Sooner or later just about every online discussion group for Druidry seems to get round to the idea of how irritating it is that anyone can call themselves a Druid. Those other people, the ones who do it all wrong and don’t know enough, inspire everything from frustration to full on outrage. If you’ve dabbled in any groups, odds are you’ve seen it. Any idiot can call themselves a Druid. They don’t even have to speak a Celtic language or know mediaeval Welsh mythology. They don’t have to be qualified herbalists either, nor do they need a degree in astro-physics, medical training and diplomatic service experience.
Why are we, as a community, so often obsessed with wanting to hold a boundary that excludes someone else from being able to call themselves a Druid? Why do we care? Am I any less a Druid because Fred at number four thinks that all you need is the right robes and a spangly wand he got off ebay? Am I any less a Druid because the Ancient and Austere Order of Very Serious Druids have not initiated me? Whose approval do I need? And who, come to that, needs my approval? Nobody, I hope.
Anyone can call themselves a Druid. Anyone can call themselves Napoleon Bonaparte as well, come to that. Titles are only as meaningful as we choose to make them. I could declare myself Queen of the Faeries, if I wanted to be pointed at and mocked a lot. I could call myself ArchDruid of somewhere or other if I wanted to. No one can stop me. Mostly what stops me is that I don’t care enough and really can’t be bothered.
Druidry is between you, and your land. You and your Gods, if you have them. You and whatever tribe you serve. It comes down to what we do, not what others think of us.
A frightening amount of time gets wasted in these pointless debates about who isn’t a proper Druid really and how nice it would be if we could have some regulating body. There’s a reason we don’t have a regulating body, and it is simply that there are far too many kinds of Druid and forms of Druidry out there for us ever to satisfactorily agree on who we ‘in’ and who we reject. I fear the truth may be that many people who want to regulate simply want to make everyone else do it their way. You won’t find many people on forums writing to the effect that they fear their Druidry is a bit shabby and lacks the proper intellectual underpinnings and bemoaning the shortage of people to tell them how to do it right. The people who come asking to be taught do not do that, and rightly so.
Amusingly, to make this stick I would have to go out and forcibly convert the Druid community to my way of seeing things and make everyone do what I say. Well, not this week, I’ve got better things to be doing, like looking at the sky and talking to the cat. And anyway, no one would go along with it I tried, which may be as well.
It doesn’t matter who calls themselves what. It matters what we do, whether we do it wholeheartedly and with integrity, whether we are any good, whether it works.