Celtic Workshop - Human Sacrifice

(copyright Earrach, 1995 by Searles O'Dubhain)

Copyright by Searles O'Dubhain

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 "Death of a Druid Prince"

The matter of human sacrifice by the Celts and the Druids is a topic that creates, at once, a sense of horror and wonder for us in this modern age.   In our present age, separated from the phenomena of death as we are, even animal sacrifice shocks our senses.  The much more controversial subject of human sacrifice is almost beyond our comprehension.  We must endeavor to look beyond our immediate "surface reactions" to this sensitive topic.  As we delve a little deeper into the primal Celtic soul and psyche, perhaps our study will allow us to understand why such sacrifices occurred.  

Searles: In today's Celtic workshop, we shall attempt to cover the available evidence for such acts of sacrifice among the Celts.  We shall also attempt to classify the many types of such sacrifices, their methods and their means, as well as their meanings.   


Searles: We have evidence that the Celts and Druids performed human sacrifices.  Today's Celtic workshop will allow us all to discuss this sensitive topic interactively.  Before we start, I thought I would list the available sources that I've studied and considered in preparing for this workshop: 


  • The Writings of the Greeks and Romans.
  • The Writings of the Christian Scribes.
  • The Continued Existence of Folk Customs.
  • Similar Practices among Other Cultures.
  • Archaeological Evidence.
  • Psychic and Mystical Evidence 


Searles: What was the purpose of human sacrifice?  <any takers?> <G>


Patricia : Sacrifice to certain gods, as in the practice of Bodecia to get the fighting fury for the fighting men and other reasons


Searles: <more?>


Patricia : To take over the traits of others.  To buy an excape from death or disease by promising to offer another's life.


M & R : How about the concept of carrying a message or petition to the gods?


Searles: excellent R & M


M & R : Thank you teacher


Searles: I'm going to talk about that soon...it is one of the primary points today.  <G> OK


LAW / MAGICK: Several surface reasons, Fertility, appeasement, connection with the Divine.


Searles: Thank you for that Llew.


Clay  : To provide a very serious vehicle to send a message to the Gods/Goddess with a spirit 'truly human'.


Searles: Thank you Clay.  That is another one of today's points. 


cherokee : To ask that the gods bestow favor for a victory to show that the people were willing to die in the god/dess name


Searles: Yes, excellent point as well and one more I hope to cover in detail today. 


Wren  : to intercede on behalf of their people.


Searles: OK thanks.....another excellent point.


DoveHawk : I wonder if what we describe generally as human sacrifices, didn't have various shapes in terms of the purpose of the sacrifice and, the consent of the "victims".


Searles: I'm certain they were different as to form and purpose.


Patricia : Very slow today.  Coming danger was also averted through sacrifice. 


Searles: <I'm really loving all of these excellent points today> Maybe I should have each of you elucidate about your points? <G>


cherokee : In some traditions the sacrifice of an enemy or a powerful person allowed the leader or the group to take that persons power for themselves


Searles: yes that is yet another way that sacrifice was done...maybe even still is done in some places.  ?


An Cli'un: Any relation between sacrifice and ritual, single-warrior combat?


Searles: I have not seen any writing on that subject but I have often wondered if perhaps the "champions" of the clan were empowered through ritual to take clan Magick with them to combat.  This would be very similar to how a sacrifice might go to the gods. 


Patricia : How was "sympathetic magic" a part of these Druidic though processes?


Searles: There are some instances where the Scots made clay dolls like a "voodoo" doll almost and then stuck pins and other things into the dolls to wreck havoc on their enemies.  This is an area that I want to do more research on before commenting further.  I had best continue now....we will touch on most of these points later.  Hopefully more comments and explanations will be available then. 


Searles: In some religions, sacrifice is an act performed to influence the gods.  In others, it is a symbolic return to the gods of their blessings.  In still others, it is a freeing of life-force to empower Magical workings.  Sometimes, the giving of life in ritual demonstrates belief in deity.  Other times it is done to redeem the spiritual cost of mundane actions done in this world.  This is done by sending a tribal member to the Otherworld.  The sacrificial victim then becomes the representative of the people performing the sacrifice.  Also, custom/tradition might dictate that victims are to be sacrificed in response to certain events (such as: funerals, droughts, bad harvests, rain, volcanoes, auguries, battles, plagues, comets, meteors, astrological signs, building foundations, earthquakes, etc.).  So far we have defined the following reasons for human sacrifice:


  1. Influence Deity
  2. Return of Blessings
  3. Empower Magick
  4. Demonstrate Belief
  5. Payment for Mundane Aid
  6. Otherworldly Advocate
  7. Custom/Tradition 


Searles: I'm sure there are other reasons that humans were sacrificed but they escape me for now.  I thank the Workshop for all of their inputs particularly.  :) My "gut feeling" is that the Celts and Druids engaged in human sacrifice for just about all of the above reasons.  


