Tag Archives: learning druidry

Not teaching Druidry

I started teaching Druidry many years ago – mostly because I was asked to. The more time I spend doing it, the more I find myself wanting to do as little as possible. The teaching of practical things makes a lot of sense – the nuts and bolts of regular ritual, being an obvious one. There are technical things around meditation that I can teach, nature identification, relevant local stories… but I’m increasingly aware that the things I find most important are not directly teachable.

What I’m increasingly inclined to do is take people into spaces – physical places, creative situations, even social situations that have the potential to teach something, or make something apparent or just have an impact. Holding a space in which people can just show up and do things, or not do things. Offering a frame and possibilities, I offer no authority, no certainty, now ‘how to’ most of the time. It requires me to suppress a good 90% of any urge to be in charge, such as that is. Druidry is all about relationship. I can no more teach that kind of relationship than I can teach any other.

If someone gets into a space and, by my understanding is ‘doing it all wrong’ it is not easy to leave that alone, but I’m increasingly convinced it is essential. If I direct them, they may just end up doing what I’ve told them to do. The person who comes to their own understanding of a place or opportunity – whatever that understanding is – has total ownership of their path. They know what they are doing, and why, and are being moved and led by experience, not by me letting them think that one way of being is somehow more Druidic than another.

It is so easy to accidentally diminish a person with too much enthusiastic teaching. We can give out the message that what they know isn’t as good as what we know. We can accidentally create dogma. My path is not your path. If I teach you my path, I may rob you of your own. I will create a dynamic that says ‘I am the teacher, you are the student’ and that’s a power imbalance, and an assumption of authority and not always a good thing.

In my writing and in more personal interactions, I’ve become ever more inclined to try not to teach people in any direct way. I make what I do as available as I can, but mostly prefer to leave people to do with that as they will. If someone asks me to teach them about a specific thing – that’s absolutely fine and I’ll do the best I can. I regularly reach out to other people for insight and learning opportunities in that way, sometimes asking, sometimes just hanging around to quietly soak stuff up.  I’ve learned a great deal from other people who were willing to just quietly share what they were doing.

If I don’t try to teach you how to do it my way, there’s every chance I can learn something about what it means to do it your way, and from my perspective, that’s a far more interesting outcome.

Finding a teacher

There’s an oft repeated saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Most of us aren’t patient enough to just sit round waiting, and often a part of that readiness is manifested by going out there and seeing who might be able to help.

When we start out learning Druidry, the idea of a teacher-parent-guru who has all the wisdom and who can make encouraging noises about how well you’re doing, is a really alluring idea. Been there, have several badly tattered t-shirts to testify to the experience. So often what we want from a teacher – a simple way forward, affirmation, reassurance – is not what we get. Druidry is not straight forward and much of what makes us Druids is not the doing of specific things, or the learning of certain facts, but a developing of understanding. That takes time, and no one can do it for us.

Not all people who offer to teach Druidry are wise, kindly, insightful people who will help you on the journey. I’ve been stung, twice now, by ‘teachers’ who turned out to be unfair, demanding, fond of humiliating me, and otherwise no kind of good.

So here’s what I’ve learned.

It is not a good idea to place responsibility for your learning into someone else’s hands. For one, it is your path, not theirs. No matter how good a teacher is, they cannot tell you how to be yourself. The ones who wish you to become a version of themselves, are not good news. Relinquishing authority and responsibility into the hands of another is not a very Druidic thing to be doing, and it pays to start this at the learning stage: Hold responsibility for your own path, do not expect anyone else to have all the answers.

Teachers are flawed humans, the same as everyone else. Capable of error, misjudgement, conflict of interest and anything else you might think of. Put too much power over you into another person’s hands, and you can cause them difficulties. Put too much expectation on another person – to have all the answers, to sort your life out – and you can be asking way too much. Good teachers tend to be busy, and much as we might want them to be able to hold our hands and support us on a challenging journey, they won’t always be able to do that. We might ache for craft parents, but that doesn’t oblige or enable anyone to take on that role.

