(ancient Irish drui, Gallic druis) – a closed caste of priests, healers and poets from ancient Celts (or Gallic galli – “Caucasian”) – tribes of Indo-European origin who lived in Central and Western Europe from the beginning III millennium BC. up to the V-VI centuries. AD


The word “druid” comes from the Greek “drus” – “oak” and Indo-European “wid” – “to know, to know.”

This point of view is popular with many researchers since ancient times. Another Pliny (Roman writer) pointed to a connection between the above terms (clearly traced in the Greek “druidai” and Latin “druidae” or “druides” and confirmed by the fact that the Druid sanctuaries were located in sacred oak groves). However, modern linguists maintain that the etymology of the word “druid” should be considered, relying on the meaning of consonant words in Celtic languages. They believe that the word “druides” used by the Gauls, as well as the Irish “drui” came from “dru wid es” – “very learned”. The oak was also named differently (“dervo” in Gallic, “daur” in Irish, “derw” in Welsh and “derv” in Breton), so the term “druid” can hardly be considered the basis for this term.

Druids knew only questions of religion and healing, they did not interfere in politics.

Wrong opinion. The political life of the country was not related only to the Druids-soothsayers or Vastes (Dr.-Valent.Valtic, vatis, vates), who specialized in the prediction and conduct of magical rituals, and also practiced various methods of healing (surgical operations, herbal treatment, magical effect ). But the other druids participated in the political life of the state quite actively. Issues of education, religion and justice were dealt with by theologians, who also oversaw the government. Various diplomatic tasks (negotiation, conclusion of armistice and alliances with neighboring states) were placed on the shoulders of court musicians of the Philodians (fili; from welet, wel – “to see”, “seer”). They were the creators, performers and keepers of the poems, studied history and genealogy, and taught. At the same time, a clear line was drawn between the bard – the usual performer of songs (which could have been without any training, just having a good ear and voice) and a filidom, a magician and a fortuneteller, well versed in traditions and history (to obtain this title, a man had to learn not one year).

Druid rites were held in oak groves, as this tree was considered sacred.

In the magical rites of the Druids, not only the oak (which symbolized the Axis of the World and was considered a plant, the beloved Supreme Deity, appeared (the god showed his positive attitude to the sacred tree in the form of lightning, which often struck the high oaks)), but everything that grew on the sacred tree (and was, according to the ancient Celts, the gift of Heaven), in particular mistletoe. And it was believed that it grows only on the branches of oak, although in fact this bush parasitizes and on other trees – and deciduous (poplar, birch, willow), and coniferous (larch, fir, pine). In addition, according to the druids, the oak was the personification of the masculine, and the mistletoe that was born on it symbolized the feminine principle. Since the neighborhood of these two plants is not so common, the priests spent a lot of time and energy searching for a suitable tree. If the search was crowned with success, a ceremonial ritual of cutting mistletoe was performed on the 6th lunar day (and only a sickle made of gold was used for this, and the priest, dressed in white, should only cut off the sacred plant with a left hand), followed by sacrifice (under a tree, with which was cut off by mistletoe, two white oxen were stabbed). The mistletoe collected in this way was considered a panacea for all diseases and a powerful antidote. In addition, it was used in various fortune-telling and draws. Sacred trees from the Druids worshiped ash and hawthorn.In addition, there was a division of trees into “forest nobility” (oak, apple, yew and walnut) and “forest serfs” (elm, willow).

Druids are priests who appeared in Europe long before the Celts.

There is no consensus on this. Some researchers believe that the Druids are overthrown kings who became priests (although historians claim that it was the representatives of the Druid caste who could both overthrow and elevate the ruler of the Celts to the throne). Others hold the opinion that bards and filidas, druids and soothsayers are representatives of the same priestly class, who manifested themselves differently in this or that epoch (however, one should take into account that in legends and written sources all of them are mentioned simultaneously and, consequently , existed in parallel). Still others believe that the Druids are representatives of the Prindo-European priesthood, whereas the origin of the Phylids is Indo-European (but in this case, the existence of the other priestly class, the so-called “experts in prayers”, parallel to the Order of the Druids, remains unexplained, although they appeared on Celtic lands before the Druids, but neither the authority nor the order of the organization could not boast).