Searles: Who was sacrificed?  I suppose this varied, based upon the need.  The list of sacrificial victims goes from kings to criminals, from priests to babies, from prisoners of war to witches.  Just about anyone could have been sacrificed at any time for what was thought to be a sufficiently good reason. 


Searles:  Kings were sacrificed for the biggest Magicks.  This included better weather, victory in war, improving the harvest and protecting the tribes.  Children and babies were also sacrificed for improving the crops as well as for dedicating buildings and sacred sites.  Prisoners (whether criminals or war captives) were the normally preferred sacrifice for most mundane reasons.  This was a matter of practicality as well as religion.  The tribe could not afford to house and feed large numbers of prisoners.  Letting them go, meant they would return to fight and destroy another day.  Knowing you would be sacrificed by your enemies tended to dampen one's enthusiasm for making war in the first place.  Using prisoners for sacrifice was the easiest way to generate a lot of energy for "Blood Magick" quickly.  This was simply a case of turning the enemy's Power back upon them. 


Searles:  In the next part of my presentation, I will give the details (archaeological, literary, historical and Magical) that show how, why, where and when such sacrifices were done by the Celts and the Druids.  For those interested in reading more about Celtic/Druidic sacrifices, I'd recommend: 


"The Life and Death of a Druid Prince" by Ann Ross and Don Robbins.


Other excellent supplemental readings include: 


  • "Druids, Magicians of the West",
  • "Celtic Lore" and "Celtic Mythology" by Ward Rutherford. 
  • "The Coming of the King" (F) by Count Nicolai Tolstoy.  
  • "The Quest for Merlin" by Count Nicolai Tolstoy.  
  • "Lammas Night" (F) by Katherine Kurtz.  
  • "Druids" by Stuart Piggott.  
  • "Bard" (F) and "Druids" (F) by Morgan Llewellyn.  
  • "Myths and Symbols of Pagan Europe" by H.R.  Ellis Davidson.  
  • "The Religion of the Ancient Celts" by J.A.  MacCulloch 
  • "The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom" by Caitlin and John Matthews.  
  • "The Celtic Druids' Year" by John King, 
  • "Mythic Ireland" by Michael Dames. 
  • "Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend" by Miranda Green. 
  • "Earth Memory" by Paul Devereux.  


(F) above stands for historical fiction.  


Searles: Many other excellent works exist on the Celts as well as the subject of sacrifice and blood Magick, but these are the sources I've reviewed preparing for this workshop. 


"Historical References"

Adam of Bremen refers to a sacrifice of animals and men held every ninth year at Uppsala in Sweden (I'm including examples from the Norse as well as the Celtic sacrificial practices.):

"It is the custom moreover every nine years for a common festival of all the provinces of Sweden to be held at Uppsala.  Kings and commoners one and all send their gifts to Uppsala, and what is more cruel than any punishment, even those who have accepted Christianity have to buy immunity from these ceremonies.  the sacrifice is as follows: of every living creature they offer nine head, and with the blood of those it is the custom to placate the gods, but the bodies are hanged in a grove which is near the temple; so holy is that grove to the heathens that each tree in it is presumed to be divine by reason of the victim's death and putrefaction.  There also dogs and horses hang along with men.  One of the Christians told me that he had seen seventy-two bodies of various kinds hanging there, but the incantations which are usually sung at this kind of sacrifice are various and disgraceful, and so we had better say nothing about them."

Searles: It's typical that opposing sides in a conflict would attempt to pervert the most sacred practice of the opponent.  A willing sacrifice for the clan is a noble deed, whereas, an involuntary sacrifice or execution is just the opposite.  Accounts by Strabo and Julius Caesar also mention the "Wicker Man" (large figures of wickerwork into which victims were placed to be burned).  Strabo describes such a construction as "...  a colossus of straw and wood".  He goes on to say that cattle, wild animals of various kinds and human victims were thrown into these.  The ashes were thought to aid the growth of crops.  Caesar described them as structures "...with limbs woven out of twigs, filled with living men and set on fire so that the victims perished in a sheet of flame'."


Searles: In his 'Gallic War, Julius Caesar describes offerings made by Celts in Gaul to a god he called Mars:

"...  when they have determined on a decisive battle, they dedicate as a rule whatever spoil they may take.  After a victory they sacrifice such living things as they have taken, and all the other effects they gather into one place.  In many states heaps of such objects are to be seen piled up in hallowed spots, and it has not often happened that a man, in defiance of religious scruple, has dared to conceal such spoils in his house or to remove them from their place, and the most grievous punishment, with torture, is ordained for such an offence.  (Loeb translation)."

Searles: In "Ynglinga Saga", Snorri tells us about a Swedish ceremonial sacrifice of their king Domaldi:

"The first year [of the famine] they sacrificed oxen, and there was no improvement in the harvest.  The next autumn they sacrificed men, but the harvest was as before or even worse.  and the third autumn many Swedes came to Uppsala when the sacrifice was to take place.  the chiefs took counsel then, and decided unanimously that the famine must be due to their king Domaldi, and that they must sacrifice him for a good season and redden the altars with his blood, and this they did."

Searles: Posidonius tells us about the Celtic custom of taking heads: "They cut off the heads of enemies slain in battle and attach them to the necks of their horses.  The blood-stained spoils they hand over to their attendants and carry off as booty, while taking part in a triumphal march and singing a song of victory; and they nail up these first fruits upon their houses, just as do those who lay low wild animals in certain kinds of hunting.  They embalm in cedar-oil the heads of the most distinguished enemies and preserve them carefully in a chest."


Searles: According to Strabo, the Cimbri (a Celtic tribe) were said to have used prisoners, taken during battle, for divinations within ritual.  The prisoners would be consecrated for sacrifice, then either impaled on stakes or hung above enormous bronze bowls. Their priestesses would climb ladders to cut the throats of the victims, collecting the flow of blood within the waiting bronze bowls below. Based upon how the blood flowed into the bowl, the grey-haired, white-robed women could determine what the outcome of the battle would be. Other victims were disemboweled for the purposes of augury. This blood was also said to be used to "drench their altars".


Searles: Some of the sources are from Ireland instead of Gaul. 


Searles: Children were sacrificed to the idol called Crom Cruach according to the "Dindshenchas": (This is reminiscent of the Phoenician/Carthagean practice). This was said to have started with the Irish king Tigernmas.


Searles: "For him ingloriously they slew their wretched firstborn with much weeping and distress, to pour out their blood round the Bent One of the Hill.  Milk and corn they used to ask of him speedily in return for a third of their whole progeny; great was the horror and outcry about him."


Searles: In another story, Conn , the Hundred-Fighter, has become enamored of a faerie woman to the extent that the Land itself has suffered.  The people are without milk and corn for a year. The druids consulted their science and their wisdom to determine how the blight should be ended.  The druids determined that the son of a sinless couple should be found and brought to Tara and slain.  His blood had to be mingled with the soil of Tara to return blessings to the Land.  Conn himself went in quest of this child and found him in the household of Daire Degamra from the Land of Wonders and Rigu Rosclethan from the Land of Promise.  The child's name was Segda Saerlabraid and even though his father would not give him up, he chose to willingly go with Conn, King of Ireland.  When the druids saw the boy their counsel was to slay him and then to mingle his blood with the earth of Ireland so that the blight could be lifted and its prosperity returned.  Conn and his son Art as well as Finn stood together against the druids and the clamoring of the men of Ireland, protecting the boy.  The boy himself then asked that he should be put to death if it was for such a noble purpose and to if it was to save such a noble land as Ireland.  Just as this deed was about to be done, a mysterious woman appeared leading a cow which was also carrying two bags, one each on either of its sides.  When the druids themselves could not determine the mystery of the woman and her cow, or even the bags themselves, she was then asked to explain.  She said that the single cow before them had come to save the innocent youth and to rescue the prosperity of Ireland. It was itself to be slain in his place and after this deed was done, her blood was to be mixed with the earth.  After the cow had been slain and her blood scattered and mixed with the earth of Tara, then the two bags were opened to reveal their mysteries.  One bag was found to contain a single bird with one leg only, while the other bag held a similar bird, but this one having twelve legs instead of two or one.  When the two birds were released they immediately flew into the air and began to fight.  Amazingly, it was the one legged bird that prevailed and not the bird of twelve legs as had been expected. The druids could not determine the meaning of this conflict and once again the woman was consulted by all.  She then read the signs, stating that it was the druids that should be hanged and that the boy should be spared. Everyone agreed that this must be a true saying, since the druids had failed in their attempts to read the mysteries. The druids must then be the bird with twelve legs and the boy may have been represented by the victorious bird with only one leg. And so it was that the young man was not put to death.  The woman then further prophesied that Ireland itself would be without one third of its produce until Conn could put away his faerie woman, Becuma Cneisgel. The woman then left, taking Segda with her, while refusing all payments, jewels and treasures that were offered. This is how Segda Saerlabraid was saved from the blades of the druids and was not sacrificed for Conn's folly of the faerie lover.


Searles: Now we have listed some of the ancient comments about human sacrifice by the Celts, along with our modern ones.  Let's see what a shamanic source has to say about life-force as well as sacrifice:


"Life-force and Spirit"

Searles: The nature of power as life-force: Why is it important?  Without life-force (which is also known as "power") Spirit cannot manifest (nor hold a manifestation) within the physical realm.  The smaller the life-force the less Spirit is able to manifest.  The greater the life-force the more Spirit is able to manifest itself and its Will on the earth plane.  Looking at it in a purely physical human example - a 300 lb body builder can do more work than a sickly 98 lb weakling.  They can work "bigger".  They manifest life "larger" than someone who is physically weak (for whatever reason). 


Searles: When the body can no longer produce, channel, & contain life-force we say it "dies".  The only difference between a body which is "dead" and one which is "alive" is the amount of life-force in each of them.  When a body looses so much life-force that it can no longer maintain/contain the physical manifestation of Spirit, then the spirit MUST leave that body.  In order to manifest spirit on the physical plane you need 3 things:


  1. A physical container of some kind.  This can be a human body, a rock or crystal, a drum or a rattle, an animal, a plant or any similar device.  Normally these are "natural" items i.e., not plastic (although I suppose that something synthetic technically could be used...  I don't think it would really work all that well as there is no natural resonance within it that could maintain the force...  kind of like running power into a battery that just wont hold the charge). 

  2. Life-force/power.  Once you have the container it must be empowered with sufficient life-force to enable a spirit to "live" within it.  Otherwise it's just an empty shell (whether it's a still-born baby or a "pretty crystal" that's use resides in an amethyst crystal wand or deer horn knife that you use in ceremony.  They are essentially the same.  Power dispersed = energy (static, direct, alternating, auric, etc.) Power condensed = physical manifestation (anything from a brick wall to a brain tumor).  Likewise power which is "de-condensed" will "un-manifest" - this is the way that a shaman would cure a tumor, for instance.  He would pull the power out of the tumor until the physical manifestation just disappears as well. 

  3. Will/focus. There is no manifestation of any kind anywhere without the condensing of power into physical matter.  This is done through a focusing of the will. One of the basic "physical laws" of power is that it will flow from a greater concentration to a lesser concentration.  The flows of power should be channeled to flow under control and to be contained within the desired boundaries. On a personal level, this is important to know as we come into contact with beings of power (incarnate humans and discarnate who-knows-whats alike).  If we have more power than those around us they will be drawn to us seeking our power like moths that are attracted to a flame. This can be distracting and counter-productive to our own intentions. We must be careful not to carelessly attract them to us (or allow our personal power to flow away from our own workings).  Ion the other hand, if they are more powerful than we are, then we must be careful to shield ourselves to ensure that our personal power does not flow from us to them without our conscious intent or permission.  It is vital to be able to "hold your power".  Here are several experiences/examples of empowering bodies for magickal workings to illustrate how this all works:


There are spirits in other realms which wish to come to this plane of existence.  One of these realms is that of "crystal people".  These are certain spirits which resonate particularly well with crystals and who very much want to come to the earth plane.  In exchange for assistance in manifesting in this realm they will perform certain "services" for the person who makes this possible.  Some of these might include protecting the keeper of the crystal in which they live, giving them the ability to discern truthfulness from falsehood, the ability to journey to a certain realm or plane more easily.  The shaman going to the other plane to negotiate the arrangement will find out what the entity/spirit is capable of doing for him.  He will then find out what the spirit needs in return (must be empowered daily, kept in salt water when not being used, smudged with cedar once a full moon, whatever, etc.).  If the service offered and the price asked are agreeable to both parties the shaman extends a crystal which he has cleared/cleaned and empowered and the entity enters the crystal and is brought back to this realm when the shaman returns from his journey to the land of the crystal people.  Had the crystal not contained enough power to "hold" the spirit within it then the crystal spirit could not have manifested life on this plane.  If the crystal becomes disempowered then the entity within it will literally "die".  It is a great responsibility.  Rather like having a physically dependent child to care for who must be fed, exercised, and companioned regularly or they cannot live. 


Searles: Another use of empowered/enlivened objects is to use an arrow or weapon of some kind either for protection or as a form of hunting medicine (in the Native American or tribal sense).  I have seen a spirit caught and placed within an arrow.  The shaman then used that arrow by directing the spirit in the arrow to "guard his back" or "assist him in bringing down game to feed his family."  This focused intention and empowerment then becomes the entity's "prime directive" until it is released, the directive is changed, or the physical body loses its power and the entity/spirit slips free from it. 


Searles: Power is something that must be continually (or at least regularly) supplied.  It's like supplying your body with fuel so that it can continue to live.  You can't eat once or twice a month and still expect to live...  let alone do any kind of work, play, or activity (like magick maybe <G>) if it's has no fuel to run on.  It's like expecting a car to run the Indy 500 with no fuel in the tank....  just doesn't work.   


Patricia : Could you talk more about the crystal people or offer a reading resource?


Searles: I don't know of a reading resource to direct you to.  The experience came from working with a man who was shaman who took several of us on the journey there and back.  Do you have a specific question about them?


Patricia : Are they ancient, with white gowns, beards on the men, live in caves?


Searles: They are spirits who exist in a different plane from us who are very interested in manifesting here on the earth plane.


Patricia : Do you enter through seeing a diamond shaped crystal in your third eye with reflections of their faces in each segment?


Searles: My perception of them was that they are rather small in size, non humanoid, and the realm is not anything that I have a physical earth correspondence for.  it was rather light, sparkly and not well focused (could have been my own lack of ability to see on that plane) <G> NO.  It is a journey through specific landscape and not so much of an "inner journey"


Patricia : Very clear to me, the clearest image I've ever seen.


Searles: cool.  back on the topic of Druid sacrifice.  <G>


Searles: OK we are covering a lot of ground today....  so bear with me....we will eventually get to Lindow Man and his threefold death.


Searles: I wanted to talk more about the principals of life-force, energy and sacrifice.  and How that is all directed.


"Life-force for Sacrifice" 

Assuming a willing sacrifice exists (and religions have been founded on just that basis), the person to be sacrificed should build as much power within himself as possible prior to the actual sacrifice and he should practice "loading up" on power and releasing it beforehand.  He must "stretch" himself in his ability to hold more and more power every day so that he can hold the maximum amount of power possible for the sacrifice. 


Searles: Other people can assist with this by "pouring" power into him.  Be very careful not to pour too quickly nor provide so much that his power envelope is stretched to the point where it would develop "holes".  The group should stand in a circle and build the power by whatever means they choose, and then the head of the circle should funnel the power through him to the sacrifice through a golden power conduit/cord into the third chakras or from the leader's hands into the third chakra of the sacrifice.  This should be practiced for some time before the day of the actual sacrifice to stretch and strengthen the sacrifice's power carrying "muscles", as it were.  When "fully loaded" the sacrifice's body should feel as light as a feather to him...  almost as though it's not there it is so easy to carry.  When he feels that he is almost about to "float away" or when his envelope has gotten thin like an overfilled balloon and is beginning to show thin spots (before there are actually holes) stop pouring the power.  <<People who are low on power report that they can barely drag themselves around from day to day.  People who are stoked up hardly even notice that they are carrying a body with them at all - just a side note.>>  A second note here....  the person being sacrificed should be in good shape physically.  A well toned/muscled, healthy body is capable of holding and carrying much, much more power than is an old, worn out or overweight or sick body.  The sacrifice should be as whole, hale and hearty as possible.  If he does have a problem (overweight, out of shape, tumor, broken bones etc.  these should be healed or fixed before the time of the sacrifice.  Never sacrifice anything or anyone but your absolute best.  I mean think about it.  Would you prefer to have a healthy warrior guarding you, fighting to protect you, working on your behalf...  or would you rather hand your best sword to someone who can't even lift it or who will tire before the battle is halfway over and thereby leave you defenseless?


Searles: The power should be returned to the people gifting it or grounded into the earth or sent out on a specific working once it is built and transferred successfully.  This refines the sacrifice's technique of releasing the power to do work.  At the appointed day and time the power is once again built and poured into the prepared sacrifical vessle.  The person has built his own power as high as it will possibly go.  He has been gifted with as much power as he can possibly carry.  At the height of this gathering of power he is sacrificed.  His spirit is released...  is set free from his body.  It takes all of the power that used to be used to animate his body (which is considerable), all of the power he has personally built on this day, and all of the power that he has been gifted with in once massive, powerful "discharge".  (I always see it in my mind as almost being like a rocket taking off or a "super eagle" taking flight.<personal note>) Once on the other side, freed from the limitations of incarnation on the earth plane and able to see things more clearly, the sacrifice takes the accumulated power and does whatever working he has been chosen to do.  He becomes a warrior/guardian/magician on the other side working in connection with and for the benefit of this side of the curtain. 


Searles: I imagine that there is at least one person on this side of the curtain who is chosen to continue to work with the spirit/sacrifice on the other side for at least a year.  In some tribes it was a common practice when someone crossed over for a close relative/friend/mate to be relieved of duties for the span of one year so that they could "funnel" information to this side from the one who just crossed over.  This is done by prior arrangement, at least with the people that I have talked to.  It was done so that the tribe could benefit from having someone able to see, hear, and understand things affecting the tribe and give advice/information from that freed/unlimited persective of being on the other side of the curtain. 


Searles: Now we all ready to discuss the events leading up to the sacrifice that was made at Lindow Bog in 60 C.E. by a Celt that we have come to know as Lindow Man or as he is called by Anne Ross and Don Robbins......  Lovernios.  The year 60 C.E. was known as the Dark Year because this was the time when Bodicea was defeated with the resulting slaughter of most of her troops.  The Romans determined to end the power of the Druids in England as a political force.  To do this they attacked the sacred Isle of Anglesly also called Mona (or Mons). 


Searles: The Romans were led by their general Suetonius.  He was pretty much known as a really hard nosed, blood and guts type of general...  took few prisoners.  As the Roman troops stood across the Menai straights watching the Druids cast spells and hurl curses at them, they also saw Druidesses in black robes and wild hair running among the men building power against them.  Many of the troops wanted to flee and to desert but their leaders threatened them and whipped them back into shape and they attacked fiercely.  The results of this battle against largely undefended Druids were that thousands upon thousands of Druids were slain by the single-minded Romans.  Some of the Druids were able to flee into the hills to lead the guerilla warfare that lasted for the next 400 years.  The Romans had defeated the power of the Druids.  Enter the next phase of the conflict.  The Druids realized that they could not defeat the Romans head-on so they did what they had always done after a defeat.  They went to the Gods.  All the life-force, energy, power, and spirit of countless Druids had been freed by their deaths during the slaughter at Mona, but remained unfocused, a waste, without form. 


