What is druidism? What is a druid?
A druid is an ancient pagan priest, and druidism is the religion practiced by the druids. The druids lived during the Iron Age, which began around 1200 BC and they were also a separate class of people in their society—they were educated, professional, and many were doctors, and lawyers (though their version of practicing law was not much like ours today) and poets. There is little known about the druid class or druidism in general, but we do know a few details from the writings of ancient historians. Much has been suggested based on these writings about druidism, but the truth about druid practice and society is almost entirely speculative.
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A few of the things we do know about druidism: first, the druids were religious, though it is unclear which god or gods were worshipped in druidism. It is known that they participated in sacrifices, both animal and human. Second, they played an important role in their society, not only religiously, but politically and judicially. They could excommunicate people from their society, and were clearly very powerful figures. Druidism existed mainly in ancient Irish, British and Gaulish society. A Greek historian by the name of Diodorus Siculus said that in order for Celtic gods to be appeased by a sacrifice, a druid had to be present at the time of the sacrifice. He also indicates that human sacrifices were offered as a way to divine future events. The oak and the mistletoe were important in druidism, and those symbols still hold some traditional meaning in British culture today.
Pagan practices similar to druidism existed in many ancient cultures worldwide. The knowledge of God, and His Spirit, can be clearly seen in nature (Psalm 19:1–4). Without technology and science to give people explanations for why the natural world acts as it does, the ancient peoples were likely much more in touch with the spiritual side of nature. Demonic presences took advantage of man's fallen state, and presented themselves as an alternative to the one true God, drawing man away from the Creator to instead worship the creation. The first time this occurred was in the garden of Eden, when the serpent spoke to Eve (Genesis 3:3–5), and it has been happening ever since (Romans 1:19–23). Because of this deception, the idea of a pantheon of spirits existing in nature, who require sacrifices and obedience from men, seems to have been central to druidism, and it was central to a myriad of other ancient and pagan peoples.
Though druidism was an ancient religion, there are some who call themselves druids today. Neo-druidrism is akin to the New Age Movement with its lack of established, official doctrine. It can take many forms, and belief about God varies widely among druids; some are monotheistic, duotheistic, polytheistic, animistic, pantheistic, etc. Their approach is universalist in that druids believe all paths lead to God. Clearly, this is at odds with biblical Christianity. God is One and there is only one way to Him—through the Person and work of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
Druids also adhere to the sacredness of all life, including humans, plants, and animals. They view all life as of equal importance and as being interconnected. Druids revere the physical world as part of the Divine. Nature is seen as sacred, though its direct correspondence to the Divine varies. While it is true that life is sacred, it is also true that God gave humans dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26–28; Psalm 8:6–8). Christians are called to take care of life on this planet, but nowhere in Scripture do we see nature glorified or as part of God. Instead, nature reflects who God is (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19) and is something over which humans have stewardship responsibility. Another important thing to remember is that only humans have an immortal soul (Genesis 2:7) and that the heavens and the earth will pass away (Matthew 24:35).
Many druids turn to mystical practices to seek enlightenment, and some are involved in witchcraft. Christians are never taught to seek out special knowledge through mysticism. In fact, God condemns all manner of sorcery, including communion with spirits in the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 33:6; Leviticus 18:21; 20:2; Isaiah 57:5). In the New Testament Paul interacts with a slave girl who had a "spirit of divination;" we find that the spirit was not from a holy source (Acts 16:16–18). Instead, Christians are called to seek after God and His wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." God, not sorcery, is our source of wisdom. And God has revealed Himself to us through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Rather than seek out mystical experiences to gain wisdom, we can study what God has given us and seek Him out, trusting His Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us (John 16:13).
The true God, Yahweh, the Creator who first revealed Himself to the Jewish people but who is the Creator of all people, is markedly different from the gods of paganism. He does not require sacrifices, but mercy (Matthew 9:13). He is the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11). Even Job, who lived in ancient times before God revealed Himself in detail, knew Him to be a Redeemer (Job 19:25). Instead of requiring us to stumble around in the dark, He revealed His unattainable perfection to man, in the Law. Then sacrificed Himself for us, so that the Law could be fulfilled (Romans 5:1–21). God shows Himself in the power and beauty of nature, but instead of leaving us to this natural world, to our own destructive urges and desires, death and futility, He gives our souls a vision of the next world, and the inheritance that is possible through connection to His Spirit. There will be nothing to fear, no pain or crying or sorrow in that place. We can reach that place by faith in Him (Romans 1:17). Nothing else is required.
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