The Celts were a flourishing and dynamic race, who made their way from Northern India to spread throughout Europe. Healthy living was a duty for the Celts; their druids not only had a mystical role but were also charged with the physical, mental and spiritual health of the people. Their lives were structured around a series of festivals and ceremonials throughout the year. They practiced plant medicine, sacred movement and meditation, and lived with a veneration and respect for their environment. During this class, we will re-discover the roots of traditional healing, mythologies and doctrine of signatures, explore the time-honoured medicine used by the Celts – for mind, body and spirit, impossible to differentiate when we talk about whole health.
From ancient times, the druidic healers were famous for their skill in the treatment of disease, and the teachers of the healing arts were held high in the rankings of the Druid orders. They were allowed a distinguished place at the royal table and were entitled to wear special robes. They were usually attended by a large staff of pupils who assisted the master healer in diagnosis and preparation of medicines.
Although their skill and proficiency at healing was primarily due to their deep nature of the healing properties of herbs, they were also practitioners of magic to great effect – knowing well the effects that charms, incantations and fairy cures have on the minds of the patient. Consequently, their treatment of disease was of a medico-religious character, in which various magic ceremonials helped the curative process.
The wild plants of Ireland have been intertwined with our culture and folklore since the earliest times. It is only natural that a largely rural society should be familiar with its native flora, and a wealth of stories should evolve around them. In herbal medicine, it was believed by the ancients that there were 365 parts of the body and a different plant existed to help each one. From earliest times, most farms had a ‘lubgort’ or enclosed herb and vegetable garden. Herb gardens later became associated with the monasteries, notably St Brigid of Kildare (see below). The produce of these gardens were grown to promote healing; as well as medicinal herbs, nourishing vegetables such as onions an celery were often mentioned in the early texts