Monday, November 18, 2013

The Story of Airmid's Apron

copyright Searles O'Dubhain, Samradh 1997 - I use this story in my classes to teach my students.

The story of Airmid's Apron begins with a battle between gods and not-gods, which is a strange beginning for a story of healing herbs. You might ask, "How can an apron possibly determine the fate of the universe and what associations can an apron, much less the universe, have to herbs and healing? And you would be very right in the asking of those questions, as we also hope that we will be granted much truth in our telling of the answers to you.

In the beginning times of the Three Worlds, there were those beings of the Sky who ruled with skill and light, and then there were those others of the Depths who created and destroyed in never ending Chaos and darkness. Between these two worlds was a third world known as the Earth which was without much life upon it. That is, there was not much life upon it until the gods of the Sky took an interest in it. Though the not-gods of Chaos had often cast their multitude of creatures upon its face, most did not live. Those that did tended to frequent the depths of the Seas and the extreme reaches of the Earth's caverns. The gods of Light were called the People of Danu (The Sky River) or the Tuatha Dé Danann. The not-gods of Darkness were the children of Domnu (The Abyss) and known as the Fomorii. After Brighid threw her mantle down upon the Earth and after the children of the Sky River descended in a mist to its surface,. there was light upon creation and there was an order brought to the created chaos of existence. What the Tuatha Dé found to be good and pleasing, the Fomorii found to be disgusting and horrible. It was only natural that battle should ensue between the two groups, and that is exactly what happened. Two battles were fought to determine the fate of the earth. These two battles were both called Moytura after the Great Plain of the Pillar, which in Old Irish is known as Maige Tuired. This is the plain were the pillar that suspends the Earth between the Heavens and the Pit still exists and is to be found in the West of Ireland.

The First Battle of Moytura was fought between the Tuatha Dé and the Fir Bolg, a vassal tribe of the Fomorii. The gods had offered to divide the land into two parts, allowing both people to lead peaceful lives and have a prosperous coexistence. The Fir Bolg would have none of this (for how would they pay their yearly tribute to the Fomorii at Samhain if they possessed only part of the Land?) In the battle that resolved the issue, the Tuatha Dé were victorious. The price in lives was high on both sides and Nuada, the king of the People of Danu, lost his right hand in personal combat with Sreng, king of the Fir Bolg. Thus, the stage was set for the story of how Airmid's Apron became the cradle of life and healing to all the world.

Nuada was the best man qualified to be king among the children of Danu (next to Her Three Sons and The Dagda, that is). A king he would have remained, except that a king must remain unblemished in his truth and his form among the People. No matter how wise or good or strong a man might be, he could not be the king if he had only one good arm. It is for this reason that the God of Medicine, DianCécht, and the God of Craftsmen, Creidne, were summoned to the Hill of Tara (home of kings). They were brought to the king so that his arm might be healed and made whole again. Creidne said he could make a new arm for Nuada of silver but that it would only be a mechanical device, not as good as the original. This was still considered a blemish and was therefore no solution to the problem of being a king without blemish. DianCécht said he could not regrow the arm or restore it completely by his healing powers. The problem of the blemish remained. To resolve this dilemma, the two gods worked together and it was determined that Creidne could make an arm of silver in the likeness of the original, and that DianCécht could give this arm the life and movement of a real arm. This compromise, coupled with Nuada's kingly abilities, was enough to regain him the kingship of the Tuatha Dé (for he was, in truth, a king better than any other).

Nuada reigned supreme and wisely for many days thereafter. One day, a young healer approached the company of Tara accompanied by his sister, a fair maiden with wisdom beyond her years and a heart that could not be contained within a single body. The door keeper challenged them for their names and their skills (for no unskilled person could enter the hall of the king). To which, the young man replied, " I am Miach, son of DianCécht and this is my sister Airmid." We have come to the court of Nuada Argetlamh at the Mound of Tara to work a healing. We have come from our studies and our workings among the families of the healing gods" "Then you may enter!" said the door keeper (for, in truth Nuada's silver arm was not *really* considered to be entirely fitting for a king of the gods). So, enter they did, walking into the banquet hall of the heroes, where Nuada sat in the King's Seat and Ogma sat in the Sages' Seat. When told that Miach, Mac DianCécht and Airmid Ni DianCécht were present, Nuada rose before them in kingly fashion and inquired of them their purpose. When he was told that they had come to work a complete healing of his arm, he beamed a silver rayed smile throughout the land (brighter than two suns in a Mid-June sky on a clear day along the River of Bóann).

All of the company of Tara was assembled to witness the working and this is what was done: The true arm of Nuada was brought from the place of great value and presented to the healers. Miach took the silver arm from Nuada's body, sending it back to the room of trophies. He placed the withered arm of the king back upon his body, connecting bone to bone, sinew to sinew, and skin to skin. For three days it was connected to Nuada's skin, with Miach, chanting,

"Skin to Skin and Skin again!"

... and the skin of the arm regrew and was as pink as a baby's skin! Next, Miach placed the arm against Nuada's side for three days and chanted,

"Sinew to Sinew and Muscle anew!"

...and the arm regained its true form and strength! Miach next held the arm between his hands for three days and chanted the Chant of Life into it,

"Breath to Breath and Blood to Blood and Mind to Mind, 

Life upon thee, I threefold *BIND*!

All the gods gathered around the wonder that had been done by Miach. They praised him and marveled at his skill, extolling him as having been a better healer than DianCécht himself. Miach had succeeded where DianCécht had failed and the tribe was once again led by a king without a blemish!

Each word of praise turned a heart that should have been glad into a seething pit of burning coals. Words upon words caused the fires to leap higher until they raged through DianCécht's very being! An unconquerable fury came upon the god of all healing and he smote his son with his sword, so that it cut the skin of his head. Miach, in the glory of his healing, said that it mattered naught and healed the wound instantly so that it left no mark upon him. DianCécht's fury rose higher and he smote his son with the sword a second time, cutting the flesh of his head down to the bone. This wound, Miach dispatched as easily as the first with the same ease and skill. A third time the furious sword lashed out and pierced both skin and sinew, even through the skull itself, yet once again Miach's wizardry of healing availed against the wounding. Now, DianCécht rose in all his godly power and smote Miach such a blow with his sword that his brain was pierced and removed from his head. From this blow there was to be no healing, for the soul and the brain both departed from his body at the same time. Even the god of medicine could not have healed such a wound. Even the Well of Slán could not have returned life to a person whose soul had flown. Miach was truly dead. None dared raise their hands to DianCécht as he stood with bloody sword in hand and the blood of his son upon his hands,a badge of dishonor. The full blood price was due to Miach's family from the same person that had killed him, DianCécht, his father, head of that same family, a sad irony and a deed wrought by a blade, hot with anger.

