THE DRUIDIC RELIGION OF BRITAIN.
THE Druidic Religion was brought into Britain by the Gomeridae, from
the Mountains of Noah, or the Caucasus, at the first
emigration under Hu Gadarn. Its leading principles were the following.—
"God is an Infinite Spirit, whose nature is wholly a mystery to man
in his present state. He is self-existence ; from him all
creation emanated and into him it is always resolving and will always continue to resolve itself back. To the human mind, but
not in himself, he necessarily presents a triple aspect in relation to the past, the present, and the future – the Creator as to the
past, the Saviour or Preserver as to the present, the Re-creator as to the future. In the Re-creator; the idea of the Destroyer
was also involved. The Druidic names for God were Duw, Deon, Dovydd, Celi, Ior, Perydd, Rhun, Ner.
Matter is the creation of God. Without God it cannot exist. Nature is the action of God through the medium of matter.
The universe is matter as ordered and systematized by the intelligence
of God. It was created by God's pronouncing his own
name – at the sound of which, light and the heavens sprung into existence. The name of God is in itself a creative power.
What in itself that name is, is known to God only. All music or natural melody is a faint and broken echo of the creative name.
The Druidic symbol of it is three pencils of light. Of these three lines,
in various conjunctions, was framed the first or Bardic
Alphabet. Knowledge and religion cannot be separated.
The universe is in substance eternal and imperishable, but subject to successive cycles of dissolution and renovation.
The soul is a particle of the Deity possessing in embryo all his capabilities.
Its action is defined and regulated by the nature of
the physical organization it animates.
The lowest point of sentient existence is that in which evil is unmitigated
by any particle of good. From this point existence
ascends by cycles of genera, until it attains its acme by being blended with that of the Deity. The human cycle is the middle
one in which good and evil are equipoised. Every human being is a free agent – the soul according to its choice being liable to
fall back into the lower cycles, or capable of rising into the higher. Probation ceases with the human cycle. Above it good
becomes the dominant, evil the helpless principle. Continually thus ascending, the soul becomes at last united to and part of
God, and in God again pervades the universe.
A soul which has passed the probationary state has the power of returning
to it and resuming for the good of mankind the
morphosis of humanity. The re-incarnation of such is felt in its action and effects through the whole race whose nature is thus
taken by the superior being.
The soul which prefers evil to good retrogrades to a cycle of animal
existence the baseness of which is on a par with the
turpitude of its human life. The process of brutalization commences at the moment when evil is voluntarily preferred to good.
To whatever cycle the soul falls, the means of re-attaining humanity are always open to it. Every soul, however frequent its
relapses, will ultimately attain the proper end of its existence – union with God.
The creation of animals commenced with that of water molecules. Terrestrial
animals are of a higher order than the aquatic,
and rise through distinct gradations up to man. Animals approach the human cycle in proportion to their utility and
gentleness – every animal may be killed by man in support or defence of his own life.
Prior to the creation of man, night-light alone prevailed. Man was created with the first rising sun.
Death or the dissolution of the present material organization is a simultaneous
art with life, or the assumption of a new
existence. The soul passes through an indefinite number of these migrations till it attains Deity.
A finite being cannot support eternity as a sameness or monotony of
existence. The eternity of the soul until it merges in the
Deity, is a succession of states of new sensations, the soul in each unfolding new capabilities of enjoyment.
In creation there is no evil which is not a greater good than an evil.
The things called rewards and punishments are so secured
by eternal ordinances that they are not consequences but properties of our acts and habits. Except for crimes against society,
the measure of punishment should be that which nature itself deals to the delinquent. Perfect penitence is entitled to pardon.
That penitence is perfect which makes the utmost compensation in its power for wrong inflicted, and willingly submits to the
penalty prescribed. The atonement of penitents who voluntarily submit themselves to death in expiation of guilt incurred, is
perfect. The souls of all such pass on to the higher cycles of existence.
The justice of God cannot be satisfied except by the sacrifice of life in lieu of life."
Cesar's words are very remarkable, defining the doctrine of vicarious
atonement with theological precision. – "The Druids
hold that by no other way than the ransoming of man's life by the life of man is reconciliation with the Divine Justice of the
immortal Godís possible." – Cesarís Commentaries, Book III.
