I am presenting this text as I received
it, except for formatting, very mild editing, and a few [bracketed
comments]. So readers should not assume that the level of scholarship
in this is of the same standard as that elsewhere on this site.
To put it more bluntly, this text is filled with historical,
logical, and polytheological errors! You may wish to consult
my essay, A Very Brief History of Mesopagan
Druidism, for historical context.
Grove or Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient Order of Druids known as [The
Druid Order and] An Druidh Uileach Braithrearchas, was inaugurated in
the year 1717 and announced by the Herald in accordance with
ancient usage [sic] on Primrose Hill, London at the Autumnal
Equinox of the sun. This Mother Grove was named Gairdeachas
and its outward exoteric or public manifestation was called An
Tigh Geatha the lodge-gate
or reception centre, the Outer Order where beginners receive
their preparatory training.
The inaugural assembly was held in the Apple
Tree Tavern, Charles St., Covent Garden, London and the plan
of The Unity, first suggested by John Aubrey of Old Mount Haemus [Grove] to John
Toland when they met at Oxford was
accepted at this inaugural gathering.
The work of organizing the assembly was undertaken
by John Toland who was chosen by delegates from the Druid centres
of York, London, Oxford, the Isles of Man and Anglesey,. Cornwall,
Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Britlany; and elected Chief of the
newly reconstituted Order.
The Druid Order was declared to be the Unifying
Centre of the Druid Unity; independent of but allied to all other
Druid Groves, and a Supreme Grand Council was formed having the
status, not of regal authority, but of duty and obligation. A
duty to maintain the unity of Druidic activity and an obligation
to ensure that the Groves selflessly observed their pledge to
further the cultivation of the noblest and best in man and thus
work for the restoration of the Golden Age.
The Supreme Grand Council guides The Druid
Order A.D.U.B.; it holds and issues the Warrents, Charters, Parchments
etc. so necessary to the preservation of true succession in these
days of pseudo movements and fraudulent imitation. It preserves
the Ancient Wisdom found in Druid Traditions and Teachings that
have been handed down from generation to generation and provides
instruction thereon for the use of Groves.
The Unity is organized in three sections
the Outer Order, in contact with the public;
the Inner Order, which guides and works through the Outer; and
the Sanctum of which nothing is said in public.
The Outer Order
has three Grades known as: The Gatehouse, where
anyone may seek admission to the Order through Initiation.
Only those who have received the appropriate training in the
relevant Grade of the Inner Order, and have qualified therein,
are able to give effect to an initiation ceremony. Without the
Hierophant the ceremony is no more than a mere charade.
The Seven Kings,
wherein the aspirant begins to study and tackle the forces at
work within himself which the Hierophant has quickened during
his second initiation. The aspirant should have been properly
prepared for this in The Gatehouse.
The Ovate Og
or Ovydd Og,
Ovydd, a sapling or unformed
plant: ov, raw. A young shoot having the promise
of growth (which must be realised at least in part before qualifying
in this Grade). It is here that man shows his worth, the balance
of his wish and will, the quality of his integrity. It is here
that he chooses between the life of selfless service and that
of self agrandisement.
Part of the aspirants task in this Grade
is to meet and clear up his obligations to the past; he is not
yet obligated to the future, hence the point of balance; OO,
zerozero. Not until he has caught up with himself can he
even approach the portal of the Order proper
until he measures up to the required standard, he must remain
in the seed-bed or nursery.
The Inner Order
is divided into Three Orders each having its own sphere of activity
and its own series of Grades. Until the aspirant attains the
required standard of character and integrity, he can not even
be considered as a candidate for the Inner Order where the Druid
training proper begins, and this training can take quite a long
time. There is no short cut to the balanced development of mans
latent forces, faculties and powers.
The Druid teaching is an outward manifestation
of the inner light. Its practices induce the development of mans
transcendent powers, those which come from, and are in constant
contact with, the Central Sun of the Cosmos. They may themselves
be called the inner sun, or divine light.
Three Bars of Light, known as The Awen [Welsh
for inspiration] form a symbol of the Divine Name.
