, , ,

Did the Celtic Druids Worship the Darkness? — Part II

Did the Celtic Druids Worship the Darkness? — Part II

In this post, Christian author Mark Fisher concludes the answer to the question: Did the Celtic druids worship the darkness? Specifically, did they worship spiritual darkness?

The Role of the Celtic Druids

Last time, we looked at the role of druids in ancient, Celtic society—how they were the keepers of the law, the judges, the healers, and the mediators between the clan and the spirit world.

We looked at the animistic world they lived in, where spirits lived in every tree, rock, stream, waterfall, cave, and mountain. We mentioned the “little people”, an invisible race of  sprites whose habitats one must be careful never to disturb, lest they curse your cattle, children, or your household with casualty or illness. And we also looked at a sampling of Celtic gods,  most of which would give anyone nightmares. Finally, we discussed how a people living beside such a spirit world reacted. They lived in constant fear of offending a multiplicity of gods, spirits, and demons.

Their “worship” consisted of appeasing as many of the spirits and gods that inhabited their world as possible. These were gods whose anger, capricious nature, and untrustworthiness everyone feared. One misstep, one breaking of a taboo, could bring ruin on one’s clan and family.

Did the Celtic Druids Worship Spiritual Darkness?

Back to our original question: Did the druids worship spiritual darkness? Did they worship that which was evil?

When St. Patrick came to Ireland in AD 432, he brought a message of love, hope, and salvation. The ancient Irish heard what he taught and recognized at once he spoke the truth. There is only one God, not the many deities with which the druids bedeviled them—one God who created the universe and all that was in it; one God whose nature was peace, joy, kindness, forgiveness, and love; one God who was infinite and eternal, who knows all things, is everywhere, and who is all-powerful; one God who is three persons in One Being; one God who loves so much that he sent his only Son into the world—as a man, yet still God—to live as a man, to work as a man, and to die as a human being, so that those who believed in Him would have eternal life.

Yes, the Irish listened and, for the most part, quickly abandoned the false gods of the druids. Before Patrick, the people lived in spiritual darkness. Afterward, they embraced the truth, and they realized that the God of the Bible was the only God. All other gods were false. To worship them was to deny that the one Creator, the one God, was the true God. And to worship anything that was not God is, by its nature, evil.

The True Spirit World

Patrick also brought them knowledge of the true spirit world, for the Creator God also created spiritual realms. The true spirit world is divided into two camps. In one camp is God, the Creator of all things, the heavenly realms, and his angelic beings in Heaven. And in the other are Satan and his demons, banished from Heaven. Satan was once one of the angels. But because of his pride and  disobedience, the Lord of Heaven and Earth banished Satan and his angelic followers from Heaven. These former angels became demons, and are now working against God’s interests. When this world ends, Satan and his demons are promised a new, eternal home in the lake of fire, along with all who have rejected Jesus as God’s Son. Satan is fighting with all his might against that prospect. But because he is a created being, his doom is certain.

And that, not the world of the druids, is the context for the real spirit world.

Sacrificing Children—Anyone, Really—is Evil

So when the druids sacrificed a child to Crom Cruach, that kind of worship was pure evil. They were giving homage, not to God, but to a worthless idol. And Satan, seeing the peoples’ embrace of this evil, would have hardened their hearts, sent his demons to continue the practice, and rejoiced. In the real spirit world—invisible to our eyes, but real nonetheless—Satan is fighting God in a battle for the hearts and souls of men.

Worship of anything other than the one true God is, by definition, false worship. And such worship will lead one to an afterlife in Hell. And that, my friends, is evil. So did the druids worship the darkness and evil?

In the battle of darkness versus light, the druids tried unsuccessfully to poison St. Patrick. They tried to sway the kings they advised not to listen to him. Because when Patrick brought people the truth, within a generation or so, the rule of the druids was over.

Mark is the author of The Bonfires of Beltane, a novel of Christian historical fiction set in ancient, Celtic Ireland in AD 432. Click on the link to learn more about his book.

, ,

Did the Celtic Druids Worship the Darkness — Part I?

Did the Celtic Druids Worship the Darkness — Part I?

In this post, Christian author Mark Fisher addresses the question: Did the Celtic druids worship the darkness?

It’s an interesting and provocative question. Modern-day pagans would bristle at the suggestion that the druids worshiped evil. But then they’re following in the druids’ footsteps, aren’t they? So naturally, they would object.

The question goes to the root of a person’s world-view. What kind of worship is evil and what is not? What kind of worship is true and what is false?

The Role of the Celtic Druids

Let’s start by looking again at this question, briefly: What was the role of druids in ancient, Celtic society? Druids were a major player in the clan’s hierarchy. It’s likely that the clan’s local king, or Rí Tuath, sought the druids’ advice or even deferred to them in many, if not most, decisions. The druids were the keepers of the law and the ones who passed judgment for crimes committed against the clan. They also held the ancient knowledge of healing, passed down from druid to druid by word of mouth, for it was taboo to write anything down. All knowledge must be memorized. Like many ancient cultures, Celtic society held to an oral tradition.

The druids were also the mediators between the people and a panoply of ancient gods and spirits. And this is where we come to our question. The ancient Celts lived close to the natural world, and like many such peoples, they were animistic. They believed that trees, waterways, caves, forests, mountains, etc… were inhabited by spirits, sprites, and demons. They believed in leprechauns, called “the little people”, whose invisible comings and goings could cause harm if  a person inadvertently offended them. If you disturbed the habit of such sprites, perhaps by cutting down their favorite tree or building a pasture on their meeting place, they might visit harm on your cattle or bring illness to your children.

