- July 23, 2020 at 12:28 am #11526Anonymous
I am starting to think that after 1 ad. Most of what Was left of druids were just a few ratty smelly shamans who were living in the woods. Yes, a few chieftains would still have a druid hanging around, but for the most part there were probably never that many druids in the first place. The whole idea of druid colleges seems kind of shady. I think there were bard schools from 1000ad to 1200ad, but that was just to train people to memorize stories, and it was probably more like a community college. And remember the druids were with the barbarians and not the Romans, so being a druid could be a kind of dangerous job. Yes, each tribe would have had their holy men, shamans, but there were probably not tons of them. It was always probably just a small group, and some holy men may have been called druids, even though they were not. I picture a primitive druid as dressed in smelly cloths, never taking a bath, and living in a hut in the woods, and probably half mad or crazy. They were probably living off the land, and more like local witches than all the nationalistic representation of druids starting in the revival period of the late 1700 and 1800s. Some of these druids could have been quite evil, and telling tribes that they had to do all kinds of weird stuff. I mean we really don’t know. And then all the modern druids want to say that stonhenge had nothing to do with the druids. Well, I agree and disagree, I think Stonehenge was made by the faeries. Back in that time the Gods and goddesses walked among the people and faeries could often be encountered on the way to the fair. Or out in the garden, or working around a bothy at night. Now days all the electronics and power lines scare the faeries away. For the most part. So, modern druidry is really much better than smelly little druids who never take baths and running around the forest in dirty clothes. But still, I worry, because druids don’t seem to have any code of morals. And ten druids in a room cannot agree on anything. Did druids believe in love and forgiveness? Of course now we take baths and have clean druid robes, and lots of druid books and herbs, and even online druid training, but are we really learning anything that can make us better people? Or just going over the Taliesin story for the gabillionth time. And no one even agrees on what the Taliesin story means. I hope I have not shattered your whole sense of self, and your whole sense of self worth as a druid, I just think it should all be looked at form a new light. Now days it seems druidry is more of a ecological life style than anything else. And I always feel that many witches say they are druids because their parents don’t like the idea that their daughter is a witch. Even in this enlightened time, the word witch, still carries the dark connotations of devil worship, and the jones across the street may not have anything to do with a family who has witch in the family, but if she is a druid, it is ok, because everyone knows druids represent merry old England, and knights in armor. Still, being a modern druid is great fun, and better than being in the, well most everything else club. At least we are free thinkers, well most of us. And I do think it is funny how many psychologist are druids. Best wishes Star TreeJuly 23, 2020 at 9:29 am #11531
I think you ought to be careful about the “barbarian” stereotype – the bearded, axe-wielding, bloodthirsty “ignoramuses” of many films and television series.
When you look at the material culture, the artwork, the feats of engineering and what has come down to us in oral lore, folklore and later literature as well as the writings of some less hostile classical authors, I think you’ll see that our “Celtic” ancestors had a complex culture and “civilisation” and were quite well acquainted with the civilisations of the Mediterranean and beyond – elephants appear on the Gundestrup Cauldron and I believe that Egyptian beads may have been found in Ireland. The fact that they were different was the problem (for the Romans). The idea of being dirty is also irritating as the Gauls actually produced soap and classical writers, if I’m not mistaken, commented on how meticulously clean the Celtic peoples were.
