3. DRUIDISM OR CELTIC PAGANISM

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Estimated year of creation: 2500 BC

God or Prophet of the Druids: The supreme god of the Irish pantheon appears to have been Dagda. He is God-druid and god of the druids, lord of the elements and knowledge, jurist and fearsome warrior.

Main books of the Druids: The book of the Druids.

Headquarters / Capital in the world: Ireland.

Number of faithful around the world: Unknown.

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The origin of the word 'druid' is unclear, but the most popular opinion is that it comes from 'doire', an Irish-Gaelic word for oak, (often a symbol of knowledge), which also means 'wisdom' . The Druids were concerned with the natural world and its powers, and regarded trees as sacred beings, particularly oak. Their practices were similar to those of today's priests, connecting people to the gods, but their role was also varied and broad, acting as teachers, scientists, judges, and thinkers. They were incredibly powerful and respected, capable of expelling people from society for violating sacred laws, and they could even stand between two opposing armies and avoid war! They did not have to pay taxes or serve in battle. Druid women were also considered equal to men in many respects, unusual for an ancient community surrounded by more Machite and patriarchal peoples.

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Main symbol of the Druids: The Awen.

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In Druid symbolism, we learn to hear the word "awen" but what exactly is awen ?: Loosely translated from Welsh, it means fluid spirit, or fluid inspiration. The Awen symbol is composed of three rays that represent a triad, colored green, white and blue; the three degrees of Druidism: Ovate, Bardo, and Druid; power, wisdom and love.

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Other Druid / Celtic symbols:

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The triquetra symbol, also known as the triquetra, is a Celtic symbol built from three triangular arches. The word triqueta comes from the Latin triquetrus, which means three-cornered, or simply triangular.

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One of the peculiarities of this symbol is that it very seldom appears completely alone on surviving pieces of Celtic art. This indicates that it probably had no primary meaning within Celtic mythology, but rather an ornamental function. It is also important to note that its possible meaning has evolved over the years. For example, it is known that within the Celtic Christian tradition this symbol came to represent the most holy trinity of father, son and holy spirit. Within this tradition it was customary to represent the triquette within a circle to represent the unity of the trinity. Due to its three-element nature, this symbol has a certain relationship to St. Patrick's shamrock, which also represented the trinity.

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The triskelion, also known as triskele, triskelion or triple spiral, is a Celtic symbol that consists of three spirals joined in a triangular arrangement. The word triskelion comes from the Greek τρισκέλιον and means three-legged. This word was introduced by the Greek authors to refer to this symbol and it is important to note that we do not know by what name it was known by the Celtic peoples. This symbol has been interpreted in different ways but all of them are related to the importance of the number three. Thus, it is possible to understand this symbol as a representation of the past, the present and the future. Similarly, it could be understood as a symbol of birth, life and death. On a more spiritual level, this symbol can represent the body, mind, and soul. Some traditions have also related it to the earth and its main elements: earth, water and air. The triskelion is one of the most common symbols in Celtic art and has been used for ornamental purposes throughout the centuries.

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The Celtic cross is one of the Celtic symbols with the most important religious significance. Its use was especially widespread in the lands evangelized by Irish missionaries between the 9th and 12th centuries AD. Its origins are still debated but it is quite probable that this is a symbol inspired by the Christian cross. In this case, the cross is complemented by a ring that surrounds its intersection. One of the most popular legends says that this cross was introduced by Saint Patrick during the evangelization of the Irish pagans. There is also evidence that indicates that the Celtic cross could have a pre-Christian origin in which it was used as a representation of the god Taranis. Later, during the Christianization of the Celtic peoples, the Celtic cross came to have its current Christian meaning. Currently the Celtic cross is especially known for the high crosses, which are tall crosses made of stone with ornamental motifs from Celtic art.

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The Celtic Tree of Life, originally known as Crann Bethadh, is one of the most important Celtic symbols because it was a central element of Celtic mythology. Trees had great importance within Celtic mythology since Celtic peoples believed that trees were the ancestors of men. For the Celtic peoples, trees were the source of life since they gave their fruits to feed themselves and were also providers of shelter. One of the possible meanings of the Celtic tree of life symbol is that it represents the harmony between the forces of nature to give rise to life. In addition, it is also possible to relate it to strength and wisdom. The Celts took into account the natural cycle of trees due to the seasons of the year and related it to death during winter and rebirth during spring. Also according to Celtic beliefs, it is said that every time the Celts created a new settlement, they planted a tree in the center as a symbol of life. Many of the Celtic legends also consider the tree as a link between the real world and the world of the ancestors. Thus, the trees were seen as a gateway to this new world. Specifically, one of the sacred trees was the oak, which in the Celtic language was known as daur, which has the same root as the word door.

