Yesterday on facebook there was an exchange of thoughts round the subject of folk who mix their druidry with something else. All the Buddhist, Christian, Shamanic, Druids and to a lesser extent those whose druidry is not as orientated towards what little known history we have. Some druids are priests of land and trees, have no geographical ties to the UK, and perhaps no ancestral ones either, but still feel the call of druidry. There are those who feel these are not ‘proper’ druids. The mixing of paths is a dilution, the getting away from ancestral druids just plain wrong. That’s not my opinion at all.
Partly I’m the sort of person to say ‘an it harm none, do what you will’. I don’t see I have much right to interfere with what others think. I can’t say I’m not the sort to criticise or judge because here I am, doing just that. It’s not the focused, UK soil based, Celtic ancestry inspired druidry that I take any issue with at all. It’s anyone, regardless of path who thinks they have the monopoly on truth, or the right to say that their druidry is better than someone else’s.
I assume most of us quietly feel that our druidry is, if not superior, then most suited to us. If we don’t think that it’s because we’re still trying to figure out where to go with it. There would be no point following a spiritual path you thought was a lesser option. But we are all different, and the most meaningful path for one, would be absolute nonsense to another.
That was the easy bit to explain! There are other aspects here, and it’s to do with my sense of what druidry is, and what it is compatible with. My sense of those ancient druid ancestors, lost in the mists of time, is that they were an erudite bunch. I see not just priests of the land, but teachers, healers, astronomers, meteorologists, philosophers, experimenters, innovators, law makers, peacemakers. As a consequence I see the intellectual life as an intrinsic part of my druidry. There is no subject unworthy of consideration, and no subject that cannot be considered from a druidic perspective. Including other religions.
If druids are peacemakers, harmony seekers, bringers of understanding and insight, then one way of doing this is by having a foot in two camps. It has been claimed that the druids of old disappeared by quietly switched over to Christianity. I can’t help but think the odds are good that some of them did, just as some Celtic peoples, perhaps druids included, became somewhat Romanised. For the modern druid, to walk two paths, to know two ways of seeing the word, is to be able to mediate between those two worlds, so that each may better understand the other.
As we travel through our lives we may, each of us explore a number of paths. Most pagans are not born into pagan households and must therefore negotiate a relationship between the beliefs of their childhood and the paganism they later adopt. I know several pagan Christians who have no desire to let go of Jesus, but who understand God as manifest in nature and are happiest honouring God in that manifestation. Equally someone from a rationalist background may carry that questioning, sceptical approach into their spirituality, and still be an entirely spiritual person. Many pagans come in through wicca still, not directly to druidry. I don’t think we should ask anyone to give up their affinity with paths they have walked in the quest, or to try and unpick the influences they already have. Few people come to druidry as clean slates ready to be written on. We need to honour what we already have. And if the path calls us in new directions, should we expect to leave all memory of druidry behind? I don’t think so. Who we are is a consequence of all the places we’ve been. If other people seek to work thoughtfully and honourably with that, then I for one will not resent, fear or dismiss the paths taken. I’d rather take the opportunity to learn something new.
Finally, there aren’t a great many ways of learning druidry, especially not when you compare it with many of the more established religions. Books are few, especially for anyone past the druidry for total beginners stage. Where do you go? Teachers do not grow on trees. (Sometimes trees are teachers, but that’s a whole other story). You have an urge to learn, a spiritual quest to undertake. So you explore something more widely available, and try and evolve that into your own druidry. We take what we can find. I see no wrong in that either. I think druidry can be found anywhere. It’s broader than any one definition, deeper than we are ever likely to grasp, and not so fragile that we will hurt it if we dare to mix it up with other things.