Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Druidism Essay from Universal Life Church Seminary Student Rev. Dr, Patrick M. Benner. Sr. D.D.,Ma,PhD

From: Rev. Dr, Patrick M. Benner. Sr. D.D.,Ma,PhD.

The following is my dissertation concluding my five month study under the Universal Life Church course title; Master of Druidism. Along with this thesis I have included a disc containing 188 documents used in support of this course of study. I found this course of study to be most interesting. While that phrase is superficial I would like it to be understood  that my course work not only increased my knowledge and understanding of the Druid religion but also caused me to leave my fifty one years of belief in Catholicism and to convert completely and wholly my entire life to the path of the Druids. I have always felt the call to this path I knew that their beliefs and teachings were that of my own soul. And as I began this course I knew immediately that this would fill the void that existed in my heart since my youth. During my studies I acquired membership in five separate Druidic fellowship organizations. And have pledged myself to one specific Druidic organization for continuing education and possible future clergy training. So as you can see my life was transformed and enhanced.
From the start; we learned the very beginning of the Druid/Celtic history. History indicates that the beginning of these people could go back as far as 4000 years BCE. And also indicates its start in Gaul, (an area of Western Europe now occupied by France, Luxemburg, Belgium and Switzerland). It must be understood that it is difficult to nail down Druid history partly due to the fact that all of its history was by word of mouth, family tradition and priestly and scholarly theatrical acts. Where battle between tribes and wars between families and country verses country and king verses king were all influenced by segments of religion, magic theory, alchemy, and politics. They were a people of wide and varied beliefs that when pulled apart to a single act would strike one as ridicules. But when looked upon as a whole it pans out to a mathematical and cultural simplicity. One begins to understand why they did, what they did and how they felt about their life and culture. The other reason making it hard to nail down the Druid history besides the fact that they didn't write down anything, their history was passed down through the families, through the tribes, through the lands and the very countries they inhabited through song. Then we have the issue of the wars between those of the Druid culture and the Christians under the leadership of Julius Caesar attempting to wipe clean what they considered to be the stain of Druidism and the misbeliefs of the Celtic people in general. So some of their history survived and some survived the scouring of the other religions that sought to eradicate them.

If I were to take the history of the Druids and their society as a whole and overlay it on our current day society, I am in awe at how little our current society in comparison has grown and how far the Druid society had grown over 6000 years ago. Here are some examples:
Women in today's society were until the 1950's, were considered to be second class citizens, extensions of their husbands. And in some cases did not even hold jobs. And, in our country didn't even gain the right to vote until the beginning of the 20th century. And in other countries around the world they can be second or third class citizens who cannot even show their face. Where, the Druid women of the past had the right to vote at the age of majority, they were taught to fight alongside their husbands and family members. They were taught battle tactics; they were masters of weaponry, and in some cases leaders of tribes and leaders of countries. We can learn a lot from their history. Another comparison would be that even in today's modern Catholicism a woman cannot be a priest. Or hold the title of clergy in any respect. Whereby; in Druid history if a woman was willing to devote herself to the training she could become a priestess of the Druid clergy with all of the equality of her male counterparts.

Now whether male or female I would be remiss if I did not comment on the importance of the Druid clergy. A Druid priest in their day was so powerful was said to have so much wisdom and to have mystic powers, to have been so well trained from everything from scholastics to battle tactics, that a king would not think of making a court decision without consulting his priest. And the thought of doing battle without your priest at your side was unheard of. It is said that a king who followed his priest's advice would always win though the tactical advantage. And they were more than priests, within their tribes they were the lawyers, judges, councilors, policeman, poets, singers and leaders. They did everything and they did it well. It is said that a priest of the Druid religion would need a minimum of 20 years training before he could take the title. We give doctors the power of life and death after 8 years of medical school. Lawyers can become judges after a 4 year law degree. And we give them the power of life and death. But a Druid priest would have to study for 20.

There are stories passed down that one would have to visualize to believe.  Imagine if you will, two tribes, 10,000 strong on each side. Each member of the tribe, a well trained blood thirsty warrior, whose only task that day under the command of his chieftain would be to slaughter every man possible during the battle with the other tribe. And moments before the battle starts with 10,000 warriors on each side of a divide, when out walks a Druid priest to stand in the middle, raise his arms and declare, "Go home this is an unjust war, and you will not wage it today" only to have 20,000 warriors turn and go home. That was the power of a Druid priest. They were said to have the power to see into the future and to alter the present and there by direct the path of mankind in a positive direction. I do not condone it, but I understand why a man such as Julius Caesar "a Christian" would seek to destroy Druid history and keep it from advancing.

