The Goddess and The God

The Goddess and The God

Author:   Danielle.dyer   

The Goddess has been worshipped as a Triple Deity -Maiden, Mother, and Crone (Dark Mother, Wise Woman, The Hag) – from the beginning of religion. The numbers three, and multiples of three, are sacred in many ancient cultures. The priests of Babylon taught that three was a lucky number as well. In the writings of Pythagoras, we find that the philosopher called three a “triple Word, ” meaning that using the number three in particular circumstances, such as repeating spells and rituals three times, can create whatever is held in the mind of the user.

Later in history, the alchemist Paracelsus associated the number three with gold; to alchemists, gold was not so much a physical metal as a symbol for spiritual enlightenment. The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu said that three is the perfect number, for it engenders all things. In numerology, the number three represents creativity, activity, and knowledge.

Ancient Mystery Schools always had three main steps or degrees through which the student must pass. Today, we still find this idea of three degrees of knowledge used to designate a Witch’s progress in a coven.

We can understand this trinity better if we compare it to the three stages of human life: youth and puberty, adulthood, and old age. Since the Goddess’s power is all encompassing She will present aspects that speak to all humans, regardless of their age. These esoteric ideas cover and comfort from birth to death and beyond.

The first Goddess aspect is the Maiden. This phase holds the matrix of creation, which will produce and create when the time is ripe. She is matter and energy held in suspension until the right time arrives. The Maiden, sometimes called the Virgin or the Huntress, represents the Spring of the year, the dawn, fresh beginnings of all life, the repeating cycle of birth and rebirth, the waxing moon and the crescent moon, enchantment, and seduction. Her traditional color is white. She is the Way-Shower, the Guide through the inner labyrinth to the Divine Center where the greatest of spiritual Mysteries lie.

The second Goddess aspect is the Mother. This is the matrix in motion, the archetype involved in active creation. In humans, the physical desire, the mental will and concentration, and the spiritual balance and understanding are all necessary to produce a desired result. It is easy for humans to identify with the Mother aspect, for they see the Mother around them in all human and animal mothers. The Mother aspect of the Goddess represents the Summer, blazing noon, reproduction, and fertility, the ripeness of life, the Full Moon, and high point in all cycles. Her traditional color is red, the color of blood and life itself. She is the Great Teacher of the Mysteries.

The last aspect is the crone, also called the Dark Mother, the Old Wise One, or the Hag. Since this aspect symbolizes death and dissolution, it is frightening to many people. Everything in the universe has a life cycle, at the end of which they malfunction, decay, and transform into a different set of materials, elements that are recycled and reformed into something new. In humans, the soul is recycled by the Crone and her cauldron into a new incarnation. The Crone represents winter, the night, the universal abyss where life rests before rebirth, the gateway to death and reincarnation, the waning moon and the New Moon, and the deepest of Mysteries and prophecies. Her traditional color is black, and sometimes the deepest of purples or dark blue. She is the Initiator into the Mysteries.

The fact that She is a single archetype plus a trinity of aspects makes Her very complex. It is impossible to reduce the Goddess’s spiritual form and meaning to words on paper. She is the beginning, the ending, and everything in between.

The Horned God has been recognized and worshipped as far back as the Stone Age, where we find paintings of horned, ithyphallic men. The Horned God is not the Christian devil. We find the image of the Pagan God in the Egyptian god Amun-Ra, with his ram’s horns and in the Greek Great God Pan, with his goat horns and hooves. Among the Celts, the Horned God was called Cernunnos. This deity was sometimes linked with the Otherworld, particularly the Underworld section, and reincarnation.

In the original myths concerning the God, one finds him as the co-creator, vital companion, and mystical priest of the Goddess. His prime purpose is to join with Her to create order out of chaos, substance of spiritual matter, and life from universal energies swirling in the dark abyss. His next purpose is to carry out Her will and see that Her laws are obeyed.

The God is also frequently seen in trinity form, although, like the Goddess, His more complex that this simple definition. The three aspects are the Divine Child, the Son/Lover, and the Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death. Even though these three aspects are the most important, the God has many others: Sky-Father and Ruler of the Heavens, Lord of the Forest and Animals, the Supreme Healer, the Trickster, God of Judgment, the Great Magus or Magician, God of the Waters, and the Hero-Warrior.

As the Divine Child, the God represents beginnings and the start of new cycles. This includes new hope and new opportunities, physical as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual. His traditional color is the dark green of plant life. The Divine Child is the signpost of the inner spiritual journey we each must take, the sign that says, “begin here.” We begin as a child, taking the first tentative steps along an unknown and unfamiliar path that leads to a mystical destination that is difficult to understand until we reach the end.

The Son/Lover aspect symbolizes maturity and responsibility, the desire to take into account the needs of others more than oneself. The God in this aspect balances sexual desire and need with companionship and tenderness. His traditional color is red, the color of the life force and the birth fluids. Combined with the powers of the Goddess, He shows us that there must be a blending of different energies to create. This creation includes ideas, inventions, and the arts. He is the Companion on our spiritual journey, the one who points out the path if we start to go astray.

The Great Rite of Wicca is connected with the Mother aspect of the Goddess and the Son/Lover aspect of the God. Those outside the Wiccan religion can misunderstand this Rite. The Great Rite has its roots in the ancient Sacred Marriage between priestess and King, which dates back to the Neolithic era. Originally, a king or tribal ruler could not hold the office unless he wed the Goddess. He had to be a Chosen One, either appointed by the High Priestess of the tribe’s religion, or have passed certain stringent tests. This esoteric, spiritual marriage was symbolized by actual nuptials between the would-be king and the High Priestess of the Goddess or the land, which included sexual rites.

Today, Wiccan groups usually practice this Rite in symbolic form, rather than in actuality. The symbolic act is the dipping of the athame into a cup of wine or juice during a ritual (the cup symbolizes the womb of the Goddess and the athame the phallus of the God) . Some Witches believe that the priestess should dip the athame into a cup of wine or juice held by the priest. However, you can reverse this, with the priestess holding the cup and the priest using the athame. If the Great Rite is physically performed, it is in private and between a husband and wife, high priestess and priest.

The Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death aspect of the God can be difficult to understand as the dark aspect of the Crone. Mystery Religions frequently were connected with the Sacrificed Savior, who gave his life so that spiritual knowledge and enlightenment could come into the world. This aspect of the God always resurrected and lived again, reminding us that everything is recycled and that human life reincarnates. The Greeks used the word soter for Savior; soter means “one who sows the seed.” In mythology, the Sacrificed Savior was reborn of the Earth Mother aspect of the Goddess.

