When I first came to Druidry in my twenties, I was a serious, diligent student. I read widely, thought deeply, practiced deliberately and pushed very hard to try and be a Druid. With hindsight, I think this is an important opening gambit, and that coming in wholehearted and willing to make radical changes in your life is important, if not essential.
Moving from the mainstream into Druidry requires a consciousness shift. We start asking questions about our relationship with the rest of life, and that can create some challenges and demands. The need to live more greenly, with greater awareness and greater care seems to me an inevitable consequence of taking up Druidry. We might not have any set texts, but there’s a lot to learn around the modern history, mediaeval remnants and ancient fragments. There’s also much to learn about the natural world, your own ancestors, the land you live on.
What kind of Druid role do you envisage for yourself? Teacher, healer, lore keeper, herbalist, seer, peace maker, visionary… the aspect of Druidry that calls you to serve will make demands of your time and will likely require study and effort.
And so when a person comes to Druidry, there’s a lot of busyness in those first years. There’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of changes to make and it feels like a big, conscious investment.
Over time, either you decide it’s not for you and step away, or your efforts start to embed in your life. Remembering to do the recycling becomes normal, it’s no longer an act of dedication to the gods. The herb garden you planted is flourishing and in use, you no longer spend hours reading and learning. You can play the harp, you know some stories, you’ve read everything Ronald Hutton has written, you have a daily prayer practice, and a staff and a set of oghan wands and animal oracle cards and an altar in your home and a circle of Druid people to do ritual with… somewhere along the way it stops being a big, deliberate, conscious fight to radically change your life, and starts being just life.
I strongly suspect this is the point at which many people who lay down the title of Druid, do their letting go. Having done all the really hard work, they may be less conscious of the ways in which they are being actively Druid. It inclines me to think of the difficulties communist China had around the need to maintain the revolution. It wasn’t enough to revolt and start again, the revolution had to be an ongoing process everyone was consciously engaged with, to keep it alive and meaningful. In their case it meant there always had to be an enemy, someone to weed out and destroy. For Druids, the process may be the same but the implications tend to be different. Unless of course this recent bout of online angry infighting is all about keeping your Druid revolution alive by finding people to be cross with.
On the whole we are probably better Druids for letting go of the language, than for holding onto our Druidry by keeping ‘the revolutionary flame alight’ by starting fights with other people who dare to call themselves Druids, but don’t practice in the same way or uphold the exact same beliefs.