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Research on Modern Druidism and Renaissance Druids


There are alot of people calling themselves Druids, perhaps 20% of the Neo-Pagan movement. They can be roughly catagorized into five groups.

  • British groups descended from 17th century fraternal and masonic organizations. Many of these groups have become increasingly influenced by the New Age and Neo-Pagan movements. Prominent examples are Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, British Order of Druids, British Druid Order, Ancient Order of Druids, and many others.
  • Groups descended from the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA). RDNA started in 1963 at Carleton College (and many members are still not-pagan) and many groups have splintered off and subsequently splintered off. Most Druids in America probably have been members or heavily influenced by these groups which include; RDNA (1963), New RDNA (1976), Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF 1982), Henge of Keltria (1986), Primitive Celtic Church (1991). There may be connections with Druidactios and Circle of the Sacred Grove, but they are probably not desired.
  • Celtic Wicca groups.
  • Nationalistic Groups (that may or may not be Neo-Pagan) in most of the Celtic countries, France and Germany
  • Groups and individuals that can't be catagorized or are recognizably part of these movements as yet.

    Irregardless, the number of books about the modern Druid movement are slowly increasing, particularly in Britain.

    IMPORTANT NOTE We have read almost all of the following books, and are in the process of procuring them for the Gould Library of Carleton College (the seminary of the Reformed Druids). As is always the case, your local library can often BORROW books from bigger libraries, so you needn't always purchase the books. However, I would recommend that you check the book carefully for poor scholarship before using them and send your opinions to hachimike@hotmail.com


    Detailed Description of Books

    .

    A Reformed Druid Anthology

    Book Description by Drynemetum

    How did modern Druidry start in America? This is the book that explains it. It was published by the makers of this home page, The Drynemetum Press , in 1996, 2000. It is by far the most in-depth collection of materials about the oldest "modern" Druid tradition in America. In fact, the Reformed Druids of North America are the ancestral origin from which Ar nDraoicht Fein and Henge of Keltria trace their lineage. This book includes almost all the printed materials of 38 years of Reformed Druidism ever published, analysis of these materials. Included are liturgies, interviews, epistle essays on Druidism, organizational structure documents, meditations, a 60 page in depth group history, and an introductory chapter devoted to academic researchers.

    We have made a free version that you can download and print out the sections you like at your convenience in ready-to-print encyclopaedic format.



    http://www.druidorder.demon.co.uk/Druid%20History.htm

    A Little History of Druidism

    by Greywolf

    A good 10 page discussion about the academic records remaining about the historical druids and how the various groups throughout the ages claim to be the heirs of the ancient druids. A nice sober piece of reading.



    http://www.neopagan.net/MesoDruids.HTML

    Meso Pagan Drudism

    A good 5 page General Essay by Isaac Bonewits on the fraternalistic Mesopagan Druidism (i.e. 1700-Present) outgrowths of Masonry.


    A good page for researching old and new druidism:

    found at http://www.neopagan.net/RecDruidBooks.HTML


    The Mind of the Druid

    by E Graham Howe ASIN: 1871438756



    American Druidism

    by Daniel Hansen / Paperback / Published 1995 Amazon Price: $14.95 (Special Order) AMAZON.COM In-Stock: Ships 2-3 days† Format: Paperback,†192pp. ISBN: 0897166000 Publisher: Elton-Wolf Publishing American Druidism† Daniel Hansen †Elizabeth Lake (Editor) Pub. Date: July† 1995

    Drynemetum Review

    Daniel Hansen has been exploring the American Druid movements for the past 15 years; joining such groups as Reformed Druids, ADF, Keltria, Druidactios and many others. In this short 120 pg book, Hansen gives a good summary of the ancient Druids and how the modern Druids fit (or don't fit) this image. He also gives a little gossip on the fractions within the movement. Required reading about Druidry in America.



    Elements of the Druid Tradition,

    by Philip Carr-Gomm; Element Books (Dorset, England), 1991; ISBN 185230202X; paper.

    Amazon brief

    A brief introduction to the facts and fancies of Mesopagan Druidism, by the current Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids over there in Britain. Overtly romantic, yet honest about absent historical evidence. Includes excellent guided meditations and good ideas about bridging the gaps between Meso- and Neopagan Druids.

    A good balance to Piggott and Ellis, this book was written by the current Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Read alongside the author's Druid Way, it's a solid introduction to Revival-era-influenced modern Druidry.


