"I am the wind on the sea; I am the wave of the sea; I am the bull of seven battles; I am the eagle on the rockI am a flash from the sun; I am the most beautiful of plants; I am a strong wild boar; I am a salmon in the water; I am a lake in the plain; I am the word of knowledge; I am the head of the spear in battle; I am the god that puts fire in the head; Who spreads light in the gathering on the hills? Who can tell the ages of the moon? Who can tell the place where the sun rests?" -Amergin (Druid of the Tuatha De Danann)
We use historical evidence to emulate what the Druids may have practiced. Using a corroboration of historical information, archaeology, first hand quotes and mythology gives us somewhat of an accurate picture. The four Celtic festivals were celebrated as well as life and days being recognized in a circular pattern verses the modern linear version. The Druids undoubtedly placed high value on personal development via the arts and creativity such as poetry and musical abilities. They cultivated and perfected their memory, ability to write and tell stories as well as aimed to be knowledgeable in general. They would have used ogham, ogham sticks or wands and developed their ability to predict the future or at least anticipate how events would play out. They likely attempted to use the movement of animals and especially birds to predict how events would unfold as well. They may have also “talked” to animals, plants or trees and the spirit therein in general to gain insight. Druids likely had rich knowledge on naturally healing herbs, plants and trees as well as how to use them. Trees were venerated in general and sacred wood was used for ritual purposes. The sacred circle was important as was moving clockwise in ritual which likely involved a specific set of steps or chants. There was a belief in the realms of “earth, sea and sky” as well as Otherworlds.
Water had the power to heal and fire was used to cleanse. There was a reverence for triplism in general and they worked with 3, 9, and 27 parts of everything. Reciprocity between the spirits of the land was critical work among the Druids as was making offerings and venturing to the Otherworld in induced trance to ask ancestors, gods or goddesses for answers and guidance. We know of course the Druids spoke the Celtic language and many people choose to work with the language today, at least during ritual. Justice, fairness and truth in regards to law issues was especially important to the Druids and they oversaw all legal matters. Animals were respected and valued for their unique attributes. Druids read the signs of the sun, moon, stars, seasons, animal migration and plant growth among countless other natural patterns. Meditation and path working was undoubtedly practiced as was witnessing, performing or organizing oaths and ceremonies of life or coming of age events. Elders and ancestral knowledge was highly valued and passed down through the generations. The old knowledge would have been screened and synchronized with the new through experimentation, evaluation and experience. Ancestors were revered in general and their good deeds were heralded for millennia. Finally, it was important to value our overall personhood, health, cleanliness, physical form and to have reason to be proud of one’s self in general by doing good deeds and being a valuable resource for society and for our families.
The idea that the Druids were connected to the standing stones or other neolithic and mesolithic structures is debated. The reason for this assumption is because of the claim of their studying of the movement of the stars, moon and heavenly bodies and the structures being aligned to these or rare celestial events. One of the most recently built burial mounds dubbed the Black Forest Stonehenge was completed around 600 BC leading many to think that the Druids were at minimum around to know the meaning of the structures their forebears created and they may have assimilated to using them. Key word, "may have" as there is again no real proof they used them but no proof they didn't. There simply wasn't an identifiable "Celtic" culture in archaeological terms when most of the structures were built. From a genetic standpoint however, at minimum, the descendants of the builders survived to meet and mingle with Druids and Celts. The purpose of the stones are also debated with a wide range of beliefs based around local folklore. What we do have that was definitely indigenous Celtic and possibly Druidic are the numerous carvings, iconography and structures dated to the time period between approx. 300 BC and 1200 CE give or take a couple hundred years in each direction.
