From the Introduction
of the book "The Druids"
In Irish ecclesiastical records we have a comment on the
extensive land holdings of converted Druids being granted by them
to the Church. Adomndn's 'Life of St. Columba' certainly
indicates that the Druids were regarded as belonging to the same
class as the leaders of Celtic Christianity.
The adoption of Christianity in Ireland did not lead to the
abolition the Druids but simply to their transformation.
Father Joe McVeigh, in his polemic work 'Renewing the Irish
Church: Towards an Irish Liberation Theology' (1993), points
The first Christian missionaries to Ireland did not attempt
a root and branch eradication of the Celtic Druidic
tradition and beliefs. Instead, the new religion absorbed
the holy mountains and the innumerable holy wells and gave
them a Christian name. (It has been estimated that there
were approximately 3,000 holy wells some of which, like Doon
well in Donegal, remain in use.) This popular or vernacular
religion, separate and distinct from the institutional
hierarchical Church, has, from the outset, been a
vibrant characteristic of Irish Christianity.
I believe that this transformation of the Druids occurred in
other Celtic societies as well.
There is no support at all for Caesar's contention that in
Celtic society 'the (ordinary) people are treated almost like
slaves' and that only the Druids and the warrior class of
Celtic society had any rights at all. No other observer goes so
far as this, nor do the native sources indicate such a situation.
Indeed, native sources demonstrate a contrary state of affairs.
Again we encounter the bellicose propaganda of the conqueror
attempting to find justification for his conquests. If the people
are being treated like slaves by their own ruling class, then the
logic is that their conquest is justified.
Druids were recognized by Irish law even after the introduction
of Christianity. The civil law of Ireland was first known to have
been codified in AD 438 as the Senchas Mor.' The criminal law,
contained in the 'Book of Acaill,' was codified shortly
afterwards. The Druids still had a place in these codices, which
gives authority to the idea that they were not suppressed nor did
they disappear with the onset of Christianity. Indeed, a Druid
was entitled to a position in society although, so far as any
religious practices were concerned, the 'Bretha Crolige' puts the
Druid on the same social level as a cainte (satirist) or a diberg
(brigand), and as a religious functionary the Druid was reduced
to a sorcerer or prophet. Indeed, the Irish word Druidecht came
to mean sorcery, magic or necromancy while the Welsh word Derwydd
meant a prophet.
So, with Christianity, the perception of the function of the
Druid was already changing within Celtic society.
Under ancient Irish law the provision of sick maintenance,
including curative treatment, attendance allowance and nourishing
food, was made available to all who needed it. The Druids were
'entitled to sick maintenance (othrus) only at the level of the
boaire (literally, a cow-chieftain or local magistrate), no
matter how great his rank, privilege or other rights'. It is
obvious from this qualification that a Druid still attained to
high rank. Indeed, as both the civil and criminal law code of
Ireland survive in their completest form in the 'Leabhar na h
Uidre' (Book of the Dun Cow) dating from the late eleventh or
early twelfth centuries, it might be remarked that there had been
no amendment of the laws relating to the Druids by that time. Two
reasons can be argued: one, that the Druids still existed with a
definite, if diminished, role in Irish society; two, that the
Druids had vanished and so no one bothered to change the laws. A
comparison here might be that it was not until 1951 that the
English judicial system finally scrapped the medieval laws
relating to the prohibition of witchcraft.
This work has been arranged in order to attempt the easiest
presentation to the general reader. The initial chapters
present the Celtic world to which the Druids belonged, together
with their origins in that world. Next, we consider our sources
concerning the Druids; firstly, how they were perceived through
the foreign eyes of the Greeks and Romans, and secondly, the
Celts themselves, albeit Christianized Celts, perceived these
influential figures in their national ancestry.
The reader will note a heavy reliance on Irish sources. This is
because there is a veritable treasure trove of Irish material
which remains near to the original pre-Christian source.
