A high-ranking member of ancient Celtic culture, Druids were an esteemed bunch of literate individuals. Living in Gaul around 1200-600 BC, their membership was made up of medical professionals, lawyers, engineers, mathematicians, and politicians. Druids were divided into three sections – the Ovates who practiced medicine or foretold the future, the Bards who told stories and made music and the Druids who were philosophers, teachers and judges.
They are also associated with many religious and political movements, portrayed as prophets or even sorcerers, often defying Christians and more traditional faiths. Apart from nobles and royalty, Druids were some of the most respected people in their society.
Here are some interesting facts we bet you never knew about Druids:
An Oral History
One of the reasons why Druids remain so mysterious to this day is because their history was an oral one. They tended not to record their rituals, and wisdom, preferring to pass it down in person. In fact, there was even a ban on writing down their knowledge, in case this fell into the wrong hands. Druids also spent between twelve and twenty years training and honing their skills, and learning all of their traditions by heart before they could be accepted.
Almost everything we now know about Druids comes from a small selection of ancient texts, primarily written by Julius Caesar. However, with the Romans dead set against the Druids, these texts remain untrusted in their account as they were primarily written to disparage the group.
There Were Women Druids
Unlike many other ancient cultures, the Druids openly welcomed women into the fold. Druid history is filled with warrior-queens who led military into battle. Women also served as judges and lawyers. In fact, the Irish have multiple terms to describe female druids with a number of these women playing starring roles in many a mythological tale.
They Used The Swastika Symbol
Long before the Nazis adopted the swastika symbol as their own, the symbol was used by the Druids. It was a sign of good fortune and can be seen on many offerings or gifts to the Gods created by the Druids, such as the Battersea Shield. It is believed that the Druids also shaped trees into swastika shapes during rituals.
They Preserved Heads
Although some, like the Romans, may think it barbaric to preserve the heads of the dead, the Druids had reasoning behind this strange practice. They preserved the heads of those they admired in cedar oil as they believed that the indestructible soul of the person resided in the head. Thus, by keeping the head, one could hold onto the spirit of that person.
They Believed In Heaven
Even though Druids are thought to often be a religious sect, Druidry was not actually a religion but more of a way of life and social being. They could do everything secular people did, and can still have fun online and enjoy all kinds of activities without conflicting beliefs. However, most Druids to seem to believe in a form of Heaven, or an Otherworld as they referred to it.
They believed that once you die you could go to a place of joy and happiness, known as the Otherworld. Here everyone was always young, time did not exist, and the dead would all celebrate together. That said, some Druids also believed in reincarnation.