Druidry and Prehistory

Having been poking about learning what I can about prehistory, I think this is a really good topic to put on your ‘Druid syllabus’. Not just for what we can learn directly about our ancestors.

There is more of human history in prehistory. Modern humans are perhaps 200,000 to 300,000 years old. These were not the first humans. We only have a few thousand years with written records. This distorts our sense of time, I think. 

Looking at prehistory has a lot to teach us about what it means to be human. What is culture? What is civilization? What is art? What physical evidence do we take as signs of different kinds of activity? Just asking these questions tells us a lot about ourselves, and about humanity.

One find can change the entire story. This is inherently exciting. It teaches us not to be dogmatic, to remain open and flexible and ready to change our minds in face of new information. These are good life skills to have.

Modern culture is materialistic and has a high impact. Seeing how little remains from early humans makes for a powerful contrast. Can we imagine complex societies that aren’t so materially oriented? We’ve tended to assume ancient humans were inferior because of their technology, what if we instead learned to see their strengths and capabilities?  Colonialist thinking likens non-material modern societies to ‘primitive’ ancient humans, but we are wrong about that in so many ways. Studying the past can help us learn about this without having to interfere in the lives of living people.

When we imagine the Stone Age as being a bunch of people barely wrapped in animals skins, mostly saying ‘ugg’ and full of superstition and irrational beliefs about how the world works, we do our ancestors a great disservice. Modern humans of the Stone Age had the same brain capacity we do. The evidence is that our ancestors were all far more complex, sophisticated and capable than we’ve habitually depicted them. We might have a better, healthier perspective on our own state if we did not imagine ourselves to be superior. 

Contemporary humans are not the pinnacle of achievement in a progress narrative. We’re the irrational ones. We are the ones whose behaviour is driven by ignorance and irrational belief.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Druidry and Prehistory

  • julietallbird

    I found the writing of Marija Gimbutas inspiring back when I was an art student. Heres a youtube vid – I haven’t watched it yet but its on my list! Also reading some of Robert MacFarlane’s writings recently has inspired me to follow up info on Dogger Culture, Formby Sands footprints and the Neolithic trackways in Somerset. 😊

  • julietallbird

    Might help if I add the link 🤣

  • locksley2010

    Yes, yes and YES! 🙏🏻

  • poetthatlikesvellum

    One thing I found so valuable as a TA of history classes was how shortsighted that modern thinking is. It was unfortunate to learn how so many cling to the notion of prehistory that women were not a fundamental part of the hunt, and that the hunt was an exclusively male activity, when new discoveries are challenging that very notion that all of us should fundamentally know, they weren’t just sitting in a cave managing the family like Beaver Cleaver’s mom. Also, how weak to think that men on their own brought those animals back to the cave; most these animals they hunted were huge! It would have had to be a family project. The myths and shadow stories they tell on walls are so inspiring. How unfortunate our patriarchal notions of the civilized world are.

    Materialism: ugh! Nature is a great mentor in simplicity, live with only what you need. Life is transatory, gather only what you need in this one, and maybe do that with the Rede in mind.

    Tangential Thought: I no longer social media; there was a northern group I was following that didn’t believe in heaths and heathers, and were so devout the fundamentalism most certainly is doing damage to the environment they won’t acknowledge.

    Some Victorian minded ill-conceived twisted Darwinism is definitely the bane of this existence! The more that modern man clings to this notion of “competitive” the more long term damage we do to ourselves amidst a biodiversity crisis, and extreme climate change. Agreed, modern humanity is much weaker by comparison in this regard. We would do far better leaving “supermen” theories behind. I mean deep in the woods the trees talk to us, even the ones in the cities, and their lonesome, sad narratives sadden at least this descendent of Daphne.

    Thank you, for inspiration, and truths, wisdom, in these state of affairs.

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