Category Archives: What is Druidry?

Scenes from a Druid Life

What does it mean to live your day to day life as a Druid? Obviously there should be as many answers to that as there are Druids. How we draw on what we learn, and how we bring our beliefs into the every day is the key difference between studying Druidry as an idea, and actually undertaking to be a Druid.

For some people, the path to living the Druidry involves having a daily practice. I’m a bit haphazard in that regard, but I try to bring consciously Druidic things into my daily life, and to develop my thinking so that the things I default to carelessly still align with my intentions.

A recent morning brought some winter sun, so I took my review book outside. I’m reading The Circle of Life is Broken, by Brendan Myers; a potent mix of philosophy and squaring up to the climate crisis. As I sat, the wind picked up and played with the autumn leaves, and there were a number of small whirlwinds that passed through. I let what was happening around me interrupt my concentration, wanting to be present to the world and not just focused on my head. I heard a buzzard call and felt the sun on my skin.

Afterwards, I reflected on some of my experiences. I wrote something for a friend. I carried the quiet stillness of sitting out with me into the day. I wrote this blog post. 

I try to bring a balance of things to my days. Practical things must be done. I make time for creativity, for music practice, physical activity, study, service and rest. Those balances vary from day to day. I get outside as much as I can. I dream and daydream, reflect and contemplate. I am an intense person, but I like to do things quietly and thoughtfully. I manifest my intensity in involved thinking. I can be wholehearted while being calm and I can be passionate without courting drama. I seek that balance of emotional engagement and peacefulness, and it is there in a great deal of what I do.

There is no one right way of being a Druid. There’s no singular model for living a Druid life. If there was going to be a rule, I’m inclined to suggest it is simply that you should be conscious, deliberate, intentional about how you use your time, or at least some of your time. Unless you’ve got a better idea that you prefer, in which case, definitely do that instead.


Druidry and the Darkness

Druidry and the Darkness is a book I wrote over a period of more than a year, enabled by my Patreon supporters. Thanks to that support, I’m in a position where I can simply give away copies of the ebook. If you’re in need of some reading material and can’t afford to buy books at the moment, please take a copy and have a look at the other free reads in my store. https://ko-fi.com/s/9c84aba733

Happily, quite a few people picking up the book have dropped a few pounds in the hat for it, which works well for me. If a few people are able to support me either with Ko-fi donations or via Patreon, then I can afford the time to keep going with the authoring. This is not an industry that pays most of its creators enough to live on, so finding work-arounds is important.

Druidry and the Darkness is an exploration of how humans interact with the darkness, and with nature as it manifests in the darkness. I look at different flavours of darkness, seasonal darkness, the language we use to talk about darkness, and many different ways of exploring and encountering the dark. I’m especially interested in the idea of darkness as a form of wildness, and how we can bring more mystery into our lives by seeking the wild darkness.

Just to give fair warning, my first review for this book described it as ‘very yawn’. They were disappointed that it wasn’t an edgy, exciting book about ‘dark’ psychology. A major point of writing this, from my perspective, is to try and take apart some of the things we humans project onto the darkness and to look at the harm that causes. As a consequence, what I’ve written is a contemplative sort of book that is primarily about interacting with specific aspects of the natural world.


Druidry and community

When I first came to Druidry some twenty years ago, part of the attraction for me was the social aspect of it. Groves and Orders, open rituals, music and those first online spaces. I was in an area where a fair bit of in-person stuff was happening, and able to travel further afield sometimes to connect with other Druids.

The social side of religion is an important aspect of it for a lot of humans. Many of us long for a place to fit and a community to be part of, and many of us find those vital social connections through our spiritual lives. It’s normal to crave approval and validation, and religions generally give people opportunities to prove their devotion.

Community has the capacity to amplify things for us. When people bond together around good causes and the need for positive change, this can truly bring out everyone’s best qualities. It’s easier to be your best self when you get social approval for your generosity and kindness. Getting involved with a fundraising activity where a lot of people come together to do something good is affirming, and encourages you to do more of that thing.

It’s worth giving some thought to the things your Druid community focuses on to make sure that aligns with the qualities you want to develop in yourself. Some groups are very much focused on ritual and spiritual connection while for others coming together in the same place will be primarily about performing and sharing creativity. Online spaces are often more focused on learning and thinking, which works well for the more philosophically minded. Moots are good for people seeking to meet their social needs and can be particularly valuable for folk who are otherwise solitary.

The key really is to find a space that answers your needs. Sometimes it works to go into a space and ask for there to be room for more of the stuff that speaks to you. And so it is that moots sometimes develop open ritual groups, and ritual groups spawn study groups and moots end up with a lot of bardic content, or a whole table full of philosophers. All of these things are valuable.