The Lord of Death was originally the Lord of Comfort for the souls who rest in the abyss before rebirth. At the will of the Goddess, He gathers souls at the proper time and guides them to the afterlife, while comforting those who fear or are in pain. Under His Celtic guise of Lord or the Wild Hunt, the God sees that karmic debts are paid and that destiny is fulfilled. In this, He is the equivalent of the Greek goddesses, the Erinyes. However, unlike the Erinyes, who relentlessly and mercilessly hunted down those guilty of the breaking of blood laws, the Lord of the Hunt makes certain that the souls He seeks are ready for the transition, that they are in the right place at the right time to meet their destiny.

Although His appearance and actions are fearsome, this aspect of the God is actually one of great compassion. His traditional color is the black of the abyss in the Underworld, the temporary black of death that absorbs and erases pain and suffering. He is the Gate-Keeper, who tests our worth before we are allowed to enter the deepest Mysteries.

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How To Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death At Samhain

How To Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death

By

Samhain is a time like no other, in that we can watch as the earth literally dies for the season. Leaves fall from the trees, the crops have gone brown, and the land once more becomes a desolate place. However, at Samhain, when we take the time to remember the dead, we can take time to contemplate this endless cycle of life, death, and eventual rebirth.

Here’s How:

  1. For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of life and death. You’ll want to have on hand a white candle and a black one, as well as black, red, and white ribbon in equal lengths (one set for each participant). Finally, you’ll need a few sprigs of rosemary.

    Perform this rite outside if at all possible. If you normally cast a circle, do so now.

  2. Say:

    Samhain is here, and it is a time of transitions. The winter approaches, and the summer dies. This is the time of the Dark Mother, a time of death and of dying. This is the night of our ancestors and of the Ancient Ones.

    Place the rosemary on the altar. If you are doing this as a group ceremony, pass it around the circle before placing on the altar. Say:

    Rosemary is for remembrance, and tonight we remember those who have lived and died before us, those who have crossed through the veil, those who are no longer with us. We will remember.

  3. Turn to the north, and say:

    The north is a place of cold, and the earth is silent and dark. Spirits of the earth, we welcome you, knowing you will envelope us in death.

    Turn to face the east, and say:

    The east is a land of new beginnings, the place where breath begins. Spirits of air, we call upon you, knowing you will be with us as we depart life.

  4. Face south, saying:

    The south is a land of sunlight and fire, and your flames guide us through the cycles of life. Spirits of fire, we welcome you, knowing you will transform us in death.

    Finally, turn to face the west, and say:

    The west is a place of underground rivers, and the sea is a never-ending, rolling tide. Spirits of water, we welcome you, knowing you will carry us through the ebbs and flows of our life. 

  5. Light the black candle, saying:

    The Wheel of the Year turns once more, and we cycle into darkness.

    Next, light the white candle, and say:

    At the end of that darkness comes light. And when it arrives, we will celebrate once more.

  6. Each person takes a set of ribbons — one white, one black, and one red. Say:

    White for life, black for death, red for rebirth. We bind these strands together remembering those we have lost.

    Each person should then braid or knot their three ribbons together. As you do so, focus on the memories of those you have lost in your life.

  7. While everyone is braiding or knotting, say:

    Please join me in chanting as you work your energy and love into your cords:

As the corn will come from grain,
All that dies will rise again.
As the seeds grow from the earth,
We celebrate life, death and rebirth.

When everyone has finished braiding and chanting, take a moment to meditate on the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Is there someone you know who reminds you of a person you’ve lost? Have you ever looked into a baby’s eyes and seen your late grandfather looking back?

Finally, ask everyone to take their knotted ribbons home with them and place them on their personal altar if they have one. That way, they can be reminded of their loved ones each time they pass by.

  1. Finally, ask everyone to take their knotted ribbons home with them and place them on their personal altar if they have one. That way, they can be reminded of their loved ones each time they pass by.

Tips:

  1. Rosemary is used in this rite because although it seems to go dormant over the winter, if you keep it in a pot you’ll get new growth in the spring. If there’s another plant you’d rather use, feel free.

What You Need

  • Ribbon in black, red and white
  • A white candle and a black one
  • Rosemary

The Goddess and The God

The Goddess and The God

Author:   Danielle.dyer   

The Goddess has been worshipped as a Triple Deity -Maiden, Mother, and Crone (Dark Mother, Wise Woman, The Hag) – from the beginning of religion. The numbers three, and multiples of three, are sacred in many ancient cultures. The priests of Babylon taught that three was a lucky number as well. In the writings of Pythagoras, we find that the philosopher called three a “triple Word, ” meaning that using the number three in particular circumstances, such as repeating spells and rituals three times, can create whatever is held in the mind of the user.

Later in history, the alchemist Paracelsus associated the number three with gold; to alchemists, gold was not so much a physical metal as a symbol for spiritual enlightenment. The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu said that three is the perfect number, for it engenders all things. In numerology, the number three represents creativity, activity, and knowledge.

Ancient Mystery Schools always had three main steps or degrees through which the student must pass. Today, we still find this idea of three degrees of knowledge used to designate a Witch’s progress in a coven.

We can understand this trinity better if we compare it to the three stages of human life: youth and puberty, adulthood, and old age. Since the Goddess’s power is all encompassing She will present aspects that speak to all humans, regardless of their age. These esoteric ideas cover and comfort from birth to death and beyond.

The first Goddess aspect is the Maiden. This phase holds the matrix of creation, which will produce and create when the time is ripe. She is matter and energy held in suspension until the right time arrives. The Maiden, sometimes called the Virgin or the Huntress, represents the Spring of the year, the dawn, fresh beginnings of all life, the repeating cycle of birth and rebirth, the waxing moon and the crescent moon, enchantment, and seduction. Her traditional color is white. She is the Way-Shower, the Guide through the inner labyrinth to the Divine Center where the greatest of spiritual Mysteries lie.

The second Goddess aspect is the Mother. This is the matrix in motion, the archetype involved in active creation. In humans, the physical desire, the mental will and concentration, and the spiritual balance and understanding are all necessary to produce a desired result. It is easy for humans to identify with the Mother aspect, for they see the Mother around them in all human and animal mothers. The Mother aspect of the Goddess represents the Summer, blazing noon, reproduction, and fertility, the ripeness of life, the Full Moon, and high point in all cycles. Her traditional color is red, the color of blood and life itself. She is the Great Teacher of the Mysteries.

The last aspect is the crone, also called the Dark Mother, the Old Wise One, or the Hag. Since this aspect symbolizes death and dissolution, it is frightening to many people. Everything in the universe has a life cycle, at the end of which they malfunction, decay, and transform into a different set of materials, elements that are recycled and reformed into something new. In humans, the soul is recycled by the Crone and her cauldron into a new incarnation. The Crone represents winter, the night, the universal abyss where life rests before rebirth, the gateway to death and reincarnation, the waning moon and the New Moon, and the deepest of Mysteries and prophecies. Her traditional color is black, and sometimes the deepest of purples or dark blue. She is the Initiator into the Mysteries.