Druids, of course, were both male and female and we shall examine
some of the prominent female Druids or Druidesses.
In religious terms just what did Druids believe, and what were
their rituals? What we know from Classical and native
sources, together with archaeological evidence, is presented
together with an examination of the controversial matter of
whether they did or did not, practise the rite of human
sacrifice. (I will present you with this in full as given and
investigated by Ellis in "Druids #4" in this series - Keith
Once again, relying on both Classical and native sources, we
discuss the wisdom of the Druids in those areas of knowledge in
in which Classical sources claim the Druids had especial renown.
We examine them, among their other occupations, as philosophers,
as historians, a physicians, seers, astrologers, and magicians.
Finally, we examine how the Druids came to be revived and have
developed as part of our modern folklore.
This book, as I have stated at the beginning, is no more than a
modest attempt at an introductory argument about the reality and
the legend of the Druids. As Nora Chadwick has already stated,
there can be no doubt that the Druids were the most enlightened
and civilizing spiritual influence in prehistoric Europe. Yet in
trying to recreate the historical reality of the Druids, myths of
white bearded sages, of rites at the summer solstice in megaliths
belonging to an earlier culture than the Celts, have developed
into wild theories and speculations, to poetic romanticism and
mystical dreaming and outright literary forgeries.
If, however, at the end of this work, the reader comes nearer to
glimpsing even a little of the reality of what was once
'Druidism', then this book will have served its intended purpose.
I here also present to you the basic truth of the famous
Halloween night as it is now pictured in the celebrations of our
modern times. Here again, many (including the Worldwide Church of
God under HWA), mis-applied, through lack of proper in-depth
research, what the original teaching and understanding was
believed by the Druids on this special night of October 31 and
November 1. It was NOT what has been often attributed to them.
On one night of the year the Otherworld became VISIBLE to
mankind. this was the feast of SAMHAIN (31 October 1 November),
when the gates of the Otherworld were opened and the inhabitants
could set out to wreak vengeance - on those living in this world
who had wronged them. The ancient belief survived into
Christianity in a TRANSMUTED FORM as Halloween, the evening of
All Hallows or All Saints' Day being on 1 November. The MODERN
idea is that it is the night when witches and demons and spirits
from Hell set out to ensnare unsuspecting souls....
END QUOTE, p.178,179
Ahhhh, did you NOTICE IT? The ORIGINAL belief and teaching of
the Druids was NOT what is taught and practiced today, and is NOT
what is commonly taught as what the Druids taught and believed.
The Druids taught that those in the otherworld who had BEEN DONE
WRONG by some still living in this world, could come back and
take vengeance on them. It was a teaching of "if you do wrong to
people, they will have the chance in the next life to come back
and take revenge on you." The Druids were NOT teaching that
witches, demons, evil spirits, were set free to ensnare and harm
people. This is as Ellis stated a "modern" idea, and was NOT the
thought or teaching of the Druids at all.
Oh for the want of correct research into things before you spout
off some fanciful wrong ideas on what the Druids taught. Of
course these wrong ideas have been perpetuated in some
Encyclopedias (the writers of the article not knowing what they
were taking about either...so the wheel keeps turning) which have
been quoted by ministers of the WCG and written in various
religious articles on the Halloween subject.
Now, you have the truth of the matter. Yes, the Druids did teach
and believe in the "immortal soul" doctrine, but what they taught
about the October 31st feast or celebration, is NOT what is
taught that they taught. It was for them, in their religion, the
day when people who did wrong to others (who had now passed on to
the Otherworld), would have revenge, or punishment, come upon
them, from those they had wronged. It was then a Druid teaching
that taught in essence, "You better do GOOD to people in this
life, not EVIL, for if you do evil to people, you will have
revenge come upon you one day, by the people you did evil to."
TO BE CONTINUED
I will next present to you in full what Ellis has written on the
idea that the Druids practiced human sacrifice.