These are just a few ”what we know” and within the ones provided there is a bunch more details.
Functions of the Druids – Religious Teachers
It was mentioned by Julius Caesar, The Gaulish Druids “They have philosophers and theologians who are held in great honor and are called Druids… It is a custom of the Gauls that no one makes a sacrifice without the help of a philosopher because they say that offerings to the gods should only be made through the mediation of these men, who are learned in the divine nature and, so to speak, familiar with it, and so to speak, familiar with it.” The Druids’ debate about the heavens and their movement, about the scale of the world and the earth, [and] the workings of nature….’ Ritual leaders must know how and when to conduct suitable ceremonies for each occasion. Druids also conducted “searching into secret and sublime things, and studied Moral and Natural philosophy. They professed the immortality of the soul.” They were the principal teachers and keepers of religious lore: they studied “the strength and power of the immortal gods and these things they hand down [to their students].” Irish Druids led sacrificial and other public rituals on behalf of the community.
Passing of Lore
Pomponius Mela wrote that the druids “teach many things to the noblest of the race in sequestered and remote places during twenty years, whether in a cave or in secluded groves.Traditional lore is passed on orally from teacher to student, elder to the child, master to the neophyte, and many tribal peoples. The Celtics were no different in this respect.The Romans were rapidly becoming people with written words by the time of the Roman conquest, and their authors also derided those who were not literate. The Celtic g peoples started to use letters to hold business records at that time, but the Druids continued to pass on their lore orally.In this, Julius Caesar saw political motivation and wrote, “they have established this practice for two reasons: because they do not wish their way of life to be broadcast to the general public, and because they do not wish those whom they teach to learn by trusting more in letters than in their memory.” A significant point seems to have been overlooked by Caesar: that traditional people often believe in. In religious practitioners’ training, this is particularly important, for the students were not merely learning facts to be fed back in an exam. They were learning a way of life, a role in which their people and the gods would mediate between them.Teachers also believe like they are not merely sharing knowledge in such cases. Rather, when they pass on their own strength and infused wisdom, they serve as teachers, spiritual guides, and something else.
Also, as Irish evidence verifies, an essential part of becoming a Celtic lore-keeper was to learn a large amount of material by heart.In subjects such as history, place lore, genealogy, law, and other traditional material, Filid also obtained various levels of expertise.
The evidence from classical writers and Irish texts testifies to the druidic belief that another existence followed the present life in an Otherworld. “The druids…declared souls to be immortal.” Ammianus Marcellinus wrote. Pomponius Mela said, “One of their dogmas has become widely known so
they may the more readily go to wars: namely that souls are everlasting, and that among the shades is another life.” If the druids believed in reincarnation or transmigration of the soul is less clear. Diodorus Siculus wrote, “The Pythagorean doctrine prevails among them [the Gauls], teaching that the souls of men are immortal and live again for a fixed number of years inhabited in another body.” Writing in the first century CE, the poet Lucan wrote in lines rhetorically addressing the Druids, “It is you who say that the shades of the dead seek not the silent land of Erebus and the pale halls of Pluto; rather, you tell us that the same spirit has a body again elsewhere and that death, if what you sing is true, is but the midpoint of long life.”
Romans Destroyed the Druids
Evidence shows that the Romans used legislative and military methods to eradicate the Druids and their faith first in Gaul and Britain.Suetonius wrote that the Romans were prohibited to practice the religio druidarum by Augustus. This was the first step, followed by the Druids themselves being suppressed. “Pliny wrote, “It was in the time of Emperor Tiberius that a decree was issued against their Druids and the whole tribe of diviners and doctors.” Suetonius also wrote that the religion of the Druids in Gaul was abolished by Claudius (54 CE).
Tacitus mentioned the destruction of the Druid temple on Anglesey in Britain, describing events in 61 CE, stating that the Roman forces “cut down whoever came into their way and engulfed them in their own fire. After this, a garrison was put in place over the conquered people, and the groves which were dedicated to their savage rituals were cut down.” Celtic sanctuaries that were not demolished were converted from open-air sites to temples in the Roman style; in large houses, for example, springs were channeled into baths. Although each Gaulish and British kin group had previously had its own patron deities, Celtic deities were pushed into Roman groups under the Romans and assigned Roman names under the Romans. In short, the usual places of worship have been demolished or transformed, the ritual leaders have been killed or outlawed, their methods of worship have been forbidden, and new ways have been replaced.
Advisors to the Kings
Dio Chrysostom wrote that the Celts named druids on the Continent, who were also versed in the art of seers and other types of wisdom without whom the kings were not allowed to take or prepare any path, so that in fact it was they who ruled and the kings were their subordinates and instruments of their judgment, thus sitting on golden thrones themselves and living in large houses and houses. It is possible, on the other hand, that the Druids were close advisors. They knew the law and precedent as keepers of lore. Medieval Irish texts suggest that the Druid—and then the Filid—were responsible for the king’s magical protection. In particular, the Irish text emphasizes the Druid’s role in the use of battle magic to disable a king’s enemies.
