1, being this post on the concept of honour by Nimue Brown, it gives a great comparison on honour being an excuse to beat people up and honour being a sense of doing the right thing, despite all odds.
2, being a conversation with Devi regarding religion and her stance being that any form of organised religion is a method of control.
Both of these made me think of my concepts of honour and what religious laws (if any) that I followed.
What came to mind was my favourite quote from Diogenes Laertius when describing the observed law of the religion of the Celtic people:
“…. to honour the gods, to do no evil, and to practise bravery….”
Diogenes Laertius was writing about the Druids and the law they taught to the rest of Celtic society, he referred to Sotion and Polyhistor as is his sources, so this is really based on the accounts of other Greeks writing about the Celts. I don’t know if this was based on fancy or fact. Either way, when I first read this (must be about 13 years ago now!) It stirred something within me and I hold it within my heart, the first triad I had ever learned. If there was any actual religious edict to “follow” it is this. Even if the observance wasn’t strictly true, respecting ones ancestors, not giving in to moral weakness and having courage in all things can’t be a bad way to go.
I also follow, if that is the right word, the modern tenet of responsibility:
We, and we alone, are responsible for our lives and actions. Our will, our happiness and our destinies are our own.
Not a Druidical phrase per sè, but definitely a theme and mode of thought that came about in the 20th Century.
What moral codes do you work with and what inspired them?
Is the question that was brought up when filming ‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’. The question isn’t about what methods I use in my Druidry, it’s about how I apply it to my everyday life.
New question: is Druidry something I am or is it something I do? Is more accurate in the basis of what I mean.
There are a few people for whom, their Druidry defines them. It’s what they do, it’s who they are and it’s what they make of themselves. And fair play to them. Not everyone can market themselves as a Full-Time Druid and make it their living.
For some, being a Druid is having a flashy title they can use as a status symbol, some people love the pomp and decoration when they say “Oh, I’m a Druid you know” knowing full well it makes them appear a little bit mysterious and of course, they become the talking point. And it isn’t just in Druidry you find this type….
For the majority, being a Druid is belonging to something. It’s being in touch with a path that resonates with you and allows you to see the world in a more respective way. It also shows you things about yourself you may not have been aware of; both good and ill. It was for me at least. Still is.
For me, I’m being a Druid when I’m there for someone who needs somebody to talk to. Or organising and running my Robin Hood Moot here in Nottingham. I’m being a Druid when I’m asked about something spiritual or being asked to perform a ceremony for a milestone event (I have one child blessing under my belt now). I’m being a Druid when I go to a place, pick up on the spirits there and pay my respects, or say a blessing of peace upon the rat one of my three cats killed and decided to bring back with them. I’m being a Druid when I’ve been asked to give a talk to a group of some kind. In short, I’m being a Druid when being of service to people and in my approach to the world.
When learning my Gwers, I am both being a Druid and doing my Druidry. In reading the course material, making notes, researching and practising out the Practicum, I am being, doing and learning all at the same time.
I am doing my Druidry when I pick up my books and start researching and making notes, or practising a solo ceremony, or meditating. I do my Druidry when lighting my candle and giving thanks or leaving offerings to the gods. I do it when telling a story to an audience.
There are two spheres in my life I don’t apply my Druidry, or it’s not the main focus, should I say. The first is on my acting. Being an actor, I have to become someone else, and they aren’t Druids. So, here at least it becomes secondary. Although I can feel the energy of the cast and crew and work with it accordingly. Strangely enough, there’s a lot of talk about energy when it comes to performing, not just in terms of stamina, but also in that it becomes something palpable and can either feed or drain the performer. Plus, a lot of performing work is ebbs and flow. My Druidic outlook stops me from feeding envy and arrogance, instead it encourages acceptance and knowing when to act and when to let go.
And there’s the survival job. Druidry and sales don’t really mix, although going through my day to day business, Druidry applies to my job more than I thought: being consciously mindful of materials I can recycle and re-use, reading a customer and either working with the energy they bring, or respecting their privacy when they have made it very clear they don’t want any assistance. And then there’s my thing about being truthful and honest. I remember reading in Peter Berresford-Ellis’ book ‘A Brief History of the Druids’…. (this was the book that introduced me to what Druids were and I put a lot of stock in his research, even if there are a few things that have been found to be false), and reading a part about Druids searching for the concept of Truth above all else. And this has informed how I look at things, and so if a customer tells me something that won’t work on their project, I have to tell them. Both in my service and in my core beliefs.
I take it back, Druidry does apply to my both my work and performing life, it wasn’t until I considered the questions raised in this post that I didnt realise how much.
So, if you ever feel the need to question how your beliefs and practices apply to your everyday life, or if, like me, you weren’t even sure until you start accounting for it, then look at what you are, what you do and when you are being.
Alban Hefin “The Light of Summer” is the name aptly used in OBOD for the Summer Solstice. Sometimes Alban Heruin “Light of the Shore” is used, either way, both names are used for the festival of Midsummer and neither are wrong.
This year, the Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere) was on Friday 21st June. I spent the morning walk to work reflecting on the nature of the Solstice and about what I wanted to do in the evening when I got home and how to celebrate midsummer in the garden.
I thought of the things I have achieved this year so far as well as the one stumbling block I just couldn’t think of a way round. Until I decided to take time out and regain my energy. And so, the following came to mind:
Every now and then the Sun, much like life, is obscured by cloud. It might be a short while, or it can be weeks. We might get a patch of sadness or frustration or we can’t see the light to a situation because all we see is the grey around us. Our minds fogged by confusion and fear.
