By MeAuntieNora 1 Comments
Yet historians agree they certainly DID exist.
Also, first and foremost: Neo-druidism shares absolutely no lineage with classical Druidism. It is delusional Ren-faire goths trying to establish precedence and remain relevant, but who are too hip to be Wiccan. Hell, every self-described neo-druid just has their own metaphysics. "The church persecuted me as a heretic in an earlier life, but I escaped and became one with the moon. I'm Va'enel, and my tuner picks up Reptilian podcasts." In fact, forget everything modern fiction tells you about "druids" because someone just made it up. God knows I immediately picture a weird robed conjurer chanting runic spells to summon demon familiars. I feel like maybe they're cannibals? Or I don't know, they're doing something weird with a corpse that's for sure...
Nearly every single detail about their organization, rituals, way of life, etc was lost to history long ago. What little we can infer is entirely based on dubious sources. Most writers in antiquity used sources themselves that are themselves lost at this point in time, thus the information can't be verified. In fact, it's not uncommon for accounts to contradict one another, or take on a lofty and biased tone, painting them as barbaric witches for political or philosophical reasons. The tone of the unknown earlier writers may have even been biased in itself, influencing later interpretation. An account by Julius Caesar, in fact, is the earliest known description of Druid culture. This source is flawed, however, because it's part of a document outlining "conquerable" nations within reach. Thus, he skews towards Imperial interests, pointing out barbaric elements to justify their "civilization."
The most detailed and accepted account comes from Pliny the Elder. Though he may not have understood everything he saw, he is widely regarded as a reliable writer who held literal documentation to be paramount. He is not known for his hyperbole or metaphor, and did his best to minimize his subjective interpretations getting in the way of the truth. These qualities make his accounts of a buried era quite rare for the time. He notably was permitted to attend a Druid ritual at a sacred forest site, where a deer was sacrificed, mistletoe was hung on a high tree, an a feast was had. Pliny's descriptions are scrupulous and valuable, and stand as the only surviving first-person account of a Druid ritual.
This only makes it more frustrating that the culture remains out of reach. What did they do the rest of the time? To shed light on a single ritual and leave it at that... it's incredibly tantalizing, personally.
Of course, this was partly their intent. Most agree that they were intrinsically insular, guarding themselves from encroaching foreign armies and religions, merely wishing to continue their traditions. But much of the obscurity is not their doing. Over time, secular leaders took drastically different approaches to these shadowy figures in the wilds. Some Roman leaders enacted laws to persecute and suppress, while others allowed them to persist on the fringes.
It's said that intentional omission or suppression in history often acts counter-intuitively, resulting in a highlighting of the events or subject matter. This is especially true in the case of King Tutankhamen. In the case of the Druids, sadly this doesn't seem to apply. Perhaps the oaks still remember the truth?
Thanks for reading this bullshit if anybody seriously does. It's honestly pretty interesting, WOT and shitty opinionated rants aside, so check it out!