The defining of Druids

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.


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

6 responses to “The defining of Druids

  • corvusrouge

    I’ve developed a bit of an analogy about the whole thing of druid titles that now serves me well.
    I now see myself immersed in the sea of Druidry and the various titles that people band about with Druidry, I see as floating objects. The sea of Druidry has peaks and troughs, so sometimes a peak caused by me will engage with a floating object called “contemplative” which will then get carried along by my actions within the sea of Druidry.
    But then, I will engage with something else and that original title object will float away from me as I engage with another object. It doesn’t “go” anywhere, it’s still there, ready to be interacted with later on if needs be, but my actions within the sea of Druidry aren’t “propelling” it to such degrees as when I have actively engaged with it. It floats off, ready for re-engagement at later times.
    I don’t “give up” the titles, they are always there floating in the sea of Druidry ready for me to re-engage when needed or wanted.

  • contemplativeinquiry

    Thanks Nimue. That’s basically how I see it too.

  • caelesti

    When I add an adjective or qualifier onto Druid, Pagan, polytheist, feminist or any other identity- it’s to be specific and descriptive, not to divide Druids, Pagans or say my subtype is better than yours. It’s to better understand and appreciate our differences and similarities, esp. depending on where you are, different gatherings have different notions of what these words mean, based on their experiences, what they’ve read etc.

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