Secrets of the Druids - Open Notes

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Nazheek
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Secrets of the Druids - Open Notes

Post by Nazheek »

I've been rediscovering my interest in pre-christian Celtic beliefs, and the Druids themselves have become a subject of interest to me. View this thread simply as open notes for anyone else to view and learn along with me. I'll be posting here pretty frequently, I reckon.

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Nazheek
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Re: Secrets of the Druids - Open Notes

Post by Nazheek »

Recollection of Prior Studies

Bugger! Why isn't BBCode working? All I want is a nice, centered title.


As far as I can recall, the Druids formed a priestly class to a variety of cultures in Western Europe, which I will collectively refer to as "the Celts", unless otherwise specified, regardless of origin (be they Gaulish, Hiberni, Briton or other). This priestly class was responsible for a variety of things, such as healthcare, a certain degree of politics or political advisement, a keeping of history by oral tradition, and, of course, religious leadership.

The Celts held Druids in incredibly high regard. As well as I can remember, there are some secondary sources of Druids interceding on behalf of warring tribes, and negotiating to avoid a battle; and their agreement was law. No battle would be had should a Druid come up with an alternative arrangement. This seems to be a common theme among European "Barbarians", as I can recall hearing of Germanic tribes often settling for single duels between Leaders, or Reiks, as opposed to full battles, to settle disputes. In addition to their ability to simply halt a battle at will, the Druid was respected to the point in which they were exempt from many thing that even the Nobility were held under, such as taxation and levy conscription.

Much of the Druid's practice and knowledge is simply lost to time, simply for a lack of primary sources. This is, because despite being literate, they refused to write their traditions and knowledge. It's unknown why, but speculation mostly points to their heavy focus on the Oral tradition, and a possible societal or dogmatic pressure against recording knowledge.


Well, that's all she wrote. Or, at least, all I can recall of my previous study of the Druids themselves. My next post I believe I will write of their role in sacrifices/libations.
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Redbeck
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Re: Secrets of the Druids - Open Notes

Post by Redbeck »

Thanks for sparking this topic into life Nazheek, Druidism is of special interest to us given a Hiberno-Celtic family tree that actually goes back to the High Kings of Ireland. Regards Redbeck

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Their places of worship known as ‘Temples of the Druids’ were quiet, secluded areas, like clearings in woods and forests, and stone circles. Probably the most famous stone circle in Britain is Stonehenge, an ancient megalithic monument dating back to about 2400 B.C. Many people’s first impression of the Druids is likely to be of them casting their magical incantations congregated around Stonehenge. There is indeed much to suggest that this was a place of worship for them, as it still is today for pagans and other neo-druids. There is however some disagreement, as to whether the Druids physically built Stonehenge or not. A sizeable school of thought now believe it to be a second-hand circle transported piece by piece from its original site in Wales. It is not exactly clear when the Druids came to Britain, but more than likely that they actually arrived in a period after Stonehenge was built or rebuilt.

The Isle of Ynys Mon, Anglesey of the north-west coast of Wales, and Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor in the county of Devon are both believed to be Druidic sites. Indeed, Anglesey was supposedly a place where Druids were taught. It took about 20 years to learn the lore, as it was complex and had to be learnt off by heart as they rarely used a written language. This is one reason why we know so little about them. The Gaul’s had a limited written language, involving Greek characters, and then with Caesar’s rule this became Latin and old records were lost. Some legends must also be treated with caution as they may have even been altered by subsequent Christian influence or exaggeration.

The Druids travelled among all the Celtic Tribes of Europe, as one of their main duties was to bring law and order where issues existed. Settle legal disputes, arrest law breakers, and dispense justice. They were effectively acting as judge, jury and executioner using the local peoples as police.

During the 1st century AD, Druids were facing oppression from the Romans. Indeed, Tiberius banned Druidism because of its supposed human sacrifices. Following this period, Druidism appeared to end abruptly in the 2nd century. There are two theories to try and explain this. The first is that, as with many ancient societies, disease, famine or warfare may have simply wiped them out. The second implicates the arrival of Christianity in their decline. Might they have been converted? However, from the 1700s onwards there was a revival of the Druidic or Celtic religious system in England and Wales. The famous English poet, painter and printmaker William Blake became an Arch-druid.

