Australian Druidry: Connecting with the Sacred Landscape. Julie Brett. Moon Books, 2017
I was really intrigued when I first came across this book, one of the short Pagan Portals series. While I am a UK-based northern hemisphere Pagan, I am always fascinated by how people practice a nature-based path around the world.
The wheel of the year followed by most modern Pagans was developed in, and for, a British agricultural context. And, as Julie Brett shows, it isn’t as simple as just turning it on its head to fit into the quite different context of Australia.
Throughout the narrative, this book explores the symbolism of peculiarly Australian animals and plants, and how they can form part of a nature-focused Druid practice for Druids “down under”. It also considers the different climate and different seasons encountered in different parts of Australia, and how connections, associations and stories of them can be developed to create a local wheel of the year, and Druidic practice, that grows from personal experience of the land. As Julie says in this book:
The more you take the time to step outside and feel into what is going on around you, the more you will learn, and the closer you will be to having a wheel of the year for your own area. This can take a number of years to develop, but it always begins with today.
By taking notes and observations of weather and wind patterns, keeping a nature diary, watching plant and animal behaviours, and walking the land, Julie has been able to experiment, refine and develop a unique and truly natural wheel of the year and a Druidry rooted in the land of Australia itself.
When working in a country like Australia or America, it’s also a fact worth noting that other people have had nature-based practices there for centuries before European colonists arrived. The challenge for Pagans is to respect those traditions without appropriating them. Australian Pagan Johoanna Robson’s review of Australian Druidry says it better than I could that:
Within the words and ideas in these pages there is an honouring of the indigenous Australians. Nothing is appropriated. Everything is written with respect and sensitivity.
But this isn’t just a book for Australian Druids, or those curious about how Druids live out their path the other side of the world. By observing nature, and connecting to the land, the seasons, the animals and the trees, Julie Brett gives us the tools to do the same wherever we are, keep our own nature diaries, and create our own Druidry that is not based simply on traditional dates and associations, but that is in harmony with, and grows organically from, our connection to nature. Which makes it a valuable and inspiring book for all Druids, those in Australia and those elsewhere in the world.