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Philip Carr-Gomm lives in Sussex, with his wife Stephanie and

their chi ldren . A psycholhera pist and the founder of the Lewes
Mo ntessori school, he began the srudy and practice of Druidism
over thirty years ago, and for the last fifleen years has written,
lectured, and held workshops and retreats on this spirilllal lra-
diti on all over the world. He is author of Druid Mysteries, The
Druid ~ and Druidcrafi, co-aulho r of 7,Je Druid Animal
Oracle and 71Je DruidCrafi Tarot, and editor of 7,Je lJook of
Dmidry, 71Je Rebirth of Druidry. and In the Grove ofthe Druids.
For more information sec www.phi lipcarrgolll m. druidry.org.
SERIES EDITOR: TONY MORRIS
Available now
What Do BuddhistsBeliwe? Tony Mo rris
What Do Christians Belieue? Malcolm Guire
What Do Muslims Believe? Ziauddin Sarda r
Published in Autumn 2006
What DoAstrologers Believe? Ni cholas Campion
What Do Greens Believe? Joseph Smi th
What Do Existentialists Believe? Richard Appignanesi
What Dojews Believe? Edward Kessler
Forthcoming
What Do Hindus Believe? Rachel Dwyer
What Do Pagans Believe? Gra ham Harvey
What DoZionists Believe? Colin Shindler
What Do
DRUIDS
Believe?
Philip Carr-Gomm
Granta Books
Londo n
Granra Publications, 2/3 Hanover Yard, Nod Road, Londo n N1 SBE
First published in Great Britain by Cranm Books 2006
Co pyright 2006, Philip Carr-Comm
'Mind Games' writ ten by John Lennon 1973
Ll'llO/l O Music, used with permission
Philip C.1rr-Gornm has asserted his moral right under rhe
Copyright, Designs and Parent s Ace, 1988, to be
identified as the aut hor of thi s work .
All right s reserved. No reprodu ction, copy or transmi ssions
of this publication may be made wit hout writ ten
permission. No paragrap h of this publication may be
reproduced, copied or trnnsmitrcd Solve wi th writt en
permi ssion or in accordance with the provisions of the
Copyright Act 1956 (as amend ed). Any person who does
any unauthoriuJ act in relat ion [ 0 [his public arion may be
liable to criminal prosecu tion and civil claims for damages.
A Cl p catalogue record for this book is available
from the British Library.
ISBN- IO: 1-86207-864-5
ISBN- 13: 978- 1-862 07-864 -2
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 (, " 2
" Yl'n r l hy M Rule,\
"rillln i ;Ilul hc ltlllli ill C'IC;lI Britain by
l l l I ~ I l l , I I l l h l.nl, Croydon, Surrey
This book is dedi cated
to the Mount Haemus Scholars-
that growing band ofdedicated
souls who are determined to research,
articulate and understand Druidry:
Contents
Acknowledgements
IX
1
Druids in the Twenry-First Century - Who
Follows Druidism Today?
2
How Did We Get Here? The Origins of Modern
Druidism
9
3
The Root s of a Tradition
16
4
Significant Druids - Key Figures from the Past
25
5
What Do Dr uids Believe?
35
6
Mysticism, Shamanism and Magic
49
7
Ethics and Values
57
8
What Do Dr uids Do?
66
9
Stor ies and Lore
78
10
Learning Druidry
83
11
The Pract ical Value of Following Dru idism
89
12
Dr uidry in the Purure
94
Notes
102
Glossary
105
Further reading
108
Resources and Contacts
I II
Index
113
Acknowledgements
A maxim in creat ivity tr ain ing is that you should ask very
simple, apparently obvious qu esti ons to generate new insights
and to deepen your understanding of a subject. I am very grate-
ful to the series editor, Ton y Morri s, for inviting me to write th is
book, and for askin g me to st ructu re it around a series of very
direct , simple qu est ions. T his helped me to think about a famil -
iar subject wit h what is known in Zen Buddhism as ' Beginner's
Mind' , which made the experience ofwriting this book refreshing
and illuminating. I would also like to thank Pamel a Meekings-
Stewart for providing the perfect retreat environment in New
Zealand for working on the book, Ronald Hulton, John Michael
Greer. Barbara Erski ne. Sarah Fuhro and the many friends and
members of the O rder of Bards, Ovares and Druids who helped
with their comments, encouragement and suggestions.

1
Druids in the Twent y- First Century -
Who Follows Drui dism Today?
What is Druidry?A Spiritual Path, a way of life, a philosophy,
Druidry is all of these .. . Druidry today is alive and well, and
has migrated around the world forming a wonderful web of
people who honour and respect the Earth .. .
Cairistiona Wonhington, Druids - A Beginner's Guide
A road protester who has chained hi mself to a tree to prevent ir
being torn down to bu ild a motorway and the late Q ueen
Mother entert ain ing guests at Cla rence House might seem to
have nothi ng in commo n. Rut an unusual thread connects
them _ as it connects characters as diverse as Winston Churchill
and an expert forger, or the Archbishop of Canterbury and an
advocate of free love and political revolut ion who ensured that
cremat ion was legalized in Britain. This thread is Druidism.
Today probably about a quart er of a million people around
the world are inspired by Druid ideas, but st ill the sto ry of
Druidism and of how it has evolved is little known outs ide its
own community.
What exactly is a Druid? How do you become one, and what
docs a practising Dru id do? Is Druidism a religion, a cult, a New-
Age fad? Is it based on fact or fantasy? Are those who follow
Druidi sm as a spiritual way espousing a kind of pseudo-religion
based on romant ic noti ons of ou r past, or arc they are actually
on to something: practising a type of spirituality that is rooted in
ancient heritage yet particularly suited to roday's world?
Although I practise Druidry, I have tried to bring to thi s
exploration as much objectivity and scepticism as I can muster.
T his has been possible, perhaps, because I dislike orga nized
religion and rigid belief systems. The right to change one's opin-
ions feels paramo unt , yet often religions seem to deny thi s, and
as a resul t are sometimes capable of generating extraordinary
int olerance, even cruelty. Although many of us fed a spiritual
hunger, the challenge is surely to find a way to satisfy this
hunger that frees us rather than traps us in dogma.
Druidism, or Druidry as it is often called, is remarkably free of
dogma and is in many ways a very young movement , even though
it bases itself on very old found ations. Some believe the term
'Druid' comes from the Celtic word for oak - dru- combined
with the Indo-European root wid- to know- making the Druid
a ' knower of the oak', in other words a 'forest sage'. Others believe
the word comes from the pre-Indo-European roots deru; meaning
'strong', and ueid; meaning 'to sc..c', making a Druid a 'strong seer'.
outcmporary Druidry draws on a heritage of thousands of
years, alld yel Illany of its ideas and practices have only been
forIII'"I over I he last few hundred years. Unlike 1110st of the
,sl.,hli, I,,d Il'ligioll." which arc based on doctrine formulated in
Ii ", di" ,'111 I' ,''' , Ilrui dry is developing its phil osophy and prac-
l i \ ( \ i l l 1C\I Il I I I \ l ' II) the spirit of the times. It is being shaped
now 1,11 111'1 111,11 1 hl'illg preserved or simply passed on, and para-
d" . i, ,oily, ,dlilCl uf', h il i, inspired and informed by an ancient
1"'11' ''''''', " " '"I1" i, illl',1 y free of the weight of the past. T his
leaves modern Druidry open to the criti cism that it has been
invented; but it also makes it a thoroughly contemporary spir-
itual ity that speaks directly to the needs of today.
Who Follows Druidism Today?
Twice a year, at the time of the solstices, the largest Druid group,
the Order of Bards, Ovares and Druids, holds a big gathering in
Glastonbury Ceremonies are held on the Tor and at Stonehenge.
There arc talks and presentations, people cat, dance, sing and
play music rogether.The rwo hundred or so participant s include
old and young people, men, women and children, some flam-
boyantly dr essed, some in conventional clothes. You'd expect to
see some behind a desk at an office, oth ers at a pop festival.
They come mainly from Britain and Ireland, but there arc also
people from Amer ica, Australia and all over Europe.
Druidism as a spiritual path app eals to all kinds of peopl e,
all over the world, because it directl y concerns itself with
the three most pr essing problems of our age: the destructi on
of the environment, the alienation of the indi vidu al, and the
commercialization and mass production of culture.
If you ask people why they are attra cted to Druidism they
will almost invariably offer as a first answer the fact that they
love the natural world, and that they depl ore the way in whi ch
they sec it being exploited and damaged. They arc looking for
a spirituality that honours and works within Na ture, rather
than separately from it. They feel that modern living has sepa-
rated us from the natural world and along with thi s sense of
being separat ed from Mother Eart h comes another sense of
alienation: a feeling that we lead increasingly separate lives as
political and economic pressures turn us from being citizens
living in a community to being indi vidual consumers.
3
DRUID S I N TH E TW ENTY FIR ST CENT URY
DRUI DS IN TH E TWENTY FIRST CENTURY 2
I I
5 DRUIDS IN TH E TWENTY- FIR ST CENTURY
spirituality. many people are attracted to it because of their love
of myth and sto rytelling. Just as modern society has separa ted
us from the natural world. so it has also tended to separate us
from meaningful art and sto ry, Alon g with the movement
towards individualistic consumerism has come the production
of culture for the mass marker. So me writers have seen in thi s
process the attempt to create a ' McWor ld' in which everyt hing
is seen through a Hollywood lens. whi ch bleeds it of substance
and me aning. Thankfully not everyone wants to live in
McWorld. and there is a real thirst for art. films. stories and
books whi ch convey richer meanings and whi ch arc profound
rather than superficial.
Druidry responds to thi s thi rst by working with the power of
sto ries and arche typa l symbo ls. It explores old myths and
legends. whi ch may have origina ted in the teaching tales of the
anci ent Druids - to ld by the Bard s of old. and transcribed in
later times by Christian clerics. T hese tales reson ate for many
peop le. evoking ideas. images and feelin gs whi ch help them
feel closer to the realities oflife.
Some peopl e relate 10 Druid ry simply as an interest. whi ch
they pursue like a hobby. T hey love the old tales. they like to
visit ancient sites and to study history. O thers mi ght be. mem-
ber s of Wel sh. Corn ish or Breton groups who attend
ceremonies at the cult ural events known as Eisteddjoda, wh ich
promote rhe arts. and enjoy th e social. histori cal and cu ltura l
aspects of their activity. Others may be members of Druid fra-
ternal o r so roral orga nizatio ns that arc rather like Masoni c
gro ups. O r they may simply be investors in Druid Friendly
Societies. which have evolved out of these organi,"' tions 10 offer
insurance schemes and health -care plans.
In addition there arc those who follow Druidry as a specifically
spiritual way. ThL}' might cal l rhemsclvcs Druids more or less from
DRUIDS IN TH E TWE NTYFIRS T CENTURY 4
The Appeal of Myth and St ory
As well as being drawn to Druid ry by a love of nature. or by
want ing to get in to uch with what they sense as their ancestr al
As we lose touch with our sense of living within a co m-
munity. and within the natural world. we arc becoming
increasingly isolated from our sources of spirit ual sustena nce.
We may benefit mat eriall y from technol ogy and globalization.
but we will most likely exist in relationship to a series of boxes:
waking up in a box . leaving it in a metal on e to enter ano ther
made of glass and concrete. in whi ch we will often stare into the
lirrle box of our computer before returning home in our metal
box to relax in front of a television.
Peopl e drawn to Druidry want to break out of these boxes -
to feel the land close to them and 10 feci part of a community
of people with similar values and ideals. They arc trying to
undo the aliena tion of modern life by seeking their origins.
both ances tral and spirit ual. by explor ing the past of their fam-
ilies and their cult ure, and by drawing on the inspiration of a
tradi tion whose root s travel deep.
Every spiritual tradition was born witlrin a parti cular cult ure.
For Druidry thi s was Western Euro pe: mainl and Britain . if we
are to bel ieve Caesar. Bur then. like seeds cast to the wind. tra-
diri ons travel to di stant lands to inspire peopl e from other
cultures, This has happened with Druidry, as it has with most
religions and spirit ual path s. so the facr that you call yourself
Christian or Buddhist. for exampl e. bears no relationship 10
your ethnic. geog raphical or cult ural background. Similarly
many peopl e following Druidry have no Celtic ancestry. wh ile
othe rs who do. often find in their Druid ry a way of sensing a
closer co nnec tion with their heritage.
the start , or they might only do this when they have reached a
specific level of rraining.
Accurate figures for t he number of peop le interested in
Druidism in its various manifestations do not exist, but there
is enough information ro make an est imate. T housands arrend
the televised events in which the Druids of Wales appear each
year at rhe Welsh National Eisteddfod, and hundreds attend
similar events held in Cornwall and Britta ny, while fraterna l
Druidism attracts about 11,000 people worl dwide. ' In 1996 a
leading acade mic est imated that there were roughl y 6, 000
people pract ising Druidry as a spiritual way in Britain, 2 and a
major study in 2001 in the USA estimated the figure there ar
33, 000.
3
If we include rhe ot her count ries of the world, this figure of
39,000 in Britain and the USA could be increased to a total
of perha ps 45-50,000 peop le worldwide. Around such a
group of people, who could be called" Pracrising Druids', there
is a much wider circle of those who are interested in rhe ideas of
Druidry, and who incorporare some of these into their own
personal brand of spiritual practice. O nly a minority of the
people who arc inspired by Druidry act ually join a Druid order
or group. The major ity, for reasons of time or inclination, arc
mor e likely to simply read books on the subject, informally
celebrate the old festival times, and feel inspired by Druid lore.
About 100,000 people in Britain
4
and around 426,000 people
in the USA5 regard themselves as Pagan. Whi le not all these
people will consider themselves inspired by Druidism, a good
many will, and it is quite likely that the wider circle of influence
beyond the dedicated followers of Druidism could well exceed
a quarter of a million people worldwide.
Many of those drawn to Druidry consider themselves Pagan.
T hey ofte n actively dislike convent ional religion, usually
Christianity, because of its doctr ines or its historical record of
intolerance and cruelty, and prefer instead the lack of dogma
and the focus on the world of nature that Paganism offers. But
there are others who find that studying Druidism helps them
deepen their faith in another religion . T he novelist Barbara
Erskine writes of her experience:
6
DRUID S IN TH E TWE NTY-F IR ST CENT URY
DRUID S IN T HE TW ENTY- FI RST CENT URY
When I was a child I set up an altar in woodland at the bott om
or the garden. On it I put a little gold cross wedged into a
lump of plasticine. Now, many years later, I realise this was a
first expression of leanings towards what I now recognise as
druidic Christianity, orChristian Druidism.
I came from a Church of England family Jll(i went ro a
school which worshipped daily in the chapel. Faith foundered
however when I studied history at university. I encountered for
the first time Christianity's downside: it had been roo much
mediated by politics, cruelty, misogyny and fundamentalism,
c.ui ug little forJesus's teachings of tolerance and love; it seemed
III encourageexploitation of the natural world and it used the
heavy hand of guilt rather than love ro corral its followers. Like
lI };llly o t hers I questioned and fell away.
When I discovered Druidry it was a homecoming into a
philosophy which encompassed all that I held dear and it
hiought me into the Western spiritual tradition, something
which had been part of my soul without my realising it. My
worl d was animistic. I had always prayed ro the One God and
,I ll dl l ' gods, feeling that that expressed my true beliefs even
I hotll!, h I was not comfortable with wholesale paganism. The
1,1.'1 1 thing I expected was for my studies and meditations to
1I111111 illCand rekindle my struggling Christian faith. Or that
du-y would reconcile my certainties about a supernatural world
II I u.uurc spirits, ghosts and energies which seemed to be
7
8 DRUIDS IN THE TWE NTY-FI RST CENTURY
unchristian, into a churchwhich includedangelsand archangels
and all the company of heaven.
6
Druidism touches hearts and souls in di fferent ways and it
appeals to many people now because of its lack of exclusivity
and uniformity. T here are disagreements within rhe world of
Druidry, as wi thin any community, and there is no one univer-
sally accepted understand ing of Dru idism. but this has
encouraged a diversity within the landscape of modern Druidry
that is ferti le and even exotic. How did it get to be this way?
Where and whe n did Druidry begin?
2
How Di d We Get Here?
The Ori gi ns of Modern Drui di sm
Any study of the druids must begin with a process of demysri-
fication . . .
Jean Marble. The Druids- Celtic Priests ofNature
Druidism is roored in the cultu re and mythology of Wesrern
Europe - in particular in those cultures which have come to be
known as Celt ic. which stretch from Ireland and parts of
Port ugal in the west to France. Switzerland and Austr ia in the
cast. We first hear of it in the wri tings of Julius Caesar. who in
about 50 BeE wrote that Druidism originated in Britain'? But
some say that it originated elsewhere and much earlier, in Egypt
or Indi a," while myst ics such as Dian Fort une and Rudolf
Steiner point, with clairvoyant rather than historical evidence,
to the even more mysterious land of Atlantis.
Whethet Druidry's roots are indeed so exotic, or whether
the histo rical understanding that Druidism evolved in the
British Isles abour 2.5 00 years ago is correct, the current revival
of interest in Druidism depends not so much upon the ancient
past as upon very recent histor y.
Modern Druidi sm, as ir is pr acti sed by most Druids roday,
eme rged our of two acts of rebellion that occurred virtually
simultaneo usly on both sides of the Atlanri c during that fertil e
and rumultuous period of rhe 1960s. In 1963 on the Carleton
College campus in the USA a group called rhe Reformed
Druids of No rt h America was created as a humorous protest
against mandatory Sunday morning chapel at tendance, whil e
rhe following year in England a histor ian, Ross Nichols, rebelled
against the e1ecrion of a new Druid Chief, and established his
own group, rhe Order of Bards, Ovares and Druids.
Alth ough both the RONA and rhe O BOD were initially
small groups, they exert ed an influ ence over the coming years
whi ch resul ted in Druidism finally emerging in the last decade
of the twenti eth cent ury as a viable alterna tive ro the more well-
known and established spiritual paths.
Prior to the mid-I 960s almost all Druid act ivity over the pre-
vious few hundred years had been confined to the cultural
efforrs of the Welsh Druids and the fraternal act ivities of the
English Druids? - neither of whi ch treated Druidry as a spiri-
tual path in its own right. An exception could be found,
however, in on e type of Druidism that did focus on spiritua l
pr actice - even though ir attracted only a handful of followers.
At the dawn of the rwcnrierh cent ury a dynami c and vocal ind i-
vidual, George Watson MacGregor Reid, began promoting
Druidism as a spiritual path thar could unite followers of many
faiths; the group that he led, the Universal Bond, became a
vehicle for conveying many of the ideas that had been expressed
by groups such as the Theoso phical Sociery and the Order of
the Golde n Dawn in the pr evious cenr ury. T hrough the
Universal Bond a complex tapest ry began to be woven, whi ch
dr ew on rhe inspirati on of the ancient Druids, the work of the
Revival Druids of the previous rhree cenr uries, the reachings of
I he world religions, and the Western Myste ry Tradition. The
group held ceremonies at Stonehenge, campaigned for social
just ice, and pr omoted the Universalist Church, which later
became incorporat ed int o the Unitar ian Church.
In the 1940s and '50s the Universal Bond, which had gradu-
oily evolved into bein g called the Ancienr Druid O rde r,
attracted ro it two figures who wou ld act as catalysts for the
explosion of interest in Paganism that is occurring today: Gerald
Cardner and Ross Nic hols. Ga rdner became the seminal figur e
ill the promorion of the religion ofWicca, or Pagan witchcraft,
while Nichols developed Druidism by focusing its concerns on
Celtic and Brit ish lor e and mythology.l '' Nicho ls and many
Wiccans were inspired by a boo k whic h has much
of the modern Pagan movement - Robert Graves' The White
Goddess, which claimed ro have di scovered a Druidic calendar
based on rhe trees and plan ts associated wi th 'Ogham' , an
.ilphaber of twenty-five strokes centred or branching off a single
line tha t can be found inscribed on stones in Ireland dated ro
I he fifth and sixt h cenr ur ies. Bot h Ni chols and Ga rdner came
10 ado pt an eighrfold cycle of observan ces whi ch now lies at
the hear t of both Druid and Wi ccan practi ces. In thi s cycle the
observance of t he solst ices and equinoxes is combined with
I he celebration of the four tradi tional cross-quarter days around
I he first of February, May, August and November (sec Chapter
Hf(lt mo re det ails).
Gardner di ed in 1964 and so did the chief of the Ancient
I )mid O rder - MacGregor Reid's son, Robert . A new chief was
elected, but Nichols decided he wanted ro work with Druidism
ill a different way, and formed his own order, which has since
I\IOwn to become the largest Druid group in the world. While
hi, gro up was formed out of a serious desire ro deepen
Druidi sm as a spirit ual practice, the Reformed Druids of North
10
HOW DIO WE GET HE RE? HOW DID WE GET HERE? 11
In the same year that this song was released, a book about
Stonehenge and the ' Icy lines' which seemed to connect ancient
sites across the British landscape appeared, whi ch rapidl y
became a cult classic. A View over Atlantis by John Mi chell
appealed to the baby-boom generation who were living through
the era of 'Flower Power' and had become att racted to Eastern
religions. Michell's book introduced them to their own exotic
We're playing those mind games togethe r,
Pushing the barriers. planting seeds.
Playing the mind guerrilla,
Chanting the Mantra, 'Peace on Earth'.
We all been playing those mind gamesforever
Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil.
Doing the mind guerrilla.
Sume call it magic, thesearch for the grail,
America were founded a year earlier partly as a prank to avoid
church services, and partl y as a protest against compulsory
attendance. The initiative proved creative: since students who
claimed they were Dru ids were obliged to hold alternative rites,
they found themselves becoming seriously int erested in new
ways of worship - and Dru idism. The writings and activities of
the RONA inspired the creation of the largest Druid group in
America today, the ADF (A Druid Fellowship), out of which
other groups have emerged to develop and enrich contemporary
Druidism.
By 1969 Druids were start ing to feature in the burgeoning
counter-culture. John Lennon consciously or intuitivel y knew
that Peace and Love, the corne rstones of counter-cultural
idealism, were deeply connected with Druidi sm, and so he sang
about this in his ' Mi nd Games':
13 HOW DID WE GET HERE?
and mysterious heritage, and although A View overAtlantis was
not directly about Druidism, Michell succeeded in educating
the counter-culture in the power of thi s spiritual heritage that ,
just like the similar traditi on of Hinduism at the other end of
the Indo-European arc, seemed to speak directly to their spiri-
tual needs.
Despite the popul arity of Michell's book and a growing inter-
est in the pre-Christian herit age of Britain and Ireland, with its
sacred sites, and the mysterious lines of energy that were said to
connect them, the practice of Druidry as a spiritual way was still
confined to a handfu l of people: those members of the Ancient
Druid Order founded by MacGregor Reid, and those of the
Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids founded by Ross Nichols. It
wasn't unti l the I980s that thi s handful began to grow into the
thousands of Druids who exist today.
