Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Luceo non Uro

While in Colchester England, I saw a key ring bearing the name "Mackenzie" on it. Seeing as McKenzie is my middle name, I couldn't resist buying it. Yes that is right my middle name is McKenzie, it comes from my Dad's mothers maiden name I think. It seems like a bit of tradition if you look at my family history of maintaining the mothers maiden name as a middle name for the eldest son.

Anyway, On the keyring is the Mackenzie clan motto "Luceo non Uro" which literally means "I shine, not burn". Apparently the saying came from blacksmithing or smithing in general, where one had to make sure that the metal you were working with didn't get burned, but shone in the heat. [1]

I think that is quite a cool motto when applied to life, We need to balance the hardships/heat in our lives so that we continue to grow and to shine but we also need to make sure we don't let life burn and scar us. The motto reads like it is a choice, which I think it often is. We do choose how we react to circumstances.

Are you going to allow yourself to burn or to shine?


Jane said...

Hi James,

I googled strike through and got your site. My blog is on blogger, but I can't seem to get strike through text to work. Any help you could give me would be good!


Jane said...

Thanks for the help with the strike out text! Also great post! Do you mind if I print it out for my students. They are in 4th grade. I think it would be good for them to read something motivational written by a man. Sometimes they get tired of hearing from me!

James said...

>Do you mind if I print it out for my students.

Of course not, I'd be honoured :)

Arohanui said...

I'm a McKenzie, and I've come to think of Luceo Non Uro as a good motto to live by, myself.

> Are you going to allow yourself to burn or to shine?

You've put this very well, however. Thank you.

James said...

Thanks Kate!

Clive Smit said...

Isn't live ALL about choices!
Its not about what happens to you... but the attitude that we choose to adopt about what has happened.
We can either see it as a blessing or a curse... and which ever way we choose to see it... so shall it be to us!

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

Thanks for your information, that is really interesting. Blacksmithing huh?

My last name is 'Alterton,' which is probably English, and we adapted the Mackenzie motto somewhere along the line. I have 'Luceo Non Uro' tattooed on my right arm, but I'm glad to know that I'm at least scottish in association (I'd like to think I'm part Mackenzie)! The whole motto is this: virtute et valare luceo non uro,' which means, 'by virtue and valor, I shine not burn.' That doesn't negate the blacksmithing origins, but it just applies the motto to life, like you said.

Anonymous said...

Hey James,

Thanks for the translation! My last name is Kimsey which comes from the MacKenzie Clan from Scotland! Pretty Cool!

Matthew Kimsey

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry but you need to be corrected on this motto "Luceo non Uro" It is Latin for "I burn quil I se.." It is in fact the MacLeods of Lewis Motto. Someone in your family was a MacLeod or sept of the Macleods and that has past over to your crest. Be proud of it!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The Motto was adopted by the Macleod’s of Lewis after the MacDonald landed on Lewis when the men were away and locked the Macleod’s women and children in their church and set fire to it. After this happened and the men returned to see this there was a great battle and the Macleod’s slortted the MacDonald’s and left the bodies on the stone walls on Lewis. The Bones stuck out from the wall as a reminder of this for many years, hence the motto “I burn quil I se” that means "I shine not burn"!

It was the last battle of the clans of Scotland and the most bloody and is part of you history as you took part in the battle as a sept of the Macleod’s.

Please check you Scottish history and be proud of you accentors and what they did there.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with blacksmiths!

Its part of scotish history and the last great glan battle. The motto is Macleod of Lewis.


roblynne said...

I'm a member of the Macleod of Lewis clan and I've been told by many serious scholars that Luceo non Uro (I shine but do not burn) is a Christian reference, something to do with the Holy Spirit. So there's another thought!

Anonymous said...

Hello all,
I was just researching my last name "McKenzie" and came across this motto. I love it. Very deep.

Anonymous said... mother did our genealogy ages ago and discovered a heavy link to BOTH clan Mackenzie and clan Gunn. I also have "Luceo Non Uro" tattoed on my body. Although it does reference a battle fought between clans, as just about everything Scottish is linked to, I took it personally to mean that I will shine(succeed) in everything I do but not be destructive in my attempts. I'm aware that this saying originated with clan Macleod, but then again, just about every crest in the European descent lines are a hodgepodge of influence from various groups. That is simply life, for people throughout history marry OUTSIDE their family groups as a way to prevent incest.