/|\July 23, 2020 at 5:58 pm #11536Anonymous
Hi Dowgri, I think you are thinking of romanized cities, and not how life really was all dirty and smelly and short for the forest folk. It was a really bloody time, and guess what they did not have electric lights, and by the way I don’t even think the Gundestrup cauldron can be used as an argument that these people were not barbarians, look it was just a piece of hammered metal, and it did have cernunos, who is the lord of the animals, get animals, not the kind of creature who read philosophy. But modern druids want to see everything from a magical perspective. Again, if the druids had any power, it was because they could see into the future and cast spells that would help a chieftain win a war, or maybe they would curse someone with satiric poetry, making the chieftain unfit for duty. And the question I am asking is how many druids were there really, and can we really think that there was a druid school where druids studied for 20 years. I really doubt that one. Now we get to the real thing about magic, Dowgri, and that is not everyone can do magic, and you have to be of a certain type of person to even get into being able to really be powerful at magic. magic, is a spiritual gift and it is not given to everyone. All people are not equal in magic, and some people can read minds and see into the future and raise tons of energy without any help from training. The gods bestow shamanism on the ones they choose, so to think the idea that all these kings and princes and rich dirty people sent their sons to druid school makes no sense, The fact is the druids would pick a few people who showed potential and train them, or not. I don’t buy the idea of these druid colleges, but it is a romantic idea, and many modern druids are role playing romantic or philosophy majors who what to fit the ancient world into their world view. I SAY get real. Any idiot can beat some metal into what were probably commonly drawn symbols. The gundestrup cauldron is another overrated piece that does not prove anything. If you want jewelry, there are some good museums in London and Ireland that have early Celtic jewelry, but what is important in that is that you see the interlacing patterns which show us the Celtic people knew that all things, animals plants and trees were interconnected at a deep deep level. This was taught to them by the Celtic Gods and goddesses, and not by history professor philosophical druids who are trying to get tenure in the Celtic studies department of a major university. it is my experience that if you are a real witch or a real druid, you will know it, and be called by the gods and goddess, and you will have no choice, but if you are a techno druid, you may get a quick glimpse through the Celtic mist but that is about all before the doors to the Celtic world will be shut forever on you, and all you will be left with is a hippy drum and a degree in Celtic studies of psychology. I see it over and over and over again. Druids who started out with a relationship with the Celtic Otherworld, only to find the doors to the Celtic Otherworld shut in their faces. So, how many druids were there really, my guess is very few.July 23, 2020 at 8:56 pm #11537
I think you’ve missed the point. The Gundestrup cauldron shows exotic animals that the Thracian metalworkers, probably to order, put on a cauldron for a rich Celtic chieftain – this suggests a people with a far more extensive global view than is often suggested. La Tène artwork is some of the finest artwork of ancient Europe and shows a fusion of indigenous Celtic motifs with Greek and Etruscan influences that again suggest a much more cosmopolitan society. You’re not just talking about a bit of jewellery at all and the influences of La Tène artwork have survived down to this very day.
Caesar wrote about conquering hundreds of cities in Gaul, note the word cities. The Celtic oppidum was no mere fortress and going beyond La Tène to the Hallstatt era, again, you find the signs of quite a sophisticated culture. This is without even mentioning Celtic Spain and Portugal – check out the beautiful sauna constructions at Citania de Briteiros. And, in terms of cleanliness, the Celts have been credited with giving the Romans soap. It’s a bit difficult to level the accusation of poor hygiene at the people who may have invented soap, isn’t it?
The Gaulish druids are said to have written in Greek letters, there’s plenty of archaeological material to back that up too, and, of course, this was when the druids were still very powerful and present within Gaulish society. Finally, the Greek geographer Pytheas, who lived in the 4th century BCE, (paraphrased by Diodorus Siculus) commented on the “civilised” people of southwestern Britain, or Belerion, as he calls it – that’s long before the Roman conquest.
As I said before, you need to drop the stereotypical and outdated views that have, unfortunately, been so promoted by TV and films and, in many cases, poor research.
/||July 24, 2020 at 4:37 pm #11538Anonymous
see I disagree with you, and I believe life was worse that the tv shows it. What I am saying is not stereotypical views but reality. YES people did travel and trade back in the past more than most people know, and the main way they got around is by boat, and the Celts were and are good sailors, we have it in our blood, and love the sea. also, I am not really talking about what went on in Europe, and I don’t even consider them druids. I think of druids as living in Ireland and Scotland. and the reason that the christians could convert the people to christianity is because there were not many druids, druids were more like shamans in these places. So I am not really concerned about what went on in Europe and don’t even consider that culture as part of the druids. The gods and goddess in Europe were not the same as the ones in Ireland and Scotland and the faery tribes were not the same. I think too many modern druids are caught up in European history and philosophy, and this is not what I am about as a druid. I am about the spiritual side of druidry, the relationship with nature and the Celtic Gods and goddesses and faeries kingdoms of Ireland and Scotland. And people are caught up in the idea that the druids were like the depictions of the paintings of druids during the revival period of the 1700 and 1800.
