Category Archives: What is Druidry?

New adventures in Druidry

I’ve got a new project on the move that I thought may be of interest to blog followers…

I’ve just started a new Patreon level at $5 a month specifically for Druid content. I’m going to be working on a book, and in the short term what this level gives you is access to the work in progress and the scope to make suggestions about where I go, should you feel so moved! Like most authors, I find my hourly rate (once books start selling) isn’t ever going to pay me enough to justify the time spent.

For those of you new to this, the average book sells 3000 copies, the typical author gets less than £1 per copy, you can be quite successful in terms of number of books sold and still make a pittance in relation to the work put in.

I started doing Patreon a couple of years ago because I was struggling so much with creative work. Having that space, and the confidence that there are at least a few people who like what I do has kept me creating. I was close to giving up.

At time of writing, this blog has some 4,600 subscribers. Now, I know many of you are strapped for cash, or already supporting other things. However, allow me imagine a moment that everyone who followed this blog thought that $1 a month was fair and feasible thing to give in response to daily content from me. What would happen?

I could give up the paid work that takes up so much time and energy. I would be able to go much deeper and further with the Druidry. I could take whole days for deep reflection and engagement and the quest for inspiration and I could bring you back the fruits of that. I’d have a lot more time and energy to create.

I could also afford better living and working arrangements. I’m in a small flat, without the space to do any physically large project. My computer is on the dining table, in the one room of living space we have. It’s not ideal. There’s no garden here. I can’t really afford time off. I can’t dig in economically and also be a volunteer, and spend hours of my week giving my work away – it’s not possible. I’ve chosen a path that makes it difficult to be anything other than poor. It’s tricky, because I’m aware of the good I could do if I was better off – who else I could take care of, scope to lower my carbon footprint further, room to take better care of my health.

My poor mental health makes conventional employment difficult and I can’t work all the hours and do all the creative and Druid things on top of it. It’s been a difficult juggling act for years. I can’t really afford the time off I need to improve my mental health. Like many other people, I’m stuck in cycles of things that it is difficult to break out of, making the best choices I can based on the options I have.

My situation is totally normal for a part time creative person. Most full time creative and professionally Pagan people have some other way of paying the bills. If you are able to support anyone, then please be aware that it makes a massive difference, and just a few dollars a month can swing it from defeated, to able to keep going. I know of creators who can keep going because Patreon support pays a few key bills each month or allows them to buy art supplies. This is an industry in which success still means poverty, so when people who work creatively talk about not having any money, it doesn’t mean they aren’t good at what they do. There is no money worth mentioning in being a full time professional Pagan, either.

I’ll keep giving my work away for free. But, if you are able to put something in the hat in return, it would be greatly appreciated and it will help me keep going.

https://www.patreon.com/NimueB

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Instagram Druid

I’ve never been comfortable with how I look. Some of this is simply because I have an overtly feminine body, and an inner life that is much more androgynous. I find the whole topic of gender difficult. Some of it is because I’ve never been thin, and fat shaming goes way back into my history. I grew up conscious of myself as ‘funny looking’. Mirrors make me uneasy, and I don’t photograph well – no doubt not helped by being uncomfortable.

Instagram seems to be all about being glamorous. Women who are not perfectly thin and who present as body positive get trolled and bullied. It’s a problematic space, perpetrating ideas about bodies, beauty and fashion that help none of us and harm the planet. It’s a funny place to show up as a Druid.

There’s the additional issue that I have a massive chip on my shoulder about people who are able to exploit their attractiveness to get stuff done. Contrary to pop-culture norms, in my experience most women don’t do this. But the ones who do really annoy me, and building a brand, a career, an identity and an income stream around how you look on these terms, for me seems to just reinforce patriarchy. It upholds the culture of youth is beautiful, presenting only for the male gaze, and that we aren’t good enough unless we smear ourselves with chemicals and fill landfill sites without our worn-once clothing. It’s toxic.

So I challenged myself to take my uneasy face and body over to this space, and post images like images of me are perfectly acceptable things to post. I’m also posting art, and druidry and up-cycling and cat photos because those are less scary and also part of my agenda. I’m much more interested in what we do than in how we look when doing it. When it comes to how we look, I’m most interested in the bits we each have most control over and how we might have fun and be creative with that. I’m swimming against a massive tide here, but there we go.