Anonymous said...

hi i was randomly looking about the interweb as you do and i fond your post. its great that you got that tattoo i have luceo non uro tattoed on the inside of my wrist.its from the MacKezies of Seaforth btw iam a true Mackenzie and im from the highlands of scotland we get about eh lol have a good one x Morena MacKenzie

Anonymous said...

Hello James,

I am new to the family history on my father's side...his name was Kenneth MacKenzie B......the middle name was his mother's maiden name also. I love the motto and will do some more researching now ..thanks for the info. Jane P.

Anonymous said...

hi james. my FIRST name is Mackenzie. so ive been looking for a while to find out what it meant, and heres he anser! thanks.

Anonymous said...

greetings from the chilean McKenzie clan

Scott McKenzie said...

Hi James

Interesting stuff.

I am a McKenzie from Scotland.

I wasn't aware of the Blackmsith origin at all but have always been aware of luceo non uro and the translation to I Shine not burn.

I've always been taught that it means that whatever happens to me or what ever challenge or adversity I face I will rise above it and succeed. I will always overcome.

Whether or not it's a true interpretation doesn't seem too important to me as I like the message I've been taught.

I'm planning on treating myself to a McKenzie Tattoo for my 40th next year. Any ideas from anyone much appreciated.



Anonymous said...

Hi James,

WOW! I cant believe you found that. My last name is MACKENZIE. My line actually goes back to clan Mackenzie (the one which that ring came from). Mckenzie is actually a whole nother clan. Infact the Mackenzie clan and the Mckenzie clan were at war with eachother a lot. Anyway thought you would find that interesting.
P.S. if you ever want to sell that ring i would be very interested.


MacCabe said...

The latin "Luceo Non Uro" translates into "I burn not shine" has always been the motto of the Macleods of Lewis.The Macleods of Lewis feuded with the MacKenzies in the old days, they were enemies.But apparently a MacKenzie took the motto and crest of the Macleods of the Lewes or Lewis. Sir Roderick Mackenzie, Knight of Tarbat (2nd son of Colin Mackenzie, of Kintail; brother of Kenneth, 1st Lord Mackenzie of Kintail; and ancestor to the Earls of Cromarty and Cromartie) married (contract: 6 May 1605) Margaret, daughter and heir of Torquil Macleod of the Lewes, and thereupon added to his armorial bearing the achievement of Macleod. When this happened MacKenzie took the Macleod motto of "Luceo Non Uro." But it was always originally the Macleods of Lewis's motto.But since the MacKenzies married into the Macleod Clan of Lewis they are decend by blood from Margaret the heir to the Clan Macleod of Lewes(Lewis). So essentially the Clan MacKenzie is really the Clan Macleod.You kept the name MacKenzie but you also decend by blood to the Macleod's of Lewis(Lewes). For all those who have the motto "Luceo Non Uro" on their badge, you are also a Macleod. You could say that you decend from both the Clan Macleod of Lewis and the Clan MacKenzie. Which is kind of strange seeing how they feuded and in the past were enemies. The Macleods of Lewis also had a second motto "I birn quhil I se" in latin which translates to "I burn until I see."Some say that the Macleods of Lewis no longer exist that the line died out. That is not true, your existence proves that. And DNA testing will soon prove it as well. The true crest of the MacKenzies is a Stag Head(Caber-Feidh) as part of their arms and the motto "Cuidich an Righ" which means "Help the King." The story goes that Collin Fitzgerald the alleged progenitor of the Clan MacKenzie saved the life of Alexander III when an angry stag charged the King when he was hunting. Collin Fitzgerald was given a crest by the King with a stag on it bleeding at the forehead where the arrow hit it supported by two greyhounds and also had a dexter arm bearing a naked sword surrounded by the motto "Fide parts Fide acts." This was given up and the Macleods of Lewis crest and motto was adopted when they married into the clan.

Decendant of the Macleods of Arran of the Macleods of Lewis

MacCabe said...

Correction. I posted on here some information of the Macleods of Lewis since they seem to be connected to the Clan MacKenzie. I posted that the Macleods of Lewis motto is "I Birn quhil I Se" and that it is latin. It is not latin, it is "Scots Gaelic." It means "I Burn Until I See" and is a completely different motto then "Luceo Non Uro" which means "I Burn Not Shine. The Macleods of Lewis apparently had two mottos. I read the story about the church being burned by the MacDonalds. It sounds to me like these mottos are most likely related to this story. Sorry about the mix up.

