The word Druid, is a derivative from the Latin word [dru’ides] and according to Roman writers, to have come from Celtic Gaulish; these figures.
The Druids set themselves up, as spiritual healers, teachers and rulers, playing a major part in Pagan Celtic society. They worshipped nature in the truest sense of the word. Their ritual and sacrificial practices would bring man and nature closer together in harmony with each other. From Herbalism, holistic medicine, to births, deaths and marital unions.
The Druids are responsible for many occult beliefs and religious symbolisms used in the practice of Christianity, Judaism and Wicca (Witchcraft). They even had the power to excommunicate people from religious festivals, making them social outcasts.
They use the number three, tripods or trinities, classed as chief symbols in their practices. Tree play is an important part of their beliefs, as witnessed by the energies given off and the practice of folk magic, along with varied forms of meditation.
Druidism is believed to be at least 2500 years old, and according to the writings of Julius Caesar, in 50BC he believed they may have originated in Britain… but we know different. They had a connection with France and Britain. Yet the Druids built monuments of which many have been scattered across the globe, a reminder of their existence.
The Paviland Caves in Wales, once a meeting place of the Druids, which revealed a great find. A skeleton wrapped in a red cloth, with large ivory rods had been interred, making us believe this had to have been a ritual site, and the burial was of some importance.
Druids beliefs based on the caves, believe the caves have a symbolic meaning being the womb, with the potential for rebirth.
Early history of the Druids tells us nothing about the stone circles, only that they gather in sacred groves, caves or remote valleys etc.
Julius Caesar and Diodorus Siculus, describe the Druids as scholars and religious leaders whose function was to officiate at sacrifices, according to their writings.
Druids believe their souls are immortal and live on in another body for a fixed number of years. History states that Druidism shows a darker side to them. It is known that Druids would officiate at the sacrifice of criminals or innocent people. Some would be burnt alive. (It makes one think of the Witch Finder Trials).
3500-3000BC: During this time long barrows and chambered tombs appeared at Hambledon Hill, the site of an Iron Age fort. It was here the art of primitive burial.s were performed, where bodies were left in the open, to decompose or be eaten by animals or birds.
1500BC: By this time, stone circles like Stonehenge and Avebury Henge had been abandoned. Burial mounds had become a think of the past.
500-450BC: Druids, being the intellectual side of the Celts, founded Druidism in the British Isles.
70BC: The Druids arrive in Britain, and take control of this land’s rulers with no significant opposition.
61-54BC: Claudius issues a proclamation prohibiting the existence of these Druids, and Suetonius Paulinus had the job of clearing Druids from Britain.
The Christian Church absorbed the Celtic religion into their ranks and by the 7th century Druidism was all but destroyed or hidden underground.
445-445: Myrddin (Merlin) believed to have been born about this time, and would become known as one of the greatest Druids of all time.
465: As the legend goes, Merlin assists Uther in changing his appearance to that of Gorlois, so Queen Igraine would make love with Uther, believing him to be Gorlois her husband. Igraine gave birth to Arthur some nine months later.
480: Merlin creates the sword-in-the-stone contest knowing Arthur would win and become King Arthur of England, and went on to form the Round Table.
In the 17th century, Druidism went through a period of revival, as scholars wanted,answers to the stone circles and mounds which covered this land of ours.
One of these scholars was William Stukeley, often referred to as the father of Archaeology, and with fellow scholars, sought out Druidism within Christianity.
They learnt; not all ancestors of this land were ignorant, some were wise philosophers. This interest led to the Freemason’s interest, which linked them to the Druids. The Ancient and Archaelogical Order of Druids, joined them together and later saw Winston Churchill as one of their members.
From the 18th century it has been suggested Freemasonry was a Descendant of Druidism, and practiced latter-day Druidry.
In the 20th century George Watson MacGregor-Reid, put forward the idea that Druidism could unite followers of many faiths.
In the 1940’s and 50’s the Ancient Druid Order attracted Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols to its ranks. Gardner promoted Wicca (Witchcraft) and Nichols enthused on the discovery of tree-language.
Druidry has increased in recent times and we have entered a period of Druid Renaissance, which has attracted followers from the world of; artistry, writers, poets and spiritual seekers.
Druids have no sacred texts as Christians have a Bible. They have ideas and beliefs which they follow. Druidry is seen as a spiritual path, a religion to some, a way of life to others.
Monotheistic Druids believe in one Deity; Goddess, God or Being named as Spirit or Great Spirit. Polytheistic Druids believe many Gods and Goddesses exist, whilst Animists and Pantheists do not believe in Deity as one or more Gods, but present in all things.
Although Druids profess the love of Nature, they also believe that there be more than one world. For the other world is seen as a place we go to when we die; yet we can visit it during our lifetime of dreams and meditation.
A Christian Druid, believes one is born, and lives out his life and dies, yet most Druids believe the soul is incarnated, and comes back as a human being, or that of trees, rocks or some part of nature.
(Image) Druids: Aztaren-Deviantart
(Image) Druids within Stonehenge: Wikipedia