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From the book "Celt, Druid and Culdee" byIsabel Hill Elder

Duidism was, in fact, the centre and source from which radiated the whole system of organized civil and ecclesiastical knowledge and practice of the country.

(1) The Order constituted its church and parliament; its courts of law, its colleges of physicians and surgeons, its magistracy and clergy. The members of the Order were
its statesmen, legislators, priests, physicians, lawyers, teachers and poets.

The truth about the Druids, to be found amongst fragments of literature and in folk-memory, is that they were men of culture, well-educated, equitable and impartial in
the administration of justice. These ancient leaders of thought and instruction in our islands had lofty beliefs as to the character of the one God, Creator and Preserver,
and of man's high origin and destiny.
There is reason to believe that this doctrine included the need for atonement or sin and the resurrection of the body.
To reverence the Deity, abstain from evil and behave valiantly were, according to Laertius, the three grand articles enjoined by the Druids,

((2) In Druidism the British nation had a high standard of religion,justice and patriotism presented to it, and a code of moral
teaching that has never ceased to influence national character.

It has been frequently stated that the name 'Druid' is derived from Drus, an oak; the oak was held by the Druids to symbolize
and eternal. The idea arose from the apparent similarity of the two words, Drus and Druid, and was merely incidental. A much more likely derivation is from Druthin, a
'servant of Truth.'

(3) The motto of the Druidic Order, "The Truth Against the World" was the principle on which Druidism was based and by which it offered itself to be judged.
"It, may be asked," says the Venerable Archdeacon Williams, "how has it come to pass, if great events marked the epoch between the departure of the Romans and the
death of Bede, that the whole history is so obscure, and that no literary documents remain to prove the wisdom of the teachers and the docility of the people?
The answer is very plain. Such documents do exist; they have been published, for more than half a century but have hitherto wanted an equate interpreter."

(4) The published compositions of the Druids and remains of their works. The Myvyrian MSS. a alone, now in the British Museum, amount to 47 volumes of poetry,
containing about 4,700 pieces of poetry, in 1,600 pages, besides about 2,000 epigrammatic stanzas.
Also in the same collection a 52 volumes of rose, in about 15,300 pages, containing many curious documents on various subjects, being 17th or 18th compilations
embodying early writings.

Besides there are a vast number of collections of Welsh MSS in London and in private libraries in the Principality.

(5) In A.D. 383 Druidism, while accepting Christianity, submitted to the judgment and verdict of country and nation the ancient privileges and usages; the ancient learning,
science and memorials were confirmed, lest they should fail, become lost and forgotten - this was done without contradiction or opposition.

6) The education system adopted by the druids is traced to about 1800 B.C., when Hu Gadarn Hysicion (Isaacson),

(7) or Hu the Mighty,(Joshua) led the first colony of Cymri into Britain from Defrobane, where Constantinople now stands.

(8) In the justly celebrated Welsh Triads, Hu Gadarn is said to have mnemonically systematized the wisdom of the ancients of these people whom he led west from the
Summerland. He was regarded as the personification of intellectual culture and is commemorated in Welsh archaeology for
having made poetry the vehicle of memory, and
to have been the inventor of the Triads.
To him is attributed the founding of Stonehenge and the introduction of several arts including glass-making and writing in Ogham characters.
On Hu Gadarn's standard
was depicted the Ox; in this possibly may be discovered the origin of the sobriquet, 'John Bull.' Hu established, among other regulations, that a Gorsedd or
Assembly of
Druids and Bards must be held on an o
pen, uncovered grass space, in a conspicuous place, in full view and hearing of all the people.

Concerning the educational facilities available to the so-called barbarous people of these islands, there were at the time of the
Roman invasion
forty Druidic centres of learning which were also the capitals of the forty tribes; of these forty known centres nine have entirely disappeared. These forty
college were each presided over by a Chief Druid

(9) There were also in Britain three Archdruids, whose seats were at York, London and Caerleon-on-Usk.
The territories of the forty tribes (the original of our modern counties) preserve for the most part the ancient tribal limits.
Yorkshire, for instance, retains the same disproportionate magnitude to our other counties - the territory of the large and
powerful tribe, the Brigantes.
The students at these colleges numbered at times sixty thousand of the youth and young nobility of Britain and Gaul. Caesar
comments on the fact that the Gauls sent their youth to Britain to be educated. One notable instance has been mentioned by J. O. Kinnaman,D.D., in his work on
Archaeology: "Pilate was not a Roman by nationality, but by citizenship. He was born a Spaniard and educated in Spain as far as the schools of that country could take
him. Then he went to Britain to study in the universities of that country under the administration of the Druids. How long he studied in England is not now known; it was
Pilate's ambition to become a Roman lawyer and the future governor of Palestine studied long enough in Britain to achieve not only this ambition but to absorb the Druidic
philosophy rather than the Greek and Roman. 'Vide' Pilate's question to our Lord as they were walking out of the Praetorium, 'What is Truth?'

(10) This was a question which the Druids were accustomed to debate."

(11) I
t required twenty years to master the complete  circle of Druidic knowledge. Natural philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, geometry, medicine, jurisprudence, poetry
and oratory were all proposed and taught - natural philosophy and astronomy with severe exactitude.

