Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

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Post by Kernos » 25 Jul 2005, 16:06

Alferian, you are making me late for work again as I just found this. A lot to digest in 30 minutes. As often, I will do some thinking out load.

I do not grok the modern concept of justice (grok meaning having an intuitive understanding of something). It mostly seems like vengeance to me, by which I mean the Semitic concept of an "eye for an eye". So when I consider the supposedly positive concept of Justice, I get uncomfortable feelings in my gut. Probably this has more to do with the American legal system, than with an ideal concept of Justice.

As often, I turn to the ancients and what I have learned from my numismatic studies. Justitia was the Roman goddess from which we get the word and was shown with scales (those that weigh) and a cornucopiae. It is well to remember that all justice in Rome derived from the Emperor (in Imperial Rome) or the Senate (in Republican Rome). IE, Justice derives from Power and all the gremlins which ensue.

The Greek precursor, seemig simpler while being more complex, was Themis, a Titan and daughter of Uranus and Gaia. She built the Oracle of Delphi and was mother of the triplets Horae (the seasons - the Greeks only had 3) and the Moirae, the Fates.

The concept of Themis (and of the Titans as a whole who were all derived from Chaos, if I remember my Hesiod) was bringing order from chaos. In a societal sense, which for me applies to groups of individuals, this occurred through law and custom. An orderly society (in those days this probably meant orderly for those that mattered, rather that for the most) was a successful society and was rewarded by abundance, thus the cornucopiae. Themis, like Justitia, has scales and a cornucopiae, but was blindfolded. The last was more related to the concept of Moira and oracular vision than the modern ideal of blind justice.

The scales are much more difficult a concept for me. In the simplest sense I see them as the judge(s) weighing arguments until a balance is inferred. The Christian concept of bad and good deeds or white and blacks on the soul determining who goes to heaven and who to hell as measured on the scales has no meaning for me. The Greeks would have the Fates and the Olympians manipulating the scales. I am not sure how they relate to me in our current world. Perhaps as an individual it is my explorations and experiences which teach me what behavior or thinking tip the scales one way or another. The neo-Druidic concept of balance and harmony are involved with this idea. As a personal spiritual path, one goal if to bring order (harmony) from the chaos of being human. Does this relate to Justice?

Discussions of the Druid prayer parts was a brilliant idea, Alf. I do not use it so much as an entreaty to Deity, but as a framework for meditation on the Ideals it contains.

BEITH: Can you recommend resources for an overview of the Brehon ideas and teachings?

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Post by Loosh » 31 Jul 2005, 00:10

"The Love of Justice" to me implies freedom from Tyranny.

There are many mono- forms of government, emperors, kings, dictators, totalitarian states, etc. To love justice (from the heart) is to love freedom and realize that others love it too--freedom from tyranny--the love of all existences--even benevolent tyrannts die in the great cycle of life/death. Who takes the leadership next? Then our happiness depends on anothers actions as the Dalai Lama says.

So, it is about balance and power and the clarity of mind to discern the truth (the sword symbolism) without being swayed by tyranny. But the "crowd" itself can be a tyranny--i.e., witch-hunts and lynch mobs. The love of justice must be tempered by clear thinking and balanced action in the light of day. No tyrannies lurking in the shadows to cause fear, harbor political ambition and intrigue, etc.

This freedom from tyranny allows the heart to open to all existences in love without fear. And from that stance make judgements. I think this relates to the middle pillar in the cabbala. And the sephiroth of Tipareth, specifically. Compassion on one side, Justice on the other.

I know this has been sketchy but my feelings run deep on this point. Thanks, Alferian for bringing this up!!!

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Post by Mike » 10 Dec 2005, 14:48

Umm, this (see my remarks on the part one thread) is another reason that I had problems accepting the prayer into my practice. "The knowledge of justice" to me automatically brings up images, not of fairness, but of punishment, of judges in wigs and the ten commandments.

