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Title: Path of Druidry
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(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:11 AM)
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRUIDRY

The lineage of the Druid spiritual tradition can be traced across many thousands of years of time.

We see the first evidence of spiritual practice in Europe 25,000 years ago - when candidates for initiation would crawl into caves, such as those at Lascaux in France or Altamira in Spain, which are dramatically painted with figures of wild animals. After being initiated in the belly of Mother Earth, they were reborn into the light of day. Twenty thousand years later, in around 3000 BCE, we can see the same practice of seeking rebirth within the Earth: great mounds were built, in which initiates would sit in darkness awaiting the time of their rebirth. The best example of this is found at New Grange in Ireland, where a shaft is oriented to the Winter Solstice sunrise, so that the dawn rays can bathe the initiate in sunlight after his or her vigil through the night.

Four and a half thousand years later, in the sixteenth century, the key text of Druid spirituality, transcribed from the oral tradition by Christian clerics, talks of the spiritual and magical training of a Druid, in which he is eaten by a Goddess, enters her belly, and is reborn as the greatest poet in the land. So from over twenty thousand years ago to the sixteenth century, we see a common theme - which we find again in the training of Druids and poets in Scotland up until the seventeenth century. There, to awaken their creative genius, they were told to lie in darkness for days, and after this period of sensory deprivation, they were released into the brightness of the world.

This theme of seeking spiritual rebirth and creative expression through undergoing a simulated death-rebirth experience, runs like a golden thread of spiritual practice through the four major periods of history that relate to Celtic and Druid spirituality:

The first is the prehistoric period:in which as the Ice Age retreats from Europe, tribes from many directions, including Spain and the steppes of Russia, move westwards towards Britain and Ireland. A megalith building culture develops, which raises great mounds like New Grange, and great circles of stone, like Stonehenge. This culture possesses considerable knowledge of astronomy, has engineeering skills that we find hard to understand even today, and seems to use Pythagorean mathematics to build their monuments, two thousand years before Pythagoras is born.

This period of pre- and then early Celticism gives way to the period of documented history, in which we can read about the Celts and Druids from the works of classical writers, such as Julius Caesar. We discover that the Celts had developed a highly sophisticated religious system, with three types of Druids: the Bards, who knew the songs and stories of the tribe, the Ovates, who were the healers and seers, and the Druidswho were the philosophers, judges and teachers. During this time there was much cross-fertilisation between Celtic culture and that of Greece and Rome.

With the coming of Christianity, we enter the third period:in which the schools of the Bards became Christian schools, and continued to exist until the seventeenth century; and in which the Ovates probably became the village healers and midwives; while the Druids remained as the intellectual elite, and mostly converted to Christianity. This period lasted for a thousand years: from the triumph of Christianity over all of Europe by the sixth century, to the sixteenth century. During this millennium, Celtic and Druid spirituality was preserved by the Christian clerics who performed the valuable service of recording many of the stories and myths by which the oral teachings of the Druids were conveyed. People who think that Druidry was destroyed with the coming of Christianity fail to understand the resilience of spiritual teachings when they are encoded in myths and stories: and it is thanks to the clerics’ recording of these tales that we can be inspired by them today. St Patrick also recorded all of the old Druid laws in Ireland - providing us with invaluable information on the ethics and social structure of pre-Christian Celtic culture.

The fourth period begins with the sixteenth century, when scholars in Europe ‘rediscovered’ the Druids, and then began to reclaim their Celtic heritage. The Church had taught that we were savages until the arrival of Christianity. But with the translation and printing of the classical texts on the Druids, Europeans discovered that their ancestors were far from being savages. At the same time, reports were coming back from America of Native American people who, like their ancestors, had been untouched by Christianity, and yet were worthy of admiration. This provoked a period known as the Druid Revival in which groups and societies were formed to study Druidry and Celticism. The founding father of the science of archaeology, William Stukeley, formed a Druid society in London and referred to the Princess of Wales as its Patroness. Cultural festivals, incorporating Druid ceremonies, and celebrating Celtic languages, grew up in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. And this period of Revival has never finished. Instead, it has developed into a Renaissance, as more and more people find within Druidry a living spirituality that holds all of Nature sacred, and that offers a path of creativity and freedom, rooted deep in ancient tradition.

A more detailed history of Druidry




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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:12 AM)

 

In the Celtic religion, the modern words Druidry or Druidism denote the practices of the ancient druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic societies through much of Western Europe north of the Alps and in the British Isles. Druidic practices were part of the culture of all the tribal peoples called Keltoi and Galatai by Greeks and Celtae and Galli by Romans, which evolved into modern English "Celtic" and "Gaulish".

Modern attempts at reconstructing practising druidism are called Neo-druidism.

From what little we know of late druidic practice it appears deeply traditional, and conservative in the sense that the druids were conserving repositories of culture and lore. It is impossible now to judge whether this continuity had deep historical roots and originated in the social transformations of late La Tene time, or whether there had been a discontinuity and a druidic religious innovation. The etymological origins of the word druid are varied and doubtful enough that the word may be pre-Indo-European. The most widespread view is that "druid" derives from the Celtic word for an oak tree (doire in Irish Gaelic), a word whose root also meant "wisdom."

From what little we know of late druidic practice it appears deeply traditional, and conservative in the sense that the druids were conserving repositories of culture and lore. It is impossible now to judge whether this continuity had deep historical roots and originated in the social transformations of late La Tene time, or whether there had been a discontinuity and a druidic religious innovation. The etymological origins of the word druid are varied and doubtful enough that the word may be pre-Indo-European. The most widespread view is that "druid" derives from the Celtic word for an oak tree (doire in Irish Gaelic), a word whose root also meant "wisdom."

Their influence was as much social as religious. Druids used not only to take the part that modern priests would, but were often the philosophers, scientists, lore-masters, teachers, judges and councillors to the kings. The Druids linked the Celtic peoples with their numerous gods, the lunar calendar and the sacred natural order. With the arrival of Christianity in each area, all these roles were assumed by the bishop and the abbot, who were never the same individual, however, and might find themselves in direct competition.

Our historical knowledge of the druids is very limited. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses learned by heart, and we are told that sometimes twenty years were required to complete the course of study. There may have been a Druidic teaching center on Anglesey (Ynys Mon) centred on magical lakes, but what was taught, whether poetry, astronomy or whether possibly even the Greek language, is conjecture. Of their oral literature of sacred songs, formulas for prayers and incantations, rules of divination and magic, not one verse has survived, even in translation, nor is there even a legend that we can call purely druidic, without a Christian overlay or interpretation.

Much traditional rural religious practice can still be discerned beneath Christian interpretation, nevertheless, and survives in practices like Halloween observances, corn dollies and other harvest rituals, the myths of Puck, woodwoses, "lucky" and "unlucky" plants and animals and the like. Orally-transmitted material may have exaggerated deep origins in antiquity, however, and is constantly subject to influence from surrounding culture.

Roman sources

We find in Caesar's Gallic Wars the first and fullest account of the Druids. Caesar notes that all men of any rank and dignity in Gaul were included either among the Druids or among the nobles, two separate classes.

The Druids constituted the learned priestly class, and they were guardians of the unwritten ancient customary law and had the power of executing judgment, of which excommunication from society was the most dreaded. Druids were not a hereditary caste, though they enjoyed exemption from service in the field as well as from payment of taxes. The course of training to which a novice had to submit was protracted. All instruction was communicated orally, but for ordinary purposes, Caesar reports, the Gauls had a written language in which they used the Greek characters.

No druidic documents have survived. "The principal point of their doctrine", says Caesar, "is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body into another". This led several ancient writers to the unlikely conclusion that the druids must have been influenced by the teachings of the Greek philosopher Pythagoras. Caesar also notes the druidic sense of the guardian spirit of the tribe, whom he translated as Dispater, with a general sense of Father Hades.Writers like Diodorus and Strabo with less firsthand experience than Caesar, were of the opinion that this class included Druids, bards and soothsayers.

Pomponius Mela is the first author who says that their instruction was secret and carried on in caves and forests. We know that certain groves within forests were sacred because Romans and Christians alike cut them down and burned the wood. Human sacrifice is sometimes attributed to Druidism; it was an old inheritance in Europe, (although this might be Roman propaganda). The Gauls were accustomed to offer human sacrifices, usually criminals.

Britain was a headquarters of Druidism, but once every year a general assembly of the order was held within the territories of the Carnutes in Gaul.

Cicero remarks on the existence among the Gauls of augurs or soothsayers, known by the name of Druids; he had made the acquaintance of one Divitiacus, an Aeduan. Diodorus informs us that a sacrifice acceptable to the gods must be attended by a Druid, for they are the intermediaries. Before a battle they often throw themselves between two armies to bring about peace.

Druids were seen as essentially non-Roman: a prescript of Augustus forbade Roman citizens to practise druidical rites. In Strabo we find the Druids still acting as arbiters in public and private matters, but they no longer deal with cases of murder. Under Tiberius the Druids were suppressed by a decree of the Senate, but this had to be renewed by Claudius in 54 CE.

In Pliny their activity is limited to the practice of medicine and sorcery. According to him, the Druids held the mistletoe in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat. When thus found, the mistletoe was cut with a golden knife by a priest clad in a white robe, two white bulls being sacrificed on the spot.

Tacitus, in describing the attack made on the island of Mona (Anglesey or Ynys Mon in Welsh) by the Romans under Suetonius Paulinus, represents the legionaries as being awestruck on landing by the appearance of a band of Druids, who, with hands uplifted towards heaven, poured forth terrible imprecations on the heads of the invaders. The courage of the Romans, however, soon overcame such fears; the Britons were put to flight; and the sacred groves of Mona were cut down.After the 1st century CE, the continental Druids disappeared entirely, and were only referred to on very rare occasions. Ausonius, for instance, apostrophizes the rhetorician Attius Patera as sprung from a race of Druids.

Early Druids in Britain

The story of Vortigern as reported by Nennius is one of the very few glimpses of Druidic survival in Britain after the Roman conquest. After being excommunicated by Germanus, the British leader invites twelve Druids to assist him. In Irish literature, however, the Druids are frequently mentioned, and their functions in the island seem to correspond fairly well to those of Gaul. The functions of Druids we here find distributed amongst Druids, bards and poets, but even in very early times the poet has usurped many of the duties of the Druid (at least to judge from poetry) and finally supplants him with the spread of Christianity.

The most important Irish documents are contained in manuscripts of the 12th century, but the texts themselves go back in large measure to about 700.

In the heroic cycles the Druids do not appear to have formed any corporation, nor do they seem to have been exempt from military service. Cathbu (Cathbad), the Druid connected with Conchobar, king of Ulster, in the older cycle is accompanied by a number of youths (100 according to the oldest version) who are desirous of learning his art.

The Druids are represented as being able to foretell the future: before setting out on the great expedition against Ulster, Medb, queen of Connaught, goes to consult her Druid, and just before the famous heroine Derdriu (Deirdre) is born, Cathbu prophesies what sort of a woman she will be.

Druids also have magical skills: the hero Cuchulainn has returned from the land of the fairies after having been enticed thither by a fairywoman named Fand, whom he is now unable to forget. He is given a potion by some Druids, which banishes all memory of his recent adventures and which also rids his wife Emer of the pangs of jealousy. More remarkable still is the story of Etain.

This lady, now the wife of Eochaid Arem, high-king of Ireland, was in a former existence the beloved of the god Mider, who again seeks her love and carries her off. The king has recourse to his Druid Dalgn, who requires a whole year to discover the haunt of the couple. This he accomplished by means of four wands of yew inscribed with ogam characters.

The following description of the band of Cathbus Druids occurs in the epic tale, the Tain bo Cuailnge: The attendant raises his eyes towards heaven and observes the clouds and answers the band around him. They all raise their eyes towards heaven, observe the clouds, and hurl spells against the elements, so that they arouse strife amongst them and clouds of fire are driven towards the camp of the men of Ireland. We are further told that at the court of Conchobar no one had the right to speak before the Druids had spoken. In other texts the Druids are able to produce insanity.

Druidic sites:

- The Isle of Ynys Mon

- Wistman's Wood on Dartmoor

In Christian literature

In the lives of saints, martyrs and missionaries, the Druids are represented as magicians and diviners opposing the Christian missionaries, though we find two of them acting as tutors to the daughters of L󥧡ire mac N马l, the High King, at the coming of Saint Patrick. They are represented as endeavouring to prevent the progress of Patrick and Saint Columba by raising clouds and mist. Before the battle of Culdremne (561) a Druid made an airbe drtiad (fence of protection?) round one of the armies, but what is precisely meant by the phrase is obscure. The Irish Druids seem to have had a peculiar tonsure. The word drtu is always used to render the Latin magus, and in one passage St Columba speaks of Christ as his Druid.