The fact that She is a single archetype plus a trinity of aspects makes Her very complex. It is impossible to reduce the Goddess’s spiritual form and meaning to words on paper. She is the beginning, the ending, and everything in between.

The Horned God has been recognized and worshipped as far back as the Stone Age, where we find paintings of horned, ithyphallic men. The Horned God is not the Christian devil. We find the image of the Pagan God in the Egyptian god Amun-Ra, with his ram’s horns and in the Greek Great God Pan, with his goat horns and hooves. Among the Celts, the Horned God was called Cernunnos. This deity was sometimes linked with the Otherworld, particularly the Underworld section, and reincarnation.

In the original myths concerning the God, one finds him as the co-creator, vital companion, and mystical priest of the Goddess. His prime purpose is to join with Her to create order out of chaos, substance of spiritual matter, and life from universal energies swirling in the dark abyss. His next purpose is to carry out Her will and see that Her laws are obeyed.

The God is also frequently seen in trinity form, although, like the Goddess, His more complex that this simple definition. The three aspects are the Divine Child, the Son/Lover, and the Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death. Even though these three aspects are the most important, the God has many others: Sky-Father and Ruler of the Heavens, Lord of the Forest and Animals, the Supreme Healer, the Trickster, God of Judgment, the Great Magus or Magician, God of the Waters, and the Hero-Warrior.

As the Divine Child, the God represents beginnings and the start of new cycles. This includes new hope and new opportunities, physical as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual. His traditional color is the dark green of plant life. The Divine Child is the signpost of the inner spiritual journey we each must take, the sign that says, “begin here.” We begin as a child, taking the first tentative steps along an unknown and unfamiliar path that leads to a mystical destination that is difficult to understand until we reach the end.

The Son/Lover aspect symbolizes maturity and responsibility, the desire to take into account the needs of others more than oneself. The God in this aspect balances sexual desire and need with companionship and tenderness. His traditional color is red, the color of the life force and the birth fluids. Combined with the powers of the Goddess, He shows us that there must be a blending of different energies to create. This creation includes ideas, inventions, and the arts. He is the Companion on our spiritual journey, the one who points out the path if we start to go astray.

The Great Rite of Wicca is connected with the Mother aspect of the Goddess and the Son/Lover aspect of the God. Those outside the Wiccan religion can misunderstand this Rite. The Great Rite has its roots in the ancient Sacred Marriage between priestess and King, which dates back to the Neolithic era. Originally, a king or tribal ruler could not hold the office unless he wed the Goddess. He had to be a Chosen One, either appointed by the High Priestess of the tribe’s religion, or have passed certain stringent tests. This esoteric, spiritual marriage was symbolized by actual nuptials between the would-be king and the High Priestess of the Goddess or the land, which included sexual rites.

Today, Wiccan groups usually practice this Rite in symbolic form, rather than in actuality. The symbolic act is the dipping of the athame into a cup of wine or juice during a ritual (the cup symbolizes the womb of the Goddess and the athame the phallus of the God) . Some Witches believe that the priestess should dip the athame into a cup of wine or juice held by the priest. However, you can reverse this, with the priestess holding the cup and the priest using the athame. If the Great Rite is physically performed, it is in private and between a husband and wife, high priestess and priest.

The Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death aspect of the God can be difficult to understand as the dark aspect of the Crone. Mystery Religions frequently were connected with the Sacrificed Savior, who gave his life so that spiritual knowledge and enlightenment could come into the world. This aspect of the God always resurrected and lived again, reminding us that everything is recycled and that human life reincarnates. The Greeks used the word soter for Savior; soter means “one who sows the seed.” In mythology, the Sacrificed Savior was reborn of the Earth Mother aspect of the Goddess.

The Lord of Death was originally the Lord of Comfort for the souls who rest in the abyss before rebirth. At the will of the Goddess, He gathers souls at the proper time and guides them to the afterlife, while comforting those who fear or are in pain. Under His Celtic guise of Lord or the Wild Hunt, the God sees that karmic debts are paid and that destiny is fulfilled. In this, He is the equivalent of the Greek goddesses, the Erinyes. However, unlike the Erinyes, who relentlessly and mercilessly hunted down those guilty of the breaking of blood laws, the Lord of the Hunt makes certain that the souls He seeks are ready for the transition, that they are in the right place at the right time to meet their destiny.

Although His appearance and actions are fearsome, this aspect of the God is actually one of great compassion. His traditional color is the black of the abyss in the Underworld, the temporary black of death that absorbs and erases pain and suffering. He is the Gate-Keeper, who tests our worth before we are allowed to enter the deepest Mysteries.

The Goddess and The God

The Goddess and The God

Author:   Danielle.dyer 

The Goddess has been worshipped as a Triple Deity -Maiden, Mother, and Crone (Dark Mother, Wise Woman, The Hag) – from the beginning of religion. The numbers three, and multiples of three, are sacred in many ancient cultures. The priests of Babylon taught that three was a lucky number as well. In the writings of Pythagoras, we find that the philosopher called three a “triple Word, ” meaning that using the number three in particular circumstances, such as repeating spells and rituals three times, can create whatever is held in the mind of the user.

Later in history, the alchemist Paracelsus associated the number three with gold; to alchemists, gold was not so much a physical metal as a symbol for spiritual enlightenment. The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu said that three is the perfect number, for it engenders all things. In numerology, the number three represents creativity, activity, and knowledge.

Ancient Mystery Schools always had three main steps or degrees through which the student must pass. Today, we still find this idea of three degrees of knowledge used to designate a Witch’s progress in a coven.

We can understand this trinity better if we compare it to the three stages of human life: youth and puberty, adulthood, and old age. Since the Goddess’s power is all encompassing She will present aspects that speak to all humans, regardless of their age. These esoteric ideas cover and comfort from birth to death and beyond.

The first Goddess aspect is the Maiden. This phase holds the matrix of creation, which will produce and create when the time is ripe. She is matter and energy held in suspension until the right time arrives. The Maiden, sometimes called the Virgin or the Huntress, represents the Spring of the year, the dawn, fresh beginnings of all life, the repeating cycle of birth and rebirth, the waxing moon and the crescent moon, enchantment, and seduction. Her traditional color is white. She is the Way-Shower, the Guide through the inner labyrinth to the Divine Center where the greatest of spiritual Mysteries lie.

The second Goddess aspect is the Mother. This is the matrix in motion, the archetype involved in active creation. In humans, the physical desire, the mental will and concentration, and the spiritual balance and understanding are all necessary to produce a desired result. It is easy for humans to identify with the Mother aspect, for they see the Mother around them in all human and animal mothers. The Mother aspect of the Goddess represents the Summer, blazing noon, reproduction, and fertility, the ripeness of life, the Full Moon, and high point in all cycles. Her traditional color is red, the color of blood and life itself. She is the Great Teacher of the Mysteries.

