Druids revere the natural world above all else. Trees, particularly oaks (‘Druid’ is thought to have meant ‘knowledge of the oak’), are considered sacred, and meetings are held in forest groves. Druids believe in the interconnectedness of all life and in an afterlife. Some of their traditional beliefs and rituals are still around in altered forms:
The Yule Log Druids believed that the sun stood still for 12 days at midwinter, and so they burnt a log throughout this period to banish the darkness and to keep evil spirits at bay.
Mistletoe The cream berries of the mistletoe in the depths of winter were seen as a symbol of life. Pliny the Elder records a moonlit ceremony in which a priest would cut the bough of mistletoe with a golden sickle, and catch it in a white cloak.
Wassailing This Twelfth Night tradition has Celtic roots and is upheld in druidry, offering a gift of cider and baked apples to fruit trees to ensure the coming year’s bountiful harvest (see issue 67).