Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Last of the Druids...?

There are many hypotheses on the end of the Druidic order, mostly written by the victors, namely the Roman Empire and the Diocese. I do not feel we can take either of these sources as read, due to their weighted opinions in opposition of this religious group. There is little doubt that the Druids held sway in not only religious circles (no pun intended) but also the political arena. They had the ears of kings, who would not dare to contradict a Druid. A Druid would be heard before a king, for his power was absolute, as he (or she) was believed to be in direct commune with the gods.

The Romans saw that no leader would be swayed to their ideals while a Druid had one ear of the king. The obvious solution then, was to rid the land of Druids, so the Romans had all ears of the countrymen (nicely epitomised in a famous speech). With all ears on Rome, so to speak, the message of the Empire would be better heard. For those Augustii who were of the new Christian faith, the eradication of these heathen ‘vicaris’ would be a necessity. Locally, you can merge deities to please the populous – Sulis Minerva at Bath being a perfect example. But to glean the minds and support of the tribal leaders, the Druids had to be removed from the equation.

Reports suggest that they were forced to flee to what is now ‘Anglesey’ (Angle’s Isle). However, while there may be some feint truth in this cluster of Druids herded north-west by the Romans, I find it hard to digest. These priests of the old religion would have lived and practised across the isle, in all kingdoms. The far reaches of Dumnonia in the south-west of what is now Cornwall, did not see much in the way of Roman invasion. So, how could ‘all’ Druids have been forced to flee to a small location in Wales? For me, it seems entirely possible that, where the reach of Rome was hardly felt, some of these Druids might have survived. Even if they had not openly practised, they may have taken their religion into the caves and secret groves, away from prying eyes of stray Romans, Christian pilgrims and tribal leaders that may betray them.

The latter could be a possibility for such a thorough ‘cleanse’ of the Order. If Rome and the Christian preachers could demonise the Druids in some way, discredit them, then perhaps the leaders of kingdoms would banish them and a distrust might spread to other kingdoms. Once again though, I find it hard to believe ‘all’ Druids would have been removed in this way. Not all kingdoms were willing to bow to Rome and I would imagine some still preferred to trust their Druids than these Latin invaders.

In my second Wolf Spear Saga, my Druids are (apparently) the last of their kind. Having been practising in secret, their time is running out. As Christianity spreads to further tribes around them, distrust of the old religion grows as tribal kingdoms endeavour to secure the lives of their towns as the Diocese strengthens. Despite the existence of the Roman Empire and its subsequent departure, now some fifty years passed, my little secret Order have survived. They have evolved in order to do this and do not perform in public, nor counsel kings. They pray and carry out rituals at sabbats, educating new and young Bards to become Ovates and eventually Druids, keeping the faith alive against adversity.

My main Druid character is a young woman, the heroine, given to the Order at the age of five. It is all she knows and she is all too aware of its fragility in the current political climate. Well-versed in the beliefs of her enemies, she has been taught Druidry, but also the religions of those that surround them, both Christian and barbarian. This, she knows, will keep her alive in such a volatile time.

'WOLF SPEAR SAGA 2' coming soon...

E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.

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