The last aspect is the crone, also called the Dark Mother, the Old Wise One, or the Hag. Since this aspect symbolizes death and dissolution, it is frightening to many people. Everything in the universe has a life cycle, at the end of which they malfunction, decay, and transform into a different set of materials, elements that are recycled and reformed into something new. In humans, the soul is recycled by the Crone and her cauldron into a new incarnation. The Crone represents winter, the night, the universal abyss where life rests before rebirth, the gateway to death and reincarnation, the waning moon and the New Moon, and the deepest of Mysteries and prophecies. Her traditional color is black, and sometimes the deepest of purples or dark blue. She is the Initiator into the Mysteries.

The fact that She is a single archetype plus a trinity of aspects makes Her very complex. It is impossible to reduce the Goddess’s spiritual form and meaning to words on paper. She is the beginning, the ending, and everything in between.

The Horned God has been recognized and worshipped as far back as the Stone Age, where we find paintings of horned, ithyphallic men. The Horned God is not the Christian devil. We find the image of the Pagan God in the Egyptian god Amun-Ra, with his ram’s horns and in the Greek Great God Pan, with his goat horns and hooves. Among the Celts, the Horned God was called Cernunnos. This deity was sometimes linked with the Otherworld, particularly the Underworld section, and reincarnation.

In the original myths concerning the God, one finds him as the co-creator, vital companion, and mystical priest of the Goddess. His prime purpose is to join with Her to create order out of chaos, substance of spiritual matter, and life from universal energies swirling in the dark abyss. His next purpose is to carry out Her will and see that Her laws are obeyed.

The God is also frequently seen in trinity form, although, like the Goddess, His more complex that this simple definition. The three aspects are the Divine Child, the Son/Lover, and the Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death. Even though these three aspects are the most important, the God has many others: Sky-Father and Ruler of the Heavens, Lord of the Forest and Animals, the Supreme Healer, the Trickster, God of Judgment, the Great Magus or Magician, God of the Waters, and the Hero-Warrior.

As the Divine Child, the God represents beginnings and the start of new cycles. This includes new hope and new opportunities, physical as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual. His traditional color is the dark green of plant life. The Divine Child is the signpost of the inner spiritual journey we each must take, the sign that says, “begin here.” We begin as a child, taking the first tentative steps along an unknown and unfamiliar path that leads to a mystical destination that is difficult to understand until we reach the end.

The Son/Lover aspect symbolizes maturity and responsibility, the desire to take into account the needs of others more than oneself. The God in this aspect balances sexual desire and need with companionship and tenderness. His traditional color is red, the color of the life force and the birth fluids. Combined with the powers of the Goddess, He shows us that there must be a blending of different energies to create. This creation includes ideas, inventions, and the arts. He is the Companion on our spiritual journey, the one who points out the path if we start to go astray.

The Great Rite of Wicca is connected with the Mother aspect of the Goddess and the Son/Lover aspect of the God. Those outside the Wiccan religion can misunderstand this Rite. The Great Rite has its roots in the ancient Sacred Marriage between priestess and King, which dates back to the Neolithic era. Originally, a king or tribal ruler could not hold the office unless he wed the Goddess. He had to be a Chosen One, either appointed by the High Priestess of the tribe’s religion, or have passed certain stringent tests. This esoteric, spiritual marriage was symbolized by actual nuptials between the would-be king and the High Priestess of the Goddess or the land, which included sexual rites.

Today, Wiccan groups usually practice this Rite in symbolic form, rather than in actuality. The symbolic act is the dipping of the athame into a cup of wine or juice during a ritual (the cup symbolizes the womb of the Goddess and the athame the phallus of the God) . Some Witches believe that the priestess should dip the athame into a cup of wine or juice held by the priest. However, you can reverse this, with the priestess holding the cup and the priest using the athame. If the Great Rite is physically performed, it is in private and between a husband and wife, high priestess and priest.

The Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death aspect of the God can be difficult to understand as the dark aspect of the Crone. Mystery Religions frequently were connected with the Sacrificed Savior, who gave his life so that spiritual knowledge and enlightenment could come into the world. This aspect of the God always resurrected and lived again, reminding us that everything is recycled and that human life reincarnates. The Greeks used the word soter for Savior; soter means “one who sows the seed.” In mythology, the Sacrificed Savior was reborn of the Earth Mother aspect of the Goddess.

The Lord of Death was originally the Lord of Comfort for the souls who rest in the abyss before rebirth. At the will of the Goddess, He gathers souls at the proper time and guides them to the afterlife, while comforting those who fear or are in pain. Under His Celtic guise of Lord or the Wild Hunt, the God sees that karmic debts are paid and that destiny is fulfilled. In this, He is the equivalent of the Greek goddesses, the Erinyes. However, unlike the Erinyes, who relentlessly and mercilessly hunted down those guilty of the breaking of blood laws, the Lord of the Hunt makes certain that the souls He seeks are ready for the transition, that they are in the right place at the right time to meet their destiny.

Although His appearance and actions are fearsome, this aspect of the God is actually one of great compassion. His traditional color is the black of the abyss in the Underworld, the temporary black of death that absorbs and erases pain and suffering. He is the Gate-Keeper, who tests our worth before we are allowed to enter the deepest Mysteries.

How To Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death

How To Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death

By , About.com Guide

Samhain is a time like no other, in that we can watch as the earth literally dies for the season. Leaves fall from the trees, the crops have gone brown, and the land once more becomes a desolate place. However, at Samhain, when we take the time to remember the dead, we can take time to contemplate this endless cycle of life, death, and eventual rebirth.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of life and death. You’ll want to have on hand a white candle and a black one, as well as black, red, and white ribbon in equal lengths (one set for each participant). Finally, you’ll need a few sprigs of rosemary.

    Perform this rite outside if at all possible. If you normally cast a circle, do so now.

  2. Say:

    Samhain is here, and it is a time of transitions. The winter approaches, and the summer dies. This is the time of the Dark Mother, a time of death and of dying. This is the night of our ancestors and of the Ancient Ones.

    Place the rosemary on the altar. If you are doing this as a group ceremony, pass it around the circle before placing on the altar. Say:

    Rosemary is for remembrance, and tonight we remember those who have lived and died before us, those who have crossed through the veil, those who are no longer with us. We will remember.

  3. Turn to the north, and say:

    The north is a place of cold, and the earth is silent and dark. Spirits of the earth, we welcome you, knowing you will envelope us in death.

    Turn to face the east, and say:

    The east is a land of new beginnings, the place where breath begins. Spirits of air, we call upon you, knowing you will be with us as we depart life.

  4. Face south, saying:

    The south is a land of sunlight and fire, and your flames guide us through the cycles of life. Spirits of fire, we welcome you, knowing you will transform us in death.

    Finally, turn to face the west, and say:

    The west is a place of underground rivers, and the sea is a never-ending, rolling tide. Spirits of water, we welcome you, knowing you will carry us through the ebbs and flows of our life. 

