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Ancient History
QUOTE ("Warren Ellis)
Listen, Druids burned more people than Torquemada, stabbed more people than Ted Bundy, had more politico-religious clout than the Pope and Ayatollah Khomeini combined, and did not go in for crystals and New Age stuff in a big way.

Druids scared the living spit out of people.
fromDruid #1


I like the many different sides of the druid in Shadowrun. Because, really, the idea of any individual being a "true" druid is insane. You take a run through fantasy and you'll hit everything from the bisexual, reincarnating bards and priestesses of Marien Zimmer Bradley to Anne Rice's "God of the Grove" vampire cult and in between.

Druids were magicians. And politicians. And priests. Sometimes even bards, possibly even warriors. What else can you say about them?

Well, druids make great villains. Aside from a history of it in Shadowrun (Secrets of Power #2: Choose Your Enemies Carefully!), you can make a toxic druid intent on healing th eland (and avenging its desecration) in a pinch. Whether in the ancient days of Celtic hill-forts when a Pictish shaman would whisper to the chieftan's ear; or in 2064 when the Hermetic druid, in conservative business suit, dials the Prime Minister's telecom; it's pretty easy to make a druid with the right political connections.

And so on. I should mention here that all the elements of popular belief about druids today-the worship of the land, the stone circles, the oral tradition, the blood sacrifices-work damn well in Shadowrun. As they should. Hell, we've even got elven druids who believe in reincarnation! Take a step sideways with the fey, eh?

Whenever you talk about druids, Merlin comes into the picture. Which I think makes sense. Purported to be the son of the devil, schooled in arcane, ancient, and/or esoteric lore, an advisor to the king, e'en a prophet...fuck, give him a harp and woad dragon tattoos on the wrists, you'll make everyone happy.

I like to think of Merlin as the Quintessential Druid: mystically powerful, enigmatic, resourceful, with strong political contacts, lusty, earthy, full of common sense and big plans, willing to dirty his hands with sword or hoe, too twisted or mad to be trusted by Church or knight and too useful or powerful to be outright killed.

But that's just me.
torzzzzz
If you are taking merlin as a druid then who would you have as the lady of the lake, a free spirit or an immortal elf?

What about other druidic legions, such as talieasin, another immortal elf?

or Cu-Claine ?

torz x wink.gif
kryton
Maybe Merlin is a Free spirit. Duke was reborn as a spirit. During a period of great power maybe he transformed into spirit and went off into the here, there and yonder during the lull? Maybe Merlin still sleeps somewhere and is waiting for the levels to return possibly before the scourge? Who knows?

For any good mythology there's always going to be one part fable/symbolism and one part truth.

I was never a big fan of the whole immortal elf thing....Maybe his memories and are trapped on some meta plane waiting to be discovered?

Druidic culture and practices don't have alot of specific Archaeological evidence. Most of it comes from stories passed down through the ages and written down by Christian monks. (Caesar wrote about the Druids during his campaign in Europe.) The Celts didn't have a written language so alot of the mythology was passed word of mouth through the ages and was absorbed into the cultures of the era. Plus there's a little big of Viking influence mixed in as they fell upon Ireland and England. Another thing when we say "Druid" would be "what druid". The Celtic culture spread all over Europe and even Carthage hired Celts to fight Rome. With that much area there's bound to be lots of differences in the cultures. I'd bet though that there would be lots of similarities to Native American cultures but don't quote me on that. The British Isles were really colonized by the Celts late in they're societies history. Plus I wonder how many differences there were between countries such as the Gauls verses the Gaelic Celts. So it's hard to say what a "true" druid was. So I think our understanding probably is an algomation of different traits from different areas plus some Norse influence.

I think Ancient History is right about Druids being great enemies. They'd be ruthless with the ecological devastation. Hell they may be funding terrorist cells to make a Super Vitas plague. They could easily be pawns by some darker forces as well.
Prospero
QUOTE (kryton)
Druidic culture and practices don't have alot of specific Archaeological evidence. Most of it comes from stories passed down through the ages and written down by Christian monks. (Caesar wrote about the Druids during his campaign in Europe.) The Celts didn't have a written language so alot of the mythology was passed word of mouth through the ages and was absorbed into the cultures of the era. Plus there's a little big of Viking influence mixed in as they fell upon Ireland and England. Another thing when we say "Druid" would be "what druid". The Celtic culture spread all over Europe and even Carthage hired Celts to fight Rome. With that much area there's bound to be lots of differences in the cultures. I'd bet though that there would be lots of similarities to Native American cultures but don't quote me on that. The British Isles were really colonized by the Celts late in they're societies history. Plus I wonder how many differences there were between countries such as the Gauls verses the Gaelic Celts. So it's hard to say what a "true" druid was. So I think our understanding probably is an algomation of different traits from different areas plus some Norse influence.