Revival

William Stukeley created this version of a Druid - shortening the beard, removed the mistletoe, turned the bag at his side into a sort of bottle or gourd, and placed an axe-head in his belt.

In the 18th century, England and Wales experienced a Druid revival, inspired by e. g. John Aubrey, John Toland and William Stukely. There is strong evidence to suggest that William Blake was involved in the Druid revival and may have been an Archdruid.

Aubrey was the first modern writer to connect Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments with Druidry, a misconception that shaped ideas of Druidry during much of the 19th century.

Modern Druidic groups have their roots in this revival, and some claim that Aubrey was an archdruid in possession of an uninterrupted tradition of Druidic knowledge, though Aubrey, an uninhibited collector of lore and gossip, never entered a corroborating word in his voluminous surviving notebooks.

Toland was fascinated by Aubrey's Stonehenge theories, and wrote his own book, without crediting Aubrey. He has also been claimed as an Archdruid. The Ancient Druid Order claim that Toland held a gathering of Druids from all over Britain and Ireland in a London tavern, the Appletree, in 1717.

The Ancient Order of Druids itself was founded in 1781, led by Henry Hurle and apparently incorporating Masonic ideas.

A central figure of the Druidic revival is Edward Williams, better known as Iolo Morganwg. His writings, published posthumously as The Iolo Manuscripts (1848), and Barddas (1862), remain influential in the contemporary Druidic movements. Williams claimed to have collected ancient knowledge in a "Gorsedd of Bards of the Isles of Britain" he had organized, but in the 1970s, draft manuscripts of the texts were discovered among Williams' papers, exposing the texts as his own compositions.

Druidism today

Modern Druidism (a.k.a. Modern Druidry) is a continuation of the 18th-century revival and is thus thought to have some, though not many, connections to the Ancient Religion. Modern Druidism has two strands, the cultural and the religious. Cultural Druids hold a competition of poetry, literature and music known as the Eisteddfod amongst the Celtic peoples (Welsh, Irish, Cornish, Breton, etc). Modern religious Druidry is a form of Neopaganism built largely around writings produced in the 18th century and later, plus the relatively sparse Roman and early medieval sources.

It is not always easy to distinguish between the two strands, because religiously-oriented Druid orders may welcome members of any or no religious background while culturally-oriented orders may not inquire about the religious beliefs of members. Both types of Druid order, then, may contain both religiously-oriented and non-religiously oriented members. Many notable Britons have been initiated into Druidic orders, including Winston Churchill. Churchill's case illustrates the difficulty of distinguishing between the two strands, because historians are not even certain which order he joined, the Ancient Order of Druids or the Ancient and Archaeological Order of Druids, let alone for what purpose he joined.

- Continued - Wikipedia

A Druidess, holding mistletoe and a sickle, standing next to a dolmen.

A nineteenth-century painting shows a Druidess holding both the sickle and a sprig of mistletoe. She is also standing next to a megalithic structure.

Many Druids were women; the Celtic woman enjoyed more freedom and rights than women in any other contemporary culture, including the rights to enter battle, and divorce her husband. Though through history we have lost much information about them, though this will be discussed later.


Druids at Stone Circles - Stonehenge


"Druidry or Druidism was the religion of the ancient druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic and Gaulish societies through much of Western Europe north of the Alps and in the British Isles. Druidic practices were part of the culture of all the tribal peoples called Keltoi and Galatai by Greeks and Celtae and Galli by Romans, cultures we identify by the modern words "Celtic" and "Gaelic".

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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:12 AM)

Neo-druidism is an attempt to reconstruct the ancient religion of druidism.

Neo-Druidry in Britain

In the eighteenth century secret societies in Britain included a number that had a particularly "Druidic" flavour, such as the Ancient Order of Druids and the Order of the Universal Bond, later known as the Ancient Druid Order. These organisations often drew upon Iolo Morganwg for their philosophy and symbolism, including the use of the Druid's Prayer. The ADO survived to modern times, and in 1964 one of its members, Ross Nichols, formed an offshoot known as the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Recent decades have seen an explosion of Druidic orders and groups in Britain, including the British Druid Order, the Secular Order of Druids, the Glastonbury Order of Druids and so on. In February 2003, The Druid Network was launched; its aim is to be a source of information and inspiration about the modern Druid tradition, its practice and its history.



Neo-druidism in America

The Mother Grove of the RDNA

The founding of the first congregation of the Reformed Druids of North America, or RDNA, at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, in 1963 marked the start of at least one branch of neo-druidism. This congregation is called, in terms of the organizational structure, the Carleton Grove, and in terms of RDNA tradition, the Mother Grove. (Some suggest that all of neo-druidism in America consists of RDNA and organizations that are each descended from the Mother Grove in a series of schisms. One may assume that the others admit, on one hand, to some form of temporal priority of RDNA, and to having been influenced to some degree by RDNA's thought. But on the other hand, they may suggest that innovations not fully integrated into RDNA are equally important. It is not obvious that any neo-druids consider the relative merits of such accounts worth arguing about.)

Carleton's requirement that each student participate regularly in religious services was the most focused of the factors occasioning the promulgation of "the Reform". Nevertheless, Celtic mythology, spiritual eclecticism, more general counter-cultural agitation, and easy-going self-irony were also important themes by the time the religious requirement was rescinded in mid-1964, and the loss of the specific protest motivation did not obviously weaken the organization. Oversight effort in 1967 from priests no longer regularly present in Northfield probably has served as precedent for ensuring continuity of leadership at later times of ebb in local momentum.

The early antagonism between the Carleton Grove and the administration of the college has subsided if not disappeared; for instance, a campfire ring known as "Druid's Den (http://www.carleton.edu/campus/gallery/exhibitions/2002/vantagePoints/bradley.html)" is maintained by the college, and Carleton Grove activities are announced in college-published literature. The 40th anniversary year of the RDNA saw two reunion gatherings of the Mother Grove, one at the anniversary of the first service and one coinciding with the Carleton College Reunion. These ceremonies gave evidence of continuity of the early years' themes described above. For instance, besides the service continuing the free-wheeling balance of reverence and irreverence, a Koranic reading echoed a substantial study of the Koran by at least one of the early Arch-Druids of Carleton.

The Berkeley History

Robert Larson, a patriarch ordained in the Carleton Grove in 1963 or 1964, relocated to Berkeley, California about 1966, and eventually encountered Isaac Bonewits there. Together they founded a small congregation with affinities to various Wicca groups and to various practitioners of ceremonial magic (or Magick if they were Crowleans). Since then it has had several periods of greater or lesser activity. Currently the most visible group is Ár nDraíocht Féin ("our own Druidism" in Gaelic). They are centered on the East Coast of the United States, in New York and New Jersey, but with branches scattered throughout the rest of the world as well.

Neo-druidic Liturgy

The original ceremonies of the neo-druids involved gathering in a wooded place periodically (usually weekly, but some groups used astrology to calculate meeting times), for

  • the ritual consumption of "spirits" (Scotch or Irish whiskey blended with water) called "the water of life" (uisce beatha, or whiskey),
  • the singing of religious songs,
  • the performance of ceremonial chanting, and,
  • occasionally, a sermon.

The written RDNA liturgy (http://orgs.carleton.edu/Druids/ARDA/ARDA-03.pdf) calls for

  • a "sacrifice of life", reflecting the core of the Reform, namely plant rather than animal sacrifices, and
  • (for the ordination of a priest) an outdoor vigil.

Specifically in the Mother Grove, the use of Scotch rather than Irish whiskey has been an ironic tradition dating from the first ceremony, at which a partial bottle of Scotch whisky had been at hand, left unfinished at the end of a party the previous night.

The major holy days are the quarter days (solstices and equinoxes) and the solar festivals (approximately half way in between the quarter days, these are: Beltane, Lughnasadh, Samhain and Imbolg). These are celebrated with (usually outdoor) parties with a religious theme, much singing of religious songs, dancing in circles, etc. Various individuals will also have their own private ceremonies. Often, small groups will break off, and perform their own separated ceremonies before rejoining the general group - these groups are often split along initiatory lines as those of higher degree work their own ceremonies.

Individual choice is a major theme. So is ecology, though more in the sense of being sensitive to it and living lightly on the land than in the sense of a study of the interrelationship of lives at various scales.

The major gods are, in RDNA liturgy (http://orgs.carleton.edu/Druids/ARDA/ARDA-03.pdf), the Earth-Mother (addressed as "our Mother") and Dalon Ap Landu, the Lord of Groves; otherwise, the Earth and the Sun (named in Gaelic). Some individuals prefer to devote most of their praise, however, to other gods, like Health or Music (usually also named in Gaelic). And "A Druid Fellowship" has various scholastic posts and honors, though usually in the arts as devoted to religious praise rather than as formal studies.

Neo-druidism is considered a Neo-pagan religion.

Popular Neo-druidic Organizations

Since the RDNA's creation, several other Neo-druidic organizations have been founded, including Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), and Keltria. They all have similar, but distinct beliefs and practices. OBOD is based in the UK, while ADF and Keltria are based in the US, though all three have international reach. ADF is something of a descendant of the RDNA since its founder, Isaac Bonewits was a member of the RDNA before founding ADF. Keltria (see below) came about as the result of disagreements between several ADF members and Mr. Bonewits.

According to the Neo-druidic Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the druid teaching is traditionally split into the following three "grades", with acceptance into each grade requiring an initiation by those of equal or higher grade:

  • Bard - who was taught how to read and write, but more importantly was taught the poetry and lore of the time. Bards were the keepers of lore and were expected to know by memory all the myths, legends, history and even bloodlines of the land.
  • Ovate - one who was taught herb-lore and the "deeper secrets"
  • Druid - one who has learned much lore and begun to use it to teach others, counsel and function as a judge in the affairs of others.

Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), however, holds that Druidic practice is a less-structured Indo-European spiritual practice and thus leans more toward contemporary Neopagan practices, though it does attempt to integrate them with research on Indo-European cultures (a practice known as reconstructionism). Instead of "grades", new ADF members study basic Druidry as "Dedicants" and then move on to the ADF Study Program by joining various Guilds (e.g., Liturgists Guild, Healers Guild, etc.) to specialize. Advancement within the guilds and Special Interest Groups is awarded through passing various "circles" of study culminating in the equivalent of a Master status in a particular pursuit. ADF also has a clergy training program for those who aspire to priesthood in particular, though completion of the Dedicant level is a prerequisite for both Guild and priest work. ADF differs from other neo-druidic groups in that it aims to provide structure and services more similar to major organized religion (e.g. a paid clergy, permanent places of worship, etc.) than most neo-pagan organizations.

Keltrian Druidism is a Celtic Neopagan tradition dedicated to honoring its Ancestors, revering the Spirits of Nature, and worshipping the Gods and Goddesses of its members' Gaelic heritage. Focus is placed on personal growth through the development of mind, body, and spirit. The group is an initiatory tradition who place special emphasis on the development of spiritual relationships through study and practice of the Druidic Arts or "Draíocht." Their national organization, The Henge of Keltria (http://www.keltria.org), publishes various resources and acts as a registry for members.

There are also a great number of other Druid groups in Britain, Europe and America, with varying claims to (and interest in) the historical traditions.

References

  • The New Druidry, essay in Witches, Druids and King Arthur, Ronald Hutton 2003

See also

External links

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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:13 AM)

Quotation:

bullet

"Druidry is not a religion. It's a philosophy and you can worship a God or a Goddess, it's up to you. You can be a Christian or a Moslem or anything else and still be a Druid. "But while a Christian will say God made that tree, a Druid will say the energy of a creative force is in that tree." Kieron, a North-East UK Druid.

horizontal rule

History:

Modern Druidism is one of the Neopagan family of religions, which includes Wicca and recreations of Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Roman and other ancient Pagan religions. Some present-day Druids attempt to reconstruct of the beliefs and practices of ancient Druidism. Others modern-day followers of Druidism work directly with the spirits of place, of the gods and of their ancestors to create a new Druidism. 

