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Author Topic: Druids and Human Sacrifice  (Read 4726 times)
RhiannonWhiteMare
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« Topic Start: January 31, 2009, 06:51:51 pm »

I've suddenly found myself embroiled in a debate on another forum about whether or not the Druids committed human sacrifice. This other person I'm debating with says that no, they did not, that any evidence comes from the Romans who were using human sacrifice as propaganda.

I, on the other hand, say that there is plenty of evidence that yes, they did practice human sacfirice. We already mentioned here in another thread that they most likely used curses against people. The Druids were not these tree-hugging people living off in the woods picking flowers. The ancient Celts were a warrior society. after all, and I would think that the Druids would not have been telling the others, "Oh, no, you can't kill that prisoner of war! That's bad!"
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« Reply #1: January 31, 2009, 08:25:09 pm »

I've suddenly found myself embroiled in a debate on another forum about whether or not the Druids committed human sacrifice. This other person I'm debating with says that no, they did not, that any evidence comes from the Romans who were using human sacrifice as propaganda.

I, on the other hand, say that there is plenty of evidence that yes, they did practice human sacfirice. We already mentioned here in another thread that they most likely used curses against people. The Druids were not these tree-hugging people living off in the woods picking flowers. The ancient Celts were a warrior society. after all, and I would think that the Druids would not have been telling the others, "Oh, no, you can't kill that prisoner of war! That's bad!"


I doubt we'll ever know for sure. Given the context, though, Lindow Man sure looks like the preserved body of a druidic human sacrifice. The book written about its discovery in a peat bog, and the forensic research which followed, The Life And Death Of A Druid Prince, offered some compelling evidence to support the idea that his death was the result of a ritualized human sacrifice:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindow_Man

It's also important to remember that the people we now refer to as the 'Celts' of antiquity, didn't think of themselves as a single people. There was an astonishing amount of linguistic, cultural, ethnic, and quite possibly, spiritual diversity present throughout the 'Celtic' lands. Human sacrifice might have been practiced by some groups, and not by others.
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« Reply #2: January 31, 2009, 10:33:06 pm »



Very true. Caesar was writing about the Celts in Gaul and knew nothing about the Celts in other lands. I do think that he did present some of the human sacrifice as propaganda. In my research I haven't found any evidence for the Wicker Man. But considering the wide occurence of human sacrifice throughout antiquity, I'm not surprised at any evidence that I do come across.
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« Reply #3: January 31, 2009, 11:59:42 pm »

In my research I haven't found any evidence for the Wicker Man.
Well, I wouldn't think you would, considering the nature of the Wicker Man.  I don't necessarily assert one way or the other that they did or didn't.  It is true that they were warriors, and the idea that they'd have shrunk from such a thing is a little silly.  I will say, though, that what I read of that Lindow Man article made me suspicious of its ritual nature.  The first thing that struck me was that they guessed he might be a druid, and that it was surprising that a druid would be sacrificed, but I could accept that, as long as the need was important enough.  The second thing that struck me was the violence with which this supposed sacrifice was performed.  If this WAS a Druid, from what I've read the druids were respected enough that if he was going to be sacrificed, he was going to do it of his own volition.  I didn't see why a ritual sacrifice would incorporate strangulation, or even the blow to the back of the head.  If they were not sacrificing one of their own, but a prisoner who put up resistance, I could understand that blow to the back of the head as a means to suppress him before they spilt his blood, but this would, again, not apply to a druid.  Their explanation of a tripartite death would, I suppose fit, but i something about it didn't feel right to me.  The scenario I visualized was a murder: two or more murderers assault the Lindow Man, one begins to strangle the man, who resists.  The other strikes the man on the back of the head to subdue him, and then cuts his throat to finish the job.  I don't know this for certain; it was just the scenario I imagined.  Maybe I've been watching too many TV crime dramas. Cheesy
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« Reply #4: February 01, 2009, 12:35:03 am »

The second thing that struck me was the violence with which this supposed sacrifice was performed.  If this WAS a Druid, from what I've read the druids were respected enough that if he was going to be sacrificed, he was going to do it of his own volition.  I didn't see why a ritual sacrifice would incorporate strangulation, or even the blow to the back of the head.  If they were not sacrificing one of their own, but a prisoner who put up resistance, I could understand that blow to the back of the head as a means to suppress him before they spilt his blood, but this would, again, not apply to a druid.  Their explanation of a tripartite death would, I suppose fit, but i something about it didn't feel right to me.  The scenario I visualized was a murder: two or more murderers assault the Lindow Man, one begins to strangle the man, who resists.  The other strikes the man on the back of the head to subdue him, and then cuts his throat to finish the job.  I don't know this for certain; it was just the scenario I imagined.  Maybe I've been watching too many TV crime dramas. Cheesy

I'm pretty sure I've read that the "tripartate death" you describe (stabbed, hit on the head, and garrotted) is thought to be a ritual form of sacrifice.  (I can try to find the citation, but don't remember which book it's in right now.)

