Tag Archives: druidry

Druidry and Life

What does it mean to live a Druid life? For some people it’s all about the magical side, the ritual, the deities. For some years now, my main areas of focus have been eco-activism, living in harmony with the planet, and how we think about being human, and interacting with each other. I’m interested in relationships with the land, and I blog about the bard path a bit. Often, I’m not making explicit how I see what I write about as being connected to Druidry.

Part of the ‘problem’ is that if you internalise something, it becomes less a conscious choice and more the water you swim in. Making the space to explore whether the water you swim in is the water you intended to swim in is always time well spent. Making things deliberate can be a good learning process. So, I shall try and take a step back and look more deliberately at how the Druidry is manifesting in my life and what I want to do with that.

I feel at the moment that I’m paused before a time of change. I’ve been making forays with my intuition and making space to invite magic into my life. My relationship with magic, deity and ritual is a bit messy, and for many years I’ve tended towards the pragmatic and had a complicated relationship with enchantment. I crave feelings of enchantment and wonder. I know how I got here, and perhaps I do know at this point how to change things. So there may be notes on the journey as I go along.

I’m going to make a point of writing with more explicit connections between life and Druidry. I think it will give me a good way to review what I’m doing, and I think other people may find it useful. Where, exactly, is the Druidry in my life? How do I reclaim magical possibility? How do I re-enchant myself? I’m curious to see if how I feel changes if I start making the Druid side of life a bit more explicit – even if it is only in my head.


Druid roles – voicing the voiceless

What does it mean to practice Druidry during the climate emergency? What should we be doing? What is the role of a Druid right now?

One of the roles we can take on is to give a voice to the voiceless. All the non-human life of this world, and all the people who do not speak the languages of dominant western cultures need hearing. The land needs a voice. Future generations need a voice. Someone must speak for the oceans and rivers, for the droughts and the fires, the storms and the instability. We can do this.

It’s not just about raising awareness. We need to inspire people with feelings of care and compassion alongside helping them feel they can make a change. Climate chaos is frightening and overwhelming, and balancing the honesty of this horror against the necessity for hope is a delicate thing. I tend to feel Druid work is inherently about balance and standing between things that need bridging. One foot on a goat and the other foot on a well, we can find and share stories that both illustrate the threat and the means to overcome it.

One of the key things here is not to be doing it at the last minute and in desperation. To start speaking for the land when the developer has made a bid for planning permission, is to start rather late in the day. Better late than never, but even better to start before the crisis hits. Speak for your trees, speak of their worth and beauty before anyone shows up to cut them down. The more we speak up for what is good and inspire those around us to love what is wild and natural, the more people there are ready to defend the land.

It’s important to speak from a place of love and valuing and not simply from a place of fear. Again it helps to start before there’s a threat. Fending off threats is emotionally exhausting. This is why, for example, when I’m doing my voluntary bit for The Woodland Trust I spend more time on tree love than I do on specific campaigns to protect trees. Without the love of trees, there won’t be the energy to protect them. Meanwhile, it is the love of trees that will sustain anyone working to keep them safe.

We exist in a culture that undervalues anything it can’t exploit for profit. We need new stories. We need stories that fill us with empathy and place us back in the natural world, and stories that help us see all living beings as just as valid as humans, and ecosystems as precious sources of life that need our care and respect. We can do this work with songs and stories, with poems, pictures, photos and more. It’s often easier to engage people with softer things, and more hopeful things. There is too much horror already, and such a great need for hope.


Looking ahead, and something like resolutions

I changed tack with New Year resolutions some time ago, having figured out I was just using it as an opportunity to beat myself up. No diets for me anymore. No unworkable aims to somehow bully my body into being thinner despite that never having worked for me. Instead, I started coming up with ideas and aspirations to improve my life. That’s gone well. Last year I was short of ideas. This year, I am not.

I need to plant trees. This has been a thing for me for more than a decade, but until now I haven’t seen how to do it. I don’t have a garden at the moment. I do however have a cunning plan that will, in the coming year radically change my life as a whole, and move me towards the orchard I long for. More of this as I go along.

I aspire to having my normal working week be under 30 hours, and to work a four day week. That won’t be feasible around events, but I want to do it when I can. I will use the time this gives me for taking better care of myself, and doing non-economic things, like planting trees. I will read more, dance more, live differently.

I will spend more time in wilder places and at the coast.

I’m making the headspace to think more about how we do Druidry in the current political climate and in face of climate disaster. I’m going to be taking about that more as we go along.

I’m going to learn Welsh.