The body of Miach was taken to the Plain of Brega the Mighty and buried within a mound of honor. When the shock of this tragedy finally released her, Airmid was overcome by waves of sadness and much longing for her brother. For these reasons, she went to his grave every day and sang him the secret songs of the beloved sisters and brothers. The words of such songs are not to be heard, yet the sound of them travels throughout worlds. A brother never had a finer sister, nor one so skilled in the healing arts. The burial place of Miach was on the Plain of Brega and it was there that Airmid came to watch over him and his grave. Each day that she came, a small miracle occurred. A new herb would spring up from a different place on the grave mound! Miach's healing powers were manifesting themselves as individual herbs, each with its own correspondence to the parts of the body and each marking a special cure for its ailments.

For a year and a day Airmid attended her brother Miach's grave, and for a year and a day herbs grew from it in answer to his healing spirit. On the last day of that vigil, she gathered all the herbs within her apron, each with its special place marking its usage and its powers. Within the contents of her apron, her brother's gift would live again, through the healing knowledge and power of the herbs. As fate would have it, this last day was the very day that DianCécht missed Airmid at the Well of Slán and began to search for her. Knowing her as he did, he immediately went to the site of Miach's grave to bring her home again. The Well of Slán required himself and three other healers in order to maintain its healing flow. With Miach gone, Airmid was sorely missed and the Well could not be brought to its full healing potential. When he arrived at the grave and found her standing there, apron filled with 365 healing herbs and all alone, he scattered its contents in another out-of-control fury! "This knowledge is not for the world to have!" he shouted. "If Miach's knowledge is received into the coimgne (common knowledge), then everyone will become a healer and our kind shall surely vanish from the hearts of men and the ways of the Earth forever!" After that outburst, he stalked away in a thunder, assured that the secrets of healing were safely preserved to the healers. Alone and afraid, crying tears for her brother and the fury of here father that had killed him, Airmid could only stare at his back as he departed. She stood there in wonder and sorrow at the ways of gods and men, gazing all the while at the many scattered herbs upon the grave.

Was the healing knowledge truly lost to the ways of the People and the coimgne? 

Was the healing power only to be used through the good will of DianCécht? 

Was the Well of Slán to be the only place for obtaining healing and re-birth?

As she began to gather the herbs of her brother's gift, and even through her streaming tears:

She smiled a smile as only a goddess can smile. 

She smiled the smile of knowing. 

She smiled the smile of giving and receiving. 

She smiled a smile as one who never forgets a brother. 

She smiled the smile of sisterhood. 

She smiled the smile of one who never forgets their duty. 

She smiled a smile as she once again gathered the herbs of her apron. 

She smiled the smile of a year and a day of remembering. 

She smiled the smile of Miach and his healing gifts.

and she began to sing this song ...

" I am the secret of Airmid's Apron. 

I am the healing herbs. 

I am the sister of Miach. 

I am the keeper of his gift. 

I am a year and a day of vigil. 

I am all of time and beyond. 

I am a knower and a healer.

I am a living memory that never forgets. 

I am the mark of each and every one. 

I am a secret garden and its bed of honor. 

I am many and I am also one. 

What is the secret of Airmid's Apron? 

Who is it that honors a brother's gift? 

When is this herb gathered and What is that one's use?

Words of healing! 
Marks upon a sister's cloth!"

And that my friends, is the story of Airmid's Apron.

Friday, November 1, 2013


When Druids Meet

When Druids meet, how do they recognize one another? The answer to this question has many answers today because there are many ways that a person can be a Druid. In one of the few references available to us on this subject from antiquity, The Colloquy of the Two Sages, we can discover that some of these many ways are as follows:
  1. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by detailing the truth of the inner *nature* that caused them to seek to become Druids.
  2. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by providing the *traditions* of the studies that formed them into Druids.
  3. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by describing their *rank* of attainment in their chosen specialties of Draíocht.
  4. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by itemizing the *skills* in the art of Druids that they practice as Druids.
  5. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by outlining the *goals* that they've set for themselves as Druids.
  6. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by detailing their *accomplishments* in their life as Druids.
  7. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by tracing the Druidic *lineage* of their teachers.
  8. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by performing *prophecy* that is inspired through imbas.
  9. Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by *acknowledging truth* when they see it.
These nine points of being a Druid are clearly provided to us from the Druids of the past in the tales about them and their interactions. I think they ably provide us with three questions that we each need to answer:
·         Can we ignore these nine points of being a Druid when we seek to be Druids ourselves?
·         Can we afford to ignore discovering them in others who say they are Druids?
·         Can we demonstrate them to the world through the truth of our own actions?

When we look for Druids among us or within ourselves, will we find the requisite nature, tradition, rank, skill, goals, accomplishments, lineage, prophecy and truth that is the mark of a Druid? Will we be able to ask and answer the three questions of seeking, discovering and demonstrating? When Druids meet, the knowledge of tradition, experience and inquiry are each validated through the harmony of respect, openness and imbas.
What is demonstrated and meant here is that Druids tell one another what it was that set them on the Druid Way and describe this epiphany of choice in such a way that other Druids can identify and synchronize with it.

Wouldn't you want to know the degrees that a person has as well as their experience if they were going to be your doctor or discuss other professional matters with you in a professional specialty? Wouldn't you want to know the qualifications of your lawyer, your clergy or your doctor? Would you eat in a restaurant that had not been inspected or drive a vehicle without assurances that it was safe to do so?

To evaluate whether a person is actually a Druid, one might consider itemizing their areas of specialty or attempt to understand the techniques or systems that they use. In medicine, this might be reflected in looking for a diploma from a medical school, a license or a certification on the wall. One should hopefully ask if they specialized in surgery before contracting with them for an operation. One might want to know if a doctor practices holistic medicine vs. heavy use of drug therapies, etc. Some of these questions are answered or assured by reputation in the community or by the certifications and regulations for the hospitals and health facilities where doctors are employed and ply their craft.

Establishing a professional relationship with a person or colleague pretty much mandates that one understand their skills and levels of competency. After that, associating with a person is pretty a matter of getting together with like minds who share a common dream and then pulling together in the same direction.
Knowing a person’s lineage, school or level of training, is also very helpful in evaluating where a person is coming from.

 If the teacher, school or group is already well known, the evaluation of the individual's practice as a Druid might be better understood against that background. Knowing a person is a member of Keltria, ADF or OBOD might suggest something about their overall belief structure and practice.

If the Druids of one’s lineage are known, then one’s credibility as a Druid is established and measured though that connection. I hope that Druids everywhere consider intelligence to be a great measuring stick, along with truth, intuition and awareness.

I also think that using the various ways that have been listed of evaluating anyone's claims are sensible. What we are talking about here are credentials that are similar to what would be on any resume.

It is a major focus of my work as a Druid to effectively establish credentials and other clear-cut ways of defining who and what we are as Druids. It's my great hope that much of the confusion and hoopla associated with the many who *claim* to be Druids (but who are actually something else) can be eliminated through these (and similar) efforts. That's why some of us in The Summerlands are working toward the establishment of a Druid Seminary.