  5. Light the black candle, saying:

    The Wheel of the Year turns once more, and we cycle into darkness.

    Next, light the white candle, and say:

    At the end of that darkness comes light. And when it arrives, we will celebrate once more.

  6. Each person takes a set of ribbons — one white, one black, and one red. Say:

    White for life, black for death, red for rebirth. We bind these strands together remembering those we have lost.

    Each person should then braid or knot their three ribbons together. As you do so, focus on the memories of those you have lost in your life.

  7. While everyone is braiding or knotting, say:

    Please join me in chanting as you work your energy and love into your cords:

        As the corn will come from grain,     All that dies will rise again.     As the seeds grow from the earth,     We celebrate life, death and rebirth. 

    When everyone has finished braiding and chanting, take a moment to meditate on the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Is there someone you know who reminds you of a person you’ve lost? Have you ever looked into a baby’s eyes and seen your late grandfather looking back?

  8. Finally, ask everyone to take their knotted ribbons home with them and place them on their personal altar if they have one. That way, they can be reminded of their loved ones each time they pass by.

Tips:

  1. Rosemary is used in this rite because although it seems to go dormant over the winter, if you keep it in a pot you’ll get new growth in the spring. If there’s another plant you’d rather use, feel free.

What You Need

  • Ribbon in black, red and white
  • A white candle and a black one
  • Rosemary

Goddess Bless You On this Glorious Day of Mabon!

Mabon Comments & Graphics
I give thanks to you, my Lord and Lady,

eternal God and Goddess, for all my

worldly blessings.

I give thanks for a beautiful year and a

glorious harvest. Your bounty is never

ending!

You give much more than needed, and in

your name I will share my good fortune

with my family and neighbors.

 Praise be my eternal parents, the Lord

and Lady!

Blessed Be.

  ~Magickal Graphics~

How To Honor the Dark Mother at Mabon

How To Honor the Dark Mother at Mabon

By , About.com Guide

Demeter and Persephone are strongly connected to the time of the Autumn Equinox. When Hades abducted Persephone, it set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the earth falling into darkness each winter. This is the time of the Dark Mother, the Crone aspect of the triple goddess. The goddess is bearing this time not a basket of flowers, but a sickle and scythe. She is prepared to reap what has been sown.

The earth dies a little each day, and we must embrace this slow descent into dark before we can truly appreciate the light that will return in a few months.

Here’s How:

  1. This ritual welcomes the Dark Mother, and celebrates that aspect of the Goddess which we may not always find comforting or appealing, but which we must always be willing to acknowledge. Decorate your altar with symbols of Demeter and her daughter — flowers in red and yellow for Demeter, purple or black for Persephone, stalks of wheat, Indian corn, sickles, baskets. Have a candle on hand to represent each of them — harvest colors for Demeter, black for Persephone. You’ll also need a chalice of wine, or grape juice if you prefer, and a pomegranate.
  2. If you normally cast a circle, or call the quarters, do so now. Turn to the altar, and light the Persephone candle. Say:The land is beginning to die, and the soil grows cold. The fertile womb of the earth has gone barren. As Persephone descended into the Underworld, So the earth continues its descent into night. As Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter, So we mourn the days drawing shorter. The winter will soon be here.
  3. Light the Demeter candle, and say:In her anger and sorrow, Demeter roamed the earth, And the crops died, and life withered and the soil went dormant. In grief, she traveled looking for her lost child, Leaving darkness behind in her wake. We feel the mother’s pain, and our hearts break for her, As she searches for the child she gave birth to. We welcome the darkness, in her honor.
  4. Break open the pomegranate (it’s a good idea to have a bowl to catch the drippings), and take out six seeds. Place them on the altar. Say:Six months of light, and six months of dark. The earth goes to sleep, and later wakes again. O dark mother, we honor you this night, And dance in your shadows. We embrace that which is the darkness, And celebrate the life of the Crone. Take a sip of the wine, and savor the taste upon your lips. If you are doing this rite with a group, pass it to each person in the circle. As each person drinks, they should say:Blessings to the dark goddess on this night, and every other.
  5. As the wine is replaced upon the altar, hold your arms out in the Goddess position, and take a moment to reflect on the darker aspects of the human experience. Think of all the goddesses who evoke the night, and call out:Demeter, Inanna, Kali, Tiamet, Hecate, Nemesis, Morrighan. Bringers of destruction and darkness, I embrace you tonight. Without rage, we cannot feel love, Without pain, we cannot feel happiness, Without the night, there is no day, Without death, there is no life. Great goddesses of the night, I thank you.
  6. Take a few moments to meditate on the darker aspects of your own soul. Is there a pain you’ve been longing to get rid of? Is there anger and frustration that you’ve been unable to move past? Is there someone who’s hurt you, but you haven’t told them how you feel? Now is the time to take this energy and turn it to your own purposes. Take any pain inside you, and reverse it so that it becomes a positive experience. If you’re not suffering from anything hurtful, count your blessings, and reflect on a time in your life when you weren’t so fortunate.When you are ready, end the ritual.
  7. You may wish to tie this rite into a celebration of the Harvest Moon.

What You Need

  • A candle to represent Demeter
  • A candle to represent Persephone
  • Wine or grape juice
  • A pomegranate (and a bowl)

How To Honor the Dark Mother at Mabon

How To Honor the Dark Mother at Mabon

Demeter and Persephone are strongly connected to the time of the Autumn Equinox . When Hades abducted Persephone, it set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the earth falling into darkness each winter. This is the time of the Dark Mother, the Crone aspect of the triple goddess. The goddess is bearing this time not a basket of flowers, but a sickle and scythe. She is prepared to reap what has been sown.

The earth dies a little each day, and we must embrace this slow descent into dark before we can truly appreciate the light that will return in a few months.

Difficulty:

Average

Time Required:

Varied

Here’s How:

This ritual welcomes the Dark Mother, and celebrates that aspect of the Goddess which we may not always find comforting or appealing, but which we must always be willing to acknowledge. Decorate your altar with symbols of Demeter and her daughter — flowers in red and yellow for Demeter, purple or black for Persephone, stalks of wheat, Indian corn, sickles, baskets. Have a candle on hand to represent each of them — harvest colors for Demeter, black for Persephone. You’ll also need a chalice of wine, or grape juice if you prefer, and a pomegranate.

If you normally cast a circle, or call the quarters, do so now. Turn to the altar, and light the Persephone candle. Say:

The land is beginning to die, and the soil grows cold.
The fertile womb of the earth has gone barren.
As Persephone descended into the Underworld,
So the earth continues its descent into night.
As Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter,
So we mourn the days drawing shorter.
The winter will soon be here

Light the Demeter candle, and say:

In her anger and sorrow, Demeter roamed the earth,
And the crops died, and life withered and the soil went dormant.
In grief, she traveled looking for her lost child,
Leaving darkness behind in her wake.
We feel the mother’s pain, and our hearts break for her,
As she searches for the child she gave birth to.
We welcome the darkness, in her honor.

