Reply To: Trouble in Druidville-Star tree talks some religious craic about druidry

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Trouble in Druidville-Star tree talks some religious craic about druidry Reply To: Trouble in Druidville-Star tree talks some religious craic about druidry


You are wrong about the Laudanum, and apparenty have no concept of the dangers of the drug.

I am aware of the dangers of the drug as I am aware of the fact that in the 18th and 19th centuries it was widely used by all kinds of people throughout the social classes as a painkiller. In fact, it was even recommended by leading physicians during the period. There was no regulation of the drug in the UK until the 1860s. In the absence of other pharmaceuticals, it was used as a medicament to treat a range of maladies including pain, asthma, diarrhoea, coughs as well as being used as a quietener and teething remedy for children! Now, apart from a great many of the Romantic Era poets and writers who form part of the canon of English literature, other people who used laudanum/opiates at the time include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Admiral Nelson and Chopin. The use of laudanum and opiates in the 18th and 19th centuries, in a time when there were few other painkillers available and people died of diarrhoea and respiratory problems, was so “normal” that you even find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes, using the drug. Attitudes and medical opinion only really began to change from the mid- to late-19th century, along with the availability of painkillers such as pure aspirin, which had been unavailable before. Therefore, bringing this back to Iolo Morganwg, no one would condone his use of laudanum, but at the same time to single him out from among many of his time completely ignores the historical context. I have often read his name prefixed with a comment about his laudanum use, I have seldom noted this was figures such as Dickens, Shelley or Keats. To make a slight comparison, no one would condone smoking today, yet within living memory tobacco products were sold with doctor’s recommendations. You have to consider the historical context within which people lived and exercise caution in making value judgements about them.

The christian church put over 9 million witches and druids to death.

When did the Christian church put all these druids to death? I don’t think there’s anything reliable in the historical record to support this claim. In fact, on the whole the “conversion” of the British Isles and Ireland was relatively peaceful, you could even call it more of a transition, and I think the evidence for this is far stronger given the degree of syncretism attested in the historical records and by folk tradition. If there had been such bloody conversion and terror of “heresy”, the medieval Welsh and Irish writers would have been too frightened to put their older traditions down on parchment and certainly would not have had access to the oral traditions from which these so obviously derive, given that the texts flow with non-Christian/pagan allusions, lore and barely hidden references to magic and the supernatural, again, I don’t think it’s the case. I’d recommend The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy (Hutton, 1991) for further investigation.

Again, druidism is not a philosophy, philosophy is nothing more than the love of wisdom.

Indeed, but does druid not perhaps derive from an ancient word meaning “wise as an oak” or someone with the “wisdom of the oak”? The Classical writers, contemporaries of the “ancient” druids certainly did describe druids as philosophers among other things, and, albeit probably coincidental, parallels with Pythagoras and Pythagorean philosophy were also made. I think we have to remember that in the ancient world, the “lines” between spirituality, philosophy, the sciences and the natural world were far more blurred than they are wont to be considered today.

Plus, if you are talking 1735, you can be sure that people believed witches could be dangerous,

Except if you actually look up the Witchcraft Act (1735) and read it, you’ll see that is shows a complete reversal in attitudes. It’s basically saying that we don’t believe in witchcraft anymore and we are going to prosecute con artists in order to protect “ignorant Persons [who] are frequently deluded and defrauded”. It’s basically a law that completely repudiates any notion of supernatural power and is worded as such. By 1735, we’re already well into the Age of the Enlightenment, Newton’s Principia had been around for nearly half a century and I just don’t think that there’s any convincing evidence to suggest that Iolo Morganwg was in any danger of some kind of Inquisition or charges of witchcraft in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. If you have historical evidence that would indicate Iolo was indeed in some kind of danger, it would be interesting to read it here.