If I can help anyone else be more comfortable in their own skin, that’s a win. If I can help anyone else be more confidently expressive, and less ashamed, and more at ease – excellent. I’m a middle aged Druid with a soft middle, most of my clothes are old and tatty, I don’t wear makeup normally, I’m not going to glamorous locations in my best dresses. I’m scruffy, and low carbon, and increasingly unapologetic. I’m not glamorous, but there is a certain magic in the no-glamour I have going on. What’s best about that is that anyone with a body can do the same thing – be magically yourself, and give no fucks.

Instagram account here – https://www.instagram.com/nimuebrown/


Cover story – Druidry and the Future

The cover for Druidry and the Future was a collaboration between myself and my husband, Tom Brown. It comes out of ongoing conversations we’ve been having around hope punk, and regenerative, generous, restorative human action.

We’ve both got to the point of feeling that really, trying to reduce harm isn’t enough. The scale of harm done by humans is such that we urgently need to become forces for regeneration. We also both feel strongly that people need to see themselves as beings who can live generously and restoratively, that we do not have to despair over our species because we can, and will, do better.

Hope punk is a concept that has arisen online as an antidote to grimdark fiction. This is something we’re also invested in – not that I’m averse to dark fantasy, I love Mark Lawrence’s work in this area, but it is not enough to be grim and dark. We also need visions of where we might be going. If all we tell ourselves are stories about how horrible things will be, we have nothing to work towards. I like writing gothic fiction myself, I am an occasional horror reader. For me, these genres suit me best when they also provide contrast. The good people are able to do can shine out more clearly against a grim backdrop. Also, I want to get away from the light/dark language here – an issue I’ll be coming back to.

So, I sat down at a drink and draw a while ago and tried to imagine what restorative urban Druidry might look like. I wanted to give a sense of Druidry being what you do where you are, and that as most of us live in towns and cities, we need to reflect that. If Druidry can only be ‘away’ in remote and beautiful spots that becomes a barrier to regenerative living.

Tom took my original sketch and drew it up for me – I’m not terribly good at perspective or for that matter, realism. I did the colouring because once the lines are down, I can get my head around this. Tom is such a goth that colour worries him…

 

You can buy the book via Amazon, or leave a comment if you’d like to buy a hard copy directly from me https://www.amazon.co.uk/Druidry-Future-Nimue-Brown-ebook/dp/B07WJX6CYH 


Druidry and…

Many years ago, when I sat down to write Druidry and Meditation I imagined that I might do a whole series of books that were Druidry and… titles. It seemed a good way in. I went on the write Druidry and the Ancestors, and then lost my nerve and did a couple of books as ‘pagan’ instead.  Druidry is a bit of a niche, and publishing books in an ongoing way rather depends on selling books. It doesn’t help that I’m not a great self-publicist, although I’m trying to do better with that. Hence this blog post and any others like it.

Introductory books tend to get the best sales. I for one, am bored with generic introductions to Paganism and Druidry, I’ve been doing this for far too long. There’s little joy in reading it and there is no amount of money that would make me want to write it. It’s also easier to pitch books that promise people quick and easy solutions to their needs, and that’s never attracted me either. So be it.

This year I wrote Druidry and the Future – I am back to that original Druidry and…. plan and I am happier for making that choice. I have a new Druidry and…. title in mind to start working on in the autumn. I self-pubbed the future one because there’s a nine month and more lead time in publishing with Moon Books and I felt I needed to move with this now. But the next one I will try with my publisher first.

Things have been fairly quiet on the Druid books side in recent years. I’m excited by new work from Andrew Anderson – whose The Ritual of Writing came out this year, and who has another very exciting project in the pipeline. But on the whole, there haven’t been many new Druid books I’m excited about for some time. Until this spring, I hadn’t felt excited about trying to write anything, either.

My gut feeling is that Druidry has needed some quiet time. We’re moving beyond Very Important Druids and big names with big claims. This is good. I think what’s coming next will be a greater diversity of voices, and ideas, with less authority. This may not be the best outcome for book selling, but it is definitely the best outcome for Druidry.

