Being someone who is spiritual and has a passion for history one area that has fascinated me are the tales of the ancient Druids. From accounts by those of the Roman empire into the Renaissance age and even to this day where modern Druidism still exists. Druids existed in the religious practices of the ancient Celtic cultures and it is said even held sort of position as judges. The ancient Druids are still shrouded in mystery but enough is known to enable me to provide my readers with a ton of excellent resources which I hope will be enjoyed.
A Long History
About 2500 years ago, and possibly long before that, at each end of the Indo-European arc, tribal spiritualities emerged that would eventually grow to become flourishing modern movements, with adherents all over the world. While the earliest versions of what would later become the Hindu and Jain religions emerged in the Indus valley, in western Europe at about the same time, writers began to record the existence of Druidism.
Its practice was first noted in two Greek works over two thousand years ago in around 200 BCE although both works were since lost. In 50 BCE Julius Caesar wrote that Druidism originated in Britain, and although some claim that Druids could be found across much of Europe, from Ireland in the west to Anatolia (now Turkey) in the east, scholars now believe this is unlikely. Instead Druids were probably native just to the British Isles, Ireland and western Gaul (now France).
Although written accounts seem to have begun 2,200 years ago, Druidry was probably in existence for a good deal of time before then, and it seems likely that as a type of religion or magical practice it evolved out of earlier pre-Druidic cult practices. Continue reading HERE.
The Druids by Peter Berresford Ellis
In this compelling and highly reliable study of the Druids, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological findings, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society.
The Druids emerge as the intellectual caste of ancient Celtic society. They were the doctors, the lawyers, the ambassadors, the advisers to kings. They also had a religious function. Ellis describes the special Druidic training, their philosophy, their belief in auguries, and their intriguing origins. He also shows that the current “New Age” image of the Druids as benevolent wizards comes from a woefully inadequate interpretation of the facts.
“By the bright circle of the golden sun,THE
By the bright courses of the errant moon,
By the dread potency of every star,
In the mysterious Zodiac’s burning girth,
By each and all of these supernal signs,
We do adjure thee, with this trusty blade
To guard yon central oak, whose holy stem,
Involves the spirit of high Taranis:
Be this thy charge.”-MASON
THE VEIL OF ISIS;
MYSTERIES OF THE DRUIDS
W. WINWOOD READE.
In simple terms, the Druids were the priests of the Celtic tribes in Britain. But to state that fact does not convey the breadth of their influence in Celtic society. The Druids were a sort of super-class of priests, political advisors, teachers, healers, and arbitrators among the Celtic tribes.
They had their own universities, where traditional knowledge was passed on by rote (i.e. memorized). Druids had the right to speak ahead of the king in council, and may in some situations have held more authority than the king. They acted as ambassadors in time of war, they composed verse and upheld the law. They were a sort of glue holding together Celtic culture.
We know that the Druids used both animal and human sacrifice, and that many of their observances centred on oak groves and water. The Isle of Anglesey, in present-day Wales, was a centre of Druidic practice. SOURCE
“The Druids officiate at the worship of the gods, regulate at public and private sacrifice, and rule on all religious questions. Large numbers of young men flock to them for instruction, and they are held in great honour by the people.”
Since Druidry is a spiritual path – a religion to some, a way of life to others – Druids share a belief in the fundamentally spiritual nature of life. Some will favour a particular way of understanding the source of this spiritual nature, and may feel themselves to be animists, pantheists, polytheists, monotheists or duotheists. Others will avoid choosing any one conception of Deity, believing that by its very nature this is unknowable by the mind.
Monotheistic druids believe there is one Deity: either a Goddess or God, or a Being who is better named Spirit or Great Spirit, to remove misleading associations to gender. But other druids are duo-theists, believing that Deity exists as a pair of forces or beings, which they often characterize as the God and Goddess.
Polytheistic Druids believe that many gods and goddesses exist, while animists and pantheists believe that Deity does not exist as one or more personal gods, but is instead present in all things, and is everything. Continue reading HERE.
Caesar’s Account of the Druids
According to Caesar, who had encountered druids in Gaul, they were an essential class of the Gallic society. The Druids recognized a single leader who ruled the group until his death. They met at a sacred place in Gaul every year, while Britain remained the center of druidic studies. Caesar notes that the Druids who wished to undertake further druidic education often made pilgrimages to Britain to improve their knowledge which sometimes lasted over twenty years.
The Druids did not take part in war and were exempt from military taxes and enlistment. Instead, they studied lore, medicine, astrology, and philosophy, among many other subjects. According to Caesar, they did not record their practices, but they did make use of the Greek alphabet in different spheres of their public and private accounts. Caesar’s most disturbing recording is the practice of human sacrifice, for which the Druids used criminals. The victim would be sacrificed through burning in a wicker man.
The wicker man was a large wicker effigy in which the body was placed. Yet archaeology has not provided any evidence of this practice nor of its associations with the Druids. Indeed it is not unlikely that Caesar exaggerated specific claims to exemplify Gaul and Britain’s conquest. Caesar depicted the Druids as both learned and barbaric. But just how much of this account is exaggerated, we will probably never know. SOURCE
Who were the Druids? A history of Druidism in Britain
The Buried Mysteries Of Wale’s Ancient Druids | Time Team | Odyssey