Tag Archives: Druid Network

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This is such exciting news…

Down the Forest Path

TDN to join Inter Faith Network

On the 29th of September 2014, at the Annual General Meeting of The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN UK), The Druid Network (TDN) was admitted to Membership.

IFN works to promote understanding, cooperation and good relations between organisations and persons of different faiths in the UK.

In April 2012, IFN refused the first application for membership of The Druid Network due to its current membership policy restricting membership to the ‘big’ nine faiths.  This refusal resulted in TDN becoming involved in dialogue with IFN, with a view to reviewing their membership policy to become both more inclusive and to remove any suggestion of discrimination against minority faiths.  Other interested parties also took up this challenge and this led to a meeting, hosted in the House of Lords, discussing religious freedom within the UK. This meeting was held in November 2012 and representatives of some twenty…

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Druidry at the end of History part 1

This is roughly what I said at the TDN con this year, I’m going to blog it in stages.

Rumour has it that the Mayans reckoned 2012 would be the end of the world, which is partly, I imagine, why the convention’s theme was ‘druidry in changing times’. There’s nothing quite like the end of the world to change things! The Christians of 2000 years ago were expecting it, with the second coming right after the first. In the civil war, once again people were expecting Christ at the head of an army. The Victorians got all apocalyptic in the 1890s, with looming end of empire. The world war made annihilation seem immanent. If there’s one thing history can teach us, its that the end of history does not turn up anything like as often as advertised. Hardly at all, really. Perhaps though, in times of upheaval, the idea of it all ending helps people make sense of the chaos.

For falling cultures and those who die, the end of history is real enough, but others continue and when we too are gone, history will carry on without us. Actual history. Time history is not the stuff we put in books. It’s an important distinction.

There are times when the changes seem so great people feel history can have nothing to say to the present. What could the past know about our modern, technological lives? Rather a lot. All the fears we have about the internet were also fears people had about the telegraph network. Nothing is as new as we like to think it is.

Every so often some bright political spark will question the teaching of history in schools. It’s not the kind of subject that suggests utility in jobs. Mostly what we learn in school history is that Henry the 8th got through a lot of wives, and Hitler wasn’t a very nice chap. If you’re paying attention, you also learn that mostly we do not learn from history. In wider culture, we have history on the TV that is all costume, drama, sex and violence. It’s not very real either.

History as a subject has tended to be all about Kings and Queens, wars, nations, borders and a handful of very rich men. Most people are edited out of history by those who write it down. Most live are a great silence n the record. Names and opinions vanish, lives quietly washed away by the passing of time. Your ancestors will, for the greater part, belong to the silence. They disappeared. We will all disappear too. If we’re thinking about history in terms of the subject, it’s worth considering that for most of us, it never started. We weren’t there. Our people were not there. Your dead ancestors are not in the history books. It’s a sobering thought. Only the literate left a written record on which history can be based. For most of time, most women and children and poor people of both genders left nothing written about themselves. The wordless so soon become invisible.

History as a written subject is a long way from the reality of all the time that led to this moment. When we talk about the end of the world, what we really mean is the end of a human civilization. That’s probably not the end of the species even. Even if it was, for the cockroaches, history would continue to be made. If we eradicated all life on earth, there’s a whole universe out there, full of time. It exists regardless of whether we are around to tell stories about it.


Druid con soon!

Next Saturday is the Druid Network’s convention, in Birmingham, (UK) about which there will be plenty of info at www.druidnetwork.org

While I’ve done all manner of events, Pagan and otherwise, this is, weirdly enough, my first airing at a specifically Druidic convention. I shall be talking about Druidry at the end of History – as the theme for the day is Druidry in changing times. It’s a topic that lets me ramble the countryside around Druidry and the Ancestors without just regurgitating bits of it. I’ve no desire to bore me witless, or anyone else and banging away at the same old promotional speak gets tired, fast. So, I shall be talking about the end times, or absence thereof. I will probably put the talk up here in stages the following week – it’s about 45 minutes, which should be about 6000 words, so it may take a while to do it in small bite sizes.

This event is going to be personally significant for me in a number of ways. Last time I was at the Bilberry Hill centre in the Lickeys was for a Druid Network AGM, before I was married to Tom, back when I had an entirely different name and a different life. There are people I’ve not seen since then, and between that and the place – so close to where Bards of the Lost Forest used to meet for rituals, it could be quite emotional. There are also people I only currently know online who I should get to meet for the first time – Cat Tredwell and Paul Newman especially.

This will be the first outing for copies of Druidry and the Ancestors, and the first time I’ve taken a big pile of books to a big Pagan event (Pooka’s Pageant was not, in terms of numbers, vast). It also looks very much like we’ll have copies of Hopeless Maine volume 1 for that weekend, so will be in the rather odd position of launching a gothic/Steampunk graphic novel at a Druid gathering. But, there is overlap, after all…

For anyone who is going, we will be easy to find. I gather I’m the first speaker of the day – so please do show up nice and early so that I’m not just talking to Bish! And otherwise we’ll be at our table, we may have a banner, and if not that, the books and the spoons should be a dead giveaway.