Anyone who wants to talk about getting started as an author, or taking the next step (wherever you are with things) is always welcome to contact me. If I like what you do, then I’ll do what I can to help you navigate the publishing options and I’ll be here to promote your work when it comes out. I may be a lousy self-publicist, but when I’m excited about a book, I am an enthusiastic champion. It’s so much easier to do that with other people’s work!


Druidry and the Future

Back in April, I did two talks at Pagan Federation events – one in Wakefield, the other in Edinburgh. I went in to both expecting to talk to at least some degree about how to use your Druidry to cope with what’s going on in the world. At Wakefield I had a lot of conversations with people who were struggling, and I ended up devoting a lot of my talk to the power of working together and my own involvement in the Transition Towns movement. At Edinburgh I’d been asked to talk about self care and I ended up talking a fair bit about how self care is also planet care.

I came out of these two events with a bit of a fire in my head, feeling that I needed to say more about how to dig in with the Druidry. I started writing. I pitched myself to Druid Camp in the Forest of Dean and went there to talk about Druidry and what we can usefully do. I’ve been writing this sort of content in my Quiet Revolution column at Pagan Dawn for some years now, as well. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s really important to give people hope and options rather than yet more handwringing. What I write about isn’t speculative, it’s stuff I’ve tested. It’s all about what we can crack on with right now – this is why I love the Transition Towns movement. It’s not about waiting for laws to change or other people to act.

I’ve written a book that I hope will help people in their personal resilience, will help people make changes, and stay sane.

If you would like a copy of this book, there are a number of options. I am selling it – because it took me a lot of time to write it, and I do not live in a household that has a high income. I am not going to make vast sums out of this – I get less than a pound per copy for the Kindle edition (the rest goes to Amazon) and slightly more on the Amazon print version (the rest goes to Amazon) and a couple of quid if you buy from me directly (because the rest is eaten up by the printing costs). I mention this because I am happy to give away the ebook version and I want people to have a context for thinking about that. If you can afford to buy a copy, I would really appreciate you buying a copy. I am at the income level where a few extra pounds here and there does make a difference.

If you want a copy but can’t afford one, message me on any of the platforms I use, or leave a comment here – that will give me your email address and I’ll get in touch. You do not need to tell me if you are asking for a review copy, or just can’t afford one, I am not going to ask. I will simply trust you all to think about this fairly. I don’t want anyone excluded on the basis of not being able to pay.

If you’d like to make it easier for me to invest time in work that I give away, I have a Patreon account and a Ko-fi page.

If you’d like to do any book promoting things with me then also drop me a line. I’m generally up for interviews, writing blogs and articles and so forth.

If there’s any sustainability topics you’d like me to write about here, also please tell me.

Druidry and the Future on Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Druidry-Future-Nimue-Brown-ebook/dp/B07WJX6CYH 


Questions of honour

If a chap in a chivalric or mythic tale announces that his honour has been damaged in some way, you know there’s going to be a duel or other violence. His honour may have been damaged because he didn’t get the right cut of meat at the feast, or someone suggested his wife is not the prettiest woman in the history of the world. The speed of his horse may have been questioned, or some more obscure personal pride thing that no sensible person could have seen coming. And then, so that honour can be satisfied, pain must be inflicted, maybe even death. It’s a way of thinking about honour that has never made much sense to me.

For women, honour is usually framed in such stories as being all about not having sex, or only having sex with the man you are married to. The woman who has sex forced upon her is deemed dishonoured in such tales – she does not get to fight a duel with the perpetrator. She may only be able to redeem herself through suicide. Men in her life are entitled to get angry and kill people – her included. Women who have affairs, or love people other than the person they were forced to marry do not get a good deal, often. Although Queen Medb of Connacht with her friendly thighs does better than most in this regard. Women in such stories do not get to regain their honour by killing the person who dishonoured them.

Ten years ago and more, honour was a popular term in Druidry, especially around the Druid Network. In that context, it didn’t mean taking offence and getting into fights – although that happened too! This is the idea of honour as a heroic virtue available to people regardless of gender, and as something you hold within yourself, not something people can take from you by saying you don’t have the best horse. Honour is a personal code, and as such, how one person’s honour works may make no sense to the next person.