I want to wake up in the morning and wonder what I will be doing that day, and get to decide – clearly not all the time, but at least some of the time. I want to start the day feeling excited about what it might bring me.

I want to spend more of my working time doing work I am genuinely excited about. This looks increasingly realistic.

I’m going to treat my happiness and wellbeing as important – which I’ve not really been doing. I’ve got to the point where I can afford to, and there is no one who needs me to do otherwise. I’m going to re-invent my life, on my own terms, and in collaboration with the people who are choosing to be part of my life.


The role of a Druid

What should a Druid be doing at the moment? What does Druidry have to bring to these strange and troubled times in which we find ourselves?

I am reminded of Iolo Morganwg’s “The Truth Against The World.” Let’s skip over Morganwg’s messy relationship with truth for now. We’ve seen years of effort internationally to undermine the very concept of truth. We’ve seen people demanding to have unfounded opinions taken as seriously as evidenced theories. We’ve got fake news, and a political culture of lying. We live in an age of bots, where fake people promote fake stories at the expense of reality. Sometimes, I look at what gets spread that way and I find I don’t even know where to start. We live in webs of misinformation, illusion, gaslighting and denial.

It may well be the work of a Druid to speak the truth, but it’s difficult when so many people don’t want to hear it.

Many people seem hungry for simple solutions and are happy to blame someone else rather than deal with complex realities. Reality is complicated. Simple ‘truths’ that divide the world into good/bad, and us/them, do us so much more harm than good, but it’s hard to pitch something nuanced when you’re in a climate of gross generalisations and a disinterest in detail.

Perhaps it will make little or no difference to speak the truth. Perhaps it will change nothing to defend research, evidence, experts and reason. But I think we should do it anyway. Because for me, Druidry is in part about doing what is right and what is honourable even when that might not get you anywhere. It’s the importance of what we do for its own sake, not just the focus on achievement. Perhaps we are all going to hell in a handcart, but in the meantime, it makes sense to point out the nature of the handcart and the hell we trundle towards. And maybe sing as we go, about what might have worked better.


Winter Druidry

At this time of year, I’m not out and about as much. The shorter days mean I don’t walk in the evenings as an act of connection. The odds of more challenging weather conditions mean that I am less likely to walk for purposes other than transport. I’m more likely to be ill and stiff – which will also keep me in. I can’t sit out, I don’t have a suitable space for that.

Some years I’ve been able to dig into other areas – community, creativity and service do not require me to get outside and engage. In recent years, lack of space has meant people can’t come to me. Almost anything I might do with anyone else requires a walk of about half an hour each way in the dark of an evening. At this point I’m doing better with being out at night. There have been some winters when weariness has kept me home, and isolated.

Living in a small space, I have no private garden space and nowhere a person might undertake solitary ritual. There are spaces where it’s possible to meditate. But on the whole, I don’t have a lot of options. I can read, study and think so the philosophical and intellectual aspects of Druidry remain totally feasible for me. Overall my experience has been that in the depths of winter, doing anything I can recognise as my own Druidry becomes difficult.

It makes me think of how much of what I do depends on my relationship with place. When I can be outside without that being too unpleasant, that makes a lot of odds. I can do wilder encounters with the elements, but I can’t sustain that when I’m ill and exhausted. What kind of spaces I can access depends so much on my ability to walk. Privacy really matters to me for some of the things I might do. In summer, the combination of undergrowth and drier ground makes it feasible to sit out and that opens up all kinds of smaller, private spaces for me. In winter, those don’t exist.

This in turn brings me to thoughts about what kind of access most of us have to the land. What green spaces are available to us? What kind of wildness can we meet? What room do we have to do that?


Taking Druid Life Forward

I’ve been thinking for a while now about what’s next for Druid Life. What I’d really like to do is pay for a package for this blog, and for my Hopeless Maine blog – www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com.The main aim of this would be to get rid of the ads.

What I’m not going to do is then monetise either blog by putting my own ad stream in. I’d very much like to make this a less commercial space. It’s not prohibitively expensive to do this. But, I’m not earning vast sums of money, so it’s a move that would bring an extra cost for me.

I’m in the middle of a big financial re-think at the moment anyway. Some of my personal aims have shifted dramatically in the last month or so, and this will help me afford to make changes here. I’m aiming for January.

However, if you’d like to help me improve the quality of the blog and make it a better experience, there is Patreon. I’ve set my target at $200 a month for this project. Please note that the increase from what people currently give would do a lot more than cover the cost of getting ads off my sites. But also please note that I’ve every intention of cracking on with this whether I hit the funding goal or not.