I think it works better to look at teachers in a more temporary way, as people who help with bits of the journey, not people who will define the whole thing. Go to someone to study a course, a concept, an approach – that works fine. Go to lots of different people. Learn from your peers. We all have different experiences and knowledge to bring to the table. Don’t assume, either, that a person needs a formal teaching relationship with you to be a good teacher. I’ve had some of my best experiences of being mentored with people who may not even have considered that was what they were doing.

Life and nature will teach you even if human teachers are not forthcoming. You can seek out knowledge and develop skills without needing someone else to light the way. It is a good thing to own your own journey. That means, if you do find someone along the way who can guide you for a bit of it, there’s no urge to try and drop everything you have ever needed onto them.

Slowing down for Druidry

With hindsight I can see a number of things going on with me when I first came to Druidry, that I would not have admitted to myself at the time, but which I suspect will affect others, too. When we’re doing a new thing, we tend to make public our success, progress, and joy in it. It reinforces the work and makes us feel good. The reality may well be more complex, but if no one else speaks about it, we hardly want to bare all and risk flagging up that we are wrong or different in some way.

I came to Druidry having gone through the formal education system with enthusiasm. I knew how to study, and how to learn. I could absorb ideas quickly and formulate new ones. When I started studying with OBOD, my impulse was to run through as fast as possible, learn it all, get the qualification, do that with all the grades, and then be a proper Druid. I needed those qualifications, I thought, so that people would take me seriously. Fortunately the folks at OBOD clearly know all about this one, because you only get four lessons at a time and they will only turn up once a month. There is no way to rush ahead, hurrying towards faster qualifications. At first, this really bugged me, I felt frustrated, unnecessarily slowed down.

Somewhere in those first months I started to suspect there was more to being a Druid than learning the contents of a course and getting a shiny certificate. Unlike everything I’d ever been taught before, this wasn’t going to be all about doing as much as I could, as quickly as possible and then being graded. The work was not about achievement in the world, but changing myself. Yes, there were things to learn, but far more importantly, there was a process to experience, and that called for doing, and doing at the right speed.

The idea of slowing down terrified me. All those years in the school system being taught how to run and hurry, to push continually and to do it faster… slow meant stupid. Slow was what lazy people did, and people who were not going to pass the course. I had been entirely indoctrinated with the belief that fast was good and slow was almost immoral. Noticing that maybe the prestige of speed wasn’t an absolute truth, came as a bit of a system shock. I had to re-evaluate my life. I had learned that I must always be busy and visibly productive, the idea that important work could be done by sitting quietly was alien and alarming. Meditations and rituals simply don’t work if you take them at a break neck pace.

I still struggle with those old impulses. I still catch myself looking for external proof of success, I let myself forget that worldly success cannot be equated with being a Druid, in which the only measure of success is whether you make the time to show up and do the Druid stuff. Other religions have deities keeping score and an afterlife dependant on racking up enough points. We don’t have that. There is no point of achievement, no ultimate qualification, no externally sourced title or anything else to aspire to. Being a successful Druid means being someone who brings their Druidry into all aspects of their life. Speed is not of the essence.

I still feel like I need to fill my every waking moment with productive activity. I was trained to be a worker bee, and the sense that to be inactive is to be lazy is something I struggle to shake off. In busyness, life is filled with noise and action, but if nothing underpins the activity, it is hollow and unsatisfying. When what I do is meaningful to me, when it is well considered and part of something bigger, I tend to be happier. Time to reflect and ponder, to draw breath, evaluate and plan results in me working more efficiently. I get more done, and the things I achieve are more relevant to my aims and generally more useful. I’ve learned to value good work over the appearance of very busy.

These days there’s no one who would complain if it didn’t look like I was busy enough. I am judged on the results I get, in various aspects of my life, but how I get there is my own business. Quality has become far more important to me than quantity. In slowing down, I have become more in control of myself, and there’s a lot of power in that. The process of running as hard as you can, ticking off the next qualification before sprinting to the next, or the next promotion, or some other gong to acquire, keeps us busy. Always doing, always productive, we aren’t thinking or deciding much. The person who is always running never gets time to stop and think. It’s part of the power of Druidry that it shows us how to slow down and take control of our time and lives.