Break open the pomegranate (it’s a good idea to have a bowl to catch the drippings), and take out six seeds. Place them on the altar. Say:

Six months of light, and six months of dark.
The earth goes to sleep, and later wakes again.
O dark mother, we honor you this night,
And dance in your shadows.
We embrace that which is the darkness,
And celebrate the life of the Crone.

Take a sip of the wine, and savor the taste upon your lips. If you are doing this rite with a group, pass it to each person in the circle. As each person drinks, they should say:

Blessings to the dark goddess on this night, and every other.

As the wine is replaced upon the altar, hold your arms out in the Goddess position, and take a moment to reflect on the darker aspects of the human experience. Think of all the goddesses who evoke the night, and call out:

Demeter, Inanna, Kali, Tiamet ,Hecate, Nemesis, Morrighan.
Bringers of destruction and darkness,
I embrace you tonight.
Without rage, we cannot feel love,
Without pain, we cannot feel happiness,
Without the night, there is no day,
Without death, there is no life.
Great goddesses of the night, I thank you.

Take a few moments to meditate on the darker aspects of your own soul. Is there a pain you’ve been longing to get rid of? Is there anger and frustration that you’ve been unable to move past? Is there someone who’s hurt you, but you haven’t told them how you feel? Now is the time to take this energy and turn it to your own purposes. Take any pain inside you, and reverse it so that it becomes a positive experience. If you’re not suffering from anything hurtful, count your blessings, and reflect on a time in your life when you weren’t so fortunate.

When you are ready, end the ritual.

**You may wish to tie this rite into a celebration of the Harvest Moon.

What You Need:

A candle to represent Demeter

A candle to represent Persephone

Wine or grape juice

A pomegranate (and a bowl)

Lammas – Fulfillment of Promise

Lammas – Fulfillment of Promise

by Gemini Star Child

Lammas is a rare celebration for  Seattle pagans. It is sometimes the  only outdoor ritual we can perform  without sweaters! The circle to which  I belong tries to celebrate the  Sabbats outdoors as often as possible, but even our tough little group  enjoys the warm bliss of summer’s  high sun at Lammas. While Litha is  the longest day and the pride of the  Sun Goddess, here, in Seattle, real  warmth and sunny skies are often  only an August thing.

So how do we celebrate  Lammas – this “ripening in the sun”?  We gather in a pleasant place where  air and light can play and we bless  the first fruits of harvest. In wheels  past, we looked forward to the coming dark and the shortening of days.  However, we decided that this year,  having finally arrived at our one sunny  Sabbat, we shouldn’t rain on the parade! Let’s live in the present and enjoy it.

Lammas is the fulfillment of the  promise of light and seed. At Yule, we  emptied ourselves completely to the  void, embracing the fullness of fallowness and surrendering all to the Dark  Mother. Light came from darkness and  we recognized it at Candlemas. We  presented our seeds to the light at  Oestara and the Two were blessed in  Beltane’s love. Light Mother gloried at  Litha in the growing life of earth and  ocean. Now, at Lammas, She shares  with us the first fruits of the seeds we  entrusted to Her.

Lammas has, sometimes, been  depicted as a time of hope, for the  full harvest could still fail. I prefer the  optimistic “cup half full” view, however, that sees Lammas as the promise of harvest fulfilled. The vegetables are on the table, the  cornbread is in the oven, and the  apples are turning red. As deeply as  we surrendered to the Dark Mother  in the fallow time, so now we take  joyful satisfaction with the Light  Mother in the fruitful time. Lammas  is the season to bask in bounty and  acknowledge that “Life Is Good”.

Mabon will come and the full harvest, but then we will not bask, for  there is much work to do. Later will  come Samhain when we will store the  seeds and release our bonds to this  life and this cycle. That is then, but  this is now. Be happy and rejoice!  Dance, sing, and eat your fill! Life indeed is good! Happy Lammas and Blessed Be!

The Ancient Druids

The Ancient Druids

In about 750 CE the word druid appears in a poem by Blathmac, who wrote about Jesus saying that he was “…better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every druid, a king who was a bishop and a complete sage.” The druids then also appear in some of the medieval tales from Christianized Ireland like the Táin Bó Cúailnge, where they are largely portrayed as sorcerers who opposed the coming of Christianity. In the wake of the Celtic revival during the 18th and 19th centuries, fraternal and Neopagan groups were founded based upon the ideas about the ancient druids, a movement which is known as Neo-Druidism.

According to historian Ronald Hutton, “we can know virtually nothing of certainty about the ancient Druids, so that—although they certainly existed—they function more or less as legendary figures.” However, the sources provided about them by ancient and medieval writers, coupled with archaeological evidence, can give us an idea of what they might have performed as a part of their religious duties.

Druid History

One of the few things that both the Greco-Roman and the vernacular Irish sources agree on about the druids was that they played an important part in pagan Celtic society. In his description, Julius Caesar claimed that they were one of the two most important social groups in the region (alongside the equities, or nobles), and were responsible for organizing worship and sacrifices, divination, and judicial procedure in Gaulish, British and Irish society. He also claimed that they were exempt from military service and from the payment of taxes, and that they had the power to excommunicate people from religious festivals, making them social outcasts. Two other classical writers, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo also wrote about the role of druids in Gallic society, claiming that the druids were held in such respect that if they intervened between two armies they could stop the battle.

Pomponius Mela is the first author who says that the druids’ instruction was secret, and was carried on in caves and forests. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses learned by heart, and Caesar remarked that it could take up to twenty years to complete the course of study. There is no historic evidence during the period when Druidism was flourishing to suggest that Druids were other than male. What was taught to Druid novices anywhere is conjecture: of the druids’ oral literature, not one certifiably ancient verse is known to have survived, even in translation. All instruction was communicated orally, but for ordinary purposes, Caesar reports, the Gauls had a written language in which they used Greek characters. In this he probably draws on earlier writers; by the time of Caesar, Gaulish inscriptions had moved from the Greek script to the Latin script.

The Druid’s Religious Practices & Philosophy

Greek and Roman writers frequently made reference to the druids as practitioners of human sacrifice, a trait they themselves reviled, believing it to be barbaric. Such reports of druidic human sacrifice are found in the works of Lucan, Julius Caesar, Suetonius and Cicero.Caesar claimed that the sacrifice was primarily of criminals, but at times innocents would also be used, and that they would be burned alive in a large wooden effigy, now often known as a wicker man. A differing account came from the 10th-century Commenta Bernensia, which claimed that sacrifices to the deities Teutates, Esus and Taranis were by drowning,mhanging and burning, respectively.

