The Druids: The History and Mystery by Jesse Harasta and Charles River Editors

The Druids: The History and Mystery of the Ancient Celtic PriestsThe Druids: The History and Mystery of the Ancient Celtic Priests by Charles River Editors

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Stonehenge, which he described as a peculiar juxtaposition of primeval-looking stones that resembled “a group of brown dwarves in the wide expanse,” he was also overawed by its mysterious ambience laced with its ancient esoteric elements woven by the flight of ages and the succession of the primordial Druidic spirit peculiar to the British Isles. In the poetical visions of Emerson, the sacrificial stones of the Druids were a phantasmagorical display of the enigmatic nature of the Druidism and the Druids clothed in their long white robes of fierce mystery. Such mysteriousness surrounding the Druids is still paramount to the image and perennial legacy of the clandestine ancient cult with its formidable ritual practices and influences as vividly related in The Druids by Jesse Harasta.

In this book, Harasta draws up a wide range of historical contexts ranging from a memoir written by Julius Caesar to annals by Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and the Younger, and others, in search of the eyewitness accounts of this notoriously secretive cult and its ritual practices in the context of regarding its social and cultural influences on the colonial Gauls, especially the Britons. According to Caesar in his Notebooks about the Gallic War, which is still arguably the most detailed record of the Druids and their customs written in between 50 B.C. and 40 B.C., the Druids were originally initiated in Britain and that they acted as the grave executors of justice with solemn probity in conjunction with the religious elements to instill respect and order imbued with theocratic fear in people because the Druidism was by nature theocratic. In fact, such theocratic aspect of druidism is evident in Geography published in the 1st Century A.D. by Greek philosopher, historian, and geographer Strabo as follows: (1) the Bards: singers and poets; (2) the Vates: diviners and natural philosophers; and (3) the Druids: moral and natural philosophers. These three strata of the Druid ruled the roost of every aspect of their society with the authority and power tantamount to those of the Supreme Pontiff in later years.

The peculiarity of the Druidic custom is the absence of written records, save other public and private transactions recorded in Greek. Although the Druidic education was heavily focused on memorization of a great number of verses, writing was strictly forbidden based upon Harasta’s viable hypothetical grounds of (1) to make the knowledge of the study inaccessible to the other castes, such as warriors and common people to maintain their social supremacy and dominion; and (2) to improve the faculty of memory to develop cognitive ability, since an act of writing tended to reduce the ability to memorize.

The ritualistic practice of human sacrifice is the ubiquitousness recorded in annals and manifested in archeological evidence. Even before the rise of the Roman Empire, the ancient Greek historian Athenaeus in the 4th Century B.C. recorded the Druids’ sacrifice of their prisoners to the gods, which was subsequently echoed by Pliny in the 1st Century A.D, who confirmed that the emperor Tiberius outlawed the Druids and their murderous types of diviners and physicians, while the succeeding emperor Claudius obliterated the  inhuman cult.

Such ritualistic killing of humans and animals as well as performing ritual cannibalism was the most exquisite act of the greatest kind of piety. To illustrate, diviners stroke a human being chosen for sacrifice in the back with a saber and divine from his death struggle in the presence of the Druids or stabbed the victim with a small knife in the area above the diaphragm. Then they interpreted the future by observing the nature of the victim’s fall, the convulsion of his limbs, and especially from the pattern of his spurting blood in ancient tradition of undivided observation. In another example, the Druids built enormous effigies and filled them with living persons and set them on fire for mass sacrifice. Also, they burnt faithful slaves and beloved subordinates at the climax of the funerals of their masters. All of the aforesaid rituals took place in oak graves, since oaks emblemized sacredness and wisdom as the word “Druid” was originally derived from Celtic word “derwijes,” meaning oak and “wid,” to know or to have a vision.

Pace other reviews of this book as desultory, partisan accounts of the Druids gleaned from ancient historical resources primarily written by the Roman colonials with supercilious opinions on their barbarous Briton colonialists, this book is an interesting read on this delphic ancient cult and its esoteric customs elegantly put together in plain language based upon the scholastic historical contexts. This is indeed a comprehensive overview of the quaint Druids whose formidable mysteriousness still resounds with the modern day revival of the cult in its outer form to the descendents of the Britons. For the reader who wants to delve into the Druidism in depth, this book serves as a decent primer on the subject as a preliminary requisition of rudimentary knowledge of the ancient cult. For all others, this book is an informative read that will bestow another literary pleasure and self-satisfaction on your mind.

Melody of Sea


She sent a message in a bottle into the sea
And watched the waves move it away
Into the horizon, beneath the visiting Sun,
The sight she could not bear without passion.

She spoke a song into the ether
And saw it fall into the water,
deeper into the vale of abyss
as she was panting with longings.

Then, long afterward, in quicksands
on shore washed up by the memories,
She found the bottle with two messages
sealed with a lover’s song in his words.

