The Romans gave us the image of “the Druids” as estranged and barbaric murderers who sacrificed innocents to tell the future from looking at the entrails of their victims. Not true. The Romans had their political reasons for describing native magicians and philosophers in an unflattering manner. The “Druids” were suppressed by the Roman government from the 1st century CE and disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century.
Those that the Romans called “Druids” did not use the word Druid. Most linguists see Druid as cognate with a Greek word meaning “an oak”. Some Celtic linguists have derived its root as an intensive particle with a second part meaning “to know”, this together says “those whose knowledge is very great”. Little contemporary evidence about druids exists, and little can be said with assurance. It is known that they held the cultural repository of knowledge in an oral tradition, using Poetry and Wheels among other things as mnemonic devices to ensure the fidelity of the transmission of knowledge over time.
My grandmother was a weaver of knowledge and among other things, taught me the “Nordic wheels“. I gained more knowledge on the Rune alphabets by my journeying. And after following my nose at University (which drove some teachers wild as I didn’t stay within delineated prepackaged programs) I turned to the OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids) for familiarising myself with the “Celtic wheels“. And when the opportunity presented itself, I also studied some associations of “Native American wheels“.
… The method of free association used in psychoanalysis can provide a glimpse into the secret world of connections and associations that are made in the unconscious, and the particular contribution of esoteric disciplines is in providing a framework that exists partly in the conscious mind, but which also is immersed in the unconscious – allowing both aspects of the self to feed from it and to nourish it. In other words, by building a grove of trees in the imagination, or a ‘Tree of Life’ if one is a Qabalist, one creates a structure which operates not only in the conscious waking self, but also in the unconscious (some might say the superconscious) pulling to it, as it were, associations, ideas, images and experiences. In this way it acts as a bridge between these two parts of the self. At a deeper level the creation of such a structure allows the influx of transpersonal energies into the personal or individual psychic system in a way that is safe and structured because the channels for its reception and integration have already been built.
One of the most extraordinary things to contemplate is that as we think and make associations, our brains actually make connections and grow physically! The more we use our brain, the more dendrites (the ‘arms’ between brain cells) are grown, and the more synaptic connections are made (connections from the end of one dendrite to another). These neural pathways are called dendrites because they look like the branches of a tree, and dendrite is Greek for ‘tree-like’. Photographs of sections of the cerebral cortex look like photos of a thicket of trees in winter. So as we imagine a sacred grove of trees in our minds and work with it over many months to create a network of associations, we are literally building a thicker, richer complex of connections at a physical level in our brains, as well as a structure on a subtler level in the psyche which can connect our conscious self with our unconscious self. ~ from Druid Tree Lore
Personally, I believe that what was or was not is not that important. What works in contemporary contexts for people to make more natural connections, and free their creativity and thinking from prepackaged education does work. Contemporary druidry by way of the OBOD offers seven gifts:
I do not fight the legacy system, as the result is often that we become the petty tyrant we fight, or that our insights and in(ter)ventions are integrated for further blind exploitation in an already wildly unfair system that has lost most connections. I keep myself whole here thank you.