Diodorus Siculus asserts that a sacrifice acceptable to the Celtic gods had to be attended by a druid, for they were the intermediaries between the people and the divinities. He remarked upon the importance of prophets in druidic ritual:

“These men predict the future by observing the flight and calls of birds and by the sacrifice of holy animals: all orders of society are in their power… and in very important matters they prepare a human victim, plunging a dagger into his chest; by observing the way his limbs convulse as he falls and the gushing of his blood, they are able to read the future.”

There is archaeological evidence from western Europe that has been widely used to back up the idea that human sacrifice was performed by the Iron Age Celts. Mass graves found in a ritual context dating from this period have been unearthed in Gaul, at both Gournay-sur-Aronde and Ribemont-sur-Ancre in what was the region of the Belgae chiefdom. The excavator of these sites, Jean-Louis Brunaux, interpreted them as areas of human sacrifice in devotion to a war god, although this view was criticised by another archaeologist, Martin Brown, who believed that the corpses might be those of honoured warriors buried in the sanctuary rather than sacrifices.Some historians have questioned whether the Greco-Roman writers were accurate in their claims. J. Rives remarked that it was “ambiguous” whether the druids ever performed such sacrifices, for the Romans and Greeks were known to project what they saw as barbarian traits onto foreign peoples including not only druids but Jews and Christians as well, thereby confirming their own “cultural superiority” in their own minds. Taking a similar opinion, Ronald Hutton summarised the evidence by stating that “the Greek and Roman sources for Druidry are not, as we have received them, of sufficiently good quality to make a clear and final decision on whether human sacrifice was indeed a part of their belief system.” Peter Berresford Ellis, a Celtic nationalist who authored The Druids (1994), believed them to be the equivalents of the Indian Brahmin caste, and considered accusations of human sacrifice to remain unproven,whilst an expert in medieval Welsh and Irish literature, Nora Chadwick, who believed them to be great philosophers, fervently purported the idea that they had not been involved in human sacrifice, and that such accusations were imperialist Roman propaganda.

Druids And The Irish Culture

During the Middle Ages, after Ireland and Wales were Christianized, druids appeared in a number of written sources, mainly tales and stories such as the Táin Bó Cúailnge, but also in the hagiographies of various saints. These were all written by Christian monks, who, according to Ronald Hutton, “may not merely have been hostile to the earlier paganism but actually ignorant of it” and so would not have been particularly reliable, but at the same time may provide clues as to the practices of druids in Ireland, and to a lesser extent, Wales.

The Irish passages referring to druids in such vernacular sources were “more numerous than those on the classical texts” of the Greeks and Romans, and paint a somewhat different picture of them. The druids in Irish literature—for whom words such as drui, draoi, drua and drai are used—are sorcerers with supernatural powers, who are respected in society, particularly for their ability to perform divination. They can cast spells and turn people into animals or stones, or curse peoples’ crops to be blighted. At the same time, the term druid is sometimes used to refer to any figure who uses magic, for instance in the Fenian Cycle, both giants and warriors are referred to as druids when they cast a spell, even though they are not usually referred to as such; as Ronald Hutton noted, in medieval Irish literature, “the category of Druid [is] very porous.”

When druids are portrayed in early Irish sagas and saints’ lives set in the pre-Christian past of the island, they are usually accorded high social status. The evidence of the law-texts, which were first written down in the 7th and 8th centuries, suggests that with the coming of Christianity the role of the druid in Irish society was rapidly reduced to that of a sorcerer who could be consulted to cast spells or practice healing magic and that his standing declined accordingly. According to the early legal tract Bretha Crólige, the sick-maintenance due to a druid, satirist and brigand (díberg) is no more than that due to a bóaire (an ordinary freeman). Another law-text, Uraicecht Becc (‘Small primer’), gives the druid a place among the dóer-nemed or professional classes which depend for their status on a patron, along with wrights, blacksmiths and entertainers, as opposed to the fili, who alone enjoyed free nemed-status.

Whilst druids featured prominently in many medieval Irish sources, they were far rarer in their Welsh counterparts. Unlike the Irish texts, the Welsh term commonly seen as referring to the druids, dryw, was used to refer purely to prophets and not to sorcerers or pagan priests. Historian Ronald Hutton noted that there were two explanations for the use of the term in Wales: the first was that it was a survival from the pre-Christian era, when dryw had been ancient priests, whilst the second was that the Welsh had borrowed the term from the Irish, as had the English (who used the terms dry and drycraeft to refer to magicians and magic respectively, most probably influenced by the Irish terms.)

As the historian Jane Webster stated, “individual druids… are unlikely to be identified archaeologically”, a view which was echoed by Ronald Hutton, who declared that “not one single artifact or image has been unearthed that can undoubtedly be connected with the ancient Druids.” A.P. Fitzpatrick, in examining what he believed to be astral symbolism on Late Iron Age swords has expressed difficulties in relating any material culture, even the Coligny calendar, with druidic culture. Nonetheless, some archaeologists have attempted to link certain discoveries with written accounts of the druids, for instance the archaeologist Anne Ross linked what she believed to be evidence of human sacrifice in Celtic pagan society—such as the Lindow Man bog body—to the Greco-Roman accounts of human sacrifice being officiated over by the druids.

An excavated burial in Deal, Kent discovered the “Deal warrior” a man buried around 200-150 BCE with a sword and shield, and wearing a unique crown, too thin to be a helmet. The crown is bronze with a broad band around the head and a thin strip crossing the top of the head. It was worn without any padding beneath, as traces of hair were left on the metal. The form of the crown is similar to that seen in images of Romano-British priests several centuries later, leading to speculation among archaeologists that the man might have been a druid.

The Demise And Revival Of The Druids

During the Gallic Wars of 58 to 51 BCE, the Roman army, led by Julius Caesar, conquered the many tribal chiefdoms of Gaul, and annexed it as a part of the Roman Empire. According to accounts produced in the following centuries, the new rulers of Roman Gaul subsequently introduced measures to wipe out the druids from that country. According to Pliny the Elder, writing in the 70s CE, it was the emperor Tiberius (who ruled from 14 to 37 CE), who introduced laws banning not only druidism, but also other native soothsayers and healers, a move which Pliny applauded, believing that it would end human sacrifice in Gaul A somewhat different account of Roman legal attacks on druidism was made by Suetonius, writing in the 2nd century CE, when he claimed that Rome’s first emperor, Augustus (who had ruled from 27 BCE till 14 CE), had decreed that no-one could be both a druid and a Roman citizen, and that this was followed by a law passed by the later Emperor Claudius (who had ruled from 41 to 54 CE) which “thoroughly suppressed” the druids by banning their religious practices.

The best evidence of a druidic tradition in the British Isles is the independent cognate of the Celtic *druwid- in Insular Celtic: The Old Irish druídecht survives in the meaning of “magic”, and the Welsh dryw in the meaning of “seer”.