For me, it means the place where I dig in. The point at which I will sacrifice something in my interests for the sake of a principle. It’s the lines I won’t cross, no matter how great the temptation. I have a lot of grey areas and points of flexibility because while I prefer not to lie (for example) I wouldn’t compromise some innocent person’s safety or wellbeing for the sake of speaking the truth. My sense of what’s honourable often depends a lot on the context. My relationship with the natural world is one where I think a lot about what’s honourable, but I can’t always act with perfect honour, often because I’m compromised by not being able to afford the best options. There are things about how I work and what I think is honourable there that contributes to not being able to afford to live with perfect honour in other regards.

It depends so much on what you think matters. Personal honour can be a very private thing, needing no recognition or anything else from anyone else. Or it can be all about holding up a perception of yourself in which honour needs defending from criticism, and it’s worth killing or dying over a joke or a badly spoken word or someone getting laid. If you know you’ve acted honourably, no one can take that from you. If your honour is all about your public image, it’s really vulnerable. There are so many stories in which rulers are offended because someone lets on they aren’t as good as they think they are – if the illusion of your honour is dearer than truth… it doesn’t seem much like honour at all to me.


Druidry and the Future – cover notes

Here’s the cover for a small book I’m self-publishing. The reason I’ve gone it alone for this one is that there’s a good 9 months of lead time doing anything at Moon Books, and I felt this needed to move now. I’ll be sorting out ebook versions in the next few weeks.

The cover came about in no small part because Tom Brown (my co-conspirator in most things) has been thinking a lot about hope punk recently. Hope punk was coined as a literary term to offer some kind of alternative to grimdark. However, the notion of hope punk really lends itself to visual expression. What would a restorative, regenerative, generous sort of future look like? If we can dream it, we have a much better chance of making it happen.

We tend to associate Paganism with rural settings, although most of us live in more urban areas. So, here’s Druidry in an urban context. It’s an explicit visual statement that Druidry does not belong ‘away’ in some wild and remote place, but belongs where people are. Look closely at the city and you’ll see the roof gardens, the trees, the plant pots, and also the birds in flight. Nothing says hope to me like the image of a sky full of birds.

This is a project all about hope. I don’t see any point doing anything else. Misery and hand wringing changes nothing. I’m most interested in the kinds of changes I can make personally, and by directly engaging with other people.


Applied Druidry

Back in April, I spoke at the Pagan Federation Wakefield conference and it was a striking experience for me. I had a lot of conversations with people about climate change, about what we do and how to keep going and say sane. It shaped how I talked at the Scottish Pagan Federation conference a few weeks later, and after that I realised I needed to write about what I know. I’ll be at Druid Camp this summer in the Forest of Dean talking about ways of working your Druidry for the sake of the future.

The short of it is that there’s a great deal within Druidry that lends itself to helping us live sustainably and cope with both environmental and social chaos.

I’m currently thinking about how best to put that out there. Much of it draws on things I’ve already said here on the blog and also in my Pagan Dawn column and at those talks – but, I’ve written it as a single, coherent piece rather than a drip feed of fragments. As new things occur to me I’ll keep doing that drip feed here. In the meantime, the question is – how I do I most effectively put this out? I’m planning on doing a small print run so I have copies for events. I’m thinking about doing an ebook for ease of access, and keeping the cost there very low.

Part of me feels that I should just give this away to make it as widely available as possible – but that means I can’t do a print run because I can’t afford to buy everyone a copy of my book. Charging a small amount for an ebook would help offset the cost of a print version, potentially. There’s also the question of the amount of time I’ve put into this and my own economic sustainability. If I give everything away, the time I have to put in is much reduced. It’s a dilemma I face all the time, as a self employed worker also doing a lot of voluntary work.

If I could get patreon up to a level that supported me sufficiently, giving away ebooks would be easy. I could afford to do that and afford the time to keep writing. (Patreon account here – https://www.patreon.com/NimueB )

I feel very strongly that poverty should not be a barrier to inclusion, so I need to figure out an answer to that as well.

If you’ve any ideas about sites you’d like to see the ebook on, do leave me a comment. I don’t really want to use amazon because there’s so much I don’t like about how they do business.