Druids maintained law
Druids were the primary keepers of lore regarding law and precedent, according to classical writers. “The following statement may concern Druids (in the Latin the antecedent of the pronouns is not clear): “Sometimes when the soldiers are ranged face to face, and swords are drawn, and spears are bristling, these men come between the armies and remain in battle….” Caesar also wrote that the Druids “generally settle all their disputes, both public and private; and if any transgression is committed, Caesar also wrote that the Druids “generally settle all their disputes, both public and private; and if there is any transgression committed, A According to Caesar, the Druids used this power to impose their judgments: “If any private or public person abides not by their decree, they restrain him from the sacrifices. This with them is the most severe punishment. Whoever are so interdicted, are ranked in the number of the impious and wicked; all forsake them, and shun their company and conversation, lest they should suffer disadvantage from contagion with them.” Caesar probably meant, of course, to point out how much influence the Druids exerted in the culture. He continues, “Nor is [the excommunicated] legal right rendered when they sue it, or any honor conferred on them.”Dio Chrysostom, a century later, clearly exaggerated the role of the Druids: “The Celts named Druids, who were likewise versed in the art of seers and other types of wisdom without who
the kings were not permitted to take or prepare any path so that, in fact, it was they who ruled, and the kings were their subordinates and instruments of their judgment.
It was said of Gaulish bards that “these, singing to instruments similar to a lyre, applaud some, while they vituperate others.” Another writer noted, “It was the custom of the bards to celebrate the brave deeds of their famous men in epic verse accompanied by the sweet strain of the lyre.” In Irish Myths, they were storytellers, praise-poets, and genealogists.
Strictly speaking, divination refers to attempts and practices carried out in an effort to gain information that cannot be accessed by ordinary means. Thus, divination can concern the future, or it may concern other problems: for example, the location of a missing person or object. Vates apparently took omens, like seers in other traditional cultures, on the probable outcome of the action being contemplated, discovered the fate of lost people or ships, and sought to diagnose disease and what measures could be taken to achieve healing. The Gauls wrote that “they have soothsayers too of great renown who tell the future by watching the flights of birds and by the observation of the entrails of victims, and everyone waits upon their word.” Cicero said he had met a Gaulish druid and that this man “used to make predictions, sometimes through augury and sometimes through conjecture.” “they kill a man by a knife-stab in the region above the midriff, and after his fall they foretell the future by the convulsions of his limbs and the pouring of his blood, a form of divination in which they have full confidence, as it is of an old tradition.” they kill a man in the region above the midriff by a knife-stab. After his fall, they predict the future by the convulsions of his limbs and the pouring of his blood, a form of divination in which they have complete trust, as is the old tradition. Medieval Irish texts tell us a little about the techniques used by Filid, techniques that may owe something to the pre-Christian seers’ practices. However, even the most thorough explanation is short on the kinds of information needed to replicate a ceremony. For instance, some of the most concrete explanations to be found are in a medieval compilation known as Sanas Cormaic (Cormac’s Glossary), although it is sprinkled with the comments of the scribes. It is also often difficult to find out what the scribes said. Nevertheless, what “Cormac” has to say about a system called imbas forosnai is worth considering: The fili chews a bite of a raw pig, dog, or cat meat and then places it behind the door on a flagstone. He sings and offers it to the idol gods over the morsel. He calls them, and the next day, he does not leave. He sings over his two palms, calling the idol gods to him so that his sleep will not be interrupted. He places his two hands over his two cheeks and sleeps; he is watched so that someone does not turn over and interrupt him. Then whatever happens to him in the next nine, eighteen, or twenty-seven days, or until the end of the time during which he can sacrifice, is revealed to him. Thus, it is called imbas: after the palm (bas) on either side of his face or head. As well as the teinm laída, Patrick outlawed this and decreed that all who had performed these would be neither of heaven nor earth since doing so was a rejection of baptism. But in the system of art, the díchetal di chennaib was left, for it is information (soas) which underlies it.The díchetal di chennaib does not involve demon sacrifice; instead, it is instantaneous knowledge from the tips of bones. This passage clarifies that by ordinary means, the fili had special ways of acquiring information not available. The strategies included making sacrifices, invoking spirits or gods, and experiencing some form of trance. Most of the data required to replicate such ceremonies, however, is missing. The seer’s instructor may have partly shared such information one-on-one. By assisting in such ceremonies (perhaps by helping to plan the offerings or being a “watcher”) and ultimately by the first-hand experience, students would have gained additional understanding. Far after, this chain of learning and tradition was broken. Instead of discussing their experiences with their students and guiding them through their development, today, we have language scholars debating how to translate díchetal di chennaib.
They all were not Druids
Not all classical authors use the same words, but three functional groups of religious staff are usually referred to: those who led ritual and resolved legal matters, those who served as seers, and those who told stories and preserved historical lore. The names used by some of the classical writers seem to cognize the Irish words druíd (priests and judges), fátha (seers), and bairdd—druidae or druides, vates, and bardi or bardoi— (storytellers and historical lore-keepers). However, the three categories of druí, fáth, and bard were substituted by other categories in the medieval Irish culture of the Christian age, some secular and others linked to the churches. The Latin specialist or sacerdos (sacart or cruimther in Old Irish)—the Christian priest—took over the position of ritual and sacrifice chief. The breithem became the expert of the judiciary. Fili played the positions of praise-poet, companion of the king, and seer. According to the newer medieval notions of the job, Scribes took over the positions of annalists and genealogists, creating historians’ role. However, it should be kept in mind that there is a great deal of difference in every community, within every priesthood, whether a highly organized group like the Roman Catholic clergy or more versatile groups like North American Native healers. Some people eventually become more “expert” on a subject, and their experience is accepted and called upon by their fellow practitioners and the general population.
The pre-Christian Irish believed in a tripartite cosmology consisting of talam (land), muir (sea), and nem (sky) in this world plus an Otherworld that was an idealized version of this one. Medieval Irish texts repeatedly refer to this theory, which eventually gave way to the world’s Christian worldview, the classic four elements, and heaven (the abode of the Trinity and the angels).