It is the Iron Age, the age of the Druids in Britain. The era is 600 BC to 50 AD. It is said they exerted a powerful influence throughout Celtic society.
They were the Celtic Priests, political advisors, teachers, healers and wise men too who possessed the knowledge to unlock the magic of nature.
Yet we also know that they practiced human and animal sacrifice!
What we know of this Celtic society today we learned directly from the writings of classical authors including Julius Caesar.
The knowledge of the Druids was mostly transmitted through oral accounts rather than in written form but today, many excellent books written on the subject of Celtic Britain, delve deeper into the mystery of the Druids and their magic.
For those who wish to discover the secrets of the Ogham...read Steve Blamires' Celtic Tree Mysteries. You can potentially unlock the secrets behind the choice of woods used to carve each wand for the wizard students.
What is the significance of a wand made of willow? ash, holly or fir?
Bard Woodcrafts, Purveyors of fine druid wands provides some of these answers and "The Wand Shop" has a large selection of wands made from some of the most beautiful hardwoods mentioned in the Celtic Tree Mysteries.
Gary Droit's article below opens the doors to their knowledge and wisdom. Makes you want to "read all about it"!
One of my favorite things is finding out about the life of our ancient ancestors, an extension of my interest in genealogy and family history. It helps us to understand how present-day things came to be. Halloween, for instance, is a tradition that dates back before Christ in Europe where the Druids ruled.
It is believed that the Druids constructed the several-thousand-year-old circle of huge stones at Stonehenge in the British Isles, providing physical evidence that they existed 'way back in pre-history.
The Druids were the priests and the law in pre-Roman Europe. They were there even before the Gaelic people came. When the Celts took over, they integrated the Druidic religion into their own, and kept the Druids as their priests and lawgivers, since the Celts were content to be the warrior class. The Druids were exempt from military service, being holy people.
Very little has come down to us in the way of writings concerning the Druids. The main reason for this is that the Druids themselves did not allow the writing of their teachings. Writing was considered a memory aid, and they wanted their students to develop their memorization skills. It was also believed that writing something down detracted from its power, demeaning the thing written down. The other reason for the scarcity of writings concerning the Druids is that the Roman priests considered such writings to be heresy, and destroyed all they came across.
The reason we have what knowledge we do have concerning the Druids is that they did teach people to commit knowledge to memory. This memorized knowledge has come down to us in the form of the folklore of Ireland and Scotland! Much of this folklore has now been written down.
I have obtained what I know of the Druids and Celts primarily from the writings of D.P. MacLeod at Dalriada - Celtic Heritage Trust, and from Celtic Heart, and Paddynet.
It should be noted that the Druids and Celts inhabited not only Ireland and Scotland, but all of Europe. The reason they are known mainly from Ireland and Scotland is that the Romans did not occupy these lands when they had supposedly conquered "the world." The Romans eradicated all evidence of Celtic religion from the regions they did occupy. It is known from the writings of the Greeks and Romans that, prior to Rome becoming a world power, the Celts had an alliance with the Greeks! About 400 BC, the Celts actually sacked Rome, a good reason for the Romans to want to eradicate them.
The languages spoken throughout Europe, with the possible exception of Italian, are referred to as "Germanic" languages. This reflects the fact that the Celts were originally from the area of Germany, 'way back before anyone can reasonably reckon. Say 12,000 BC. Due to the prevalence of red and blonde hair among the Celts and Germans, and the name of "Dan" being common (Danmark, Tuatha de Danaan), one could reasonably assume descendance from the Israelite tribe of Dan. Furthermore, the similarity in pronunciation of "Eire" and "Ur" produces speculation that the Israelites and the Celts may be orginally from the same area. Thus are the people of the world related. In the absence of writing, it is impossible to know the generation-by-generation genealogy of the human race, but there is much other evidence which allows us to come up with a general idea.
The Druids were the priestly caste whose duties were somewhat all-encompassing, in that they were also the teachers, the judges, and the law of the land. They were in a way the keepers of all knowledge. At the time, the law was the province of the Gods (We have this same concept yet today when we think of Christ as our King, to whom we owe sole obedience), and the Druids could converse with the Gods, discovering their will. The idea of the Druids being "The Law" is evidenced in France, where the word for "Law" is Droit, the French pronunciation of Druid. (The "uid" ending is actually pronounced "uit")
It is recorded in Greek and/or Roman writings that the nobility of those civilizations often employed Celtic teachers, who drew their learning from Britain, (Celtic pronunciation is Pretain) which is said to be the ancestral home of the Druids. Celtic teachers would make pilgrimages there to keep up with the latest knowledge. Since teaching was the domain of the Druids, it is likely that these particular Celtic teachers were actually Druids, whose motivation for travelling so far and wide was most likely to increase their store of knowledge about the world, and about their potential enemies in foreign lands. Their pilgrimages to the homeland would have been to inform the "High Druids" of goings-on at the edges of the world.
When "the world" converted to Christianity, some in the homeland converted on purpose, and not under duress, becoming priests and bishops of the "new" religion in order to maintain their status and control, and to avoid the inquisition which resulted in many of their peers being exterminated. See "The Coming of Columba" at Dalriada.
Gary Droit is a (mainly) self-educated "Renaissance Man", being interested in science, art, anthropology, literature, Christianity, and most all things.
He has been supporting himself and his family by repairing business machines (NCR corporation 1966-1990) and computers, building computers, installing and maintaining networks, and doing web design and graphics. He is presently interested in being a freelance writer.