Bish asked, on facebook recently, how you become a Druid, as he had questions from others to tackle. I think these are the standard answers available. The general feeling is that recognition by other Druids is important in this.
1) You can’t. The Druids existed historically and were wiped out by the Romans. There are no modern Druids.
2) Train with a formal teaching body who will give you a qualification as a Druid (eg OBOD) Not everyone recognises the validity of any, or all of these, so this is not sure fire. Some people will recognise you as a Druid if you go this route, others won’t.
3) Demonstrate your Druidness through your actions. Being a priest, an author, teacher, lecturer or researcher will establish your Druid credentials. Except that there’s the small issue of how you get to be established as these things in the first place, starting from a place of not being a Druid.
4) Call yourself a Druid and steadfastly ignore anyone who says otherwise. Someone will say otherwise, this is one of the few reliable truths out there.
When it comes down to it, what we all do is option number 4, to some degree. At some point, for entirely individual reasons, a person comes to feel entitled to use the term. Study, attendance of rituals, recognition by others, and having bought a really snazzy wand can all contribute to this. We can do it out of ego and self importance. We can do it in service, in genuine belief and aspiration.
There are people who would like to be able to police who is entitled to use which terms. I’ve run into them on forums before now. I feel confident in saying we would never achieve an overarching Druidry structure that would teach everyone, bestow titles, decide who was allowed to call themselves an arch-druid, and otherwise define things neatly. There would be schisms, splitters, counter movements, and we’d be back to our current near-anarchy in no time.
You can’t tell if someone else is a ‘proper’ druid by making them sit an exam paper, or obliging them to do ritual in a certain way. And yet so many of us feel confident we know it when we see it. Apart from the people we know are getting it wrong.
I love this about Druidry. I love that anyone can claim the title of Druid, and that there is no inbuilt way of forcing conformity. I love the people who take their Druidry in crazy directions, and I also love the folk I heartily disagree with. More than anything, I love the fact that we’ve not given up being so hard to pin down, that attempts to shoehorn Druidry into tidy boxes have thus far failed. Long may it continue so.
You become a druid, by becoming a druid. And your first job as you take up the path, is to figure out, for yourself and on your own terms, exactly what that’s supposed to mean. To become a druid, you have to plough through all the things you will find and read about other people’s methods and definitions. You will have to cut a swathe through impenetrable and incompatible ideas, and you will be puzzled a lot. For every person who has so far embarked on that journey there will be a different story of routes taken, dead ends banged against, paths that just melted away in the night, teachers who were idiots, books that were unhelpful, rituals that didn’t work. And somehow, through it all, there is a not giving up. That’s probably the core of it. Decide you want to be a Druid. Weather the confusion. Seek your own path. Don’t give up. Get to the point of being able to call yourself a Druid.