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Differences between Druids and Witches?


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#1 Hekabel

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Posted 28 June 2016 - 10:56 PM

I've recently bought some books about Druidry (Druidism?), but one thing I'm having trouble pinning down is any clear definition of what a Druid is and does (understandable; how often do we say "everyone practises differently"?). It could be the books I'm reading but a lot of the defining is very vague.

So, I was wondering if there were any clear cut differences that any Druids or more experienced witches could shine some light on? Or even some vague differences. Anything, really!

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#2 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 28 June 2016 - 11:45 PM

Because we know so very little about the actual lives and practices of the Druids (and because there is SO much neopagan fluff out there under the title "druidry" that is complete fantasy-fiction) I would be wary of any writings that claim to know about Druid practices but fail to cite their sources.

The term "Druid" actually refers to the upper class of the area/period and that would have included the religious priesthood. We know very little about their actual beleifs except for a few contemporary writers mention of sacrifices and fertility rituals.

There are no "Druids" today. There are neo-Druids which is reconstructed version of how people think the Druids may have worshipped. That's fine if that is your thing, but I would not consider it to be "traditional" Druidry. NeoDruids seem to draw from everything from Wicca to shamanism to later pagan and Celtic traditions.

Witchcraft is not a religion. We very well may have some common practices with the ancient Druids. Unless someone here has a secret stone tablet hidden away with the secrets of the Druids inscribed on it, we will probably never really know. It's fun to think about, and I'm sure that there's some common threads (as there is with most witchcraft traditions that have roots in animism and paganism).

A witch is someone that does witchcraft, that simple. A Druid was a upperclass Gaul in the Iron Age, and that could mean they were a priest, or a law man, or politician...etc...

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#3 Hekabel

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 01:30 AM

Ah, I see. Thank you for your response!

I'm well aware of the definitions surrounding witchcraft; it was just that, in reading one of my new books in particular, everything it came out with was just things I'm familiar with in my own practise and things I've seen discussed here in the context of Trad Craft. It was like "well, I do that. And that. I know lots of witches that do that. What makes them druids?"

It just seemed like a branch of hyper-woodsy witchcraft that's really into being a sociable, open, bubbly person, and I was baffled as to whether there was any clear distinction.

But, alas, the fluffiness of it had me feeling that it might not be as concrete as I first hoped. Oh well! Hopefully it's still got some good information about it about spirit work; haven't gotten to that chapter yet.

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#4 Aurelian

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Posted 30 June 2016 - 06:20 PM

Eh.  Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain was founded in 1792, far, far pre-dating the new age movement, all it's fluffiness, as well as pre-dating "Traditional Witchcraft," but co-existing/intermingling with historical witchcraft and folk magic.  OBOD is an offshoot of/evolution of GBYP, and has the Queen of England, Winston Churchill, and the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury as honorary Druids.  

So it's worth considering that it's not a simple question really, and needs to be sifted with an appropriate level of critical severity.  

The Druids I know are not fluffy.  Of course there are fluffy druids, but let's not typify them all that way.  It's a mistake, and a vast misjudgement.  Sort of how witches are treated, no?


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"The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning." - Cormac McCarthy

#5 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 30 June 2016 - 08:23 PM

So admittedly, I have never heard of the organizations that you mention. I have no doubt that they aren't fluffy, and probably are great traditions. Not was it my intention to say that all people claiming to be Druids are fluff. But there IS a shit ton of fluff out there publishing under the title of Druidry and making little to no distinction over what that actually means. Hence my advice to be discerning and pay close attention to what they cite as sources, and what exactly they claim to be. I didn't say to write it off completely, but to be careful (which we should all do in our quest for learning).

Even if established in the late 18th century, these organizations are still MANY centuries removed from the civilization that gave rise to the Druids, and therefore are still "Neo-Druids". The "neo" might not be as "neo" as what we are used to using that term for, but it's still a reconstruction of Druidry, even if it it's an excellent one with very powerful witchcraft steeped in rich tradition, and I'm sure that your Druid friends would likely be the first to admit that. There have been no sites or artifacts ever discovered that archeologists can confirm as authentically "Druid" to my knowledge.

Without knowing what specific books the OP is referring to, there's no way to judge if the information she's getting is quality, or fluff. I simply advised to be discerning in what she reads and clarified that from a historical basis, we know very little about the historical Druids. Therefore, she should come at anything claiming to be Druidry with a discerning eye.

As someone who is also following a traditional but reconstructed path due to the lack of actual historical information/evidence about my tradition, I have found it very important to be a little skeptical of anyone that thinks that know exactly how the ancient ones did things. The ones that come straight out transparently say "We can surmised that this is likely similar to what they practiced" and show evidence such as cultural influences, threads of shared tradition, trade/migration patterns, etc...now those sources, I pay attention to.


My line that states "NeoDruids seem to draw from everything from Wicca to..." Is perhaps to broad a brush to paint all Neo-Druids with. But as you said, even your groups "intermingled with historical witchcraft and folk magic"


But as I had originally alluded, Brit Tradcraft, Celtic paganism, even Celtic Mysticism in Christianity...ANY esoteric tradition with its roots on those islands likely has its initial seeds somewhere intermingled with historical Druidry or contemporary paganism. There is just a lot of other cultural influences in the mix, as with any thing pertaining to tradition on a group of islands that has had multiple invasions, immigration, international trade,and worldwide colonization over the course of a couple millennia.

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#6 Christine

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Posted 01 July 2016 - 08:37 AM

If you want to know about druids, ask the bees. They'll steer you right. A witch might also be bardae or filidh, just as a witch might also have a degree in structural engineering. If you feel a yearning to pursue a degree in a druidic college go for it, by all means. There is no conflict.


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Don't drink from the river, drink from the well.

#7 Christine

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Posted 01 July 2016 - 08:46 AM

Oh gosh those "dreuw-idd" books though, probably ignore them. Julius Ceasar's Travels In/ Conquest of Gaul is probably a better source.


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Don't drink from the river, drink from the well.

#8 Aurelian

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Posted 01 July 2016 - 10:13 AM

Oh, I know, pop druidry is terrible.  I've ahh, argued extensively online with the leader of the ADF and his knowledge is shallow as hell.  I do not like that man.  LOL!  There are other people though in the same organization though who are cool and reasonably kickass, as well as very knowledgeable and practiced in the art of magic.

I was just trying to point out that we can't paint everyone with the same brush.


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"The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning." - Cormac McCarthy