Druidry in general has a pretty good gender balance, but the popular perception of what a Druid is tends to look a bit more like Getafix from the Asterix comics: an old bloke with a long beard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but it does tend to be the image you get most often in the media. So I thought it might be nice to highlight some of the amazing female Druids doing great work out there.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are some pretty significant names I haven’t mentioned, such as Ellen Evert Hopman and Cat Treadwell, but that’s just because I’m not as familiar with their work. And also, blog posts have to stop somewhere and five seemed a good number. So, in no particular order, here we go:
1. Joanna van der Hoeven
Joanna is one of my Druid teachers at Druid College, but I knew of her work for years before I started studying with her. Joanna is a Druid and Witch from Canada, who now lives in the UK. She has written six non-fiction books on Druidry, with another on the way soon, and I highly recommend all of them.
Joanna blends Druidry and Zen Buddhism in her practice, and her book Zen Druidry shows how these two paths can beautifully combine to create a meaningful, ethical and fulfilling life centred on meditation and nature. The Awen Alone is a book that shows you how you can practice your Druidry without being bound to any one Order or group, and how you can make it real in your daily life and yearly cycles, and is absolutely my favourite introductory book on Druidry in the world (I even got Joanna to sign my copy at Druid College, because I’m a fan-geek)!
Joanna is also a dancer, singer and poet and has studied with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and with Emma Restall Orr. She blogs regularly at Down the Forest Path and is consistently one of the most thoughtful and inspiring Druid writers I know.
Her definition of Druidry is beautiful in its simplicity and one I frequently make use of myself:
“Druidry is loving nature, and allowing that love to inspire you to live your life accordingly”.
2. Emma Restall Orr (Bobcat)
While on her website, Emma says that “I would no longer term myself as a Druid”, certainly much of her major work was done under the Druid umbrella, and she has been one of the most significant influences on the development of modern Druidry in Britain in recent decades, so I feel she belongs on this list and that it would be woefully incomplete otherwise.
Emma has worked with OBOD and was joint Chief of the BDO for several years, before forming The Druid Network. Her writings span some nine books on Druidic themes as well as essays and contributions to other works. In books like Living Druidry, Emma’s writing is raw and visceral, never shying away from the often messy reality of life and the vast range of human emotions. Her Druidry is clearly not the staid, white-robed affair of the early Druid Revivalists, but is altogether something wilder and more earthy. Yet, she is an erudite and highly perceptive philosopher as well, and The Wakeful World provides some of the best philosophical examination and defence of the animist worldview that I’ve ever come across.
Emma describes her philosophy as “the perception and understanding of sanctity in nature – human and nonhuman nature. Where we feel there is inherent value we engage with care and consideration”. Emma now works with Sun Rising natural burial ground and nature reserve.
3. Penny Billington
Penny is an absolute force of nature within the Druid community. A Druid of over twenty years’ experience, she trained with OBOD and now edits the Order magazine, Touchstone. Her written work includes The Path of Druidry, which is a complete sequential Druid study course in one book, and The Wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew. She has also written on the early twentieth century occultist Dion Fortune and penned some charming short novels and stories featuring Gwion Dubh, Druid Detective.
Penny is a regular speaker on Druid topics, and I have been privileged to meet her twice at Druid Camp and not only get to hear her speak and lead workshops, but to enjoy simply chatting with her over a cup of strong tea in the camp cafe. Witty, insightful, eloquent, Penny can be both profound and side-splittingly funny (as her turn at Just a Druid Minute last year proved), and is a delight to spend time with, even if you do go away with more questions than answers!
4. Nimue Brown
Nimue is one of the most prolific and creative Druids out there today. A writer of both fiction and non-fiction, an illustrator, a singer and musician, a blogger and more, I honestly don’t know how she manages to fit as much activity into the day as she does!
Nimue’s blog, Druid Life, is one I’ve regularly followed for some years now and with posts several times a week, there’s a ton of material on there to work through.
As the title suggests, all aspects of life from the personal to the political to the spiritual are covered, and nothing escapes Nimue’s clear and critical eye.
OBOD-trained, but anarchic by nature, for Nimue Druidry is “not just a way of marking the turn of the year or major life events, it’s an integral part of everyday life, informing how I see and interact with the world…Druidry is all about inspiration and creativity, the celebration of beauty and nature, the quest for spirit, the complexities of relationship and the demands of service, honour and responsibility.”
Her many books include When a Pagan Prays, which considers the nature of prayer from an agnostic perspective, Druidry and Meditation, Druidry and the Ancestors and Spirituality Without Structure, which contrasts personal spirituality with organised religion and offers a guide to walking your own path.
Down-to-earth and grounded, Nimue’s Druidry is of this world, and relentlessly engaged with this world, and it offers both inspiration and challenge.
5. Dana Driscoll
Dana blogs at The Druid’s Garden, where she writes about everything from the philosophy and practice of Druidry, to land-healing, permaculture, foraging and living a life more connected to nature in a very real and practical way.
Dana is a Druid Adept and current Archdruid of Water in the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and chief editor of their journal Trilithon. She has also trained with OBOD and is a Bishop in the Gnostic Celtic Church. Dana is also a certified Permaculture Designer and has several years’ experience working with plants, herbalism, mushroom cultivation, homestead management and sustainable living. As if that wasn’t enough, Dana is also an artist, craft-maker and a university professor!
Dana’s blog is hugely inspiring, and her take on Druidry is rooted in the questions of what Druidry can do to make a difference, and to serve the natural world and the human community. Dana’s writing focuses on “the intersection of spiritual practice with gardening and permaculture–land tending, wild tending, and building the relationship between humans and nature. That is, embracing the “earth centeredness” of earth-based spiritual practice by direct living and inhabiting our amazing earth.” Her Druidry is one of re-wilding, reconnecting and re-enchanting the world and our relationship to it.
So, if you haven’t already read the books and blogs of the five Druids above, take an afternoon off at the weekend, get a pot of tea on, and immerse yourself in a world of practical, lived, inspirational Druidry.
Who else would you put on the list? Let me know in the comments!
All images reproduced from the author’s websites, with the exception of Penny Billington, whose image is from her author page on Amazon.