I think Ancient History is right about Druids being great enemies. They'd be ruthless with the ecological devastation. Hell they may be funding terrorist cells to make a Super Vitas plague. They could easily be pawns by some darker forces as well.

We actually have almost 0 actual knowledge about the real druids. Almost all of it is either hear-say or Roman propaganda (Ceasar's stuff). We do know that one of the Druids' major tenets was to never write down any of their knowledge, so that really makes things tough. A few Christian monks wrote some stuff, but how accurate that is... (I mean, they were definatly biased, being Christian monks).

And (yeah, this is always a controversial statement) there is no such thing as a large scale Celtic colonization of Britian or Ireland. Never happened. The Celts there were the original inhabitants of the area, more or less.

So, what that really comes down to is that just about all the stereotypes of Druids are probably very little like what the real ones were about. But, to bring SR back into it, I suppose that just allows for some imagination and creativity. Hell, everybody else has done it since Ceasar, so why not... smile.gif

@ torzzzz: Did you mean Cu-Chulainn?
Crimson Jack
QUOTE (Prospero)
We actually have almost 0 actual knowledge about the real druids. Almost all of it is either hear-say or Roman propaganda (Ceasar's stuff). We do know that one of the Druids' major tenets was to never write down any of their knowledge, so that really makes things tough.

I found this out the long way. I had been interested in the life of druids at an earlier age and tried to find as much information as I could on them. It wasn't necessarily hard to find information, but it was difficult to find almost any information that seemed to support other sources of information. Almost as if every historian had their own take on druidism.

Too bad, really. It would be nice to know what was really up with them.
Prospero
Wouldn't it though? rotate.gif

One of the things I was really surprised about is that they apparently beleived in reincarnation (as far as anyone can tell). Just not something I really associated with Druids before I studied anything about them. Kinda makes all that Path of the Wheel stuff look like it actually has roots somewhere. Bloody elves did their research. Or just remembered for a long time, whichever.
Synner
There are a lot of uncanny parallels between the Celtic Druidic culture and the pre-Hindu Indo-Aryan culture of the Indus, too many for it to be discarded as a fluke. The various castes line up (the fourth Hindu caste developed later) and there's direct parallels between many of the gods and beliefs (for instance reincarnation). Not to mention the concept of Wheel of life...

Current Anthropological theory is that the Celts (who migrated East into Western Europe and eventually the British Isles) and the Aryans (an equally mysterious culture which conquered the Indus valley civilization from the West) might have had a common origin somewhere in the heartlands of Eastern Europe or Central Asia. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? (No really, I'm not kidding).

Celtic reincarnation, as far as is known, had a twist. You lived one life here and then one life on the "other side". When you died here you passed over and were reborn "there". When you died there you returned here - this meant that wakes (or their equivalent) were also held at births.

Note however, that there is strong evidence that many elements of Druidic beliefs pre-date Celtic and another current theory is that the Celts absorbed pre-Celtic cultures and incorporated them into their own mythos. Much like young Christianity would do to the Celtic culture a few of centuries on.
Ancient History
QUOTE (Synner)
Current Anthropological theory is that the Celts (who migrated East into Western Europe and eventually the British Isles) and the Aryans (an equally mysterious culture which conquered the Indus valley civilization from the West) might have had a common origin somewhere in the heartlands of Eastern Europe or Central Asia. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? (No really, I'm not kidding).

My money's on the Hyksos. wink.gif
Demosthenes
And on an IRL note, it's funny how similar the words "Aryan" and "Iran" are...
Demosthenes
QUOTE (Crimson Jack)
It wasn't necessarily hard to find information, but it was difficult to find almost any information that seemed to support other sources of information. Almost as if every historian had their own take on druidism.

Too bad, really. It would be nice to know what was really up with them.

(My emphasis).

Peter Beresford Ellis is an enjoyable source of Druidic stuff for games, though if you're looking for scholarly, intelligent analysis, he's a little...well, a little bit strange.

Ellis is perfectly happy to accept Caesar's account of the Gauls, right up until it becomes negative...at which point, it becomes "Roman propaganda". While he's right up to a point, he's a bit inconsistent.

Miranda Green is drier and much more academic, but also considerably healthier from a salt-intake point of view...

