Many people believe that the teachings of the Druids were lost with the coming of Christianity, and that we couldn’t possibly be teaching authentic Druid wisdom. But we believe that we are. The teachings given in the course are derived from five strands:
The first, and most important, comes – surprisingly to many – from very far back in time, and almost certainly to the teachings of the Druids before the coming of Christianity. We believe these teachings were entrusted to future generations by being encoded in certain ancient stories. Within these stories we can find embedded entire programmes of Druidic training, which form the core of the teachings that we present in the training of the Order. In addition to this material, we draw on the wisdom of the Druidic triads, which were recorded by Christian clerics but which reflect much of the wisdom of their pre-Christian ancestors.
The second strand has its source in the much later period of the Druid Revival, which began over three hundred years ago, at the end of the seventeenth century. Our Order traces its lineage to this period, and from this source of teachings we have inherited certain ritual forms and teachings. Some of these we have discarded as inappropriate to the modern age, but others have been kept, not only for their beauty and relevance, but because they too might well derive from earlier sources, or draw their inspiration from them.
The third strand comes from a more recent time, about sixty years ago, when the previous Chief of the Order, Philip Ross Nichols, together with a group of fellow-druid members of the Ancient Druid Order, formed The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, still honouring its connections through the Ancient Druid Order back to its founding in the time of the Druid Revival, but taking the decision to incorporate more study of Celtic source material, and to include a celebration of the four Celtic fire festivals. Ross Nichols was a friend of Gerald Gardner, the founder of the modern Wicca movement, and the evidence of the intellectual cross-fertilisation that occurred between them can now be seen in both Wiccan and Druid teachings. Nichols edited Gardner’s first book on Wicca, and contributed material to his second book.
The fourth strand comes from the contribution of the recent Chief of the Order, Philip Carr-Gomm, to the teachings. Having trained with Ross Nichols, and having trained in psychology and psychotherapy, (in particular Jungian analytical therapy and Psychosynthesis) Philip was asked to lead the Order in 1988. In June 2020 he handed on the role to Eimear Burke from Ireland.
The fifth strand comes from the contributions of many contemporary scholars and specialists in Druidry and Celtic spirituality, who have offered their insights and writings to the world, and in some cases specifically to the Order, to help build a body of teachings that are truly relevant and helpful to students of Druidry in the modern world. Their contributions are referenced in detail in the bibliographies and indexes provided at each stage in the Order’s training.