Is Comhaltacht Draiocht a real religion?

Yes, as real as every other system of faith and worship. In Druidry we tend to hold to a very ancient value of pluralism, a value which teaches us to respect all systems of faith as those systems relate to their adherents. Our belief that our faith is real does not require us to believe that other faiths are not real and while we may not agree with various tenets of other faiths we do not question the validity of those spiritual systems. Our deeply held value of pluralism tends to direct our people to support the idea of total freedom on conscience supporting the right of people to have freedom of or freedom from religion as an individual choice.

Is Comhaltacht Draiocht a legal religion?

Some nations have State religions or State approved religions and so would not recognize Comhaltacht Draiocht as a legal religion and so Comhaltacht Draiocht is not eligible to receive government financing through the Church tax systems in place in several European countries. In the United States there is no legal validation system which establishes the legality of a religious organization though there is a special process for recognizing religious based non-profit corporations as being tax exempt. The overall Fellowship of Comhaltacht Draiocht is not established under the auspices of a corporation and so the organization is managed as a spiritual fellowship of like minded people and not as a company. Since the larger fellowship is not an umbrella corporation, neither the various local groups nor there assets are legally bound to one another. Various local congregations and bodies within Comhaltacht Draiocht establish their own non profit corporations in order to manage their own property and financial assets. These non-profit corporations may be either a corporation aggregate with a board of directors or a corporation sole with a single officer managing and disposing of property and other assets.

Are all members of Comhaltacht Draiocht involved in local congregations?

No, there are many geographical locations where solitary members do not have a local congregation in which they may worship. We also have solitary members who have no desire to worship in an aggregate manner and prefer to maintain their own solitary spirituality. There is neither a compulsion for members to attend a local congregation for worship nor a limit on the number of local congregations within a given geographical area. It is quite possible for a group of folks who find that a local congregation does not suit their spiritual needs and respond by establishing a new congregation in the same town or neighborhood. Because of the pluralistic nature of Comhaltacht Draiocht, local congregations have a lot of leeway to establish very individualistic spiritual identities and these identities are not presumed to be a fit for everyone.

Who were the ancient Druids?

There was in ancient Celtic society an intelligentsia considered to be a class and made up of people who were highly educated in the areas of law, religion, history, genealogy and other areas of traditional knowledge. This class of people is generally referred to collectively as the Druid class though the different specialists had their own actual titles according to their area of expertise. The term Druid in its most literal sense refers to the Priestly specialists within this educated class.

Who were the ancient Celts?

Strictly speaking the ancient Celts were Iron-Age people who spoke any of a group of closely related languages that are considered a branch of the Indo-European language family. They also shared many cultural and artistic details though they tended toward tribal societal structures and cannot really be spoken of as a specific nation or empire. It should be noted that though Celtic language speaking peoples lived in a tribal culture many of these tribes were enormous and their lands covered geographical areas larger than some of the nations of modern Europe.

Who are the modern Druids?

Within Comhaltacht Draiocht, when we speak of a Druid or Bandruid we are speaking specifically of our recognized priests and priestesses. We realize that there are many people who use these terms to refer to themselves and who have practices ranging from the extremely new-age eclectic spirituality to fraternal philosophical groups. Our use of the terms is based upon the use of the terms in the ancient Celtic tribal cultures for which we take our inspiration and the study of which informs our spirituality.

Who are the modern Celts?

Some people are of the opinion that modern Celts are only those who speak a Celtic language while still others believe that a Celt must have been born in a country that is traditionally considered Celtic or where Celtic languages were once spoken and yet others believe that anyone who descends from people who lived in a traditionally Celtic area are Celtic by ethnicity. There are those who are of the opinion that the term Celt only can be used to refer to the linguistically and culturally related Iron-Age people to which the term was originally applied. It is generally the opinion of members of Comhaltacht Draiocht that anyone who sincerely honors the traditions, history and ways of Celtic cultures and who chooses to self identify as a modern Celt should be politely accepted as such.

Was Stonehenge built by Druids?

No, Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments predate the coming of the Celtic Iron-Age and the Druid class that was so important to the order and preservation of the Celtic cultural traditions. Many people have popularly associated these megaliths with Druidry anyway. There is an assumption by many that the Druids must have used these megalithic structures because they were there but this is a popular assumption that generally cannot be proved or disproved though we do know that some specific megalithic structures were recognized as sacred or associated with mythic events by the Druids.

Were the ancient Druids celibate?

In any sort of general respect the answer is no, there are just too many references to the spouses and children of Druids to support this claim made by some.

Were the ancient Druids hermits?

     Not generally, while it seems a popular modern view of the Druid living deep in the forest away from the people and only appearing for religious functions and in times of distress, the Druid class was actually right in the middle of the people and their lives. The Druid class was the living memory of the folk and the storehouse of traditional knowledge. One may find references of Druids who lived away from others but for the most part the Druids were to be found among the people of their Tribes.

Were/are Druids nature based priests, spending their time in forests?

     The priesthood of the Druids was based upon being the representative of the people to the gods. There were and are many gods of tribe, culture, craft, skill and of natural features and forces. The Druids represented the people in performing the rites of worship to the gods and maintained the order of society and the relationship of society with the gods. The primary job of the Druids being to maintain the traditional order of society makes the identification of them as a priesthood of nature, though a very popular depiction, demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of Celtic culture and the position of the Druid class within that culture.

