Most of us picture Druids as old grey-haired men with long pointy beards, green head-to-toe cloaks with big pointy hats who seem to float around the countryside picking herbs and wild flowers, chanting and singing. How wrong we are!
The first known talk of Druids and Druidism seems to be born out of the time of Julius Ceasar’s reign in 50 BCE, although some believe that the ancient religion originated from Asia. Stronger beliefs claim that Druidism originated from Celtic tribes out of Ireland, particularly when humans used to live under the night, much closer to nature than they do in modern times. Although considered a religion, Druidism took a different stance in comparison to orthodox religious beliefs and for that reason was labeled as a Pagan religion.
It is believed that there were differing forms of Druidism, with some believing in a one-true God, others in that god existed in all things, but none believing in the concept of Heaven and Hell, most likely due to their Pagan roots. They did, however, believe in the idea that once a human passed away, their soul would be reincarnated into another form and as such were not afraid of death. Either way, Druidism has several core beliefs:
- Reincarnation – the thought here is that a human’s soul went to The Otherworld between bodies with the possibility of moving from human body to animal – this belief is also held by the Modern Druids.
- All Life is Sacred – the divinity of all life whereby humans, animals and plants are equal.
- Nature – it is common knowledge that Druids are close to nature, embracing its energy and power to reconnect with all things living.
- Healing – holistic practices are carried out by Druids to heal and cleanse the mind, body and soul.
- Otherworld – a place believed that we travel to after death. There are beliefs that the Otherworld can be visited when alive through meditation, hypnosis and chanting.
Druids are famously known for their sacrificing of animals, however they also practiced human sacrifice, normally for the punishment of criminals but also to appease the Gods, whether it by drowning, hanging or even burning, whether the victim was a guilty party or not.
The Druid Year
Less commonly known is how the Druids divide their calendar year, much different to how we understand a normal year to be made up of seasons. The Druid year is divided into equal lunar and solar eighths, creating a balance of masculine and feminine factors. It is the solar times that we normally associate with Druids, particularly the Summer Solstice and Stonehenge. In contrast, Equinoxes see that day and night are equal and balanced, the sun not dominating any more. The Spring Equinox sees that the power of the sun is on the increase whereas the Autumnal Equinox examples the power of the sun being on the decline again in preparation for the darkness of Winter.