Facebook Hairpull on Druidism and Reconstruction Celts

 I’m not 100% sure, but I think this happened in the RDNA group. This one was my fault. I started it by posting a snippit from our FAQ:

Q: Do I have to be a Celt to be a Druid?

A: Not at all.

Anyone can follow the Druid path, regardless of ethnic origins, gender, or
sexual orientation. Over 200 million people in Europe, America and Australia
can trace their ancestry to the Celtic lands. But in fact the tribes called
Celtic by the Greeks and Romans were so varied and intermingled so much, the
Celtic scholar Dr. Anne Ross can rightly say that the Celts are the ancestors
of most modern Europeans, and therefore of most people of European origin. In
addition, many people of Afro-Caribbean origin have Celtic ancestry too, since
Oliver Cromwell sent many ‘slaves’ (indentured servants) to the Caribbean, and
they intermarried with descendants of slaves of African origin.

Also, if you believe in reincarnation (as did the ancient Druids), then our
genetic ancestry is only one strand of our inheritance. Whatever our ethnic
origins in this lifetime, we will have had other ethnic origins in other lives.
And in the final analysis, we are all members of just one race: humanity. Druidry
celebrates our humanity, and is not restricted to just one ethnic group.

Let us speculate for a moment: Suppose the Druids of old had survived into
our time. Further suppose that like other peoples and religions, the Druids
had migrated to the New World. How would Druidry look in modern America? How
likely is it that Druidry would insist on holding rites in Welsh or Gaelic?
Or, perhaps there would be distinct branches of Druidry, just as there has developed
distinct branches of, for example, Judaism and Quakerism. Each has adapted –
evolved – into a system that meets the needs of it’s modern adherents. And all
of these adaptations bear only a little resemblance to the parent religion.
It’s highly unlikely that Druidry would be exclusive to modern Celts.

An insistence that Druids must be Celtic is almost always a racist vantage

Unknown I think you’re missing the point. The argument isn’t that one has to be descended from native Celtic speakers in order to be a Druid. Rather that the Druids are the intelligensia and religious leaders of the attendant culture of ancient Celtic speakers. Therefore, to be a Druid one must actually understand and follow applicable Celtic culture (Celtic gods, holidays, customs, traditions, etc.). This would negate cross-cultural inventions like Christian Druids, Druid Witches, Norse Druids, Buddhist Druids, etc.

Ellis Arseneau It should be noted that 95%+ of Celts today A) do not identify as “Celt” (rather they are Irish, Scottish, Welsh, etc., B) Are Christians. Only a very small minority identify as Pagan. So there
is no “Celtic community” for Druids to be the clergy of. For that matter, the ancient Celts did no identify as “Celt” nor did their religion even have a name that they knew it by. It is we moderns who insist on labeling everything. Also important, not all who follow a Celtic pagan path are Druids. Having an entire religion of clergy makes no sense. I believe it was Brian Walsh who coined the term “Rabbi-ism.” (IOW, The Religious
Society of Friends (Quakers) within which every member is a minister “makes no sense.”) It is not about race, ethnicity, or nationality. It is about culture.
(Exactly the point of the FAQ)

Unknown Addressing the other stuff: (I’m only now seeing the link title)… How does anyone living in the past 500+ years know – truly know – that the real, ancient Druids “make stuff up as they up as they go”?

What, then, was the point to having those archaeologically and academically verified Druid Schools from ancient times, if everything was “made up as they went along”? (BEST example: Isle of Angelesy /  Massacre of Mona record) And, *where* did the RDG find a living, breathing Druid from the era of real,
ancient Druids? Oh wait! Here it is, copied from the page: “Much of what we think we know is based on conjecture and educated guesses at best, and wishful thinking at worst. ”

So… they’re gonna do what the ancient Druids did? Make up sh!t as they go along….? And, we have to wonder at pagan incredulity in the world, today?? …yeah…

Searles It was not all made up. Most of the knowledge had been discovered and verified over thousands of years. Some of the knowledge ws observed knowledge or it was knowledge from reasoning. Only a small part of a Druid’s knowledge had to be discovered using techniques of imbas and other forms of divination.

Searles A lot of the knowledge of Druids was accepted knowledge because of its attributed authors or teachers. Most anything would have been subjected to the trials and ordeals of truth if it did not seem correct or valid. There are many tales providing examples of this process. Most of them basically
have either it is obviously true to everyone or some test is performed to validate truth as a basis for acceptance.

