The Druids:

 

To seek the beginnings of the druids we must look beyond the Celts for the Druids were a part of the pre-Celtic peoples of Britain; the Berber people. In fact we need to look farther afield than Britain, for the druidic wisdom is believed to have come even farther a field possibly from India or Sumeria. However, the Celts being of quick mind, when they made contact, they embraced the Megalithic wisdom of the druids and Celtic druids perpetuated this wisdom often putting it into poetry. The Celtic druids of 600 BC knew Greek and it was this mixture of Celtic and Greek that survives in the Black Book of Carmarthen and othe Welsh texts. 

The Transition from Druid to Christian:

The `constitutional' recognition of the advisory position of the Druid was profound.

Often it was made law that the king must have a Druid to be advised by when judging the law, as well as for prayer and sacrifices. When Christianity came, the Druid was simply replaced by a Celtic priest. The priest was often a converted Druid.

So the Druidic training colleges were taken over and called monasteries and the Druidic education continued.

Druids would appear to have held some form of Western branch of an ancient universal philosophy, culture or religion. It was a megalithic culture and its  religious symbols included stone circles and groves of sacred trees, the circular or spiral  dance, the oak and the mistletoe, the tree of life and triplicity.

With it's numerology, astronomical orientations and geometrical calculations, it is seen to link with a near-universal surveying system. It understood the meanings of number and mystical geometry (Pythagoras is said to have been a Druid or party to Druidic knowledge - Ed.) Druids believed in the transmigration of the soul, not agreeing with the idea of evolution from the animal as the main human origin.

Information about Druidic teachings are drawn from early Welsh and Irish texts such as the The Book of Aneurin, The Book of Taliesin, The  Black Book of Caermarthen, and The Red Book of Hergest

Cosmology:

The Celts had a sophisticated and spiritually scientific explanation of creation. In their prose and poetry the Celts enmeshed this and had their own names for the Milky Way and the constellations within. Many of these named after their Gods and Goddesses, even Arthur is a part of the celestial scheme of things.

The triplicity

 

The 8-fold Year Plan:  
The Sun and the Moon, and their rhythmic relationships to each other were of great importance to the early Celts. Both for practical reasons in knowing the seasons for hunting and gathering, but also in understanding the rhythms of their own lives. To the Celts the sun and moon were of equal importance, being of equal size in the sky, but each had its own unique influence.

The Celts separated the year into 4 seasons marked by the 4 `Solar Festivals' dated from the equinoxes and solstices (These fall at the start of the Cardinal signs of the zodiac, and represent `will' and new beginnings - they are celestial, spiritual festivals, relating to the Heavens and the big changes that affect us outwardly).

erthmoon02.gif (45822 bytes)

Each season is separated into two parts marked by the 4 so-called `Fire or Hearth Festivals' (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasah) relating to the lunar cycles (These fall in the middle of the Fixed signs of the zodiac, and represent fruition, stability and fullness before change begins to take place again. They are pastoral and corporeal, relating to Nature and our inner being ).

Thus we can see the separateness and importance of each of the two cycles that are also intimately in balance and totally interconnected. All this comes cleqar when we lay the Celtic Wheel Of Change over the zodiac.  We can also see the later Christian Feasts overlayed on these ancient markers.

The Ogham - The Celtic Tree Alphabet

Druidic Revivalism:

The Barddas:

Iolo Morganwg - Fraud or scholar? Imaginative visionary or misguided charlatan? The jury is still out. Still, he certainly enriched and revived the extant customs of the Druids. Indeed he was instrumental in reviving Druidic forms and ceremonies in Wales and England, especially the now invariable use of a circle of stones at Gorseddau.

Amongst other things he introduced or reintroduced the Sacred Symbol; the Awen (literally muse or inspiration), the physical representation of the Word, from which all of creation and life was formed:

 

Here we see again and again symbolism based around the three or triplicity. We can see why the saying `Three times for a Welshman' is so widespread.

The three columns represent the three mystic letters that make up God's name. (The vocalisation of which was the primitive Bard's secret work, which would give him every knowledge of letters that is possible. It was unlawful to utter them however to any man not under oath). The three signify the three attributes of God; love, knowledge and truth, from which justice springs. When God pronounced his name, along with the Word sprang light, and vitality and man and every other living creature. The three rays show this light raying down and  represent, what I understand to be, the three aspects of God and creation; One being the power or creative force, one being the form that is created and one being the `hearing and seeing' - the self aware intelligence. From this could be seen that every voice, and hearing, and living, and being, and sight, and seeing, were with the one united with God.

These three mystic sounds/words are the three first words of Cymraeg (Welsh) and from these are made all other words and all other languages.

One can see why for the Druids the word was so important and an oral tradition was maintained, requiring years of study and memorising to maintain their vast lore and knowledge instead of committing this to writing.

I also wonder if this is where the saying that Welsh is  `The language they speak in Heaven' comes from?

Sources:

1. The Celto-Cymric Takeover; The Book of Druidry, Ross Nichols, Aquarian Press, 1990.

2. The Druidic Renaissance,

2. Land of My Fathers, Gwynfor Evans.