THE DRUIDS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE
In this essay, which is an extended version of Bernard Rio’s talk at FIND’s Forum « Transcultural Encounters 2019 », the author presents the world of the Druids from a historical and symbolic perspective, inquiring mainly into their relationship with Nature. From etymological speculations on the word « druid » to reflections on the organisation of society, as well as on the philosophical and religious conception of ancient Celtic culture, the essay deals with the complex issue of how the Druids managed to reach a highly elaborate cultural development without losing their bond with the sacrality of Nature.
Druidism had officially disappeared for over a thousand years when those then called “antiquarians” started taking an interest in the ancient Druids. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, in France and in Great Britain, Druids became fashionable. In 1532, Jean Le Fève published Les Fleurs en Antiquitez des Gaules, où il est traité des anciens Philosophes Gaulois appelez Druides.
On the other side of the Channel, in 1680 John Aubrey identified as Druidic temples the megalithic monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge. John Toland launched his History of the Celtic Religion and Learning Containing an Account of the Druids, interrupted by his death in 1722. In 1750, William Stukeley published The Philosophy of Earthquakes, Natural and Religious, Or, An Inquiry Into their Cause and their Purpose, London, C. Corbet, 1750. Then Henry Hurle set up “The Ancient Order of Druids” in 1781. In Wales, Edward Williams honourably reinstated Druidic ceremonies in 1792. In France, in 1729 Jacques Martin published Religion des Gaulois tirée des plus pures sources de l’antiquité, Paris chez Saugrain fils, 1729. He was followed on this path in Brittany by Jacques Cambry who associates Druidism and megalithic monuments in his Monuments celtiques ou Recherches sur le culte des pierres, Paris, chez Mad. Johanneau Libraire, 1805.
Today, numerous associations align themselves with the neo-Druidism dreamt up in the eighteenth century by certain scholars. They celebrate Nature with festivals on the summer and winter solstices, as well as on the dates of the ancient Celtic festal calendar: May 1st, August 1st, November 1st and February 1st. Their connexion with the Druids of antiquity remains improbable. The lack of any initiation handed down from the ancient sacerdotal class of the Druids does not exclude the survival of pagan traditions in beliefs and practices in Brittany, Ireland and Great Britain.
The conversion of Ireland to Christianity by St Patrick at the end of the fifth century heralded the end of Druidism, mention of which persists in the annals up to the seventh century. The subject of this paper thus excludes neo-Druids and deals exclusively with ancient Druids through written sources, folklore, archaeology, as well as through Celtic Christianity.
Temples in Nature
The number and distribution of the sanctuaries over the landscape of western Europe confirms an original territorial organisation corroborated by toponyms. Celtic sanctuaries were located on islands, estuaries, summits, plateaux, in forests, at the sources and windings of rivers, as meeting points in the landscape, places where sky, earth and water met. Such sites were not natural fortresses, but places apart, located on the border or outside farmed areas. These locations were less utilitarian than sacred. They determined relations with the world. By separating cult from habitat, Celtic society distinguished the sacred from the profane.
Before their classification by archaeologists, the distinction between the different types of Celtic sanctuaries is already found at Rome where, under the reign of Marcus Aurelius (121-180), delubrum, fanum, templum are mentioned, rather like the esplanade, chapel and church. Nowadays, archaeologists distinguish two main types of Celtic sanctuary: the Viereckschanzen for the domain of the living and the fana or sanctuaries for votive offerings. Despite the uncertain destination of the sanctuaries, and their space-time division, it appears that fanum and templum, the small and large temple, had the same structure. The distinction seems to be merely one of scale. The centred architecture of the sanctuary provided a constant balance between the cella in the middle and its equidistant outer gallery, thus reproducing the central form over a surface area twice as large.
Neither did the ancient sanctuary need a monumental architectural structure. It could be delimited by the curve of a river, a natural height, a simple line traced on the ground by a priest taking into due account the rising and setting of the sun at the solstices and equinoxes.
