The teaching of Druidry

I’ve done quite a lot of teaching, in various shapes over the years. At the same time I’ve become increasingly uneasy about the most conventional teaching model, where the teacher offloads wisdom to the student. I don’t like the authority, the power imbalance and the risk of creating dogma. I don’t like the way all of this can set people up as gurus – which does them and their students very little good in my opinion. I don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s path.

Recently I read Solala Towler’s ‘Practicing the Tao Te Ching’ (proper review going to Spiral Nature). The Tao Te Ching (depending a bit on the translation) talks about what the sage does – the sage does by not doing, primarily. Being neither sage nor Taoist, I’ve previously found this interesting, but of no great use. However, this book talks about how we teach each other, and takes the ‘do by not doing’ to be about avoiding formal teaching in favour of just doing the things you were doing and letting other people learn from that if they want to.

I like it as a line of thought, and I think this blog may be a case in point. You rock up here when you feel like it, read as much or as little as you like, agree and disagree with me as you like. Many of your regularly respond to posts by adding breadth, depth, examples and alternatives to whatever I’ve said – which is awesome. I just float out whatever I’m doing or thinking about, and you do with it as you see fit, on your own terms. There’s no real authority in it – it’s just a blog. Much of my writing is about me groping around in the dark trying to make sense of life. But every now and then I say something that sparks something for someone else. I’m not a sage, I’m just doing what I’m doing and people can encounter it and make what use of it they will.

I like it because it’s a more collaborative approach to learning. I have no problem with experts, and there are things for which formal qualifications seem like a very good idea – any activity where you could kill or maim if you get it wrong, or where you have to make life choices for other people. But most of the time, the things we want to learn aren’t like that. We can afford to be responsible for our own learning, and we don’t need to be taught to do things someone else’s way. We need tools, resources, ideas and places to start – this is true of anything spiritual, creative, subjective, and where developing our own imagination and critical thinking is of value. The default setting of hierarchy of teacher over student isn’t an unassailable truth, it’s a habit, and we can do differently.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. 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

9 responses to “The teaching of Druidry

  • Fny

    Well said!
    I am generally skeptical of teacher-student relationships in spiritual issues as well. Of course there are instances where it works wonderfully and it’s of great value to those involved, but aaaaah. Spiritual authorities and teachers most often set my skin crawling, to be honest. Though as I think on it… huh, what really makes me uncomfortable isn’t usually the authority figure itself, but rather the effect they can have on their followers.

    In summary, I love when people share their experiences, share their thinking, and work as an encouraging and supportive force to others who also travel. But whenever anyone sets themselves up as an authority my gut instinct is to run like the wind.

  • Linda Davis

    ‘Groping around in the dark trying to make sense of life…’ Oh yes, and it’s nice to bump into other people doing the same! Tools, resources, places to start, all good…then more groping around…and the occasional spark!

  • In The Autumn Of My Life

    Yes. Such a good article!

    I would like to add something else which is similar and plays on my mind. I don’t like to see spirituality run as a business. Yes, I understand people have to earn a living but to pass along something precious is to give it with unconditional love, not sell it to only those who can pay?

    To truly share knowledge from the heart is to pass it to all who seek it, not just those who have enough to buy it. The argument there is what is the teacher worth but it is not the teacher who is important, it is the knowledge and the knowledge belongs to all. Particularly if it is to survive and thrive and not be used for trivial concerns. There may be a need for an amount to cover costs but not hundred of pounds at a time per person. That is just plain greed.

    I will say here I have taken plenty of courses in my time. I have another starting in January which I am quite excited about, it is one given from the heart and those are the ones I am drawn to. However, once I have learnt and incorporated, I hope to share through my blog (as I do with all my experiences) and hopefully help as many as I can.

    If anything I write on my blog or on social media sparks just one person to read, seek and learn for themsleves then I shall be grateful. I am growing a library, writing journals and gathering for my descendants so that what I have learnt is passed down to them in detail. This way many people benefit…my own and others.

    I have gone on a bit here, Nimue, sorry. I suppose we do when something matters enough to us 🙂

  • moyahawk

    The Stars speak. I am listening.

  • moyahawk

    True teachers are seers, forecasters….. They see the individual wings of each and every spirit. Not everyone understands augury, fire scrying, the whispering of trees….. I asked for a sign today, and found your post. Cheers.

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