Exploring Ritual Garb
A topic that is often not talked about is that of Ritual Garb. Within the Pagan community you'll come across everything from painted naked people, robes based on fantasy costumes or early Christian influence, and even utili-kilts and renn-wear; all mish-moshed together. Also least we forget the hippie or even gothic influence within the mainstream of Pagan Fashion. One might ask themselves, "what do I wear, does it matter, and why wear anything?" Certainly it does not matter what you wear. The Gods could care less about what you have on. Though lets examine a few themes and get to the nitty gritty of this style issue.
Time and place will often dictate what you may choose to wear or not wear. You wouldn't invite a new guest to your circle and have everyone disrobe in front of them, nor would you want to show up in full Scottish highland great kilt when everyone has t-shirts and shorts on. Season, weather, established group dynamic, and type of festival may also play a large role in attire. So within the context of the Celtic traditions, what shall we find?
Within modern Druidry and I use the term loosely here. There is a certain accepted image many think of when they hear the word Druid. I wanted to address this, dispel popular accepted fashions, explain them, and offer suggestion of a more cultural and colorful way of donning Druidic or even Celtic garb for that matter. When I say Druid, you automatically are drawn to recall what you remember seeing or think you may know. This image is no doubt a figure in a long white hooded robe, carrying a golden sickle and wandering about Stonehenge. Is there any validity to this image? Let us look at where this well known idea comes from in our modern Druidic history.
One of the older Classical references we have about the style of the Druids comes from Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus AD 23 – August 25, AD 79) in his work, Naturalis Historia 'Natural Histories'. It is from this source material we learn that the Druids wore white robes, used golden sickles to harvest the mistletoe from the Oak tree on the 6th night of the moon, sacrificed a white bull, etc. The problem here is not merely in translation of language used, but also in who Pliny the Elder was as an outsider to the Celtic culture. This Roman was also very well known to be overly obsessed in anything dealing with magic or the esoteric. So, was this image dreamt up? It is very likely that much of his work in Celtic imagery is exaggerated and embellished, more over a conglomeration of other foreign cultures; and not from actual 1st person experience. Pliny's word (candida veste) which so many have taken to be 'Robes' is a mistranslation for the word "White Vestments". Looking at the Latin; Vestimentum: garments, clothes, clothing, robe, apperal, vest. Vestis: garments, clothes, clothing, vest, dress, carpet. Vestitus: clothing, dress, apperal, clothes, garments, vest.
The actual reference in Latin is as follows:
Sacrifico epulisque rite sub arbore comparatis, duos admovent candidi coloris tauros, quorum cornua tum primum vinciantur. Saceddos candida veste cultus arborem scandit, falce aurea demetit, candido id excipitur sago...etc.
Sacrifice and a banquet beneath the trees, they bring thither two white bulls, whose horns are then for the first bound up. Saceddos in a white garment ascends the tree and mistletoe with a golden sickle, and it is received in a cloak of white.
Veste means clothing! This was possibly & most likely a white or an 'off-white', natural flax linen, or wool long piece of clothing. It could have been a tunic but then he would have used the word Tunica which means; tunic, coat, think skin, shirt, ordinary sleeved garments. So we are left with a white garment, Not a monk like habit style robe we might be inclined to think of. It could it have simply been a Cloak/Brat? Also note there is no mention of hoods. We know gold does not hold an edge well, for anyone that has ever really had to cut mistletoe would tell you; the thick woody parts are a trial to test your patients. This golden sickle was no doubt a small reaping hook of bronze, and there are many mainland bog artifacts to support that the tools of the time period were not crescent moon shaped sickles of todays new-age fashion.
Also is it possible that Pliny confused the Germanic traditions for the Celtic, we do know his major body of work History of the German Wars has been lost to us, so it is hard to say. Oddly in other works like Nat. His., XXIV, 103 Pliny mentions white clothing (candida veste) again, this time he mentions them as a Tunic/Tunicam. So why is it that the popular focus is always on the first account and not this secondary short write up that mentions the Tunic? Could be be like Pliny and be overly enthused by all things esoteric. It is based on Poor scholarship, mistranslation, or possibly because people like dressing as transvestites as our wise comedian Eddie Izzard would suggest in this vid clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiFq_nk8pE0
Another problem with this White robed image, is that it stems from the Romantic Celtic Revival period during the 1700's in Britain. A country well known for oppressing its Celtic neighbors at that time. They did well in not adopting their neighbors styles of fashion within their new founded public practice of a 'Stone Circle Druidry'. Let us examine a well known image from the Romantic Druidic Revival Era that has helped to shape and infect our collective unconscious. In 1724 William Stukeley produced his engraving, "A British Druid", which was then used as the frontispiece of the work titled: 'Stonehenge: a temple restored to the British Druids', published in 1740. Though this wasnt the original front cover to be used, nor the title we know today. Stukeley's projected work titled: The History of the Temples of the Ancient Celts (July 1723) displays no Druidic type figures, just men in the forest near a cave, with walking sticks examining what appears to be a small stone circle.