Druids are priests of ancient Celts who lived in a fusion with nature and were at a low level of technological development.

This is not true. Modern researchers believe that the Celts, who were one of the largest peoples of Europe in the second half of the 1st millennium BC. e. in many industries (metal processing, pottery, etc.) not only did not concede, but also surpassed the Romans. In addition, the Celts have made considerable progress in the areas of trade, crafts, urban planning and architecture.

Druids’ rites and the way of life of the society they governed were harmonious and ideal.

The idea of ​​this kind was expressed by Stoic philosophers who opposed to a civilized society that experienced a period of decay and decay, the image of another social formation – a living serene and happy life, full of kindness and humanity, in a harmonious fusion with nature. Ammianus Marcellinus (Ancient Greek historian) mentioned that the activity of the Philidians and the Druids contributed to an increase in the education of the population and the development of “commendable sciences”.

However, the life of “noble barbarians” (among whom were mythical Hyperboreans, and really existing Celts and Scythians) was not at all so serene. Firstly, during the sacrifices, the druids were stabbed not only by white bulls under a sacred oak tree. According to their beliefs, the gods best hear the requests of people in the event that human sacrifices are made. Therefore, to humble the heavenly patrons, people were killed, not limited to only captive aliens or criminals-at times the local residents also became victims. And the more serious danger threatened the Celts – the higher was the social position of the man sacrificed to the gods. For example, the so-called. “a man from Lindow,” whose body was well preserved in the peat bogs of Lindow near the village of Moberly (Great Britain, Cheshire) belonged to a noble family (as seen from evenly developed musculature and manicure). And, judging by the wounds (a broken skull, a cut throat, a broken rib and a snout on the neck) and a mistletoe found on the body, the man was killed during the ritual sacrifice. In addition, some historians (in particular, Pliny the Elder) mention that the ancient Celts not only sacrificed people, but also ate human flesh. Confirmation of the aforementioned accusations of cannibalism, modern researchers consider human bones found in a cave near Alveston, Great Britain (most likely – sacrificed people), split in a certain way (apparently in order to extract the bone marrow).

But the evidence of another way of sacrifice (described by Caesar) – the burning of people in a huge humanoid stuffed, archaeologists have not yet discovered.Secondly, the Druids, although they themselves did not participate in military operations, and could stop the battle by their appearance on the battlefield, prepared young aristocrats (and ordinary citizens) not for a peaceful and peaceful life. The main goal of the younger generation was mastering the skill of fighting and gaining the willingness to die in the fight. And, finally, the Celtic character traits (greed, levity, vanity), mentioned by ancient historians, are not in any way associated with the harmonious and balanced character of the members of an ideal society.

Information about the secret knowledge of the druids can be found in the written sources of the ancient Celts and Romans.

Wrong opinion. The point is that the training was conducted exclusively orally, moreover, even in the time of Caesar, ancient authors (for example, the Greek writer-historian Lucian) mentioned that the priests of the Celts forbid writing down anything from the system of knowledge, whose owners and custodians they were. This was due, firstly, to the unwillingness of the druids to profane knowledge, and secondly to the desire to improve the memory of the students (which will not be as tenacious in the case when a person relies on records).

Druids were a closed caste, vowed celibacy and lived in forests, away from society.

No, the Druid ranks were replenished not at the expense of their direct heirs, but according to the orders of the gods received by Celtic magicians and prophets. And they were not always fenced off from the society, although they performed rituals in sacred oak groves. The Druids, unlike the rest of the Celts, were exempt from taxes and military service, did not depend on the state authorities (they themselves elected the supreme druid and maintained a clear discipline and hierarchy within the organization). But they successfully assimilated with the society: they started families, owned property, moved freely around the country, occupied significant positions (judges, diplomats, etc.).

