You may have noticed that I have been very quiet since the Solstice. While Summer is usually a time for activity and the darker months associated with turning inwards, I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately. One of the things that has prompted this is the post by the ever-thoughtful Teo Bishop, explaining why he is leaving ADF. It got me thinking about whether I can in all honesty meaningfully consider myself a druid at all. When it gets down to it, I don’t think I really can. I certainly don’t have it all figured out.
I haven’t done a proper ‘druid’ ritual or meditation in months, and my Solstice observance was a simple walk in the woods and fields followed by a pub lunch. A lovely day, to be sure, but hardly the stuff of mystic, spiritual druidry. I have found myself struggling with the language and central ideas of druidry, whether OBOD, ADF or others, for they all seem to presuppose some deity/deities/divine/spirit/magic in the universe which I simply do not, and cannot, believe exists. My atheism has been effectively ‘sharpened’ and honed by my interactions (both friendly and hostile) with theists both within druidry/paganism and outside of it. My take on things is that either god(s) exist or not. If they do, then there should be some decent evidence for them (not arguments, or religious experiences had by some but not others, or ancient stories, but actual measurable physical evidence they they exist and interact with the physical world in some way). If they do not exist, then why worship/pray/do rituals that mention them?
I’ve rationalised ritual to myself as psychodrama or metaphor or ‘poetry in the world of acts’ to use Ross Nichols’ phrase, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I’m invoking gods that I don’t believe exist then I am being dishonest to myself, and probably dishonest to others too. If I wouldn’t go to a Christian church and ‘go through the motions’ of a service, then why would I do that with a druid ritual?
As for nature, I love and revere the natural world, but it doesn’t need me to do rituals or pray to it. Chanting ‘awen’ at the Solstice won’t make the sun rise any sooner. What nature needs is not worship, but care. Not prayer, but action. I think my time would be better spent learning ecology than religion, and picking litter than ‘sending healing’ (whatever that means).
And that’s not even beginning to mention the actual problems and objections I have to a lot of forms of druidry and paganism: unsubstantiated beliefs, rigid gender roles, fetishisation of motherhood and fertility, endorsement of unproven ‘alternative healing’ methods that can cause serious harm to vulnerable people, secrecy, hierarchy, the list goes on…
So, for the time being at least, I am taking my leave of the druid path, and indeed anything ‘spiritual’ altogether. I need to focus on living my life here and now, not escaping into some romantic fantasy of ‘being a druid’ (whatever that means). I want to thank all my wonderful readers and commenters.
I honestly wasn’t expecting anyone to read this blog, let alone comment on it, share my writings, link to it etc. Thank you all for your wisdom, support and guidance! You guys are amongst the nicest people I have ever had the chance to interact with, and you are the reason that whatever happens in my life, I will always have a fondness for druids and consider myself a friend and ally of paganism.
By questioning and challenging me, you made me think all the more deeply about what druidry means to me, and what simply being human means to me. Ironically, it was that process of self-examination that you prompted that led me to make this decision to bid farewell, at least for now. Thank you all.
The blog will stay up for a while, but I have no real plans to write much more for now and I will probably close it down if I haven’t written anything in a month from now. I still have an interest in druidry (heck, I’m currently reading Isaac Bonewits), so I may pop by to comment on other druidic bloggers from time to time, but more as an outside observer.
So, farewell for now, with all good wishes,