THE DRUIDS… A mystical race of European Elves, faerie folk and Dragon Kings and Dragon Priests who became famous for their habitation of the British Isles as descendents of the Tuatha d’Anu. –a blog excerpted from Arcanum by Joshua Free
Though it would seem nearly impossible to study the “Druids” without tapping into the “Celtic” stream, some scholars commonly confuse the two terms as interchangeable. It is true that the Druids of our known history developed a tradition in the Celtic lands (or “Keltia”) but they were a separate people from the wild tribal shamanic folk who were later unified under the banner of Druidism. When the early Danubian Children of the Stars arrived, the Celts viewed many of them as avatars and Earth-born deities (“Earth Gods”) who had a distant connection with the “Sky Gods” (Anunnaki). This cultivated as the Celtic Mythology familiar to modern seekers.
THE DRUIDS devised a unique system in Keltia that mirrors many others but retaining specific characteristics of the culture and region in which it was developed. Evidence of their existence is popularly associated to the western frontiers of Europe, but the annual convocation held in Galatia (Turkey) and the customs of the LaTene Culture of the Danube River Valley show that the influence of ancient Druids was felt throughout the “known” world. It is, however, the westernmost traditions of Druidry that inspire contemporary historians and New Age revivalists (also called neodruids). Until being slowly interbred with the Celtic people or annihilated (though Elvish dynasties and Dragon King bloodlines were maintained in the “underworld,” the counter-cultural underground) the Druids were originally a wholly separate race from the “common” Celt and historians confirm this.
There are three cardinal functions of the Druid, sometimes considered “ranks” or “degrees.” Each level is actually a self-contained “grade,” comparable to the varying levels of accomplishment attainable in modern higher-education: bachelors, masters and PhDs. Each level of apprenticeship was taught in succession. They could be used as a stepping-stone to higher levels of initiation, or a student might choose to finalize their work at a particular stage. As displayed in modern society, some positions or functions in Keltia required the attainment of specific levels of education. As the government and secret society presiding over Keltia, all of this was easily administered.
Quite simply, the Druids can be categorized as…
–Bards (artists, historians, musicians, performers,
poets, students and wizards of elemental magick)
–Ovates (diviners, forest wizards, herbalists, Oghamancers
ritualists, sacrificers and venerable hermetists)
–Derwydd (ceremonialists, Dragon Kings, dynastic
royalty, educators, lawyers, political ambassadors
and religious priests)
DRUIDS maintained nearly a millennium of peace in Keltia before hostile encounters with the Romans. The Romans eventually suppressed Druidism through another millennium of force, finalized by the union of the Roman Empire and the Roman Church. In spite of this, the lore and customs of the Druid sabbats or fire-festivals emerge in present-day traditions.
The archetypal spirit and genetic memory of the Druids, the last public dragons, permeates the human psyche like few other facets of history (and we know exceptionally little about them compared to most ethnographies). The Romans were very specific about wanting to eradicate all traces of this ancient race, asserting a vengeance such as was shown toward no other recorded enemy. These actions could be considered nothing short of pure biological and cultural genocide of a tradition and race…
Neodruids… Modern druidism emerged with (and essentially as the answer to) the development of an urban-oriented industrialization of society in human civilization. The revival far predates both the modern New Age Movement and contemporary Wicca as an underground counter-cultural movement or secret society — both public and private.
Explore this and hundreds of other facets of new age, metaphysical and occult mysteries in Joshua Free’s underground masterpiece: ARCANUM, the perfect compliment to THE DRUID COMPLEAT curriculum of Merlyn’s School of Druidry & Magick.
The early 18th Century revival in England coincides with the rebirth of the Freemasonic tradition. The Freemasons began to allow “Accepted Masons,” those who were not masons by trade, into their ranks. [Many founding figures of the early neodruid organizations were Masons and Rosicrucians.] Neodruidic revival occurred during the Anti-Witchcraft and Magick Acts (see Book of Elven Faerie or The Druid Compleat), so members were cautious not to be interpreted as “sorcerers” or “witches.” This forced many of the organizations to operate as ecological, charitable and social rotary clubs.
The sacred sites of the Celts and antiquarian interest in the Druids promoted a renaissance of “Celtic Reconstructionism” and neo-druidism. The interpretation of this revival, the differing beliefs and personal inclinations of individuals caused the first of many underground neodruidic schisms. [This entire blog/lesson is excerpted officially from ARCANUM by Joshua Free.]
John Toland originally sought to unify the antiquarian movement in 1717 when he founded the (British) Druid Circle of the Universal Bond [“An Druidh Uileach Braithreaches” (ADUB)]. It maintained international membership from the start and was rooted in Toland’s personal researches into the Druid Histories. [Toland’s secret society also went by the name of the “Ancient Druid Order” (ADO).]
