Druidry without hierarchy

This week I read a really interesting post over on Tommy Elf’s blog about leadership. In it, he talks about being asked who he considers his mentors to be, and says that he doesn’t go in for that. He does however consider me to be one of his influences, along with Cat Treadwell. You can read the post here – https://tommyelf22.wordpress.com/2018/11/24/keeping-things-on-level-ground/

Aside from the delight of getting name-checked in a blog I am subscribed to, I was struck by this post. Cat Treadwell and Tommy Elf are very much influences on me – I follow both of their blogs. I follow a number of other Druid bloggers as well. I used to follow the other Druid he mentions but don’t any more for more reasons than I have space or inclination to share.

Druidry can of course be massively hierarchical, with grades to advance through and titles to aspire to. Not all of us want to be an Arch-Druid. As architecture goes, I see myself as more of a flying buttress… Arches are pretty and all that, but they aren’t the only thing you can be. I’ve dabbled in leadership, I’ve run groups and I’ve taught, more and less formally. I absolutely get where Tommy is coming from in his blog about not wanting to be put on a pedestal or treated as a source of authority. I’m seeing more of this in Druidry all the time.

Leading is mostly a practical job – someone has to figure out when and where to meet and what to bring and to hold the space. Someone has to teach people who show up wanting to learn. Someone has to do the rites of passage people want and need. These are jobs we can do for each other. I think it works better when there’s fluidity in it. Leading all the time is hard work, can be an obstacle to following your own path, and can be an epic ego trap. Leadership can be the enemy of spirituality. However, if you share it around and hold it lightly, this isn’t a problem.

If some days you are the teacher, and some days you are the student, you’ll never feel like you’re supposed to know it all. If you can lead ceremony, but there are also people you can go to if you need someone to hold the space for you, that’s much happier as a way of being. If you can run things, and go along to things other people are running, it’s much more relaxed. Plus you’ll never end up feeling like it’s the work you do that gives you a space, or that being accepted is conditional on your work.

A person can share their experience without having to assert that theirs is the one true way. We can offer our wisdom to others without demanding that they accept it. We can share what we do without someone having to be the authority. We can take responsibility for our own paths, looking to each other for inspiration rather than instruction.

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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 “Druidry without hierarchy

  • rpatrick

    This is a welcome conversation. Our grove, after some difficult experiences with other Druid Orders around hierarchy and abuse of power, created a grove based on the very imagery of a grove–where we stand in a circle and rely on one another in community oriented relationships. At the Winter Solstice, we will celebrate 10 years as a grove. After this much time i a non-hierarchical grove, I am convinced that if Druids paid attention to nature itself a little more, the need for hierarchy would disappear.

  • Abfalter - The Appletree Druid

    Enjoying your blog, and extremely impressed that you’re able to produce an article Every.Single.Day. I give myself a week for an article, and more often than not don’t make that.

    With this one, you made me look up the meaning of “arch” in the druid context. (I know, not the point at all, but since English is not my native language, these things fascinate me). In German, we’d call the Arch Druid “Erzdruide” (of course, we make one word out of it). “Erz” means “ore” in English, while “arch” generally means “Bogen” in German. This unusual disconnect between the two languages never occurred to me until your “flying buttress” comment. And I thought: architecture? So I *needed* to know.

    Wikipedia (I know, but good enough for this): The English word [Archduke] is first recorded in 1530, derived from Middle, via Old, French archeduc, from Merovingian Latin archidux, from Greek arch(i)-, ἀρχι- meaning “authority” or “primary” (see arch-) and dux “duke” (literally “leader”)

    Weird, eh?

    • Nimue Brown

      I love this stuff, thank you so much for sharing this. also, on the blogging front at this point it’s mostly habit, which is an amazingly sustaining thing. I started out as a column on another site, maybe once or twice a month, and escalated from there. I don’t write every day, because I like having days off, but it’s become easy to populate the blog most of the time…

  • laurabruno

    “As architecture goes, I see myself as more of a flying buttress”

    I love this line!

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