 145 in the amazing "Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds" by Judy Grahn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's a great YA novel about Queen Boudicca, written by Rosemwary Sutcliff, called "Song for a Dark Queen."