One Druiding day at a time

Becoming a Druid is not an event. Granted, rites of initiation can feel like dramatic shifts from one stage to the next, but they are just focal moments in a process. I think western culture tends towards a far too tidy and limited perception of existence, a simpling of experience into small moments of cause and effect. Pass and fail. Pass your driving test once and you are a driver. The modern qualifications system tends us towards a perception of doing some work, cramming some facts into the head, churning them out in an exam and then going forth into the world, rubber stamped as being a thing. Many professions call for ongoing study, but it’s clear by then that you have become the title.

We don’t rubber stamp Druids. You can get certificates for having completed a course, but they convey no authority. There’s no exam for archdruidry, no test to pass before you start a grove. Yet at the same time, set forth to run a grove or be an archdruid, and testing experiences will come your way. Only, there will be no one on the side-lines keeping score. No one will give you marks out of ten, a medal, or a promotion. We get used to systems that grade and evaluate us, pass or fail, that judge us based on the A or D grade achieved in a few hours in a stuffy room, armed only with a pen.

One of the things that exhausts volunteers is that absence of feedback. Similar things happen when you parent; another process which you enter unqualified. No one gives you marks out of ten for parenting. There are courses, but absolutely no promotion option. We’re so used to ‘personal progress’ equating to ratings and pay rises, that living without feedback and the score card is often demoralising. Progress becomes a bank balance, a bigger house, more disposable income. Progress is a promotion, a bigger office, more status. We measure it from the outside, in terms of what other people can see.

When people find they want a spiritual life, or to offer service as a volunteer, or to parent, the baggage from mainstream life can be a real handicap. No end of term report cards here. No grades. Nothing to say ‘this is what I am worth’. No scope for rating your skill as a Druid based on how much you earned doing it this week. Most of us who Druid professionally are not making much money. The absence of external markers, the absence of information about progress and the worth of your work, pushes some people away. Getting over that challenge is hard.

Becoming a Druid is something you will be doing every day for as long as it is your intention to be a Druid. Not to be rubber stamped as worthy, not to pass a test, not even to get a really shiny afterlife. The only reason to try and become a Druid, is that you want, heart and soul, to be a Druid. The only thing you can do with that, is spend each day working with what you have, to be a Druid. It never ends. There is no point of success or making the grade. There is no secret order of hidden masters who will turn up on your doorstep one morning with a golden sickle and a nicely framed certificate.

What this means is that we have to trust ourselves. We have to look at things in terms of real, innate worth, not market value, not buying power or social influence, or any of those other normal ways of assessing what we do. Apply normal values to meditation under a tree, and you’ll get a headache, at best. What is of real value? What really matters? Becoming a Druid is becoming someone who asks a lot of questions, who challenges conventional thinking and experiments with new ways of thinking, seeing, feeling, experiencing. Rejecting the world and embracing it all at once.

Learning to think (again)

Becoming a Druid is in part a process of learning to think like a Druid. I’m still a work in progress on this one, I expect I always will be. There are so many assumptions drilled into us by the mainstream, other religions we may have been exposed to, our friends, families… unlearning and relearning can take a long time.

We are taught to want consumer goods and we are told that we need them. A Druid, becoming increasingly aware of the environmental destruction wrought by humans, soon has to question this. What do we really need? How much energy should we be consuming? How sustainable are we? Faced by a society that assumes you must have a car, a refrigerator and freezer, a flat screen television, mobile phone, games consul etc… simply saying ‘no’ is difficult. People fail to understand how you might not want those things. Of course you HAVE to want it, because not to want all the stuff is to challenge their reality. People who have not chosen alternative ways of being tend not to like having their comfortable certainties shaken by those who have. It can lead to conflict.

