Recently on his blog, James Nichol wrote, “I have found naming ‘contemplative druidry’ to be a useful way of classifying a sub-set of interests within druidry. But I now believe that to think of people themselves as ‘contemplative druids’, a separate species within larger druid genus, is potentially divisive and doesn’t allow individuals to have inconveniently multiple interests. “
I know this in part came about because a few weeks ago there was a question about the relationship between contemplative Druids, and other Druids, very much imagining us to be something set apart. Like James, I don’t feel this is a good way to go. I am a contemplative Druid. I’m also, depending on the occasion, need and opportunity or the moment, a walking Druid, a bardic Druid, a philosophical Druid, an activist Druid, a ritual celebrant Druid, a social Druid, a bloody antisocial Druid, often I am a student Druid, sometimes I am a Druid mentor. Or as I prefer to say, I’m a Druid. To narrow your Druidry down to just the one field of experience seems a bit daft to me, because the multifacettedness of Druidry is part of what makes it itself.
Of course we all end up focusing on some bits more than others – opportunity, need and inclination all being factors here. Some read the books of academics and some read the book of nature. For the Warriors Call folk, ritual is action, and action is ritual. For me, action seems to be standing around outside Shire Hall in Gloucester getting cold, and it’s never felt much like ritual, but that’s fine, we’re allowed to be different. It’s good that we’re different. There is strength and creativity in difference.
The trouble with titles is that it’s all too easy to get really pompous about them. “Oh, I’m a Contemplative Druid, I contributed to the book and I go to all the meetings and it’s very special, and sets me apart and this means I am important…’ and on we go, and you can dig yourself a deep and futile sort of hole to stand in this way.
Picking up a label is fantastic if it lets you find opportunities and connect with likeminded people. Bring together a bunch of Druids who like to contemplate, and the result is a quiet, soulful sort of day full of insight and good stuff. But once you have Contemplative Druids there’s every risk of also having Others, and someone holding the boundary between the two, saying who is allowed in, and who is not. As soon as we start to think the labels mean something about status and value, we’ve lost it, tumbling down into the banal world of hierarchies and narcissism. There’s nothing spiritual about self importance.