The Druids practiced ritualistic drowning of victims, the practice of
which has been found depicted on Celtic water pots. A method of
execution involving fire was to haul the victim (usually a condemned
prisoner) up in a large wicker basket and then the basket was set on
fire, burning the victim alive. Another variation was to build a giant
hollow statue of a man made out of wicker and then burn the victims
inside alive, as in the 1970's horror movie The Wicker Man. The statue
was large enough to contain several victims, and included both human
and animal sacrifices. Both Strabo and Caesar wrote accounts of this
practice, so there can be no doubt it actually happened.
The Druid methods of human sacrifice seemed to horrify even the Romans,
who set out to put an end to the practice...although in reality they
were just as cruel as the Celts. Officially at the time
of the British conquest, human sacrifice had been outlawed in Rome, but
barbaric practices of the gladiators continues, and cases of human
sacrifice were recorded later on anyway. So it was a case of the pot
calling the cauldron black! It seemed if there was any killing going
on, the Romans wanted to be doing it.
The ancient Celts held a triune deity as their primary god (a god, not
a "triple goddess"). It is believed they had a view of an afterlife
known as the "transmigration of souls" which means they believed at
death a person’s soul went into the body of a living person. This is
not the same thing as reincarnation, which teaches a person’s soul
enters a newborn baby or a newborn animal. Caesar wrote that the Druids
believed at death the soul did not die but "pass from one to another".
Roman historian Strabo wrote that Druids believed the soul usually did
not die with the body, but sometimes "fire and water may prevail" .
By historian Mela’s account, Druids also believed in an afterlife "in
the infernal regions"... other words, they had their own version of Hell. So Druidism, like all the ancient Pagan
religions, had no clear definition of the afterlife, nor did they
promise a happy afterlife. Death was must have been a terrifying event
for the Druid, fearing a life in the infernal regions, or being put
into the body of a slave!
The practice of human sacrifice seems to have been abandoned, or else
pretty rare by the time of St. Patrick, because it isn't mentioned in
any of his writings that have survived. For the most part, the Druids
of today have practically no resemblance to the Druids of ancient
Britain, and they have not at this writing resurrected the ancient
Druid practice of human sacrifice, nor seem to have any plans to do so,
The Romans Enter The Picture
The various Celtic people were the dominant people in what is now
Western and Central Europe. These Celts were eventually conquered by
the Roamn Empire. When the Romans arrived on the shores of England, the
Druids were shouting magic spells and curses to stop them...which
didn't work. It seems they have something in common with modern Druids,
because their spells don't work either!
Through the centuries, Germanic invaders pushed the Celts further west.
The Germanic tribes had been pushed out from the Russian Steppes by
barbarian tribes such as the Mongols and Huns. The German speaking
tribes conquered what is today Britain, Spain, and France after the
fall of the Roman Empire.
Modern day Neodruids celebrate the same eight holidays as do other
Neopagans (which are derived from Crowley's O.T.O. rather than an
actual ancient Pagan calendar), but give them different names. The
holidays the ancient Druids observed on the other hand, are actually
quite different. Even though the Druids were considered expert calendar
makers, they did not figure the first days of seasons as equinoxes and
On doing research on the origins of the Druids, Professor
Ronald Hutton discovered that the idea of the equinoxes and solctiices
marking the first day of a new season did not come about until around
the 19th century in the U.S.A.! The first day of spring was celebrated
by the Druids somewhere around February 2nd, not March 30th. New Years
Day was celebrated In January 1st like the Greeks and Romans.
The first day of the Celtic New Year was not Nov. 1st. Samhain was
probably celebrated around the end of October, however, just as modern
Neopagan groups do. There is evidence Yule was celebrated in October by
the Celts. The holidays weren’t universal, and not on a precise
calendar as Neopagans would have us believe.
There have been groups calling themselves "Druid" for a couple of
hundred years now. Originally, these groups did this sort of like a
historical re-enactment, not unlike the Renaissance festivals or Civil
War re-enactments of today. However, there have been those types that
did it with the intent of re-creating an ancient Pagan religion. No
doubt, some of both kinds of Neodruid find there way into the other’s
camp. Here are some of those groups and individuals :
Welsh Bard Group A stone mason named from Glamorganshire named Edward
Williams born in 1747 created this group He created much of the
misinformation surrounding the Druids. In 1770 he created the Welsh
Bard Group. Edwards is best known by the name Iolo Morganwg or Iolo
Glamorgan. Edwards forged documents claiming an unbroken link to the
ancient Druids. Because of faulty scholarship, he got away with it with
for a long time, even after his death. In fact, it wouldn’t be until
the late 20th Century that Edwards lies were realized. Sadly, many
Wiccan/Neopagan/Druid groups still rely on the false inforamtion
supplied by Edwards to substantiate many of their claims about being
part of an ancient religion!
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