As the popularity of alternative approaches to healing and
spirituality, loosely termed ' New Age', grew during the decade
or so after the appearance of A View overAtlantis, there devel-
oped a thirst for Celtic spirituality, stimulated to a great extent
hy two prolific writers: Caitlin and John Matt hews. From the
mid-eighti es they began to mine, articulate and popu larize the
treasure trove of spiritual wisdom found in the old Welsh and
Irish manuscripts, which, unti l then, had only been studied by
academics. Druidism was often the subject of their researches,
and their work provided much of the source materi al for
numerous writers on Celtic mythology, the Grail, Druidry and
Paganism, and succeeded in fuelling a widespread interest in
Celtic spirituality in Brirain and the United States.
By the eight ies the time was ripe for a growth in the popu-
l.iriryof Druidism. The NewAge was in full swing, thc Church,
,l ll d mon otheist ic religion s in general, were seen by many
people as increasingly part of the problem rather than part of
HOW 01 0 WE GET HERE?
12
Iii
II !/
the solution to the world's ills, and in addition there was now an
intense awareness of the environmental disaster th at threatened
the planet. Even though Druidry had no practitioners who had
inh erit ed their tr aditions in an unbroken line from their ances-
to rs. and even though it was no longer taught or practi sed in a
tribal cont ext, it still represented to many the indi genous pre-
C hristi an spiritual and magical heritage of th e f. 1r west of
Europe - a territory tha t included Brittany. Irel and and the
British Isles.
O nce more. simultaneously on both sides of the Atlanti c.
Druidry too k a leap forward in its development. In 1984 Isaac
Bon ewits founded the Druid gro up, ADF and I was asked to
develop a course of reaching in Druid ry.
Bon ewirs, the first American st udent to complete a university
degree in Magic. five times marri ed and an enthusiasti c advo-
c it e of polyarnory, had been a member of th e RONA and
co mbined th ei r ideas with hi. own researches to offer a
Druidi sm that was di stinctl y rel igious - with a pol ytheisti c
th eol ogy and an emphasis on the importance of scholarship
and the development ofl it urgy.
I had known and studied with Ross Nichols, had trained in
psychology and psychotherapy, and in 1988 was asked to lead
the O rder he had founded twenty-four years previ ously. The
O rder published the course that I had created with the help of
a number of writers. including Ross Ni chols and John and
Caitlfn Matthews. Rath er than presen tin g Druid ry as a reli-
gion, the course offered a journey of spirit ual and psychological
exploration inspired by Druidry, and based upon th e ph iloso-
phy and th e ideas that had become associat ed with it. The
course seemed to answer a need, and by the close of the mil-
lennium four thousand peopl e around the world were working
with it. In the USA tho usands had also become attracted to
Druidism through the work of th e RONA, ADF and other
~ r u p s and in doing thi s had begun to practise Dru idism as a
spiritual way. Soon aft er th e twentieth cent ury had opened, a
handful of peopl e had begun doing thi s. Now. as the cent ury
closed, th ousands were. Helped by two impulses of renewal
.1IId change. in th e 1960s and the 1980s. Druidism was now
more popular than it ever had been. But it was not th e thor-
ollghly modem creation it appeared to be at first sight. Its
rebirth in recent times was entirely dependent upon th e past -
.llId it devel oped out of a period of mor e than two cent uries of
whol arshi p and speculation.
14 HOW DI D WE GET HERE? HOW DI D WE GET HERE? 15
Two of the most significant of these acco unt s. written by
lul ius Caesar and Diodorus Siculus, paint ed a picture of t he
I)euids as scholars and religious leaders wh o fun cti oned in a
similar way to the pri estl y caste of t he Hindu Brahmins: offici-
,' Iing at sacrifices. teachi ng phil osophy and star lor e. and
conveying an oral tradi tion that required students to learn many
verses by heart. Drui ds were exempt from military service and
rhc taxes raised to pay for it. T hey advised chieftains and had a
rcputarion for pacifying armies about to fight .
T hey described a da rker side of Druid ism. too. in whi ch
I)ruids were present at the sacrifice of criminals, or sometimes
lunoccnt people, wh o were burnt alive in wicker cages, or killed
in the atte mpt to divine the future from their death throes, We
v.umot be sur e that any of the classical aut hors were recounting
Ihe truth. but th e descr iption th ey have left us of wise sages
,.llming warring t ribes and teaching in forest groves has tended
10 endure over the image of their presiding over human sacri-
Ik (:. Likewise. medi eval Irish literature contains references to
I huids as th e wisest and most learn ed people of th eir time,
who acted as advisors to local po litical leaders, and as wizards

1nspi red by rhesc posit ive images of t he ancient Druids.
" hola rs in the seventeenth and eightee nth centuries saw them
,1\ 'noble savages' - an eli te who were the guardians ofan indi gc-
1101" religion which was th e pr ecu rsor of Christ ianity. T his
1"" lT!, ti on was reinfor ced wirh reports of th e noble savages
livilll; in Ame rica. who reminded Europeans of t heir Pagan
lult'hears.
I, wasn't long before the ancien t guardians of the indi genous
1lligioll became associated with the many mysterious m OIHt
IlIr ,n , which sca ttered th e land. In th e I 660s th e versati le
. , ho lar. John Aubrey, suggested th at the megalithi c remain s of
III
3
The Roots of a Tradition
As we settle into this new century it is of viral importance (hat
we reconnect with our Druidic roots.
Tom Cowan. 0/ 'Ancimt Shapes and Memories
In the late seventeent h cent ury- a complex of influences co n-
verged to tr igger an intense interest in the Druids that heralded
a period often called t he ' Druid Revival' . the most import an t
part of whi ch occurred duri ng the late eighteent h and early
nineteenth cent ur ies, T he modern Dru id movemen t. which
start ed in th e early twent iet h cent ur y and gained momentum
in th e I 960s. has grown out of t his Revival per iod in both
senses of t he term , havin g de veloped out of it, and in react ion
to it.
T he Druid Revival began as t he influence of t he
Enlightenme nt encour aged enquiry and d iminished t he ncces-
siry to conform with Churc h doct rines, As t he classical texts
describi ng anc ient Dru ids became more read ily available in
translati on t hro ugh t he development of print ing. scholars in
Britain. France and Ge rmany became fascinated with t he Greek
and Roma n accounts of t heir pre-Ch rist ian ancesto rs.
THE ROOTS OF ATRAOITION 17
Britain had been built by the Druids, and intrigued by this, a
man who was to become one the foundi ng fathers of the
modern science of archaeo logy, Willi am Srukelcy, visited
Stonehenge in 1719. For the next five years he made annual
visits to Wiltshire - carrying out a detailed study of both
Stonehenge and Avebury. In his book Stonehenge, a Temple
Restored tothe British Druids, he popul arized the noti on that the
Druids had buil t the most famous of stone circles, and that they
were also responsible for the other megalithi c monuments so
well distribured th roughour Britain .
The haunting presence ofStonehenge, and the classical texts
describing the Druids, were inspiring, bu t the texts also
reported disappointingly t hat t he Druids conveyed an or al
teaching, leaving eighteenth-century scholars impotent to
explore in any detail their phil osophy and practi ces. They
combed both the classical sources and medieval Welsh and Irish
literature for clear and extended statements of what the Druids
had believed and taught , and found non e. Into thi s vacuum
stepped an extraordinary character: Edward Wi lliams, who lived
from 1747 to 1826 and took on the name of lolo Morganwg. A
stonemason and accomplished poet who played a significant
role in promoting Unitarianism in Wales, 1010 set about con-
struct ing a body of lore that he then passed ofTas authent ic
ancient Druidism. Hi s extensive knowl edge of Welsh literar y
traditi ons, his theological explorations, and perhaps his use of
laudanum, helped him to create a system that succeeded in
providing much of the inspi ration for the writing on Druidism
into the modern era.
Woven int o 1010'Swor k arc strands of inspiration drawn from
his knowledge of Welsh folklore and literature, and his visits to
many of the old houses and libraries of Wales. It took nearly a
hundred years for academics to prove that he had fabricated his
""" I" ial, and even though no expert in Welsh literature now
"
I" lirvcs that 1010 drew on any pre-existing traditi on, an increas-
number arc co ming to respect and celebrate him as an
genius. He is now seen both as a literary fraudster and as
I " " i.rl reformer with a positive legacy that continues to this day.
I he Eisteddfod movement on ly experienced a revival and
I\" 'W '0 become a major feature of Welsh culture once it had
,
oI o
l' ll'l1 1010'S Druidic institution, whi ch he called ' T he
I ,',' ,cdd'. He introduced the idea of the Go rsedd in 1792, when
I" Icd an Eisteddfod on London's Primrose Hill, and it was
"I"I' Il'l1hy the Welsh Eisteddfod in 1819. The Eisteddfod, as a
I llllll ral phenomenon, has genuine roo ts in the ancient past of
01 u: I 'chs and Druids, whereas the Gorsedd is 1010'S' invent ion. Its
I","orary members include the Archbishop of Ca nterbury and
I he l.uc Queen Mother. Every school in Wales now holds an
I" " ," al Eisteddfod, and the national event acts as a focus and
", " l hlS to a broad range of cultural and literary initi atives.
II,,, c rhc Eisteddfod movement had adopted the ritual and
'mti llllion of the Gorsedd, its influence extended to Britt any
11 01 ( 'or nwall. In a time when their languages and cultu re had
\,... nmc margin alized, 1010 Morganwg's Druidism resto red a
I,dd,' in their herit age 10 the Bretons, Cornish and Welsh.
[uvr over a decade before 1010's introduction of the Gorsedd
III 17')2, a Druid organization had already been created, but it
W;I\ " distinctly different phenomenon: its purposes were social
11 111 fratern al rather than cultu ral. The Ancient Order of
I ',"i,k founded by a man named Hurle in 1781 in a pub in
11IlIdon's Poland Street , was formed 10 provide mutual support
Ill ' rucmbcrs - modelling itself along the lines of Freemasonry.
" olll' red social gatherings, and a rype of ceremonial similar to .
tI"",. of fraternal societies, where a Bible was placed on the
I" n-tn at each meetin g, and discussion of religion prohibited.
19
THE ROOTS OF ATRADITION THE ROOTS OF A TRAOITION 18
Most lodges were open only to males, though some ' Ladies' Lodges'
were opened.
T hese lodges prol iferat ed rhrougho ut England, and th en
abroad in most corners of the British Empi re and in parts of
Europe. In 1908 th e young W insto n Churchill was initi ated
into the O rder, and by 1933 th e Order had over a milli on and
a half members. 11 T he lodges produced engraved cert ificat es,
rings and even po rcelain tea sets, whi ch are sometime') di scov-
ered in antique sho ps or arc unearthed as ancestral heirl ooms,
wit h families remembering that 'Granddad was a Druid' . But
even tho ug h the Dru id was used as a symbol of th e wise
phil osopher, most members of the Ancient O rde r of Druids,
like most members of the Gorscdd, considered th emsel ves
Christian, and the O rder's main purposes were charitable and
social.
O ver the years a number of schisms occurred, resulting in
different groups forming, some of which became Friendly
Societies that offcred members savings schemes and insura nce
policies. T he Druids Friendly Society in Aust ralia flourishes to
thi s day and has an impressive website (www.dr uids.corn.au).
Some of these groups arc affiliated to th e ' International Grand
Lodge of Druidism' (www.igld. org) which holds congresses and
unites groups ill over a dozen counrries.P
Some Freemasons also for med fraternal Druid groups d uring
the nineteenth century, the most famo us being the Ancient and
Archaeological O rde r of Druids, formed in 1874 to st udy the
connections between Freemasonry and th e Druid tr adi tion. In
the days befor e t he int rodu ction of the Nat ional Health Service,
and before adequate insurance cover, a t ragedy of illness or
bereavemen t often resulted in families falling into pove rty. T he
fraternal movement gave financial aid to members' families who
were struck by illness or loss, and their developme nt in some
21
THE ROOT S OF ATRADITI ON
THE GORSEDD/DRUI D'S PRAYER
10 Morganwg claimed that this prayer was composed by
lhaearn, the first Welsh poet known to history. Morganwg
wrote several different drafts of it, of whi ch thi s was the
emu generally adopted after his death.
Grant, 0 God, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowl edge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justi ce;
And in the knowledge of justi ce, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of a/l existences,
And in the love of a/l existences, the love of God,
and a/l goodness.
\ ' uhural Druids, such as the Archbisho p of Cant erbury, have
1""".1 lilli e problem in reciting 1010'S Dru id's Prayer whi le
I'.ul iciparing in a ritu al that uses some or all of his marcrial. P
i li lo Friendly Societies was a natural outcome of this
hllil 11011,
""""ugh fraternal Druidry ado pted some of 1010'S material,
'01. kg.lcy only becomes problemat ic when we consider the
dill .! ' YI ,e of Druid movement, whi ch relates to Druidry not as
III 1I 1l' l' iratiol1 for cultural or fraternal activities, but as a spiri-
,,,,, I I" " " in its own right. T his movement, start ing in the early
, ..,,,ti" lh cent ury, also drew upon 1010'Swritings - in parti cu-
I... hi, ' Drui d's Prayer' , his Gorsedd ritual, and some of his

THE ROOT S OF ATRADITIO N 20
r
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Many spiritual Druids also use 1010'S prayer, though they often
address it to the ' Goddess' or 'Gods' or 'Spirit' rather than ' God',
dependin g upon their beliefs about the nature of Deity, and they
will often usc clemen ts of his ritual to open their own meetings.
But not everyone is happy wit h th is usc of 1010'Smaterial. In
Britain and France, much of Druidry as a spiritual pat h has
evolved as a result of 1010's influence, and many groups continue
ro usc at least so me of his material. whi le recognizing its his-
tory - justifYing its usc on rhe pragmati c grounds rhat ir has
been in usc lo r two hu nd red years and has, in thi s sense,
become tradirional. But in the USA the tend ency has been to
reject 1010'Swork ent irely, although several Druid groups there -
norably the Ancient aider of Druids in America - consider
1010'Screations an important part of the modern Druid tradi -
tion and lise them as such.
1010 fa bricarcd a body of lore in an attempt to fulfil a desire
amongst his contemporaries to learn abo ut the philosophy
and ideals of the ancient Druids. T he classical authors had
writte n eno ugh abour these figures to inspire readers, bur had
failed to offer more than a bri ef glimpse int o their world. T he
era of Druidry that they desc ribed lasred abo ut a rhousand
years - from per haps 400 BCE to 600 CEoBur by rhe sixth cen-
tu ry all of Europe was Christian, and overt Pagan practice
had all bur ceased to exist. 1010 and his contemporaries were
separated by over a th ousand years from th e worl d of the
ancient Druids. He attempted to span thi s gap in time with
his imagination. and perhaps wi th scraps of genuine lore. but
ironi call y, as 101 0 set abo ut hi s task, a movement was just
begin ni ng which would in the end fulfil the yearning for a
sense of what genuine D ruid lore migh t have been in a much
more satisfying way.
Cradually, from the mid-nineteenth cent ury onwards, schol-
01 ' Ioq \an to study folklore and there was a revival of inte rest in
, , 111' literat ure, ini ti ating a period known as 'The Celt ic
Iwd' I\Io [' , which was st imulated to a great exrent hy wrirers
01 ,10 .'" W. B. Yeats, George Russell and Fiona Macleod. T he
,10.. ' I'lilles of Ant hropology, Folklore Studies, Archaeology and
1I,,, ,,[y all hegan to rake an inte rest in the pre-Christian pasr.
, , Ill, Studies were bo rn as an academi c discipline and Celtic
and literature began to be researched in ear ncs r. !"
\ , Ol lie of the material being unearthed and di scussed in aca-
.I .lIlh ,I li d literary circles was eagerly studied in the twentieth
" 111101 Y hy the new disciplines of archetypal psychology and
,01\,,10 01 studies, hut sur prisingly, it took unril thc 1960s for the
I )l llId movem ent [ 0 take no tice of these developmen ts.
, uluu .il Dr uids really needed on ly the pomp and ceremony of
1,, 1,, ', I huidism to provide an impressive sett ing for thei r
I h, ... lolf',dau. Fraternal Druids were never seriously engaged in
II ', I .rn II int o Druidism. since their purpose lay in social and
h.uuahlc wor k, and rhe spiritual Druids had evolved such a
.", Iylllt\ hody of teachings thar few of them looked elsewhere
Ill'
I, ",,, " ired a new impulse for spiritual Druidry ro srart taking
," 1",.1101 , ill any quant ity, material which would free ir of the
IIW",I of hei ng an inve nted tradition based upon a literary
I, .,"d . Whell Ross Nichols broke wit h the Ancient Druid Order
' " 1"'"111 [he Order of Bards, Ovates and Dr uids, he priori tized
01 01 1''''' cxs of focusing on historical and Celtic material.
contributions playeda diminishing role in this new
II, 1111 It" " , unt il by the beginning of the rwenry-first century it
. _ I UlIl illl'll lO the usc of his Druid's Prayer, and a few clements
I ," 11 .,1 .11 III lore. In the USA no such break with the recent past
11 ,.,.01...1. and modern Druidry there began the process of
'01111.11 illg much of the latest findings in academic research.
I..J.J-ltil l I
22 THE ROOTS OF A TRAOITION
THE ROOTS OF A TRAOITION
23
After two cent ut ies of an ambivalent histor y, Druidism has
finally emerged over the last forty years to offer a spiritual way
that genuinely draws on an ancient heritage for inspiration,
while making no claim to be identi cal to the Druidism that was
practised two thousand years ago.
II1I
24 TH E ROOT S OF A TRADITION
4
Significant Druids -
I<ey Figures from the Past
Although the Druids have left no certain, visible monuments of
tI...;, religion, they appear to have left enduring memorials in
dH- mi nds of men.
F. E. Halliday, A History of Cornwall
modern Druidry as a spiritual practi ce has only
.. dyrd recently, it draws on a heritage that stretches far back in
111111' , .uid we can read a number of accounts of prominent
1IIIIids from the ancient past whi ch have profoundly influ-
", ,..1 our perception of Druidism today. Just as accounts of
ul y Chr istian saints, Tibetan lamas, or Indian gurus blend
I" I .11 ,,1legend, so toOwith these figutes we cannot be sure
whr 'r histori cal accuracy gives way to mythi c vision .
N,.y('l ' heless the stories of their lives can inspi re followers of

llu-rc is a common misconception that the ancient Druids
w, n- .1 male priesthood. T his almos t certa inly isn't correct .
I , ", .tlc Druids (bandrui ) are menti oned in the old Irish texts,
,,,1 ir was said that the famous figure of Irish legend Fionn
i
; = = = = = ~ ~ ~ ~ = = = = = = = ~ ~ = = = = = = =
MacCumhaill (Finn MacCool) was raised by a female Druid,
while king Conchobar's mother was a Druid called Nessa.
27
SIGNI FICANT DRUIDS
I I" , i, how Fidelma is described: ' She had yellow hair. She
WII Il' .1 speckled cloak fastenedaround herwithagold pin, a red
l'llIll1oi JcreJ hooded tunic and sandals with gold clasps. Her
I II IIW was broad. herjaw narrow, her two eyebrows pitch black.
Wil l. delicate dark lashes cast ing shadows halfway down her
I Iwcks. Youwould thinkher lips were inset with Parthianscar-
I,"" li ef teeth were like an array of jewels between the lips. She
h.lll hair in three tresses; two wo und upward on her head and
. hr rhird hanging down her back, brushing her calves. She held
,,, 01", " " 1St famous epi c in Irish myt hol ogy, the Tain IJo
I " ,III/lgl' , the Cattle Raid of Cooley, we learn of another pow-
""I h-male Druid, Fidelma . Q ueen Medb of Connachr is
oI"'Ul '" engage her armies in hat tie with King Conchobar of
III", .,. She consults Fidelma, who tells her that she has just
' 111l11lCd fro m 'learning verse and vision in Albion'. Mcdb asks
I" I il , he possesses the Light of Foresight - in ot her words,
lu-tI,,, she can sec into the future. Pidelma confirms that she
.. ,,,d<'Cd a seer, and foret ells defeat for Q ueen Medb.
, ' " Irnll - the Iris h Druid
10.11 tI, ' When she had finished speaking to her people, she
"'I,loyt'd a species of divination , lettin g a hare escape from the
I , ,101 "I her dress; and since it ran on what they conside red the
I l '!j ll l mus side, the whole multi tude shouted with pleasure.
",I 1I"."licea, raising her hand towa rd heaven, said, "I thank
II" " Audras rc [goddess of battl e and victory] . .. I supplicate
""oIl'LI Ythee for victory,"
II" , ill rhe end Boudicca was defeat ed by the Romans, and
1.,, 11 ,., ilmn suffer at their hands she committed suicide by
I I I I ~ from a poisoned chalice.
SIG NIFICANT DRU IDS 26
T he classical authors also menti on Druidesses, Dio Cassius
writes of one named Canna who went on an embassy to Rome
and was received by Dornirian, son of Emperor Vespasian.
Pomponius Mel a mentions nine virgin priestesses, who seem ( 0
be Druids, who lived on the island of Sella, in Britt any, and
were able to predi ct the furure. Aclius Lampr idius, wr iting in
the fifth cent ury CE, men tions a Druidess foretelling the defeat
of Alexander Severus: ' Go fortll bur hope nor for victory,' she
counsel led. 'nor put your trust in your warri ors." ?
The most famo us woman to have espoused Druidry is per-
haps Boudi cca (somet imes known as Boadi cca) who, as leader
of the Iceni trib e, was almos t certa inly steeped in Druidism. In
60 CE she led a revolt against the Romans whi ch nearly suc-
ceeded in ousting them from Britain. Because she would not
yield to the command of the local Roman governo r, she was
flogged and her daught ers were raped. In fury she raised an
army which sacked the Roman towns of Londo n, Colchester
and St. Albans. T he cities were burnt to the ground and thou-
sands were killed.
The classical writ er, Dia n, in an imaginative account,
described how she used a hare to divine the outco me of her firsr
Ga ine daughter of pure Gumor
Nurse of mead-loving Mide,
Surpassed all women though s he was silent;
She was learned and a seer and a Druid.
The Metrical Dindsenchas, Ireland
I
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Mal e Druids arc often eq ually formidable. They arc
inevitab ly cited in t he old Irish text s as possessi ng magical
powe rs, and wh en we read accounts of them we arc propell ed
into a world remini scent of The Lord ofthe Rings. T he bl ind
Mog Ruit h, for instance, engages in a spec tac ular st ruggle
agai nst the opposing Druids of King Cormac. He is blind
because he has lost one eye in the Alps, and the other by SlOp'
pin g the course of the sun for two days. He has a bird headdress
and a wheel with oars, wh ich he uses 10 fly through th e sky. He
hurls magic stones whi ch turn into eels, and at one point takes
slivers of wood from the spears of sold iers, mi xes these wi th
butter, and then hurls t he resulting ball into a fire whilst chant -
ing incantations for victory.
Behind th e story we can di scern t he elemen ts of modern
Druidic practi ce, In Druidism today, th e foul' elements of
Eart h, Air, Fire and Water are powerful symbols, and here the
old Drui d works with the powers of all four: Mog Ruirh is a
master of fire, knows how to use air with his magical 'druidic
breath', he divin es with samples of earth to choose land for
himself, and is able to make wat er flow in times of d rou ght.
