I wonder what happened to the Druids.

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by badger, Apr 16, 2022.

  1. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    I wonder what happened to the Druids.

    Recently, at another meeting place far away, a druid introduced me to his ideas about Druidism, or is it Druidry? I never did get a chance to ask much more because that was the day I emigrated to here, an asylum seeker, if you like. :)

    But I did buy a book about the Druids from an ebay seller at the enormous outlay of £2.99 with free post. The author had researched the Druids through his lifetime, was a university professor and language specialist and he seemed to know a lot about this subject, but please don't ask me his name or I'll have to go to ebay and research my recent purchases before I can answer.

    The thing is, as I read through the early chapters it became clear that historians, researchers and modern-day Druids cannot agree about the Druids....... only that they held Nature and all things Natural as dear, special and 'holy', which is why I was interested, being a Deist.

    For example, some explain that the Druids held the sun in awe but not particularly the moon, others wax lyrical about the moon as well, which I do too...... I could bore you to death about the moon, in fact that's a another thread ( :) ). Some explain that Romans loved killing Druids, really good sport, whilst others explain that Druid priests simply inserted themselves in to the new culture or religion as it swept swept over them.... as the people of an area were drawn in to the new way, so the priests went with them. I suppose that both of these possibilities happened, just at different times and in different places. But almost everybody agrees that the Druids held Nature in high esteem, even worshipping aspects of it. And that is what caused my interest.

    As I approached about halfway through this introduction to Druids it became fairly clear that the Druids were mostly without a written language which is why nothing much has been left by these ancient folks, and the Romans and any Greeks who wrote about them could have been so filled with prejudice and bigotry that their perceptions were inaccurate.

    Maybe, Could be, Think so, Think not, Possibly, Unlikely........... these were the fruits of research, as far as I could tell. The great stones 'probably were there before', or so I read, so there's not much point in a Druid going to fall on face before a stone circle unless s/he just wants to have fun with imagination....some kind of New Age thing.

    Get it? So I have not got a clue about the Druids, apart from 'Nature is it'.
    So........... what have you got? Almost certainly more than me....... I didn't finish that book!!!
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Well, afaik they represented one of the three "castes" common to "indo-european" cultures of the time: Warriors, priests, farmers. The bards are sometimes considered as one branch of the druids, and they persisted into historical, Christian timesand wrote down a number of epics, in particular, in Wales. Finally, the druids did know how to read&write, there are metal plaques from pre-Roman celtic areas in Spain and France and central Europe with inscriptions in various writing systems, but they considered it inappropriate to write down their sacred knowledge. In terms of "security policy", this was very effective, as we know. In terms of preserving culture, not so much, as we know.

    Many Gaulish groups were head-hunters, and the human head seems to have played a major role in the world-view. This is reflected both in legends surviving, such as that of Brân the Blessed, as well as in contemporary Greek sources, such as records of Gaulish forays into Macedonia and Greece.

    That's about all I know.
     
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  3. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    That's possibly a high % of the available info. Has anybody translated any of the druid languages?
    As you have mentioned, I did read that the druids were linked closely with Near-Eastern cultures and a caste system, it seems that we can't get away from class and hierarchy even today.
     
  4. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    The classical celtic languages of modern-day France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic, have very few written sources, not enough to reconstruct them. But it is clear from place names, names of deities and personal names, that they were close relatives of the insular celtic languates, such as old Welsh, Cornish, and Irish. The celtic ateas of Spain (not all of Spain was Celtic) are less closely related, possibly an earlier dialect group. Modern day Breton celtic is actually a re-import in medieval times from Wales and Corneall, iirc.

    There is evidence that Italian languages, such as early Latin, Umbrian, and Oscan,, were closely related to the Celtic languages as well, which I find surprising.

    Near Eastern cultures were distinct from the I.E group of cultures, with very different roots, languages, and social strate, and having developed urbanization, writing, empires, and so on much earlier. There was intensive contact between the two cultural spheres, in early historical (middle east historical) times in the Iranian highlands, leading to Persian civilization, and in Anatolia. No druids in either one, though, unless you count their distant cousins, the priests of ancient Persia: the Magi.

    Class&hierarchy: I hear you!
     
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  5. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    That post does more than suggest that you have a very deep knowledge about languages.
    Do you teach languages, or history?

    Your post was focused upon Celtic people's and Celtic influences, did they have many religions or was Druidry the central base for all of them? And did they worship many God's, such as sun, moon, sea, land etc?
     
  6. Ella S.

    Ella S. Utilitarian Logician

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    Druidry is a New Religious Movement that usually has more to do with Wicca, Theosophy, and Neoshamanism than ancient Celtic religion and there was no single "Celtic religion."