Yet in his revised sketch of his title page there are Druids. (estimated between 1723-1733) This revision and its title was then to be re-titled, The History of the Religion and Temples of the Druids.
So what happened, why the change? During this period when many aristorcatic gentlemen were fraternizing over fantasy about so called Celtic things, there was also a new movement of Druidic activities happening publicly, and in private. A man we may know from our Druidic history named John Toland introduced William Stukeley to the already ongoing Aristocratic Gentleman's club of a Druidic Movement happening in the UK at that time. They were both Freemasons, and belonged to a few other philanthropic organizations with the social upper class elite of their communities. Being of this social status allowed for a type of freedom from the hard work of the common man who struggled on a daily basis. These gentleman generally kept the same social circles for many reasons, as some of us do today. After all, people do judge you by your company as my Grandmother would say. Stukeley's image no doubt fueled the Romantic Druid Antiquity movement in its growing imaginations of a mascot for a publicly safe Druidic figure; influencing what they thought Druids really looked like. Did these gentleman have any solid awareness of the subject? More on this later. After all, why is there a need to classify and title this image as a "British Druid", did the neighboring Druids dress differently? Before we move onto where this image came from, let us look at what this picture is trying to tell/sell us. Take in a good look and let us address a few topics.
We see an old man with a well groomed beard in healthy shape, not overweight and much definition to his leg muscles, probably from a life of walking. He wears sandals that look (in my opinion) very Roman. He is placed under the Oak tree which we eventually learn is a Druidic tree venerated by the British, Welsh, Gallic traditions. He walks with a water bladder slung over his shoulder (or coin purse?) and a Bronze Age axe attached to his belt with no handle. His walking stick (in his Right hand) is straight and at the top there appears to be a line or a notch for something to be attached; Perhaps the axe itself? His posture is to me very posed, and unnatural. I feel this way due to his eyes being turned down in reflection of something contemplative, and his left hand over his chest is also what I feel an unnatural position. Could his fingers be forming an 'M' for a reason? I ask the reader to mimic the finger posture seen in this sketch and take note in how unnatural it feels! From this I suggest it could be a certain type of identification to those initiates of the Order. Speculative at best, but again, unnatural even for a pose. This hand gesture is seen in many sketches and paintings from various time periods which adds to the mystery.
We see from this image that he wears a hooded tunic and a cloak over top. Not the long flowing monk like robes, why? Because from this image we can gather he is a traveling man. He is out in the wilds, shown by the forest in the back ground, and the subtle image of Silbury hill & possibly Avebury behind it. He is between these images, showing a balance of private/secret tradition, with what is hidden in the forest; and yet an open air, 'in public' view with use of the Avebury stone circle and what appears to be Silburry Hill (to possibly suggest, elevation). This could also be the old and the new symbolism of the Druid tradition from the their perspective in the 1700's. The Gentleman of this time period also tried to tie the Druids to the ancient Neolithic sites like Stonehenge and Avebury; as many then thought the Druids to be the actual builders or architects. We see at the bottom of this depiction the artists title and date is done on a carved stone. An ashlar perhaps? Why would Stukeley bother to depict his "words" artistically on the image of a carved stone, under tree in the middle of nowhere? Does this also seem a bit, unnatural? What is this suggesting? I feel the artist was creatively leading us somewhere, for those of us who may be clever enough to put the subtle symbolism together, we could possibly gain some insight into why he did it this way. What do we know of the Rev. William Stukeley? There are Biographies both long and in depth about his personal life, but what most of them will not mention in depth is his esoteric involvement, and the circles he was apart of. In 1717 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, in the following year he founded what is still presently called The Society of Antiquaries. After 1719 in his completion of a medical degree from Cambridge he became a Freemason. In 1722 he entered The Roman Knights and took on the name Chyndonax of which he also used Druidically. He was good friends with Sir Isaac Newton (a well know Deist of his day) and took over the Druid Order that John Toland was running after his death in 1722. (More on Toland in notes)
Stukeley could have easily just put his signature and date tucked away in the bottom corner like many artists do, but he didnt in this piece. Looking at his previous works there is nothing special about his title and signature on them. This engraving was done with what seems a deeper purpose and symbolic intent. Earlier I used quotes when I said his "words". I did this to show importance, as there was a saying used long ago even in Stukeley's time; The ancients drew it upon the earth. What does this mean? The ancestors left us records 'in stone' just like this artist has done with his image. It is up to us to read the stones they left us, to make sense of our history. Perhaps he was suggesting that through the image of the stone, and the ancient site of Avebury, that the Druids of old were like Masons themselves; both Operative and Speculative in their craft as a combined function to their communities in ancient times. Maybe the Druids during his time were like The Freemasons as well? Perhaps that is why Many Freemasons became Druids, and many Druids became Freemasons; One can only speculate. Though it is not uncommon for many Gentleman to have belonged to more than one organization, even by todays standards you see Druids that are Freemasons who join The Scotish Rite, Grotto and Shrine and even the Rosicrucians.
