What is a good leader?

A leader is the representative between the Land and its People.

A saying attributed to a legendary Celtic figure called Bran is “let him who be chief be a bridge to his people”. This is an idea that a Celtic leader is one that bridges the divide between people and the land, and serves in the best interests of the people.

Arthurian legend makes much about the close relationship between king and the land, for should the king be disfigured or disabled in any way so the land and the people would suffer. The Wasteland arises in the Arthurian stories because a king, the Fisher King, is wounded by a lance.  The earliest Celtic stories dealing with King Arthur betrays a harsh criticism of King Arthur for rejecting the “land” in favour of his own vanity and strength of arms, as seen in his failures in the quest for the Cauldron of Rebirth (symbol of fertility, creativity and strength), the adultery of his wife (symbolic of the loss of support of the genius loci of the land) and his digging up of the head of Bran (a rejection of the authority of the “land” in favour of himself).  Despite all his victories King Arthur and all he built was wiped out at the Battle of Camlann to the persona of Mordred (representative of the winter archetype Silvanus).

It was common in Celtic society that if a king was disabled or disfigured then he would be forced to step down.  This apparently may have been the fate of Cunobelin in Colchester, who appears to have stepped down in favour of his son Caratacus in the last years of his life.

In reality there was no monarchs in Celtic society, they were all elected by the warrior and philosopher class.  The Celts followed the Galatian model of government electing a steward with powers of life and death over the area they governed, but banned from leaving their territory.  There was also an elected  “general” with the real power in the tribe, who could wage war and defend the tribe; such “generals” included Vercingetorix who fought Caesar at Alesia, Cunobelin who represented the people of Colchester, and King Arthur.

The Celtic leader was expected to be brave, generous and healthy, being the “face” of the genius loci of the tribe.  The fortunes of the tribe and the land followed that of the leader, thus the success of both depended on each other.

In the history of monarchy in Britain, the land has prospered well under several queens, including Elizabeth I and Victoria, who both ruled over a “golden age” in British history.  When power moved from monarch to Prime Minister, a former resident of Colchester Margaret Thatcher, contributed to a high moment of British history as Prime Minister.  The record on the part of male rulers of Britain by contrast has been hit and miss, the land often suffering as the king pursued his own needs over the well being of the land.  Henry II,  Edward I, and the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell might be considered to be good leaders.  A good male Prime Minister of Britain was Winston Churchill, who held Britain together during the darkest moments of World War II.


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