The British, among others, have romanticized the Druids, and this
certainly does not help things. Much of the writings of Druids from the
1700's on or so ranges from theory and speculation, to outright
An example of this type of romanticizing in it’s most extreme
form is a spurious apocryphal "missing" 29th chapter to the book of
Acts, in which St. paul acknolwedges the Druids as "Kosher"! In verse 13 it says:
"And it shall come to pass that certain of the Druids came unto Paul
privately, and showed by their rites and ceremonies that they were
descended from Jews which escaped from bondage in the land of Egypt,
and the Apostle believed these things, and he gave them the kiss of
This is so obviously a fake, and anyone could see why. I have to wonder what the forger of this verse was thinking
when he wrote it. Paul saw a similarity between the
Jews and the Druids? Was it the human sacrifice, or the worship of oak
trees that convinced him??? No one with any common sense takes this
forgery seriously. Paul
never embraced the Druid worship of Pagan gods and human sacrifice.
The work is no doubt the product of 19th century "British Israelite"
types desperate to establish a link between the Celts and the
Israelites. Only one copy of the missing Chapter 29 manuscript was
found, and that was in the 19th century, when British Israelitism was
at its peak. The Late PhD and Televangelist Shock Jock Gene Scott tried
to rationalize it by saying "A Frenchmen found it"...so it had to be
genuine. Dr. Scott was ignoring the fact the French are also Celts, and
identifiy with the Druids as well.
above: The "shock jock" ot TV Evangelists, the Late Great Dr.
Gene Scott. Believe it or not, he had a PhD in Education from Stanford,
plus two minor degrees in History and Geography. Yes really.
So Who Were The Druids Really?
What we know about Druids is sketchy, and mostly from the
pre-Christian (i.e. Pagan) sources. Since the Druids were illiterate
until Christian missionaries educated them in Ireland, they left no
written record.The Druids served three functions in Celt society; as teachers of
traditions, as lawgivers and settlers of disputes, and as calender
We do have some accounts of the Druids from contemporary sources. These
descriptions come from the Romans and the Greeks. Because of
romanticizing of Celt/Druid culture by modern writers, much of these
writings are being dismissed. The general take of the Celts by the
Romans and Greeks seem to be that the Celts were tough, fearless,
illiterate, usually drunk, and had considered human life cheap. They
were said to be formidable foes in battle. Sometimes one Celt soldier
would throw himself on the spear of an enemy, sacrificing himself so
another Celt could kill the enemy.
The Druids were the Priestly cast of the Celtic peoples. We usually
think of Druids as being located in the British Isles, but they also
inhabited Gaul, and could just as easily be identified with the French.
In fact the Celtic territory stretched all the way to modern day Turkey
and the Ukraine at it’s height, around 475 B.C.
Juluis Caesar had invaded Britain in 55 BC and 54 BC He describes the
Druids as being held in such high esteem that their decisions would be
final even in matters regarding the tribal leaders. In his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars he wrote:
“The Druids hold aloof from war, and do not pay taxes with the rest,
they are excused from military service and exempt of all other
liabilities. Young men in great numbers flocked to their ranks. In the
schools of the Druids they learn a great number of verses, and
therefore remain some twenty years in training. They do not commit
these utterances to writing. I believe they have adopted this practice
for two reasons; they do not wish the rule to become the practice, and
reject the written word for the cultivation of the mind. The cardinal
doctrine they seek to teach is that souls do not die. They believe in
the indestructibility of the human soul, which according to their
belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another. By such
doctrine alone this robs death of all its terrors. Fear of death is
thereby cast aside, they hold this to be the greatest incentive to
valour. They also hold many discussions touching upon the stars and
their movements, the size of the universe, and of the earth, and the
order of nature.”
They did seem to possess the ability to make calenders, like many
primitive people at that time did. The Aztecs and Mayans for instance,
made even better Calendars than the Druids, left no written record, and
were even more bloodthirsty in their sacrifices. Druid traditions were
transmitted orally. What little bit of information we do have on the
Druids was preserved by the Christian missionary, St. Patrick.
Ironically, Patrick is considered somewhat of a villain by Neodruid
types nowadays. Had it not been for Patrick, we would know of even less
of the Druids!
The word Celt can mean many different things. It can mean a group
of peoples who spoken the Celtic Language or their descendants. It can
mean the people of prehistoric Europe who shared some common cultural
traits. The term 'Celtic nations' usually describes Wales, Ireland,
Scotland, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and England, but France and even Spain
were Celtic as well. The British Isles today are populated mostly of
decedents from Celtic people, according to modern DNA tests.
Did The Druids Build Stonehenge?
Short answer: No. Stonehenge was already ancient when the
Druid religion came along. Stonehenge was a necropolis. It seems to
have been used as a burial place for important tribal people and a
place of human sacrifice. That is not to say it wasn’t built by Celts,
but that the Druid religion probably didn’t exist yet when it was
built. In ancient times the Celts probably practiced a religion when
knowledge of the sun’s position was important, since they did not
understand the sun was basically just a big ball of fire, not a god.
Commenting on Stonehenge, Ronald Hutton says,
"To sum it up, it is clear that at particular times and places in
British and Irish prehistory the cardinal points of the sun, and
particularly the winter solstice, had considerable ritual importance.
None the less, the vast majority of prehistoric monuments do not relate
to any of them, so that no overall or enduring pattern of cult can be
detected. Furthermore, a considerable gulf separates all these
monuments from the pre-Roman British Iron Age, not one of the temples
yet has been found to have possessed a significant solar alignment."
[Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton, page 5]
There is also much evidence to suggest Greek influence of Stonehenge in
it’s building. Did the Druids build Stonehenge? It’s very unlikely they
would have had the knowledge or skills to do so. In any case,
Stonehenge was not part of a wide spread solar cult.
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