An Origin of Celtic Druids

Stonehenge

Upon research, I looked for different types of people in Ancient History. Druid came up, and I had to learn more about the Celtic people without a written knowledge.

Forgotten Celtic Druids

An origin of the Celtic Druids starts here. Druids are not as popular as other Celtic legends such as Leprechauns, Fays, Elves, and Trolls.

The influence of the Celtic culture in the fantasy literature is significant. It provides solid roots to the genre. The Celtic culture is an obsession of mine. I thought it was time for me to research the Druids.

A Celtic Druid Origin

The druids represented higher knowledge to the Celtic people. They were a representation of high society and inspired many people. They possessed many powers, maybe a little too many for their excellence. We know Druids for their involvement in their religion. They were at the head of their beliefs. Druids also were the legal authorities of their civilization. Those people were adjudicators, and it wasn’t rare to see them in politics as well.

Celtic Druid
Celtic Druid

However, their knowledge didn’t stop there. They were also part of the medical council. What surprised me while researching was finding no records from them. One would think the Druids highly educated. After all, they had much influence and power. They ruled an entire civilization, and yet, no writings.

However, their doctrine was supposedly against the idea of keeping written records of not only their knowledge but their existence as well. Without a few conquerors, no one today would’ve known of the existence of the druids despite their influence within the Celtic civilization.

Celtic Druids Caesar

An origin of the Celtic Druids goes back far in time. In the year fifty BCE (before the current era) and was written by Julius Caesar. The detail references to the druids were the result of the Roman invasion of Gaul. During the first century, the Druid’s orders became irrelevant and even entirely disappeared after the coming of the second century.

The druids even mentioned in Medieval Times in Christian texts, which depicted them as sorcerers and against the teaching of Christianism, might explain their association with supernatural abilities.

Julius Casear
Julius Casear

“With regard to their actual course of studies, the main object of all education is, in their opinion, to imbue their scholars with a firm belief in the indestructibility of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed.

Subsidiary to the teachings of this main principle, they hold various lectures and discussions on astronomy, on the extent and geographical distribution of the globe, on the different branches of natural philosophy, and many problems connected with religion.”

Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, VI, 13

Despite attempts at staying secretive in the history of humankind, the druids might not have failed in that mission as their descendants tried to revive their existence between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The groups of followers were known as neo-druidism, but their teaching was not as accurate as once thought when historians found many manuscripts relating to the druids. Those teaching might have been based on the wrong information.

Druid Means Sorcerer

Despite the word meaning sorcerer in old Irish, “druí,” in an older European language, “oak-knower,” supports the ancient Greek language.

Due to the lack of writing, knowledge about their existence remains complicated to understand. As a result, we base our understanding from people that encountered them. Most likely, also conquered them.

It is from the Middle Ages that have come to know that the druids were considered nobles in their pagan Celtic society and were exempt from paying taxes and performing military duties. Maintaining Paganism as their belief, Druids assured the calendar of time took place.

An origin of the Celtic Druids is a rare find. Historical records show that their highly respected status, when between two armies, they could stop a war from happening.

The gathering of the Druids often took place in hidden and secluded locations. Their area of excellence were caves and the middle of a forest. The Druidism knowledge stayed within their guild away from outsiders. No stone left to turn, all meetings were secretive.

Meticulously Celtic Druids

With transcripts throughout history, Julius Caesar mentioned Druids learned orally. He noticed their studies took as much as twenty years. Everything learned by heart by novices. All the Druids’ oral literature and ancient verses lost through time is unfortunate. However, Julius Caesar remarked that the Gaul made up a language for the Druids consisting of Greek characters.

Paganism
Paganism

However, by the time Julius Caesar received the translation of the manuscripts, those were now in Latin. So, the Druids’ secrets passed on with them. What is surprising to me is that the Iron Age Celt did practice human sacrifice. The performance of sacrifices was often with criminals. Unfortunately, when ration was a necessity, innocent people became the tool of sacrifice so Druids could see the future.

An Origin of Torture Druids

The most common way was by drowning, burning, or hanging. However, some believe that the infamous Wicker Man was one of their ways to sacrifice humans as well. It did come as a surprise to me. I thought Celts didn’t practice human sacrifice at all.

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The Wicker Man of the Druids

Mostly common with southern aboriginal cultures. I was wrong, and it makes me wonder how often they practiced this horrifying punishment to “see the future.”

