Archive for 9 October 2011

Druids Gaming, Fictional and Real   4 comments

Druids seem to be enjoying a superficial popularity these days.  Games like the world-wide phenomenon of World of Warcraft, a massively multi-player game, typically make up the first several listings on most search engines if you type in “druid.”  These druids are of course characters or roles that players adopt and then develop or “level up” through prolonged experience of the game, in ways both like and very unlike daily life.  Here’s an excerpt from the World of Warcraft Wiki:  “Druids are keepers of the world who walk the path of nature, following the wisdom of the Ancients and Cenarius, healing and nurturing the world. To a druid, nature is a delicate balance of actions, in which even the smallest imbalance can create storming turmoil from peaceful skies. Druids draw their power from this wild energy, using it to change their shapes and command the forces of nature.”

[Image Source]

The French comic series Asterix, better known in Europe than in the U.S., features the druid Getafix (his name, like those of many of the other characters in different translations, is either a pun or play on words):

In the world of fiction a casual reader can also encounter some engaging and reasonably accurate stories that attempt to portray Druids in a balanced way.  Fantasy and historical novelist Morgan Llywelyn has written several fine novels, one of her best being the eponymous Druids.  Set in Celtic Gaul (more or less modern France), the story takes place during the growing conflict between Julius Caesar and the Celtic tribes he is “pacifying.”

The tale is narrated by Ainvar, a young apprentice druid of the Carnutes, a historical Celtic tribe whose homeland was in central Gaul, south-west of the modern capital of Paris.  Ainvar is a “soul friend” (Gaelic anam cara) of Vercingetorix (82-46 BCE), chief of the neighboring Arverni tribe and another historical figure who stood against the incursion of the Romans under Caesar by attempting to unify the fiercely independent Celtic tribes against the Roman general’s encroaching legions.  He is even mentioned in Caesar’s military memoir The Gallic Wars and in a few other ancient sources.

Throughout Llywelyn’s book, several other Druidic practices and beliefs emerge in ways natural to character and story, notably a sense of the sacredness of the land, the interconnectedness of all things, the value of ritual and blessing to imprint events in consciousness and experience, and the balance and pattern of the world, of which humans are a part, and which we ignore at our peril.

[Amazon books]

Contemporary British druids in ritual garb (Wikipedia image):

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