History of magic in France: Druids

The book “Histoire de la magie en France; depuis le commencement de la monarchie jusqu’à nos jours;” (‘History of magic in France; from the beginning of the monarchy until today’) by Jules Garinet (1797-1877), was published in 1818 in Paris by Foulon.

The druids

Tha Gauls had druids, that drove out demons and commanded over the spirits of the air. They spent their life with offerings to the gods, predicting the future and casting protective charms. On the sixth day of the celtic year they cut the sacred mistletoe while chanting “O Ghel an Heu” , ‘may the cereals grow’. In medieaevel times this expression had changed to “Au gui l’an neuf”, ‘to the mistletoe of the new year’. During this ceremony the whole tribe gathered around the oak on which the sacred mistletoe was growing. The freshly cut mistletoe was dipped in water, which was shared amoung the people. The water was considered curative and potent against malicious spells. The druids of Autun thought, that snake eggs are very sanative. Pomponius Mela wrote in the 1st century, that the druidesses on the Île-de-Sein were able to stop or call the storm.

The king is at the end of his tether and consults an old druid, illustration by Gustave Doré (1832-1883) in the tales of Charles Perrault (1628-1703), published in 1867, licence: public domain, source: Gallica

It was custom to bury dead persons with their weapons, animals and slaves, that were supposed to protect the dead against demons. When the tribe was in danger, the Gauls sacrificed humans. They burnt people, that were said to have demonic powers, because the Gauls feared, that the sorcerers of their enemies could use those demonic powers to the advantage of the enemies. It was very difficult for the Romans that had conquered Gaul, to end this custom.

Many altars deep in the forests were dedicated to Toutatis. The area around the altars was sacred. Toutatis was a god of the netherworld and thus the people thought, that the area around the altars was full of ghosts, which could only be appeased by druids. If a Gaul stumbled and fell in such a sacred place, he had to get out immediately, but not on foot. He had to crawl out on his knees.

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