Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2
LucidElement

Druids

44 posts in this topic

What do we know about the Druids? Realistically, not to much. I know people say Wikipedia is not a legitimate source, and trust me as a History Major I concur. But, for quick facts and interesting synopsis one truly cant go wrong. Being extremely Irish i've always found the civilization/culture of the druids fascinating. The problem is that they have always been a mystic unexplained sort of race. They kept little behind to document who they were and the worst part is that other countries were said to document the little known facts about these people. Is their any facts people know about them? Other then, they are well DOCUMENTED in fantasy movies and roll-playing games.. (LOL, go everquest haha) Look forward to hearing back from you all. Legitimate responses please. I've been on this site too long, hate the one word responses =)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know there are cults that do druid stuff like chants and worship but no magic.

Stone rings still exist like Stone Henge. But ancient druidism is long gone

Edited by The New Richard Nixon
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the biggest questions I have about them, is why the Romans hated them so strongly as to wipe them out almost entirely. Romans are known for assimilating and tolerating other religions, providing the conquered people accepted Jupiter as supreme. Yet with the druids there seems something different about them that the Romans hated, or even feared? Perhaps druidism was more powerful in the minds of it's believers. Perhaps the Romans had some self awareness of short comings in their own essentially mundane state religion, and saw in druidism something potentially more powerful. Certainly the modern image is far more exciting, and enticing than boring old Jupiter.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Druids have been a tricky subject for an horribly long time. Everyone has to remember that the major sources(Roman and Christian) were written by their enemies(e.g. Caeser and the early Irish churchmen). Now we have the "New Age" devotees who seem to think(and I use the word loosely) that they are what they say they are.

As for facts - not much other than they do seem to have been the intellectual caste, divided into such matters a presiding over rituals, sitting as judges in legal matters and as historians/geneologists. Not very exciting is it?

On the whole: I'm as in the dark as anyone else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know there are cults that do druid stuff like chants and worship but no magic.

Stone rings still exist like Stone Henge. But ancient druidism is long gone

Except that Druids didn't build UK stone megaliths, they came to the megaliths much later.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the biggest questions I have about them, is why the Romans hated them so strongly as to wipe them out almost entirely. Romans are known for assimilating and tolerating other religions, providing the conquered people accepted Jupiter as supreme. Yet with the druids there seems something different about them that the Romans hated, or even feared? Perhaps druidism was more powerful in the minds of it's believers. Perhaps the Romans had some self awareness of short comings in their own essentially mundane state religion, and saw in druidism something potentially more powerful. Certainly the modern image is far more exciting, and enticing than boring old Jupiter.

This part I do know: Caeser noted that kings in Gaul could not act without the advice and consent of the Druids. So the Druids did have a sort of power behind the throne thing going for them. Destroy the Druids and replace the resulting power vacumn with the

accepted Roman state cults and the conquest is easier. This did work in Gaul and southern Britain.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am afraid I have little to add. It certainly is a fascinating topic probably due to the fact so little remains and the inevitable bias of the sources we do have. The idea they had some power or control as advisers is interesting I had not come across that before. I also agree those claiming to be Druids are perhaps drawn to do so because there is such a gap in knowledge about them they can make that mean whatever they want it to mean. Give people something mysterious and ancient and they will latch on and fill in the gaps in moments. Imagination is a wonderful thing. Sadly it does nothing to tell us anything about the realities of this period in history.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not looked into them historically. But Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diane Paxton have been writing about them for along time you might check their references for information. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Caesar's Bello Gallico, Book Six:

(13.1) In all of Gaul there are two kinds of those people that are of any number and honour. For the plebs are held almost as slaves, that dare nothing on their own, nor are summoned to any council.

(13.2) The majority, whenever they are oppressed by debt, or magnitude of taxes, or injury by the more powerful, they give themselves over to slavery to the nobles, who have all the same rights over these as masters over slaves.

(13.3) But of these two kinds one is the druids, the other is the knights.

(13.4) The former take part in things holy, attend to public and private sacrifices, interpret religious matters: and to these men a great number of young men gather around to learn and these men are in great honour among them.