While the druids as a priestly caste were extinct with the Christianization of Wales, complete by the 7th century at the latest, the offices of bard and of “seer” (Welsh: dryw) persisted in medieval Wales into the 13th century.

Phillip Freeman, a classics professor, discusses a later reference to Dryades, which he translates as Druidesses, writing that “The fourth century A.D. collection of imperial biographies known as the Historia Augusta contains three short passages involving Gaulish women called “Dryades” (“Druidesses”).” He points out that “In all of these, the women may not be direct heirs of the Druids who were supposedly extinguished by the Romans — but in any case they do show that the druidic function of prophesy continued among the natives in Roman Gaul.” However, the Historia Augusta is frequently interpreted by scholars as a largely satirical work, and such details might have been introduced in a humorous fashion. Additionally, Druidesses are mentioned in later Irish mythology, including the legend of Fionn mac Cumhaill, who, according to the 12th century The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, is raised by the druidess Bodhmall and a wise-woman.

The story of Vortigern, as reported by Nennius, provides one of the very few glimpses of possible druidic survival in Britain after the Roman conquest: unfortunately, Nennius is noted for mixing fact and legend in such a way that it is now impossible to know the truth behind his text. He wrote that after being excommunicated by Germanus, the British leader Vortigern invited twelve druids to assist him.

In the lives of saints and martyrs, the druids are represented as magicians and diviners. In Adamnan’s vita of Columba, two of them act as tutors to the daughters of Lóegaire mac Néill, the High King of Ireland, at the coming of Saint Patrick. They are represented as endeavouring to prevent the progress of Patrick and Saint Columba by raising clouds and mist. Before the battle of Culdremne (561) a druid made an airbe drtiad (fence of protection?) round one of the armies, but what is precisely meant by the phrase is unclear. The Irish druids seem to have had a peculiar tonsure. The word druí is always used to render the Latin magus, and in one passage St Columba speaks of Christ as his druid. Similarly, a life of St Bueno’s states that when he died he had a vision of ‘all the saints and druids’.

Sulpicius Severus’ Vita of Martin of Tours relates how Martin encountered a peasant funeral, carrying the body in a winding sheet, which Martin mistook for some druidic rites of sacrifice, “because it was the custom of the Gallic rustics in their wretched folly to carry about through the fields the images of demons veiled with a white covering.” So Martin halted the procession by raising his pectoral cross: “Upon this, the miserable creatures might have been seen at first to become stiff like rocks. Next, as they endeavored, with every possible effort, to move forward, but were not able to take a step farther, they began to whirl themselves about in the most ridiculous fashion, until, not able any longer to sustain the weight, they set down the dead body.” Then discovering his error, Martin raised his hand again to let them proceed: “Thus,” the hagiographer points out, “he both compelled them to stand when he pleased, and permitted them to depart when he thought good.”

From the 18th century, England and Wales experienced a revival of interest in the druids. John Aubrey (1626–1697) had been the first modern writer to connect Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments with the druids; since Aubrey’s views were confined to his notebooks, the first wide audience for this idea were readers of William Stukeley (1687–1765). It is incorrectly believed that John Toland (1670–1722) founded the Ancient Druid Order however the research of historian Ronald Hutton has revealed that the ADO was founded by George Watson MacGregor Reid in 1909. The order never used (and still does not use) the title “Archdruid” for any member, but falsely credited William Blake as having been its “Chosen Chief” from 1799 to 1827, without corroboration in Blake’s numerous writings or among modern Blake scholars. Blake’s bardic mysticism derives instead from the pseudo-Ossianic epics of Macpherson; his friend Frederick Tatham’s depiction of Blake’s imagination, “clothing itself in the dark stole of mural sanctity”— in the precincts of Westminster Abbey— “it dwelt amid the Druid terrors”, is generic rather than specifically neo-Druidic. John Toland was fascinated by Aubrey’s Stonehenge theories, and wrote his own book about the monument without crediting Aubrey. The roles of bards in 10th century Wales had been established by Hywel Dda and it was during the 18th century that the idea arose that Druids had been their predecessors.

The 19th-century idea, gained from uncritical reading of the Gallic Wars, that under cultural-military pressure from Rome the druids formed the core of 1st-century BCE resistance among the Gauls, was examined and dismissed before World War II, though it remains current in folk history.

Druids began to figure widely in popular culture with the first advent of Romanticism. Chateaubriand’s novel Les Martyrs (1809) narrated the doomed love of a druid priestess and a Roman soldier; though Chateaubriand’s theme was the triumph of Christianity over Pagan druids, the setting was to continue to bear fruit. Opera provides a barometer of well-informed popular European culture in the early 19th century: in 1817 Giovanni Pacini brought druids to the stage in Trieste with an opera to a libretto by Felice Romani about a druid priestess, La Sacerdotessa d’Irminsul (“The Priestess of Irminsul”). The most famous druidic opera, Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma was a fiasco at La Scala, when it premiered the day after Christmas, 1831; but in 1833 it was a hit in London. For its libretto, Felice Romani reused some of the pseudo-druidical background of La Sacerdotessa to provide colour to a standard theatrical conflict of love and duty. The story was similar to that of Medea, as it had recently been recast for a popular Parisian play by Alexandre Soumet: the diva of Norma’s hit aria, “Casta Diva”, is the moon goddess, being worshipped in the “grove of the Irmin statue”.

A central figure in 19th century Romanticist Neo-Druidism is the Welshman Edward Williams, better known as Iolo Morganwg. His writings, published posthumously as The Iolo Manuscripts (1849) and Barddas (1862), are not considered credible by contemporary scholars. Williams claimed to have collected ancient knowledge in a “Gorsedd of Bards of the Isles of Britain” he had organized. Many scholars deem part or all of Williams’s work to be fabrication, and purportedly many of the documents are of his own fabrication, but a large portion of the work has indeed been collected from meso-pagan sources dating from as far back as 600 CE.Regardless, it has become impossible to separate the original source material from the fabricated work, and while bits and pieces of the Barddas still turn up in some “Neo-druidic” works, the documents are considered irrelevant by most serious scholars.

T.D. Kendrick’s dispelled (1927) the pseudo-historical aura that had accrued to druids, asserting that “a prodigious amount of rubbish has been written about druidism”; Neo-druidism has nevertheless continued to shape public perceptions of the historical druids. The British Museum is blunt:

Modern Druids have no direct connection to the Druids of the Iron Age. Many of our popular ideas about the Druids are based on the misunderstandings and misconceptions of scholars 200 years ago. These ideas have been superseded by later study and discoveries.

Some strands of contemporary Neodruidism are a continuation of the 18th-century revival and thus are built largely around writings produced in the 18th century and after by second-hand sources and theorists. Some are monotheistic. Others, such as the largest Druid group in the world, The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids draw on a wide range of sources for their teachings. Members of such Neo-druid groups may be Neopagan, occultist, Reconstructionist, Christian or non-specifically spiritual.