There’s an incredible diversity out there in terms of what Druids do – and rightly so. What we know of the historical Druids is that they performed a broad array of tasks for their people, as teachers, historians, record keepers, around law and justice, and healing as well as all the more spiritual work. Druid author Graeme K Talboys has suggested that the Druids of old were the thinking class of the Celts, which seems likely to me.
As we have no formal infrastructure for Druids, how any given Druid deals with this is very much up to them. There are a fair few Druids out there with doctorates, which is one answer. Some go into the professions historically associated with Druids – I know there’s at least one Druid lawyer out there, even! You find Druids in the medical profession, in the mainstream and on the alternative side. Those who don’t go the academic route may seek out other courses, or study independently, some are busy enough with the school of life not to want, or need to take on anything else.
As a community, we are much enriched by these many approaches. Particularly when we’re also able to connect and share experiences and ideas in an even handed way. For the greater part, I think this is something we do really well – not assuming that one kind of learning is better than another, just that each way is different, and offers different things.
It can be all too easy to look for ways of measuring each other. This person is better qualified than me. This person is cleverer than me. This person knows more than I do. There’s a balancing act here between being able to recognise that you could learn from someone, and not losing sight of the validity of your own experiences. The person who knows more is not more important as a person. We are all equally people, equally important as people. It’s when we start getting invested in ideas of importance, authority and status that we lose the scope to share what we know, and to benefit from each other’s wisdom. Clever, and wise being not the same things at all anyway.
What happens if you have every reason to think of yourself as a terribly clever Druid? Do you use that knowledge and insight to help and enable those around you, or to make sure they feel smaller than you? Do you want to share, or do you want everyone to learn that they aren’t in your league? The desire to impress is fair enough, but when that becomes a desire to overwhelm, to intimidate, to silence, it becomes a problem. We’re fortunate in that most of our terribly clever Druids are also terribly nice and generous Druids intent on using their power for good.
Speaking as a moderately clever Druid, I find this really helpful. The people who are willing to find a language I can make sense of, rather than wanting to bombard me with alienating technical terms that I don’t understand, are the people I want as elders. The people who are generous with their knowledge are the ones I really respect. On those odd occasions when I run into a terribly clever Druid whose main aim seems to be to keep me in my place, I get grumpy. I’m glad to say that doesn’t happen very often, and I wonder about the people for whom Druidry is more about seeming important, than what it is possible to share.