Fully Qualified Druid

Get on facebook, or into any online, public Druid space and you will find people who want to determine who is, and is not a ‘proper’ Druid, who is a ‘better’ Druid than whom, and who is therefore the most important. It doesn’t take many over-loud voices to create an impression that Druidry is a judgemental space, as hierarchical and dogmatic, full of rules as any other religion. You must do this, a proper Druid wears, says, owns, celebrates…

Bollocks.

(Actually, to clarify, a proper Druid does not necessarily own, wear, say or celebrate bollocks, but they remain an option).

Why are we pouring so much time into telling other people what they ought to be doing? What does it matter? I don’t think it matters at all. If you aren’t behaving antisocially, if you aren’t hurting or harming anyone else, why should I care in the slightest why it is that you call yourself a Druid? Why should I mind if your Druidry looks different to mine? If I trust the value and integrity of my own work, why would I need the affirmation of yours looking really similar?

Sharing what we do, for the purposes of mutual inspiration and to enable exploration, is a wonderful thing. Coming back with the results of experimental Druidry and taking about it, is brilliant. Let’s do that. I want to hear about the things you’ve tried and the inspiration you’ve been blessed with.

The fear of course is of dumbing down and falling standards. If we do not hold the boundaries and control who can be a Druid, then those other people will get in. The ones who do it wrong. The silly ones. The other sort. They are easily identified because they are not like us. We, on the other hand, are fine and reasonable, our Druidry underpinned by solid things, properly studied, thoroughly justified, and it is outrageous that anyone should suggest otherwise. And you know, maybe we need to do this a bit less. Maybe it is born of insecurity and a need to prove how good and special we are, and not a consequence of anything useful or spiritual at all.

You might want to consider not participating in those conversations. There is one thing that I am certain of, and it is this: The truly wise and for-reals modern Druids are not on facebook for hours at a time dispensing judgements on the quality of other people’s Druidry. They’re out in the woods, or working the soil, or practicing their craft. The really serious Druids (whoever they are… I may have been lucky enough to meet some) are not manifesting their religion on facebook. Anyone who shows up there touting their superiority has, as far as I can see, already invalidated their stance by wasting their time and energy bickering on social media. Anyone who seeks their Druidry on facebook probably deserves what they get. Pointers and inspiration are one thing, facebook Druidry quite another.

And yes, I say this very aware that I’m writing a blog that will share automatically to facebook, but I’ve never told anyone they can’t be a Druid, and I don’t mean to start now. I’m not an authority. I’m not so hard core and for reals that I have the right to trample other people. Do I have the right to grumble about the folk who get on facebook and pick holes in what other people do? To turn to those who say ‘this is not Druid enough’ and say ‘actually, this facebook nit-picking is not Druid enough’? No idea! But I’m doing it anyway.

I’m working on getting off the computer, spending more time on real things, and not getting sucked into endless, circular online debates that achieve nothing. As a consequence I find I am a good deal happier and I get a lot more done. I offer that by way of possibility. In the meantime, if someone online questions your right to be a Druid, don’t get stroppy with them directly, it just feeds the beast. Ask yourself if there is some other place you could be and some more rewarding thing you could be doing… because that’s where the real Druid action will be.

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

11 responses to “Fully Qualified Druid

  • Troy Young

    Very well said! Thank you for clearing the air on a subject that creeps into other segments of the overall Pagan community as well.

  • kelly

    Dear Nimue, I always look forward to your musings on druidry and druids, and especially your latest missive on the critical nature of some individuals who use social media as a pulpit for their own agenda, which is often judging others who are on their own path. I limit my time on facebook for that very reason, freeing up my time and energy to actually DO the things that truly identify one with the druid way of life, which to me is exemplified in generous, caring acts of kindness toward others, and to Mother Earth, the source of all good things. I am so glad I found your column, and the gifts of the druid path, and enjoy connecting with other druids, even if their ways are different from my own. That is part of the fun, and one of the reasons why I left a more formalized, rule-ridden religion, to find spirituality in every day life that I can actually see, feel, and live. Thank you for sharing your gift of expression, and keep making that pudding!
    Blessed be, Kelly (Arvada, CO)

  • sdruid

    I read over your blog entry on “Fully Qualified Druid” and I see you doing the same thing you say you dislike. Quote “The truly wise and for-reals modern Druids are not on facebook for hours at a time dispensing judgements on the quality of other people’s Druidry. They’re out in the woods, or working the soil, or practicing their craft. The really serious Druids (whoever they are… I may have been lucky enough to meet some) are not manifesting their religion on Facebook.” End Quote

    You yourself are telling others what is in your belief “a for-reals Druid” is. The biggest issue is not that others are online discussing what is and is not a Druid or is or is not Celtic. It’s that there are people like you who make people who are not informed or knowledgeable think they don’t have to actually know anything to call themselves Druid. You are belittling and watering down a practice both spiritual and physical that was for the most part, part of a culture for over 2500 years or more. They were so much more then just nature worshiping people.

    With there not being some holy book or master authority to guide us in what the Celts and Druids did, then these discussions and debates not only are going to occur but have to occur, otherwise why even claim you are anything at all. If you use the terminology to describe your faith, path, and lifestyle then you need to be able to not only effectively discuss it but have a firm foundation to stand on. Because there are people that will want to discuss and ask for your facts. If all you have is your belief with nothing but quicksand to stand on, you eventually will drown. If you make claims are state facts that are not true then you not only do yourself and your beliefs a disservice, but you harm those that are looking for their beliefs. One of the reasons many leave Christianity is because they can’t just take it on faith, they need foundation that is not based on lies or manipulation.