“The curiosity of the specification becomes greater in light of the fact that Blake too made reference to Primrose Hill as being in some way sacred to the sun. Blake told Crabb Robinson that "I have conversed with the—Spiritual Sun—I saw him on Primrose-hill. He said "Do you take me for the Greek Apollo?‘ ’No’ I said ‘that (and Blake pointed to the sky) that is the Greek Apollo—He is Satan".'

The sun-worshipping Druid religion as 'revived' by Stukeley, Henry Rowlands and other eighteenth-century antiquarians was of widespread and active interest in the latter part of that century. In fact, on the wall of the King’s Arms Tavern, very close to where Blake lived in Poland Street, there is a plaque inscribed: 'In this Old King’s Arms Tavern the ANCIENT ORDER OF DRUIDS was revived 28th November 1781.' Something about this day seems to have been very attractive to the Druids—some prophetic insight perhaps—for this date was Blake’s twenty-fourth birthday.

“Primrose Hill is apparently the highest spot in London, and, in addition to the rather dubious distinction of being the spot on which Judge Jeffries of the Popish Plot was found murdered, it was also the site of a Druid procession in 1792, and every year thereafter. The Welsh poet and lexicographer Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg, 1747-1826) was convinced that the bardic traditions of his native Glamorgan had preserved the true esoteric lore of the Druids. He accordingly devised a ritual called the Gorsedd of Bards, which involved the ceremonious sheathing of a naked sword inside a magic circle of stones. With a small group of fellow Welshmen that included Blake’s friend William Owen, he performed this rite on Primrose Hill at the Autumn Equinox of 1792”.

Some religions today, like Christianity and Wicca have been influenced by Druidism. The number three was considered greatly significant in Druid lore, as it is by these religions. For example, the Triscale was a symbol involving 3 lines coming together to form a circle. Circles were key to many Druid beliefs; the circle of life, the seasons, light and darkness.

It would surprise many to learn that Winston Churchill was supposedly a Druid!


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Nazheek
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Re: Secrets of the Druids - Open Notes

Post by Nazheek »

Pardon me for the late response, I've been off on a civil war reenactment


Thank you for the response, Redbeck. You've given me an idea to discuss modern "neo-paganism" a bit in this thread. I'll have to research a bit on the two sites you mentioned. Pardon me for my brevity, the reenactment is only just ending and Im packing camp.
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Redbeck
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Re: Secrets of the Druids - Open Notes

Post by Redbeck »

Dear Nazheek,

In countries where the Celtic druidism spirit continues to burn strongly there remains a robust amalgam of pagan and Christian faiths. Redbeck


For example the Goddess Brigid in Ireland is merged with the Saint Brigid of Ireland.

Indeed Saint Brigid of Ireland (Also known as St Bridget of Kildare) is only one of many Irish Saints who have been associated with ancient Celtic Pagan Gods and Goddesses.

The Celtic Goddess Brigit (or Brigid, Bríg), whose name means 'exalted one', was of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the daughter of the Daghda and wife to Eochu Bres. She is associated with the season of spring along with fertility, healing, poetry and the blacksmith’s craft. Bridgid is also a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth, closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She is also credited with devising the ancient tradition of 'Keening', a form of wailing, weeping and singing, employed to this day in rural Ireland, especially at wakes and funerals.


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Saint Brigid was born in Dundalk in 451 the daughter of a pagan Gaelic Chieftain named Dubtach (later anglicised as Duffy), and a Christian slave mother named Brocca (also known as Brocessa or Brocseach). Following a search for her mother, who had been sold and their return to Dubtach’s household, she discovered that her father had arranged her marriage to a poet, among the most prestigious men in that time. As Brigid had already vowed to remain celibate and dedicate herself to God's work, once again she left home, this time for good.


