Damh and myself have recently returned from another wonderful trip to Australia where we have had the complete pleasure of sharing our view of the world with other like minded people who follow and similar pagan path. We felt so at home and welcome in the community that it was hard to leave. The music and magic that is the combination of people following not only the call of their European heritage, but also responding to the call of the land and doing full honour to it in all its infinate diversity and uniqueness.
And there is the root of my pondering today, there seems to be, amongst the world wide pagan community, a rising interest in modern druidry at the moment. Whilst over the past few years at home in Albion and in some parts of the American pagan scene there have been great, heated debates and even out right verbal wars on whether anyone can call themselves a druid or not.
The debates often centred on what the druids of old did or didn’t do according to one “expert” or another and the sometimes unpleasant toing and froing of the need to be of “Celtic” genealogy in order to be eligible to call yourself a druid. People seemed to me to have lost sight in all the mental warfare of the fact that Druidry was always the magic of land, sky and sea and all that lay contained therein. Every story speaks of “shamanic” practises and a deep seated knowledge of the land and it’s people wherever the druid lived and worked.
This seems to me to be the pertinent point of druidry, ancient or modern. The wit and knowledge to explore the connection between yourself and the land you live on, the water which flows through it, and then to contemplate the universe above, to push beyond normal perception, this is what defines a druid to me, regardless of academic knowledge or genealogy.
To sit with yourself and find a still point within, to feel your heart beating and the rhythmic movement of your lungs pulling in and then releasing the life giving air. When the still point is found you can reach out beyond the self and feel a connection to all life breathing and pulsing all around you. Reaching out and catching that connection, that is the stuff of my druidry. It is the thing that everyday makes me feel supported and nurtured, I am never alone I have the whole world to comfort me, all I have to do is tune in and feel it.
Whether you believe in the Gods or not makes no difference to me, whether you believe that all life is a great cosmic coincidence is of no interest either, my druidry is based in the now, it is inspired by the ancestors and exploring all that they have left us, but it is really based on my experience and my willingness to be open to anything and anyone that might expand my world view and bring me to a greater understanding of the wonderful mystery that is life.
It is like listening to the digeridoo player in the market in Brisbane. For the first time I truly understood the power and magic of that ancient instrument – as he played he was the voice of the land itself. The song of the kookaburra made me weep uncontrollably as the realisation hit me. To truly understand the magic of the instrument you must hear it played on the land it belongs to. I have known some amazing didge players over the years, but none has touched me as deeply as the Samoan man who was not technically good, but he understood the magic, and on that market street corner so did I. And this is another example of the basics of druidry to me.
In the same way I understand the poems of Taliesin and Amergin when they speak of being the stag or a wave on the ocean, it is a deep communion and true feeling of belonging that enables them to bring into words the magic of true belonging and connection and these are the songs of our lands, words are our instruments – story, poetry and song are our didgeridoos.
The rise of modern Druidry today is about allowing the song of the land, wherever that land may be, to sing through loud and clear. In my opinion it is time to put aside old ideas of some mythical, idealistic concept of a “golden age of the druids” or prejudiced ideas of DNA making a druid, and to ask politely that all the negative voices just for a moment take time to sink into that still point and allow themselves the joy of peace and calm reflection.
Instead of shouting about what it cannot be, let us take druidry today back to the fundamental principles of connection and make it a vibrant, relevant and magical path based on the knowledge and inspirations of the past, but with a full and engaging understanding of the here and now.