Their History and Religion
The Science of Comparative Religion originating out of the philosophic spirit of the age, has already won for itself a recognized position in the domain of positive knowledge. By its patient investigations amongst the wrecks and fragments of past and almost forgotten religious systems, that have reached us, and by a careful and accurate comparison of them with present existing religions, our knowledge of them has been considerably enlarged, so that taking a retrospective glance, we are able to realize the inner life and comprehend the thoughts and ideas which have swayed the minds and moulded the characters of mankind in all ages of human history.
Availing itself of the doctrine of evolution and its teachings, Comparative Religion has been able to translate and express in scientific terms, the historical development, as also the laws of growth and decay which govern the religious principle in man’s nature. By the aid of Comparative philology it has tracked Religions in their migrations, followed them in their numerous ramifications and explained the causes of their chief distinctive features and even fixed the locality from which they first radiated as a common centre; so that the philosophic student, after a general review and calm consideration of the many interesting facts and data presented before him, arrives at this conclusion that the same fundamental truths and ideas lie at the basis of the many and diversified systems of religion; that all of them are but the reflections of man’s faith, the expressions of his spiritual growth; — that their differences are mainly due to the influences of environment, of climate and natural scenery — the chief instruments in exciting intellectual thought and meditation that have entered so largely as formative elements in religious development.
This is particularly noticeable and perceptible in the history of Ancient Druidism, one of those old-world religions whose origin is shrouded in mystery as dark and impenetrable as the groves and forest recesses in which its rites and ceremonies were celebrated and performed. Out of the dim and mystic Past, the Druid Bards loom up as beings of a commanding and awe-inspiring character, invested with tremendous powers and possessors of a secret knowledge of Nature and an occult philosophy which caused them to be regarded with sentiments of the deepest reverence. In the unfolding of the great panorama of History they suddenly appear begirt with a power and authority more than kingly in its extent and influence, majestic in form and feature, calm and self-contained in their deportment, with brows encircled with golden coronets, and arrayed in all the splendid robes and glittering insignia of a lofty and learned priesthood. Thus they appear on the stage of human life, and after discharging their functions and playing their parts in the world’s drama, they disappear, retiring into that dark oblivion, the grave and cemetery of all that is mutable and human and in the minds of posterity exist no more, save and except as umbra nominis magni shadows of a great past.
The history of the Ancient Druids owing to the scanty details and meagre imperfect traditions of their religious and philosophic teachings that have been handed down, becomes a subject requiring deep and prolonged research, a discriminating analysis, and a clear intuition in the separation of those incrustations of truth and error, fact and fiction which in the course of centuries, have gathered round them and which have hitherto hindered and prevented us from obtaining right and adequate conceptions and views of their character as elements and factors in the religious life and development of Humanity. But few writers and historians have directed their researches in a field of knowledge which though limited and contracted in area, is rich with the relics and fragments of a race, the knowledge and details of which constitute a most interesting chapter in the universal history of Nations.
In the collection and marshalling of these various details, as also in piecing together the scattered historical data and placing them in their natural relationship and order, we hope to present, inadequate though it may be, a somewhat clear and vivid outline of a subject which to the theosophical mind is fraught with great interest and at the same time is calculated to become to the general reader, a source of instructive knowledge.
In order to avoid confusion in treating of the Ancient Druids and that the reader may obtain a clearer idea and conception of the subject, we shall first sketch their history and then present an outline of our investigations into their religion, its similarities to and differences from old-world faiths and systems of belief. Thousands of years ago the country of Bactria situated to the east of the Caspian Sea and stretching to the borders of northern India, was inhabited by a large number of tribes of the same origin and united together by the same manners and customs and modes of religious worship. They were chiefly agriculturists and possessors of large herds of cattle. Living at peace amongst themselves, their numbers became so much increased that their territories were finally unable to supply them with the necessaries of life. Calling together a council, it was decided that certain numbers should emigrate and form settlements for themselves and their families in lands that lay toward the regions of the setting sun. Accordingly a large body consisting of those who were headstrong and of fiery temperament, left their homes and after wandering across the wide plains of Asia Minor, some of them settled in northern Germany; while others forced their way into Italy and Greece. The first were the ancestors of the Celts, whose descendants Julius Caesar found in Britain when he invaded it; the latter were the progenitors of the Greeks and Romans. The tribes that remained at home, through some unknown causes, probably on account of climatic changes and a consequent dearth of the means of subsistence, were compelled to relinquish their homes when part of them settled in Persia. The remainder proceeded southeast and entered that part of India known as the Punjaub.