We all have our home, the earth, in common. There is nothing more important or uniting as human beings than being united as stewards to the earth. We can make a real difference when we come together for the greater good of all life. It's clear that when we protect the earth, we protect our own future and our grandchildren's future. Followers of Druidry appreciate nature in all it's wondrous diversity and value even the most seemingly insignificant of lives. Everything is a web and often when one organism fails, many fail behind it. There is a unifying solution to protecting our environment, animals and humans alike in a conscious effort to find economical solutions within preservation. Often the largest issue facing our environment is habitat loss and human development. There is high value in our national parks and protecting as much as we can, leaving the earth in its most healthiest state. If our immediate survival doesn't happen to depend on any given space, our mental state does by having the opportunity to visit the natural wonders that take our very breath away. In a materialistic society, many Pagans endeavor to need less, to consume less and to take less. Hydroponics vertical farming, supporting alternative renewable energy sources and meatless mondays are all good starts. We can pay attention to labels, which animals are in peril and how those products effect them.
Followers of Druidry resolve to follow through on their commitment to the environment not only by what they do in their personal lives, but by simply spreading awareness. We can all buy local, replace our lightbulbs, use reusable bags, avoid farmed fur products, avoid rare fish or products containing palm oil. We must endeavor to practice what is in line with the idealisms we hold most dear. Animals being kept in environments that are unnatural to them is rarely condoned unless their health was at stake and they otherwise could not return to the wild and survive. The animal trade for personal use, zoos or aquariums is devastating to animal populations for meaningless and selfish reasoning. These are just a few examples of why we need environmentalism more than ever. We can each do our part when we're able. As somewhat products of our environment, it's challenging to not be discouraged when the options to live the way we want simply do not exist, at least yet. Most would love to buy solar panels or a wind turbine and would if it was affordable. This is another reason why staying involved in and supporting green organizations is crucial to changing our world and making these goals an affordable, logical and attainable reality. Followers of Druidry, above all, value life and existence for the sake of nature's grand chemical stage and revel in the constant shift in energy, shape and form. We do our best to honor and respect it.
In Druidry, these specific six attributes are highly valued. There are many unique ways we can manifest each of these in our life. In regards to wisdom, we can aspire to foster a general lifelong passion for learning. The ancient Celts trained years on end, supposedly twenty years or more as told by Caesar. Given, the substantially shorter life span of the time, it's hard to imagine someone so completely devoted to learning. Wisdom and knowledge in general were highly valued and something that has been mistakenly taken for granted in the modern age. Not in our ancestor's wildest dreams could they have imagined a device they could hold in their hand that would somewhat give unlimited knowledge. Followers of Druidry encourage people to explore, discover and rediscover every possible facet and angle of the things that interest them and also the things that don't, simply for the sake of knowing. Many times, only by going places we haven't gone before can we discover a burst of "awen", or sudden creative inspiration. One important aspect of acquiring more knowledge as well as inspiring creativity is by studying and exploring ancient source material, the surviving myths, legends and poetry that contains encoded treasure troves of moral lessons.
Creativity and art are an equal part of our human journey. When we create, we are essentially exploring the deepest parts of ourselves and our emotions. Art in all its forms is an incredibly healthy outlet. Sometimes art takes unique unexpected form from the meals we cook to the way we landscape our lawns. All of it speaks to and represents our most primal and truest self. Without balance or truth, we can suddenly find ourselves in more negative places than we'd like to be. In all aspects of life, our relationships, our jobs, our free time, we seek to find balance and truth. In ancient Celtic society, truth and responsibility for one’s actions was highly prioritized. Followers of Druidry understand and internalize that we cannot have the positive without the negative. Every hardship, every challenge, every tragedy serves to remind us at minimum that we're still alive and at best to appreciate, recognize and experience every positive aspect in our lives that much more passionately. Finally, love, the grandest of all emotions also takes unique form. If not romantic love, we have familial love, our love for friends or love for animals. Animals, our dog and cat companion pets can often offer equal friendship as humans do. Self love is imperative to our journey and we have the love for hobbies or charitable endeavors that can carry us through in even our emotionally lowest times. There are countless ways that love can be felt, exhibited and returned in kind. When we live in love with life instead of out of fear, a bright new world with endless possibilities is constantly revealing itself daily.
