At times, working through courses of study from various Druid groups and orders, or reading certain books, Druidry can seem like a very complicated thing; full of long, wordy rituals that require you to face certain directions and recite certain prayers, or use specific equipment, or venerate certain gods, or wear particular coloured robes.
For the longest time, I was worried that by not doing these things, I wasn’t actually doing Druidry, or at least not doing Druidry the *right* way. Of course, there is no right way. Druidry, and Paganism more generally, does not proceed from a Holy Book or a Divine Revelation. There are no Pagan Popes, and no Book of Liturgy.
Druidry is one branch of a spiritual tree that sprung from people’s relationships with the land, the sea and the sky. Pagan religions tended to evolve organically and shift naturally over time as people moved around, grew crops, faced winters and summers, exchanged ideas and gods with others, developed linguistic differences or similarities etc.
Modern Druidry can be seen to have developed in similar ways: from the earliest days of the Druid Revival there was no “master plan”, just different people rediscovering Druids and redeveloping, or making up, new forms of Druidry for their times. And so it is today.
In the end, all the orders and books and courses (and all the long-winded rituals, and all the gear) are just maps, they are not the territory. At most, they can tell you what someone else thinks about Druidry and what has worked for them. But each of us who wants to take this Druidry thing to heart and make it part of our lives has to find their own Druidry, one that fits with your own life and commitments and, more importantly, your own ecology.
If Druidry is meant to be nature-focused, then it must be rooted in the nature around you. There’s no point looking for snowdrops for an Imbolc ritual if they don’t come up in your area for another month, or if it’s been so warm that the daffodils are already blooming.
And there’s no point in reciting words written by others that don’t hold any meaning for you, or which you find objectionable. One of the great strengths of Druidry is its diversity. That’s why the oft-used “Druid’s Prayer” has so many variants. You may call on different gods than the Druid next to you, you may be a Christian Druid and dedicate your rites to the Holy Trinity, you may be an atheist or agnostic Druid and not call on personified deities at all. It really doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t make anyone less of a Druid. Nobody can say you’re “doing it wrong”. This may sound like a license for “anything goes” make-it-up-as-you-go spirituality, but is that such a bad thing? Let a thousand flowers blossom, and all that.
For me, my Druidry is best expressed in simplicity.
I greet the sun in the morning, and the moon at night.
I touch the earth when I leave the house for work and when I return.
I give silent thanks to the earth for my food.
I feed the birds (and squirrels and hedgehogs, and the occasional neighbour’s cat) in the garden, and grow veg and herbs.
I recycle about 80% of my household waste, and cycle rather than drive to work.
I sit under trees and be still.
I don’t very often do anything that looks like formal meditation or ritual, and I’m more likely to be found doing something seasonally appropriate like planting seeds on the Spring Equinox, having a barbecue for Summer Solstice or decorating a tree for Yule, than standing script-in-hand waving a wand around.
And as for fire-bowls, sage smudges and incense? Nope, I live in a rental and have small rodents as pets. The most I can do is the odd tealight candle.
And the rare occasions when I feel a need to mark a Solstice or Equinox with a ritual, it tends to be a small, short one, often without a script, just raising a glass of mead or whisky and toasting the spirit of the occasion.
It’s a different form of Druidry, one more everyday, more low-key, but I still think it’s Druidry all the same. Sometimes, though, I feel inadequate compared to the more ornate, ritualised forms of Druidry, like I’m not putting in enough effort.
That’s when I need to remember to go outside and look at the trees and the birds.
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d, I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth. -Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”