The Medieval Druids
No war had been declared upon the Druids, as war is not a very Christian concept, yet Patrick justified his efforts to "drive the snakes out", as he called Druids, and he used all means to trample and to starve the Druids, enforced with Roman military occupation. Later fairy tales, told by Christians and Roman officers, spread salacious (and false) stories about how Patrick had "single-handedly cast out many a Druid" by "vaporizing spells with prayer."
There is no confirmation, and no historical evidence, to suggest that the Druids even attempted to use spells against Patrick. Druids, in their long studies of telepathy, knew that the hardest subject of clairvoyant magic was to focus upon a closed mind, a profile of which Patrick undoubtedly fit, and Druids certainly knew the futility of arguing with an unmoving stone.
It is more likely the Druids attempted to reason with Patrick, at the very least to determine the source of conflict and to attempt a resolution. Patrick did not want a resolution; he wanted annihilation. This may be due in part to the legend that Patrick had been kidnapped into slavery at some point in his life, and supposedly escaped with the help of Divine intervention through dream-messages - something the Druids were supposed to be famous for, but Patrick apparently felt his messages were more reliable.
It is possible, as well, that Patrick somehow blamed the Druids for his capture and enslavement. Not knowing his enemies, he must have picked those who appeared the greatest threat to his belief-system, that which was probably ravaged as a consequence of being enslaved. It is also possible that Patrick was clinically, and functionally, insane.
It has been said that saints and madmen are compatible in their delusions. With the drama and internecine affairs going on in Rome at the time, it would have suited the military, and the clergy, to honor Patrick in order to effectively sanction the extermination of Druids, and quell resistance by the elite of the Learned.
One lunatic is as good as another when all
one needs is a shield to present in the Light acts undertaken under cover of
Treachery was a factor in the ruination of the great Druid culture; there were pagans not united with any clan or any culture, who acted as pirates of magic; disguised as solitaries, they would present themselves to various clans and beseech assistance, and would virtually "move in" with families for a time, would absorb whatever teaching, lore and resources were available, and then would move on to a different culture.
The true Druids who acted as solitary Wizards did not beg the assistance of other clans or cultures, but would give equal exchange of service if their Paths became entwined for a brief while. The Master Druids who chose to wander seldom spent more than three or four days with another clan or tribe, and did not seek to learn, but to teach, and to offer his/their services. These Druids would have had "references" had anyone asked, but the neo-pagans had no references, and when questioned, would demonstrate small spells of the most common (and lowest) form of Magic to prove his/their veracity.
It was the neo-pagans, disguised as Druids, who brought ruination to the entire culture, first by engaging in unholy acts such as sacrificial torture, necromancy, and demonstrations of destructive or violent magic. As Druids were well-respected by many individual tribes of various cultures, all an "outlaw" had to do was to wear a cloak, utter some mumbo-jumbo, and wave his arms and do some weird dance steps, and those not familiar with Druids would believe he was the real article.
Unfortunately, it was the Christians who were most deceived, and the honest ones would naturally have been horrified or disgusted at such acts - but were probably less offended and outraged than the real Druids would have been. Any outlaw who gained power by scaring people would have been marked by the Druids, and his activities curtailed by magic, or by physical restraint.
The vilest "punishment" the outlaw would have suffered would have been to be relentless subjugated to the teachings and attention of the Druids. An outlaw who was considered not "reformable" by Druidic patience and perseverance might find himself in the hands of a Norse clan friendly to Druids, where the outlaw might be given some education in manners, character, and respect.
Druids were not a vengeful people. They did not learn vengefulness until Patrick showed them the way. Even then, the worst thing a Druid could do to punish someone was to abandon or ignore them. The worst epitaph a Druid could summon was, "Fix it by yourself."
The true "snakes" of Ireland were the psuedo-Druids who presented themselves in service to Rome, and offered to sabotage his countrymen and others by selling "secrets" to the Roman Empire. Since the Druids had few secrets, but only a great store of knowledge they willingly shared with anyone with the aptitude, character, and faculty to learn, this "secret" information was rather nebulous in its importance. The outlaws then found it more effective to paint elaborate pictures to describe the Druids as being the most heathen, law-defying, cavorting little demons known on this side of Hell.
Following the destruction of the Druidic
solidarity in Ireland and Britain, it remained for Druids to take drastic
measures to protect themselves and their cultures, as well as their
centuries-old accumulation of Knowledge and Wisdom. Certain clans of Eire, a
region of Ireland, fled the country, and hitched a ride with their Viking
friends and sailed for America, the dolphins leading the way.
Many Druids remained behind; some were killed, most likely those who dared to confront the Roman armies and to plead for mercy and understanding, and were beheaded, unceremoniously, for their efforts. Other Druids took it upon themselves to take to the hills, to hide materials associated with the Druids, and to bury any items that were not strictly "functional" in appearance, so that he could not be accused of insurrection or impiousness.
Other Druids, particularly those inland,
chose to stick it out, and prepared to meet the Roman armies with their own
magic, which tended to be most-closely associated with healing, and so gave
their lives in attempts to set the Souls of the conquerors in motion, hoping
their actions were not too late or futile, which they apparently were, as the
Druids died trying to save the Souls of the Romans who chopped them down where
they stood, or kneeled, begging for peace without weapon or defense.
Most Druids were not trained in self-defense, as they did not believe in violence; nor did they have any reason to expect it at the hands of Man, they thought. What they did know about self-defense was gleaned through survival, such as hitting a bear on the snout to get him out of your way, or throwing a stone at a wolf's hind leg to give the wolf something to think about, were as violent as Druids knew how to be. This "sticks and stones" defense system did not hold up against the Romans' swords and spears.
The Druids, having absolutely no experience with conquest or territorial battle, did not even begin to consider their allies until it was too late. Indeed, the idea of war and conflict was so foreign to the Druids, that they preferred exile from a nation that would demand conquest, even in self-defense, that the Druids chose to abandon the land rather than fight for it.
The Druids that remained did so
voluntarily; they simply could not leave the land they had loved from birth,
many of whom had been raised through the Faith for generations, and knew no
other heritage but that which his proud Druidic parents had instilled in him.
The Druids who remained promised to keep the Faith, and to commit his efforts
and vigilance to the eventual restoration of the Druidic lands, through defeat
of the Roman Empire.
Before the Exile at the hands of Patrick, all Druids were One. They were not separated by magical specialty or knowledge; they were not separated through environmental locale, or distinctions of philosophy regarding the One Life. All Druids who specialized in one area of Lore rather than another might refer to Orders as specialization of scientific or spiritual exploration or experimentation. As Latin is often used to describe various families of butterflies, they might refer to a butterfly family, and the order of its subgenus or classification.
After the dispersal of the Druidic solidarity through! the British regions, solitary Druids would gather, and lacking the unity that child-rearing and socialization had provided, found they had cultural and neighborhood differences, and it became necessary for the Druids to unify categorizations simply for a point of reference. Thus, "Order of the Third Sun" might have something to do with all Druids who specialized in sun magic and consciousness, but was not a political or spiritual distinction. Druids could have established an "Order of the Third Knuckle of the Left Hand", and it would have been as equally meaningful, and meaningless, as Order of the Third Sun, since all Druids were ultimately focused on the One Truth, but labels simply helped lend clarity to distinction and purpose in a chaotic and confused land of isolated Druids.