There isn't much evidence for what the Druids of 2000 years ago got up to, and what we do have is problematic. Rather than chew this over at any length, Hutton concentrates on the history of modern druidry, starting around 1500 and going through to the repsent day. Rather than working chronologically, he explores different notions of what druidry means'wise druids', 'patriotic druids', 'green druids', 'rebel druids', 'demonic druids,' etc.
A fascinating and very readable book. Druid Description, History, Facts Britannica Druid, Member Of The Learned Class Among The Ancient Celts They Acted As Priests, Teachers, And Judges The Earliest Records Of Druids Date From The Rd Century BCE Very Little Is Known For Certain About The Druids, Who Kept No Records Of Their Own Julius Caesar Is The Principle Source Of Knowledge About The Druids Who Were The Druids Historic UK A Brief History Of The Druids Ellis, PeterIn This Compelling And Readable History, Respected Celtic Scholar Peter Berresford Ellis Explores Who The Druids Really Were And What Role They Played In The Celtic World Ellis Provides A Fresh And Convincing A History Of The Druids In Britain British Heritage Druids Were The Priests Of The Early Celtic Religion, On The Top Rung Of The Three Tiered Celtic Society Consisting Of Serfs, Warriors, And Learned Men But In Addition To Their Religious Function, Druids Also Performed The Roles Of Judge, Doctor, And Scholar They Were Educated Through A Long And Grueling Process Of Rote Memorization The Druids Philosophers, Politicians, Priests OrThe Druids Were A Class Of Celtic Speaking Purveyors Of Magical And Religious Practice Who Inhabited Northwestern Europe Around , Years Ago, But Almost Everything We Know About Them Is From Secondhand Sources Druid WikipediaThe Druids A HistoryRonald HuttonA Comprehensive Insight Into Druids In Britain Since , With Hundreds Of Sources Never Used Before The First Major Overview Of The Subject For OveryearsRonald Hutton S Latest Book Is The First Comprehensive Study Of What People Have Thought About The Ancient Druids And Why Too difficult to read even half. I now know that the last 400 years have been filled with utter scam artists, liars and people with pure ideas of fantasy about the Druids. Maybe this book was made more accessible to the public, but of absolutely no interest to me. I already knew that Druidry is mostly based on fantasy, learning of the lies and the scamming was extremely depresing and of no use in my life.
The Druids were Celtic Religious leaders who were wiped out by the Romans. Not much is known about them as their teachings were oral rather than written. They left behind no written records of themselves. The only thing modern scholars have to go on is written records left behind by their foes, which were not too complimentary.
In the early 1500's European Nations started to become interested in the Druids. The Germans were the first, although the Druids were not Germanic. They claimed that the Druids were there ancestors and forebears. Next France jumped on the bandwagon. Eventually it would get to Wales, England and Scotland. Although Ireland was were the Celts last settled, Ireland never became to interested in the Druids. Later Britain would come to have an interest in the Druids. Britain today is the country that seems to be most enthusiastic about Druids. Wales through their poetry and mythology seemed to go back and forth with the Druids.
In European Literature the Druids have taken a variety of roles. The first role is that of patriotic leaders. They were the ones who blessed the soldiers before they went to fight and they are also the ones who let out the battle call. The Romans when they took over Anglesy supposedly encountered a group off wild druids consisting of males and females. They put up a wild fight fight before they were subdued. Of course these images of Druids come from the annals of Roman Historians.
Another image of the Druids is that is that of Wisemen. Roman reports, which somewhat contradict each other , also depict the Druids as hanging out in the Forests and groves dispensing wisdom and judgment under an oak tree. They were even
said to have schools out in the forest. In the Mythology there are three types of Druids. Certain ones were Bards or singers, the second type ovates were ones who read oracle. Druids were wisemen or religious leaders. The Druids were also astronomers, mathematicians and philosophers. They were said to have become followers of Pythagoreas.
The third image of Druids is that of environmentalist. They were ones who had knowledge of nature and herbs and were into preserving nature. A final image was that off the Demonic Druid. They are seen as sacrificing young children and women in order to ensure for a good crop. This was started by the Romans and later perpetrated by later British writers. The Roman said that the Druids would load people into a wicker man and set it alight. Ussually this consisted of criminals and prisoners of war. If that was not available then they would use citizens. European literature took it even a step further and portrayed them as forest wanderers who would kidnap children and make them into Druids or sacrifice them.
