Why did these early travellers choose Britain to act as their base? What reasons did Joseph of Arimathea have to bring his boat load of friends and family to the shores of this small island. Yes we have already covered the fact that they were invited by Royalty; yes they were promised land there and protection from the Romans, but how and when did these early important links become established? Why were those offers made in the first place?
Firstly Joseph had connections here due to his work, concerning the mining for the Roman Empire. He had made friends, he was well-known. But he also knew that if he got to Gaul, he would be among others who had gone before him, such as St Philip, and that the Druidic faith was supportive and friendly towards them and keen to help. He also had Royal connections as detailed in previous post and had likely heard from them that they would do all they could, offering land and protection to Joseph’s precious cargo of people who had witnessed Jesus’s life and death and now were in desperate need of shelter from persecution themselves.
The Rig-Vedas, the ancient religious books of India were written in 1500 BCE and the Druidic religion predated that of India being from 1800 BCE.
The wise men of India make several references to Britain as a great centre of religious learning. This was also popular knowledge among the Greeks and Romans who heavily populated Judea at the time of Jesus. There is a tradition that Jesus studied in Britain and this could be possible. At the time of Jesus the British Druidic Universities were the largest in the world, both in size and attendance with a listing of sixty large universities and an average attendance of over sixty thousand students. [Gildas, Cottonian MS.; also Morgan, History of Britain, pp 62-65]This is also affirmed by Greek and Roman testimony which states that the noble and wealthy of Rome and other nations sent their children to study law, science and religion in Britain. Before Rome’s attack on the Islands, it had been a well established seat of learning for many generations, taught by the Druids. By 38 A.D., Julius Caesar tells us in his book Gallic Wars, that there were at least forty universities in England and he mentioned that they were reputed to have had an enrollment of sixty thousand pupils from around the world.
A translation from a reading in the ancient Celtic Triads:
The Lord our God is One.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be
ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the
King of Glory shall come in.
Who is the King of Glory? The Lord Yesu;
He is the King of Glory.
There are too many influences on the written documents to get to the true story of how Christianity was practised in Glastonbury in earlier times,” writes Nicholas Mann in his book, The Isle of Avalon. “Yet this much is clear — early British Christianity stood apart from the orthodoxy created around Rome and Constantinople.
“The British Christians drew directly upon the old spiritual practices of the Celtic Druids. They leant heavily towards the Celtic concept of communion with the realms of plants and animals. They tended towards Gnostic beliefs. The British were in the company of those who saw the Bible as providing further allegory and teaching on the ancient and universal truths”.
“The fifth century monk, Pelagius, for example, taught that there was no ‘original sin’. He said the creation was sacred and through the practice of the Hermetic arts [one of which is alchemy] and the advancement of knowledge, each soul could move towards enlightenment”. The Church of Rome condemned this as heresy. After the Synod of Whitby in the mid-seventh century manipulated the British secular rulers to the side of Roman orthodoxy, Celtic Christianity was no more.”
So once again we have the earliest hints of how the earliest fledgling Church of the early days saw itself and what was incorporated into its spirituality and sense of spiritual identity. Women and men practised and held office equally, all creation was seen as one, with humanity a part of it and responsible for its role in respect of nature. Within what is left of Celtic Christianity we can see the earliest church, its beliefs and practises. Earlier posts detail far more of this, but here are a few reminders.
Blessings of all things throughout the day, honour and respect for all life, preaching to animals and birds as well as people because they were all seen as God’s glorious Creation. Sharing of all communal food or wealth for the benefit of all, was commonplace. Contemplation, talking to God directly with no intercessor, a knowing that we are here observing Creation as well as partaking in it and that God sees his creation through us observing. Sun, moon, stars, sea, winds, rain; all were elements of God ever-present in His Creation and as such humanity must honour and respect them as equals too. This may not be a Christianity you recognise, but it is one that many Christians do. It is the full richness of this tradition that enables it ever to grow and expand, to be as at home in the oak groves as it is in the family home.
It is one that welcomes science and does not fear it. It is one that enables each Christian to have their own experience of God without labelling it heretical, for to a conscious Christian the entire Universe is given to them to explore and enjoy. A knowing conscious Christianity is one that limits none, treats all as equal, lets all speak, lets all minster to each other in the way the early Christians did. A knowing conscious alive Christianity does not place rules and dogma above God. And it does not limit and control its adherents by binding them to follow one way of thinking, or even a way of thinking that is not their own. And a Christianity that sees miracles and revelation happening everyday, and saints in each one of us.
Here we have a Celtic Druid’s Egg. You will see its resemblance of the rosary, the prayer rope of Orthodox Christianity and the same symbolism as Magdalene and the Cosmic Egg detailed in earlier post:
Druids were often the philosophers, scientists, lore-masters, teachers, judges and counselors to the kings and leaders of the British Islands and had been for nearly a millennia. Then Nero began his campaign to destroy the Christians of Britain, and the Druids, whose motto “The Truth Against the World” now joined the battle against the great Roman war machine.