Duncan Helen

magical egg made from the sPITTLE of angry snakes that would ensure success in court and guarantee favors from princes.

The Druids' belief in the immortality of the soul and life after death have been equated with Pythagoras' belief in metempsychosis. The dead were cremated with all their possessions. Sometimes relatives committed suicide by jumping into the fire and holding the corpses so as to be with them in the next world. The Celts wrote letters to the dead and advanced loans that would be repayable after death. Julius Caesar said that this belief in immortality sustained the legendary Celtic courage in battle.

The Romans feared and were repulsed by the Celts, and in 43 C.E., the emperor Claudius banned Druidism throughout the empire. In 60 or 61, the Romans sacked and destroyed their holy stronghold on the island of Mona (also called Mon and Anglesey). According to Tacitus, black-clad Druidesses leaped among the Celtic warriors, howling to the gods and screaming curses at the Romans. The Romans were victorious and killed the warriors and the Druids and laid waste to the sacred groves. The loss sent Druidism into permanent decline; within several generations, the venerated and powerful priesthood was on a par with common sorcerers.

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