Celtic Druids And Women

An origin of the Celtic Druids show females as Druids. The presence of women in the druid profession was not rare in Irish culture. They had names such as bandruí translated to woman-druid and found in many tales of the time. They shared the same education and served the same duties as their men counterparts. 

Tlachtga is probably one of the most known among women druids, as she had a festival in her name in the Middle Ages. She was the Daughter of the Druid, which’s association was with the Hill of War.

There is much frequency in the mentions of it in Irish folktales. Many female Druids had prominent roles in extraordinary journeys to defeat evil, as well as, winning wars. Druidesses in history were healthy, intelligent women with many great aptitudes.

Alexandre Cabanel — The Woman Druid
Alexandre Cabanel — The Woman Druid

Sadly, the oral way of learning everything by heart in their education led to loss of their history. Henceforth, the quite few mentions of female Druids. As a result, knowledge of their existence is in legends. One tale talks about an island not far off Britain where only females lived while men suffered rejection.

The ways of the Druids included natural witchcraft, which they performed to rule the seas. They came to the mainland when prepared to meet a husband and would perform their duties as Druidesses. However, it might all be a folktale.

Origin of the Celtic Druids’ Sorcery

Druids have been counsellors to kings for a very long time before Christianity took over Europe. They had a foresight gift according to the people living with them. Often they gave advice about what the future held. Many Irish folktales tell the stories of kings that listened to their Druid.

They were advisors, and some didn’t lose everything because of their help. Then, when reading about Irish mythology, it is often described that druids were capable of wizardry and, for example, is linked to the Milesians that desired nothing more than to overrun Tuatha Dé Danann and take possession of Ireland.

Moss Forest
Moss Forest

However, little did they know that the druids would not let it happen. They instead called upon a storm to sink their ships, provoking landfall. Some believe that the druids called upon the spirit of Ireland itself to defend its dwellers by a sung incantation that later own was known as The Song of Amergin.

Druids are close to the sorcery field. Their depiction in Irish folktales says as much. Meanwhile in Welsh, they represented prophets and professors. As a result, their knowledge remained secretive due to their belief. Only those following the Druidism path knew of their mysterious way of living.

Celtic Druids of Today

Druidry or Druidism is a modern spiritual group of people. They loosely follows the ancient ways of the druids and are close to the Iron Age Celts. Their beliefs are in nature, the environment, and the animal world. They often participate in the environmental movement and try their best to protect nature.

Druids are part of the new movement of Paganism. They believe in nature and its power. It began in Britain in the seventeenth century and is still going strong today.

Excalibur
Excalibur

What we know is their respect for their ancestors. They cherished their memories and their beliefs that they have shared. We know them to be naturalists, due to their closeness to nature one belief is that vegetarianism was their diet.

Druid beliefs comes from Arthuriana. An Arthurian symbol is one of many used by a modern Druidry group as an environmental representation. An origin of the Celtic Druids is influencing people today to revive the knowledge.

Festivities of the Celtic Druids

Because of their main passion is their love of nature, Druidry follows the same festivities as most Pagans. Their most essential days are the equinoxes, solstices, and main ancient dates. Each has a symbol and a reason to be. Like any other holiday, and most of them are all related to nature and peaceful practices.

Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox, and Wheel of the Year are the main ones. As said before, each has a reason to be although a few speak for themselves.

Nature, trees, animals, and stars are the main focus of the druids. It reflects in their practices and involvement in nature, meditation being at the heart of their practice. Some of those holidays, celebrated among hundreds of people, share their beliefs.

They celebrate together, while others are only for druid gatherings in smaller groups. It all depends on the meaning of the celebration.

Inspiration of An Origin of the Celtic Druids

After all that research on the mysterious druids. My conclusion is that despite wanting to learn more about them, it was never easy with Druids. They focused on keeping their knowledge to themselves, and so they remained a mystery to this day.

Only folktales and legends, records kept from those who have conquered them, and archaeology is the remains of Druidism. So much remains part of the imagination. Druids are still to this day, despite their introversion, loved. They have the regard of those who respect what they stood for throughout their lives.

One thing is for sure. I am happy with this research. Now I am more confident in the involvement of Druids in stories of mine. In a way, I am closer to history when it comes to Celtic folklore.

Druids disappeared with their knowledge, but they won’t leave our imagination. This was an origin of the Celtic Druids and hopefully more is coming.

A.L. Wolfe

Published by Autumn Loup Wolfe

I am an Epic Fantasy and Historical Fiction author. I am a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Bernard Cornwell and Oliver Bowden.

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