How do you know if you’re a Pagan? Or for that matter, which branch of paganism you belong in? It’s one of those questions where the answers lead to more questions. The short answer is ‘resonance’. This is not a thing you find by rational, logical means, just a sense of belonging, of it feeling right. There’s no right way in, no bar to jump over that qualifies you to use the word, or many of the other words pagans use to describe themselves.
For some people, the absence of clear definitions is a problem. Anyone can call themselves anything they like, there is no formal hierarchy to give or withhold titles. Even in Druidry. This frequently surprises folk who imagine that big orders, or outfits like The Druid Network are somehow empowered to grant or remove titles. No one is. People pick them, and if others recognise and use them, they stick. (There is the option of looking like an idiot, also).
People get into paganism because they read a book, or saw a film. Young folk may come in via Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and so forth. For some it’ll be another fad amongst the many, for others it’s a doorway to finding true spirituality and a significance that stays. I’m not alone in having played a Druid character in a gaming system on route to self identifying as a Druid. The gaming did not make me a Druid, it taught me nothing of Druidry, but enabled me to realise how resonant that word is for me, that there was a deeper attraction I needed to get out there and explore.
It’s easy to mock people for coming to paganism through childish, foolish seeming doors. We don’t all get dramatic relevations on stormy mountaintops. We don’t all dream of Stonehenge, or have a Granny who really was a witch. Inspiration comes where we find it, and anything that takes us forward is good.
Most people study Druidry because something about the word, the history, the imagery and the myths calls to them. And that’s really all there is to it. Some folk will move on other places in their quest for self knowledge, others discover ‘home’ and stay. But once ‘inside’ it doesn’t stop there. What kind of Druid are you? Do you need to belong to an Order, and if so, which one? Do you need robes? A Script? A Qualification?
You don’t really speaking need anything beyond your own desire to learn, but there are people who will tell you all manner of necessities and try and sell you all kinds of things. It all comes back to resonance. What feels right? What speaks to your soul? If you have a deep yearning for a beard and white robes, follow it. If your Druidry cries out for mud, blood and moon rites, then that is your path. Whatever direction you are called in, the chances are good of finding fellow travellers (if you want them) and people to share the journey with.
Religion, all religion, is about mystery. It’s not about having clear answers, and tidy solutions. That’s just the trappings of religious bodies. It’s easy to mistake structures for spirituality, especially old and well established ones. It’s easy to want the reassurance of fitting in somewhere, having a label and a place to stand. But true spirituality is not about climbing into someone else’s box and being neat. It is about the calling of your own wild soul, and only you can know which path that sets you on.