Celtic Druids

Celtic Druids were a group of priests, esteemed and classed as the scholars of the Celtic clans of Iron Age Europe. They were responsible for the divination of various dieties and the observation of the Celtic religious calendar. Often thought to have been blood-letting zealots they were, in truth, anything but.

Celtic Druids

 

Celtic Druids wore many hats. They were not only priests but givers of advice and counsel, messengers between clan leaders and the common people, doctors and teachers. Over and above such day to day events as offering an ear to aggrieved individuals, they were expected to understand the heavenly bodies and interpret and deliver the secrets of the stars - in short, both astrology and astronomy were also part and parcel of the life of a Druid.

In all, Druids were almost a 'jack-of-all-trades', yet required to be master of all they had a hand in. The religious set up was fairly complex, each level holding a certain ‘office’, in relation to tribal life. 

Celtic Druids

The Druids were of the highest order and were expected to be consummate scientists and diviners. The Bards were second in line and were ultimately responsible for the passing on of tribal folklore, history and traditions. Third were the Ovates, who were considered the doctors, the healers of the Celtic tribes.

They certainly held great power and the Romans noted on more than one occasion the fact that Druids had been known to both halt and prevent wars between different nations and clans.

This was a rare power indeed and may have been based more upon the Celtic ideal of a Druids perceived powers, than because they were considered to be powerful per se.

Druid Lore

 

Celtic Gods

Druid lore was, by nature, a pagan form of worship. Much of the Iron Age was pre-Christian; therefore ancient deities often reflected societal ideals, as opposed to religious Idols that were created from a pious perspective. If there’s one thing most scholars agree with in regard to the Celts – they were anything but a holier-than-thou people.

Other ancient cultures (of the same period) viewed the Celtic Druids as only slightly less barbaric than the Celts warrior class, though this is less to do with head-hunting and more to do with their various Gods. Celtic Gods numbered into double figures and ranged from wood nymphs to Gods of the Skies, Earth, Upper, Middle and Lower realms. Further, their Gods differed slightly again, depending on whether the Celtic clans were Gaulish, Welsh or Irish.

That said, the above number may well be a lot higher, if all the sub-Gods and Goddesses, Spirits and various other God-like folk are added into the Druidic pantheon. It’s likely that if ancient Druids observed each and every one as meticulously as some scholars believe, then they would have had little time for solving life’s trivialities, administering various forms of justice and (of course) their nightly habit of gazing at the heavens.

Druids - Fact Or Fantasy

Druidic Myth

There is much written about Celtic Druids and it is hard to discern fact from fantasy. Sacrificial worship and blood-letting (particularly captured enemies) stories are pretty easy to stumble across. In fact, if you sit quietly enough you're sure to find a nightmarish Druidic ritual will appear about your person sooner or later.

It's likely that most modern day individuals have heard of the horrible stories of wicker-men burnings - huge woven figures, made out of wicker and filled with various hapless victims ... that would discover a stay inside a wicker-effigy would only end in their hot and crispy deaths.

Are the tales true? Who knows. The Celts as a whole left almost no evidence as to how they lived, other than what's been gleaned from various archaeological sites and burial mounds. Certainly, they held their dead in high esteem and this in itself would suggest that they were a lot less barbaric than they're ancient cultural counterparts would have us believe.

Caesar himself seemed to have a fixed opinion of the Celtic culture. He wrote (in his book The Gallic Wars) that Druids spent around 20 years training before they were acknowledged as priests and that they held great sway in individual clans.

He further observed that they were involved in both political and spiritual persuits and were exempt from life's daily strifes, such as combat and the paying of taxes. Caesar's accounts indicate (or evidence?) that the Druids were a powerful group of individuals and the Roman belief in general held out after they wiped out the Druids of ancient Britain, on the Isle of Mona, sometime in or around AD60.

Seemingly, the Romans believed that by desecrating the spiritual arm of the Celts, then the rest of the Celtic clans would fall in swift defeat. A belief borne out when the Roman army finally subjugated the Britannic Celts some short time after the massacre on Mona.

From that point on, the Celts, along with their mystical Druids, fell into decline.

