Cover image for Secrets of the Druids
Secrets of the Druids
Matthews, John, 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Black Dog & Leventhal, [2002]

Physical Description:
400 pages : illustrations ; 34 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library BL910 .M38 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



An in-depth study of the history, lore, and tradition of Celtic philosophy and religion, this beautifully designed book offers a fascinating look of the mysterious ways of the Druids.

John Matthews is the author of more than fifty books on Celtic and Arthurian History and related subjects. He is a prominent lecturer and teacher in the United States and Europe.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although they left no writings of their own, the Druids have had a profound impact on modern culture. Largely forgotten by a Christianized Europe, this ancient Celtic priestly caste has reemerged as avatars of eco-friendly spirituality, potent symbols of what many feel is missing in a rational and industrialized world. This informative compendium of scholarly articles, stories and poetry explores the legacy, real and mythical, of these enigmatic people. A large selection of historical writings illustrates the changing perceptions of the Druids through the centuries. They were disdained as bloodthirsty barbarians by the Roman writers who provide our (meager) historical accounts of them, but lionized by 17th- to 19th-century "antiquarian romantics" who essentially invented much of our modern notion of hooded, tree-worshipping sorcerers. The editor, a practicing Druid, also includes more sober but still readable academic studies that explore Druidic beliefs and rites and the legacy of Merlin legends, prophetic seers, weird dreams and witchy women inherited from Druidic motifs. Rounding out the anthology (which gathers selections from three earlier volumes, including The Druid Source Book and The Celtic Source Book) is a strong selection of legends, myths and poems, most from ancient and medieval Ireland and Wales, but including some modern writers inspired by the plangent tone and haunting, sometimes surreal imagery of early Celtic literature. Devotees of Druid philosophy, lovers of Gaelic lore and those interested in our very modern nostalgia for an enchanted past will all enjoy this book. Illus. (Feb.15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Julius PokornyGodfrey HigginsIolo Morgannwg and J. Williams ab IthelCharles MackayJames BomvickDudley WrightSir John DanielLewis SpenceColin MurrayE. EttlingerR. I. BestRobert D. ScottErnest S. HartlandJohn G. CampbellEleanor HullGeorge HendersonCaitlin MatthewsJohn MatthewsMargaret GriffithsGeoffrey of MonmouthGeoffrey of MonmouthAlexander MackenzieDaniel CorkeryEdward Anwyl"Idrison"John VeitchFred Norris RobinsonWilliam EvansIolo MorgannwgFiona Macleod (William Sharp)John MatthewsCaitlin MattbewsMartin Ludgate
Book I Druid Lore, Customs, and Beliefs
Introduction--The Story of Druidryp. 6
Part 1 Origins and Early History of Druidry in Britain and Irelandp. 10
1. The Classical Accounts: From Caesar to Vopiscusp. 12
2. The Druids in Early Irelandp. 16
3. The Origin of Druidismp. 25
Part 2 The Revival: Druidry in the Fighteenth and Nineteenth Centuriesp. 34
4. Early Antiquarian Accounts, 1577-1854p. 39
5. Moral Doctrines of the Druidsp. 44
6. Druidismp. 54
7. Druidical Chants Preserved in the Choruses of Popular Songs in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Francep. 58
8. Druidical Magicp. 66
Part 3 The Recovery: Druidry in the Twentieth Centuryp. 73
9. The Initiatory Ceremonies and Priesthoodp. 77
10. The Druidic Churchp. 86
11. Druidic Theology and Ritualp. 98
12. The Four Celtic Fire Festivalsp. 106
Book II The Celtic Seers: Vision and Magic in the Druid Tradition
Introduction--Seeking the Truth, Speaking the Truth: The Vatic Tradition Among the Celtsp. 120
Part 1 Vision and Seership: The Druids and the Bardsp. 131
1. Precognitive Dreams in Celtic Legendp. 133
2. Prognostication from the Raven and the Wrenp. 144
3. The Thumb of Knowledgep. 147
4. The Voice of the Stone of Destinyp. 155
5. Augury, Dream, and Prophecyp. 163
6. The Silver Bough in Irish Legendp. 174
7. Illuminationp. 179
8. The Spells of Women: The Sacred and Magical Role of the Celtic Ninefold Sisterhoodsp. 185
9. The Dark Speech: Ogham and the Bardsp. 196
Part 2 Poelry and Prophecy: Visions of the Dreamp. 202
10. Vaticination in Wales Prior to the Twelfth Centuryp. 204
11. Armes Prydein ("Prophecy of Britain") attributed to Myrddinp. 215
12. Vita Merlinip. 218
13. The Prophecies of Merlinp. 225
14. The Poems of Suibhne Geiltp. 233
15. The Vision of MacConglinnep. 246
16. The Prophecies of the Brahan Seerp. 254
Book III The Bards: Inspirational Legacy and Teachings of the Ancient Celts
Introduction--The Story of the Bardsp. 270
Part 1 The First Singersp. 280
1. The Bardic Schoolsp. 281
2. Prolegomena to the Study of Old Welsh Poetryp. 293
3. The Mabinogi of Taliesinp. 302
4. Merlin and the Merlinian Poemsp. 314
5. Satirists and Enchanters in Early Irish Literaturep. 325
Part 2 The Carpenters of Songp. 336
6. The Dream of Rhonabwyp. 338
7. The Proceedings of the Great Bardic Institutionp. 349
Part 3 The Constant Traditionp. 372
8. The Antiquity of the Welsh Gorseddp. 374
9. The Book of Bardismp. 377
10. Poemsp. 394
11. Taliesin Sings of his Knowledgep. 396
12. Bardic Poemsp. 397
13. Poemsp. 399

Google Preview