(13.5) For they decide about almost all of public and private disputes and if any evil deed has been committed, if a murder has been committed, if there is a dispute of inheritance, of territory, the same men decide, set up awards and punishments;

(13.6) if someone private or people does not stand by their decree, they forbid sacrifices.

(13.7) This punishment is a very heavy one among them. These, to whom there has thus been a forbidding (i.e., these who have been thus forbidden), these men are considered in the number of the wicked and criminal, everyone avoids them, avoids their approach and conversation, lest they get some harm from the contact, nor is justice given to these seeking, nor is any honour shared with them.

(13.8) But of all these druids one is in charge, who has chief authority among them.

(13.9) When this one has died, either, if one of the remaining (druids) excels in dignity, he succeeds, or, if many are equal, they contend for the leadership either by the voite of the druids or sometimes even by arms.

(13.10) These men, at a fixed time of the year, sit down in a consecrated place in the territory of Carnutes, which region is considered the center of all Gaul. To here everybody from all sides who has disputes comes together and they obey their decrees and judgements.

(13.11) Teaching is thought to have been discovered in Britain and thence when transported into Gaul, and now those who rather diligently want to know these things, the majority set out to there to study.

http://latin-language.co.uk/text/caesar/de-bello-gallico/6/sample.php

=

(14.1)--The Druids do not go to war, nor pay tribute together with the rest; they have an exemption from military service and a dispensation in all matters.

(14.2) Induced by such great advantages, many embrace this profession of their own accord, and [many] are sent to it by their parents and relations.

(14.3) They are said there to learn by heart a great number of verses; accordingly some remain in the course of training twenty years.

(14.4) Nor do they regard it lawful to commit these to writing, though in almost all other matters, in their public and private transactions, they use Greek characters.

(14.5) That practice they seem to me to have adopted for two reasons; because they neither desire their doctrines to be divulged among the mass of the people, nor those who learn, to devote themselves the less to the efforts of memory, relying on writing; since it generally occurs to most men, that, in their dependence on writing, they relax their diligence in learning thoroughly, and their employment of the memory.

(14.6) They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of death being disregarded.

(14.7) They likewise discuss and impart to the youth many things respecting the stars and their motion, respecting the extent of the world and of our earth, respecting the nature of things, respecting the power and the majesty of the immortal gods.

=

(18.1) All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids.

(18.2) For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night.

(18,3) Among the other usages of their life, they differ in this from almost all other nations, that they do not permit their children to approach them openly until they are grown up so as to be able to bear the service of war; and they regard it as indecorous for a son of boyish age to stand in public in the presence of his father.

http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_caesar_bellogallico_6.htm

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(14.1)--The Druids do not go to war, nor pay tribute together with the rest; they have an exemption from military service and a dispensation in all matters.

Here we have problem. Not all Celtic people were the same. Irish Druids did fight, and I'm not talking about those lame D&D Druids either. I do not have as much of an issue as Peter Berresford Ellis about using old Jules as a source about Druids, but I do need to point out the Romans never invaded Ireland. Without this turning into a rant about my Gaelic ancestors - let us just agree that the French are not Germans and the Irish are not French.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(14.1)--The Druids do not go to war, nor pay tribute together with the rest; they have an exemption from military service and a dispensation in all matters.

Here we have problem. Not all Celtic people were the same. Irish Druids did fight, and I'm not talking about those lame D&D Druids either. I do not have as much of an issue as Peter Berresford Ellis about using old Jules as a source about Druids, but I do need to point out the Romans never invaded Ireland. Without this turning into a rant about my Gaelic ancestors - let us just agree that the French are not Germans and the Irish are not French.

The Bello Gallico describes the situation of a couple of decennia BCE, the Irish sources are from centuries later. Things may have changed during those centuries.

And Mordha, did those Irish druids physically take part in combat or in a war, or were they only present as advisers to the chieftains?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The druids were divided into two distinct groups: the druids who were judges among other things but there were the bards who recorded the tribes history. The most famous that comes to mind would be Taliesin.

Forgot to add Robert Graves' "White Goddess" is a fairly good book about them. Remember when Molistomos attacked Delphi, it was a Druid who told him to stop.

Edited by Paracelse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no different types of druids. Especially not in Ireland, England, France and Swiss.

And we know for sure that they didnt built Stonehenge.