These facts in the early history of the Aryans are beyond question and constitute what a learned German has described as “the discovery of a new world” and we now know that Icelander and Roman, Greek and German, Persian and Hindoo, Briton and Arab are all brethren, the descendants of a common ancestry, wanderers from the same homestead.
Though to acquaint ourselves with the history of the wanderings of these various tribes is a subject of great interest, we are compelled to limit and restrict our investigations and follow in the rear and wake of the Celts who were the first to leave their fatherland. It was an eventful period in their history when they went forth in quest of new homes; — a hazardous enterprise entailing upon them great privations. It involved the clearing a pathway through dense forests, the fording of broad rivers and rapid streams, and contests with foes ever on the alert to oppose their advance and thwart them in their enterprise.
They were a tall, muscular race of men, carrying stone battle-axes on their shoulders and horn bows at their backs. As they wended their way westward and traversed the extensive plains over which they had first to pass, and as the dim outlines of the mountain peaks and summits of their native country faded from view, their courage abated not, for they were buoyant with hope in the future. In their hearts was an innate love of liberty and freedom, whilst their natures vibrated with those religious sentiments which form the basis of all true manliness and earnestness of character, essential in the achievement of lofty aims and purposes. By their indomitable energy and ceaseless perseverance, they entered Europe at length, leaving traces of the route they took in the Celtic names of places where they settled and of the rivers on whose banks they dwelt.
Nowhere in the countries through which they passed could they settle for any length of time, for they were hurried forward by an ever-increasing wave of numerous hordes of emigrants who were on the same quest as themselves and never found rest until they reached Brittany, a province in the north of France. Here they found their home and also in the island of Britain. In process of time, becoming settled and established, the Celts formed amongst themselves for purposes of mutual defense vast confederations of warlike tribes. They became fond of hunting, expert and skillful agriculturists and dwelt in conical huts formed of the branches of trees, covered with the skins of animals slain in the chase. They painted their bodies with figures to distinguish their families and rank, of which they felt so proud that in the most inclement season they preferred the dispensing with any kind of clothing. Like the Persians, their distant relatives, they held idolatry in abhorrence and overturned and destroyed the images and temples of the vanquished.
Whilst in their native land, the heads of families discharged all priestly duties and were termed Rishis, by whom were composed most of the hymns forming the Rig Veda, but owing now to their altered conditions and circumstances of life, the Celts, in order that they might be better able to attend to the means of self-preservation and provide for their respective families, relegated and intrusted the discharge of all priestly functions to certain individuals who have become known to us as the Druids; the derivation and meaning of which name is still a matter of dispute and uncertainty. Pliny the Elder, a noted Roman author, derives it from the Greek word drus, an oak, but several Welsh scholars maintain that it comes from Derwyda, the old British form of the word, a compound of derw, a wise man, a vaticinator or prophet. However this may be, the word Druid was used to designate a class of priests and philosophers corresponding to the Brahmans of India, the Magi of the Persians, as also to the hierophants and scholars of ancient and modern people.
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.
According to Pliny, the Druids held the mistletoe in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat, esteeming as a gift from heaven whatever grew thereon, more especially the mistletoe. When thus found, it was cut with a golden knife by a priest clad in a white robe, two white bulls being sacrificed on the spot. The name given to the mistletoe signified in their language All-Heal, and its virtues were believed to be great. The Moon Plant was held in great reverence by the Druids, as also by the Hindoos, whose praises of its occult virtues are dwelt upon in many of their most ancient writings.