Within ancient Druidism, there were three specialties. "A general categorisation of the three different grades accords the arts to the bards, the skills of prophecy and divination to the Ovates and philosophical, teaching, counselling and judicial tasks to the Druid." 1

bullet The Bards were "the keepers of tradition, of the memory of the tribe - they were the custodians of the sacredness of the Word." In Ireland, they trained for 12 years learning grammar, hundreds of stories, poems, philosophy, the Ogham tree-alphabet.
bullet The Ovates worked with the processes of death and regeneration. They were the native healers of the Celts. They specialized in divination, conversing with the ancestors, and prophesizing the future.
bullet The Druids and Druidesses formed the professional class in Celtic society. They performed the functions of modern day priests, teachers, ambassadors, astronomers, genealogists, philosophers, musicians, theologians, scientists, poets and judges. They underwent lengthy training: some sources say 20 years. Druids led all public rituals, which were normally held within fenced groves of sacred trees. In their role as priests, "they acted not as mediators between God and man, but as directors of ritual, as shamans guiding and containing the rites." Most leaders mentioned in the surviving records were male. It is not known whether female Druids were considered equal to their male counterparts, or whether they were restricted to special responsibilities. References to women exercising religious power might have been deleted from the record by Christian monks during the Celtic Christian era.

Since ancient Druidism was an oral tradition, they did not have a set of scriptures as do Christianity and other "religions of the book. 2 "Some Druidic "teachings survived in the Bardic colleges in Wales, Ireland and Scotland which remained active until the 17th century, in medieval manuscripts, and in oral tradition, folk lore and ritual." 3

Druidism and other Neopagan religions are currently experiencing a rapid growth. Many people are attempting to rediscover their roots, their ancestral heritage. For many people in North America, their ancestors can be traced back to Celtic/Druidic countries.

Most modern Druids connect the origin of their religion to the ancient Celtic people. However, historical data is scarce. The Druids may well have been active in Britain and perhaps in northern Europe before the advent of the Celts. 

Many academics believe that the ancestors of the Celts were the Proto-Indo European culture who lived near the Black Sea circa 4000 BCE. Some migrated in a South-Westerly direction to create the cultures of Thrace and Greece; others moved North-West to form the Baltic, Celtic, Germanic and Slavic cultures. Evidence of a Proto-Celtic Unetice or Urnfield culture has been found in what is now Slovakia circa 1000 BCE. This evolved into a group of loosely linked tribes which formed the Celtic culture circa 800 BCE. By 450 BCE they had expanded into Spain; by 400 BCE they were in Northern Italy, and by 270 BCE, they had migrated into Galatia (central Turkey). By 200 BCE, they had occupied the British Isles, Brittany, much of modern France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, North West Spain, and their isolated Galatia settlement in Turkey.

Although the Celts had a written language, it was rarely used. Their religious and philosophical beliefs were preserved in an oral tradition. Little of their early history remains. Most of our information comes from Greek and Roman writers, who may well have been heavily biased (the Celts invaded Rome in 390 BCE and Greece in 279 BCE). Other data comes from the codification (and modification) of Celtic myth cycles by Christian monks. The latter included the Ulster Cycle, the Fenian Cycle, the Cycle of Kings, the Invasion Races Cycle from Ireland, and The Mabinogion from Wales. Unfortunately, much Celtic history and religion has been lost or distorted by an overlay of Christianity.

The Christian Church adsorbed much of Celtic religion: many Pagan Gods and Goddesses became Christian saints; sacred springs and wells were preserved and associated with saints; many Pagan temple sites became the location of cathedrals. By the 7th Century CE, Druidism itself was destroyed or continued deeply underground throughout most of the formerly Celtic lands. There is some evidence that Pagan religions did survive in isolated areas of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the 20th Century.

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Myths about Druids

bullet Ritual Killing: Many historians believed that the ancient Druids performed human sacrifices. All of these references can be traced back to the writings of one individual, Julius Caesar. He may well have been prejudiced against the Celts because of their continual warfare with the Romans. In war, the enemy is routinely demonized. Some remains of executions have been found in the archeological record, but it is not obvious whether the victims were killed during religious rituals or to carry out the sentence of a court. There is one reference to human sacrifice in Celtic literature, but it appears to be a Christian forgery. The ancient Celts might have engaged in ritual killing; certainly other contemporary societies did. Modern Druids, of course, do not.
bullet Stonehenge, Avebury, etc.: Many people believe that the Druids constructed Stonehenge, the complex of standing stones in South Central England. Stonehenge I ("Old Stonehenge"), which was composed of the 56 "Aubrey" holes, was constructed circa 3500 BCE. The current formation was completed circa 1500 BCE. This was almost a millennium before the start of Celtic civilization. The Druids may have preceded the Celts in England. Thus, either the Druids or their fore-runners might have been responsible for the finishing of Stonehenge and other monuments. There is no historical proof that they were or were not involved. Even if they did not actually construct these monuments, they may well have performed rituals there, and understood its astronomical meanings and uses. 

In Ireland and Great Britain, there are many ancient "Druid" altars, beds, rings, stones, stone circles and temples. However, radio-carbon analyses assign dates such as 1380 BCE (Wilsford Shaft) to 3330 BCE (Hembury). Again, ancient Druids may have used these megalithic monuments, but did not necessarily build them

Ireland now has countless wells and springs dedicated to the Christian Saint Bridget. She was obviously descended from the Celtic Goddess Brigid/Brigit. "Finding the cult of Brigit impossible to eradicate, the Catholic church rather unwisely canonized her as a saint, calling her Bridget or Bride." 4 The sacred ownership of the various Pagan holy sites were simply translated from Goddess Brigid to St. Bridget after the area was Christianized.

bullet Celtic God Samhain: This non-existent God is often mentioned at Halloween time. He is supposed to be the Celtic God of the Dead. No such God existed. Samhain is, in reality, the name of a Druidic fire festival. It can be loosely translated as "end of the warm season".
bullet Monotheistic Druids: Some writers have promoted the concept that Druids were basically monotheistic, following a sort of pre-Christian belief system. There is essentially no evidence of this. Druids worshipped a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses.

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Beliefs and Practices:

Beliefs and practices of the ancient Celts are being pieced together by modern Druids. Because so much information has been lost, this is not an easy task. Some findings are:

bullet Goddesses and Gods: The Celts did not form a single religious or political unity. They were organized into tribes spread across what is now several countries. As a result, of the 374 Celtic deities which have been found, over 300 occur only once in the archeological record; they are believed to be local deities. There is some evidence that their main pantheon of Gods and Goddesses might have totaled about 3 dozen - perhaps precisely 33 (a frequently occurring magical number in Celtic literature). Some of the more famous are: Arawn, Brigid, Cernunnos, Cerridwen, Danu, Herne, Lugh, Morgan, Rhiannon and Taranis. Many Celtic deities were worshipped in triune (triple aspect) form. Triple Goddesses were often sisters.
bullet Afterlife: They believed that the dead were transported to the Otherworld by the God Bile (AKA Bel, Belenus). Life continued in this location much as it had before death. The ancient Druids believed that the soul was immortal. After the person died in the Otherworld, their soul reincarnates and lives again in another living entity -- either in a plant or the body of a human or other animal. After a person has learned enough at this level, they move on after death to a higher realm, which has its own Otherworld. This continues until the individual reaches the highest realm, the "Source." A Druidic visitor to this web site wrote: "All things are created from the Source, including the Gods. We are just sparks from its flame."  At every birth, the Celts mourned the death of a person in the Otherworld which made the new birth possible.
bullet Creation Myth: No Druidic creation story appears to have survived, although there are numerous accounts of the supernatural creation of islands, mountains, etc.
bullet Baptism: There is some evidence that the Celts had a baptism initiation ceremony similar to those found in Buddhist, Christian, Essene, Hindu, Islamic, and Jainist sacred texts. Other researchers dismiss baptism as a forgery by Christian scribes as they transferred Celtic material to written form.
bullet Moral code: Druids do not follow the Wiccan Rede which states (in modern English) one is free to do anything, as long as it harms nobody. The closest analogy are the Celtic Virtues of honor, loyalty, hospitality, honesty, justice and courage. "Daven" briefly describes the Virtues as follows:
"Briefly stated the virtue of Honor requires one to adhere to their oaths and do the right thing, even if it will ultimately hurt others or oneself in the process. A Druid is obligated to remain true to friends, family and leaders thus exhibiting the virtue of Loyalty. Hospitality demands that a Druid be a good host when guests are under one's roof. Honesty insists that one tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth to yourself, your gods and your people. Justice desires the Druid understands everyone has an inherent worth and that an assault to that worth demands recompense in one form or another. Courage for the Druid does not always wear a public face; it is standing-strong-in-the-face-of-adversity, alone or with companions. Sometimes Courage is getting up and going about a daily routine when pain has worn one down without complaint or demur." 7
bullet Divination: Druids used many techniques to foretell the future: meditation, study of the flight of birds, interpreting dreams, and interpreting the pattern of sticks thrown to the ground.
bullet Awen symbol: This is a symbol drawn in the form of three pillars, in which the outer two are sloped towards the center pillar, as in /|\. Sometimes, one or three dots are added above the pillars. The symbol has been in use since the 17th century; it recalls the Druidic fascination with the number three. "Awen" means inspiration in Middle Welsh.
bullet Triskele symbol: This is an ancient Druidic symbol consisting of three curved branches, bent legs or arms radiating from the center of the symbol. The flag of the Isle of Man contains a triskele.

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Seasonal Days of Celebration:

Druids, past and present, celebrate a series of fire-festivals, on the first of each of four months. Each would start at sunset and last for three days. Great bonfires would be built on the hilltops. Cattle would be driven between two bonfires to assure their fertility; couples would jump over a bonfire or run between two bonfires as well. The festivals are:

bullet Samhain (or Samhuinn) Literally the "end of warm season". November 1 marked the combined Feast of the Dead and New Year's Day for the Celtic calendar. It is a time when the veil between our reality and that of the Otherworld is most easily penetrated. This fire festival was later adopted by the Christians as All Soul's Eve, and later became the secular holiday Halloween.
bullet Imbolc (or Brighid) Literally "in the belly". February 1 marked The Return of Light. This is the date when the first stirrings of life were noticeable and when the land might first be plowable. This has been secularized as Groundhog Day.
bullet Beltaine (or Bealteinne). May 1 was the celebration of The Fires of Bel. This was the peak of blossom season, when domesticated animals bear their young. This is still celebrated today as May Day. Youths dance around the May pole in what is obviously a reconstruction of an earlier fertility ritual.
bullet Lughnasad (or Lughnasadh, Lammas). August 1 was The Feast of Lugh, named after the God of Light. A time for celebration and the harvest.

There were occasional references in ancient literature to:

bullet the winter solstice, typically December 21, when the night is longest
bullet the summer solstice, typically June 21, when the night is shortest
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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:14 AM)

Modern Druidic Movements:

bullet Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD): There are two beliefs concerning the development of this group. One traces their origin to the Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) by Henry Hurle in England in 1781. This group repeatedly split due to internal dissension into many separate organizations. By 1918, there were five groups attempting to perform solstice ceremonies at Stonehenge; all were breakaway groups from the original Ancient Order of Druids. By 1955, all had disappeared except for the British Circle of Universal Bond which subsequently split in 1963 to form the OBOD. The other lineage is claimed by the OBOD who trace their ancestry back through the AOD to a group founded in England in 1717 by John Toland. He is said to have combined local groups of Druids (called groves) from a 10 locations into the Mother Grove. The OBOD's current address is: PO Box 1333, Lewes, East Sussex, England, BN7 3ZG. Email address: office@obod.co.uk
bullet The British Druid Order was founded in 1979 by Philip Shallcrass and Emma Restall Orr. They "see Druidry as a process of constant change and renewal whereby the tradition is continually recreated to address the needs of each generation." They currently have about 3,000 members, mostly in the UK. 3 Their address is: British Druid Order, PO Box 29,
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN37 7YP, England. Email addresses are: greywolf@druidorder.demon.co.uk and bobcat@nemeton.demon.co.uk 
bullet The Reformed Druids of North America: This movement started as a type of undergraduate prank at a mid-western U.S. college (Carleton College at Northfield, MN) in 1963. (One source says 1957). The administration had required that all students to attend church. Some students invented the RDNA as a reaction to this rule. The leaders were amazed when many of the students wanted to continue the RDNA, even after the protest against the administration had been won. From this source, a number of Neopagan Druidic movements have split off, including:
bullet Ar nDraiocht Fein: (ADF) This can be loosely translated as "our own Druidism". Their name is pronounced "arn ree-ocht fane". It was founded by Isaac Bonewits who is currently the Archdruid Emeritus. The ADF emphasizes scholarly research, and " a blend of ancient practices and modern realities". His motto is "paganize mainstream religion by mainstreaming paganism". Their goal is to recreate a Pan-European Druidism, involving elements from Baltic, Celtic, Germanic Slavic and even pre-classical Greek and Roman beliefs. The ADF publishes a quarterly ADF journal, a bimonthly News from the Mother Grove, and a semi-yearly Druid's Progress. As of mid-2002, they have 43 groves in the U.S. and two in Ontario, Canada. Their web site is at: http://www.adf.org Their Email is at address is: ADF-Office@adf.org. Their postal address is: ADF, P.O. Box 17874, Tucson, AZ 85731-7874
bullet The Henge of Keltria: Five ADF members compiled a list of 13 concerns about the ADF at the Pagan Spirit Gathering in 1986, Emulating the actions of Martin Luther, they attached the list to the door of Isaac Bonewits' van in 1986 . Fortunately for Isaac, they used tape in place of the nails that a Christian urban legend says that Martin Luther used. Keltria has focused on ancient Celtic religion and holds only non-public rituals. They published a journal: Keltria: A Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick" from 1986 to 1998.

