The earliest known use of the word “Pict” to describe a society in Britain is a poem by Eurmenius from 297 A.D., it describes the “Picti” as well as the “Hiberni” as being enemies of “Britanni.” It creates a strange contrast between the Picts and Britons, suggesting there is nothing but a Romanized and non-Romanized difference between them.
The word “Picti” itself may be nothing more than the pluralized version of the Latin word “Pictum” which is further derived from the verb “Pingo”. “Pingo” means to paint, dye, color, or decorate. It has been said that this naming may have come from a comment from Julius Caesar “All the ‘Britanni’ paint themselves with woad which produces a bluish coloring”.
Even after Julius Caesar there have been many other classical authors that cite the same claims as Julius himself. Many of these authors have further narrowed the location of these “Picts” to the northern region of Britain and have stated that the color was from puncturing rather than painting.
As it is said by a popular 7th century writer Isidore of Seville the Picts take their name “from the fact that their bodies bear designs pricked into their skins by needles”.
From an anthropological standpoint these comments suggest that the Picts covered their skin in tattoos. A large part of translating the works and comments of these classical authors is a very difficult undertaking as most of these sources are based on hearsay and very little actual eye witness contact.
More examples of the pseudo history that can be prevalent in this time period of history, where records were based more on hearsay than fact. In order to truly understand the Picts and the importance to history we have to dig a little deeper and find the truth. In the case of the Picts the truth turns out to be a little stranger than the ancient writers fiction.
Believe it or not the Celts religious leaders the Druids were once called Picts, our word pixie actually came down from Picts and modern day Wiccan’s are also descended from those distant Picts. They may have started out first in the North of England but their influence is now felt all over the world.
In fact we can still see elements of the original pict culture today in Wicca. Modern day Wiccan’s wouldn’t have their deep appreciation of nature, understanding of spellwork, and most importantly their incredible knowledge of herbalism. None of that would be available to them today without Pict culture. Just as the Celt’s would have never had their deep religious ideals without the Picts who later became the Druids.
More important to modern day people however is their affect on Wicca, the current incarnation of witchcraft. Despite the fact that the average Wiccan has no idea that the spells and ideas that their using are centuries old. It also can’t be forgotten that the concept of pixies, held by wiccan’s and dozens of Western cultures.
No other ancient culture can claim to have the affect on so many cultures and in the same way that the Picts have. Not only did they worm themselves into modern day religions; but also transformed into the most mischievous and troublesome creatures in Western mythology. A history that we must all accept.