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THE DRUIDS EXAMINED

  There is no evidence to suggest the Druids actually performed any religious rituals there, even though it's a popular misconception. The creation of this myth is due in part by a book published around 1742 by Dr. William Stuckley. Stuckley based this idea from an unpublished manuscript he read by another historian named Aubrey. But Stuckley took Aubrey’s mere suggestion and ran with it as though it were fact. Commenting on a Stonhenge/Druid connection, author and historian Sturat Piggot said:

" The association of the monument and the priesthood has become so established a piece of English folklore that it is forgotten that it’s origins lie no earlier than the late seventeenth century..." (The Druids, Page 88)

       There were of course, many legends surrounding the monument at Salisbury. One unlikely legend was that Merlin no less had transported the stones from Ireland by magic as a memorial to slain English nobles!  (Op cite Pg 88) .
Since it's now believed Stonehenge was a burial place for important tribal figues, this could be where the legend stems from.

     The legends of Druids using Stonehenge are simply one of may legends about the stones. More than likely, the cite was abandoned by the time the Celts began practicing Druidism. The eye witness accounts of Caesar and Strabo make no mention of Stonehenge being used by the Druids. Nor do the later writings of St. Patrick mention a connection between the Druids and Stonehenge. The Druids seemed to have had no interest in the place.

       Nevertheless, if you see a book or website about the Druids, it will probably have a picture of Stonehenge on it. What is even less unlikely is a connection to Wicca and Stonehenge since Wicca didn’t exist until 1939 A.D. at the very earliest in a "proto-Wicca" form.

The Druid Religion

       Ancient Druidism involved the worship and veneration of heads or skulls, fire worship, worship of oak trees, and human sacrifice. It was barbaric, uncivilized, and far from containing anything scientific or progressive as modern Neodruids would have you think. No New Agey stuff...no Yoga Sun Salutes or chanting "Om". 

http://usminc.org/Paranormal/images/ridingtosabbat.jpg

And I'm pretty sure they didn't have spears that exuded purple lightning, either.

       Skulls seem to have been a particular fascination for the Druids, as it was for primitive "headhunter" tribes in the rainforests and elsewhere. It wasn’t uncommon for Celt building to have depictions of human skulls and skeletons displayed. At Roquepertuse in France, a Celtic sanctuary dating from the 3rd Century B.C. was discovered with niches in the pillars with actual human skulls still in them! The threshold of a Celt building dating from before 123 B.C. was discovered at Entremont, Provence, and is decorated with carvings depicted severed human heads and also contains niches for actual human skulls. Here is an eyewitness description of the barbaric headhunting practices of the ancient Celts:

"They cut of the heads of enemies slain in battle and attach them to the necks of their horses. The blood-stained spoils they hand over to their attendants and carry off as booty, while striking up a paean and singing a song of victory; and they nail up these first fruits upon their houses, just as do those who lay low wild animals in certain kinds of hunting. They embalm in cedar oil the heads of the most distinguished enemies, and preserve them carefully in a chest, and display them with pride to strangers, saying that for this head one of their ancestors, or his father, or the man himself, refused the offer of a large sum of money. They say that some of them boast that they refused the weight of the head in gold; thus displaying what is only a barbarous kind of magnanimity, for it is not a sign of nobility to refrain from selling the proofs of one's valour. It is rather true that it is bestial to continue one's hostility against a slain fellow man." (from Diodorus Siculus' History 1st. Century A.D.)

The First British Rock Idols

       When we hear about British rock idols today, we might think about Def Leppard or The Beatles, or someone much more recent if you're not as ancient as I am. You kids today with your Rock and Roll, and your hula hoops....

       The Celts had a different kind of rock idol in Druid times. They didn't have any hits and you couldn't get an autograph from one. Large stones seem to have been particularly fascinating for the Druids. There are many accounts of the Druids holding large stones to be objects of worship.

       Herodian noted that at a Druid sun temple of Emasa near Tyre, "There is no image, as among the Greeks and Romans, to represent the gods, but an exceeding large stone, round at the bottom, and terminating in a point, of conical form, and black color" An account of a a Druid temple called Magh-slecht was named so from an idol worshiped there, named Crom-cruiath. It was described in an old manuscript as "A stone capped with gold, about which stand twelve other rough stones." Like many primitive people, the Celts worshiped stones in a form of animism, believing they were gods. They weren't, they were just stones.

      Some later writers balked at the idea of Druids worshiping stone idols because the practice seems so ignorant and primitive...although may other cultures from that era did. The earliest eyewitness accounts have this to be the case. There have been many large standing stones found throughout the British Iles which remain to this day.

       There were also carved images worshiped by the Celts as well. Some later writers (mostly the British Israelite types) attempted to make the Druids into something they weren't, and claimed the Druids had no idols. French writer Jean Reynauld , for instance, claimed the Gauls (Celts) had no graven images of any sort. Certainly this contradicts discoveries to the contrary, including a bowl with Cernunnos on it discovered in France. A description of Celt idol worship is recorded in Folly of Pilgrimage about a wooden idol carved and painted like a woman, kept in the house of the O'Herleby family in Barleyvourney, Cork County.

       People desperate to be cured of illness sometimes sent for it, not unlike how people of today fall for quack cancer cures. Richardson noted that the superstitous cult would sacrficed live sheep to the idol. In Neal Park, Mayo County, Ireland were discovered two idols, one carevd like a lion, the other like a goat. This is what Celtic "magic" is about; idol worship, animal sacrifices to wooden images, and worship of rocks. No slick glossy books from Llewellyn, no tarot cards, no meditating with crystals!


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