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References used:

  1. "Bards, Ovates and Druids," at: http://druidry.org/obod/text/OBOD.html 
  2. Greywolf, "A little history of Druidry," at: http://www.druidorder.demon.co.uk/druid_history.htm 
  3. "Ancient Druidry," at: http://www.druidorder.demon.co.uk/index1.htm
  4. Douglas Monroe, "The 21 Lessons of Merlyn," Llewellyn Publications, (1992).
  5. B.G. Walker, "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets," Harper & Roe, (1983), P. 116 to 118.
  6.  Isaac Bonewits, "Symbols of Druid Identity 2.7," at: http://www.neopagan.net/
  7. Daven, "Druidism and Wicca; a comparison," 2003-JUL-31, at: http://davensjournal.com/

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Books on Druidism:

bullet J. Bonwick, Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, Dorsett Press (1986) Out of print, but may be obtainable from Amazon.com
bullet P. Carr-Gomm, The Druid Tradition, Element, Rockport MA (1991) You can read reviews, and/or order this book safely from Amazon.com
bullet C. Chippindale, Stonehenge Complete, Thames & Hudson, New York (1994) Review/order this book
bullet P.B. Ellis, The Druids, W.B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI (1994) Review/order this book
bullet E.E. Hopman, The Druid's Herbal For The Sacred Earth Year,  Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, (1995) Review/order this book
bullet Douglas Monroe, The 21 Lessons of Merlyn, Llewellyn Publications, (1992). Reviews /order this book
bullet R. Nichols, The Book of Druidry, Aquarium, London (1975) Review/order this book
bullet B. Raftery, Pagan Celtic Ireland: The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age, Thames & Hudson, New York (1994) 
bullet Emma Restall-Orr:
bullet "Thorsons Principles of Druidry," Thorsons Publ, (1999) Review/order this book
bullet "Spirits of the Sacred Grove: The world of a Druid Priestess," Thorsons Publ, (1998) Review/order this book
bullet "Ritual: A Guide to Life, Love & Inspiration, Thorsons, London (2000-SEP) Review/order this book
bullet Philip Shallcrass, "Druidry," Piatkus Books, (2000-OCT) Review/order this book
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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:15 AM)

1. Of Druids in General

a) Introduction to the Real Druids

Common misconceptions held that the druids were the stereotypical "pagan cult" that the church warns about, with demons masquerading as their gods and making them perform human sacrifice and other such odd rites. Once the church had enough power to crush them, they became known as evil sorcerors maintaining the pagan ways at the behest of their infernal masters, in the hopes of stopping the spread of Christianity and giving souls to their dark masters. (Church doctrine of the day - and possibly today as well - held that paganism was something the devil designed to lure people into worshipping him, by way of making them worship someone not the true God as an intermediate step on the dark path.) They consorted with familiar spirits, and summoned spirits and demons to carry out their goals. As was common for the time, Christianity condemned its rivals as the tools of the devil and malicious fools (probably still does).

The basic druidic beliefs are really much more monotheistic than most would expect, they believe that all "godheads" are but aspects of the only god. They believe in reincarnation similar to that of the Hindus; that the human being is thrust into this mortal life to learn lessons, and in learning them may progress back up to its spiritual state. There are stages above and below human existance on their hierarchy of possible incarnations, and all humanity is eligible - provided they learn their lessons in this existence - to get to the next stage after humanity. They believe that these reincarnating spirits were themselves sexless, and the sex of the incarnation that they were given was one of the indicators as to what sort of lessons they were to learn in that incarnation before they were allowed to reach a higher one. Following such, the druids and their priestess counterparts lived apart, and there was an entirely separate order and training ritual for women. The two never mixed in performing rites, although they did defend and support each other.

They believe in a large number of worlds, which they can cross between with the appropriate tools and concentration, in special locations, and on special occasions. From these otherworlds is where a large amount of our reality originates, they believe, and souls of our realm advance to these places, upon learning their lessons of course. On certain days (most notably Samhain) the otherworld is much closer, and they use this time not only for celebration, but to perform their rites and magic which can only be done with such otherworld influence.

Something which was probably consistent amongst both the motherhood and fatherhood was that their most sacred code of conduct was: To know, to dare, to be silent; as they were supposed to keep themselves separate and aloof from those who did not pursue "truth" as they did. This of course proved invaluable in making people respect and/or fear druids and priestesses, and allowed them to command the respect and awe necessary to stop wars by walking between the opposed armies with arms outstreched (something which happened on more than one occasion).

b) Druidic Organization and Teaching

The druids of long ago believed in the mystic powers of twos and threes, and that combinations of these numbers made up all important numbers. For example, the number of months in a year - is twelve, 2 x 2 x 3.

Their ranks were split up into three, the Ovydd/vates (or novices) who wore green robes, the Beirdd/bards who wore blue robes, and of course the Derwyddon/druids themselves who wore white robes. The female equivalents for the Motherhood were the "Maiden, Mother or Matron, and Crone," which those familiar with Wicca (or even just general story lore) will recognize.

The mystically trained held all important functions, as judges and advisors, and clerks (like the church), since they were the ones who knew how to read and write, and had training in the "true ways of the duality of world and otherworld." It was a common practice for parents who wanted their sons to do well to send them off with the druids, or their daughters to the motherhood, at about the age of eight or earlier, and these children were not permitted to see their parents until the age of 14 - if then.

As the druids knew that learning was the meaning of life, the purpose of their organization was to assure learning and teaching for everyone within their ranks, and those outside when possible. They believed - rightly according to many schoolteachers - that the teacher learns by teaching (if they are at all motivated), and is also taught things by students.

As such they had a standard 20 year apprenticeship, during which they had three major challenges (which allowed initiation, advancement to bardhood, and graduation to being a druid). They were taught much of music, languages, reading & writing, science & math, and of course magic (which was part of science & math).

For members of the motherhood, they were expected to remain virginal up to a certain age, whereupon they engaged in sexual activity to harvest magical energy for performing rites (and having children). Members of the fatherhood however, were grudgingly permitted sexual activity, but were unable to achieve any higher office than bard - or maybe druid - if they did so; sex dispersed the magical energy of males, leaving little left over for performing powerful magic. For both organizations, there were positions beyond being a recently graduated druid - seniority accorded higher respect, and there was the possibility of achieving the office of Arch-Druid for given areas.

c) Druidic Associations, and Other Beliefs

The theory behind both the magic of the fatherhood and motherhood states that in the otherworlds like energy attracts like, and in our physical world that opposite energies attract each other. Masculinity and feminity are two different energy types which cancel out as far as performing magic is concerned, since magic involves manipulation of the otherworld. This was the reason for the separation of the druids and priestesses.

The holiest pledge of the druid is "truth against the world," speaking of the tendency of the vast majority to utterly ignore or misinterpret the truths the druids follow and teach. Their culture was steeped in a concept called "authority" which meant that control over the outside was possible through control of the self. This authority had to be earned, and took great time to gain; acts of respect were regularly performed to gain respect back from both otherworldly realms, and the spirits of trees and such that they dealt with. Occasionally sacrifices of plants and natural materials were made as part of this ritual; never human sacrifice (unless maybe by the Gaulish druids, the only druidic practitioners of human sacrifice).

They believe that the best state to be in as far as growth is concerned, is a "dynamically unstable position" since complete balance resulted in a net movement of zero, and growth is movement (something which players of Ars Magica can readily observe in the pattern of the lifecycle of a covenant - they grow when they look out and do something, but once they stop moving they collapse in on themselves or go nowhere). To the druids, the sixth day of a new moon is the most mystical time there is, as this corresponds roughly to the point at which the moon is halfway between full and black, and at which the difference of the level of black and white is changing the fastest. As such, the new moon closest to an important date (i.e. Beltane & Samhain) is actually the most mystically potent time of all, even above the occasion itself.

To them the visible and invisible phenomena in this world are mostly interactions of this world and the otherworlds, and as such the druids study the natural cycles in nature to learn more about magic and the otherworld. They see life as a big circle, but themselves they try to follow the path of the spiral - continuing with the circular motion, but always advancing.

Because the sun is a source of natural illumination, it is also a source of magical illumination. Following the trend that plants try to grow towards the sun and animals prey on other animals, the druids observed a strict practice of vegetarianism to purify themselves of the lower animalistic tendencies (this also helped in clearing the mind of foreign hormones which could stimulate desires). Along this same vein, druids did not ever write down their sacred teachings in a direct manner, and invented the writing of Ogham to record their sacred wisdom (using individual leaves as letters and words for recording). The reason is obvious - the druids felt that all higher wisdom was already present in the natural world, and that recording it in an artificial medium was a profanity against that knowledge. Hence, they were the scribes of their culture, but never wrote much about their religion/magic down in forms that survive.

They hold that all magic is definable in terms of the four basic elements and the fifth element of spirit. Each basic element has a number of symbols and devices attached to it, of course. As an exercise in magic early in the apprenticeship, vates construct the symbols of elemental mastery, which they use throughout the rest of their life in relevant rituals. Their sickles are used most often, as fire is associated with the oak, and druids took their name and direction from the oak and fire. (As well as because it's much easier to scratch out a pattern on stone or in sand with a sharp metallic point.)

Female corresponds to:

Earth North Direction A Blue Stone With A Hole (Birth & Death)
Water West Direction A Silver & Shell Chalice (Emotions)

Male corresponds to:

Fire South Direction A Sickle - Golden (Will, Violence)
Air East Direction An Oak Wand or Staff (Thought, Justice)

To the druids, the fifth element is either sexless or female depending on the context - female being the dark and mysterious side of things. Many herbs and substances had correspondences with elements, and so were buried, drowned, burned, or scattered to aid in mystic work by correspondence (e.g. burying salt - which had a correspondence with earth - to aid earth related magic). The most important of these was mistletoe, which related most to the fifth element, but also absorbed the qualities of the tree which it grew on.

d) Druidic Magics and Rites

Several rites involve the carving of a ritual circle; druids believe that a circle is the best protection they have against other powers. This is probably at least in part because a circle (geometrically speaking) houses the greatest area for the smallest perimeter. However, the circle is also used because it represents the cycles of nature, with the repetition of days, months and years leading ever to new days, months and years. Such ritual circles are of a diameter equal to the height of the druid/bard/vate who inscribes them, and are divided into four quarters along compass directions. Around their outer edge, these have 12 stones, representing the 12 months of the year. Inscriptions and symbols relating to the elements are placed in their associated directional quarters outside the circle - for instance fire symbols in the south (see above in Druidic Associations & Other Beliefs). When the druid finally was ready to perform whatever magic or ritual, they finished closing off the circle, after entering inside through the gap they left for exactly that purpose. Then, they placed their symbols of mastery inside the circle in the appropriate directions. Often they would choose and alter sites to reflect this division of the four directions - planting oaks and flowers, adding altars and shovelling beaches. Sites so altered were held to be more in tune with the elemental correspondences, so were better suited for magical activity.

A large part of their magic focuses on deriving insight and knowledge of things - in particular the successful augury, divination, and other perception of things that are to come, or are invisible to most. They had a number of rites - ranging from minor to very major - which they used to answer questions and perform divinations for both themselves and their celtic people. Such rites were used often to seek wisdom, and apprentices were put through these as learning experiences as well.

Druids are known to normally have familiars, summoned to them by their masters during their apprenticeship at the bardic rank. The familiar is the spirit of someone who knew the apprentice in a past life, and who elects to guide them in this existence despite having earned a higher existence. These spirits exist in an otherworld, so this summoning of otherworld beings is of course best done on high occasions like the new moon of Samhain. What I know about such incarnations is that they take the forms of birds, according to what little I could find on the subject, and that they usually stay as long in that incarnation as the person to be guided does in their mortal incarnation.

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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:16 AM)


WHAT IS DRUIDRY?


Druidism, or Druidry as it is often called, is for some a spiritual path, for others a religion, and for others a cultural activity.

As a cultural activity, Druid ceremonies provide part of the context and pageantry for the National Eisteddfodau of Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.

