I recently contributed a Foreword to OBOD member Luke Eastwood’s excellent book The Druid’s Primer
. Journalist and author Geoff Ward has reviewed it on Suite 101 and has given permission to post it here.
Geoff Ward is a British journalist, author, media consultant and musician who lives in the south-west of Ireland, and he has a Masters degree and a BA (Hons) degree in English literature. A former newspaper editor, he has been writing for UK newspapers and magazines for four decades. Since 2004, he has managed the website which he created as an appreciation of the best-selling British author Colin Wilson (www.colinwilsonworld.co.uk) and, in 2009, Geoff launched his own world mysteries website (www.mysteriousplanet.net). Geoff is the author of Spirals: the Pattern of Existence, an exploration of the prevalence and significance of the spiral form and pattern in nature and human culture, published by Green Magic in 2006 and which has an introduction written by Colin Wilson. His Facebook page is here.
THE DRUID’S PRIMER – Review by Geoff Ward
The immense wealth of Druidic knowledge and wisdom found in authentic ancient sources and Celtic mythology is distilled into one user-friendly volume
Use of the definite article in the title of The Druid’s Primer indicates the author’s hoped-for primacy in the field, and Luke Eastwood has every right to expect such reward for his worthy endeavour.
A Druid himself, being co-founder of the Irish Druid Network, he has written an indispensable handbook for both those already in the orders and those considering joining, as well as anyone else interested in the subject.
Inspired by the medieval Irish Scholar’s Primer, the book is the product of 15 years’ research and examination of the role of the Druid in today’s world, and has the special quality of an Irish perspective which adds to its uniqueness. It also has the endorsement of a foreword by Philip Carr-Gomm. chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids in the UK.
Eastwood believes that the world’s problems result from ‘a fractured model of existence that denigrates an often unconscious but vital and potent part of ourselves’. He sees modern Druidry as a method by which we can reconnect to these essential but neglected aspects, freed from the dominance of the ego, and re-establish equilibrium with the planet we have ‘thrown into turmoil’.
Holistic System Based on the Indigenous Practices of Europe
One can easily agree with Eastwood that Druidry is perhaps the most obvious choice for someone looking for a holistic system based on or linked to the indigenous practices of Europe. Certainly, the ethos of modern-day Druidism embraces a laudable brand of eco-spirituality and a literary munificence, too, which is expressed through the bardic tradition.
Eastwood covers all the ground with chapters on gods and goddesses, myth and legend, elemental forces, cosmology, inspiration, Celtic shamanism, animism and animal worship, divination, Ogham, medicine and healing, justice and wisdom. Importantly, he discusses the cycles of the Sun, Moon and Earth and the seasonal festivals that celebrate them in order to foster connection with the land and give thanks to nature, as well as the significance of the Druid’s ‘tools of the trade': crane bag, rods, wands and staffs, magical branch, grail, sword and so on.
Knowledge Could Have Been Handed Down by the Megalithic Culture
But what of where Druidic knowledge came from, a question which remains of central importance today? Eastwood refers to the possibility that the Druids preceded the Celts, that Aedd Mawr set up the first Druid order in Britain prior to 1,000BCE, and agrees that knowledge of astronomy and architecture could have been handed down by the megalithic culture which built Stonehenge and Avebury, and in Ireland, Newgrange and Knowth.
The Welsh bards knew the Druids as naddred, or adders, which was probably an allusion to the supposed ‘rebirth’ of an initiate into the orders, making an allegorical reference to the serpent which sheds its skin. But there is a deeper significance here.
It is not discussed by Eastwood, but meticulous research by the Golden Age Project reveals that it was at the beginning of the third millennium BCE that ‘missionaries from Sidon’ in the eastern Mediterranean arrived in Britain and Ireland and founded the Druidic system of social administration based on the divine laws of the Anannage, or Shining Ones.
Group of Sages Who Came To Form the Pantheon of the Old Irish
The term ‘serpent’, meaning a wise man or woman, was associated with these arrivals, providing direct links back to the Shining Ones, led by Anu, who created what we refer to as the Biblical Garden of Eden at Kharsag in southern Lebanon from about 9,500BCE.
A group of sages who arrived in Ireland came to form the pantheon of the indigenous Old Irish as well as the early Celtic invaders. It was said that all who were adepts in Druidical and magical arts were the descendants of ‘the people of the god Anu’, the Tuatha De Danaan. In southern Ireland, there is still the saying, ‘as wise as the Tuatha De Danaan’. In England, Glastonbury became a leading Druid college and centre before the birth of Jesus.
One always regrets having to say it, but The Druid’s Primer appears not to have been proofread as there are many grammatical and typographical errors, some quite glaring, which detract somewhat from an otherwise edifying reading experience.
- Eastwood, Luke, The Druid’s Primer. Moon Books, 2012. UK £15.99 / US $26.95. ISBN 978-1-84694-764-3.