It is said that upon its three columns all knowledge is inscribed,
for from its angled lines and by their combination was shaped
the Bardic Alphabet. The days for holding the Gorsedd are
the Four Albans, when the rays of the Orient
Sun, converging to the maen llog, delineate the
creative Name of God; and the Druid standing thus in the
face of the son and in the eye of light speaks in the
Name of the Lord.
The three rays of The Awen
concentre upon the stone of speech as do the rays of the summer
solstice and of the spring and autumn equinoxes upon the altar
stone at Stonehenge. The Awen symbolizes the
Source of Light in the cosmos and in man whence come the Druidic
virtues of courage, brotherhood, and selfless service; and also
the Druidic wisdom much of which has been handed down in the
form of triads:
- God is of necessity three things: the greatest
part of life, the greatest part of science and the greatest part
of force; and of each thing there can be but one greatest part.
- Three things are continually increasing:
fire or light, intelligence or truth, and spirit or life; and
these things will end by predominating over all others. Abred
(the plane of material life and cyclic incarnation) will be destroyed.
- The three gifts of music: sleep, laughter,
- Courses of instruction are given in the Groves
of the Outer Order to prepare students for the Druidic Teachings
which are given in the Groves of the Inner Order.
- Understanding is cultivated by ritual and
wisdom by triads increasingly appreciated, mastery of the body
and brain by exercises and meditations.
- The three intentions of Druid instruction:
The training of the mind, the cultivation of the heart, and the
making of true manliness.
The Druid Order is an association pursuing
cultural aims, to preserve, defend and enrich our heritage. Many
of its members are writers, artists and poets, so much so that
it appears to be an academy of people of learning. It is this
and much more; for such an association
alone would not justify annual gatherings in a megalithic circle
of people dressed in archaic robes and performing unusual ceremonies.
The Druid Order considers itself a traditional
society in the largest sense of the word, carrying on the teaching
and example of the ancient Druids of whom it claims to be the
The Druids, Ovates and Bards were the backbone
of the peoples of the west in olden times, and stand as the inspirers
of the people today. It is not a matter of mere sentiment, nor
a wish to return to the past, but of a living tradition touching
a living people. A tradition that goes back to a past remote
indeed, far back beyond any record of civilization itself.
There are links with the Aryan and early Hindu
cultures and what is now the witch cult; reverence for both sun
and moon, fivefold and threefold bases of teaching, ritual circular
dancing, burning of the dead, the existence of a priest-ruler
caste, transmission of teaching by lengthy memorized poems.
A cult within the Jain community, the Draus
or Druis have striking similarities to the Druids
of the west (Latin drus: possibly cognate with
drau). Amongst them are found Stone circles
around upright stone altars.
The builders of Stonehenge and Avebury gave
reverence to sun and moon; and at Stonehenge the suns movements
became a calendar for the seasons. Circular and processional
movements, a cult of the dead (setting sun) as well as a life
cult (rising sun), male and female elements, instruction on the
forces and faculties of man and their fields of activity are
clearly, implied in the structures.
To this remote time, long before anything
was known of Celtic invasions, tradition ascribes the first planting
of the Druid System by Hu Gadarn, leader of the Cymry
or Brotherhood colony.
After Hu Gadarn, Aed Mawr is said to have
set up The Druid Order about 1,000 B.C., with three Archdruidic sees and thirty-one other
centres of learning. Classical tradition, however unreliable,
agrees with this in speaking of the reception of the founder-philosopher
of Greece, Pythagoras, into The Druid Order in Marseilles in
about 529 B. C.
It has also a legend, already old to Herodotus,
who disbelieved it, that visiting Pythagoras came one Abaris,
from the land of the Hyperboreans he being a priest of Apollo,
speaking perfect Greek and fit for the reception of wisdom.
Passing over these more doubtful figures which
approximate to myth, more sober traditions and records agree
in attributing to the Druids an elaborate and lengthy wisdom
teaching with several grades, and an influence over princes and
Celtic tribal peoples alike.