And yet, behind those clouds, like the next day to our night, the Sun still burns. It’s light still shines in the cold universe, it keeps on going.
There is that saying about the darkest hour being just before the dawn, and I think there is truth in that.
In Modern Druidry, there is the maxim of “In light there is darkness, and in darkness, there is light.”
And for a few years after first reading that, I didn’t really get it. Until one night when I saw the first stars come out.
The light you may be seeking might be as brilliant as the Sun, breaking out of the cloud cover and it’s heat clearing the sky. But beware of staring at it for too long!
Or the light you seek may be as soft as the moon, close yet far and reflecting the sunlight to show the way.
Or the light you seek in your darkness could be as faint as the first stars before the night grows dark and even though you can’t see it at first, once it shows itself you can’t un-see it. And that star might be distant and faint, but it’s shine could be brilliant once night sets in.
The point is, that we may have times of cloudiness in our lives, we may have the confusion of fog, or even be lost in the dark. But these are temporary, and the light you are looking for might not be what you were expecting. Sometimes we have to make our own light, make our own way out of the dark. In other situations, we simply have to wait, let our eyes adjust to the dark, or to wait for the cloud to move, the star to show itself, or for the dawn to come.
‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’ is a documentary about modern day Druids and what they do. The documentary follows the narrative screenplay of a young girl, Gemma, who stays with her aunt and uncle, only to catch her uncle in his robes and performing a prayer to a tree. Her uncle introduces her to the concept of Druidry and takes her into the Derbyshire countryside on a pilgrimage. Asking questions along the way, Gemma learns about the spiritual path, the outdoors and herself. Throughout the film, footage of interviews with real-life, Druids will be shown to answer either one of her questions, or to back up a point the characters discuss.
How and why did I get involved?
In that weird and wonderful way of being contacted by a friend, who has a friend who knows a friend making a film. Seeming that I was one of the few Druids my friend knew who might be up for getting involved, he contacted me, then I was put in contact with the film director Roly Keates.
Roly had made more than a few documentaries previously, all based in Derbyshire: ‘The Wheel’ – a documentary about a spring in Belper. ‘If Walls Could Talk’ – the Romanticism of Drystone Walling. ‘Shred of Rome’ – A documentary on Romans in Derbyshire. ‘Lost History of Belper’ – a historical look at Belper, Derbyshire.
After talking with and meeting Roly, I felt relaxed in that he was sincere and genuine in his interest regarding Druidy. He came across it and felt it important enough to make a doumentary on the subject. I was initially an advisor, telling him my interpretation of Druidry as well as what little we know of them historically. In talking and chatting, and yes I had mentioned I am an actor, he asked if I’d be interested in playing the part. Well, I wasn’t going to say no to that kind of opportunity!
So, why did I do it? Because there is so little media representation that makes Druids and Pagans look good. Let’s be honest, we’re often portrayed as either being middle-aged hippies to be laughed at best, or robed lunatics seeking attention at worst. After talking with Roly about his project and seeing for myself he was taking Druidry seriously and wanted to portray this in a good way, I figured this would be a good thing for modern day Druidry and Paganism too.
What did I learn from it?
I learned to see Druidry through the eyes of another, how they perceive what I practice in a different light. The character I played (Dylan, very apt as that’s also my stage name) saw Druidry as a force for good in the world and seeking harmony in our existence. This made me realise how ‘bookish’ my Druidry tends to be and made me question how much and how little I actually practise it in my everyday life. I also learned that I can never learn my lines enough. One scene includes a huge monologue which, when filming, I just couldn’t stop getting wrong! I was very frustrated with myself but I learned something valuable: it’s not enough to know your lines, you have to know them backwards and upside down too. Kinda goes without saying, really, but hey-ho.
I learned how essential it was to use play to make my co-star feel at ease. By this I mean the girl who played Gemma, whom at 11, was playing in her first proper film. I felt it important for her to be relaxed, so we got to know each other through chatting, making faces at each other and playing games in between takes. Apart from going through our lines too! By the end, we’d developed a good camaraderie and when Roly told us to talk amongst ourselves in the Pilgrimage shots. It might look like we’re in deep conversation, but we were really talking about favourite colours, what our pets are like, pop songs and even a one-word-story game. She was cool, we made each other laugh.
Not really something I learned, but feel I have to say was how beautiful the Derbyshire countryside is. Whether it was standing before the oldest pear tree in the county (In Roly’s Aunt’s huge back garden, no less!), walking up to the stone circle at Arbor Low in both sunny and cloudy weather, walking amongst the buildings of Magpie Mine, sitting on rocks in a stream at Shining Cliff Woods, or standing on tall rock and visiting the “Druid’s Chair” at Harborough Rocks.
Would I do it again/get involved in another project like it?
If we had to reshoot something, absolutely! Would I do another project like it? No. Once I finish a project, I consider it done, so why would I do another of a similar ilk? I enjoyed performing in this one and I’m looking forward to it’s completion. If there was another documentary being made on the subject, I’d have to question the maker before joining in.
Well, hello there! It’s been a whilst since my last blog post. Sorry about that. Life stuff. Will explain later, I promise.
For now, I Just wanted to share this link showing a clip from last week’s filming.
I’ve been involved in a documentary about Druids called ‘A Druid’s Pilgrimage’ Directed by Roland ‘Roly’ Keates. In fact the snippet shows me (under my actor name “Dylan Knight”) playing in the drama narrative that threads the interviews with real life Druids together. I’m currently on day #3 of filming and can’t wait to see it when the whole thing is done.
Anyway, here’s the link, sorry it’s on FB at the present, but more blogs will follow in regards to making it as well as the premier.