Patreon is very much about reciprocal relationships. Money donated via the site helps me afford to work creatively and to dig in more with the Druidry. It helps me give stuff away and I like the principle of making a lot of my work freely available. It also means that, moving forward, I could pay for things that would allow me to give more effectively – as with getting ads off this blog. I’m open to suggestions about what form that might take.

Patreon levels start at $1 with rewards at that level upwards.  https://www.patreon.com/NimueB


Druidry and Politics

There are some people who feel that belief and politics should be kept separate. My understanding of the role of ancient Druids is that they were political. If you have the reputation of being consulted by kings, and being able to get onto battlefields and stop the fighting, you have a political role. Further, what we believe invariably colours what we do politically. There’s also the issue of what right wing folk claim to do in the name of Jesus (which has precious little to do with actual Christianity, Jesus or the Bible). That needs resisting.

There are no rules about what a Druid does around an election. We aren’t high profile enough for anyone to want to co-opt us – this is good news for us.

One of the things I’m seeing Druids do that I feel really good about, is simply encouraging people to register and vote. Democracy has its flaws, but works better when more people are involved. It tends to be the most disenfranchised people who feel there is the least point in voting, and these are the people we most need to hear from. One of the great lies of politics that stops us making radical change is the idea there’s no point trying. If people believe that their vote doesn’t matter and that politicians are broadly the same anyway, they may be persuaded not to vote. They may also be overly persuaded by someone who does an effective job of selling themselves as an alternative to all that, even when they are from a ‘ruling class’ background, rich and exploiting the people who vote for them.

When people feel that their vote matters and that they can vote for real differences and real change, they are more likely to show up. When we show up to vote, we send a clear message that we are not to be ignored. If politicians only feel they have to court ‘traditional’ voting demographics, they won’t bother with policies that would help the rest of us.

This election, the thing I’ve felt most moved to say goes as follows. Don’t vote for parties, vote for people. We’ve seen MPs change parties, change leaders, start new parties – a vote for a person is not a vote for their current leader or party in any reliable way. Those parties are full of splits, and who exactly gets in will likely inform the direction any given party takes.

Don’t vote for ‘personalities’ in the usual sense of that word. Do look at the beliefs and intentions of individual candidates. If they have a voting record, check it out. Do they recognise climate change or do they believe it’s not an issue? Are they inclusive? Do they support human rights? Do they mostly seem interested in business as usual? Are they compassionate? Or are they greedy and self serving? Are they more interested in their career and the welfare of their party, or do they show some signs of giving a shit about anything else?

Vote for the future you want to see. Vote for what matters most to you. Vote like lives depend on it – because they do. If you’re going to vote tactically, please be tactical – find out who can win based on who has won before and who came second last time and what happened in recent EU elections. A tactical vote for someone you mostly disagree with isn’t much of a tactic – not all candidates are created equal.

What you do, matters. Business as usual is destroying life on Earth, killing us with air pollution, flooding our homes, depleting our soil and exterminating the bees who pollinate our food. To do nothing is to enable this.


Taking my body outside

Taking a Tai Chi class this year has changed how I think about my body, how I move, and how I interact with my environment. It’s made me aware of how my presence in my own body informs my relationship with what’s around my body – most especially, the ground.

One of the things the Tai Chi calls for is a deliberate process of moving weight between feet. Walking at the weekend I realised this had become part of how I think about moving. I noticed it when dealing with serious mud, and with muddy steps of awkward height. I’ve never been confident on slippery surfaces, and my depth perception isn’t great so judging an uneven surface is hard work.

Move the foot empty, is the constant refrain in my head. I know how to centre my weight over the other foot, how to use my knees so that the step out is balanced and I’m not committed. Then, moving the weight across while the feet are still. It creates far less scope for sliding, over-extending or falling. I discovered a body-confidence I’ve never had before.

When paths are really muddy, in the past I’ve had to slow down to deal with them. It’s been exciting not having to do that so much. My scope to enjoy the conditions and what’s around me has shifted as a consequence.

There are so many things we treat as though they should be innate, natural and not needing study. How to move the body is one of those – we learn to walk when too young to remember it, and most of us never think about that again. And yet, there are so many ways to move and manage a body. So many different things a body might do well, or badly, or not at all. So much good that can flow from being able to explore all of this.

So much of what we talk about in Druidry is spiritual and/or intellectual. It’s easy to forget that we encounter the rest of the world through our bodies, and that our embodied experiences are intrinsic to this spiritual path. What your body can or cannot do is going to impact on your Druidry. The simple process of learning how to shift my weight and how to think differently about my feet has entirely changed how I experience the world when it is damp and slippery underfoot.


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


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