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2006 Archive:
The Winchester Mystery House - Ghost Chronicles
December 28, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Investigating Jane Doherty - Ghost Chronicles
December 20, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Shadow People - by Lee Prosser
December 16, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Westford Knight - Ghost Chronicles
December 15, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Haunted Real Estate by Richard Senate
December 13, 2006

Traditions Behind Christmas By Vince Wilson
December 8, 2006

The Haunted Dibbuk Box - Ghost Chronicles
December 6, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Have Ghosts? Will Travel: A Ghostgeek's Guide to the RMS Queen Mary By Jen Brown
December 4, 2006

Thanksgiving: A Day of Forgiveness - by Lee Prosser
December 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

America's Stonehenge - Ghost Chronicles
November 29, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) - by Jeff Belanger
November 16, 2006

Ghost Hunt Seminar - Ghost Chronicles
November 15, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Ghost Photography: Orbs by Robbin Van Pelt
November 9, 2006

Pet Ghosts - Ghost Chronicles
November 6, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Ghosts Haunt the Inn by Richard Senate
November 3, 2006

Japanese Woman Artist - by Lee Prosser
November 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Ghosts of the Windham Restaurant - Ghost Chronicles
October 30, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

The Salem Witches - Ghost Chronicles
October 23, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Homan House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: A Preliminary Report by John Sabol
October 20, 2006

What Does Halloween/Samhain Mean to You? - Compiled by Jeff Belanger
October 16, 2006

That is the Way of It - by Lee Prosser
October 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Fooling the Ghost Hunter by Richard Senate
October 11, 2006

Jack Kerouac - by Lee Prosser
October 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

Civil War Re-enactors and the Ghost Experience - by Jeff Belanger
September 15, 2006

Who Goes There in the Shadows? - by Lee Prosser
September 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Engagement and Data Analysis in Symmetrical Field Investigations by John Sabol
September 11, 2006

Occult Warfare by Richard Senate
September 6, 2006

Cats and Other Critters From Beyond the Grave - by Lee Prosser
September 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

Chicago's Strange Angles and Haunted Architecture by Ursula Bielski
August 25, 2006

I Have a Hunch: A Look at Psychics, Mediums, and Clairvoyants - by Jeff Belanger
August 16, 2006

Geof Gray-Cobb - by Lee Prosser
August 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Orbs: Have They Become that Boring? by Tuesday Miles
August 14, 2006

A Night on Char-Man Bridge by Richard Senate
August 7, 2006

Five Union Soldier Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
August 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

A Visit With Author and Witch Kala Trobe - Interview by Lee Prosser
July 26, 2006

Perceptual Stratigraphy: Making Sense of Ghostly Manifestations by John Sabol
July 24, 2006

The Trouble With Witches - by Lee Prosser
July 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

A Look at Our Haunted Lives - by Jeff Belanger
July 13, 2006

An Active Ghost Hunt at a Haunted Bed and Breakfast by Richard Senate
July 7, 2006

Lee Prosser, 1969 - by Lee Prosser
July 4, 2006

Column - regular feature

My Theory on Spirits by Edward L. Shanahan
June 28, 2006

Ethnoarchaeoghostology: A Humanistic-Scientific Approach to the Study of Haunt Phenomena by John Sabol
June 19, 2006

Christopher Isherwood & Lee Prosser in 1969 - by Lee Prosser
June 16, 2006

Column - regular feature

ESP, M&Ms, and Reality - by Jeff Belanger
June 15, 2006

A Duel on the Airwaves by Richard Senate
June 5, 2006

Marjorie Firestone and Her Dream Predictions - by Lee Prosser
June 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

Until Death Do Us Part? by Rick Hayes
May 31, 2006

Part Four: the Conclusion: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
May 22, 2006

Column - regular feature

Folklore, Folklore, Folklore with Dr. Michael Bell - interview by Jeff Belanger
May 16, 2006

Swami Chetanananda and Lee Prosser - by Lee Prosser
May 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Theatre, Sance, and the Ghost Script: Performances at Haunted Locations by John Sabol
May 5, 2006

Willard David Firestone and the River Ghost - by Lee Prosser
May 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

When the Spirits Held Sway at the White House by Richard Senate
April 25, 2006

Part Three: Investigation: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
April 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Talking Reincarnation with Dr. John Gilbert - interview by Lee Prosser
April 17, 2006