This idealism ties into not only being stewards of the earth but just being the best person possible in general and being mindful of how we can effect positive change in the lives of those around us. Often we don't realize how many creative and varied ways, big and small, we can impact the world around us. Often thinking of the world's problems can be overwhelming so we often try to “think globally, but act locally.” A few of these small but meaningful positive actions are to be active in our communities in general, donate to our friend's or extended friend's charitable causes, buy local or from our friends who have home businesses, be active in our children's or relative's lives, adopt a dog or cat instead of buying one, and very simply loving all that we can, in all the ways we can. We can strive to be empathetic of all that surround us, our fellow citizens and animals alike. If not me, who? If not now, when?
Followers of Druidry resolve to do any good that they can along the way for we will undoubtedly not pass that exact route again. Often, this is referred to as being "present". What legacy will we have left once we're gone? We were born, we watched tv and sat on the couch? People will not always remember exactly what we said, but they will remember how we made them feel. The best thing about doing good things for others is we don't necessarily need money to do it. Our time, energy and effort, sometimes just a simple phone call is equally as valuable if not more so than a monetary gift. These simple acts of goodness could be as easy as helping someone in need out to their car with their groceries. Not only is the "the gift the reward" but they will likely have a better day and pay it forward if not that day or week, then later that month or year. Those rare events of generosity are hard to forget and often leave a lasting impression and sense of hope in humanity. There is a ripple effect in all we do and no good deed is ever wasted.
There is no question that Pagans have an unwavering tolerance for diversity. We experience a vast and diverse belief system within our own group. Tolerance works. Good people in general across all cultures, all ethnicities are celebrated for their uniqueness, individuality, cultural identity and unique perspective they have to bring to humanity's diverse table. Followers of Druidry understand that each person’s life and journey is truly one of a kind. There is no way of knowing what experiences or life lessons shaped a person into who they are. There is a happy place and balance in peaceful discourse and debate. This is accomplished through giving and hopefully receiving respect as well as being tactful with our words. One way to successfully engage in debate with those vastly different than us is to first highlight a reason they are right, then tactfully mention reasons they could be wrong or simply give them the basic facts to determine the rest for themselves. Undoubtedly, it’s clear that tolerance and respect are desperately needed in our world today. Disagreements with those closest to us can be exceptionally discerning. When we disagree in our personal lives with those so integrally close to us, a positive outcome can usually only be expected through understanding and love.
Personal liberties are incredibly important to us including but not limited to, as mentioned above cultural identity, personal and sexual identity, freedom of press, freedom of peaceful constructive speech and protests, freedom to pursue happiness, freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial, the right to bear arms, the right to clean air/water/soil and the right to make decisions regarding our health and bodies with our doctors. Along with this comes the belief that we should each enjoy freedom from facing the negative consequences of being discriminated against, bullied, treated unfairly and treated with bias in general based on outward appearances, sexual, cultural identity or religion. Followers of Druidry strive to use their words and actions where it counts the most, in peaceful and logical discourse in personal, public and political forums.
"I praise the one who, to keep guard over me, did bestow my seven senses, from fire and earth, water and air... one is for instinct, two is for feeling, three is for speaking, four is for tasting, five is for seeing, six is for hearing, seven is for smelling..."
-Taliesin (sixth century Bard)
Followers of Druidry generally have the desire to spend as much time in nature as possible. It’s arguably our largest source of mental peace and comfort. Regardless of how we define our higher power, we find deep appreciation in the natural world. This is something that like everything else, is very unique to each person and family. Many people go camping, hiking, bird watching or simply just take walks in their local park. Those that are not able to walk or do such activities may simply watch animal or nature documentaries, look at pictures or follow organizations like National Geographic closely. We are incredibly lucky to be alive in a time where we can explore and discover almost every part of Earth like never before through photographs and video. We can also bring nature to us in how we choose to landscape our yard. We can put out bird feeders, bee, bat or butterfly houses, grow a wildflower garden or plant fruit bearing trees. Large spaces or yards, often associated with nature are not necessary to do many of these things.