Celtic Theology

The druids also developed a theology based on a multiplicity of gods—polytheism. The list of Celtic deities is legion, numbering in the hundreds. (See my posts on the Celtic Otherworld.)

There was Balor, a demonic one-eyed god of death and evil. As one after another of his eyelids opened up, his victims would experience increasing levels of heat until they burned up.

There was Crom Cruach, the sun god, before whom the druids at Killycluggin sacrificed children. Archaeological evidence attests to this. (This features prominently in my novel, The Bonfires of Beltane.)

Let’s not forget the Morrigan, one of the original members of the Tuatha de Danann, the mythical race of deities that made Ireland their home in the distant past. She’s a shape-shifter, changing from a ravishing woman to a crow to a hag. Badb, a warrior goddess, and Nemain, another battle goddess, are her sisters. The Morrigan is the military mother goddess.

Manannán mac Lir is the Irish sea god and god of the Underworld. Sea monsters and storms inhabit his realm, and he sometimes has affairs with mortals.

We’ve only covered a tiny handful of Irish deities. These were not benign, easily worshiped gods that inhabited the Celtic spiritual realms. Even looking at their statuettes and figurines in the archaeological evidence would give anyone nightmares.

Appeasing a Panoply of Gods

A people saddled with animism and polytheism is a people living in constant fear, never knowing which god, spirit, or demon they might offend next. Appeasement was key. And to appease all these deities, the people had to make constant sacrifices, leaving bits of food or drink in secret offering places in the forest, often under little piles of rocks. The ancient druids also sacrificed people, sometimes even children, to their ancient gods. For who knew what calamity might befall the clan if the spirits were offended and not satisfied with one’s sacrifices?

This, my friends, was the state of worship in ancient, Celtic culture. You can see where we’re going. But I must leave it to next time to finish the answer to our question: Did the druids worship the darkness?

Mark is the author of The Bonfires of Beltane, a novel of Christian historical fiction set in ancient, Celtic Ireland at the time of St. Patrick. To learn more about his book, click on the link.

, ,

The Ancient Celts — Interesting Celtic Facts, Part III

The Ancient Celts — Interesting Celtic Facts, Part III

In this post, Christian author Mark Fisher continues his list with four more interesting Celtic facts about the ancient Celts with Part III. (Click here for Part II.)

In no particular order, they are as follows:

9 – Slavery Was Common Among the Ancient Celts

As in all the ancient world, slavery was pervasive in Celtic society. In a previous post, I wrote:

“At the bottom of the social scale were slaves.  Slavery was very much a part of life in the ancient world. In fact the basic unit of currency in ancient Ireland was the cumal, or woman slave. You could end up a slave if you had overwhelming debts and sold yourself into slavery, or if you were taken in battle. The Irish often raided the coast of Britain, stealing slaves in the night from the rich Roman villas. Indeed, this was how St. Patrick made his first journey to the Emerald Isle—in chains.”

See: http://www.markfisherauthor.com/2016/04/social-classes-early-celtic-ireland/

10 – Bodies of Water Were Sacred

Bodies of Water Were Sacred

In the Celtic world of ancient Ireland, the druids were the means by which the people accessed the spirit world before St. Patrick. In a previous post, I wrote:

“The druids held that bodies of water—lakes, streams, and rivers—held healing properties. Bathing in or drinking from them might heal your ailment. Walking three times around certain wells, but always facing sunward, might also do the trick. As such, druids offered gifts to the gods inhabiting these waterways in hopes of obtaining their pleasure. They might carve wooden models of themselves or the injured part before a healing ritual.

Beyond the waterways, images of injured limbs, including a pair of sculptured breasts, have been found before the shrines of Celtic gods.

Waterfalls were seen as gateways to the Otherworld, where the spirits dwelt, and were to be avoided. A scene from my novel, The Bonfires of Beltane, dramatizes this taboo.”

11 – The Punishment for Crimes Was Often Payment of Property

In a previous post, I wrote:

“For wrongs committed against another person or fine, the offender (or his fine) would most likely have paid his penalty in property. This might include cumala (women slaves), cattle (highly prized), sheep, or pigs. If the person’s crime was indebtedness, with an inability to pay, the penalty might be that the debtor goes into bondage as a slave to pay off his debts. For offenses against the clan itself, the offender might be barred from sacrificial or group ceremonies. Or, if the penalty were severe enough, the criminal himself might be sacrificed in a public ceremony to the gods.”

See also: http://www.markfisherauthor.com/2016/05/druidic-justice-early-celtic-ireland/

12 – Ancient Lifespans Were Short

The dangers of living in the ancient world were legion: warfare, disease, childbirth, childhood itself, starvation and famine,  accidents and hunting, and travel. Given all that, ancient lifespans were short. This is what I wrote in a previous post:

“…what was the average life expectancy of a male child born in the Iron Age, the closest era providing us with statistics? The best guess, per Wikipedia, is 26 years. Childhood was an especially dangerous time. What were the odds you’d live to the age of fifteen? About 60%. But if you made it to fifteen, you might live another 37 years to the ripe old age of 55. There were a few who lived longer, of course.”

See also: http://www.markfisherauthor.com/2016/06/ancientcelticlifespans/

Next time, we’ll continue our list of interesting Celtic facts with Part IV.

Ancient Celtic Ireland is the setting for the Mark’s books of Christian historical fiction—one in publication, The Bonfires of Beltane, and The Amulet, now in the hands of beta readers. The same setting is also the basis for the author’s fictional world in a Christian fantasy trilogy. Book One, The Scepter of Elyon, is now seeking a publisher. Click on the link to learn more about The Bonfires of Beltane.