 I suspect that is also why OBOD, Keltria and ADF have improved (and continue to improve) their training courses. I also think that's why the Druid College of Avalon is being established. I think that we can establish centers of credibility and authority without having to have one central authority. If we do this, I think we will be emulating the ways that the ancient Druids also established and maintained their own centers of learning and authority. Most modern Druid groups are really not that far apart in terms of requiring education and dedication from their members. The traditions mainly differ in regard to degree and point of focus.  They also have differing histories and cultural focus, but these are to be expected as they are geographically and culturally separated.

Without some type or center of credibility and authority, anything can be misused or become off-centered. Anyone’s claims can be considered as valid as another’s. Throwing away standards and definitions opens up order to anarchy. That is why most workable systems and Druid groups have some form of checks and balances as well as a listed way of self-evaluating and regulating.

How this can or is being done is worthy of another thread and further discussion. Maybe some of the more successful groups or schools out there can tell us what their experience has been?

The idea behind having certification is to provide an easy means of determining credentials and capability, even relative authority. These standards should not be considered the "be all and end all" of Druidic society. Rather, they are ways for the general public to get a grasp on what Druids are all about in a fairly uniform and consistent manner.

A feature of such groups should be their ability to recognize individuals who have obtained the necessary standards of excellence on their own as well as through divine inspiration. Here (and also in the case of those who attend regular schools and training) there should be a criteria that establishes what a Druid (no matter the specialty) actually is.

That same yardstick can measure the conventional as well as the unique. In fact, that is one reason I started this thread (to attempt to place some marks of reference on that stick). The Inis Glas Hedge School was an excellent example of a knowledge base that could serve as an educational yardstick for traditional knowledge that a Druid should be expected to have. The ADF, Keltria, AODA and OBOD study programs define levels of knowledge and achievement sufficient for their organization to recognize levels, rings, orders and types of Druids. Some of these are ordered with tree names like Birch, Oak and Yew, while others separate the disciplines as Bard, Ovate and Druid. Each level or ring has its own uniquely defined skills and tests for achievement.

 This study, discipline and testing is a traditional requirement for being recognized as a Druid.

In ancient Ireland, an ollamh (in any skill but primarily in law, poetry or priestly duties) was established and recognized through a process of education, examination and installation involving other sages and ollamhs (of that discipline), as well as by the local kings and chieftains. Our recognition of modern Druids should require similar standards of education and achievement that are measured and established by a similar process of recognition by schools, boards and governmental offices today. That is actually how the university system still works in much of the world. That's the way that it should work among us as well.

Perhaps the members of any such board should come from the schools, the leadership of government and from those who are independently acknowledge experts in the field on some rotating basis? That way, we might minimize any one group gaining a control over the process in a restrictive manner? How to do this in balance and fairness is a discussion and an outcome that I eagerly await.

I generally agree with addressing the general warning signs as being red flags about a person’s claims and credentials (needs details) but do reserve judgment on ruling out wisdom that is found in unusual, controversial and little known traditions. This does not mean that one should endorse the unusual or the controversial (or even the outright wrong) just because it is different but it does mean that such sources can contain truth beyond conventional wisdom. The unorthodox can inspire us to go beyond the normal and usual into realms of truth that would otherwise be ignored.

Common sense tells us that to be generally accepted knowledge must be evaluated and substantiated through careful research and thorough investigation. In these considerations of the unusual, wisdom is found almost as often from failure as it is through success. Perhaps the list of warnings and red flags should be qualified or limited through accurate definitions while a list of positive affirmations for Druids is also clearly stated? What a Druid is not is equally and more easily understood at times than what it is that defines a person as being a Druid. The negatives often times screen the dreck more efficiently than the positives recognize the jewels.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Irish Traditional Materials, Objections and Rebuttals

I originally posted this on alt.religion.druid on Thurs, Aug 30 2001 6:42 pm

Irish Traditional Materials, Objections and Rebuttals

Over the years, I've seen various comments made about Irish traditional materials and modern approaches to learning from them. Some of these comments have been very supportive of Irish tradition and have also been helpful in locating and learning from hitherto unknown sources/materials. Other comments have ranged from objective criticisms to outright attacks and even lies about Irish Celtic traditions and those who seek to follow them. I've listed some of the more prevalent objections that I've seen raised and have attempted to provide my own insights into how to handle each of these objections (and in some cases how to learn from them). Without further ado, here's what I came up with.

The Irish traditional materials receive these sorts and types of challenges from those who seek to negate them:

1. They are said to be inaccurate (and hence unreliable) because of one of the following factors:

A. They were written down hundreds of years after they were first formulated within the oral tradition and hence suffer from the failings of human memory.

The counter to this argument is that the stewards and guardians of these tales and materials were the Druids, Filidh and Seanchaí of the various tribes, They were (and in some places still are) renown for the accuracy of their memories and recitations. The traditional tales were know verbatim by thousands of trained minds and memories. The extent to why someone buys into this idea of memory corruption seems to be based on their experience or lack of experience with those people and cultures who have accurate memories. Some people will swear that the material was remembered without flaw (which was a requirement within the schools of the Druids and the Filidh) while others will talk about *party games* and the corruption to be found within the average modern memory. Those who are between these extremes might point to modern studies of memory within oral cultures and point to changes and discrepancies that occur in recitations (with the result being many different, though similar versions of the same tales).

B. They were actually written down by Christian scribes who edited their Pagan content according to Christian biases.

The Filidh co-existed with these scribes. In fact, it was they who recalled the tales so that they could be written down in the first place. Many of these Filidh could read and write Latin and Irish themselves. As the guardians of the tales and traditions, they would have raised a loud and lengthy argument against any distortions and changes in the tales (of which they themselves did not approve). We see little disputing the content of the tales except for the disclaimers of the scribes themselves against the veracity of any Pagan or counter-Christian materials within them. some of the tales do have obvious synchronization or Christian themes within them. This does not mean that all of the tales are like that and even in the worst case of modification there are still underlying Pagan spiritual concepts left within the material. An inventory of identifications and classifications of these Christian themes can be developed and maintained to allow the student to efficiently recognize them.

The saying is preserved in a text from the Book of Leinster:
"Ní fili nad chomgne comathar nad scéla uile" (He is no poet who does not synchronize and preserve the ancient knowledge).
The tale list that a File was required to know perfectly is translated here:

The original Irish from the Book of Leinster is here:

C. Many of the tales seem to follow the form and storyline of other well known European tales and sagas like the Odyssey or the Aenid.

This is problematic in the study of any literature. Much ongoing work, analysis and discussion occurs on this topic in every academic forum concerning the Irish tradition materials. It is recommended that every student and researcher keep abreast of the latest *theories* as to influence and origin of each of the tales. The amounts and quantification of these influences seems to fluctuate with academic circles based upon the latest fads making the rounds. Even if all the tales were constructed based on this approach, we would still learn something about the early Irish societies based solely on what they selected to include and how they handled the incorporation of that material into clearly native Irish traditions. Once again, it can be seen that a study of the Irish traditional tales will be beneficial to a student of Irish traditions.

