Druidry outside

As a modern Druid, you may well be drawn to doing your rituals and celebrations outside. I’ve read descriptions by fellow Druids of getting soaked and frozen, being out all night, covered in mud and so forth, and I find myself wondering, is this what the ancients would have done, or is it actually both a reaction to, and a consequence of modern life?

Oddly enough what started me down this line of thought was a blog post about the archaeology of homelessness, and a dig in Bristol. Homeless people were invited to get involved, but most didn’t want to do any actual digging because they had nowhere to clean up and dry off, and so couldn’t afford to get wet and filthy in a hole in the first place. Our ancient ancestors had roofs and fires, but they didn’t have hot showers or tumble driers. Get a garment absolutely soaked, especially if it’s a wool garment, and then try to dry it, with just wringing out, and fire heat. It takes a while. Now, if you have lots of other clothes, this may be no big deal, but if you don’t… it’s a crisis.

I know runners who go out in all weathers and get soaked to the skin, and are fine with this. But they have places to dry their clothes, are not running water from a water tank for that hot shower, and I think this makes a lot of odds. I’ve been soaked to the skin a few times this winter. I have towels and changes of clothes, but what’s at a premium is drying space, and so I don’t get wet voluntarily. Not even for ritual. I can’t afford to.

I’ve also found that, since taking up residence on the boat, I’ve not felt the same need I used to, to reconnect with nature at regular intervals through the year. I’m living in such intense relationship, day to day, with the outside, that this has changed me. Light levels, weather conditions, visiting wildlife all impact directly, so there is no ‘reconnect’ issue. I’m here. Nature is all around me. I don’t especially need to sit on a hill all night to remind myself of the realities.

Our ancient ancestors owned a lot less than we do, lived far closer to the land than we do, and did not have anything resembling tumble driers. Did they go out and freeze their ancestral bottoms off, and get themselves soaked, for the sake of the Gods?

Maybe they didn’t.

Which does not invalidate our doing so, if we feel the need. If mud, cold, wet and the immediacy of living reality are not a normal part of life, those acts of reconnection are very important. You could do it by running just as well as by ritual, with the right intent and consciousness.

I’ll finish with a half remembered quote from Good Omens, in which it is observed that the female heroine, Anathema, had a mother who spent six months living in a field in order to get back to nature and understand why humans had spent thousands of years trying to get away from nature in the first place…

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

5 responses to “Druidry outside

  • Angharad Lois

    Wisely observed. Perhaps the more sheltered we are from the elements, the more extreme the experience needed to reconnect with them. I often reflect on the fact that I only started practising as a pagan when I moved away from the countryside. I long to get back there, in tune with the land and its seasons, where it can feel just as valid to mark the turning of the year with a nod of recognition as with an elaborate indoor ritual.

  • Anny

    My nan was deeply connected to the natural world, – think little old lady living in the woods – she would have thought you’d gone soft in the head to deliberately get soaked or filthy. But she lived in a one up, one down cottage, without hot water. Laundry was an all day manual labour. Getting outside – yes, getting drenched – no way.

  • greycatsidhe

    Very interesting point! You may be correct that it is a modern reaction to how society has moved. I know that, personally, although I live in a rural area, I can’t seem to get out of doors enough. Work keeps me from it, and by the time I’m home, I make dinner and then I’m exhausted. In the warmer months, I tend to spend some time on the patio, but all the same, I often yearn for the forest when I’m least able to run off. Most of my Druidic work takes place at my home altar which is inside, but I make a point of going out on the High Days, or getting into the forest to make special offerings to the Nature Spirits. It just feels right somehow. Although the average person among the ancient Celts probably had to be very careful with their wardrobe, I wonder about the Druids… They weren’t exactly poor, and we know they did some rituals outside… In the end, I don’t fault a Druid – or any Pagan – for doing a ritual indoors. It’s all up to personal preference. I know what I prefer, but you are right about intentions being important.

  • Buzzard

    Hello Nimue,

    I feel it is important for the individual to connect anyway they can and to do what feels right for them in their personal situation.
    The key is to take the time.

    Now – I feel a night on a hill coming on.

    Blessings Buzzard.

  • Alex Jones

    I doubt there was many rituals done in the dark times in ancient Druid times, as it was a time of death and loss. These people also did rituals in caves, and in the centre of every settlement there was covered shrines to the ancestors.

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