The Druids, says Ceasar (Gallic
Wars, Bk. 6 ) preside in matters of religion, have
the care of sacrifice and interpret the will of the Gods. They
have the direction and education of youth
In almost all
the decision is left to them
never go to war, are exempted from taxes and military service.
The young are taught to repeat a great
number of verses by heart and often spend twenty years upon this
They (the Druids) teach likewise many things
relating to the stars and their motions, the magnitude of the
world and our earth, the nature of things and the power and prerogatives
of the immortal gods.
Britain not Gaul, was the centre or holy land
of this formidable body and although Bardism compromised, disastrously
for itself, with the Roman power in Gaul, here Druidism fought
the invaders tooth and nail.
How far it was really driven out one cannot
tell; it remained strong in Scotland, Wales and above all Ireland,
whence the Christianised Druids returned as the missionaries
known as Culdees and probably formed the background of great
missionaries such as St. Columba (Columcille) who founded the
Celtic Church in Britain.
The Arthurian traditions are clearly Druidic
in their earlier forms, being part of a mystery teaching which
includes the Welsh mythology.
The Celtic reconquest, commonly and wrongly
known as the final Wessex period of the Heptarchy (Saxons had
little to do with it), clearly spread Arthurian ideas, whilst
Henry II and his Queen encouraged their elaboration and fusion
with French and other elements in the great Romances of the Holy
There is thus evidence of a large body of
tradition in England, whilst Wales had been elaborating the poetic
wisdom of the great bards of the sixth and later centuries. Scotland
continued full of the traditional wisdom until a very late date,
and still has a good deal of it.
The English Druids of the Universal Bond (An Druidh Uileach Braithreachas, or A.D.U.B.) have always
claimed continuity with the earlier Druidism and there seems
no particular reason to doubt it. Before the foundation of Oxford
University there was a Druidic confraternity there with the same
name as, and probably a branch of, the specialised Druids known
in Wales as Pheryllt, translated sometimes
as metal-workers or alchemists, the word indicating skill with
fire and metal (Cymric ffer what is
solid), [Actually, Pheryllt is Welsh for
the name Virgil, the Roman writer to whom were attributed
various manuscripts relating to herbalism and magic].
(City of Ambrose) seems to have been the name of this Grove
or Lodge; it was both on the Penmaen ridge of Snowdon (Eryr)
and in the south Snowdon range at Dinas Affaraon,
with its legend of watery dragons. The cult guarded the Mysteries
Persecution followed and before 1066 the Oxford
Grove perished. The tradition, nevertheless, seems to have gone
on, for Haymo of Faversham revived the Druidic idea in England and on his death
Philip Brydodd founded and named the present Mount Haemus Grove in 1245;
Companions of the Bond
(CAW) came from many parts and conferred,
agreeing on a common programme.
The 17th century saw the emergence of the
Order into its more modern shape. In the 17th and 18th centuries
there was a complex of mystical societies, Hermetes, Rosicrucians,
Freemasons and Druids, who often had members in common.
It seems that disturbances in Scotland had
caused many of its Druids, such as John Aubrey, to come south.
John Toland of Londonderry had been sent to Scotland and there
educated, and, as the custom was in education, he was sent abroad.
On his return he linked with Scots Druids, then with those of
York and finally with Aubreys
Mount Haemus Grove in Oxford, and
thus achieving the union of five sections of Druids in 1717 which
Aubrey had aimed at.
Toland thus became the first of the modern Chosen Chiefs
(see note on the inauguration given at the beginning). He set
forth the philosophical principles and he gives a full acount
of the Druids in his 1726 book. These, like other groups of philosophical
inquirers, began meetings in London, this one at a Cheapside
tavern; their meetings had royal approval and contacted similar-minded
called the movement the Invisible College [a name
usually used for Rosicricians and/or Masons]. Certainly an immense
amount of learning was generated. It may have been John Aubreys enthusiasm over Stonehenge as an observatory
that led Charles I to found Greenwich. From this background and
influence Sir Isaac
Newton developed his speculation,
his inquiries being typically in the Druid tradition. Newtons
mystical interests have been rather hushed up,
but some indications are seen in the published correspondence
with the Rev. William Law.
