The Celtic Druids As Philosophers

The Druids are a people shrouded in mysticism, magic and fiction, with tales linking them with the supernatural and unrivaled wisdom. Though many of these tales are exaggerated, the Druids are still an incredibly interesting people to study nonetheless.

They held nothing more sacred than mistletoe and the tree on which it grows. The word Druid comes from the Greek word for Oak – Celtic: “Knowing [or Finding] the Oak Tree”

for they believe that anything growing on oak trees is sent by heaven and is a sign that the tree has been chosen by God himself.” – Pliny The Elder

In ancient Celtic society, Bards, Vates and Druids were people that were highly venerated above all others. The Druids were considered to be the most just of people, and as a result they were often entrusted as been the chief decision makers in the land.

Though they made some of the most important decisions, they also took part in the trials of criminals, and acted as public judges in trials such as murder.

The Bards of society were singers and poets, the Vates where the overseers of sacred sites and philosophers of the natural world, and the Druids were also highly regarded as natural philosophers who studied the ways of nature devoutly.

The Philosophy of the Druids

Diodorus Sicilus, the famous Greek historian once commented on the influence that Druids had in their society, by saying that if a Druid stepped between two warring armies, the fighting would cease immediately.

The famed Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus who lived in the 4th century, claimed that the philosophy of the Druids was similar to that of Pythagoras.

The Druids believed in reincarnation, as did Pythagoras, and it’s often thought that as Pythagoras traveled to many countries in his desire for knowledge, it is possible that he himself learned from the Druids and vice versa, after engaging with them in Celtic lands.

Hippolytus of Rome made a claim that the Thracian born slave of Pythagoras, Zamolxis, traveled to Celtic lands after his death, and taught Pythagorean philosophy to the Druids.

The Druids were associated with high intellect, with knowing things that other humans simply didn’t understand.

Pomponius Mela said the Druids were of high stature and intellect – Knowing the size of the Earth and the cosmos, the movements of the heavens and stars, and the will of the Gods.

Its written that the druids civilized Gaul and taught them how to build cities, cultivate corn, wine and olives, as well as to build walls around their cities, and become a more prosperous people through their teachings.

Despite living lives of morality, it’s also thought that druids would engage in human sacrifice, but would prefer to sacrifice criminals rather than innocents where ever possible.

The philosophy of the druids is known to honour each individuals uniqueness, by not adhering to strict set of beliefs.

There is no Holy book such as the Bible or Qur’an, but there are monotheistic druids who believe in one God, or greater spirit, as well as polytheistic Druids who believe in many Gods and Goddesses.