Searles: In the nights after the battle a Druid prince landed on the Isle of Mona too late to help stop the carnage but not too late to be the focus for one of the most powerful workings in the history of the Druids.  The Sacred Grove had been destroyed and cut down so this mysterious Druid Price who we shall call Lovernios made his way up the river past were present day Liverpool is to landfall near another sacred site called Llyn Cerrig Bach.  "The Lake of the Small Pebbles" It was there that he was to start the rituals that led to his eventual sacrifice.  The time of the year was Bealtaine.  His last meal was one of a traditional Bealtaine cake which consisted of a variety of grains which were blackened This blackened bread is always the last meal of the ritual sacrifice in Celtic tradition.  This tradition of receiving the blackened cake persisted in Scotland until the last century.  At the time of Bealtaine a cake would be cooked and divided into many pieces and placed into a hat.  One piece would be blackened with charcoal.  The men and young boys would select pieces from the hat.  The person drawing the blackened piece would be known as the "devoted one".  In modern times the devoted one was not sacrificed but was required to perform some sort of deed.  This deed could be called something called "Riding the Lord" which basically consisted of being hazed around the bounds of the village.  Another version of this type of deed might be found in the devoted one having to jump the Bealtaine fires three times where everyone else only had to jump the fires once.  These customs have persisted for thousands of years and on this night the devoted one was the Divine Victim, Lovernious. 

"The Three Fold Death"

Searles: When the body of Lindow Man was recovered from the bog it was discovered that he had suffered a threefold death.  His skull had been crushed by a blow from a war ax or a ceremonial ax that came from above.  His throat had been garroted and at the moment of death his throat had been cut with a knife strike from below....  bleeding his blood ritually into a cauldron.  This threefold death is symbolic of his dedication to three different Gods.  These gods represent the three different worlds. The Skyworld, the Middleworld, and the Otherworld.  Ross and Robins think that this sacrifice was to the gods Taranis, Esus, and Teutates.  Are these the three gods of Danu perhaps? Perhaps not.


Searles: Why the threefold death? And what elements do these deaths represent?  It is my contention that death occurred because he was sacrificed to the Three Worlds and the primary elements that they represent. The blow from above crushed him to the element of earth below in the form of the ax. The middle death was given to the element of air due to the garrote (cutting the connection between Earth and Sky). The upward blow of the knife, that cut his throat, represents the element of water due to the loss of blood. It also freed his Spirit to the Sky.  These three elemental deaths: loss of breath, loss of blood, loss of awareness, left Lovernious as a being of Fire and Spirit.  He became a shamanic entity, a willing sacrifice to focus the lifeforce of the Druids on their magickal working.  His body was cast into the lake at Lindow, its name meaning "Black Lake" in Welsh.  He was returned to the Mother Goddess of Life and Death just as the sword Excalibur was cast into the lake of the Lady.  His body returned to the Mother, his spirit and lifeforce, his fire performed the magickal working.  This all happened in 60 C.E.  This is within decades of another similar sacrifice on the other side of the world where another great magician did a great working. 


Searles: This date, this Dark Year of the Druids, 60 C.E., marks the time when the Roman empire quit growing and began to decay.  The willing sacrifice and death at Lindow by Lovernious  was performed to prevent the Romans from going to Ireland and into Scotland.  It was not a case of magick against spears.   It was a case of the Magick of the Spirit working its Way and its Will upon the soul of the empire.  There have been other bodies recovered from bogs such as Tollund man and those found at Borremose.  None is so clearly the work of Druid magick and sacrifice as the case of Lindow man.  The king or the prince was sacrificed to the Land and to the Lady, to the three gods of Danu as it has always been. 


Searles: To my brothers and sisters in Europe where this story still lives and where this magick still works I say: when you visit a sacred site...  when you touch the spirit of a stone monolith or circle... open the pathways within yourselves and talk to our brothers and sisters from the past.  Within each of these circles is a fellow Druid and Celt.  The spirit of each of these rocks talks to us.  They live for us.  They are there to connect and reconnect us to the land.  Many a foundation was secured by such as sacrifice.  Merlin himself narrowly escaped being sacrificed to secure Vortigen's Tower.  These sacrifices were all willing.  They were all a threefold death to free the fire of the spirit and to lock the magick of the "devoted ones" to the sites. 


Searles: I'm not sure where I read this but someone once did a psychic working at a sacred site in Brittany, I think, and talked to such a Devoted One.  He stepped from the rock and his spirit wondered where the people were?  What was the focus of their spirit?  Why did they no longer love the land? The stones looked on in silence but they are not silent to those who listen.  Lovernious speaks to us across two thousand years through stone, through water, through his death and through his sacrificial offering.  The Lady of the Lake has given us back a Druid Prince.  The magick continues and now it is up to us to do the work. 