Within the ancient Celtic community was a large respect and admiration for their ancestors and deceased loved ones. Funerals were true celebrations of life and somewhat considered a joyous occasion as the deceased were heralded for their good deeds and accomplishments. Regardless of our beliefs, finding time to commune with or honor our ancestors or deceased loved ones is encouraged. This could mean visiting graves and talking to deceased loved ones, doing ancestry research, starting a charity or project in honor of someone, writing down and making a story book of important memories or something as simple as making time to look through old pictures occasionally. If we’re adopted, we can still do an ancestry DNA test. Furthermore, blood, does not always make a family. All of these things give us roots to keep us grounded and reasons to be proud of not only our own journey and our relatives, but those that came before us and that we owe at minimum, our existence. Many Druids still maintain their monotheism and their relationship with God or polytheism, multiple Gods and Goddesses. Many of these embody both an allegorical and literal thing such as the sun or moon, and lessons or origin tales are woven around those characters. For other lesser deities, its thought that many of them were at one time, someone’s real ancestor and a living person. Through the ages, and as the tales changed hands, they became heroic legends and then ascended to be known as Gods and Goddesses. You can see why communing with ancestors and deities often feels similar. We are essentially still asking a higher power, someone thought to be wiser and smarter, for advice and guidance. For some, their relationship with the Gods is fostered through mutual gain. Often people in the polytheistic community will say that a deity called on them verses the other way around and wanted them for a specific mission.
Very simply, when we are truly ourselves, we are truly alive. When we listen to our inner primal voice telling us to follow our hearts, we are full filling the point of it all, to live, love and celebrate existing. Many people ask the question what is the point of our world or living at all? The universe doesn’t need us. Why do I need to concern myself with the idea of “me” and who I am inside? We have an epidemic of self hate, depression and anxiety or simply just following the trends mapped out for us, living in fear of being unique. We live in fear of ourselves and being who we truly want to be. Our answer to the point of it all is generally quite simple and ties into this idealism. The point of life is celebration. The point is to experience being “alive”, cognitive and present in this valuable moment in time. Every moment is in essence, valuable. No day of a life is wasted or meaningless. We are chemically the same material as stars and infinitely involved in a long, wondrous and vast story. Our individual manifestations of life at the moment can be celebrated for what they are. We are in the middle of a cosmic party of life whether an omnipotent deity created us or not. No day should be wasted being anything but our truest self and any activity, hobby, vacation, art, book, experience that does not hurt others and brings us closer to ourselves is valuable. Followers of Druidry aspire to appreciate all that which we can be grateful for, find perspective, find strength and inspiration to keep putting one foot in front of the other and cut through the negativity to be the real person we were meant to be. In our final hours are we going to be relishing in all the times we sacrificed who we were to make society happy or will we be wishing we would have thrown off our safety lines and sailed into our next adventure of self discovery? Seek and find that which sets the “inner you” on fire and surround yourself with people that fan your flames.
As Pagans, we understand that from self love springs our very capacity to love others and expand our positive efforts beyond ourselves. Confidence is critical in order to believe that we can truly make some impact and positive change in our world. This applies to changes that effect those directly around us as well as the issues facing the world as a whole. Notice that throughout history, it was often only one person who made all the difference. It’s easy to become complacent, apathetic, hopeless and believe that we have no real impact when it just isn’t true. To be successful, one doesn’t have to necessarily be the smartest or hardest working, but more importantly, the most persistent. There is an intrinsic value in accepting and loving ourselves yet also staying humble. Often, over confidence and conceitedness can equally hinder our success. Jealousy and coveting have little space in our lives. Body shaming has little place in our lives. Our natural figures are indeed our own individual temples to enjoy and cherish in spite of perceived flaws, that we absolutely, all have. Within the Druidry community, our physical bodies are far from shameful and often celebrated. Each of us have unique wonderful gifts and capabilities, that we simply may have not yet discovered the will to develop. We must seek out ways to be comfortable with ourselves in mind, body and spirit. If we cannot change something, than we can change the way we perceive it. As a work in progress, we spiral upward in a journey of self love and consequently give more love to the world around us.