Ellis Arseneau Every religion that has ever been, or ever will be, was founded on the ideas of someone. A prophet. A visionary. But unless it was based on pure science, it was the result of a persons  interpretation/observation of Nature. This is neither good or bad. But it’s all made up stuff. Just because
it’s very old, or very ancient, doesn’t mean it’s not made up. What we refer to as mythology today is mainly fiction. I would venture to say that in a few hundred or thousand years “Star Wars” will be considered mythology (Tolkeins works are already regarded that way by some). Have you read the Bhagavid Gita? It sure reads like science fiction to me. Now the Celtic Gods are unique in that my suspicions tell me that some of them actually were men and women who had families and plowed fields and fought battles and such. Then they died, as we all must, and they became heroes and eventually evolved into gods. But it’s all made up, and any honest person will admit this and move on, but realizing
that, as Joseph Campbell pointed out, there is an intrinsic value to these stories. You might laugh at those who have become Jedi, but it’s recognized as a legitimate religion in the UK. The easiest target is Christianity, since Pagans have a  natural tendency to disregard it. There’s no actual evidence that a man named Jesus (Christ is a titile, not his name) ever lived and did the things that are attributed to him. More likely he is a abstract compilation of the attributes of a dozen or so other middle eastern gods. In fact the astrological explanation of his story seems to me to be the most plausable (though, the people who put
the Zeitgeist video together got it all screwed up — Horus was not born on December 25th, and Isis was never known as Mary).

Ellis Arseneau I think we — you, me, your mom, your neighbor, the democratic or republican politician you love (or hate) — and the whole of our planet and the universe — are god. Looking for a god, a real one? Go look in the mirror. Looking for a goddess? Give mom a call, or better, take a good look at your wife. That doesn’t invalidate the other gods — they’re examples on how to live for the most part. Valuable in that way, but still fiction. Yes, like it or not, the ancient Druids made it all up, just like the religious
leaders from every other culture, tribe, village, did. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

Ikinde The god-statements are Universalist; very far removed from the Celtic Mindset. It is actually a Jungian philosophy that has its place in Wicca; although, I can appreciate the alleged “open-mindedness”
that most people assume…a real Druid would have… they are still Celts and would not embrace this as easily as most would think.
All gods are not one god… that is a modernist thought process and has no place in any reconstructionist practice, including Druidry. If that were the case, then there would never have been a separate temple of Apollo from Poseidon… or Grove of Nemeton from the Hammer Stones of Taranis.

Ellis Arseneau  And you can prove that – how? Always interesting that whenever Pagans disagree
with something, its “Wiccan” or it’s “New Age.” Wiccans are the new Niggers I suppose. Sorry, I don’t buy into prejudice BS.

We don’t live 500 years ago. We live now. What Druids did or did not do is really of no concern — A) Because we really don’t know, we only think we know, and B) Because the Druids may have actually believed this — there is no evidence either way that didn’t.
There is one anomaly in all this. Some gods, made up as they are, do seem to come alive and interact with those who believe in them. The word is egregore, and the theory is that if enough people believe, they become “real”. We know absolutely without a doubt that Jesus Christ never lived. Yet, for millions he does. He’s an egregore. Someday Dalon ap Landu, his wife, Sequoia and their daughter, Cywarch may enjoy “life” as well. Doesn’t mean they weren’t made up in the same fashion as Belenus, Cernunnos, Danu, Epona etc. They were just made up later — Dalon around 1963, Sequoia and Cywarch around 2006. Be’al
was more of a compilation of several older gods, that the Carleton Druids came up with about the same time as Dalon (we in the RDG have made Dalon a cross between Herne and the Green Man, and his appearance changes with the seasons).

Ellis Arseneau MY friend David Nigel Lloyd is a lesser known Celtic singer songwriter (born in Wales, speaks Cymru, lives in hell, er, I mean Bakersfield). He teaches a course: “How to Write a Traditional Song.” He also says this, “I just wrote a Celtic song. How can I say it’s Celtic? I’m a Celt, and I wrote it.”

Ellis Arseneau I don’t actually think that, other than language and art, the Celts can be pinned down very easily. There are theories with credibility that they may have originated in Bengal in India (my wife is friends with Robin Williamson, a true Celtic Bard in the most traditional sense of the word. He’s
Scottish, but now resides in Cardiff. He is married to a Bengali woman. He says that there are many phrases in Welsh that are identical in word and meaning to phrases in Hindi. He also points out that there are Hindu gods that are very similar to Celtic ones. Perhaps the earliest Druids were Brahmans? Speculaiton. Other theories suggest that they are the remnants of the lost Hebrew tribe of Dan (hence, Danu, the Danube river, Denmark). An idea popular with the “anglo-israelism” crowd. Recently I read that the Druids didn’t appear until around 70 AD in Britain, where they quickly assimilated the Celtic nobility. Truth or not? I don’t believe anything I read on the interwebs, unless Ron Hutton wrote it, and then I check to make sure he actually did write it!

Ellis Arseneau The problem with reconstructions is that, as Hutton and other scholars have pointed out, we have not a single written word from an ancient Druid about anything. That’s what the writer of the FAQ was meaning when he said, “Much of what we think we know is based on conjecture and educated guesses at best, and wishful thinking at worst. ” She was speaking specifically of CRs.

Ellis Arseneau Ikinde D Coker: Why is modernistic “bad”? And how do you know the ancient Druids didn’t believe something similar?

Ellis Arseneau Basically, CR’s are trying to rebuild a wooden cathedral out of the charred remains of a building burnt to the ground centuries ago. Good luck with that. But don’t turn it into a fundamentalist crusade to try to burn all us heretics who don’t think the “right” way. You might as well go back to the Churches you were born into.

