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  Inside Out - South: Monday June 23, 2003

DRUIDS

Druids at Stonehenge
Stonehenge has special significance to Druids

Inside Out takes a look inside the secret world of the Druids. We go back in time to rediscover the true spirit of Druidism.

To most of us the Druids conjure up images of a mysterious, religious sect wearing strange robes and conducting archaic ceremonies out in the open air.

The problem is that they're a secretive bunch. They don't write down their ideas nor do they have a Holy Book.

Inside Out met a family whose mum became a Druid and looks at how it changed her and her familiy's lives.

A family story

Zoe Brice know better than anyone about having a Druid in the family. Zoe is 28 years old, and by day she works as a housing officer for a local council.

She and her half brother and sister were brought up by her dad after her mum walked out on the family and became a traveller.

Twenty years later her mum, Denny Price, is the archdruidess of the Glastonbury order of druids.

Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor and the nearby Zodiac are sacred sites

It's taken Zoe a long time to understand her mum's actions and learn about her beliefs.

Druid beliefs

To fully understand Druidism, you need to immerse yourself in ancient history, fantasy, myth and mystery.

The lineage of the Druid spiritual tradition can be traced back many thousands of years.

The origins of the Druids were as important religious figures among the Celts, who came to Britain in 1500 BC.

In this pre-Christian era, Druids acted as judges, doctors, diviners, sages, mystics, and clerical scholars. They were considered amongst the wisest and most respected members of Celtic society.

DRUIDS -
THE DRUID PATH

Druidry fosters the love of the land, earth, and the wild including:

* Love of Peace

* Love of Beauty - the bard and artists within

* Love of Justice - non punitive justice and law

* Love of Story and Myth - the power of mythology

* Love of History and Reverence for Ancestors

* Love of Trees - sacred groves and study of treelore

* Love of Stones - stone circles and crystals

* Love of Truth - wisdom

* Love of Animals - druidry sees animals as sacred

* Love of the Body

* Love of the Sun, Moon and Stars

* Love of Life

The name Druid itself is connected with the Celtic word for 'oak tree'.

Modern Druids

There are around 10,000 practising Druids in Britain with Druid orders being spread around the country.

These Druid orders meet up regularly and continue the traditions of reading Celtic poetry, while dressed in robes and wearing ancient Celtic symbols.

There are three sets of people who Druids hold in exceptional honour - the bards, the ovates and the druids.

The bards are singers and poets, and the keepers of tradition.

The ovates are diviners and natural philosophers.

The Druids are learned in natural and moral philosophy.

Each of the three groups has specific tasks and jobs to perform.

In 1989 the Council of British Druid Orders was formed with two or three founding member orders.

There are now twelve major orders all over the United Kingdom.

The Glastonbury Order of Druids is thousands of years old with its roots in antiquity.

There is evidence of early Druid activity in the giant earthworks south of Glastonbury Tor - known as Glastonbury Zodiac - which date back to 2770 BC.

Spiritual rebirth

Druids are believers in reincarnation. They believe that the soul is immortal and after a person dies, they are transported to the 'Otherworld'.

They also believe that that person will come back again in another human body.

Some put the growing interest in Druidism over the past decade down to the fact that spiritual concerns are once again coming to the fore in society.

Druid ceremony
Some historians claim Druids originated in Britain

There is also growing interest in the environment and the myths and legends of England.

This philosophy has proved attractive to a growing number of New Age travellers in the British countryside.

Stonehenge

The traditional meeting place of the Druids is Stonehenge which is pre-dates Druidism.

Druids claim that their religion has marked the summer solstice at Stonehenge for nearly 800 years.

Today's Druids form their traditional circle around the stones every June, with the conch shell sounding to herald a new dawn and new season.

The Glastonbury Druids joined their colleagues in this celebration once again this year.

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
BBC News: Day of the Druids
BBC History: Druids

On the rest of the web
Glastonbury Order of Druids
The Druid Grove
English Heritage
King Arthur Pendragon

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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