Such are a few of the principal Doctrines of a religion which was at
one time professed from the shores of the Baltic to the
straits of Gibraltar. In France, its central University was at Dreux. In Britain, it numbered thirty-one chief seats of
education – each seat was a Cyfiaith, or city, the capital of a tribe. Their names were as follows:—
Seats of the three Arch-Druids of Britain.
Caer Troia Caer Lud (London).
Caer Evroc (York).
Caer Lleon (Caerleon).
Seats of the Chief Druids of Britain.
Caer Caint (Canterbury)
Caer Meivod (Meivod)
Caer Wyn (Winchester)
Caer Odor (Bristol)
Caer Municip (St.Albans)
Caer Llaer (Leicester)
Caer Sallwg (Old Sarum – Salisbury)
Caer Urnach (Uroxeter)
Caer Leil (Carlisle)
Caer Lleyn (Lincoln)
Caer Grawnt (Cambridge – Granta)
Caer Glou (Gloucester)
Caer Meini (Manchester)
Caer Cei (Chichester)
Caer Gwrthegion (Palmcaster)
Caer Ceri (Cirencester)
Caer Coel (Colchester)
Caer Dwr (Dorchester)
Caer Gorangon (Worcester)
Caer Merddin (Carmarthen)
Caerleon ar Dwy (Chester)
Caer Seiont (Carnarvon – Segontium)
Caer Peris (Porchester)
Caer Wysc (Exeter)
Caer Don (Doncaster)
Caer Segont (Silchester)
Caer Guoric (Warwick)
Caer Baddon (Bath)
The revolution of two thousand years has effected but slight change in the original names of these cities.
The students at these colleges numbered at times 60,000 souls, amongst
whom were included the young nobility of Britain
and Gaul. The authority and privileges of the Druidic Order were very great. They sat as magistrates, deciding all questions of
law and equity. They regulated and presided over the rites and ceremonies of religion. The power of excommunication,
lodged in their hands, put the party against whom it was issued out of the pale of the law. They were exempt from military
duties, taxes, and imposts. A tenth of the land was appropriated for their support. None but a Druid could offer sacrifice, nor
was any candidate admissible to the order who could not prove his genealogy from free parents for nine generations back.
The consent of the head of the clan, or of twelve fathers of families in the clan, was necessary to the public admission of a
candidate into the order. The examinations preparatory to full initiation into the two higher grades of the Bard and the Druid,
were of great severity. An Ovydd (or Vates) might claim his grade by proving himself, in public examination before the head
of the clan and twelve Druids, master of the special art or science he professed to teach or exercise. None but the initiated
were taught the Esoteric doctrines of the order – hence the profound reserve maintained on certain points of their teaching by
Taliesin and other Christo-Druidic Bards.
The sacred animal of their religion was the milk-white bull – the sacred
bird, the wren – the sacred tree, the oak – the sacred
plant, the missletoe – the sacred herbs, the trefoil and the vervain – the sacred form, that of the three divine letters or rays, in
the shape of a cross, symbolizing the triple aspect of God. The sacred herbs and plant, with another plant – hyssop, the
emblem of fortitude in adversity – were gathered on the sixth day of the moon.
The vast monumental remains of the Druidic establishment extend over
Britain, from Cornwall to the Hebrides. In South
Britain, or Lloegria, the central temples were those of Amber and Belin (Stonehenge). In Albyn, Perth and its vicinity – in
Cambria, Mona, were the chief districts for the obelisc churches and the splendid national ceremonies therein performed.
Each of these temples was a Planetarium, or representation of the system of the heavens. The principles on which they are
constructed are strictly astronomical; and the accuracy with which the ponderous monoliths which compose them are adjusted demonstrates a very high state of mechanical science.
The Druidic principles allowed no monolith to be profaned by the touch
of steel or other metal, neither could any other than
massive single stones, solid throughout, be used in their temples. These architectural remains of the old Britannic religion lie for the most part on the elevated ridges or in the mountain solitudes of the Island, indicating their construction to have
commenced at that remote date when the lowlands were still partially submerged. In Greece and Italy these Japhetic ruins are
known as the Cyclopean or Titanic. '' The Druids of Britain," observes Doctor Stukeley, in his work on Stonehenge,
"advanced their inquiries to such heights as should make the moderns ashamed of themselves; and we may with reason
conclude there was somewhat very extraordinary in those principles which prompted them to such a noble spirit as produced
these works which, for grandeur and simplicity, exceed any of the European wonders."
