Forum Replies Created
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 4:25 pm in reply to: You have to be able to deal with the put downs to be a bard #11553
Britain seems to be peculiarly blighted with people who will, with great relish, verbally attack anyone bold enough to stick their head above any parapet. As a nation, we seem determined to undervalue and undermine those who ‘do’ anything. Maybe ‘doers’ make couch potatoes feel uncomfortable and embarrassed? I know that same happens elsewhere, but it does seem particularly prevalent here in Britain. However, as a wise sage once said, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!” 😀
It’s hard to pitch a delivery system that works perfectly for everyone since everyone studies at their own pace. We do, however, try to throw in links to external resources whenever we can for those who want more depth and breadth.
I hope to start putting the revised and updated bardic course online soon. It expands greatly on what’s in the course already. By the time we’ve finished the update, the whole course looks like being about 50% longer than it is currently. We are setting up our system so that all students, past and present, will be given access to the new course booklets. Working on them has reminded me how much has happened in the last nine years.
Until then, as Dowgri and david suggest, working with the material repeatedly and/or differently as well as supplementing with side studies remain viable options. Learning is one of the great joys in life, and its a joy that, for me, has only increased over the 14 years I’ve been working on our course booklets!
This was a particularly interesting thread for me to read. Elaine, who runs the BDO webshop, looks after our roundhouse, contributed many of the ceremonies in our ovate course, and so forth, keeps the most amazing journals. It’s a couple of pages from one of hers that appears in the bardic booklet about keeping a journal. She keeps postcards, photographs, till receipts, gift wrappings, newspaper clippings and all manner of other scraps to paste into her journals alongside her writing and sketches. She has dozens of them stored away and they’ll be the most incredible resource for some future historian.
By contrast, I spend so much of my time writing course material that I’m pretty much written out by the end of the day and therefore only intermittently keep any kind of journal. I’ve also made the rookie mistake of not having a nice-looking journal set aside, so when i do decide to record something it goes on a scrap of paper or in any one of about half a dozen small reporters’ notebooks. This means it’s difficult or even impossible to find what I’ve written again.
I sincerely hope that you good folks will be more like Elaine in this respect and a lot less like me!
That’s wonderful to hear. It’s why we do what we do. I very much look forward to hearing you play. I have a great admiration for violin-players, partly due to having never got the hang of the instrument myself. It has no frets. How can that possibly work? 😉
Seriously, thank you for your kind words which have greatly brightened a rainy day.
Greywolf /|\June 10, 2020 at 12:14 pm in reply to: Druid sacred sites in Virginia are Millions of years old #11044
“Druid sacred sites in Virginia are Millions of years old?”
The earliest evidence of human activity in North America dates from 130,000 years ago, and even that is contested, with most estimates still ranging between 17,000 and 13,000 years ago, so clearly the sites referred to cannot be ‘millions of years old’ and made by humans. Given that our earliest evidence for the existence of Druids dates from not much more than 2,000 years ago, any site older than that cannot be firmly associated with them. Even if, as I do, you’re inclined to believe that megalithic structures in the British Isles are attributable to what we might call proto-Druids, the oldest of these are little more than 6,000 years old. The point of making extravagant claims for which there is absolutely no evidence has always eluded me, like the claim the Ancient Druid Order make that Druidry originated in Atlantis. Apart from anything else, this dishonours our ancestors by dismissing them as primitives who were incapable of building anything or creating a religion or philosophy for themselves. For me, the actual, verifiable facts of archaeology, history and prehistory are quite fascinating enough and exploring the truth about them respectfully honours our ancestors. Like a lot of Druids, I like to speculate, but I also like to keep my speculations within the realms of the possible! And, as pointed out in an earlier reply, to claim early American sites as Druidic dishonours the original inhabitants of the Americas, the first nations people who we know to have created magnificent structures and fine religious philosophies without any outside help.
Sorry for the rant, but these things are important to me.
For pagan ethics drawn from early sources, see Brendan Myers excellent book, ‘The Other Side of Virtue: Where our virtues really come from, what they really mean, and where they might be taking us’ (O Books, 2008). Brendan is a Pagan Druid who has a PhD in philosophy. He’s an extremely good writer who confronts the deepest questions about life, death, the universe and our relationships with them from a solid Pagan perspective and an equally solid academic footing. His ‘The Earth, The Gods and the Soul: A History of Pagan Philosophy from the Iron Age to the 21st Century’ (Moon Books, 2013) is equally excellent.