Did Stukeley get this image of a British Druid from anywhere we might know? The answer is yes, as in most cases there is always a something that comes before a work that is well known which inspired it. Let us glimpse at those images and judge for ourselves if Rev. Stukeley was contributing anything original in his artistic depiction.
In the above: Aylett Sammes who was known for his works trying to connect the Phoenicians to the Welsh language compiled a work titled, Britannia Antiqua Illustrara was published in 1676 & bears a Druid of a striking resemblance to Stukeleys published Druid of 1740. That would make Stukeley's Druid many years after Sammes. Examine and compare the Image for posture and style to that of Stukeley's. We see that Sammes Druid is in the wild, yet is holding a book. No book exists in Stukeleys image, yet look at the hands on the book. Also to mention, is the Druid carrying a water bladder,or a coin purse? We notice from this image that the Druid has a longer beard than Stukeley's, and wears no sandals, a more wild unkempt image. We see with use of the book, an emphasis placed on education, reading, writing, history, lore, & teaching. All these things that are apart of a Druids function within his community. Still though, look at the abounding similarities. Yet after all this, if we dig through the layers of time in the bog we find that even his work and iconography was inspired by the Conrad Celtes organization and the Jani Anglorum of John Selden in 1610. The influence of these representations of Druids continued until the 19th century and the Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Islands (1815) of Samuel Rush Meyrick and Charles Hamilton Smith.
Below: We also have another very similar image to bring up and that is from the work entitled, Mona Antiqua Restaurata, by Rev. Henry Rowlands in 1723 around the same time as Stukeley was working on his original image for his book that had no Druid influence yet.
Again we see the same type of image, posture, & style. In this later addition, yet still published prior to Stukeley's work; We see sandals added, and the hand holding the oak leaves of which will be added as the oak tree which Stukeley's Druid rests underneath. Yet with this Druid we see he is examining a snake (adder?) next to his right foot; which causes his posture to be as it is? Is this a connection to Druids and snakes? He stands in front of a few rural style houses, connecting him not to the wilds but to a community? Interesting to note that Rev Henry Rowlands an Anglesey Vicar was also good friends with Mr. John Toland. Can we then see how through at least Rowlands to Toland that Rev. Stukeley arrived at his British Druid image, I think so.
Below: Yet still another image of an unknown artist that is often credited to Aylett Sammes in his 1676 work.
We see the use of the staff, pouch, book & leaves, with houses in the background. I could find no artist for this piece, and found it poorly classified as the work of Mr. Sammes dated 1676 on the internet. This above work does not appear in Sammes work like the other above plate with use of no village and no leaves. It appears to be a combination of many of the well known images, much like we tend to think of Merlin in our folklore, a mish-mash a many historical people.
What is common about all these images?
