|[Minor edits and layout by Isaac Bonewits]
The Mother Grove or Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient Order of Druids
known as [The Druid Order and] An Druidh Uileach Braithrearchas,
was inaugurated in the year 1717 and announced by the Herald in accordance
with ancient usage on Primrose Hill, London at the Autumnal Equinox of
the sun. This Mother Grove was named Gairdeachas and its outward
exoteric or public manifestation was called An Tigh Geatha
-- the lodge-gate or reception centre, the Outer Order where beginners
receive their preparatory training.
The inaugural assembly was held in the Apple Tree Tavern, Charles
St., Covent Garden, London and the plan of The Unity, first suggested by
John Aubrey of Old Mount Haemus to John Toland when they met at Oxford
was accepted at this inaugural gathering.
The work of organizing the assembly was undertaken by John Toland
who was chosen by delegates from the Druid centres of York, London, Oxford,
the Isles of Man and Anglesey,. Cornwall, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and
Britlany; and elected Chief of the newly reconstituted Order.
The Druid Order was declared to be the Unifying Centre of the
Druid Unity; independent of but allied to all other Druid Groves, and a
Supreme Grand Council was formed having the status, not of regal authority,
but of duty and obligation. A duty to maintain the unity of Druidic activity
and an obligation to ensure that the Groves selflessly observed their pledge
to further the cultivation of the noblest and best in man and thus work
for the restoration of the Golden Age.
The Supreme Grand Council guides The Druid Order A.D.U.B.; it
holds and issues the Warrents, Charters, Parchments etc. so necessary to
the preservation of true succession in these days of pseudo movements and
fraudulent imitation. It preserves the Ancient Wisdom found in Druid Traditions
and Teachings that have been handed down from generation to generation
and provides instruction thereon for the use of Groves.
The Unity is organized in three sections -- the Outer Order, in
contact with the public; the Inner Order, which guides and works through
the Outer; and the Sanctum of which nothing is said in public.
The Outer Order has three Grades known as: The Gatehouse,
where anyone may seek admission to the Order through Initiation.
Only those who have received the appropriate training in the relevant Grade
of the Inner Order, and have qualified therein, are able to give effect
to an initiation ceremony. Without the Hierophant the ceremony is no more
than a mere charade.
The Seven Kings, wherein the aspirant begins to study and
tackle the forces at work within himself which the Hierophant has quickened
during his second initiation. The aspirant should have been properly prepared
for this in The Gatehouse.
The Ovate Og or Ovydd Og, ...Ovydd,
a sapling or unformed plant: ov, raw. A young shoot having
the promise of growth (which must be realised at least in part before qualifying
in this Grade). It is here that man shows his worth, the balance of his
wish and will, the quality of his integrity. It is here that he chooses
between the life of selfless service and that of self agrandisement.
Part of the aspirant's task in this Grade is to meet and clear
up his obligations to the past; he is not yet obligated to the future,
hence the point of balance; O - O, zero - zero. Not until he has caught
up with himself can he even approach the portal of the Order proper --
until he measures up to the required standard, he must remain in the seed-bed
The Inner Order is divided into Three Orders each having
its own sphere of activity and its own series of Grades. Until the aspirant
attains the required standard of character and integrity, he can not even
be considered as a candidate for the Inner Order where the Druid training
proper begins, and this training can take quite a long time. There is no
short cut to the balanced development of man's latent forces, faculties
The Druid teaching is an outward manifestation of the inner light.
Its practices induce the development of man's transcendent powers, those
which come from, and are in constant contact with, the Central Sun of the
Cosmos. They may themselves be called the inner sun, or divine light.
The Three Bars of Light, known as The Awen, [Welsh for
"inspiration"] form a symbol of the Divine Name. It is said that upon its
three columns all knowledge is inscribed, for from its angled lines and
by their combination was shaped the Bardic Alphabet. "The days for holding
the Gorsedd are the
Four Albans, when the rays of the Orient
Sun, converging to the maen llog, delineate the creative Name
of God; and the Druid standing thus in the face of the son and in the
eye of light speaks in the Name of the Lord".
