Master of Druidism Essay
By Rev. Kevin John Gilhooly
The Druids were an ancient people, although there was a more modern version. The modern ones tended to converge on Stonehenge from time to time. That was about all I knew about Druidism when I began this course.
I have always been interested in a multitude of belief systems – I was raised Roman Catholic and went to Catholic schools, I attended Buddhist services after college, and I've looked at other religions, as well. It has not been a quest to find the "right" or "only" solution, but rather to find ideas that will help me along my spiritual journey.
I began my study of the Druids with very little preconceptions. I chose the course since my family is originally from Ireland and because it was a belief system born of simpler times, which I think would be one possible solution to some of the issues of today. (This was mentioned in the course, in fact, so I was not alone in this thought.) Other than that, I was a blank slate.
I appreciated learning that the Druids were a society more than a religion. There are some societies (AA comes to mind) which often bind their members much more closely than proper religions do.
It is unfortunate that it was an oral tradition, since much of the specifics are then recorded for posterity by those outside the society. Nonetheless, there are records which are quoted throughout the course.
Since it was an oral tradition, there was a specific portion of society (the Bards) dedicated to continuing the tradition and handing it down. There were also Ovates, who were the healers and the Druids, who were performed the rituals and were teachers. It sounds like the caste system was not what we would consider a caste today with different levels in a hierarchy but rather a progression of learning.
Druidism taught its members to honor life – in all its forms. This core belief could help people to realize that all their actions ripple throughout the Earth – affecting not just themselves, but people and other beings around them. If you can accept this core belief, then you can start to realize your place within the Earth and how what you choose has effected beyond just those entities directly around you.
The interesting aspect of this to me was that it is a belief that will help one to do right without the requirement of a Supreme Being who is watching and "grading" what you do. There is no real need for someone watching over you to see if you behave – you can determine your correct path by how it affects the Earth around you.
Like their ethical code, the Druidic holidays are also tied to the Earth. Their calendar is based on the seasons, which would be much more important to acknowledge in an agrarian culture, and also again grounds the people into the rhythms of the Earth. It is interesting to note that theirs was a solar calendar, rather than a lunar one.
I was glad to learn that there are actually practicing Druids today. While it may not be accepted widely, I do believe it has concepts that should be acknowledged and studied, since other beliefs can gloss over them.
It is unfortunate that some of the aspects of the Druidic system (magic, divination) are held to ridicule by those in the mainstream, which then causes them to dismiss the tradition wholesale. While part of the tradition, I don't believe focusing on those aspects give a true picture of the system and how it can help modern people survive in a modern world. I also believe that the explanations of magic in the course would lead many to believe that magic is around us.
As the world becomes more automated and mechanized, perhaps all of us should take a moment and reflect on the traditions of the Druids, who were connected to the earth and to each other.
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