Orientation distinguished Celtic sanctuaries from Graeco-Roman temples which faced west, as described by the architect Vitruvius in the first century BCE. Celtic temples, as a rule, faced east. Foundation consisted of separating the sacred area from the profane world by demarcation. The magic border separating it from the profane environment was then established by a ditch, a rampart, or a fence. However, the rampart located on the outside of the ditch was not a defensive work, but rather used for cultic purposes. Subsequent works served to delimit the space rather than to defend it.
The planting of an artificial forest around the sanctuary is borne out at Ribemont-sur-Ancre (Somme). The enclosing ditch actually contained pine pollen, whereas the sanctuary had been built on a non-wooded site in the third century BCE. Analysis has shown that, for two hundred years, the sanctuary was surrounded by a hedge of transplanted trees, up to its final abandonment during the Gallic wars. This fence of wooden poles or artificial forest transformed the sanctuary into a hermetic enclosure.
In the work which, in 1075, he dedicated to the Christianisation of Europe, the mediaeval chronicler and geographer Adam de Brême1 underlines on the one hand the woodland nature of sacred places among the Celts, and on the other, their sacrificial destination. These sacred woods were equivalent to the temenos of ancient Greece. The fana of the Celtic world may thus have resembled groves that were part of the cultic monument.
A parallel may be made between descriptions of the ancient Celts and those of mediaeval gests and Christian exegesis. Chrétien de Troyes (1130-1180) mentions an orchard in the romance Erec et Énide. “Around this orchard there rose neither wall nor fence. By magic was it closed on all sides by a wall of impassable air. None could enter but by flying over this wall. By winter or summer, it produced flowers and ripe fruit. But the fruit could only be eaten in the orchard. It could not be taken away owing to a mysterious force forbidding anyone who had entered to approach the door and leave so long as he had not put the fruit back in its place. There sang everywhere in this garden all the birds that fly in the sky, all birds with the most beautiful songs”2.
In the Welsh Mabinogi of Geraint, the hero also ventures into an orchard whose “hedge rose as far as the eye could see in the air”3.
About sixty toponyms relative to mediolanum – which can be translated as “centre of perfection” – have been listed on the continent. Their locations reveal the geographic isolation of these ancient sanctuaries. Rather than isolation, however, it was a distancing or geographical demarcation of the territory, since Celtic sanctuaries were often located on the borders of the pagus.
The locus consecratus of the Gauls mentioned by Caesar in his Guerre des Gaules (The Gallic Wars), De bello gallico, also shares this meaning. “At a certain period of the year4, they [the Druids] hold their conference in a consecrated place, in the country of the Carnutes, which is believed to be the centre of all Gaul”5. This period may correspond to the feast of Samhain (November), which marks the beginning of the year in the Celtic calendar.
Its location in Carnute country (Chartres) seems surprising, since the centre of Gaul falls within the jurisdiction of the Bituriges, whose Gallic name means Kings of the World6. The Bituriges, whence the toponyms of Bourges and Berry, must therefore have possessed such a spiritual centre. Rather than Chartres, the locus consecratus should be located at Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire, on the northern border of Biturige territory 7. This locus consecratus reproduced in Gaul a central sanctuary after the model of Tara, in the fifth province of Ireland. The central sanctuary transcends and embodies the territorial and religious oneness of the Gauls. It represented the middle, the centre that englobes all, and is a matter of sacred geography, not a geographical centre.
The Celtic sanctuary was a meeting place for several tribes. This cultic network appears to match the map of mediaeval Christianity in western Europe, and could explain the innumerable sanctuaries and places of pilgrimage in France, as also the arrangement of parishes in western Brittany, comprising a central church, a web of outlying chapels and inter-parish places of pilgrimage… This mediaeval religious network would go back to the Iron Age, when the Gallic tribes established a cultic polycentrism over the whole country.