The three rays of The Awen concentre upon the stone
of speech as do the rays of the summer solstice and of the spring and autumn
equinoxes upon the altar stone at Stonehenge. The Awen symbolizes
the Source of Light in the cosmos and in man whence come the Druidic virtues
of courage, brotherhood, and selfless service; and also the Druidic wisdom
much of which has been handed down in the form of triads:
The Druid Order is an association pursuing cultural aims, to preserve,
defend and enrich our heritage. Many of its members are writers, artists
and poets, so much so that it appears to be an academy of people of learning.
It is this -- and much more; for such an association alone would not justify
annual gatherings in a megalithic circle of people dressed in archaic robes
and performing unusual ceremonies.
God is of necessity three things: the greatest part of life, the greatest
part of science and the greatest part of force; and of each thing there
can be but one greatest part.
Three things are continually increasing: fire or light, intelligence or
truth, and spirit or life; and these things will end by predominating over
all others. Abred (the plane of material life and cyclic incarnation)
will be destroyed.
The three gifts of music: sleep, laughter, tears.
Courses of instruction are given in the Groves of the Outer Order to prepare
students for the Druidic Teachings which are given in the Groves of the
Inner Order. Understanding is cultivated by ritual and wisdom by triads
increasingly appreciated, mastery of the body and brain by exercises and
The three intentions of Druid instruction: The training of the mind, the
cultivation of the heart, and the making of true manliness.
The Druid Order considers itself a traditional society in the
largest sense of the word, carrying on the teaching and example of the
ancient Druids of whom it claims to be the successor.
The Druids, Ovates and Bards were the backbone of the peoples
of the west in olden times, and stand as the inspirers of the people today.
It is not a matter of mere sentiment, nor a wish to return to the past,
but of a living tradition touching a living people. A tradition that goes
back to a past remote indeed, far back beyond any record of civilization
There are links with the Aryan and early Hindu cultures and what
is now the witch cult; reverence for both sun and moon, fivefold and threefold
bases of teaching, ritual circular dancing, burning of the dead, the existence
of a priest-ruler caste, transmission of teaching by lengthy memorized
A cult within the Jain community, the Draus or Druis
have striking similarities to the Druids of the west (Latin drus:
possibly cognate with drau). Amongst them are found Stone
circles around upright stone altars.
The builders of Stonehenge and Avebury gave reverence to sun and
moon; and at Stonehenge the sun's movements became a calendar for the seasons.
Circular and processional movements, a cult of the dead (setting sun) as
well as a life cult (rising sun), male and female elements, instruction
on the forces and faculties of man and their fields of activity are clearly,
implied in the structures.
To this remote time, long before anything was known of Celtic
invasions, tradition ascribes the first planting of the Druid System by
Hu Gadarn, leader of the Cymry or Brotherhood colony.
After Hu Gadarn, Aed Mawr is said to have set up The Druid Order
about 1,000 B.C., with three Archdruidic sees and thirty-one other centres
of learning. Classical tradition, however unreliable, agrees with this
in speaking of the reception of the founder-philosopher of Greece, Pythagoras,
into The Druid Order in Marseilles in about 529 B. C.
It has also a legend, already old to Herodotus, who disbelieved
it, that visiting Pythagoras came one Abaris, from the land of the Hyperboreans
he being a priest of Apollo, speaking perfect Greek and "fit for the reception
Passing over these more doubtful figures which approximate to
myth, more sober traditions and records agree in attributing to the Druids
an elaborate and lengthy wisdom teaching with several grades, and an influence
over princes and Celtic tribal peoples alike.
"The Druids," says Ceasar (Gallic Wars, Bk. 6 )
"preside in matters of religion, have the care of sacrifice and interpret
the will of the Gods. They have the direction and education of youth...
In almost all controversies... the decision is left to them .. The Druids
never go to war, are exempted from taxes and military service".
Britain not Gaul, was the centre or holy land of this formidable body and
although Bardism compromised, disastrously for itself, with the Roman power
in Gaul, here Druidism fought the invaders tooth and nail.
