Whither Druidry

A deliberately provocative title for an article draft destined for the Imbolc newsletter of The Druid Network, just prior to its annual gathering near Birmingham. Lots of links – have fun exploring!

“Whence Druidry” has become incredibly well ‘documented’ in the twenty or so years I’ve been associating with Druidry as a spiritual practice. For a tradition largely without any solid or robust history earlier than a couple of hundred years, many books have been written. I’ve been inspired by many of them. It’s upon these stories of Druidry that I’ve founded my own experiential practice, and from them that I’ve taken the name Druid even if I’ve not waved it around publicly very much.

In working within the modern practice of Druidry, dipping into the clear waters of OBOD, splashing in the slightly muddier stream of BDO, and distilling from the tributaries and puddles of other similarly oriented folk, I’ve spent most of my time in the slightly anarchic and mainly online dewdrop of The Druid Network. It has its own small place now in Druid history. In 2010 it engaged sufficiently with the British authorities to change charity law and become one itself. Subsequently, armed with this status, it pressed for and gained membership of the government funded inter Faith Network in 2014.

In achieving these goals, small as they were in a large arena, TDN presented a Druidry that was largely compatible with Druid practice across the modern world. It’s not so “odd” now to profess an interest in or association with Druidry. While the tabloid media still seek out Elrond and Aragorn, more often there are worthy stories of normal people doing normal things – but in a Druid context. Holding ceremony for people wanting a spiritual but non-dogmatic ritual for their wedding, child-naming or funeral. Speaking out for that which has no human voice; protesting fracking, exposing illegal and immoral hunting for sport, protecting woodland and wild spaces. You don’t have to be Druid to do it, but Druids do it.

Being “book-less” in an authoritative sense, it’s not easy to confine Druid practice to exact specifications – the gods are spectacularly ambiguous in presentation, approach and even, for some, existence. But there has to be something, because Druids find each other… there’s a commonality that speaks on a subliminal level, that draws us together. Druid Camp is a place where this happens, year after year. OBOD and BDO gatherings likewise. So we kind of know how modern Druidry came about even if we don’t really know where it came from originally, and we know what we’ve done… But what are we doing now?

This article was pushed into being by a couple of items that followed quickly one after the other. One was a comment that since Emma Restall Orr had withdrawn from the public eye there didn’t seem to be anyone in the Druid community taking her place. The other was a post in similar vein which I read as suggest that instead of the wild push of post-millennial Druidry becoming a flowing stream it had subsided into a stagnating pool. I don’t feel we need another charismatic Druid right now – the times are different now, although admittedly are different because of the charismatics that brought us here. But we’re clearly not getting out there now.

So, Druids, what are you doing. What are “we” doing? Perhaps we should be more identifiable in the splurge of non-stop media monotony, if only to excite and inspire others. I’m aware of a couple of really quite decent things going on right now, and you can argue about how Druid they might be but I’m associating them here with Druidry I identify with. One is an online petition, instigated by TDN and OBOD Druid and Green Party member Stuart Jeffrey, that effectively chastises the “government funded” national broadcaster for failing to include pagan voices when it held its review on religion and ethics in programming. Is Thought for the Day the next milestone in mainstream normality? (Do we want to be “normal”? Discuss.)

The other one is more Environmental, but if the care of our landscape, inspirited and sacred and essential to all (not just human) life isn’t a core Druid value I don’t know what is. There are many ways to defend against ecological madnesses and climate chaos, but so many times they fall by the wayside because the means to fight against them are overpowered by the weight of corporate lobby, or the government and intergovernmental agreements fail to achieve what they set out (such as the climate agreements), or the motivation is simply not there at the level necessary for all-world compliance. One UK Barrister has looked at how that can change.

Mission Lifeforce was established last year. It seeks to promote an amendment to the Rome Statute for international criminal law, to introduce a crime of ecocide which would be enforceable around the globe, like the law on genocide. It would protect against the implementation of policies detrimental to the planet – ecocide. Ecocide being the “loss or damage to, or destruction of ecosystem(s) of a given territory(ies), such that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been or will be severely diminished.”

Mission Lifeforce is crowdfunded, and its creation a fund with which to help the most endangered and poorest communities (generally the same thing) to present the case at the UN, and to protect those already on the forefront of planetary defence (I know, doesn’t that sound magic!). You can get involved – I have – by becoming a trustee of Mission Lifeforce here. There are no personal liabilities. As it states on the site: Trusteeship is unusually simple – it incurs no ongoing administrative or financial obligations.

Two examples of how Druidry can be enacted in the seen world – the unseen I leave to your personal experience. There are others. Again, what are you doing? Who are you talking with? What can we do? Now, I am off on a litter-pick before having a quiet chat with the ‘verse in the local woodland. Peace.

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