Posting this here more for my own reference than anything else. It’s a reminder that women have always had a place in Druidry – and still do.
Unanswerable questions: was the Druidry practised by these ancestors based on a more egalitarian (if not matriarchal) society; and did the coming of the Romans represent the imposition of patriarchy in the most brutal way possible? Also, remember that this account was written by a Roman man, who may well have had reasons for depicting our ancestors as wild, unpredictable and dangerous barbarians. The use of propaganda as a weapon of war has a long and shameful history.
Excerpt from Tacitus – The Annals, Book 14:
[…] Britain was in the hands of Suetonius Paulinus, who in military knowledge and in popular favour, which allows no one to be without a rival, vied with Corbulo, and aspired to equal the glory of the recovery of Armenia by the subjugation of Rome’s enemies. He therefore prepared to attack the island of Mona which had a powerful population and was a refuge for fugitives. He built flat-bottomed vessels to cope with the shallows, and uncertain depths of the sea. Thus the infantry crossed, while the cavalry followed by fording, or, where the water was deep, swam by the side of their horses.
On the shore stood the opposing army with its dense array of armed warriors, while between the ranks dashed women, in black attire like the Furies, with hair dishevelled, waving brands. All around, the Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven, and pouring forth dreadful imprecations, scared our soldiers by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as if their limbs were paralysed, they stood motionless, and exposed to wounds. Then urged by their general’s appeals and mutual encouragements not to quail before a troop of frenzied women, they bore the standards onwards, smote down all resistance, and wrapped the foe in the flames of his own brands. A force was next set over the conquered, and their groves, devoted to inhuman superstitions, were destroyed. They deemed it indeed a duty to cover their altars with the blood of captives and to consult their deities through human entrails.
Translation based on Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb (1876)
The image is the last oak sapling I grew from an acorn. This would probably be a good twenty years ago now, maybe longer. I hope one day I can return to Wales to see how it’s getting on.