I wrote this as a contribution to a discussion that’s ongoing in the members’ forums of the Druid Network. Those are private, so I thought I might post it here so that a broader audience can read it and contribute their thoughts.
The folks behind the Balkan Celts blog recently posted a very, very interesting article: The Celtic Buddha.
The post discusses a stucco head discovered at an archaeological site in eastern Afghanistan. It represents a Celtic man, and is believed to have been sculpted from life – in other words, the artist knew a Celtic man who was on-site. In Afghanistan, possibly in the late Hellenistic age (when the area was conquered and settled by the armies of Alexander the Great), or possibly later, in the early Christian era.
The Cad Goddeu, in English The Battle of the Trees, is a prophetic poem amongst the works of Taliesin.
Prophecy in poetry is like divination with the I Ching: it does not have one definitive meaning and application. It is a reflection in the great Cauldron of Annwn: its obscure text and poetic imagery hold meaning, but that meaning only emerges when we interpret the poem’s symbolism in the context of our own time and our own situation.
The Cad Goddeu tells us of a war between the Great Families of Welsh myth.
The English word ‘Druid’ is derived from the Gallo-Brythonic word which has come down to modern Welsh as ‘Derwydd’. In turn, this is a compound word, drawing on ‘derw-‘, relating to the oak, and ‘-wydd’ (root word ‘Gwydd’), relating to ‘seer’ or ‘knowledge’.
An alternative word – ‘Gwŷdd’ – however, is also the Welsh word for a loom. This connection is worth exploring further.
In Barddas, Iolo Morganwg devotes a section to his theological views. There is quite a lot more on this theme in Barddas, but I think this excerpt covers the key points. Not all contemporary Druids believe this, but I do. I want to post Iolo’s words here to set the tone for a discussion of the soul’s journey, and of reincarnation, in Druidry as I understand it.