Exercises for learner Druids

(Or, why I mostly don’t do that thing). I’m generally not a fan of little exercises for anyone, especially not delivered through this sort of medium. It’s one thing when you’re working directly with a student and helping them find things to explore, but with something like this, fired off randomly into the ether, it’s not a good idea.

Firstly we’re all different. What works for a young, bouncy, fully able person won’t necessarily work for someone with mobility issues or agoraphobia. What makes emotional sense to a westerner living in the town their family has always lived in, won’t work in the same way for someone who is a second generation immigrant in a very different climate. Each of us stands on a unique part of the world, with a unique mix of genetic and cultural heritage and little exercises tend to generalise and assume total similarity.

Then there’s the authority issue. If I tell someone to do a little exercise, I am at serious risk of asserting myself as great and wise Druid leader and teacher, and reinforcing the sense that here is an ignorant newbie who has to be spoon fed.  This is the dynamic of guru and follower, and it’s not how I want to work. I am always going to see myself as a student, and do not want to be in a place of authority over others. Many people come to Druidry when they are no longer children. They come to Druidry having lived, experienced, explored, contemplated and made choices about their beliefs and how they want to practice. I tend to assume that a person coming to Druidry already knows a fair bit, whilst I have no idea what it is they might know from the journey. None of that needs to be, or should be discarded; it is all part of who we are and what brought us to this point. None of us is a beginner.

I’ve been hit by little exercises that made no sense and sat awkwardly with me as emotional experiences. They were a hindrance to learning, not a help. A good tool offers a door, a path, an opening, rather than closing down our options.

So, how do we teach each other Druidry if not by giving the new folk little exercises to do? There are so many options. We can share ideas and experiences. We can talk about our own practice, and let people do with that as they will. Druidry is not doing little pious exercises every day for the sake of doing the little exercises, it’s about living, thinking, exploring and being. It’s about being real, not about issuing homework. It’s about figuring out what to do on your own terms rather than being told what to do by someone else. It is one breath to the next.

The more precise the little exercise is, the less useful it is. If it tells you what to feel, it is especially suspect. It is my belief that if we want to teach each other about Druidry, we have to let go of the desire to shape and control each other’s experiences, and the desire to have someone else tell us what to do. We have to let go of the idea that what works must work universally – this is not science, we aren’t looking for repeatable results and ultimate truths and we could afford more space for diversity and difference.

Do what makes sense to you. Do what inspires you. Do what calls to your heart. Do what seems important or necessary. Pause, reflect, wonder, imagine. Stopping to think about things is the only exercise any Druid, beginner or otherwise, ever really needs. Anything else it might be useful or appropriate for you to be doing, flows from that, from your specific circumstances and the direction you wish to move in. We should be looking to pass around flexible, adaptable tools, not little boxes to hide in.

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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

8 responses to “Exercises for learner Druids

  • EsotericMoment

    I completely agree! While in school I was an over achiever who loved homework, I don’t have time for that these days. So many Pagan/Spirituality books leave exercises at the end of chapters. Some are fun and useful, but most just frustrate me. An encouragement to go explore, be, and think deeply is much more inspiring.

  • crychydd

    Certainly the point is to get people to discover things for themselves rather than simply telling them what to do. Unless a sense of discovery is there nothing is learnt.

  • Aurora J Stone

    I found this post particularly affirming of some of my past experiences. I gave up on standardised courses for this very reason. I felt I was being molded into a particular sort of Druid. I find sharing with others online and the few times I have been blessed enough to gather with my fellow believers most rewarding. I learn more about the important parts of my Druidry, its nuts and bolts and warp and weft by walking and listening, being attentive and when appropriate journeying. Reading only took/takes me so far and when I got to/get to the end of that process is when the real learning happened/happens, and I became and continue to become more deeply enfolded into and by Druidry by my contacts and connections to/with the gods and ancestors and spirits of the land in which I live. For me they and my experiences with them are the real teachers, the lessons with the most profound value. That said words I have read/continue to read by those whom I know and respect provide maps for that sacred terrain I know as my soulscape.

  • Ryan

    What do you think of structured Druidry courses? I’m sort-of working through the OBOD bardic grade but generally tend to take my own path where possible. I very much agree that Druidry should not be about doing exercises and homework each week, but perhaps they can serve as useful signposts on a path (not *the* path) for beginners?

    • Nimue Brown

      Given that it is a written course, I think OBOD does a good job of opening doors and creating possibilities without being excessively prescriptive (I have done the whole thing). Treating it as signposts is an excellent approach – its supposed to be a framework, not the whole thing! I had excellent mentor support to adapt the course, and I played with it and explored all the way through, but it does help having some affirmation while you’re doing that.

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