What is Druidry?
Druidism was the religious and scholarly path of the ancient Celts. Druids were the priests, scholars, and advisors of the ancient Celtic world. They studied for 20 years to become a full druid. Other ranks included Bards who were storytellers and musicians and Ovates who devoted themselves to divination and healing. Unfortunately the ancient druids didn’t write anything down and committed all their beliefs and practices to memory and oral tradition, so most of what we know comes from secondary sources and conjecture. Modern druids tend to fall into one of several categories including: Reconstructionist druids, neo-pagan druids, and fraternal druids. Reconstructionist druids are dedicated to reconstructing ancient druid beliefs and practices to be as authentic as possible. Neopagan druids tend to focus on the spiritual aspects of druidry. They honor and worship the ancient Celtic deities, nature spirits, and their ancestors. Other Neopagan beliefs and practices such as Wicca are sometimes merged and there is often overlap between scholarly druidry and spiritual druidry. Fraternal druids act as fraternal and charitable groups and use druid symbology, but aren’t necessarily Pagan in belief. Druids have traditionally been considered male, though there are accounts of ancient female Druidesses. With the exception of some historic fraternal orders, most modern Druid organizations are open to men and women. As with other Pagan groups, druids tend to be open and welcoming to people of all sexual orientations and gender associations.
As far as we know, the ancient Celts had no prohibitions against homosexuality. In fact, many of their tales mention homosexual relationships in a rather matter-of-fact way, while other tales talk of the deep bonds between same-sex persons. Roman and Greek accounts of the Celts mention Celtic warriors who were deeply insulted if their advances for homosexual sex were refused. Some historic accounts mention Celts who slept on animal skins with their male lovers, and other accounts mention them having a male lover on one side and a female lover on the other.
At least one tale speaks of lesbian sex among the ancient Celts. In “Niall Frossach,” from The Book of Leinster, lesbian sex is specifically mentioned as “playful mating.”
The tale of Cuchulainn and Ferdia is often brought up as an example of male homosexuality among the ancient Celts. These two warriors were also lovers, but the tale ends tragically when they are forced to fight each other to the death on opposite sides in the same battle. Cuchulainn laments the death of his friend with these words:
Fast friend, forest companions
We made one bed and slept one sleep
In foreign lands after the fray
Scathach’s pupils, two together
We’d set forth to comb the forest