Moreover, the study of toponyms makes it possible to identify the original features of the country by determining the function of the sites. Thus, we may infer the notion of the nemeton, a sanctuary sometimes described as a circular space in the middle of a wood. In designating a sacred place as a nemeton, the Celts were not necessarily indicating the existence of a building, even if Venantius Fortunatus translates nemeton as temple, fanum ingens 8, just as Strabo indicates that the Galatians held council in a drunemeton… a sacred oak-wood 9.
While the cartulary of Quimperlé refers to, for the year 1031, a Silva quae vocatur Nemet, a mediaeval commentary also mentions De sacris silvarum quas nimidas vocant: “About the Sacred Places in the Forest called Nimidas” 10. Originally, the nemeton may have been a wood before becoming the “park” of a temple, and later the temple itself.
The term given by Strabo to the Galatian sanctuary thus confirms the vegetal aspect of the sacred place, just like the Tasinemeton, sanctuary of the yew (from the Latin taxus) reported in Carinthia in the Peutinger table.
The Druid and the Sacred Tree
Historians systematically refer to a text by Pliny the Elder – author of the monumental Natural History – in dealing with the Druids of antiquity11.
According to Pliny, the word Druid comes from the Greek drus. In the Gallic language, deruos, oak, is derived from dereu wood, dendron tree, drus oak, drumos forest. The analogy with dru, “faithful” in Gallic, is clear. Indeed, in Celtic tongues the names of science and timber are homonymous: vidu, fid in Irish, gwyd in Welsh, gwez in Breton.
Vidia, “knowledge” in Gallic, is part of the compound dru-vidia, literally “true knowledge”, from which the word “Druidism” derives. The English language has also preserved the double meaning linking knowledge and Nature, notably in “tree”, “true” (faithful), and “truth”. Now the Druids, “those who know”, are like the trees of the pontiffs, which bind the visible and invisible, what is beneath with what is above. The Breton language also maintains this symbolism, thus kelenn, holly, means “lesson” and kellenner “teacher”, whereas in Irish Gaelic dos, literally “bush”, is used to designate a fili, meaning a bard of the fifth rank.
Inseparable from his forest matrix, the Druid lived and practised his priesthood under cover. In the nineteenth century, the Breton François-Marie Luzel noted a formula that he only partly understood, taken out of its historical context12. The expression “Escop Drew” (the oak bishop) could only be explained by the place assigned to this tree in the Celtic religion, the venerable oak being royal owing to its size, its longevity and its profusion, as illustrated by a line of the Irish tale “The Tragedy of the Children of Tuireann”: “I praise you like the oak above the kings”, meaning “as the oak is the king of the trees of the forest”13).
Today, numerous associations align themselves with the neo-Druidism dreamt up in the eighteenth century by certain scholars. They celebrate Nature with festivals on the summer and winter solstices, as well as on the dates of the ancient Celtic festal calendar.
The First Written References to Druids
The first mention of Druids dates from the end of the third century BCE, in a treatise by Sotion of Alexandria (The Successions). It is to this question that Diodorus Siculus refers when he says, “There are philosophers and theologians, most highly esteemed, who are called Druids”14.
Similarly, Diogenes Laertius followed Sotion, in writing “Some affirm that the study of philosophy began amongst the barbarians. The Mages practised it among the Persians, the Chaldeans among the Babylonians or the Assyrians, the Gymnosophists among the inhabitants of India, as also – among the Celts and the Gauls – those called Druids and Semnotheans” 15.
In antiquity, commentators were divided into two camps: those who do not conceal their sympathy for the Druids, and in particular the Greek philosopher Posidonios who was the first to travel along the Atlantic coasts; and those who were hostile to them for political reasons, particularly Caesar, who took his inspiration from Posidonios, but whose commentaries on the Gallic Wars provide testimony against them.
Druids, Bards and Vates
According to the ancient authors, Celtic society was divided into three categories: the priestly class, the warrior class and civil society composed of farmers, livestock farmers and artisans. The priestly class was also tripartite, with Druids, Vates and Bards. Besides religion and philosophy, the Druids taught and exercised judicial functions, the Vates were diviners and sacrificers, while the Bards were poets and satirists.