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.
The third class was that of the Vates or Diviners of omens and all the phenomena of nature, the flight and song of birds. They were also skilful in compounding herbs, philtres and medicines, and wore a blue and white colored robe.
Such is a brief outline of the history of the Druids, their functions and duties. The subject of their religion and philosophy will receive a separate consideration when we come to deal with them. For the present we must leave them in the seclusion and silence of their forest groves, surrounded by admiring neophytes, and as the last echoes of their mystic teachings resound in our ears, we divine the reason of that reverence and veneration with which they were regarded by all nations, and why they were able to wield an influence which in its extent and power has never been paralleled, either in ancient or modern times.
Their History and Religion (Continued.)
In our preceding remarks on the Ancient Druids, we gave a short sketch of the wanderings and migrations of the Celts from their native land until their final settlement in the northwest of France and the neighboring island of Britain in which the system of Druidism attained to its highest development. Owing to freedom from the incursions of surrounding nations, their numbers increased to such an extent, that the country of Wales, the Isle of Mona, Ireland and part of Scotland became peopled by Celtic tribes who were accompanied by their Druid priests and bards and formed the great strongholds of Druidism, to the spread of which, their extensive forests with their leafy dells and shady groves mainly contributed.
The existing remains of such enormous structures as Stonehenge and Avebury, of huge cromlechs, dolmens and menhirs, in Cornwall, Wales and Ireland, have been we think erroneously attributed to the Druids. It is more probable that these megalithic temples and betylia were already in existence on the arrival of the Celts, and were made use of for their annual assemblies and the celebration of their sacrificial ceremonies with which they were inaugurated. The Celts were not builders like the Suryas or members of the Solar race. They were hunters and agriculturists and the exigencies of their modes of living, left them neither time nor leisure to attend to works of architecture, of which they had no need, as Nature herself had provided them with structures and temples fairer, more enduring and grander in their proportions than those upreared by human arts and skill.
“The groves were God’s first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them — ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood
Amid the cool and silence, he knelt down
And offered to the Mightiest, solemn thanks
And supplication, for his simple heart
Could not resist the sacred influence
Which, from the stilly twilight of the place.
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the Invisible Breath, that swayed at once
All their screen tops, stole over him and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power
And inaccessible majesty.”
The existence in America and Africa of structures similar to those of Stonehenge tend to show that they were rather the erection of the Atlantean race, those Cyclops of Antiquity the wrecks and ruins of whose Architecture, fill the minds of all beholders with feelings of wonder and admiration.
It has been observed by students of Comparative Religion, that all systems of belief possess in common certain fundamental ideas and conceptions which according to the prominence given to them, become influential means and powerful agents in developing and moulding national character. Appealing to peculiar mental and spiritual faculties, they bring out and incite to activity latent powers and forces which result in the evolution of those religious systems which have prevailed from time immemorial throughout the world. Confirmatory evidences of this fact are amply furnished in the rise and progress of religion in Arabia, China, India and Christendom. The doctrine of the unity of the Divine Being lies at the basis of all their cosmogonies and systems of philosophy, to which become attached, in course of time, teachings of Metempsychosis or Reincarnation, of moral and physical causation and speculations which crystallize into dogmas on the nature and ultimate destiny of man. There is also an embryological law which governs their development by which we can account for the many and differing phases of growth which they exhibit, as also the causes of their decline and extinction. Those in which the principle of humanity has been the ruling element, have attained the greatest longevity and become the most active and universal agents in the progress of civilization and the advancement of the Arts and Sciences which ameliorate the conditions of life and enable man to utilize the forces of nature and make them subservient to his welfare and enjoyment.