The Secret Order of Steampunk Druids

I’ve had a page on this blog for many years about the Secret Order of Steampunk Druids. It’s not a secret, and there’s no order worth mentioning, and yet a number of people have identified with it, and that cheers me. I think it’s good and necessary not to take yourself too seriously…

Dear Secret Steampunk Druids, a thing has happened. I am going to The Town That Never Was in Shropshire this June, and I shall be standing for election as the mayor of that imaginary place. I have been invited to do so as a representative of The Secret Order. I know that I am up against The Cthulhu Party who have slogans like “Why vote for a Lesser Evil?” so it’s going to be tough!

Over the coming month, I’m going to be putting together my manifesto. Clearly it has to include the right to beards. I’m tempted to get some wicker man content in there too.  There have to be trees. It’s an excellent opportunity for some properly Druidic political satire, and if I can get the balance right, it may even be a genuine opportunity for some interfaith work… there’s also colossal scope to make a total arse of myself in quite the wrong way, so I’ll be thinking about this carefully.

Victorian era Druids were amazing, and mad and ridiculous, and consequently fit well in a steampunk setting. But at the same time I’m likely to have an audience of people who have no idea who I am, or what Druidry is, or how my five minutes of yelling relates to anything else. There’s the possibility that I will be some people’s first encounter with Druidry – new or old.

So, what should I be standing for, and what should I be rabidly against? I’m very much open to suggestions!


What Druids Do

There are a lot of things that Druids Do in terms of providing service for other people. I’ve explored most of these over the years, and have come to some conclusions about what its feasible for me to do – what I do well and what I can sustain.

Celebrant work – I’ve done several weddings and a funeral. As a person without a car, it’s not sensible for me to go dashing around the country so increasingly requests that aren’t close to home get passed to other people. I’ve found I’m not keen on doing celebrant work – it’s one thing doing it for people I know, that’s fine. I’m not called to celebrancy in a way that makes me want to offer that to strangers. To work as a celebrant, you need to be a good performer and ritualist, and able to work out what people need from their rite of passage, and provide that for them.

Leadership – whether that’s founding a grove, a teaching school or an order, many Druids are called to leadership roles. Not all who wish to lead manage to attract people who wish to follow and that doesn’t always play out well. I’m not much attracted to this because it calls for so much taking responsibility for other people – to do it well. I’m not especially fussed about having people do Druidry my way – my way is probably too idiosyncratic to be of much use to many others. There’s so much organising and work involved in doing leadership well that it does not appeal to me.

Healing, counselling, guidance – I’ve not a lot of skill in this area. I will do my best to offer suggestions when people come to me, and I try and share my experiences in ways other people might find useful, but that’s about it. I believe that often the best way to enable healing is to create a safe and supportive environment for people. There’s a practical limit to what I can do on that score, it’s only really something I can offer to people who know where I live.

Representation – I’ve done a bit of this, and it is quite challenging work. Speaking to people of other paths, or speaking on behalf of Pagans. I live in a place with a lot of Pagan and alternative folk – enough that we’re pretty normal and that representation is seldom an issue. There are also plenty of older, wiser and more experienced folk around who are better placed to do this.

Teaching – I’ve tried mentoring both independently and as part of OBOD. I’ve stepped away from that because I don’t feel comfortable setting myself up in authority over other people’s journeys. I prefer informal approaches, where I just put stuff out there (this blog, books, talks, one off workshops) and people can take it or leave it in whatever way they like. I’m always happy to support other people in their journey. If someone comes to me with questions I’ll do what I can – that approach keeps the power and responsibility firmly in the hands of the seeker, and I think that’s far better.

What I think we need more of, rather than people in these specific roles, is people taking on thinking work. We need ideas, stories, philosophies, methods, inspiration for people to live more sustainably. We need living examples, different ways of thinking, visions of the future and the courage to act. We need people who can overcome despair, campaign, take action and enable others to do so. Looking around I am aware of a lot of Druids who are doing this. I think it’s where we are all most needed, in whatever ways we can engage. So much of What Druids Do comes from conventional models of leadership and human importance revolving around purely human needs. What Druids need to be doing is something less human-centric and I’m glad to say I can see a great deal of that happening already.