(12) Caesar says of the Druids:
"They hold aloof from war and do not pay war taxes; they are excused from military service and exempt from all liabilities.
Tempted by these great advantages, many young men assemble of their own motion to receive their training, many are sent by parents and relatives. Report says that in
the schools of the Druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years under training.
They do not think it proper to
commit these utterances to writing, although in almost all other matters, and in their public and private accounts they make use of Greek characters
. I believe that they
have adopted the practice for two reasons - that they do not wish the rule to become common property, nor those who learn the rule to rely on writing, and so neglect
the cultivation of the memory; and, in fact, it does usually happen that the assistance of writing tends to relax the diligence of the student and the action of memory....

They also lecture on the stars in their motion, the magnitude of the earth and its divisions, on natural history, on the power and government of God; and instruct the
youth on these subjects."

(14) While the Druids used writing for all other subjects taught in their colleges, they never used this in connection with the
subject of religion To the spread of Christianity we owe most of the information we possess of the Druidic religion; their secret laws gradually relaxed as they became
Christian, and some of heir theology was then committed to writing.

Dr. Henry, in his 'History of England,' has observed that collegiate or monastic institutions existed among the Druids.

(15) Caesar several times calls the Druidic institution a 'disciplina,'(16) a term that implies a corporate life organization as well as the possession of learning.
Mela speaks of
the Druids as 'teachers of wisdom,'

(17) The affirmation of Diodorus that 'some whom they call Druids, are very highly honoured as philosophers and theologians' is repeated by Hippolytus.

(18) Not only the supreme king, but every other king had his Druid and Bard attached to his court. This Druidic chaplain had charge of the education of the youthful
members of the house, but was also allowed to have other pupils. He taught
and lectured on all appropriate occasions, often out-of-doors, and when travelling through the territory of his chief, or from
one territory to another, his pupils accompanied him, still receiving instruction; when, however, the pupils exceeded in
number that which he was entitled by law on such occasions to have accommodated as his own company at a house, those in excess were almost always freely
entertained by neighbours in the locality.

The chief poet seems to have been always accompanied by a number of assistants of various degrees, who had not yet arrived at the highest attainment of their

(19) The theological students were given a particularly long course of training, and no Druidic priest could be ordained until he had passed three examinations in three
successive years before the Druidic college of his tribe. The head of the clan possessed a veto on every ordination.

(20) By very stringent laws the number of priests was regulated in proportion to the population; and none could be a candidate for the priesthood who could not in the
previous May Congress of the tribe
prove his descent from nine successive generations of free forefathers. Genealogies, therefore were guarded with the greatest care.
This barrier to promiscuous admission had the effect of closing the Order almost entirely to all but the Blaenorion or aristocracy, making it literally a
'Royal Priesthood'.

Degrees were conferred after three, six and nine years training. The highest degree, that of Pencerdd or Athro (Doctor of
Learning), was conferred after nine years. All degrees were given by the king or in his presence, or by his license before a
deputy, at the end of every three years.

(21) Druidic physicians were skilled in the treatment of the sick; their practice was far removed from the medicine-man cult, so unfairly ascribed to them by their
contemporary enemies, and lightly followed ever since. They prayed to God to grant a
blessing on His gifts, conscious that it should always be remembered that no medicine could be effective nor any physician
successful without Divine help. The chief care of the physicians was to prevent rather than to cure disease. Their recipe for health was cheerfulness, temperance and

(22) Certainly the power of physical endurance displayed by
the early Britons was a strong testimony to the salutary laws of hygiene enforced and the general mode of life
encouraged by the Druids. Human bones which had been fractured and re-set by art have been found in Druidic tumuli.

(23)  Astronomers were deeply versed in every detail of their profession; such classic judges of eminence as Cicero and Caesar, Pliny and Tacitus, Diodorus Siculus and
Strabo, speak in high terms of the
Druid astronomers.
Strabo has left us a vivid description of the dress of the Britons of his day. On the visit to Athens of the British Druid
astronomer Abaris (Hebrew Rabbi) the Greek geographer writes:

"He came not clad in skins like a Scythian, but with a bow in his hand, a quiver hanging on his shoulders, a plaid wrapped about his body, a gilded belt encircling his loins,
and trousers reaching down from the waist to the soles of his feet.
He was
easy in his address; agreeable in his conversation; active in his dispatch and secret in his management of great affairs; quick in judging of present accuracies, and ready to
take his part in any sudden emergency; provident withal in guarding against futurity; diligent in the quest of wisdom; fond of friendship; trusting very little to fortune, yet
having the entire confidence of
others, and trusted with everything for his prudence. He spoke academy of Athens. This visit oft was long remembered at Athens."

This visit of the British Druid was long remembered at Athens. Abaris travelled extensively in Greece; Greek fancy transformed the
magnetic needle by which he guided his
travels into an arrow of Apollo
which would transport him at wish whithersoever he pleased.

(24) Ammianus Marcellus, A.D. 350, says, "The Druids are men of penetrating and subtle spirit, and acquired the highest renown by their speculations, which were at once
subtle and profound.

