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Walking in the Shoes of the Ancients: The Druids of the British Isles

Written by Reverend William Saunders-Cummings


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“Gather round, my children, and hear a tale of years gone by…”

For centuries, children in the British Isles have heard such a beginning to a finely wrought story. March is a time many of us “Go Green.” But, despite the popularity of St. Patrick’s Day, few know the stories of these enchanting isles. Call them legends; call them mythology; call them fairy tales. To the Pagan, they are stories of the past. Stories of great men and women, Gods and Goddesses, and of creatures; natural and more than natural. Journey with me into my past. Journey with me back to a time before Christian feet touched the soil of the United Kingdom and Eire.


Gods and Goddesses
In the time before the Christian missionaries, to what is now known as England, a magickal place nestled in the land of the Briton, Pict, Celt, and Irish. Watching over the life, which abounded here and yon, were the Gods and Goddesses. Some of their names may be familiar, for they transcend time. Brigid, Rhiannon, Bel, Lug, Danu, and Morrigan have a familiar ring for those that know folk music. Although sadly, Gwyn ap Nudd, Cernuunos, Edain, Nantosuelta, Ogma, and Sucellus are near unheard of. Here I will discuss some of these Powers of the Isles.

Brigid is the Celtic Triple Goddess. She is the Goddess of the hearth, poetry, divination, prophecy, healing, smithy, and traditional learning. After the advent of Christianity, she became “St. Brigid”:, Jesus’s “foster mother” or “midwife”. Her festival is Imbolc, the return of life, a major Sabbat. She is often associated with Danu, the Earth Mother.

Rhiannon was the daughter of a King of the Otherworld, the land of Magick and the dead. Because of her story, told in the Mabinogion, she has become associated with justice for the wicked and renewal of the righteous. Few people know her feast is March 4.

Gwyn ap Nudd is the Lord of the Underworld, a British version of Hades in the Greek’s stories. Bel is the god of Light; his feast is Beltane. Morrigan is the Goddess of Battle and Death. Cernunnos is the lord of the Hunt; King of the horned beast. It is from this God, the Christians borrowed the “Horned One” description of Satan. Edain was the Irish Goddess of horses. She was one of their most important deities of their pantheon. Nantosuelta and Secullus were the Goddess of Nature and the God of Agriculture, respectively. Ogma was to the Druids, what Woden was to the Saxons. He taught them how to write. The language of Ogham (pronounced: Ooh-mm) has recently been rediscovered and is gaining popularity in the modern Pagan’s writing styles.

Lug was a different story. Lug became a god, in due time. Lug was born of the Tuatha de Dananna (pronounced: either as spelled or Thee-nah shee), the Children of Dun (Danu). Lug's mother, furious at her brother for a humiliation, refused to name this child, whom he had “grown in a magick box.” Through trickery, Lug was named “Lleu Llaw Gyffes.” Over the course of his life, he learned magick, wisdom, and honor; but he never lost his humor. Thus, Lug is the God of the Sun and protector of Comedians.


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