Druid-Priest-Shaman: Metaphors of Celtic Paganism Hardcover – 1 Jul 1999
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This work examines the changing figure of the druid as a continuum from classical times to the present. It poses the question, if we know virtually nothing about the real Druids (who were nothing more or less than the priests of the pre-Christian Celts), why have people continued to find the image of the Druid so compelling for over 2000 years? The image of the druid has been constantly re-invented, as much by Caesar as by Stukeley, and these revisions say more about the people who create them than about any objective reality of Celtic religion. There are two main versions of "Druidism": the image of the Druid as a nascently Christian priest (the chief metaphor of the 18th-century writers) and the image of the Druid as a shaman, the view that increasingly prevails today. Both these images have their roots in the representations of Druids, saints, warriors and poets found in the medieval Celtic literatures. The book begins with a brief survey of the current understanding, through anthropology, folklore and archaeology, of Celtic society in the Iron Age, and what little is known about Druids of that time.It then looks at the image of druids found in medieval Welsh and Irish texts, comparing the role of "priestly" Druids in the lives of early saints, such as Patrick and David, with the "shamanic" mysticism that prevails amongst warriors and poets such as Uchulainn, Owein ap Urien and Taliesin. The third section assesses the religious and political agendas underlying the resurgence of interest in Druidism in 18th-century Britain, comparing the archaeological enthusiasms of English neo-Druids, such as William Stukeley, with the emerging linguistic nationalism of Welsh writers, such as Iolo Morganwg. The final section looks at the image of the Druid in late-20th-century Britain and America, as it appears in popular film and television, in the books published for New Age and neo-pagan markets, and as it is constructed by those who participate in the discussions of all brands of Druidism on the computer service, America Online.
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