All these thoughts of Nature and of the ‘Old Ways’ has led me to reflect on the roles that Druids held in days of yore.
Therefore I now lay out the general roles and orders of Druids as lived in ancient times….
Both Male & Female, the equally balanced gender power relations of the Druids was one of the main reasons that the might of Rome sought to destroy them as this undermined their own patriarchal military societal structures.
Whilst the tradition of Hedge~Druidry wherein they travelled unattached to any land or court, did exist across ancient Europe, the extent to which such practitioners were self taught or only partly schooled is not certain.
But to carry any information or skills of worth it is likely that they had collected sufficient insight and learning to make their way from community to community mutually rewarding, and so may be a moot point.
The Druid more formally underwent various training periods at differing levels in dedicated universities, to learn the content, meaning and practice of augury &divination, of ceremony & ritual, lasting anywhere from 6 to 20 years, plus…..
and whilst Julius Caesar has stated that the training of a Druid took 20 years, it would be reasonable to assume that the work was ongoing as layer upon lore was added to the tales and the teachings..
They were then as now organized into three groups with specific functions and training.
Of the Druidic organizations that exist today there may be many variations on the themes laid out below.
The Bards were the first level of training and kept the oral tradition by remembering hundreds of stories, histories and epic poems and songs that were used to teach the people.
This Bard also learned the skills of music too, as this communicative tool would be readily understandable by all even the uneducated, and was likely also important in aspects of ritual that they might need to practice later in their training.
They also studied Already Ancient (and it is believed, world wide) philosophies, bringing these skills to their counseling.
Ovates, being he second degree of study, took the philosophic role to greater heights as the Shaman interpreters of The Mysteries of death and the key Druidic tenet of rebirth.
They divined the future and consulted with the dead, developing an Oracular relationship with Nature and working outside of time itself, which has fed into many of the Druids otherworld & fairyland associations.
Supporting this relationship with Nature, they studied tree lore & herbalism and were also known as magical healers.
Finally, acting as ‘High Priests’ and philosophers for the whole culture,
the Druid would synthesize both disciplines of Bard and Ovate.
Fulfilling the elevated social roles of judiciary, teachers, healers and ritual leaders,
they were Guardians of the knowledge & the Gatekeepers of the Other-world/realms & the Divine Order.