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Celtic knots are a type of decorative knot used primarily as ornamental motifs in Celtic art. Many of them appear engraved in stone or in manuscripts from the Christian era. Celtic knots have two main characteristics. First of all they are represented in the form of braiding. That is to say, the symbol shows how the different fragments of the tape intertwine, passing sometimes above and sometimes below. Second, Celtic knots are endless. That is, the tape closes on itself.

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There is a great variety of Celtic knots and in many cases it is not possible to give them a meaning since they often have merely an ornamental function. It is possible that some of these knots had a specific meaning in the past but in most cases this knowledge has been lost due to the lack of written transmission of Celtic culture. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that many times the original meaning of some of the knots evolved over time and could even change completely during the time of Christianization of the Celtic peoples. There are no Celtic knots to represent specific concepts such as love, friendship or strength. However, these knots often refer to other Celtic symbols with a clearer meaning. For example, there are Celtic knots in the shape of a triquetra, trisquel or in the shape of animals, which allows them to be related to the character of specific animals.

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Celtic knots also often appear in a circular shape. This allows them to be related to concepts such as unity. Furthermore, the infinite character of these knots has also served in modern times to relate them to eternity. One of the most easily identifiable Celtic knots is the quaternary knot or shield knot. This knot is generally circular in shape and divided into four sections. One possible interpretation of this symbol says that it is a symbol of protection against evil spirits.

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Main deities of the Druids:

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Dagda. The most important father figure deity within the reach of the Irish Celtic gods belonged to the Dagda (An Dagda - 'the good God'). Revered as the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann tribe of gods, he was typically associated with fertility, agriculture, weather, and male strength, while embodying aspects of magic, wisdom, knowledge, and Druidism. . These facets explain their renown and veneration among the Celtic Druids. Many of the aspects also bear striking similarities to the divine characteristics of Odin, the head of the Æsir tribe of the ancient Norse gods. Reinforcing his nature as a father figure among Celtic gods (especially in Gaelic Ireland), the Dagda was often depicted as a rustic robe (which barely covered his rear) with a plump old man carrying an imposing magic staff / club (lorg mór ) that could kill nine people in one hit and still raise the dead to life. Interestingly, the Celtic god also carried a huge magical cauldron (coire ansic) that had no bottom, and was accompanied by a huge ladle that two people could eat from, thus alluding to his power of abundance and penchant for food. And despite its seemingly plump physical features, the Dagda had numerous lovers, including the Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war and fate.

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Teutates or Tutatis, protector of the tribe, is the cruel god par excellence.


From the Gaelic realm, we move on to ancient Gaul and its Celtic gods. To that end, in our modern context, Toutatis was made famous by the Asterix comics catchphrase 'By Toutatis!'. And while not much is known about the mythological scope, Toutatis (or Teutates) was probably a fairly important Celtic deity, with his own name roughly translating as 'God of the people'. In essence, he was possibly perceived as a crucial guardian entity that assumed the role of protector of the tribe, and thus his inscribed name (TOT, as shown above) has been found on quite a few ancient artifacts in both Roman Britain and in Gaul.

The 1st century Roman poet Lucan mentioned Teutates as one of the three main Celtic gods (along with Esus and Taranis), while for the aforementioned trait of interpretatio Romana, Toutatis was seen as the equivalent of Mars and Mercury. On the macabre side of matters, later Roman commentators mentioned how the victims were sacrificed in the name of the god by dipping their heads into a vat of unknown liquid (possibly beer). Interestingly, Toutatis possibly also had his Irish counterpart in the form of Tuathal Techtmar, the legendary conqueror of Ireland, whose name originally referred to the eponymous deity Teuto-valos ('Ruler of the people').

