Druids, What Are They?
|Written by magickspells.co.uk|
The world’s earliest hippies or followers of the world's oldest religion, perhaps? It’s quite difficult to pin down what exactly a Druid was in the past; there are very few written records about them because, even though they could write, it was against their beliefs to make records of their, erm, beliefs, they thought that when you write things down it becomes a fixed, inflexible dogma. We only need look at the many religions that have sprouted up since the times of Druids, around 2500 BC, to notice they may have had a point; we see today that many written religions work very well, but some individuals interpret the writings in different ways, sometimes becoming fanatical about them.
What we do know about Druids is they performed magic spells, rituals and sacrifices; they had high priests and priestesses and were leaders of Celtic traditions who followed pagan and goddess worship. The Druid’s lifestyle was bound up with nature and the Earth; they had a sound knowledge of astronomy, healing and the sacred geometry of the land – a respect for all living things, nature’s cycles and trees are all part of being a Druid; the name ‘druid’ comes from the Celtic name for an oak dui, and a the word, wid which means ‘to know or see.’ For Druids the oak, and mistletoe, are held in the highest regard; they held their meetings, called Groves, beside the trees and perform magical rites with the oak’s leaves. Ogham (the ‘g’ is silent) is the name of the Druidic magical system, symbols of trees and other elements of nature are used.
Druidism does have some similarities to Wicca (witchcraft); they are both kinds of paganism and they both use magic, although of slightly different forms, the Wiccans’ spells and beliefs are mostly centred around Selene, the Moon Goddess, Druidism draws on the Sun for its inspiration and concerns itself with the more intellectual side of spirituality, such as numerology, divination and forms of high magic (‘high’ doesn’t mean better, more a way of defining different types of magic) which focuses on other planes of existence, astral projection and the infinite mind. The magic of witchcraft is more to do with changing things in the everyday world of the living, low magic; it helps if you think of low magic as being down on the ground, using a more instinctive touch, and high magic as up in the stars and more abstract, to get a clearer definition of the two – they are both forms of paganism that are in tune with nature and use the natural elements around us, harness the same energies, and they both observe seasonal festivals.
Of course, as most people know, there are still Wiccans and Druids around today; there has been a common misconception in the past that Druidism is for men and Wicca is for women but, even though traditionally some ritual aspects of both have been gender specific, Druidism and Wicca both readily accept people of both sexes – anyone with the right attitude, self-discipline and level of spirituality can become a Druid priest whether they are male or female. Another misconception about the Druids of the past is that they built Stonehenge, but the henge was already there when the Druids and Celts first arrived in Britain; they did however use Stonehenge and celebrated the summer solstice there, the stones are aligned in such a way to catch the first rays of sunlight on Midsummer’s Day which was perfect for the Druids, who believed that particular time of year had a profound mystical significance. There are also rumours that Druids partook in naked orgies during these celebrations, whether this is a fact or not is difficult to say because of lacking evidence; though Druids do believe that sexuality is part of nature and that each person can create magic by focusing their internal sexual energies.
To become a Druid one has to undertake a lifetime of studying, passing through three stages, over 12 years, of spiritual enlightenment; each level has its own name; Bards, the poets and singers; Ovate, where one learns to open the mind, creating altered states of consciousness; and Druid, one is finally a master of the skills needed to utilize the powers of nature and Earth. Modern Druids try to follow the old traditions as closely as possible, forgoing the ritual stabbings and human sacrifices that may or may not have occurred in the past; they meet in Groves to celebrate the summer solstice and Samhain, summer’s end on October 31. Modern Druids also email each other, write letters and have a great compassion for the environment.
The Druids : Celtic Priests of Nature by Jean Markale