A druid was a member of the high-ranking class in ancient Celtic cultures. They are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form, thus they left no written accounts of themselves. They are however attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans and the Greeks.
- With regard to their actual course of studies, the main object of all education is, in their opinion, to imbue their scholars with a firm belief in the indestructibility of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed. Subsidiary to the teachings of this main principle, they hold various lectures and discussions on astronomy, on the extent and geographical distribution of the globe, on the different branches of natural philosophy, and on many problems connected with religion.
- Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, VI, 13 (58–49 BC)
- Our predecessors, the Druids of Britain, tho' left in the extremest west to the improvement of their own thoughts, yet advanc'd their inquiries, under all disadvantages, to such heights, as should make our moderns asham'd, to wink in the sunshine of learning and religion.
- William Stukeley, Stonehenge: A Temple Restor'd to the British Druids, Preface. (1740).
- In the oldest documents now in our possession--the Vedas and the older laws of Manu--we find many magical rites practiced and permitted by the Brahmans. Thibet, Japan and China teach in the present age that which was taught by the oldest Chaldeans. The clergy of these respective countries, prove moreover what they teach, namely: that the practice of moral and physical purity, and of certain austerities, developes the vital soulpower of self-illumination. Affording to man the control over his own immortal spirit, it gives him truly magical powers over the elementary spirits inferior to himself. In the West we find magic of as high an antiquity as in the East. The Druids of Great Britain practised it in the silent crypts of their deep caves; and Pliny devotes many a chapter to the "wisdom" of the leaders of the Celts. The Semothees,--the Druids of the Gauls, expounded the physical as well as the spiritual sciences. They taught the secrets of the universe, the harmonious progress of the heavenly bodies, the formation of the earth, and above all--the immortality of the soul. p. 19
- Into their sacred groves--natural academies built by the hand of the Invisible Architect--the initiates assembled at the still hour of midnight to learn about what man once was and what he will be. They needed no artificial illumination, nor life-drawing gas, to light up their temples, for the chaste goddess of night beamed her most silvery rays on their oak-crowned heads; and their white-robed sacred bards knew how to converse with the solitary queen of the starry vault. On the dead soil of the long by-gone past stand their sacred oaks, now dried up and stripped of their spiritual meaning by the venomous breath of materialism. But for the student of occult learning, their vegetation is still as verdant and luxuriant, and as full of deep and sacred truths, as at that hour when the arch-druid performed his magical cures, and waving the branch of mistletoe, severed with his golden sickle the green bough from its mother oak-tree. p 20
- H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology (1877)
- Druids – A sacerdotal caste which flourished in Britain and Gaul. They were initiates who admitted females into their sacred order, and initiated them into the mysteries of their religion. They never entrusted their sacred verses and scriptures to writing, but, like the Brahmans of old, committed them to memory; a feat which, according to the statement of Ceasar, took twenty years to accomplish. Like the Parsis they had no images or statues of their gods. The Celtic religion considered it blasphemy to represent any god, even of a minor character, under a human figure.... The three chief commandments of their religion were:—Obedience to divine laws; concern for the welfare of mankind; suffering with fortitude all the evils of life.
- Amongst classical writers Caesar in the sixth book of his De bello Gallico, is the first who states that the Druids were the religious guides of the people as well as the chief expounders and guardians of the law. As, unlike the Brahmans in India, they were not an hereditary caste, and enjoyed exemption from military service as well as payment of taxes; admission to their order was eagerly sought after by the youth of Gaul. The course of training to which a novice had to submit was protracted, extending over twenty years, — resembling in this particular the system of education still in vogue in India. The office of Arch Druid was elective, extending over a lifetime, and involved supreme authority over all others. Desultory references and brief notices of the learning of the Druids are met with in the writings of Aristotle, Diogenes Laertius, the church fathers Origin, Clement of Alexandria and St. Augustine.
- The Druids had schools in the forests, where youths committed to memory certain maxims in verse, inculcating the worship of the gods, bravery in battle, respect to chastity of women and implicit obedience to Druids, magistrates and parents. These verses sometimes contained an allegorical meaning which was explained under an oath of secrecy to those educated for the higher orders of the priesthood. They were divided into three classes, the Druids proper, who were the sole judges and legislators, presided at the sacrifices and were the instructors of the novitiates. They were dressed in white robes. The second class were the Bards, who accompanied chiefs to battle and sang hymns to the god of war. They had to undergo a novitiate-ship of twenty years, during which they committed to memory the traditionary songs, the exploits and deeds of daring and valor of past chiefs. After passing the customary ordeals and examinations, they were given to drink of the waters of inspiration, which we are inclined to think was the same as the juice of the soma plant amongst the Hindoos; after which, like the Brahmans, they were said to be twice born and were henceforth held in the highest respect and veneration by their countrymen. The color of their garb was green.
