About the Druids

The word “Druid” conjures up thoughts of magic, wizardry and spiritualism, but in ancient times the definition of Druid was much broader. The ancient Druids were members of the educated, professional class among the Celtic peoples of Gaul, Britain, and Ireland during the Iron Age. The Druid class included law-speakers, poets, healers, sages, and spiritual leaders. One famous Druid in Celtic mythology is Finegas who lived by the Boyne River in Ireland and caught the Salmon of Knowledge.

The history of the Druids began some 25,000 years ago where the prehistoric period saw tribes from Europe moving westwards towards Britain and Ireland as the Ice Age retreated. These people had considerable knowledge of astronomy, mathematics and great engineering skills. The megalith building culture developed at this time, and this period saw the rise of great mounds like Newgrange in Ireland and circles of stone like Stonehenge in England.

Next came the period of documented history, when classical writers left behind written works about the Celts and Druids. The Celts had a highly sophisticated religious system, with three types of Druids: the Bards who knew the songs and stories of the tribe, the Ovates who were the healers and seers, and the Druids who were the philosophers, judges and teachers.

The third period, which lasted for a thousand years, began with the coming of Christianity. During this time, Celtic and Druid spirituality was preserved by the Christian clerics who recorded many of the old stories and myths conveyed by the Druids, who mostly converted to Christianity. St Patrick also recorded many of the old Druid laws of Ireland, thereby preserving information on the ethics and social structure of the pre-Christian Celtic culture.

The final period began in the sixteenth century with the “rediscovery” of the Druids and their Celtic heritage by European scholars. Along with the translation and printing of classical Druid texts, and during this period of “Druid Revival” groups and societies were established to study Druids and the Celtics, and cultural festivals celebrating their languages and traditions sprang up throughout Europe. This period of revival has grown into a renaissance, which continues to this day.