Some “mesopagan” Druids, like Henry Hurle, saw neo-druidism as an extension, if not a purely Celtic equivalent, to Eurasian Freemasonry, which was revived in England in the same year and place [“The Apple Tree Tavern”] as John Toland’s ADO in 1717. Hurle led the formation of the “Ancient Order of Druids” (AOD) in 1781 emphasizing his background in Masonry, Rosicrucianism and the Kabbalah. Some members disliked the occult focus, preferring participation in the social-charitable organizations.
These members formed their own branch or offshoot called the “United Ancient Order of Druids” (UAOD) in 1833, which retained the “rotary club” ideals. Other Masonic-Druids joined the “Ancient Archaeological Order of Druids” (AAOD), which was formed by Robert Wentworth Little in 1874, later changing its name to the “Ancient Masonic Order of Druids” (AMOD) in 1886. These Masonic and Rosicrucian-oriented Druids went onto evolve the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (GD). Other Hermetic and Kabbalistic organizations of neodruids continued to form.
Once the revival had been organized it immediately became a public and national identity. Sacred sites such as Stonehenge and Woodhenge would entertain guests by the thousands during neodruidic activities. Large media events were planned around the dramatic reenactments and ceremonies performed by neodruids in full wizard’s attire. The more publicized displays coincided with the autumn equinox and summer solstice festivals. The full eight-fold wheel of the year, now common in the New Age, was not yet a part of the revival. [See ARCANUM for further information regarding this.]
In the 19th Century, when Quasi-Masonic neodruidry was developing, a separate nationalist movement was growing alongside. These “reconstructionists” sought to reinvestigate the Bardic Tradition as a national custom in Wales. Figures such as Iolo Morganwg (compiler of the Barddas), William Blake and Edward Davies all desired to preservation of the language and Druidism of Wales. This led to a revival of the “Gorsedd of Bards” and a “National Eisteddfodd” held annually in public to celebrate the Welsh tradition. With some offbeat claims of “authenticity,” the Welsh revival (and the more recent neo-Pheryllt system) has been subject to historical and mystical controversy in relation to other organizations and revival efforts.
Organized neodruidism did not reach America until the early 1900s as an extension of AAOD/AMOD. Though originally a more Masonic-based secret society, the “Ancient Order of Druids in America” (AODA), as they called themselves, evolved into a standard green magick system under the direction of John Michael Greer, including neo-paganism and sacred geometry. The 1960s displayed a more publicly visible forum for “reformed” neodruidism, evident by the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA), founded by Minnesota college students: first as a rebellion to the religious requirements of Carleton College, but it became a widespread modern contemporary avenue toward New Age ideals.
Ross Nichols had been a member of ADO for a decade when Arch Druid Robert MacGregor Reid passed away in 1963. The election for a new Chosen Chief produced a schism in the organization. Nichols felt that the Rosicrucian-Theosophical approach to neodruidism did not “feel” truly “druidic,” so he formed the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). The order still incorporated some Eastern philosophies but remained primarily Celtic. After his death, OBOD was passed down to Philip Carr-Gomm who jump-started the organization again in 1988. Most of the modern revival traditions of the 1990s-to-present seem heavily dependent on the OBOD materials and social networking. Most major contemporary neodruidic figures/authors have some connection to OBOD in England (or to COBOD, the Council of British Orders of the Druids).
Back in America, the RDNA tradition gave rise to an only slightly more solemn practice in the early 1980s under the direction of Isaac Bonewits. The new order, A Druid Fellowship (ADF) sought to provide for America what OBOD does for Europe. Both organizations eventually became an international success. But then, as is common in neo-druidism, another schism erupted. In 1986, some members broke away from ADF to form the Henge of Keltria (HK), which justifiably sought to remove the wiccan influence that overran the ADF materials.
The neodruidism of the 21st Century really belongs to the youth of society, the young and middle-aged seekers. At one time it seemed to be a social organization aimed at the older and more established working class. Today, the ecological responsibility proposed by the “Druid Way” speaks to those that fear the near-future state of the Earth Planet. It is the younger generations that are feeling the effects and fearing the future as they work to solidify their own lives on an ever-changing canvas. The long-term effects of crude oil use, chlorine-based refrigerants, freshwater pollution and air quality are beginning to take affect, though it seems the elder mongers with cash interests in these products simply don’t care about those of us that will still be alive in the oncoming decades. The world of neodruidism has come into existence among the common classes because of the calling felt to aid in the restoration and balance of Nature… —Joshua Free
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Surely, when someone hears the word “new,” it probably means to them that it is ‘not the original’ or that the concept is ‘wholly new’. The neo-movement found within this current age is not really new at all, but tends to work from the most favorable and widely used sources that within themselves will often make claims of originality. I would estimate that the average “New Ager” easily can accumulate a collection of books averaging at least between $50-500 within their first year of mild-to-average avid research and study. While they will most likely still lack the materials often necessary for serious advancement, the second year will often times be spent putting hundreds of dollars into buying and/or making ritual tools and other ‘mystical’ bric-a-brac, often before the full understanding of what the item represents has been fully realized.
