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  • #16
    Originally posted by Riothamus View Post
    I personally wouldn't trust anything Caesar said more than I trust CEOs for large corporations and I think CEOs are the freakinng spawn of the wicked one so I don't trust them very much at all. This would be so much easier if someone just found a damned druid bible. Sadly the closest thing we have is the Lebor Feasa Runda which has some info we already know of and the rest is of questionable nature. Interesting to read through, but I would not go as far as to call a great earth shattering discovery. As I said the background of the text is highly questionable
    Fortunately, we can "reverse engineer" some of what was lost by seeing what the early Christians were attempting to paint in a black light and we can extract even more from what was actually preserved in the works and practices of the Filidh. Additionally, the folk preserved the lore in ways that even the Church could not supress. Finally, there are the spiritual and magical ways that people can discover for themselves. That is how the knowledge was found in the first place. Living with it is how it was found to be good and testing it strongly is how it is perfected.

    Searles O'Dubhain

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Riothamus View Post
      Sadly the closest thing we have is the Lebor Feasa Runda which has some info we already know of and the rest is of questionable nature. Interesting to read through, but I would not go as far as to call a great earth shattering discovery. As I said the background of the text is highly questionable
      Uh, it beyond questionable. It's even less credible than Monroe's, IMO.

      We're talking about a man here who forges documents to lay claim to Clan Akins of Scotland.
      http://homepage.eircom.net/~seanjmur...efs/akins.html
      "Cattle die, kinsmen die, one day you yourself must die.

      I know one thing that never dies:
      the dead man's reputation."


      Havamal- Sayings of the High One

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Myrddyn Emrys View Post
        Uh, it beyond questionable. It's even less credible than Monroe's, IMO.

        We're talking about a man here who forges documents to lay claim to Clan Akins of Scotland.
        http://homepage.eircom.net/~seanjmur...efs/akins.html
        Indeed. Oh brother...

        I'd rather stick with Evans-Wentz. (In fact, I'm re-reading that book now...and finding it significantly more "charming" than I had originally... Go figure....)
        ________________________________________________________________________

        Buy my latest book, ACHERON, as an exclusive audiobook from Audible.com now!
        (Or sign up for a 30-day trial of Audible.com, and get it for free!)


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        • #19
          Originally posted by odubhain View Post
          Fortunately, we can "reverse engineer" some of what was lost by seeing what the early Christians were attempting to paint in a black light and we can extract even more from what was actually preserved in the works and practices of the Filidh. Additionally, the folk preserved the lore in ways that even the Church could not supress. Finally, there are the spiritual and magical ways that people can discover for themselves. That is how the knowledge was found in the first place. Living with it is how it was found to be good and testing it strongly is how it is perfected.

          Searles O'Dubhain
          The Celtic Church of St. Brigid didn't "suppress" anything, though titles changed and they became more specialized (Priests, Bards, etc). Again, it was just adding Christianity to what was already there. Don't confuse the Celtic Church with the Roman one. Sure, the Roman Church was the way it was, but... Notice the Roman pagans, as we see with Caesar, were the same way in their attitude towards other cultures. Tiberius and Claudius, who did suppress the Druids in Gaul weren't Christian, but they were Roman. It was more about the Roman and Celtic cultures rather than whatever they were calling their respective religions at any given time.

          But, even St. Augustine, supporter of the Military Roman model of the Church, said this of the Druids...

          "That which is called the Christian Religion existed among the Ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginning of the Human Race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time true religion, which already existed began to be called Christianity.”

          Not what I'd call "trying to paint a black light."

          But then, Augustine believed that Jesus was taught as a child by the Druids in Glastonbury. The original version of the Grail Myth was that Joseph of Arimathea had brought the young Jesus to Britain on a business trip, and later brought the Grail and Thorn to Glastonbury, where the Grail would be protected by the Nine Sisters in Avalon, eventually led by Morgan le Fey. Yes, in the earliest forms of the Myth, Morgan was a Christian High Priestess. That doesn't fit the Roman way of doing things, but it fit perfectly in a Celtic way where a woman like St. Brigid had the power of a Roman Archbishop over Ireland. Such was the Exalted One's power and respect that her successors in Kildare maintained their level of authority and continued maintaining the Flame until the 12th Century, hundreds of years after the Roman Church had taken control.