T he Greek geographer, Srrabo, menti ons a figure wh o lat er
co mme nta tors have called a Druid - a man named Abaris who,
like Mog Ruirh , co uld fly th rou gh the sky. He is said to have
visited Greece several times in around 770 Be E, rransponcd by
a golde n arrow, and to have healed the sick, fore told th e future,
and wor ked miracles. Some have suggested that he symbolize"
not a person but an ancie nt medical tradition, while writers in
the Revival peri od believe t ha t he mi ght have been respon sibl e
, " " 10111 1-\ Pyth agor as the do ctrines of the Druids. This neatly
1,1 ,'1' " tI, e class ical aut hors' claims th at th e Druids taught
oI"'I\'.Il.lIIism: th ey were in f.,ct teaching ori ginal Druidi sm,
10, ,10 till' Pythagoreans had since ado pted. Although histori ans
I 1111 rcdc ncc to thi s claim, some comme ntators have rein-
I",., oIl his hold assert ion by noting that some of the old sto ne
1I II I! tl Il W' IHS of Britain arc built using Pythagorean geometry
, ! ,000 years before Pythagoras, suggest ing a cu rrent of
""wl" dgl' that could have passed from the pr e- and proto-
1'""01,, cultures of th e Briti sh Isles to the classical cult ure of
29
SIGNIFICANT DRUIDS
tlll'II';,
II", Roman writer, Cicero, ment io ns that he met a Gallic
1',.11.1. I >ivil iacus of t he Aedui t ribe. Divitiacus claimed to be
I, "",,01 in the ways of the natural world, and was able to make
I'" , I" till ns from observ ing th e fli ght of birds. Caesar also
"' It' uhout him, since he was an ally of Rome, but never
111'"1'01 10 him as a Dmid. As always with early acco unts of
11111,, 1\, we have frustrat ingly lit tle materi al about th ese enig-
111,1111 ligures. and yet details in many accounts, such as Cicero's,
,,,lIy wil h what we know from other sources. T he Celts' divina-
""" by hird flight (ornitho ruancy) was noted by Diodorus, and
,I" 1'lSh texts speak of the art of Neldoracht; or cloud-wat ching
III' I'"' rents. T he movement of birds, the sky and the wind do
1,,,1... ,.1 carry messages to ill - if not of spirits, then of di stant
,,, nn,h, of changing weath er, and with winds such as the Mistral
Itl h .IIl1. ::C or Fon in Switzerland even today. of alteration s in
1''' " nil" which lead to changing moods and the increased risk of
.1, l ' It'\ \ iol1 and suicide.
In the accounts of not able Druids from the more recent past
,. " ";lSicr to separate fact from fancy, and in do ing th is appre-
I I llh' I heir humani ty as much as any specific contribution (0
I ',n"I, y they mi ght have made. T he cha racteristic they all sha re
SIGNIFICANT DRUIDS
a light gold weaving rod in her hand, wirh gold inlay. Her eyes
had triple irises. 'two black horses drew her chariot, and she was
armcd.' 16
28
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31 SIGNIFICANT DRUIDS
\I "I" Morga n became the first writer to propose that Druidism
,. ,"u"theistic fert ility religion , with one god comprising all
d ill W I l I ~ and on e goddess co ntai ning all ot he r goddesses - a
I l u l I l ~ which has co me to domin ate the modern Pagan revival
"" lund.uncnra] theo logy ofWicca, though not of conre m-
I''' ' " V I II uidry, which emb races many theistic approaches.
11"1,,,w,,,1 by the prevailing cultura l climate. wh ich must
I,."" h ' I .. ived his ideas frostily to say the least . Morgan claimed
,I,. , 1, ' \'" symbolize d the creat ive power of deity and was thus
I'h'llIil symbol. Less co ntroversial was the suggestion that he
lw ' Ylllholizcd the reborn sun of the winter solstice. Morgan
" I, I... ,,,uld trace the underlying sexual symbolism in religions.
I"" 1,,, li olll sub jecting these symbols to Freudian reductioni sm
I" ,,,01, the approach familiar TO alchemi sts, Taoists and
I .",,,i,,. and saw sexuality as sacred. For him . Pagan nature
" ..IIII' was the true religion . and Christianity was onl y valid
I" , " " " i. un knowingly preser ved the old fert ility mysteries.
W,lI i.,m I'rice was anot her great Welsh eccentric and equally
111111. In !' l'd by ot her peopl es' prejudi ces or opinions. Born in
"11'0. l'ri ce experienced conflict wi th autho rity from an early
I'.' I ii, Clther's naked walks.across the Welsh hillsides attracted
,I" lit ' Yor the local churches. and when Price himself start ed
''''P.III', lIillg for workers' rights he was obliged to flee TO Paris
1111 "I' VI'1I years. He clearly had a sense of humour. wri ting a
01, ,",1, y,, 1t letter to the British detect ives who had been lookin g
I", lilli' "" the boat to France. He had disguised himself as a
ru .ru ,II ,d they had cour teously helped him on board.
WI"' II he retu rned to Wales he decided to call himself all
" " 1,,1," id and practi sed as a healer. drawing on his medical
" ,1111 111 1', i ll London. He was vege tarian. refused to treat patients
1111 lto ll lokcd. and refused to wear socks on hygienic grounds.
II , ,,,lvIII ,lted [rcc love, and at the age of eighty settled down with
SIGNIFICANT DRUIDS 30
is one of daring TO be differen r. Each in their own way was
eccentric, and each has made an impact on the way Druidism is
understood or practi sed tod ay.
As we saw in the last chapter. in the mid -eighteenth cenr ury
Wi lliam Srukeley's book Stonehenge, a Temple Restored to the
British Druids captured rhc publi c's atte nt ion and stimu lated
the Dru id Revival whi ch had already begun in the previous
cent ury.
Sruke ley was fascinared by Pythagoreani sm, Neo-Plaronism
and the Egypt ian Mysterie s. in addition to Druidism. His
friends called him T he Druid' , and after he had met the
Princess of Wales, he wrot e to her as ' Veleda, Archdruidess of
Kew' . He created a Druid temple in his garden - laying it out as
a sacred land scape. with an apple tree covered with mistl etoe at
the cent re of concent ric circles of hazels and evergreens. Beside
an altar he built a rumulus, and when his wife miscarried they
ritu ally buried the foetus nn the camo mile lawn they had
planted in fronr of the altar. After an earlier miscarri age. a friend
had written to Srukclcy urging him to 'assemble the sacred col-
lege of druids' . Unfo rt unately no further references to th is
mysterious group have been found. ' ?
The revival of int erest in the Druids enco uraged by Srukeley
received a complex boost to its development when Barddas, a
collection of 1010 Morganwg's wr it ings. was published in J86 2.
In the J890s, a courageo us Wel shman . Owen Morgan,
Archdr uid of a gro up founded in the trad it ion of Inlo
Morganwg, issued Ught in Britannia, an extrao rdinary book
whose five subtitles reveal how daring it was to publish such a
work in Victorian England: The Mysteries ofAncient British
Druidism Unvei led; The Original Source of Phallic Worship
Revealed; The Secrets ofthe Court ofKing Arthur Revealed; The
Creed of the Stone Age Restored; The Holy Grail Discovered in
II 'I'l l
I I i
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III
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II
II
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a much younger woman. Three years later their son was born .
but di ed in infancy, Price insisted on cremating him himself.
and was arrested and jailed for this. His case was heard at the
Ca rdiff Assizes in 1884. where the judge ruled that cremation
was legal. as long as it was done without nui sance to others. In
this way William Price, the Druid. became directly responsible
for cremation being legalized in Britain. with the first officially
sanct ioned cremation being held a year later.
In 1913 a flamboyant character appeared on the public stage
when he objected to being made to pay to worship at
Stonehenge. A photograph of him confronti ng a policeman by
the turnstile to the monument appeared in the New Lift jour-
nal. George Wat son MacGregor Reid had returned from
America where, like William Price, he had been campaigning
for workers' rights - thi s time in the New York docks. It was
probably in New York that he became a minister of the
Universalist Church and discovered Naturopathy <an alternative
healing meth od using the powers of Nature). Now he was back
in Britain where in the well-est ablished tradi tion of Revival
Druidry he began a long and varied career. becoming not only
the leader of the Universal Bond which later became the
Ancient Druid Orde r, but also mini ster of the Universalist
Church in Clapham and a pioneer Labour Parry campaigner.
He publi shed a magazine that combined radical politi cs with
Druidism and Universalism, and that carried advert isement s
for Naturopathi c products. such as di etary supplements. He
championed the cause of the Senussi tribes people in the Libyan
desert . then being att acked by the Italians. and supported a
prophet known as the Bab, whose teachings inspired the Baha'i
movement.
Later in his life MacGregor Reid started a Universalist and
health retreat cent re in Sussex. dying at the age of ninety-five
wid. the distinct ion of apparently being the only person who
10.,,1attempted election to both the House of Representatives in
" ", reica and the Houses of Parliament in Britain.
MacGregor Reid's int erest in health was echoed by a later
thi ef of the Ancient Druid Orde r. Thomas Maughan, who
wa' a remarkable healer, largely responsible, along with a col-
Ie.,,,ue. John Da Monte, for initiating the tra ining of lay
1""'llleopaths in England. Prior to their ini tiative only medical
,1", lorScould become practising homoeopaths.
( Ince Maughan became chief, a number of fellow Druids
.I,,idcd to form a new group and in 1964 the Order of Bards.
I Ivates and Druids was founded. led by Ross Nichols - a man
who was to become one of the most influenti al figures in the
II, odern Druid movement. Nichols read history ar Ca mbridge.
" pulilished poet and journalist . at the age of thirty-eight he
1,,\ .une the owner and principal of a private London college.
whic-h he directed until the end of his life. A dedicated naturi st
0,,1vegetarian, when fifty-two he joined the Ancient Druid
C lo ire. and studied with it unril becoming chief of his new
I I,dn a decade later. Stimulated by Robert Graves' exploration
" I h.r rdic poetry in The Whit" Goddess, and by his own
" .c.llehes int o Celtic and British mythol ogy, Nichols began to
," ,, " late a Druidry founded upon these sources of inspi ration.
I 11\ /look 01Druidry; published after his death in 1990, helped
dn' ( >rder he found ed become the largest Druid organization in
,I... world.
l'hc achievements of a not able male figure in any movement
lun depend upon the less publi cized achievements and influ-
," ,' of a woman, and for Ross thi s was the gifted writer Vera
, h"I'",an. who helped him to found the Order and who pro-
VI, lcd him wi th the sort of peer support and int ellectual
uur ulus that he needed. Born in 1898. she was one of the first
33 SIGNIFICANT DRUIDS SIGNIFICANT DRUIDS 32
women to matr iculat e as a full member of Oxfo rd Uni versity. In
her later years she achieved success as an author with a trilogy
whi ch focused on the role of women in the Arrhuria n tales.
Recognizing the impor tance of J. R. R. Tolkien, she founded
the Tolkien Society in 1969.
In looking hack at the notable Druids of the last centuries we
see a collection of individuals who share a common enthusiasm
for exploring unconventional ideas. We might think that a spir-
ituality needs a lineage of pious 'h oly' men and women rath er
than rhe eccen trics and maveri cks just described, but closer
examination of the key figu res in any spiritual tradi tion show
l
thar they, too, often rebelled against the status quo and refused
to confor m. They challenged convent ional morality and behav-
iour, and proposed or invented new ways of being in the world.
In the lineage of Dr uidry we find not saint ly figures, bu t men
and women who broke the mou ld: who dared to be di fferent;
I
while adhering to slrong prin ciples. T hey were often politically
active - with many key figures from the Revival period onwards
being interested in radical politics, supporti ng ind ividual liberty
and social justice. They were naturoparhs, vegetarians,
or healers, poet s, hi stori ans and phil osophers. T hey were
attracted to Druidism because their spirituality was founded in
a passion for Nature and history, mythology and ancient mon-
uments. And each - in their own way- can act as an inspiration
for us if we, lOO, have such passions.
Above :1 11 else. DruiJry means following a path rooted
III the green Earth. It means embracing an expe rientia l
,lpploach to religious questions, one that abandons rigid helief
in favour of inner development and individual contact
widl the realms of nature and spirit.
John Michael Greer, 71J( Druidry Handbook
5
What Do Druids Believe?
I Ill e tO r the most str iking characteristics of Druidism is the
10 which it is free or dogma and any fixed set of beliefs
III I'l .ll liccs. It honours the uniqueness of each individual's spir-
1I""IIll'Cds. In this way it manages to offer a spiritual path, and
I w,ly of heing in the world that avoids many of the problems of
101I"lr l,lIlce and sectarianism that the established religion s have
III unurcrcd. There is no 'sacred text' or the equivalent of a
hlhl,. i ll Druidism. and there is no uni versally agreed set of
1,,1u-1\ amo ngst Druids. Rath er than it heing founded upon
. l lll uinc, it urges followe rs (0 learn from their own experience
III., Meaning and Purpose
SIGNIFICANT DRUIDS
34
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11'11 \\1
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I followa polytheistic form of Druidry, which means I
experience many different deities rather than a Lord and
Lady. Part of honouring my Gods involves learning as much
of being in the world. Despite this lack of doctrine, there are a
number of ideas and beliefs that most Druids hold in commo n,
and that help to define the na ture of Druidism tod ay.
Druids share a beli ef in the fundamen tally spirit ual natu re
of life. Some will favour a parti cul ar way of underst anding th e
source of this spiritual nature, and may feel the mselves to be
animists, pantheists, pol yth eist s, monotheist s or duotheists.
O the rs wi ll avoid choosi ng anyone co nce pt ion of Deity,
believing that by its very nature thi s is un kn owabl e by the
mind.
Monotheisti c Drui ds beli eve th ere is one Deity: eithe r a
Goddess or God, or a Ileing wh o is better named Spirit or
Great Spirit , to remove mi sleading associations to gender.
Other Drui ds beli eve th at Dei ty exists as a pair of for ces or
beings, whi ch they oft en cha racterize as the God and Goddess.
They are duoth cisrs, and thei r bel ief is sha red by many
Wi ccans. ,
Pol yth eistic Drui ds believe that many gods and goddesses
exist, whil e pantheists, like animists, believe that Dei ty docs not
exist as one or more personal gods, but is instead present in all
things, and is everything, T he term pantheist was coined during
the Druid Revival period by John Toland, aut hor of The History
ofthe Druids. A recent informal Inre rner survey suggested that
most Druids are pantheistic, with smaller numbers favouring
polyt heistic, mon otheistic or du orhcistic beliefs.
37 WHAT DO ORU IDS BELI EVE?
Robin Herne, Ipswich
,. possible about how the Iron Age tribes of Britain and
troland lived - their dress, laws, customs, religion etc. I
m't do this because t want to live in s ome fantasy 'aide
worlde '. Rather because I feel there was much wisdom in
Iho ethics and ideals of that time. It's about taking the best
~ tho past and incorporating it with modern life. The Druids
ill Iho past served their communities; being a Druid, for me,
illI state ment of soc ial commitment.
Whcthcr they have chosen to adopt a particular viewpoint or
tu u , I he greatest characteristic of most modern-day Druids is
rhr u to lerance of diversity: a Dru id gathering can br ing
'''firt her peopl e who have widel y varying views abo ut the exis-
t l I" (' O( non -existence of o ne or more gods, and they wi ll
1o "l'l'ily part icipat e in cere mo nies toge ther, celebrate the sea-
""', and enjoy each others' company. O ne of the unwritten
" Il l '\.' of Druidis m is that none of us has the mon opoly on
u urh. and that diversity is both healthy and natu ral.
Nalll fC Iorms such an important focus of thei r reverence,
d' ,11 whatever beliefs they hold abo ut Deity, all Druids sense the
11>11111 ,11 wo rld as divine or sacred. Every part of nature - moun-
1,11 11 .\. rivers, trees, flowers, sto nes and animals, (he weathe r and
d, e winds. the sun, moon and stars - arc all sensed as part of the
uu web of life, with no one creat ure or aspect of it baving
nl', r lllacy over any ot he r. Unlike religions th at are anthro-
1'111 ('I ll ric. bel ieving humani ty occupies a central role in the
, Io r nll' of life, this concept ion is systemic and holi stic, and sees
lnuu.mki nd as just one part of the wider family of life.
WHAT DD DRU IDS BELIEVE? 36
Death and Rebirt h
39 WH AT DO DRUI DS BE LI EVE?
Many Druids share t he view of th e Cel ts reponed by
l'h ilostrat us of Tya na in the second cent ury CE that to be born
III thi s wo rld , we have to di e in the O therworld, and conversely,
d' ,11 when we di e here, we are born into the O therwo rld. For
dllS reasou, Druid fun er als tr y to focus on the idea that th e soul
lllt'x pcricncing a time of reb irth,
Ahho ugh all Druids wo uld agree that physical deat h does not
1' lI d OUf existence, there is no set of universally recognized
1IIIIid teachings th at offer det ails of how the process of rein-
I .u u.u ion or me tempsychosis works, or orwhat happens to us
when we travel to th e O t herworld in t he after-deat h state.
Illdi vid ual Dru id teachers may offer their own understandi ng of
tI", process, bur generally th ose who arc cur ious need to st udy
Ihe I.lI ge body of lit erature that deals wit h thi s subject, whi ch
III. ludes the d assic works of the Ti bet an and Egypt ian Books of
tI" , lead, t he researches of Spirit ualism. the more recen t st ud-
,... ..I' ncar -death expe riences. and of hypnoti cally induced
I It l' lorations of the between -lives state. HI
A d ue to t he purpose behind th e process of successive
... Ioi ll h, can be found if we look at the goals of the Dru id.
1IIII ids seek above all the cult ivat ion of wisdom, creativity and
I. ,,,' . A number of lives on ear th, rat her th an just one, gives us
tI", opporrunity to de velop these q ualities wit hin us.
' he goal of wi sdom is portrayed in two old tales - one the
'"' y of Fionn MacCumhaill (Fin n MacCool) from Irel and,
d ,,' ot he r t he story of Ta liesin from Wales. In both stories
wlSdCll n is sought by an older person - in Ireland in th e form of
d ", S.dmon of Wisd om. in Wales in the form of th ree d rops of
' oupi rat ion. In both stories a young helper ends up tast ing t he
WISdom so jealously sought by th e ad ults. These tales, rather
,h"" simply teaching the virtues of innocence and helpfulness.
' " I I Cli ll instructions for achi eving wi sdo m encoded within their
WHAT DO DRU I DS BE LIEVE? 38
The Oth erworld
Althou gh Druids love Nat ure , and draw inspirati on and spiri-
malnouri shment from it, they also beli eve that the world we see
is not the only o ne that exists. A co rne rsto ne of Druid belief is
in the existe nce of th e Otherworld - a realm or realms which
exist beyond the reach of th e physical senses, but whi ch are
never th eless real. T his O therworld is seen as the place we travel
to when we di e. But we can also visit it during our lifet ime in
dreams, in medi tation, under hypnosis, or in 'journeying' , when
in a sharnanic trance.
Differem Drui ds will have di fferent views on th e nature of
thi s O t herworld, bur it is a universally held belief for three
reasons. First, all religions or spiritual traditi on s hold t he view
that anot he r reali ty exists beyond th e physical world (whereas
mat erial ists hold tha t only matter exists and is real) . Second,
Celtic myt hology, which inspires so much of Druidism, is replete
with descript ions of thi s O therworld. Third, the existence of the
O therworld is implicit in 't he greatesr bel ief' of th e ancient
Druids, as repo rted by the d assical writers, who stated that th e
Dru ids bel ieved in a process that has been described as rein car -
nation or metempsychosis (in which a soul lives in a succession
of forms, includi ng both human and animal). In bet ween each
life in human or anima l form the soul rests in the O therworld .
W hile a Christ ian Druid may beli eve that the soul is only born
once on Ear th , most D ruids adopt th e beli ef of their ancient
forebears that the soul undergoes a process of successive rein-
carnat ions in human form, though some may beli eve that th e
soul can also reincarnate as an animal.
1,1
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1111;111111
41 WHAT DO DRUIDS BELIEVE?
I IVII' !1 ill the World
I Iu- 1t'.,1 test of t he value of a spirit ual path lies in th e degree to
w" " " it can help us live our lives in t he wo rld. It needs to be
111 , 10 provide us with inspiration , co unsel and encourage
1111 ' 111 :I,li we negoti ate the sometimes difficult and even tragic
\1' 11 1\ rhar can occur during a lifetime.
ur- dr awn to it because th ey recogni ze t he power of storytelling,
""I sense its potenrial to heal and enlighten as well as ente rtain.
I lru idism also recognize s the forming power of the past , and
tu d" ing thi s encourages a love of history and a reverence for the
1111 este rs, The love of trees is fundamental in Druidism, too ,
,,,.1 . IS well as studying t ree lor e, Druids today plant trees and
" It'd groves, and support reforest at ion programmes. Druids
luvcx tn ues, too, and build sto ne ci rcles, collect stones and work
wn" crystals. T hey love the truth, and seek thi s in the ir quest
1111 wisdom and understanding. They love animals, seeing them
" v.urcd, and they st udy animal lor e. T hey love th e body and
, , ". dity, beli eving both to be sacred.
I lrlli dism also encour ages a love of each othe r by fostering
" ". Iliagic of relati onship and community, and above all a love
101 lile, hy encouraging celebration and a full commitment to
11it' it is not a spirit ualiry which tr ies to help us esc'pe from a
111 11 r ngagement with th e worl d.
~ l l e Dru id groups today present their teachings in three
I.11 1", or st reams: th ose of the Bard, O vate and Druid. The
11111' (" goals of love, wisdo m and creative expression can be
" 1.,,,..1 to the work of th ese th ree st reams. Bardic teachings help
'" develop our creativity, Ovate teachings help to develop our
I" v,' ,;". th e natural world and the communiry of all life, and
I I, IIi" teachings help us in our quest for wisdo m.
WHAT DO DRUI DS BELI EVE?
symbolism and the sequence of event s they describe, and for
t his reason are often used in t he teaching of Drui d ry.
T he goa l of crcativiry is also central to Dru idism because
t he Bards have long been seen as participants in Druidry. Many
beli eve th at in the old days th ey transmit ted the wisdom of the
Druids in song and story, and th at with their prodigious mem-
ories th ey kn ew th e genea logies of th e tribes and th e tales
associared wi th the local landscape. Celtic cult ures di spl ay a
love of art, music and beauty th at often evokes an awareness of
the O the rwo rld, and their old Bardic tales depi ct a world ofsen-
sua l beaut y in whi ch craftspeople and arti sts are hi ghly
honoured . Today, many peopl e arc drawn to Druid ry because
they sense it is a spiriruality th at can hel p them develop their
creat iviry. Rather th an st ressing th e idea th at this ph ysical life is
temporary, and that we should focus on t he after-life, Druidism
co nveys the idea th at we are meanr to par ticipate fully in life on
Earth, and that we are meant ro express and share our creariv-
iry as much as we can.
Druidrys third aim is to foster love and to broaden our und er-
standing and experience of it. so that we can love widely and
deeply. Its reverence for Nature enco urages us to love the I;nd, the
Earth, the stars and the wild. It also encourages a love of peace:
Druids were traditi onally peacemakers, and still arc. Often Druid
ceremonies begin by offering peace to each cardinal di rection,
there is a Druid's Peace Prayer, and Druids plant Peace Groves.
