Druidry and service

The call to service is an important part of modern Druidry. This is not an especially unique feature as most, probably all religions try to instil in followers a duty to do something their people or deity would find useful. We don’t have any clearly laid down ways of giving service as a Druid. You have to find something that fits with your ethical position and your personal philosophy, and do that.

As a community we often do a very poor job of recognising each other’s service. The work put in by volunteers who create and hold together Druid organisations is often overlooked at best. Druid volunteers are often met with demands as though they are paid employees, or as though their gift of service makes it ok to use them. Accusations of only being there in service to your own ego and self importance are also depressingly common and demoralising. So we call people to serve, and when they do so within our own community, we give them a hard time over it, and we stand by in silence while other people give volunteers a hard time. That really ought to change. If you have no other service, consider standing up for those who serve as a good contribution to make. Look after your grove leaders, order organisers, event runners and ritual celebrants. Trust me, most of them need the help and will be grateful and more able for your doing this.

The picture is not so very different when a Druid goes out to serve in the wider community. It doesn’t help that every last organisation dependent on volunteers does not have the funding or the human resources to do the job. A willing volunteer will often find the gentle refrains of ‘can you just…’ and ‘we really need…’ slowly takes over their life. How do you say no to the good cause, the much needed intervention? How do you say ‘enough’ in the matter of service? It’s very hard to say ‘no’ when you’re acutely aware of all the things that are going wrong. When you step up as a volunteer in any capacity, you will expose yourself to more stories of all that is awful, and you will suffer, and need to do more. Volunteer burnout is of course one of the reasons that charities and the like are so often short of volunteers.

Serving in a sustainable way sounds like the logical answer, but emotionally it isn’t. Yes, if you want to keep giving you have to stay well. The decision to put you first rather than homeless children, the hungry disabled, the creature threatened with extinction… that’s not an easy choice to make and the more aware you are, the harder it gets. But make that choice you must, because more broken people means more that needs doing, more care that needs pouring into the mixing bowl, and fewer people who can give. Being part of the solution requires us to survive.

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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

6 responses to “Druidry and service

  • biahelvetti

    Oh I am glad to hear you say that – this was big on my mind today! I’ve been squirrelling at something to do with gardening and part of that came to the notion of feeding the earth…reflections on that theme then leading to feeding those around us etc etc… but I kept coming back to the same ‘you can’t feed others if you are empty’ and even more uncomfortable ‘sometimes you have to actually take/ accept (eek!) in order to give in the future.’ It’s a tricky thing to acknowledge you are not super woman… and to trust that you won’t then be ‘ditched’ by groups / individuals who have come to depend on your services to them…

  • locksley2010

    Yes, yes and yes!

  • bish

    Hmm. Nods sagely and moves on without comment for fear of fear… 😉

  • Serentawe

    Hmm, wise words indeed! To be of service we have to be serviceable, that is, mentally, spiritually and physically fit, and sometimes that means withdrawing until we are recharged.

  • helenjnoble

    This is the second reminder about this subject that I have read this morning…

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