Decendant of the Macleods of Arran

Anonymous said...

Moses and the burning bush.

Anonymous said...

Whats mckenzie got to do with mackenzie ? My family name is MACKENZIE son of kenzie. thought the mc abrieviation was a totaly different thing alltogether. We are not the same clan . My family are decendants from true blood. And still populate the highlands my cosuines include many macloeds . And many other clan names. But not one of them carry the mc abrieviation.

MacCabe said...

The irish "Mc's" are the Scottish "Mac's", and the Scottish "Mac's" are the irish "Mc's." Many Scottish fled Scotland to Ireland and decided to permanently stay in Ireland. When they decided to stay they wanted to become more irish, and chose to change the the "Mac" on their names to the irish "Mc." Also many of the "Mac's" in Ireland that were gallowglasses were hired by the irish armies. When they moved to ireland to lead the irish armies, they changed their "Mac" to "Mc."Their were six gallowglass(Scottish for mercenary) in Scotland that were hired by the Irish.Many of these gallowglass families moved to Ireland and changed the beginning of their name.The irish McCabes were one these gallowglass families. If you trace the origins of the McCabes you find this clan name was started by a Scottish man by the name of Macleod.This man decended from a Norse king.So the McCabes are not only Scottish, they are Norse(viking). The Irish and the Scottish will find that many of them have blood connections to the Norse(Vikings), because their were many Viking invasions of Scotland and Ireland where the Norse bloodlines mixed with theirs, many of the Norse raped many of their women and took them as wives.An Irishman or Scottsman with blond hair is a clear sign on Norse ancestry.DNA testing will one day prove this more is a great dna testing service that everyone should have done.It is very affordable, they have a discount price for certain dna name projects, where you only pay $119. It can tell you where your ancestors came from and their migration patterns.

Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home said...

I know it is a really old post but you have missed something completely. Luceo non uro, I shine not burn , has nothing to do with blacksmithing. There are two MacKenzie crests. One is a stag's head but the other is a mountain with signal fires on it. It was the way they called together the clan, hence the mountain shined… it was not burning… it was not on fire. You can see that crest listed here, it is the first icon on the grid;
As for my credibility… it comes straight from the present clan chief, John Ruaridh Grant Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Cromartie, the Cabarfeidh of the MacKenzie Clan who is living in Castle Leod in Strathpeffer, Scotland. I met him at the MacKenzie Gathering of the Clan in 2000. It was an awesome experience to visit the seat of the MacKenzie Clan and tour Castle Leod.

Unknown said...

Hullo thank you MacCabe,

I am a McLeod of Lewis descendant from a Margaret McLeod and Harry Rudin.

You analysis was fabulous and adds credence to what I too have come to find thru research

Two mottos I Birn quhil I Se I burn until I see


Luceo Non Uro
I burn not shine

Not the I shine not burn you hear so flagrantly thrown about.

Thank you for you diligent research and for throwing it up on the intervenes for all to see rather than keeping it to oneself.

Us Macleods have a long history of marrying into power as the murdering band of seafarers iron isle like warriors claimed lineage from Olaf the black and his son Leod the ugly (interesting side note: not of look although his nose was interesting shaped,but of character when he was angered)
Married into the Lewis establish Nicols clan another Viking hybrid family... in fact the latter motto was supposedly a mirrored onto the coat or arms, with the sun or that burning mountain and golden field...(Two artistic interpretations?) That we added after marrying the Nichols heiress... something apparently we rectify after so no female heir could take the fortune with her in the death of a man... who knows if the Nichols and McCleod newly weds loved each other or how the sacred connective time was. Did the morn the others passing when that time came?

All interested queries.

Clearly I'm in it for the fact the historical, the personal and the imagined possibilities of the psychological and emotional repast for my soul.

I thank you for clearing up the confused distanced drivel confused Americans(who murdered their king) and other lookyloos and Basel well wishers seeking the linage commute after throwing it out with the bath water generations back...

It nice to hear some truth ringing in often misdirected or half truths by the ridiculous Wal-Mart like industry of ugly cookie cut coat of arms and motors slapped up translated and often mixed up.

I for one elect that the most ancient form of our names motto crest and be explored and used if we should so desire it.. it's symbolism and prayer ion a very personal cell memory level and ought to be as close as we can reckon not mismatch Hodge podge of plastic confectionary...

Well that my 2¢ Well be it 10

Keep up the good work McCabe.

I once knew one of you well...