          St. Brigid, herself, is probably the best evidence that there were female equivalents to Druids. Given ​that no one questioned or challenged her authority or right to perform the rituals, we can presume it wasn't unusual for a woman to do this. It also fits with the sexual equality of Celtic society. The Celtic Christians honored the female nurturing aspect of God as well as the male creator aspect. The rituals involving the Flame as well as the various Imbolc practices and rituals give us plenty to work with.

          But, it's through a Christian filter. We don't even know for certain that the Goddess Brigid had anything to do with Imbolc, or whether the modern association comes from the Saint. It's assumed that those rituals she performed at Imbolc related to her namesake, but there's also the theory that much of the more legendary aspects of St. Brigid came from a few Celtic Goddesses, and even one or two from the St. Lucia cult. Given the two Saints association with fire and candles being the center of celebrations, it's natural that a little of Lucia's legend found it's way into Brigid's. That's also probably why I developed a fascination with Lucia even though she isn't Celtic. She reminded me of Brigid.

          I prefer the view that the Goddess Brigid was central to Imbolc, but I'm biased.

          But, regardless of what may or may not have been, Brigid is associated with Imbolc, now. We have seasonal rituals that are rooted in the time of the Druids, even though they're probably not exactly as the Druids practiced them. The Druids didn't have the Queen of the May and Green Man at Beltane, but there's a lot of the Fae in these Christian figures, so you can decide for yourself whether to use them or not. I like them, personally, but I can see how a Fundamentalist Druid may feel differently.

          So, as there's no definitive work on the practices of the Druids, I'd suggest researching seasonal traditions and rituals individually, learn their history, where they came from. Study the Mythology, and understand the context. If you have any apple trees in the area, wassail them in early January.
          Last edited by perceval23; December 31st, 2011, 12:52 PM.

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          • #20
            I was thinking primarily about the ways in which the Lebor GabŁ„la and the Senchus Mor were develped to cut out most of the Pagan and Druidic influences. I was also giving considerable thought to works like The Calendar of Oengus, his Martyology, The Ever New Tongue and the like. As time passed and the Church was separated from its native roots, much was changed and suppressed. What could not be outright exorcised from the traditions was "baptized" in a number of ways to make it seem more Christian.

            The entire story of Brighid is an excellent example of how an Irish Pagan goddess can be converted to a Christian Saint through editing and combination of one tradition with perhaps another in Church propaganda. I say this even while knowing that one of my own relatives was an Abbess of Kildare at the beginning of the 9th century CE.

            I've come to expect such changes and "spin doctoring" on matters by the ruling elite in any society. It wasn't much different in the Irish society of the first millenia though we should be thankful that as much was preserved as actually happened. The real villains IMO were the Vikings who destroyed almost every book they could get their hands on during their raids from the middle to the end of the millenia. It was only through the efforts of those monks that hide books or who sent copies to the continent that as much was saved until the ravages of the English beginning during the 16th and 17th centuries decimated the works once again.

            Searles O'Dubhain
            Last edited by odubhain; January 1st, 2012, 09:14 AM. Reason: minor typos

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            • #21
              But, again, that was the Roman influence that slowly did away with the Celtic Church. So, again, it was the conflict between the Celtic and Roman cultures. Just because the Empire ended didn't mean the culture didn't continue. You'll notice the Roman Church's structure is very much like the old Roman military. Rome continued to dominate Europe, just in a different way.

              Still, they couldn't completely bury the Celtic lore and practices. We have the poets and troubadours to thank for keeping the Grail Myth alive and popularizing it all over Europe. Of course, with them a lot of Gnosticism, Kabbalah, and Sufism had gotten mixed in, leading to Alchemy and other Christian Mystery practices and traditions, including Tarot (which is why Tarot has so much symbolism that's Celtic and from Alchemy). We had traditions and practices that survived. The Fae were still honored. So, when Celtic concepts began experiencing a revival, there was still plenty to work from. But, as things are when they evolve, George MacDonald had as much Alchemy as Celtic in his philosophy. That's OK though, I think, because Alchemy was partly rooted in Celtic myth and practice, anyway.