D. The tales were used as social and political tools to increase or maintain status for various powerful families and dynasties.

This is a very real possibility with the tales as one of the functions of the Filidh and (later) the Church was to support their benefactors and to increase their prestige. It is for this reason that a study of Irish history is necessary to place each tale in the proper objective perspective. One must be able to identify the subjective influences on the tales by their authors or custodians. It should be borne in mind that other Filidh also had access to the same traditional tales with similar opportunities to slant or adopt a tale for their own groups or aims. It is for this reason that all of the available surviving versions of a tale are analyzed by those who research them. One version of a tale is compared to another to identify corruptions or political modifications. One should check editions to see that this has been done. In the case of original materials, one should seek out all available versions (and even similar tales by the same authors or scribes).

E. The tales are just stories to influence the young and the feeble minded.

I think that a complete study of all the tales within context will show which are merely a yarn, which have historical content and which might teach a philosophy or moral that was applicable to a time within Irish culture. a study of comparative religions, mythologies and philosophies will be very helpful in weeding the fallacies from such tales and also allow one to discard clearly impossible fantasies. Discernment and a good grasp on the possibilities that exist with the natural, scientific and esoteric worlds, is necessary in the consideration of any fantastic materials.

F. What applied to one era of Irish history and culture does not apply to another directly. The tales and the historical evidence spans thousands of years.

This is very true that the Irish traditional material and the history within which it was created *did* span upwards of 5000 years. Not many other cultures or people have this wealth of material and background within which to learn and upon which to establish modern traditions, realizations and techniques. It is also true that for a great part of that history (at least half of it or about 2500 years), the Irish culture has been characterized as being Celtic. This means that it had a conservative learned class of Druids and Poets to preserve the traditions. A long held saying among the Irish is, "He is no Poet who does not preserve the ancient tales and synchronize the common knowledge." As I've said before, the Druids, Filidh and Seanchaí had a responsibility to preserve these traditions. They studied from 12 to 20 years to perfect their knowledge of them and to learn techniques that would aid them in their tasks. What all this means to this point is that traditions changed very slowly among the Irish. Scholars characterize these types of traditions as being conservative. It is because Irish tradition has been so conservative of its materials that one can compare it to Hindu and Indian materials and traditions that are remarkably similar. This is because Indian society and culture is also very conservative of tradition for many of the same reasons as are found within Irish culture. A study of these commonalities was done by the great Celtic scholar Myles Dillon in his work, Celts and Aryans.

2. These are some other areas of objection that don't concern themselves with accuracy:

A. The Irish materials don't apply to other Celtic cultures.

This is a moot point for those whose only interest is in Irish culture and traditions. For those seeking to apply what is known from Irish materials a broadly based study of other Celtic and Indo-European cultures is necessary (and perhaps even the real objective in the first place). I think people should be encouraged to study and research the traditions and materials that most appeal to them personally. I don't think such a study would be harmful to anyone. I do want to say that not all Celtic ways apply to every Celtic culture though there must be some identifiable characteristics in common between the various Celtic cultures in order for them to even be considered to be Celtic. The first obvious requirement is whether the culture or people shared a common Celtic language or languages. Usually this aspect of a culture's language is determined from the modern remnants of those languages that are still being spoken or from the written parts of the language that was preserved in writings, inscriptions and books. Another part of Celtic culture that seems to have been pan-Celtic (though in different time frames) is their artwork. Two large groupings of art's influence on Celtic people and culture are known as La Tene and Halstatt styles. There are other groupings that may apply as well; these being the Beaker and Corded-ware people (who may variously be described as being Celtic or proto-Celtic). Myles Dillon and Nora Chadwick identified art and language as well as several additional commonalties within Celtic cultures in their seminal work, _Celtic Realms_. These are the main identifiers of a culture according to the authors:

Art, music, social structure, spirituality, tradition and language.

B. Another broad class of objections are just "flack." These objections are smoke screens and non-related noises that are used in attempts to discredit Irish traditions. They are sometimes based on the personal and/or secret agendas of those raising the objections. These are not *honest* objections at all but are merely an attempt to confuse and muddy the waters (especially when no clear rebuttal or counter-point can be made). A lot of these types of attacks come in the guise of "strawman" arguments (where hypothetically created strawman arguments are set up so that they can be knocked down again). Most of these pseudo-arguments are constructed to subtly include weaknesses that can be discounted in the later *proof* or rebutting evidence. They are "set-ups" and "frame-jobs." People who use these tactics don't have any valid objections to Irish Celtic materials so they attempt to create fictitious flaws in their own versions of it.

C. The material is characterized as being neo-Pagan or New Age and must obviously be made up, misunderstood or the product of an *air-head*.

These objections are actually either "flack" or they are a clear indication that the person making them up is biased and/or bigoted in some way. If the material is not worthy, then clear-cut facts and objections can be made to them based upon their content and what they actually *say*. It's not necessary for any reputable scholar or person to resort to name calling and finger pointing (though unfortunately, many of us are all too human and prone to emotional and irrational responses at times). Some Newage and neo-Pagan material is well researched, thought out and pertinent to the topics and traditions that they address. The traditional material has stood the test of time and a new packaging of it is possible without diluting or polluting it. Anyone that tells you otherwise is IMO working with a closed mind (if they have a working consciousness at all).:-)

D. The person making the objection is lazy in their own research, inaccurate in their information or they just can't recognize truth when they see it.

This might be because a person is biased or just narrow-minded. It could also be a mark of laziness or mental incapacity on their part. It's best to check with such people to verify what their situation is before going ballistic. They might be new to the subject or ignorant about it because they haven't previously had access to valid information. Their own teacher might have been such a person as well. a lot of people who've read and embraced 21LOM might fall into this category. As P.T. Barnum said, all of us get fooled some of the time. Be nice and if you can't be nice, then at least be informed and informative.

Those are all the approaches of attacks on Irish tradition that I can quickly bring to mind, as well as a few points to consider when addressing each of them. IMO, one should consider both sides of the issue when evaluating and learning from the Irish tales and traditions. It is my opinion that there is much to learn from a careful study of any and all of them. If one also studies widely to establish a basis for objective evaluation then the maximum benefit will accrue within one's knowledge. In fact, this wide, deep and detailed study over a lifetime of study is one of the characteristics I've seen in my own study and experience of Druids and Filidh. May you study with an objective and an attentive mind.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Truth and Sacrifice

This is an excerpt from a chapter on Sacrifice in my book, The Power of Truth, the second book in my Ogham Keys to Wisdom series and classes. The following pages attempt to investigate the why of human sacrifice rather than dwelling on the physical evidence or the morality of the practice. Other works are referencd that discuss these approaches to the subject more fully. My intent here is to give the student and the researcher a feel for what is happening or being attempted on a spiritual or magical basis.