Modernization of Fishery is no about-face

RE: July 30th 2018 article of “A Fight over Amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act” by Robert F. Bukaly of The Los Angeles Times

photo (4)Ever a voracious reader of good books and sensible, informative articles of The Los Angeles Times, Paul Collie is immediately steeped in a headline of today’s newspaper; that is, an article he has just read in the Times about a fight over the present fishing laws. It is reported that some amendments were made to the laws, which are called “The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act”, a 42-year old rules regulating over-fishing of New England Sea Scallops and Bering Sea Crabs, and that they were approved by the House of Representatives on Monday. Subsequently, these changes have stirred a projected friction between fishermen and environmentalists mostly consisting of researchers, scientists, and radical natural/animal conservatory activist whose viewpoints are normally out of touch with realities.

photo (8)

As Paul is perusing  the article word for word as if he were tattooing it on the cerebral globe of his brain,  Paul’s thoughts are embroiled in a swirl of agitation and indignation that begins to brew a collection of words in a form of cogent opinion. ‘The amendments were favorable to many people and will promote business growth, especially commercial and recreational fishing groups that need to hire many more people.  The changes relate to a provision of managers with flexibility and refocus of the Act on sound science. It’s all about modernizing the management of recreational fishing! But those recalcitrant opponents who know nothing or little about dealing with constraints of daily task think that it is a rollback of the landmark law! There is no risk of over-fishing delaying the re-population of depleted fish! Logical Fiddlesticks!’

Paul has cogent reasons for his argument for the amendments to the Act: the purpose of the changes is to remove unscientific time frames that unnecessarily restrict access to fishery, which encompasses an revocation of a requirement for annual catch limits for certain fish species as aforesaid as well as amending rules about requirements to rebuild the stocks. He strongly believes that reauthorizing of the Act seems and is believed to be long overdue. As a matter of fact, Paul cannot help but link the article with The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley that he read last year with relish. In it, Ridley tries to enlighten the reader about the necessities of changes as part of cultural evolution for the betterment of mankind and the world itself. However, Ridley lays bare the the pressure of militant environmentalists who are evermore against any changes made to the agricultural as well as fishing industry. To Paul, their flagrantly truculent opposition to any such changes is a luxury disguised in the package of humanity/nature that only pampers their far-flung elitist attitudes that disregards or overlooks the need of everyday life.

Such is Paul’s axiomatic opinion on the article that he feels strongly. It’s not because he has a means of business, nor is his conservative tendency, nor his hereditary solidification of genes in the Proud Scottish Collie Family; but because the Act was unnecessarily binding the hands and feet of independent fishermen and other proprietors of the business tied to and related to fishery to overtly harsh conditions in which their households suffered under the strains of financial hardship. Which also brings Paul back to Act I, Scene 2 of Hamlet that illustrates the the hypocrisy of environmentalist dogmatism:

The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?




Eleusinian Craft of Lady Alchemist

IMG_3985She writes, and speaks to a soul in many sorts of music. She sometimes invokes inspirations from her favorite Muses: Kalliope for epic poetry; Clio for history; and Euterpe for lyric poetry. In fact, she feels most ecstatic when the divine inspirations become one with her body and soul creating the ineffable rapture of the body and elevating the excitement of the soul in zenith. She is no less a dilettante of amateur music aficionado and an apprentice of alchemy of literature and history than Seraphina by herself.

She also has a secret: that she practices her secondhand acoustic guitar she bought from a traveling troubadour who with his finely cultivated artfulness of sweet talking laced with a streak of medieval chivalry, tempted her to possess it three years ago at a reasonable price of $100. And it turned out that the crafty troubadour was a nice sort of reprobate who could make your otherwise bleak life a bit more cheerful and jovial to live because Seraphina loved the guitar at first blush and has played it since the farewell of the sportive wayfarer.


Seraphina is an Aquarius, and therefore an independent beauty. She is an autodidact and is at best when she’s least self-conscious and left alone. She has been teaching herself to play the guitar in hope of playing the songs she loves flawlessly by changing the chords swiftly in keeping up with the rhythms. One of her repertoires for her guitar practicing is “As Tears Go By” by Rolling Stones – not the version of Marianne Faithful – It is another secret that Seraphina sings the song while playing the guitar in her room, and she loves the moment of doing it because she feels like a Jane Birkin or a Joni Mitchell or a Francois Hardy.

Kurt Vonnegut once said, “To practice any form of art, however good or bad, is to make your soul grow, so do it.” In accordance with such supportive tenet of art, Seraphina thinks that it’s all about unlocking the artist from within. Surely, not everyone of us can’t make our names marked in the world, but then each one of us is something of a creator of a life. In her ideal firmament, being an amateur artist means being able to create her own artistic world unsullied by the material demands of life that often yield myriads of existential vertigo. But then who would know what might bring Seraphina into changing her weltanschauung in future? After all, we think we know what we are, but know not what we may be. In the brevity of life, Seraphina thinks to herself, ‘Sweets to the sweet: Farewell to worries!’