Pomponius Mela(26) plainly intimates that the
Druids were conversant with the most sublime speculations in geometry and in
measuring the magnitude of the earth Stonehenge, 'the Greenwich Observatory' and great solar clock of ancient times, was pre-eminently an astronomical circle.

Heliograph and beacon were both used by the ancient British astronomer in signalling the time and the seasons, the result of
observations, for the daily direction of the agriculturist and the trader.

The unit of measure employed in the erection of Stonehenge, and all other works of this nature in our islands was the cubit, the same as used in the Great Pyramid.

(27) The supposed magic of the Druids consisted in a more thorough knowledge of some of the sciences than was common. - astronomy, for instance. Diodorus Siculus
states that the Druids used telescopes (28) - this evidently is the origin of the story that the Druids could by magic bring the moon down to the earth.

Many of the wells on Druidic sites, known today as holy wells, were the old telescope wells of the Druids, connected with their astronomical observations.(29) The old
saying, 'Truth lies at the bottom of a well', comes down to us from those ancient times.

British architects trained in Druidic colleges were in great demand on the Continent. In this country the profession of
architect was legally recognized. There were three offices of chief Architect,(30) the holders of which were privileged to go
anywhere without restriction throughout the country, provided they did not go unlawfully.
James Ferguson, the writer of one of our best histories of architecture, says: "The true glory of the Celt in Europe is his
artistic eminence, and it is not too much to assert that without his intervention we should not have possessed in modern times a church worthy of admiration, or a
picture, or a statue we could look at without shame, and, had the Celts not had their arts
nipped in the bud by circumstances over which they had no control, we might have seen something that would have shamed even Greece and wholly eclipsed the arts of
Rome. . . . The Celts never lived sufficiently long apart from other races to develop a distinct form of nationality, or to create either a literature or a policy by which they
could be certainly recognized; they mixed freely with the people among whom they settled and adopted their manners and customs ."

(31) C.J.Solinus, the Roman geographer, in his description of Britain, mentions the hot springs of Bath, and the magnificence with which the baths at that place had
already been decorated by the use of bathers.

(32) The primitive religion of Britain associated in so many minds with the worship of the heavenly bodies, was the worship of the_ 'Lord of Hosts,' the Creator of the
Great Lights, the sun and moon, not the worship of the heavenly bodies themselves. The Universe was the Bible of the ancients, the only revelation of the Deity
vouchsafed them. The wonders of nature were to them as the voice of the All-Father, and by the movement of the heavenly bodies they ordered their lives, fixed religious
festivals and all agricultural proceedings.

The way to Christianity for the early inhabitants of Britain was traced by Nature herself, and from Nature to Nature's God. St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, writes,
"Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual."

Strabo observes that the care of worshipping the Supreme Being is great among the British nation; and the history of Hume records that no religion ever swayed the
minds of men like the Druidic.

(33) It has been said that the Druidic Circles cannot, in strictness, be termed temples, for the Druids taught that there were but two habitations of the Deity - the soul,
the invisible - the universe, the visible. The word 'temple,' in its primitive
meaning, is simply a place cut off, enclosed, dedicated to sacred use, whether a circle of stones, a field or a building.

In the old British language a temple or sanctuary was called a 'caer', a sacred fenced enclosure. The stone circles or caers of Britain were therefore, essentially temples and
held so sacred by the people that reverent behaviour in their vicinity was universal. Joshua, it will be remembered, by God's command, erected a circle at Gilgal (circle)
immediately upon the arrival of the chosen People in the Promised Land.  
The British 'caer' has no connection with 'castra.'

There seems, however, to be no doubt that generally the chambered barrows and cairns of Britain were used as temples; several points in their construction lead to this

Mr.MacRitchie, in his "Testimony of Tradition," mentions several of these points, among them fireplaces and flues for carrying away smoke. Sir Norman Lockyer

(34) states: "Mr. Spence has pointed out the extreme improbability of Maeshowe (Orkney) being anything but a
temple and, I may now add, on the Semitic model. There was a large central hall and side-rooms for sleeping, a stone door
which could have been opened or shut from the inside, and a niche for a guard, janitor or hall porter.

(35) The great circle and temple known as Avebury ('Ambresbiri, the Holy Anointed Ones') is of special interest as the Westminster abbey of ancient times,

(36) the last resting place of princes,  priests and statesmen, warriors, poets and musicians. One of the old Druids alluding to Avebury calls it 'The Great Sanctuary the

(37) The Circles or temples were composed of monoliths upon which the employment of metal for any purpose was not permitted. Druidic  worship was without figure or
sculpture of any kind.

The monolithic avenues, symbolic of the sun's path through the Zodiac, were in some instances seven miles long. The national religious procession moved through
these to the circle on the three great festivals of the year.
In several of our own
cathedrals we have the signs of the Zodiac, represented as sacred emblems on the tiles of the sanctuary floor, for instance at
Canterbury and Rochester.

In his description of the temple at Jerusalem, Josephus states: "The loaves on the table, twelve in number, symbolized the circle of the Zodiac."

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Mary Sutherland is the author of the following books
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