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32 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

I knew next to nothing about druids before reading this, Frog. It's no wonder that they are such a mysterious culture as not much is known (as you stated) about their actual livelihood, which also explains their being subjected to myth. Thank you for sharing this.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

Hey dohn :) Thanks for reading and hanging round! And I'm not so much sharing as delivering general info about the Celts. I was daft enough to open my mouth about them a while back. After having a fair knowledge (anyway) and then finding myself helped along by encyclopedic emails, I felt bound by my big mouth.

Sometimes it pays to keep quiet ;)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Frogdropping, great continuation to your series. Thanks for sharing.

regards Zsuzsy


Pacal Votan 7 years ago

This reminded me I had a book about the Druids somewhere that I read as a kid. When I looked at the selves I was much surprised to find that I was still there. It's called 'Elements of Druid Tradition' and you sort of rekindled my interest in it. There is not a single piece of info I can remember and it's thanks to your classification of different Druid types that I remembered the book at all. :)

Thank you for the nice hub.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

Zsuzsy - I thankyou most sincerely :)

Pacal - fascinating, are they not? They still exist you know, albeit in a modern day way. I'm of the mind that certain aspects of ancient Druidism may have adjusted to suit but they appear to uphold pagan traditions quite nicely. Good to see you :)


Pacal Votan 7 years ago

Yes, they are. Although, I've missed a few ritual gatherings just lately. There seems to be a revival (or continuation?) of the druidic traditions. I don't know much about the making of the modern-day druid, but their affection for nature and trees definitely attracts me to the movement.

I also like that they measured time in cycles. :) I would imagine it helps them manage their life (time) better.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

Pacal - I believe there's a certain amount of romanticism attached to the new age priest but from what I know, they are passive, peaceful individuals. Never a bad thing :)


GracieLinda 7 years ago

Yep. Those dadgum Romans, at it again. They wiped out so many to put the Catholic church in charge.

Take care Frogdropping and keep writing!


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West Virginia

Thanks again for this hub. My goodness this just keeps bringing me in further to the "Old Ways". Something deep inside me yearns to be back on the Isles. I had a past life regression done by a friend on the internet and was told that I was a Priestess. I have such a pull towards that way of life. Wel you can read that all on one of my hubs by the tite "why I chose the name Lady Guinevere. I used to be very religious and now I am on this mountain and in these woods and I just love nature and her beauty all around me. I don't worship it perse, but I do love to go out in it and be surrounded by all of it, trees and nature and the animals. Oh the animals come to me. I don't go get them when they are hurt. I am giften with some of the "OLd Ways" too--like Reiki. I never studied it and never knew what it was called until someone told me what it was that I was doing. It's a bit dfunny that people around here are talking about the Rapture (?) and saying how wonderful it would be to be chosen to go to heaven and what I tell them is I would love to stay down here on this earth to fix the mess that "they" made.

Rome is greedy and so they want world domination and they are still doing it by spreading FEAR from their religion.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

Gracie - all roads lead to Rome, so I hear ;)

Lady - what a lovely comment. How interesting that you feel so drawn. And as you've tried regression, I would guess that you've more of an affinity? I assume such an event would offer you a different perspective on unanswered questions you may have had about certain feelings you've had in the past. Thankyou for input :):)


ralwus 7 years ago

Well someone killed a lot of people and dumped them in the peat over there. Awesome to think we sprang from them. How are you? Still up from my latest hub I hope? Naked I lie. hehe


keira7 profile image

keira7 7 years ago

I love your work Miss Froggy. Thanks for all this good work and info. See you soon my dear.:)


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

ralwus - I'm fully clothed lol! And we have had quite a few iron age chaps discovered over the years. Very interesting, if you like ancient history :):)

keira - you are most welcome :)


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

Hmmmm Druids eh? I once read a novel (fictional) where the girl has Druid blood (she lives in the U. S.) and can feel what her partner is feeling. The novel sort of implied that Druids are still around but they're mixed with us because they fear being persecuted again. Wonder if this is true? It is certainly an interesting story. Great hub froggy :).


