The Druids: Priests of the Ancient Celts

The Druids: Priests of the Ancient Celts

The Druids: Priests of the Ancient Celts

The Druids: Priests of the Ancient Celts

Synopsis

This comprehensive study of the Druids offers a fresh look at the enigmatic and often controversial question of the role of these priests in Celtic society. The religion of Druidism is examined as an inheritance of Indo-European tradition, with intriguing analogies made between Irish and Roman cultic practices. The author identifies the functions of the ancient priests, providing an inventory of their duties and services. Druids are also defined in terms of their connections with other branches of Eurasian mysticism. This study will be of particular interest to scholars of Irish culture, Celtic culture, and comparative religion.

Excerpt

The best-known English-language efforts examining the phenomenon of Druidism and the guardians of its flame (those of N. K. Chadwick and S. Piggott) were published more than a quarter century ago, and neither offers an indepth analysis of indigenous Celtic sources on the subject. Piggott's reasonable reminder that pertinent materials, surviving in manuscripts copied by monastic clerics, are reflective of a compromise with the pagan past, cannot justify the fullest implications of his (again, possibly, chronologically accurate) observation that Irish hero tales represent a fourth century A.D. Ireland, not Gaul before the time of Christ (1975. 100). Why Gaulish evidence should, per se, be seen as more representative of Druidism than Irish materials is questionable, and for primarily two reasons: (1) whereas relevant Irish writings are products of Christian reworking of "a barbarian glimpse from within," continental testimony emerges as "a civilized appraisal from outside" (Piggott's evaluation) -- why would one assessment tend to be, as such, more or less accurate than the other? and (2) might it not just be possible that geography and . . .

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