Religions, like empires, upreared on any other principle than that of humanity, have been transient in duration, disastrous rather than beneficial to the human race, and contained within them the seeds and elements of their own decay and annihilation. Sporadic in origin, as luxuriant in growth as tropical plants, like these they were short-lived, and, having no root in human nature, withered away and became extinct. This, as we shall presently see was the case with Druidism, a graft from that old prehistoric Aryan Religion whose vigorous offshoots attained to marvellous developments under the influences of more southern climes.
The religion of the Celts, like all other ancient religions, was patriarchal in its character, until, as we have stated, their altered circumstances and newly acquired modes of life necessitated a change which resulted in the relegation of religious rites and ceremonies and their celebration to certain individuals characterized for their learning and holiness of life, who henceforth became known by the name of Druids. In silent forest glades and groves, they had ample opportunity, like the Aranyakas in India, for the development of those high spiritual states of ecstasy in which the whole realm of knowledge and the secrets of nature became unveiled and revealed to their wondering and inquiring gaze, and so long as they were unswayed by ambition and remained content to be advisers and teachers, the fame of their extensive learning and the vast stores of knowledge which they accumulated, caused them to become subjects of the highest reverence. The rumor of them spread throughout all lands, so that students from all parts of the world flocked to them for instruction, and tradition states that Pythagoras himself was indebted to them for the doctrine of Metempsychosis. It is admitted by Greek writers that he was a disciple of the Celtic sages and acquainted with Abaris, a great Druid adept, who instructed him in the doctrine of the Abred or Circle of Courses, which, like the Gilgal Nishmoth or revolutio animarum of the ancient Kabbala, is intimately connected with the doctrine of Reincarnation. Iamblichos, in his life of Pythagoras, informs us that it was the common opinion that he had been instructed by the Celts. Diogenes Laertius expressly states that the philosophy of Greece came originally from the Celts. Stephanus Byzantius relates that the name of Abaris belongs to the Cymry or ancient inhabitants of Wales, in whose language it is a familiar term meaning The Contemplative One, or as we would now say, The Philosopher. We gather from the fragments of Hecatoeus, an ancient Greek historian and traveller, that Abaris was a Hyperborean, which, taking into consideration the scattered notices of him in other Greek writers, clearly demonstrates that the Hyperboreans, to whom they frequently refer, were the Celtic inhabitants of Britain. This fact receives additional confirmation from the description which Hecatceus gives of the geography, climate, harvest capacity, temples, groves, priests and harpers or bards of the island of the Hyperboreans, which plainly indicate it to have been Britain and no other country. Polyhistor, a great authority with ancient historians, mentions in his book of Symbols, that Pythagoras had visited the Druids, as also the Brahmans, and Aristotle especially affirms that Grecian philosophy was not of indigenous growth, but derived its origin from Gaul, whilst the Roman poet Lucan goes so far as to declare that the Druids alone were acquainted with the true nature and character of the Gods. Herodotus relates that a deputation consisting of two young Hyperborean virgins visited Delos, where they were received and entertained with great honors, and who continued to reside there till their death, after which the young women, in honor of their memory, cut off their hair before marriage, and rolling it around a distaff, deposited it on their tombs, which were situated eastward behind the temple of Diana.
Taking a general review of all these scattered references we are able to form some idea of the widely prevalent influence of the Druids and the vast power they wielded over the popular mind. Arrogating to themselves like the Brahmans, the possession of all knowledge, human and divine, natural and supernatural, they ultimately aspired to become spiritual autocrats and reigned with absolute sway in the domain of conscience to which the impressive and imposing character of their religious rites and ceremonies, their august assemblies in the midst of deep forests together with their mysterious and secluded mode of living greatly contributed. The splendid spectacular display of their annual festivals, their stately processions accompanied with strains of awe-inspiring music, of priests and bards arrayed in magnificent robes and bedecked with the glittering insignia of their rank and office, their solemn invocations to the great Deity and invisible Gods, and their no less awful curses and dread anathemas and formulas of excommunication thundered forth against offenders, all these tended to invest them in the midst of spectators with the aureole of a regal majesty wielding mystic and direful powers. This was especially the case at the yearly festival of cutting the mistletoe which was celebrated in the depth of those sombre forests in which the Druids had their retreats and principal sanctuaries.