In their society they prized education, truthfulness, honesty and responsibility for one's own actions as primary beliefs. Their code of ethics was without comparison even in today's society. In their day a man's name, the family name and the county they came from was of the utmost importance to them. A person would be afraid to do any wrong for fear of slandering the family name or even the land of your birth through your actions. The system of law was equal to and in some cases surpasses our own today. They believed that a man of little wealth would be held responsible for his crime (as he should be) but a man of great wealth would be punished to a greater extent because he had so much to begin with that his crime would be a greater transgression. There is a simplicity to the fact that a man of great wealth should be more grateful and thereby less willing to commit a crime than would be a man of little or no wealth who might only steal to feed his family.

When we go through our daily routines here in America and in even most of the world we use watches, calendars, calculators and other devices of time keeping. We take our system of linguistics in common stride. But one must remember that the calendar we look at every day, known as the Julian calendar is approximately 3000 years old. Our American language passed down through the British colonies is no more than 4000 years old. So now you must understand that the original methods for time keeping; calendar days, hours in a day, days in a year, astrological projections and so on can be traced back to over 6000 years ago to the original Irish, Celtic and Gailic tribes along the Irish countryside. That puts them about 2000 years ahead of this country. If they were allowed to flourish instead of having to fight to survive, this country and others could possibly be 2000 years further advanced. When you consider the advances this county has made from 1912 to 2012 a mere 100 years, and think of those advances and project forward  2000 years to where we would be today had we followed their examples  The possibilities are staggering.

Their beliefs in their Gods and Goddess were of such a strong nature that it kept them focused on the important things: family, friends, fellowship, education, ethics, morality and culture. Fame and fortune was of little interest to them. And farm and family was everything to them. This kept their minds, morals and culture on an even keel.

As I said this course of study was life changing for me. I could write for hours and hundreds of pages on the topic of what I liked about this course of study. But I think all of the above summarizes all of the highlights.

Let us switch topics to what I will term and only for lack of better words what I disliked about them. This will be short because there wasn't much I didn't like and respect about them. Catholicism is what is known as a monotheistic religion. That is belief in one god. The Druid religion is what is known as a polytheistic religion. That is a belief in many gods. They had as many as 300 different gods and goddesses. It must be understood, that there is the theory known as "aspects". That is to say it was widely accepted that a god or goddess depending on whom he or she appeared to or when he or she appeared or why he or she appeared could appear as three different gods or goddesses and under three different names. That reduces the 300 gods or goddesses to 100 gods or goddesses. Assuming we start with 100 gods some because they were regional, some because they were seasonal, and some because they were only worshiped by a handful of tribes. One could extrapolate that it was probably more like 50 gods which in my opinion is still a bit much but as I said it did tend to keep them focused and morally and ethically bound to do the right thing. Even today in 2011 we say "do unto others as you wish others to do unto you". Now you must understand that the phrase with little or no change goes all the way back to the very beginnings of Druidic history almost 6000 years ago.  It is known as the "the Rede". It was commonly quoted as simply "An it harm ye none, do what thou wilt".  They strongly believe that you were free to do absolutely anything you wanted to do as long as it did not harm your neighbor in doing so.  When you factor in millions of people praying 100 different ways to 100 different gods their religion was open to a wide interpretation but the ethics, morals, standards, rights and regulations remained constant. So it boils down to, as a Druid I can believe what I want, where I want, and to whom I want to pray to as long as my morals and ethics stay intact and I don't harm anyone else in doing so.

Though various parts of this thesis I have used the words "Druid religion". I did this for the benefit of the layman. Who would look upon any belief system that was not his or her own as another man's religion? This is in essence a misnomer. True Druid's and even fledging Druids (like myself) understand that it is not a religion. Druidic belief is exactly that, it is a "belief system". And, is more commonly called, "the Druid way of life" or "The Druid path of life". We believe that this is not something remembered each day or visited each Sunday. We believe that it is something that becomes part of your very soul, something that comes from the heart and from the deepest sense of the mind. You must live it walk it eat it and breath it every second of every day. With only that one thought in mind, do only that which harms no one else and maintain a standard of high morals and ethics. It means to me that you show the same respect for the smallest of earth's creatures that you do for that of earth's largest mammals.  That you show the same respect for the budding house plant as you do for a 1000 year old oak. These are very, very, very simple boundaries to live within. And I find that my life within these boundaries is better, purer and more simplistic than ever before. And I am quite comfortable with my mind, heart, and soul at the conclusion of these studies and at the writing of this thesis.

In conclusion I thank you for proving the knowledge and the opportunity to transform myself into a better person than I was before.

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