Beyond being a Druid student

Most people who come to Druidry will start out making no claims about themselves. Recognising that ‘Druid’ is a weighty word implying a lot of things about your role, knowledge and how you are seen by others, new-to-Druidry folk tend to talk about themselves as being students of Druidry, on the Druid path and the like. At some point, a transition will happen from student of Druidry to Druid. Where and when it falls will vary, but there’s often an external trigger. Completing a course can feel like qualification. Leading your first ritual, or Grove, being asked to act as celebrant or to teach something to someone else are also points of transition. Once people ask you to do the job, they will use the ‘Druid’ title in regards to you, and you may as well get used to it!

Many routes to Druidry are self determining. Even in a structured course like OBOD, the responsibility clearly lies with the student, and as they come into their own power there will be a smooth transition from student to practitioner, most often. Where the difficulty often comes is around more personal teaching, where the student submits to the authority of a teacher. That creates a very particular dynamic. It is all too easy for the student to decide their teacher is the all knowing Guru, and refuse to move on from that into responsibility for their own spiritual lives. It is equally easy for the teacher to fall into the ego trap of feeling important because they have all these students following them around being terribly impressed by them, and want to maintain that.

When this happens, the students are not allowed to cross the threshold into their own Druid status. Or won’t let themselves. To move on they will have to break with the teacher – something I’ve seen happen repeatedly. As often as not, this process breaks the student and they retreat from what they were doing. It doesn’t do the teacher much good either, leaving a legacy of wounded feelings that doesn’t make it easier to let future students go. At some point, you have to recognise that even though there are always more things you could teach them, they are ready to go it alone.

How does a teacher avoid this? Not setting yourself up as an authority figure in the first place helps. Avoiding terms that imply power over, or submission to, may help. That way there’s less to break at the end. Don’t teach alone, and if you can, teach with someone whose outlook is different, to avoid dogma and create more space for the student to find their own version of Druidry. If you can’t do that, there are plenty of books now, so you can expose proto-Druids to other perspectives and make it clear you aren’t an absolute authority. If the student is drawn in a direction that is not what you teach, let them go. Don’t make yourself responsible for their spiritual journey. Ideally as teachers we provide tools and ideas from which other people can find out how they want to do things. If we try too hard to make students too much like ourselves we limit them, and take from them the scope to be themselves. If you are taking a formal teacher-student role, have a strategy for how you are going to release them into the wild at the end.

As a student, I would say as a rule the more devotion, acceptance, submission and passivity a teacher asks for (in any context, not just Druidry) the more reason there is to move on. A good teacher will help you be the best you can be, rather than wanting to align you with their own message.

I will always be a student, because there is always more to learn. As a student I have come to value most the fellow travellers who share their experiences without trying to hold authority over me. Where I mentor, I offer myself on those terms as well. One of the things I especially value about OBOD is the emphasis on the responsibility of the student, and the culture of being people sharing a journey. In such company, the transition to self-identifying as a Druid is powerful, but not painful.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. 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

16 responses to “Beyond being a Druid student

  • Along the Write Lines

    Hi Nimue, I enjoyed your words. I think the transition – in any tradition – can be a tricky one unless one of the cornerstones for development is self-responsibility. If that’s used as a touchstone throughout any training then taking on the mantle for your own path becomes a natural progression.

    Halevi’s book, School of the Soul, is a great read to prepare a student, a group, or a teacher, for some of the trip hazards!

  • eberis

    Hi . I’m used to being urban and got a lackluster set of Tea Party interruptions and suffix thoughts of modern coding to form what seems to be as obvious as positive or negative in modern sense of net.druidry . The path seems to be the afforded suppliance of ovate without making transition to language or communication with actual ovaten in terms of what Urban Druid are bad at is the pollution of odor and noise in a community where money is paramount and instead of passive Nature ., the community thrives on payment and ignorance . This is not your ‘ path ‘ . * . It is the way of Earth Day and technical modernism instead of the magic of nature as sacred and to be upheld . My comment about being mentioned in private at the solstice last summer and being kicked off of is not for this time . May “Nature” prevail and not be a bother to the want of free living . Thanks , hooray . My thoughts acipt ed ., I ask you consider this with a sense of humor . :o) adept geom . Pax

