Opinions on Druids

Ancient Europe can be seen as having three major cultures: Greek, Celt and Roman. The Celts, through their intellectual class of druids did not write about themselves. However the Romans and the Greeks did write about themselves and Celtic Druidism. They provide us with two groups of opinions on the Druids of Europe and these opinions differ substantially. Those who the Romans and Greeks have called Druids may not have used the word druid, themselves. Most linguists see it as cognate with a Greek word meaning 'an oak'. Some Celtic linguists have derived its root as an intensive particle with a second part meaning 'to know', this together says - those whose knowledge is very great. Another translation is 'those familiar with the oak'. (The Druids, Nora K Chadwick, pg 12-16).

My own understanding is that the word druid was designed to be used as a putdown. The modern equivalent putdown that is used by today's politicos is the phrase 'tree hugger'. It is as if the Romans were saying that these "druids" were having sex with trees and doing other abominable practices and therefore they must be destroyed. Its like when today's governments dismiss the grass roots urge of pagans and wiccans to respect Nature and protect the environment as not being compatible with the desire of the majority for commercial progress by identifying the activists as 'eco-warriors involved in tree-hugging'. But this has now come full circle, those who hug trees and learn to know trees are 'druids' because trees are the terra-formers of this planet we live on. Trees make the Air, Water and Earth and to know this is to be awake to the connectedness of all that is.

In the written records from BC and AD the researcher faces a double challenge � the Celtic Druids created and passed on a "system of awareness" by oral teaching only. There are no known written records of what the Druids of Gaul taught their students. If modern understanding of the druids is based upon what was written by two cultures with traditions of learning that exclude the intuitive part of human awareness, then they must be limited to presenting a lop-sided view of something that they did not understand. Imagine a scientific report on Love.

The second challenge is that most writers from a later period were cherry picking from two sets of lopsided records to suit their own political agendas. Like being doubly lop-sided. History is His Story, that is to say it is the story of the winner and it is well known that the winners of battles wrote the records of those battles and then told false tales about the losers. Negative evidence indicates that the teachings of the druids were designed to accomplish something other than left-brain logic programming which the Romans and Greeks were so good at.

I suggest that the teaching of the Celtic Druids of Europe were designed to activate the right intuitive brain in balance with the left intellectual brain which in turn creates the over mind, aka higher consciousness / magical awareness / shining being. However, careful study can sieve useful information from the Roman and Greek stories. This is the way that most modern knowledge of the Druids comes to us today. But this system can have its own problems if the operator of the sieve is also lopsided. There are two areas of opinion that can be discerned from the written records. The older recorded opinion holds a respectful tone towards the Druids who were ranked among the philosophers of the great races of antiquity. Here we see Druids as officials controlling public affairs, making peace between armies, speaking at great gatherings, acting as judges and teaching higher awareness to their students by oral transmission. Both Roman and Greek records show that the Druids of Gaul were concerned with spiritual and intellectual matters. They were also the educators of the Gaulish Nobles. The main area of the Druids Teachings was about Nature and the Universe. The leading doctrine of the Druids was the Immortality of the Soul.

They were the philosophers of their people, not the priests. None of the Roman or Greek records apply the word priest to the druids, and there is not even a suggestion of a priesthood of druids. Priesthood is necessary for a religion to hold its members to fixed rigid dogma. In Celtic Druidism, there is no dogma because it is a spiritual path that requires freedom to grow and shine as one connects to all that is. Druids did not have a pyramid organisation with a pope type figurehead. The other opinion records secrecy and seclusion and the teachers have now moved into caves and groves. The only full-scale picture of a druid ceremony is from Pliny who belongs to this second opinion, his picture of a druid's ceremony is the only one we have and is quite bizarre to say the least. Pliny also gives magic and medicine more coverage than anyone else does. Here we see that the druids are not being given respect, or presented as a class of high status. This second opinion give us only a 'dark side' to Druidry, sacrifice/caves/magic etc. But there is a further challenge - none of the older recorded opinions are by eyewitnesses. They are the works of scholars (read as desk researchers) seeking to describe an exalted intellectual image for the Druids. The 'newer' opinion is tainted by political needs and may have been generated to support the military campaign of conquest. This is possibly similar to the lies told by the US and the UK to justify war against Iraq. Everybody knows that lies were told but nobody can do anything�.The Greek and Roman opinions of the Druids may all be second hand and all our information may have come to us from sources tainted with political bias. There may in all actuality be very little truth in the His Story as given by the oppressors of the Druids of Gaul.

A third opinion for the modern Celtic Druid is - that by reading between the lines, seeing at the peripheral edge of vision, hearing the faintest whispers of spirit, feeling the truth of intuition, connecting with the Three realms of Sky, Sea and Land and the stars and planets that we may understand what Celtic Druids were in the past and are again now in the present time.
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