In these immense primeval forests existed vast openings, in the centre of which arose like rounded domes majestic oaks of great antiquity. As the time approached, bards were sent forth in all directions to summon the people to the great religious ceremony of the year. Vast multitudes from all quarters assembled at the appointed place where they stood waiting the commencement of the long looked for ceremony. A feeling of awe and dread seized hold of the vast crowd as the echo of a choral chant first resounded amidst the forest glades and the dim outline of white robed priests bearing lighted torches emerged from out of the darkness leading the sacrifices. Amidst a solemn silence unbroken by the rustle of a leaf, undisturbed by the flapping of the night bird’s wing, the august procession came slowly on, headed by three venerable Druids of highest rank and dignity and crowned with ivy, one carrying bread intended for offering, another bearing a vase filled with holy water, the third holding a sceptre of ivory the characteristic mark of the chief Druid. Then followed the high pontiff whose office it was to gather the sacred plant, crowned with a garland of oak leaves, and arrayed in a magnificently embroidered robe aglow with the lustrous emblazonry of mystic symbols. In his hand was a massive golden crosier and on his breast a large ruby flashing forth rays of a strange and wondrous light. Suspended from his girdle by a chain of precious metal hung a pruning knife of gold, having the form of a crescent. Behind him marched the nobility and others of inferior rank. On arriving at the centre of the grove, a triangular altar of wood was constructed around the oak from which it seemed to rise (unity in the circle and trinity in the altar). A circular tablet was then appended to the tree, on which were inscribed mystic letters signifying God the Father, Sovereign Light, Principle of Life to the World. Two white bulls were then offered, when a Druid cast upon a fire lighted at each of the angles of the altar a slice of bread on which some drops of wine had been poured and as the mystic flames serpent-like darted and flashed upwards, suddenly the weird stillness was broken by the choral strains of the Bards as they chanted a most impressive litany.
The smallest of the small,
Is Hu the Mighty, as the world judges.
But the greatest of the great to us.
And our mysterious God.
Light his course and active;
The glowing sun is his car.
Great on land and on the seas.
The greatest we can conceive.
Greater than the worlds.
Let us beware of mean indignity
To Him who deals in bounty.
Ere the strains had ceased to echo through the forest, the Arch Druid by means of a ladder ascended the tree and cut without touching it, the branch of mistletoe with his golden falchion, allowing it to fall upon a white linen cloth, which had never been used, the four corners of which were held by young Druidesses, great care being taken that it should not touch the ground. In profound silence portions of the sacred plant were distributed amongst the crowd of spectators. The ceremonies completed and the Druids returning again to their sombre retreats and sanctuaries, the remainder of the night was spent in feasting and revels.
Having now finished the sketch of the history, as also of the rites and ceremonies of the Druids we shall next deal with their Theology and review the causes which led to their final overthrow and extinction. We leave them in the possession of fame and power, renowned and respected for their learning, exercising a sovereignty and sway over the popular mind that brooked no dispute, that feared no rivalry. The cynosure of nations, centres of law and religion, hedged about with a sanctity and divinity greater than that of kings, they built up a system of Religion which with its stately priesthood, its magnificent rituals and imposing ceremonies aided by profound learning and occult knowledge appeared impregnable to the assaults and ravages of time, and proof against all the elements of decay, and thus we leave it, equalling in its grandeur and magnificence that famed city of which its monarch and founder said in his heart, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built by the might of my power and for the honor of my majesty.”
Their History and Religion (Continued.)