    • Nimue Brown

      I wouldn’t say money is paramount. I can tell you with OBOD, the money covers the materials and postage, no one who mentors is paid anything for their time. I’ve never been paid to teach, and most of what I do as a Druid is subsidised by other work, and like many semi-professional Druids, I have accepted a life of relative poverty in order to spend time doing the things I think are important. I’ve watched people who have far more money than me, say how unspiritual it is to want to be paid enough to be able to afford decent food and the rent. it’s not a position I have much sympathy for. I use technology, but not much (no tv, no car, no fridge, no washing machine) pretty much all I do use is the computer, because I think communication is important, and that the sharing of knowledge and ideas matters, and this way works. You’ve obviously come to the same conclusion, because you’re using it too 🙂

      • eberis

        I didn’t mean to bother actual OBOD ., I mean in the rule of urban living ., the community which should be faith based became a problem with loud and odor misconduct of those who would be associate to “nature” oriented community or ecosophy need a form of government subsidy to live and overuse the money of government payment to bother the community where some people live in a sense of non profit housing , which requires rent and supply , but it makes the “nature” oriented person seem to be the problem with community setting mis- allocated to loud and odor misconducts of what to do with Housing and Urban Development . I find out I’m not “allowed” to join non profit groups such as the SCA and the OBOD ., though it is what I work on daily besides cannabis ., . which is important to me in terms of new ecology . I don’t accept a mentor for learning a modern sense of Nature .,. but I enjoy the sense of modern2 network to set up the equivalent of Kingdom Come … Network . Sorry for the bother . Some faith based ovating is a somewhat ignored problem to faith based community . Thanks for your time . I understand non profit Ok . :o)

      • Nimue Brown

        I think urbanising and the whole separation from essential work and the natural world this has created, over hundreds of years, could certainly stand a rethink.

      • eberis

        Thanks . Nature is what we protect and the refurbishment of natural forests and natural settings is wanted . . but Earth Day and “Nature” setting of the problems urban life offers to a sense of Magical Network and the sounds and odors which are not ‘at one ment’ can bring about a Refurbishment of the Modern Age to prevent genetic tailoring of the food supply and flora in an urban sense of having peace with modernist ecological respect of the Earth as One Planet . Though I would like being able to enjoy quiet places and green flora , there is more to Nature than the remaining natural places . Urban setting can be a problem with want and worth but it is the lesson of ecosophy to begin new environmental education , such as recycling and preventing unwanted pollution as a former activist . :o) You seem to hope for a revitalization of natural settings . . I hope you have a Happy Earth Day 2015 A.D. being a year of comm. entertainment . Thanks , Nimue . Good Luck to natural peace .

      • eberis

        Unhacking algebra unende/ic obvoius with allocation of available wording to stop T-SQL terrorin in Congressional good aligned cannabis exchange to K.C. Stark morning summary of cannabis trade at Colorado will work on decode3

      • eberis

        I am finished with urban ecology protest and am working on a druid in retreat . it’s the Templar Story of a druid informing a small nation about a corporate giant controlled by a corrupt monier and the druid leaving to retreat to form an initiative 2 ✨

      • eberis

        You have a kind of hello world Pax friendly offline message .

  • JK

    Wise words, Nimue. The student-teacher relationship is best, in my own experience, when approached as one in which the teacher aims to help facilitate the student’s journey, rather than demand the student faithfully reproduces her teacher’s path (which is setting both parties up for a fall, I think). I also think the teacher who is open to learning from her student can be a more joyful, confident teacher. I like what you said about always being a student: there are always opportunities to learn, from peers, teachers, strangers, students, the land.

  • Teaching … | Elen Sentier

    […] really enjoyed this post by Nimue in Druid Life, so much so in fact it got me writing my own thoughts on the subject :-). Enjoy Nimue’s post […]

  • Elen Sentier

    Love your post, Nimue and it set me off to write my own and reblog yours! I was just going to write a response but then the words took over and it all got out of hand. I’ve just published it if you’d like to go read 🙂

  • eberis

    The terror day of Earth time portend viol and vitriol to al-acquiese in (c) macro nootropics of Texas violation of trust in the Books of Job and Malachi premit the End of the World in restitution of the now 7 Billion unwelcome plebians being 1.5 Billion living for hellion no wage . Venke and Davros Malachi of Gehenna and the indentured to herb or drug of suffing the Second Hell and the ethereal now being proselytize FeyWild what terror will end the Modern Age of foreign planeter and Yazi greed of genetics . How many must die in Armegeddon . Slaves demons and spirit guides of the End of Times . 9/11 is over .. on to Africa and Russia without world war . Amen . Latter Day Saints . Lord Druid urban mundane adept 2 .

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