Newton was a deist, not a Christian, and,
like Kepler and Swedenborg, he was much influenced by the mystic
Jacob Boehme. Dr. Stukeley, rector of a church, a famous antiquarian of his
day who wrote books on Stonehenge, the third Chief, was a close
friend. The King and Locke may be added to the students of Boehme;
indeed, the later Royal Society had a strong Boehme influenced
Halley the astronomer and Sir Christopher Wren being
amongst those who proposed the membership of Newton. Wren founded
Lodge about 1674 and presided over
the Mecca Lodge 1675. About now the Autumn Equinox ceremony took its modern
form, the first celebration of the revised version having taken
place on Primrose Hill in 1717.
There was a period of unhappy disputes between
Welsh and English Druids, largely over the language question.
Helping to pull the English Druids together after it, was William Blake,
although he was an original rather than a leader
or even member of any of the contending factions in an exclusive
He worked with the Druids of Poland Street,
the Ancient Order, which was an offshoot of the Royal Order of Bucks. He
was influenced by Swedenborg, who again had been influenced by Boehme. Echoes
of the Druidism of his day abound in his work; in Jerusalem
is a drawing of Albion as Adam Cadmon and Prajapati, giving the
universalism which is a true hallmark of the mysteries. Man
anciently contained in his mighty limbs all things in heaven
and earth. Although Blake made intellect his demon, he
drew a beautiful spiritual form of Newton. Later
on, the Friendly Societies Act sifted out most of the groups
many of which retained only an economic side.
Robert Owen, the English parent of Socialism, was of Cymric stock
and had a Celtic following; he was promoting essentially Druidic
ideas of cooperation. His ideal was the self-supporting community.
Grant Allen, who was very interested in Druidry, has pointed
out how ideas kept alive amongst lowly natives reduced to serfdom
and driven out by medieval overlords in earlier times did in
fact return with the Industrial Revolutions influx from
country to town and spread community ideas.
His work in a sense still continues in the
United States where the Oneida Community has carried out the
concept. Other figures whom there is a strong reason to believe
were Druids, or at least closely acquainted with Druidic teachings,
include besides those already mentioned, Dr. [John] Dee, famous
wizard of Elizabethan times, the poets Vaughan and James Thompson, Elias
Ashmole the supposed founder of Freemasonry;
more recently, Bulwer
Lytton and Charles Kingsley, novelists;
Sir Edwin Arnold the Asiatic scholar and poet, the late John Soul
and Lewis Spence.
The Druids appear to have exercised throughout
a fostering or founding influence in many institutions. The laws
of Molmutius appear to be Druidic, and it was upon them that
King Alfred based his code, a foundation of later English law.
The apparently Saxon council of wise men, the Witan, derives
its name and perhaps itself from the Welsh Gwyddan
Druids were, as we have seen, at the beginnings
of Oxford, also a King Alfred interest; the same is true of Paris.
They were prominent in the Royal
Society and influential as we have
seen in the beginnings of English Socialism; there was a link
also with the Fabian
Society. All this demonstrates their
essential character, which is not that of mystagogues but of
pioneer thinkers and experimenters.
The special link which London has with the
later Druids is interesting if the site of the Druid Temple as
shown on maps of Roman London is more than guesswork. A pillar
base from it is shown at All Hallows, Barking.
The roll-call of Chosen Chiefs is distinguished,
see the list given at the end of this booklet. The present Chief
is Dr. T. L. Maughan D. Sc. [which
dates this booklet to pre-1977].
Amongst the Welsh, the Archdruid Morien (the
successor to Myfyr) stirred much controversy over his propaganda
for the Eisteddfod of Wales about 1896. In 1874
Dr. Wentworth Little gathered together members of the Masonic Order and
developed an interest in comparative studies, sought for points
in common, and founded a Druid Society which he called the Ancient and Archaeological Order of
Druids. In 1956 the Ceremony of the
Spring Equinox was renewed at the Bryn Gwyn or Tower of London.
