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Guide to Druidism

Guide to Druidism

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Published by bluewolf1969

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Published by: bluewolf1969 on Jan 20, 2009
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05/24/2013

 
Druidism Guide Page One: Background
1. INTRODUCTION
The memory of the Druids emerges from the mists of time and history to be with usagain.This is the seventh edition of a project that has been ongoing on the internet for severalyears. Celtic culture, its music and art, has been "re-discovered" by the media and thefolk of europe and north america once again. The popularity of all things celtic can beseen by the success of dance shows like "Riverdance", films like "Braveheart", and in themultitude of celtic music festivals that have sprouted all over this continent (many of which are regularly attended by this author). Perhaps a re-emergence of Celtic values andspirituality is happening as well.This essay is for those who are newly exploring the spirituality of the Druid, Bard,Fianna, or Celtic Pagan. It is for those who have Celtic ancestors, or who wish they did. Itis for those who like learning about the ancient Celts, their beliefs and practices, and havea desire to emulate them in a manner valid for themselves and for this century.As in past editions, emphasis is placed upon that which is historically proven, or historically plausible by induction from known facts. It attempts to consider the historyand the spirit together. The period in history in which it focuses is the Celtic Iron Age,from aproximatly 500 BC up to the common era.
2. WHY DRUIDISM IN THE 20TH CENTURY?
There are a number of good reasons for modern people to consider Druidism today. Somesee it as a way to reconnect, or "ground" themselves in history, or to improve their understanding of their origins and ancestors (if they are of Celtic descent). Some areattracted by the relationship with the natural world that a Druid cultivates, or by theartistic, creative methods used to build that relationship.It is thought by many that the loss of the old ways of living, close to theliving Earth and close to our tribes, is responsible for the social andenvironmental problems we face today, so a return to the old ways will be a healing force in the world in this life and time. Druidism today isnot an abandonment of technology, nor is it a rejection of society. It isnot a retreat from the world into an illusory garden of delight where problems need not be faced. Rather, it is an affirmation of our needs inthis life, and an energetic attempt to take power over them.There are those who choose Druidism over other forms of neo-paganism. Perhaps areason for that is because Druidism is not only a branch of neopaganism, but also thesubject of academic study. Druidism is often of interest to archaeologists, historians, andmythographers who don't necessarily consider themselves Druids, or even remotely
 
 pagan. Thus, there is a wealth of serious academic material available concerning theDruids, and many discover Druidism through it.Finally, there are those who choose Druidism over more conventional Western religionsthat are more accepted and widespread, such as Christianity. An exploration of Druidismis for many people a revival of one of Western Europe's indigenous spiritualities. Manyseek Asatru to revive Northern Europe's spirituality for much of the same reason. Tothose who feel alienated or harmed by Christianity, and there are many, and who still believe religion has a place in their lives, paganism is a viable, and healthy alternative.(Your author also thinks that Buddhism is beautiful!)While there is no doubt that the standards of living and the lifestyles we lead havechanged incredibly since the age of the Celts, and even within each of our lifetimes, thehuman needs for understanding, communication, companionship, and even empowermenthave not changed. To questions about human life, the age of the answer has no bearingupon its truth. The solution is not more right or more wrong for being old or new. Thuswe continue to be illuminated by history, and we continue to create history.
3. WHO WERE THE DRUIDS?
Druidism must be understood in the context of the culture that created it. Only the Celtic people called their religious professionals Druids; other cultures had other names for their clergy, and expected different duties from them. Druids were not an ethnic or culturalgroup in themselves, but part of a larger society in which they participated. In the pre-christian era of Celtic culture, the Druids were members of a professional class in their culture, the Celtic Nations of Western Europe and the British Isles. (see Nations)The eminent scholar Fergus Kelly wrote that a Druid was "priest, prophet, astrologer andteacher of the sons of nobles". Jean Markale, another respected scholar, noted that theDruids were divided into these specialisations:Sencha; historian, analystBrithem; judge, arbitrator, ambassador Scelaige; keeper of myths and epicsCainte; master of magical chants, blessings, curses, invocations, execrations, banishmentsLiaig; doctor who uses plants, magic and surgeryCruitre; harpist who uses music as magic, master of the "Three Noble Strains" of music: music that invokes laughter, tears, and sleep.Deoghbaire; cup bearer who knows the properties of intoxicating and hallucinogenicsubstancesFaith; diviner Bard; popular poet and singer Fili; sacred poet and diviner 
 
Druids filled the roles of judge, doctor, diviner, mage, mystic, and clerical scholar; inother words, they were the religious intelligensia of their culture. To become a Druid,students assembled in large groups for instruction and training. An Irish epic called theTain Bo Cuailnge describes the druid Cathbhad teaching as many as one hundred studentsin something like a college. Julius Caesar noted that apprentice Druids were trained for a period of up to twenty years. The mythologies describe Druids who were capable of many magical powers such as divination & prophesy, control of the weather, healing,levitation, and shapechanging themselves into the forms of animals, trees, or people. Agood word for them would seem to be "priests", yet I am reluctant to use it for tworeasons: The Romans never used it, and because Druids didn't minister to congregationsas priests do.Rather, they had a clientele, like a lawyer, a consultant, a mystic, or a shaman wouldhave. (seeShamen) Caesar and his historians never referred to them as priests, but perhaps they could not recognise them as priests since the Roman priesthood, officiatingover an essentially political religion, were primarily teachers and judges, with lessemphasis on being seers or diviners, whereas the Druids appeared to have both legal andmagical powers and responsabilities. (seeDefinition of a Druid)A Druid's connection to nature is the source of all her powers, both in society and in magic. By understanding that connection,a Druid's being is joined with nature, and so she becomes awareof all that is known to nature, which is all things. A Druid then isa kind of nature mystic. To experience Druidism, turn off the computer and go into the woods, and listen. The voice of the old Gods are notsilent. Their language is the blowing wind and the waves of the great pouring sea.
4. WHAT ARE THE CELTIC NATIONS?
The traditional Celtic nations, where Celtic civilisation achieved its height, and where anindigenous Celtic language was spoken, are Alba (Scotland), Breizh (Brittany, or Gaul,what is now France), Cymru (Wales), Eire (Ireland), Galatia (northern Spain), Kernow(Cornwall), Mannin (Isle of Man), and Britain. The Celtic culture was a tribal society,meaning the basic social and political unit was the extended family. They had Iron-agetechnology at the height of their achievement, meaning they could forge iron for their tools, use gold and silver for art, clear land for agriculture and animal husbandry, andlived in settled farmstead communities. The Celtic people migrated from the ancientindo-european homelands in eastern Europe, to span most of western Europe. It is possible to trace the migration routes by examining the artefacts they left behind. Twoclasses of celtic artefacts, La Tene and Halstadd, are named for towns in which artefactsfrom each period were discovered: Halstadd is in the Salzkammergut in Austria, and LaTene is in Switzerland. The Celts of Galatia, in what is now Turkey, was visited by Paulof Tarsus around 40AD; his epistle to them has a permanant place in the Christian Bible.

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