Billy Bob Firestone and the Ghosts of Pythian Castle - by Lee Prosser
April 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Cryptobotany: the Search for Lost Plants by Richard Senate
April 7, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 4 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
April 6, 2006

Vedanta and Durga - by Lee Prosser
April 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 3 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 30, 2006

Ritual, Resonance, and Ghost Research: The Play in the Fields by John Sabol
March 27, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 2 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 23, 2006

Celtic This, Druid That, Saint Patrick Hit Me With a Wiffle-Ball Bat - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
March 21, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 1 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 16, 2006

Christopher Isherwood, Time Loops, and Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
March 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Druids - by Lee Prosser
March 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

Natural Selection and the Involution of the Gettysburg Ghosts by John Sabol
February 28, 2006

Part Two: Investigation: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
February 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Lights, Camera... Action! by Brian Leffler
February 16, 2006

Divination and Geomancy - by Lee Prosser
February 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Spirit Messages from a Murderer by Richard Senate
February 8, 2006

The Ghosts of Springfield, Missouri - by Lee Prosser
February 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Ghost Storyteller: A Dinosaur Among Lemmings? by Charles J. Adams III
January 23, 2006

The Fools Journey: A Magickal Roadmap to Life - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
January 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Tarot and Spiritual Alchemy - by Lee Prosser
January 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Demons from the Dark by Chip Coffey
January 9, 2006

Spooky - by Lee Prosser
January 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

March 16, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 1 of 4

By Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers

The Mysteries of Druidry by Dr. Brendan Cathbad MyersTwo:
Questions and Answers

Throughout these regions, as people gradually became more civilized, study of praiseworthy doctrines grew, introduced by the Bards, [Vates], and Druids. The Bards sang the praiseworthy deeds of famous men to the melodious strains of the lyre. The [Vates] endeavored to explain the sublime mysteries of nature. Between them were the Druids, an intimate fellowship of a greater ability who followed the doctrine of Pythagoras. They rose above the rest by seeking the unseen, making little of human mortality, as they believed in the immortality of the soul.
- Ammianus Marcellinus, circa, 330-395 A.D.

In this chapter I shall describe some of the factual information with which the reader may gain a general idea of the character, archaeology, literature, and mythology of the Celtic people through history until today. How much do we know about the ancient Celtic people, and their mysterious priesthood, the Druids? How much do we know about who they were and what they did, and how much of this can be carried forward into today?

1. Who were the Celts?
The Celts were an indigenous people of Europe, whose heroic culture dominated Europe for centuries. Historically, they were almost a nation. They did not have a single central government, but they occupied a distinct territory. They were not genetically distinct from other European populations at the time, but they had their own language. They lived in many tribes which were politically autonomous from each other. Yet they had an inter-tribal institution, the Druids, who could operate across tribal boundariesevidence of highly advanced social organization. 

The traditional Celtic nations, which are the territories where a Celtic language was once spoken, are:
Alba, Scotland, 
Breizh, Brittany, north-western France
Gaul, what is now France, Belgium, and parts of Germany and middle Europe, 
Cymru, Wales, 
ire, Ireland, the Isle of the Blest 
Galatia, in what is now Turkey, 
Kernow, Cornwall and parts of Englands West Country
Mannin, the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea,
and Britain, what is now England, the Island of the Mighty

Parts of what is now northern Spain also hosted Celtic tribes, and some mythologies assert that Celts from that area colonized Britain and Ireland. Celtic culture was a tribal society, meaning the basic social and political unit was the extended family and not the individual. They had Iron-age technology at the height of their achievement, and lived in settled farmstead communities. The Celtic people migrated from the ancient Indo-European homelands in Eastern Europe to cover most of Western Europe. It is possible to trace the migration routes by examining the artifacts they left behind. Two classes of Celtic artifacts, La Tene and Halstadd, are named for towns in which artifacts from each period were discovered: Halstadd is in the Salzkammergut in Austria, and La Tene is in Switzerland. Switzerland was once the territory of a Gaulish Celtic tribe called the Helvetians, who fought against Julius Caesar's armies in 58BC. The official name of Switzerland is still 'Confoederatio Helvetica' (Latin for 'the Helvetian Confederation'). The Celts of Galatia, in what is now Turkey, were visited by Paul of Tarsus around 40AD; his letter to them has a permanent place in the Christian Bible. The Celts of Scotland came from Irish colonists, called Scots, and also an indigenous and possibly pre-Celtic people known as Picts, who dominated Scotland until united with the Scots of Dalriada by Kenneth Mac Alpine in AD 843. Unfortunately, very little about the Picts is known. Even their name is the word the Romans used for them and not the name they used for themselves. They were called Picti, meaning painted people, because Pictish warriors used to paint themselves for battle with a blue pigment from the woad plant mixed with semen. 