people love winners, and that is why they wanted to vote for trump. He had made everyone think he was a winner with the tv show the apprentice.and he made everyone think he was a winner with his name on the big new york apartment building. At one time products were sold for what they could do for you, like toothpaste that brightened your teeth, or cars that were comfortable. and then they started selling things by saying that the things were winners, like this car has been rated no 1 for 5 years by car and driver, or this toothpaste is the number 1 toothpaste in america. Collegesgo to great lengths to have a winning football team because people want to be associated with winners. And this is why trump does not want peopleto see his tax returns because it will show him as a loser. He is the kind of guy who has trophies all around his office. People buy things that areassociated with winners and not because of the quality or the build of the object. I just thought that this is an interesting psychological concept and it is very powerfulin society advertising. If you look around you will see all kinds of people claiming to be a winner, and no 1. I think there is real danger in wantingto be associated with winners and it is one of the reasons why there are so many problems in the world. If winning is all that counts, then people will do anything to win. They all want to hoop and holler and jump up and down and scream we are number 1. Team players don’t count, just the winners.I don’t think people are evil, i think that the way they approach life is evil. I want to stay aware of the winner advertising because it is a sign of somethingthat is really wrong, but it sure does sell stuff.
In celtic lore the goddess Morrigan is the goddess of war, death, and passion. I find it interesting that death and passion go together, but we only have so much time and we have to spend it in a way that follows our passion. breath in through your third eye to awaken it, and breath out through your third eye. breath in and circulate the energy through your spine, down your spine up your spine to the crown chakra. energy flows where intention goes.
See even modern druids want to associate with winners, and that is why they can’t accept the idea that real druids were smelly little people who had great knowledge of nature and magic, accept when their wands were broken, and the romans won in that case, bringing the roman European views into England, and forever making the Irish and Scottish feel like they were not winners, when they are, and not trying to fight the English with pointy sticks against firearms. nothing changes, it is always the same face of the goddess, and people always want to put winning above quality.July 25, 2020 at 4:45 pm #11554GreywolfKeymaster
It’s hard to know where to begin to explain how wrong you are on so many counts, so I’ll just deal with the one you started this thread with. Just because an untrue story has been around for 2000 years doesn’t make it any less untrue. I am referring to the story written by Tacitus a century after the event where he describes a Roman attack on the island of Anglesey and the killing of the Druids found there. It has been assumed, with absolutely no backing, even from Tacitus himself, that every Druid in the British Isles had conveniently relocated to Anglesey so as to be there to be killed. This is clearly ridiculous for several reasons.
First, there were several tribes in Southern Britain who were friendly towards the Romans. They would not have remained friendly for long if the Romans had killed their priests, healers, law-givers and lore-preservers, i.e. their Druids.
Second, it is absurd to think that even every Druid in Wales would have made their way to Anglesey. Why would they?
Third, even in the incredibly unlikely event that every single Druid in the whole of England and Wales had been on Anglesey at the time of the Roman attack, is it really likely that they all would have stayed there to be killed when there was a regular, busy and short trade route by which they could have escaped to Ireland?
Fourth, even assuming that all the Druids in England and Wales had gone to Ireland and been too stupid to hop on a boat, the Romans never penetrated far into Scotland, nor did they invade Ireland at all. Both of those countries had Druids, unless, of course, you’re assuming that all of them also ran lemming-like to Anglesey and stuck around to be killed.
Fifth, they clearly didn’t since medieval literature refers to Druids in Ireland still being employed by local kings as late as the 10th century, while Welsh poets ares still referring to themselves as Druids in the 14th century.
6th, as Ronald Hutton and others have pointed out, Tacitus did not witness the attack on Anglesey himself, nor does he tell us his source. Tacitus himself is the only source we know of and he may have made the whole thing up.
To answer your question, then, how many Druids were there after the 1st century CE: a lot, certainly hundreds, possibly thousands, certainly thousands if you include their students.
Greywolf /|\July 25, 2020 at 5:48 pm #11556
Thanks for those interesting points and yes, I don’t think Tacitus, who writes at times more sympathetically to the Britons than the Romans, makes any claim that the Suetonius Paulinus’s military action somehow exterminated druids for ever. As you’ve said, there were tribes in southern Britain who were not hostile to Rome and the Dumnonii,in my old neck of the woods, seemed to have enjoyed peaceful relations. An interesting point that I’ve come across about the attack on Anglesey is that when Paulinus was up there in North Wales, the Boudiccan rebellion erupted in southeastern Britain. Was some kind of tactical game being played either to divert the legions from the South East or, conversely, to draw them away from North Wales?