T he Druid pat h also encourages the love ofbcaury because it cul-
tivates t he Bard, the Art ist W ithin and fosters creativity,
The love of Justice is fostered in modern Druidry by being
menti oned in ' T he Druid's Prayer' . Man y beli eve th at t he
ancient Druids were judges and law-makers, who were more
interested in restorati ve t han punitive justi ce. Druid ry also
encourages the love of sto ry and myth, and many peopl e tod ay
40
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42 WHAT DO DRUIDS BELIEVE?
WHAT DO DRUIDS BELIEVE? 43
;'I
,
T he prima ry phil osophical posture of Druidism is one of
respect towa rds life. A word often used by Druids to descri be
this approach is reverence. which expands the concept of respect
to include an awareness of the sacred. By bei ng reverent towards
hu man beings. for example. Druids treat the body, relati on-
ships and sexuality with respect and as sacred. Reverence should
not be confused with piousness or a lack of vigorous engage-
ment - true reverence is strong and sensual as well as gentle and
kind.
T his atti tude of reverence and respect extends to all creatures.
Ma ny Dru ids will eithe r be vegeta rian. or will cat meat, but
oppose factory-farmi ng methods. For many Druids today the,
primary positi on of love and respect towards all creatures
extends to include a desire to avoid harming others. In Wi cca,
a Pagan pat h which , t ho ugh different. has mu ch in commo n
with Drui dry, this idea is expressed in the Wi ccan Rede as 'Do
what you like, so long as )'O U harm no one.
19
T he idea that we
sho uld avoid har ming others is enshr ined in Easte rn traditions
in th e doct rine of Ahimsn. or Non- Violence . and was first
described in aro und BOO BCE in th e Hindu script ures, the
Upanishads. [ ains, Hi ndus and Buddhists all teach thi s doc-
trine, which becam e popul ar in th e West following th e
non-viol cot prot ests of Mahatma Ga ndhi.
The Parehaka Maori prot est movement in New Zealand and
the campaigns of Martin Lut her King in the USA also helped to
spread the idea of Ahimsaaro und the world. In Britain. one par-
ticula r Dru id gronp has specialized in non -violent prot est - the
Loyal Arr hurian Warba nd led by Arthur Pend ragon, wh o
believes he is a reincarnation of King Art hur. T he War band has
protested for free access to Sto nehe nge at the Druid festival
times, and agai nst road-bui lding projects which threaten sacred
sites. Art hur Pend ragon was the first Brit ish citizen to chal-
1,"1'," the 1994 Crimi nal Justice Act. which gave chief consra-
1011'\ rhe power to disperse gat herings even if peaceful. In a
1IIII III ph for justice, the judge dismi ssed the charge agai nst
Auhur,
Many Druids today adopt a sta nce which abstai ns fro m
10 ,11 ' " ing othe rs, and which focuses on the idea of Peace. T hey
d",wtheir inspi ration from the classical account s of the Druids.
whit h port rayed them as medi at ors who abstained from war.
uu ] who urged peace on opposing armies. Julius Caesar wrote:
100 11 they generall)' settle all their disputes, bot h public aud pri -
V,II , T he Druids usually abstai n from war, nor do they pa)'
I.!K('\ IOgcthc r with the others; they have exemption from war-
l.1I 1: .' And Diodorus Siculus wro te: 'Often when the combatants
lit' l. lI1gcd face to face, and swords 3fC drawn and arc
III " dillg, these men come bet ween the armies and stay the
100lil 1,,, just as wild beasts arc somet imes held spellbound. T hus
\'(,11:lI11ong the most savage barbarians anger yields to wisdom,
11,,1 Mars is sha med before the Muses.'
III additio n Druids today can follow the example of o ne of
most important figures in the mo dern Druid movement,
II, '" Nichols. who in commo n with ma ny of the world's greatest
rhi ukcrs and spir itual teachers, upheld the doctrines of non-
vtulr- ncc and pacifism. Many of Nichols' contemporaries, who
h.lll,d simi lar interests in Celtic myth ol ogy. were also pacifists,
lin luding the composer Michael Tippett and T H. White, the
uuhor of the Arthurian TheOnce & Future King. Nichols often
lhl"'d ( 0 fini sh essays he wrote with the simple sign-off 'Peace to
"I h"i ngs.'
lhc two att it udes of Peace and Love. which man)' Druids
hlll.l as funda me nta l to thei r conduct in life. are the same two
IIl e.", thar were cha mpioned by the alternative cult ure of the
I'Ihl!>- whose propon ents are now the middl e-aged generation
44 WHAT DO DRUI DS BELI EVE? WHAT DO DRUI DS BELIEVE? 45
of ,baby boomers' , T his is no co incide nce . The ideal s of the six-
ties were informed by Romanti cism, and Romanticism drew
upon th e two sources of insp irati on of the Druids: the world of
Natu re and th e world of Sto ry. Via Romanti cism, a thread of
ideas connec ts thi s oldest of t raditions, Druidism, to the ideals
and values of twenti eth-century counter-cult ure. Many baby
boomers know in their heart s that thei r ideals were worthy, but
feel deject ed or cynical about how they have been abando ned in
favo ur of cons umerism and the demands of living in . the
modern world. It is easy to interpret Peace and Love as 'soft' or
passive qualiti es, but Dru id ism offers a way of reconnecting to
these values that renders them potent and proactive, and trans-
lat es them into speci fic acti ons in our everyday lives.
The Web of Life and the Illusion of Separateness
Woven int o much of Druid thinking and all of its practi ce is the
bel ief that we are all co nnec ted in a universe that is essentiall y
beni gn - that we do not exist as isol at ed bein gs who must fight
to survive in a cruel world. Instead we arc seen as part of a
great web or f.1 bri c oflife t hat includes every living creat ure and
all of Creatio n. This is essent ially a pantheisti c view of life,
whi ch sees all of Nature as sac red and as interconnected.
This view has become popular recently th an ks to th e work of
James Lovelock wh ose Gaia hypothesis suggests that the planet
is a livin g being, fun ct ioning as a single organism which main -
tains the co nditions necessary for its survival. T he various
processes that occur on Eart h - physical , chemical, geo logical,
and biol ogical - are see n as interco nnec ted, each affect ing the
ot her in a cont inuo us process of exchange and relati onship.
Duri ng the 1980s, t he Gaia hypoth esis. together with theo-
ries proposed by quantum physicists like Fritjof Capra, began to
,,1,1 "iemific perspect ives to a theory th at many beli eved were
.." h ul.ucd a century earlier by th e Na tive Ameri can leader,
I Ilid Seat tle. T he movin g wo rds attributed to him insp ired
I" ""Ir- all ove r the world, and awoke t hem to the idea of inter-
I lI lI l lt"l' tcJ ness:
I II we know:The Earth docs not belong to man; man belongs
III the Earth',This we know. All things arc connected like (he
hlond which unites one family. All things arc connected.
W".II cvcr befulls the earth befall s the sons of the earth. Man did
110 1 weave the web ofl ifc: he is rucrcly a strand in it. Whatever
II,. docs {Q the web. he docs {Q himself.
II I, now known that these words were written bythe screen-
" lI lr, ' Icd Perry for a 1972 film abo ut ecology. They canno t be
1",,,,.1 in the first recorded version of the speec h made in 1887.
IIt,t t he ideas co nveyed by Perry's versio n stri ke a chord in
IlIllI\t everyone - perhaps because of an innate sense that they
" uu lccd true, perhaps because thi s view is t he one t hat has
I" rn held by our forebears for millenni a.
I r-t I"i nly we find th is understanding in Anglo-Saxon times,
,, 111' 11 the ' Web of Wyrd' was pictured as a great web of in visi-
1,1, l1I " e, that co nnec t everyt hing, and along which the wi zard
'" . h.nuan may travel. A similar idea lies at th e basis of the
" " 1<'111 Mystery Traditi on, in wh ich each individual is seen as
'I 1I1H l4 u:osm. or tiny repli ca, of the Universe- the macrocosm.
I " "nl' '' ' that we dTect wit hin oursel ves are th en beli eved to
II... I t he ma crocosm - the greater who le, wi th both the micro-
".I m.rcrocos rn bein g inextricabl y linked .
Now that science is starting to explore our inter connected -
III u, u.uli rional barriers be tween disciplines arc sta rt ing to
I." "k down. We inc reas ingly under st and th e limi tati ons of
47
WHAT DO DR UI DS BELIEVE? WHAT DO DRUIDS BELIEVE?
As a Druid I learn the b nguage of stones and trees. I hear the
whistle of rhe Red Tail Hawk who hrings a fierce clarity in
moments of confusio n. No longer a separatc consciousness, as
I walk through woods and meadows, I am a parr of the fabric,
woven into the pattern. There is no hierarchy of human before
ani mal or plant before sto ne.
I listen to the trees and the voices of the wind in the trees. I
stand still in the parh as my dog snuffs ahead of me, and I feci
the breat h, and the speech orthe wind as spirit voices. I watch
the beech leaves which cling to the bran ches in winter, shake
their h;II11ls, hundreds of tiny parchm ent palms o n silver arms.
They tremble in a choru... of declaration: 'This is always here. do
nor und erestimate the power of the spirit whi ch wanders these
tracks.' I am rewove n in the wood s . ..
46
st udying subjects in isolati on . Just as the individual grows from 1111' consequences of feding integrat ed into th e f.1btie of life
the stage of depende nce through ind ependen ce to an awarenes '" "",found. Apart fro m th is trusting posture toward s life
of their int erdepend ence, so t he same may be happening col 1" " If',ing benefi ts in psychol ogical and phys ical health for the
lccr ively, Fro m bein g dependent upon dogma and directior IlIdl' lIll1 a!. there arc benefit s to society too . Abuse and exploira-
from the authority figures of churc h and state, we learn ed from" " " i ornes fro m the illusion of separateness. O nce you believe
the age of the Enlightenme nt onwa rds to manifest our indi vid- ,10,11 y" u arc part of th e family of life, and that all things are
uali ry, until now we arc sran illg to discover that in reality W( I " " l1n red , the values of love and reverence for life naturally
live in an interdependent world, wh ere no one can truly be at 1" II " w, as docs th e pr acti ce of peacefulness and harml essness.
island.
Druids often experience th is bdiefin their bodies and hearn
h I
. I' I " - , II", I nw of the Ha rves t
rat er t ian SI mI' Ym t icir mmds. 1 hey find themselves fedi ng
increasingly at home in th e world - and when they walk a lii II. I.II('d to the idea th at we arc all co n nected in one grea t web
onto the land and look up at th e moon or stars, or smell rhe " , Id,' is the bel ief held by most D rui ds that wha tever we do in
coming rain on the wind t hey fed in t he fabric of their beingJ 0111 world creates an effect whi ch will ultimately also aflccr us.
that they ate a part of the fami ly of life, th at they are ' home'l W" .rn beliefs arc often similar to Dru id ones. Just as th e doc-
and that they arc not alone. " ' nr "f harml essness is expressed in th e maxim ' Do wha t you
Here is how one practitioner expresses this: ~ \ 0 long as you harm no one', so the idea that ou r actions
"'.'r ,('hound on us is presented as the ' Law of th e Threefold
II I 111111' , which suggests that the effect of o ur actions or inr cn -
",,'" will return to us threefold. A similar idea (avoiding th e
ru.ulu- nuuical precision of the Wiccan maxim which runs the
11. 1. " I" heing interpreted lite rally) is found in man y different
" .l li, i' " ls and cult ur es: folk wisdom in Brit ain and Ameri ca
,IV_ that 'wh; r goes around comes around' and in ancient
I HY I" , ihc idea at tr ibut ed to Jesus wh en he said 'As ye sow, so
10 .01 1 y" reap' was spoken by the god Thoth several th ou san d
, '" rurlier in th e Egypti'ln Book of the DMd, whe n he said
111 11 II is the harvest scythe. Wh at is sown - love or anger or
1,,,,, ' lIle,, - that shall be your br ead . T he co rn is no bett er
01 r.", iI.' seed , th en let wh at you pl ant be good.' In Hinduism
" " I Ilnddhi sm th e idea is expressed as th e doctrine of cause
lil t! cHc.'ct, or karma.
11:11\1
IlllllIllllll l
T he two beliefs - th at all is co nnec ted and that we will hat.
vest the consequences of our acti ons - co me naturally to
Drui ds, because they rep resen t ideas that evolve our of an obser-
vat ion of the natural world. Ju st as the feelin g of our bein g pall
of th e great web of life can co me to us as we gaze in awe at the
beau ty of nature, so the awareness that we wi ll reap the consc-
quen ces of our acti ons also co mes to us as we observe the
processes of sowing and harvesting.
In Sl,!n mary, most Drui ds today wi ll hold to the following six
core beli efs: t he importance of tolerance and accept ing di versity
of opinion and belief: th e existe nce of Spirit or Deity; the exis-
tence of t he O therworld: the process of Rebirth: the Web 01
Life; and th e Law of the Harvest.
48 WHAT DO DRUIDS BELIEVE?
6
Myst ici sm, Shamanism and Magic
l ~ u n i n g Druid, taking to the Druid Way, doesnor dependon
Il IlW hidden and closely guarded lore anymore than it depends
PII surface manifestations. A Druid is inspired by the most
l '\\('ll l i;l l , bright. open and accessible of sources.
Greywind, The Voir< withilll"r Willd - olBrcomillg
"lid the Druid IIWy
"",,- peopl e foll ow Druidism as a spirit ua l or phi losophi cal
'l' I"", ,, h to life: they like the way th at it respects Nat ure, th e
I}' II "ners no dogma, has no creed, and is open to members
,( "II I:,iths and non e. T hey don't feci th e necessity to ' have ' a
""K'''", or they sha re John Len no n's vision wh en he sang, in
1,1"W"c. of an ideal world with no rel igion. O t hers practi se
Itlll of the mainstream religions but also feel themselves to be
1'",101- and so ther e arc Christ ian or Buddhist D ruids. for
uuple. St ill ot hers foll ow Dru idis m as a rel igion in its own
tlll"l Ame rica n D rui d groups in parti cu lar oftell rela te to
Illllllh)' ;IS a neo-Pagnn religion. Isaac Boncwi rs, a key figure in
I " I )lIIidry, wr ites:
Despite the ambi tious ent husiasm of Bonewit s' ideas, the
majori ty of Americans join groups based in Britain whi ch sec
Druidry less as a specific religion , and more as a spiritual path
that can be foll owed in a variety of ways, depending upon the
needs of the seeker. In this approach, the Druid Way is often
understood as a path of initiati on that can help the individ ual
achieve their mysti cal, shamanic or magical goals.
III .. nd Shaman
51
MYSTI CI SM, SHAMANIS M AND MAGIC
I ' 11111<.' their sole spiritual desire is to unite with Deity. how-
I 0I 1t:y conceive of thi s: as God, Goddess, Great Spirit or
11I1II .ltl' Cause. '10 suc h a mysti c there is as littl e point
1,I'"I IlJ.: the co mplexi ties and di fferent levels of the
lhc belief that there is more to life than the world of appear-
"" n , that an O therworld exists, leads logic.111y to the belief that
.. ' 1.1ll make contact with forces and beings that exist beyond
IIII' world of appearances. Many peopl e have had experiences of
.1I.l\cnso ry perception' - even if only fleet ingly, perhaps just
IIlh C' or twice in their lives. And a significant proportion of
I,,,, plc have had experiences of making contact, or of being
' W,III' of rhc presence of loved ones after they have di ed.
'ollie peopl e feel that an exploration of the O therwor ld or of
III lin dimensions' is not for them. and it may even scare them
III I untc mplate making such an attempt. But for others, noih-
11111' oukl be more exciting. Like explorers, they may sense there
I . "'lilt risk (of delusion, madness or the disappointment off.1il-
1111') inn their inherent curiosity drives them forward.
1hi, desire to explore the world beyond the 'veil of appear-
'" n' has always existed - holy people, shamans and wizards in
" y culture have di scovered a host of ways to open the 'doors
,I I'C' lt'l"ion ,' as Aldous Huxley put it, and to travel th rough
1 1 1 I 1 ~ doors. They have meditated. eaten magic mushrooms,
III1,k,' " herbs, created hallucinogenic brews from roots, plants
11, 1.iuimals, danced or drummed until they entered a tran ce,
I. .. ,,, or retreated int o solitude for mon ths or years on end - all
III 01,,' hopes of breaking th rough or out of the mat rix of 'con-
1 l ~ t 1 Il'ality' (0 achieve an experience orrealiti es o r states of
"' " 1I 111.\I1eSS beyond the everyday.
MYSTICISM, SHAMANIS M AND MAGI C
I'mone of those who sees Druidry as a
spiritual/philoso phical approac h. I have never been
comfortable with organized religions; indeed, given the
long history of horrendous deeds done in the name of
various religions, I have often wondered if the positive
aspects could possibly outweigh the negatives.
Still, I have always felt deeply spiritual, and I do beli eve in
Deity. And since I tend toward pantheism in my perception,
Druidry has been ideal for me. Ialso appreciate the
inclusiveness of Druidry, because I am not arrogant enough
to believe that myopinions on religions must be shared by all.
K. H., Louisiana, USA
'In ADF we believe that excellence in clergytraining and peac-
ricc' is viral for any healthy, growing religion. [In rhe future] we
sec ralcmc d and well-trained Ncopagan clergy leading thou-
sands of people in effective magical and mundane act ions to
save endangered species, SlOp pollut ers, and preserve wilder-
ness. We sec our healers saving thousands oflivcs and our Bards
inspiring millions through music and video concerts and
dramas. We sec Ncopaganism as a mass rel igion. changi ng
social. political, and environmental att it udes around [he world,'
50
1'111
Iii
II I
'III
111
1
: \
I
II 1
, III
II I11
III
II I
III
III
III
III
11,11
IIIi
I
IIIIII1
J {. '. , ' ' , 11 n n ....
O the rworld as there is to explor ing the world of appearances
T hey are interesting, perhaps, but ultimatel y a di stracti on
because from the mystic's viewpoint the only trul y real thing i:
Deity.
O thers believe that every level of reality offers valid and valu-
able experiences, and want to travel beyond th e veil 01
appearances, not to shun the seductions of the Otherworld an
tr avel straight to the heart of Deity, but instead to explore rhr
treasures and to experience the learning th ey hope to find in
that O therwo rld. T his is the shama nic as opposed to the mys'
ti cal approach to spirit ual de velopment and explorat ion
Alth ou gh the term 'shama nism' comes or iginally from the terra
used to describe t he practi ce of tr aditional Sibe rian healer
magicians, in recent times its usc has broadened into what Mi chad
Harner, a world author ity on sha ma nism, has called 'a metho
to open a door and enter a different real ity' . Some contempo-
rary writers even talk abo ut 'Celtic sha manism' when they refel
to certa in practi ces menti oned in Celtic literature that help rh
seeker enter different realities and return with visions, insight.
or information.
O ne of the appealing qualit ies of Druidry is its versatility, Ii
offers a context for a wide variety of approaches to spi ritual
development. Even thou gh mystics-shun the seductions of both
this world and the O therwo rld, they wi ll usually usc prayers,
imagery and exercises from a parti cular tradi rion to help ther
in thei r quest. So Druid mystics will use Celtic or Druid rituals
images and prayers. Those who arc more sha ma nically incl ine,
will add to these eleme nts the use of guided medi tat ions, tra nc
work. dancing or drumming to achieve their aim of cnrcri n
ot he r states of awa reness - a process whi ch is ofrcn tcrrne
' journeying' and which has also been called 'astral tr avelling' ,
h.unanic Journeying
Il uli ng these journeys, encounters often occur with
I .. hcrworldly beings, suc h as an ancesto r, a deceased relati ve or
1""".1. or a spirir guide, who may appear as an animal, a human
III 111 some other form. Sceptics may consider these experiences
Ill!" IC,\UIt of an excessively vivid imagination, but those who
I",v<' taken these journeys often experience profound insights
llul lllaling. Sometimes these shamanic experiences occ ur spon-
H lIf'O llS!Y - when in a dream we meet a being who gives us
1ll'.l lillgor advice. or when awake we become aware of someo ne
wit" Itas di ed counselling or conso ling us. But those who follow
I'"ti dry as a shamanic path att empt deliberately to make con-
,,, I with th e O the rworld - to take th e beli ef th at 'all is
unrcted' literally, and begin ro explore certain of these links
1111 1 onnections,
'ollle teachers work with drums. encouraging those present
, .. II .ivel on the beat of th e drum to th e Otherworld, while
IIdl("I' will lise the power of their voice to guide the listeners'
,w.'c"ess . Either of these techniques will usually be embedded
wuhin a ritu al design ed to estab lish a sense of being within a
, 'nl space, and to evoke the guida nce and protection of Deity
., .lciries, and perhaps O the rwo rldly gua rdians or spirits.
I ' li lit e. sacred movements or ges tures. and chanti ng may be
"., ,I d"ring the ceremo ny, and rit ual objects, candles, incense,
'otIU" and pict ures mi gh t be employed to enhance the par-
,,, 'I" ""s' awareness of the sacred. T he ritual mi ght also take
I'!'" c' within a Celtic swear house, which - like a NativeAmerican
W,,;II lodge- creates a powerful environment for undertaking
11,1, work, Unt il th e nin eteenth century, th e Irish used sweat-
I". ",,, fuelled by peat , which th ey called T igh 'n' Allu is. Today
Vf' oCld
4
hurning stove or heated sto nes arc used.
11, 11io n, inspiration and wi sdom. Known as Awen in Welsh, and
/,"/IIiS in Irish, Druids sense thi s as a universal force wh ich flows
"""ugh th e wo rld and which ca n be encouraged to flow
tl"""gh us to bring us these gifts . T he words ' l mbas' and 'Awen'
", ' chnnted in ceremonies or meditati on. and t he st udy of thi s
Inn c, and how to encourage it in our lives. forms the basis of
uu uh Dru id tr ain ing.
Ano ther force is said to exist too - NUlyfte. wh ich is a Welsh
won ], deriving from an ancient Cel t ic word Naomb, meaning
liunamcnt' or ' hea ven s' . Nwyfre is t he life for ce that flows
""'"lgh the Universe. and whi ch is called Chi or Q i in China
1111 1 l' run a in Indi a.
By cultivat ing the flow of Nwyfre and Awen , the D ruid aims
iu ,mprove their physical vitality and thei r creative ability. In doing
, I",. the Druid has access to two powerful 'elixirs' which can aid
hi ll, or her in a work whi ch is essent ially alche mical. Alche my.
. _ .1 branch of magic, can he practised either as an external oras an
I'"l' rna l art . Used externa lly it attempts to manipulat e matt er
'<I c rcare go ld. Used internally it attempts to transform the
,I, hcm ist, symbolic., lIy or metaphorically, into gold. Rather than
1'<1' king wit h the energies of Awen and Nwyfre to ma nipu late
,' \ T l It S or circumstances, the Druid USCIi these f(uces ro transfo rm
rlu-rusclvcs. Ironi cally. t his often has t he eflecr of changing outer
I I II umsrances more effect ively than :lny attempt to manipulate
""' m directl y. because our circums tances often depen d upon
11111 internal states, and umi! Oll l' internal state changes, attempts
'<I "Iter external condi tions will often be simply palliat ive and
luut -lived,
Some people avo id anyt hi ng whic h is label led magical. Yet.
