Spiritism among the Druids
Under the title “Le vieux neuf” Mr. Edouard Fournier published in the Le Siècle, a series of articles
ten years ago, as much outstanding as interesting, from the erudition point of view, with respect to
history. When commenting all modern inventions and discoveries the author proves that if this
century has the merit of application and development, it does not have – at least in its majority –
that one of precedence. Over the time that Mr. Fournier wrote this magnificent series, there was no
understanding of spirits, not noticing that the events that take place today are a mere repetition of
what was equally or better known by our ancestors. This is unfortunate, as his profound
investigations would have allowed him to expose the old mystic just as he has exposed the ancient
industry. We wish one day his extensive research may be directed to that spiritual side as well.
As for us, the personal observations do not leave any doubt relative to the ancient times and to the
universality of the Doctrine taught by the spirits. The coincidence between what they tell us today
and the beliefs of the remotest eras is a very important fact. We shall note, however, that if we find
traces of the Spiritist Doctrine everywhere, we don’t see it completed anywhere else. It seems that
the task of coordinating these sparse fragments among all peoples has been reserved for our times,
so that we can arrive at the unity of principles, through a more thorough, and above all, more
general set of manifestations which, as it seems, give reason to the author mentioned in the
preceding article, about the psychological period in which humanity gradually enters.
Ignorance and prejudice have disfigured this doctrine almost everywhere as these fundamental
principles blend with the superstitious practices of all times, exploited with the objective of
subduing reason. Nevertheless, under this stack of absurdities the most sublime ideas have
germinated like precious seeds hidden under the burning bushes, waiting for the vivifying sunlight
to develop. Our generation, more universally informed, brushes aside the burning bushes. Such a
cleansing, however, cannot be accomplished without transition. Let us then allow the necessary
time for the good seeds to develop and the weeds to be eliminated.
The Druidic Doctrine offers a curious example of what we have just said. This doctrine, which we
only know the exterior practices, rises to the most sublime truths on certain aspects. But these truths
were only known to the initiated ones: frightened by the human sacrifices, the public harvested the
sacred agarics of the oat with a sanctified respect and only saw the phantasmagoria. We will be able
to assess it by the following text, extracted from a document as much precious as unknown, which
sheds a completely new light onto the truthful theology of our ancestors.
We offer a Celtic text to the reflection of our readers, published not long ago, whose appearance has
caused certain commotion in the educated world. It is impossible to be certain about its authorship
as well as to which century it belongs. It is, however, incontestable that it belongs to the tradition of
the Bardic Welsh and that its origin is sufficient to award it the highest value.
It is known, indeed, that Wales was, and still is in our days, the most faithful asylum to the Gallic
nationality which has suffered, among us, profound modifications. It has been just touched by the
weak and short roman domination; preserved from the barbaric invasions by the strength of its
inhabitants and by the natural difficulties of its territory; submitted later to the Normand Dynasty
which felt impelled to allow it a certain level of independence, retaining the name Wales as an
always distinctive mark connecting it to ancient times.
The Welsh (Cymraeg or Gymraeg) language, once spoken all over the northern part of the Gaul, has
never ceased to be used as many customs are equally still Gallic.
From all foreign influences, Christianism was the only one completely successful. But that was not
achieved without difficulties, relatively to the supremacy of the Roman Church whose reform in the
XVI century did not do more than determining its fall, articulated long before in those regions full
of an indefectible independence.
One can even say that on converting to Christianism the Druids were not extinct in the Gaul, as they
were in our Brittany and in other regions of Gallic blood. They had, as an immediate consequence, a
very solidly constituted society, mainly dedicated, apparently, to the cult of national poetry but
which, under the poetic blanket, preserved a notable fidelity to the intellectual heritage of the old
Gaul: the Bardic society of Wales, after been kept as a secret society during the whole Middle Ages,
by oral transmission of its literary monuments and doctrine, similarly to what the Druids used to do,
then decided around the XVI and XVII centuries to confide the most essential parts of their
inheritance to the writings.
