The aim of the Druid is to establish a group who by companionship, and unity shall reach a greater understanding of the powers latent within us.
Druids are not at any time bound to accept any specific religious beliefs, or political views, as every member has a right to his or her own views and can express them freely.
The Druids existed from a remote past as a powerful and influential brotherhood. What the date of foundation of this brotherhood was, if it was ever “founded” in the ordinary sense, none can tell.
But this we know, that all arcane wisdom ultimately derives from one source — the Divine Light. This Wisdom had its earliest homes in the Island Continents, Atlantis and Lemuria, that have now vanished beneath the waves. But before the series of catastrophies was completed the Ancient Wisdom was brought to other parts of the world, and so in this manner arose the Mystery Schools of Egypt, Chaldea, Greece, the Druid Mysteries of Great Britain and Gaul, the Hebrew Qabbalah and the Esoteric Wisdom of the Chinese, Hindus, Teutons and Scandinavians, Persians, Alchemists, Rosicrucians and others.
The Druids called themselves “Kymry,” “Equal in honour” (though not in privilege) for that is one of our principles. In our “Groves” as they are called, there are officers; but this is for functional purposes only, it does not indicate that one is of greater importance than another.
Ancient British tradition states that Hu Gadarn [a Welsh deity?] was the leader of the first colony of the Kymry in these islands, and that he established the Ancient Druid system wherever he went. His successor, Aed Mawr [the similarly pronounced Aed Mor in Irish would be “Great Fire,” or a suitable title for the Dagda] who is said to have flourished about 1000 BC is the reputed founder of the Druid Order in Britain, in the form that we know it today.
At that time the seats of the three Arch Druids of Britain were at London, York and Caerleon. There were also thirty-one other seats of learning which were the capitals of the various chiefs, and many of. them are now county towns.
It is said [by whom, exactly?] that at one time no less than 60,000 people attended these seats of learning for instruction, including many of the nobility of Great Britain, Gaul, and indeed farther afield.
After the introduction of Christianity into these islands, the Christian priesthood was very largely in Druid hands. There is nothing incompatible in the two systems for Druidry, though religious, is not strictly speaking a religion, but a system of mystical science and philosophy.
In this connection it may be remarked that ministers and priests of various faiths, including the Obedience of the Church of England, are members of the Order. Historians have often been puzzled by the ancient sect of the Culdees in these islands, who lived in communities. These were actually men who were both Christians and Druids.
After the coming of the Christian missions from Rome headed by Augustine, the Druids and the Keltic Christian church in these islands were persecuted; and the Druids were prohibited from officiating as Christian priests, in order that the power of Rome might be established throughout the land and made supreme.
Nevertheless the Druid tradition was never lost, though often endangered; and its continuity can be traced back from those times right down to the present day, the line of succession unbroken. [Where have we heard that before?]
It is preserved publicly in the ancient writings of the Bards, in Keltic mythology, (which, of course, must be interpreted in its occult sense like the Bible or the Book of the Dead), and it is also preserved in oral tradition.
The oral tradition is largely confined to Companions of the Order and it contains the Initiation Rites and Ceremonies, as well as a great deal of the occult philosophy of the Order.
The Druids are mystics; that is to say that they are partakers of the One Primitive and Universal Source of Wisdom which forms the basis of whatever is true in the world”s great exoteric religions.
It means that Druids, like other mystical brotherhoods, have that breadth of outlook which overleaps the narrow boundaries of a creed.
It means they teach the art of developing the Inner Self — the “Giant within” as the Rosicrucians put it; that Self which is in touch with the Central Sun of the Cosmos, and is the motive power, of which the physical brain and body are but the tools.
For the Druid, like every other mystic, knows that tremendous forces and potentialities lie dormant in man. These may be awakened, but first the individual must be trained and tested to make sure that he will not use such powers unwisely, to his own detriment as well as that of others.
It is for this very reason to guard against the unenlightened or irresponsible use of power, that throughout the ages every Temple and every Brotherhood has kept its mysteries secret. Were men everywhere virtuous, there would be little need for such secrecy. Thus is the secrecy, in a sense, a judgement on the world at large.
On.the purely exoteric side, the Druids aim to inculcate the virtues of courage, selfless service to others and of true brotherhood as expressed in the ideal of the Universal Bond of which the Druid Order is the European representative. They aim to make men happy, free, and useful.
The Ancient Druids took their religion everywhere and into everything. They brought it into intimate relation with their daily life and character. It was to them a way of life rather than an adornment, as it seems today.
They taught that earth is of permanent duration and although subject to periodic changes, even of a violent nature, it would never be completely destroyed. These transformations are brought about by a conflict of the elements. At one time water would be predominant, at another time it would be fire, and so on.
This equates with the teachings of the ancient Maya, who held that one aeon would terminate with destruction by Fire, another by Earthquake, another by hurricane, and another by inundation; in short a Fire Age, an Earth Age, an Air Age, and a Water Age. Students of mystical literature will here be reminded of the nineteenth verse of the third chapter of the second Book of Esdras: “And thy glory went through four gates, of fire, of earthquake, of wind, and of cold.”
They taught that the present universe came into being through the activity between two distinct principles, one intelligent and omnipotent, which was God; the other, inactive and inanimate, which was matter. This reminds us of the Rajas and Tamas of the Hindus, Rajas signifying activity and Tamas inertia.
The ancient Druids held that the whole of animated creation originated in the lowest point of existence. They said, “Spirit sleeps in the mineral, breathes in the vegetable, dreams in the animal, and wakes in man.” They taught that in man good and evil are equally balanced, consequently he is in a state of liberty, but as long as man allowed evil to have the ascendancy over good, he would be subject to a time of test and trial. But God is for ever working changes that will bring each man to his destined state of felicity. If he fall the way is always open for him to rise again.
They taught that no finite being could endure eternity in any one unchanged condition, consequently he was destined to rise to a higher and higher state, without losing his identity or his memory. Such an evolved soul might conceivably return to earth, but is unlikely to fall again. And they held that such great souls do return to earth in every age as teachers, and it was considered the greatest imaginable blessing that could be bestowed upon the humanity of any age.
The Druids taught that there were three circles of existence: the Circle of the Great All-Enclosing which holds nothing but God, who is spirit. The Circle of Felicity, which man has to traverse after having passed through the terrestrial changes, and the Circle of Evil in which human nature passed through the varying changes of existence before being qualified to traverse the Circle of Felicity.
Brevity of statement in a terse, laconic style, characterized all the teachings of a psychological or metaphysical nature attributed to the Druids which have come down to us.
The Druids saw a symbol of the Divine Name, known as the “Awen” in the rays of the sun at the Solstices and Equinoxes, and in building a Gorsedd or a Stone Circle, they placed three stones outside, in such a manner that the rays of the sun passed between them to a central stone.
So they consecrated their temples as symbols of the Divine Name, and, in enunciating their teachings from this central “stones of speech” — “in the face of the sun and in the Eye of Light” — they believed