Druidry is not democratic, and generally speaking, this is a very good thing. When people ask of Druid groups that they be more democratic, this tends to be a problem. Here is why.
In a group, grove, order, camp, or event, someone holds legal and financial responsibility. Whatever happens, that person, or those people, bear the consequences. No one should be asking for a democratic say when they are not sharing in the legal or financial risks, and the people taking the risks have to be able to make the decisions.
Similar things happen around work. If people do not have an equal responsibility for doing the work, they should not have an equal say in what happens. When plans are made by committee and implemented through the labour of a minority, this can easily become exploitative, the demands for work can be unreasonable. Generally speaking, people who are doing the work, especially when they do it as unpaid volunteers, have better morale when they are able to do it in their own way and on their own terms, than when they are being told what to do by people who are not doing the work.
If there is sharing of legal, financial and working responsibilities, then, and only then can people speak democratically to each other about what should be happening and how to do it.
Unlike a country, Druidry offers us other ways to vote – principally that we can vote with our feet. If you don’t like how a thing is run, go to another thing, or set up your own. If you don’t like a teacher, go to a different one, or undertake to learn without guidance. The multitude of Druid Orders, authors, blogs, groups, groves etc means that no one has to stay where they feel ill at ease, and anyone can start something. This is also a good thing.
On the flip side, those who run things do have a responsibility to listen. If you aim to serve the community, not your own ego, then you’re going to have a vested interest in finding out what that community wants and needs. We need to look hard at who we enable and who we exclude, who we flex for and who we give no ground to. If we assume car use and gather in places inaccessible without a car, we’re making some very troubling choices about who is welcome and who is not. Equally if the venue isn’t disabled friendly, excludes children, has no toilets to hand, then we’re making decisions about excluding some people.
Druidry is not democratic. However, the idea that Druidry is about relationship is a recurring theme, and this is a much more productive way of thinking about how we organise ourselves. How do we support those who serve? How do we interact with those who lead? Why do we want people following us? Who are we listening to? Who do we have space for? There are power imbalances in the Druid community. Some of us are more privileged than others. Needs vary, as does ability to participate.
There are always people who want to talk about what they think someone else should be doing. Or not doing. This soaks up a lot of time and energy and tends to achieve very little. Supporting people who are doing, undertaking to do what we can, listening to those who are limited and need our care and support, communicating openly with each other and treating each other even handedly while recognising that there is seldom an equality of responsibility… that would seem like a better way of approaching things.