For gaming purposes, though, I'd suggest that Druids should think of themselves the way Ellis does, but act in all the ways the Romans and Greeks deplored. biggrin.gif

It's not realistic, but then, neither are dragons, immortal elves, or Ares Viper Silverguns...
[ Spoiler ]
torzzzzz
QUOTE (Prospero)
@ torzzzz: Did you mean Cu-Chulainn?

yeah couldn't remember how to spell it!


torz wink.gif
hermit
QUOTE
And on an IRL note, it's funny how similar the words "Aryan" and "Iran" are...

Little surprise. Where do you think the Aryan tribes who invaded India some 2000 years ago and finished off the dravidian culture (and established the modern caste system) came from?

QUOTE
Current Anthropological theory is that the Celts (who migrated East into Western Europe and eventually the British Isles) and the Aryans (an equally mysterious culture which conquered the Indus valley civilization from the West) might have had a common origin somewhere in the heartlands of Eastern Europe or Central Asia. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? (No really, I'm not kidding).

Even better, there have been findings of early bronze age/late stone age settlements at the bottom of the Black Sea - in the anaerobic part, whcih is why they have been preserved till now.
Critias
QUOTE (Demosthenes)
Ellis is perfectly happy to accept Caesar's account of the Gauls, right up until it becomes negative...at which point, it becomes "Roman propaganda". While he's right up to a point, he's a bit inconsistent.

Yeah, but most Celtophiles do the same. It's not like Ellis is unique in his thinking.

They love the stuff they read in the New Age aisle from their local Barnes and Noble (and swear up and down every word of it is true), but they roll their eyes at the naivety of anyone who believes the only actual historical written documents we've got (the "horrible propoganda" from Caesar).

Me? I'm proud of my Irish, German, and Welsh blood. But that means being proud of, or at least acknowledging, the bad with the good. It's fairly petty to nitpick through what little does survive from that time period, and only admit to the truth of the bits you like.
kryton
We have some knowledge about the mythology but it wasn't till 800 years later that it was written down. I think it's called the AngloSaxon Chronicle and was written some time around 800AD. The mythology from that probably comes from the roots of the Celtic culture. Remember though that there's going to be a good bit of distortion.

One thing that no one has pointed out was Blood magic. The British Celts probably had some form of blood magic. The heads of the fallen advisaries were collected. There may have even been ritual sacrifice similar to Aztechs and Myans. Often in the old bogs they find stuff like brass shields and bits of swords and skulls cracked open probably from a heavy blunt object. You could see this as offering blood and treasure to a diety for thanks or blessings ect. Now with that in mind you could flip it around and suggest that possibly these old rituals could be used also to purify the land. That would mean all those funny Elves in Tir might be blood mages of a sort. Using blood to purify and blood to renew. The awakened providing the most potent blood...Of course this is all speculation. Stonehendge could though be a very very interesting power site combined with blood. Ideally it's thought to be a astrological calendar of sorts it could focus it's power during certain times of the year.
Demosthenes
QUOTE (Critias)
QUOTE (Demosthenes @ Mar 10 2005, 05:18 AM)
Ellis is perfectly happy to accept Caesar's account of the Gauls, right up until it becomes negative...at which point, it becomes "Roman propaganda". While he's right up to a point, he's a bit inconsistent.

Yeah, but most Celtophiles do the same. It's not like Ellis is unique in his thinking.

They love the stuff they read in the New Age aisle from their local Barnes and Noble (and swear up and down every word of it is true), but they roll their eyes at the naivety of anyone who believes the only actual historical written documents we've got (the "horrible propoganda" from Caesar).

Me? I'm proud of my Irish, German, and Welsh blood. But that means being proud of, or at least acknowledging, the bad with the good. It's fairly petty to nitpick through what little does survive from that time period, and only admit to the truth of the bits you like.

This is quite true.
Being Irish myself, I'm very interested in the history and mythology of my country, culture, and so on.

That's why Ellis annoys me.
(Quick clarification here: I'm annoyed by Peter Beresford Ellis. Warren Ellis is the Shiznit, and anyone who says otherwise is clearly lacking in something important between the ears. I'm just not sure what...)

What really gets me about PB Ellis and his fellow travelers is that they are perfectly happy to accept Caesar's accounts of most things...right up until they get negative. Then they attack his credibility, while expecting us to keep on believing all of the positive things he said.

I guess people see and hear what they want to. And that, of course, makes for even more fun in SR... spin.gif
Dawnshadow
If memory serves, most of the barrow mounds and Stonehenge had specific properties for one of the solstices -- don't remember the specifics, I think it was Winter Solstice, the north star was visible from within, or the sunrise was in a specific spot on Stonehenge.
Edward
I have not studied the histories myself but I have been told that within a single document Caesar parsed the druids as a resourceful enemy that held the people of there land together to appose him and condemned there practice of blood sacrifice.

