Of service and community

Nothing brings a person’s true nature to the fore like hard times and conflict. In difficulty, we see who is motivated by integrity and who puts ego first. We see who the peacemakers are, who the honourable warriors are, and who is all piss and wind. We see the control freaks, the fearful, the vindictive and the bloody stupid. All that is best, and worst in people tends to show up in the hard times.

Communities are difficult things. When two or more druids are gathered together, there will be disagreements. There will be personality clashes. There will be visions of how the world works that cannot ever be reconciled. This does not mean we can only hope to be groves of one, it means we need to work, and we need to have good and honourable intentions. This comes back to what I was saying recently about facilitating, rather than leading. A facilitator is not running something to massage their ego. A facilitator does what needs doing. A leader, on the other hand, will blithely do things that are not in the interests of their community, for the sake of themselves.

Bards of the Lost Forest had a core of three whose world views were not compatible. We made a strength of it, because it meant that there could be no core dogma, nothing others had to fall into line with. We accepted the different perspectives, and all was well. This was easy because we were collectively there to run an event, not to be important.

I’ve had a lot of experience of organising things over the last decade, and spent a fair amount of time in the company of other people who organise things. If you want it to go well, you have to be doing it for the love of the thing, and not for the desire to look good or be important.

It is difficult when the druid community has an occasion for collective shame. The last thing I want to do is stand up in public and draw attention to these moments. But at the same time, we should cast our eyes in the direction of the Catholic Church and child abuse, to remind ourselves what happens when we pretend not to see. To the best of my knowledge, we aren’t on that scale, and I pray we never will be. But in the meantime, we should not accept any kind of leadership that exists to serve the ego of the individual and not the good of the community.

I’ve been in conflict situations before now. I’ve had to consider what I needed, and balance that against what was going on in a wider context. I had a thorough stabbing in the back from people in my folk club, many years ago. I know what it’s like to be put in an unworkable position. While I did what I had to do to make things viable for me, I also kept my folk club going. I did not let my community down, but I did have some people leave it – their choice, not mine. Often, there are no perfect solutions to these things, but a bit of thought and care for the consequences and some attention to timing and detail goes a long way. I’ve found myself in conflict situations on the druid side too, times when public venting of anger and resentment might have made me feel a lot better, but could have caused untold harm to others. I’m proud to say that I didn’t do what I might have done.

People can, and will vote with their feet when they find themselves encountering ego and bullshit. To those of you who undertake to run things I would say, you are there to serve. If you aren’t there to serve, do not expect support.

To those many of you, facilitators and participants, who are doing what honour demands – in whatever form that takes – who are acting out of care and integrity, I salute you. Hang on in there. You represent the very best of what druidry is, and there are a lot of you.  More than enough to carry the day, to find the good, to make something worth having.


I’m not commenting specifically on Druid Camp, of course, having no direct involvement. I wish peace and the best of luck to those people trying to make a go of it, and have every sympathy for those who have felt obliged to step back.

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

5 responses to “Of service and community

  • Alex Jones

    Druids in ancient times met on a regular basis each year in Gaul. When the issue of ArchDruid came up, and several candidates, they fought to the death with knives to find the best of them. In most situations they settled disputes by the vote. Human nature though can result in mortal combat situations.

    • Nimue Brown

      you know, there are times when that would be tempting, or, it might make people less inclined to want the job. Either way, I see plus points, even though I very probably shouldn’t 🙂

  • Taryn

    Thanks for your thoughts…here here.

  • Buzzard


    I have tried different groves over the years with my first connection with a grove ending in a spectacular egotistical heap.
    Some of the issues I do not deny were my fault and I caused the explosion to bring the connection to an end.
    Unfortunately I was at the beginning of my Druid teachings and the experience has had an effect on me and how I interact with other Druids.
    At present I prefer to dip in and out of rituals where and when I choose and really enjoy the freedom. I at present have no structured grove, meetings or moot to attend.
    I do like the structure and dynamics of a grove though and hope maybe one day there will be one near me that I can resonate with feel comfortable and enjoy sharing ritual and like mindedness. Maybe I will step up to the plate and facilitate!!
    I was at Druid camp in 06, 07 and 10. I loved 06 at Dingastow but was not sure of the last one I attended on the hill in 10. What are your views?
    I presently enjoy and prefer The Mercian Gathering.


  • Nimue Brown

    When groves and groups work well, they are wonderful. From experience, there’s no one structure that reliably works, or for that matter, doesn’t, but the balance of energies, personalities, intentions and structure combine, and something happens. If you’ve got the self knowledge as a group of people, or I suppose as an individual planning a group, to work out what will suit best, you are in with a much better chance, I think. Taking the time to figure out the mechanics is so worthwhile. Letting it ‘grow organically’ is frequently a recipe for mayhem. I prefer organised chaos 🙂

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