In the first book of this series, Opening the Pathways, the idea that everything in creation came about from the body of an original ‘Cosmic Man’ was introduced (the Seven Part Adam; Vedic creation tales and even the Norse Ymir). There is no reason to think that the Druids and Celts held a different belief. In fact, the many tales and placename stories of Irish tradition identify parts of the landscape as having been parts of a deity’s body or even as being people who have been turned to stone. Other parts of the land have been sculpted by heroic or god-like deeds (such as the tops of mountains having been sheared off by Fergus’ using his sword Caldebolg. The idea of sacrifice forming or creating these parts of the universe, a being or an object being a proper offering was also presented. The Druids were pictured as claiming that they had created the world and in a sense, this is very true. Ritual sacrifice is how everything in this world or the next is renewed through spiritual exchange. The food of the gods becomes the food of the people. The worship of the people is the spiritual food of the gods. The parts of our being have a corresponding quality in the Dúile of creation.  One part equates and feeds the others whether in a person or a cosmic world.

The idea of sacrifice pleasing the gods is one that the Irish had no problem understanding when Christianity was first presented to them. They had long been offering sacrifices to their traditional, native deities. Human sacrifice was possibly also seen in a ritual and religious context. What happens in these rituals and how the power of truth is reinforced through ritual action and sacrifice was the central point of a class I once taught on the subject[i]. An edited version of the class log and notes follows.

[i] Compuserve Celtic Section of the NewAge Forum, circa 1993.


The matter of human sacrifice by the Celts and the Druids is a topic that creates, at once, a sense of horror and wonder for us in this modern age.   In our present age, separated from the phenomena of death as we are, even animal sacrifice shocks our senses.  The much more controversial subject of human sacrifice is almost beyond our comprehension.  We should endeavor to look beyond our immediate "surface reactions" to this sensitive topic if we wish to understand why and what was done b our ancestors.  As we delve a little deeper into the primal Celtic soul and psyche, perhaps our study will allow us to understand why such sacrifices occurred. 

We shall seek understanding of this powerful and terrible practice to understand it and how this practice was replaced by less drastic symbolic sacrifices and practices. Almost every religion n the world has travelled this road in its rituals and developing symbols. The Druid way leads in this matter, rather than being a throw-back or repressive example of this philosophy. Understanding how and what comes into play during sacrificial actions and worship are the heights of knowledge in religion and philosophy.

In today's Celtic workshop, we shall attempt to cover the available evidence for such acts of sacrifice among the Celts and Druids.  We shall also attempt to classify the many types of such sacrifices, their methods and their means, as well as their meanings.   

We have evidence that the Celts and Druids performed human sacrifices.  Today's Celtic workshop will allow us all to discuss this sensitive topic interactively.  Before we start, I thought I would list the available sources that I've studied and considered in preparing for this workshop: 

·         The Writings of the Greeks and Romans.

·         The Writings of the Christian Scribes.

·         The Continued Existence of Folk Customs.

·         Similar Practices among Other Cultures.

·         Archaeological Evidence.

·         Psychic and Mystical Evidence 

What was the purpose of human sacrifice? 

In some religions, sacrifice is an act performed to influence the gods.  In others, it is a symbolic return to the gods of their blessings.  In still others, it is a freeing of life-force to empower Magical workings.  Sometimes, the giving of life in ritual demonstrates belief in deity.  Other times it is done to redeem the spiritual cost of mundane actions done in this world.  This is done by sending a tribal member to the Otherworld.  The sacrificial victim then becomes the representative of the people performing the sacrifice.  Also, custom/tradition might dictate that victims are to be sacrificed in response to certain events (such as: funerals, droughts, bad harvests, rain, volcanoes, auguries, battles, plagues, comets, meteors, astrological signs, building foundations, earthquakes, etc.).  So far we have defined the following reasons for human sacrifice:

·         Influence Deity

·         Return of Blessings

·         Empower Magic

·         Demonstrate Belief

·         Payment for Mundane Aid

·         Otherworldly Advocate

·         Custom/Tradition 

I'm sure there are other reasons that humans were sacrificed but they escape me for now.  I thank the Workshop for all of their inputs particularly.  :) My "gut feeling" is that the Celts and Druids engaged in human sacrifice for just about all of the above reasons.  

Who was sacrificed?  I suppose this varied, based upon the need.  The list of sacrificial victims goes from kings to criminals, from priests to babies, from prisoners of war to witches.  Just about anyone could have been sacrificed at any time for what was thought to be a sufficiently good reason. 

 Kings were sacrificed for the biggest Magics.  This included better weather, victory in war, improving the harvest and protecting the tribes.  Children and babies were also sacrificed for improving the crops as well as for dedicating buildings and sacred sites.  Prisoners (whether criminals or war captives) were the normally preferred sacrifice for most mundane reasons.  This was a matter of practicality as well as religion.  The tribe could not afford to house and feed large numbers of prisoners.  Letting them go, meant they would return to fight and destroy another day.  Knowing you would be sacrificed by your enemies tended to dampen one's enthusiasm for making war in the first place.  Using prisoners for sacrifice was the easiest way to generate a lot of energy for "Blood Magic" quickly.  This was simply a case of turning the enemy's Power back upon them. 

 In the next part of my presentation, I will give the details (archaeological, literary, historical and Magical) that show how, why, where and when such sacrifices were done by the Celts and the Druids.  For those interested in reading more about Celtic/Druidic sacrifices, I'd recommend: 

·         "The Life and Death of a Druid Prince" by Ann Ross and Don Robbins.

·         "Druids, Magicians of the West",

·         "Celtic Lore" and "Celtic Mythology" by Ward Rutherford. 

·         "The Coming of the King" (F) by Count Nicolai Tolstoy.  

·         "The Quest for Merlin" by Count Nicolai Tolstoy.  

·         "Lammas Night" (F) by Katherine Kurtz.  

·         "Druids" by Stuart Piggott.  

·         "Bard" (F) and "Druids" (F) by Morgan Llewellyn.  

·         "Myths and Symbols of Pagan Europe" by H.R.  Ellis Davidson.  

·         "The Religion of the Ancient Celts" by J.A.  MacCulloch 

·         "The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom" by Caitlin and John Matthews.  

·         "The Celtic Druids' Year" by John King, 

·         "Mythic Ireland" by Michael Dames. 

·         "Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend" by Miranda Green. 

·         "Earth Memory" by Paul Devereux.  

 (F) above stands for historical fiction.  

Many other excellent works exist on the Celts as well as the subject of sacrifice and blood Magic, but these are the sources I've reviewed preparing for this workshop. 

Adam of Bremen refers to a sacrifice of animals and men held every ninth year at Uppsala in Sweden (I'm including examples from the Norse as well as the Celtic sacrificial practices.):

"It is the custom moreover every nine years for a common festival of all the provinces of Sweden to be held at Uppsala.  Kings and commoners one and all send their gifts to Uppsala, and what is more cruel than any punishment, even those who have accepted Christianity have to buy immunity from these ceremonies.  the sacrifice is as follows: of every living creature they offer nine head, and with the blood of those it is the custom to placate the gods, but the bodies are hanged in a grove which is near the temple; so holy is that grove to the heathens that each tree in it is presumed to be divine by reason of the victim's death and putrefaction.  There also dogs and horses hang along with men.  One of the Christians told me that he had seen seventy-two bodies of various kinds hanging there, but the incantations which are usually sung at this kind of sacrifice are various and disgraceful, and so we had better say nothing about them."