I also agree with Aetius that we'll probably never know for sure about Druids and human sacrifice.  There is, however, quite a bit of evidence of human sacrifice -- or at least the use of human bones as offerings of some kind -- by Bronze Age and Iron Age Celts.  (But no evidence, other than Ceasar's propaganda, for the Wicker Man.)
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« Reply #5: February 01, 2009, 05:47:12 am »


The manner of death could still have been how sacrifices were done.  For example, at least some Norse human sacrifice was committed by strangulation and stabbing.

As an assault, I'm not sure striking someone with a heavy instrument (while someone else is strangling the guy) and *then* cutting the throat makes much sense.  I mean, if you have a rock in your hand, keep 'subdueing' away.  No need to grab a knife.
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« Reply #6: February 01, 2009, 12:00:07 pm »

The manner of death could still have been how sacrifices were done.  For example, at least some Norse human sacrifice was committed by strangulation and stabbing.

As an assault, I'm not sure striking someone with a heavy instrument (while someone else is strangling the guy) and *then* cutting the throat makes much sense.  I mean, if you have a rock in your hand, keep 'subdueing' away.  No need to grab a knife.
Oh, it still could have been a sacrifice.  And I will admit again that I may just be seeing murders where they don't exist.  I was figuring that the rock, or whatever, was just to get the guy to stop struggling.  More to make the throat slitting easier. 

I'm probably wrong.  Although strangulation is by no means something I would THINK TO DO in a ritual sacrifice, if it's a known feature of other kinds of sacrifices, then I guess there's no logical reason to presume it couldn't be a part of this one, and if there is lore about Threefold deaths & tripartite killings having significance, then likewise, no logical reason to say THAT could couldn't be a part of the ritual.  And then, if the ritual was SUPPOSED to include all of those, then there's logical reason why a druid couldn't have willingly gone to his death by all three.
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RhiannonWhiteMare
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« Reply #7: February 01, 2009, 03:20:52 pm »

I'm pretty sure I've read that the "tripartate death" you describe (stabbed, hit on the head, and garrotted) is thought to be a ritual form of sacrifice.  (I can try to find the citation, but don't remember which book it's in right now.)

I also agree with Aetius that we'll probably never know for sure about Druids and human sacrifice.  There is, however, quite a bit of evidence of human sacrifice -- or at least the use of human bones as offerings of some kind -- by Bronze Age and Iron Age Celts.  (But no evidence, other than Ceasar's propaganda, for the Wicker Man.)

That is what I've always thought that the Lindow Man went through. Here's a little bit of info on that particular form of sacrifice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threefold_death In the days of the witch hunts some people were strangled before they were burned at the stake. It was usually the people on the higher social scale, of course.
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« Reply #8: March 07, 2009, 08:48:29 am »

That is what I've always thought that the Lindow Man went through. Here's a little bit of info on that particular form of sacrifice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threefold_death In the days of the witch hunts some people were strangled before they were burned at the stake. It was usually the people on the higher social scale, of course.

I can see why they denied the whole Druids used to perform human sacrifices. There are still so many Christians and others that will automatically assume that Druids still do it now. When I tell people I'm a Druid and they ask about the sacrifices I'll them the truth to the best of my knowledge. There is no concrete evidence either way, just a lot of circumstantial evidence. I also say it's a very good possibility, I usually lean towards the 'Yeah it happened, but it doesn't now.'
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« Reply #9: March 07, 2009, 02:20:15 pm »

I can see why they denied the whole Druids used to perform human sacrifices. There are still so many Christians and others that will automatically assume that Druids still do it now. When I tell people I'm a Druid and they ask about the sacrifices I'll them the truth to the best of my knowledge. There is no concrete evidence either way, just a lot of circumstantial evidence. I also say it's a very good possibility, I usually lean towards the 'Yeah it happened, but it doesn't now.'

I agree, I also try to point out that if the anceint Druids did take part in human sacrifice they were not alone. It was known in many cultures.
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