Women appeared among the druids rather late – originally in this class were exclusively men.

This view is based on the fact that the written sources mentioning the druids refer to the 3rd century AD. (when the Druids really experienced a period of decline). However, there is just the opposite opinion – originally the caste of priests, soothsayers and filidov was formed mainly from women. This hypothesis is formulated on the basis that, firstly, the ancient Welsh and Irish legends mention druids (bandrui) and female filida (banfile). And, secondly, in the society of ancient Celts, women have enjoyed considerable respect from time immemorial, moreover, they participated in battles on an equal footing with men (until the 7th century AD any representative of the fair sex in whose possession the estate was located could be enlisted in the military service ).

Druids dressed in white robes.

The color of the druid’s attire indicated the stage of training of the representative of this class. For the first 7 years, the disciples (ovates), who comprehended the sacred texts, wore green clothes. If they continued their education and moved to the category of filidov – the color of clothing changed to sky-blue (a symbol of harmony, truth). The time of white clothes after the successful passage of the third stage of training was for the Druid priests wearing a wreath of oak leaves on their heads or a high conical cap made of gold.

The ideas of the Druids laid the foundation for the philosophy of the Pythagoreans.

This view was held by ancient authors. And some of them (for example, Hippolytus of Rome, an early Christian author and martyr) believed that the Pythagorean philosophy was handed over to the druids by the slave Pythagoras named Zamolkis. Others (for example, Clement of Alexandria, the Christian preacher, the founder of the theological school in Alexandria) held the opposite view, claiming that Pythagoras learned from the Druids (as well as Persian magicians, Egyptian soothsayers, etc.) and subsequently outlined their ideas in his teaching.However, modern researchers believe that the commonality of these two philosophies takes place only at first glance. With a deeper study, for example, of the idea of ​​the immortality of the soul, it is evident that, unlike the Pythagoreans, the Druids did not believe in reincarnation (ie the transmigration of the souls of the dead into the bodies of humans, animals or plants) and in the circle of rebirths with the purpose of atonement of sins . The ancient Celts professed the idea of ​​a happy life of the deceased soul (and retained the external appearance familiar to others during the life of a person) in a different, happier world. Because nowadays scientists assume that the aforementioned philosophical systems did not generate one another, however, most likely, there was some older concept, on the basis of which they were formed.

The Druids fought fiercely with Christians.

In some legends one can really find a reference to the struggle of the Druids with the first representatives of Christianity (for example, with St. Patrick). However, a considerable number of them were assimilated from the new religions, because the monasteries in Ireland for a long time were the centers of education and preservation of the cultural heritage of previous generations (in particular, many songs, hymns and legends). Yes, and they were erected most often next to the oak groves or about a separately standing oak (sacred to the Celts plants).

In addition, like many other nations in the world who have replaced polytheism with Christianity, the Celts have sacred festivals dedicated to pagan gods, assimilated with Christian ones. For example, Samhain (November 1) marked the beginning of the new year (it was believed that this day people are the people of the other world) is celebrated as All Saints Day, and “Jack-Lantern”, manufactured for Halloween (October 31) is an ancient Celtic symbol, They are designed to scare off the evil spirits appearing on the earth during the Day of the Dead (or the Day of Death). The spring holiday Imbolk, dedicated to the goddess of fertility Brigitte (February 1) was renamed the feast of St. Brigitte. Belteyn (May 1), dedicated to the god Belu, turned into a feast of St. John, etc.

Even some pagan deities were Christianized. For example, in the regions where the three-faced god of the ancient Celts was revered (most often depicted as Luga (“Shining”), identified with the Sun), Christian painters portrayed the Holy Trinity not as canonical figures of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit ), but in the form of a man with three faces.

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