In strictness, none of the Druidic Circles can be termed Temples, for
the Druids taught there were but two inhabitations of the
Deity – the soul the invisible, and the universe the visible temple. The monolithic structures were types only of the latter. The
great festivals of Druidism were three, – the solstitial festivals of the rise and fall of the year, and the winter festival. At the
spring festival, the bâl-tân, or sacred fire, was brought down by means of a burning lens from the sun. No hearth in the Island
was held sacred until the fire on it had been re-lit from the bâl-tân. The bâl-tân became the Easter festival of Christianity – as
the mid-winter festival, in which the misletoe was cut with the golden crescent from the sacred oak, became Christmas. The
misletoe with its three berries was the symbol of the Deity in his triple aspect – its growth on the oak, of the incarnation of the
Deity in man.
The hypaethral altar in the Druidic circle was called the Cromlech,
or stone of adoration, (literally the stone of bowing). On it
the hostia, or victim to be immolated, was laid, and in order that the blood might run off more easily, its position was inclined.
Near it another stone received in an excavation the aqua pura, or holy water – that is, rain water direct from heaven: Druidism itself was ordinarily known as "Y Maen" – the stone.
The canonicals of the Arch-Druid were extremely gorgeous. On his head
he wore a tiara of gold, – in his girdle the gem of
augury, – on his breast the ior-morain, or breast-plate of judgment, below it, the glan neidr, or draconic egg, – on the
fore-finger of the right hand, the signet ring of the order, – on the fore-finger of the left, the gem ring of inspiration. Before him
were borne the coel-bren, or volume of esoteric mysteries, and the golden crosier with which the misletoe was gathered. His
robe was of white linen, with a broad purple border – the symbolic cross being wrought in gold down the length of the back.
When Druidism merged into Christianity, these rites, festivals, and
canonicals, became those of the Christian Church. Little
variation exists between the modern ceremonials of religion, as witnessed in a Roman Catholic cathedral, and those of Druidic Britain two thousand years since. Their derivation from Druidism is not more evident than the striking contrast they present to the simple and unadorned ritual of Primitive Christianity. Some of these observances are common to Judaism and
Druidism – others are to be found in Druidism alone.
No Druidic service could be celebrated or rite observed except between
sunrise and sunset. Every official act was to be
discharged "in the eye of the light and face of the sun." The seat of the presiding Druid was termed Gorsedd; to remove it was
a capital offence. The great Gorseddau, or convocations, were held at the solstices and equinoxes – the minor at the new and
The vestments of the Bard were blue; of the Druid, white, of the Ovate,
green. The Druids taught viva voce. No part of their
teaching was allowed to be committed to writing. In public transactions they used the Bardic characters – in transactions with
foreigners, the Bardic or Greek, as occasion required. From the importance they attached to the sublime study of Astronomy, they were termed by the Greeks, Saronidae, (serenyddion, from the Kymric seren, a star) Astronomers. Their system of education appears to have embraced a wide range of arts and sciences. The Druidic religion was pre-eminently patriotic – hence it was the only Gentile Religion systematically misrepresented and marked out for extirpation by the Roman
government; all others being received indifferently to its protection. The spirit it infused into the people contributed no less than the military science, displayed by a series of able and intrepid commanders, to render the tardy progress of the Roman arms in Britain a solitary exception to the rapidity of their conquests in other parts of the world. Diodorus Maximus quotes a
Druidic Triad as well known to the Greeks, – "Worship the Gods – do no man wrong – be valiant for your country."
Valerius Maximus mentions a curious fact, illustrative of the sincerity
of their faith in the doctrines they held: – "The Druids
have so firm a conviction of the immortality of the soul, that they advance sums of money to their friends on the understanding
that such money, or its equivalent, is to be repaid when they meet after death." (Lib. ii. c. 6.) " It is certain," states Lucan, "the
Druidic nations have no fear of death. Their religion rather impels them to seek it. Their souls are its masters, and they think it
contemptible to spare a life the return of which is so sure." The Druidic religion, in its corrupted Asiatic or Semitic form of
Buddhism, is still the religion of nearly one half of mankind. We have noticed its leading features, therefore, at greater length
than the compass of this little volume would have warranted us in doing those of any obsolete or defunct faith, such as the
mythologies of Greece and Rome.