The summer solstice gathering at Stonehenge has indeed been cancelled due to Covid restrictions, though the sunrise will be live-streamed online by English Heritage. Go to: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/things-to-do/solstice/
The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr, the group we founded back in the 1990s to allow peaceful access to Stonehenge for seasonal celebrations, normally gathers there on Midsummer’s Day, June 24th. Due to Covid, their gathering has also been cancelled this year. See: https://bards.org.uk/events/
The reason the Gorsedd gathers on Midsummer’s Day and not at the solstice is explained on my ‘Greywolf’s Lair’ blog. Briefly, all the evidence from across Europe and the British Isles and throughout recorded history tells us that Midsummer was celebrated a few days after the solstice, on the first day when the Sun’s rising position on the horizon begins to move again. For more on Midsummer traditions and how come so many Pagans now celebrate the solstice instead of Midsummer, check out my blog: https://greywolf.druidry.co.uk/2015/06/merry-midsummer/
We have been experiencing problems with our course delivery system that have affected a few of our students. Also, our admin person and tech guy both had a whole slew of health, family and work-related problems in March, which probably explains why you didn’t get a reply via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. My advice is to try Adam at techsupport again now, explaining the problem. He’s normally extremely efficient at sorting out problems 🙂
Greywolf /|\May 15, 2020 at 4:29 pm in reply to: Revisiting Druidry, A practical and inspirational guide, by Philip Shallcrass #10646
I’m currently working on a new edition of Druidry: A Practical and Inspirational Guide, keeping most of the content of the original but making a lot of additions. I guess by the time it’s finished it’ll be about 50% longer. It’s 20 years on from the original publications date, so seemed like a good time to bring a new edition into print. Given the length of time these things take, I’d guess it’ll be out in about a year’s time…
Thank you for your kind responses, good people. Sounds as though Dowgri and I are both blessed with tolerant neighbours! I’ve been living here in North Wiltshire for 19 years now and have never had a single noise complaint, even when repeatedly running through lead guitar parts in an attempt to get ’em right. Mind you, I always do that with the windows closed 😉 After finishing the group of healing pieces, I started work on another project, building a reconstruction of what I think a ‘lost’ British and Irish instrument called a tiompán might have been like. I finished it about a week ago and published a blog about it that has an embedded video and sound files of my first few goes at playing it. They’re a bit scrappy due to my being new to the thing and the new strings not holding their tuning that well, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out, never having even tried to make a stringed instrument before. Well, if you fancy checking it out, it’s here: https://greywolf.druidry.co.uk/2020/05/shadows-of-the-tiompans-strings/
I was brought up by atheists, so had no church to get out from under, except the church of atheism, to which my parents were quite deeply attached! My Druid revelation came through reading Robert Graves’ ‘The White Goddess.’ I still love the book because it opened the path to me. I wouldn’t especially recommend it to anyone else though. It’s a very dense and difficult read and a lot of what Graves says about, for example, the poems of Taliesin, is extremely misleading. As said, though, it did set me off on the path I still find myself on 46 years later. I thank the gods that I lived to be a pensioner, not least because the state pension is largely what’s keeping food on the table for myself and the two of my offspring who still live with me! Also, as my long grey hair continues to fall out, I can feel less self-conscious about referring to myself as a Druid Elder 😉
Personally, I’ve always been extremely fond of the past, or rather certain aspects of it, due to having always had the feeling that I was born out of time and have struggled with a lot of modern life, like telephones, tax offices, polluting industries, lying politicians and pointless celebrity culture. Hence I play archaic musical instruments and occasionally build Iron Age roundhouses. Having discovered Druidry in the 1970s, there were no how-to books or courses to be found, so my way into the path was through a combination of archaeology and medieval literature, which is why I remain strongly attached to both and believe they have a lot to offer. None of which means I live in an iron Age theme park speaking nothing but Old Welsh. My house was built in 1991 and, with the exception of English, I’m fairly crap at languages. I have learnt to adapt to life in the 21st century, although there are still many things about it that I find baffling, annoying or ridiculous. All three terms, for example, apply to the obscene amounts of money spent on arms when so many people in the world lack enough food to eat or access to clean water and decent health care and education. Of course, human nature hasn’t fundamentally changed and there were stupid, greedy, irritating people throughout history, just fewer of them due to lower population densities and less likelihood that you’d hear from them because there was no mass communication bombarding us with their opinions every minute of the day. I think, on the whole, I’m probably better suited to the Iron Age than the 21st century. Then again, I would hugely miss being able to carry 40,000 music tracks around on a device that fits in my pocket!
I’ve been putting Druidry as my religion on official forms since the 1970s. My kids were registered at Church of England schools as Druids in the 1990s. I have never had a problem thinking of Druidry as a religion, though I appreciate that some people have a problem with the term and prefer to call it something else. So, yes, by all means go ahead with the blessings of the BDO 🙂
Our course delivery system was tailor-made to work in conjunction with our old website, which it did without a hitch. Updating to our new website, however, led to an incompatibility somewhere in the fairly complex code and this has affected the delivery of material to some of our students. It shouldn’t have done, since the new site is set up using essentially the same software, but it did. Our tech guy, Adam, who created the delivery system, is working to track down the coding incompatibility and apply a fix that will fix it for everyone. Meanwhile, whenever we hear from a student having a problem accessing the material, our same overworked tech guy is creating an individual fix that gets that student back on track with course delivery. No one will lose out. Ever.
The BDO is a not-for profit organisation run almost entirely by volunteers who do it because they believe in what we do and how we do it. All have occupations, families, etc. and present circumstances have, for the most part, created less rather than more time to devote to the BDO as our largely self-employed work-force struggle to keep any sort of income coming in. Our regular enquiries person, a senior NHS nurse, was put in charge of a C-19 intensive care unit, dramatically increasing her workload. She contracted the virus herself about ten days ago and has been extremely ill. Two more people who then took up the reins of enquiries have subsequently had to pass them on again. I’m now tackling enquiries myself and have, I think, now caught up with the backlog of messages that had built up over the last couple of weeks.
We’re all doing everything we can. Everyone will get their course material. If you’re having a problem receiving yours, please email me at email@example.com I will pass your message on to Adam and we will get it sorted. Bear in mind though that we are all stretched in our lives for a variety of lockdown-related reasons so applying the fix may take a few days. Also bear in mind that new packages of course material appear every two months, not monthly, just in case you’d missed that memo 😉
Stay safe, keep well, many blessings,