From them we are to gather a Druid is an old man, through the imagery of the long white beard. Maybe this is to symbolize wisdom, knowledge, experience? We see that in all of the images the use of a walking stick/staff is in the right hand. The walking stick is generally the same length in all the images and in the same position. It is straight and not bent, crooked, or twisted. Perhaps used as a method of measurement? In many of the histories of the Gael we learn of certain sticks made from Aspen used only by one individual for measuring out graves. It is suggested that these sticks were taboo to other members of society and always were of the same length. We see from all of these images that a water bladder, coin purse, or even a crane bag (magic bag) is used. The Druid is outside in all these, & not indoors. He is away from the houses not next to them, and often near ancient sites. There is a connection to the Oak, to books, education, study, self reflection. We see in all of these the Druid wears a knee length tunic although wearing a hooded cloak. No pants are worn in any of these images, and the use of sandals seems infrequent. We can clearly see that Stukeley's British Druid was not his own invention, and we must then ask where this image comes from? No one really knows. Antiquity would suggest that at least some of the image is correct and not to fully dismiss it as fantasy. It is practical for a Druid to be wearing such garb in a way. Long billowing robes get caught up in the woods, and larger sleeves are dangerous near a fire. Even the cloak here doesn't drag on the ground. It is my opinion that this image must come from some what of a real Druidic type figure. The earliest image of this style is from the early 1600's as far as I can recover through research. One must ask if this could possibly be a surviving image of someone once seen during this time period or a passed down story from before? We do know that in Ireland and in Scotland during this time Hedge Schools were still in common practice with the Ollamh (Dr. of Poetry) presiding over this older Druidic type of education. This image could then be of one of these individuals, but who is to say.
What is very interesting is that through these images, we don't see any of the well known Celtic styles that display fabrics we know the Celts to have worn ie. checks, plaids, tartan, or tweed-like woven weaves like the herringbone. We don't see certain feathered cloak styles, like the Irish Tuigen. What we see is a public safe image; by that I mean something somewhat Christian in style, perhaps even early Céili Dé/Culdee? Could this be a safe fashion statement for a priest-craft to exist openly, unsure? We do know some of the romantic celtic revivalists were also reverends, vicars, and they also considered themselves as Druids. Though this style alludes to something that if seen publicly by a crowd of spectators they would unconsciously just be accept a white robed image with clergy even if it did seem rather peculiar. After all we can not have a bunch of savage looking painted people running a muck in fur and feathers now can we? This is Great Britain after all, and God save the Queen; I kid!
These early romantic revivalists looked to many outside sources like the Middle East, Egypt, and even India for some form of early roots within their Druidic quest for a Celtic identification. Sadly instead of going through their neighbors manuscripts to get the real McCoy (pun intended). So today we see modern Druids still stuck in this white robed garb of the 1700's. Is there anything wrong in this? I would say Yes and No. It defines them as modern Druids, in so far as what they do, believe, and bonds them together under a common image of unity as a group. Nothing wrong with that in anyway; after all their Druidry allows such freedom of expression that they can chose to wear something different if they wish. I personally feel the 'wrong' in Druids wearing all white, is not necessarily anyones fault. More times than not students of this Druid-craft are not throughly educated, or otherwise do not have the resources or exposure to know any differently. After all how many manuscripts still exist in Old Irish about such things that are still left untranslated! A wise man once told me; "You cant be mad at the monkey because it doesn't know how to play cards with you." I guess that is why I am writing this, because I know what it is like to be that man. It would make me happy to see more modern Druids adopt a Celtic flare if you will in how they dress to express their path. Honestly I would rather see modern fashions of kilts, tattoos, torcs, and brightly colored tribal people any day celebrating a modern Celtic (not purely Druidic) cultural celebration. At least it's better than looking like a Hebrew Princess Leia stereotype wandering about Neolithic stone circles. It is nice that many groups are slowing growing towards this more colorful expression in our time, and celebrating them on the farm, and in the fields with their families and neighbors.
We can not get away from the White, so it seems:
Why does this color always come to be relied upon for our Druidic garb? Honestly I think it does have a universal function that most likely traces its roots to some sacred Indo-European tradition. White being a pure & holy, the color of new fabric, un-dyed, clean, etc. This fabric with comparison to even our doctors hospital garb has a sort of cleanliness to it, after all if its dirty, it looks dirty. Though I think here is where we insert time and place in our understanding of apparel. Did the Druids wear long white robes all the time? I personally think they did not. I feel they may have worn a longer length possibly below the knee or ankle length, fitted sleeved tunic (with no hood for the Gaelic tradition to show off the frequent tonsure) of a natural off-white color for certain social-religious affairs. Perhaps when acting as Brehon (Judge) or even something to do with justice they wore white with their outfit. Also to note, I do not think they wore just off-white tunics by themselves, such as in the above image of Stukeleys Druid. No doubt these Druids were within the Celtic culture, they had leather, fur, feathers, checks, stripes, variegated & speckled-tweed looking complex woven textiles; of which we have samples found at Hallstatt. Why would they not be 'well dressed' if they were after all the most educated of their people which allowed them to look a certain way that defined their social status. We have mention that in Irelands tradition, only slaves wore one color. Why would the educated, artistic class wear just white? They wouldn't have, so why do we still continue to today? Is it that symbolically this white so many wear represents the combination of all colors? I have no idea. Honestly I don't concern myself too much with answering that because I don't dress that way.