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

emie - it's a big world, anything is possible. They were persecuted for their perceived powers, way back when. I'd imagine the same would happen, were they really alive and well in modern times. And thankyou :)


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I was enlightened about the druids who I thought when I was so much younger were mythological beings. Isn't it mind blowing to realize that no matter how diverse the world is culturally, from Asia to Western Europe, there are ties that bind? Like the druids of Europe, there are the shamans in Asia and Africa and the witch doctors of Latin America. And these 'labels' could be interchangeably used (I'm not sure about 'druids' though) Wonderful read, must read the rest in this series :D


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

Cris - there are many similarities between the different groups. I often wonder if many centuries ago they were of the same origins. Just scattered across the globe and now preceieved as being culturally different :)

And thankyou ;)


Pacal Votan 7 years ago

If you met a Druid who has just sprung from the earth today, what would you teach him about modern life?


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago Author

Pacal - I'd teach him how to surf the net. As a medium of communication, it's a fantastic tool ;)

But ... seriously, I would teach him to stay true to his instincts. Even now, our instincts still serve us well. Unfortunately, many of us don't pay them enough attention.

Modern life does not have to remove us from what we really are - an upright mammal :)


peacenhim 6 years ago

Very fascinating indeed!! I've read some on the Druids, and I do know that we acquire some of our Christmas traditions from them such as Mistletoe, as they hung it to ward off evil spirits, and was a sign of fertitlity. And considered it sacred having healing powers.

Also the evergreens were used during mysterious Winter Solstice rituals by the Druids. And the 12 days of Christmas has its origin in the Celts as well, the Druids believed that the sun stand still for 12 days from Christmas Eve to January 6th. The Yule log was used to burn for light too for them during this time. Thanks, have a wonderful holiday!


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 6 years ago Author

peacenhim - thankyou (very much) for taking the time to leave a few more facts about the Druids behind. They will always retain a certain level of mystery (no bad thing) and I will remain ever fascinated by the Celts as a whole :):)


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

Andria...

Wow! This is wonderful lore! I didn`t know much about Druids(especially Celtic)But For some strange reason

I have always admired them. Wizards, Druids, Dragons, Elves,Faeries..All these mythical(or not)beings are

fascinating to me(Particularly myself, even if that makes me a nutcracker, believe in them)

A most enjoyable hub!

Thanks for sharing!

Muito Obrigado!

warm greetings and blessings,

Al


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 6 years ago Author

Hey again Mystique - you seem to spending a little time reading some of my hubs. And such an appreciative audience too, I thankyou you most sincerely :)


01vic01 6 years ago

Good insight about the Celtic Druid people. Their system of; Druids, Bards, and Ovates was sophisticated. I'ts like they developed their own system of education and specialization. Those that completed the study and training earned the respect and reverence of others. Their culture had a lot of richness. I bet the Romans realized that and developed a mutual respect for it.


Jarrod1240 profile image

Jarrod1240 6 years ago

I am a large fan of Celtic music, art, and literature. I have always wondered what the full role of a druid was in Celtic society. Thank you for clearing this up.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 6 years ago Author

Jarrod I'm glad this hub has helped give clarity! I enjoyed writing it as I'm sure others enjoy reading it :)


Lady 6 years ago

Much of your information, though well-indended is incomplete or in some cases wrong. However, I feel you are not being disrespectful. Keep searching for the truth.


Website Examiner 5 years ago

Very exotic and interesting. Druids did not have boring or irrelevant lives, for sure. They reached out for the sky and filled many a need. Today, what use would we have for them? Could they fill the vacuum inside our tech-influenced souls? A great read and well-illustrated.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 5 years ago Author

WE - I love ancient history. One of my favorite reading materials. Some of the druids were quite blood thirsty, though for the main they were a peaceful people. I believe we still have Druids in our midst - though I know little of them as they're not ancient!


Celestial Elf 5 years ago

Great Post, thought you might enjoy my Beltane Blessing machinima film

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VElZSplpxQc

Bright Blessings

elf ~


Heani 5 years ago

Druids are still active today you know. We are "bringing the druids back to life" so to speak. Infact, I am one myself. If you wish to know more about modern druidry, visit this website: www.druidry.org


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

Remember that much of the history that we are taught in schools was written by the "winners" of wars...namely the Romans. And yes, the Romans portrayed the Celts as barbarians, including their priests/priestesses the Druids. But were the Druids any worse than the Catholic or even the Roman Pagan priests? There's always two sides to every story, and remember that there has been bloodshed and sacrifices made in the name of many gods...including the Old Testament God. Awesome hub!

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