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Mailagnas maqqas Dunaidonas 
Posted: 03-Dec-2003, 09:06 AM
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Many (perhaps most) people, if they think of Druids at all, consider the Druids to be a mystical caste of priests, shamans, and wizards. However, in The Druids, Peter Berresford Ellis argues, with a good deal of success IMHO, that they were much more--that they were in fact what amounted to the Celtic intelectuall class, and included doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other learned professions, in addition to priests. In marked contrast to Roman society, in which women were clearly subservient to men, the Druid class included women as equals to men.
Because Druids relied upon an oral tradition, and refused to commit their knowledge to writing, much of what we know about the Druids today was written by their enemies, especially anti-Druid propaganda written by the Romans, who began a campaign of extermination against the Celts, which may be nearing succes. as Mr. Ellis states (p. 280):
QUOTE
Language is the highest form of cultural expression. The decline of the Celtic languages has been the result of a carefully established policy of brutal persescution and suppression. If the Celtic languages and cultures die then it will be no natural phenomenon. It will be the result of centuries of a careful policy of ethnocide. Once the languages disappear then Celtic civilization will cease to exist and the cultural continuum of three thousand years will come to an end.

Mr. Ellis also argues that the Druids did not simply disappear with the conversion of the Celts to Christianity, as many think. Rather, showing the adapatability that is one of the hallmarks of the Celts, they became Christian bards, lawyers, doctors, teachers, and Christian priests and bishops. Particularly in Ireland, Druid traditions continued well into modern times, even though not labeled as such, due to English persecution.
I would recommend Mr. Ellis's book to anyone who is interested in the Druids.
I would also suggest that by participating in this website, we are each doing a least a small part in keeping Celtic culture alive.


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barddas 
Posted: 03-Dec-2003, 10:41 AM
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What a nice start!

I have also read that the druids were more than just mysterious shamans. As you stated before.
As far as them being encorperated into Christian society I am not so sure about. In Ireland I can agree with that . But, since Ceaser thought the Druids to be a threat (on the main IslandEngland/Scotland/Wales) Proof of that was the destruction of the sacred groves... then followed by a slaughter of the celtic chieftains, or leaders. ie the druids. ( I don't have a source in front of me..being at work.. I will try and locate that though... smile.gif ) Which drove the druids into Wales, and northern Scotland.....

Some where I posted a thread about the last pagan sacrifice... it was in the north of Scotland...
If i have time today I will link to it, or bring it back to the top



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Mailagnas maqqas Dunaidonas 
Posted: 04-Dec-2003, 09:44 AM
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Thanks, Barddas.
I suspect you are correct about the Romans wiping out the Druids to the extent they could, which is why most of what little we do know about the Druids (other than what the Roman propagandists tell us) comes from the areas beyond Roman domination--especiallly Ireland, and, to a lesser extent, Wales. Unfortunately, since the Druids themselves were the repositories of their collective knowledge, most of that knowledge died with them. As Elllis points out, there was a relatively brief window of time following the Irish conversion to Christianity when some Druids did do some writing, although there was a tendency to re-cast Druid tradition in Christian terms, making it difficult to sort things out.
Of course, the Picts were also out of reach of the Romans, but left so little evidence of their culture that there are still debates as to whether they were Celts, or arose from an earlier non-Celtic culture.
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barddas 
Posted: 04-Dec-2003, 10:06 AM
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Ireland for sure! There is such a .....Um, entertwining of the Paganism and Christianity. Example being Brighid, or Saint Brigit. There is n o real evidence of her exisitantce. It is common thought that the Goddess Brighid, was adapted to St. Brigit. So that there was an even flow for the "conversion".
In days of old there was a sacred fire that was kept lit by a "cult", "group" of women. When the missionaries came in, it is said thatthe nuns took the place of these women, and kept the fire going in honor of St. Brigit.

Any thoughts???


( Maybe we should stat a Pict/celt thread too...I was going to...but have yet to get round to it...)
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Mailagnas maqqas Dunaidonas 
Posted: 04-Dec-2003, 10:27 AM
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QUOTE (barddas @ Dec 4 2003, 10:06 AM)
Any thoughts???


( Maybe we should stat a Pict/celt thread too...I was going to...but have yet to get round to it...)

There are definitely those who consider St. Brigid a historical person. See, e.g.,
http://www.st-brigid.org/brigid.htm
and
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=453
Given her placement of her convent under a large oak tree, and the association of the oak tree with the Druids, it's hard to escape the conclusion that she was one of the Druids who made the transition to Christianity. The accomplishments for which she is given credit are definitely more in keeping with the Celtic/Druid tradition than with the Roman tradition.
I like the idea of exploring the Pictish-Celtic connection, but finding the time and resources is a bit of a challenge.
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