What is Druidry?
Article ID: 15505
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: November 3rd. 2013
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There’s a joke in the Druid community that if you ask three Druids a question, you’re likely to get six opinions. Coming up with a definitive answer to the question, ‘What is Druidry?’ can be frustrating to the novice seeking to walk the Druid Path, simply because Druidry is such a highly individualistic path. The picture of the stereotypical white-clad old man with a long beard, standing in a stone circle, has probably never really reflected the true nature of Druidry. It certainly does not reflect the nature of modern Druidry. Modern Druids are of all ages and come from all walks of life. Although Druidry began as a religious and spiritual path of the Celtic peoples of Europe, modern Druids come from all races and cultures.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of Druid Orders. Each of these Orders has a different perspective on what it means to be a Druid, but each also shares a few things in common with others within the framework of Druidry. If you could distill these characteristics down into a few principles shared by all Druids, you would probably come up with something that my Order, the Black Mountain Druid Order, calls the Four Sacred Pillars of Druidry.
These Four Sacred Pillars are:
1.Reverence for Nature and our Ancestors. This means that Druids hold Nature, in all her forms, to be sacred. Druids recognize that we are not separate from Nature. What we do to the Web of Life, we do to ourselves. We treat all life forms as sacred brothers and sisters on a journey together. Does this mean that Druids ‘worship’ Nature? That would depend on what you mean by the word ‘worship.’ Personally, I do not like the word ‘worship’ because of the negative power dynamics it invokes. I prefer the word ‘reverence’ because it indicates respect without suggesting dominance. From this perspective, we are partners with Nature and its creatures. Think of the respect you may hold for an honored elder grandmother or grandfather, and you’ll gain an understanding of the difference between ‘reverence’ and ‘worship.’ While you may hold respect, and even reverence for an elder relative, you probably don’t worship them! Likewise, a healthy and emotionally secure Ancestor would not want or require ‘worship, ’ but communion.
2.Respect for diversity and individuality. This pillar recognizes the right of the individual to self-determination. While the path I walk is right for me, it may not be the right one for you. By respecting your right to determine your own individual path, I honor the diversity in the Universe. By expressing tolerance, I allow you the freedom to be who you are, and ask that you grant me the same freedom. The Wiccan Rede expresses this idea as, ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’ Although the Rede is Wiccan in origin, many Druids adhere to a similar principle as well. Some call it the Law of Karma. In Black Mountain Order Druidry, this principle is expressed as, ‘Primum non nocere, ’ which is Latin for ‘First do no harm.’ Imagine what a different world we could create if we could all simply agree not to harm each other, in spite of our differences! Note also that respect for diversity does not imply tolerance of intolerance. My intolerance of another’s intolerance is not intolerance itself; it is justice. Our Order strives for social justice, and one of the principles of social justice is to proactively challenge intolerance whenever we see it so that all people have an equal chance at happiness and growth.
3.Service to the Grove, to the community, and to the world. One of the aspects of recognizing our part in the Web of Life is the realization that we are all interconnected. If I work for the good of my own Grove, my own community, and the world, I ultimately benefit myself by improving living conditions for all. Conversely, if I act in a way that harms my community, I ultimately harm myself. This is similar to another Wiccan principle, the Threefold Law, which states that whatever you send out returns to you threefold. This has been expressed in Christianity in the idea that ‘what you sow, you reap.’ In Black Mountain Druidry, the idea is expressed in terms of balance. If you act in a way that unbalances nature, nature acts to correct that balance. In science, this principle is called ‘homeostasis.’ All things strive for balance. It is the way of nature. Druids honor this principle by actively working for social and environmental change so that ultimately life improves for all. In doing so, we restore balance to nature and to the world.
4.Spiritual and personal growth. As a spiritual path, Druidry offers many opportunities for learning and self-improvement. A goal of Druidry is to always seek the Awen. ‘Awen’ is a Welsh word, roughly translated as ‘divine inspiration.’ In Scottish and Irish forms of Druidry, the Awen is called ‘Imbas.’ In the Black Mountain Order, we usually use the word ‘Awen’ in honor of the Welsh origins of the concept. Awen is the means by which we seek the beauty of the world around us. From a Druid perspective, knowledge and inspiration go hand-in-hand. Where knowledge meets inspiration, there is wisdom.
The Four Sacred Pillars may be summarized succinctly as, ‘Reverence, Respect, Service and Growth.’
So in answer to the question, “What is Druidry?” I would say that if you have a deep respect for nature and our Ancestors, diversity, and individual freedom, and if you are interested in personal spiritual growth, and if you would like to use these interests for the betterment of your community and the world at large, then Druidry might just be the path for you. My particular path is to honor Druidry as practiced by the Black Mountain Druid Order, but there are other Orders as well. Some of the larger ones are the Reformed Druids of North America (www.rdna.org) , Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (www.adf.org) , the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (www.druidry.org) , and the Ancient Order of Druids in America (www.aoda.org) . To look for a Druid Order near you, try the Druid Network at druidnetwork.org.
Copyright: copyright 2013 by Charlton Hall
Location: Marietta, South Carolina
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