Ward get out of my Robes!
Get it... wardrobes? Hardy har-har.
Do we not dress differently for work, then when we play. Weddings and formal events require us to wear certain outfits, and even then some choose to display a more creative expression within the cultural accepted norms. The ascot/cravat, waistcoat-vest, morning coat vs. a standard tuxedo. Sure you might see a popular model or musician wearing an out of this world outfit at an event, but even then it is still seen as acceptable. It is not like that artist is wearing freshly slain bull hides, covered in mud with no other clothing on within our culture. For instance, when we go to court, when we go to a sporting event, when we dig in our gardens; we dress for the occasion. Druids as a people within a culture just like ourselves, no doubt adopted a style for practicality within the cultural accepted norms of their time. I do not see a Druid in long white robes working on the farm, or wandering around the woods, the image just doesn't fit. They wore their work clothing, their everyday clothing, which made them look like who they were; Celtic people! Perhaps there was an everyday 'casual style' that also showed the community of their social-political class without use of religious garb? We know beards, tonsures, torcs, the use of gold, amount of colors displayed, and things like this were reserved for only certain members of nobility in that society. It isn't hard to imagine there could have been other things similar to this that allowed for a Druidic identity to be known from just appearance within the culture besides a reputation alone. I would think that due to season, weather, and even what they are doing within the community influenced their appearance. Would a Druid working as Judge settling tribal disputes wear what he wore to battle, or even for feasting with the High King? Doubtful. Each outfit would reflect what office they were holding socially or privately. More so, the Druids personal style would reflect this to those present, allowing the individual to creatively express themselves through their desired outfit. We should be doing the same thing in our time as we 'dress to express' during our celebrations if we choose to wear garb.
So why are we not adopting a more Celtic inspired style within our Druid wardrobes if we are learning that these 'white robes' are not fully traditional? For some it appears to be a respect for a preexisting 'in place tradition'; and for others to be known as a Druid through the accepted well known image. We have publicly accepted Druid Orders that have been with us for 200 years, and we have their members and Chiefs still wearing these styles, so why not? In reflecting again on time and place, this could also bring up the subject of when do we wear garb? Also too, what it means to wear it? If one is involved in the Military, they have a uniform, both functional and even for dress. The Martial Arts has its Gee, and when we celebrate graduation we wear a cap and gown.
Personally I come from the angle of Iron Age Celtic re-enactment & living history background. It is not uncommon for folks like myself who try through history to depict the Celts accurately to also be Pagans. Why not wear the same attire when we celebrate our festivals since we know that we already have it, and its respectful in style & taste. The point is, is that these outfits are NOT costumes for those wearing them as they are not only celebrating their faith but the CULTURE of that Faith. When we don special outfits for ceremonies, we are not playing dress up, we are not acting out fantasy or role playing, we are not re-enactors. We are like Bag Pipers in a Marching band, or Step Dancers at a feis; we are wearing a historical & cultural outfit that displays a time period, social class, and our dedication to honoring the ancestral traditions we celebrate. When we wear ceremonial garb, we are setting a mood of sorts. By doing this we know we will be changing our focus from the mundane to the sacred. We do this symbolically in our daily lives when we light a candle, it shows something different is taking place. By allowing ourselves to wear something special that we only wear at special times; the changing of clothing is a small ritual in itself. This mindset does influence our state of consciousness, preparing us for the work we do. Does a Judge not put on their robes before entering the court room, or even a Justice of the Peace holding a wedding? For those Brothers out there reading this, could you imagine attending Lodge and not wearing your Apron? This is the same for those within the Druid tradition. Though, some feel they always have to wear garb for their work, while others feel clothes are clothes and it matters not. Again some may choose a more liberal expression and are comfortable being skyclad (naked). Time and place can dictate your choice of garb, as well as to some extent personal choice. You may live in the deep south where wearing the stereotypical 'white robes' might be a very bad idea! This is where donning a historical outfit would make much more sense if there is a desire to wear garb as a group.
