This week’s reconstruction spotlight highlights Bonâ Bannobrogi. We asked Bonâ Bannobrogi’s Ambactos, Lucotillâ Glanoglannâtis to write a short post introducing her Gallo-Pyrenean reconstruction efforts.
Lucotillâ has been a polytheist for 15 years and discovered the Toutâ Galation Discord after an awe-inspiring experience with Grannus at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, she has been active there as well as with Bessus Nouiogalation. Recently, she spoke at All the Gaul 3 with Land Sea Sky Travel introducing Gallo-Pyrenean praxis, and launched a blog for Bonâ Bannobrogi, her reconstructed Gallo-Pyrenean practice.
Bonâ Bannobrogi (meaning “the village, or groundwork of the mountain district”) is a Gallo-Pyrenean custom with emphasis on the Pyrenees Mountains as its focal point. Drawing on Galatibessus and Pyrenean folklore, Bonâ Bannobrogi seeks to reconstruct and interpret Pyrenean deities in a way that honors their history and brings them forward into Gaulish praxis today, as well as establish rites, îuoi, and other customs that honor the seasonal cycles within and cultural complexity of the Pyrenean region.
What’s in a name?
Names not only provide an introduction to a person, place, or concept but also establish an identity. Therefore, it is important to choose a name that concisely conveys your custom, and respects its core influences.
Coming to Bonâ Bannobrogi as a custom name involved both a description providing a scope of study and playing with a word that had multiple, applicable meanings for what I wanted to accomplish with said custom. Bannobrogi, from the Gaulish bannâ, “mountain-top or peak,” and the Gaulish brogi, “district or territory,” roughly translates to “the mountain district,” in honor of the Pyrenees. The Gaulish bonâ means “village; or groundwork or foundation.” Both village and groundwork describe an aim of Bonâ Bannobrogi – to provide a gathering place or home for individuals who are interested in Gallo-Pyrenean praxis, and to lay a foundation for Gallo-Pyrenean praxis that I hope grows and endures.
Using Gallo-Pyrenean as a descriptor for the syncretic nature of Bonâ Bannobrogi also was a critical choice in laying its groundwork. Digging into attested Gaulish Dêuoi from the Pyrenees with very little left but their name, I came across a theme of Aquitanian etymological influence. Aquitanian language is the likely ancestor of Basque language today, Basque being a modern language isolate. While the term Vasco-Aquitanian is used to describe the ancient religious practices found along both the modern Spanish and French sides of the Pyrenees, the Vascones are also considered the ancestors of modern-day Basque peoples.
Basque peoples have had a long history of oppression of their culture and language, and I want to make sure Bonâ Bannobrogi does not purposely or accidentally appropriate any Basque culture or history. To describe historical religious practices using applicable terminology identifying that time period is appropriate, but moving what we can of that historical context forward into a Gallo-syncretic practice today will inherently adapt that language and those concepts in ways that may not be fully identifiable to those ancient cultures, but could be to their descendants, whose extant etymology or folklore could inform our interpretation. I want to make sure that while these reconstructed practices are written and presented for today’s Gaulish practitioners, there is also the appropriate recognition and respect for both the ancient cultures and peoples and their descendants and their living traditions and folklore today.
The term Gallo-Pyrenean, therefore, identifies Bonâ Bannobrogi as residing within the Gaulish sphere with other Gallo-syncretic practices such as Gallo-Roman and Gallo-Belgic. It also identifies a specific region of focus along the Pyrenees in such a way that holds us respectful of, yet open to the influence of cultures with extensive heritage that still exists in the region today (in this case, primarily Basque and its ancestors).
Dêuoi, lîtous, and îuoi – oh my!
Bonâ Bannobrogi began with my interest in building relationships with Gaulish Dêuoi. The first few Dêuoi that caught my eye resided along the Pyrenees, and the sum of their known information or attestation could be listed on a Wikipedia stub. Where does one begin when there is so little to go on?
I began digging into the historical context for the physical area each inscription came from. For each Deuos, this could involve looking at the historical climate and seasons, populations, industries, and local economy, geographic features, as well as any nearby civic or funerary inscriptions, local mythology, or political and cultural events to build up a picture of the society they existed in.
Many of these Wikipedia stubs do have citations that link out to services like Google Books. Much of our area of focus being in what is now France, French antiquarians wrote extensively about archaeology, syncretic associations, and the emphasis and influence of Roman culture. Some of their information is outdated, some of it is conjectural, but figuring out their thought process and following it back to a helpful source or the inscription they reference can be invaluable for explaining, proving, or debunking what little we do have about some Deuos.
There is also good work being done by scholars today that can provide additional context within the Pyrenean and Aquitanian regions. While there are contextual treasures scattered in more comprehensive works by authors like Miranda Green and Andrew C. Johnston, you can also find scholarship that focuses in on the Pyrenean region, some examples being the book Rome in the Pyrenees by Simon Esmonde Cleary, articles on silvopastoral Aquitanian deities by David Wallace-Hare, and archaeological, folkloric, and socio-cultural background from Martin Locker.
Every Deuos needs modern context for their devotion as well. Bonâ Bannobrogi sees this in the formation of îuoi and lîtous next – holidays and rites. The îuoi for Bonâ Bannobrogi are already sketched out, divided into two halves of the year and honoring a basic flow of the seasons in the Pyrenees with their concepts. These sketches will be built out into activities and devotion that will be accessible to every member of Bonâ Bannobrogi regardless of where they are physically located.
Each îuoi will eventually have its own lîtus associated with it. Being a very new custom, it may take a few yearly cycles of îuoi to entirely solidify their associated lîtus. Other lîtous, such as daily devotionals and celebrations for life events, will also eventually be developed.
I cannot wait to see where Bonâ Bannobrogi goes over the next three to five years – it is so fulfilling to be researching and building this Pyrenean foundation for the greater Gaulish community. It’s also been extremely personally enriching to contribute to a narrative for each Deuos that honors and builds upon their past while seating them in an accessible manner within today’s Gaulish and Gallo-syncretic practices.
I’d like to thank Toutâ Galation for extending me the marvelous opportunity to write this introductory piece. If you’d like to check out the Bonâ Bannobrogi website, click here. If you’re in the Toutâ Galation Discord server, feel free to DM me, Lucotillâ Glanoglannâtis, with any questions or comments about Bonâ Bannobrogi.
If you’re interested in my research and reconstruction essays, you can check me out at my personal blog Tegos Couirosapî here. My email address is also here on my Contact page, if reaching out that way with any questions or comments suits you best.
Subutâ! Bratun suos! I appreciate your time.