There was a class system in old Celtic society, which had the ruling warrior-aristocracy on the top, followed by the professional classes which included Druids, bards, poets, lawyers, historians and so on. Next on the ladder were landlords, followed by free workers, followed by bonded workers. There were also provisions for outcaste groups. Celtic law included ways for anyone, including bonded workers, to move up or down the social hierarchy; what rights and responsibilities were due to each of them, and what kind of punishment could be given to the status of their victims, and their own status. More was expected from those who had more. An old Celtic proverb goes: A man is better than his birth.

The main sources of information are the reports of Roman historians, such data as archaeological remains can provide, and mythological literature recorded by monks in the eighth through twelfth century. Also, although this is a weaker source, analogies can be drawn between the Celts and similar Indo-European cultures from the same time in history, such as the Vikings, the Greeks, and the Hindus. Had the ancient Celtic religion survived history, I suspect that it would resemble modern Hinduism, with its many diverse forms of expression.

Archaeology is an excellent resource for the study of Celtic history. Scientists have uncovered the remains of votive offerings to the Gods in lake bottoms, bogs, and votive pits (a narrow hole dug deep in the ground in which offerings are buried), which tell us about Celtic religion. There are also the remains of Celtic fortresses, habitations, temples, jewelry and tools. These remains speak to us not of events and individuals in Celtic history. They reveal what life was like, what their technological capability was, what food they ate, what crafts and trades they practiced, what products they made and traded (which in turn tells us about their economy), where they traveled and how they got there. These facts about Celtic social life are an important element for understanding Druidism, because it is necessary to understand the whole culture in which Druidism was situated. 

One of the problems with studying Druidism historically is that the Druids were the subject of a number of persecutions and conquests, not only by the Romans, but also by Norsemen, Normans, Saxons, and Christians. Much Druidic wisdom was censored, evolved into something unrecognizable, or just plain lost. It is true, however, that the Romans never invaded Ireland, so that country became a haven for Druidic learning for a while. A modern person seeking the Druid's path must attempt to reconstruct the wisdom based on some or all of the sources discussed here. Yet in doing so, one discovers that despite the enormous amount of cultural data presumed lost, the truly Celtic disposition of the sources remains strong and clear. 

2. What is the history of the Celtic people?
In general, it is believed by historians that the Celtic people originated in a common Indo-European homeland somewhere in Eastern Europe and migrated westward. The increasing sophistication, social-stratification, state-building, and so forth, of central Europe gave rise to the periods that that scholars call proto-Celtic and Celtic, or Hallstat 800-500 BCE and La Tene 500-100 BCE. The spread of Celtic culture to the British Isles and to the Atlantic seaboard of Europe took place around 900 BCE.

Here is a brief, and certainly not complete, timeline of the history of the Celtic people, focusing on the time period which is relevant to this project, and the islands of Britain and Ireland.




Up to 4000 BCE:

Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age)

Hunters and gatherers

4000 1800 BCE

Neolithic (New Stone Age)

Construction of Maes Howe, Callanish, and other megalithic monuments.  First farmers.

3500 BCE


Construction of Newgrange, in Ireland, the largest megalithic monument in Europe.

1800-1600 BCE

The Bronze Age


1000 BCE Christian Era

The Iron Age


900 500 BCE


The Rising of the Celts.  First emergence of Celtic languages.

Circa 600 BCE


Greeks establish trading colony at Messalia (now Marseilles, France) to trade with Gaul.

500 15 BCE

La Tene

Heroic Age.  Most of the events described in the Celtic mythologies take place in this period.

Circa 450 BCE


Celtic people reach Spain

Circa 400 BCE


Celts cross the Alps into Italy.  Within ten years, they sack Rome itself.

279 BCE


Celts invade Greece, through Macedonia, and plunder the Temple of Delphi.

270 BCE


Celts establish Galatia in Asia Minor

154 & 125 BCE


Celts sack Massalia.  Roman armies raise the siege both times.

82 BCE


Romans defeat Celts in Italy.