The young "are taught to repeat a great number of verses by heart
and often spend twenty years upon this institution... They (the Druids)
teach likewise many things relating to the stars and their motions, the
magnitude of the world and our earth, the nature of things and the power
and prerogatives of the immortal gods".
How far it was really driven out one cannot tell; it remained
strong in Scotland, Wales and above all Ireland, whence the Christianised
Druids returned as the missionaries known as Culdees and probably formed
the background of great missionaries such as St. Columba (Columcille) who
founded the Celtic Church in Britain.
The Arthurian traditions are clearly Druidic in their earlier
forms, being part of a mystery teaching which includes the Welsh mythology.
The Celtic reconquest, commonly and wrongly known as the final
Wessex period of the Heptarchy (Saxons had little to do with it), clearly
spread Arthurian ideas, whilst Henry II and his Queen encouraged their
elaboration and fusion with French and other elements in the great Romances
of the Holy Graal.
There is thus evidence of a large body of tradition in England,
whilst Wales had been elaborating the poetic wisdom of the great bards
of the sixth and later centuries. Scotland continued full of the traditional
wisdom until a very late date, and still has a good deal of it.
The English Druids of the Universal Bond (An Druidh Uileach
Braithreachas, or A.D.U.B.) have always claimed continuity with
the earlier Druidism and there seems no particular reason to doubt it.
Before the foundation of Oxford University there was a Druidic confraternity
there with the same name as, and probably a branch of, the specialised
Druids known in Wales as Pheryllt, translated sometimes as
metal-workers or alchemists, the word indicating skill with fire and metal
(Cymric ffer -- "what is solid").
Cor Emrys (City of Ambrose) seems to have been the
name of this "Grove" or Lodge; it was both on the Penmaen ridge of Snowdon
and in the south Snowdon range at Dinas Affaraon, with its
legend of watery dragons. The cult guarded the Mysteries of Ceridwen.
Persecution followed and before 1066 the Oxford Grove perished.
The tradition, nevertheless, seems to have gone on, for Haymo of Faversham
revived the Druidic idea in England and on his death Philip Brydodd founded
and named the present Mount Haemus Grove in 1245; Companions of the Bond
(CAW) came from many parts and conferred, agreeing on a common programme.
The 17th century saw the emergence of the Order into its more
modern shape. In the 17th and 18th centuries there was a complex of mystical
societies, Hermetes, Rosicrucians, Freemasons and Druids, who often had
members in common.
It seems that disturbances in Scotland had caused many of its
Druids, such as John Aubrey, to come south. John Toland of Londonderry
had been sent to Scotland and there educated, and, as the custom was in
education, he was sent abroad. On his return he linked with Scots Druids,
then with those of York and finally with Aubrey's Mount Haemus Grove in
Oxford, and thus achieving the union of five sections of Druids in 1717
which Aubrey had aimed at.
Toland thus became the first of the modern Chosen Chiefs (see
note on the inauguration given at the beginning). He set forth the philosophical
principles and he gives a full acount of the Druids in his 1726 book. These,
like other groups of philosophical inquirers, began meetings in London,
this one at a Cheapside tavern; their meetings had royal approval and contacted
Boyle called the movement the Invisible College. Certainly an
immense amount of learning was generated. It may have been John Aubrey's
enthusiasm over Stonehenge as an 'observatory' that led Charles I to found
Greenwich. From this background and influence Sir Isaac Newton developed
his speculation, his inquiries being typically in the Druid tradition.
Newton's mystical interests have been rather hushed up, but some indications
are seen in the published correspondence with the Rev. William Law.
Newton was a deist, not a Christian, and, like Kepler and Swedenborg,
he was much influenced by the mystic Jacob Boehme. Dr. Stukeley, rector
of a church, a famous antiquarian of his day who wrote books on Stonehenge,
the third Chief, was a close friend. The King and Locke may be added to
the students of Boehme; indeed, the later Royal Society had a strong Boehme
Halley the astronomer and Sir Christopher Wren being amongst those
who proposed the membership of Newton. Wren founded the Philosopher's Lodge
about 1674 and presided over the Mecca Lodge 1675. About now the Autumn
Equinox ceremony took its modern form, the first celebration of the revised
version having taken place on Primrose Hill in 1717.
