The Druid Zodiac

[Disclaimer: while I am a linguist, I am not an expert on Celtic languages (ancient or modern), and I cannot vouch for the translations offered below. Most of the information in this article comes from the book The Lost Zodiac of the Druids by Gregory Clouter, and it should be noted that the views in the book are not those entertained by most scholars.]

That the ancient druids practiced astronomy and astrology is beyond doubt. It would be amazing if they did not, since practically all ancient cultures did. But beyond that, their astronomical knowledge is specifically cited by many of the Roman, Greek and Irish authors that describe them; and there are even a few archaeological finds that suggest it.

mistyriver2Primary among these is the Coligny calendar, discovered as little more than a pile of bronze fragments in 1897 — most likely smashed by Roman authorities during the suppression of druidic practice — and painstakingly restored piece by piece. Less than half of the calendar remains, but there is enough to clearly see a beautiful time-keeping system that aligned the sun and moon into a single calendar, and listed dozens of holidays, rituals, celebrations, and the like.

But if Gregory Clouter (The Lost Zodiac of the Druids, 2003) is right, the Gundestrup Cauldron puts the Coligny calendar to shame.

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Hanged God Calling on Line One: an Unexpected Interview

Some time ago I promised my wife I would stop meditating in the car. I was sorry to do it, because some of my very best meditations happened then, but I understood her concern. I’m willing to concede that perhaps deep meditation is not really safe at 70 miles per hour…

sixarguments4aBut on Tuesday I broke my promise. It wasn’t my fault, though — I swear! I was driving along, minding my own business, and a spirit quite firmly forced himself into my full meditative attention. Here’s how it happened.

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Interfaith Blog Event #7: Gender in Druidism: Girl Bullying

Once again I’m delighted to participate in an interfaith blog conversation held by Mike (writing from the Mahayana Buddhist perspective), Jon (a Protestant Christian), Sojourner (pagan/UU), and Matt (an evangelical Christian) and myself, a Druid. Every month (or thereabouts), we write on a topic of interest to us all. This month’s topic is gender:

What does gender have to do with divinity?

The links to the other articles in the conversation will be updated as they are posted:

[Mike’s Essay] [Jon’s Essay] [Sojourner’s Essay] [Matt’s Essay]

The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

My wife and I just picked up some amazing books on “girl bullying”, as explained in the bestseller Odd Girl Out and other follow-up research by Rachel Simmons. The gist is that bullying is common between girls — at least in US American culture, between the ages of about 10 and 18. From the LA Times review:

The code is unwritten, a conspiracy among girls to turn on one of their own. Secret pacts made among middle and high school girls to ruin reputations, to humiliate–whisper campaigns that so-and-so sleeps around; barking like a dog at another girl in the hallway; shifting to exclude someone from her usual lunch spot.

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The Plight of the Honey Bee

Almost everyone is aware by now that honey bees are having a very, very difficult year. Bee colonies are dying all over the United States, imperiling not only the supply of honey, but also crops that depend on the bee for pollination, such as almonds, strawberries, blueberries, apples, watermelons, cranberries, and soybeans. While there are other pollinators out there, the honey bee is the only domesticated pollinator — it is the only pollinator that can be moved from crop to crop as necessary, and the only pollinator that can be depended on to serve crops that are not native to North America. As such it is essential to the large-scale agribusiness of the United States.

The death of a colony is frightful. First, the older adult worker bees begin to disappear, until only the younger ones are left. The workforce grows smaller gradually, becoming too small to care for the bees’ young. The Queen begins appearing outside the hive more frequently than normal. The bees seem reluctant to eat the food provided by the beekeeper.

Within a week or two, all the workers have disappeared entirely. They have gone away, and do not return. There are very few dead bees found near the hive. Food stores are abandoned uneaten. The babies are left growing in their hexagonal chambers, and they quickly die with no adults to feed them.

BUT WHY?

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Midsummer – Interview with Apollo

If you’re a regular reader, you know that Apollo is one of my primary guides, and was the original inspiration for this blog. Over the past year, I’ve worked at improving my connection with him, to become a clearer conduit for solar energy. It’s been an amazing ride…

Midsummer is the point of Apollo’s maximum power, and it’s also the first anniversary of this blog. There seemed to be no better time to share some of Apollo’s thoughts and reflections. This interview was gathered together from a number of separate meditation sessions as well as automatic writing.

