Modern Druids

I don’t write much about historical Druids and in truth I’ve never been that interested in trying to reconstruct what ancient Druids did. Religions tend to evolve over time and where there is continuous tradition, there doesn’t tend to be fixed practice. What the ancient Druids did is not likely to make sense in our era of climate crisis, and capitalism, with the majority of humans alienated from the land, tradition, each other, their work…

I’m fairly well read, in that I have a passable knowledge of a fair body of mythology, alongside some awareness of history, pre-history, folklore, religions in general, and the modern Pagan movement. I have some idea what comes from the last few hundred years and what is older. I’m interested in the ideas and inspiration that can be drawn from what we know of history but when it comes down to it, I’m more interested in contemporary Druidry and where it is going, than I am in what we might figure out about where it has been.

People do all sorts of interesting things under the banner of Druidry, and have done for some time now. It’s a term that has inspired cultural efforts, and also fraternal groups designed for mutual care. It’s a spiritual movement that includes atheists, animists, polytheists, Christians and many others. Something about it attracts people from a broad range of backgrounds and beliefs, and these people can come together and share things in ways that are often meaningful.

I’m fascinated by how Druidry has changed in the last twenty years or so. When I first started volunteering for The Druid Network, Druidry was dominated by a few voices, and organised around Orders and Groves. It was about working in groups, and there were a small number of Very Important Druids who tended to dominate the whole thing. But now we have blogs, and youtube, and small events and a proliferation of people doing Druidry in all sorts of ways and talking about it. We have far less hierarchy and authority and, I think, far more Druids who just aren’t that interested in being important and who want to share what they’re doing.

Being a Very Important Druid is hard work, high maintenance stuff likely to attract conflict and drama into your life. It’s actually at odds with having meaningful spiritual experiences. There’s a lot more to be said for being a Druid on your own terms with no responsibility for numbers of students or devotees, and just sharing what you encounter with other people who are doing similar things. There continue to be Orders and Groves and people who run things, and this is good, and it no longer dominates, which is even better.

All religions change over time, depending on the intentions of the people who get involved with them. The past is in many ways a closed book. The future however, is there to be made and shaped. What people do now in the name of Druidry will inform what is to come. I think there’s a lot more to be excited about in considering the future of Druidry and how to do that well, than there is in looking to the past. But at the same time, that’s just me, and I have every respect for those people who find meaning, direction and coherence by looking to ancient Druidry. My way does not invalidate their way. Druidry should be roomy enough to accommodate this, and more.

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

3 responses to “Modern Druids

  • James Nichol

    I like this perspective and pretty much share it. Salutations on articulating it so well.

  • locksley2010

    Here! Here! I take inspiration from the classical Druids and I acknowledge that what they did is not what we modern Druids do now. I think we can always take inspiration from the past, but to try and recreate them directly? Without the actual cultural and spiritual context, would we not be losing something in translation so to speak?

    Classical Druidry, is what it was, modern Druidry is what it is now and will continue to grow and develop as it goes along. 🙂

  • nxnw1980

    The present is frequently an Unknown book that turns into a bunch of unknowable books. There’s almost no preservation of what happens in any region, leaving later researchers and participants to conclude that nothing at all happened. Unless they get lucky and fine enough breadcrumbs to find the kitchens, bakeware/bakewear and annotated recipes.

    That’s why most people don’t know that many famous photographers hung out with an HOGD person, divined, and were far more into the esoteric than most realize or care about. And if you do write about stuff like this outside of the confines of the local Royal Academy, you are a non-person. Your works aren’t cited or considered worthy of citation-even if you wrote 20 plus years earlier in more detail about that topic.

    Modern druidry is almost unknown. I have no clue what people did in South Africa last month or in Brazil at the Circle Dance of the Earth two years ago. And their work is important.

    The internet hasn’t improved matters. It makes everything much more ephemeral. There are lessons to be learned from this. I now understand why my martial arts master refused recording of classes or lessons. “Just think-all of it can be on a shelf, safely stored. So no one ever needs to engage with or explore the forms, ask questions, or improve themselves.” 39 years on, I get the Lesson! Chu Chen, Ssey ssey!

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