The world of the ancients is separated from ours by a vast and ever-increasing gulf of time. Our scientists continue to make astonishing discoveries in the field of physics, but it seems unlikely that any of us will be able to physically travel back across the ages for a long while to come, if ever. With the existence of books, libraries, the internet and magazines like Mindscape, more and more people the world over are becoming increasingly enthralled by the world of the ancients and by the many stunning secrets our ancestors undoubtedly possessed.
Some, like the Temple of Diana at Ephesus or the Library of Alexandria are lost to us forever. Others lie tantalisingly out of reach, such as the secret of precisely how Caesar built his bridges across the Rhine so quickly, while no one has yet ascertained how the Claw of Archimedes was able to pluck moving galleys from the water. Well, the day may come when some ingenious engineer is able to demonstrate these things to us, while the day may also come when someone happens upon the grave of Boadicea, or the triple coffin of Attila the Hun, fashioned from gold, iron and silver.
The ancient Druids are a slightly different matter. This Celtic priesthood is invariably described as ‘mysterious’ because we know comparatively little about them, despite their range and the immense influence they once wielded, while there are also moves afoot by certain modern academics to relegate them to a semi-legendary status. This re-evaluation of the ancient British priesthood has come about, in my view, because of a desire to neuter them and to associate them with the realm of fairy tales, just as certain sections of the Christian church once did to King Arthur by attempting to make him a figure of fun, as opposed to an awe-inspiring, historical pagan hero. I would also say that this new ‘take’ on the ancient Druids has come about simply on account of a failure to study and comprehend the surviving classical texts dealing with the Druids.
There are roughly 4,000 words surviving from antiquity on the subject of the Druids, according to the general consensus of opinion, although I’m aware of rather more than this when you take into account classical references that have a variation in spelling of the word ‘Druid’. In my view, 4,000 words is an absolute treasure-trove and it’s more than sufficient to allow anyone who cares to study them a real insight into this enigmatic priesthood. I had never come across anyone who ever spoke of a Druid ‘secret’, but it seemed to me that they must have possessed at least one on account of their proven ability to raise whole nations to war against the Roman invader, while it’s clear from the way in which the Romans tried to annihilate them that they were hated and feared in equal measure by what was at the time, the world’s military super power.
The aspect that particularly interested me about the Druids was this: in her time, Rome had encountered many terrible enemies such as Hannibal and the empire had also suffered many catastrophic rebellions, such as those of Spartacus and the aforementioned Boadicea. The individual men and women who revolted against Roman rule over the centuries all possessed notable qualities that led their embittered or ambitious followers to fight for them, yet the Druids, as a shadowy group, were somehow able to remove the fear of death in battle from entire populations in the ancient world.
This was a secret that intrigued me greatly and it’s something that I applied myself to, using the classical texts that describe Druid practises and then more modern studies undertaken by ambitious men and women of science in our own times. The Secret of the Druids may be something that I’ll write about at greater length in a future edition of Mindscape magazine, but for now, I’ll leave you to ponder something that I encountered along the way.
As I’m sure any other writer or investigator would tell you, it’s extremely gratifying when the pieces start fitting together, especially when you’ve embarked on a study or project that’s either ignored or else derided by The Establishment. It’s better still, though, when you discover that someone of the stature of Sir Winston Churchill, himself a Druid, has got there before you. If anyone’s in any doubt that the ancient priesthood of Britain really did possess a least one apocalyptic secret, then I’d invite you to read this brief excerpt from Volume One of Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples:
“The unnatural principle of human sacrifice was carried by the British Druids to a ruthless pitch. The mysterious priesthoods of the forests bound themselves and their votaries together by the most deadly sacrament than man can take. Here, perhaps, upon these wooden altars of a sullen island, there lay one of the secrets, awful, inflaming, unifying, of the tribes of Gaul.”