- From this outline of Druidic teaching we learn: that in those remote ages, the doctrines of reincarnation and Karma, were understood and grasped with that clearness of apprehension so as to make them facts of the Universe. Its moral teachings were pure and healthy, inculcating chastity in all the relationships of life, the infringement of which was visited with the punishment of death. Druidism throughout its whole career kept itself perfectly pure and un-contaminated from those vices and phallic impurities which have so shamefully degraded most of the great religions of the world ancient and modern.
- W. Williams, The Ancient Druids: III, Universal Brotherhood, (August 1898)
- That the Druids held in trust secrets of science and mystic lore we know. Persecution by the ignorant and the superstitious slew, and drove into hiding the wise and the understanding, and robbed the lands of the Kelts of music and poesy, of art and grace, save that which was interwoven in the soul of the people and made them what they were.
- The word “ Druid” is derived from, Dru = God (cf. Modern Welsh Duw; Gaelic, Draoi; French, Dieu; Greek, A ; English, Deity), and “Vid” = "knowledge” (cf. Aryan root, vid = wisdom; Latin, video; Sanscrit, vidya; English, vision); in fact it is but another form of the words “Divine Wisdom,” the Brahma-Vidya or THEOSOPHY. From the above it does not seem unreasonable to assume that the Druids were to the Fourth Sub-Race, what the Theosophical Movement is to the Fifth, and that the same great fundamental teachings of life which inspired the Druids are now the ideals by which many try to live as Theosophists.
- Peter Forman, The Druids and Theosophy, (1924)
- Like nearly all schools of the Mysteries, the teachings of the Druids were divided into two distinct sections. The simpler, a moral code, was taught to all the people, while the deeper, esoteric doctrine was given only to initiated priests. To be admitted to the order, a candidate was required to be of good family and of high moral character. No important secrets were entrusted to him until he had been tempted in many ways and his strength of character severely tried.
- Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages p. 46, (1928)
- The Druids taught the people of Britain and Gaul concerning the immortality of the soul. They believed in transmigration and apparently in reincarnation. They borrowed in one life, promising to pay back in the next. They believed in a purgatorial type of hell where they would be purged of their sins, afterward passing on to the happiness of unity with the gods. The Druids taught that all men would be saved, but that some must return to earth many times to learn the lessons of human life and to overcome the inherent evil of their own natures.
- Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, p. 46, (1928)
- The Druids considered a chalice of pine essence as a chalice of life.
- Helena Roerich, Letters of Helena Roerich Volume I: 1929-1935
- The Druids were the Masons of very ancient times ... At the head of the Druids was a woman, who bore the title of Mother of the Druids.
- Helena Roerich, Letters of Helena Roerich Volume II: 1935-1939, p 356
- The Druids had a ritual in which all those who were present had to move around the sacrificial place or altar, exactly in the direction of the sun, whereas the Hierophant himself was moving against the sun, symbolizing his superior knowledge.
- Helena Roerich, Letters of Helena Roerich Volume II: 1935-1939, p 384
- The powerful Celtic social class posed a threat to the Roman Empire before being subsumed by Christianity, but their origins remain shrouded in the past... Despite what little is actually known about ancient Druidism, the practice has seen several revivals in modern times...The earliest detailed accounts of the Druids date back to the first century B.C., but it’s likely that they had established their special role within the ancient communities of what is now Britain, Ireland, and France long before then... The pagan practitioners presented an existential threat to the Romans, who feared Druid power over the Celtic communities that Rome had conquered... The term seems to have been a blanket designation for scholars, philosophers, teachers, and holy men concerned with nature, justice and magic. “Among archaeologists there is currently no consensus over how material evidence relates to the Druids even within the same country,” writes History Today’s Ronald Hutton. “Not a single artifact has been turned up anywhere which experts universally and unequivocally agree to be Druidic.” Then and now, the idea of Druids evokes both magic and mystery.
- Erin Blakemore, Why do we know so little about the Druids? National Geographic, (15 November 2019)