Do you need to be in garb? Absolutely not. If you are working publicly with a large group and wish to stand out, do so by all means. Remember, what you wear is not what you know, or what you celebrate from your heart. Do you think the Ancient Ones care what you have on? Also, a good point to consider; did the Druids dress up for celebrations, we know they did wear different outfits for different social functions. We know the Celts dressed to impress if they could when neighboring tribes came to visit, when going to war, and possibly for giant communal celebrations. The Druids then possibly wore something impressive for rituals, but not outside of their cultural norms ie. not all white, like a Greek or Roman or even Hebrew High Priest. It would be lovely to see more people express through dress how they feel about their cultural path instead of treating the Druid image as a mandatory stale 1700's uniform. More and more we do see creative, sometimes even fantasy based outfits being displayed; and that is fine by all means for those on that path. Wear what you will, my only suggestion through this write up is tying our Celtic roots of the Druid tradition into what and how we dress presently as an option.
Taking the Modern Approach:
If we look at the weapons, tools, and outfits the warrior class was using and wearing during the Iron Age and apply that to our current armed forces today we can easily see the upgrades from swords to guns, modern armor vs chain mail, helmets, etc. Here is a picture that shows such evolution. If you very closely, you'll notice how some of them still wear torcs, and have La Tene style tattoos. This collage was created by my friend Breandán.
The Druid in ancient times was the most respected of the community because of their dedication to education. They were advisors to chieftains, and were well dressed by the standards of their time. Would we today not wear formal attire, a tux, an expensive custom fit Italian suit? Do we as modern Druids not seek to be educators, lecture and have a class room of sorts for sharing our traditions and culture. Would you show up as a honored guest speaker at formal event in a Robe to represent your Celtic Culture and Faith? No, you would dress your best. You might even don a formal Bonnie Prince Charlie Jacket, a Kilt, sporran, decked out with all the bells and whistles. Time and place is my point.
Picture before you, the image of an old man with a long white well groomed beard. His long hair with a few braids has beads woven into them. Faded blue spiral tattoos are upon his tree like wrinkled face. He wears a short sleeve tunic the color of the late summers golden wheat. Layered under this is a well fitted long sleeve tunic the color of spring born fresh green birch leaves. A tablet woven belt of wool with the colors of many earth tones is tied upon his waist, its pattern zig zags creating movement to the eye. The golden torc of responsibility is around his neck that shows everyone in his community his dedication to truth, and responsibility to higher education. A golden brooch holds a cloak of speckled white, grey, and dark forest green that drapes over his shoulder and behind him. His ears have gold clasps and he wears many bracelets of wood, bone, and horn. The pants he wears are a variegated weave of greens, grays and browns with tiny flecks of red, almost like a grandfathers tweed. In the deep forest he stands at the stream bed. Looking up into a clearing in the sky, his arms raised above him, he shakes a branch that he carries with tiny bells; as he calls out in a language you do not understand. His voice is deep, hallow, and vibrates through the forest. All is still, there is no breeze, no sound of bird or leaf. He looks at you and smiles. As if everything is in slow motion, and as time slipped away for that brief moment you were apart of something. Within that moment you were comforted at peace and felt the light of the universe flow through nature and into you. He places a carved wooden object in a earthenware bowl that is painted with many flowing patterns of spirals. He does this as he sings a song washing and blessing the item as he caresses it. He pulls this object from the bowl and passes it over a small fire he has burning at the waters edge three times in a clockwise motion. As he places this object into the water to float down stream, he sings yet another song watching it very carefully in the small currents. He watches this item flow until out of sight, and then heads back to the spot where he was working. From a leather pouch he has hanging from a tree, he pulls out his offering. He leaves some salt, bread, fruit, and fills a small bowl with mead. He sits is under this gnarled, thick rooted tree that hangs overhead. It provides the greatest of shade where he quietly says a few words as he touches its massive trunk. He again looks up to the sky for a moment, looks to the water, and down to the earth and closes his eyes. He smiles, and takes a deep breath with a great sigh of being reassured, and you automatically know that whatever just happened, goodness was apart of it.
