Ancient Mysteries Mythology Mythology and Rites of the British Druids

Mythology and Rites of the British Druids

Mythology and Rites of the British Druids
Catalog # SKU3854
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Edward Davies
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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Mythology & Rites
of the British Druids

Edward Davies

To some persons, the utility of such a work may not be obvious. It may be asked What interest has the present age, in a mew of the errors and prejudices of the Pagan Britons?



To obviate this, and similar inquiries, I would suggest the reflection, that the history of mankind is, in a great measure, the history of errors and prejudices that the superstition we have now to contemplate, however absurd in itself, affected the general tone of thinking in several districts of Britain 'that its influence continued to recent times, and has scarcely vanished at the present day. To an age of general inquiry, an investigation of the form and principles of this superstition, must surely be a subject of interest.

In our times, a split of research, which few are so unjust as to impute to idle curiosity, embraces all the regions of the known world: and is our own country the only spot that must be deemed unworthy of our attention?

Ancient and authentic documents, of the opinions and customs of the old Britons, have been preserved, though long concealed by the shades of a difficult and obsolete language. And can a dispassionate examination of their contents, which are totally unknown to the Public, be deemed a subject of no interest or utility.

These documents are found, upon investigation, to develope a system of religion, which, for many ages, influenced the affairs of the human race, not only in these islands, but also in the adjacent regions of Europe: and are we not to inquire in what this religion consisted, and what hold it took of the mind of man? Or is it an useless task, to expose the origin of some absurd customs and prejudices, which are still cherished in certain corners of our land? But it will be said-The state of society amongst the ancient Britons was rude and unpolished; and their very religion opposed the progress of science and of letters.

Be this admitted: yet the Britons, with all their barbarism and absurdities, constituted a link in the great chain of history. In addition to this, their affairs derive some importance from their rank amongst our own progenitors, their connection with our native country, and the remains of their monuments, which still appear in our fields. A prospect of the few advantages which they enjoyed, may furnish no unpleasant subject of comparison with our own times. A candid exposure of that mass of error under which they groaned, may inspire us with more lively gratitude for the knowledge of the true religion, and, perhaps, suggest a seasonable caution against the indulgence of vain speculation upon sacred subjects a weakness to which the human mind is prone in every age.

Upon the whole, then, I humbly conceive, that an examination of our national reliques has been hitherto a desideratum in British literature; that the individual who has now attempted to draw them out of obscurity, is entitled to the candid attention of the Public; and that the time of the Reader, who may honour this volume with a candid perusal, will not have been spent in vain.

But of the manner in which this examination is conducted in the following Essay, I must speak with less confidence. As far as I know my own heart, truth, without favour or prejudice to the memory of our misguided ancestors, has been my object. Touching the light in which I view their ancient superstition, I must confess that I have not been the first in representing the druidical, as having had some connection with the patriarchal religion; but I know of no work already before the Public, which has unravelled the very slender threads by which that connection was maintained.

This difficult task I have attempted, by the aid of those Bards who were professed votaries of Druidism; and the undertaking was greatly facilitated by the labours of Mr. Bryant, which present a master-key to the mythology of the ancient world. That I cannot give my assent to the whole of this great man's opinion, has been already acknowledged:1 but whilst I allow myself to object against the slipper, I contemplate the masterly outlines of the statue, with respect and admiration.

It is to be regretted, that this eminent mythologist was wholly unacquainted with the written documents of Druidism, preserved in this country. Had they been open to his investigation, he would have exhibited them to peculiar advantage, and he would have found them as strong in support of his general principles, as any remains of antiquity whatsoever.

I must here endeavour to obviate another objection. In the British poems, which treat of heathenish superstition, a sentence is often inserted, containing the name of Christ, or some allusion to his religion, and having no connection with the matter which precedes or follows. Some of these sentences I have omitted, for obvious reasons, I have been not a little puzzled to account for their admission into the text: but as all our remaining poems were composed or altered, subsequent to the first introduction of Christianity, it is probable that St Augustin supplies us with the true reason of such admixture.


It will be seen hereafter that Hu, to whom the Bards were devoted in their hallowed wood, was the great demon-god of the British Druids.

We are now come down to the age of Edward the First, the reputed assassinator of the Bards, the tale of whose cruelty has been immortalized by the pen of Grey.

But here, fame has certainly calumniated the English King; for there is not the name of a single Bard upon record, who suffered, either by his hand, or by his orders. His real act was the removal of that patronage, under which the Bards had hitherto cherished the heathenish superstition of their ancestors, to the disgrace of our native Princes.

A threefold addition to such extracts as the preceding, might easily be made from the writers of this period; but, I trust, what is here produced, will be deemed an ample foundation for the following inferences:

1. That the ancient superstition of Druidism, or, at least, some part of it, was considered as having been preserved in Wales without interruption, and cherished by the Bards, to the very last period of the Welsh Princes.

2. That these Princes were so far from discouraging this superstition, that, on the contrary, they honoured its professors with their public patronage.

3. That the Bards who flourished under these Princes, specially those who enjoyed the rank of Bardd Cadair, or filled the chair of presidency, avowed themselves true discipless of the ancient Druids.

4. That they professed to have derived their knowledge of Druidical lore, from the works of certain ancient and primitive Bards, which constituted their principal study, and which were regarded as genuine, and of good authority.

5. That amongst these masters, they mention, with eminent respect, the names of Taliesin and Merddin; and particularly extol that mystical lore, which was derived from the cauldron of Ceridwen, and published by the former of those Bards.

6. That they describe the matter contained in their sacred poems, as precisely the same which we still find in the mystical pieces, preserved under the names of Taliesin and Merddin; so that there can be no doubt as to the identity of those pieces.

And, 7. That upon the subject of genuine British tradition, they specifically refer to no writers which are now extant, as of higher authority than Taliesin and Merddin.

I therefore conclude, that the poems of the ancient Bards, here specified, however their value, as composition, may be appreciated, are to be ranked amongst the most authentic documents which the Welsh possess, upon the subject of British Druidism.

A diligent attention to the works of those Bards, will enable us to bring forward some other ancient documents, which have been drawn up in a concise and singular form, for the purpose of assisting the memory; which are evidently derived from the sources of primitive Bardic lore, and therefore are undoubted repositories of genuine British tradition.

516 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 12 point font