    The Irish, Welsh, and Scottish had different myths and pantheons. I am not as familiar with Welsh and Scottish mythology but as far as Irish mythology goes, there is variation depending on the specific place in Ireland you are talking about and what time frame you're looking at. Much of the ancient traditions of these cultures have been lost but it is possible to make an informed reconstruction of their later practices.

    It's possible that Celtic mythology shares a common root. It might even be an offspring of the speculative "Proto-Indo-European Religion." We just don't have enough information to know for sure, as far as I am aware.
     
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  7. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Amateur language and history nerd.

    Druidry, as far as I know, was unique to Celtic cultures. The Romans and other neighbors of the Celtic peoples had their own class of priests and seers, but they were not called "druids" and seem to have had different teachings - no head-hunting, for example.

    Many deities are attested from inscriptions and legends. The Romans also "identified" many Celtic deities with their own pantheon, Caesar mentions Mercury, Apollo, Mars, and Jupiter but does not give the Gaulish names.

    Off the top of my head, no claims for completeness of accuracy:

    Belenos - god of healing, popular on the continent and the British isles, simar to Apollo.

    Cerunnos - a horned or antlered god. Seems to have made his way into modern Wicca.

    Esus, Toutates, Taranis - a triad of better-known gods in antiquity. Esus was depicted chopping trees. Taranis seems to have been a thunder god.

    The goddesses were often associated with rivers, lakes, and victory in battle. Echoes of these themes come through in he Arthurian "Lady of the Lake".

    Brigantia - associated with the Roman Victoria

    Sequana - River Seine

    Epona - horses

    Henwen - sows

    ...

    I don't know whether Druidry was one of many celtic religions, or whether the Druids were the keepers of all (religious) laws and customs. I think it was the latter, in parallel to the role of ghe Brahmins in Vedic society. But that's just my hunch.

    And I agree with @Ella S. regarding modern reconstructed Druidry.
     
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  8. Ella S.

    Ella S. Utilitarian Logician

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    Personally, I also tend to think that "druid" was a title similar to Priest, Clergy, Wise Man, Chief, Lord, etc. with a special connotation implying that they were some sort of learned person in the ways of cultural ceremonies and medicines. "Druidry" would then be a general term like "priesthood" and not refer to a particular religion, per se.
     
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  9. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    @Ella S. and @Cino .......... thank you both for the above. That's so much more info than I expected to receive.

    Yes, I've heard about new religious druid groups but some of them seem to 'play at being druids' rather than focus upon any serious attempts to discover and follow the ancient ways. As you both mention, these ways are mostly lost into the mists of time.

    I am most interested in the list of Gods, and the connections with stories that we are all acquainted with such as 'the Lady of the lake who holds the sword' etc.

    Please do keep posting any more information....... How much is known about the druids and worship/following of Sun, Moon, Seasons etc? Their gatherings or feasts surely had to be connected to these times..?
     
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  10. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Caesar really is, to my knowledge, the best source we have. He mentions that the druids knew astronomy, kept calendars, and did divination on the stars, iirc.

    I think the best find we have of a celtic calendar is the Coligny Calendar, a jigsaw pussle of bronze pieces. It allows a reconstruction of the Celtic calendar, but has no details about feast days. It is also late, from Romano-Gaulish times a few centuries after the conquest of Gaul.
     
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  11. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    Oh...thank you very much for all this info. I will take more interest in all this, and that Coligny Calendar.
    You've provided so many points of interest to follow about all this.
    As I learn more, so I'll keep posting on this thread .....I find that if I write about it then I retain it more effectively ..
    Thank you again ....
     
  12. Ella S.

    Ella S. Utilitarian Logician

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    I could recommend some books on the Irish Mythological Cycle. In Ireland, special significance was placed on Brigid, who was syncretized with Christianity as a "saint," and Danu. Some speculate that Brigid was not just a hearth deity but a solar goddess. Her festival is still celebrated as St. Brigid's Day but it's better known as Imbolc.

    Samhain is still celebrated in Ireland and related territories like the Isle of Man to this day, although it originally coincided with the night that was precisely between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice and it's celebrated about a week earlier in the modern age.

    There's also Lughnasadh named after another prominent Irish figure, Lugh. And there's Cetshamhain better known as "Beltane," too, which might be one of the oldest festivals.

    Many of these festivals inspired Wiccan holidays of the same name in their "Wheel of the Year," although the degree to which Wiccans respect the traditions surrounding them in their celebrations can vary considerably.
     
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