Druidry - Ancient and Modern
Druidry is the oldest religion or “ life path” in the British Isles and the druids were the high priests of the ancient Britons.
The only written knowledge we have about the ancient druids is mainly from Roman sources from 52BC until 385AD. Any druid writings have long been destroyed.
The druids were priests who came to Britain with the Celts in about 500BC, so they could not have built Stonehenge, which is much older.
There were, and still are, three grades within Druidry; bard, ovate and druid.
The Bards were trained in the arts of poetry, music and storytelling. They had to memorise the history, lineage and laws of the tribe. They also practised sensory deprivation and invocation, which woke up and developed their psychic powers.
The Ovates learnt prophesy, divination, tree lore, herbalism and healing.
The Druids were wise men who were the officials of their day, acting as physicians, judges, scientists, teachers, philosophers and advisers to kings.
With their many years of training, Druids were revered for their knowledge; they were in a privileged class, exempt from taxes and free from public burden.
They were not obliged to be celibate and women also trained as Druids They set up colleges all over the British Isles A popular theory is that Jesus trained at one of these.
The Romans allegedly massacred the last of the Druids on Anglesey, but they had already gone underground.
When Christianity came to these Isles, the druids re-emerged as monks and priests, the bards as minstrels and storytellers, the Ovates as healers and physicians.
The modern druid revival started in London in 1717 as a Friendly Society; mainly members of the aristocracy.
It is recorded that Winston Churchill was a member of the Ancient Order, as was the Queen Mother and her daughter. Another member was Gerald Gardner, who started the Wicca movement.
Today, there are many Druid Orders around the world. A modern druid assembly is called a grove, symbolising the oak groves where the druids would teach their students away from persecution.
Druids celebrate eight festivals in a year. These are held to honour the start and end of the year, the seasons, the cycles of the earth and heavens, and also there are celebrations for the births, deaths and. unions of the people.
Druids are not monotheistic, for there has to be balance in all things. Druids have respect for all living things on the planet and are involved in conservation and preservation issues.
Druidry is not a religion, rather a way of life, so there are druids who come from other faiths. Meditation and visualisation are used to help develop inner psychic skills, and with 21st century knowledge we have a better understanding of the cosmos.
The path is not an easy one. It requires one to look inside themselves and finding inner qualities of humbleness, compassion and empathy.
To live peacefully amongst the turmoil of modern times takes great balance and tolerance.
It is often a solitary path and requires self discipline
There are several books available in the shops,
Peter Beresford Ellis is worth reading, and Ronald Hutton has also written extensively on the subject.
Philip Carr-Gomm is the chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) which runs a training course worldwide.
Cotswold Order of Druids main page