There was a period of unhappy disputes between Welsh and English
Druids, largely over the language question. Helping to pull the English
Druids together after it, was William Blake, although he was an "original"
rather than a leader or even member of any of the contending factions in
an exclusive sense.
He worked with the Druids of Poland Street, the Ancient Order,
which was an offshoot of the Royal Order of Bucks. He was influenced by
Swedenborg, who again had been influenced by Boehme. Echoes of the Druidism
of his day abound in his work; in "Jerusalem" is a drawing of Albion as
Adam Cadmon and Prajapati, giving the universalism which is a true hallmark
of the mysteries. "Man anciently contained in his mighty limbs all things
in heaven and earth". Although Blake made intellect his demon, he drew
a beautiful "spiritual form" of Newton. Later on, the Friendly Societies
Act sifted out most of the groups many of which retained only an economic
Robert Owen, the English parent of Socialism, was of Cymric stock
and had a Celtic following; he was promoting essentially Druidic ideas
of cooperation. His ideal was the self-supporting community. Grant Allen,
who was very interested in Druidry, has pointed out how ideas kept alive
amongst lowly natives reduced to serfdom and driven out by medieval overlords
in earlier times did in fact return with the Industrial Revolution's influx
from country to town and spread community ideas.
His work in a sense still continues in the United States where
the Oneida Community has carried out the concept. Other figures whom there
is a strong reason to believe were Druids, or at least closely acquainted
with Druidic teachings, include besides those already mentioned, Dr. [John]
Dee, famous 'wizard' of Elizabethan times, the poets Vaughan and James
Thompson, Elias Ashmole the supposed founder of Freemasonry; more recently,
Bulwer Lytton and Charles Kingsley, novelists; Sir Edwin Arnold the Asiatic
scholar and poet, the late John Soul and Lewis Spence.
The Druids appear to have exercised throughout a fostering or
founding influence in many institutions. The laws of Molmutius appear to
be Druidic, and it was upon them that King Alfred based his code, a foundation
of later English law. The apparently Saxon council of wise men, the Witan,
derives its name and perhaps itself from the Welsh Gwyddan or Gwyddon.
Druids were, as we have seen, at the beginnings of Oxford, also
a King Alfred interest; the same is true of Paris. They were prominent
in the Royal Society and influential as we have seen in the beginnings
of English Socialism; there was a link also with the Fabian Society. All
this demonstrates their essential character, which is not that of mystagogues
but of pioneer thinkers and experimenters.
The special link which London has with the later Druids is interesting
if the site of the Druid Temple as shown on maps of Roman London is more
than guesswork. A pillar base from it is shown at All Hallows, Barking.
The roll-call of Chosen Chiefs is distinguished, see the list
given at the end of this booklet. The present Chief is Dr. T. L. Maughan
D. Sc. [which dates this booklet to pre-1977].
Amongst the Welsh, the Archdruid Morien (the successor to Myfyr)
stirred much controversy over his propaganda for the Eisteddfod of Wales
about 1896. In 1874 Dr. Wentworth Little gathered together members of the
Masonic Order and developed an interest in comparative studies, sought
for points in common, and founded a Druid Society which he called the Ancient
and Archaeological Order of Druids. In 1956 the Ceremony of the Spring
Equinox was renewed at the Bryn Gwyn or Tower of London.
The higher wisdom is essentially one. This the ancients well knew
-- and the more perceptive of the moderns. Dr. Inge's studies in Christian
mysticism show this as clearly as do the experiences of nonChristian occultists.
Clement of Alexandria testifies clearly that the venerable wisdom systems
of his world were all giving the same doctrines, whatever the local variety
of the rite: Orphic, Thracian, Osiriac, Isaic, Bacchic, Cabiric, Eleusinian,
Adonaic, Mithraic, Essene -- or Druidic.
