Where do you belong? Forest, vale or high blue hill? Do you need heavy clay beneath your feet, or limestone? Is your natural habitat the coast, the desert, or moorland perhaps? This may not be about where you live, but where you have a deep sense of belonging. I’ve met many Druids along the way who have moved from the place they were born into a place that held more resonance for them. Sometimes that can be about an attraction to specific ancient sites – there are a few Druids who have gravitated towards Glastonbury, for example. It may be the history of a place we connect with, it’s current culture or something in the physical landscape.
Relationship with the land is something I consider to be a really important part of Druidry. ‘The Land’ can be an urban space just as readily as somewhere green. A Druid who feels more of a calling towards cultural, academic or political work may be much more drawn to urban environments. Wherever we are, we have a relationship with that space. If it isn’t where we wanted or needed to be, that can add complexities.
I’ve met a few people now for whom soil type is an issue. I don’t do well on heavy clay, I have discovered and find granite a big odd. I am certainly most comfortable on my native limestone. It is worth considering that a soil is not a thing apart. How water behaves is very much informed by what is in the ground, whether you get marshes or streams, whether water sits on the surface or vanishes underground, and what happens in heavy rain or drought are all land issues. Different plants thrive on different soils, so you get wholly different communities of those depending on what is going on beneath the surface. Plant life informs the kinds of insects you get, and the landscape as a whole dictates what kind of creatures you get in it. While many of our mammals are adapting to urban life, you still need water for otters and eels, trees for woodpeckers.
I haven’t done much formal ritual in the last few years, but the relationship between ritual and land is important for me, too. I need to know where I am standing. Increasingly I need to feel a sense of connection with that place, such that I can speak from it. It’s making me ever more wary about taking on distance celebrant work; I’d rather help people find someone closer to them. I don’t want to do ritual places I do not have a relationship with the soil. That’s a personal thing. Other Druids whose service is more angled towards the celebrant work in the first place probably find that the call to help people is stronger than the need to know the soil. It may well also be that for some, hundreds of miles of land can feel familiar, known and related to in a way that would be impossible for me.
Apparently there’s something very localised about my Druidry, and it pertains to the Severn vale – which to come back to the opening lines, does indeed give me forest, vale, high blue hill, and also river. It connects me to my personal ancestry, and to the Stone Age. There are Celtic and Roman archaeological remains around here, and everything since then. The limestone hills with their ancient grassland, flora and fauna, the hanging beech woods, dramatic views, the flowing water, and the many secret places tucked into what at first glance appears to be a tame and knowable sort of landscape. This is home, and very much where my Druidry lives. It took me a decade of not being here to properly understand that.