Also I have been told that when comparing Ceasarís document about his enemies to the documents of those enemies they tend to be very accurate and contain suprysingly little bias.

If these points are true then it would suggest that Ceasarís documents on druidic culture would be accurate (as far as they extend) and make a good starting point for an investigation.

Not having studied any of this myself I would like the opinion of history buffs (qualified, hobbyist or guy that likes to spout dreck on the net) on these points.

Edward
nezumi
Just on Saturday I picked up a copy of Joseph Campbell's 'Primitive Religions' book from Goodwill (I love used bookstores!)

Something to keep in mind, most world religions share certain central themes. For instance, almost every world religion has some version of the 'snake in the garden' story. Also, most of them have a 'death and rebirth' story. I think it's fair to assume that the Druids did as well.

Once you get a sense for what they believed in, take existing stories and change them to how you think they'd be portrayed and change some names around. Did Eve die, and from her body a new kind of plant grew? (Of course, her names not 'Eve'). What role did the snake play? Because I would bet money that they did have a story about a woman, a snake, a garden and from someone's death, new life sprang.



audun
There's also the theory that there were no Celts. I can't cite any sources for this as I got it from televison (national tv, not Discovery). More accurately the theory goes that there was no Celts invading Europe, but rather a Celtic culture that spread troughout Europe at the time, much similar to how Christianity and Roman culture spread some hundred years later. Celtic culture was "in fashion" among the tribes of Europe at the time. It is at least a plausible theory, especially if there's no hard evidence for the Celtic invasion theory.
Crimson Jack
QUOTE (Demosthenes)
Peter Beresford Ellis is an enjoyable source of Druidic stuff for games, though if you're looking for scholarly, intelligent analysis, he's a little...well, a little bit strange.

Ellis is perfectly happy to accept Caesar's account of the Gauls, right up until it becomes negative...at which point, it becomes "Roman propaganda". While he's right up to a point, he's a bit inconsistent.

Miranda Green is drier and much more academic, but also considerably healthier from a salt-intake point of view...

I'll go to the library then for some reading. Thanks for the info. smile.gif
Weredigo
QUOTE
I like to think of Merlin as the Quintessential Druid: mystically powerful, enigmatic, resourceful, with strong political contacts, lusty, earthy, full of common sense and big plans, willing to dirty his hands with sword or hoe, too twisted or mad to be trusted by Church or knight and too useful or powerful to be outright killed.


My understanding of Merlin was that he was a Wizard. i.e. an ordained member of the church allowed to practice the ways of science and magic. He wasn't just some dusty old guy with a lot of books, he was a Bladesmith, more precisely King Arthurs personal Bladesmith. And he wasn't no stick figure skin and bones old and decrepit geezer. That guy was Built like a brick sh!thouse, as were all blade/black smiths at the time.

of course that's jut my honest opinion.
Prospero
QUOTE (audun)
There's also the theory that there were no Celts. I can't cite any sources for this as I got it from televison (national tv, not Discovery). More accurately the theory goes that there was no Celts invading Europe, but rather a Celtic culture that spread troughout Europe at the time, much similar to how Christianity and Roman culture spread some hundred years later. Celtic culture was "in fashion" among the tribes of Europe at the time. It is at least a plausible theory, especially if there's no hard evidence for the Celtic invasion theory.

That's basically what I got taught in Irish Archeology/History/Mythology classes at the University of Cork when I was there. It all really comes down to how you define "Celt", which is pretty complicated. Is it a linguistic definition? Then "Celt" signifies the (original) inhabitants of Ireland and the rest of the U.K. (possibly excepting the Picts, though very, very little is known about them. And I haven't studied it much), along with the Gauls. Is it a material culture thing - ie similar art, pottery, weapons, etc? Then they existed all over Europe. Is it a mythology thing? Then we have bits and pieces of similar stories from all over Europe again. There certainly weren't anything like Celtic nation-states; even Ireland wasn't one unified country, as we think of it. Its just a complicated endeavor to even discribe who the "Celts" were.