II l1n we un derstand t he way in which magic is used and under-
I llod in Druidry, we can sec that it involves an ethica l :luem pt
'<I r.ikc responsibility for t he (,ct that we are causal beings - that
The Path of Magic
There is yet one more way in which Druidry can be pursued -
as a pat h of magic. T he magical approac h in Druidry, like the
mysti cal and sharna nic, foll ows from the beli ef tha t 'all is con-
nect ed' and that othe r wo rlds or dimen sions exist in addit ion to
the realm of appearances. But it also takes into consideration
the view t hat we arc meant to be here. t hat we are destin ed to be
active. creat ive parti cipants in life. and t hat our though ts. fed-
ings, words and act ions all have an effect which obeys the Law
of the Har vest. Like rippl es in a pool caused by a stone falling
into it. the magician sees each person as an influential bei ng.
who can cause eithe r joy or sor row by the way that they live
thei r lives.
Many peopl e t hi nk of magic eit her as the creat ion of illusion.
as in stage magic. o r as the attempt to manipulate circums tances
or peopl e t hrough spel l-casting in order to obtain things. suc h
as love or wealth. But th ere is another type of magic th at is
much more interesting and which involves at its heart sensi ng
life as awe-inspiring. as magical in the best sense of th e wo rd.
From t his persp ective D ruid ism offers ide as and tecbniques
that can enha nce one's awareness of life as magical , and can
make the practi ce of magic a conscious attempt to assume
resp on sibility for our thoughts. words and deeds. T he world
then becomes a ma gical place. and one's life a magical journey
that takes place within it.
Two co ncepts in D ru id ry are helpful in pursuing the magical
path. In t he Aster ix cartoon books the Dru id Gerafix is often
seen st irr ing a cauldron to create a magical elixir tha t will co nfer
superhuma n st rength on Asre rix, the hero of th e tal e. Such an
elixir does exist in Druidry - not in th e form of an act ual liqu id.
but in the form of an energy which is seen as bringing illurn i-
IVII .-:l r I ..... I ;:.I YI, ,') n f.\ IVI A IIJ!.:>IVI A IIJU IVI A b l e
"
II
Ii
,v, I -.1 ' Il... I'" 'V, , .... " ,..' vi /"'\ ' . ' ..... 'vi /"'In,", 'VIMlJ l v
we affecr the world around us, whether we arc conscious of
thi sor not .
There arc two ways that we can work magically with
Druidry, The first could be termed passive and involves adopt -
ing 30 att itude of awe and reverence towards life and the world.
T his 'way of being' is also a way of seeing, as the writer Marcel
Proust expressed so well when he said: ' The real magic lies not
in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.' When we
sec and understand life to be magical. we start (0 experience it
as magical in our hearts and souls too.
T he second way could be termed active and involves becom-
ing aware of the creative power that we possess simply by being
alive, and then consciously wor king to usc that creative power
in the service of our vallies and ideals. Here we can sec how the
goals of the Druid to wor k towards love, wisdom and creativity
call become in themselves magical goals.
7
Ethics and Values
For the most part, Druid ethics arc not much difTerent from
Christia;l or Buddhist ethics. What sets modern Druid ethics
;tpan is that it de-emphasizes hlind trust and obedience 1O
aurho ritics, n...jeers the idea tha t there arc any scriptures that
arc more sacred than others. and grounds its ideal of respect
and love in the whole natural world, not just the human
community.
A/ftrian Gsoydion Macl.ir, ft oma Mt'ssagt" Board
discussion 011 Druid Ethics 01/ www'lruidryorg
lhc class ical aut ho r Strabo wro te th at the Druids studied
' mor al phi losop hy' i-? T he aut ho r Brendan Myers conclu des
, h.ll the first moral principle of the ancient Druids was a devo-
d Oli to truth. In the Tcsr nmenr of Morann, a document traced
It> rli e period between the sevent h and nint h cent uries CE, but
which seems to emerge out of the pre-Christian Druidic period,
lvice is given on how a prince should rule:
Let him magnify Tnnh, it will magnify him.
lcr himstrengthenTruth. it will strengthenhim.
Apart from the work of Myers and Nihrscad, little has been
writ ten about et hics in COil temporary Druidism since most
Ihllids are keen (() avoid the problems caused by dictating a
runraliry to others. So mu ch suffering has resulted t hrougho ut
hivrory because one group o f people have decided th at it is
nod to do one t hing and ba d to do anot her. J ust as most
"
t. I HI .... ;) I I ~ U V I-' L UC ;)
Every action has a consequence that must be obser ved
and you mu st be pr epared to compensate for yo ur
actions if required.
2 All life is sacred and all are responsible for seeing t hat
this standard is upheld .
3 You do still live in society and are bound by its rul es.
4 Work wit h high standa rds.
5 Make an honest living.
6 Be a good host as well as a good guest.
7 Take care of yourself. (Health was held in high esteem
amongst the Celts, so much that a person could he fined
for being grossly overweight due to lack of care.)
8 Serve your community.
9 Maintain a healthy balance between t he spiritua l and
worl dly. (Nihtscad wri tes: ' Et hical and self-respecti ng
Druids did noth ing without being properly schooled or
aware of the consequences ahead of time. Theyknew when
it was appropriate to visit the Otherworld and immerse
themselves in the spirit ual as well as when it was appro-
priate to he fully in this world.')
I() Uphold the Truth, start ing wit h yourself.
I I Be sure in your convictio ns, part icularly when judging
oraccusing someone, but also when debat ing, Ask y o u r ~
self: are you really sure? Do you really know that th is is
the case?22
. . . Through the ruler's Trurh massive mortalities arcaverred
from men.
.. . Through the ruler's Truth all the land is fruitful and
childbirth worthy.
Through the ruler's Truth there is abundance of rail corn.
St Patri ck was said to have asked O isin, th e son of Fionn
MacCumhaill, wh at sustained his peopl e befor e t he advent of
Christianity, to which he replied: ' T he tr uth that was in our
hearts, and st rengt h in our arms, and fulfilment in our tongues.'
Myers concludes: 'It is interesting tha t he should cite truth first,
as though truth had an overrid ing place in the culture. T his evi-
d ence leads me to beli eve th at th e fir st moral principle of
Druidism is this: in a situation where a moral decision must be
made, we should always choose truth, in th e expa nsion and
enr ichme nt of human knowledge, in ourselves and others, and
at all levels of our being.? "
In the final analysis, though, Myers sugges ts t hat t he Druids
may not have adhered to specific rules and aut hor it ies to deter-
mi ne ptoper ethi cal conduct. Instead he sees the m str iving to
beco me a certain kind of person, out of who m et hical behaviour
naturally arises.
At heli a Ni hr scada also turns to Irish so urce mat er ial to
explo re Druid et hics. T he old Breh on laws, whi ch were
record ed by Ch rist ian cleri cs in th e fift h cent ury CE, pre-
dat ed Christi anity and offer a fascinat ing insight in to earl y
Irish society. By st udying th ese laws and seeing how th ey
migh t be applicable to modern living, Nihtscada has art icu-
lat ed eleven prin ciples o r codes of co nd uc t for t he
co ntemporary Druid:
Druids have avoi ded di ct atin g which type of theology someone
sho uld ado pt, so too have they avoided telling each other. or the
wo rld, how to behave.
Over the years, tho ugh. I have noticed t hat most Druids
have a highl y developed sense of ethical behaviour. whic h is
usually impli cit in their act ions. rathe r than explicitly stated. A
person can only act ethi cally if they hold to certain values, and
by talking abo ut these values we can avoid the pitfall of suggest -
ing ethi cal guidelines which can then so easily turn into a dogma.
Instead of imposing a code of conduct upon peopl e. we can
return to Myers' suggestion to practise a Druid ry that helps us
become a certain kind of person . a lit of whom erhi cal hehaviour
naturally arises.
Druidry asks us, above all, to open ourselves to the inspira-
tion and beauty of Nat ure and Art , th rough its celebration of
creat ivity. By nouri shing ourselves through contact with th e
natu ral world and with art of every kind, and by holdin g to the
core beliefs of Druidism already outl ined, a number of qu aliti es
eme rge as values that can form th e basis of ethical decisions and
behaviour. In parti cul ar. the foll owing four qu alities represent
core values that are fostered by following Druidism as a spiritual
path today: responsibili ty. community, trust and integrity.
It is easy to sec ourselves as victims in life - as tiny cogs in a
vast and impersonal machin e driven byothers for eco nomic and
pol itical ends. But by holding to the beli ef that everyt hing is
connected, that another reality exists beyond the everyday phys-
ical world, and that everything we thi nk. feel o r do has an
effect, the Druid is able to assume an att itu de of responsibi lit y.
and to feel empowered to he of value in the world. Like every-
one else, they will some times feel the vict im of others or of
circumstances. While that feeling may come and go, the pre-
dominant belief will be that each of us is a causal being who
exists in a web of life tha t unites every living creat ure, This
means that each of us can choose to act as a force for good in
rhc world.
The Druid will tend to see many of the world's probl ems
lII erging from a refusal to take responsibility and to act for the
fo "'ater good of the whole. By not taking responsibili ty for cnvi-
ioumcnral degradat ion. for example. they see politicians and
,o' porations acting simply for the sho rt -term gains of power
.II ,d profit. Many politi cal systems and most corporations do
not encourage th e taking of indi vidual responsibility or the
v. due of personal empowerme nt . Instead they need consump-
"on and compliance. Dru idism encourages the taki ng of
.udividual respo nsibility - first in our own lives, then in concert
with othe rs for our community, and for th e wider issues that
Ilf"ct t he community of all life.
' laking responsibility for our thou ghts. feelings and actions
lnst ers an att it ude of respo nsibility towards othe rs. and th e
world needs responsibl e peopl e now more than ever.
Increasing urbanization, population growth, the co rn mcr-
t r.ilizarion of culture, the development of consumerism and
globalization, have all tended to undermine our sense of living
III a community, close to our fellow human beings, dose to
mimals and th e land . Many peopl e are d rawn to Dru id ry
hccause they find it helps them get back in touch wi th ' the
, ucle of all Beings' . By its reverential att it ude to Na ture . by its
1,,lief in th e sacred ness of all creat ures. and by its belief in the
hol isti c relat ionship between all things. Druidry foste rs the
v. rlue of communi ty, of relati onship with others.
' I'here will be times when we need solitude and. like all spir-
1I11al paths, Druidry recogni zes the need for ret reats, when we
11'1 go of o ur co ncerns for others and foc us instead on our pc: r-
... na! quest or upon Deity. But Dru idry is not a path th at
60
t: I H I l ~ AI \lU VALue"
.... ....... ... ..... .. ... . ..... ... ... ... ....
u<
I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.
John O'Donohue
advocates a permanent det achment from others or the wo rld.
Instead it urges a pro-ac tive and cnthusiascic, Awcn-fillcd
engageme nt with ot hers and the world. seeing life on earth as
meaningful and purposeful - as an adventu re to be undertaken
rather than as a prison from whi ch we should escape. or as a
bridge we should simply cross .
There will be times wh en a Druid feels alone. isolat ed or
aliena ted from others. While th at feeling may come and go,
holding to the value of community will enabl e them to ret urn
to a bedrock of feeling and belief in whi ch they are part of one
family - t he web of life, th e circle of all Beings.
Th e more we can trust in life, the more we can encourage this
lluw. Experiencing the inspi ration of Awcn as a flow is co mmo n
'"r creative peopl e - when they arc inspired they feel creative
"ncrgy literally flowing through their bodi es and they commonly
,,!,ort that all they need to do is tru st and get their thinking
minds out of the way, so that the flow can cont inue and creation
' .111 occur. Likewise with Nwyfre - wh en we are full of health
nd vitality. we feel as if the life for ce is flowing freely and clearly
",, "ugh us. When we are un well that for ce no longer flows. and
we can sometimes sense blockages of energy in our body.
By affirming the value of trust . and by returning co nsta ntly
," rhis posit ion. wh at ever set backs may occur. our life - t he
we make, the relationships we form - begin s (0 he
"Iii" on trust rather than on fear: on the need to conform, to
ur.iinrain status, or to prot ect ourselve s. for example.
The magical understanding of Druidry, that our state of being
uitlucnces the world around us. tells us that as we connect to the
" ,Inc of trust in life. thi s t rust will start to radiat e. and will in its
111111 attract trust from others. genera ting a bcncficenr cycle,
Although the term integrity is often used ro mean 'th e qual-
' y of possessing and stead fastly ad he ri ng to high moral
I'ri nciples and professional standa rds' , its deeper meaning is
I"flned in the di cti onar y as 'the state of being complete and
undivided. The state of being sound or undamaged.' Before a
mission is, sent into space, for example, the integrity of the
1' ,l( ccraft is checked again and again.
Used in this deeper sense. int egrity becomes a value or qual-
ty sought by Druids. just as it is by all spirit ual seekers. T he
I'iri'ual journey begins for us when we sense that we arc lack-
IIH some thing. We feel incomplete . and so we hegin to strive
wards Deity. enlighrenmc nr. wh oleness. Furt her along the
rck we di scover that th ese realities exist wi th in us and that it
v_
t; I 1 1 I ........ ,.... I . ... ....... "'" ......
Coming to place a value in co mmunity and in being in rela-
tionship with t he circle of all Beings comes from th e simple
observation of Na t ure. and the way in which everything is con-
nected. In a similar way. contemplating rhe flow of a river brin gs
us to the value of trust. It is a common experience among people
wh o are aware of the spirit ual dimension to find that when
they trust in life they find it easier to enter a ' flow' which carries
their life along wi th a qualit y of lighrncss, joy and effortlessness,
th at also keeps th em aligned with thei r spirit ual purpose. or
course trust will sometimes give W:lY to its opposite - mi st rust
and fear - but by believing that life is fundamentally good. that
there is mcanin g and to existence, the spiritual seeker
finds it increasingly easy to come back to the position of t rust.

is only our mind th at beli eves we arc separated from t hem.
Slowly, th rou gh meditati on and spiritua l pra cti ce, we open to
an awareness of our co mpleteness, our wholeness. We find
integri ty. And from t hi s place of int egri ty we can act with
aut he nticity - not trying to be someone othe r than who we
simply are.
Aga i n, as wi th all t hese qu alities, there wi ll be times when we
lose o ur sense of integrity, when we feci desperately inco mplete or
divided, and when we act not honestly and from our deepest fed -
ings but inaurhenr ically OUI of fear or misunderstanding. BUI
one of t he values of following a spiritual pat h lies in its acting as
a gentle reminder, and offer ing par ticular disciplines that bri ng lIS
back 10 a contemplation of these core qu alities. In th is way, ovc i
time, our experience of a lack of any quality will start to di min-
ish as OUf spiritual life connects us to these core values.
It is import ant to understand, howeve r, that the holistic
stance of Druidry does not deny t he value or purpose of expe-
rienci ng diffi cult y or disco mfort. O ur dep t h of humanity
co mes precisely from our experienc ing th e co ntrasts of lire:
wit ho ut t he expe rience of unh appiness we wo uld not be ablt
to fully apprecia te hap piness. Mat urity of cha racte r and soul
seems to requi re some amount of suffering, and we need to
expe rience - ideally in small and manageable doses - th e lack
of each of t he qualiti es d iscussed, so t ha t we ca n exper ience
. t he feel ing and effects of irresponsibility, alienation, di sem
power ment, fear and lack of integrity, in or de r to be co mplete
human beings.
In the end values or pr inciples suc h as th ose stated here,
wi t h ot hers that arc related to or flow from them - such a,
honour, coutage and respect - can form t he basis out of whi ch
ethical and moral decisions can be made. Rath er t han internal
izing a moral code devel oped perhaps centu ries ago by rhr
IlIling religiou s or politi cal elite, we can develop a st rong indi-
vidual sense of morali ty and ethics born a lit of our own inn er
i unnecrion to such values. Blaise Pascal succinc tly summarized,
III the following triad, t he ingredients we need to develop thi s
mora liry, when he said simply: ' Heart , instinct, princip les.'
64 ETHI CS AND VALUES
ETHICS AND VALU ES
65
8
What Do Drui ds Do?
Environme nralism, when conceived as a spiritual path and
grounded in an ancestral tradition such as Druidry, can be :I
powerful force for healing in this worl d.
Brendan Myers, Dangerous Religion -s Environmcntal
Spirituality "'ItJ ItsActivist Dimension
The Seasonal Festi vals
At the heart of Dr uidi sm lies a love of Nat ure and of her chang-
ing f.,ce as the seasons turn. Eight times a year, on ce every six
weeks or so, Druids parti cipate in a celebra tion tha t expresses
this devoti on ( 0 the natu ral world. These seasonal fest ivals can
be large public events wit h hundreds of adults and chi ldten
gathering at sacred si tes, such as Stonehe nge, Avebur y or
Glasto nbury, or they can he very private event s celebrated by a
single Druid in their garden or living room, or by a small group
of Druids and friends who have gathered together in a park or
garden .
T hese eight seasonal festi vals consist of t he solst ices and
equinoxes: four moments during the year which arc dictated by
Id alionship between the Earth and Sun, and the four cross-
raucr day festivals whi ch are not determined astron omically,
111 .'e related to the traditi onal pastoral calendar,
lhc summe r and winter solstices arc celebrated when the sun
ueurcst and furt hest fro m th e Eart h. T he summer solstice
"" rhe longest day of the year, 2 1 or 22 June. The winte r
,I.rice is on th e shortes t day of year, 2 1 or 22 December,
I" equinoxes occur wh en day and night are eq ual: on 2 1 or
March in spring and 21 or 22 September in aurumn. In the
uuhcru hemisphere these dates are reversed.
I'he other four festivals arc also related to the seasons, but arc
11 11 ' tied to spec ific ast rono mical events. Inst ead they have
ilvcd from tradit ional festi val times linked to f.l rming prac-
,. ,' , begun in western Europe thousands of years ago: lambing
u ( .rly February, bringing the cattle out to pasture in earl y
M.IY, rhe start of the harvest at the beginning of August, and the
I'''' parations for winter at the end of October.
Ilruids observe thi s eightfold cycle of fest ivals by meetin g
(ogcther, or cele brating on their own. Sometimes the celebre-
\I11 U will be informal - a pi cni c with friends, or a pan y dur ing
wl, ieh someone will speak about the time of year and its sig-
lIi/l canee, accompa nied perhaps by sto rytel ling, mu sic or
I'''etr y. At other times the celebrat ion will he formal. When
,I,,: O rder of Bards, O vares and Druids celebrates the summe r
111Mice at Stonehenge , for example, a hundred or so parr ici-
1'.,utS will wa lk, robed and in silence, three t imes around
the great trilithons before enter ing the inner ci rcle of stones
III stand together in a circle. After three notes from a replica
luo nzc-Age horn, known as a do rd, each of the cardinal di rec-
iions will be greeted, and then the meaning of the solst ice will
he explained, foll owed by a medi tati on and Eisteddfod of
music and poetry.
" , " 11 "'" VV I.I I\ VI I.I J vv .
At other times, thou gh, the celebrat ions combine a formal
fllllal with informal d ements, suc h as on Glasto nbury To r
when several hundred adults and childr en gather rogcrhcr in a
vircle for a solstice celebration, Some people will be wearing
,"\'es o'f different colours and design, others will be dr essed in
rvcryday clothes. A circle will be cast by children scatte ring
,"'I"Is or blowing bubbles. A lire cate r will bless the circle with
luc, and someone will sprinkle everyo ne wi th wat er from
Chalice Well as a further blessing. T he ritual itself is formal , in
,he sense that it has been prepared in advance and includes tra-
.luional elements, bur the ambience is informal and joyful.
lvcry so often all parti cipant s will sponta neously cheer, laugh
" ' clap, and at the closing of the ceremony the crowd will
.uher in clusters to sit and chat, to admire the view, or to
pknic together.
Often Druid festivals include a central section known by the
W,lsh word ' Eisteddfod' , wbi ch ofTers a time for the expression
III creativity by anyon e in the circle, Although certain, parrici-
!"II11S may guide the festi val, and have various roles within it
(, "" h as casting or blessing the circle) no on e is acting as a
II I or priestess. in the sense of beiug an intermediary between
Ihe other participants and Deity.
Slime forms of Druidism, parti cularly in the USA, have a dif-
lru-nt approach and model themselves on the revealed religions'
\lor of concepts such as clergy and lait y, but the contemporary
I ), uidry that has emerged Ollt of Britain over the last forty years
JOVII"rs a difTerent and more egalitarian app roach, in the belief
11..11 attempts to create a 'priest/e sshood' are fraught with dim-
II Ilies, with the risks of ego inflation, mystifi cation anti the
IM"lI1pOWerment of those not within the ' inner ci rcle' o f the
li"l"( '"
l'he purpose of celebrating the eight seasonal festivals is to

WO,M,Yl ,,, lt'I> 1"".".
rXI'l{l:SSI()1"l
SOLSTICE
,'J.1W'lAII1l1I,N
. .. ,,,Il'...' . Nl;:....IN A' " 'N
It>!SI'IIV\TION
WH AT DO UU!
The Eight Pestiuals and the Wheelof the Year
68

"
::J 2
O' ij <1:; 1 {_ t-.-.ll I-< ).).21 M'1l
W [iii
Z
:;;. 1
U
?
\-'
'i
Here the novelist Barbara Erskine describes how her
discovery of Druidry led to a regular practice that
combines Druidism with her Christian faith:
Druidry acted as a change of focus for me; a personal
reinterpretation; an altered attitude. It shone a beam of
light into a monochrome landscape and reminded me
create a pattern or rhyth m in our year tha t allows for a rew
hou rs' pause every six weeks or so in our busy and often stress-
ful rout ine, so that we can open ro the magic of being alive on
this eart h at th is special time. It gives us a cha nce to fully enter
the moment, to connect with the life of the land around us, and
to feel the influen ce of the season in our bodies, hearts and
minds. If we celebrate on our own, it is a time when we call
enter into med itation, perhaps reviewing our life since the last
festival, thinki ng forwa rd to the next one, then returning to
open ourselves fully to the Here and Now.
In addition to observ ing th e eightfo ld cycle, eac h Druid
wi ll develop a personal pr actice t hat is suited to th ei r need,
and t heir circumsta nces. T hi s will also change over t ime.
One person may live on their own and have a good dea l or
free time, whi le another mi ght have a young fami ly and work
long hours. One person may relate to Druidry as a philoso-
phy and devote much or th eir t ime to readi ng and st udy,
whi le others wi ll want a more hands-o n experience - and
wi ll spend thei r ti me co mmuning with Nat ure in the woods
and 0 11 t he land. Some people like rit ual, ot hers find it dis-
tr acting. Some like prayin g, reading or medit at i ng, o thers
don't ,
" ,...,. I ........ ... " ... ..... ... .... .... .
of an ancient church where Celtic saints had called
blessings onto rain-soaked hill s, where St Kevin allowed a
blackbird to nest on his hand, where Brighid was both
goddess and saint, a church where Our Lady was also the
Star of the Sea, a blessed feminine warmth which a more
puritan faith had distanced. Anci ent prayers took on
deeper meanings for me. Now the Benedici te read like a
Celtic hymn.
