This week: Dance of the DruidsEdited by: ~Minja~
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"Teaching is a sacred art. This is why the noblest druid is not the one who conjures fires and smoke but the one who brings the news and passes on the histories. The teacher, the bard, the singer of tales is a freer of men's minds and bodies, especially when he roams without allegiance to one chieftain or another. But he is also a danger to the masters if he insists upon telling the truth. The truth will inevitably cause tremors in those who cling to power without honoring justice." ~ Kate Horsley
"Chaunt in his ear delusions magical,
That he may fight the horses of the sea.
The Druids took them to their mystery,
And chaunted for three days." ~ William Butler Yeats
"Not out of those, on whom systems of education have exhausted their culture, comes the helpful giant to destroy the old or to build the new, but out of unhandselled savage nature, out of terrible Druids and Berserkirs, come at last Alfred and Shakespeare." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
ven though I gave up on watching "Outlander" eventually, I gladly revisit some of my favorite scenes from the first season. There was something magical about Scotland back in 1743 and when the main characters moved elsewhere, the magic was lost for me. Another is approaching so I would like to reflect on my favorite scene, Dance of the Druids, and talk a little bit about those special kinds of humans.
Druids were people from ancient Britain and France who had different roles in society. They were philosophers, teachers, judges, and mediators between the gods and humans. Their name may have come from a Celtic word meaning knower of the oak tree. Almost everything about Druids and druidism is secondhand knowledge and no one knows exactly when it started. The earliest written reference dates back to 2,400 years ago but studies show it surely goes back much earlier than this. Julius Cesar, who is the main source of information, said that in Gaul were two groups of men that were held in honor: Druids and the noblemen. However, it was the Roman historians and writers that gained most of the knowledge of Druids.
Druids were very powerful and respected in society. They didn't have to pay taxes or serve in the war. Also, female Druids were considered equal to men which was very unusual for that time period.
In the beginning, Druids held their rituals in quiet places such as clearings in forests and stone circles. Stonehenge is believed to be a place of worship for them, for example. There was a belief that Druids, actually, built it but even though it's not certain when exactly did they come to Britain, most likely they arrived after the Stonehenge was built.
The sacred buildings showed up as they fell under Roman influence. Roman writers stated that Druids practiced human sacrifice but this statement may not be very accurate. Some recordings say that even though Druids used to be present during sacrifices, it wasn't them who originally carried them out.
I think Diana Gabaldon did a marvelous job as she built the story of "Outlander" around Druids and stone circles. Because a lot of this information was either not available, uncertain, or remained a mystery, and since her readers know what good researcher and historian she is, she got to play with it however she wanted in order to come up with the engaging novels. Even today her fans stop by stone circles every time they visit Scotland and try to go through and get transferred to some past times just like the book's hero Claire did.
Like all other pagan rites and beliefs, druidism gradually faded away with the spread of Christianity in Europe. Today, druidism is alive and well in two different branches of neo-Druidism: The Druid Order and the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD). The Druid Order is known for the ceremonies conducted at Stonehenge throughout the year during Solstices and Equinoxes while OBOD runs online classes and mentorships about spiritual practices that speak to creativity, nature, and wisdom.
I leave you with a little Samhain chant.
A year of beauty. A year of plenty.
A year of planting. A year of harvest.
A year of forests. A year of healing.
A year of vision. A year of passion.
A year of rebirth. A year of rebirth.
This year may we renew the earth.
Until next time, Happy Samhain.
Excerpt: Long ago Magic was not so subdued. It flowed into naked feet and melded them to the soft, black peat-rich soil, pungent from the scent of Mother Earth. It soared upwards through hands uplifted, uniting the powers that dwell in the stars and planets; the soft mists of cool, damp air; the wide, sturdy sacred oaks; and all who lived in the lands of the Celts.
Then it was that Magic reigned in England, Wales, Ireland, and France -- strong as the brawny shoulders of a warrior king -- mysterious as the snow-cold fogs that shrouded all.
Excerpt: Perhaps, in days to come, our gods will not demand
this sacrifice of blood, and every one can stand
together in the thrilling rapture of the rising sun,
none required to die to save the souls of everyone.
Excerpt: In the manner of the old ones, the story now is sung
Of how the heir was chosen when she was very young
The tale is of a flame-haired girl and the Master’s little boy
Who chanced upon the Druid’s Cane and thought it was a toy
Excerpt: Life isn't all rainbows, unicorns, and happy feelings. There are plenty of poetry groups for this kind of work (and I enjoy them all), but I want to enjoy the dark side as well. Show me the darkest corners of your heart and mind. Scare me, stir me, make me cry.
Excerpt: You have until midnight of October 31st, 2020 to write a horrifying, spooky, terrifying, ghoulish, mind-blowing, frightening, spine-tingling, hair-raising, creepy, bone-chilling, really, really scary story about Halloween!
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