Permit me the indulgence of starting with a strawman. The sort of Druid for whom Druidry is lovely, because nature is lovely, and everything is love and the universe is lovely and everything happens for the highest good and for a reason and by the way did I mention, it’s all lovely? Not entirely a strawman because these ideas do exist. The lovely Druidry of just getting to say how lovely it is, how lovely we are. Would you like some lovely sauce on that? Lovely.
It doesn’t work for me. Yes, the rainbows and sunsets are charming, yes the bird song is exquisite and I see all of this. I also see the road kill, the plastic rubbish in the streams, and the dead look too many people have in their eyes. Poverty isn’t lovely. Sickness isn’t lovely. I don’t think the universe loves us, benevolence is certainly not a given.
And then there’s the small matter of the Celts. Everything I know about the Celts tells me that they were a wild, passionate, creative, intense sort of people, willing to fight to the death over a matter of honour. In the art and the stories, in the traditions that seem to have come from there over the centuries, I see passion. Rage and jealousy exist alongside overwhelming love. Lust is as important as romantic attachments in terms of causing things to happen. And yes, we have reason to think of the ancient Druids as wise peacemakers and knowledge holders in this culture. It would be ridiculous to think that they held wildly different values from those around them, though.
For me, Druidry is about how to live well in a tradition that is full blooded, life embracing and passionate. It’s not about withdrawing from the world to a state of perfect calm. It’s not about taming emotions into submission. The Celts were a tempestuous, fighty people (in so far as it is fair to even use the word ‘Celt’ to represent a vast array of tribes over a long period, but, it saves time, so please indulge me). For this life to be viable, there must be balances, co-operation, times of harmony and productivity. We can’t all spend our entire time having fiery Celtic warrior meltdowns because we felt insulted. Pride and honour, necessity and responsibility all have to be balanced up, and for me, entering into a nature-based path of spirituality and philosophy is about learning how to do this well.
There should be times to be boastful and riotously drunk. There should be times when we react with fury and fight tooth and nail for honour and for what is right. There should be times for deep reflection and introspection. I want a life that embraces these things, not something harmless, bloodless, toothless that can only say ‘well, that’s lovely, isn’t it?’