One of the few things we know for certain about the ancient Druids, is that they did not write anything of their own down. As a modern Druid with literary inclinations, this is a bit of an issue. Part of the point of not writing everything down was probably to avoid it falling into the wrong hands. It stops your enemies having easy evidence to point at and use against you. It means your own thinking is not tied to what you wrote five years ago. Thus far I’m still ok with the kinds of things I was saying in my first books. Many of my ideas are presented as works in progress not absolute truths so I won’t have the same problems some writers would, if I then change my mind a bit!
It occurs to me that books prior to the printing press and writings of the Druid era, required drudgery. Some poor sod had to sit there and copy them by hand. There’s enough bored annotations from later copying monks to know that this was not a lovely job. Intentional or not, that the ancient druids did not write, no doubt spared a lot of people the tedium of copying everything out.
The spoken word is more immediate. You bring your whole body to the idea, and there’s an intimacy in it that comes from being in the same space and moment. Books of course transcend space and time easily and get ideas to people who would otherwise never see them. Working purely orally, you can’t do that, and you can view that as a strength or as a weakness depending on your own biases.
I’ve been a performer on and off for about 15 years. I sing, I play various instruments (mostly the bouzouki at the moment). I’ve run a folk club, I’ve busked. I do talks and workshops at Pagan events as required. Things happen between performer and audience in such spaces. Things are said that were not thought of before, and will never be said in quite that way again. It’s a living, breathing process of exchange, and because it is intense and concentrated, it can invite the awen in.
As a modern Druid I have options the ancients did not have, and I’ve chosen to use them. Even so, I can’t put in a book what it means to me to sit on a barrow for an afternoon – I can only share that bodily with others, and speak with people who are there too, or not speak, and let the silence do everything. I can also record myself as a talking presence and put that out, which is very different again from writing. I’ve a few new videos up on my youtube channel, which may be of interest. They are all things I could not have done with the written word alone.
How I came To Druidry – https://youtu.be/vK5U6DSUGEk
Druid Tabard – https://youtu.be/RzD4Q8oN2a4
A review and reading from Claire Hamilton’s Tales of the Celtic Bards – https://youtu.be/fqp5u0wu1VE