The Druidical circle of seasons was there within the
liturgy, sacred geometry was there, though forgotten by
most, as were the healing energies of stone and stained
glass and the mysticism of ancient words.
Historians and theologians may find the belief
untenable but I like the idea of long-ago Druids segueing
neatly with the changing focus of the heavens into a Celtic
Christianity. It feels right.
My practice of meditation evolved natura/ly back into
one of regular prayer and though prayer can happen
every- and any where I set up a small al tar of my own
again. In its centre I have a beautiful stat ue made by a
fri end, of the Blessed Virgin, not a meek, mild obedient
rol e model, but Queen of Heaven, wi th crown and royal
robes. On her knee is the Christ child. At the four
comers of the altar I have put symbols of earth, ai r, fire
and waler. There is a Celtic cross there, and /lowers.
Sometimes I have incense, sometimes meditation oils.
Sometimes this is the centre of my Druid ri tuals. I use
it as a place to pray, to meditate and to listen.
Unorth odox? Probably. Bu t it makes perfect sense
to me.
WHAT DO DRUIUS UU' 70
v. ",.... , ... ... ... " v . ... ... U V .
Druidry offers a wealth of techniques - not one single prac-
tice that must be performed regularly. Out of thi s wealth each
Dr uid can develop a practice that best suits them. Some people
who lead busy lives may find that years go by when they simpl y
gather with friends at each of the eight festival times. and at
other times occasionally meditate or usc a Druid divination
system, such as the Ogbl1m Tree Oracle or the Druid Animal
Oracle, when trying to gain insight into part icular problems.
(Whi le some Druids create their own oracles, these can also be
purchased in puhlished form - sec Furt her Reading Section on
page 108). In cont rast , there will be those who feel the need for
a daily practice. T hey will often create an altar in their homes or
a sacred space in their gardens in which they can perfor m a
simple ritual to open their awareness to the sacred, to conne ct
with the energies of Eart h, Trees, Sea and Sky. Some will then
medi tate within the atmosphere created by the ritual, others
might pray, or read devo tional mat erial, inspiring poe try or
Celtic blessings for example, or select a card from a Druid di v-
ination system and medi tate on the guidance offered by it . A
wide range of ceremonies, medit ati ons and techniques arc
available.
The most valuable and life-changing practice of all, though,
evolves gradually and simply as a different -way of being in the
world. T hrough working with Druid teachings and ceremonies,
changes occur in our att itudes, feelings and behaviour which
enable us to live more and more frequently in alignment with
our sense of purpose and meaning, and with an awareness of the
inherent spirituality of all life. This may sound simple, but the
con sequences of achieving, 01' of wo rking towa rds this state are
profound. We ent er a beneficent cycle, in which the more we
express the core values of Druidry, t he more we find these
reflected back to us in the events and relat ionships in our life. As
I his way of being evolves it becomes possible to find those elu-
sive qualities of serenity and happiness, and to be of service to
III hers and the world around us.
Here is what one practi tion er has to say about her practice of
I lru idry:
Eight times a year I stand in circlewith my grove of friends and
fellow Druids as we celebrate the wheel of the year. As the sea-
sons turn, so our circle mens. Our hands reach out and touch as
the light grows in strength and as darkness takes a turn, to grow
and recede. At the darkest point, the light returns, and at the
brightest moment, darkness begins to grow. In darkness I look
up to see the belt of Orion and his blue dog Siri us, or the Seven
Sisters, and know I too am pan of their ancient story.
When I celebrate the seasons, I find fellowship in the min-
era], plant, animal and human community. For me the practice
of Druidry is a way oflooking at life which allows a place forall.
Step by stcp this has allowed me to in tcgrnr e many facets in my
life story, to widen the circl e of my self acceptance. I have devel-
oped a livelihood which has evolved from my Druid studies. I
have a framework for poli rict l and social actions. My hope for
the future lies in the resilience I have experienced in the natu-
ral world.
Pilgrimage and Sacred Sites
In addition to any practice a Drui d mig ht incorporate into
I heir everyday lives, there may also be times when it seems
important to make a special jou rney. T he call to go on a pil-
grimage has been felt by people of all spiritual t radi tions
throughout history. In times of crisis or stagnat ion, or to mark
special event s, or simply in response to an inner urge, Druids
wi ll go on pil grimages. T his may be as simple as taking a long
walk in t heir local landscape, in a spirit of reverence and 'quest-
ing' - seeki ng solace o r inspiration not simply in the attractions
of the countryside and the physica l exercise, hut th rough the
process of walki ng co nsciously on the sac red earth.
A pil grimage mi ght also be mote ambitious, journeying per-
haps to one of the old places - visiti ng ancesrral lands, travelling
to t he sour celands of Druid ry, sitti ng in sto ne circles, wal king
the old tracks. allowing oneself to dream. to travel in time and
space. and seek new d irection not th rough rat ional thou ght. but
th rough movi ng one's body in space and t ime . and connect ing
to sources of power and spi ritual nou rishment .
A spiri t ual path also ofTers t he indi vidual seeker a co mmu-
ni ty of fellow-travel lers who arc insp ired by t he same ideas an d
values. In Drui dry individuals o ften gather ill groups which
arc kno wn as groves, just as in Wieca they arc known as
covens, and in C h rist ianity as co ng rega tions . A grove of
Druids may number just a few peopl e or several dozen or
more. They may meet as often as t hey wish - usuall y once a
fortnight or so. Toget her t hey enact ceremon ies, cele brate t he
fest ivals, and orga nize camps or jourueys to sacred sites . T he
In t ernet enables grove members to kee p in tou ch wit h each
ot her in their own web-based for ums or by email. Some groves
are affi liated wit h parti cul ar Dru id orders, ot he rs arc ind e-
pendent wit h ind ividual members belo ngi ng to d ifferent
'orders or non e at all. For t hose orders wh ich ofTer in iti ati ons,
groves provid e th e perfect . co mmunity (0 enact such
ceremo nies.
Each grove will difTer in at mosphere. depending upon the
peopl e involved, an d although they will have t heir ups and
down s. disagreeme nts and schisms. as will any group, often a
grovc develops a strong sense of tr ibal loyalty, offeri ng support
EXCERPT FROM A MARRIAGE CEREMONY OF THE
ORDER OF BARDS, OVATES AND DRUIDS
Michael and Jane, do you bring your symbols of these
Gr eat Mysteries of Life?
75 WHAT DO DRUIDS DO?
to members in t imes of difficulty and providing a deep sense of
m mpanionshi p on th e spirit ual journey.
Each of the ma jor t urning poi nts in life is an init iation in
itself and is profound ly signiflc.1nt, physically, psycho logically
.rnd spiri tua lly. Birt h, pubert y or corning into adult hood. mar-
ri.lge and death can all be experienced as di fficult or tra umati c,
or as gateways into new realms of experience. Spiri tual rradi -
t ions have always recognized this. O ne of t he problems caused
hythe increasing secu larization ofsociety is that these events arc
often no lon ger set wi thi n a properly mea ningful context, when
part of us yearns to honour these special times in a spiritual way.
Dru id ry offers ceremonies for na ming children. weddings
.IIld fune rals. Some Drui ds arc developing rites for young
peopl e to celebra te their transit ion in to ad ulthood. And ritu als
Me being evolved to mark the time of separation or di vorce,
helping to release the creative po tent ial of t hi s moment rather
than leaving it unmarked , to be remembered o nly as a t ime of
diffi culty or sadness . .
Druidess: All things in Nature are circu lar - night becomes
day, day becomes night and night beco mes day again. The
moon waxes and wanes and waxes again. There is Spring,
Summer, Autumn, Winter and then the Spring ret urns.
These things are part of the Great Myster ies.
WHAT DD DRUID S DD? 74
" ..... , "'v ..... v . ... v ... v .
Jane and Michael : We do.
Druid: Then before all present repeat these word s.
Jane (faci ng Michael and handi ng him the ring): Accept in
freedom thi s circle of gold as a token of my vows. Wit h it I
pledge my love, my strength and my friendship. I bring you
joy now and for ever. I vow upon this Holy Earth that
through you I honour all men.
Michael (faci ng Jane and handing her the ring) : Accept in
freedom thi s circle of gold as a token of my vows. With it I
pledge my love, my strength and my friendship. I bring you
joy now and for ever. I vow in the face of Heaven that
through you I honour all women.
Jane: In the name of Brighid" I bring you the warmth of my
heart (Jane is handed a lighted taper by her mother or
female participant).
Michael: In the name of Aengus mac Oq" 1bring you the
light of my love. (Michael is handed a lighted taper by his
father or male participant).
They both light a single candle together. (This candle could
be kept and relit at each anniversary.)
Al l: May the warmth and the light of your union be blessed.
Druid: Do you swear upon the Sword of Justice" to keep
sacred your vows?
Jane and Michael: We swear.
Druidess: Then seal your promi se with a kiss.
Druid: Beneficent Spirits and Souls of our Ancestors,
accept the union of your children. Help them, guide them,
protect and bless their home and the children born of their
union. May their life together reflect the harmony of all life in
its perfect union. May they work together in times of ease
and times of hardship, knowing that they are truly blessed.
From this time forth you walk together along life's path; may
your way be blessed."
"Notes: Brighid is an Irish goddess of healing, srnithcraft
and poetry, Aengus mac Og is a god of love. Couples may
choose different gods or none. The Sword of Justice is a
ceremonial sword symbolic of King Arthur 's Excalibur. The
final blessing comes from a Breton Druid ceremony.
9
Stories and Lore
We have come so far that all the old stories whisper once mo re.
Robert Duncan
T he ritual used in the rites of passage and seaso nal ceremoni es
of Druidry is design ed to help parti cip ants experience a level of
awa reness an d feeling t ha t is rich er th an normal. Instead of
conveying just intellectual content it uses symbol, metaphor
and movement. A psych ologist would say th at t his appeals to
t he non -dominant hemisphere of the brain that processes art
and music as opposed to logic, lang uage and mathemati cs. A
mystic wo uld say th at ritu al opcns us to a n experience of the
spiri tual dimension of life.
In addition to rit ual, Druidry makes use of stories, aphorisms
and lore to convey much of its essential teachings. T he apho-
risms tend to foll ow a three-part pattern and ate known as
'Triads'. Many tr iads were originally used by ba rds as a
mnemonic aid for rememhering and co mpos ing their poems
and stories, bu t othe rs ate clearl y designed to st imulate enquiry
an d offer counsel. In Ireland collect ions of tr iads can be found
fro m the nint h cent ury, in Wales from th e thirteenth century.
Many are simply lists of threes - the th ree fairs of Ireland, the
three forts of Ireland, the three ar de nt lovers of the island of
Britain, and so on. BUl every so often, one shines OUt with its
wisdom, displaying an almost oriental simplicity. Here arc some
examples from early Irish and Welsh t riads:
There are three[oundations ofwisdom: discretion in learning,
memory in retaining and eloquence in te/ling.
Three s;g1ls ofW;Sd011': patience, closeness, the gift of
prophecy.
l bree things hardfor a person to do completely: know themselves,
conqller their appetite, and kt'ep their secret.
Three counsels ofthe y ellow bird: do 1I0t grieve greilt/y
about what bas happened, do not believe tohat cannot be,
and do not desire tobat cannot be obtained.
There are three springs ofknow{edge: reason, phenomenon
and necessity.
The three pillars ofachievement: a daring aim;[requenr
practice, andplenty ofjizilures.
Over t he last two hundred years , and as a cont inuing tradi -
lion today, more tr iads have been created , and it is one of t he
I hallen ges for st udents of Druidry to try creat ing their own.
The anima l, plant and t ree lore of t he Dru ids has been devcl-
upcd in the modern era from a st udy of fol klore and literatu re.
lhe Roman wri ter Pliny wrot e thar the Druids revered four
plants parti cul arl y: ver vai n, selago (an eve rgreen cl ub moss,
probably heath cypress), sa mo lus (probably marsh wort ) and
mistl etoe. T he D ruids told Pliny that vervain sho uld be gat h-
Il'd when Sirius is ri sing. when neither the sun nor the 11100n
.ui be seen in the sky. Honey and honeycombs must be olTered
III the earth, and th en t he Druid must draw a circle wit h an iron
A medieval tale about sacred wells offers a good example of
i hc way in which modern Druids usc old sto ries to illuminate
I heir understanding of life and feed t heir desire for mythi c
nourishment. It is found in ' L'Elucidarion', an anonymous pro-
logue to Chret ien de Troyes' rwelfrh-cenr ury 'Conte del Graal' .
The sto ry tell s how tr avellers in Logres, also kno wn as
Merlin's Enclos ure, o r th e Isle of Britain, would pause for
refreshment beside the old sacred springs and wells that could
he found t hro ugh out t he land. As th ey t ied their ho rses, or
walked wear y from their journey to scat themselves beside the
water, damsels wo uld appea r as if from th e O t he rwo rld.
Without a word they wo uld serve th e tr avellers with food and
drink, drawi ng water from t he wel ls to pour into golde n

The land fl ourished as if ir were a paradise on earth, until the
day black clouds gathe red ang rily in the sky and violent winds
tore the leaves and branches from the trees. It was t hen that
King Amangons arrived at a sacred well. As the damsel of the
waters handed him a goblet, filled to th e brim with the purest
of heal ing draught s, he looked first at her comely form, and
then at t he golden vessel. Without a word he decided t ha t both
would become his property, and he rook hold of the damsel,
rapin g her beside the well , befor e riding back to his castle with
bot h her and the goblet in his possession.
The kn igh ts of Amangons, on seeing the t rophi es of t heir
king, rode out inro the count ryside , raping the women of the
wells and stealing th eir vessels wherever th ey could find t hem,
unt il none were left to sustain tr avell ers and preserve t his
.uicienr tradition. From this moment , the land was struck by
drought. It became a wastel and that could only be restored to
lcrriliry wh en t he Holy Grail was found. As th e origina l sto ry
,.' ys: ' T he Kingdom was turned to loss, the land was dead and
..... ... ... ... ... . ... - ....... ...
implement around the plant before pulling it out of th e ground
with rhe left hand and raising ir in the air. Then the leaves, root
and stem should be separated and dried in th e shade . Today
Druids use vervain as an incense, add it to a bath, place it on all
altar or keep it in the bed room to bring peace and protecti on !o
th e home. It can also be drunk as a tea to lower fever and to
clea nse the kidneys and liver.
Writings on t he Ogham tree alphabet of th e Druids have
helped to bui ld a who le body of lore associared wit h tr ees. As
an example, the birch tr ee is known as th e ' pioneer tree' since
it is often th e first tree in th e natural creation of a for est. And
so it is taken to represent birth, beginnings. newness and th e
spi rit of pioneering. For this reason it is conside red auspicious
if bi rch appears in a reading whe n using Ogham as a method
of di vinati on. Appropriatel y, birch was used to make babies'
cradles.
Similarly, a body of animal lor e has evolved, based on folk-
lore and mythology, and t his, too, has been used to create a
method of divination (see page III for details of animal and tree
oracles). As an example, a large amount of folk wisdom has
gathered around the bee, ro such an extent th at an adage foulld
in tales fro m the Sco ttish Hi ghlands runs, 'Ask the wild bee
what the Druids kn ew'. Bees are associated with t he sun, wi th
mead (used as a sacred drink in Druid rituals) and wi t h the idea
of living and wo rking harmoniously together.
T he tr aditional practi ce of throwing coins in wishing wells
can be tra ced back to the time of t he ancient Celrs, wh en wells
and springs were co nside red sacred, and as places to co ntact the
O t herwo rld. Today people still visit t he holy wells of Cornwall
nnd l reland and th row coins into the wells, saying pr ayers to 5t
Brighid, the Christ ianized form of the Celtic goddess Brigh id,
who is revered by many Druids today.
AND LORE 8 1
desert as that it was scarce worth a couple of hazel -nuts. For
they lost th e voi ces of the wel ls and the damsels that were
therein.'
Althou gh over eight hundred years old, thi s story speaks to
the modern mind with an uncanny urgency. echo ing our con-
cern s abour the rap e of th e bi osphere and o f t he resul ti ng
wastel and that we arc creating around us,
0'
~ I U t l t ~ A I'l U L Ut<r:.
10
Learning Druidry
Training in the bardic tradition is where new seekers begin by
learning how to listen and truly hear the voice of the spirit, and
so to recover the ancient songs and stories or the an cest or s and
nature.
Philip Shallcross and Emma Restall Orr, A Druid Directory
Druidry as an Individual Path
Some peopl e arrracred to Druidism join a group or OHler to fur-
ther their st udies or spiritual development. Many more simply
begin to adopt Druid beli efs and practices because they find
Ihat they reflect feelin gs and beliefs th ey already hold about
life, When they read or hear abour Druidism they experience a
sense of familiarity - as if t hey knew these ideas already, and
Ihey just needed to hear th em fully art iculated from t he 'out-
,.ide to recognize what they already knew ' inside'.
Druidi sm places great emphasis on respecting each indi vid -
u.il's spiritual integrity, so there are no practi ces whi ch must be
f" llowed in order to be considered a Druid, T here is no sense of
85
LEARNI NG DRUIDRY
yo u arc using the internet to research a Course, find OUt abo ut
the organization offering it . If they have a message board or
Internet for um yo u could browse that for a whi le. too. to pick
up the atmosphe re. alt hough only cert ain ki nds of people use
message boards, and on their own they canno t be taken as com.
plet ely representative of a group. Common sense co mbined
with in tui tion and d iscrimi nat ion should guide you to the
course t hat is right for YOIl.
The importa lll thi ng to remember is t hat following such a
course. if it is to be more than simply the intellectual st udy of
a subject. will have an effect on yo ur sp irit ual and psychol ogi_
cal life. so you need to feel comforta ble with it. and with being
.lSsociated with the organi7-'l tion that offers it.
You'lI find that most distance-learning teaching is offered
not by an indi vidu al. but by an 'order' . T his helps to avoid a
person ali ty cult devel oping aro und any parti cular reacher, T he
term 'orde r' is der ived from the tradition of magical orders of
die nin et eenth cel1tury.23 rather tha n from the idea of Christian
rdigious orders.
The great adval1tage in taking a home-learn ing co urse is that
vou can choose the dep th of engagement t hat suits you. You
III .rystart wit h a ten tati ve explorat ion of the subject. then grad-
II "IIy open yourself to a deeper illvolvemel1t with the exercises
lid ideas presenred, confident in the knowledge that you C1n
I aside such a Course at any time .
I li stan ce learning has man y adval1tages: you can follow a
111ll'SC at yo ur Own pace, you can study wherever you arc in the
\\<ol ld , you can work in the quiet and privacy of yo ur own
1" 1II e without havin g to travel. alld now _ wid, th e Internet _
tn Can receive the suppor t and advice of fellow st udents and
ICil lOrs around the globe. Even so. some people find that in
lcr to learn they need to ma ke conmcr wi th other people _

obligat ion to celebrate ever yone of the eight festi vals. for exam-
pl e. Being a Dru id or foll owing the way of Druidism. is at
heart an att it ude of mind. broadl y based upon th e beli efs
already outl ined. t hat seeks th e developme nt and expression of
love. creat ivity and wisdom. How each pers on chooses to live
from t his fun dament al attit ude towards life is t he choice an d
responsibility of t ha t ind ividu al. and no one else. Some choose
to t reat Druidism as the ir religion as well as t heir phi losop hy of
life. O the rs choose to pr acti se a d ifferent reli gi on. suc h as
Christianity. Budd hi sm or Wicca. while still hold ing to t he
co re beliefs and principles of Druidi sm.
T hose who follow Druidry wi t hout heing affiliated wit h any
parti cu lar group. usually buil d their practice and follow their
st udies th rou gh reading books. browsing t he Web. and perhaps
through attending workshops or retreats, or participating ill
online di scussion forums. While t hi s approach is appea ling
since it allows Il exihility, ma ny people find that they need "
more structured approach. or sense the need for some sort of
guidance in their spiritual practi ce and studies. For ( !t OM'
people. a number of home-study courses and tr ain ing pro
gra mmes now exist. Unt il 1988 t he only way that you could
follow a cours e of st udy in Druid ry, or trai n in it as a spiritua l
practice. was to find a reacher to learn directly from. T his meant
that only a very small nu mber of people followed Druidism. 1'01
example I know of only two teachers who were t raining peopl
in Britain in t he 1970" Ross Nichols and T ho mas Maughan.
Today a number of home-study courses exist. and these C UI
be explored th rou gh the co ntacts suggeste d in t he Rcsou nrv
and Contacts section. Discrimination is needed. since !1owad:lp
anyone with a home computer can set up a course and offer II
on the Internet . The best way to find a course that sui ts you "
to take time to read the introductory mat erial t horoughly. II
Even though D ruid ry is not taugh r by 'gurus' . peopl e drawn
to teaching roles arc not immune from the need for arrenrion,
approval and affect ion, and rhere is always the possibili ty rhar a
particular teacher's unresolved emotional issues might result in
physically, not virtually. T hey know t hat th ey learn best wh en
intera cting with ot hers; and there is a t remendous appeal in the
idea of finding a spiri tua l teacher who can directl y and person-
ally help us in our quest for wisdo m and spirit ual development .
Dru id ry is not a spirit uality that is co nveyed by 'gurus' who
require the dcvori on of di sciples who must accept thei r every
wo rd. Instead it is tau ght by those wh o arc th emselves seekers
on a path whi ch is bein g cont inually developed. Mall Baker, the
founder and head teacher of a school in Arizona that focuses on
the creative arts, writ es:
For me the Druid path is a means to create a healthy balanced
self in which the higher realizatio ns of spiritual development
can he brought down and iurcgmtcd into the personality. The
last fort y YCOl f S of spiritual experimentation in the West has
brought many examples or gurus that obviously had some kind
ofspiritual realizat ion , but whose 111 0ral development and cha r-
acrer were not of a level that was helpful to their community.
Druidry docs not produce these kinds of gurus. It produces
leaders. artists. healers. and spiritual reachers. who even if they
arc charismatic in personality. defer to the innerwisdomof rhe
tradition and the inner teacher in (heir fellow Druids as being
the real source of truth. Inthe end, forme, Druidryhas been a
practical path that embr aces the worldview that life is evolving.
the soul is immortal, and we and ourfellow creat ures arcall pan
of the divine sacred process that is and has been unfolding
around us and through LIS since time began.
87
LEARNI NG DRUIDRY
them consciously or unconsciously manipulating Of exploit ing
their st udents, T he f.1 miliar way ofexpressing thi s idea is to cau-
rion that thei r ego mi ght get in the way of rheir teaching. From
a student's point of view. th e only safeguard is their co mmon
sense, intuition and abili ty to be di scriminating.
Ar the present rime there are few teach ers of Druid ism. and
the likelihood of finding on e close to yo u may well be remote.
If you do come across one, ask them lot s ofquesti ons: how they
train ed in Druidi sm . how long they have been st udying. what
their aims and intentions are, and more. Listen carefully to
their replies and be cautious if yo u sense pomposity, evasion.
f.1 nt asy or delusion. A spirit ual reacher should di spl ay the cha r-
act erist ics of naturaln ess, humil ity and humour a, well as the
qualit ies of depth. ser iousness and integriry.
