Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Druidism, the religion of the Gauls and Ancient Britons, formerly thought to be a distinctively Celtic faith, but Professor Rhys (Celtic Heathendom) maintains that these peoples derived it from a pre-Celtic and non-Aryan race. If this be so, the tradition of such a race had died out in Gaul hard on 2,000 years ago, for the Gauls asserted that they were autochthons (Caesar: de Bell. Gall. vi. 18). According to Caesar, who had opportunities of studying it on the spot, Druidism originated in Britain, and passed thence across the Channel. It seems to have been primarily a system of nature worship, which in time became tinged with Eastern philosophy, and to have had an exoteric and an esoteric side,"though, contrary to what one would expect, metempsychosis was taught to the people. The Druids, who formed a distinct class, were not only priests who offered sacrifices and taught the people their duties to the gods; they also acted as judges in civil and criminal affairs. Unlike the German priests they took no part in war. The novices had to undergo a long training, sometimes lasting twenty years, and the secret lore was committed to memory, "for they did not want their doctrines to be published to the vulgar." Caesar tells us that the Druids could write and made use of Greek characters. This probably explains whence they got the idea of metempsychosis. He gives a circumstantial account of some of their terrible human sacrifices. Their practice seems to contradict their doctrine, for it is hard to conceive men holding the doctrine of transmigration of souls offering human sacrifices, or indeed any involving the death of the victim. Many of their sacred rites were performed in groves, and they considered the oak-tree sacred. Indeed, some derive the name Druid from the Greek drns, an oak, but Skeat considers it to be from the Irish druidh, an augur. The Druids were intensely patriotic, and roused the people against the Roman invasion, so that Claudius forbade Druidical rites to be practised, and Suetonius Paulinus, in 61 A.D., massacred a great number of Druids in Anglesey, when he put down the rebellion in the island. [Carnac, Standing Stones. Stonehenge.]