The Druids were magicians, though, but they were also poets and musicians, healers and shamans, statesmen and politicians. In the early days of the Celts and Druids, the sacred sites and ‘stone circles’ were sought for their ability to assist in the reverence of Nature and the “Source of All” and the same was not destroyed for the purpose of building artificial churches, a celebration of the means of men more than a God. Even though Druidism appeared to ‘die’ with the coming of Christianity, the practices continued to covertly survive embedded in the works of Bardic Schools, which were able to make contributions with remnants still found today in British, Welsh and Irish traditions.
Unlike ever before in the current age, there is actually a dire need for the Druids to make a return in our civilization today – regardless if they are in one-to-one reflection with the ‘classical’ image of Druidry. But, nonetheless, the fate of the planet seemingly depends on this very presence, under whatever semantics is being observed to represent the Guardians of the Old Ways – true stewards of the very face of the earth itself. Clearly, if this way of thinking is not for you, then it should never be forced. It is a living tradition that comes from the stars – and the blood of those who are called and chosen to bare the title also come from the stars.
What is being described here are the same mysteries that have been explored from the beginning of modern civilization, the inception of the Dragon Kings of Mesopotamia and their spread across Eurasia, through the ‘Holy Lands’ and Magan desert, Egyptian Nile, Asia and India, the Siberian mountains, the European mainlands, the aboriginal traditions of southern, central and northern America… all of this can be traced and linked back to the Source. Those who are coming forth, awakening in this modern world, are feeling the call towards the ‘something’ that has brought us here in this time and place to serve a function that exists outside of time and space…
…we have not long to wait for the realization of our purpose: the uncovering and resurrection of the true source tradition from which we first emerged on this planet, which has been hidden from human sight and left to the politics of self-serving covert organizations to control.
…that time has ended.
…and a new era is in our midst.
The Druids were historically a learned group of men and women made popular during the “ancient” Celtic times. They formed their own communities in Keltia, what we more commonly know as Ireland, Britain and Gaul (now France). Their counsel and wisdom was sought out by many different groups of people and societies, particularly when some mediation was required.
With much unhappiness I can easily say that the majority of the public texts involving the ancient Druids was documented or based on documents of the ancient Romans, who were notoriously the archenemy of the Druids. With this in mind, there is not much we can take for granted (or at the very least, unbiased) from these Roman accounts. After all, if we were responsible for preserving the memory of our enemies, how might we go about coloring this with our attitudes?
It is well known that the Druids held the Oak Tree as sacred, as well as the herb referred to as “mistletoe.” Both herbs make frequent appearances in Druidic rituals. It has become fairly well propagated knowledge, as well, that human sacrifices played some prominent role in their tradition as well. With the coming of Christianity, Druidism faced its final days with the ‘fall of the elves’ and the donation of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine to the establishment of the “Vatican” Catholic Church. The ‘End of Days’ for the Druids appeared to have come about in the sixth century, when it disappeared for a time…
…but here we are now in the 20th century, going into the 21st [We are, of course, now in the 21st century at the time of printing. -Ed.] Druidism and neopaganism has begun to once again play a significant role in modern culture. It appears to have made a reappearance in the public’s eye sometime in the 1400’s and 1500’s, when Druidism was being studied by medieval historians and the first ‘books’ were written on the topic (post-Romana) explaining what was found from these studies. Lost manuscripts were being discovered in obscure places and many ancient writings were being deciphered by ‘antiquarians’.
In the 1600’s and 1700’s, colleges and universities in Europe were beginning to study this revived interest in the Druids more academically. Lost books containing ceremonies and rituals in varying European languages became the subject of interpretation among people from all walks of life. By the late 1800’s and beginning of the 1900’s, the word was spreading quickly about the revivalist traditions and systems of Druidry – and looking back we can see the period where the majority of what we academically learned about the Druids became solidified in public consciousness was during this time. What had begun as the uncovering of a myth was developing into a historical natural living religion.
English, Welsh and Irish nationalist founded a new order of Druids for modern times, calling themselves the “Ancient Order of Druids.” They set our to revive their own practical interpretation of the ancient Druid tradition – even reclaiming Stonehenge in the name of the Druids and observing public ceremonies there as often as possible. Soon after, because of tourism, Stonehenge began to show increasing signs of damage and the landowners decided to begin charging an entrance fee in order to offset maintenance costs. When the AOD showed up and refuse to pay, they were arrested accordingly for misconduct.
In the 1930’s the name of the revival changed to the “Ancient Order of Druid Hermeticists” – a membership that was composed of ex-AOD members by eighty percent. The AODH devised their own newsletter magazine titled Pendragon. By 1955 only one of the original five chapters of the AODH still existed – they even claimed to be the sole survivors practicing of the original Ancient Order of Druids (AOD)…