55 & 54 BCE


Julius Caesar attempts to invade Britain twice.

52 BCE


Julius Caesar defeats Gaulish chieftain Vercingetorix at Alesia, and imprisons him.

41-60 AD


Queen Cartimandua rules the Brigantia tribe of Britain.

AD 43-409

Romano-British period

Rome dominates most of Britain.

AD 61


Druidic sanctuary at Anglesey (Wales) destroyed by Romans.  Boudicca begins her rebellion.

AD 120


Construction of Hadrians Wall begins

Mid 3rd Century


Saxons begin raiding east coast of Britain

Mid 4th Century


Cormac Mac Art rules Ireland at Tara.

AD 409 600

Dark Age Britain

Romans withdraw from Britain.

AD 425


Vortigern takes power in Britain and holds off Saxon advances

AD 432


Patrick begins his mission to bring Christianity to Ireland

Circa AD 450


Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain; British refugees settle in Armorica and Brittany (France)

AD 454


Artorius Roithamus (Arthur) succeeds Vortigern

Circa AD 500


Arthur defeats Saxons at battle of Mount Baden

Circa AD 500


Formation of Kingdom of Dalriada in south-west Scotland

Circa AD 537


Arthur is killed at battle of Camlann

AD 563


Columba establishes monastery at Isle of Iona.

AD 663

The Middle Ages

Synod of Whitby: The Celtic church joins the Roman church of mainland Europe.

Circa AD 790


Beginning of colonization and raiding of British isles by Vikings

AD 843


Kenneth Mac Alpine unites the Scots of Dalriada and the Picts

AD 1014


Battle of Clontarf: Vikings expelled from Ireland by Brian Boru.  They withdraw from Celtic nations everywhere soon after.

3. What is the nature of Celtic Mythology?
In my opinion, the best source for knowledge of Celtic mysticism is mythology. There we can read of what the Druids did, how they behaved, and what some of them said and taught. They are represented there not as a class, as the Roman writings represent them, but as actual human beings with their own biographies, interests, successes, families, friends, and even failings. The whole range of human emotion and experience is represented here: victory and tragedy, love and romance, violence and death, even humor and play. Throughout it all the presence of magic and wonder is apparent, as if driving the events toward inevitable conclusions both tragic and profound. Celtic mythology is one of the great treasures of European literature.

In Ireland there are four main groups of stories. The first is the cycle of the Invasion Races, which describes the pseudo-historical tribes who colonized Ireland. It starts with Partholon and his race, and followed by the Nemedians, the Tuatha de Dannan, the only race described by the narrator as gods, and the Milesians, from whom we mortals are descended. Each race fights battles with a tribe of monsters called the Fomorians, until the Tuatha de Dannan finally defeat them. The great tragedies of the Children of Lyr and of the Sons of Uisneach are included here. The second group of Irish myths is the Ulster Cycle, which includes the story of C Chullains birth and boyhood deeds, the tragic romance of Deirdre and Naoise, and the War of the Bull between the armies of Maeve of Cruachan and the province of Ulster. The third group is the Fianna Cycle, which centers mainly around Fionn MacCumhall and the members of his warrior band. They fight various battles against foreign invaders and against other Celtic tribes, and along the way encounter various magical beings and enchantments. The elopement of Dairmud and Grainne is included here. The final group of Irish myths is the Cycle of Kings, which details the life stories of various kings of Tara.

In Wales, the primary myths are contained in a mediaeval manuscript called The Mabinogion; the stories are of 12th century origin and the characters behave very much like people of that time, but there are numerous clear reflections of the Welsh pagan past. The Mabinogion comprises eleven stories in all, of which the interconnected Four Branches are the most important. The first is the story of Pwyll, lord of a land called Dyfed (south-western Wales), who trades places with Arawn, the lord of the Underworld, to help save Arawns kingdom. The second is the story of Bran who takes an army to Ireland to avenge his sister Branwen, but on his return trip gets lost in the Otherworld and only seven men, bearing the still-living severed head of Bran, survive. The third branch is the story of Manawydan, a fallen king who restores his wasteland kingdom to glory again by overthrowing the magical forces responsible for his downfall. The final branch of the Mabinogion concerns the goddess Don, her family, and the birth of a hero-god Lleu who overcomes a curse placed on him by his mother (to have no name, no weapon, and no wife) with the help of his sorcerer uncle Gwydion. Lleus romance with Bloduedd, the flower-face woman, is included here. She was created for him by the wizard-king Math ap Mathonwy, but ultimately fell in love with another man. As a result Lleu nearly died but was restored to life through a shamanic transformation.