Rath er than finding an indi vidual Druid reacher to learn
from. yo u arc more likely to he able to find a gro up, which is
either affiliated to a Druid order or wh ich fun ct ion s independ-
ently. Here you will probabl y find a strong sense ofcommunity.
and a gro up of peopl e wh o each have so met hing to reach yo u
about Dru idism. O ne or more mem bers of the gro up may have
a st rong person ality and new members may place the m on a
pedestal for a whi le. Over time. thou gh. the st ar-st ruck new-
comer will usually become awa re of the weaknesses as wel l as
the strengt hs ofany dominant personali ty in t he gro up, and wi ll
then come to appreciate tha t following the Druid path depends
upon our becoming more sel f-rel iant rat her than less so.
Wheth er you learn from a course. a reach er or a gro up. t here
ix one other source of learning that it is vital to draw upon .
Druidism is based upon a love of Na ture - to such an extent
rhar it is some ti me s called a Na ture or Eart h religion. Dru ids
view Nature as a perpetual source of physical and spirit ual nour-
ishment, which can teach us as well as inspire us.
LEARNING DRU IDRY 86
What we learn from the natural world may be intellectual -
gained from the observation of animals, plants and the weather
for example. Or it may be subtler - the kind of learn ing that
deepe ns the soul and which cannot be rationally explained, that
comes from sleeping out under the stars, medi tating in a cave or
conte mplating a river or the ocean. Both kinds of learning arc
needed in order to follow the Druid way, and any training in
Druidry needs to be firmly grounded withi n this wider school
of experience.
11
The Practical Value of
Following Druidi sm
What attracts people to Druidism is what has at t ract ed people
(Q all forms of mystery schools throughout the :tgcs. It is the
search forgreater understanding, fordeeperexperiences, and for
communion with the god/Jess or Higher Self within. They
turn rothe nourishment andsupport of the age-old W' lyS, which
reach thar we arc nor separate from Na ture, but part of ir.
Daniel Hansen. American Druidism
Orient at ion and Direction
Life in the modern world can be a confusing experience and
there arc so many ways in which we can be distracted and dis-
oriented. One of the great advantages of following a spir itual
path lies in its ability to ofTer a sense of or ientat ion and di rec-
tion. A core belief in Druidry is that we are meant to be on
Earth , and that we should focus on being here now, rath er than
focusing on an 'exit strategy' to escape the illusion of the world,
or ensure our place in Heaven. This belief provides us with a
strong sense of belonging in the world, and a feeling of
so THE PRACTICAL VALUE OF FOLLOWING ORU IOISM
participation in life rath er than isolation or detachment from it.
This orientat ion opens the way for us to exper ience the qualities
of community, trust, responsibi lity, empowerment and
integri ty.
In addi tio n to this purposeful sense of being in the world ,
Druid ry enco urages the development of a sense of 'presence' ,
and of being ' grounded' and 'cent red' in one's body and in the
wor ld. It docs this by working with the circle and the directions
in ritual and meditati on . A circle is cast either pbysically with a
wand or hand, or in the imaginati on, and then each of the four
cardinal direct ions arc faced and greeted. Sometimes a further
two directions arc acknowledged: above and below. T hen the
centre is acknowledged. This simple series of actions has the
eflccr of reinfo rcing our aware ness of being in the worl d, and
gives LIS a strong sense of orientation.
We need to know where we are, bu t we also need to know
where we arc going. Druidry aims to provide us with a sense of
direct ion as well as orientation. Its main goals - the cultivation
of Wisdom, Love and Creativity - provide Druids wit h a pow-
erful sense of purpose. Withi n these broad aims many related
goals and direct ions can be pursued. For example, a Druid
work ing towa rds the cultivation of thei r creativity may set their
sights on learni ng to play the harp, or on raking writing classes.
Another Drui d, working on the cult ivation of Love, may decide
to focus on developing their love of trees, by spending time in
the forest, getti ng to know and relate to each species there.
Havi ng too many goals can be a distract ion in itself, but by
ofTering the three broad goals of Love, Wisdo m and Creativit y,
Druidry aims to give each Drui d sufficient directi on to gener -
ate a sense of purpose, and wi th th is co mes ent husiasm,
cur iosity and a sense of adve nt ure. The myths it uses as source
material are steeped in these qu alities. T he qu est for the salmo n
THE PRACTI CALVALU E OF FOLLOWING ORU IDISM ql
of wisdo m in the old Irish tales, the quest for the three drops of
Awen (Inspirati on) in the Welsh stoty ofTaliesin, and the quest
for the Holy Gra il in its many different versions all powerfully
evoke the excitement and adve nt ure of the spi ritual quest.
In each of these three myths, inspirat ion is sought - and
found. We need inspirati on in our lives to help generate a sense
of awe and wonder, and to give us ideas and energy. The quest
for it is central to Drui dry, and in the T.11e of Talicsin, it is
depi ct ed as an elixir, called Awen. Much of Dr uid practice is
concerned with stimulating the flow of Awen in our lives: the
wo rd is chanted or sung in ceremo nies to attract inspiratio n to
us, and ritual, meditation and storytelling are all designed to
stimulate its flow.
Belief in Awen comes from the understandi ng that there is
more to life than the world of appearances, and that inspi ra-
tion - ideas, energy, messages - can enter our hearts, mi nds and
bodi es from sources beyon d us. These sources may emanate
from the wo rld of nature, or from ot her beings - ancestors,
natu re spirits, spir itual guides . and Deity or de ities. Many
peopl e, when they experi ence inspirat ion, sense it as a flow of
energy whic h is somehow ' impersonal' or 'transpersonal'. They
arc often astonished at the creative result s when they learn how
to 'get out of the way' and let thi s inspiratio n flow.
In addi tion to learning how to cultivate Awen, Druids also
seck to develo p the flow of Nwyfre in their bodies. Nwyfre is
I he life force that flows thro ugh the Universe. Nature is the
great source of this energy, and Druids seck to cultivate Nwyfre
by spend ing time outdoors, communing wit h what theysense
.IS the great primal forces of earth, rain, wi nd, sun, I110CHl and
stars. Whi le Awe n brings creative energy and inspi ration to our
heart s and minos, Nwyfre brings energy and healt h to our
bodi es.
92 TH E PRACTIC AL VA LUE OF FOLLOWING DRUID I SM
However successful we may be in life, and however effective
. we might be in IInding Awen and Nwyfre, events sometimes
occur which can leave us in real need of support . A loved one
might die or leave us. Illness or some other di fficult y might
occur, and suddenly all the good health and creative inspiration
we may have gathered can seem scattered to the four winds,
leaving us bereft and suffering.
A test of the value of a spiritual path lies in the degree to
which it is able to offer support in such circumstances. A spiri-
tuality needs to offer us a sense of community that we can turn
to in times of need, and as Druidry grows in popularity such a
community is developing - all over the world. Those lucky
enough to have a grove of Druids nearby arc able to turn to
them for support. Although it is much harder for those who arc
isolated , the Internet can provide a sense of co mmunity, as
many of the part icipants of Druid Int ernet forums have found.
In addition to a sense of community, we also need wise coun-
sel when we are living th rough difficult times. This may be
provided by fellow Druids, but it can also be found in Druid
teachings and writings whi ch have as their aim the fostering
of wisdom , love and a creat ive engage ment with life and its
difficulties.
When we are goi ng th rough a di fficult ti me, advice and
insight from friends and from books can be a great help. But
somet imes not hing they call tell us seems to relieve our sufler-
ing. It's as if the crisis is making us turn within - to go deeper
than our surface personality to try to lind some mea ning in
our problem. Dr uids believe that we have a soul, or inner spir-
itual Self, that is wiser than our everyday personality, and that
we can receive guidance from this part of ourselves if we learn
how to still the outer mind.
O ne of the purposes of training in Druidry is to do this: to
THE PRACTIC AL VAL UE OF FOLLOWING DRUIDI SM 93
gain access to sources of support and nouri shment for the soul
that exist beyond the reach of our everyday personalities _ either
deep withi n us or in the Otherworld, where we can receive
inspiration, guidance, healing and counsel.
Being of Value to Others and the World
Druidi sm docs not enco urage us to focus excl usively on our
own spiritual development. Dr uids care deeply about the state
of the world - abou t the suffering of humans and animals, and
of Mother Earth. The bel ief that many Druids hold in the
importance of peace, and in the principle of ' harmlessness',
influences their actions profoundly, and mos t Dr uids arc
involved in initi atives to protect the cnvironme nt. Some may
simply cont ribute to Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. Ot hers
may be more actively involved in try ing to protect certai n
species or habitats. Most will support tree-planting and refor-
estat ion projects, and the maxim 'think globally, act locally' has
been taken to heart by many Druids, who are involved in local
community initiatives to protect and improve the environment.
with material from a variety of world religions and esoteric tra-
ditions. But from the 1960s Druids began tur ni ng to different
sources of inspirati on - in parti cular Celtic studies and arche-
typal psychology. Some, especially in America, have rejected
the previous few centur ies of Revivalism as aber rant and have
tried to create a Druidism based solely upon histori cal aut hen-
tici ty. Others, mostly in Britain, have at tempted to incorporate
new material, whil e retaining element s of the Drui d Revival
that they feel arc effective, arguing that many spiritual tradi tions
and varieties of religion arc of recent origin, and were intro-
du ced with 'creation myths' that were less t han accurate
hisrorically.-?
By doin g this, a process of reclaiming histor y has begun
whi ch is set to accelera te in th e coming years. As Revival
Druidry is explored, rath er than weakening its claim to be
authenti c, Druidism is likely to develop an even stronger sense
of tradition and pride in its heritage. This will undoubtedly be
helped by a major five-year study of the last three hundred
years of Druidism, du e for completion in 2008. fund ed by the
government's Arts and Humanities Research Board, which is
being car ried ou t by the histor y dcpar trncn r of Bristol
University.
This process of strengtheni ng a sense of tradi tion is likely 10
co ntinue in another area which has' attracted criticism in the
past: the association between modern-day Druids and stone
circles. Although there is no historical evidence that the Druids
built megalithi c monuments, the facr is that modern Druids
love stone circles and like to perform ceremo nies in them. For
the last lWO hundred years they have been creat ing them and
celebrating in them. In Wales stone circles arc often built for the
Eisteddfod celebrations, and one of the most well-known exam-
ples of a mod ern circle stands in a field used each year for the
12
Druidry in the Future
The approaching transformation requires people, groups. and
com munities to be ready to preserve legacies for the future, so
that as the vast tot tering structure orindustrial civilization
co mes apart. seeds can be planted that wilt hear fruit in times to
come. I suggest that the Druid community prepare itself to fill
that role, and to save and plant those seeds.
John Michael Greer. Druidry aud the
Towards the end of the rwcnricrh cent ury Druidism moved out
of the shadows of obscurity, and began to take its place amongst
the ranks of seriously considered spiritual rr:{ditions. Until then
it had existed on the margins of acceptance because there was a
lack of understanding of its history. identity and pot ential value.
'Critics argued that it was an invented traditi on since an
un bridgeable chasm of over a thousand years separated ancient
Druids from the Revival Druids of the seventeenth and later
cent uries. 1010 Morganwg had fabricared most of the material
used by the fraternal and cultural Druids, and those who were
trying to practise a Druidism that offered a path of spiritual
development were in reality simply combining the work ofl olo
DRU IDRY IN THE FUTURE
95
Research int o the recent history of Druidry is likely to shed
furt her light on many of the outsranding figures in the Druid
movement over the last three hu ndr ed years who have been
In building their case against modern Druidry, [the archaeolo-
gists] Kendrick, l'iggon, Atkinson and Daniel all made great
play wit h the fact that ancient Druids could no longer be defi-
nitely credited either with building the monument or with
officiati ng within it. They were, however, scrupulous enough to
recogn ise two difficulties. The first is that prehj stor jans have so
Iar been unable to determine how far contin uities of religious
tradit ion and practice did or did ncr exist through the periods
between the Neolithic and the Iron Age. The seco nd is that
. there is some evide nce for activi ty in and around Ston ehenge
du ri ng d1C Iro n Age itself. It may be tha t, whet her o r not
modern Dru ids ever make a significant reappea rance at the
monument, ancient Druids could yet be f.1 tcd to do so. 26
Glastonbury music festival. Tho ugh some Druids (and their
critics) conrinue CO de ny the validity of th is by-now traditional
act ivity, mo st enjoy it.
It is also possible that the fut ure may prove that their spiri -
tual forebears did indeed huild circles, since some academi cs arc
now poi nt ing to a new sense of continuity in the genet ics and
culture of the British, wit h the reject ion of the idea of a Celtic
' invasio n' that introduced Druidism a thousand years after the
last circles had been buil t. T his school of thought makes it pos-
sible co see the Druids as the pr iests and priestesses of these
ancie nt monuments, a tende ncy reinforced by the increasing
recognition of the importance of rit ual astronomy in their con-
struction.
Recently, Professor Ronald Hutton has written:
97 DRUI DRY IN TH E FUTURE
poli tical radicals and non -conformists. As the environment al
and economic challenges that face the world become increas-
ingly urgent, we need spirit ual approaches that encourage a
social conscience and the audacity to rhink radically. With its
history of thinkers who have championed social and economic
justice it is not surprisi ng that Druidry today att racts environ-
mental activists and social reformers, and this trend is likely to
cont inue. Aut hor Brendan Myers focuses on the value of
Druidry in his Dangerous Religion - Environmental Spirituality
IlIId Its Activist Dimension, John Michael Greer, Chief of the
Ancient Order ofDruidsin America, has begun to speak openly
about the serious difficulties the world will face when the supply
of oil runs out, 27 and ant i-globalizat ion campaigners draw
inspi rati on from a spiritual tradition that has championed rad-
ical approaches to injustice - from the days when Dr uid leaders
supported the Chart ists to modern times when Dr uids support
environmental and road-protes t campaigns.
Dr uidry's radical stance extends to the politics of the body
and sexuality. For at least three generat ions significant Druid
leaders in England have supported the cause of Naturism -
believing that nudism can bri ng one int o closer contact wit h
Nature.
28
More recently, in Ame rica, some Druids have pointed
to the ancient Celts' accepta nce of mul tiple sexual relationshi ps
to advocate the pract ice ofpolyamory'i-" Not all Druids would
accept that being naked or no n-monogamous is connected with
Druidism, bu t a liberal and tolerant spirit character izes the
modern Druid, and it is unlikel y that they would be upset by
the practice of either activi ty amo ngst consenting adults.
Despite the genera lly tolerant at mosphere in which most
Druidry is conducted, there can be strong differences of opin-
ion - expressed eit her through Intern et message boards or in
discussion. Those who treat Druidry as a nco-Pagan religion can
DRU IDRY I N THE FUTURE
se
find it hard to underst and how anyo ne can foll ow bot h
Druidism and Christianity. T hose who reject the cont ribut ions
of Revival Druidism and strive towards an approach whi ch is
called ' Cel tic Reconstructi onism' can be baffl ed as to wh y
someo ne mig ht want to recit e a prayer that was most likely
fabri cat ed in the eighteent h cent ury. T hose who find no need 10
include concepts of deity or deities in their spiritual life can find
it hard to empathize with the approa ch of a Druid who per-
forms devot ionals to specific deiti es. Some Dru ids are attract ed
to the idea of Druidi sm as a Universalist phil osophy that sees
the commonalities in all faiths, while others find this alien, and
seek instead to practise Druidry as a magical craft or phil osoph y
whi ch is specific rather than un iversal.
Druids in Britain view with bcmuscmenr American ancmpts
to construct a religion that bases itself on a church model, com-
plet e with legal regist ration as a church, pages of by-laws and
clergy-training programmes, since part of Druidry's appeal for
them lies in its dissimil ari ty to the churc h, and its avoida nce of
regulati on s and di srincrion s between clergy and laity. Some
Americans in their turn find British Druidry oddly unstruc-
tured and laisscz-faire.
For the most part each different approach to Druidry simply
go!o=s about its busin ess without paying too much at te ntion to
the other approa ches. Fraterna l and cultural druids exist in sep-
arate worlds, and the Celtic Rcconsrru cti on isr and American
religious groups generally ignore the majority of Briti sh publ i-
cations and groups and vice versa, perh aps out of tacit
disapp roval of each other's approaches, perhaps because they are
just busy enough as it is. An interesting project for the future
,would be to bring together these di fferent viewpoint s to explore
their commo nalities and differences.
T here are strong precedents for such a project. O ver the last
fift een years a number of dialogues have been ini tiated to
explore common ground and miscon ception s. The widespr ead
belief that Druidism is pat riarchal or suitable only for men has
been substantially eroded thanks to wo men's involvement in
Druidry. Women now lead groups, write books on femini ne
perspectives in the tradition , and form over half the member-
ship of most Druid gro ups. Unt il recently both Christians and
Wi ccan s ofte n felt that Dru idry was alien to the m. But a
number of Christian and Druid co nfe rences host ed by an
Anglican and a Cat holic priest in the early 1990s, and a
Christ ian, Wi ccan and Dru id conference held in 1996 has
helped to build br idges. A type of pract ice, termed Druid'Crafi,
that combines Druidry and Wicca (also known as 'the Craft' )
has evolved, and Christians who also filllow Druidism as a spir-
itual path have begun to speak up - writing articles and creating
webpages.30 .
Druidrys strength lies in its inclusivity and its tolerance of diver-
sity. Just as Nature is generous and biodiversity is a sign of hcalrh,
so in the worlds of culture and spirituality di fferences of opi nion
create a healthy and exot ic environment , with the pot enti al for
the cross-fert ilization of ideas. Druidry is nOI simply Pagani sm,
or religion or ph ilosophy - it can be each of these things and
ot hers besides.
Not everything in the world of Druidry is rosy, however.
One can find a streak of racism in certa in min or and dwindling
expressions of the traditi on . T hese suggest that only ' Celts' can
genui nely foll ow the way of the Druid, and in France have
become associated with nationalist movements and right-wing
politi cs. Such approaches ignore the latest researches in genetics
and culture whi ch show that Celticism is a cultural and not a
racial definition, and ignore too the fact that alt hough Druidry
originally emerged out of a tr ibal context in the lands we now
98 DRUI DRY IN THE FUT URE
DRUIDRY I N T il E FUTURE 99
consider Celtic, its revival in the modern era has allowed it to
spread and flower in a way that makes it accessible to all people
regardl ess of their cultura l or ethnic or igins. Unl ike Nat ive
American orAustralian aboriginal traditions which are practised
by indi genous cultures, Druidry has evolved as a spiritual proj-
ect of the western Euro pean imaginati on that bases itself on
Celtic mythology and lore, but it is not a tribal practice that has
been handed down through the generations. What it loses in
romanti c appeal because of thi s, ir gains in its universal appeal
and relevance to the contemporary situation. It is simply mis-
guided and selfish to attempt to confine irs practi ce to one type
of person.
Another unattracti ve side of Druidism can be found in some
truly awful books thar have been publ ished in rhe last few years.
These range from a misogynistic F.mtasy that pretends to convey
ancient knowledge, to a ti tillati ng manual on gro up 'sex magic'
writte n by someone who claims descent from a lineage of Welsh
Druids.
Bad books and racists are thankfully in the min or ity. In the
last fifreen years the quantit y of publications on Druidry has
soared. Prior to 1990 the probl em was finding a single hook or
art icle on the subject. Now the probl em liesin choosing wh ich
one to read. There arc in- house journals of Dru id groups in
English, Dutch and French and The Druids' Voice magazine,
published by the Briti sh Dru id O rde r, has a broad publ ic
readership.
T he rapid growth of Druidism in the last few decades is
likely to cominue as the environmental crisis deepens, as church
attenda nces decline and as alternative approaches to spirituality
receive more attent ion. Most Druidry is conveyed through the
str ucture of 'orders' - groups that see themselves as Mystery
-Schools or teaching organizations, T his type of struc tu re has
benefi ted thousands of spiritual seekers over the years, but it has
also limited Druidry's appea l. Many peopl e want to practise a
Nature spi rit uality wi tho ut the restri cti on s they fed such a
struc ture implies. An 'order' seems to them old-fashioned, wit h
religi ous overtones. Even though many o rders are far fro m
being old-fashioned and instead encourage non -conformi ty and
eccentricity. by their very nature they require a commitment
and a desire ro join a group that many peopl e do not have. Just
as orders have their place in a number of traditi ons - including
the Christ ian, Buddhist and Sufi - so they will undoubtedly
cont inue to exist in Druidism. But Druidry's greatest challenge
in the futu re will be to find ways of expression that offer an
alternati ve to thi s traditional st ruc ture. Attempt s to create thi s
have already begun: the Druid Ne twork was launched in 2003
to provide a new way of presenting and uniting Druids, relying
solely on the Internet. And in 2005 rhe Avalon College of
Druidry was founded in the USA with the intention of creating
a university specializing in Drui d studies.
It may well be the next generation that evolves other forms
thar speak to the needs of an ever-widening circle of spiritual
seekers. Certainly the next generation will see the first substa n-
tial amount of peopl e in modern times attaini ng adulthood
who have been raised with Druid values, bel iefs and practices.
T hey will have inheri ted a spirit ual path ideally suited to the era
they will be living in: an environmental spirituality that cher-
ishes all life on Eart h, and that seeks to preserve and prot ect it
for the benefit of all beings.
101 DRUIDRY I N THE FUT URE DRUIDRY IN THE FUTURE
100
12 Australi a, De nmark, Finland, Ge rmany, Iceland, No rway, the
Ne therlands, New Zealand, Sur inam, Sweden, Switzerland , the
UK and the USA.
13 'J'hough cultural Druids wereconsiderably embarrassedwhen, in
the 19505, Dr G. J. Williams provided conclusive evidence of
1010's fraud.
14 A'i an example, Charles Graves, the grandfather of Robert Graves
whosebook The White Cor!deSS\or.to; seminal in the revival of inrerest
in Goddess worshipand Paga nism, was an experton the Oghamtree
alphabet, andonearly Irish law. He initiated a Royal Commission to
transcribe and translate this treasure trove of information, which
was published in six volumes between 1865 and 1901.
15 Berresford Ellis, Peter, 71J( Druids, Constable, 1994, PI" 96- 7.
16 Kinsella, T homas, The Tain, Do lmen Press, Dublin, 1969.
17 Email to authorfrom Prof. Ronald Hutton, 28 September2004.
18 See, for example, Michael Newton, jourllty o[Souls: CaseSmdies
o[Lift Between Lives, Llewellyn, 1994.
19 Gard ner. Gera ld, TheMeaning ofWitchcmfi, Aquarian Press, 1959.
20 Geogmphica, IV, 4, 197- 8 (trans. W. Dinan, qu oted in Joh n
Matthews (cd.), 77" DruidSource Book. Blandford, 1997, 1" 18).
21 Myers, Brendan, Dilngert}1tS Religion: EnvironmentalSpirituality
dnd ItsActivist Dimension, Earth Religions Press, 2003.
22 Excerpted and adapted from Internet article 'The Brehon Laws:
Defi ning Ethics and Values for Modern Druid ry' . by Athe lia
Ni ht scada , at www.dr uidnctwork.org
23 Starring wit h 'The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn'.
24 From an Internet ar t icle at http: / / www. aoda.org/an icl cs/
Druidr y.lum.
