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THE DRUIDS EXAMINED

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, thank goodness.

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.

Holidays

    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 solcitices.

    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.

Neodruids

    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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