We are taught to blame and criticise. Television is full of it. Bullying is widespread. People seem to think they have a right to be offensive, hurtful, derogatory and so forth under the guise of ‘free speech’. As we learn to be more compassionate, hate language becomes more uncomfortable, as does the desire the challenge it by being hateful back. We start to see the fear that underlies bigotry, the moral cowardice implicit in all bullying behaviour. There’s no tidy answer to dealing with this.

We are taught ‘one true way’ be it science or religion. Druidry offers us a multiplicity of ways. There are many paths through the forest, many routes up the mountain, many names for deity and truth is always going to be bigger than us. Learning Druidry, we learn to give up on the self-important delusions that tell us we know it all, and start down the amazing path of beginning to appreciate the enormity of all that we do not know. Life is full of mystery. There are wonders, as soon as we can open our eyes and admit our ignorance so that we can start to see properly. This is a liberating process that will confuse the hell out of any ‘normal’ people who happen to be going past.

We are taught to be afraid. Fear of difference, of each other, of strangers, authority, anarchy, oil prices, job security… your life is loaded with messages about scarcity and how afraid you should be. Oh, and you can buy this insurance product and that object to help you feel better about these things… Resisting fear, is something I find tricky. I am also aware that fear is deliberately encouraged and fed to serve the needs of politics and big business. Resistance is essential. While we are locked down in fear of each other, we are not cooperating to make things better. We need to cooperate to overcome the genuine challenges and shatter the illusions of the manufactured ones.

We are taught that we are irrelevant, small, and powerless. We are taught to be cogs in other people’s machines, to be nice and inoffensive, passive acceptors of what is handed down to us. To become a Druid is to become your own authority, to embrace you strengths, whatever they are, and to empower others. We each have our own lives to lead. We all matter. None of us have to be cogs. Druidry is a subversive sort of business. It’s as well our processes are quiet and understated, or we might find a lot more resistance to us in the wider world.

Learning to think differently takes time. It’s so easy to fall back into the old habits. Much of your life will do its best to hang on to you and force you to stay where you were: tame, frightened, easily controlled, biddable, nice… Once you start to replace ‘nice’ with ‘compassionate’ and ‘tame’ with ‘responsible’ everything starts to change.

Studying Druidry

There are a number of Druid Orders out there offering teaching material. The highest profile are OBOD, ADF and Henge of Keltria, but most Orders make some study material available to students. With the internet, it’s relatively easy to do. Do you need a study course to become a Druid? Maybe.

The advantage of joining a course is that someone else has figured out what to study and often a good order in which to do the work. Being self-taught can mean an awful lot of groping around in the dark trying to figure out what’s relevant, and whether the thing you are doing even counts as Druidry. With courses come mentors, tutors, advisors, people who can tell you how you are doing. For some people that affirmation is really helpful, for others, being in any way subject to authority doesn’t work.

Studying a course means there’s an identifiable set of other Druids who will recognise what you do and with whom you can easily work. You know roughly what they’re going to do. A formal OBOD ritual anywhere in the world will be recognisable to anyone who knows OBOD material, assuming they can handle the language. On the downside, it can tie you into more fixed ways of thinking, a belief that there’s a ‘right way’ to do ritual, when of course there are many ways.

Being entirely self-taught can be lonely, confusing and demoralising. It’s not just a matter of reading the right books, either, but of getting out there, engaging with the land, learning the seasons, finding your own ways of responding to that. For some, the solitary path is the only one that can ever make sense. It’s also worth bearing in mind that every last detail taught in any Druid course anywhere comes from people. Teaching materials are developed by experience, practice, and experimenting. On one hand they can save you a lot of time and spare you from both dead ends and wheel reinventions. On the other, their validity depends on having been used, and that does not mean other ways will turn out to be less valid. Other innovations from other people may better suit some times and places. That includes our innovations.

However you choose to learn, there is one critical thing that remains a constant across all possibilities: It’s down to the individual. What you do with the material you are given, or find, how you approach your learning and what of yourself you put in is critical. There is no course in existence that will turn you into a Druid. Only you can do that. A course may be helpful, but the work is all yours.

