"Druidry is not a religion. It's a philosophy and you can worship a God or a Goddess,
it's up to you. You can be a Christian or a Moslem or anything else and still be a Druid. "But while a Christian will say
God made that tree, a Druid will say the energy of a creative force is in that tree."
Kieron, a North-East UK Druid.
Modern Druidism is one of the Neopagan family of religions, which includes Wicca and recreations of Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Roman and other ancient Pagan religions. Some present-day
Druids attempt to reconstruct of the beliefs and practices of ancient Druidism. Others modern-day followers of Druidism work
directly with the spirits of place, of the gods and of their ancestors to create a new Druidism.
Within ancient Druidism, there were three specialties. "A general categorisation of the three different
grades accords the arts to the bards, the skills of prophecy and divination to the Ovates and philosophical, teaching, counselling
and judicial tasks to the Druid." 1
||The Bards were
"the keepers of tradition, of the memory of the tribe - they were the custodians of the sacredness of the Word." In
Ireland, they trained for 12 years learning grammar, hundreds of stories, poems, philosophy, the Ogham tree-alphabet.|
worked with the processes of death and regeneration. They were the native healers of the Celts. They specialized in divination,
conversing with the ancestors, and prophesizing the future.|
||The Druids and
Druidesses formed the professional class in Celtic society. They performed the functions of modern day priests, teachers,
ambassadors, astronomers, genealogists, philosophers, musicians, theologians, scientists, poets and judges. They underwent
lengthy training: some sources say 20 years. Druids led all public rituals, which were normally held within fenced groves
of sacred trees. In their role as priests, "they acted not as mediators between God and man, but as directors of ritual,
as shamans guiding and containing the rites." Most leaders mentioned in the surviving records were male. It is not known
whether female Druids were considered equal to their male counterparts, or whether they were restricted to special responsibilities.
References to women exercising religious power might have been deleted from the record by Christian monks during the Celtic
Since ancient Druidism was an oral tradition, they did not have a set of scriptures as do Christianity
and other "religions of the book. 2 "Some Druidic "teachings survived in the Bardic
colleges in Wales, Ireland and Scotland which remained active until the 17th century, in medieval manuscripts,
and in oral tradition, folk lore and ritual." 3
Druidism and other Neopagan religions are currently experiencing a rapid growth. Many people are attempting
to rediscover their roots, their ancestral heritage. For many people in North America, their ancestors can be traced back
to Celtic/Druidic countries.
Most modern Druids connect the origin of their religion to the ancient Celtic people. However, historical
data is scarce. The Druids may well have been active in Britain and perhaps in northern Europe before the advent of the Celts.
Many academics believe that the ancestors of the Celts were the Proto-Indo European culture who lived
near the Black Sea circa 4000 BCE. Some migrated in a South-Westerly direction to create the cultures of Thrace and Greece;
others moved North-West to form the Baltic, Celtic, Germanic and Slavic cultures. Evidence of a Proto-Celtic Unetice
or Urnfield culture has been found in what is now Slovakia circa 1000 BCE. This evolved into a group of loosely linked
tribes which formed the Celtic culture circa 800 BCE. By 450 BCE they had expanded into Spain; by 400 BCE they were in Northern
Italy, and by 270 BCE, they had migrated into Galatia (central Turkey). By 200 BCE, they had occupied the British Isles, Brittany,
much of modern France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, North West Spain, and their isolated Galatia settlement
Although the Celts had a written language, it was rarely used. Their religious and philosophical beliefs
were preserved in an oral tradition. Little of their early history remains. Most of our information comes from Greek and Roman
writers, who may well have been heavily biased (the Celts invaded Rome in 390 BCE and Greece in 279 BCE). Other data comes
from the codification (and modification) of Celtic myth cycles by Christian monks. The latter included the Ulster Cycle, the
Fenian Cycle, the Cycle of Kings, the Invasion Races Cycle from Ireland, and The Mabinogion from Wales. Unfortunately, much
Celtic history and religion has been lost or distorted by an overlay of Christianity.
The Christian Church adsorbed much of Celtic religion: many Pagan Gods and Goddesses became Christian
saints; sacred springs and wells were preserved and associated with saints; many Pagan temple sites became the location of
cathedrals. By the 7th Century CE, Druidism itself was destroyed or continued deeply underground throughout most of the formerly
Celtic lands. There is some evidence that Pagan religions did survive in isolated areas of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into
the 20th Century.
read more at: http://www.religioustolerance.org