              St. Brigid has always been a problem for the Roman Church. As for why I don't think there's any question that she existed, that center of worship in Kildare, the level of authority over Ireland those women had, the rituals they performed, even centuries after the Roman Church took over, wasn't created in a vacuum. If you separate the mythic aspects, you're still left with a remarkable and powerful Irish woman and spiritual leader (and just the sort of person a lot of myth and legend will be built around over the years). She doesn't fit a Roman world view (Remember, the Romans were quite sexist in pagan times, and remained so in Christian times), but she's someone the Celtic culture that gave us Boudica would produce. The Vatican keeps trying to get rid of her, but she won't go away. She's too important to the Irish.

              The Lutherans in Scandinavia were more sensible. They lost most of the Saints, but kept Lucia. They understood how important she was to the Scandinavian people. Even today, hardline atheists keep the Lucia festivals and rituals. No wonder Odin has never been able to regain a real foothold, there. Modern Norse pagans have to work Lucia into their practices, even though they know the ancient pagans didn't.

              It's also important to remember that the Celts had a different view of Gods and Goddesses than the rest of Europe. A key part of Irish Mythology was taking Ireland from the Tuatha De Danann by force. You couldn't picture the ancient Greeks doing that to the Olympians, or the Vikings doing it to their Gods. A big mistake a lot of people make, I think, is trying to superimpose a Greek, Roman, or Norse view of Gods on the Celts. The Celts didn't have a central pantheon. Gods varied from region to region.

              Hence, the theory that the Goddess Brigid wasn't as we think of her today, that much of what we now associate with her came from the Saint, whose myths and legends (and actual practices) drew from several Celtic Goddesses (aside from two specific legends that were rooted in Lucia). She has little in common with her British counterpart Brigantia. Brigantia was honored in the Summer months, for example. But, what we know of Brigantia comes from after she was Romanized and connected to the Roman Pantheon, so she may have originally been associated with Winter's thaw... Or, maybe Brigid was originally associated with Summer. We don't know.

              But, again, I prefer the view that the Goddess Brigid was much as we see her, today, that St. Brigid's practices were rooted in her namesake. But also, again, I admit to my own bias on the subject.

              And, again, I don't think it really matters now beyond historical research. Religions evolve. They must to stay relevant. The ancient Druids could have resolved our questions by writing it all down instead of completely depending on passing things down orally, but they chose not to. Perhaps they simply didn't feel the need to, always thinking in what was then the here and now. Fortunately, the Celtic Christians did write things down, or more would have been lost than was. I think it's also safe to say the religious practices in Gaul were different than the ones practiced in Ireland. There'd have been a common basis and philosophy and probably some rituals, but with different Gods honored in different regions... That would have to have meant different practices, I think. For example...

              Where the Flame in Kildare is was a sacred female space. No men were allowed within it. Even deliveries of supplies were made by women from the town. And this was in Christian times, so we can assume it was a holdover from pagan times. Meanwhile, the accounts of the Druids in Gaul said the Druids were all male. But then, our sources on the Druids in Gaul were those sexist Romans, so it may have been their own prejudices coming into play when they wrote their accounts.

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              • #22
                The Roman Church did the most to change the traditions but were not entirely successful in Ireland. They did however change quite a bit in the Senchus and the class structure. The new Christian priesthood replaced the Druids in leading the rituals and somewhat in advising the kings. The Filidh were able to retain their rank because all the kings really needed them to establish their legacies in the coimgne.

                Quite a few Druids and Filidh did convert to the new religion but even more did not. My feeling is that many Druids just took on the role of being Filidh rather than fade into the wood work. There werre many hold overs from Pagan times to the point that Papal Bulls were written to have the priests and monks overlay their holidays and rituals on the prior Pagan ones. The Church kept chipping away a little at a time. Even the hardest stone can be worn away by relentless pressure.