The social side of Druidry allows us opportunities to be inspired and uplifted by each other. It may motivate us if we have people we want to impress, or delight. I know there are a lot of arguments out there against the idea of anything that looks like ‘ego’ but I’ve read enough mythology to feel that there’s plenty of room for bombast and good kinds of showing off, and that these things are only at odds with being spiritual if you’re part of something that teaches you it is good to be humble. Feeling socially recognised and valued isn’t a non-spiritual state and feeling validated by our communities can do a lot to help us work on things we find challenging.


Embodied with a brain

One of the things I’ve struggled with around ideas of embodiment is the degree to which I am head-led. I’ve come to some conclusions about this recently and am sharing them because I expect I’m not the only person on the Druid path who struggles with these issues. Druidry does tend to attract people who like to think.

I don’t do well when I try to lead with my body. Frankly, my body has no idea what it’s doing, doesn’t reliably know where the ground is and disassociates hard when panicked. I’ve gone rounds with feeling that I’m not good at being an embodied Druid because I’m very much in my own head.

When it comes to the chemistry that impacts on my whole body, that also starts most usually in my head. The things I feel normally begin with the things I think. How I respond to something conceptually informs my emotions, and that in turn defines what my embodied experience is.

I also find that if I’m trying to silence my inner voices, the main effect of that is to totally focus me inside my own head. There’s usually a lot going on in my brain such that shutting it down takes a lot of my concentration and tends to focus me inside myself. If I let my brain do what it does, while being open to the world, I end up being more present and embodied than I do for trying to shut my brain down.

While the relationship between our inner lives and outer realities can vary a lot, it’s worth remembering that the mind is as much a squishy bit of biology as any other part of us. The idea that mind and body are separate comes from a time and culture that also imagined we were made ‘in God’s image’ and separate from the rest of nature. It’s mind/body dualism that’s the issue, I think, not being brain-based.


Your Druidic practice

I was struck this week by this powerful post about daily practice, routines and needs – https://therivercrow.wordpress.com/2022/08/22/august-update/ such that I felt it was worth me chipping in.

So many pieces of writing on Paganism and Druidry advocate for a daily practice or for specific kinds of activity. Not everything works the same way for everyone and there should be no shame or unease in doing things that work for you and avoiding things that don’t. Some of us need routines to function at all, and some of us find them stressful and unworkable. Honouring nature means honouring nature where it manifests in you which in turn means not trying to force yourself to be something you are not.

It’s all too easy for people who don’t struggle with things to conclude that said things are fine and everyone can do them. At this point I’m largely convinced that phrases like ‘everyone can’ or ‘everyone should’ are strong indicators that the person writing the piece has little awareness of how diverse people are. I’m pretty sure that there is nothing that everyone can or should do in any specific way.

There are two key questions to consider when it comes to how you do your Druidry. Firstly, what does your Druidry do for the world? And secondly, what does your Druidry do for you? The answer to the first question needs to be some form of good, and it can be any form of good. The second answer needs to be about how you are affected, be that in body, heart, mind or spirit. Your druidic practice should give you comfort, inspiration, a sense of purpose, or relationship or connectedness. Some of those things, or all of those things. There may well be other good things that you find in your Druidry, but I think these are the core qualities to look for.

It is worth trying things a few times before deciding how or if they work for you. It’s often difficult to make a good decision about something when you’ve had little experience of it. At the same time, it is not the case that there’s any merit in slogging away at something that leaves you cold and does nothing for you just because you’ve been persuaded that you have to do it to be a good Druid. If you get a strong feeling of aversion to something at the first try, there’s no reason to make yourself uncomfortable by revisiting it.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a lot of variety within any given practice and a lot of room to do things on your own terms. If what one writer or teacher has to say on the subject doesn’t work for you, then it may be worth looking around for other inspiration and possibilities. It’s also worth considering exploring things on your own terms. Every Pagan practice out there is something someone figured out, and the people doing the figuring out were not massively more qualified to do that than you are. If you’re willing to put in the time exploring and experimenting, then you are going to become an expert in the thing you are doing.


Druidry for your soul

Most of my focus when I’m writing blogs is about how to put Druidry into action for the benefit of people and planet. This is partly because it was something I pledged to when I first initiated as a bard. However, pouring from an empty cup is seldom a good plan and it is important to think about how we are each nourished, as well as what we might give.

Druidry can give us a focus for bringing beauty into our lives. We can do this by creating altar spaces and through making ritual. We can also use ritual to create peacefulness and to seek inspiration, and we can also approach meditation and prayer with that in mind.

