Christian Druidry?

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There’s been an *interesting* discussion on various Facebook groups recently about whether Christianity and Druidry are compatible.

Putting aside that fact that the original post linked to a neo-Nazi site (yep, Nazi Christian Druids are apparently a thing now. Welcome to 2017 folks), the question itself is worth considering.

On the one hand, the fact that there are good, intelligent, wise people who identify as Christian Druids means that, at least for them, the two are compatible. OBOD is explicitly open to people of all faiths and none, and has a whole section on its site about Christianity and Druidry. And of course the founding figures of the 18th-19th century Druid Revival period, such as Iolo Morganwg and William Stukely, were themselves Christians, as was Ross Nichols who founded OBOD.

And there’s some beautiful Christian writings that seem to echo Druidic ideals. Christian scribes preserved much of Pagan myth and poetry, and Celtic Christians often wrote of the Divine within nature. St Francis, too, seems almost Druidic at times. The image above this post is of St Finbarr’s chapel at Gougane Barra, also the site of an ancient healing well and sacred lake.

There’s already a great deal of Christian influence in at least some strands of modern Druidry. And you could argue that since western society has been Christian for nigh-on a thousand years, and Christianity is built into our laws, our calendar year and our social rituals (especially in Britain where we have a state church), we all swim around in a Christian milleu which we can’t avoid.

Other Druids take a different approach, such as ADF, who are explicitly Pagan and practice Druidry as a polytheistic religion, and deliberately depart from the Christian influences of the Druid Revival.

The Druid Network takes a nuanced view, and states:

Holding a pluralistic perspective, it is possible that a Druid might find value in and respect the teachings of the Christian religion and its heritage within Britain, including that of the Culdee or Celtic Christian Church. However, the Druid does not acknowledge deity to be existent outside of Nature, for nothing is beyond Nature: the Druidic understanding is of Nature as All, in a process of perpetual self-creating. This is not Christianity.

At the same time, it is possible for a Christian to respect the teachings of Druidry and to perceive the whole of Nature as created by his one god, and thus profoundly sacred. However, the Christian god is supernatural, ie. transcendant of Nature. This is not Druidry.

FWIW, this definition matches my viewpoint pretty closely.

In the end, as Druidry has no dogma, this question is one every Druid, or Druidically-inclined person, has to answer for themselves. So, are Christianity and Druidry compatible for me?

Well, no. I was raised in a pretty strict Catholic household, and there’s no doubt that the church I knew would not see any room for compatibility with Pagan “devil worship”. On the face of it, I see too much difference between Christianity and Druidry to ever see a way of reconciling the two without losing the essential core of one or the other.

I do not believe in a creator God. I see the universe as nature’s unfolding, its self-revelation to itself. There is no room in my understanding for  supernatural deity sitting apart from the cosmos.

I do not believe in original sin, or hell, or the need for a torturous blood sacrifice to redeem us from our deserved punishment. In fact, I reject those doctrines as morally repugnant.

I believe Jesus (if he existed) was an inspired teacher and philosopher, but not that he was the son of a god.

I can’t see how you could reconcile Druidry’s plurality with the command to “have no other gods before me”.

And I am wary, perhaps suspicious even, of any attempts to bring Christian moral constructs (especially with regard to LGBT rights etc) into Druidry.

So, speaking just for me, I don’t see my Druidry as compatible with the Christianity I know from experience. My Druidry is a deliberate turning away from a religion of churches, books, priests, popes and laws, to the wild wisdom of trees and rivers, stars and stones, fur and feather.

That others have a different view is up to them, and I have no issue with people believing in God and Jesus if it helps them live well. I’m far more interested in whether your belief inspires your life than whether it is the same as mine. And Druidry is big enough for all sorts of beliefs and interpretations, from atheist Druids to Buddhist Druids to Christian Druids to polytheistic and Pagan Druids.

This isn’t to erase our differences, though. As Druid writer John Beckett points out,  those differences are important. The God of Christianity is not the Goddess of modern Paganism, is not the many gods of polytheism, is not the Great Mystery that I seek to approach.

But we can all be Druids, as long as we acknowledge that within those differences is the simple fact that we are all human, all on this earth for a brief time.

But not the Nazi Druids. They can fuck off.

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2 Responses to Christian Druidry?

  1. What you are saying makes sense in terms of the Modern Day Churches such as the Roman Catholic Church but not for the Celtic Christian Church. The Celtic Christian Church is all about the celebration of the space we live in. Their prayers are all personally voiced and written. To use the term Christianity in the way you do is to generalise terribly. Yes there is a difference in that it does not recognise a plethora of Gods but it embraces the old and the new and is not defined by a book because it started before the book was written. Celtic Christianity is also very embedded into a sense of place within prayers to the extent that one prays by walking in bare feet on the earth you walk on. Furthermore the Celtic Christian Calendar is not the one we use today. So please do not generalise. You are being too simplistic.

    • Ryan C. says:

      Fair enough. I was really talking about my experiences growing up in a Catholic environment and I tried to be as clear as possible that I am speaking about my personal experience of Christianity rather than generalising. As I said:

      “That others have a different view is up to them, and I have no issue with people believing in God and Jesus if it helps them live well. I’m far more interested in whether your belief inspires your life than whether it is the same as mine. And Druidry is big enough for all sorts of beliefs and interpretations, from atheist Druids to Buddhist Druids to Christian Druids to polytheistic and Pagan Druids.”

      If Celtic Christianity inspires you, then I am happy for you.

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