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.
We live in a world of diminishing resources and increasing human population. As westerners, we also live in a society where the dominant religion teaches that the earth was made for humans to:
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.(Gen.1 KJV)
This theology, combined with the apocalyptic torture-porn of the Book of Revelation, is what leads to politicians decrying environmentalism and denying the scientific consensus on global climate change.
It also leads to preachers like Mark Driscoll, who leads a network of mega-churches in the US, saying things like this:
“I know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.”
We desperately need an alternative approach. Atheism makes the point clear that this world is all there is, but even Humanism often implies that the environment should only be protected for future generations of humanity to enjoy and to further the cause of human progress. This is a step forward, but not enough. Surely nature is valuable for its own sake, not just for what it can do for humans? I wonder if a non-religious approach can ever fully emphasise nature as sacred?
I don’t know if I really fit within druidry or not at the moment, but I fully support any approach, be it religious, philosophical or political, that aims to grow a real and meaningful relationship between humans and nature. I don’t believe in gods and goddesses, spirits and souls. I don’t think the world will end in a rapture and I don’t believe in a happy-ever-afterlife. This world, this beautiful natural world, is all there is and for me it is enough.
The sheer wonder of existence demands reverence and calls out to us to respond with awe, wonder and love (even perhaps with worship). As individuals, we may not think we can make a difference, but I think that a difference in attitude can make all the difference in society.