OBOD adventures, further

I announced some weeks ago now that I had decided to apply to see if I could be an OBOD tutor, and that I’d post along the way to talk about how that goes. So, I’m in process now. I’m not going into the details of the process, that doesn’t feel wholly appropriate nor do I think it’s likely to be of much interest. But there is a process, and I’m finding it a gentle and helpful one. This is not especially surprising as it goes with my experience of OBOD to date. Helpful, informative, gently testing to find out what I am and where I fit.

I like how supported this all feels. I like the strong sense I have that I’m entering a community in which I can both enable others and be supported in doing so. My wider experience of volunteering has had a very different sort of vibe to it – one of the most difficult things for volunteers is not having the back up to be sure of what you’re doing, that you’re on the right track and so forth. I’ve been places where volunteering was intimidating and felt exposed. I’ve plenty of experience of things I barely understood being dropped on me, and having to learn on the job to the detriment of those who got me during the teething period. I should add this isn’t exclusively a Paganism issue either. Often the problem is that volunteers are in such short supply that people don’t have time to properly train and support those coming in, there’s too much fire fighting going on already. It’s a long way short of ideal.

It’s lovely to find that with OBOD, I’m stepping out onto a path, already very clear about the existence of safety nets and knowing that I will not be expected to fly on my own until I’ve got the experience to realistically do so. And even then I’ll still be part of a wider, supportive community. I feel very, very positive about this. The time frames are not stressful looking. I don’t have to be up and running in a matter of weeks. I’ll be doing some practice work over the next month, and then some reading, and then we go from there. I’m looking forward to the challenges. I’m also looking forward to revisiting the study material from years ago, knowing that I’ll be working closely with that, for some time to come. Opportunities to go deeper, and to see thing through other people’s eyes abound.

My biggest fear around undertaking this, was that I simply wouldn’t be acceptable. It’s a deeply held, longstanding fear that pertains to pretty much everything in my life, nothing OBOD specific here. I worry about not being good enough, and testing that is always intimidating. I’m coming to learn that yes, there are places I do not fit, and yes, there are people who are not going to be ok with what I do and how I do it, but no, I am not innately an exile, I am not that which does not belong anywhere. It’s just a matter of finding the right places and people, and apparently I’m getting better at that.

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.

What makes a Druid?

Following on from Those other people who should not be Druids, and the many fascinating and thought-inspiring comments. What makes a Druid?
It isn’t the name, really. We aren’t even sure where ‘Druid’ comes from as a word – there are many theories – and we don’t entirely know what it means, and we don’t know what the Druids called themselves, although we have guesses there too.

It isn’t the robes (those came from a mistake about some statues of Greek philosophers, apparently) or the beards, and it can’t be the gold sickles because no one has ever found one, and they wouldn’t work anyway.
I’m guessing that in ancient history, you were a Druid if you’d been taught by Druids and those who were already established said that you could be. Although given the speed of travel and communication in the ancient world and the general tendency of people to hive off and start new things, I’m also prepared to bet that even then, there was more than one kind of Druidry about, and probably a fair number of people who hadn’t got *proper* Druid qualifications and still used the title, or who were called it by people who assumed they were because they did the job. Even with the best organised system of education and regulation, there are still people who make stuff up and claim to be things they are not and I doubt that’s anything new. There are also people who just intrinsically are something, and for whom the piece of paper that confirms it hardly seems appropriate.

Buzzard commented yesterday that Druidry is heartfelt, and Symbian remarked on the importance of caring about what we do and giving it our best. Only in the safety of our own heads do we know what we’ve done, and whether we did it well or not. You can have a qualification and only the most superficial understanding of how to do the job. With the right coaching, you can fake a pass at most things, when you wouldn’t be able to sustain the work alone. This is not purely a Druid issue. How is anybody an anything? What makes me an author? What makes my bloke an artist? So often in life the titles aren’t really handed out. Anyone can write a book, does that mean everyone can realistically claim to be ‘an author’? As Wendy pointed out yesterday, many titles are so diluted as to be meaningless.