It's typical that opposing sides in a conflict would attempt to pervert the most sacred practice of the opponent.  A willing sacrifice for the clan is a noble deed, whereas, an involuntary sacrifice or execution is just the opposite.  Accounts by Strabo and Julius Caesar also mention the "Wicker Man" (large figures of wickerwork into which victims were placed to be burned).  Strabo describes such a construction as "...  a colossus of straw and wood".  He goes on to say that cattle, wild animals of various kinds and human victims were thrown into these.  The ashes were thought to aid the growth of crops.  Caesar described them as structures "...with limbs woven out of twigs, filled with living men and set on fire so that the victims perished in a sheet of flame'."

In his 'Gallic War, Julius Caesar describes offerings made by Celts in Gaul to a god he called Mars:

"...  when they have determined on a decisive battle, they dedicate as a rule whatever spoil they may take.  After a victory they sacrifice such living things as they have taken, and all the other effects they gather into one place.  In many states heaps of such objects are to be seen piled up in hallowed spots, and it has not often happened that a man, in defiance of religious scruple, has dared to conceal such spoils in his house or to remove them from their place, and the most grievous punishment, with torture, is ordained for such an offence.  (Loeb translation)."

In "Ynglinga Saga", Snorri tells us about a Swedish ceremonial sacrifice of their king Domaldi:

"The first year [of the famine] they sacrificed oxen, and there was no improvement in the harvest.  The next autumn they sacrificed men, but the harvest was as before or even worse.  and the third autumn many Swedes came to Uppsala when the sacrifice was to take place.  the chiefs took counsel then, and decided unanin my opinionusly that the famine must be due to their king Domaldi, and that they must sacrifice him for a good season and redden the altars with his blood, and this they did."

Posidonius tells us about the Celtic custom of taking heads:

"They cut off the heads of enemies slain in battle and attach them to the necks of their horses.  The blood-stained spoils they hand over to their attendants and carry off as booty, while taking part in a triumphal march and singing a song of victory; and they nail up these first fruits upon their houses, just as do those who lay low wild animals in certain kinds of hunting.  They embalm in cedar-oil the heads of the most distinguished enemies and preserve them carefully in a chest."

According to Strabo, the Cimbri (a Celtic tribe) were said to have used prisoners, taken during battle, for divinations within ritual.  The prisoners would be consecrated for sacrifice, then either impaled on stakes or hung above enormous bronze bowls. Their priestesses would climb ladders to cut the throats of the victims, collecting the flow of blood within the waiting bronze bowls below. Based upon how the blood flowed into the bowl, the grey-haired, white-robed women could determine what the outcome of the battle would be. Other victims were disemboweled for the purposes of augury. This blood was also said to be used to "drench their altars".

There are also historical references to sacrifice in Irish sources. Children were said to have been sacrificed to the idol called Crom Cruach according to the "Dindshenchas": (This is reminiscent of the Phoenician/Carthagean practice). This practice was said to have started with the Irish king Tigernmas about 1000 BCE:

"For him ingloriously they slew their wretched firstborn with much weeping and distress, to pour out their blood round the Bent One of the Hill.  Milk and corn they used to ask of him speedily in return for a third of their whole progeny; great was the horror and outcry about him."

In another story, Conn the Hundred-Fighter, had become enamored of a faerie woman to the extent that the Land itself was suffering.  The people were without milk and corn for a year. The Druids consulted their science and their wisdom to determine how the blight should be ended.  The Druids determined that the son of a sinless couple should be found and brought to Tara and slain.  His blood had to be mingled with the soil of Tara to return blessings to the Land. 

Conn himself went in quest of this child and found him in the household of Daire Degamra from the Land of Wonders and Rigu Rosclethan from the Land of Promise.  The child's name was Segda Saerlabraid and even though his father would not give him up, he chose to willingly go with Conn, King of Ireland. 

When the Druids saw the boy their counsel was to slay him and then to mingle his blood with the earth of Ireland so that the blight could be lifted and its prosperity returned.  Conn and his son Art as well as Finn stood together against the Druids and the clamoring of the men of Ireland, protecting the boy.  The boy himself then asked that he should be put to death if it was for such a noble purpose and to if it was to save such a noble land as Ireland. 

Just as this deed was about to be done, a mysterious woman appeared leading a cow which was also carrying two bags, one each on either of its sides.  When the Druids themselves could not determine the mystery of the woman and her cow, or even the bags themselves, she was then asked to explain.  She said that the single cow before them had come to save the innocent youth and to rescue the prosperity of Ireland. It was itself to be slain in his place and after this deed was done, her blood was to be mixed with the earth. 

After the cow had been slain and her blood scattered and mixed with the earth of Tara, then the two bags were opened to reveal their mysteries.  One bag was found to contain a single bird with one leg only, while the other bag held a similar bird, but this one having twelve legs instead of two or one.  When the two birds were released they immediately flew into the air and began to fight.  Amazingly, it was the one legged bird that prevailed and not the bird of twelve legs as had been expected.

The Druids could not determine the meaning of this conflict and once again the woman was consulted by all.  She then read the signs, stating that it was the Druids that should be hanged and that the boy should be spared. Everyone agreed that this must be a true saying, since the Druids had failed in their attempts to read the mysteries. The Druids must then be the bird with twelve legs and the boy may have been represented by the victorious bird with only one leg. And so it was that the young man was not put to death. 

The woman then further prophesied that Ireland itself would be without one third of its produce until Conn could put away his faerie woman, Becuma Cneisgel. The woman then left, taking Segda with her, while refusing all payments, jewels and treasures that were offered. This is how Segda Saerlabraid was saved from the blades of the Druids and was not sacrificed for Conn's folly of the faerie lover.

Now that we have listed some of the ancient comments about human sacrifice by the Celts, along with a few modern ones.  Let's see what a shamanic source has to say about life-force as well as sacrifice:

The nature of power as life-force: why is it important?  Not hard to say, without life-force (which is also known as "power") spirit cannot manifest (nor hold a manifestation) within the physical realm.  The smaller the life-force the less spirit is able to manifest.  The greater the life-force the more Spirit is able to manifest itself and its Will on the earth plane.  Looking at it in a purely physical human example - a 300 lb body builder can do more work than a sickly 98 lb weakling.  They can work "bigger".  They manifest life "larger" than someone who is physically weak (for whatever reason). 

When the body can no longer produce, channel, & contain life-force we say it "dies".  The only difference between a body which is "dead" and one which is "alive" is the amount of life-force in each of them.  When a body looses so much life-force that it can no longer maintain/contain the physical manifestation of Spirit, then the spirit MUST leave that body.  In order to manifest spirit on the physical plane you need 3 things:

A physical container of some kind

This can be a human body, a rock or crystal, a drum or a rattle, an animal, a plant or any similar device.  Normally these are "natural" items i.e., not plastic (although I suppose that something synthetic technically could be used...  I don't think it would really work all that well as there is no natural resonance within it that could maintain the force...  kind of like running power into a battery that just wont hold the charge). 


