Monday, July 26, 2010
The Druids by Ronald Hutton
The Druids were Celtic Religious leaders who were wiped out by the Romans. Not much is known about them as their teachings were oral rather than written. They left behind no written records of themselves. The only thing modern scholars have to go on is written records left behind by their foes, which were not too complimentary.
In the early 1500's European Nations started to become interested in the Druids. The Germans were the first, although the Druids were not Germanic. They claimed that the Druids were there ancestors and forebears. Next France jumped on the bandwagon. Eventually it would get to Wales, England and Scotland. Although Ireland was were the Celts last settled, Ireland never became to interested in the Druids. Later Britain would come to have an interest in the Druids. Britain today is the country that seems to be most enthusiastic about Druids. Wales through their poetry and mythology seemed to go back and forth with the Druids.
In European Literature the Druids have taken a variety of roles. The first role is that of patriotic leaders. They were the ones who blessed the soldiers before they went to fight and they are also the ones who let out the battle call. The Romans when they took over Anglesy supposedly encountered a group off wild druids consisting of males and females. They put up a wild fight fight before they were subdued. Of course these images of Druids come from the annals of Roman Historians.
Another image of the Druids is that is that of Wisemen. Roman reports, which somewhat contradict each other , also depict the Druids as hanging out in the Forests and groves dispensing wisdom and judgment under an oak tree. They were even
said to have schools out in the forest. In the Mythology there are three types of Druids. Certain ones were Bards or singers, the second type ovates were ones who read oracle. Druids were wisemen or religious leaders. The Druids were also astronomers, mathematicians and philosophers. They were said to have become followers of Pythagoreas.
The third image of Druids is that of environmentalist. They were ones who had knowledge of nature and herbs and were into preserving nature. A final image was that off the Demonic Druid. They are seen as sacrificing young children and women in order to ensure for a good crop. This was started by the Romans and later perpetrated by later British writers. The Roman said that the Druids would load people into a wicker man and set it alight. Ussually this consisted of criminals and prisoners of war. If that was not available then they would use citizens. European literature took it even a step further and portrayed them as forest wanderers who would kidnap children and make them into Druids or sacrifice them.
In the 1700's Fraternal organizations sprang up all over Britain . At first they were set up as organization that had entertainment, insurance policies and funds to help those in need. These groups modeled themselves after the Masons some of them flourish today. Later on the Druids would start incorporating religious rituals into their format. Many of these were learned from the Golden Dawn Magickal Order. These people has celebration at the Stonehenge.
This book dealt with perceptions of the Druids not who they really were as that would be really hard to do with the lack of records left behind. Many people have speculated on who the Druids were. Some thought they were Phoenicians or Hebrews who practices a corrupted for of the Middle Eastern faith. Other thought that they were Japhetites who came to prepare the way for the acceptance of Christ. Later this view would change and people would see the Druids as those who opposed the true faith
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