As a spiritual way or philosophy, Modern Druidism began to develop about three hundred years ago during a period known as the ‘Druid Revival’. It was inspired by the accounts of ancient Druids, and drew on the work of historical researchers, folklorists and early literature. In this way Druidry’s heritage stretches far back into the past.

Read different authors’ views on What is Druidry?:

What does it mean to be a Druid today? Above all else, Druidry means following a spiritual path rooted in the green Earth. It means participating in a living Western spiritual tradition drawn from many sources, including surviving legacies from Celtic wisdom teachings, but embracing the contributions of many peoples and times. It means learning from archaic traditions, from three centuries of modern Druid scholarship, and from the always changing lessons of the living Earth itself. It means embracing an experiential approach to religious questions, one that abandons rigid belief systems in favour of inner development and individual contact with the realms of nature and spirit.
John Michael Greer, Druidry – A Green Way of Wisdom

It’s an attitude, an understanding, an exquisitely simple and natural philosophy of living. For a great many it is a rich and ancient religion, a mystical spirituality. For others it’s simply a guiding way of life. It is absolutely open and free for anyone to discover.
Emma Restall Orr, Druid Priestess

Rather than being an organised religion, Druidry offers a personal individual life path that can become part of a modern urban existence as easily as a rural life. It connects us instinctively to the life-giving energies of the earth beneath the pavements, and the sky above the highest office or apartment block.
Cassandra Eason, The Modern-Day Druidess

What is Druidry? A Spiritual Path, a way of life, a philosophy, Druidry is all of these…Druidry today is alive and well, and has migrated around the world forming a wonderful web of people who honour and respect the Earth and the sacred right to life of all that is part of the Earth. Like a great tree drawing nourishment through its roots, Druidry draws wisdom from its ancestral heritage. There is a saying in Druidry that ‘The great tree thrives on the leaves that it casts to the ground’. Druidry today does not pretend to present a replica of the past, rather it is producing a new season’s growth.
Cairistiona Worthington, The Beginner’s Guide to Druidry
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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:16 AM)

Beliefs of Druidry
 
One of the most striking characteristics of Druidism is the degree to which it is free of dogma and any fixed set of beliefs or practices. In this way it manages to offer a spiritual path, and a way of being in the world that avoids many of the problems of intolerance and sectarianism that the established religions have encountered.

There is no ‘sacred text’ or the equivalent of a bible in Druidism and there is no universally agreed set of beliefs amongst Druids. Despite this, there are a number of ideas and beliefs that most Druids hold in common, and that help to define the nature of Druidism today:

Theology
Since Druidry is a spiritual path – a religion to some, a way of life to others – Druids share a belief in the fundamentally spiritual nature of life. Some will favour a particular way of understanding the source of this spiritual nature, and may feel themselves to be animists, pantheists, polytheists, monotheists or duotheists. Others will avoid choosing any one conception of Deity, believing that by its very nature this is unknowable by the mind.

Monotheistic druids believe there is one Deity: either a Goddess or God, or a Being who is better named Spirit or Great Spirit, to remove misleading associations to gender. But other druids are duotheists, believing that Deity exists as a pair of forces or beings, which they often characterise as the God and Goddess.

Polytheistic Druids believe that many gods and goddesses exist, while animists and pantheists believe that Deity does not exist as one or more personal gods, but is instead present in all things, and is everything.

Whether they have chosen to adopt a particular viewpoint or not, the greatest characteristic of most modern-day Druids lies in their tolerance of diversity: a Druid gathering can bring together people who have widely varying views about deity, or none, and they will happily participate in ceremonies together, celebrate the seasons, and enjoy each others’ company – realising that none of us has the monopoly on truth, and that diversity is both healthy and natural.

Nature forms such an important focus of their reverence, that whatever beliefs they hold about Deity, all Druids sense Nature as divine or sacred. Every part of nature is sensed as part of the great web of life, with no one creature or aspect of it having supremacy over any other. Unlike religions that are anthropocentric, believing humanity occupies a central role in the scheme of life, this conception is systemic and holistic, and sees humankind as just one part of the wider family of life.




The Otherworld
Although Druids love Nature, and draw inspiration and spiritual nourishment from it, they also believe that the world we see is not the only one that exists. A cornerstone of Druid belief is in the existence of the Otherworld – a realm or realms which exist beyond the reach of the physical senses, but which are nevertheless real.

This Otherworld is seen as the place we travel to when we die. But we can also visit it during our lifetime in dreams, in meditation, under hypnosis, or in ‘journeying’, when in a shamanic trance.

Different Druids will have different views on the nature of this Otherworld, but it is a universally held belief for three reasons. Firstly, all religions or spiritualities hold the view that another reality exists beyond the physical world, rather than agreeing with Materialism, that holds that only matter exists and is real. Secondly, Celtic mythology, which inspires so much of Druidism, is replete with descriptions of this Otherworld. Thirdly, the existence of the Otherworld is implicit in ‘the greatest belief’ of the ancient Druids, since classical writers stated that the Druids believed in a process that has been described as reincarnation or metempsychosis (in which a soul lives in a succession of forms, including both human and animal). In between each life in human or animal form the soul rests in the Otherworld.




Death and Rebirth
While a Christian Druid may believe that the soul is only born once on Earth, most Druids adopt the belief of their ancient forebears that the soul undergoes a process of successive reincarnations – either always in human form, or in a variety of forms that might include trees and even rocks as well as animals.

Many Druids share the view reported by Philostratus of Tyana in the second century that the Celts believed that to be born in this world, we have to die in the Otherworld, and conversely, that when we die here, we are born into the Otherworld. For this reason, Druid funerals try to focus on the idea that the soul is experiencing a time of birth, even though we are experiencing that as their death to us.




The Three Goals of the Druid
A clue as to the purpose behind the process of successive rebirths can be found if we look at the goals of the Druid. Druids seek above all the cultivation of wisdom, creativity and love. A number of lives on earth, rather than just one, gives us the opportunity to fully develop these qualities within us.

Wisdom

The goal of wisdom is shown to us in two old teaching stories – one the story of Fionn MacCumhaill (Finn MacCool) from Ireland, the other the story of Taliesin from Wales. In both stories wisdom is sought by an older person – in Ireland in the form of the Salmon of Wisdom, in Wales in the form of three drops of inspiration. In both stories a young helper ends up tasting the wisdom so jealously sought by the adults. These tales, rather than simply teaching the virtues of innocence and helpfulness, contain instructions for achieving wisdom, encoded within their symbolism and the sequence of events they describe, and for this reason are used in the teaching of Druidry.

Creativity

The goal of creativity is also central to Druidism because the Bards have long been seen as participants in Druidry. Many believe that in the old days they transmitted the wisdom of the Druids in song and story, and that with their prodigious memories they knew the genealogies of the tribes and the stories associated with the local landscape. Celtic cultures display a love of art, music and beauty that often evokes an awareness of the Otherworld, and their old Bardic tales depict a world of sensual beauty in which craftspeople and artists are highly honoured. Today, many people are drawn to Druidry because they sense it is a spirituality that can help them develop their creativity. Rather than stressing the idea that this physical life is temporary, and that we should focus on the after-life, Druidism conveys the idea that we are meant to fully participate in life on earth, and that we are meant to express and share our creativity as much as we can.

Love

Druidry can be seen as fostering the third goal of love in many different ways to encourage us to broaden our understanding and experience of it, so that we can love widely and deeply.

Druidry’s reverence for Nature encourages us to love the land, the Earth, the stars and the wild. It also encourages a love of peace: Druids were traditionally peace-makers, and still are. Often Druid ceremonies begin with offering peace to each cardinal direction, there is a Druid’s Peace Prayer, and Druids plant Peace Groves. The Druid path also encourages the love of beauty because it cultivates the Bard, the Artist Within, and fosters creativity.

The love of Justice is developed in modern Druidry by being mentioned in ‘The Druid’s Prayer’, and many believe that the ancient Druids were judges and law-makers, who were more interested in restorative than punitive justice. Druidry also encourages the love of story and myth, and many people today are drawn to it because they recognize the power of storytelling, and sense its potential to heal and enlighten as well as entertain.

In addition to all these types of love that Druidism fosters, it also recognizes the forming power of the past, and in doing this encourages a love of history and a reverence for the ancestors. The love of trees is fundamental in Druidism too, and as well as studying treelore, Druids today plant trees and sacred groves, and support reforestation programmes. Druids love stones too and build stone circles, collect stones and work with crystals. They love the truth, and seek this in their quest for wisdom and understanding. They love animals, seeing them as sacred, and they study animal lore. They love the body and sexuality believing both to be sacred.

Druidism also encourages a love of each other by fostering the magic of relationship and community, and above all a love of life, by encouraging celebration and a full commitment to life - it is not a spirituality which tries to help us escape from a full engagement with the world.

Some Druid groups today present their teachings in three grades or streams: those of the Bard, Ovate and Druid. The three goals sought by the Druid of love, wisdom and creative expression can be related to the work of these three streams. Bardic teachings help to develop our creativity, Ovate teachings help to develop our love for the natural world and the community of all life, and Druid teachings help us in our quest for wisdom.




Living in the World
The real test of the value of a spiritual path lies in the degree to which it can help us live our lives in the world. It needs to be able to provide us with inspiration, counsel and encouragement as we negotiate the sometimes difficult and even tragic events that can occur during a lifetime.

The primary philosophical posture of Druidism is one of love and respect towards all of life – towards fellow human beings and animals, and all of Nature. A word often used by Druids to describe this approach is reverence, which expands the concept of respect to include an awareness of the sacred. By being reverent towards human beings, for example, Druids treat the body, relationships and sexuality with respect and as sacred. Reverence should not be confused with piousness or a lack of vigorous engagement – true reverence is strong and sensual as well as gentle and kind.

This attitude of reverence and respect extends to all creatures, and so many Druids will either be vegetarian or will eat meat, but support compassionate farming and be opposed to factory farming methods. Again, the belief that we should love all creatures is likely to be tempered with a robust realism that will not exclude the possibility that we might want to kill certain creatures, such as mosquitoes.

For many Druids today the primary position of love and respect towards all creatures extends to include a belief in the idea of causing no harm to any sentient being. This idea is known in eastern traditions as the doctrine of ‘Ahimsa’, or Non-Violence, and was first described in around 800 BCE in the Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads. Jains, Hindus and Buddhists all teach this doctrine, which became popular in the west following the non-violent protests of Mahatma Gandhi. The Parehaka Maori protest movement in New Zealand and the campaigns of Martin Luther King in the USA also helped to spread the idea of Ahimsa around the world.

Many Druids today adopt a similar stance of abstaining from harming others, and of focussing on the idea of Peace, drawing their inspiration from the Classical accounts of the Druids, which portrayed them as mediators who abstained from war, and who urged peace on opposing armies. Julius Caesar wrote: ‘For they [the Druids] generally settle all their disputes, both public and private… The Druids usually abstain from war, nor do they pay taxes together with the others; they have exemption from warfare.’ And Diodorus Siculus wrote: ‘Often when the combatants are ranged face to face, and swords are drawn and spears are bristling, these men come between the armies and stay the battle, just as wild beasts are sometimes held spellbound. Thus even among the most savage barbarians anger yields to wisdom, and Mars is shamed before the Muses.’

In addition Druids today can follow the example of one the most important figures in the modern Druid movement, Ross Nichols, who in common with many of the world’s greatest thinkers and spiritual teachers, upheld the doctrines of non-violence and pacifism. Many of Nichols’ contemporaries, who shared similar interests in Celtic mythology, were also pacifists, including T.H.White, the author of the Arthurian The once & Future King. Nichols often used to finish essays he wrote with the simple sign-off: ‘Peace to all beings.’




The Web of Life and the Illusion of Separateness
Woven into much of Druid thinking and all of its practice is the idea or belief that we are all connected in a universe that is essentially benign – that we do not exist as isolated beings who must fight to survive in a cruel world. Instead we are seen as part of a great web or fabric of life that includes every living creature and all of Creation. This is essentially a pantheistic view of life, which sees all of Nature as sacred and as interconnected.

Druids often experience this belief in their bodies and hearts rather than simply in their minds. They find themselves feeling increasingly at home in the world – and when they walk out on to the land and look up at the moon or stars, or smell the coming rain on the wind they feel in the fabric of their beings that they are a part of the family of life, that they are ‘home’, and that they are not alone.

The consequences of this feeling and belief are profound. Apart from this trusting posture towards life bringing benefits in psychological and physical health, there are benefits to society too. Abuse and exploitation comes from the illusion of separateness. once you believe that you are part of the family of life, and that all things are connected, the values of love, and reverence for life naturally follow, as does the practice of peacefulness, of harmlessness or ‘Ahimsa’.