Druids didnt fight with weapon but were in battle casting magic and curses. :tu:

Edited by the L

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I studied them long time ago. I hope this will help others member who post in this OP thread.

Boss of library of Alexandria, Erathostanes mention Greek from Marseille Pytheas who wrote book "About Ocean" and who went cca 300 BC to Britain.

Greeks seen them as philosophers. Sadly we dont have that book.

Strabo, Tacitus, Diodorus of Sicily, Caesar quote Posidonius. Posidonius was another Greek Stoic from Syria cca 130-50 BC. Posidonius wrote geographic and history work on south France. Sadly this book is also lost trough history.

Some of Druid thoughts were capture on Ogham. Sadly we dont know much about Ogham.

Druids didnt wrote to held knowledge secret and to train memory.

Julius Caesar was in Gaul for 8 years. Wrote 7 book and one after his death. In book 6 he spoke about Druids.

They are judges, teachers, philosophers, study cosmos, leaders.

Caesar said that Druids came from Britain to continent but Pliny the Elder note other way around. So historians actually dont have a clue about their origin.

I think that when we talk about Druids we must talk about Celts in general in order to understand their elite socitety class.

One member pointed out who Romans were against Druids and question why. Well they were not against Druids. Anti Druidism came first time from Pliny and Tactius.

They wrote how they sacrifice humans. Well who doesnt? Chinese, Aztecs, Maya, Inca, Greeks, Romans, Illyrians, Thracians list go on.

Thing is that human sacrifce was rare. In time of crysis. Ceasar wrote about it. Pliny Tacitus also. Well in time of crysis Chartage sacrifce kids. Only in 97 BC was outlawed in Rome.

Celts were credited for built wicker figures that were filled with living humans and then burned.

I will stress out that Caesar have had friend Druid. His name was Divitiacus from Aedui tribe. Diviciacus went to Rome and spoke to Roman senate to ask for military help.

There he was a guest of Cicero with whom he speak about astronomy and natural philosophy. They spoke on Latin. Thats important. So Diviciacus knew Latin. When Caesar conquer Helvetti Divitiacus become very close with Caesar...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... Caesar wrote as I remember that Celts were brave in battle and not affraid of dying because they believe that they will return in some sense. Their spirit.

Now you can imagine how Druids were important to Celts. However Romans also knew that Celts were only good in the beging of battles. As far as battle goes they become tired.

They were raging while Romans tried to stay calmed. Druids were way to contact Gods.

The ritual of oak and mistletoe is described by Pliny the Elder, writing in the 1st century AD, as a religious ceremony in Gaul in which white-clad druids climbed a sacred oak, cut down the mistletoe growing on it, sacrificed two white bulls and used the mistletoe to cure infertility:

"The druids – that is what they call their magicians – hold nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and a tree on which it is growing, provided it is Valonia Oak.... Mistletoe is rare and when found it is gathered with great ceremony, and particularly on the sixth day of the moon....Hailing the moon in a native word that means 'healing all things,' they prepare a ritual

sacrifice and banquet beneath a tree and bring up two white bulls, whose horns are bound for the first time on this occasion. A priest arrayed in white vestments climbs the tree and,with a golden sickle, cuts down the mistletoe, which is caught in a white cloak. Then finally they kill the victims, praying to a god to render his gift propitious to those on whom he has bestowed it. They believe that mistletoe given in drink will impart fertility to any animal that is barren and that it is an antidote to all poisons."

Science of plants was huge. They connected mistletoe with healing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also Druids did fight with curses and magic in battles but they only use melee weapon if you fight aginst other Druid. For example Caesar wrote that to become Arch druid you must won previous one in battle.

Nero in 60 AD sent general Gaius Suetonius Paulinus to island Anglesey with cca 20 000 soldiers. Thats were last big stong hold of Druids. Holy of holies. Their Jerusalem, their Varanasi, their Medina.

Paulinus attacked the island and then destroying the shrine and the sacred groves.

There they met man and woman fighting as well as Druids who were cursing and cast magic according to Tacitus.

Romans were supersticous. That was their psychological weapon. However Roman slaughtered them because they were military machine.

But they retreat because Boudica revolt who might me Druid herself. We dont know that. Maybe those two events are connected.

