Lines of the Dragon

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Druidry, natural philosophy, herbalism, homebrewing, having an open mind

Druidic Symbols

Source 2: http://www.druidsgrove.com

Druidism probably did not have one universal symbol to represent itself, since it was differentiated between seven different Celtic nations, and divided further into many tribes within these nations. Some of the most commonly used symbols are:

The Triskele: a rounded spiral with three arms radiating from a central point, turning counter-clockwise. It stands for any one of hundreds of Triads in Celtic literature, but typically is understood as standing for the land, sea, and sky, which composed the foundation of the Celtic cosmology.

The Spiral: Neo-lithic monuments typically have spiral patterns carved into the stones. Being pre-Celtic, we have no clear idea what the Spiral meant to the people who carved them, although it is reasonable to believe they stood for the cycles of seasons, of day and night, and of life and death. If one stands facing south, the sun appears to trace a clockwise spiral (deosil) as it rises in the east and sets in the west; also, the stars turn in a counter-clockwise (tuathail) as they rotate around Polaris, the pole star. It is possible that spirals carved on to pre-Celtic monuments such as Newgrange represent these astronomical movements.

The Awen: Three upright bars, with the tops of the outer two bars leaning toward the top of the center bar. Its first appearance in Druidism appears to be in the Bardass, but its use by modern Druids is widespread. Sometimes the Awen is draw with three stars above it, and the whole enclosed in three circles. The word "Awen" is Welsh for "inspiration".

   

The Circle: As with many indo-European sun symbols, the Circle is the simple geometric shape we all know and love. It makes up the pagan part of the Celtic Cross. Circles are also the shape that many megalithic monuments are constructed in, which is why we call them "stone circles" and "round barrows". The circle is a natural shape for religious symbols across the world, for it is the shape of the sun, the moon, the horizon, the bird's nest, and the human eye.

The Celtic Cross: A Christian Cross with a circle surrounding the middle point where the vertical and horizontal lines of the Cross intersect. It is the essential symbol of Celtic Christianity, and is commonly used as monuments, grave markers, and landmarks indicating holy sites. The largest Celtic Crosses are carved from stone blocks and stand at monasteries, such as at Iona and Aberlemno. (see Christianity)

The Druid Sigil: A circle intersected by two vertical lines. In Stuart Piggot's book "The Druids", there is a photo of a Romano-British building, possibly a temple, located at Black Holmes, Thistleton, Leicestershire (England) in which this symbol forms the foundation; other than that, this author knows of no ancient origin for this symbol. The Henge of Keltria, a large Druid organization in the United States, uses this symbol for itself.
 

The God with the Horns: An image of a male God with horns on his head, usually stag antlers but sometimes small bull horns. Though this symbol probably represents the God in the image and not Druidism as a whole, it is used quite commonly by modern pagans. The stag antlers represent tree branches, and thus stand for fertility; the bull horns stand for power– in a culture where the measure of one's economic affluence was the size of one's cattle herds, bull horns clearly symbolizes power. Goat horns were not used, nor introduced into Horned God images until the Christian period, and at this time the probably stood for subservience, domesticity, and also sin & evil (hence "Scapegoat").

The Crescent Moon: A symbol probably introduced into Druidism by the Romantics, it stands for the divine Feminine principle of fertility, corresponding by opposition to the God with the Horns.

The Tree: A primary symbol of Druidism, however, each species of tree known to the Druids had a meaning of its own. There probably was no one symbolic meaning applied to all trees. Trees are important because they are bridges between the realms of Land and Sky, they communicate Water between these realms; the Irish God Bile is said to make this possible. The Realms of Land, Sea and Sky unite within a tree, as also at a seashore for example; great power could manifest there, and such places were best for poetic composition or spellcasting.

The Head: Heads definitely had mystical significance. To the Celts, it was the seat of the soul. Mythologies report many heroes beheading their enemies to ensure they stay dead (not an unreasonable precaution in this time period) and numerous excavations of Celtic buildings have niche holes carved to hold human heads.

Long White Beards: Romantic period depictions of Druids in art and in caricature typically showed them with long white beards, long white hair, and long white robes.