I can see the point that Loosh is making above but that is not how I read the prayer - again, I much prefer the TDN line which goes "Your love of natural law" - that speaks of the Gods and Gaia deciding issues - "justice" speaks of man deciding them, and I would not trust mankind to get anything right!

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Post by Eustacia » 17 Aug 2006, 14:55

Knowledge of justice to me means knowing that actions have consequences and accepting this, of knowing that we each impact the world around us by simply being here and that we must understand and accept this and attempt that influence to be in the best possible way.

The love of justice is to be completely accepting of this, to love it for what it makes us do and say, to love the world around us because we constantly care for it and to love tat which creates this sense of justice within us.  To realise that by embracing justice we embrace the idea that we are responsible for our actions, that we are not controlled by fate at this level but that we choose what to do with our lives and must accpe tnad bear the consequences of that.

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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by MiriamSPia » 01 Nov 2010, 14:36

Does it even make sense to reply to this post due to the timing?

Just wars are a challenge. I believe they do exist but that on a personal or interpersonal level a lot of it just seems either like desperately seeking resources for one's own family or like bad craziness started by someone else. Its worse than women struggling over spousal support, which is pretty serious in actual fact.

I think it is worth noting that the Dalai Lama has observed that the interactive part of happiness actually is interdependent. I have long held that it is, but I have noticed that many times people just look annoyed at anyone who seems to be 'blaming others for their unhappiness' - suffering from having unmet needs, ...people often reply: just get yourself right and it will all work out.

I think doing a write up on the Druid's prayer is a good idea. I heard it live years before I was initiated. I felt it was moving and powerful.

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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by Huathe » 01 Nov 2010, 17:19


The 10 commandments of God was at one time often found in courthouses across the US. Now it is being removed and it seldom seen there anymore. As a Christian Druid, I still look upon it's rules as a reference. Not to belittle anyone here. They are at the foundation of the Christian Justice System and of course was part of the old Mosaic Law.

ONE: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.'

TWO: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'

THREE: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.'

FOUR: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'

FIVE: 'Honor your father and your mother.'

SIX: 'You shall not murder.'

SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.'

EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.'

NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'

TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'

Also there is the fruits of the spirit.

The fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Again, no offense to pagans on the list, The Christian Bible is full of laws and Justice. Some are valid today and some Jesus changed when he walked the earth. I do not understand them all and yes, some seem a bit harsh.


Yes, it is hard to justify war, but I believe it sometimes is necessary, like in WW2 to stop the Nazi regime. They would have invaded both England and the US if they would have not been stopped, bringing gross injustices like the Holocaust with them, just like they did in continental Europe.
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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by Gwernen » 01 Nov 2010, 17:32


Yes, one of the first questions that came to mind about this prayer was, 'was this originally in English or translated from something else?' because 'justice' is a tough word to peg. I definitely see this as karma or orlog at work.

I just keep in mind the first Law of Thermodynamics.

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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by Peter Freeman » 03 Nov 2010, 15:40

Hi! I was scanning through the forums when I saw this. A fascinating discussion to be sure.
The prayer was written by Iolo Morgannwg and he wrote it originally in Welsh. The word for Justice is "Cyfiawnder" Which has a closer meaning to "Fair play" than to the English concept of the word. It may help to understand that Cyfiawnder also means "Righteousness"
If you haven't seen it, this is how the prayer is said at the Welsh Gorsedd, after the heralds call the four directions;
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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by Josette Tottington » 13 May 2011, 12:47

Justice is a tricky one. There are so many aspects or facets to it. On a universal scale I don’t think there is something like justice, there’s just action and reaction – one thing happens and then another thing happens as a consequence of it, but nothing along the lines of good or bad, reward or punishment. The universe just keeps unfolding in its awesome and unfazable way.

