Guest Author - Lisa Shea
Celtic culture has existed for centuries. The druids were the protectors of the way of life - not necessarily a religion, but a belief of the universe's energy.
There are three main types of druids. Each type focussed on a specific aspect of druid life, just as people in college take different majors.
The first level were the bards. These druids trained for over 10 years in every aspect of philosophy and history. They were the record keepers, the tradition recorders, the wise men of the druid practice.
Next came the Ovates. The ovates would have gained enough knowledge in healing and divination to serve as important members of each community. They would keep the people healthy, and help them find peace in their day to day lives.
Finally there were the main druids and druidesses - the ones who had not chosen another speciality. These druids were usually better educated than the laypeople, and knew about reading, writing, philosophy and other topics. They would help in legal consultations, know about gardening and farming, about animal breeding and astronomy. In a land without Christianity, these were the wise men who could help with issues requiring learning.
Druidism was not a giant religion with set schools and a methodical, single-threaded method of operation. Instead, druidism was more of a philosophy, a way of life accepted by most residents of the area now known as the British Isles. It involved a love of life, a respect of nature and a desire to help others and to share knowledge.
Many believe that stone circles such as Stonehenge were sacred sites for the Druids and that rites were carried out there. Alignment of stones to the sunrise at solstices gives credence to this belief.
The invasion of the Romans and then the introduction of Christianity to the British Isles broke the chain of Druidic knowledge and much of the heritage was lost. Druids were either slaughtered for their beliefs, or forced to abandon their religion and take up the new one. Modern day Druids have had to rediscover Druidic ways of connecting to the spirits of the land, but there is much interest in reviving this old belief system.