Friday, February 16, 2007

Everything You Want To Know About Druids

Everything You Want To Know About Druids Cover You know that when you read a novel, the author is allowed to Make Things Up, right? This picture, for instance, represents a lurid, Fictional scene. Not Real. With non-fiction books, the author is not supposed to Make Things Up. Some of them do, though. How can the reader beware of this practice? Your best bet is to look at the credentials of the author.

If s/he is a university professor, chances are the Information in the book is carefully researched. The author has an academic reputation to uphold, and that probably is more valuable to him or her than the success of the book. If the author has no real credentials, and especially if the book is self-published or from a publisher you never heard of, be careful of taking the words to heart.

Digression over.

The nonfiction books with "Druid" in the title fall into two categories: those dealing with the historical, Celtic Druids, and those devoted to neo-druidism.
Druids Celebrate Spring Equinox At Stonehenge

The two categories are completely separate. Neo-druidic books that promise to teach druidism are promoting a philosophy, religion, and lifestyle that was invented in modern times, and uses impressions of ancient druids as its inspiration--like the happy couple to the right.

Look, no one knows what ancient druids believed. They left NO written record, and the writings about them are filtered through Romans and Greeks. Those authors may have been lying, or misinformed, or faithful reporters...we don't know.

That leaves a handful of books by scholars and historians about druids. Of these, I recommend Peter Berresford Ellis' book, The Druids -- or, as Amazon bills it, A Brief History of the Druids (The Brief History). Even though it features Stonehenge on the cover (a construction that preceeds Druids and Celts by a coupla millennia), it's the most recent book that gathers together all that we can know about Druids--from archaeology (including Lindow Man), ancient writing, and Irish and Welsh traditions.

Ellis takes the position that Druids were the educated segment of society--the doctors, lawyers, judges, scientists, and yes, priests. He compares them to the Brahmins of India. He makes conjectures, sifts through the evidence. If you read a book by a different expert, s/he might have different opinions.

Druids are mysterious. They were the elite and guarded secret information. That information died with them, though.

I'm reminded of a line from the book Indeh by Eve Ball--a book about the Apache...a line I can't find right now! Dang. I hope I don't butcher the quote, but one of the Apaches who was telling his history turned to Ms. Ball and said, "You white people, you keep everthing up here in your head, and nothing in your heart."

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Paschal Beverly Randolph - Seership Guide To Soul Sight
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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Popular Neodruidic Organizations

Popular Neodruidic Organizations Cover Since the 1960s, a number of modern druidic organizations have been founded, including Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), British Druid Order, The Druid Network (TDN), and Keltria. They all have similar, but distinct beliefs and practices. OBOD is based in the UK, while ADF and Keltria are based in the US, though all three have international reach. ADF is a descendant of the RDNA since its founder, Isaac Bonewits was a member of the RDNA before founding ADF. Keltria (see below) came about as the result of disagreements between several ADF members and Mr. Bonewits on the focus of druidry.

The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, organizes its postal study course into three “grades”, with acceptance into each grade requiring completion of the previous grade under direction of a tutor. Initiation ceremonies are sometimes conducted in person within a grove but often individually as a personal ritual. The study course consists of meditations on the four elements and the cycle of life and death, Celtic mythology, and the arts of herbalism, treelore, stonelore, and self-transformation. It includes the Arthurian legends as they come down from Welsh myth, and it is notable for not excluding Christianity or any other religious practice. OBOD’s study course is easily compatible with the practice of other religions and does not require that order members “convert” in any way. Each grade alludes to one of the historical subdivisions of the ancient druids.

* Bard – The bards cultivated the arts of imagination and language, which is to say the art of symbolism. They learned the complexities of poetry and the arts of memory. Bards were the keepers of lore and were expected to know by heart all the myths, legends, history and even bloodlines of the people.
* Ovates – Ovates are thought to have been principally seers and ritualists but within OBOD the student devotes time to the study of herb-lore, Walking Between worlds, meditative work with one’s ancestors, and with trees and the ancient Irish writing system the ogham.
* Druid – Druids within OBOD focus more upon the lore of gods and goddesses, of stones and alignments, and seeking a call or vocation to some form of further practice, either as a teacher, grove leader, or in solitary ways as a contemplative.

The Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA) is another major new group that is a revival of one of the branches of fraternal Druidism that came to North America with European settlers. Descended from Freemasonry and the Ancient Order of Druids, the AODA was revived in the 1990s by John Michael Greer who serves as Grand Archdruid and has been instrumental in bringing the order’s teachings up to date. His book The Druidry Handbook lays out the first degree teachings of the order. Like the OBOD and many other esoteric orders descended from Freemasonry, there are three degrees. In addition to ideas inspired from the Druid Revival of the 18th and 19th Centuries, members study natural history, conservationist ecology, ethics, and magical arts. The AODA maintains slightly more connection to the Hermetic traditions of Ceremonial Magic than does the OBOD.

Keltrian Druidism is a Celtic Neopagan tradition dedicated to honoring its ancestors, revering the spirits of nature, and worshiping the Gods and goddesses of its members’ Gaelic heritage. Focus is placed on personal growth through the development of mind, body, and spirit. The group is an initiatory tradition that places special emphasis on the development of spiritual relationships through study and practice of the druidic arts or draiocht. Their national organization, The Henge of Keltria, publishes various resources and acts as a registry for members. It originally broke off as a branch from ADF through disagreements over the pursuit of a pan-Indo-European paganism that went beyond the specifically Celtic cultures associated with the ancient druids.

There are also many other druid groups in Britain, Europe and America, which may all be considered part of the modern Druidic Movement.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Mark Mirabello - La Hermandad De Odin In Spanish
Max Heindel - Ancient And Modern Initiation
John Dee - Tabula Bonorum Angelorum Invocationes

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Mills Odinist Movement In Australia

Mills Odinist Movement In Australia Cover In 1972 the spiritual descendants of Mills' Odinist movement in Australia obtained from the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia a written undertaking that open profession of Odinism in Australia would not be persecuted. The Odinic Rite of Australia subsequently obtained tax deductible status from the Australian Tax Office. The ATO accepts this as the definition of Odinism: "the continuation of ... the organic spiritual beliefs and religion of the indigenous peoples of northern Europe as embodied in the Edda and as they have found Expression in the wisdom and in the Historical experience of these peoples".

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Summer Woodsong - False Memory Syndrome And The Inquisition
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