April 2, 2013

Druids - Behind the Mask

Actually, from what I can tell from illustrations of the time, Myrddin looked more like a monk
In Welsh legends, the epitome of the Druid is Myrddin Wyllt (a contender for the role of Merlin in Arthurian legends), whose prophetic skills were tested with regards to this one boy’s death.  The boy was shown to Myrddin three times, each under a different guise, and each time Myrddin predicted a different death:

1.  Falling from a cliff
2.  Hanging
3.  Drowning

Turns out the boy later on fell from a cliff to land in a tree where he ended up hanging upside down with his head in the water until he died.
Myrddin didn’t just prophesy this boy’s triple death, though.  He also predicted he himself would die from (1) falling, (2) getting stabbed, and then (3) drowning.  Similarly to the boy of the legend, he was chased off a cliff, got impaled on a stake on his way down, then ended up head-first in a lake… where he drowned as well.

So, I don’t know if it was a way to commemorate these types of death but, contrary to my long-held belief that Druids were the embodiment of wisdom, harmonizing the laws of men with those of nature, turns out those blokes also had a keen taste for human sacrifice. 

To please the gods, they would kill their victims three different ways at once.  That means blow to the head, throat slit, and strangulation (in my humble opinion, the last two are kind of redundant), or any combo of three different deaths given at once (drowning or poison were also rather popular).

So yeah, this is mainly a reminder to myself not to romanticize the past—it was just as gruesome as it is now.  Just with a  little variance here and there…

The Lindow Man - a victim of this threefold death (you can see the hole in his head)

Sources:

1 comment:

  1. Funny, I'm reading this really cool book right now (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children), and listen to this passage (or read, rather):

    "Twenty-seven hundred?" I said, glancing at the dead boy's face, his delicate features somehow perfectly preserved. "But he looks so..."
    "That's what happens when you spend your golden years in a place where oxygen and bacteria can't exist, like the underside of our bog. It's a regular fountain of youth down there--provided you're already dead, that is."
    "That's where you found him? The bog?"
    He laughed. "Not me! Turf cutters did, digging for peat by the big stone cairn out there, back in the seventies. He looked so fresh they thought there might be a killer loose on Cairnholm--till the cops had a look at the Stone Age bow in his hand and the noose of human hair round his neck. They don't make 'em like that anymore."
    I shuddered. "Sounds like a human sacrifice or something."
    "Exactly. He was done in by a combination of strangulation, drowning, disembowelment, and a blow to the head. Seems rather like overkill, don't you think?"
    "I guess so."

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