It is from that collection, whose authenticity is attested by an uninterrupted chain of traditions, that
the text we mentioned proceeds and its value, given those circumstances and as mentioned before,
does not depend on the hand which had the merit of writing it, neither on the period when the
writing was given a definite format. It is the spirit of the medieval Bards that transpire from it,
Bards who were in turn the last disciples of a wise and religious corporation which, under the name
of Druids, dominated the Gaul during the first period of its history; more or less like the Latin
clergy did during the Middle Ages.
Even if we were removed from all clues regarding the origin of the analyzed text, we would surely
be on the right path, given its agreement with the Greek and Latin authors who left us their
teachings about the Druids’ religious doctrine. That agreement is reached out of indubitable points
of solidarity as they are supported by the reasoning extracted from the very substance of those texts.
Thus the demonstrated solidarity regarding the fundamental articles – the only ones we heard about
from our ancestors – naturally extends to the secondary developments. Indeed, these developments,
imbued with the same spirit, necessarily derive from the same source; they are part of the whole and
cannot be explained by anything else but that way. At the same time that they refer to the primitive
archives of the Druidic religion, by such a logic deduction, it is impossible to assign any other
starting point to them. This is because, other than the Druidic influence, the region from where they
originate has not suffered any other influence but the Christian that was totally strange to those
The themes developed in the triads are so strange to Christianism that the rare Christian influences
found here and there in the body of the text, at first sight, already distinguish them from the
primitive structure. That influence, naively originated from the conscience of the Bardic Christians,
could hardly interleave with the interstices of the Druidic tradition, if one can say so, incapable of
blending with all that. Thus, the analysis of the text is as simple as rigorous, hence it can be
simplified by leaving aside everything that contains the seal of Christianism and, once filtered, by
considering as of Druidic origin all the rest, visibly characterized by a religion which is different
from that of the Gospel or from the Catholic Councils.
Thus, in order to mention only what is essential, let us begin by the well-known principle that the
dogma of charity to God and man is so peculiar to Christianism as the migration of the souls is to
Druidism; a certain number of triads in which a spirit of love breathes, immediately revealing as
indicators of a comparatively modern character, never known to the primitive Gaul, whereas the
other triads, animated by a completely different breath, reveal even more markedly the
distinguished character of the antiquity. Finally, one does not need to observe much to understand
that the form of the teachings contained in the triads is of Druidic origin. It is a well-known fact that
the Druids had a particular preference for the number three and used it in their lessons. This is
additionally demonstrated through the Gallic monuments that contain the number three.
Diogenes Laertius has preserved one of those triads which succinctly summarize the duties of man
to the Divinity, to their neighbors and to himself. “Honor the superior beings, do not commit
injustice and do cultivate ones virile virtue.” The bard’s literature propagated aphorisms of the same
kind, relatively to all fields of human knowledge: Science, History, Moral, Law, Poetry. One cannot
find a more interesting or adequate work to inspire great thoughts than that of the text published
below, according to the French version by Mr. Adolphe Pictet.
From that series of triads the first eleven ones are dedicated to the exposition of the characteristic
attributes of the Divinity. It is this segment that had the greatest Christian influence, as it was easy
to predict. If one cannot deny that the Druidism incorporated the principle of God’s unity, they had
also conceived, in a confusing way, perhaps due to their disposition for the number three, something
like the Divine Trinity. It is, nevertheless, incontestable that what complements such a high
theological conception – that is, a distinction of the persons and particularly the third one – became
completely strange to this old religion. All that contributes to prove that its former adepts were
much more concerned with the establishment of man’s freedom than with charity. It was precisely a
consequence of this false starting point that made it perish. It seems also reasonable to associate the
whole prologue to a more or less determined Christian influence, particularly from the fifth triad.
Following the general principles, relatively to the nature of God, the text continues to expose the
constitution of the Universe. The body of this constitution is authoritatively formulated in three
triads which, showing the particular beings in an order absolutely different from that of God,
complete the idea that has to be made of a unique and immutable Being. Under more explicit
formulas, the triads just reproduce what was already known, by the witnesses of the ancient times,
about the circulation of the souls, alternatively passing from life to death and from death to life. We
can consider them like in a famous Farsalia verse, in which the poet exclaims, upon addressing the
priests of Gaul, that if what they teach is certain, then death is nothing more than the median of a
long life: “Longae vitae mors media est.”