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Neo-Celtic Religion (Druidry)

Doctrines Druids have no central doctrine which must be adhered to; rather, each individual is encouraged to formulate his or her own beliefs. There, are however, some basic concepts which are common to most Druids. Most groups are open to both men and women on an equal basis. Some are Goddess based, some distinctly Pagan, others distinctly not. Some do not regard Druidry as a religion at all, but as a philosophy or science. Most, however, seek to preserve the ecological balance of the Earth and see humankind as an integral part of nature rather than above or in control of nature.

History The origins of Druidry are lost in the remote past, though much of modern Druidry draws its inspiration from Celtic traditions. Early evidence of Druidry can be gleaned from the works of writers such as Pliny the Elder and Julius Caesar.
The Roman invasions of Gaul and Britain and the introduction of Christianity led to the decline of Druidry in England, but Bardic Colleges in Ireland and Scotland continued until the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries respectively. By this time, antiquarian writers such as John Aubrey (1629 -1697), John Toland (1670 - 1722) and William Stukeley (1687 - 1765) had revived Druidry in England. This was continued by a Welsh visionary, poet and charlatan, Edward Williams (1747 - 1822), better known as Iolo Morganwg, whose writings were published as The Iolo Manuscripts (1848) and Barddas (1862). He concocted rituals for his Gorsedd of the Bards of Britain in 1792 which are still performed today as part of the Welsh Royal National Eisteddfod. The Nineteenth Century revival of interest in Celtic studies provided new impetus to the Druid movement.
In the present century, further revision has been undertaken through the writings of Lewis Spence, Ross Nichols and others, with present day writers such as John and Caitlin Matthews and Philip Carr-Gomm continuing the development of the tradition. In 1989, the Council of British Druid Orders was formed and has developed into a body representing around fourteen Druid Orders.

Symbols The sacred symbol of many of the Druid traditions is that chosen to represent Awen (/|\), signifying the descending form of light, the Three Rays of Light or Three Pillars of Wisdom, and the three drops of inspiration from the cauldron of Cerridwen, a Welsh Goddess. When placed within a circle, the symbol shows three aspects of deity, Truth, Beauty and Love, operating within the circle of creation, the world. The sun is also used as the symbol of divine light.
Like many Pagan religions, Druidry makes use of the pentagram and has a symbol for the Great Mother, Ana, root and base of all things, which is an upturned crescent moon.

Adherents It is estimated that there are some three thousand Druids who practice Druidry as a religion in Britain and Ireland. There are also Druid orders which are purely charitable and social organisations, with no religious emphasis. There are active Druids worldwide, though primarily in Britain, Ireland, France, USA, Australia, New Zealand.

Main Centre
 Each Druid Tradition has its own organising body. As Druidry is a nature based religion, they tend to meet outdoors rather than in buildings, so membership information and other material is usually sent out from individual homes rather than from a centralised office. However, in Britain, the Council of British Druid Orders was established in 1989 and now represents the interests of fourteen Druid groups. Membership secretary is Ted Williams, 125 Magyar Crescent, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV11 4SJ, United Kingdom.