The Ancient Druids
In the mists of prehistory, south of the Father Thames, lay the marshlands, where the warriors and farmers lived on small islands amid the treacherous ways, dancing boglights, and swirling mists of night. In autumn, the deep spirits moved with the winds, bringing in the dark, and stirring the deep and deadly muds. In winter, an icy fist clutched the land, the trees stood naked and accusing under the leaden sky. In spring Aurora stretched her rosy fingers earlier, the lambs gamboled beside the lanes where traders headed to the crowded city and its markets and fortresses. Mother Gaia decked herself in green, with a thousand flowers as her jewels, to offer her love and to nurture her children. In summer boats plied Father Thames, relying on his mercy to protect and guide them.
Who could know the ways of man, and of Nature? Only one group could see the patterns in the stars, or the future in the entrails of a slaughtered fowl. When people of the Celts needed wisdom, judgement or guidance, where could they turn but the Druids? These men of learning were among the highest in the land, they had the power to understand the ways of the stars, the thoughts of the Gods, the deepest hearts of men. Men as truly rooted to their Celtic homelands as the oak trees they loved, they told the past, they looked deep into the present, and in smoke and blood they sang the future. Some say their learning was so deep and so wide, that one could learn the tongue of the Druids, and chant their verses for 20 years before joining that sacred leadership.
Their world ended in the tramp of legionaries, thousands of hard men marching from Jerusalem to Londinium and onwards, making a desert and calling it peace. The grim regiments of Rome slew all who resisted, kettling the free spirits before lines of shields, driving the Druids before them for long months of terror and rage. They Druids drew back into the folds of the land and the forests they loved, until at the end of the world they reached holy Mona. The Druids unleashed their darkest forces, but even this only paused the hard advance of the legions, who hewed down with axes the sacred forests, driving out the spirits of the dryads that the Celts loved.
The Druids and their warriors fought bravely and fought long. Their courage could not be extinguished even when the cold thrusts of steel and the last death rattle of blood choked their breath, because they know our spirits never die but are ever reborn. So the Druids fled the land and the time. They spread abroad, drifting and floating through the centuries and the generations, born, loving, teaching and then dying, appearing and disappearing like the foam flecks on the raging North Sea.
Onto the marshes men built dry land, and stones, concrete and brick held the ground from the river to the distant Northern and Southern horizons in rows of building, lanes, highways, bridges and wharves. Gaia, the trees and the dryads were cut back to a few pockets of spiritless park, Father Thames saw his mighty power chained down with bridges. The city became ruled by roving metal monsters, spitting out fumes into a sky rendered toxic by industrial waste. People sold their souls for money, they forgot the communities, families and peoples they were born to be part of and love. Instead they spent every God-spirited breath in pointless toil and pointless consumerism. The land had lost its ancient lore, its heart, its nature and its future. Only the bards, the poets and the bands kept spirits from turning to plastic, hearts from being antiseptic.
A new band of horsepeople, men and women, rose in this time of need. Their fleet ponies were built of iron, aluminium and carbon, silver wheels replacing legs. Their agility wove through the black bonds of the roads, flitting past the smoking metal monsters who basked in noisy and fume-filled queues at the hours of Rush, the anxious hordes at the stops of Bus or swallowed into the maw of Tube.
The new horsepeople spread love, they loved nature, they believed in life and respect. They gathered along the ancient paths of the Druids, at a railway arch in Druid Street..
Author: Bard Tom, creative druid writer