What We Know For Sure About The Druids Is Nothing And Shut Up
One of the heaviest aspects of modern life is how strenuously everyone tries to compensate for the overreaches of the 1970s when it comes to prehistoric religious practices. A handful of sociologists got a little too excited about the possibility of a massive Bronze Age matriarchal religious network in the ‘70s (also the 1860s and 1940s), overreached themselves and published a lot of nonsense like When Eurasia Was Gaia’s Playroom and The Lathe of the Womb, The Rye of the Wheel and Hammer Sickle, Goddess Triple, and now the rest of us aren’t allowed to have hardly any druids at all, like losing out on a class-wide pizza party because some of your fellows — not everyone, mind you, some of you were quite good indeed, and will be receiving stars from Matron for being such orderly young masters — couldn’t stay in their seats on the afternoon bus.
So it is that nowadays everyone prefaces any sort of statement about the Druids with, “Now, of course, there’s not much we do know about the Druids, you know,” to dampen all the fun in advance. Everyone’s got to sit on their hands and dutifully recite “We can’t really know anything about the Druids, who had a rule against writing things down that unfortunately they never wrote down, and only a fool trusts the Commentaries on the Gauls,” and Lord help you if you even try to mention an oak tree.
Now copy the following lines 100 times and see me after class:
I will not cite the Bellum Gallicum until I can distinguish on an unmarked map the difference between Gallia Narbonensis and Gallia Aquitania
I will not cite the Bellum Gallicum until I can reliably distinguish between Julius Caesar’s own passages and the passages he cribbed from Posidonius’ lost study of the Celts, even though Posidonius’ study has been lost
I will not cite any passages from Tacitus unless they have been backed up by the archaeological record, no matter how fun
All Celts are not Druids just as all Romans are not flamens
If Yeats wrote a poem about it, it didn’t happen
We don’t even know if they called themselves Druids
I will not talk about Lindow Man
I will not talk about Worsley Man
Maybe all those bog bodies just tripped on fell on a knife while simultaneously hitting their heads against a heavy rock and accidentally strangling themselves on their own shoelaces in a sort of worst-case scenario Benny Hill situation
Tacitus never even went to Gaul
The ritual of oak and mistletoe does sound sick as hell
Nothing sick as hell is true
If it were sick as hell and true surely someone besides just Pliny would have written it down
Druids were real and amazing but you’re not allowed to know anything about them
Druids are a big secret pizza party you’re not allowed to attend because too many Romanticists tried to go in the 19th century
If you want to get mad at anybody about it, get mad at Chateaubriand
Everything I learned about Druids came from terrible Stephen Lawhead books. And they ended up being about Jesus anyway. I’m still gonna pretend I’m a Druid eating my wisdom seeds whenever I eat hazelnuts though.
Just the thing to go with THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING https://bookshop.org/books/the-dawn-of-everything-a-new-history-of-humanity/9780374157357