From the OBOD facebook page comes this wonderful quote from John Michael Greer (Archdruid of AODA and author of The Druidry Handbook):
‘In the final analysis, Druidry isn’t about orders, teachers, and books. It’s about each person’s experience of living nature, and if the orders and books and teachers get in the way of that, set them aside, go out beneath the open sky, and find the Druidry that works for you. Ultimately, that’s what matters.’ John Michael Greer
Nimue Brown, over at Druid Life, has also written a post recently about studying druidry and the difference between going with an order and being a self-taught solitary practicioner. Nimue makes a good point that both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I am increasingly leaning towards developing my own path without following a structured course or being a member of any particular order.
I think my fairly blunt atheism/scepticism is enough to keep me from ever fully fitting in with most druid orders, but I’m OK with that now. Becoming a ‘druid’, whatever that means, is not about getting a piece of paper with someone’s official seal on it saying ‘congrats, you’re now a druid’. I think it’s about the journey more than the destination, about developing your own relationship with the natural world and deepening that sense of connection throughout life.
For that, all I need is nature itself. No need for robes and rituals, gods and spirits, fancy titles and initiations. Just going outside and experiencing life.
OK, this is just a thing which I’m posting here because I can’t post it on my Facebook because my work colleagues are on there. Ah, anonymity, I do love thee!
So, yeah, ranty-rant below the fold:
The Reformed Druids of North America have two simple tenets of their druidry: ‘Nature is good’ and ‘Likewise, nature is good’. John Beckett recently posted a thoughtful article on the role of ‘nature religion’ within paganism and druidry, which I recommend checking out.
There has been a lot of debate about whether paganism/druidry can be classed as nature-centred paths or not, and I suppose that is up to each individual to decide for themselves. I have written a bit about my experiences of nature-worship here before. However, I completely agree with John when he writes that, whatever your religious beliefs (or lack thereof I would add), nature should play an important role:
If your religion does not include reverence for Nature then I propose your religion is at best inadequate and may be detrimental to your life and to all life on this planet.
Without this reverence for nature, we are left with a disenchanted world, a world that we can use and abuse as we see fit and ultimately destroy in the end. The ongoing litany of environmental crises attest to the results of a worldview based on profit and ‘progress’ without concern for the bigger picture.
I initially came to study druidry because it seemed to provide a middle way between the Hobson’s choice of dogmatic religion on the one hand and nihilistic materialism on the other. Whether it does this successfully or not is a matter for another post, but that’s the theory anyway.
Not necessarily from blogging, but I am going to be taking a break from the OBOD course for a little while. There’s several reasons for this, perhaps the most practical is that I realise I was perhaps too ambitious trying to take on a correspondence druidry course while also doing a distance-learning MSc in Information and Library Management.
I’ve had essay deadlines that have made my OBOD studies really sporadic lately, so I feel it best to simply put my Gwersi to one side for now, finish my MSc and then go back to them when I can give them my full attention.
But there’s other stuff going on too:
I just came across this brilliant post from one of my favourite online druid writers, John Beckett, who writes at Under the Ancient Oaks. Check his blog out if you haven’t already!
I think it is so important that we, as druids, as naturalists or even just as people, live lives of both truth and meaning. John defines truth as ‘that which is’ and meaning as ‘that which makes life worth living’, which is one of the simplest and best definitions I have ever seen. In my experience, it is all too easy to lose the balance between the two and ignore one or the other. So many religious people seem to emphasise their particular faith’s form of meaning at the expense of truth, and end up believing in absurdities like creationism as a result. On the other side of the coin, some atheists emphasise pure, rational truth at the expense of inner meaning.
For me, life is all about balancing those two. I find truth in science, reason and evidence. The scientific method is the single best tool we have for finding out what is real and how things work. In my understanding of science, this rules out a lot of religious or magical ideas as impossible. Yet I find meaning in druidry, in spending time in nature, in doing ritual. This is not a contradiction, though there are those on both sides who would say that it is.
I just saw this on ‘Naturalistic Pantheist Musings‘ and it was too good not to share! If you’re a naturalist/non-theist pagan of any sort, I totally recommend checking the Naturalistic Pantheist blog out, it’s absolutely brilliant and very inspirational.
Otherwise known as ‘that post where I go all Roger Ebert‘:
So I was watching some horror films over the weekend, and I was struck by the lazy writing and overt prejudice against paganism you find in a lot of the genre. The image of dark pagan cults raising demons and sacrificing people is a common trope, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. Many people, often Christian, do indeed seem to think that is what pagans do, despite the complete lack of any evidence (almost all the accounts of ritual abuse in the ‘Satanic Panic‘ for instance were the result of ‘therapists’ implanting false memories).
Having these ideas propagated by Hollywood just adds to the existing ill-feeling against members of minority religious or cultural groups. Both in the US and the UK, there is still substantial discrimination against pagans. I have just read of one pagan children’s author in the USA who had shots fired at her house and a chemical bomb attack which led to her daughter needing medical treatment.
Now I know that horror films are schlocky genre nonsense and of course they’re not to be taken seriously, but yet I also know that cinema is a powerful medium for disseminating ideas. If it were not, then no government would ever have made propaganda films.