In the 1700's Fraternal organizations sprang up all over Britain . At first they were set up as organization that had entertainment, insurance policies and funds to help those in need. These groups modeled themselves after the Masons some of them flourish today. Later on the Druids would start incorporating religious rituals into their format. Many of these were learned from the Golden Dawn Magickal Order. These people has celebration at the Stonehenge.
This book dealt with perceptions of the Druids not who they really were as that would be really hard to do with the lack of records left behind. Many people have speculated on who the Druids were. Some thought they were Phoenicians or Hebrews who practices a corrupted for of the Middle Eastern faith. Other thought that they were Japhetites who came to prepare the way for the acceptance of Christ. Later this view would change and people would see the Druids as those who opposed the true faith Very academic to read. While I have lots of admiration for Ronald on tv and the talks he gives. He writes as he teaches, which is the top end of university. As a dyslexic, I found his writing to be out of my league.
But I can aberiate that other people may find it easy and enjoyable. This book actually will tell you quite a bit about what is known about the ancient Druids: rather little, actually, and much of the evidence admits of many interpretations. Not that that stopped anyone from confidence. Which you will learn about in rather more detail, because it is the main subject of the book: the fascinating subject of what modern people have done with the idea of Druids. The ancient Druids are brought to explain what, if anything, actually substantiates the various types of druids, which gives it another interest, in watching how evidence can be put together, and picked apart, in support of various historical theses. It also discusses the evolution of ideas about prehistory, including how the Druids came to be viewed as the latest of pagan religions in Britain, but also in the context of discussing the types of treatment the Druid has gotten, over the centuries.
The Patriotic Druid, who encourages his countrymen in resistance to the invaders the Romans, of course. Oddly enough, there are only a couple of references to Druids doing this, both in Tacitus, and neither one particularly reliable. Julius Caesar writes about Druids when discussing the customs and practices of Gaul, making them out as extremely important figures, but when he writes about his actual conquests, he never even mentions them. Odd. No one's come with a good explanation for that. But that didn't stop various early modern figures in Germany and France from using them as patriotic inspiration, and later British ones, which can feature both a unified patriotism, or a separatist one, in Scotland, or Wales, or England at different times, though not Ireland. Incidentallyif you thought that the Druids weren't in Germany, you were right.
The Wise Druid. Alluded to in ancient writings, by people far off from the Druids. Put through some interesting convolutions by people trying to retrieve the wisdom of people who left no writings.
The Green Druid, the fellow who lived in harmony with nature and had a special association with trees. Found in some Roman writings, where it appears to be a way of showing what savages they were. A generation or so after writers didn't mention any such connection; perhaps persecution had driven them to this. On the other hand, writers who ran with this generally portrayed it as a fundamental trait.
The Demonic Druid. The monster of human sacrifice. This one, actually, there's a good bit of evidence for. Unfortunately, it's evidence of very dubious quality, being not only at least second hand but from the hands of people with obvious motives to slander them. And even it has been vastly exaggerated in the hands of writers out to write sensationally. Roman writers agreed that the Druids used criminals as sacrifices, and some said that lacking enough, they would use the innocent as well. Sensationalist writers assumed that they had a natural preference for the innocent, especially women and children. This chapter also delves into the archaeological evidence, since it's the only Druid who could be supportedor underminedby such evidence. Which can, in fact, go either way.
The Fraternal Druid. Which actually has no roots in the past at all. Clubs and associations that used the name Druid.
The Rebel Druid. If there was one thing certain about ancient Druids, it was that they were part and parcel of their societies. Nevertheless rebels and eccentrics have frequently taken up the name as part of their revolt against society in general.
He concludes with some admitted speculation about what paths the notion of Druids might take in the future.. Hutton's book is an interesting survey on Druidrypast, present, and somewhat into the future. As his foreword notes, the book was written on a level that is far more accessible to the average readerpurposefully avoiding academic writing style. Therefore, anyone reading his book "Triumph of the Moon" will easily note the differences in styles. If you have had the chance to hear Hutton speak at length on a subject, you can definitely find his sense of humor sprinkled throughout. For me, the last two chapters"Rebel Druids" and "Future Druids" were certainly the best and most interesting readingbut much of the previous chapters also had areas of interest for me as well. Overall, a very good introduction to some of the history of Druidry. This is a very informative book. I enjoyed reading it at our Celtic Book Discussion Group. I learned a lot about the history of Druids in Britain. It would have been nice to have the final chapter be about other Druid groups from around the world. The message is that we know virtually nothing about ancient Druids at all, and that much of what people thought they knew was forged by Iolo Morganwg. The book goes through different "types" of Druid, and how they have been presented through literature and different orders. Fairly interesting. Great history of modern druidry.