Learning Druidry from the trees

I’ve seen two wonderful posts about trees in Druidry this week – Damh the bard here http://damh.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/stillness-and-the-born-survivor/ and on the fundamentalist druid blog here – http://phoenixgrove.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/oak-totems-and-what-druid-really-means/


How we learn druidry is a very interesting question. I’ve heard plenty of druids talk about the religion of the ancestors, the Celts and what fragments we have left of Celtic tradition. I find a great deal of inspiration from things Celtic, but it is not the absolute core of my Druidry, and the reason is this: The Celts did not learn their religion by studying fragments of Celtic mythology. It is possible they inherited something from whatever went before, but if you take that back through time, there must, logically, be a starting point. There must be a place and a time where a person was inspired to think a thing.


When it comes to book religions, it is fair to say that before the book, the religion did not exist. Take the book away, and the religion would cease to be viable. While many pagan paths depend to some degree on our textural knowledge of old gods and myths, paganism as a whole does not. The idea of paganism, or the sacredness of nature, the spirit in all things, a multitude of divinity and so forth can be found over, and over with no reference to older cultures or beliefs. Paganism is a response to nature. While there is nature, we can viably keep rediscovering paganism.


I believe that my Celtic ancestors venerated the natural world, although that is not all I think they believed in. It is also my belief that they were able to find this for themselves, not in half remembered myths, or borrowed ideas, but from immediate and personal experiences of nature and deity. And of course, trees. So I very much agree with my fundamentalist friend about the essentialness of trees in Druidry.


Trees, historically have been vital to human life. Each kind of wood has its own unique properties, and humans have been utilising wood as material for as far back as we know about. The Stone Age was also a wood age. Trees are housing, fuel, and the raw material for almost every civilized activity there has ever been. We might turn more to metals and plastics these days, but trees and earth, wood and ceramics are the material basis of human civilization as we know it. Our modern relationship may seem different, but the breath of trees, the soil holding, life giving, rain influencing magic of trees is no less essential than it has ever been.


The experience of being in the company of trees defies language. Trees do not normally speak in human terms, but that does not mean they cannot be heard, experienced and felt. In their age, their seasons, growth patterns and slowness they are a wholly different kind of entity to us, and yet the scope to learn from them is vast. Who we are when we are in the trees is not always who we are the rest of the time. Put a child in a wood if you want to see what a free range, inspired human being looks like.


The knowledge of trees does not give authority to humans. It does not make the holder of texts or language the controller of spiritual truth. It does not create a text that can be waved under the noses of disbelievers or used to explain us to other faith groups. By its very nature, what we learn from the trees is hard to express human to human. I have felt it, and I have no words to speak it. Even if I had those words, I would not want to write them, because speaking it is inadequate. It needs to be felt, individually, uniquely, each of us finding it in our own way. Druidry is not in books, it is in groves and forests, in the trees of our cities even. It is also in the sky and the soil, but these are harder still to engage with, and not always the easiest place to start.

Druidry is listening, and feeling, it is knowing and doing. And we might also find that in relation with each other, in moments of shared inspiration, and we might guide each other in useful directions, but no one can just hand this over wholesale to someone else. No matter how philosophical a religion may be, it is not an intellectual premise. But it is also entirely available to anyone who decides to go looking for it.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Learning Druidry from the trees

  • Buzzard

    There is nothing more grounding and at the same time uplifting as spending time with our tree friends in woods, forests and groves.
    I am always in awe of the diversity and ever changing magic that exists when you allow yourself to be open to tree spirits.
    At this time we are also blessed with the blossoms, bluebells, primroses, wood anemones etc on the woodland floor as the sap is rising and the leaves are bursting open with the freshest of green shades.
    The abundance of wild and insect life is amazing as we move through to the later stages of spring and into summer.
    Learning about the trees and plants heightens your interaction with them and you can sense their very being encompassing you.
    At one with nature as we are intended to be!! I also feel that working with the ogham is good way to form relationships with trees in your locality.


  • corvusrouge

    Of course the big advantage with venerating or worshiping nature compared to the other text based religions, is that you can prove the existence of nature whereas….

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    Great post, Nimue. Follows nicely something I realized anew this week – being one who loves knowledge and books and digging and delving into whatever subject I am chasing on my own. I overheard another group in a restaurant having a spirited discussion about spiritulism/new age items. They were mentioning books, but also deliberating on all the “I am seeking/searching/looking for answers”…
    I am not big on esoteria. (yes, I too went though that phase once, LOL!) I have found a workable path for me, so am not out searching for answers to explain…etc. But – It hit me how many are often into the discussion of it – but haven’t really arrived at “a” path, that they can use to align end results, or actually apply to their own life.

    The mentioning of the trees had me chuckling – because it hit me anew back there at the restaurant, how everyone seriously seeking something, when all the yammering esoteria is done, will arrive at the point where the discussions/ and seeking, or the layers of other parties’ thoughts, and/or the faddishness, ENDS. The world becomes silent and infinite and new, and it simply becomes the yearning to simply start LISTENING or reaching into their source directly, to that which is making one’s spirit strings chime. It is a wonderful thing to learn to hear whatever truths one may find, directly addressing oneself, without the busybodieness and clangor. Thanks for the post!


  • Solitary Druid

    “Even if I had those words, I would not want to write them, because speaking it is inadequate.” Probably why the first ones didn’t either. 😉

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