Of this great tradition the Druidic is what is mediated for the
west, and in it our foundations of thought have been laid in the past.
In this essentially Celtic system is always a sense of revelation, of ascension
and manifestation that is imminent. Life is a tentative thing, a probation
between the several worlds:
Three phases necessary for every existence in the development
of life: the beginning in Annwn (the creative abyss), the
transmigration in Abred, and the plenitude in heaven or the
circle of Gwynfyd (white or pure life); and without each of
these three things no one can have a complete existence except God who
Over the scheme of things presides the deity, the 'Vast and Mighty One
whom nature hath not formed'; this Being both indwells through all forms
and also as God Transcendent fills the realm of Ceugant, unapproachable
to created beings. The Druid Prayer, common to Druids of all peoples, gives
the typical sense of uplift and enlargment in unforgettable form:
From three things man is compelled into Abred, although
in all other things he may turn to good: by pride (he falls) down into
by untruthfulness he goes further down still, by lack of charity he descends
to the farthest darkness and must strive towards manhood once again.
The Druid Prayer
Grant Oh God Thy protection
Within such a philosophy death is seen as both a liberation and a renewal.
The graded organisation of the Druids is generally speaking an association
for investigation, experimental, creative and often curative.
And in protection -- strength:
And in strength -- understanding:
And in understanding -- knowledge:
And in knowledge -- the knowledge of justice:
And in the knowledge of justice -- the love of it:
And in the love of it -- the love of all existences:
And in the love of all existences -- the love of God and of all
The Druidic type of wisdom is, it is suggested, the native and
more assimilable wisdom for us. The various admirable oriental philosophies
which in the general absence of a more intelligent Christian mysticism,
have understandably captured a wide allegiance in the west from the middle
of the last century onwards, are alien to our culture in their expression,
although their spiritual content is universal. In Druidism and its allied
studies in Gaelic and British wisdom literatures may be found a system
perhaps not so completely expounded, but expressed the better for our comprehension.
To put it more vividly, the Enlightened One entered into both
the Sacred Bull and the White Elephant (see O'Brien "The Round Towers"):
wisdom has made a parallel entry into west and east, the White Bull of
Britain (known in antiquity as the Enclosure of the White Bull) and the
White Elephant of India.
As by many in India Christianity can be accepted as another manifestation
of Vishnu the Creator, so in Britain Christianity could be taken as another
form of Druidism, which Druidism itself appeared to recognise by in fact
passing over wholesale into Christianity in Ireland, thus clearly indicating
that there was nothing incompatible in the two systems of thought. The
Druidic tradition dating from before the credal era is necessarily non-credal.
Finally, it is interesting to note that the dress and decoration
shown on certain Roman period reliefs from Autun in France appear to derive
from the same authority as the known robes and some ornaments of the Druids.
Chosen Chiefs of The Most Ancient Order since 1717
John Toland 1717 -1722
William Stukely 1722 - 1765
Edward Finch Hatton 1765 - 1771
David Samway 1771 - 1799
William Blake 1799 - 1827
Geoffrey Higgins 1827 - 1833
William Carpenter 1833 - 1874
Edward Vaughan Kenealy 1874 - IX80
Gerald Massey 1880 - 1906
John Barry O'Callaghan 19Q6 - 1909
G. W. MacGregor-Reid 1909 - 1946
Robt. A. F. MacGregor-Reid I946 - 1964
Thomas L. Maughan 1964 - 1976
Christopher Sullivan 1976 - [handwritten note]
Copyright © 1998
The House of Reflecting Shadows
Copyright © 1984,1997 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. This
text file may be freely distributed on the Net, provided that no editing
is done, the version number (if any) is retained and this notice is included.
If you would like to be on the author's personal mailing/phone list for
upcoming publications, lectures, song albums, and appearances, send your
snailmail and/or your email address to him at PO Box 1021, Nyack, NY, USA
10960-1021 or via email to "firstname.lastname@example.org".