The Law of the Harvest
Related to the idea that we are all connected in one great web of life is the belief held by most Druids that whatever we do in the world creates an effect which will ultimately also affect us. A similar idea is found in many different traditions and cultures: folk wisdom in Britain says that ‘what goes around comes around’ and in ancient Egypt, the idea attributed to Jesus when he said ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap,’ was spoken by the god Thoth several thousand years earlier in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, when he said ‘Truth is the harvest scythe. What is sown - love or anger or bitterness - that shall be your bread. The corn is no better than its seed, then let what you plant be good.’ In Hinduism and Buddhism the idea is expressed as the doctrine of cause and effect (karma).

The two beliefs - that all is connected and that we will harvest the consequences of our actions - come naturally to Druids because they represent ideas that evolve out of an observation of the natural world. Just as the feeling of our being part of the great web of life can come to us as we gaze in awe at the beauty of nature, so the awareness that we will reap the consequences of our actions also comes to us as we observe the processes of sowing and harvesting.
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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:17 AM)

ETHICS & VALUES IN DRUIDISM
As a spiritual tradition based on reverence for and connection with the powers of nature, more than anything else Druidry teaches us to honour life… Druid ethics are built upon the release of ignorance and the respectful creation of deep and sacred relationships.
Emma Restall Orr, Druidry and Ethical Choice

The classical author Strabo wrote that the Druids studied ‘moral philosophy’. The author Brendan Myers concludes that the first moral principle of the ancient Druids was a devotion to truth. In the Testament of Morann, a document traced to the period between the 7th and 9th centuries CE, but which seems to emerge out of the pre-Christian Druidic period, advice is given on how a prince should rule:

Let him magnify Truth, it will magnify him.
Let him strenghen Truth, it will strengthen him.
….Through the ruler's Truth massive mortalities are averted from men.
…Through the ruler's Truth all the land is fruitful and childbirth worthy.
Through the ruler's Truth there is abundance of tall corn.

St Patrick was said to have asked Oisin, the son of Fionn MacCumhall, what sustained his people before the advent of Christianity, to which he replied: “the truth that was in our hearts, and strength in our arms, and fulfilment in our tongues.” Myers concludes: ‘It is interesting that he should cite truth first, as though truth had an overriding place in the culture. This evidence leads me to believe that the first moral principle of Druidism is this: in a situation where a moral decision must be made, we should always choose truth, in the expansion and enrichment of human knowledge, in ourselves and others, and at all levels of our being.’

In the final analysis, though, Myers suggests that the Druids may not have adhered to specific rules and authorities to determine proper ethical conduct. Instead he sees them striving to become a certain kind of person, out of whom ethical behaviour naturally arises.

Athelia Nihtscada also turns to Irish source material to explore Druid ethics. The old Brehon laws, which were recorded by Christian clerics in the 5th century CE, pre-dated Christianity and offer a fascinating insight into early Irish society. By studying these laws and seeing how they might be applicable to modern living, Nihtscada has articulated eleven principles or codes of conduct for the contemporary Druid:

1. Every action has a consequence that must be observed and you must be prepared to compensate for your actions if required.
2. All life is sacred and all are responsible for seeing that this standard is upheld.
3. You do still live in society and are bound by its rules.
4. Work with high standards.
5. Make an honest living.
6. Be a good host as well as a good guest.
7. Take care of yourself. (Health was held in high esteem amongst the Celts, so much that a person could be fined for being grossly overweight due to lack of care.)
8. Serve your community.
9. Maintain a healthy balance of the spiritual and mundane.
(Nihtscad writes: ‘Ethical and self respecting Druids did nothing without being properly schooled or aware of the consequences ahead of time. They knew when it was appropriate to visit the Otherworld and immerse themselves in the spiritual as well as when it was appropriate to be fully in this world.’)
10. Uphold the Truth, starting with yourself.
11. Be sure in your convictions, particularly when judging or accusing someone, but also when debating. Ask yourself: are you really sure? Do you really know that this the case?

Apart from the work of Myers and Nihtscad, little has been written about ethics in contemporary Druidism since most Druids are keen to avoid the problems caused by dictating a morality to others. So much suffering has resulted throughout history because one group of people have decided that it is good to do one thing and bad to do another. Just as most Druids have avoided dictating which type of theology someone should adopt, so too have they avoided telling each other, or the world, how to behave.


Nevertheless, most Druids have a highly developed sense of ethical behaviour, which is usually implicit in their actions, rather than being explicitly stated by them. A person can only act ethically if they hold to certain values, and by talking about these values we can avoid the pitfall of suggesting ethical guidelines which can then so easily turn into a dogma which condemns those who do not follow it. Instead of imposing a code of conduct upon people, we can return to Myers’ suggestion to practice a Druidry that helps us become a certain kind of person, out of whom ethical behaviour naturally arises.


Druidry asks us, above all, to open ourselves to the inspiration and beauty of Nature and Art, through its love of creativity. By nourishing ourselves with contact with the natural world and with art of every kind, and by holding to the core beliefs of Druidism, the following qualities emerge naturally as values that can form the basis of ethical decisions and behaviour.




Taking Responsibility and Feeling Empowered
It is easy to see yourself as a victim in life – as a tiny cog in a vast and impersonal machine driven by others for economic and political ends. But by holding to the belief that everything is connected, that another reality exists beyond the everyday physical world, and that everything we think, feel or do has an effect, the Druid is able to assume an attitude of responsibility, and to feel empowered to be of value in the world. Like everyone else, they will sometimes feel the victim of others or of circumstances. While that feeling may come and go, the predominant belief will be that each of us is a causal being who exists in a web of life that unites every living creature. This means that each of us can choose to act as a force for good in the world.

The Druid will tend to see much of the world’s problems emerging from a refusal to take responsibility and to act for the greater good of the whole. By not taking responsibility for environmental degradation, for example, they see politicians and corporations acting not for the greater good, but simply for the short-term gains of power and profit. Many political systems and most corporations do not to encourage the taking of individual responsibility or the value of personal empowerment. Instead they need consumption and compliance. Druidism encourages the taking of individual responsibility – firstly in our own lives, then in concert with others for our community, and for the wider issues that affect the community of all life.

Taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions leads to acting responsibly towards others, and the world needs responsible people now more than ever.





The Circle of All Beings
Increasing urbanisation, growing populations, the commercialisation of culture, the development of consumerism and globalisation, have all tended to undermine our sense of living in a community – close to our fellow human beings, close to animals and the land. Many people are drawn to Druidry because they find it helps them get back in touch with ‘the circle of all Beings.’ By its reverential attitude to Nature, by its belief in the sacredness of all creatures, and by its belief in the holistic relationship between all things, Druidry fosters the value of community – of relationship with others.

There will be times when we need solitude, and like all spiritual paths Druidry recognises the need for retreats, when we let go of our concerns for others and focus instead on our personal quest or upon Deity. But Druidry is not a path that advocates a permanent detachment from others or the world. Instead it urges a pro-active and enthusiastic, Awen-filled engagement with others and the world, seeing life on earth as meaningful and purposeful – as an adventure to be undertaken rather than as a prison from which we should escape, or as a bridge we should simply cross.

There will be times when a Druid feels alone, isolated or alienated from others. While that feeling may come and go, holding to the value of community will enable them to return to a bedrock of feeling and belief in which they are part of one family - the web of life, the circle of all beings.




The Power of Trust
Coming to place a value in community and in being in relationship with the circle of all Beings comes from the simple observation of Nature, and the way in which everything is connected.

In a similar way, contemplating the flow of a river brings us to the value of trust. It is a common experience amongst people who are aware of the spiritual dimension to find that when they trust in life they find it easier to enter a ‘flow’ which carries their life along with a quality of lightness, joy and effortlessness, that also keeps them aligned with their spiritual purpose. Of course trust will sometimes give way to its opposite - mistrust and fear - but by believing that life is fundamentally good, that there is meaning and purpose to existence, the spiritual seeker finds it increasingly easy to come back to the position of trust.

By affirming the value of trust, and by returning constantly to this position, whatever setbacks may occur, our life – the decisions we make, the relationships we form – begins to be built on trust rather than on fear: on the need to conform, to maintain status, or to protect ourselves, for example.

The magical understanding of Druidry that our state influences the world around us tells us that as we connect to the value of trust in life, this trust will start to radiate, and will in its turn attract trust from others, generating a beneficent cycle.




Integrity
Although the term integrity is often used to mean ‘the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles and professional standards’, its deeper meaning is defined in the dictionary as ‘the state of being complete and undivided. The state of being sound or undamaged.’ Before a mission is sent into space, for example, the integrity of the spacecraft is checked again and again.

Used in this deeper sense, integrity becomes a value or quality sought by Druids, just as it is sought by all spiritual seekers. The spiritual journey begins for us when we sense that we are lacking something. We feel incomplete, and so we begin to strive towards Deity, enlightenment, wholeness. Further along the track we discover that these realities exist within us and that it is only our mind that believes we are separated from them. Slowly, through meditation and spiritual practice, we open to an awareness of our completeness, our wholeness. We find integrity. And from this place of integrity we can act with authenticity – not trying to be someone other than who we simply are.

Again, as with all these qualities, there will be times when we lose our sense of integrity, when we feel desperately incomplete or divided, and when we act not honestly and from our deepest feelings but inauthentically out of fear or misunderstanding. But one of the values of following a spiritual path lies in its acting as a gentle reminder, and offering particular disciplines that help us to constantly return to a contemplation of these core qualities. In this way, over time, our experience of a lack of any quality will start to diminish as our spiritual life connects us to these core values.




The Value of the Opposite
It is important to understand, though, that the holistic stance of Druidry does not deny the value or purpose of experiencing the lack or opposite of any of these values. Our depth of humanity comes precisely from our experiencing the contrasts of life: without the experience of unhappiness we would not be able to fully appreciate happiness, maturity of character and soul seems to require some amount of suffering, and we need to experience the feeling and effects of irresponsibility, alienation, disempowerment, fear and lack of integrity, in order to be complete human beings.





In the end values or principles such as those stated here, with others that are related to them or flow from them – such as honour, courage and respect – can form the basis out of which ethical and moral decisions can be made. Rather than internalising a moral code developed perhaps centuries ago by the ruling religious or political elite, we can develop a strong individual sense of morality and ethics born out of our own inner connection to these values. Blaise Pascal succinctly summarised, in the following triad, the ingredients we need to develop this morality, when he said simply: “Heart, instinct, principles.”




Being of Value to Others and the world
Druidism does not encourage us to focus exclusively on our own spiritual development. Druids care passionately about the state of the world – about the suffering of humans and animals, and of Mother Earth. The belief that many Druids hold in the importance of Peace influences their actions profoundly, and most Druids are involved in initiatives to protect the environment. Some may simply contribute to Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, others may be more actively involved in trying to protect species or habitats. Most will support tree-planting and reforestation projects in particular.

Over the last fifteen years dozens of sacred groves have been planted by Druids all over the world and examples of these can be seen in the Sacred Grove project section on this site. An example of a Druid initiative to support an animal species can be seen at monarchbear.org

The maxim ‘think globally, act locally’ has been taken to heart by many Druids, who are involved in local community initiatives to protect and improve the environment, and the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids promotes a Campaign for Ecological Responsibility.

Even when Druids work on themselves they believe they are directly helping those around them. As they develop their humanity – their wisdom and compassion – and as they cultivate qualities of soul and character, they relate differently to the world, becoming – they hope – forces for good in a world that often needs healing.
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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:18 AM)

Druids

Members of the ancient pre-Christian Celtic priestcraft of Britain and Gaul, a secret order about which almost nothing is known. The term 'druid' means 'knowing the oak tree' in Gaelic; the oak tree was sacred to the Celts.

The Romans tell us that the Druids were magicians, but the nature of their magic is unknown. The Romans also tell us that they believed in the transmigration of souls (which may have been reincarnation). They are said to have conducted their cult practices in sacred oak groves, where one of their chief rites was harvesting mistletoe using a golden sickle. They are also thought to have offered human sacrifices. It is probable that they were the representatives of the ancient Nordic and Christian Mysteries.

The theory that the Druids built Stonehenge or Avebury, advanced by some antiquarians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, has been proved by modern archaeological techniques to be false.

Various Druid groups flourish in Britain and the United States, but claim no connection with ancient Druids. They celebrate eight pagan festivals in outdoor henges and groves, the most important being the summer solstice. Since 1985 modern Druids have been prevented from gathering at Stonehenge for the solstice, due to vandalism by spectators. American druids use a replica of Stonehenge in Washington State.

