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The Druids, by Peter Berresford Ellis

Reviewed by Booklolly

The winter solstice powerfully connects us to our physical life on this planet so it is an auspicious time to contemplate trees, weather and light. My ancestors were Druids before they were Christians and The Druids, by Peter Berresford Ellis, takes a run at deconstructing what we believe and what we know about the early Celts and the Druid class. Because Druids avoided written records, much of what is accepted about them is imagined, hearsay or misinterpreted. Ellis has produced an accessible study without endless footnotes but with references to explore if you need academic corroboration.

The Romans wrote about the Druids they hoped to subsume and obliterate as they conquered Celtic strongholds. Roman accounts were not flattering—they painted Druids as cannibals, sorcerers and barbarians. In reality, Druids were the intellectuals of Celtic society, its judges, priests and leaders. Their culture was the most egalitarian of any in its time. Women were chattel in Greece, subservient to their husbands in Roman and completely free to own property, lead troops into battle, marry and divorce at will, serve as judiciary, priestesses and political chiefs in Celtic lands. Ellis has a section stuffed with examples of women Druids who were powerful and history-changing figures.

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