    Now I know there are some groups out there that are basically personality cults or people who just want to pat each other on the back. But there are many online forums both Facebook and otherwise that have led many a people to find deeper understanding of not only their faith but their path and practice. If you take offense to someone asking questions or picking apart statements you make, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at yourself and your foundations for your belief or path rather then attacking those who would ask the questions.

    Off my soap box.

    • Nimue Brown

      Dear Senior Druid! I’m not going to lay out my learning, my personal history, my qualification or my practice for you here, because that’s very much my point. You are welcome to judge me on any terms you like and to publicise that judgement. Feel free to flag up any facts that I have stated that are untrue – I do make mistakes and I welcome correction and the input of people who have insights beyond my own. I welcome any good question that takes me, or anyone else deeper into a topic, and spaces where that happens are good places to be. However, I find all sorts of places people turn up and, from a place of knowing nothing whatsoever about who I am, what I do or what I know, and without knowing those same things about others, feel entitled to make judgements. I am weary of that, I consider it pointless. You’ve just made a heap of assumptions about me based on what you imagine must be true, given that I do not wish to engage with ‘I’m a better druid than you’ conversations. You are welcome to those assumptions, but no one is obliged to take that seriously, which was my point.

      Thank you for illustrating my point so well, it is helpful to have ‘live’ examples to work with. Your Druidry is not the Druidry I personally want. Other people are responsible for deciding whether they wish to follow your inspiration, mine, someone else’s or their own.

  • Rober Leland Hall

    Thank You —- True searchers don’t look for followers or make rules—–They share their experiences —–Love Always to you and the Spirit that Moves you —Nimue—–I am just an Old Taoist with Earth bound Druidic roots—–The people that concern you have always concerned me from the time I was a small child in this life—-Thank you again

  • Corwen

    I have some sympathy for some of Sdruids points, and I am certainly not going to mock or belittle anyone here or elsewhere for taking part in this important discussion, whatever their views. And certainly not for having a Welsh name!

    As Sdruid says, a label without any foundation is meaningless. If all Druid means is ‘person who calls themselves a Druid’ then does it have any meaning at all?

    Personally I see modern Druidry like a river, it has a mainstream and it has backwaters and eddies (it is a very broad river) but it is also possible to say something about where and what it is and where it is going, even though its channel is very braided. Someone may think they are paddling in the river called Druidry, but if they aren’t anywhere near the same body of water as everyone else then maybe they would be better described, and better off describing themselves, as something else.

    So though Druidry, and Paganism, are both hard to describe, I feel that I know them when I see them, and I could have a stab at describing the features of their main channels, although no exhaustive description could be attempted.

    • Nimue Brown

      There are, without any doubt, meaningful debates to have, and debates that we need to have in an on-going way, exploring what it means to be a Druid. I’m entirely open to that, as it happens. As a basic courtesy, when people open those debates in a respectful way, the whole processes seems a good deal more valid to me. You demonstrate beautifully what it means to raise the issues, rather than asserting yourself at people. From there, we can have a conversation. Walk up and insult me, and I’m not likely to try and have a good debate, or see much point in trying. I’m not a saint, I am entirely capable of taking offence and being wounded, irritated, affronted.

      As I see it, given that the practical reality is that anyone can call themselves a Druid, and given that to police that would be to destroy something about the self-determining intrinsic to Paganism, some other way is needed. I personally do not feel troubled by the diverse nature of Druidry or the confusion this causes. I don’t need those firm boundaries in anyone else’s life. I find it ironic that the one thing I’ve just been heckled for is saying that real Druids go out and engage with nature. Since when did that become contentious? There aren’t many things I think are essential, but an actual, personal relationship with nature, based on doing, would seem an obvious ‘must have’.

      As for Welsh names, or Gaelic names, I feel uneasy about cultural appropriation in all forms. Actual Welsh people tend to have English sounding surnames, due to an atrocious act of colonialism that saw the entire Welsh naming system crushed by the English. Thus when I see that kind of Welsh name, which is not like a traditional Welsh name anyway, especially in this context, I assume (and perhaps wrongly, but was cross) appropriation, and that’s not something I like.

  • tommyelf22

    “…with there not being some holy book or master authority to guide us in what the Celts and Druids did…”

    Damn….all this time, I was under the impression that Druids followed what Nature shows them…never figured that the elder ancestors just ran down to the corner bookstore and grabbed a hold of their “authority” there….

    ::shaking head::

  • Angharad Lois

    I like to play the “cultural appropriation game” on a lazy Sunday morning with the newspapers. If someone writes about, say, “trekking in [the Yucatan] with descendants of [the ancient Maya]” I change it in my head to “trekking in [Pembrokeshire] with descendants of [the ancient Celts].” A little substitution can provide a remarkably clear bullshit-detector. Most attempts to make something sound mystical and romantic and ancient also have the effect (unintentionally or otherwise) of robbing it of its modern significance and power. They’re doing it wrong, these Welsh people; they’re not following the idealised vision I have of the ancient and mystical Celts who I am sure are my true ancestors, so it is up to me to claim their REAL cultural legacy (case in point: https://www.causes.com/actions/1750126-honor-the-ancient-druids-killed-at-anglesey-island)

    We’re all ultimately human and all our cultures and languages in their various forms are just as rich and beautiful and spiritual in their unique ways.

    *steps off soapbox, with a grateful nod to Nimue for the opportunity to raise this point*

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