Primary Tenets


• Druids approach magic using nature as a basis for context and power.

• Druids consider themselves and their magic to be a part of nature, not above it, below it, or outside of its influence.

• People are also a part of nature.

• All nature is sacred, and trees particularly so.

• Druids ask instead of command when performing ritual and casting spells. This is in direct contrast to several traditions of sorcery or ceremonial magick. Again, this is a matter of respect for nature and an acknowledgment of the druid’s place within it.

• Druids get to know the forces they work with through meditation, study, ritual, and spending time in nature. This relationship can be as professional or personal as the Druid desires, although most relationships with natural forces take on very personal and direct meanings very early on. This takes time. There is absolutely no way around it… of course, your mileage may vary, but you must walk the walk.

• The primary natural forces that the Druid works with are Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and Spirit.

• A Druid is free to work with whatever god forms he deems appropriate or partial to his working.

• The Druidic path is primarily solar.

• Druidic magic taps into energy and bends or directs it.

• As much as possible, include nature in your workings. Work and meditate outside as often as circumstances permit.

• Druids do not consider their spiritual path above or better than any other. (of course, we Druids are human and do take pride in our path!). In fact, it is a Druid’s responsibility to allow each individual to grow according to the pattern nature has dictated. Helping where help is needed is one thing, forcing another sentient being to accept your view of reality is something else entirely.

The Three Keys to Mastery

• To know

• To dare

• To be silent

 

To you alone it is given to know the truth about the gods and deities of the sky... The innermost groves of far-off forests are your abodes. And it is you who say that the shades of the dead seek not the silent land of Erebus and the pale halls of Pluto; rather, you tell us that the same spirit has a body again elsewhere, and that death, if what you sing is true, is but the mid-point of long life."     —Lucan Pharsalia c.60AD

It was at Samhain, the ancient Celtic New Year, that the mundane world and the Otherworld were most closely connected and it is believed that the souls of our ancestors cross over and offer us guidance.

Lucan, in the above quotation, is addressing Druids generally, but it is an appropriate quotation to open our study of the Ovate Grade, for it was the Ovates who, to the greatest degree, were responsible for understanding the mysteries of death and rebirth, for transcending time - for divining the future, for conversing with the Ancestors - travelling beyond the grave to bring augury and counsel to those still living on earth.

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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:19 AM)

DRUID FESTIVALS

 

At the heart of Druidism lies a love of Nature and of her changing faces as the seasons turn. Eight times a year, once every six weeks or so, Druids participate in a celebration that expresses this love. These seasonal festivals can be large public events with hundreds of adults and children gathering at sacred sites, such as Stonehenge, Avebury, or Glastonbury in England, or at the other extreme, they can be very private events celebrated by a single Druid in their garden or living room, or by a small group of Druids and friends who have gathered together in a park or garden.

These eight seasonal festivals consist of the solstices and equinoxes - four moments during the year which are dictated by the relationship between the Earth and Sun – and the four ‘cross-quarter' festivals which are not determined astronomically, but are related to the traditional pastoral calendar.

The summer and winter solstices are celebrated when the sun is nearest and furthest from the Earth respectively. The summer solstice occurs on the longest day of the year, usually the 21st or 22nd June in the northern hemisphere and the 21st or 22nd December in the southern. The winter solstice occurs on the shortest day of the year, usually the 21st or 22nd December in the northern hemisphere and the 21st or 22nd June in the southern. The equinoxes occur when day and night are equal. The spring equinox usually occurs on the 21st or 22nd March in the northern hemisphere and the 21st or 22nd September in the southern. The autumn equinox usually occurs on the 21st or 22nd September in the northern hemisphere and the 21st or 22nd March in the southern.

The other four festivals are also related to the seasons, but are not tied to specific astronomical events. Instead they have evolved from traditional festival times linked to farming practices begun in western Europe thousands of years ago: lambing in early February, bringing the cattle out to pasture in early May, the start of the harvest at the beginning of August, and the preparations for winter at the end of October.

Druids observe this eightfold cycle of festivals by meeting together, or celebrating on their own. Sometimes the celebration will be informal – a picnic with friends, or a party during which someone will speak about the time of year and its significance, with perhaps storytelling, music or poetry. At other times the celebration will be formal. When the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids celebrates the summer solstice at Stonehenge, for example, we are all robed and enact a formal ceremony amongst the stones. But when we are on Glastonbury Tor, we try to combine a formal ritual with informal elements: several hundred adults and children, and often a few dogs, will gather together in a circle. Some people will be wearing robes of different colour and design, others will be dressed in everyday clothes. A circle will be cast by children scattering petals or blowing bubbles, and a fire eater will bless the circle with fire, while the circle is also blessed by someone sprinkling everyone with water from Chalice Well. The ritual itself is formal, in the sense that it has been prepared in advance and includes traditional elements, but the ambience is informal and joyful. Every so often all participants will cheer ‘Hurrah!’, will laugh or clap, and at the closing of the ceremony the crowd will gather in clusters to sit and chat, to admire the view, or to picnic together.

Similarly, when celebrating the festivals with a grove of Druids in Wellington, New Zealand, twenty or thirty of us, colourfully dressed, gather in a garden and celebrate the festival while honouring the Druid heritage and respecting the indigenous Maori festival time too. Visiting Maori elders are welcomed, we tell stories, recite poetry, and sing and dance together.

Often these Druid festivals include a central section called by the Welsh word ‘Eisteddfod’ which means literally ‘a festival of sitting’, but which is really a time for the expression of creativity by anyone in the circle. Although certain participants may guide the festival, and have various roles within it (such as casting or blessing the circle) no-one is acting as a priest or priestess, in the sense of being an intermediary between the other participants and Deity.

The purpose of celebrating the eight seasonal festivals is to create a pattern or rhythm in our year that allows for a few hours’ pause every six weeks or so in our busy and often stressful routine, so that we can open to the magic of being alive on this earth at this special time. It gives us a chance to fully enter the moment, to connect with the life of the earth and the land around us, and to feel the influence of the season in our bodies, hearts and minds. If we celebrate on our own, it is a time when we can enter into meditation, perhaps reviewing our life since the last festival, thinking forward to the next one, then returning to open ourselves fully to the Here and Now – soaking in the energies of earth and sky, and the trees and plants around us, and radiating our love and blessings to the Earth and all beings.

Adapted from What Do Druids Believe? by Philip Carr-Gomm, Granta, 2006

More on the Festivals

 

 

DRUIDS & STONE CIRCLES



Druids love stones and stone circles. For the last two hundred years Druids have been creating them and celebrating in them. one of the most well-known examples stands in a field used each year for the Glastonbury music festival. Ivan McBeth, a member of OBOD and leader of the Druid group the MODs specialises in building large beautiful stone circles, and in Wales stone circles are often built for the Eisteddfod celebrations.

Modern Druids work in stone circles, but did the ancient Druids?

The classical writers say nothing about stone circles. Instead they say that Druids gathered in sacred groves, caves, or remote valleys. But in the seventeenth century a few scholars began to take interest in the mysterious monuments – the artificial mounds, stone circles, dolmens and standing stones – that filled the countryside around them. They read the classical accounts of the Druids and suggested that these monuments were built by them.

This forged an indelible association in the popular imagination between Druids and stone circles such as Stonehenge. But until recently academics dismissed this idea. Historians used to say that the Druids couldn’t have used Stonehenge and all the other stone circles in Britain, because the Druids were the priests of the Celts, and the Celts only arrived in Britain in 500 BCE. Since no stone monuments were built after 1400 BCE, they pointed to the gap of nine hundred years separating the last of the stone circles from the arrival of the Druids. But in the sixties many historians changed their minds. They realized that the origin of the so-called Celtic tribes was far more complex than originally presumed, and suggested instead that early or Proto-Celts were probably in Britain as early as 2000 BCE - when the great stone monuments were still being built - and that they could well have been involved in their use or construction.

Forty years later academic opinion is still divided. Some experts emphasize the lack of continuity between religious structures and practices in the second and first millennia BCE. But others point to the new sense of continuity in the genetics and culture of the British, with the rejection of the idea of a Celtic ‘invasion’. This second school of thought makes it possible to again see the Druids as the priests and priestesses of the stone circles, a tendency reinforced by the increasing recognition of the importance of ritual astronomy in the construction of these monuments.

Recently, Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University, has written: 'In building their case against modern Druidry, [the archaeologists] Kendrick, Piggott, Atkinson and Daniel all made great play with the fact that ancient Druids could no longer be definitely credited either with building the monument or with officiating within it. They were, however, scrupulous enough to recognise two difficulties. The first is that prehistorians have so far been unable to determine how far continuities of religious tradition and practice did or did not exist through the periods between the Neolithic and the Iron Age. The second is that there is some evidence for activity in and around Stonehenge during the Iron Age itself. It may be that, whether or not modern Druids ever make a significant reappearance at the monument, ancient Druids could yet be fated to do so.' (from the journal British Archaeology, Summer 2005).

adapted from Druid Mysteries by Philip Carr-Gomm
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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:20 AM)

"Rather than pretending politics isn’t relevant to spirituality, I think it’s time for us to recognise that it is an integral part of it, since politics is about being human."

        DRUIDRY AND POLITICS

        By Philip Carr-Gomm

At this critical time in world history I believe it is important to examine how we relate to the world of politics. It is easy to say that it has nothing to do with spirituality. But is this really so? In thinking about what a Druid’s relationship to politics might be, I looked back at the attitudes of previous Chiefs, and discovered a remarkably consistent thread of beliefs, that led them all to promote liberal and socialist ideals that advocate freedom and justice for the underprivileged. In the nineteenth century Gerald Massey campaigned against slavery in the US, and is now a hero of Afro-American scholars. In the early twentieth century Robert MacGregor-Reid championed the rights of working men, and stood for election in the American Senate and the British Parliament, as well as leading the Druid Order.

I know the most about my predecessor, Ross Nichols, who continued this tradition by championing monetary reform, pacifism and socialism. Ross was a man of ideals – which he not only articulated but which he practiced throughout his life: he believed passionately in the need for us to return to a closer relationship with Nature, and for the need for us to retreat often to the countryside, to living on the land in as simple a way as possible. And he did this by embracing the philosophy of Naturism and by creating his own woodland sanctuary of utter simplicity. He also devoted the latter years of his life to articulating and practising Druidry - a spirituality which has as its aim this return to a communion with the natural world.

Ross showed his love of nature in his poetry, in his writing of much of the Order’s seasonal rituals, in his painting, and in his frequent retreats to the woods. His vegetarianism was another expression of his reverence for life, as was his pacifism – he wanted nothing killed deliberately, human or animal. And above all, he didn’t want all this just for himself – he had a political and social conscience that meant his idealism was not unrealistic, selfish or elitist. He wanted everyone to benefit from the ideals he believed in – hence his commitment to socialism and the Social Credit movement, which attempted to completely re-vision the way we deal with money. In other words his idealism was practical – it was grounded in his actions and behaviour as well as in his philosophy and in his heart.

Those same ideals are alive today: the ‘back to nature’ philosophy has taken on an urgency uncontemplated in Ross’ time, when the extent of environmental degradation was not yet fully appreciated; the ideas of fairer wealth distribution behind the Social Credit movement drive the anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements of today; and the reverence for life that Ross showed in his vegetarianism and pacifism, continue to inspire people around the world and have broadened to include the advocacy of organic (and compassionate) farming, and such related movements as that of Permaculture and of resistance to genetic modification.

Ross, like those of his contemporaries who dared to challenge authority, embraced ideals – and acted upon them – which have created the cornerstones of contemporary Alternative Culture. And now – to a great extent because of the mess that ‘conventional wisdom’ has created for us – the challenge for those of us who also embrace these ideals is to build upon the work of our spiritual and political ancestors, such as Ross, so that one day these ideals are no longer ‘alternative’ and therefore marginalised. Excitingly, the process has already begun

Until recently, those of us in the Druid community have concentrated on building a sense of community, creating structures and ways of teaching that focus primarily on our own spiritual and personal development – helping ourselves take charge of our reality and develop it in positive creative ways. Now, I believe it is time to expand our focus to include more than just ourselves. This means accepting that we have an influence in the world, that we can change things for the better, that we don’t have to be passive consumers, and that being a spiritual being on earth doesn’t involve simply working on our own spiritual development. In short it means dipping our toes into the wider sea, and engaging those two contentious areas of politics and beliefs.