The stories of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and the Quest for the Holy Grail deserve to be included here as well. This body of mythology is a product of 4th century Norman-French culture, fused with historical memories of an actual British king named Arthur, yet contains many concepts and images which hearken back to earlier Celtic times. Many modern Druids treat them as having spiritual and theological importance. The conception of Arthur and his ascension to power; the wounded Fischer King whose rules over a wasteland; the Holy Grail which heals him; the Perilous Bridge; the romance of Lancelot and Guinevere; the romance of Tristan and Iseuld; the contest between Gawain and the Green Knight; and the last battle between Arthur and his illegitimate son by his half-sister Morganna, are some of the most important tales here. Interestingly, many of them have parallels in Welsh and Irish mythology. 

4. Who were the Druids?
In ancient times, the Druids were members of a professional class in which their societys religious and spiritual life was embodied. They were the philosophers, scientists, theologians, and intellectuals of their culture, and the holders of the philosophical, scientific, and religious knowledge of their age. The nearest modern equivalent, then, would be professors in universities or colleges, medical doctors, lawyers and judges, school teachers, and so on. One could say that such people are the real druids of our time. The ancient druids brought all of these practices together into a single structure, unified by religious commitment. If you imagine what it would be like if your doctor, lawyer, or teacher was also a priest, and the hospital, law court, and college was also a temple, then you have an idea what Druidry was like for ancient Celtic people.

The Roman historians wrote the only first-hand accounts of ancient Druidry that we have. Even though they are usually understood as hostile witnesses, they were often impressed by the Druids' philosophical wisdom, and their grasp of mathematical, scientific, and astronomical knowledge. Posidonius wanted to fit the Druids into his own Stoic philosophy. Tacitus tried to cast the old Celts in the role of the innocent and wise noble savage, uncorrupted by civilization and close to nature. Diogenes placed the Druids together with the ancient world's wisest philosophers, alongside the Magi of Persia (who allegedly invented magic), the Chaldeans (the priesthood of the Babylonians) and the Gymnosophists (a Hindu sect which preceded the Yogis). Strabo recorded how the intellectual caste of the Celts was subdivided into three distinct sub-castes, each with their own particular specialization:

Among all the tribes, generally speaking, there are three classes of men held in special honor; the brdoi, the ovteis, and the drudai. The brdoi are singers and poets; the ovteis are interpreters of sacrifice and natural philosophers; while the drudai, in addition to the science of nature, study also moral philosophy. 

In this note about the Druids as philosophers of nature and of ethics, we have almost universal agreement among ancient commentators. The eminent scholar Fergus Kelly wrote that a Druid was priest, prophet, astrologer and teacher of the sons of nobles. More recently, the American scholar Paul Lonigan narrowed down the list of what Druids do, as follows:

Astrologers and prophets, interpreters of lucky and unlucky days.
Conjurers, diviners, necromancers.
Guardians of sencha (ancient tradition), law, and genealogy.
an institution both national and international
Law interpreters and advisors
Protectors against evil
Speakers of divine language
Subsumers and consecrators of the land.
and Warriors.

To become a Druid, students assembled in large groups for instruction and training. An Irish epic called the Tin Bo Cuailnge describes the druid Cathbad teaching one hundred students in something like a college. As the story says, Cathbad the druid was staying with his son, Conchobar Mac Nessa. He had one hundred studious men learning druid lore from himthat was always the number that Cathbad taught. Apprentice druids on the continent of Europe would study for a period of as much as twenty years: although this fact comes to us in only one literary source: Julius Caesars De Bello Gallico (The War in Gaul). The exact quote is: Reports say that in the schools of the druids, they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years under training. The mythologies describe Druids who were capable of many magical powers such as divination and prophesy, control of the weather, healing, levitation, and shape-changing themselves into the forms of animals or other people. But a Druid was not, strictly speaking, exclusively a mystic or a magician. He or she was mainly an important public leader. Her divination skills and magical sight were required for many essential social and political purposes, such as advising the tribal leaders as they make policy, settling disputes and legal claims, and announcing the beginning of agricultural seasons such as planting, harvesting, and hunting. Druids were responsible for providing a system of justice, and apparently they possessed many of the same powers of investigation, mediation, conflict-resolution and even sentencing that todays court judges have. It also appears that they were able to magically oppose criminal activity by, for example, performing magical spells intended to return stolen property, or to reveal the thiefs identity in a dream. In times of war a Druid's magical skills were needed to learn about the enemy's movements and plans, to magically empower the warriors, and also to call environmental powers to the aid of the tribe. Alternatively, the Druids could put an end to an unjust war by walking into the center of the battlefield and telling everyone to go home. As reported by Julius Caesar, who observed Druids in action first-hand,