According to Strabo, “Generally speaking, among them there are three castes to whom extraordinary honours are paid: the Bards, the Vates and the Druids. Their Bards are cantors of hymns and poets; the Vates are sacrificers and interpret nature; the Druids, over and above the science of nature, teach ethical philosophy. They are considered as the most just of men and, for this reason, the judgement of private and public disputes is entrusted to their hands, so that they arbitrate wars and separate those on the point of battle; they are also entrusted with judging murder cases. When such judgements abound, they deem it a sign of abundance for the country. These Druids and others like them believe that souls are imperishable, and the world also, but that one day however only fire and water will reign”16.
This classification established in Gaul by Strabo and Diodorus Siculus is corroborated by mediaeval Irish literature, in particular in the mythological tale Cath Maighe Tuireadh 17. The organisation and hierarchy of the priestly class were identical throughout the Celtic world, both continental and insular. To the Gallic Druid, Bard and Vate correspond the derwydd, bardd and gwad in Wales; the drui, file and faith in Ireland, as also their female counterparts: bandrui, banfile or banfaith.
Teachings and Philosophy
A parallel between the doctrine of Pythagoras and Druidism has been established by various authors, some considering that the Druids had influenced Pythagoras and others the opposite.
The existence of a strongly hierarchical and structured priestly class among the Celts was undeniable in the fourth century BCE. There is, however, no proof of its existence in the sixth century BCE, just as no works of Pythagoras have come down to us, their existence being known solely through later writers.
Rather than engage in controversies as to which came first, it is best to emphasise their relatedness. The texts describe the Druids as philosophers and theologians, who shared with Pythagoras the same vision of the world and of teaching: the immortality of the soul, a life devoted to the search for knowledge, teaching (astronomy, physics, mathematics) that was strictly oral, and obscure for the profane: “In their conversation, their speech is brief, enigmatic, proceeding by allusions and hints, often hyperbolic”, states Diodorus Siculus18 , corroborated by Diogenes Laertius: “The gymnosophists and druids make their predictions using enigmas and obscure phrases, teaching the need to worship the gods and maintain a manly attitude”19.
Julius Caesar relates, “They are of the opinion that religion forbids it [the teaching] to be entrusted to writing, as can be done with all the rest, public and private accounts for which they utilise the Greek alphabet”20. Pomponius Mela repeats Caesar’s assertions21. He describes the “nobilissimos gentis”, meaning the élite, the druids and their pupils.
In ancient Celtic society, there was no reason to facilitate the learning processes of reading and writing, meaning the apprehension and comprehension of the world, hence of knowledge, for those who were not intellectually and/or spiritually worthy. There was no refusal, but an impossibility of transmission.
The oghams, which constituted the Celtic alphabet, were only used by Druids for cultural purposes. Diffusion, communication and popularisation were concepts alien to the Druids. Writing conceived as a means of transmission could only concern the profane. When the Druids passed from speech to writing, they embodied a magical function and conferred on their texts a sacred dimension. The writing of the ancient Celts cannot be understood as a vehicle, but as a fundamental act. At the same time, reading the ogham cuts was sufficiently complex. It marked a cultic approach and a metaphysical doctrine. The oghams were not meant to last through the centuries. Most of them were traced on vegetal matter or on the ground. It is significant that the primacy of speech over writing – even going as far as forbidding the writing down of secret teachings – lasted up to the Christianisation of Celtic society.
A Sylvan Archetype: Merlin
The figure of Merlin can be understood as an archetypal Druid. Since the twelfth century we have many versions of the figure of Merlin. Robert de Boron, Thomas Malory, Gautier Map, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Gaston Paris, Chrétien de Troyes, Robert Wace, have all given him the guise of the enchanter and the magician.