Romans took the island in 78 AD by Julius Agricola. Oral Bardic traditon continue in Irish and Welsh tradition. It was replaced by Christhianity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If moderators allow me I can upload cca 10 pictures about Celts in general so that you see visualy who were they. If not I will upload just this one.

21mwzme.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BBC had an excellent 1 hour radio programme about the Druids recently. It's pretty enlightening.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rammes/b01mqq94

Edited by Clobhair-cean
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BBC had an excellent 1 hour radio programme about the Druids recently. It's pretty enlightening.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rammes/b01mqq94

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=214221

I listen Melvyn from day one almost.

Also this

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-educational-history-podcasts-subscribe-listen/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This part I do know: Caeser noted that kings in Gaul could not act without the advice and consent of the Druids. So the Druids did have a sort of power behind the throne thing going for them. Destroy the Druids and replace the resulting power vacumn with the

accepted Roman state cults and the conquest is easier. This did work in Gaul and southern Britain.

I believe it was totally political. The druids backed the established rulers and insighted rebellion in the common people, therefore they had to be wiped out. Same happened with early Christianity. They would not recognize the authority of the Roman rulers and were often killed out of hand.

I do believe the Druids kept there religion through oral traditions so that it made them above the common people. It is why the Catholic church initially forbid the common people from having Bibles or even reading latin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also Druids did fight with curses and magic in battles but they only use melee weapon if you fight aginst other Druid. For example Caesar wrote that to become Arch druid you must won previous one in battle.

Nero in 60 AD sent general Gaius Suetonius Paulinus to island Anglesey with cca 20 000 soldiers. Thats were last big stong hold of Druids. Holy of holies. Their Jerusalem, their Varanasi, their Medina.

Paulinus attacked the island and then destroying the shrine and the sacred groves.

There they met man and woman fighting as well as Druids who were cursing and cast magic according to Tacitus.

Romans were supersticous. That was their psychological weapon. However Roman slaughtered them because they were military machine.

But they retreat because Boudica revolt who might me Druid herself. We dont know that. Maybe those two events are connected.

Romans took the island in 78 AD by Julius Agricola. Oral Bardic traditon continue in Irish and Welsh tradition. It was replaced by Christhianity.

How is it that they fought with magic?? Can you be more specific and what were the outcomes?? Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It still just interesting that we know so much about ancient civilizations, tribes, cultures etc. But, not the druids? Did they not play a vital roll in civilization during that time period? Why are they so hard to dig up information on??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It still just interesting that we know so much about ancient civilizations, tribes, cultures etc. But, not the druids? Did they not play a vital roll in civilization during that time period? Why are they so hard to dig up information on??

Basically because they represented a strictly oral culture and they didn't write anything down on principle.

How is it that they fought with magic?? Can you be more specific and what were the outcomes?? Thanks.

They used curses and spells in the form of loud incantations. Of course, they did not work as curses or magic, but they were used as psychological weapons against the Romans with some success. Romans in general were very superstitious, and seeing a bunch of people who were thought to have great powers doing magic-looking things in a battle must have caused them much distress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It still just interesting that we know so much about ancient civilizations, tribes, cultures etc. But, not the druids? Did they not play a vital roll in civilization during that time period? Why are they so hard to dig up information on??

As Clobhair-cean has said, mostly because they left no written records. Though to go further, I would say, and probably stating the obvious, that the early Christians, when they gained power in Britain, and this would also be valid for all countries, vigorously supressed and contorted the old religions to such an extent that we really know hardly anything concrete about any of the old religions outside of Roman and Greek myth. For instance, if it were not for Snorri Sturlusen, we would know almost nothing about Norse paganism. What is really known of what people believed in Britain between Romans leaving and return of Christianty?, not much. Same as in Russia were the nature of the old gods was so totally twisted and supressed by Christians, that almost nothing is known that can be verified as fact. All that remains are names and what they were the god of. All else is conjecture from surving folk traditions, and such things are very unreliable as evidence. So Druids are not alone in that their true nature is almost unknown. Though perhaps the mystery is sometimes better than cold harsh facts. We know the reality was probably very mundane, but we rather like the modern fantasy about Druids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.