While the likelihood of us ever again having a culture that is governed by Druid principles is small, I think it’s still worth considering what that would look like. Would it even be viable to have a culture where Druid ideas underpin government, law and so forth? I think one of the measures of any idea’s usefulness is whether it would work to have everyone adopt it, or what the consequences of universal uptake would be. Foolish things which cause no problem in the hands of a few lone idiots can turn into nightmares if they get a widespread hold. We could compare atheism and fascism on this score, the first has contributed to improving the human condition, the second becomes murderous once it has power. What would Druidry become, if universal?
The next question is, whose Druidry are we talking about here? My brand of liberal, inclusive, non-dogmatic Druidry, or something more controlling? Something more about titles and people who want to feel important? I think as soon as Druidry becomes dictatorial and authoritative, it’s no different from any other kind of self serving tyranny. If Druidry was universal, it would acquire all of the self serving tyrants, and I am not confident that all of them would become liberal, benevolent Druids. What this mostly suggests to me is that it probably isn’t in our interests, or the interests of Druidry, to have Druidry be universal. I can’t help but feel the anti-materialist, liberal healer and pacifist from the desert wouldn’t be at all happy about the wars and oppression rich men have undertaken in his name. I have no desire to see that happen to us.
One of the things Druidry has in common with other faiths, is the aspect that, if everyone took it up and practiced it with integrity, we wouldn’t need much in terms of systems and mediations. The reality tends to be, in any religious climate, that most people do not go deeply into spiritual practice. There are plenty of people in the UK who call themselves Christian but only turn up for rites of passage and show no discernible Christian influences in their daily life. Plenty of people who call themselves pagan are no different, wanting to learn a bit of magic, acquire a bit of glamour, turn up in their best cloaks for the odd ritual, but not really change their lives. So far, history suggests that this is what the majority do with all religions – surface, recreation, power base, ego boost, social engagement; the non-spiritual aspects of religion tend to dominate, while the majority resent being expected to put any ideas into practice.
It is, for example, one of my most certain beliefs that a person following a spiritual path should begin by putting aside their television. TVs take too much time and energy from us, and feed us wrong ideas, wrong beliefs, wrong desires. Every time I say this there are squeals of protest from people who have so many reasons why their television is good, helpful, contributing and needed. They like it, they want it, need it, consider that it benefits them. I can call it spiritual poison until I’m blue in the face, it will make no odds. Except with those who have come to the same conclusions for the same reasons and made the jump already.
A society run on superficially druid principles would, I anticipate, be hardly any different from what we’ve got. We’d change the language a bit, we’d drape beards and robes over a few things, dangle some conceptual mistletoe and get back to business as usual. Superficial religion only has the power to change surfaces. Again, look at the kind of right wing ‘Christian’ business in America, and what you’ll see is the demand and aggression of greed, trying to use God for its own ends, wearing a mask of belief behind which behaviours utterly at odds with the essence of the faith, continue unchecked. At least being a minority faith, we don’t have to watch Druidry being perverted in the same way.
If everyone followed a spiritual path deeply, the differences in what we practice would not be that important. The heart of every major faith involves peace and harmony. The essence of every deeply observed spiritual path, is spirituality. Along with that, are versions of virtue. While understandings of virtue vary between faiths, acting with responsibility and compassion are frequent themes. In a world in which everybody made it their job, in all their waking hours, to undertake everything they did with care and respect, with compassion and honour, we wouldn’t need any systems. We would not need the police, judges, courts of law. We might need people to help facilitate mediation and figure out best solutions, but that would be it. Government would only exist as a way of facilitating bigger projects and things we couldn’t manage at a more local and personal level. We would not need much in the way of laws, we would tackle each situation as it came, seeking the best for everyone and able to trust that everyone else was also committed to finding the best for everyone. Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? But the reason we don’t have that, is because most of us, as individuals, have chosen not to do it. And when you stop to think about it, that’s pretty shocking.