In the beginning, there was no Europe. All there was, for five million years, was a long, sinuous peninsula with no name, set like the figurehead of a ship on the prow of the world's largest land mass. To the west lay the ocean which no one had crossed. To the south lay two enclosed and interlinked seas, sprinkled with islands, inlets and peninsulas of their own. To the north lay the great polar ice cap, expanding and contracting across the ages like some monstrous, freezing jellyfish. To the east lay the land-bridge to the rest of the world, whence all peoples and all civilisations were to come.
CHORUS: The tale begins with iron and splintered bone.
My spear of bronze, my ageing axe of stone
Afforded no deferment of my fate.
The Celt had cast his weapons in a grate
And hearth of fire and wrath. His sword came cold
And hard, and broke my reign, and spent my Neolithic soul…
Iron was the seed from which sprang the great advance of the Celtic race.
Iron from the East, from the land of the Hittite.
Its black strength brought a new power, both as wealth and weapon.
Iron. The acorn from which sprang a great oak: the plundering spirit of "man the warrior" - a warrior invincible in his time. For Celtic domination was to last until the great spread of the Roman legions brought an end to tribal Europe.
By the end of the first millennium before Christ, the Celts had spread from their homeland in Central Europe until they covered the body and limbs of the West like a coat of chain mail.
They brought with them not only their swords and their chariots of war, but also their language, their legends and their gods…Deities of water, fire and earth who were to eclipse the sky-gods of Stone Age Man. The megaliths and standing stones that had sought meaning in the stars were abandoned; for the Celtic gods were gods of deep pits and dark waters, of magic and shamanism: chthonic beings who were appeased by fiery ritual and human sacrifice…
The victims were burned and drowned and hanged…and in return the gods offered sustenance and victory.
CHORUS: "so the druids do say, and so do we believe…"
Teutates, Esus, Taranis, see, I give you death…
By fire and water and strangled breath.
CHORUS: Romanischal, Romanischal, a thousand years and more
You've wandered through the tumbling lands,
You've shipped from shore to shore.
As smiths of iron
As masters of the dancing arts,
With hammer, sword, and lute and harp
With horse-heads bowed your rumbling carts
Rolled west from Indus' teeming shore…
Your mercenary soul led you to Persia where you saw
The mountains of beyond…
Twelve hundred years after the Celtic peoples had first conquered and then leapt, reckless as lemmings, into the abyss of defeat, their tribal valour bested by the power of imperialism, their uniqueness torn asunder by the talons of the mighty Roman Eagle, driven to the western edges of the lands they had once covered like a swarm of fiery locusts, another ethnic migration began in the East…
And it, too, began its tortuous journey on the wagons of war…or so legend has it.
The warlike invaders who had destroyed the great city-states of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro had inaugurated a dark and barbarous age in India. These light-skinned nomads were known as Aryans, the "noble ones", and, as the ferocious Celtic warlords were plundering the plains of Europe, so these Iranian archers came scything into the Indus and beyond, filling their heroic days with roving and conquest, their fearsome chariots galloping immortally onto the pages of the Rig Veda and the Mahabharata .
But, as is the way with all such warrior peoples, after invasion came settlement, after subjugation came adoption.
And for two thousand years the culture of India grew and flourished.
Iron they had brought, and a new and powerful language, and soon they had shifted the centre of this new civilisation to the shores of the surging Ganges.
They had come from the lands of the mighty Iranian barons who now drew an unbreachable band of iron and horse across the roof of the Indian continent.
Safe from invasion, cloistered behind this wall of warriors, the world of Hinduism began to take shape. And the world of Hinduism was a world of caste and of warlike deities.
Like the Celts, the Aryans had brought with them their language and their gods.
Sanskrit was the priestly tongue, and foremost in their pantheon was Indra, destroyer of cities and god of thunder and storm…
And as with all great gods of old, Indra and his brothers needed appeasement and sacrifice to ward off divine displeasure. And so the society shaped itself in order to pay due homage to these divine rulers of the universe. And this order was called "varna" and it declared that all men were naturally divided into four castes: the Brahmans, who prayed; the Kshatriyas, who fought; the Vaisyas, who worked; and the Sudras who performed unclean tasks. But the gods had also deemed that this should be a shifting scale of worth, and by rebirth one could climb this celestial ladder. But before one is reborn one must first die, and there could be no finer death than that of the Kshatriya in battle. But before this most holy of deaths, one must first become Kshatriya, and it was by becoming Kshatriya that the peoples who were the Roma first began their legendary journey…
CHORUS: The might of truth, the glory of legend…
The truth tells I was Sudra, born to bend
To the lowest of masters…
But in legend I am Kshatriya, in the fastness of battle, second most holy…
CHORUS: What say I of gods?
I have wise men with words to speak me to the Otherworld
What say I of gods?
For if these gods have heard my sword in battle
Then my soul is as a pearl, armoured, till the rattle
Of a mighty death will split its twin shields asunder
And its brightness will light my dark passage from this world to another.
And my chariot wheels, clad in shrunken iron will thunder
Into a field of glory.
What say I of gods?
For I speak not the language of Earth and Fire,
Know not the tongue of Equus…
Yet these are my gods
And I have tamed them to my purpose -
They are within me and without
And together they teach me the clamorous words of battle…
We speak of distant times with the voice of our own certainty…
Yet certainties have changed as man wanders the path to oblivion…
To the Celtic warrior, the only certainty was death, and his purpose was to seek the most memorable of deaths in battle and thus secure his journey to the Otherworld…
To the people of the chakra, the certainty of death meant the certainty of life anew…
For a thousand years after the Celts had been subjugated and Romanised, losing their certainties and their gods, pushed into the seven western corners of Europe, become hybridised and diluted, the Hindu nation had stayed safe behind a strong line of Persian chariots…
But as they succumbed to the soft wiles of civilisation the mighty horsemen of Afghanistan, the steely Parthian who had held fast even against the power of Rome, lost his taste for the rigours and strengths of battle, saw fit to exchange the stench of blood and death for the scent of perfumed oils…And as he slipped into the seductive arms of this new and pleasured life, as he replaced tent with townhouse, a new power began to arise in The East, driven by the visions of the prophet Mohammed and fuelled by the fervour of belief in Allah, the all-powerful. Islam meant "submission", and it was submission that Islam demanded. And soon the Turkish tribes of the steppes and the Iranian barons had submitted to the Moslem conquerors, been swallowed by the insatiable jaws of Allah and his followers, and the road to India lay undefended…
In the year 1000 Mohammed of Ghazni launched massive raids deep into India…
And it was then that the Roma donned the battledress of the Kshatriya.
The light-skinned Aryans considered their life too precious to risk losing it in battle, and so the army they assembled consisted of many non-Aryan peoples.
And thus the Roma nation was born - born of many, held tightly in the harness of war…
And thus did their journey begin…
CHORUS: I am soldier and singer and master of horse,
I am forger of weapons and maker of legends.
I sing of the battle, the fire, and force
Through mountains and valleys to the lands of the North…