The higher wisdom is essentially one. This
the ancients well knew and the
more perceptive of the moderns. Dr. Inges studies in Christian mysticism show this as clearly
as do the experiences of non-Christian occultists. Clement of
Alexandria testifies clearly that the venerable wisdom systems
of his world were all giving the same doctrines, whatever the
local variety of the rite: Orphic, Thracian, Osiriac, Isaic,
Bacchic, Cabiric, Eleusinian, Adonaic, Mithraic, Essene
Of this great tradition the Druidic is what
is mediated for the west, and in it our foundations of thought
have been laid in the past. In this essentially Celtic system
is always a sense of revelation, of ascension and manifestation
that is imminent. Life is a tentative thing, a probation between
the several worlds:
Three phases necessary for every existence
in the development of life: the beginning in Annwn
(the creative abyss), the transmigration in Abred, and
the plenitude in heaven or the circle of Gwynfyd
(white or pure life); and without each of these three things
no one can have a complete existence except God who transcends
From three things man is compelled into Abred,
although in all other things he may turn to good: by pride (he
falls) down into Annwn, by untruthfulness
he goes further down still, by lack of charity he descends to
the farthest darkness and must strive towards manhood once again.
Over the scheme of things presides the deity,
the Vast and Mighty One whom nature hath not formed;
this Being both indwells through all forms and also as God Transcendent
fills the realm of Ceugant, unapproachable to created beings.
The Druid Prayer, common to Druids of all peoples [!?!], gives
the typical sense of uplift and enlargment in unforgettable form:
The Druid Prayer
Grant Oh God Thy protection
And in protection strength:
And in strength understanding:
And in understanding knowledge:
And in knowledge the knowledge
And in the knowledge of justice
the love of it:
And in the love of it the love
of all existences:
And in the love of all existences
the love of God and of all goodness.
Within such a philosophy death is seen as
both a liberation and a renewal. The graded organisation of the
Druids is generally speaking an association for investigation,
experimental, creative and often curative.
The Druidic type of wisdom is, it is suggested,
the native and more assimilable wisdom for us. The various admirable
oriental philosophies which in the general absence of a more
intelligent Christian mysticism, have understandably captured
a wide allegiance in the west from the middle of the last century
onwards, are alien to our culture in their expression,
although their spiritual content is universal. In Druidism and
its allied studies in Gaelic and British wisdom literatures may
be found a system perhaps not so completely expounded, but expressed
the better for our comprehension.
To put it more vividly, the Enlightened One
entered into both the Sacred Bull and the White Elephant (see
O Brien The Round Towers):
wisdom has made a parallel entry into west and east, the White
Bull of Britain (known in antiquity as the Enclosure of the White
Bull) and the White Elephant of India.
As by many in India, Christianity can be accepted
as another manifestation of Vishnu the Creator, so in Britain,
Christianity could be taken as another form of Druidism, which
Druidism itself appeared to recognise by in fact passing over
wholesale into Christianity in Ireland, thus clearly indicating
that there was nothing incompatible in the two systems of thought
[?!?]. The Druidic tradition dating from before the credal era
is necessarily non-credal.
Finally, it is interesting to note that the
dress and decoration shown on certain Roman period reliefs from
Autun in France appear to derive from the same authority as the
known robes and some ornaments of the Druids [post hoc,
ergo propter hoc].
Chosen Chiefs of The Most Ancient Order since 1717
- John Toland 1717 -1722
- William Stukely 1722 - 1765
- Edward Finch Hatton 1765 - 1771
- David Samway 1771 - 1799
- William Blake 1799 - 1827
- Geoffrey Higgins 1827 - 1833
- William Carpenter 1833 - 1874
- Edward Vaughan Kenealy 1874 - IX80
- Gerald Massey 1880 - 1906
- John Barry O'Callaghan 19Q6 - 1909
- G. W. MacGregor-Reid 1909 - 1946
- Robt. A. F. MacGregor-Reid I946 - 1964
- Thomas L. Maughan 1964 - 1976
- Christopher Sullivan 1976 - [handwritten