The ancient Celts were using psychedelic drugs – some of them so powerful they would kill us right away. These tough people were searching violent and intense effects on their mind.
To reach this goal, they were ready to take the greatest risks. Besides, what risks did they take, except that of dying poisoned or become crazy ? As everyone knows, the Gauls were afraid of only one thing: that the sky is falling on their heads.
What risk for the warrior except his life or death ? (Carlos Castaneda)
This fear was far from stupid, for the fact happened several times – meteorite or other cataclysms of which druids had carefully saved the memory. Thus the Gauls did not fear death. Or suffering. At the initiation of the young warrior, took place the presentation of the sword. During a ceremony held under a long barrow, the druid felt valor taillaidant the young man in his chest with a large sword. Precisely the sword the druid would give him. “You did feel in your flesh the bite of the sword. Now that you know the pain it can inflict, may you use it without weakening or shuddering, or taking any pleasure.”
Then the wounds were covered with salt so that the scars are very ugly. For the same reason, the wounds’ banks were sewed wide open.
And when at last came the hour of battle, the Gauls fought naked, displaying their appalling injuries and their total contempt for death. Under their helmets and armors, Roman legionaries did not lead off. It was exactly the goal.
This anecdote illustrates the image that the following centuries have drawn of the Gauls and Celts – cantankerous, feisty, brave to rashness, with their everlasting quality at peace and war : panache. But let us reduce this superficial portrait of the Gauls. This proud people did not draw his courage in any magic potion that guarantees invincibility, like Asterix and Obelix make us believe.
Their bravery originates in total disregard of death. Their former masters, the Tuatha, Ligurian and Etruscan, taught them the ultimate wisdom that gives enlightenment. The quest of the Gauls was not in this world.
Like their ancient model the Atlanteans, they knew that this world is but an illusion, that time is a vision of our shortsighted mind, that this living on earth will continue in the other world and that the only values important to cultivate are those of the heart and soul.
The Celts wove the finest fabrics and chiselled the most beautiful jewelry. Their reputation for refinement and culture was well established among neighboring peoples. While European elegant ladies ruined for frills made in Gaul, their husbands flocked to study in the Druidic universities that broadcast an oral outdoor education among the megaliths. However, the Celts were not fashion victims. Their ultimate goal was of another order – not a material one. They were in search of powers given by enlightenment. In their universities, initiations by fire from heaven were common.
Every full moon, many ceremonies gathered a huge crowd of insiders and onlookers. To achieve ecstasy and visions, all means were good. Drugs and potions were commonplace : the most famous is probably the mead, that is called chouchenhydromel in Britanny.
Before becoming the disgusting tourist trap that we know now, the Breton mead was a psychedelic and hallucinogenic drink made with a very original recipe. At full moon, a big jar of apple or wheat alcohol was installed under a wild hive – buzzing with bees. Cutting the root of the hive, the Druid makes it fall in alcohol and at once the jar was hermetically sealed with wax. For at least one moon, the hive was marinating in strong alcohol. The hive with its honey, its bees and their venom.
We can imagine that this marinade sipping sent into the air – in the proper sense of the word – our ancestors the Gauls.
Please note that the use of this magic potion was highly regulated and ritualized. Drunkenness was always devoted to an inner quest. Except in this oxydantalThis misspelling is volunteer globalization called progress, drugs have always been a spiritual vehicle, supported by druids, monks or shamans, and dedicated to enlightenment.
Or at least, to a vision quest, as is still the case with ayahuasca. I was told that our youngsters discover with delight the practice of sacred trance in Goa parties. Some musicians have indeed the shamanic gift of mastering trance. Since the Sufi Mevlana, whirling dervishes are practicing this musical trance, with or without dance. This is the ultimate culmination of spiritual techniques, well above the silent and motionless meditation.