Though Druidism, with all its fame and prestige, had now passed away, yet the spirit of it survived in its order of Bards who, now scattered throughout Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and many parts of Britain, became wandering minstrels and sole depositories of Druidic philosophy and learning. There are clear evidences of their existence in all these countries. They were treated with the utmost respect and exempted from taxes and military service, and reverenced as the sole survivors of an age of freedom and liberty, the traditions of which are still cherished in the heart of every true Celt, for they gave poetic expression to the religious and national sentiments of the people which have never become entirely extinguished. It was, however, chiefly in Wales that Bardism attained its highest development and continued to exert a powerful influence even after the introduction of Christianity into that country. This was also the case through the middle ages, and after the conquest of Wales.
At stated intervals great festivals or Eisteddfodaw were held at which the most famous bards from various districts met and contended in song, the umpires being generally the most learned of the princes and nobles. To this day, these festivals are celebrated not only in Wales but in America, Australia, New Zealand and wherever Welshmen abound, who still cherish and retain many of the Druidic traditions, apothegms, symbols and emblems. In Brittany and other parts of France still exist ancient customs and superstitions of Druid origin which have utterly repelled the eradicating influence both of the Catholic and protestant clergy. Through these Bards has been handed down what knowledge we possess of the theology and philosophy of the ancient Druids. The Barddas one of the great occult books preserved in the bardic college in Glamorgan has been published, and contains a vein of teaching and thought clearly which may certainly be regarded as of Druidic origin. Editorial exigencies preclude us from pointing out at great length the many similarities and interesting analogies and correspondences with the religions and philosophy of the East which are presented in the above-named work. To do this in an adequate and satisfactory manner would swell our remarks into a volume, and we therefore most reluctantly limit ourselves to giving short extracts in which are expressed some of the chief teachings of the Druids and a translation of The Circles of Existence which we trust may not prove devoid of interest to the student and general reader. For the better understanding of them we would observe that the Bardic theology is expressed in tercets or verses consisting of three lines, the number three being held in great esteem by the ancient Druids.
Theology and Philosophy
Three are the Circles of Being.
Cyleh y Ceugant — The Circle of Space.
Cyleh y Abred — The Circle of Evolutions.
Cyleh y Gwynfyd — The Circle of Happiness.
Three are the successive states of animated beings.
The state of existence in Annouin,
The state of liberty in Abred,
The state of happiness in Gwynfyd.
Three are the phases of existence:
Commencement in the Abyss (Annou-for).
Transmigration in Abred.
Completion and perfection in Gwynfyd.
As supplementary and forming a commentary on these circles, we give the following extracts — Souls when purified ascend to still higher spheres from whence they can no more descend. Souls that are sullied with earthly impurities are refined by repeated changes (incarnations) and probations till the last stain of evil is worn away and they are ultimately ripened for immortal bliss in a higher sphere — the abode of the Blest — of the Sages — of the Friends of Humanity. With respect to the creation of the Universe we learn that this grand event took place “by the voice of the Divine energy, that is, by its melodious sweetness, which was scarcely heard when, lo! dead matter gleamed into life, and the non-entity which had neither place nor existence flashed like lightning into elementation, and rejoiced into life and the congealed, motionless shiver warmed into living existence, the destitute nothing rejoiced into being a thousand times more quickly than the lightning reaches its home.” One of the Masters being asked, with what material did God make all corporeal things endowed with life? replies, “With the particles of light, which are the smallest of all small things, and yet one particle of light is the greatest of all great things, being no less material for all materiality that can be understood and perceived as within the grasp of the power of God. And in every particle there is a place wholly commensurate with God; for there is not and cannot be less than God in every particle of light, and God in every particle; nevertheless, God is only one in number. On that account every light is one, and nothing is one imperfect co-existence but what cannot be two, when in or out of itself.”
How were animation and life obtained? “From God and in God they were found; that is from the fundamental and absolute life; that is from God uniting himself to the dead, or earthliness; hence motion and mind, that is, soul. And every animation and soul are from God, and their existence is in God, both their pre-existenceand derived existence; for there is no preexistence except in God, no coexistence except in God, and no derived existence except in God and from God.” 1 With reference to the evolution of men we give the following: “It is necessary that every living and animate being should traverse the circle of Abred from the depth Aunwn, that is, the extreme limit of what is low in every existence endowed with life, and they shall ascend higher and higher in the order of gradation or life, until they become man, and then there can be an end to the life in Abred, by union with goodness.”
