Sunday, 1 November 2009
Prior to the Roman invasion of Britain, the religious life of the Celtic tribes was centred around a highly educated elite, called The Druids.
The word itself is thought to derive from a combination of the Greek word Drus, meaning oak and the Indo-European wid, meaning wisdom.
They were tasked with caring for the spiritual life of the tribe, interpreting the law and almost certainly medicine.
Tacitus, the Roman historian recorded that they worshipped oak trees and practised human sacrifice, but this is more likely the propaganda of the victors, since no evidence exists to support such a claim.
Certainly they revered the oak and their religious rites took place in Sacred Oak Groves. They also prized mistletoe, a parasitic plant of the oak.
Kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas may be a remnant of some long lost Druidic ritual.
The Druids were highly educated and their laws and rituals had to be memorised during the course of becoming a priest, involving a secretive heiratic alphabet called Ogham, the meaning of which is lost to us today.
They new Greek and by some it is thought that Pythagoras visited them before establishing his own Mystery School.Certainly the Ancient Greeks had great respect for their wisdom.
Their teachings included the immortality of the spirit and the transmigration of the soul.
Roman Legions annihilated them on The Isle of Anglesey in North Wales shortly after crushing the revolt by Queen Boudicca of the Iceni tribe.
Another historical example of the wisdom of the ancients crushed by a jackboot!