"Endgame and Questions"

Searles: I have rambled a bit today....<G>


Searles: There is so much more to say and discuss about this particular topic. 


M & R : What's your opinion of the symbolism of the torc? Ross & Robbins..  suggest it may symbolize the sacrificial garrote, but you...  seemed to suggest earlier that it could be a conduit to the chakra points. 


Searles: I suggest that the torc is emblematic of the chakra associated with communication.  It is the point at which the head connects to the body...  the Celts believed that the soul lived within the head.  That is one reason they kept heads...  to control their enemies and not allow them to reconnect with their bodies.


Searles: I could never really accept that the torc and the garrote were equivalent.  I'll think some more about this....


DoveHawk : I would think the self sacrifice of Lovernious is not much different than the self sacrifice one performs when, going to perform a suicidal commando war operation, since the purpose was rallying the passed druids against Rome ... 


Searles: Lovernios made a one-way trip into the divine realms.


Searles: He is similar to those that gave their spirits to the stones themselves.


Searles: His death was probably done after he had left his body anyway.  The suddenness of the threefold death completely separated him from the physical allowing him to be a spiritual commando of sorts.


Searles: We are keeping track of questions here?<G> Next is Parsifal (though I sense DoveHawk will require some additional answers)!


Parsifal : In my rather limited knowledge of the Celtic past, I though that torcs were a warrior's right, only to be worn after one had been "blooded" (i.e.  been in battle, killed a foe)? BTW many other cultures have had/ have the belief about heads (Montagnard tribesmen in Vietnam took the heads of foes, US Marines got the name "leatherneck" from a leather neck band they wore in the late 1700's for fear of their souls wandering the earth if their heads should be cut off)


Searles: I believe that women also wore torques as well as Druids who were not warriors....  The Gods themselves were depicted as wearing torcs.  Cernnunos was shown with two of them in one depiction.  A torc was a symbol of ranking....  so, one had to achieve something significant to wear one.  You couldn't just wear one because you could afford one for instance.


Searles: Excellent point about the taking of heads going across cultures.


Clay : Lovernios's trip was probably not one way in the thinking of the druids if you take into account belief in reincarnation.  Lovernios probably came back as powerful if not more powerful than before. 


Searles: I've wrestled with that point.  Some deaths were one-way....I'm almost certain of that...based on the account of the psychic I gave.


Clay : It would be conceivable that one would be more willing


Searles: Lovernius's leg had been broken to prevent his spirit from wandering from its purpose.  Other bodies have been found that buried without jaws...


Clay : toto be sacrificed if that person was coming back with the power of the gods at there back or front...  as i were.. 


Searles: this to prevent them from uttering harmful curses after death.  OK...sorry I jumped in so soon.


Clay :  sorry.  I am bad at protocol.


Searles: The only thing Lovernios wore was a fox fur arm band (a symbol of his clan/totem?)


Clay : a lesson I am still learning..


Searles: To always be connected to the clan was a great honor.  Perhaps the fact that Lovernios body has been returned from the Mother is a sign to us all? Maybe now is the time of the return of the Druids? Maybe the thousands upon thousands now all walk the earth again? Maybe there will be a new gathering at the "Black Lake"? In this time of times as the wheel turns....Magick is afoot in the Land once again.  Thanks for your comment...


DoveHawk: My question is in line with Clay's, the grafting of spirits to stones seems to prevent subsequent reincarnation.  How does one reconcile this, with the evolution of spirits ?


Searles: Spirit lives in all the world around us.  The form that it takes is seemingly important to us as we perceive the physical world.  In the larger scheme of the Cosmos or Bith.....we are all brothers.


Searles: Becoming a consort of the Mother is not a fate that prevents evolution of the spirit....it is a transcendence of the spirit.  The Earth is a Goddess and we are Her children.  Those within stone speak for us to the Mother, The Dagda and through them to the Universe itself.  Perhaps there comes a point in our spiritual evolution where we go beyond the need to have a body?


M & R : Do you think that Lovernios deliberately chose the blackened cake, or...  was it, as with the later rituals, a random choice from a number..  of potential victims.  Maybe the torc denoted acceptance of and...  acceptability for the role of victim?


Searles: <really thinking>


M & R : <G>


Searles: My feeling is that the choice of victim is always left to the gods.  There had to be many candidates.....  There were after all at least three sacrificers or Vates present to perform the triple death.  The torc of Lovernios was not found with him.  Ross and Robins theorize it may have been offered elsewhere as a separate votive offering.  The torc itself symbolizes to me the circle of the Goddess. It is a symbol of the connection between us and the greater circle of life.  The opening in the front allows us to be free....while the enclosure surrounds us and gives us power.  Let me ask you what do you think it was?