“But no man at death shall go to Gwynfyd (Nirvana) except he who shall attach himself in life, whilst a man, to goodness and godliness. The man who does not thus attach himself in godliness shall fall in Abred to a corresponding form and species of existence of the same nature as himself, whence he shall return to the state of man as before. And then according as his attachment be either to godliness or ungodliness, shall he ascend to Gwynfyd (Nirvana), or fall in Abred when he dies. And thus shall he fall for ever, until he seeks godliness, and attaches himself to it, when there will be an end to the Abred of necessity and to every necessary suffering of evil and death.”
The Circle of Abred (Evolution)
Three necessary things are there in the circle of Abred, — the primordial origin of life, the protoplasm of all things, mortality and death.
Three things shared by every animated being whilst in Abred, Divine aid without which there could be no consciousness, the privilege of sharing in divine love, and harmonious action with the Divine in order to attain the end and object of their destiny.
Three necessary causes operate in the circle of Abred, that of the development of the bodily structure of every animated being, that of the attainment of universal knowledge, also that of moral growth in order to triumph over the spirit of evil (Cythraul) and obtain self-deliverance from evil (Droug) for without these there could be no progress.
Three essentials are there in order to obtain perfect knowledge, reincarnations in Abred, in Gwynfyd and reminiscence of past experiences.
Three are the things inevitable in Abred, the transgression of law (natural and spiritual), deliverance by death from Droug and Cythraul, growth of spiritual life.
Three are the essentials to man’s triumph over evil, — suffering, calm endurance of change, — liberty of choosing, by which he can determine his own destiny.
Three are the alternatives offered to man, Abred and Gwynfyd (heaven and hell) necessity and liberty, — good and evil, all in equal balance, man being able to attach himself to one or the other.
By three things man falls under the necessity of Abred; ceasing to strive after knowledge, refusing and resisting good — preferring the evil, in consequence of these he descends in Abred to the place for which he qualifies himself and begins again his pilgrimage through the circle of evolutions.
Three principal things to be acquired in the stage of humanity — knowledge — love — and moral power. These cannot be acquired anterior to the human stage but through the exercise of liberty and free choice. They are the three victories. They begin with humanity and attend it through all the cycles of the ages. Three are the privileges incident to humanity — the adjusting of evil and good, giving rise to comparison — liberty of choice giving rise to judgment and preference — increase of moral power. These are necessary in the working out and accomplishment of human destiny.
The Circle of Gwynfyd — (Happiness)
Three are the principal blessings in the circle of Gwynfyd, — freedom from evil, freedom from care, freedom from death.
Three things attainable by man in the circle of Gwynfyd, his primordial genius, — his primordial love and memory of past incarnations without which he cannot attain to perfect happiness.
Three are the Divine gifts to man, — a life complete in itself — an individuality absolutely distinct, — and natal genius. These constitute the personality of every animated being.
Three are essentials to universal knowledge — transmigration through the stages of being — the memory of each incarnation and its experience — the power of passing at will into previous states for the enlargement of knowledge and experience and these are attainable in the circle of Gwynfyd.
Three are the things of endless growth; fire or light, — intelligence or truth, — spirit or life; the ultimate result of which is the rule over all things when the circle of Abred (evolution) will terminate.
Three are the things continually decreasing, darkness, error and death.
Three are the things which ever become stronger, Love, Knowledge and Justice.
Three are the things which daily become weaker, Hate, Injustice, and Ignorance.
Three are the beatitudes in Gwynfyd, the reciprocal sharing of benefits, — the willing recognition and ready acknowledgment of individual genius and Universal Brotherhood based upon the love of God. Three are the prerogatives of the Divine, to be self infinite, to become finite in the finite and unification with all the various states of existence in the circle of Gwynfyd.
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.
1. Barddas, p. 257