For some people it seems helpful to seek messages and signs in nature. This can be a source of meaninging and reassurance, and if that works for you, that’s great. It doesn’t work for me at all. I find that going out in pursuit of meaning can actually get in the way of having the experiences I need. If I’m out there trying to find something significant I can bring back and work with, I will likely be trying too hard. I may come back with ideas, but the odds of feeling nourished by the experience are slim.

We are all routinely bombarded with messages about productivity. I’m a very ‘doing’ oriented sort of person, and also an ideas oriented sort of person, and if I’m not careful this can turn absolutely everything into work. It is a terrible idea to spend all of your time actively looking for raw material you can spin into something to use. It becomes relentless. Pressure to perform online and to look the part on social media can add to this.

I think it’s really important to have some part of your spiritual life that remains private and personal. Holding some experiences close, and not talking about them or using them in any particular way is important soul-care. We don’t have to turn every part of ourselves into something other people can consume. 

Obviously I’m not going to tell you about the things I don’t tell you about, but they exist. Small, quiet things that are part of my life, and part of my day. I’m trying to figure out how to expand that soul-space and how to make more time in my life for things that I do for me, and for no other purpose. I may come back and talk about the process, but the details I will hold close.


When not to educate people

Teaching is definitely appropriate work for a Druid, but it’s certainly not all about teaching Druidry. What humanity most needs right now are people willing and able to educate others about climate chaos, politics, compassion, diversity and justice. We need to be talking about how to make things better than they are. It makes sense to focus on whatever you best understand and wherever you have the most insight to share, and no one can do everything. So, pick your fights and don’t feel like it’s your job to make everyone better informed about everything because that will burn you out.

It’s fine not to step up to educate people if you are already exhausted and/or it’s going to cost you too much to do it. Stepping away and refusing to engage are also meaningful choices and sometimes engaging just amplifies hatred.

Not everyone who has questions and says they want you to educate them is genuine. Some do it deliberately to exhaust and debilitate activists. Some of them are bots. Some are just attention hungry people. Actively putting out good information can be a better choice than tackling individuals.

It can be better not to wade in if you don’t understand what’s going on. You don’t have to have an opinion on everything, and if you aren’t informed it is painfully easy to get things wrong. Sometimes it’s better to step back and focus on listening and learning. Increasing your own understanding of a situation is a good choice. If in doubt, amplify compassion and discourage abuse – but be alert to how tone policing can impact a situation. The distress of a victim can be weaponised all too easily by an abuser.

Be wary of people who act like it’s your job to explain or defend something to them. No one is automatically entitled to your time and energy. There are a great many things you should never feel obliged to explain – why you are saying no is at the top of that list. You don’t owe random strangers explanations about why you need something or why you can’t do a thing. Anyone unprepared to take that at face value is unlikely to be persuaded by anything you say, either.

There will be people who want to learn and understand, and who consequently act with respect and appreciation. Those people are worth your time, if you have it. They are also likely to be willing to wait, or to accept pointers towards existing resources. 


Presenting as a Druid

I’m always interested in how we define or experience authenticity, versus when we see things as fake, in ourselves and when looking at other people. For me, authenticity is very much part of what it means to live as a Druid. To act authentically, to show up as a person not just a performance and to connect with people and others from a place of honesty. 

However, as soon as you put clothes on and use words you’re engaged in a process of deliberate choices. Part of being human is how we express ourselves to others, how we want to be seen and understood. There’s a hazy area between aspiration and performance. If I want to become a kinder and more patient person my best bet is to try and act like a kinder and more patient person until the process of doing that becomes ingrained in me and part of who I am. There’s not much difference between that and the person who simply wishes to seem kind and patient acts and either person can mess up and let something else show.

When you look at another person, it is hard to tell if they’re undertaking to fake it until they make it. Maybe they are showing you their most authentic self. Maybe they are a people pleaser trying to perform the role they think you most want them to play. Maybe they are an abuser with a persona that protects them and enables them to groom new victims. From the outside it can be impossible to tell what anything really means. Inherently charismatic people are good at persuading others of their innate worth. Socially awkward people can come across badly but still be full of wisdom and compassion.

Druids who are wise, knowledgeable, experienced and compassionate will often discourage others from seeing them as leaders and authorities. Druids who want to be important may go to a lot of effort to present as plausible leaders and authorities. Some Druids step forward to lead and offer authority because they have valuable skills to offer and want to help people. Some Druids pretend to be humble because they’ve figured out that it’s a good look.

