Druidism was the religion of the Celts and the Druids themselves were all-powerful, taking precedence over the Celtic kings. Over and above the evidence of classical texts and of archaeology, the richest source of information about the Druids is the vernacular material from Ireland and Wales. It is the author’s unparalleled familiarity with the Gaelic texts, and her ability to see Druidism through Celtic eyes, that marks out this study from earlier books and strips away modern myths about the Druids.
This is a comprehensive guide to the history and spread of the Keltoi/Celts and their powerful Priests and Priestesses, the Druids. In her thoughtful approach, Dr. Ross covers the origins of the Druidic belief system, legendary figures and folklore.
The engaging prose draws extensively from the Irish and Welsh vernacular materials and it is clear Dr. Ross knows her subject well, and is familiar with Gaelic, Greek and Roman texts. Using her own exploits into lingering Druidic/Celtic practices in Britain, she is thorough in her investigation of not only British, but international Druidry.
The 211 pages were easy to read over a week's holiday and provided me with an abundance of notes for my research. Easier to get into than Stuart Piggott's 'The Druids', I would recommend this for anyone after an in-depth glimpse into the Druidic practices throughout Europe. Dr. Ross has also written 'Pagan Celtic Britain' and 'Folklore of Wales and the Scottish Highlands'.
Nice overview of what may have been Druidic views/philosophy. Like the other Anne Ross books I've read, I find her style of writing very abrupt with little room for critical analysis. My impression is that the author wishes to make it clear that it is Anne's way or the highway. If you decide to pick up Druids: Preachers of Immortality make sure you question the author's assumptions whenever the mood strikes.
For not a lengthy book, it satisfyingly relates the history and structure of Celtic society in an engaging and entertaining manner. Absolutely astonishing how much tradition and ritual survived into recent centuries.
Great introduction to the celts and druids, if you’re at all interested in such topics this is a great book to start out with. It’s especially interesting considering that most of the information we know of the celts / druids comes from a single first person account. (Also from Julius Caesar)
“Druids: Preachers of Immortality” by Anne Ross is an extremely well researched, well written and informative book. I really enjoyed reading it.
Transgressing from the book and its subject matter, as Europe came out of the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages proved quite profitable for the fair skinned Europeans. In the past millennium the Roman Church had consolidated its hold and influence over the naturally beautiful Europe. Aided by strong armies and additionally in case of some countries strong navies, the European powers spread its influence eastward towards Arabia, Indies and Orient and westwards towards the yet undiscovered New World – the Americas. Proselytising strongly in spreading the message of love and forgiveness taught by Jesus the Christ, the Europeans were uncivilized savages who put to death the non-believers, destroyed places of worship, desecrated idols, and took women into slavery both for domestic drudgery and sexual variety – much like the Islamic bigots do today. This then was the civilizing effort of the Middle Ages Europeans.
The same tactics were followed earlier in the Dark Ages as Christianity was spread to the land of Celts in the first millennium of Christianity. And the sufferers were the so called savage pagans and their priests – aka Druids. Try as hard as they could, however, the Druids and their culture, skills and knowledge survived almost till the end of the second millennium.
The author’s unparalleled familiarity with the Gaelic texts, and her ability to see Druidism through Celtic eyes strips away modern myths about the Druids. Indeed in the nine chapters of the book the author has highlighted that the Druids (apart from Pagan practices like human sacrifice, etc.) lived in harmony with nature and drew much of their skills and powers from natural forces. Since the Druids were believers in gods other than Jesus Christ, they were deemed devil worshippers and their magical skills were deemed black magic. With their knowledge of natural rhythms, the Druids harnessed the powers of nature and used it for beneficial or malefic purposes, which modern science admits is a possibility.
In nine chapters Anne Ross starting from ‘The Druidic Origin’ takes us through the entire gamut of Druidism for the past 2,500 years or so. And she also reminds us on more than one occasion that the history of Druidism goes far back into the mists of time to the pre-historic era.
Extremely well-written and eminently readable, the book, is a handy compendium on the story of Druidism. For people interested in history and in the ancient religion, I would recommend this book as a must read.