 Once you have the container it must be empowered with sufficient life-force to enable a spirit to "live" within it.  Otherwise it's just an empty shell (whether it's a still-born baby or a "pretty crystal" that's use resides in an amethyst crystal wand or deer horn knife that you use in ceremony.  They are essentially the same.  Power dispersed = energy (static, direct, alternating, auric, etc.) Power condensed = physical manifestation (anything from a brick wall to a brain tumor).  Likewise power which is "de-condensed" will "un-manifest" - this is the way that a shaman would cure a tumor, for instance.  He would pull the power out of the tumor until the physical manifestation just disappears as well. 


There is no manifestation of any kind anywhere without the condensing of power into physical matter.  This is done through a focusing of the will. One of the basic "physical laws" of power is that it will flow from a greater concentration to a lesser concentration.  The flows of power should be channeled to flow under control and to be contained within the desired boundaries. On a personal level, this is important to know as we come into contact with beings of power (incarnate humans and discarnate who-knows-whats alike).  If we have more power than those around us they will be drawn to us seeking our power like moths that are attracted to a flame. This can be distracting and counter-productive to our own intentions. We must be careful not to carelessly attract them to us (or allow our personal power to flow away from our own workings).  On the other hand, if they are more powerful than we are, then we must be careful to shield ourselves to ensure that our personal power does not flow from us to them without our conscious intent or permission.  It is vital to be able to "hold your power".  Here are several experiences/examples of empowering bodies for magical workings to illustrate how this all works:

It is said by some shamans, that there are spirits in other realms who wish to come to this plane of existence.  One of these realms is that of "crystal people".  These are certain spirits which resonate particularly well with crystals and who very much want to come to the earth plane.  In exchange for assistance in manifesting in this realm they will perform certain "services" for the person who makes this possible.  Some of these might include protecting the keeper of the crystal in which they live, giving them the ability to discern truthfulness from falsehood, the ability to journey to a certain realm or plane more easily.  The shaman going to the other plane to negotiate the arrangement will find out what the entity/spirit is capable of doing for him.  He will then find out what the spirit needs in return (must be empowered daily, kept in salt water when not being used, smudged with cedar once a full moon, whatever, etc.).  If the service offered and the price asked are agreeable to both parties the shaman extends a crystal which he has cleared/cleaned and empowered and the entity enters the crystal and is brought back to this realm when the shaman returns from his journey to the land of the crystal people.  Had the crystal not contained enough power to "hold" the spirit within it then the crystal spirit could not have manifested life on this plane.  If the crystal becomes disempowered then the entity within it will literally "die".  It is a great responsibility.  Rather like having a physically dependent child to care for who must be fed, exercised, and companioned regularly or they cannot live. 

Another use of empowered/enlivened objects for shamans and medicine people is to use an arrow or weapon of some kind either for protection or as a form of hunting medicine (in the Native American or tribal sense).  I have seen a spirit caught and placed within an arrow.  The shaman then used that arrow by directing the spirit in the arrow to "guard his back" or "assist him in bringing down game to feed his family."  This focused intention and empowerment then becomes the entity's "prime directive" until it is released, the directive is changed, or the physical body loses its power and the entity/spirit slips free from it. 

Power is something that must be continually (or at least regularly) supplied.  It's like supplying your body with fuel so that it can continue to live.  You can't eat once or twice a month and still expect to live...  let alone do any kind of work, play, or activity (like magic maybe ) if it's has no fuel to run on.  It's like expecting a car to run the Indy 500 with no fuel in the tank....  just doesn't work.   
Patricia : I don't know of a reading resource to direct you to.  The experience came from working with a man who was shaman who took several of us on the journey there and back.  Do you have a specific question about them? They are spirits who exist in a different plane from us who are very interested in manifesting here on the earth plane. My perception of them was that they are rather small in size, non humanoid, and the realm is not anything that I have a physical earth correspondence for.  it was rather light, sparkly and not well focused (could have been my own lack of ability to see on that plane) NO.  It is a journey through specific landscape and not so much of an "inner journey"

OK we are covering a lot of ground today....  so bear with me....we will eventually get to Lindow Man and his threefold death. First, I wanted to talk more about the principals of life-force, energy and sacrifice.  and How that is all directed.

Assuming a willing sacrifice exists (and religions have been founded on just that basis), the person to be sacrificed should build as much power within himself as possible prior to the actual sacrifice and he should practice "loading up" on power and releasing it beforehand.  He must "stretch" himself in his ability to hold more and more power every day so that he can hold the maximum amount of power possible for the sacrifice. 

Other people can assist with this by "pouring" power into him.  Be very careful not to pour too quickly nor provide so much that his power envelope is stretched to the point where it would develop "holes".  The group should stand in a circle and build the power by whatever means they choose, and then the head of the circle should funnel the power through him to the sacrifice through a golden power conduit/cord into the third chakras or from the leader's hands into the third chakra of the sacrifice.  This should be practiced for some time before the day of the actual sacrifice to stretch and strengthen the sacrifice's power carrying "muscles", as it were. 

When "fully loaded" the sacrifice's body should feel as light as a feather to him...  almost as though it's not there it is so easy to carry.  When he feels that he is almost about to "float away" or when his envelope has gotten thin like an overfilled balloon and is beginning to show thin spots (before there are actually holes) stop pouring the power.  < 
People who are stoked up hardly even notice that they are carrying a body with them at all - just a side note.>> 
A second note here....  the person being sacrificed should be in good shape physically.  A well toned/muscled, healthy body is capable of holding and carrying much, much more power than is an old, worn out or overweight or sick body.  The sacrifice should be as whole, hale and hearty as possible.  If he does have a problem (overweight, out of shape, tumor, broken bones etc.  these should be healed or fixed before the time of the sacrifice.  Never sacrifice anything or anyone but your absolute best.  I mean think about it.  Would you prefer to have a healthy warrior guarding you, fighting to protect you, working on your behalf...  or would you rather hand your best sword to someone who can't even lift it or who will tire before the battle is halfway over and thereby leave you defenseless?

The power should be returned to the people gifting it or grounded into the earth or sent out on a specific working once it is built and transferred successfully.  This refines the sacrifice's technique of releasing the power to do work.  At the appointed day and time the power is once again built and poured into the prepared sacrificial vessel.  The person has built his own power as high as it will possibly go.  He has been gifted with as much power as he can possibly carry.  At the height of this gathering of power he is sacrificed.  His spirit is released...  is set free from his body.  It takes all of the power that used to be used to animate his body (which is considerable), all of the power he has personally built on this day, and all of the power that he has been gifted with in once massive, powerful "discharge".  (I always see it in my mind as almost being like a rocket taking off or a "super eagle" taking flight.) Once on the other side, freed from the limitations of incarnation on the earth plane and able to see things more clearly, the sacrifice takes the accumulated power and does whatever working he has been chosen to do.  He becomes a warrior/guardian/magician on the other side working in connection with and for the benefit of this side of the curtain. 