                My entire point is that the vestiges of the previous ways are there to be found in what remained, as well as in what was being attacked by the churchmen in their sermons and writings. Using that and what we know about other ways from every available sources we can recover what worked for our ancestors. That is what many are attempting nowadays.

                Searles O'Dubhain

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                • #23
                  Actually there are a few Celtic deities who are universal. Many were regional, but a few were in fact highly universal.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Riothamus View Post
                    I personally wouldn't trust anything Caesar said more than I trust CEOs for large corporations and I think CEOs are the freakinng spawn of the wicked one so I don't trust them very much at all. This would be so much easier if someone just found a damned druid bible. Sadly the closest thing we have is the Lebor Feasa Runda which has some info we already know of and the rest is of questionable nature. Interesting to read through, but I would not go as far as to call a great earth shattering discovery. As I said the background of the text is highly questionable
                    If you look back through this subforum you'll find exactly why it's questionable. It's a tired old subject and it's the kind of book that should be lumped in with Douglas Munroe and the McCoy's of this world.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by odubhain View Post
                      The Roman Church did the most to change the traditions but were not entirely successful in Ireland. They did however change quite a bit in the Senchus and the class structure. The new Christian priesthood replaced the Druids in leading the rituals and somewhat in advising the kings. The Filidh were able to retain their rank because all the kings really needed them to establish their legacies in the coimgne.

                      Quite a few Druids and Filidh did convert to the new religion but even more did not. My feeling is that many Druids just took on the role of being Filidh rather than fade into the wood work. There werre many hold overs from Pagan times to the point that Papal Bulls were written to have the priests and monks overlay their holidays and rituals on the prior Pagan ones. The Church kept chipping away a little at a time. Even the hardest stone can be worn away by relentless pressure.

                      My entire point is that the vestiges of the previous ways are there to be found in what remained, as well as in what was being attacked by the churchmen in their sermons and writings. Using that and what we know about other ways from every available sources we can recover what worked for our ancestors. That is what many are attempting nowadays.

                      Searles O'Dubhain
                      My point is we can't know exactly what the previous ways were, at least in how and when they were practiced. Is our modern idea of the Goddess Brigid what the ancient pagan one was? Did she have all the attributes we now give her? Was she even associated with Imbolc? Or, did those associations come from Christianity, the Goddess being refashioned over time in the image and traditions of the Saint? Again, it's worth noting how different the Irish Brigid is from the British Brigantia. And, again, one must remember that everything we have on Brigantia was after the Romans assimilated her. All we can be objectively certain of is what these various Goddesses had in common after all was said and done.

                      The evidence also, I think, strongly suggests that Druid practices differed from region to region. This makes sense when you look at other cultures. Germanic cultures had, more or less, common Gods and Goddesses, but the German and Norse versions and practices differed greatly. A modern example would be Catholicism in the US. Ask Catholics in Boston about St. Muerte. They won't know what you're talking about. But, in Texas, the Catholics can tell you all about St. Muerte.

                      And finally, there's the inevitable result of cultures having contact and interaction. The Celtic Fae and Norse Elves obviously influenced each other, but where was the point of separation? What were the Myths and practices before? We have no way of knowing. Our modern versions of the Mythology of the Tuatha De Danann has noticeable touches of Hebrew Mythology, obviously a result of Celtic Christianity. What were the Myths before then? We don't know.

                      So, in my opinion, it's impossible to do a true, authentic, pure reconstruction. All one can do is go with what works best for the individual, what resonates with you, touches your soul. Don't worry too much about whether or not what you're doing is exactly what the ancient Druids did, because it's not going to be, regardless. But, my own feeling is the ancient Druids were rather fluid about it, and allowed their religion to evolve. They had no central authority with a strict set of rules, practices, and dogma for everyone to follow, so why should we?

