It has been three weeks since the Centre For Pagan Studies conference ‘A Day For Patricia Crowther’. I had been asked to co-host and spent the day pretty much being a nervous wreck (I think I covered it up OK). I’m not used to performing as myself, I’m more of a costume and character kind of guy.
So I took my first beer of the day, at the end of the event, with the utmost glee.
Afterwards, we went to the ‘Gooseberry Bush’ for drinks and I managed to catch up with some friends of mine I hadn’t seen for a long while. I was chatting with my friend Daniel and from the Newark Home & Hearth Pagan Group: The Nathans, Heidi and Helen.
I love debate, especially when questions are brought up that allow me to really think about what and why I do the things I do:
‘So, why Druidry?’
Why indeed. Why would I follow a philosophy/ spirituality that conjures up images of long haired bearded men cutting off mistletoe at the Winter Solstice with a golden sickle (Thanks Pliny, thanks a lot!).
Why would I use a system that can claim only to be at least 3-400 years old in maturation?
The quick answer: Because it feels right.
There you go, that’s it. What’s that? You want more? But that’s the basis of it all, that’s the Truth (and classical Druidry was all about Truth). It is the flavour of spirituality and Paganism that resonates the most with me.
OK, here is how:
Since my childhood, I was always interested in the paranormal, ghosts, mysteries of the unexplained and UFO’s the lot (and scared of them too). There were two books that were a main influence: ‘Folk Tales and Superstitions‘ by S.O. Addy, my first ever glimpse into Antiquarianism and folk lore of local areas. The other was ‘Strange South Yorkshire: Myths and Magic in the Valley of the Don’. By David Clarke
(influenced, in turn, by the former).
In that book, I first encountered a brief description of the Celtic tribe known as the Brigantes, whom had dominated what was to become part of the North of England (The Brigantes dominated what is now Northumberland to South Yorkshire, approximately).
Since then, my interest in Paganism had always been attracted to the Celtic flavour rather than say, Anglo-Saxon, Norse or Traditional British Witchcraft.
It is the pull of the gods in the hills and trees as well as the goddesses of the waters I feel drawn to as well as the glory of our Sun and the beauty of our Moon.
I would never go so far as to say I am a follower of the ‘Old Celtic Ways’ neither am I a Celtic revivalist. But the gods that speak to me, the ones that inspire me and guide me do belong to those people who are nowadays known as ‘Celts’. And the Celts had Druids. It is debatable as to what they really were, Priests? Surgeons? Poets? The intelligentsia of their people, a combination of all of these?
The one thing I really like about Modern Druidry, especially in OBOD, is that it doesn’t pretend to be a direct descendent of classical Druidry, although some can claim to trace a vague lineage at best. A Druid nowadays would be vastly different from a Druid from 2500 years ago.
Ergo, in my belief in that I connect with the Old Gods of Britain herself, yes I use the Irish names for them individually, but the similarities between the gods of the ‘Isle of the Mighty’ and the ‘Isle of Destiny’ are there, linguistically and in character. Danu, for instance is ‘Don’ in Britain, the Mother Goddess herself. I write about this in the ‘A Message‘ post.
So when I learned there were modern Druids, I originally scoffed at the idea, how can that be when they are dead?
It wasn’t until I came across the book ‘The Druid Renaissance‘ and was brought to tears with a chapter about connecting with the Land that I thought, maybe this modern Druid stuff is more than just a ‘Druid flavoured witchcraft thing’. And yes. Yes it is.
Since studying and practicing Druidry I have faced parts of myself I am not proud of, I have admitted to myself where I am wrong and have done wrong. Through connecting with my Bardic Self, I have reconnected with the flame of creativity within. I have begun to reconnect with the actor/storyteller I have denied myself for these past seven years… and connecting with them yet again feels right.
The aim of Druidry in both the classical and modern sense is the encouraging of Awen or Imbas, the divine spark of inspiration. If this comes with my performing self, then that is my path.
And if Druidry is the seeking of Awen, then that is why it it feels right for me.
I did also discuss about looking to Druidry to help me connect with the spiritual source of these lands. I’ll go more into detail about that in part 3.