Understanding The Ways of The Ancestors
By Ellen Evert Hopman


An interesting way to begin to understand the tribal ethics and values of the ancient Celts is to take a story such as Nuada of the Silver Hand and to dissect it paragraph by paragraph. Hidden within the narrative one can find implied moral codes and beliefs which may not be obtainable by any other method of inquiry.

The Order Of The White Oak is a Celtic study group devoted to this kind of research. We are an eclectic group of Keltrians, ADF and OBOD members who are taking the first steps to creating a code of ethics that Druids everywhere can live with. I believe that this kind of activity is a natural for any grove or Druid order, seeking to understand the ways of the ancestors. Here is what we uncovered by examining the story of Nuada;

No maimed person can/should lead. We interpreted this to mean any person maimed in body, mind or spirit, not just the physical wound.

That a good leader will abdicate if his or her rule ever becomes displeasing to those who elected him or her.

That excessive taxation is bad.

That a uniform tax of 1 ounce of gold for every member of the tribe is unfair as it penalizes the poor.

That one should not enter into a contract in bad faith.

That changing the ground rules by playing on people's assumptions and then taking advantage of them is abhorrent.

Avarice and tyranny are not to be tolerated.

Be sure you understand a contract before you enter into it.

Following the letter of the law leads to absurdity.

Hospitality is required, and especially of kings.

A guest must be entertained to their own pleasure.

The people should not be deprived of food.

The people should not be deprived of warmth.

Medical transplants using animal parts are a mixed blessing. Going against nature might seem to work but beware of nasty surprises.

Jealousy can kill.

Medical arrogance is folly.

Poets are to be treated with honor and well fed.

Beware the poet's satire - it can cause a blemish (again, mentally, physically, or spiritually).

The needy must be sheltered.

The arts must be supported.

You get what you give. What goes around comes around.

Fomorians, or people who live under the ocean, have no manners.

Be a master of art and you will be admitted to the highest social circles.

Be a master of many arts and you will be regarded a God.

A master musician must know three kinds of music, sleeping music, crying music, and laughing music.

Confidence and self assurance is a virtue.

Satire takes away honor and credibility.

Everyone needs to work together, each drawing on their special talent.

There are three approaches to successful warfare - satire and propaganda, brute force and physical destruction, cutting people off from their water supply.

Victory consists in bringing your enemy to justice, even if they are trying to escape or evade it.

The truth is a fire that burns the evil and illuminates the just.

Even if we are wounded we must continue to take care of our own.

Bravery will be fostered if everyone knows they will be taken care of.

Our laws/guidelines must be so solid that we never waiver.

Our focus must be clear and right on target.


Ellen Evert Hopman
Email: mailto:Saille333@mindspring.com
Snailmail: PO Box 219, Amherst, MA 01004 U.S.A.

This webpage is copyright © 1999 c.e., Ellen Evert Hopman
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