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Cernunnos. Possibly the most impressive and portentous of the ancient Celtic gods, Cernunnos, is actually the conventional name given to the deity 'the horned'. As the horned god of Celtic polytheism, Cernunnos is often associated with animals, forests, fertility, and even wealth. His own depiction reflects such attributes, with the visible antlers of the deer on his head and poetic epithets such as the "Lord of Wild Things." In terms of history, there is only known evidence for the full name of Cernunnos, and it comes from the Boatmen's Pillar carved by Gallic sailors in around AD 14. Considered one of the important reliefs of the Gallo-Roman religion, the pillar also represents other Roman deities such as Jupiter and Vulcan. However, intriguingly enough, the visual representations of the horned deity (as one of the Celtic gods) predate such inscriptions and names. To that end, one of the suitable examples would be a horned human figure featured in a petroglyph from the 7th-4th century BC in Cisalpine Gaul and other horned figures worshiped by the Celtiberians in what is now Spain and Portugal. And the best known representation of Cernunnos can be found in the Gundestrup Cauldron (around the 1st century BC).

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Epona. Beyond syncretism, there were also unique Celtic gods worshiped in the pantheon of ancient Gallo-Roman religion and even in Rome itself. Epona belonged to the rare second category. Regarded as the female deity and protector of horses, donkeys, and mules (etymologically, the word 'Epona' is derived from Proto-Celtic 'ekwos', meaning horse), the Celtic goddess was also possibly associated with fertility, given the signs visuals of patera, cornucopia and ponies in some of his existing sculptures. And speaking of representations, most of the dedicatory inscriptions to Epona (found by archaeologists) were made in Latin (as opposed to Celtic), suggesting its popularity in the Roman world. In fact, with her appearance as a protector of horses, Epona was favored and revered by the auxiliary cavalrymen of the Roman Empire, especially the famous Imperial Knights (Equites Singulares Augusti), who were the cavalry counterparts of the Praetorian Guards. As for the other Celtic cultures, it has been argued in academic circles that Epona possibly inspired the Welsh mythical character of Rhiannon, the tenacious lady of the Otherworld.

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Basic principles of the Druids:

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The four pillars of Druidism are: multiple lives; soul or spirit in all things; reverence for ancestors and multiple worlds. Druidism also contains a philosophy that, like many others, teaches a sense of ethics and a way of living life. There are many Triads in Druidism that give off wisdom, but in the heart of those who walk this path, one of the most important is the following:

There are three candles that illuminate all darkness: Truth, Knowledge and Nature.

This triad is very similar to the "four pillars of Druidism" and gives us a fairly accurate idea of ​​what we learn along the way.

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Short description of the Druids.

To begin with, we must know that the Druids were the priests of the Celts, an Indo-European people who settled around the 8th and 4th centuries BC throughout most of Atlantic, Central and Eastern Europe, the North of the Italian Peninsula and the Galatian region of the Anatolian Peninsula (present-day Turkey). We know that the Celtic religion was related to nature and the world of dreams, of magic. It is then that the druids take on a great meaning, or so it seems to be observed from the etymology of the word "druid". This seems to come from, or be related to, the sacred oaks, forests and trees, since it comes from drew (tree) and weid (see) / wid (knowledge, intelligence). In this same way, we understand that the sacred grove in which the rituals and sacrifices were performed, as well as possibly the meetings of the druids of the region, was called Nemeton.

About its existence, Strabo (1st century BC - 1st AD) mentions that it exists in Galatia under the name of Drunemeton, and Julius Caesar (1st century BC) locates it in the Forest of the Carnutes. In addition, there may be another in Britain on the island of Anglesey, the island of Mona according to the Romans. We know that these groves were related to the Celtic goddess Nemetona, who seemed to be linked to the war, as it continued to be worshiped always with Mars in Roman times, as the epigraphy shows us. The Celts had different definitions for priests, such as the Gallic gutuatri (talkers), related to the Irish guth (voice). This idea has been arrived at by observing that in various inscriptions in Gaul, in Aquitaine and in Lugdunensis, inscriptions were found in which a gutuater appeared as the person to whom it was dedicated. The point is that in the inscriptions of the Lugdunensis the gutuatri appear linked to the Gallic god Anvalo, so the hypothesis that the Druids would be named in such a way would be reinforced, even in Roman times; and this would manifest itself in that Hircio (lieutenant of Julius Caesar) uses the term gutruatum .

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Reference:

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https://historiaeweb.com/2018/12/11/introduccion-druidismo/

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https://dunailline.org/nuestro-druidismo/

https://www.tutiendacelta.com/mitologia-celta/

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https://www.simboloteca.com/simbolos-celtas/

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