SO who are Druids and what is it they do?
Druidry is primarily a nature-based spirituality that honours and celebrates the ever-turning cycles of the natural year on this Earth and their reflection within each of us who inhabit this world, as immutably individual human beings. This is done through open ritual celebrated amid the wild beauty of nature as well as through the gift of learning, from nature, from our revered ancestors, from others in grove and order (and humanity in general) and through more focused schooling, should an initiate choose this, as well as from the greatest guru of them all – the god or goddess within each of us.
Druidry welcomes and respects any and all denominations. We are not interested in making converts and will heartily welcome all those who already have a firm commitment to their own religious or spiritual path, as well as those whose convictions may be entirely secular. No-one who shows reciprocal respect for its simple universal ethics will be turned away.
It is purely a path of peace and of love – love towards our fellow beings on this gorgeous blue planet, love towards the spirit that works through all of us and love towards the bountiful natural world that blossoms, grows, dies and then seeds again all around us every year. It is also a particularly effective means of pursuing and experiencing to the full the deep and, so often, hidden well of inspiration that lies within each of us.
In Druidry, this is known as the Awen, the flowing spirit of creativity, and is symbolised by three (a magickal number) rays of light emanating from the sun /|\
Each Druid rite incorporates the lovely Awen chant – at its simplest, the three-syllable word, AA–OO–WEN, chanted three or nine times (again, symbolic magickal numbers) to remind us and, perhaps, to also energise us in our quest to be truly ourselves, to live life to the full and to enjoy being all that we can be.
Each Druid rite also includes the Druid’s Prayer (also known as the Gorsedd Prayer), which underpins the Druidic ethic:
Grant, o God/Goddess/Spirit, thy protection
And in protection, strength
And in strength, understanding
And in understanding, knowledge
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it
And in that love, the love of all existences
And in the love of all existences, the love of God/Goddess/Spirit,
God/Goddess/Spirit and all goodness.
Druid rites also often involve a vow. Any who might perhaps feel uncomfortable with the vow are invited to opt out, as is always the case with any part of any ceremony/rite/celebration, and no offence will be taken – each individual’s ethic/conscience is fully respected as their own:
We swear by truth and love to stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand
Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now
Confirming this, our sacred vow.
Modern Druidry is, indeed, just that – modern. In its current form it is less than 300 years old yet, although a relatively young and dynamic movement, it is rooted very firmly in ancient Celtic tradition and practice dating back thousands of years.
It is a tradition that seeks to reawaken and foster our latent, perhaps dormant creativity through ritual and celebration, music, poetry, storytelling, dance, the visual arts and by re-kindling humanity’s ever-dwindling but once deep connection with the land, sea and sky – the natural world of Mother Earth in whose warm and bountiful lap we make our home.
An excellent and concise precis of modern Druidry was given in 1997 by Prof Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University, as part of a statement to a London court in which he was defending the right of pagan Druid leader Arthur Pendragon to carry his ceremonial sword.
Cornerstones of the Druid ethic include peace, respect, justice, truth and love, with the quest for harmony and balance a central theme.
Druidry is a teaching and learning tradition with three grades through which an initiate may choose to work for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and, ultimately, wisdom – those of Bard, Ovate and Druid. It is also a fast-growing tradition, globally as well as within the British Isles.
And it is a tradition that encourages free thinking and individuality within a nurturing community, above all promoting personal growth in the quest for the Awen within each of us.