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                      • #26
                        Everyone will have their own opinion and way to honor the traditions whether it is based on a generally accepted authority and reference or not. What we do know is how religion was practised in the historical era and from that, and a comparison to other cultures, we can come up with the uniquely Irish practices and attitudes that are independent of Christianity, Additionally, we can see what the Christian church was fighting against in Irish traditions and folk practices and have a pretty good idea and understnding of how and what the pre-Christian Irish were doing.

                        I'm currently reading an eBook titled _Jesus, King of the Druids: A Celtic Conception of Christ_ that covers a lot of this ground from a "Druids weren't far from being Christians in the first place" kind of attitude. This mirrors the approaches put forth by the Irish Filidh and the Welsh Bards when they attempted to mesh older traditions with the ways of Christianity. I'm not sure I buy the entire idea but there are certainly some similarities. Come to think of it, almost all of the major religions have some common ground for exchanges and tolerance of one another (but there's always some that think their version is the one true way).

                        I'm one that thinks we can find the old ways the same way they were found in the first place. I also think we have an incredible amount of information with which to start. Further, I think that present day folks and their lore are an excellent guide to how the old ways grew over the years to the point that what we will have from the study and the work is a modern Druid way that works in the present day (if we are dedicated and lucky). It's best to work with a living tradition rather than dead bones.

                        Searles O'Dubhain
                        Last edited by odubhain; January 6th, 2012, 08:43 AM. Reason: corrected a lot of typos. even more typo corrections; generally takes at least 5 corrections for me. :-(

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Seren_ View Post
                          If you look back through this subforum you'll find exactly why it's questionable. It's a tired old subject and it's the kind of book that should be lumped in with Douglas Munroe and the McCoy's of this world.
                          At the same time, we can learn something from even the worst of sources, so I recommend reading them in the library or from someone else's copy if one does not want to enrich what is considered to be questionable. I think we should be very sober and somber in our deliberations, but I also think we should never lose our sense of wonder about the tales.

                          I personally have learned a lot from my own mistakes and from verifying what is wrong with the hypotheses of others.

                          Searles O'Dubhain
                          Last edited by odubhain; January 2nd, 2012, 10:53 PM. Reason: added the hypotheses of ohers remark anf then fixed the typo there :-)

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                          • #28
                            We do know that even St. Augustine, staunch supporter of the Roman Church, thought the Druids were pretty much Christian before Christianity came along. We know, from the Celtic Christian accounts, that the Druids, at least in Ireland, had their Vernal Equinox rituals at exactly the same time as the Jewish Passover and Christian Pascha, with the first full moon following the Equinox, and had the same tradition the Christians of the time practiced, bonfires.

                            But, again, any reconstruction is going to be a bit syncretic. Simply removing Christian names from Celtic rituals and practices doesn't make them automatically as the ancient Druids did things (A lot of modern Druids don't do that, but many do). They've gone through so many centuries of being Christian, not to mention the changes in the culture over the years. The Queen of the May and Green Man are Christian, so any modern Druid who celebrates them at Beltane is practicing syncretism. Sure, modern pagans have created a new Mythology for her to fit their practices, but she's still, originally, St. Mary.

                            Not that I mind. For all my gripes with the Roman Church, I like their calendar. Each seasonal celebration involves preparations for the next. The Christians who follow the calendar are currently nearing the end of the festival celebrating the birth of the Queen of the May's child, the end of which involves awakening the apple trees and the first Kings Cakes. The Kings Cake ritual decides who is in charge of the next major festival, at the beginning of February. Yep, that one.

                            The wassailing tradition is preparing for Spring, and I think we can safely say it has roots in the Druids (though the Saxons may have contributed a bit, as well). The Kings Cake tradition, even though it isn't Celtic, has me already thinking of Brigid. Seeing the Kings Cakes starting to appear where I live has me looking at the bare trees around me and thinking, "Soon." That reminder that Spring is coming, and the preparations already underway for Imbolc/Candlemas, make the cold Winter days and nights less something to complain about. And for that, I thank the Roman Catholics. Oh, and for the Queen of the May and Green Man, too.

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