I feel the need to sit down and write. I have no idea what I am supposed to write about, but I am following that guidance, and allowing the flow to begin.
I suppose I will start with the most delicious piece of brain-candy, upon which I have spent the last few days feasting. I have just read John King’s “The Celtic Druid’s Year”. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Celtic history, as well as in sifting through the fragments of archaeological tidbits that have been uncovered to form a basic understanding of the way of life. What stood out to me at first is King’s assertion, right from the start, that the presence of large gaps in historical evidence, we have (as a society) filled those spaces with elements that suit our own taste. He also recognized that he would be filling his own gaps throughout the book; however, he did so based on links between documented facts, rather than on pure speculation. He was also quick to point out when he was doing so, and offered more than one possible piece to the puzzle. Okay, enough bragging about the author. On to the meat and potatoes.
I learned so much about the history of the Celts, the first being that they didn’t originate in Britain, Ireland or Scotland. No one is quite sure where they originally came from, but as far as history tells us, they arrived sometime around 900BC. The aboriginal people of the area are merely referred to as the “Long-Headed People”. I am intrigued, and am thirsty for more information about them. It is thought by some that these Long-Headed People were responsible for building Stonehenge, and many other sacred stone sites throughout the landscape of present-day British Isles.
I also enjoyed the accounts (and direct translated excerpts) from the Romans about their experiences with the Celts and their Druids. It was interesting to see them from an outside perspective at the time. Even though the Romans were notorious for exaggerating the barbaric tendencies of the cultures they conquered, they seemed to have an obvious respect and reverence for the Celts, and especially the Druids. It was foreign to the Romans that women should hold such high stature as they did in Celtic tribes ~ women were leaders, warriors, healers and Druids. They held just as much property and enjoyed the same rights as men.
Another point that I found interesting was the concept of human sacrifice. Now, the thought appals me, but King made a valid suggestion as to what the circumstance were; Druids were not only spiritual leaders. They were healers, guardians, counsel, and overseers of justice and law. When there was any sort of legal issues (land ownership, crime, divorce), the Druids were called upon to act as what would be a modern-day judge. Now, when it come to historical fact, most experts have agreed that the Druids did not perform sacrificial ceremonies all of the time. It was only an occasional occurrence. Could it be, then, that what they were carrying out was not so much human sacrifice in the spiritual sense, but an act more related to the modern concept of capital punishment? Just some food for thought.
Of course there are far too many tidbits of information to mention in one blog post, but here are a few other bits that my mind found particularly yummy:
During the Christianization of the world, Druids, just like many other cultures, were driven mostly underground. What adds to the confusion about Druidic origins is the fact that many of their teachings were kept alive, but Christianized. The stories, as spoken by Druids to the monks, were recorded through the thick filter of the writer’s own orthodox teachings. A prime example of this is the Goddess Brigit, who was demoted to “Saint Brigid”. Thankfully, many of her sacred wells and sites remain standing, and she is honored, at least partially, by many.
I suppose my point is this: having been in the Pagan community for so many years, I have witnessed an unbelievable number of practitioners who claim to have descended directly from ancestors who practiced the “exact same thing” in ancient times. Unless you are of Royal descent, I must insist that it is nearly impossible to know your lineage as fact. However – taking into consideration the fact that, until the last few centuries, most humans were tied to their homeland. Of course there were invasions and conquests, but essentially, anyone of European descent can quite plausibly claim a lineage from any of the ancient Celtic Pagan traditions.
I don’t say this to discount or discredit anyone who lays claim to their family’s pride of place – I am merely suggesting that nearly everyone with ancestors in what were the ancient Celtic regions has the right and privilege to claim the same.
After all of that muddle, allow me one final thought:
The path of Druidism is one of sacred connection to the earth and all who reside upon her. It would be ridiculous to deny any human being of the right to practice this beautiful spirituality, because we are all a part of the same earth, and therefore all have the right to revere her in all of her glory, in whatever way speaks to our soul. Lineage is not a prerequisite for Druidry, or any form of Paganism, as far as I am concerned.
If you feel called by the echoes of the Druidic chants and Bardic blessings of olde, I welcome you into the embrace of wisdom, peace and connectedness. I wish you love and blessings on your sacred journey.
Dyro Dduw/y Dduwies dy Nawdd;
Ag yn nawdd, nerth;
Ag yn nerth, Deall;
Ag yn Neall, Gwybod;
Ac yngwybod, gwybod y cyfiawn;
Ag yngwybod yn cyfiawn, ei garu;
Ag o garu, caru pob hanfod;
Ag ymhob Hanfod, caru Duw/y Dduwies.
Duw/y Dduwies a phob Daioni.
Grant, O God/Goddess, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of God/Goddess.
God/Goddess and all goodness.