The setting is a grassy, windy hilltop in the sun. We are sitting on a stone bench just outside Apollo’s temple — a small Greek affair, little more than a dome supported by columns, covering a small pool with water rippled by the breeze and dappled by sunlight through nearby trees. The temple is at the edge of a dark green wood, but we are facing away from that, watching the wind play in the tall grass, and the sunlight glittering on the sea beyond the hills.

Like many famous people, Apollo is not as tall as you might have expected. He is muscular, but certainly not overbuilt, and he rarely wears anything. His skin at this time is bronzed, glowing as though with a recent tan; earlier in the spring, when he was as new-born, his skin was actually flowing molten gold. His hair is brown and curly, short-cropped; and his eyes are black as night, studded with swirls of stars.

DJ: Good morning! Thanks for coming by today.

Apollo: Thank you! My pleasure.

DJ: First off, let me ask you this: was this interview your idea, or mine?

Apollo: The very fact that you’re asking that question means that you’re making a lot of progress in aligning your energy with mine. Congratulations! The answer is: it was my idea. And it was also your idea. As you open yourself up more and more, you will find it harder to distinguish your thoughts from mine.

DJ: That seems a little… uh… creepy.

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Interfaith Blog Event #6: FAITH (Faith in Druidism)

I’m honored to have been invitied to join in an interfaith blog conversation held by Mike (writing from the Mahayana Buddhist perspective), Jon (a Protestant Christian), Sojourner (pagan/UU), and Matt (an evangelical Christian) — all bloggers I hold in high esteem. Every month (or thereabouts), we write on a topic of interest to us all. This month’s topic is faith:

What is your view regarding the meaning and the role of faith? What importance does it play in your community and in your daily life?

The links to the other articles in the conversation will be updated as they are posted:

[Mike’s Essay] [Jon’s Essay] [Sojourner’s Essay] [Matt’s Essay]

Faith in Druidism

Faith in Druidism is a tricky topic.

ire430eThere are plenty of polytheistic druids, who try to adhere as closely as they can to the pantheon of gods worshipped by the ancient Celts. I am one of those. Then there are duotheistic druids, who believe in a God and Goddess, much as many Wiccans do; and panethiestic druids, and animist druids… There are druids who worship a pantheon of gods who were admittedly made up (or discovered?) out of thin air by college students in the 1960’s. There are druids that practice a mixture of Celtic mysticism and Buddhism (which are not nearly so far apart as you might think — in fact, the similarities are frequently striking). There are even Christian druids, who practice a form of Christianity native to Scotland and Ireland in the latter half of the first millenium (known as “Celtic Christianity”). For all I know, there may be agnostic or atheistic druids as well.

How can this be? What unites all these belief systems?

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A High School Student Asks About Druidism

Last week I was surprised and delighted to get an email from a high school student who is curious about Druidism. In particular, for a school project, she wanted to know about the relationship between Christianity and Druidism, and what factors led to the rise of one at the expense of the other. She sent me a list of questions and asked whether I might be able to answer them for her.

The questions were:

  1. In your personal experience, has anyone of Christian belief or other religion told you your belief system was bad?
  2. How did you discover Druidry? Was it easy to find information on it?
  3. In your opinion, do you think Druidism being replaced by Christianity so many centuries ago had to do with the religion itself? Or was it caused by other factors?
  4. Why is Druidism your chosen faith? What do you like the most about this belief system?
  5. And finally, what is your opinion of Christianity? Do you personally think it’s a good religion? If not, what weaknesses within the faith can you point out?

ire24I found something remarkable about her questions. Some of them were good, solid, and straightforward — like (2) or (4). These were the sort of questions that might be used to spur discussion on an interfaith forum. But others were more daring — like (3) and (5). These are questions that few people ask, because they go beyond simply “asking about Druidism” and get into the thornier area of relationships between religions. They are perfectly natural questions, and they deserve answers; but they’re also dangerous and insightful, because they skirt close to the questions at the heart of religion itself: why do some religions rise, and others fall? Is there such a thing as a true religion — and if so, could it be pushed off the world’s stage by a false one? If Druidism is a true religion, how come Christianity replaced it? And how do you, as a Druid, feel about that?

So I was delighted to answer her questions; and she graciously agreed to let me turn our little dialogue into a blog post.

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