You were just apart of a Druid ritual of sorts, you saw within your minds eye the images of what once was, and is still being celebrated by many of us today. Yet there were no white robes, no stone circles, or any of that which we commonly associate with Druids. Yet we still identify this as Druidic, Why? Was it the imagery...hard to say. Was it through the old mans actions? Unsure. It was nature, and it was the old man himself who archetypically represents education, wisdom, and someone who has earned respect because of education and responsibility, NOT as some would suggest, authority. Perhaps the collective characteristics of this short essay will allow you to gain perspective of this Celtic tradition. I would only hope.
To summarize things, what can we say about donning Druidic/Celtic garb?
Some options to consider:
. If you are going to do it at all, do it right. Know about time and place.
. Consider the styles of the Iron Age for your attire. Look at how the Celtic re-enactors dress.
. Kilts are considered acceptable as they display a cultural link to our ancestors traditions.
. Feel free to grow your mustache or a beard.
. Wear a torc or a triskele pendant at least.
. All people could keep longer hair and even wear braids.
. If you choose not to wear garb, thats fine. Consider other options like a Celtic t-shirt or tattoos.
. Ask yourself, "What can I wear that displays my Culture?" The rest should fall into place.
~ And remember wearing garb is wearing a cultural outfit, it is NOT a costume or playing dress up. If you want to wear 'robes' keep it historical!
If pictures are worth a thousand words, then by all means let me stop typing and share a few.
Performing the O'Ceallaigh Wedding. Wearing a White short sleeve tunic made of linen. Open style wool tunic/over coat that has a variegated color patteren that is speckled of dark brown and light/faded blue with tiny specks of green. The belt is my standard thick heavy wool tablet woven style. The pants ( Braccae) are wool and contain brown, green, faded yellow, and a little blue. I have hair-on ghille shoes on my feet. My staff has some Ogham on it near to my hands amoung other designs. I am also wearing my Lunula (breast plate) that I only wear performing wedding services & yes I am aware that Ogham came much later and that Lunula were worn in the Bronze Age. Notice the Celtic tonsure and the tattoo on my head.
Irish Draoithe (Druids) Notice no hoods, no long robes!
John Aubrey: (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697) Lead the Mount Haemus Grove. John Toland met him in 1694
A well known member of that Grove was: *Elias Ashmole.
Elias Ashmole: (23 May 1617 – 18 May 1692) He became a Freemason on 16 October 1646.
From his diary we read: On 10 March that year he wrote: "About 5 H: P.M. I received a Sumons to appeare at a Lodge to held the next day, at Masons Hall London." The following day, 11 March 1682, he wrote: "Accordingly, I went ... I was the Senior Fellow among them (it being 35 yeares since I was admitted) ... We all dyned at the halfe Moone Taverne in Cheapeside, at a Noble Dinner prepaired at the charge of the New-accepted Masons." Ashmole's notes are one of the earliest references to Freemasonry known in England, but apart from these entries in his autobiographical notes, there are no further details about Ashmole's involvement with the Freemasons.
Mount Haemus Grove- Its roots come from with the Pheryllt or Welsh metalworkers/alchemists (not to be confused with the book title of the same name by Iolo Morganwyg). Cor Emrys was the name of the "Grove" they used during 1066 and before. It met both on Penmaen ridge of Snowdon (Eryr) and in the south Snowdon range at Dinas Affaraon. Not far from Dinas Emrys is a place called Cell-y-Dewiniaid - "The Grove of the Magicians" The Organization appears to have gone underground, lost, and possibly somewhat died out until Haymo of Faversham passed it to Philip Brydodd. In 1245 many people gathered to agree on a common program.
~ A further study should be undertaken to gain insight into the origins of the Pheryllt with connection to alchemy starting with the spelling using an F or FF in the spelling.
John Toland: (30 November 1670 – 11 March 1722) One of the founders responsible who formed a Mother Grove: An Tigh Geatha Gairdearchas, Combined Groves from at least 10 centers of education at Apple Tree Tavern in 1717
He was Druid Chief from 1717-1722 Much of his success came from his predecessor and already well established Druid John Aubrey.
William Stukeley: (7 November 1687 – 3 March 1765) Druid Chief from 1722-1765 Freemason and Druid On the 6th of June 1721
His diary reads: June 6, 1721 says "I was made a Freemason at the Salutation Tav., Tavistock Street, with Mr. Collins, Capt. Rowe, who made the famous diving Engine." He was involved with John Toland in both Freemasonry and in British Druidry.