M & R : No fair! You're the teacher! Will think and get back to you!


Parsifal : DoveHawk, perhaps the spirit is being held within the stone - prevented for a time from moving on while it fulfills duties in the stone? (in reference to earlier question)


DoveHawk : Seems another good possibility ...


Clay : Do you think receiving blackened bread is akin to receiving burnt toast from your girl friend in the morning....? Just wondering...  :)


Searles: Clay ....it depends upon whether you performed your rituals properly.<G> :)


Clay : according to the song in the night I did well, but one never knows


M & R : How do you feel about Pete Marsh being in the British Museum? Can we talk to him there, or do we have to go up to Lindow? <G>


Searles: LOL! I would recommend going to the British Museum first to see the empty container..... then go to Lindow to connect with the spirit of Lovernios.  I suspect that just being in England is enough to give you a connection...  You are after all what you eat!<G> <I will always check my cornbread from now on...> TS has this really big knife that her daddy gave her.  and....  well....  you know????? <GGG>


Parsifal : lol


Clay : :)


M & R : The body in the museum is extremely impressive.  Very moving. Bit flat though <G>


Searles: The photos were impressive to me as well....though I would love to see a virtual representation of him.  He is the original boneless wonder as his body currently exists....the peat bog dissolved his bones.


M & R : There is a hologram which they exhibit when the body's not there(sorry!)_


An Cli'un: Night, All! Thanks, but I have to go! ,


Searles: Sla'n abhaile, An Cli'un


Searles: night AC Sweet Dreams and Safe Journeys


Clay : B.B. An Cli'un,,, Have a great one!


DoveHawk : B*B An Cliu'n!


M & R : BB AC!


Parsifal : good night, B*B!


Searles: So there we have it......Druids to holograms....what will they think of next?


An Cli'un: 'Night, and sla'n, all!


DoveHawk : good night!


Searles: What's the verdict? Do the Europeans vote for having another Celtic Workshop on a Sunday afternoon/evening?


DoveHawk : YES !


Clay : If you find the brown stain of rusting chain mail on your t-shirt....


Parsifal : Only makes sense - cyberspace ritual, now Druid holograms <g>! Yes (vote from the Euro-block)


Clay : well you better oil the mail


M & R : You have our vote - you give great workshop! A good extension of Ross & Robins!


Searles: Thank you all!<GGG> Warms my Celtic soul....if any of you care to come to Florida.... 


M & R : Thank YOU for making the effort for Euro time - much appreciated. 


Searles: remember the door here is always open...as the sign says....  "Ce'ad Mi'le Fa'ilte"/ "100,000 Welcomes"


Parsifal : Yes - a big danke sch n aus Deutschland for your time Searles!


Janis : Does that go for frozen Ohioans?


Searles: TS tells me that is Ce'ud Mi'le Fa'ilte (Scots Gaelic:() My sign got removed.


Searles: sure thing Janis.  come on down and bring the babies with you <GGG>


Searles: Sure come on down folks....might have to kick Osiris off the couch...he's snoring away in there!<G>


Clay : great workshop! Thanks


Searles: OD...  your sign got a bit tattered during the painting o' the door dear.


M & R : So when are you coming this side of the pond to visit some of these sites??


Searles: May if we're lucky!!! <G>


Searles: We weill be there in May...comes a Bealtaine.


Searles: possibly late April


Searles: At least we will be at Brugh na Bo'inne then.


DoveHawk : Thanks for the Euro workshop OD, you're very welcome to come this side too .


Searles: (You'd think the two of us were not in the same room!<G>)


M & R : Hey, let us know if you're over this way (i.e.  London - ish!)


Searles: OD! pfft pfft pfft P',',',',


Janis : Speaking of sites, M&R, have you seen a site on any maps in N.  Eng.  with the name "Comstock"--


Searles: DoveHawk....My pleasure entirely....and for the more adventurous among you


Janis : supposed to have had old standing stone, ruined abbey


Searles: we will do another workshop tommorrow night.


Clay : did I hear a Bill the Cat impression..?


Searles: ACCKKK!


M & R : Janis, doesn't mean anything off the top of our heads, will look it up and get back to you!


Parsifal : There's several sites near me (SW Germany), don't know if anyone uses them anymore


M & R : OK, gotta go, thanks again everyone and goodnight!


Janis : g'night, B*B


Parsifal : bye M&R, B*B


Searles: Goodnight to my favorite animals!


Clay  : Oh no, we degenerated.Great night M&R


DoveHawk : bye M&R B*B !


Searles: Beannacht libh a M&R!


Clay  : b.b. 


M&R B.B.


Parsifal : gute nacht, alle! Have a great coming week! B*B


Searles: Go Mbeannai Dia anseo! "Goddess bless everyone"


DoveHawk : Boa noite Parsifal, B*B


Searles: Until tommorrow night


DoveHawk : Good night everyone, got to go too, B*B !

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