Am I a Druid?

That might seem like a ridiculous question. Perhaps it is. Regardless, it is one I have been pondering of late. Following a link on M.E.O.W. last week over breakfast, I found myself on the blog of the Archdruid of the US. Heady company! Mia has had Wiccan leanings thru much of her adult life, but for some reason I had not realized that there were still (or again) Druids among us. I spent an intriguing hour or so running around the Ancient Order of Druids of America (AODA) site and then this weekend jumped over to the even more informative site of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) for another hour or so of research.

Ever since we rejoined a Unitarian congregation this fall, I have find myself waxing more religious. I find myself using religious metaphors, quoting scriptures, and when the Jehovah Witnesses came by a few weeks ago I had them in and talked shop for over an hour before their refusal to discuss philosophy on a non evangelical level frustrated me into asking them to leave.

One result of that conversation is that in trying to explain my beliefs to them I came more to terms with just how pantheistic my worldview had become of late. Perhaps it was watching several thousand pounds of organic waste turn into life again the next year in my gardens thru my compost piles, only to soon become compost themselves. Or in witnessing the miracles of so many seeds sprouting in my gardens, and caterpillars turning into butterflies in my home, but the Web of Life has become very, very real for me. When the J. Witnesses asked what I thought would happen to me when I die, I said I wanted to (with all due respect) become part of God. In explanation I said that at the very least I found comfort in knowing that my body would become part of the trees and worms, but at most I hoped that I could finally share in the universal consciousness that links all living things… my version of God.

The OBOD site explains Druidry (they end it with a -ry and not -ism on purpose. Think Freemasonry as a philosophy/way of life vs Hinduism as a religion) like this:

It’s an attitude, an understanding, an exquisitely simple and natural philosophy
of living. For a great many it is a rich and ancient religion, a mystical
spirituality. For others it’s simply a guiding way of life. It is absolutely
open and free for anyone to discover.

Much like Unitarianism, there is no sacred text of Druidry, there is no, or very little, dogma and theology. But, again like Unitarianism, there is a unifying set of very broad beliefs and ethics. Reading through them I found almost nothing to disagree with, and much that struck deep cords of familiarity-like someone else putting pen to my ideas, or as if I had just remembered something. That is when I started asking myself that question… Am I a Druid? Or more precisely, could/should I become one? I found the symbolism of the Ogham strangely inspiring, and the sections on planting a Sacred Grove fascinating. I want to plant gardens to mimic nature and sustain themselves, planting one to sustain itself and others on a spiritual level as well is intriguing to say the least. When I plant a tree I truly believe I am healing the Earth… Am I a Druid?

I guess that will remain to be seen. I am certainly becoming a pantheist and am developing a reverence of Nature that is bigger than just environmentalism. But do I need another label? More importantly, though the sites ring true, I suspect strongly that the first time I showed up at a Beltane festival my Yankee Skepticism would be very concerned about running around and jumping over fires wearing very little clothing, but alot of woad. Meditation is good, but I am not at all sure I am willing to believe that I can achieve communion with the Otherworld by doing so. So for now I will continue to revere nature, honor the Solstices, and fight to protect the Earth, but will not call myself a Druid or be initiated into an Order.

But I bet I will whisper a prayer over the next tree I plant.

3 Responses

  1. …and it only took him 10 years to figure it out. Never mind that our first camping trip was in an oak grove which I insisted on leaving an offering in, or that I was trying to learn the ogham alphabet when Beo and I first started dating. I think I saw the Druid in him even in that motorcycle riding philosopher rogue. Ah well, good things are worth waiting for!

  2. Interesting thoughts, Beo. I was raised in the Christian faith and still attend church as often as I can. I’m not totally ‘sold’ on the official story being put out the pastor, but I’m also at the very beginning of my spiritual path as it were.

    I’ve been reading a number of books on the bible and Christianity lately, and one of the more interesting authors I’ve come across in John Shelby Spong, the former Episopalian Bishop of Newark NJ. Spong considers himself a Christian still, but claims that the traditional theistic portrayal of God that has been put forth over the last few millennia is dead wrong, and therefore dead. God isn’t an old guy with a flowing white beard living just up beyond the clouds, as science has proven. Spong writes that while God is real, he exists on another level that we truly can’t comprehend, and that he is all around us and inside every living thing. Needless to say this approach has gotten him branded as everything from a heretic to an atheist or worse. I don’t know that I agree with all of his claims, but I do agree that the traditional argument(s) put forth defending Christian theology are pretty convoluted and therefore hard to believe.

    One interesting point Spong makes in one of his recent books is that Jehovah/God was originally the sky god of the pre-Jewish tribes inhabiting Palestine, and that as part of the Exodus story, the fought with and took over the indigenous tribes who worshipped the female earth goddess and her consort, Baal. In many religions apparently, the earth goddess is omnipresent in daily life while the sky gods zip in and out, occasionally bringing storms or rain, but mostly being removed from the human experience. Since the followers of a ‘male’ sky god took over, both the female and the earth have been more or less de-sacralized, which partly explains why we have treated the earth as a resource to be exploited instead of a treasure to be cultivated and preserved.

    I look at Druidry much like Masonry… it can be an adjunct to one’s religious/spiritual beliefs or it can be the core of them. I’ll be looking forward to more news on your search!

  3. Thanks for the wealth of links. I have always been a nature lover seeking the trees for santuary and such, but I have been into more pagan ideas lately-such as creating a nature table and learning the properties of trees and their healing powers. We even gave our newborn the middle name of Ilex, referring to the holly. In the spring we’re going to plant a tree on her placenta.

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