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Together with seven dedicated women she formed the first ever female Monastic community in Ireland in the year 468. They constantly helped the surrounding poor with food and supplies; attributed with many miracles as a result. Brigid founded a school of Art and a Monastery at Cill Dara (meaning 'the Church of the Oak'), about which the modern town of Kildare now stands. It is thought this was the exact site upon which a shrine to a Celtic Pagan Goddess named Brigid had also stood. During this time the Abbess of Kildare was regarded as Superior General of the monasteries in Ireland, an incredibly lofty position for any woman to occupy in those days, although she was a close friend of Saint Patrick, described in detail in the ninth century 'Book of Armagh':

The Goddess Brigid was 'syncretized' with Saint Brigid during the Middle Ages. This was a process whereby the practices, beliefs and traditions of a Christian Saint were merged, blended and assimilated with an earlier often mythological character. It is no coincidence that both Brigid the actual Saint who lived in Kildare and Brigit the mythological Goddess of old Ireland are both associated with the coming of Spring.

Saint Brigid is celebrated on February 1st each year, the day and month of her death. It is this day that also happens to be the date of an annual Gaelic Pagan festival called 'Imbolc', marking the beginning of spring!

Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marks the beginning of the lambing season and signals the beginning of spring and the stirrings of new life. It is Feile Brighde, the 'quickening of the year'. The original word Imbolg means 'in the belly'.

“Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridgid. Decorate your altar with snowdrops, swan feathers, a Brigid Cross, a Bridey Doll, white and green candle. “


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“Some of the symbols attributed to Brigid are:

The Snowdrop. The first gift of Spring in the bleakness of Winter.

The Swan. The swan mates for life and represents loyalty, fidelity and faithfulness. Swan feathers are a powerful amulet.

The Flame. Imbolc is a Fire Festival and fire of all kinds is associated with Brigid - the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire, and her fire wheel - the Brigid Cross, which heralds her as a Sun Goddess.

Brigid's Cross. This is a traditional fire wheel symbol - found at the hearths of homes throughout Ireland and beyond as a symbol of protection. A customer in the shop recounted finding a hearth in Ireland, in recent years, adorned with over 200 Brigid Crosses - 200 years in the life of a hearth and a family, overlit and protected by Brigid.

Brigid Doll. A very old tradition involved the making of a Brigid doll which can be included in ceremony and/or placed in 'Bride's Bed' to bring fertility and good fortune to the home.

The Serpent. In Celtic mythology Brigid was associated with an awakening hibernating serpent which emerged from its lair at Imbolc. Traditionally serpents were associated with creativity and inspiration - the powerful Kundalini energy of the Eastern Mysteries. Paths of earth energy were called serpent paths and at Imbolc they are stirred from their slumber.

Sheep. Brigid's festival is at the beginning of lambing - eat ewe's milk cheese!
Imbolc Colours: White and silver for purity, green for the fresh burst of life.”


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“Herbs of Imbolc

Blackberry: Sacred to Brigid, the leaves and berries are used to attract prosperity and healing. A Goddess plant, belonging to the planetary sphere of Venus.
Coltsfoot: Coltsfoot or 'sponnc' (Gaelic) is a herb associated with Brigid. A herb of Venus, moves emotional and physical stagnation and is used magically to engender love and to bring peace.
Ginger: revitalises and stimulates the 'fire within' - helps alignment with the rise of Kundalini serpent energy at this time of year!”

“Trees of Imbolc
Rowan: Luis, or the Rowan, is the tree usually assigned to this time of year in the Celtic (Ogham) Tree Alphabet. It has long associations with the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. It is also known as the 'Quickening Tree' and is associated with serpents. Traditionally it protects and wards of evil. A sprig of Rowan can be put near the door of your home (we have a whole tree), or a sprig worn for protection. Rowan berries have a tiny five-pointed star on the bottom reminiscent of the pentagram.

Willow: The fourth tree in the Celtic Tree alphabet - S Saille, is also long associated with the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. Willow is the great 'shape shifter' of consciousness and emotion and symbolises feminine energy and the lunar cycle. Its branches are flexible - expressing movement and change rather than resistance. It is a tree of enchantment and dreaming, enhancing the confidence to follow one's intuition, and inspires leaps of imagination.”
Nazheek
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Re: Secrets of the Druids - Open Notes

Post by Nazheek »

Sorry about my lack of updates here, I've been studying for an extremely important certification exam, and this topic is very research heavy.

I'm currently working on small summaries of the Druidic deities that stick out to me as being particularly worthy of note, and it seems I've bit off more than I can chew.
Feel free to send me a PM or an email. Expect faster responses by email.
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