Composed by different authors, at different times and in different kingdoms, the “Roman de Merlin” merges inextricably with the story of the Graal and the Arthurian poems. He is consequently identified with the forest of Brocéliande (Estoire de Merlin), the forest of Calydon (Vita Merlini), the forest of Darnantes (Lancelot-Graal) and is, turn by turn, Breton, North-Cambrian, Scottish, Welsh, Armorican: Merlin’s identity is not a matter of geography or history. Of the Armorican Merlin, the Welsh Myrddin, the Irish Suibhne or the Scottish Lailoken, which was the earliest chronologically? Indeed, an archetypal figure is a model whose symbolism lies beyond the scope of any particular time.
From his very conception, the figure we commonly call Merlin belongs to the wild. The Estoire de Merlin, the sequel of the Conte du Graal by Chrétien de Troyes, explicitly mentions his birth in a wood22.
Even though he intervenes at the Court as King Arthur’s counsellor, this demiurge comes from the forest, not from the city. Born of a virgin and a demonic incubus, Merlin is endowed with prophetic powers. He knows what is going to happen before his contemporaries. And because the seer knows, the magician acts to influence the course of time. His clairvoyance and foresight are accompanied by powers over the elements: he raises the rocks of Ireland, releases a tidal wave, he spreads fog… But such gifts of prophecy and tricks of magic, related to the powers of the old Druids, are merely the external manifestations of knowledge. Just like the Druid speaking before the king in ancient Irish society, Merlin ranks above the king, beyond the kingdom. This is why he regularly escapes to meditate in the woods.
Day29. The ceremony of Gwezenn an anaon “tree of souls” takes place in the graveyard of the chapel. Members of the breuriez (chapel brotherhood) together with some outsiders gather to auction a small yew-tree with its bark stripped, on which red apples are hung. The purchaser of the previous year prepares the tree, hanging on it as many apples as there are families in the village, and provides the bara an anaon, the “soul buns”.
The tree consists of a bark-stripped yew, ornamented with red apples.… Yew and apple-tree both symbolise the tree of the other world. At All Saints’ tide, at Plougastel-Daoulas a ritual is performed aimed at gathering the living around a tree to share the fruits of the other world, since the apple is the fruit of the Isle of Avalon.
Avalon: the Isle of the Other World
Enez Avallon … The isle of apple-trees is omnipresent in Celtic mythology. Located in the west, there where the sun sets, this paradise is the land of eternal youth.
In the twelfth century, Geoffrey of Monmouth identified the Isle of Avalon as a land of women and an orchard30. In an Irish tale, the Book of Fermoy, the Other World is also located on a wooded island. Seduced by a fairy, King Conn follows her to this wonderful island: “This is how the island was: with many scented fruit-trees, many beautiful wine fountains, and a beautiful shining wood ornamented with hazelnut trees overhanging the fountains, with pleasant golden nuts, and little bees always humming marvellously over the fruits, which let their flowers and leaves fall into the fountains”31.
Planted with fruit-trees, peopled with birds and fairies, this Other World is perceived as a paradise. During his journey sailing “around the world”, St Brendan reached an island where white birds entirely covered a gigantic birch. The tree and the forest, like an axis and centre linking man to the universe, are the privileged places where worlds meet.
The apple-tree, the tree of love and eternal youth, represents the world mind and the oblivion of time. Passion blinds and inebriates and great knowledge is required to evade its traps, to return the lovers and the mad to reason and to their home, since they are too easily led astray on this wonderful isle. The Irishman Condla fall literally under the enchantment of a fairy from the Other World: to dispel the enchantment, the King had recourse to a counter power, that of the Druid32.
The Battle of the Trees
Each letter of the ancient Celtic alphabet (ogham) corresponded to a variety of tree. The Druid wrote and read the wood, like the Irish Druid Cathbad in The Cattle Raid of Cooley33. On the eve of an important encounter, ogham was used to “dictate” the outcome of the battle. When the Irishman Amergin asks: “Who is it that divides the splinters of wood?” he is told: “It is the wise enchanter”34.
A Welsh text best illustrates ogham symbolism: the Kad Goddeu35. This tale mentions 30 distinct varieties of tree, which compose both a song and a sacred wood. Trees, shrubs and flowers symbolise the three functions of society: the sacerdotal, royal and medicinal varieties. Arranged in three concentric circles, these trees could form a triple enclosure.
This botanical description contains a rule and its principles of organisation. At the same time a seasonal calendar and philosophic manual, the battle of the trees illustrates recourse to the forest which conceals the words and secrets of Druidism.
The Battle of the Trees can also be related to Celtic computation, and particularly the Gallic calendar of Coligny (kept at the museum of Lyon) which divides the year into twelve sequences called “prinnioi”, “tree diagram”. Its tabulation provides matches for months, tree varieties and current zodiac signs. This parallel of months and trees leads to another series of matches between tree varieties and the seasons.
The last “historic” mention of Druids goes back to the reign of King Diarmait, by whom the two Druids Frachan and Tuathan were beaten in 561 at Culdreimne, in Ireland, by the magic of St Colomba. Several popular customs in the contemporary Celtic world can only be understood, however, by referring back to the pre-Christian period, like the rite of the apple tree at Plougastel-Daoulas or the troménies (pilgrimages) at Locronan and Landeleau in Brittany. Christianisation, the major event in the Celtic world, did not mean the Latinisation of society and has not erased traces of the ancient religion, of which cults and beliefs survive. In many respects, Irish, Breton and Armorican saints behave like Druids, in both sacrificial and magical practices.
The most significant heritage of Druidism thus consists of three elements that are coherent throughout western Europe: the network of holy places, the calendar of feasts, and rites, which support the theory of a sacred geography and a continuum.
- Adam de Brême, “Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum” IV, 27, modern French translation Françoise Le Roux, “Sur quelques sacrifices et rites sacrificiels celtiques sans effusion de sang”, Ogam 35-36, Rennes. It should be noted that the English translations of quotations here and elsewhere in this essay are of the modern French versions of the Author’s text.
- Chrétien de Troyes, Erec et Enide, (v 1160-1164), modern French translation Jean-Pierre Foucher, Gallimard, Paris, 1970.
- The Mabinogi, Les Mabinogion du Livre rouge de Hergest, modern French translation Joseph Loth Paris, 1913, page 284
- Most probably in the month of November which coincides with the Gaelic festival of Samhain at the end of the harvest season.
- Julius Caesar, Guerre des Gaules (The Gallic Wars), De bello gallico, VI, 13-16, French translation Léopold-Albert Constans, Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1978
- Titus Livy, Histoire romaine (Roman History) 1-V, French translation Annette Flobert, Flammarion, Paris, 1995
- Bernard Rio, Saint Benoit ombilic des Gaules, Ordos 10, 1996, Nantes
- Venantius Fortunatus, Poèmes (Poetry), Carmina, I to XI, French translation Marc Reydellet, collection des universités de France, Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1994-1996
- Strabo, Géographie (Geography), Geographica, XII, 5,1, French translation Germaine Aujac, François Lasserre, Raoul Baladié and Benoit Laudenbach, Les Belles Lettres, 12 volumes, Paris, 1966 and 1989
- Pierre-Yves Lambert, La langue gauloise, éditions Errance, Paris, 1994, page 85
- Pliny the Elder, Histoire naturelle, (Natural History), Naturalis Historia, XVI, XCV, French translation Emile Littré, Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1962.
- François-Marie Luzel, Soniou, chants et chansons populaires de la Basse-Bretagne, 1868-1890, Soniou I, page 107
- Oidhe Chloinne Tuireann, La Mort des enfants de Tuiereann, (The Tragic Death of the Children of Tuiereann), French translation, Christian-Joseph Guyonvarc’h, Ogam-Celticum, tome XVI, Rennes, 1964, page 231
- Diodorus Siculus, Bibliothèque historique, ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗΣ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΚΗΣ, v, 31, 1-5, French translation François Chamoux and Pierre Bertrac, Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1972
- Diogenes Laertius, Vies et doctrines des philosophes illustre, De vitis dogmatis et apophthecmatis, Livre I,1, French translation Marie-Odile Goulet-Cazé, Le Livre de Poche, Paris, 1999.
- Strabo, Géographie (Geography), IV, 4,4 ; Geōgraphiká , Γεωγραφικά Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1966, French translation by Germaine Aujac, François Lasserre, Raoul Baladié and Benoît Laudenbach.
- Cath Maighe Tuireadh, Bataille de Mag Tured, Textes mythologiques irlandais, tome I, French translation Christian-Joseph Guyonvarc’h, Ogam, Rennes, 1980
- Diodoros Siculus, Bibliothèque historique, V, 31, 1-5, ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗΣ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΚΗΣ, French translation A. Jacquemin, Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 2015
- Diogenes Laertius, Vies et doctrines des philosophes illustres, Livre I, 1 Λαερτίου διογένους βίοι καὶ γνῶμαι τῶν ἐν φιλοσοφία εὐδοκιμησάντων καὶ τῶν ἑκάστη αἱρέσει ἀρεσκόντων, French translation Marie-Odile Goulet-Cazé, Le Livre de Poche, Paris, 1999.
- Julius Caesar, La guerre des gaules (The Gallic War), De bello gallico, VI, 13, French translation Léopold-Albert Constans, Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1978
- Pomponius Mela, Chorographie, De chorographia, III, 6, 48, French translation Albert Silberman, Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1988
- Robert de Boron, Roman de Merlin”, French translation Alexandre Micha, Droz, Genève, 1979
- Robert de Boron, Roman de Merlin, French translation Alexandre Micha, Droz, Genève, 1979, page 49
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, Vita Merlini, v 241-244, French translation Edmond Faral, La légende arthurienne, tome III, , Bibliothèque des Hautes études Paris, 1929,
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, Vita Merlini v. 138-144, French translation Edmond Faral, La légende arthurienne, tome III, Bibliothèque des Hautes étdudes, Paris, 1929
- Henri d’Arbois de Jubainville, Etudes sur le droit celtique : le Senchus Môr, Larose libraire Paris, 1881. Senchus Mor, French translation Christian Guyonvarc’h, Magie, médecine et divination chez les Celtes, Payot, Paris, 1997, page 293
- Cath Maighe Tuireadh, Bataille de Mag Tured, Textes mythologiques irlandais, tome I, French translation Christian-Joseph Guyonvarc’h, Ogam, Rennes, 1980
- Bliadhain don chaille, Livre de Lismore (Lives of the saints from the Book of Lismore), Claude Sterckx, Ollodagos VI, Bruxelles, 1994
- Bernard Rio, Voyage dans l’au-delà, les Bretons et la mort, éditions Ouest-France, Rennes, 2013, pages 187-191
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae, French translation Edmond Faral, La légende arthurienne, Bibliothèque des Hautes études, Paris, 1 929, tome 3, page 334-335
- Les Aventures d’Art, fils de Conn, cf. Le Livre de Fermoy, French translation Christian-J. Guyonvarc’h et Françoise Le Roux, Textes mythologiques irlandais, Ogam, Rennes, 1980 , page 193
- Les aventures de Condla le beau, Lebor na hUidre, French translation Christian-J. Guyonvarc’h Les Druides, Ogam, Rennes 1978,
- Tain Bo Cuailnge, La Rafle des Vaches de Cooley, French translation Alain Deniel, L’Harmattan, Paris, 1997, page 204
- Kad Goddeu. Les arbres combattants et la forêt guerrière”, French translation Pierre Le Roux, Ogam IX, Rennes, 1959
- Bernard Rio L’arbre philosophal, éditions L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne, 2001, pp. 139-140.