Druidry and Despair

One of the things I really appreciate about Druidry is there’s nothing inherent in it that will kick me when I’m down. There’s no ‘like attracts like’ philosophy. There’s no sense that suffering and difficulty are a result of bad karma, past life activities or lack of spiritual effort.

There are two places a Druid can look for spiritual guidance. There’s the literature pertaining to the Celts – the folklore and myths of Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and arguably also England and France. There’s the natural world. Both of these sources will demonstrate to you that life can be a bit shit. There isn’t always any justice, people do not get what they deserve. Tragedy happens. The Gods do what they do and cannot be counted on to make life easy for you. Death, decay, misery and suffering are part of nature, these things will happen to you. Cycles are natural, and that means not everything can be great all the time. There’s also the history we get from the Romans, and there’s nothing in that to suggest any kind of toxic positivity in ancient Druidry.

Feeling despair means I am not feeling Druid-fail. I can dwell on all the stories in which people do terrible, stupid things and/or have terrible and stupid things happen to them. It’s not just me. Rhiannon faced loss and terrible injustice, so did Branwen. Blodeuwedd and Macha do not get good deals.  Follow any story far enough and everyone dies. The question is not whether things will be awful and tragic – because they will, sooner or later. The question is whether we can manage to be heroic, poetic, glorious, and unique regardless, or because of the things that will cut us down.

My Druidry reminds me that if I feel I have nothing else, there’s always the option of strapping myself to the stone to keep fighting. If winning isn’t an option, there are still important questions to be asked about how you want to lose, and how you want to be seen as you go under. There’s always the scope to inspire and encourage others by putting up a fight, and by trying to do something glorious, poetic and heroic with the hand you’ve been dealt, no matter how shitty it is. And sometimes, figuring out how to fail heroically is as good as it gets, and it is better than failing in sad, boring and mundane ways.

I’ve lost my way this week. I’ve lost my sense of trajectory – a fledgling thing I’d only found this year. Epic things had been happening to me that were shifting my sense of self and I may have lost that too. I have lost inspiration that was essential to me, and I may never get that back. I can’t tell if this is a small setback, or a tragic ending that would be entirely recognisable to my ancestors of tradition.

The thing about strapping yourself to a rock to keep fighting, is that it imagines keeping fighting does some good. While you can stay upright, rescue remains possible. Something could happen, something could change. Even while expecting defeat, it’s an action that invites other possibilities, right up until the last breath.

Despair is not an obstacle to carrying on as a Druid. Defeat is not an obstacle – the Druidry the Romans defeated survived to at least some degree in story and myth. Something remains. Something lives on. Dying away is part of the cycle, I can enter those spaces, Druidry and all. I do not have to be happy to continue as a Druid. I do not have to be hopeful or brave, or believe anything much so long as I am prepared to keep going with something. This week has taken me to some difficult places, and the awareness that I might have to accept living there for an uncertain amount of time. Potentially for the rest of my life. I will tie myself to the rock and keep standing for as long as I can.

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

10 responses to “Druidry and Despair

  • bish

    The journey, rather than the destination, has been a long time philosophy of mine. I don’t know what’s discombobulated you recently, but for certain there are wonders on the road ahead.

  • plateresca

    It’s been a tough year for all of us, maybe for some more than others. Don’t give up, we’re rooting for you! And good luck.

  • templeofwhy

    Love, love, loved this! Unbeknownst to me I have been a Druid my whole life, doing “Druid” things not really knowing they were Druid and trying to fit into a Catholic world that I couldn’t fit in. Catholic guilt and despair are real and they keep your fearfully tied in. I have finally been able to completely break free and live as my Druid self. Your post beautifully states, “I do not have to be happy to continue as a Druid. I do not have to be hopeful or brave, or believe anything much so long as I am prepared to keep going with something.” Pull the strap tighter to the rock and hang on! Mind if I reblog your post?

  • contemplativeinquiry

    Sorry to hear that this is a difficult time for you. Supportive thoughts and wishes as you resolve to ties yourself to the rock and keep standing.

  • potiapitchford

    Rocks are solid things to be tied onto but also a bit cold. Older trees are good things to be tied to as often more sheltered (in summer months anyway) and less cold. Either near flowing water are especially good as they can remind you that sometimes you need to let go and float while being tumbled around and eventually you are tumbled into a soothing pool under dappled light where you can breathe and float and be.

  • Sue Marsh

    My Druidry teaches me how to be human. There are good parts and there are bad parts. I’m sorry you are going through a rough time Nimue and am holding you in my heart, sending thoughts of love and healing.

  • locksley2010

    That’s what I like about Druidry, there’s no “Love and Light” here.

    Nimue, you may be going through something difficult right now but it will pass. What comes as the result of that I cannot say. Your honesty, your bravery in admitting despair, are strengths that will be respected and remembered. Like the Druids of old, something survives. Like the warriors of old…. we never give up and will fight until the end.

    If it’s one thing both classic and modern Druidry share, it’s transformation…. whatever the form.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: