Generally known as religious leaders in the Celtic cultures, druids appear in Latin chronicles, medieval tales, Celtic revivals and neopagan groups. Ben Cunliffe, professor of European archaeology at the University of Oxford, in the book Druids: A Very Short Introduction, described them as “philosophers, teachers, judges, the repository of communal wisdoms about the natural world and the traditions of the people, and the mediators between humans and the gods”.
According to Cunliffe, the ancient texts didn’t consider them as priests: this is not casual, for the druids were compared by other authors to a different type of individuals: the ones who study the occult, the ones who are devoted to the prophetic art, the ones who investigates the great mysteries. In other words, it is highly possible that the druids were like the shamans or like the brahmans: a sort of magicians.
The fundamentals of the druidism were simple: connection with the natural world (Nature) and the spirits of it. Druids had a holistic vision, in which everything was connected and in which the human beings were just a little part of the living Earth. Therefore, they are commonly known as the guardians of nature.
Some people believe that the druids were the ones who built Stonehenge. We will never know if it’s true, and historical data don’t support this hypothesis (Stonehenge was constructed between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago whereas the earliest written reference to the druids comes thousand years later). However, it is a fact that their “temples” consisted of quiet, hidden areas in woods and of stone circles.
Who were really the druids? Were they just an ancient population in the ancient Britain or wise people with the key to a deep, supernatural knowledge? We don’t know exactly when their history started and how it developed, and this contributes to create a certain mystery among them.
Do the druids still exists? Probably not. But the message that was at the center of their culture remains: the importance for the human being to have a deep knowledge of the natural world and to find a balance with it.
“[…]Druids are known as the guardians of nature. They seek to preserve balance and protect life—which, in the confused and chaotic world we live in, is something invaluable”
— Balthasar to Pipi, “Pipi and the Midnight Express“
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