Druidry and the Ancestors

Yesterday I heard from Moon Books that my new title, Druidry and the Ancestors, has a home with them. I am delighted, and feeling very inspired with the work I’m now doing on my third Druidry book (more of that another day). I thought this would be a good day to say a bit more about what I’ve been doing, and why.

It all started when I read Ronald Hutton’s ‘Blood and Mistletoe’ last year. It’s a book every druid should read. It is not comfortable, making clear the many uncertainties in what we ‘know’ about our ancient pagan ancestors, and the sheer embarrassment figures like Iolo Morganwg inspire. Dealing with our more recent Druid ancestors, is a challenge we need to step up to. Out of ambition, imagination, possible insanity, they crafted the roots of our modern practice, and many of us repeat their words without knowing what they are and where they came from. I got to the end of the book and felt an overwhelming urge to try and respond to it in some way.

In the last few years I’ve been living in a land that is full of family history for me, I even spent six months in a cottage where, including myself and my son, 7 out of the last 8 generations of my family have lived. That was a profound experience, bringing me closer to my blood ancestors. What I thought I was going to do, was write a book all about my personal experience of ancestry, recent and historical, and talk about my personal reactions to Hutton’s work.

When I’m writing non-fiction, the extent of my planning is to get down my chapter headings and a few key words as to what content I should cover. In fiction I’m a ‘panster’ working to too tight a plan in either form makes me miserable. The frequent consequence of this is that projects change as I work on them, and what I have at the end is not what I envisaged at the beginning. I got to the end of the first draft of Druidry and the Ancestors late last year, and realised I had accidentally written a history book. This, frankly, was a bit of a shock. It resulted in me doing a lot of things the wrong way round, because I then needed to do some research to fill the gaps in my knowledge and deepen my understanding. Cries for book recommendations ensued. I read a lot more pagan stuff, explored the work of Honouring the Ancient Dead, looked at laws around the dead, treatment of bones, repatriation of indigenous people, radical political history, women’s history, social history, older writers tackling paganism, bad pagan history… the research took over, and anyone so inclined can track bits of where this was going by wading through old blog posts here. It was a learning experience.

The second draft was a much more academic style piece than the first, resulting in a mix of the scholarly-ish and the personal, which may be where I’m going as a writer. I’m not an academic, I’m a mere Bachelor of the Arts, but to write the kind of topics that interest me, I’ve got to wrestle a bit with giants. I don’t want to write impersonal, authoritarian texts, and the only way to avoid that is to keep it personal and individual, I think. It makes for a curious juggling act.

I’ve had one review already, which does suggest some pagans are going to hate what I’ve done. I think I’m ok with that. I believe in what I’ve written, I’ve offered it as my take, not an ultimate truth, if it offends people… so be it. Pagan history is not what we might want it to be, but I think we need to be honest about that.

This time, I’m doing the research first (I think) and I know where I’m going (I think) and probably by the time I’ve written it, I’ll have a whole different book from the one I’m imagining now. Notes from the journey here, as they occur to me, and, thank you all for being part of this. I’ve included an acknowledgment section and it does mention how much I owe to all the people here who feed back. So if that’s you, this is a book that sort of has your name on it. And thank you.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. 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

2 responses to “Druidry and the Ancestors

  • Alex Jones

    Druidism and Neo-Druidism are two different rivers, it is one of the first ideas that a pagan has to understand. Druidism is a philosophy of an entire culture, a tribe, a community. Neo-Druidism is the focus of the individual, and their place in the cosmos. I like both of them, and I shall take an OBOD course at some point.

    I can point to one difference between Druidism and Neo-Druidism, which is ancestor worship. If Grandma dies, I doubt very much the Neo-Druid will be leaving her out to the crows and flies to eat; then collect her leg bone and skull to nail to the front door; nor head off at least once a year to hold a feast in her name at the family grave where stories are told about her and every other member of the family.

    Does the pagan know what Sea Henge, or the “cove”, or the recumbent stone circles were for? You lay the corpse out in those places to the elements to decay, then the bones are collected, some parts distributed amongst the family members, the rest buried or cremated. Thats why there are skeletons found with incomplete body parts, because the body parts were taken as part of ancestor worship.

  • M. Shaffer

    Congratulations on your accomplishments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: