Tag Archives: druid community

Too much

One of the things I like about blogging, is that if I prove too much, I don’t have to watch any given individual trying to back away from me. Out here in my actual life, that has always been an issue. I keep the majority of people I know at a careful arm’s length, I’ll give you a light hearted, moderately serious, Nimue, and I may in fact come over as a bit cold, aloof and poker-faced. There have been people in my life who, due to this, thought I was incapable of feeling emotion in the first place. I have a fair capacity for self-control when needs be, but even in that I am often too much.

I was fourteen the first time someone told me I was too much: too serious, not enough fun. It’s been a recurring theme, and in my darker moments, it is often those events that come back to haunt me. The looks on people’s faces, tones of voice, words uttered. I was less cautious as a young human, more willing to risk my heart in the quest to find someone, anyone, who could accept me as I am. By the time I reached my early twenties, I had stopped believing that was even possible, and started learning how to hide it.

I feel everything keenly. I’m not good at casual disinterest, I take everything to heart, and despite more than a decade in the flaying realities of the publishing world, I have never grown a thick skin. Everything gets in. I feel my own shortcomings and mistakes as sharply as razor blades and what I forgive readily enough in other people, I find intolerable in me. That my actual nature causes other people distress is one of the things that has, on more occasions than I care to number, left me wondering if the world would be a happier place were I to absent myself from it. I mention this because I am fairly confident that a couple of the people who read this blog have crawled into similar pits, and might be able to view that differently for hearing it from someone else.

In the Druid community, I have found there are other people who love and cry and whoop to excess. I’ve found at least the possibility of being acceptable, and sometimes the definite, tested reality of it. In my bloke, I have found someone who will gladly accept what I have to give and who is able to see what I am as a good thing, not a problem. Beauty and the Beast is a story that has always resonated with me, but I never cast myself as the pretty one in that arrangement. The person who can see you as you are, monsters and all, and love that, not in the hopes that it will magically transform you into a Disney prince or princess… that person is a rare and precious find. You exist, you brave and beautiful people who are not horrified by intensity, by passion and dedication and who will not be shocked into running away if I say ‘I love you’. And I do love you, a great deal.

To those of you who howl, and who cry until snot comes out of your nose. To those of you who can laugh so much you end up quite literally rolling about on the floor. To those of you whose happy dance is not a typed comment, but a real, leaping exuberant mania cast into the world to offended the jaded apathy of the many… I salute you. There are days when just knowing that you are out there, mad and chaotic, wild, daring, passionate and not cowed yet, makes it possible to keep going. I’m not going to name check you, but I hope you know who you are and what you mean to me.

Back to the real world

I’ve just spent days in a field, mostly barefoot, which in and of itself is an unusual experience. I went from Wednesday lunchtime to Saturday night without wearing shoes at all, and it affected my consciousness of the world to such a degree that I’m now finding shoes a problem. I feel disconnected when I put them on.

I’ve spent recent days in the company of gorgeous, creative, inspiring and unconventional people, doing all manner of wild and fabulous things. I have proper reviews to write, but shall give myself a day or two of digesting time first. Now I am back in a flat that suddenly seems very quiet and I miss the sense of being held and surrounded by a community of kindred spirits. And such kindred spirits! A significant number of my very favourite people, all gathered together.

I’ve not used my phone, my computer, or the internet until this evening, when I’ve needed to play catch up. This has enabled me to really slow down and chill out, which has done body and mind considerable good. I’ve danced and sung. I’ve also played. Music shared with brilliant musicians is such a joy, and there should be more of that to come, and it feels very good.

I’ve faced fears head on, and some of them melted away, which was a lovely thing, and some are smaller. I’ve faced challenges, and enjoyed recognition. I return to the computer feeling stronger and clearer in myself, more certain of what needs doing and of how to do it, and starting to put the pieces together.

There’s been enough experience in the last few days to keep me in blog material for months to come. That alone says something. Real world Druidry, with people all in the same place, is powerful stuff. I come to the internet to share, and to learn from others. This is an awesome way of moving inspiration and ideas about. I love the intellectual aspect of the internet, and appreciate the way in which it feeds my mind. Emotionally, it’s a bit sterile, especially compared to people in a space. Voices. Touch. Shared food. Being able to look at the same things.

I need to rebalance my life so that more of it happens offline, and that rather than coming to the internet to seek nourishment, I want to be coming with more inspiration I have found out here in the real world. Druidry with people. I like it a lot.

A little light evil

One of the themes we play with quite a lot in the Hopeless Maine graphic novel project (www.hopelessmaine.com) is the issue of small evil. Not the big, dramatic, self-announcing, end of the world variety, but the small scale, puppy kicking stuff.

Every day affords us small opportunities to do it well, or do it badly. Help a stranger or hassle them. Get angry, or try to listen. Part of the trick is paying attention in the first place, noticing what is happening and thinking about our own responses. Part of it is thinking about what we want to put into the world.

Yesterday’s long train haul brought an interesting mix of people. Some were grumpy and rude, having a bad day and intending to share the misery as widely as possible. Many were patient, kind, helpful and co-operative. Some turned out to be fun and really interesting. Some had just experienced a pasting themselves and needed a bit of care and being listened to. No doubt there were bits that we handled better than others. An overcrowded train full of tired people with too much luggage is a perfect opportunity to really have a go at some random person you’ll never see again. It can be something else, it depends so much on what we do.

Those small acts of unkindness, disharmony, rudeness, that turn up as much in social media and in the street as on a train, have impact. That’s one more stressed, hurt, angry person who can ripple their frustrations out to affect the next victim. We grow evil out of these small events. We breed and nurture it, pushing towards more conflict. Verbal aggression so often turns into physical violence. The next thing you know, lines are drawn, it’s us and them and there will be bloody noses.

Small acts of making things just a little bit better make worlds of difference. The words of gratitude, of understanding, the working out a viable way for everyone, the not shouting and blaming… that too ripples out into better things, a happier space.

I’ve spent the weekend with Steampunks. It’s a community that takes manners seriously. Those small acts of kindness and courtesy make Steampunk a happy, comfortable sort of place to be. Co-operation is so much nicer than blame and harassment. When things aren’t working perfectly, people who pull together solve and overcome problems. People who lash out at each other just make things worse.

We do not have the same ethos of kindness and courtesy in the Druid community. We may talk about personal honour, and honourable relationship, but we’re far too quick to get cross with each other online.

Some of it is about losing track of what matters. So it went a bit wrong. You didn’t get what you wanted. It was too hot, too crowded, too expensive… yeah, these are things a person can choose to get mad about. But there is that other choice, of shrugging, saying ‘ah well, that sucked,’ and either making it better in some way or moving on to the next thing. We argue over irrelevant trivia and forget there’s a whole world out there full of genuinely wrong things that could use our attention. So what if we don’t agree on some esoteric point, or the best way to do ritual? It doesn’t matter. Let’s disagree considerately, let’s ripple out those little moments of good, not put yet more strife into the world.

Druid Adventures

I mentioned a couple of days ago, that I was plotting something, and after some reflection, I’m going to blog the process, whatever it is, even if it doesn’t work out the way I hope it will. If things go to plan, there’s going to be study, and scope for some really productive service. I love studying, so am hoping for things to get my teeth into, and the direction I have in mind could bring some really good challenges.
Of course the flip side is that trying can mean failing. Which is why I’m going to talk about the whole thing.

I’m in the process of applying to become a tutor for OBOD.

I completed the three grades some years ago, and I enjoyed the process. It was challenging, sometimes pretty hard (the Ovate Grade I found emotionally very difficult.) Progression through the grades is not a given. Many people just don’t finish the Bard grade anyway. If you complete it then you can move on to studying the Ovate material. At the end of the Ovate grade, you can fail. It is possible for someone to say no to you carrying on.

I had several tutors on the way through. My Bardic tutor was totally awesome and really helped me. I’d been set back by some bad teaching, and needed help rebuilding my confidence. I’m not a passive receiver of other people’s truths, I need to test and challenge, and what my tutor for that grade gave me was a safe space in which I could do just that, and be accepted. I struggled more with my Ovate Tutor, he had things going on in his life, we weren’t on the same wavelength, and I discovered he was moving out of tutoring, so that was a very different experience, but I got through. In the Druid grade I didn’t have much contact at all. I’d found my feet.

Talking to other OBOD students, I’ve come to realise how critical the good tutor-student relationship is to the whole process. The tutor you get is one of your main experiences of the Order and that relationship can make or break your studies. Although, even the best tutor can’t fix a student who isn’t really interested enough to try, and the most determined and able students will do ok even if their tutors aren’t so good.

I think I have something to offer here, and I think I could make a meaningful contribution. I’d like to try. It means making the jump, risking the failure, or them not having any use for me after all.
It won’t be my first time volunteering for an organisation. I spent a few years doing things for The Pagan Federation, and for The Druid Network. I was so unhappy at the end of my first round of TDN time, that I didn’t think I’d volunteer again. I hated finding other people judging me over the rest of my life (it’s not like I was doing anything illegal). I don’t want to bring any organisation into disrepute, but its bloody hard hearing that people consider you a risk. Will OBOD consider me a risk? (I have this nasty habit of saying things in public, after all). Can I function inside an organisation? I went back to TDN to do book reviews, because I like reviewing books and because that’s useful to both readers and authors. Going back was really hard. I let because I was insulted, and going back felt a bit like letting the people responsible off the hook. I realised it wasn’t about them, it was about the readers and authors I could benefit by being a reviewer. Service matters to me. There are some very good people at TDN, who I am very glad to count as friends, but it only takes one or two hostile people to make a space deeply uncomfortable. As a consequence, TDN is never going to feel like home for me. Perhaps OBOD could be.

I’ve had my years in the wilderness, my hermitude, and I know, coming to the end of that, how much I do want to be part of a community. I want to feel that I belong, and that there is a place I can give service. I want to be somewhere that values what I do, that accepts I’m a bit chaotic and not keen on keeping silent about things that matter to me. It’s an interesting one, because OBOD seems pretty structured. I can cope with structure, I can work with it, and I think they could find a use for me. We shall see.

The other reason for going this way, goes like this. The back of book blurb for Druidry and Meditation mentions that I’m OBOD trained. As a consequence of this, Philip Carr Gomm got in touch with me, I’ve had some lovely reviews from OBOD, and been invited to contribute to the site. I admire Philip as an author, and he’s a lovely chap. At the time in my life when I felt I belonged nowhere, and that the wider Druid community had no place for me, he sought me out, and that meant a huge amount to me. If I could give something back… that would be good too.

Druid community

There are a lot of places online where Druids gather to talk, and there is a lot of diversity in Druidry. One of the things that depresses the hell out of me, is when debate generates into angry shouting. It does this rather a lot. As there are a number of different, well established approach to Druidry (as well as all the individual stuff) this more-druidy-than-thou attitude doesn’t seem that well founded. Even in conversations about how Druids are supposed to be peacemakers, we get it wrong. It makes me sad.

However, I’ve seen this week a Druid group over on google, where on the whole some quite strenuous discussion has happened without descending into the other stuff. This inspires me. It is important to be able to debate the hard topics, to be able to hear ideas that do not fit with our own. I think it is healthy and important to be challenged, to be required to explain your thinking, show your evidence and deal with people you don’t agree with.

It’s pretty easy to be a peaceful Druid when there’s no conflict available. That isn’t actual peace, it’s just a convenient setup. Real peace is being able to handle conflict without it getting nasty or destructive. This is where we really test ourselves, really find out if we can walk our talk. It doesn’t mean we have to agree, or like each other, or persuade everyone to think the same. It really comes down to respect, and being able to acknowledge that my truth may look different to your truth, and that we can live with this.

I get excited by challenges to my thinking and people who know stuff that I don’t. It’s part of my on-going love affair with being a student. I want to understand. That means encountering stuff that initially makes no sense to me, and rather than rejecting it, trying to engage with it. I get a real buzz out of those. So yes, I have tried to figure out why so many Druids don’t seem to get all excited when they run into someone with a different perspective. I think there are two factors. One is that we are not, as a community, taking manners seriously enough as an issue. It’s all well and good being passionate and plainly spoken, but that can be done without actually being rude to people, I think. Encountering rudeness is a big turn off when it comes to tackling alternative perspectives. The other part is more a protective/fear issue. The more you have invested in your beliefs, the more uncomfortable it may be to have them argued with.

We live in a context full of religions and politicians all claiming a monopoly on truth. Anyone who isn’t strident can seem wishy-washy, undecided, not properly dedicated to their cause. And yet, step back a moment and it should be obvious that mostly none of us have any hope of truth monopoly. The bigger the truth, the harder it will be to grasp. Is my truth really at odds with your truth? Are we in fact groping the same elephant without realising it? (I love that story). I want to know what the elephant looks like. So if I can attach your bit to my bit, I will probably still be way off the mark, but now instead of a big flappy thing, I’ve got a flappy thing attached to a ropey thing. It’s still wrong, but it is a bit less wrong, and I’ll keep looking, keep wondering.

In the meantime, if I find I’ve irritated someone online where I didn’t mean to, I don’t get cross with them, I say sorry. I find it remarkably effective. If I’m not sure I understand what they mean, I don’t get cross, I ask what they mean. If someone misreads aggression into my words, I don’t get cross with them, I apologise for not having been clear enough, assure them that I’m not hostile, and try again. Why? Because just arguing with people is dull and pointless, and I’m not interested in scoring points or proving I am more right. Actually, being less right is more interesting, it means I get to learn something.

Where people are polite, show respect, actually listen, the conversations are amazing. We really could do more of this.

The illusions, fantasies and occasional uses of social networking

It’s a funny set of places, the social networking sites. People posting updates on the most mundane developments in their lives, photos of their food, commentary on TV programs. You can ‘support causes’ and sign petitions for just about everything, creating the illusion of something meaningful done. You can have hundreds of facebook friends but not really know anyone, creating an illusion of social contact. Then there’s the option of hiding behind a fake name and trolling the hell out of your victims. Oh, and there are games. We spend a lot of time on social network sites, time we will never get back and so much of what it gives is illusory.

I have, I case you were wondering, twitter, google+, linkedin and facebook accounts. I’m also on goodreads. Feel free to attempt to connect with me on any of those, although in practice facebook is the only place I reliably show up and interact with people. I have real friends there, people I actually know, or will know, or want to know, and that helps. I find that compared to the general assessments of social networking (as above) I have a pretty good experience of it. This is because my network doesn’t deliver many food photos and random trivia. I get pointers to really good articles I would not otherwise have found, and I get to find out about what some really interesting people are thinking and doing. In that way, I get a lot out of it.

Of course one of the things people use this stuff for is selling their work, big companies included. How much promo can one person take? Speaking as an author, occasional publisher and avid reader, nothing depresses me more than some author I’ve never heard of, banging on endlessly about their book. The egroups used to be full of similar stuff. I know there’s a theory that we can all go 50 Shades with our products, but maundering on about them isn’t the answer. Nobody cares. This can come as a bit of a shock, but one of the lessons the social networks have the power to deliver is that most of the time, most people do not give a shit about that thing you thought really mattered. When they do, it can be a humbling, overwhelming and powerful sort of moment, but that tends to pass. In the great noise of the internet, we might start to see our small place in the grand scheme of things, or we might equally end up with an inflated ego.

In practice the social networks are a lot like the rest of real life in that what you get out depends on what you put in and who you associate with. It can be really good. That a lot of it is tedious, pointless and time wasting, is simply down to the people who use it.

As a Druid who does not have many other Druids in close geographical proximity (when you walk or cycle, ten miles away isn’t close) I appreciate the contact of being online. It’s enabled me to stay at least a little bit in touch with friends and to learn more about the Steampunk community. For this, I am very grateful. I know I’d feel more isolated without it. Not all of us can get to where the likeminded people are. But if there are real people to interact with, better not to be on facebook, I think. My Druidry calls on me to go outside, but it’s easy to hold an illusion that time playing with online Druid communities is somehow proper Druid time. Mostly it isn’t. Or it’s a pale shadow of the real thing. It worries me how readily many people seem to have replaced real world contact with social networking though. Locked away in our little rooms with our little boxes, typing words to people we’ve never met… The scope for fantasy and illusion is vast. The unfortunate outcomes of this show up on a regular basis but the hurt caused is all too real.

I know that the internet has changed how I think. I’m watching myself for good ideas to blog about, and good thoughts to share over the ether. Twenty years ago, this didn’t feature in my mind. I lived and thought differently. I’m aware that social network sites can be addictive, particularly in times of boredom or loneliness. They tend to perpetuate the problems rather than solving them. I don’t think we’ve begun to understand the social implications of what we’re doing. Or the psychological implications, for that matter. It’s a mass retreat from the real world. And yes, the real world is not a great place just now, but we aren’t going to fix that by signing a petition on facebook.
Jo over at http://www.octopusdance.wordpress.com has committed to spending one day a week free from modern communications devices. Obviously I know about this because she facebooked it… but the idea is well worth a thought. Spending less time doing it can, if nothing else, improve the quality of what you bring to it.

I may not be blogging for a couple of days, I have a lot of real world stuff to do. Gods of trains and weather permitting, I shall be in Northampton Waterstones for a book signing on Saturday and then doing family stuff on Sunday.

Speaking for others

Cat raised the issue yesterday that she is clear about only being able to speak for herself. That sharing of personal experience is very much intrinsic to what Cat does, but at the same time because she’s a prominent Pagan and Druid, there’s every likelihood other people will hear her words as being typical of, or on behalf of others. As she says, that’s not something you get a lot of control over. Trying to imagine ‘the reader’ with the many faces and opinions, all the places those words might go – well, that’s one way to drive yourself slowly round the bend, but inevitably that too becomes part of the job.

There are ways though, in which speaking for other people can be a meaningful act of service. It depends on a number of factors – depth of personal experience, emotional intelligence, linguistic skill and having a bunch of people who could do with some words. Generally speaking this is not a service the Druid community will call for, thanks to most of us having the skills to talk our own talk. Now and then my being able to wrap language around an experience seems to be useful for other people, but it’s more a dialogue than a service, I feel. I’m learning as much as I’m dishing out, if not more. However, out there in the rest of the world, speaking for others has a lot more relevance.

I spent two terms on something called The Freedom Program – it’s a structured, self help based course for women recovering from domestic abuse. It explains the mechanisms of abuse, enabling victims to understand how they got to where they are and avoid returning to abusive relationships. Abuse is a process, very few people get hit on the first date because most women would have the sense to get the hell away from that. There’s a slow and deliberate erosion of self, self esteem, confidence and sanity that enables the physical abuse, although the psychological impact is probably the more damaging bit. Women come out of that dazed, confused, demoralised, deeply wounded and struggling to explain themselves. Many go back to their abuser, or find another one. Frequently, said women are also faced with disbelief and hostile systems when they are at their most vulnerable and fragile. I say ‘they’ but I was there too.

I’ve always been good with words, and comfortable attaching language to experience and emotion. I’m able to think logically about feelings and to articulate that. So, given the framework of the Freedom Program, I started talking, slowly, painfully about what had happened to me. I learned a thing: Other women found this useful. They were able to say ‘me too!’ or ‘I know what that feels like’, and ‘that was it.’ In telling my own story, I was, week by week, providing additional language with which other women became able to tell their stories too, or at least say ‘I was there’ and not have to delve into revelation whilst still being able to get some catharsis out of sharing. A minority of women on that course had missed out at school, lacked confidence in their own cleverness, but through the sessions became more able to speak, to hear their own voices, recognise their own strength. It was powerful stuff.

Sometimes speaking for yourself is such a raw and painful activity, that it can be a relief to have someone else say it and be able to go ‘me too’ and that be enough. Sometimes the language needed to put experience into words isn’t available to a person, and being given the words to make sense of the experience is very helpful. Talking cures abound in counselling, but if you don’t have the breadth of language and the confidence to match words to feelings, that kind of talking therapy is pretty hard to make any use of.

There are times when speaking for other people is all about self assertion, self importance and disempowering the person whose voice you have squashed. That’s not the whole story. Most people out there don’t have much of a language for talking about emotional experience, much less religious experience. The soul yearning will be no less present, but with no means of expression, it’s much easier to ignore it and turn to some short term remedy that doesn’t help. However much we speak for ourselves, it’s worth having an eye to the potential to be speaking for others, because that speech can be a process of endowing others with language, terms of reference and narrative structures in which they can then go on to talk about their own things.

Having been there, it is the most humbling sort of process, when a lost and stumbling person starts to pick up the words you have spoken, and rearranges them to tell their own story, where before they could not. That can break your heart, in the best possible way.

Druid Community

When we’re all Being Druids, it’s very easy to identify us as a Druid community. In rituals and at camps, armed with books on Druidry, bardic poetry, songs about the land and the Gods, we are clearly ‘Druid’. Many of us then go home, to day jobs that are not purely Druidic. In my case… I don’t just write about Druidry, I’m a fiction author, editor, reviewer, and I’ve done all sorts of other things along the way, too – tutoring, gigging, and the more mundane. We take off the Druid hat and step into physical neighbourhoods where we aren’t surrounded by other Druids, and most of us have family that is outside the Druid tribe too.

In this, we are a long way from our Celtic ancestors. Until Christianity came along, if you were a Celt you were going to be in the same world, the same spirituality as the other Celts around you. Community was not defined purely by spirituality, but by history, artisan skills, laws, families, shared relationship to the land. Everything, in fact, would have interconnected.

Our modern Druid community is spread out. In the UK, we’re like a big village that has been sprinkled liberally across the entire country. We depend a lot on the internet as a consequence.

One of the ways we might move towards being more like a real community and less like a bunch of people connected by some shared ideas, is to share more than just the Druidry. If you only see people eight times a year for rituals, are they really your tribe? If we only pay attention to each other’s work when that work comes in a package with ‘Druidic’ stamped on it, how much are we missing? If we’re real in our Druidry, then it permeates all aspects of what we do, and any sharing of anything is relevant.

What brought this to mind, was the novel Stealing into Winter, by Graeme K Talboys. I read it this week, and if I hadn’t known Graeme first as an author of Druid books, I wouldn’t have guessed. This is a fantasy novel. It’s beautifully written, and utterly gripping. I am now as much a fan of his fiction, as I am of his Druid books. I want to review it for The Druid Network, because I think books by Druids ought to be of just as much interest to Druids, as books about Druids. But there is a leap to make there. It’s a shift from a tendency to define our Druidness through overt manifestations of Druidry, towards going, ‘we are Druids and here is some stuff we have been doing’. Can a person be a Druid author and not write a Druidic book, even if there’s no surface resemblance? What does it mean, really, to be a Druid? Is it what we do, or is it who we are?

The more we connect with each other when we’re not Being Druids, the more like a real community we become. There is more to life than ritual and serious books on serious topics. To make spirituality intrinsic to life, it is necessary to also make life intrinsic to spirituality. All of it.

Your superior druid, shrink wrapped

Yesterday there were debates on facebook, a question that perhaps it was not wise to ask in a public place, and a backlash. The details don’t really matter for the purposes of this post. It got me thinking, however, about those oft-recurring issues around authority in druidry. Every time our community, or some bit of it hits a crisis, someone will comment that it would be nice if there was a proper governing body to sort it all out.

This can mean one of two things. Firstly it can mean wanting someone else to shoulder the responsibility and come up with a magic fix. That’s a very simple, human response to difficulty. Sometimes we all want to be children again and to find a parent who will make it all better for us. The more troubling motivation is based on the desire to control the beliefs and behaviour of others.

I’ll freely admit I had a moment yesterday of wanting to be the one who could lay down the law and tell everyone what they ought to think, and do, and believe. I get these bouts of hypothetical megalomania, and if facebook is indicative, so does everyone else. We all know we’ve got it all figured out, we have the right way, the perfect solution, if only everyone else would listen. Except they don’t, and most of the time we’re wrong, and the ’perfect’ solution would not work for everyone.
One of the dangers on any kind of spiritual path is that you start feeling important. You know more than those around you, and this makes you a better sort of person. Being better, wiser and whatnot, you are then, in your own eyes entitled to lead. It’s not a big leap from leading to dictating. I will also admit that when I first came to druidry, many years ago, that desire to be important, special, ahead of the pack, was part of what motivated me. I wanted to matter. Again, I suspect I was pretty normal in those feelings and aspirations. I sought responsibility because I wanted opportunities to shine and impress.

The idea of being, or becoming ‘better’ is inherent in a lot of spiritual traditions. The idea of the chosen few, the special ones, the ones god will save and give the cushy afterlife to. The whole point of some forms of spirituality seems to be betterness. In being better than we were, we are surely becoming better than some of those around us. We can look at their actions for evidence of our own superior wisdom. We have the moral high ground now. It’s not a long walk from there to words like ‘master race’. Spirituality that feeds arrogance and self importance, is not really that spiritual at all, when you stop to think about it.

So I get angry and self important, like everyone else. I am thankful today that I did not say anything yesterday that I have cause to regret. The more I think about it, now that the initial frustration has passed, the clearer I am that I don’t want the responsibility of telling other people how to live their lives. I have no desire to be the person who says who can, and cannot call themselves a druid, or what druidry means, or how to teach it. I’d quite like to be part of the process that is a living and evolving tradition, but nothing more than that.

Does that make me a better sort of person than I was when I came to druidry? Can I now hold this up as proof of my improved state? Ah ha! Betterness is not about getting out front with self important titles. Betterness is all false modesty and sitting back, not getting my hands dirty and being smug at a distance. There are other daft ideas to run around, other ways to feel bigger whilst doing nothing of any great significance. Other ways of deluding the self.

Who measures the betterness? Me? A deity who might or might not exist? The druid community or its leaders, should we appoint them? And what does that betterness achieve? What happens when we make qualitative judgements about the worth of one life compared to another?
If everything has spirit, how can one manifestation of that be better or worse than any other? How can any existence be more or less valuable than another?

And yet, weigh against that the notion of excellence in all things. It is impossible to seek excellence without having some awareness of how what you do compares with what everyone else is doing. We find our goals by looking at each other. We measure ourselves by contrast. So much depends on what we want that excellence for. Do we seek it for the good of our community and the enhancement of the world, or to raise ourselves up above everyone else? That, I think, is the critical difference.

Druid News

This week has seen a lot of drama within the druid community, with a debate sprawling across forums, facebook, blogs and probably other places too. The initial gist of it revolved around how much Celtic inspiration you need to have any right to call yourself a druid, but this developed a second debate about who has the right to assert what about druidry. The case for Celtic druidry was made passionately by Welsh Druid Kris Hughes on his blog –  http://www.kristofferhughes.co.uk/1/post/2012/01/dilute-to-taste.html He has some very valuable points to make about identity and the relationship between druidry and the Celts, although some of us – me included, do not agree with his interpretation of history.  My favourite response so far is http://bloodandbone.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/cultural-dilution-in-druidry/ which tackles much of the emotional complexity other druids may feel in facing Kris’s words. I also recommend taking a look at Bish – http://www.rosher.me.uk/wordpress/?p=776 and Red http://theanimistscraft.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/druidry-ancient-and-modern and also Damh the Bard – reflecting on his own relationship with druidry and celtica http://damh.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/proof-and-faith

I have no doubt there are other excellent posts on both sides that I’ve missed, so don’t hesitate to add links in the comments section.

While this has produced uncomfortable feelings all round and ruffled some feathers, I think it’s critically important that we are able to challenge each other and debate issues of identity and discuss the nature of druidry. However, we shouldn’t let this swamp us either, what we do as druids in our day to day life is far more important than arguing over who has the right to call who what.



Share your news

If you want to get your news mentioned here, mail brynnethnimue (at) gmail (dot) com – short and sweet is good, by all means include links. Don’t send pictures, I have a hard time of it uploading anything big and complicated. I’m happy to include events, courses, book releases, new websites, new groups, things druids have been up to, or things you’ve spotted in the news that seem relevant to the druid community. Arty, crafty, musical or literary people with stuff to sell are welcome to present themselves if they can find a news angle. I’m not averse to personal news. No witchwars content, no conspiracy theories, no ‘I know a bloke who met this guy down the pub who said…’ tales. I’m looking for good news where possible. The mainstream does plenty enough of the miserable content already.