Festivals and Ceremonies
There are many regional and cultural festivals that may be seen by a visitor, and spectacular ceremonies which
are both alien and astounding to the foreign guest. There is a large amount of tradition and heritage in each festival and
ceremony, and some are thousands of years old and are known to have been performed since before the Gael arrived in the Western
Isles, and possibly before the Romans arrived in Britannia.
I have included the most famous here, with a detailed description of the event, its purpose, and its history.
Inauguration of a Lord of the Isles
The Lords of the Isles are rulers, with their own armies, their own titles, and their own land, and like all rulers they must be accepted as such.
The Lords of the Isles are inaugurated in spectacular style, accompanied by their retinue and family, and everyone present
is expected to wear the richest colours they can.
The men wear either the Gaelic robes, which come down to the ankle and are decorated at the hem and sleeves
with interwoven floral patterns and bizarre geometry, or the Pictish robes, which are tied with a belt and often come
down to just above the knees, and are decorated with plaid designs and mystical symbols.
The women wear the same, and often the most beautiful headdresses with the same decoration as the men's robes.
You may think it odd that the Lord of the Isles himself does not wear such attire, since he is the ruler. But in
this ancient rite, there is an important message, not just to the spectators but to the Lord of the Isles himself, that
the new leader must rule not by force but by compassion.
The ceremony begins with everyone gathered on Cnoc Seannda, usually at sunrise, where the Lord of the Isles
will step onto a stone, and into the footsteps of his ancestors (which are actually carved out of the stone), upon which
he will be given a white cane to symbolise that must not rule by force, and must respect his people and must not betray them
(which means that it was not allowed for a Lord of the Isles to change the laws, traditions, or hierarchical
system without first consulting the Council of the Isles, and, as a result of communication between the judges at the
Council of the Isles and the people of their islands, the people), or his power is forfeit.
Then a bishop will bless the new ruler and his government, then the people of the Lordship of the Isles, and the Lord of the
Isles, dressed in a white robe, is approached by his retinue, who bring him the items which they are responsible for (the cup-bearer would bring his cup, the sword-bearer would bring his sword, the gille-each-ceann would bring
his horse, etc.) before the ceremony is taken over by the sound of clursachs, bagpipes, and drums.
All are welcome to watch the event, of course, but I would advise the visitor not to step on the stone which
the Lords of the Isles stand upon when they are inaugurated, as the purity of the dynasty who use the stone as a way to access
their ancestors' power would be broken.