/|\July 25, 2020 at 9:17 pm #11561david pooleParticipant
I thought that the Celts were fairly civilised surely the Druids must have been as well? It sounds to me like there is some stereotyping contained here, from books movies tv series. The Celts and the Romans got along quite well, for a while at least, which would have meant that the Druids would have been left alone, at least until the end. At a guess, for several hundred years until the Romans changed their minds, and then Christianity arriving. In that time there was probably a lot of religious activity from both sides, so the Druids would probably have grown and be larger than we might think.July 26, 2020 at 4:47 am #11563Anonymous
First, thank you Chief Greywolf, I know that you are an expert in the study of druidry, and your information is really helpful. And I really appreciate it. I have been having a difficult time trying to find a link between early druidry and modern druidry. I don’t see one. It seems that druidry was lost at some time, and that there is no way to reconstruct it. So, I don’t see a way we can know what the druids believed. I am glad that you think there were a large number of druids in the first century in the British Isles.
From my research, from the book Highlights in Welsh Literature by R.M Jones, a book that goes over information that was given to Prince Charles, (who I think is a druid) when Charles was a student at the University College of Wales, in 1969, by 300 AD the Welsh were Christianized, and the poets like Taliesin and Aneirin were writing in the 6th century when christianity was in the area that they lived, and the people in Wales and the region were fighting forgiven invaders . So, in a nutshell, that seems to be what was going on. However, there were a lot of bards who also told the old stories and folk tales at this time. So, I guess there is an argument that we can get some idea of what the druid stories were from the folk literature of this time, but at most it seems just a glimpse through the mist. However, from the third century onward, it seems that it was Christian bards and not druid bards who were telling the stories and adding their own take on it, like in the Taliesin poem, when it says, I was at the crucifixion of Christ. And it does seem that the Welsh were civilized by the 6th century, at least in the sense of being Romanized. But the link to the druid religion does seem to vanish between the first century and the third. However, that is not to say that we do not have a lot of very authentic Celtic mythology that was handed down by the storytellers. Still, what the druids believed seems to have vanished, and the modern druidry seems to me to be a reconstruction of druidry based on ( and I am not trying to be disrespectful) hippy spirituality, new age thought, the teaching of Gerald Gardener and Ross Nichols, plus the pop psychology-self -help books of the 1970s, along with Celtic Mythology that seems to me to often be taken out of context to prove modern druid thought. This understanding of what modern druidry is has become a passion of mine for at least 10 years.
So just let me quickly put this in perspective, I believe as a druid in the Celtic Gods and Goddesses Rhiannon, Ceridwen, Breej-eh, and the Morrigan and the Celtic gods, Dagda, and Angus. I have had personal contact with these gods and goddesses and find great spiritual strength and passion in my relationship with them. I also believe that the faeries are real and have had contact with them, and as a musician, writer, and poet, I am inspired with the inspiration of the faery songs, and Celtic myth. I feel that awen is the flowing inspiration that comes from the faeries and the Celtic gods and goddesses. These gods and goddesses and faeries are all around us, and live in a dimension that is right next door to us, and they can and do travel in our world. To me a druid is a person who has a relationship with the Celtic otherworld and has a deep ecology with the natural world, and sees the whole world as alive with consciousness, which means we can communicate with the trees and stones.
Still, that said, I have no way to prove that this is what the ancient druids thought, and what I believe is based on direct experience, and the modern druidry which is heavily influenced by Wicca. All of the magic I know comes from Wicca, and I have found it to be a safe way to learn magic. However, I would point out that I have found some online druid training, in my opinion, to be very dangerous in its training of magic. I feel that a magic circle should always be cast before any real druidcraft because it is important to set up protection from some of the dark forces in the magic world, and also to contain energy before it is released. Further, I feel the warnings of improper use of magic should be stressed, as what goes around comes around, or the law of returning tide. I feel that druids should be warned not to cast a curse on anyone, ever. I hope druidry will always be a way of life that is full of kindness, love and respect for all people. Now, this is just how I see my world as a druid, and I am not trying to tell anyone else how to be a druid, I am just stating how I see druidry. I also see druidry as a fellowship of intelligent , kind, thoughtful, creative and nature loving people. Best W.T St CJuly 26, 2020 at 7:57 am #11565
… by 300 AD the Welsh were Christianized …
I’d be careful with older literature. The field of Celtic studies has undergone a lot of shifts and changes in fifty years and archaeological discoveries along with the development of historical genetic history has altered many previously-held notions.