Defining Druidry

As far as I can make out most religions are defined by their central deities, the core text and the main rules. Druidry doesn’t exactly have any of these. With animist, polytheist, atheist and Christian druids in the mix, no fixed rules and nature being the only ‘book’ we don’t entirely fit the mould for regular religion. And yet for many modern druids, it is very much a faith. Many of us have the sense that the external trappings of a religion are not what matters most.

 

Religion is about what you do, how you feel and understand the world. The essence of any faith is the way in which it inspires you to live your life from one day to the next.  However, when it comes to talking to other people, it helps to be able to pin that down.

 

I gather that at the very beginning of The Druid Network’s application for charitable status as a religion, they set about finding a definition druids could broadly agree on. It was fairly long, and people were able to agree on it. But unless you are particularly good at memorising, it’s not the kind of thing you can whip out in public when explanations are called for.

 

Druidry. It isn’t exclusively pagan, or theist in any way, it’s not focused on a book, or a place or on a specific way of doing things. It’s intuitive, international, highly diverse. And yet, as a druid when I meet other druids I usually find that sense of resonance and commonality. A feeling that for all the differences, there is something intrinsic that is shared. It’s not at all the same as encountering like minded folk from other faith backgrounds, even pagans from other paths. I could say that I know what druidry smells like, but how to get that into words?

 

This is an opening gambit, to see how people react. I’m trying to express to myself, as much as anything, what the essence of druidry is, and to get that down in a small expression, for portability and ease of remembering. I want a self contained reference that does not point people at any other time, place, text, activity etc because I’m certain that rules too many other people out. I’m increasingly of the opinion that the all embracing quality of druidry is not to be worried about, ignored, or ‘fixed’ it’s part of who we are as a modern and evolving tradition, but at the same time there is an essence, a shared something. And I think it goes like this…

 

Druidry is the spiritual quest to understand our unique, personal relationship with everything.

 

I shall sit back and wait for you all to pile in. I don’t always respond directly to comments, but I do always read them and hugely appreciate them. Thank you, all of you who take the time to feed back, to share insight and make observations.


Druid Orders

A Druid Order is a group that offers a defined philosophy and a way of doing druidry derived from it. There are many, many Druid Orders out there. Some have membership in the thousands and include many groves within the organisation, others are very small. If you are looking for a place to start in Druidry, the Orders can be both tempting, and disorientating.

So I thought I’d blog more from the perspective of how to look an Order over to see if it’s the right place for you. I may come back another day and share what I know about some of the specific ones, possibly.

Do you need to be in an Order? No. Orders provide network, support, they will likely offer some teaching, and a way of doing things. If you crave structure, Orders are likely to be more your thing, if you like to improvise and hate anyone telling you what to do, membership of an Order probably isn’t the way to go.

Some Orders are international – OBOD teaches by post and you can access it from anywhere. Many have an online presence. However, I’d recommend that the first port of call is to see who is active in your geographical area. Nothing beats being able to connect with real people, in real circles and share real mead. You may find there’s no one locally who suits you, of course. You may find another Order really speaks and that you want to sign up with them and be the person who starts your local grove.

Geography considered, the next thing to look at is philosophy. What does the Order put first? The Reformed Druids of North America have one tenet – Nature is Good. Simple on the surface but very complicated when you start thinking about it. ADF have a strong ethos of service and offering public ritual. OBOD focus on teaching and have specific ways of doing ritual. The Loyal Arthurian Warband is all about eco protesting and action. Smaller Orders will all have their own focus. Being part of a wider Druid context, all Orders are going to be Druidy, but it’s a big umbrella to be stood under, and there can be vast amounts of uncommon ground!

If you don’t like an Order’s philosophy, you are not going to be a happy or productive member, so best not to go there, even if they do turn out to run the best parties.

The final thing I would recommend exploring before you sign up, is the structure. Who runs the Order? How did they get the job? How much say do you get as an individual member? How autonomous are groves? How tight are the rules and requirements and what happens if you don’t stick with them? What are you being asked to sign up to, at what cost, and how readily can you leave? Answering these questions will tell you a lot about the nature of the organisation and whether you will fit. There are no right answers (usually) only the ones that will work for you. For example, many Orders are run by the charismatic and enthusiastic person who founded them, and will only exist for so long as that person continues to lead. Others are democratic, electing elders or a chief for terms of office. Some are a loose configuration of likeminded folk, others are rigidly structured with grades and promotion opportunities. There are all shades.

There are of course also ‘Orders’ that consist of one ‘Archdruid’ and their dog, and are designed to extract money and/or ego boosts from whoever signs up. I spent a couple of years looking after the Druid Network’s directory, and although I ran into the odd ‘witchwar’ and the odd self important nutter, the overwhelming majority of Orders and their leaders I encountered seemed like lovely people with a genuine intention to do some good Druidic work, on their own terms. Not all of it would suit everyone, but that’s fine, that’s why we don’t have The Big One Church of Druidry for Everyone. Be cautious, because there are idiots and predators out there, and because you need to find a place you actually fit, if you’re making a commitment on this scale. If you don’t find ‘home’ I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to set up your own Druid Order – for a start it’s a lot of work, but look round for like minded souls, and if it turns out that there are more of you than a one Archdruid and his dog scenario, it is a thing to consider. I get the impression that’s where most of the Orders we now have, started.