Ritual Druidry

When I first came to Druidry, doing the rituals associated with the wheel of the year seemed like the most important thing. The tone and style of Druid rituals, and all the things that made them different from other people’s rituals, seemed to define what Druidry is. I was able to learn the seasonal approaches by participating in a Grove, and going on to study with OBOD affirmed, and firmed up this learning (amongst other things).

For some years I ran an open gathering and a closed circle – again with seasonal ritual being the main features. As an organiser, it started to seem to me that the most important things about ritual were the bringing together and bonding of communities, and getting people who were not otherwise much engaged with the seasons or the natural world, to engage meaningfully. For busy urban Pagans, those eight festivals a year were key opportunities to get out to somewhere green and stop for a while.

As an organiser, ritual became something I did for other people, and my own practice shifted towards something more private, less structured.

In recent years I haven’t had a group of people who wanted regular ritual from me, so I haven’t organised any. It’s not something I want to do on my own account any more, aside from being occasionally drawn to the sharing-with-people aspect.

At the moment my involvement with the wheel of the year is much more a day to day process, with no big celebrations. I engage primarily by walking, and by seeking out the changes that go with each season. Finding out which flowers bloom where and when, and seeking them out, has been a major feature over the last few years.

Four years ago or so, I had no idea how to be a solitary Druid because the community work defined my path for me. For a while it felt like showing up to write this blog was the only discernibly Druid thing I had going on. Recognition of, and deepening of my own relationship with the land has changed how I feel about a lot of things. Ritual for personal practice makes a lot less sense to me – generally the more involved a ritual is, the less sense it makes! Minimal practices to hold meditative group work I am fine with, and that’s all I have going on at the moment on that side. Showing up for collective Druidry has become an aside, not the main thrust of what I do.

Learning to trust that the unshowy, private, confers neither power nor importance stuff, is also Druidry, and is Druidry even though there’s no one outside my immediate family to validate what I’m doing, has taken a while. I still think of proper Druidry as the kind of thing clever people do in circles while wearing robes, but I feel increasingly out of place there. Not clever enough, robed enough or drawn to circles enough. I think there is room alongside that for something more personal, less useful to anyone else, less easily spoken of.

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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

12 responses to “Ritual Druidry

  • Blodeuwedd

    Very encouraging to hear you say that. I sometimes feel that all my Druidry goes on in my head! I have worked through the Bardic Grade and this year am making a real effort to just spend time outside (harder than it sounds!) Because I have never really done communal Paganism (partly because there are not that many opportunities in easy travelling distance) I sort of feel the opposite…that some sort of communal practice would be helpful to me…even if its only the chance to meet and talk with other Druids a bit. One of the reasons I am going to Druid Camp this year…and ridiculously excited about it! But ritual has never really done it for me…ritual actions, yes, and rituals for a purpose (I am currently working for a PhD looking specifically at funeral ritual) but robes and quarters are not really my thing and any attempt at rhyming couplets is a real turn off…always nice to know I’m not the only one!!

  • moodymoons

    I recently started following you and this post really spoke to me! 🙂

    In the beginning of my experience (not Druid, but pagan) formal ritual gatherings were a key feature of my practice. I learned a lot by attending and organizing them. But as the years have move forward, I also find myself celebrating in more personal ways that are rooted in nature. Even something as simple going to the farmer’s market to gather seasonal ingredients and make a meal for like-minded friends can be a meaningful way to acknowledge The Wheel.

  • corvusrouge

    I’ve never much cared for communal ritual as such, certainly not the eight fold wheel (which is why I was more comfortable with the six fold wheel Brython used). It has its place, but much like most things, it is, IMO, time specific. I see communal ritual as akin to making an announcement to the other than human communities to announce your presence. but just like in real life, you really don’t need to make an announcement every time you enter their space. I do still have a private ritual i may do in different landscapes but it done when requested of me by those other communities and do you know what? It doesn’t tend to be on the marked days of the eight fold wheel. So I do join in with seasonal rites with the group I am with up here, but probably only 4 maximum. Druidry, the religion of change!

  • SteveT

    I’m far too self-conscious to be comfortable with group/public ritual. I’m not a natural joiner-in anyway and I wouldn’t dress up in robes if you paid me. In the examples of ritual I’ve seen, the language comes across like a bad parody of the King James Bible and the actions like a Year 8 Drama improvisation class (I’ve done cover lessons for a few!). I’m sure it’s not like that for the participants and that the problem lies with my perception filters but those I the ones I wear and I’m stuck with them.

    I do have my own private patterns of behaviour which I suppose you could call ritual – each morning I check my small garden to look at what’s grown (or died) and to see the squirrels in the wood behind arguing with each other and every evening I take a moment to think about each member of my family – but there’s no formality in these actions and no verbalisation.

    Over the last year or two though, I’ve been to a couple of Apple Wassails and a “Crying the Neck” (end of harvest) (and like so many of my age I’m a recovering morris dancer – nearly 40 years without a dance now!). I’ve recently realised that I’m quite comfortable with “folk” ritual. I think perhaps the majority of our “ordinary” pagan ancestors lived this way with simple “folk” rituals rather than the “high church” robes, calling quarters etc. So perhaps I’m not as anti-ritual as I thought. I wonder if there are others out there who would be happier with the “folk-custom” ritual approach and what other folk-custom rituals there are out there that would sit happily in the pagan Wheel of the Year.

  • Aurora J Stone

    I have only been part of Druid group ritual in an unstructured way, sitting with a group of persons connected by a shared commitment to the path. There are no robes, no accoutrements, no written parts being played. It suits me. When I was growing up in the church and later studying for the Episcopal priesthood in the States I loved the ritual, and it was that which I loved, not really the god and theology that expressed it. Now that I am a Druid, I don’t have the same need for the ritual, because my belief is deep and true to my heart and soul.

    I do private remembrances of the turnings of the seasons, I do daily focusing/meditations/reflections. I stand with trees, brush my hands against the grasses as I walk, listen to the wind. I delight in the singing of the birds and the buzzing of the bees, I relish the colours of the flowers. These are what connect me to my gods, the ancestors and spirits of the land. No one else can do that for me, no one else can facilitate that.

    The infrequent times I sit with others of like mind and soul, are not to link with the gods, but to link with them and the core of the tradition I follow. So my connection to ritual now is much more humble, much quieter, and far more authentic.

  • Leeby Geeby

    I’ve had similar thoughts about my Shamanic practice. I have dreams of being a fully-fledged Shamanic healer in the traditional sense, but realised that the path has allowed me to bring those skills to bear in the full flow of worldly life where they will ultimately do a much wider variety of good. Which is how I feel magic was practiced in Ancient times, as opposed to this dusty old thing we clear off when we have been thwarted by life. The realisation of the power of intent, above and beyond ritual has been a powerful one for me. Being too focused on romantic hermetic notions of living behind a beard full of birds in the bush and engaging in a complexity of deep daily practices was ironically, getting in the way of my self- realization.

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