Who Were the Ancient Druids?

The ancient Druids. Who were they? What function did the Druids serve in Celtic society? How did Druidism relate to other forms of religion. Most of us have only a superfical understanding of Druids, maybe what we see on TV or movies or when Druids are used as charactors in books of fantasy. There is far more unknown about the Druids than is conclusively known. There are far more questions than answers. Did you know that Druidism was (and still is) older than Christianity? Or that Druids were interested in astronomy, astrology, herbology and poetry? If you have ever been curious about who the ancient Druids were then this article is for you. It will provide you with an introduction to one of the most mysterious religious groups in history (and who continue to fascinate people today).

Ancient Druidry was the spiritual/religious force behind the Iron Age Celtic tribes who arose from the area we know today as Great Britain. At it’s height the Celtic Empire and it’s influence extended from Great Britain throughout Europe all the way to Turkey. The Celtic tribes are known to have allied with Alexander the Great to help protect Greece while Alexander extended his conquests into Asia. The Galatians, mentioned in the Bible, were a Celtic tribe who’d migrated through the Balkans. Despite the wide area of Celtic conquest and influence, the spiritual center for the Druids remained in the heart of Great Britain, especially in the wilds among the oak trees.

Very little is known about the Druids. They are a group who seem to have chosen to remain hidden in the dark shadows of history. The Druids kept no written record of their teachings, traditions, history, beliefs or rituals (it is speculated that written records were forbidden). Instead, they relied entirely on oral traditions. It was Julius Caesar, who wrote that it appeared it could take a Druid initiate up to twenty years to master the Druidic oral tradition. Unfortunately, it was this total reliance on an oral tradition that allowed Rome to nearly erase Druids from history (and leave Caesar’s impressions of the Druids as the bulk of what we know about them).

Many scholars think the word ‘druid’ means ‘oak seer’ or ‘oak knower’. The Druids did not build huge churches or cathedrals. Their church was nature itself, particularly the forests. Almost everything in nature seemed to have been special to the ancient Druids. Trees and forests held a special, sacred significance to the Druids, especially the oak trees and oak groves. There are still many legends and folktales throughout Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England about various forests. In addition, there is also a great deal of folklore involving trees throughout Great Britan, much of which is thought to have originated from the time of the Druids. Much of the mythology behind Merlin of King Arthur’s court it thought to be based on Druids, that he was one of the last Celtic shaman.

All that was Druid was passed from teacher to student, in secret, usually in sacred places in forests and caves, and never written down. There are some things that scholars and historians think they know about Druids and Druidism. It is based on Roman and Greek authors; derived from legends and folklore; and based on some archaeology. It should be noted that there seems no universal agreement about anything regarding the Druids except that they once existed and were a powerful force in Celtic society.

When most people think of a Druid, they think of a sorcerer or wizard. Most people may think of Druidism as ‘occult’, however, they were no more a cult or occult than Roman priests, Buddhists or any other religion (see article What is Occult?). An ‘occult sorcerer’ is just not an accurate historical picture of a Druid or Druidism. The ancient Druids were the intellectual elite of Celtic society. They were more than representatives of a religion, they were the learned professionals.

The Druids were the medical shaman, political leaders, lawgivers, poets, musicians, judges, philosophers, diplomats as well as religious figures. They were not warriors, they actually worked between warring tribes to negociate treaties. Druids could not be drafted into military service. It was rare that a Druid would be a king or tribal leader. The Druids did not seem attached to wealth nor fame. A Druid of high standing, perhaps a master, was called and Archdruid. The Druid’s interests extended from biology to sociology, from astronomy to the supernatural and paranormal.

Although Druids have been characterized as somewhat barbaric and indulging in human sacrifice, there are some scholars and historians who question this characterization. Julius Caesar, from whom much about the Druids is learned, likely had an interest in casting them as barbaric, in need of being ‘civilized’. Too little is known to characterize the ancient Druids as barbaric priests who routinely sacrificed humans. For instance, the strongest punishment Druids seem to employ within Celtic society was banishment, which seems contrary to barbaric rituals that hold no regard for human life. It is known that the Druids presided over capital punishment of criminals which was done in a ritualist manner. It is also known that the Druidic teachings featured not being afraid of death, which was taught to Celtic believers from early childhood.

The ancient Druids strongly believed in reincarnation and taught as much to all those who’d listen. They believed that the soul was indestructible and would move on to inhabit another body or another state of existence after death. This central belief was at the heart of most Druidic study. The Druids sophisticated philosophy of reincarnation had a particularly profound effect on the Celts. Death was a doorway to the next life. Without the fear or worry about death, the soul was free to develop the highest form of human courage and to live the fullest life. Historical records affirm that Celtic warriors were, for centuries, considered one of the most fearless, and fierce, warriors in human history.

Why did the Roman empire go to such effort to eliminate the Druids? The Druids were just too influential and they would stand in the way of Roman rule. The Druids had the potential to unite the Celtic tribes against Roman. Rome’s strategy, set in motion by Julius Caeser (who needed money and prestige to advance his political career and so started a war against the Gallic Celts), was to defeat the Celts one tribe at a time.

Psychic and astrologer Serena has a Celtic family heritage in divination. Give her a call at: 1-866-327-9032, toll free 24/7

Psychic and astrologer Serena has a Celtic family heritage in divination. Give her a call at: 1-866-327-9032, toll free 24/7

The political reason given for destroying the Druids was they were a barbaric religious cult. However, that doesn’t make much sense given that the Celtic tribes and the Druids lived in alliance with Roman for some time. Also, Rome quickly learned the Druids would never acknowlege Roman rule, they would never surrender. They would never convert to Roman theology. The Druids would not give up who they were and what they believed.

Outlawed and pursued by the Roman empire, hunted and killed, even slatered in mass at Anglesey island in Wales, their sacraed places destroyed, the Druids faded back into the deep forests from which they came.

Curious what may lie ahead in your future? Talk to Psychic and Astrologer Serena. Serena’s divination skills seem to eminate from her deep Celtic roots, as it did in her mother and grandmother. Give a call at 1-866-327-9032, toll free Canada and U.S.A.

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