Druidic Ritual Tools – Source 2

Curved blade; sickle or scythe Pliny, a Roman historian, recorded a Druid ritual in which mistletoe was cut from an oak tree by a Druid in white robes, using a gold sickle. The mistletoe was to be caught in wicker baskets and not allowed to touch the ground. One must not assume (as apparently Pliny did) that all Druid rituals involve the use of mistletoe, scythes, and white robes; and what is more, gold is too soft a metal to be used as a cutting tool. In modern Druidism the curved blade has entered common use as a cutting implement, for harvesting particular plants and herbs at particular times of the year. Its cutting action in ritual is not so much one of taking down, but of releasing and freeing, as in "to cut free"; the energy freed by the cut plant is sent on to the Gods or blessed upon the assembly. Its shape is also reminiscent of the crescent moon.

Druid Rod Some legends show Druids using wands, staves, and rods to direct their energy when working magic, usually when cursing or shape changing. It was made from hazel and had to touch the thing that it was directed at.

Bell Branch This was traditionally a silver tree branch with gold bells attached to it. The sound of the bells is pleasing to the Gods and attracts their attention, while at the same time it is offensive to the ears of malevolent spirits who are thereby driven away. It is no wonder that the faerie host have silver bells on the harnesses of their horses! Modern Druids use the Bell Branch to make calls to spirits and deities, and to purify a person on a spiritual level.

Crane Bag The only mythological reference to this ritual object that this author knows of is the Crane bag that belonged to Cumhall, father of Fionn Mac Cumhall, which Fionn had to recover when it was stolen. It contained many treasures from such deities as Manannan and Giobhniu, and would be full at high tide and empty at low tide. Its function appears to be similar to that filled by the medicine bundle of native north Americans. The poet W.B.Yeats mentions a "bag of dreams" in his poem "Fergus and the Druid".

Cauldron Two prominent Celtic deities have magical cauldrons, the Irish Dagda and the Welsh Cerridwen, both of these cauldrons possess the property of granting wisdom to any who drink from it. Archaeologists have uncovered several cauldrons and buckets that may have had ritual uses; this conclusion is based on how they are decorated. Modern Druids use cauldrons to make or distribute offerings.

Druid Egg The Druid's Egg was described mythologically as a small object formed from the dried spittle of serpents, and possessing magical healing qualities. Pliny (a Roman historian) said he was shown one of these by a Druid from Gaul, who told him it was called an "anguinum". Existence of eggs in Druidic mysticism causes some scholars (and new-age fiction authors) to believe that the Druid's creation-myth was the same as the Sumerian creation story, in which the world was hatched from a divine primordial egg. It is not a widespread tool in modern Druidism, although it is used by some as a ritual implement for "grounding", or, drawing unhealthy energy from a patient into the egg where it is supposed to be incubated and transformed ("hatched") into positive energy.

Animal and plant remains There is no doubt that ancient Druids used animal and plant remains for decorative, medicinal, and religious purposes. One ritual called the Tarb Feis requires the Druid to sleep under the skin of a freshly killed bull, so that the spirit of the bull can send prophetic dreams to the sleeper. Some Druids used colorful bird feathers in their cloaks to denote their rank. On continental Europe, Druids used mistletoe for its magical healing quality (ironic since mistletoe is poisonous!). The use of sacred plants in old European paganism was so strong that the Catholic Church forbad the presence of mistletoe and holly in its churches.

Musical instruments Musical instruments are, of course, constructed entirely from animal and plant remains. The myths make frequent reference to harps in particular, and the Celts may also have used drums, but with reference to old Celtic religion, these tools are in the domain of the Bard rather than the Druid. But just like the Bards themselves, musical instruments were certainly a part of public Druid ceremonies.

Stones A ring of stones in the ground was the most probable "temple", or place where religious ceremonies took place. It is difficult to speculate if the ancient Druids attributed particular qualities to particular "species" or rock or crystal, but many modern Druids employ the correspondences of modern occultism and witchcraft to good ends. Stones could channel, store, and direct earth-energy, and thus were used for markers, set in circles, and libations were poured over them in sacrifice.

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