The Druids were an ancient people, originating from Celtic tribes at a time when people had to live close to nature to survive. It is the "revival of the ancient Celtic religions which holds the earth and the environment sacred and promotes a morality based on true honour, strength and justice." As Druidism was a form of Paganism, it was also earth based, placing an emphasis on the worship of all aspects of nature. The Druids were members of a learned class among the Celts and were an important cohesive force skilled in areas which most people were not. They were marked as a priestly upper class in charge of ritualistic religion. "These priests worshiped some Gods similar to those of the Greek’s and Romans, but under different names." (The world book dictionary) They were members of a religious order of priests, prophets and poets. Druids were members of a professional class in Celtic nations, or West Europe and the British Isles.
Druids possessed both political and legal powers and responsibilities to their communities and tribes. They were also capable of magical powers such as divination, prophesizing, controlling the weather, levitation, shape-shifting and they possessed healing abilities. The Druids learned to forecast events by interpreting the flight of birds, by reading the markings on livers and other entrails of sacrificed animals. They also held the position of judge, doctor, mage, mystique, clerical scholar and they held the religious insignia of their culture. Druids provided much needed skills and specialties to their tribe. Through holding these positions, Druids were to be available to people whose "scope of vision was not as wide as theirs." By nature, Druids were watchful and mindful of different aspects of life. Druids possessed a comprehensive knowledge on such things as poetry, architecture, literature, mythology, languages and folklore. In this fashion, they were incredibly learned, having gone through a rigorous education and were able to provide cultural and intellectual impute to their communities for the mutual benefit of all.
Traits of paganism can be seen through the ancient Druids beliefs about death, worshiping and rites. Although there is little known of the rites that they held, what we do know is that they were held in clearings in the forests, as most Pagan worship was practiced outdoors. Although the Druids believed in one main God, believing that it possessed the life force of everything, they also worshipped a number of lesser divinities, making them polytheistic in nature.
Druidism differed from Greek and Roman religion because they did not have clearly defined images to represent the object of their worship and they did not meet in temples or any other form of building to hold their rites. Instead, Druids had a sacred place consisting of a circle of stones, usually near a stream, under a grove or situated near a widespread oak. They met in woods and glens because they held a high respect for nature, believing that their spirits emerged from the tides, the sea, light, wind, the sun and the oak tree. They participated in two main festivals each year. The first one was named Beltane (Fire God) and the second one was named Samhain (Fire of peace), celebrated on Hallow’s Eve. The Druids also worshiped Gods such as the Gods of: sun, animals, war, fertility, the river, smith craft and sovereignty, as Pagans did.
The Druids had strong belief’s about sacrifice and the idea of death. As Pagans, they did not believe in Heaven or Hell as Christians did. Rather they believed in re-incarnation of the soul into another form. They held a principal doctrine stating that the soul was immortal and passed at death from one person to another, thus they did not fear the idea of death. The Druids differed in one aspect in their sacrifices from what the later Pagans did. Similar to Pagans, the Druids held animal sacrifices in order to please the Gods. However, the Druids also sacrificed humans as well. Some sources suggest that the human sacrifices were voluntary, but the main reason was to punish a criminal.
Courtesy of the Pagan Federation Website.