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…