Justice seems like a very human concept to me. There’s a rational aspect to it and an emotional one too. As soon as children begin to think beyond their immediate personal needs, they begin to demand justice – when there’s seven pieces of candy and there’s ten children, still the candy has to be divided equally between all the children present! No one is to have more than the other, otherwise there’ll be a riot. (Thinking of it, isn’t that what communism tried to achieve?) In children, it’s like a gut feeling of not wanting to be left out or not be on equal terms rather than a rational thing. And even someone who makes a living by theft will be outraged when someone else steals from him.

Then we get complex societies who make up rules (laws) to ensure peaceful co-existence. The societies of the Celts, the Norse or the early Greeks, for example, didn’t have much social organisation and justice was a matter of negotiation. If one person killed another person, that didn’t automatically make them a criminal, but only someone you wanted to be careful around. If someone got into a tavern brawl and got themselves killed in the process, that was just the risk of living you had to bear with. Only if the victim was still alive and made an accusation, would there be a case. If the victim was dead, the family could make an accusation (or the owner in case of serfs or slaves). Then the ‘catalogs’ came in: how much costs an arm, how much a leg… The idea was to give the injured party recompensation, so that offender/s and victim/s could go on living in the same community afterward. The early societies couldn’t afford prisons. The communities were small, and everyone had to make their own living, or starve. One of the worst punishments in those days was to cast someone out of the community, if they were incorrigible. Often, that was a death sentence. Of course, sometimes vindictiveness got the better of the quarrelling parties, and a blood-feud ensued.

Maybe I’m digressing a bit but I find it interesting to see how the concept of justice and the practice of it changed with the times. In the middle ages, the punishments got just horrible, split ears, cut-off limbs, taring & feathering, burning… torture abounded. Today, I think, there’s a mixture of the wish to punish and the wish for recompensation at work in the judicial system. Some criminals have to do certain hours in community service, for example, or pay a fine, and that way make up for the wrong they did. Others go to prison, or, in some parts, to their death.

Justice is an ideal. We would like to see perfect justice happen, at least in human relationships, but we can only try to get a little bit closer, try to keep aggression and hostility to a minimum. What I see in the druid prayer is a reminder of this - concepts like justice, understanding, or love, are ideals which I try to manifest in this world as much as I am able.

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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by reilz81 » 20 May 2011, 10:48

6 and 7 are about the only ones i havent broken lol when i read this line however i thought of retribution and i thought of an old druid circle to settle a dispute

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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by Squirrel.Boughsong » 03 Feb 2016, 22:55

I made mention in a post on "Druid's Prayer I: Start Here", that in prison, loving justice was more than a hard sell. Justice seem a whim of moral outrage and punishment of the sinful. My friend was sentenced for what was close to 200 years because the system might not have been able to sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 8-) But even the hardest of all inmates pray for Right Justice, something that if it did exist, would allow Lady Justice to remove her blindfold and judge with a keen eye instead of a keen sword. Still, what then is Right Justice? It would be the feel of the whole of the weight in the scales of justice instead of the measure in either of the pans of sin or virtue.

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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by DaRC » 04 Feb 2016, 13:45

I think for me the 'Knowledge of Justice' is more about a personal knowledge than a state avowed application of law.
In this respect a study of the 'Auraicept na n'Eces' would be useful as it covers good kingship and bad kingship from a Celtic perspective. If you then extend this to each person aspiring to be a good king (of themselves) then there is much to learn.

Lady Justice, for me, represents the Classical view of justice which is different and separate to the Celtic view and the Anglo-Saxon common law view.
This is just my POV but there is a historical continuum of a cultural clash between Mediterranean/Classical worldview and the Atlantic/Celtic worldview.
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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by Caorthann » 11 Feb 2016, 11:58

Thankyou Peter Freeman,I've always interpreted it as "fair play" in all things :)

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Re: Druid's Prayer IV: Knowledge of Justice

Post by treegod » 15 Feb 2016, 09:38

My own view of justice is an ecological justice, where all lifeforms are kept "in balance" through ecosystem webstrings. This represents a harmony that is generally lacking in human society, and part of the knowledge of justice is attuning ourselves and our societies to this natural justice.


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