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ETHICS & VALUES IN DRUIDISM













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As a spiritual tradition based on reverence for and connection with the powers of nature, more than anything else Druidry teaches us to honour life Druid ethics are built upon the release of ignorance and the respectful creation of deep and sacred relationships.
Emma Restall Orr, Druidry and Ethical Choice

The classical author Strabo wrote that the Druids studied moral philosophy. The author Brendan Myers concludes that the first moral principle of the ancient Druids was a devotion to truth. In the Testament of Morann, a document traced to the period between the 7th and 9th centuries CE, but which seems to emerge out of the pre-Christian Druidic period, advice is given on how a prince should rule:

Let him magnify Truth, it will magnify him.
Let him strenghen Truth, it will strengthen him.
Through the ruler's Truth massive mortalities are averted from men.
Through the ruler's Truth all the land is fruitful and childbirth worthy.
Through the ruler's Truth there is abundance of tall corn.

St Patrick was said to have asked Oisin, the son of Fionn MacCumhall, what sustained his people before the advent of Christianity, to which he replied: the truth that was in our hearts, and strength in our arms, and fulfilment in our tongues. Myers concludes: It is interesting that he should cite truth first, as though truth had an overriding place in the culture. This evidence leads me to believe that the first moral principle of Druidism is this: in a situation where a moral decision must be made, we should always choose truth, in the expansion and enrichment of human knowledge, in ourselves and others, and at all levels of our being.

In the final analysis, though, Myers suggests that the Druids may not have adhered to specific rules and authorities to determine proper ethical conduct. Instead he sees them striving to become a certain kind of person, out of whom ethical behaviour naturally arises.

Athelia Nihtscada also turns to Irish source material to explore Druid ethics. The old Brehon laws, which were recorded by Christian clerics in the 5th century CE, pre-dated Christianity and offer a fascinating insight into early Irish society. By studying these laws and seeing how they might be applicable to modern living, Nihtscada has articulated eleven principles or codes of conduct for the contemporary Druid:

1. Every action has a consequence that must be observed and you must be prepared to compensate for your actions if required.
2. All life is sacred and all are responsible for seeing that this standard is upheld.
3. You do still live in society and are bound by its rules.
4. Work with high standards.
5. Make an honest living.
6. Be a good host as well as a good guest.
7. Take care of yourself. (Health was held in high esteem amongst the Celts, so much that a person could be fined for being grossly overweight due to lack of care.)
8. Serve your community.
9. Maintain a healthy balance of the spiritual and mundane.
(Nihtscad writes: Ethical and self respecting Druids did nothing without being properly schooled or aware of the consequences ahead of time. They knew when it was appropriate to visit the Otherworld and immerse themselves in the spiritual as well as when it was appropriate to be fully in this world.)
10. Uphold the Truth, starting with yourself.
11. Be sure in your convictions, particularly when judging or accusing someone, but also when debating. Ask yourself: are you really sure? Do you really know that this the case?































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