I don’t put much stock and feelings in what you ‘should’ feel. According to those who say what I should feel, I should be a mass murderer, but I’m not.
The Druids were not a dogmatic people, and it would be entirely reasonable if you see gnosis in nature, to adopt the Druid name. You would not dishonour the ancestors having no static doctrine and gaining wisdom from observances of nature, and keeping of human history. To declare yourself a Druid is merely to say those are your goals also. It‘s not to belittle those goals. We need them in today’s world rather badly.
How long and when were Druids a culture? That can’t be said with certainty. Evidence goes very far back, potentially to many hundreds of years BCE, if not longer.
The Druids believed in the changing capability of nature in a sort of evolution of process of form. So it is very likely that the ‘religion’ or ‘belief’ evolved over so much time that it is hard to say when it was really formed. Yes, the transformation stories are evidence of that. It was never codified or dated, because the writing of data was seen as imposing enough structure that the evolutionary process would be stifled.
Did they die out as a culture at a particular point? As a culture, regrettably yes. But dead cultures have often not been truly dead, and many of the medieval guilds, and what not, retained many of their traditions practices and insights.
It was hard for the Romans to say “No, you can’t understand the land and where to quarry. We don’t really need stone”, and the old guilds had different values than today’s businesses. A king might tell a guild to build him a castle, and be himself told no, and there was nothing he could really do about it. They told him no for their own traditions. There is even some evidence that these guilds and orders still guide European culture more than we know. I believe it was Queen Elizabeth that was down right deferential when it came to the Freemasons. Another interesting note, the term “villain” originally referred to a freeman who owed no fealty to any noble. Does this life style sound familiar? It became a dirty word because the villains would influence the serfs, both their farming habits, and their view of politics.
I’m wondering who today doesn’t pay fealty to someone? i.e. taxes. We still do. Things didn’t really change a whole lot, but the teachings of the Druids and those traditions like them may be an important catalyst for change.
What would your take be on the modern relationship between the neo-Druids, wiccans, and other ‘pagan’ groups? It seems to me like they are all far too similar for people to pretend the differences are seperative. Well, I discuss beliefs that aren’t necessarily my own, but yes I would agree. Temperaments of a single community really. Druids more open minded. Wiccans very devotional. All sharing life affirmative values, and all existing now for a very real reason, and not that put forward by some conspiracy theorists. On a gut level, many, if not most of us, are realizing an awareness of nature is the substance of our spiritual life. That to even use Christian symbolism, we need to return to the garden now, not later, and we are seeing that it’s possible despite the dominant institutions.
An interesting note is that many scientists these days are seeming very Druid are they not? And their discoveries as well as moral observations are backing up what the Druids already believed. That we have a positive wisdom in our very natures as living beings, and not to heed it is the most serious error.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.