I doubt that Wales was fully Christian by 300 CE. That Christians were present in Roman Britain before the Edict of Milian in 313 CE is not an issue, but the historical facts, texts and archaeology don’t really back up the assertion that we are dealing with a fully Christian area at that time. Constantine himself was not a Christian until the end of his life and the Edict of Milan was actually an edict of tolerance for all religions. The whole Roman Empire did not suddenly become Christian overnight and the great age of the Celtic saints wasn’t until about two to three centuries later, which means there was plenty of time for syncretism and for old beliefs to linger on – especially in rural or remote areas, whence paganus – a person of the countryside.
The Saints Julius and Aaron were said to have been martyred in 304 CE, although the date may be up to fifty years earlier – roughly contemporaneous with Albanus, or Saint Alban, who was martyred for “blaspheming the gods”. The historicity of these figures is open to debate, however, we are talking about roughly the same period. On the other hand, Saint Alban (as many other Celtic saints) was beheaded and some have suggested that they may represent a pre-Christian “head cult”, with all that entails. Either way, this would not suggest a fully Christian society and culture at the time at all. Another fact to consider was that there was a pagan revival under the emperor Julian the Apostate and a temple dedicated to Nodens, albeit a Romanised version, at Lydney in the Forest of Dean, dates from around that period in the mid-4th century CE.
In addition to this, as Greywolf has pointed out, the Romans did not really conquer or hold on to what is now Scotland, the Britons/Celts north of the wall, would in all likelihood have held on to their beliefs far longer. Indeed, Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio, a Brythonic chieftain who ruled an area around northern Cumbria and the Lowlands of Scotland and who died at the Battle of Arfderydd in 573 CE was said to have been a pagan.
/|\July 26, 2020 at 10:16 am #11566david pooleParticipant
@WTSTC Thank you for that contribution. You make some valid points. Is Prince Charles a Druid? Certainly Winston Churchill was and Queen Elizabeth is. I can’t remember which Orders they belong to, I think it may have been the AOD Ancient Order of Druids. This Order, along with a number of others, were or are friendly societies where members look after each other and sometimes donate money to charitable causes. It is entirely possible that Prince Charles belongs to such a group. We might not know for sure, but it seems like reasonable speculation. For the history of the AOD see Ronald Hutton, including The Druids, Blood and Mistletoe and Witches, Druids and King Arthur. Ronald goes into this time period quite intensively. But this does not prove Prince Charles is one of us, this is still speculation. The AOD are from what I know different from other societies such as the Masons, as were the other similar Druid friendly societies. The difference between them and a normal friendly society would be the ritual elements and observances at important places such as Stonehenge. Don’t forget the Welsh Gorsedd, probably a number of important people are connected to that as well; the connection may be with the Welsh or with culture or it may have spiritual dimensions.
The Celts covered a large area, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland (Cornwall), in order to maintain religious functions the number of Druids would have had to have been seriously large in order to cover all of their functions. We know that the Celts and the Romans did interact religiously as well as in commerce; many Celtic gods were combined with Roman gods in places of worship, for example Mercury and Rosmerta. Did Roman citizens go to Druid ceremonies? An interesting question. Some may have done. I have not come across any proof of this so far but it is a plausible idea. Possibly the gods were combined to keep everything and everyone in one place, as it were.
Greywolf your arguments make sense, I think that this is a very credible scenario. It appears that Anglesey may have been given undue emphasis as an account, to the point where one might think that all Druids were massacred there; as you point out, this makes no sense when you stop to think about it.
Does the severed head cult relate to the stories of wondrous heads? Bran for example, of course. Which would mean that the Mabinogion takes on more importance if it is indeed the main survival of some of our past beliefs.July 26, 2020 at 12:22 pm #11567
Did Roman citizens go to Druid ceremonies?
