- Category: Gaelic Druid Order General Information
- Written by Web Master
The “Gaelic Druid Order" is a religious, pagan Druid Order and was founded by Joint-Chiefs, Ruiseart and Ceit Alcorn and is run from the Mother Grove(“Sgiath an Fhithich”) in the Scottish Highlands. We also have a Daughter Grove (the “Ashby Grove”) in Western Australia which is under the guidance of Eamonn and Robyn O’ Treasaigh.
Traditionally, Druidry is divided into three areas with each being an integral part of the whole, yet separately being complete systems unto themselves. Within the G.D.O., as in most modern Druid groups, the three aspects of Druidry are taught in a specific order.
The first level is the "Bardic Grade" (the word "bard" coming from Scottish Gaelic meaning "poet"). It is the foundation of the Druidic Path, and it is at this level that the student is encouraged to awaken the artist within. It is very difficult to explore the "outer" until we have discovered the "inner", and it is for this reason that we begin our journey with Bardism. The training Bard is taught to tune-in to the inner sounds of the universe, and to manifest them into the physical via poetry, music, story, etc. The Bardic Grade is also concerned with the study of traditional lore (the old stories, songs and poems), the elements, music, Gaelic language, the "Wheel of the Year", the Gaelic festivals of Imbolg, Belteine, Lughnasadh and Samhain, as well as the Solstices and Equinoxes.
As every serious student of GDO Bardism will be aware, the study of Celtic language and culture forms an integral part of Bardic studies. There are many reasons for this, and perhaps the most obvious is that it connects us with our earlier Druidic heritage. Whilst most modern Druids would agree that an obsession with the past is irrelevant to the practice of present day Druidry, it would nonetheless be agreed upon that a comprehensive understanding of the past would serve to increase our understanding of the present. This in turn would provide us with a firm platform from which to forge our future. The spirituality and culture of the ancient Celts was woven into the very fabric of the language, and via serious study, we begin to form not only a bond with our ancestors, but also with our inner selves.
The early Celtic languages were grouped into two main types. These were the "Continental", which was spoken in various forms over most of what is now Europe, and the "Insular", which was spoken by the early inhabitants of the British Isles. (Note: the term British Isles is used to denote the main islands of Britain and Ireland and the smaller surrounding isles). Of the "Continental", virtually nothing remains whilst the "Insular" has survived to the present day and is divided into the Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) and the Brythonic (Welsh, Cornish and Breton). The Gaelic group is known as "Q Celtic" whereas the Brythonic group is referred to as being "P Celtic".
The G.D.O., as the name suggests, practices a Gaelic form of Druidry, and there are a number of reasons for this (aside from the obvious fact that the founders are of Gaelic descent).
The "Q Celtic" group is much older and therefore it's roots stretch much further back into our Druidic past. This is immediately noticeable when studying the "Ogham". In addition to the greater age, "Q Celtic" is the only group of Celtic languages that has remained totally unbroken since ancient times (although it has certainly been influenced by other languages). It therefore provides an even stronger and more accurate connection to our tradition. Also, many of the Druidic stories which have been written in modern Welsh, can be found in the much earlier Irish legends and is typical of the cultural overlapping that often occurs between groups of peoples, especially as in this case when the two groups are so closely related.
We are very lucky indeed that Gaelic never died out, despite attempts by the British government following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion and in modern times it is making a strong come-back, thanks to the efforts of dedicated individuals.
According to some scholars/historians, the Gaels arrived in Ireland from Europe before the Brythonic Celts settled in Britain. The Cruitne (Picts) were the inhabitants of Northern Britain (and parts of Ireland) although many historians now believe that they were in fact Brythonic themselves. There was much trade between the Cruitne and the Gaels as well as cultural and spiritual exchange. The Irish Druids would even send their students to Alba (Scotland) for further training from Pictish masters, and at one point in time so did the Continental Druids. There is much speculation as to what became of the Picts, and the reason for their sudden disappearance, however I believe that they were simply assimilated into Gaelic culture after the creation of the Kingdom of Dal Riada. This is evident when looking at the origins of some of the Scottish Highland clans.
The early Brythonic Druids had a ban on the writing down of their mysteries. Whilst this ban was strictly observed in southern Britain and Europe, it was not the case in Ireland and the Gaelic areas of Scotland. This was especially so during the later Celtic Christian period, when scribes wrote down much of the earlier Gaelic Druidry. Regardless of our feelings towards Christianity, Druidry would probably have died out completely if it wasn't for its close relationship with the Celtic Church. Even after Catholicism finally crushed/absorbed the Celtic Church, Druidry managed to survive in one form or another in the Scottish Highlands and Western Islands, and to this day, most Highland Clans have a Bard.
Whilst the continuation of the pagan aspects of Druidry in Scotland is obvious to contemporary Druids, further evidence of the survival of the tradition in its formal and official capacity can be found in the figure of the "Lord Lyon", King of Arms and Chief Herald of Scotland. This is an ancient role, the origins of which dates back to the time of the High Bard (who was responsible for maintaining the genealogical records of the monarchy and of the land). The current Lyon Court is in Edinburgh.
With regards to modern practice, the G.D.O. is totally committed to the preservation and development of Gaelic language and culture and in order to do this, we need to prove that the language is as vibrant and relevant as ever. We need to present it in a modern form that the people of today can relate to otherwise it may suffer the same fate as other minority languages. Sadly, this is becoming increasingly difficult due to the growing numbers of "reconstructionist" and "internet-type" groups, whose ridiculous, romantic, and completely unhistorical view of early Gaelic society, is setting our cause back years. They would prefer to see it as a monument to the past (as they perceive it) and a vehicle for rebelling (for some silly reason) against modern society.
Within the Bardic Grove of the G.D.O., we hold regular Gaelic lessons and view this as essential to the overall development of the Bard. If the student is of Gaelic descent, then the advantages would be obvious, however even if there were no blood connection, the study of the oldest (still spoken) Celtic language would provide an invaluable opportunity to reconnect to an ancient culture, whilst contributing to its continuation in modern times.
Upon graduation from the Bardic training, the student may apply for initiation into the "Ovate Grade", which is the second area of study (or choose to remain in the Bardic Grade, concentrating on deeper Bardic studies).
In the Ovate Grade, the focus is on developing "sight" (and oneness with Nature). As the Bard "listens" to the energy, the Ovate "sees" it, and manifests it into the physical via the art of prophecy. The Ovate training is concerned with the studies of the Cycles of Death and Rebirth, divination, healing, spell-craft, tree-lore, the Ogham (the Druid tree alphabet), and the study of Nature etc.
Upon graduation, the student may enter the Druid Grade (or choose to remain in the Ovate Grade), which is concerned with the deeper mysteries of the tradition. This is our "Priesthood". As the Bard "listens" and the Ovate "sees", the Druid "weaves" the energies, and walks between the realms. The Druid is the teacher, philosopher and protector of the ways of the Order. It should be noted that when a student enters another Grade, the previous one continues within his/her being (unlike more linear traditions). The Bard "adds" Ovatism to his/her journey, and the Ovate "adds" Druidism to his or hers. Therefore, a Graduated Druid has all three co-existing within.
In closing, the aims of the G.D.O., in addition to promoting Gaelic language and culture, are to help develop the spiritual potential of the individual whilst working with Nature via the traditional Groves of Bard, Ovate and Druid. We are also very concerned about the well being of our planet. She is our Mother, our home, our provider and we must all take responsibility for Her health. Our future, indeed the futures of all who live with Her depend on it!