What makes a Druid?

Following on from Those other people who should not be Druids, and the many fascinating and thought-inspiring comments. What makes a Druid?
It isn’t the name, really. We aren’t even sure where ‘Druid’ comes from as a word – there are many theories – and we don’t entirely know what it means, and we don’t know what the Druids called themselves, although we have guesses there too.

It isn’t the robes (those came from a mistake about some statues of Greek philosophers, apparently) or the beards, and it can’t be the gold sickles because no one has ever found one, and they wouldn’t work anyway.
I’m guessing that in ancient history, you were a Druid if you’d been taught by Druids and those who were already established said that you could be. Although given the speed of travel and communication in the ancient world and the general tendency of people to hive off and start new things, I’m also prepared to bet that even then, there was more than one kind of Druidry about, and probably a fair number of people who hadn’t got *proper* Druid qualifications and still used the title, or who were called it by people who assumed they were because they did the job. Even with the best organised system of education and regulation, there are still people who make stuff up and claim to be things they are not and I doubt that’s anything new. There are also people who just intrinsically are something, and for whom the piece of paper that confirms it hardly seems appropriate.

Buzzard commented yesterday that Druidry is heartfelt, and Symbian remarked on the importance of caring about what we do and giving it our best. Only in the safety of our own heads do we know what we’ve done, and whether we did it well or not. You can have a qualification and only the most superficial understanding of how to do the job. With the right coaching, you can fake a pass at most things, when you wouldn’t be able to sustain the work alone. This is not purely a Druid issue. How is anybody an anything? What makes me an author? What makes my bloke an artist? So often in life the titles aren’t really handed out. Anyone can write a book, does that mean everyone can realistically claim to be ‘an author’? As Wendy pointed out yesterday, many titles are so diluted as to be meaningless.

Part of me likes that. I’m not keen on authority, and the weakening of titles weakens arbitrary authority too. Part of me finds it frustrating, because the multiplying of meaningless titles makes it harder to see where the good stuff is, and makes the accolades less meaningful where they are deserved. On the plus side it means we’re all called upon to pay attention, to judge people by their actions and not the bit of paper (thank you Silverbear). We are all thinking creatures, and we can think for ourselves. When it comes to making judgements about what we do, and what other people do, your own mind is actually the only useful thing you’ve got. All the rest is just propaganda.

What makes a Druid? I still haven’t answered that, have I? I know what I think makes me a Druid, but that wouldn’t necessarily define anyone else. Nor should it.

Thank you everyone who shared thoughts and ideas yesterday, I greatly appreciate the comments, even if I don’t reliably respond to all of them.

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

3 responses to “What makes a Druid?

  • lornasmithers

    I guess the only way to answer this question would be to get every Druid in the world to write their answer, and the amalgamation of answers would only be valid for that specific point in time. The same goes for questions such as ‘What is Druidry?’ and ‘What do Druids believe?’

    Instead of addressing these questions in general, which seems to lead to go round in circles I find it more interesting to ask individuals ‘What does Druidry / Paganism mean to you?’ ‘What do you believe?’ ‘What do you do?’ (today). I think it would be cool to put together a collection of individual answers. Whatever happened to your Sacred Texts project?

    • greycatsidhe

      What you say rings true to me. I belong to a tradition that very much resonates with me, but when I talk or blog about Druidism, I tend to specify it as “my Druidism,” because my experiences and thoughts are my own. They may be more in line with a certain tradition, but I was drawn to the tradition because it matches my beliefs better than others – and even then, it’s not a 100% fit because I have my own little beliefs and traditions within my home. My relationship with my land will be different because I live and work with different land spirits. It gives each of us a unique flavor.

  • Nimue Brown

    Well, I’ve had quite a lot of interest in the sacred texts project, but it takes a while to write the so there’s probaby going to be a lead time there. Still scribbling away in odd moments, but I’m finding I can’t do it quickly….

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