I used to groan when I heard the word politics. I used to run a mile when I smelt a whiff of politics in an organisation or group. But over the years I discovered that where two or more people are gathered together there are politics, and I stopped running away, because unless you become a hermit, there’s nowhere to go! Any relationship, if it is to be more than superficial, runs into politics – by virtue of being human we have different views and opinions, and we have to negotiate, compromise sometimes, refuse to compromise at other times, give in, stand firm and so on. Likewise in a group. It is simply naïve to think that a group of people can run anything without sometimes disagreeing or needing to negotiate. Rather than pretending politics isn’t relevant to spirituality, I think it’s time for us to recognise that it is an integral part of it, since politics is about being human. If you’re having difficulty with this, change the word to community. World Politics becomes the World Community and the difficulties and challenges it faces. We all know now that we are One People on One Earth and if we’re not careful we might just mess the whole thing up completely.

In the times we live in, there is a powerful sense that we stand at a crossroads – at a threshold in the story of humanity. Suggesting that this is of no concern to us, or that as spiritual seekers we shouldn’t be concerned with politics seems very much like denial to me at this point in our history.

But how on earth do we engage this issue without it degenerating into us all standing up and shouting out our different political opinions?

My suggestion is that we try to engage the issue at a different level – there are plenty of forums for political debate already. I think instead we can take two words and use them as keys: one is Community, as I’ve just mentioned. The other is Justice – expanded so that we see it in its widest sense. Druidry has always been concerned with Justice – in the old days Druids were judges and law-makers. And if we expand the concept to include Social Justice and Economic Justice we can start to see what the term implies.

Some people object to the concept of the ‘Love of Justice’ in the Druid’s Prayer, believing it allies Druidry with the sometimes repressive forces of law and order and the Establishment. But all you need to do is look at the Amnesty International literature, or to think of the terrible injustices inflicted on so many people all over the world, to understand what the prayer is really referring to, and how for a Druid the love of Justice is fundamental.

Our world is so full of social and economic injustices of every kind, that it seems to me that a spirituality where Justice is a key concept, and where its early practitioners were actually responsible for administering justice, can quite legitimately begin to engage the big question of ‘How can we build a more just world?’

And this big question immediately raises another one: ‘What would our world look like if there was more justice? How would we live?’ These questions move us towards the exciting and creative area of envisioning the future and of trying to create a better way of living together – of community.

Of course when we’re faced with tragic and sad news from so many corners of the globe where war, suffering, poverty and famine exist, it seems too big a task to even begin. But we must begin – in however small a way. Remember: ‘No snowflake ever feels it started the avalanche’.

Earlier on I mentioned that we need to dip our toes (minds and hearts might be better parts of the anatomy really) into two contentious areas. The first was politics, and the second was beliefs.

The two are related, because you can’t develop political ideals and practical applications of them in the community without beliefs. But again I can hear the groan I used to let out at the word ‘belief’. I was attracted to Druidism because it didn’t offer ‘beliefs’ or a ‘belief-system’…and I had seen so much suffering caused by people holding on (to the death sometimes) to beliefs that ran counter to other peoples’. Just as thinking about ‘how can we build better communities?’ is more creative than thinking ‘what are my political opinions?’ So the solution for me regarding beliefs is to ask myself ‘What are my values?’ rather than ‘What do I believe?’

Behind politics, lie beliefs, behind beliefs lie core values. As a first step in engaging these issues I think it would be helpful for us as Druids – with all the diversity that we represent – to define our core values. As an Order we’ve recently done that with the concept of Love. Now, spurred on by recent world events, we’ve done the same thing for Peace, and we’re working on clarifying our values in relation to Justice and ‘Reverence for Nature’ – getting to the ideas behind our Environmental Responsibility Campaign and Sacred Grove Planting Programme.

These are, of course, very small steps. But if you believe in the magical concept that ideas are causal to physical manifestation – then getting our ideas right is the vital first step. As we see so tragically now, certain ideas are causing great suffering and distress around the world. But since as human beings we can’t stop ourselves having ideas and ideals, the very least we can do is try to have good ones – ones which result in the creation of a better world.

The challenge for us as Druids is to come out of the closet, and to start envisioning the future we want with clarity. That is, after all, one of the purposes of magic. I believe it will be a sign of the maturing of our movement if we start to do this – if we start to engage the wider ocean that we find ourselves in.

 

Peace to all Beings,
Philip Carr-Gomm /|\


A prophecy of peace proclaimed possibly 4,000 years ago, by the Morrigan after the Battle of Moytura* in Eire. It is a universal vision of peace that all peoples in all times can relate to;
(*Battle of Mag Tuired between the Fomoire and the Tuatha de Danan)

The Morrigan's Prophecy

Peace to Heaven:
Heaven over Earth
Earth beneath heaven
Blessed be all.

To the brim full:
Fullness of honey
Honey-sweet blessings
Summer in Winter.

Spears backed by shields:
Shields backed by forts
Forts ever ready.

Sod-thick wool,
Woods teem with antlers,
Finally, forever, destruction departed.

Nuts on the trees,
Tree branches drooping,
A drooping rich yield.

Wealth for a son

Yes, a son! (very learned!)

A bull in yoke,
Like a bull famed in song.

Knots in the wood
Wood for a fire
A fire when you want it.

Bright new palisades!
Their victory? Salmon!
The Boyne their dwelling
A dwelling unending.

New growth after spring!
Autumn? Horses increase.
The land held secure:
A land poets honor.

Blessed be the eternal
Most excellent forests;

Peace reach to Heaven, be nine times eternal.
Peace reach to Heaven, be nine times eternal.
Peace reach to Heaven, be nine times eternal.

Elen Everett Hopman

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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:23 AM)


CHRISTIANITY & DRUIDRY

One of the most striking characteristics of modern Druidry lies in its tolerance of diversity.
People are drawn to Druidry because they can practise and study it on its own, or in combination with other spiritual paths. Each spiritual way has gifts to offer, and some people find that they can combine the Druid and Christian approaches. Others combine their Druidry with Wicca or Buddhism, while others find in Druidry itself all the spiritual nourishment they need.

Here we invite you to explore the connections between Druid and Christian spirituality. To begin, we offer here a poem to inspire this exploration, followed by a personal account of how the novelist Barbara Erskine found Druidry helped her deepen her faith in Christianity. Then we offer links to essays and articles which delve deeper...

What if
Jesus and Merlin were to meet
At twilight
In the garden, in the grove,
One looking forward to the Skull of Golgatha,
One looking back on the Sacred Head of Bran?

What would they say to one another,
These men, these gods,
Who live in time beyond their lives—
One forward, one retrograde?

“Let this Cup pass from me…” says the one.
“May the earth open and swallow me,
May the sky fall upon me,
May the sea rise and cover me,
May fires consume me…” says the other.

“Take this cup and drink from it…” says the one.
“This is the Cauldron of Inspiration and Wisdom…” says the other.
“Do this in remembrance…” says the one.
“I know the Cup
From which the wave has overflowed.
I know the end of the dawn…” answers the other.

What if they do meet
There in the grove, in the garden,
Two avatars—
One about to ascend,
One about to descend—
Each serving the Chalice in his way?

What if Merlin’s Affallanau and Jesus’ Rood are the same Tree?
One rides it to his destiny,
One sits beneath to prophesy.

What could they give to one another
These prophets circling in their Time-long orbits?
Could Merlin say: “The seed is planted, the tree will grow
There is a thorn in Avalon that bears fruit in thy name.”
Would Jesus reply wistfully: “Kiss Nimue for me.
Tell her I love her beauty and her power.”

RoMa Johnson, 2004

The novelist Barbara Erskine writes of her experience:

‘When I was a child I set up an altar in woodland at the bottom of the garden. on it I put a little gold cross wedged into a lump of plasticine. Now, many years later, I realise this was a first expression of leanings towards what I now recognise as druidic Christianity, or Christian Druidism.

I came from a Church of England family and went to a school which worshipped daily in the chapel. Faith foundered however when I studied history at university. I encountered for the first time Christianity’s downside: it had been too much mediated by politics, cruelty, misogyny and fundamentalism, caring little for Jesus’s teachings of tolerance and love; it seemed to encourage exploitation of the natural world and it used the heavy hand of guilt rather than love to corral its followers. Like many others I questioned and fell away.

When I discovered Druidry it was a homecoming into a philosophy which encompassed all that I held dear and it brought me into the western spiritual tradition, something which had been part of my soul without my realising it. My world was animistic. I had always prayed to the one God and all the gods, feeling that that expressed my true beliefs even though I was not comfortable with wholesale paganism. The last thing I expected was for my studies and meditations to illumine and rekindle my struggling Christian faith. Or that they would reconcile my certainties about a supernatural world of nature spirits, ghosts and energies which seemed to be unchristian, into a church which included angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.

Druidry acted as a change of focus; a personal reinterpretation; an altered attitude. It shone a beam of light into a monochrome landscape and reminded me of an ancient church where Celtic saints had called blessings onto rain-soaked hills, where St Kevin allowed a blackbird to nest on his hand, where Brighid was both goddess and saint, a church where Our Lady was also the Star of the Sea, a blessed feminine warmth which a more puritan faith had distanced. Ancient prayers took on deeper meanings for me. Now the Benedicite read like a Celtic hymn.

The druidical circle of seasons was there within the liturgy, sacred geometry was there, though forgotten by most, as were the healing energies of stone and stained glass and the mysticism of ancient words.

Historians and theologians may find the belief untenable but I like the idea of long-ago druids segueing neatly with the changing focus of the heavens into a Celtic Christianity. It feels right.

My practice of meditation evolved naturally back into one of regular prayer and though prayer can happen every- and any where I set up a small altar of my own again. In its centre I have a beautiful statue made by a friend, of the Blessed Virgin, not a meek, mild obedient role model, but Queen of Heaven, with crown and royal robes. on her knee is the Christ child. At the four corners of the altar I have put symbols of earth air fire and water. There is a Celtic cross there, and flowers. Sometimes I have incense. Sometimes meditation oils. Sometimes this is the centre of my druid rituals. I use it as a place to pray, to meditate and to listen. Unorthodox? Probably. But it makes perfect sense to me.’

Barbara Erskine April 2005
Excerpt from What do Druids Believe? by Philip Carr-Gomm, Granta 2006

To explore this topic further follow these links:

Christians & Druids

Christianity and Druidry, strange bedfellows or a match made in heaven?


Meeting a Modern Druid Christian


The Ceile De

Druidry & Christianity - A Meeting Point

I'm a Christian can I be a Druid too?

What I Learned About Christianity From The Druids


Celtic Spirituality: A Unitarian and Druidic Perspective


Some Reflections on Druidic Christology
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RE:Path of Druidry
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:24 AM)


WICCA & DRUIDCRAFT


Druidry and Wicca are two entirely separate and distinct spiritual paths.

If you follow Druidism there is no need to study or be involved in Wicca, and vice versa.

But there are a number of similarities between the two paths, and some people combine Druid and Wiccan ideas or practices, just as others combine other spiritual ways with Druidry. This combination is sometimes called Druidcraft.

You can explore this combination in Druidcraft – The Magic of Wicca & Druidry by Philip Carr-Gomm and The DruidCraft Tarot by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm

Here is an excerpt from Druidcraft – The Magic of Wicca & Druidry

Druidcraft, Druidry and Wicca, are ways of empowerment and of freedom – not dogmatic religious systems, but new spiritualities, magical ones, that draw their inspiration from the ancient past, while offering ways of celebration and working that are constantly changing and evolving. Rather than presenting us with ready-made systems that we must slavishly adopt wholesale, they offer instead inspiration and the ingredients that we can creatively use to fashion our own unique path to suit our own unique lives.

The whole reason most of us are drawn to this path, rather than to one of the mainstream ready-made religions offering ‘all the answers’, is that somewhere inside, we know that we are not supposed to be a passive consumer of spirituality, but instead an active participant in a life that is inherently spiritual. We are not in the restaurant, we are in the kitchen! Earth religions like Druidry and Wicca offer us ingredients – ideas for rituals, stories, folklore, techniques – that can be combined in dozens of different ways to provide us, our family and friends with exactly what we need. They are ways of empowerment because they put us in charge of our lives, not ways of disempowerment with a priest or guru telling us what to do.

In the end it all boils down to this. There is you and the ocean. You and the sky. You and the land. Now and here. The old lore is not meant to remain preserved in a glass case. It is meant to be used, changed, added to and improved. It only stays alive if each of us takes it, and uses it in our own way, with our own creative additions and insights, to help us live a life of depth and meaning, beauty and celebration, here and now - upon this earth, beneath this sky, beside this sea.


To understand more about Druidry & Wicca see:

Loaded Words and Dangerous Cults - explains what Druidry & Wicca are and are not, and looks at early history.

More on Wicca & DruidCraft - looks at some of the recent historical connections.

The Harmony of Wicca & Druidry - an OBOD member shares her views.

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