Ellis Arseneau Searles (I’m reading the thread backwards). The FAQ has been online for at least two years. The vast majority of hate mail we have received on this has been from white supremacist groups (including death threats), not from CR’s.

Darren Well that was kind of left field. Not all of us were born into church.

And to play devil’s advocate, perhaps you are the one who is right. After all the CR (and general academic) understanding of Druids is a tiny minority when compared to the comparative legions that practice Druidry/Druidism.

Darren Dáire Hobbs Would you share some of the specific issues that the hate mail talked about? It seems odd to me that white supremacists would take any interest at all in your group.

Ellis Arseneau I’m much worse — Reformed Druids traditionallyhave never paid more than a nod and a wink towards Ceticity. We just love nature. That’s all — just nature. “Nature is good.” We like to keep it simple. OTOH, I like to turn it into a rubics cube. Probably the biggest controversy I’ve stirred amongst the really Celtic oriented folks is my belief and insistence that the Coast Redwood is a much more impressive tree than the Oak, and that if the ancient Druids had lived in Northern California, they would have recognizedthis as well (see http://mithrilstar.org/index.php/if-the-ancient-druids/)

Ellis Arseneau To share some of the specific issues that the hate mail: We have African American Druids, Jewish Druids, Latino Druids. We named the Dalai Lama an honorary Druid, and some of it was stuff that’s already been brought up here; whether or not Celticiity is a absolute must to be a Druid, stuff like that. I actually have a file somewhere where I stored some of the more juicy ones. Also, some of the issues raised in our FAQ resulted directly from some of these mailings.

Ellis Arseneau Somewhere, up line someone mentioned, I think, the absurdity of having a religion entirely made up of clergy. So, are the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) absurd? They are, in fact a religion entirely made up of clergy. Every Friend is a minister.

Donald My only problem with the whole “Doing Druidism the way the ancient Druids did it- making it up as we go” that RDNA uses is probably not exactly true in the sense of the ancient Druids. They more than
likely evolved as a group or organizat…

Donald And as a Celtic Pagan I do agree with you that the Coast Redwood might well have been venerated by ancient Druids if they had known of them

Ellis Arseneau Is “loving Nature” a Celtic path, or maybe it should be worded, “a path that a celt would take?” If so, then you’ve answered your own question. Reformed Druidry, has always defined a Druid as one who loves nature. Period. That’s actually an ancient tradition too (from the point of view of someone born after 1963 anyway). Does one ancient tradition” trump another?

Éireann ?’Loving nature’ isn’t a tradition, it’s a pass-time or a recreation. A tradition comes from a culture or a body of teaching or practice which is passed on to new learners or new generations. So no, I
would not call ‘loving nature’ a ‘Celtic path.’ I’m sure many Celts of past and present ‘love nature,’ but the Celtic tradition has demonstrated this through a culturally specific lens, such as the Tribal King-Land Goddess marriage and the King’s Truth which brings prosperity and abundance to the land, poetry forms
which personify and/or praise the land and/or landforms of one’s home, poetry metaphors which likened great men to noble animals and disreputable men to more ‘lowly’ animals, fines for destroying certain trees in Brehon Law tracts, and traditional practices such as inhumance and the recorded pleasures of sleeping  outdoors in the summer (Carmina Gadelica). Life was certainly lived close to the land and was heavily land-dependent, and the tradition reflected that in its laws, poetry, and cultural practices. Other such traditions had similar cultural reflections of this kind of living; if one is ‘nature loving’ by these
counts, then they all are. But I think the phrases ‘nature-respecting’ and ‘nature-knowing’ are more accurate as to historical, cultural sensibilities. Then again, this might not be your lens of choice and so not a part of your determining the nature
of the druidic tradition you practice.

Ellis Arseneau Uhm, “loving nature” is a tradition. It’s the Reformed Druid tradition. It is also a path — the Reformed Druid path. Science is the study of nature. In fact to be an effective scientist, one must
love nature. It would be illogical to enter into the study of something one those not love. The ancient Druids were, among other things, scientists. I believe there are many Druids who don’t even realize that is what they are, yet the exhibit the thoughts and attributes that I would associate with Druids.  Carl Sagan is a likely candidate. Others are here: http://reformed-druids.org/index.php/honorary-druids/ Someone upstream said something very profound, that the Druids recognized their own (well it was something like that). That’s what we try to do on our “Honorary Druid” page. These are people we feel think, or act like Druids, but do not necessarily identify as such (and might even be shocked by the notion).

Ellis Arseneau I realized something just this moment: the difference, perhaps the crucial one, between CR Druids and Reformed Druids is one of perspective. CR Druids are looking for their inspiration from the past. Reformed Druids look for their inspiration in the future. They are both wrong. The past does not exist. The future does not exist (in fact the future never comes, because once it gets here, it’s not the future any more). There is only the now, the present. That is all that really exists. That’s all that really
matters. What are we doing, right now, in this moment, that is Druidic. That’s what matters.