While Druidry has made something of a rebound in recent years, with more and more people interested, more authors creating books, and entire new sects popping up around the world, today’s Druidry is quite different to the one that the ancient Celts would have practised. The biggest contributor to this is because a lot – if not most – of the information about the ancients have been completely lost to the passage of time.
There are several factors that led to the loss of ancient Druidic lore and history, and here we will explore how their disappearance in the world came to be.
It’s believed that the ancient Druids first existed as far back as 25000 years ago, as evidenced by cave paintings around the world in countries like Spain. It’s speculated that much of the belief systems inherent in Druidry was the organic development of the world’s very oldest belief system: Animism.
As people began to worship and appreciate nature in new ways, new deities, practises, sacred rights, and rituals would be invented. The problem is that writing was still thousands of years away from being invented, and almost all of the history and teachings of the Druids was passed on oral tradition. That means that when the Druids came face-to-face with certain obstacles, it didn’t take long for much of their history to completely disappear. Even to this day historians face huge gaps in knowledge when it comes to the Druids.
The Ancient Romans
By the time that the Druids were at their prime, they were faced with an insurmountable foe in the form of the Roman Empire. The Romans were conquering much of Europe, the UK, and Africa at the time, and they faced very little resistance thanks to their well-trained, well-fed, and massive army regiments. Great commanders like Julius Caesar regarded the Gaelic s – who, at the time, had the biggest group of Druids – as barbarians, and spent great effort eradicating not just the people but their history and traditions.
Many of the beliefs about the Druids, such as them sacrificing human beings to their gods, came about as propaganda by the Roman army as well as the Caesar itself, and it didn’t take long before the people grew to disdain the Druids and propagate the rumours; it was a different time to ours of smartphones, Canadian gambling online, and social media.
By the time that Christianity had come along, much of the history of the ancient Druids had been lost, although there were still some belief systems in place. Christianity, which was one of the fastest-growing religions at the time, proved to be the final nail in the coffin as more and more people either converted willingly or were forced to by an ever-growing number of Christian monarchs and their armies. Within a few hundred years, the Druids were all but forgotten to the world, and would only be revived closer to the start of the 18th century with the little information that remained.