Tag Archives: Druid

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 


Doing it from memory

We know that the ancient Druids had an oral tradition, and that the bards of old memorised vast amounts of material. However, when it comes to the modern bard path, I think it’s really important not to be dogmatic about doing things from memory.

Firstly, not everyone can. Not all brains are good at storing great swathes of text and music. Brain injuries, cognitive differences, and learning difficulties can all make memorising impossible, or excessively difficult. No one should be excluded from bardic performance for these reasons. If you’re holding a bardic space, it is important not to discriminate and not to demand that people perform from memory. Don’t challenge people who can’t and don’t ask why they can’t – it isn’t your business.

There can also be class, life stage and economic issues around performance from memory as well. Learning takes time. That time may not be available – work, illness, family, and other pressures may mean a person does not have the luxury of time to learn content by heart. It is kinder and more inclusive not to put people under pressure or to exclude them based on how overwhelming their lives are. And again, we do not need to know the details of why a person cannot commit to learning the words.

For someone who is anxious, or inexperienced, doing it without the words can simply be too daunting the first few times. People who could be great may never get started if the entry bar is set to high. None of us benefit from that.

The quality of a performance does not depend on whether you are holding a piece of paper. Certainly a piece of paper can be a barrier between performer and audience, but it doesn’t have to be. No one complains about classical musicians reading from the sheet music. Authors are allowed to read from their books at events, too. It is entirely possible to perform very badly from memory. The best thing to do is focus on quality of performance – in your own work and when you are making space for other people.

If you need the words, or notes, to make that possible, go with whatever allows you to do the best performance you can. Don’t penalise other people for needing to rely on paper or phones for content. You can encourage excellence without making specific demands on what people do. It takes time to develop as a performer and most people start out far less able than they will be with practice. Experience of performing is part of what takes a person towards being a really great performer – most of us don’t get up for the first time at anything like the level of performance we might be capable of.

(And thank you to Clive Oseman for the prompt)


Druid community and anxiety

Yesterday was full of interesting challenges and unexpected opportunities. I spent the day at Druid Camp in the Forest of Dean. I missed the previous 2 years, because there had been a lot of painful drama – accusations that I had bullied someone, that led to said victim trying to get me removed from the field, prohibited from being a speaker there and fired from my day job. I had evidence of what had actually happened, and was not fired from my day job, but it was a scary and stressful time. It was also deeply emotionally loaded for me because I feel very strongly about taking bullying accusations seriously.

So, back to Druid Camp I went, but only for one day because I didn’t know how that was going to work out. I felt welcomed and supported. There was no residual stress or drama. I did a talk and it got all the sorts of responses I had hoped for, especially getting other Pagans thinking about the transition towns movement. I sat as a model (entirely clothed) for some of Tom’s life drawing class, and I spent some intense time with a number of people I am deeply fond of.

Sometimes, the only way to deal with fear is to try again. It’s hard to see what’s a reasonable response and what’s out of date, and what never was that big a deal in the first place, without testing things. Testing things is scary. But, without that, nothing can change. Fear wins. There are issues of picking your fights and assessing what information you have – not all anxiety inducing things will turn out to be fine if you go back and give them a second chance. If something was genuinely wrong and hasn’t changed, it will be as scary as it was before.

If there are reasons to think things have changed, going back can be the best way of dealing with fear. Having support also makes worlds of difference. I know I could not have done this on my own. I had considerable support for making the journey and people around me I would trust with my life. I knew I had a number of very good friends who would be on site, and that helped. They were my incentive for having another go. The organisers were supportive and encouraging – particularly Bish and Fleur who went to some lengths to reassure me, and make things as easy for me as possible. This all gives me space to consider what I might do next year.

The measure of a community is not what it does when everything is fine. The measure of whether a group of people even are a community comes when something is difficult, or broken, or on fire. How people treat each other when there are problems says a lot more about who we are to each other than anything else. It is a very big deal to me to feel safe and welcome.


Wisdom from the Ancestors – a poem

Wisdom from the Ancestors

 

If the ancient Druids spoke through me

They would say to you,

Now we are in crisis.

In drought and flood our crops will fail.

Our people are in conflict.

Many go hungry.

Our wild brothers and sisters

Even the sacred bee

Are in peril,

May leave us forever.

Faced with such disaster

We need a really potent sacrifice.

Not goats this time.

Not criminals or prisoners of war

No commoner we were finding a bit inconvenient

No!

In the face of dire circumstance

Only the brightest and best will do.

We need a sacrifice who combines

Wealth, power and influence. A leader!

A statesman, more valuable than any other.

Only the greatest and most noble of sacrifices

Can save us.

 

When they destroy the land and the people

For their power and pride

It is their own vanity that will lead them

All the way to the ritual space.

It’s not that we’re superstitious.

It’s that we know sometimes

The best way to protect democracy

Is to persuade the bastards at the top

To self congratulate themselves all the way

To a wicker man.

 

(I’m not advocating putting actual people in actual wickermen, but at times like this I can’t help but feel that there are other ways of looking at the idea of sacrifice kings…)


Getting back on the horse

My grandmother always said that if you fell off a horse, it was really important to get straight back on the horse as soon as possible or you’d lose your nerve.

(For anyone who read Family Traditions, this really is a thing she used to say and not something I have made up and attributed to her.)

It was an approach she applied to life in general. Fallen off something? Get back up and at it as quickly as you can. She was the sort of person who got things done by dint of sheer bloody-mindedness. She got back to things as fast as she could. When a stroke stopped her playing the piano, she got back to the piano. The falling off the horse thing wasn’t metaphorical for her either.

And she was right about the horse. The longer you leave it, the harder it becomes to get back on. The bigger a deal the fall becomes. The less time you give it, the less of an issue it is.

Next week, I am going back to Druid Camp. Just for the one day (Thursday). I’ll be doing a talk about Druidry and the Future, Tom will be doing a life drawing class. It is a large horse to get back on, and one I thought I’d accepted falling from. It was quite a nasty fall, with a lot of nasty fallout from said fall. I don’t know if I’m going to have to deal with any of that, but, only being there for a day, I can limit how much there is. It would be easier and more comfortable to just give up and stay away forever, but at the same time, I did nothing wrong and I paid heavily. I want to give things the chance to be different. I want to see the people I seldom see anywhere else. I have left it too long for this to be simple. And dammit, I do not want to be the sort of person who falls off a horse and loses their nerve and never does the things again.

Event details here – http://www.druidcamp.org.uk/


Standing and Not Falling – a review

Presented as a workbook for those wanting a spiritual detox ahead of working magic, Standing and Not Falling is a text you could work through over 13 moons. The idea is to deal with the kinds of things that might get in the way of a magical practice, and pave the way for a deeper and more effective kind of sorcery. For anyone interested in serious magic, this is well worth a go.

I didn’t read it or work with the book in that way. I pick up this kind of book because it is always useful to research for the fiction. I’ve learned a lot that I can no doubt apply in my speculative writing. What I didn’t realise when I started reading the book, is how valuable it is as a philosophical text.

Lee Morgan has a great deal to say about how we navigate inside our own minds, how we perceive the world and relate to it, and how our thinking shapes our experiences. There’s a lot here about being embodied, about animism and relationships based on animist philosophy. There’s great content about ancestry, our relationship with the land, and how we deal with mainstream culture – and for that matter, how it deals with us. There’s a great deal to chew on. Much of it aligns with my own thinking, so that was pleasingly affirming, but at the same time, it’s a very different perspective on those familiar issues and it opened up a great deal of new territory for me.

I recommend that Druids pick up Standing and Not Falling to read as a philosophical text. It has a great deal to offer on those terms. Anyone interested in the bard path will also be interested in how the book is written – the crafting of it, the way language is deployed, the poetic qualities the author brings – these are all worthy of your attention and may well be a source of inspiration.

I don’t feel qualified to comment on this as a magical text because it’s not my path. However, what I can say (having read a fair few magical books for research purposes) is that I’ve never seen anything like this before. There’s a world view here, and a way of relating to self, world and magic that, while it has some familiar elements, really isn’t like anything else I’ve run into. It’s well worth a look.

More about the book here – https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/moon-books/our-books/standing-not-falling