25 Examples of movements whose ori gin myths have been proved
historically inaccurate, and whose practices and teachings have
been created within the last two hundred years include
Mormonism, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism and Wicca.
26 From the journal British Archaeology, Summer 200 5.
27 Sec Druidry and the Future - An Opm Letter to the Druid
Community by John Michael Greer on www.auda.org/a rticles/
Druidry.htm.
Notes
Personal communication. International Grand Lodge of
Dr uidi sm, Jul y 2005 .
2 Hutton, Ronald. Witch", Drtlids and KingArthur', Harnblcdon
& London, 2003, 1" 258.
3 'American Rel igious Idemificarion Survey', by the Gradu.uc
Center of the City Univers ity of New York, at htt p:// www.gc.
cuny.coll
4 In 2002 the UK's Pagan Federation est imated the number of
UK Pagans to be between 50,000 and 200,000. 38 ,000 people
declared themselves as Pagan in the 200 I Census of Population,
making it the eighth most popular faith ill Britain.
5 Bonewits, Isaac, The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors. Hunters, and
Drummers. Citadel Press, 200 5, 1'. 11.
6 Emai l to author, April 200 5.
7 Caesar, Jul ius, De Hello Gallic, VI, 13-1 8.
8 Ni chols, Ross, 71Je Book o[ Druidry: History. Sites and Wisdom.
T horson s, 1990.
9 Although the majority of cult ura l and fraternal Drui Jry was
practised by the Welsh and El1glish resp<:ct ively, cultural Druidism
didspread in the earlytwentiet h century [0 Brittanyand Cornwall .
andfraternal Oruidry worl dwide.
10 The process of hecoming interested in Celtic sources began under
the chieftainship of Robert MacGregor Reid, bur Ross Nichols
intensified and developed it.
, 11 Prescott, Andrew. 'The Voice Conventional': Druidic Myths ami
Freemasonry, http://www.shef.ac.uk/ -crf/ papers/ druid.htm.
NOTES 103
28 See t he essay ' Clothed wit h the Sky - A Spiritual Form of
Naturism withio Dr oidry' at http://www.dru idry.org, 'The Druid
Tradition', under 'Naturism', 'Skyclad Druidry'.
29 Ellison, Robert , 71" SolitaryDruid, Citadel Press, 2005.
30 Secthesection entitled 'Christians & Druids' under'The Druid
Tradition' at www.dru idry.org.
104 NOTES
Glossary
Alban Arrhan - the Dru id fest ival of the Winter Solstice, loosely
translated as 'The Light of Arthur',
Alban Ei lir - the Druid festival of the Spring Elfuinox, loosely trans-
lated as 'The Ligh t of the Eart h',
Alban Elfed - the Dr uid festi val of the Autumn Equi no, loosely
translat ed as ' The Light ofw', ter',
AJban Hcfin - the Druid fcsriv;1 1of the Summer Sols tice, loosely
translated as 'The Ligh t of the Shore' ,
Awen (Welsh) - inspiration, the gift or blessing of the gods generally,
or the Goddc.o;s Ccridwcn, Patroness of the Bards. specifically.
Equiva lent 10 Imbas(Irish).
Bard- in ancient times, a poet and storyteller who trai ned in a Rudie
college. In modern times, one who sec.s their creativity as an
innate spiri tual ability. and who chooses to nurture that ability
partly or wholly with Druidism.
BeltanelBealreinnc - the Druid festiva] dedieated to celebrat ing
Spring and {he union of God and Goddess. MC;llling " I'hc Coed
Fire', Belranc celebrations usually include leaping over a bonfire.
Celebrated around I May in the north ern hemisphere, I October
in the southern.
Druid - in ancienr times a philosophcr, reacher. counsellurand m i ~
cian, the word probably mcaning 'A Poresr Sagc' or 'Strong Seer'.
Inmodern times, one who follows Druidryas their chosen spiri-
tua] path , or who has entered the Druid level of training in a
Druid O rder,
DruidCraft - a typcof spiritual practice that combines Druidry with
the ' Craft' ufWi cca. or when written with a small 'c' Co1 " refer to
the 'craft' of Druidry.
Eisteddfod (plural Eistcddfodau) - a Bard ic festival and compet ition
of the performing arts, from the Welsh. meanin g 'a session or
assembly'. Usually opened with a Druid ceremony.
Equinox - the times in Spring and Autumn when day and night arc
of equal duration . They represent times of balance and also turn-
ing point s of the year as the seasons change. and arc celebrated in
Druidry with ceremo nies.
Gorsedd (plural Gorsedda u) - a term used ill Welsh Druidry to
describe an Assembly or group of Druids. T he ter m means liter-
ally ' high scat', and origina lly referred to prehi stori c sacred
mounds, which were used as places of assembly for the inaugura-
tion of kings, law-gi ving arid fest ival celebratio n. A Druid
Gorsedd usually opells all Eisteddfod."
ImbolclOimeic - the Druid fest ival of th e Goddess, particula rly
Brighi d, celebrate d around I Februa ry in th e north ern hemi-
sphere, I August in th e southern.
Leghnasadh/Lammas - th e Druid festival of the Harvest, celebrated
aro und I August in the northern hemi sphere. 1 February in the
southern.
Nwyfre - the Druid term for ' Life force' , probably deri ved from an
ancie nt Celtic word ' Naomh' - firmame nt.
Otherworld - the world or reali ty that exists in parallel with the
physical/ everyday world, that we visit somet imes in dreams or
. fneditatio n, and that Druids beli eve we travel to on the dea th of
the ph ysical body.
Ovate - in anc ient times a prophet , seer, healer and di viner. In
modern rimes, one who studies or practi ses hcrbali sm, healing and
divin ation within a Druidic cont ext, or who has entered the Ova te
level of training wi thin a Druid Orde r.
Revival Druidry or 'The Revival Period' - the time during the scv-
cutecnrh to nin eteenth cent uries when Druidism was redi scovered
I and reinvented.
Samhuinn/Samhain - the Druid festival of the Ancestors - a time for
honouring those who have died. celebrated aro und I November
in the north ern hemisph ere. I May in the sout hern.
Solstice - the time in Summer when the day is longest, and in Wi mer
when the day is shortest. T hey rcpresem times of powerful celes-
tial and terrestr ial influence, and arc celebrated in Druidry with
ceremonies.
107
GLOSSARY
GLOSSARY 106
To learnhow a Druidic understanding call be used when exploring the
landscape see The Druid Woy by Philip Ca rr-Cornm. Thoth, 2006.
To explore the shamanic aspects of Druidry sec Fire in the Head -
Shamanismand tbe Celtic Spirit by 'Iom Cowan, HarperS:lJ1 Francisco,
1993.
109
FURTHER READIN G
The Book (lfDruidryby Ross Nichols, Thorsons, 1990.
In the Crave (If the Druids - thr Druid 7i'achings (If Ross Nichols by
Philip Carr-Gomm, Warkins. 2002.
j Ollrneys (lf the SOIl I - The Lift anti LTg,tey(lflt Druid Chirf by Phi lip
Carr-Gomm with the leiters and Travel Diaries of Ross Nichols,
Thot h. 2007.
To explore the work ofa key figure in modern Druidry, Ross Nichols.
a biography, photos, and selections of his paintings and poetry C. 1 J1 be
seen at wwyu!midry,org. Also sec:
To explore aspects of Druidry in depth sec:
The DruidryHandboole by John Michael Greer. Weiser. 200G.
Living Druidryby Emma Resrall Orr. Pintkus, 2004.
The BardicSourer B(lok ed. by John Matt hews, Blandford. 1998.
The CelticSrm' Sourer Boole cd. by John Mat thews, Cassell. 1999.
Til' Druid Source Book ed. by John Mat thews, Blandford, 1996.
TheEneyclopaedia ofCeltic Wisd(lm ed. by John and Caitlin Matthews,
Rider. 200 I.
Thr Making ofa Druid, Hiddrn 7,achingsfrom the ColloqllY of Two
Sages by Chrisrian J. Guyonvarc, Inner Traditions. 2002.
To explore the relationship between Druidry and Wicca sec
Druidcrafi - The Magic (lfWicca"TId Druidry by Philip Carr-Ccmm.
T horsons, 2002.
Further Reading
For an illustrated history that includes the modern period, sec
Exploring the World ofthe Druids by Dr Mir anda j. Green. T hames &
Hudson, 1998. For a history nf ancien, Dr uidry, sec The Druidsby
Peter Berresford Ellis. Constable, 1994 and 7/" Druids- Celtic Priests
ofNatutr by Jean Marble. Inner Tradit ions, 1999.
Foran inspirational hook that draws on Druidic and Celtic sources:
The Critic Spirit - Daily Meditationsfor the Ttmling Yettr by Caitlin
Matthews, Harper Sunl' rancisco, 1999. Quomrions. questions.
essays and meditations.
Kindling the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman, HarperSanPrancisco,
200 1. Teachings, poetry, recipes, stories and folklore rel ated to
each of the seasons.
For introdu ct or y books on Drui dism as a spiritual path. sec Druid
Mysteries. Ancient WisdmnjOrflu2l '' Century by Philip Carr-Gomm,
Rider. 2002; A Cuitk to Druidry by Phil ip Shallcrass, Piatkus, 2000;
Druids - A Begin1Jer's Guide by Cairistiona Worthington, Hodder,
1999, and Principles of Druidry by Enuua Rcsral l Orr, T horso us,
1998. Each book is sho rt and easy to read, and includes practical excr-
ciscs. Although they arcinrroducrory, they arcwritten bypeople with
years of experience in Druidry, and each one contrihurcs something
unique [0 an understanding of what Druidism is. and how if can help
you.
To read a wide range of courrilnn ions from Druids around the world,
which include essays on hisrory, healing. ritual, herbs, star-lore and
more. sec 71" Rebirth of Druidry, edited by Philip Carr-Gorum.
T horsons, 2003.
To explore the Femi nine perspective in Druidry, see:
Druid Priestess by Emma Resrall Orr. Thorsons, 2001.
The Modern-Day Druidess by Cassandra Eason. Piarkus, 2003.
A Druid Abroad - A Quest for the Ladyin Druidryby Sandra Parsons.
Capall Bann, 2003.
To explore Druid oracles. sec:
The Druid Arrival Oracle by Philip and Slephanie Carr-Gomm,
Co nnect ions, 1994.
The DruidCraji Tarot, by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Comm.
Connections. 2004.
77JCCeltic Tree Oracle by Liz and Col Murray. Rider. 1989.
Resources and Contacts
The Internet
To learn more abOUI Druidry, the Internet is a powerful resource.
jusr rypc ' Druidry' or ' Druid' into a search engine and a wealth
ofsires will be offered. An excellent guide is The Druid Network's
website at www.druidnetwork, org. whi ch offers profiles of mosr
Druid organisations, book reviews, events listings and more.
Another major resource is rhe Order of Bards. Ova resand Druids
website at www.druidry.org. whi ch has over two thousand pages
of information, including a library, sections on training in
Druidry, Druid camps. tile Sacred Grove Plant ing Programme.
the C1mpaign for Ecological Rcsponsibility. a bookshop, and
comprehensive links to many other sites. The Message Board has
over 2.000 members and represents the largesr Druid community
on the Inr ernet.
Courses and Groups
The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids offers an experi ence-
based horne-learning course that guides yo u through the three
grades of Bard. Ovate and Druid. Each month leaching
FURTHER READING 11 0
Index
material is mailed to you. and you have the support of a mentor
to whom you can write or email. In addition there are work-
shops . camps and celebrations in Britain and the USA and
other part s of the world. and over eighty groves and seed-groups
where you can meet and work with other members. The course
is also available in an audio version and in French. German and
Dutch. Full details from: 0 1300. PO Box 1333. Lewes. East
Sussex. BN7 l OX. TeI/f.1x +44 (0) 1273 47 0888. Email
or see
The British Druid Order runs camps and works hops. otga n-
izes fest ivals and celebrat ions and publ ishes books and
magazines: BOO. PO Box 635. Halifax. HX2 6WX. UK.
www.dru idordc r.demon.co.uk.
In the USA the three main Druid groups are the Ancient Order
of Druids in America, PO Box 11 8 1. Ashland. O R 97520.
www.aoda.org; The Henge of Keltria, PO Box 4305. Clarksburg.
WV 26302. and ADF. 859 N. Hollywood Way.
Box 368. Burbank. CA 9 1505. www,adf,org.
Informat ion on most of the ot her Druid organizations can be
found on www.druidnetwork.org and in A Druid Directory by
Phi lip Shallcrass and Emma Rcstall Orr. publ ished by t he
BOO . Co pies are avai lable from the BOO and from t he
OllOD online bookshcp.
Abaris. 28- 9
ADF (A Druid Fellowship). 12. 14.
50
Adius Lampndi us, 26
Aengus mac Og. 76. 77
Ahimsa (non-violence), -12
Alban Anhan ('The Light of
Arthur), 105
Alban Eilir ('The Light or the
Earth'), 105
Alban Elfed (The Light ofWaler),
105
Alban Hcfln (T he Light of the
Shore'), 105
alchemy, 55
alienation, individual. 3-4
Arnangons. 8 I
Ancienr and Archaeological Order
of Druids. 20
Anciem DruidOrder, I I, J3.23.
32, 33
Ancient Order of Druids, 19- 20
Ancient Orderof Druids in
America, 22
animal lore, 80
Ans and Humanities Research
Board,95
astral travelling. 52
Aubrey, John, 17-1 8
College: of Druidry, 101
Avcbury, 18
Awen, 55, 63, 91, 105
Baker, Matt, 86
handmi (female Druids), 25- 8
Barddas (1010 Morg,,"wg), 30
bards, 40, 4 1, 105
bees. 80
Behanc/Bcalrcinnc (The Good
Fire) ,68, 105
Bonewirs. Jsnac, 14. 49- 50
Book ofDruitlry (Ross Nichols). 33
Boudicca, 26-7
Brehon laws, 58
Brighid, 76, 77, 80
Bristol University. 95
British Druid Order, 100, IJ2
Caesar. Jul ius. 9. 17, 29. 43
Capra. l' ritjof 44- 5
CarrGonull, Philip. 14
Celtic spiri tuality. 13-1 4
'Celtic ' (wilighl', 23
'Celticism'. 99- 100
INDEX
INDEX 114
Chalice Well, Gbs ton bury, 69
Chapman, Vern, 33-4
Cbrdticu tie Troyes, 8 1
Churchill, Winstoll, 20
Cicero, 29
community and relationships, 6 1-2
Concbobar, King. 26, 27
'Come del Gr:l:ll' (Chreti en de
Troycs), 8 1
Cormac, King. 28
covens. 74
Cowan. To m, 16
creativity, cult ivation of, 40. 60, 90
crema t ion, 32
cul ture, couunercializ.ario n of, 3
Da Monte. Joh n. 33
Din Cassius, 26
Diodorus Siculus, 17. 29. 43
Diol1. 26--7
di vinat ion systems, 72
Divitiacus, 29
DomiriancZf
'Druid' , o rigin of, 2. lOS
Druid Nl: IWOrk, 101
DruidCraft, 99, 10(,
Druidism
in America, 10. 11-12, 14. 22,
. 98
attractions of. 2- 6
books Oil , 100
and ' Cchicism', 99- 100
Chrisriau, 7- 8, 70- 1. 98
courses, 84- 5. 111- 12
cultural. 18- 19. 23
dogmati sm. frcl"C. !ol11 from, 2,
35-6, ~ 7
duot hcisric, 3 1, 36
environment, concern for, 93
hies, 57- 65
followers, numbers of, G. 14-1 ~
fraternal, 19- 21, 23
fin urc of, 94- 10I
groves, 74-5
and indivi dualism, 83--4
and magic, 54-6
mod ern , 2-8
mod ern, or igins of, 9- 15
mo no theistic, 36
and mysticism, S1- 2
myth ... and stories, 4- 5, II ,
40- 1, 78-82
orders, 85, 100- 1
pan theistic, 36
and pilgrimage, 73-4
polytheistic, 3()-?
practical value of. 89-93
pract ice of, 72-3
Revival, 10, IG, 30, 32, 36,
94-5, 106
rites, 75-7
Roma n accounts of, 16- 17, 29,
43
seasonal fesljvals, t I, 66- 73
and sexuality, 97
and shama nism, 52-3
spiritual, 21-2, 23-4, 36
teachers , 8()-7
tria ds, 78- 9
and women, 99
Druid ism: helief"
community and rcl.nio nshi ps.
61-2
cult ivat ion of creativi ty, 40, 60 ,
90
cultivation of love, 40- 1, 90
cultivation of wisdo m, 39-40,
90
devotion to trut h, 57- 8
hol ist ic conceptio n of nature, 37,
44- 7,87-8
int egrit y, 63-4
.L1wof the Harvest, 47-8. 54
Otherworld, 38; 39, 51- 2,
106
peace. 43-4
personal respo nsibility, 60- 1
reincarnation , 38- 9
reverence, 42
trust , 62- 3
web of lif<, 14- 7
Dru ids Friendly Society (Austra lia).
20
'Druid's Prayer' , 21- 2. 40
Tbe Druid/ V'oia (magazine), 100
DUnc.1I1 , Robert, 78
Eisteddfodau. 5, 6, 19, 69, 106
enviro nment , 3, 93
equi noxes, 66-7, 68, 106
Erskine. Barba ra. 7-8. 70- 1
ethics, 57--65
Fidclma, 27-8
Fortune, Dion, 9
Freemasonry, 19, 20
friendly societies. 5, 20- 1
Ga ia hypot hesis, 44- 5
Ga ndhi, Mahatma. 42
Ganna,26
Ga rdner, Ge rald, I I
Glasto nbury, 3. 69, 96
Corseddau. 19, 106
Graves, Robert. 11, 33
Greer, John Michael, 35, 94, 97
groves, 74- 5
115
Halliday. F. E.. 25
Hansen, Da niel. 89
Harner, Mic hael, 52
( Iern e, Robin, 36-7
history, love of, 41
7 J ~ Historyoftbr Druids(john
Toland), 36
Holy Grail, 81, 91
homeopat hy, 33
Hutton. Ronald, 96
Huxley, Aldo us. 51
Imbas, 55
Imbol c/ O irnclc, 68, 106
integrity, 63-4
Int er national Gra nd Lodge of
Druidism, 20
Intern et . I I I
1010 Mor ganwg (Edward Wi lliams),
18-1 9, 21- 2, 30, 94
' journeying', 52
justice, love of, 40
King, Martin Luth er, 42
LIW of the I Iarvcst, 47-8, 54
l...1W of the T hreefold Return. 47
Lennon, John, 12. 49
Icy lines, t 2, 13
Lightin Britannia (Owen Morgan),
30- 1
love, cultivation of, 40- 1, 90
Lovelock , James, 44
Loyal Arrhur ian War ha nd, 12- 3
l.ughn asadh/ Lammas. 68 , 106
MacCumhaill, Fionn (Finn
MacCool), 25-6, 39
I NDEX
IND EX
li b
MacGregor Reid. George Watson,
10, 11,1 3. 32- 3
MacGr<.'gof Reid, Robert, II
Macleod. Fiona, 23
magic. 54-6
Marble. Jean, 9
Matthews. Caitlin and John. 13,
14
Maughan, Thomas. 33, 84
'McWorl d'.5
Medb. Queen. 27
megalithic monument s, 17- 18,
95- 6
Merlin's Enclosure. 81
metempsychosis, 38, 39
Michell, John, 12- 13
'Mind Games' (j ohn Lennon), 12
rnistlcroc, 79
Mog Ruirh, 28
Morgan, Owen, 30- 1
Myers. Brendan, 57, 58. 60. 66. 97
mysticism, 51- 2
nature, holistic co nception of, 37.
44- 7, 87-8
1131 urism, 97
ll;uurop,1t hy. 32
Nt ltloracht (cloud-watching), 29
ncopagani an, 49-50
Nessa, 26
'Nov Age' . 13
Nichols. Ross. 10. 1\, 13, 14. 23.
33 , 43,84
Nihtscada, Athelia, 58- 9
Nwyfre (' life force' ). 55. 63. 9 1,
106
O' Douohuc, John, 62
Ogham, 1r. 72. 80
Oisin. 58
The DIlCt' and Fllttl rl' King (T. H.
White). 43
or acles. 72
Orderof Bards, Ovares and Druids
(0 110D)
courses. 14- 15, 111-12
festivals. 3, 67
foundation of. 10. 13, 23. 33
marriage ceremony. 75-7
Orderof the Golden Dawn, 10
ornithomancy. 29
Otherworld, 38, 39. 51- 2. 106
ovat cs. 4 1. 106
Paganism, ()-7. 11. 31
Parehaka Maoris, 42
Pascal, Blaise, 65
Patrick, Saint, 58
peace. 43-4
Pcndragou , Art hur. 42-3
Perry. Ted. 45
personal responsibility, 60- 1
Philost ratus. 39
pilgrimage, 73-4
plant lore. 79- 80
Pliny, 79
polyamory, 97
Pomponius Mcla. 26
Pri ce, William. 31-2
Proust. Marcel. 56
Pythagoras. 29
Reformed Druids of North
America (RONA). 10. 11-1 2.
14
reincarnation. 38- 9
Resrall Orr. Emma. 83
revercnce, 42
Romanticism, 44
Russell. George. 23
Salmon of Wisdom. 39. 90- 1
Samhuinn/S:llnhain. 6R. 107
samolus , 79
Seanle, Chief. -i5
sebgu. 79
Sella, island of, 26
Severns. Alexander, 26
sexuality, 97
Shallcross, Phil ip. 83
shamanism. 52-3
solstices. 66- 7. 68, 107
Steiner. Rudol f, 9
stone circles. 95-6
Stonehenge
archaeological studies of: 18, 30
ceremonies. 3. 11 . 67
Srrabo. 28. 57
Stukelcy, William. 18, 30
sweat houses. 53
Sword of justice, 77
'[{,i" flo (Cattle R.aid or
Cooley). 27- 8
Talbncnm. 21
Talicsiu, 39, 9 1
Test amen t of Morann, 57- 8
The osoph ical Society, 10
Tigh 'n' AII,,;s, 53
Ti ppen. Michael. 43
117
Toland. John, 36
Tolkien Society. 34
tree lore. 4 1,79.80
triads, 78-9
trust . 62- 3
truth, devotion to, 57- 8
Unitarianism. 11. 18
Universal Bond, 10. 11, 32
Universalist Church. 11, 32
Upan ishads. 42
ver vain, 79- 80
A over Atlantis (john Michdl) ,
12-1 3
web of life, 44- 7
' Web of Wyrd' , 45
wells. sacred. 80- 1
Welsh National Eisteddfod. 6. 19
We,<;r ern Mystery Tradition, I I. 45
Wbite. T. II ., 43
Whiu Goddess(Robert Graves).
11. 33
WiCC.1. 11. 3 1, 36, 42, 47. 74. 99
Williams. Edward s('( Iolo
Morganwg
wisdom. cul tivat ion of. 39-40. 90
Worthington, Cairisriona. I
Yeats. W. II. 23