@ Dawnshadow: Newgrange, at least, has a cool thing where, on the Winter Solstice (and two or three days to either side of it) the light from the rising sun comes though a specially designed hole in the stone and strikes a certain area at the back of the tomb. Cool stuff. I was a little diappointed that Tir na nOg didn't do more with the Brugh na Boinne tombs. Though, that does leave it up to the GM; I always thought they'd be like the Aussie Spirit Caves in reverse: used to empower and draw forth powerful spirits (who are presumeably allied to the Tir elves - maybe even ancestor spirits). That makes sense in the context of Irish myth, where certain dates allowed easy crossing from the spirit world into the world of man - why not the opening of Astral Gateways to really strange Metaplanes?
Prospero
QUOTE (Weredigo)
QUOTE
I like to think of Merlin as the Quintessential Druid: mystically powerful, enigmatic, resourceful, with strong political contacts, lusty, earthy, full of common sense and big plans, willing to dirty his hands with sword or hoe, too twisted or mad to be trusted by Church or knight and too useful or powerful to be outright killed.


My understanding of Merlin was that he was a Wizard. i.e. an ordained member of the church allowed to practice the ways of science and magic. He wasn't just some dusty old guy with a lot of books, he was a Bladesmith, more precisely King Arthurs personal Bladesmith. And he wasn't no stick figure skin and bones old and decrepit geezer. That guy was Built like a brick sh!thouse, as were all blade/black smiths at the time.

of course that's jut my honest opinion.

It really depends on whose conception of Merlin you're talking about. There are a lot of them running around! The original Welsh Merlin was (please somebody correct me if I'm wrong - my Welsh mythology isn't all that sterling) a man who went into a frenzy - ie went nuts - and lived in the forest with the animals for a long time like an animal. When he came back to civilization, he was gifted with prophecy and could talk to animals, interpret signs, etc.
Dawnshadow
Prospero:

I always thought that making all of them power sites, aspected towards the old gods/old ways (GM call as to which specifically) would be neat, and having magical events occur for the major points on the wheel.

Causing an astral gateway on Samhain (Day of the Dead, when the two worlds are closest) just sounds neat though.
Prospero
QUOTE (Dawnshadow)
Prospero:

I always thought that making all of them power sites, aspected towards the old gods/old ways (GM call as to which specifically) would be neat, and having magical events occur for the major points on the wheel.

Causing an astral gateway on Samhain (Day of the Dead, when the two worlds are closest) just sounds neat though.

The power site thing's a cool idea. You could basically aspect them towards different paths at different times, so its easier for Path of the Warrior to use them at Imbolc, etc. Maybe even have different tombs be used for different paths - there are LOTS of tombs at Brugh na Boinne, though only Newgrange and Knowth and Dowth are famous.

Another cool thing to think about - Samhain, spelled Samain in Old Irish, is most often linked etymologically to "summer", which seems off, except that when heros go to the Otherworld around then, they often bring back "the fruits of summer" (toirthe samraid) because the seasons are opposite in the otherworld: when it's winter here, it's summer there, etc. So, alternatively, you could do it opposite. When the Path followers aren't getting their bonus for it being their cool power-day and all that, they could go to these places at the other end of the year and still get a good boost to their magical abilities.
Crimson Jack
Favorite Merlins in film: Nicol Williamson in Excalibur and Stephen Dillane in King Arthur (although I disliked the movie).
audun
QUOTE (Prospero)
Another cool thing to think about - Samhain, spelled Samain in Old Irish, is most often linked etymologically to "summer", which seems off, except that when heros go to the Otherworld around then, they often bring back "the fruits of summer" (toirthe samraid) because the seasons are opposite in the otherworld: when it's winter here, it's summer there, etc. So, alternatively, you could do it opposite. When the Path followers aren't getting their bonus for it being their cool power-day and all that, they could go to these places at the other end of the year and still get a good boost to their magical abilities.

So they go to Oz
Weredigo
QUOTE
One of the things I was really surprised about is that they apparently beleived in reincarnation (as far as anyone can tell). Just not something I really associated with Druids before I studied anything about them. Kinda makes all that Path of the Wheel stuff look like it actually has roots somewhere.


Most Pagans back then, and nowadays have same belief in Reincarnation, self included.

QUOTE
Causing an astral gateway on Samhain (Day of the Dead, when the two worlds are closest) just sounds neat though.


another shared belief is that this kinda does occur during Samhain ( pronounced by most but not all as Sow Win ) or as most americans know it as Halloween, All Hallow's Eve.

At first when I read the reply when "my new years eve" was brought up I was a bit confused, until finally
QUOTE
the seasons are opposite in the otherworld: when it's winter here, it's summer there,
clicked in my head. yeah that sounds about right. It's set at the end of our Warm days and beginning of our Cold. so yeah, that does make a bit of sense.
Weredigo
of course is could be wrong about my beliefs... but I won't realize it until shortly after the last second. dead.gif
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