I imagine that there is at least one person on this side of the curtain who is chosen to continue to work with the spirit/sacrifice on the other side for at least a year.  In some tribes it was a common practice when someone crossed over for a close relative/friend/mate to be relieved of duties for the span of one year so that they could "funnel" information to this side from the one who just crossed over.  This is done by prior arrangement, at least with the people that I have talked to.  It was done so that the tribe could benefit from having someone able to see, hear, and understand things affecting the tribe and give advice/information from that freed/unlimited persective of being on the other side of the curtain. 

Now we all ready to discuss the events leading up to the sacrifice that was made at Lindow Bog in 60 C.E. by a Celt that we have come to know as Lindow Man or as he is called by Anne Ross and Don Robbins......  Lovernios.  The year 60 C.E. was known as the Dark Year because this was the time when Bodicea was defeated with the resulting slaughter of most of her troops.  The Romans determined to end the power of the Druids in England as a political force.  To do this they attacked the sacred Isle of Anglesly also called Mona (or Mons). 

The Romans were led by their general Suetonius.  He was pretty much known as a really hard nosed, blood and guts type of general...  took few prisoners.  As the Roman troops stood across the Menai straights watching the Druids cast spells and hurl curses at them, they also saw Druidesses in black robes and wild hair running among the men building power against them.  Many of the troops wanted to flee and to desert but their leaders threatened them and whipped them back into shape and they attacked fiercely.  The results of this battle against largely undefended Druids were that thousands upon thousands of Druids were slain by the single-minded Romans.  Some of the Druids were able to flee into the hills to lead the guerilla warfare that lasted for the next 400 years.  The Romans had defeated the power of the Druids.  Enter the next phase of the conflict.  The Druids realized that they could not defeat the Romans head-on so they did what they had always done after a defeat.  They went to the Gods.  All the life-force, energy, power, and spirit of countless Druids had been freed by their deaths during the slaughter at Mona, but remained unfocused, a waste, without form. 

In the nights after the battle a Druid prince landed on the Isle of Mona too late to help stop the carnage but not too late to be the focus for one of the most powerful workings in the history of the Druids.  The Sacred Grove had been destroyed and cut down so this mysterious Druid Price who we shall call Lovernios made his way up the river past were present day Liverpool is to landfall near another sacred site called Llyn Cerrig Bach.  "The Lake of the Small Pebbles" It was there that he was to start the rituals that led to his eventual sacrifice. 

The time of the year was Bealtaine.  His last meal was one of a traditional Bealtaine cake which consisted of a variety of grains which were blackened This blackened bread is always the last meal of the ritual sacrifice in Celtic tradition.  This tradition of receiving the blackened cake persisted in Scotland until the last century.  At the time of Bealtaine a cake would be cooked and divided into many pieces and placed into a hat.  One piece would be blackened with charcoal.  The men and young boys would select pieces from the hat.  The person drawing the blackened piece would be known as the "devoted one". 

In modern times the devoted one was not sacrificed but was required to perform some sort of deed.  This deed could be called something called "Riding the Lord" which basically consisted of being hazed around the bounds of the village.  Another version of this type of deed might be found in the devoted one having to jump the Bealtaine fires three times where everyone else only had to jump the fires once.  These customs have persisted for thousands of years and on this night the devoted one was the Divine Victim, Lovernious. 

When the body of Lindow Man was recovered from the bog it was discovered that he had suffered a threefold death.  His skull had been crushed by a blow from a war ax or a ceremonial ax that came from above.  His throat had been garroted and at the moment of death his throat had been cut with a knife strike from below....  bleeding his blood ritually into a cauldron.  This threefold death is symbolic of his dedication to three different Gods.  These gods represent the three different worlds. The Skyworld, the Middleworld, and the Otherworld.  Ross and Robins think that this sacrifice was to the gods Taranis, Esus, and Teutates.  Are these the three gods of Danu perhaps? Perhaps not.

Why the threefold death? And what elements do these deaths represent?  It is my contention that death occurred because he was sacrificed to the Three Worlds and the primary elements that they represent. The blow from above crushed him to the element of earth below in the form of the ax. The middle death was given to the element of air due to the garrote (cutting the connection between Earth and Sky). The upward blow of the knife, that cut his throat, represents the element of water due to the loss of blood. It also freed his Spirit to the Sky.  These three elemental deaths: loss of breath, loss of blood, loss of awareness, left Lovernious as a being of Fire and Spirit.  He became a shamanic entity, a willing sacrifice to focus the lifeforce of the Druids on their magical working.  His body was cast into the lake at Lindow, its name meaning "Black Lake" in Welsh.  He was returned to the Mother Goddess of Life and Death just as the sword Excalibur was cast into the lake of the Lady.  His body returned to the Mother, his spirit and lifeforce, his fire performed the magical working.  This all happened in 60 C.E.  This is within decades of another similar sacrifice on the other side of the world where another great magician did a great working. 

This date, this Dark Year of the Druids, 60 C.E., marks the time when the Roman Empire quit growing and began its long decay.  The willing sacrifice and death at Lindow by Lovernious  was said to have been accomplished to prevent the Romans from going to Ireland and into Scotland.[i]  It was not a case of magic against spears.   It was a case of Druid Magic and Spirit working its Way and its Will upon the soul of the empire.  There have been other bodies recovered from bogs such as Tollund man and those found at Borremose.  None is so clearly the work of Druid Magic and sacrifice as the case of Lindow man.  The king or the prince was sacrificed to the Land and to the Lady, to the three gods of Danu as it has always been. 

To my brothers and sisters in Europe where this story still lives and where this magic still works I say:

“When you visit a sacred site...  when you touch the spirit of a stone monolith or circle... open the pathways within yourselves and talk to our brothers and sisters from the past.  Within each of these circles is a fellow Druid and Celt.  The spirit of each of these rocks talks to us.  They live for us.  They are there to connect and reconnect us to the land.  Many a foundation was secured by such as sacrifice.  Merlin himself narrowly escaped being sacrificed to secure Vortigen's Tower.  These sacrifices were all willing.  They were all a threefold death to free the fire of the spirit and to lock the magic of the "devoted ones" to the sites. 

I'm not sure where I read this but someone (perhaps R.J. Stewart) once did a psychic working at a sacred site in Brittany, I think, and talked to such a Devoted One.  He stepped from the rock and his spirit wondered where the people were?  What was the focus of their spirit?  Why did they no longer love the land? The stones looked on in silence but they are not silent to those who listen.  Lovernious speaks to us across two thousand years through stone, through water, through his death and through his sacrificial offering.  The Lady of the Lake has given us back a Druid Prince.  The magic continues and now it is up to us to do the work. 

[i] Anne Ross, The Death of a Druid Prince.