     There are many people in Comhaltacht Draiocht who are very active in the conservation and environmental movements and who relate this to their own personal spirituality. And a large portion of the duty of the Druid was maintaining spiritual relationships among the people but also with the surrounding world, but in the view of the time in which there was a dichotomy of order and wildness it was order which concerned the Druid. Many Druids today feel that the only way to maintain a healthy order in society is to change the way we as a society deal with our environment because current waste or resources and abuse of ecosystems will ultimately lead to a collapse of our society because humanity cannot continue to be supported by our environment if we continue to proceed along current lines of practice.

Can only males be Druids?

       No, while some have made this claim there are simply too many references to females Druids to allow that claim to be considered tenable in any way. Priesthood in Comhaltacht Draiocht like most other modern Druidic organizations is extended based on issues of education, piety and ethical character without regard to sex or race. A Priests are called Draoi, a priestess is called Bandraoi with no general positional or authoritative differences.

Were the ancient Druids a large organized order led by a single Arch Druid?

     No, it is not an uncommon claim but ultimately based upon one reference from one non-Celtic writer from another culture and who had an obvious enmity for the Celts he was describing. The very structure of Celtic society was Tribal and each Tribe would have had its own Druidic institutions which in times of peace would have recognized and respected each other and which in times of war would have aided their respective Tribes in the struggle against an enemy? Many Druidic organizations today have an officer known as an Arch Druid but this is based more on either the structure of fraternal organizations which spawned the Druid Revivalist movement or on the corporate structure that some organizations have embraced which require some sort of chief Executive officer to run the company. Comhaltacht Draiocht being a religious fellowship and neither a fraternal order nor a corporation does not have a Chief Executive Officer or Grandmaster and so does not at this time award the title of Arch Druid.

Is every member of Comhaltacht Draiocht a Druid?

  It is not uncommon for people to identify all of our members as Druids and to collectively refer to those who practice Druidry, for this reason we use specific terms from a Celtic language to identify our actual clergy. Our religion is called Draiocht which simply means Druidry and the English term is also quite commonly used, alternately some people use the term Gnatha na sinsear which simply means the way of the ancestors. And our organizational name Comhaltacht Draiocht simply means Fellowship of Druidry.

Were the ancient Druids vegetarians?

     No, this is another popular claim that has no basis in research. The Celtic people ate meat and we actually have the description of a rite surviving from that time which required the eating of meat and in which the Druids would have participated. Many modern members of Comhaltacht Draiocht choose to live a life as a vegetarian for health, ethical or spiritual reasons and though that is a choice that we respect it is not expected or required of our members.

Did Druidry survive into modern times by being secretly preserved through the generations of Druidic families?

     Not likely, this claim though many times made remains as yet publicly unsupported and unverified through any scholarly research. Numerous times this claim has been disproved when it is shown that the practices and beliefs supposedly preserved bear little or no resemblance to practices and beliefs known from ancient Celtic cosmic religion

Were Druids monotheists who had a prophecy awaiting a new religion of the East?

     No, this claim has been many times made by the adherents to Eastern universal religion but there is no actual example of this supposed prophecy. We can also be sure that the Druids were not monotheistic since they included the Priesthood and the people who maintained the very institutions of an animistic polytheistic culture.

Didn’t the ancient Druids believe in a messianic child that would lead them?

     The ‘child of promise’ is quite common in many mythic systems and can be found in some examples of Celtic mythic material. There is a common confusion of the more general ‘child of promise’ mythic motif and the very specific Middle Eastern ‘messianic’ but there is no evidence of a ‘messianic’ motif in Celtic cosmic religion.

 Didn’t the ancient Druids happily embrace the new universal religion?

     In general the conversion of the people from cosmic religion to the newer universal religion in Celtic areas was peaceful with only a few notable instances of violently forceful conversion being reported. There also seems to be a popular belief that the conversion was sudden and happily embraced, when, in fact, it took several centuries to complete and as late as the tenth century C.E. we see examples of letters from leaders of the new religion urging that the Druids finally be put down completely. While the Druidic priesthood was slowly losing position as the new religious practice became culturally institutionalized we see that many of the other specialists in the Druid class continued many cultural practices within the new religion and right up into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the great poetic and legal traditions schools surviving until the final oppression of the Gaelic Order in Ireland and Scotland.

What is meant by cosmic religion?

     This term is employed by scholars of religion to identify religions that tend toward being concerned with a finite group of people, specific society and often a clear geographical area. The opposite of a cosmic religion is a universal religion which is a faith which presumes itself to be in possession of the true answer or true faith for all of humanity.

What is animism?

     A common belief in cosmic religions is that all things, natural processes and the forces of the world have a numinous quality often viewed as a spirit.

 What is polytheism?

     A belief system in which there are multiple deities.

Did Druids have a wheel of the year that consisted of eight holidays?

     No, while an eight holiday cycle of yearly worship has become popular in the modern new-age movement and has been adopted by some Druid groups ancient Celtic peoples seem to have had fewer sacred holidays which were based on an agricultural cycle and which were celebrated with specific rites of worship. There are generally four holidays which are considered to be Celtic.

Did Druids worship in a duo-theistic system of an archetypal goddess and archetypal god?

     No, the simple truth is that the ancient Celts had a polytheistic religious practice with numerous gods and goddesses and there is no evidence of a belief in any sort of archetypal super deities of which other deities were considered to be aspects. While many people still think that the ancient Celt worshipped a great Earth-Mother Goddess and Sky-Father God all of the evidence points to clear and complete polytheism.