They are believed to be the most just of men, and are therefore entrusted with the decision of cases affecting either individuals or the public; indeed in former times they arbitrated in war and brought to a standstill the opponents when about to draw up in a line of battle; and murder cases have mostly been entrusted to their decision. 

On the other hand, an Irish text states that defeat against odds, and setting territories at war, confer status on a Druid. The general point here is that a Druids status and powers are inextricably connected to a human community. Indeed the Druids social standing was so important that at any assembly, the chiefs and kings could not speak until the Druids had spoken first. Druidic wisdom clearly had enormous importance in the politics of Celtic society. 

What did they believe? The very origin of the word Druid gives us a clue. It comes from an ancient Celtic word for an oak tree, druis, and we find it in the root of other words like endurance and durability. The implication is that Druidic knowledge endures. The Irish word for magic is Draoicht, which literally means what Druids do; this connection reveals a little more about who they were and what their place in society was. Interestingly, the word dryad, most well known today as the name for an ever-young, ever-beautiful female tree spirit of fantasy, may actually have come from dryas, the word used by Continental Celts for a female druid. The Irish word for a female druid is bandraoi, literally woman-druid. We know quite a bit about their religious beliefs and practices, in broad strokes but not in fine details. We dont know the script of their ceremonies but we have a fairly good idea of what myths, beliefs, and principles their ceremonies were designed to affirm and re-enact. The ancient Druids used fire in their rituals, divined the future by watching the flight of birds and the movements of clouds, contacted their gods in sanctuaries deep in forests and were therefore associated with trees. We know they regarded the head as the seat of the soul. We know that they believed in the immortality of the soul. We know they believed in the existence of an Otherworld where souls travel after death, and we know they believed it that it is possible to communicate with the beings who dwell there. And we know that at least on the continent of Europe, Druids had ceremonies of animal and sometimes human sacrifice. With the information we have, we can say that a Druid is a professional invigilator of living spiritual mysteries as expressed by Celtic cultural forms. The strength of this definition is that it can identify both ancient and modern Druids at the same time. It is a theoretical, analytic definition which may require some explanation.

A Druid is a professional since Druidry requires the application of skill and knowledge in the service of certain social responsibilities. A Druids responsibilities are to the world as well, for as the ancient Druids said, We created the world, and without Druids to bring about the renewal of the seasons with their rituals, the world might end. So say the legends. Contemporary Druids have similar responsibilities to the world, for our Earth and its people, animals, and environments suffer so terribly and so needlessly. An invigilator is a person who keeps a vigil, which means being watchful and mindful and attentive over something. The word encompasses a range of ideas, including steward, investigator, watcher, even knower. So to say that a Druid is an invigilator is to say that a Druid is watchful and mindful of something. The living spiritual mysteries are that which Druids are watchful and mindful of (and what they are, we shall see in the chapters to come). Finally, the Celtic cultural forms are the poetry, art, archaeology, literature, mythology, language, and folklore of the Celtic people, ancient and modern. These elements distinguish Druids from the religious specialists of other cultures, while allowing for some overlap with other cultures who emerged from similar origins and who have similar practices.

Read part 2...

The Mysteries of Druidry by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers is being released in May 2006 by New Page Books. This excerpt is being reproduced with permission of the publisher. All text is copyright Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers.

2014 Haunted New England Wall Calendar by Jeff Belanger photography by Frank Grace
Check out the 2014 Haunted New England wall calendar by Jeff Belanger and photography by Frank Grace!

Paranormal Conferences and Lectures
Don't miss the following events and lectures:

Jeff Belanger and “The Bridgewater Triangle” at Dedham Community Theatre - April 6, 2014 9:00PM

The Spirits of the Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut - April 12, 2014

Paracon Australia - East Maitland, New South Wales, Australia - May 10-12, 2014