I can’t know what’s going on in someone else’s head. I do know that it is very human to feel judgemental of other people. We get social reinforcement by looking around and identifying people to feel we are superior to, and people to look up to as role models and leaders. How we judge each other may have a lot more to do with our own desires to know where we fit than with anyone’s innate qualities. 

It’s good to think about what we’re attracted to, what we find convincing and engaging and what seems laughable or insubstantial. Are we drawn to beauty, charisma and glamour in our potential leaders? Are we deeper people if we mistrust those things, or is that just a different set of values, prejudices and performance styles at work? Any time you feel moved to say ‘that Druid is superficial and insubstantial’ it’s worth looking at exactly what we’re rejecting and why. Humbleness and self effacement can be just as much a performance as fancy robes, and can be a highly successful one. It depends on what buttons you have to push.

How deliberate is your presentation style? What are you putting into the world as a Druid? How deliberate a performance is your Druidry? Does the idea of Druidry as public performance make you feel uneasy and inauthentic, or might that be an entirely valid aspect of what it means to be a priest, a bard, a celebrant? How does anyone else benefit from our Druidry if we don’t perform it in a deliberate way? Is it enough to live your truth, or is it necessary to make that more visible?


Sunlight and shadow

For me, woodland works in many ways as a metaphor for Druidry. I like the image of Druidry not being a single path, but being many possible journeys through the wood. I like the idea of Druidry as a terrain rather than as something more directional and focused on a goal. We’re in the wood, the wood is the destination, there is no extra special place to get to, no finish line to cross, it’s just about being in the wood.

Of course woods change all the time. They change with the seasons. They change one year to the next – trees grow, trees fall, paths become overgrown, new paths open up. Wild residents change in number, and location. The wood is not a fixed place. The metaphorical Druid wood is also not a static thing.

The other feature of woodland that has long struck me as being a good Druid concept, is that interplay of light and shadow. Across a wood, light levels can vary dramatically. You might find open clearings where the light is bright. Woods can be very dark – at night they cut out a lot of light pollution so you can get proper darkness under trees. Most of the time what you find is this constant and ever changing dappling of light and shadow. I don’t find the way that some people equate light with good and darkness with evil to be especially helpful because both are part of nature. I think Druidry belongs to the dappled and shifting light of woodland, where there is also beauty in the shadows and in the contrast. This is not to say I think Druidry is or should be amoral, more a recognition that everything is complicated and few things turn out to be purely good or purely bad.


What is a Druid Life?

For me, the key ingredient of a Druid life is that it is a considered life. The processes of contemplation and exploration are really important to me. I think philosophy is something we should do as part of how we live, and that thinking about things is generally a good idea. This is why a lot of the time my blog posts are me poking around in ideas.

That consideration is framed by a number of priorities and values. As someone whose spirituality is centered on the natural world, questions of how to live sustainably and restoratively are important to me. How do we reduce our impact on the planet? How do we protect life? I’m also concerned with social justice, which I think is intrinsic to environmental justice. I try to live my life in accordance with my values, although I’m always learning and always aware that I could do better.

For all of those reasons, I’m anti-capitalist. I think we need as many alternative ideas as we can about ways to work, share, organise and fairly distribute resources. This has me talking about community a lot. I’m also exploring the ways in which focusing on things as individual problems helps perpetuate them when we need community solutions and social change.

I’m exploring the bard path because I think creative sharing is often the better way to engage with people. We’re storytelling creatures and we respond to emotional content. We also need creativity both to enrich our lives and to open us to new and better ways of existing.

The overtly Druidic content is a fairly small part of what I do. Sometimes I write on obviously Pagan and Druid topics, but I find a lot of the time this just doesn’t seem like the best way to do the Druidry. For some years now I’ve felt that Druidry is best served by me doing the day to day things as outlined above, but reading any individual post it might not be obvious why I think the content is relevant. I don’t know how useful it would be to include more explicit notes about why any given thing seems relevant to me – I’m very open to feedback in that regard.

How we live, day to day is more important than the occasional big gestures. What you do as a Druid is what you do at home, at work and in your social circles. It’s there in how you spend your money, how you vote, what you support, what you allow, what you ignore. Druidry is not separate from life, and I’m always suspicious of people who think that their spirituality isn’t political.

If you think you aren’t political it’s because you feel safely in line with the status quo. If you don’t have to be political it can only be because your needs and rights aren’t threatened in any way. You aren’t hungry. You aren’t ill. You aren’t in any danger that you can see – which given the climate crisis may be a serious error of judgement. To be a Druid and to be self aware should include an understanding of those relationships. If you have the privilege not to need to engage, then as a Druid, the issue of justice should matter to you, and looking away only ever supports those who cause harm.