    Review by Phillip Carr-Gomm, the author

    Hello! I was invited to write The Elements of the Druid Tradition to give a clear introduction to Druid spirituality, with some historical background, and with plenty of information to help readers discover the excitement and breadth of modern-day Druidry. Each chapter includes an experiential exercise, and there are summaries of Druid lore, and details on Druid seasonal rites, and the ways you can use these as guides through life. The whole emphasis in the book is on how we can apply this ancient wisdom tradition in the modern age.The book finishes with a Resource Guide and Bibliography.

    Reviewer: A reader from Chicago January 9, 1999

    Many of the myths and misinformation that has surrounded modern Druidry are dispelled in this succinct presentation of the Druid tradition by one of the foremost authorities on Druidry. Along with this study of the history and founding spirituality of classical times are some very practical modern exercises at the end of each chapter that the reader can readily apply to his/her everyday life.

    Reviewer: davidm@ca-ib.com from Budapest, Hungary June 23, 1998

    The current chief of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, the world's largest druid order today, presents a concise and easy-to-read introduction and history of what has become modern druidry. There are no attempts to pretensiously link the current movement with the ancient past and the author portrays a likely evolution of the celtic priesthood without resorting to so-called secret texts, lost documents, or wild speculations -- just the facts as known. This work also discusses the three grades within modern druidry, providing a reasonable description of how each functioned, and then compares the current thread with other neo-pagan movements emerging in the second half of the 20th century, such as Wicca. Above all it dispells the myths written mainly by the Romans over the past two millennia. For the open-minded. Read it and see!



    The Druid Way

    by Phillip Carr Gomm (Element Books, 1993, ISBN 1852303654, paper) $15 at Amazon

    Also highly recommended, the story of a vision quest/pilgrimage through the landscape of southern England.

    Synopsis

    Druidism, the ancient shamanicreligion of Britain is experiencing a major revival there and in America. This book is both a complete description of the Druid Way as well as a fascinating tour of the major Druid sites, ruins, and "power places."

    Includes specific suggestions for bringing this ancient wisdom tradition into our own lives and activities.

    Review by The author, Philip Carr-Gomm, Chief of OBOD office@obod.co.uk , January 9, 1999

    Hello! I was asked to write The Druid Way after the success of The Elements of the Druid Tradition, and originally the publisher wanted it to be a similar book, but more in-depth. But as I prepared to write it, an old spiritual mentor, who was in his nineties’, died and I went up on to an old sacred hill just by our house to say a prayer for him. At that moment I was inspired to write a book that talked about Druid spirituality in a different way: from the ‘inside-out’ rather than in a factual way from the outside ‘looking in’. And so I began a journey across the sacred landscape of Southern Britain, and as I explored this landscape I explored also the ancient traditions that live so strongly in this land. I have received an incredible amount of comments and letters from around the world about this book - somehow it seems to have touched many peoples’ hearts.



    The Druid Renaissance: the Voice of Druidry Today,

    by Phillip Carr Gomm (Harper Collins/Thorsons, 1996, ISBN 1855384809, paperback)List Price: $21.00- 320 pages .

    Synopsis

    This excellent anthology features essays from prominent members of the neo-Druidic movement in the US, UK, and France. Dr. Christina Oakley's article on Witches and Druids is highly recommended.

    with a chapter by Isaac Bonewits on "The Druid Revival in Modern America" This will give you a global view of the current Druid revivals, with chapters by leaders and members of many Druidic paths. It belongs on every modern Druid's bookshelf!

    Reviewer: rath_cruachan@yahoo.com

    As with any anthology, the real power of the book lies in the few gems scattered amongst the semi-precious stones of the majority of the writing, and the overall balance and diversity represented by the full cross-section of opinion presented. Carr-Gomm should be saluted for providing commentary from a wide range of authors from organizations outside of his own.

    Part I: The Call of the Land was itself worth the price of the book for me. It represents the best of what makes druidism a religion for the future as well as the past.

    Reviewer: mdowl@juno.com

    The most informative source book about contemporary Druidism I’ve found. Druidic history is addressed unabashedly; even the less popular aspects are discussed and dissected in a comprehensive, informative manner.

    Reviewer: LeCromlech@aol.com from France

    The Druid Rennaissance affords an inspiring and comprehensive view of contemporary Druidry, which is emerging as a major spiritual pathway for the coming millenium. In one well-produced volume, Philip Carr-Gomm, chosen chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), has, thanks to a judicious choice of contributing authors and an effective organization of the texts, succeeded in conveying a clear understanding of what modern Druidry, grounded in a rich heritage of tradition, is and how it relates to other western and oriental currents of thought. A must for all those, whether familiar or unfamiliar with the subject, who seek an authoritative and eminently readable presentation of Druid thought today.



    The Book of Druidry : History, Sites and Wisdom

    by Ross Nichols, John Matthews, Philip Carr-Gomm (Editor), phi Carr-Gomm, Amazon Price: $15.20 Paperback - 320 pages Reprint edition (May 1992) Thorsons Pub; ISBN: 1855381672 ;

    Book Description

    Ross Nichols was the Chosen Chief of OBOD from 1964 until his death in 1975; this book was to be his definitive work on modern Druidry. While much of the book reads to me like teaching notes rather than expository prose, it remains a seminal document in the history of modern Druidry. Some of the historical information is now out-dated, but the esoteric matter will be of special interest to members of OBOD.


    From the Publisher

    The most comprehensive survey of Druidry available, from their earliest history to the current renaissance--including a study of the shaping of their ideas, their principal deities and myths, their learning and social organization, and more.
    Reviewer: A reader from Bancroft, Iowa

    I was a little dissapointed at the Christians elements at the beginning of this book, but as you go along, you'll realize why this book is so good. Celtia and Druidry are two of the most touchy topics in historical-magickal literature, because when you take a faith an interesting as that of the Celts, it's diffucult to leave a book that's "incomplete", so authors frequently make things up where they have found holes in their research, thus creating books that are half fact, half fiction. Not true here. Here we are provided with an account that does not touch on those touchy topics, and leaves open exploration available for the reader. We have both a detailed account of the history of both Witchcraft and Druidry, and we learn that yes, these religions are very similiar and can essentially trace their deepest origions to the same place. Which will really annoy those "Druids" who wouldn't be caught dead doing anything witchy. Surprisingly though, just like in "The Wiccan Mysteries", the reader can take what they have learned and make their own judgements. Not like in most technical occult books, like the ones by Silver Ravenwolf, where you get nothing but hundreds of pages of magickal rites and techneiques, yet never learn what the meaning behind them is. This is book that should find a spot on the shelf of every Druid, Wiccan, and pagan enthusist,

    Reviewer: A reader from Tremonton, Utah.

    Strangely enough, there is some fact out there in the massive amounts of ficticous information concerning Druidry. This is not one of those romantic fictitions written to embrace a genre and make money, but is a very thorough account of history, geography, lore, and wisdom beheld from many (as in probably all) historical sources. Well worth the money, and ESSENTIAL reading for druids.

    Reviewer: davidm@ca-ib.com from Budapest, Hungary

    The Book of Druidry was essentially the life work of the author (published posthumously) and represents a maximum attempt to catalogue and share the collective of what we know about the ancient Druids. It reads somewhat like an encyclopaedia or almanac with the reader able to look-up items of particular interest (e.g. sacred sites such as Stonehenge) or read straight-through, cover-to-cover. Given the number of bogus (revisionist) works in print purporting to inform us about druidry or druidism (as it is sometimes also called), some of which claim access to secret or otherwise sacred texts, etc. (which is complete bull-manure), enough cannot be said about a work like this which has both scholarly merit and general appeal. Buy it and see for yourself!



    The Druids (Ancient Peoples and Places Series)

    by Stuart Piggott Amazon Price:$15.95 Paperback (May 1985) W W Norton & Co; ISBN: 0500273634 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.54 x 9.48 x 6.27

    Reviewer: Wmcclain@erols.com from Reston,

    In "The Druids" Piggott first defines the limits of what can be known about any pre-literate people such as the Druids, and how it can be known. This is not, as so many other books on the topic turn out to be, a romantic description of an ancient people, but rather a history first of the archeological, then the contemporary historical, and finaly the historiographic records of the Druids, who they may have been, and what they may have been about.

    Throughout, Piggot continuiously contrasts the three levels of historical knowledge, described as "Druids as known," "Druids as inferred," and "Druids as wished-for." The first third of the book is one of the better examples of conservative (not in a political, but an academic sense) archeological interpretation as Piggot explains the few hard facts that can be discerned from material remains, and the few inferrences which can be made from those facts.

    To romantics and lovers of "Druids as wished-for" this part will probably seem quite dry and lifeless, but for those interested in real archeology and it's interpretation, this may be the most interesting part of the book.

    Piggott then takes us on to contemporary accounts of the Druids from their literate neighbors in the ancient world, while still mainting his contrast between what is known and what is inferred. This is the part of the book that will interest those who want to get the best possible picture of who and what the Druids really were, as these contemporary and near contemporary accounts are the closest things we have to real insight to the culture of the ancient Celts. Of course, this can be gleaned from the primary sources as well, and whether or not you read Piggott's book, Ceasars "Gallic Wars" and the Ulster Cycle of Irish legends are both well worth reading.

    Finally, Piggott takes us on a history of the history of Druids, from the Renaissance through the modern era. This is almost as fascinating to me as the prior two-thirds! of the book, as this section shows how the scant historic and archeological records were interpreted in all manner of romantic, nationalistic and downright bizarre ways.

    All in all, "The Druids" is a fine example of sussing out the real history of a subject that is often treated with more romance and fantasy than scholarly rigor. Unfortunately, there is little that we can truly know about the Druids because they left no written records themselves, and their neighbords had all manor of political and cultural biases when they wrote about them. But even if the Druids still remain a cypher, isn't it far more fun, and more fascinating to try to solve the cypher with what facts are available, rather than the romantic fantasies that have piled up over the years?



    Spirits of the Sacred Grove : The World of a Druid Priestess

    by Emma Restall Orr, Emma Restall Orr Paperback - 272 pages (November 1998) Thorsons Pub; ISBN: 0722535961 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.75 x 8.50 x 5.34

    Book Description

    Modern Druidry is a fast-growing spiritual tradition. Far from being wrapped in a veil of secrecy, it is celebrated openly, in the sunlight of a meadow or a shady forest glade. This is a very personal journey through the seasons with a modern female Druid, which reveals Druidry as an accessible and compelling spiritual path that offers great potential for healing and self-empowerment.

    Reviewer: cnorris@mail-intl.com from Reston, VA

    As I see it, there is one very serious problem with the neo-Pagan movement: we are so focused on the mysticism inherent in our Way that the true mystics among us are often lost in the sea of poseurs. While I believe that we all partake of the mystic experience from time to time, there is in my mind a great difference between the average Joe like me and the “everyday mystic;” that is to say those who seem to actively live in a state of mystical awareness. Christian literature is rife with examples of these folk: Meister Eckhart and Hildegard of Bingen are among the better known, but former Dominican Matthew Fox and the late Thomas Merton also come to mind as relatively contemporary examples. And let us not forget the late Mother Theresa.

    Whether Ms. Restall Orr is an “everyday mystic” or not is best left up to the individual reader to decide. For my part, I feel she is either an authentic Pagan mystic, or an extremely accomplished impostor. But I tend to lean toward the former, because even the best poseur is ultimately incapable of counterfeiting the true passion that I find mirrored in Emma’s work.

    Her antecedents aside, I found this work to be very inspiring, even though I am Wiccan, and not a Druid. Still, I am captivated by the depth of feeling, understanding and devotion that Emma expresses in her work. She is, in my mind, a mystic trying diligently to describe the nature and quality of her experience of the Divine, in the context of her Pagan beliefs. I strongly feel that the Pagan community could benefit immensely from more works of this type, expressing the heart of our faith, and fewer “how to” manuals.

    Reviewer: A reader from Oxford, UK December 8, 1998

    Spirits of the Sacred Grove is not a "how to" book. It is a rich, deep, powerful, gloriously exotic perception of the world which many see to be dusty and bitty and mundane. An intimate journey through the seasons of the year, this book is truly an inspiration.



    The Druid Source Book : From Earliest Times to the Present Day

    by John Matthews (Editor) ASIN: 0713725729

    From the Publisher

    There have been many questions surrounding druidism, yet no one place to look for answers-- until now! Journey through a world of sacred springs and holy wells, stone circles and majestic mountains; the beauty of the natural world was the inspiration for the druids. Read classical accounts from Julius Caesar, then examine the druidic revival in the 18th and 19th centuries, with its essays on everything from moral doctrines to charts and magic. Learn what the sacred geometry of megalithic sights has to do with cosmology. Unveil the secrets of druidic initiation ceremonies and priesthood. These historical stories and essays will dispel some of the wilder theories still circulating, but also prove fertile soil upon which a fascination with the mystical world of druidism will grow and flourish.


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    If you have questions or advice on the materials discussed here, or if you have more resources to add; email me at

    mikerdna@hotmail.com

    This page was created in March, 2000 c.e. No copyright by presenter, excerpts taken from Amazon and various other cited sources.