Part of me likes that. I’m not keen on authority, and the weakening of titles weakens arbitrary authority too. Part of me finds it frustrating, because the multiplying of meaningless titles makes it harder to see where the good stuff is, and makes the accolades less meaningful where they are deserved. On the plus side it means we’re all called upon to pay attention, to judge people by their actions and not the bit of paper (thank you Silverbear). We are all thinking creatures, and we can think for ourselves. When it comes to making judgements about what we do, and what other people do, your own mind is actually the only useful thing you’ve got. All the rest is just propaganda.

What makes a Druid? I still haven’t answered that, have I? I know what I think makes me a Druid, but that wouldn’t necessarily define anyone else. Nor should it.

Thank you everyone who shared thoughts and ideas yesterday, I greatly appreciate the comments, even if I don’t reliably respond to all of them.

Becoming a druid

Every now and then I get a message from someone who wants to become a Druid, and feels the need for input. I’ve also noticed that search terms around getting into Druidry bring a lot of people to this blog, so clearly it’s a question plenty of people are asking. Although I think there are two distinct things going on.

One is the practical side. People hear something about Druidry, it interests them and they want to know more. What do we do? How does it work? The question of how to get started is part and parcel of that enquiry. It’s not the easiest thing to answer because where you need to start depends on who you are, where you are and what you want. If there’s a group meeting near you then going along and meeting some actual Druids and doing a bit of ritual may be a good way in. Perhaps you’re academically orientated and need a study course – OBOD at http://www.druidry.org would be my first suggestion, but ADF and Henge of Keltria also inform, and there are plenty of smaller groups and informal teaching materials out there. Budget, desire to join, relationship with authority – these also inform where you might want to go to start off. Are you an urban proto-Druid working with culture or social justice? Are you a rural proto-Druid out planting trees? The answer may not be simply about where you live.

Working out what kind of person you are and what kind of Druidry you want to do is really important when looking for courses, mentors etc. Of course until you have some exposure it’s not always obvious what it was that you needed to be looking for. Druidry is a broad, diverse tradition, so poke around, explore, experiment, ask questions and see what feels right. There’s no point doing things that feel weird, silly or wrong. If there’s no resonance in your heart, the practice is not for you, try some other group, or teacher, or Order or aspect.

No sane person will expect you to be able to dive right in and Be A Druid from the start. You aren’t supposed to magically and intuitively know how to do it all. You will find there are things that you do magically and intuitively know, though, and these are the ones to run with. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, take wrong turnings, change your mind and then get out there and see what happens. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, or from anyone else. Teachers are also human, Orders are made by humans, it’s all a work in progress and some of it is going to be flawed. This is not something to get cross about, just something to deal with as you learn to flex and find your own way.

Alongside the practical information search there is an issue of permission. This has been visible in a lot of the queries I’ve had. People tell me about who they are, what they do, what they know, and sound me out to see if I think they’ve got the makings of being a Druid. I’ve never said ‘no’. As I see it, it’s not about whether a person is qualified to be a Druid, but whether they want to be a Druid. If you want it enough, you will put in the work that will take you forward to the point where you feel entitled to call yourself a Druid, and to a place where other Druids will recognise you as being one. No one can give you that, or do it for you.

We have a culture where qualifications and certificates are the norm, where vetting and examining are a given. If you want to be almost anything in this life, you can expect to be scrutinised, judged, assessed, and you may be found lacking. You may not know enough or have the right bit of paper. Doors will shut for you.

Druidry can be academic and intellectual, and it can be highly skills based. However, there s no one with the power to say that you are, or are not a Druid. This is a spiritual path, and really what happens on it is between you and whatever you engage with. I can’t make you into a Druid. I can’t give you Druidry like a diploma. But I can say this. You are a human being and therefore you have all the necessary qualifications to study Druidry. You are drawn to Druidry and therefore you have the potential to become a Druid. You have every right to explore as you wish.

Now you need to give yourself permission, and take your own steps down your own path.