I doubt it, and if they did, they would have done furtively and at great risk to themselves. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, the Emperor Augustus had debarred druids from Roman citizenship -something which would have been highly advantageous to anyone in the empire at that time. Claudius is said to have banned druid ceremonies and rites and Tiberius had also had a lot of different kinds of practices made illegal, including druid ones. According to Pliny, a Roman eques or knight was executed during the reign of Claudius for having had a druid amulet about his person during a lawsuit. I don’t think that a Roman would have been interested in attending any druid rites anyway nor would it have been advisable for them to do so. The Roman religion was also very focused on ancestors – mos maiorum and dis manibus – and a Roman would have in all likelihood not been able to relate to what they saw as an alien and barbarian, if not barbaric, cult not of their own people or ancestry. In later times, this may have been less so, but in the times we’re talking about I think that it might have been a strong factor.
It is important to note that the Romans were not persecuting Celtic religion per se, but rather a specific group within that “religion” and so I don’t think they had a problem with someone praying to Teutates or Nodens, they just had a serious problem with the druids. Perhaps you could compare this to how the Knights Templar were wiped out at the instigation of the King of France, whereas other orders continued to flourish. The Gallo-Roman religion that developed in Gaul during the following centuries seems to bear testimony to the fact that “Celtic” religion of some sort did not die out, but rather continued, albeit syncretised with Roman beliefs and, perhaps, the many other mystery religions and beliefs that were present during the period.
In conclusion, I think that we need to look more closely at the areas where Roman influence was weaker or less oppressive and, as in the case of Ireland, where Roman authority was never imposed.
/|\July 26, 2020 at 4:44 pm #11568Dave TheDruid-3X3Participant
The Ancient Druids did not keep records of their Numbers and Julius Caesar did not do a Census of them before Massacring them and Destroying their Groves and during the Dark Ages and the Burning Times, there were never any Censuses done.
As far as Modern Times, as far as I know, only Scotland did a Census of who made claim to being Druidistic Pagans in about 2006. So Scotland should have Records in their Census about how many Modern Druids there might be.
3X3July 27, 2020 at 7:56 am #11574
The Ancient Druids did not keep records of their Numbers and Julius Caesar did not do a Census of them before Massacring them and Destroying their Groves and during the Dark Ages and the Burning Times, there were never any Censuses done.
I don’t think Julius Caesar massacred the druids to be honest, in fact there were tribes allied with Rome and they, presumably, would have had their druids who remained unscathed. The Romans got tough on the druids under August, Tiberius and Claudius much later on, and they never really conquered Scotland or reached Ireland at all. Julius Caesar’s forays into Britain were not really conquests and he struck up a couple of agreements and deals with locals kings in the southeastern areas. There were also Celtic tribes in Britain that never picked a fight with Rome and we might assume that they kept their belief systems and social structures relatively intact.
During the witch trials, I don’t think anyone was ever burned at the stake for being a druid. It’s important to note that heretics, i.e. Christians, were burnt at the stake, whereas witches were hanged, so again we might presume, from an historical point of view, that no druids proper were persecuted during those times, the main reason being that there weren’t really any druids around by then. Interestingly, the witch trials were relatively scarce in “Celtic” areas and few people were persecuted in comparison with other parts of Europe.
In order to estimate how many druids there might have been at any one time, and it will only every be a rough estimate, it might be better to think about how many tribes there were, each with a chieftain and, as we often see in the mythological materials, each one with his own druid. So, if there were thirty Celtic tribes in an area, each one with a king and a druid, that would be equal to thirty “official” druids – as a minimum. It’s not much to work on, but it does suggest that there may have been relatively few druids compared to other roles in these societies.
/|\July 28, 2020 at 8:13 am #11579Anonymous
Look, I think the druids are wonderful people, and I do feel that I need to do some more studying about druid history. I will try to read some of these suggested books on it, like Hutton’s so that I will be more informed on what other druids think druidry is. I am sure there are many people who know a great deal about druidry, and I hope they will share their views with us. We can all learn from each other if we all keep an open mind. Being a druid should be a happy and joyful experience, and not some nightmare trip into nationalism. Druidry is about a lot more than being Welsh, or British, or Irish, or Scottish. I think it is even best if it is not thought of as a religion at all, but more of a fellowship of people who are interested in exploring the many facets of druidry. Best William
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