There are many myths and misunderstandings about Druidry. Hopefully the information below will help to clear up a few things...
I thought all the druids died out centuries ago. how can there be druids today?
Druidry saw its re-emergence as a spiritual path nearly three centuries ago. It is still a largely misunderstood path. Modern misconceptions about Druidry persist to this day. One of these misconceptions is that since all known Druids died out centuries ago, there can be no Druids today. While it is true that many Druidic practices disappeared with the coming of Christianity and the Roman Empire, it is probably also true that some of the practices of Druidry were absorbed into Christianity (for example, the custom of hanging mistletoe at Christmas). In either case, Druid Reconstructionists painstakingly research historical and archaeological records to discover what ancient Druids believed and practiced. This knowledge is then usually incorporated into the body of practice of modern Druidry.
In the 18th century, largely because of a renewed interest in archaeology in the wake of the Enlightenment, a revival of Druidry began. This revival was inspired by the works of authors like John Aubrey (1629-1697), John Toland (1670-1722), William Stukeley (1687-1765) and Edward Williams (1747-1826). In particular, Edward Williams spearheaded the Druid Revival in Wales and England. Williams is better known by his “Druid” name, Iolo Morganwg (pronounced ‘YO-lo MO-gan-ug’). He founded the Gorsedd (GOR-seth), or “Gathering of the Bards,” which goes on in Wales to this day. Morganwg is often criticized for his tendency to invent things outright, but no matter how imaginative some of his accounts of Druid practice may have been, he was instrumental in reviving Druidry as a spiritual path. His seminal work on the subject is the Barddas. This work is heavily tinged with Christianity, portraying Christ as the “First Druid.”
Although Druidry has been enjoying a revival for the past three centuries, there is no known straight-line descent from ancient to modern Druidry, just as there is no straight-line descent from ancient to modern times in religions like Christianity and Islam. This does not mean that Druidry is not a legitimate belief system for modern followers of the path. There are thousands of people today who call themselves Druids, and who practice variations of a nature-centered spirituality. Groups like the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids in Great Britain and the Reformed Druids of North America in the United States have members in the thousands. Many other Druids worldwide choose for various reasons not to self-identify publicly as Druids, and decide to instead remain anonymous. Because of this, there may be as many as two million or more Druids worldwide.
There are probably as many types of Druidry as there are Druids. Some are polytheistic, some are pantheistic, and some are agnostic or even atheist. Some believe that Gods and Goddesses exist as real, separate entities, and others see Gods and Goddesses as archetypal energies.
Can women be Druids?
Even in ancient times, there were female Druids. Certainly today, in modern times, there are female Druids as well. And even though Druidry was originally a Celtic path, there are modern Druids from every race and culture on Earth. Modern Druidry is a path that is open to people of all races, genders, and nationalities. Since Druidry is more of a life philosophy than a religion, there are people who are Christian Druids, or Buddhist Druids, or even Atheist and Agnostic Druids. This openness and eclecticism has continued into the Order of the Morrigan.
Did the Druids build Stonehenge?
If you have ever seen a discussion of Druids in the popular media, you probably saw pictures or video of Druids gathering at Stonehenge. The hidden implication of these depictions is that the Druids built Stonehenge. The Druids were a Celtic priesthood and class, and the problem with such implications is that most historians and anthropologists agree that the Celts did not arrive in Britain until around 500 BCE. Stonehenge was probably built around 1550 BCE, over a thousand years before the Celts, and therefore the first Druids, would have arrived.
On the other hand, The Celts were more of a culture and a language group than a race of people. It could be that Stonehenge was built by an earlier people, and when the Celts arrived on the British Isles, they incorporated the beliefs of those earlier people into their own spiritual practices. The Druids were and are attuned to the cycles of nature, and Stonehenge is nothing if not a place to mark and celebrate the passing seasons. So they may have understood and appreciated its significance and taken it for their own, just as Christians built churches and cathedrals on older Pagan sites.
The association of the Druids with Stonehenge probably began during the Druid Revival of the 18th century, when historians of the period had a tendency to associate anything mysterious with the Druids. This association may or may not be erroneous. Time will tell as more archaeological evidence becomes available. What is certain is that the modern pairing of the Druids and Stonehenge has now been indelibly stamped into the collective consciousness. This can be demonstrated by the fact that modern Druids celebrate the solstices at Stonehenge. Some Druid groups have even replicated this enigmatic stone circle in places as diverse as Washington State, Missouri, and New Zealand.
Aren't Druids Satan Worshipers?
There is a tendency among many interpretations of Christianity to depict any other Gods and Goddesses as “Satanic” in origin. In fact, Christianity’s depiction of the Devil as a horned man was taken from the Celtic horned God Cernunnos.
Cernunnos, whose name means “Horned One,” is seen as the physical embodiment of nature in human form. He is a God associated with wildness and fertility. The early fathers of the Christian church associated him with their Devil in order to discourage Pagan practices.
Celtic spirituality and Paganism in general have no concept of Satan. The Taibhsear path does not divide the universe up neatly in black-and-white, good vs. evil terms. While many Taibhsears honor Cernunnos, in our practice he is not associated with evil. Instead, he is the bringer of prosperity and joy.