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British Native Shamanism as experienced through Druidry

By:Kaarina Vanderkamp
Date: Mon,06 Sep 2010
Submitter:Kaarina Vanderkamp

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Whenever people think of shamanism, they often think of the Native American Indians or the Shamans of Siberia. In fact, the name Shaman originates from Siberia. However, not many people know that we have our own, native shamanic traditions. Many of the practices common to core shamanism can be found in druidry. We lost much of our formal traditions of druidry after the christianisation of Britain. Initially the Druid Priests and Priestesses (yes they were female as well!) saw much that was similar in the teachings of Celtic Christianity when it first hit our shores. However, sadly, eventually, the teachings became such that it was no longer possible for druids to carry on as they had done for centuries. It became imperative to convert to christianity or face death.

Druidry was an oral tradition, much of the teaching was passed on through word of mouth as stories. This is common amongst all indigenous tribal cultures. Some of these stories were written down, centuries later, often heavily overlaid with christian perspectives. However much can still be gleaned from these stories.

Within some groups of modern druidry, Celtic Shamanism and Faery Shamanism, there has been a steady revival of some of these practices. It is possible that threads from our native druid and shamanic past split off into various paths and were kept hidden up until the 19th and 20th Centuries. Undeniably, certain traditions were merely veiled and incorporated into christian practices. We can still see these if we are looking with our eyes open! A perfect and easy example is the goddess Brigit. She was the goddess of fire, of the forge, the hearth, healing and of poetry. The Irish so loved this goddess that they would not give her up. To keep the peace and ensure obedience, the christian priests turned her into a saint. She is still loved and worshipped today as both a goddess and a saint.

Contained within many of the ancient myths of these Isles, are stories that show journeying, altered states of conciousness and shape shifting to name but a few. Druids prophesied, often in a trance like state. They used herbs for healing and worked with knowledge of their surroundings. They were a huge part of pre christian and celtic christian society. They advised the King, they were the justice makers, the poets and singers, the story tellers, the healers, diviners and the magicians.
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