Druid in Training

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treegod
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Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 16 Aug 2014, 09:40

I've been planning a few blogs on the different philosophical, spiritual and religious influences on my druidry. Next is "the Naturalist Druid", and I've also written one on my (non?)theistic stance. I've started with a brief view of modern druidry and where I feature. There's a few references to links ("go here", "take a peek here", "Function of Druidry") that aren't here, but you can connect to them from my blog.

Locating my Druidry
When someone says “I’m a druid” they could be talking about any number things, depending on the Order, Grove or Gorsedd. When I say “I’m a druid”, what am I saying? Here’s a little historical context (for something more in depth, go here).

The modern Druid movement is a lively and growing tradition (or variety of traditions), born out of the Druid Revival of the 18th Century – to see how varied, take a peek here. There is little or no connection with the ancient druids, of whom we know very little, and the contents of modern Druidry have a much wider source than archeological remains, historical records and folkloric heritage of the Celtic peoples.

Out of the Druid Revival arose three distinct but related branches: there are “fraternal druids” that are organised and behave in much the same way as Freemasons and other fraternal organisations; there are “cultural druids”, like the gorsedds and eisteddfods of Wales, that get together and celebrate their Celtic cultural heritage without significant religious content; and there are “spiritual druids” that think of Druidry as something religious or spiritual, perhaps hailing back to the pre-Christian Celtic religions. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), the druid order I’m a member of, can be considered as part of the latter.

Next to these Revival Druids a new druidry has emerged, Reconstructionist Druidry, that bases itself as much as possible on historical accuracy, instead of invention and eclecticism. Personally, I’m happy with being a Revival Druid, since all religious and spiritual traditions are, in some way, invented and eclectic, and so little is known of the ancient druids that “filling in the blanks” is unavoidable. But I do think that reconstructionism adds a bit of objective integrity to the movement, so when we are “making things up” we don’t trick ourselves into thinking we aren’t. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful for us though.

Another strain of Druidry that deserves consideration is “activist druidry” based on activism and social reform. The image of the ancient druids is as the professional elite, acting as counsellors, judges and mediators. They were actively involved in the functioning of their society. In some cases this Activist Druidry stands alone (they profess no spiritual or cultural interest in Druidry, but the druid-image suits their purposes), and sometimes it is a part of the above “strains” of Druidry. I’ve already written on the Function of Druidry, something I consider vitally important to how I understand Druidry.

In the near future I will be writing on various spiritual, religious and philosophical influences that I consider as part of my druidry.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby Sciethe » 16 Aug 2014, 11:51

Hi Treegod,
Yes. I like the thinking. What ARE we saying when we call ourselves Druids? FYI I am saying this:
1. Sorcerer. Understanding the immanent spirit in myself and nature by using psychological concepts and spiritual experience. Being spiritually experimental. Trying to follow a path of positive personal development and understanding.
2. Poet. Being expressive of what I find, feel and see in a Bardic way through expression of the AWEN.
3. Activist/Warrior. Trying to effect change in the way that the social/corporate world works, my particular chosen path is the protection of ancient yews.
4. Scientist/Empiricist/Phenomenologist. Creating new knowledge, and understanding scientific truth. Fictions and bubble existences get us no-where, they are a shallow diversion. On the other hand there is the phenomenon of individual experience. There's still a lot to be discovered, and true personal experience has value even if it may run counter to received wisdom.
5. Maker of reality. The earthy component. The paid work I've chosen to do involves the bio-diversifying of grassland, woodland and water. That is being day-to-day Guardian of a fragment of real world.
All these aspects link together in a broadly harmonious whole, and inform one another. They are things which make me content, and cause me to believe that I'm a Druid.
:shake:
S
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby Whitemane » 16 Aug 2014, 19:15

Excellent fom both of you :tiphat: , which means that it is broadly in line with my thinking.

If you haven't already done so, read Ronald Hutton's new "Pagan Britain." It is an excellent critical review of what we do know about Bronze and Iron Age Britain, and really illuminates how little we do know. In essence, it demolishes the popular narrative of pre-Roman Britain.
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 17 Aug 2014, 18:24

Sciethe, I like your points. They seem very druidic to me. :)

Whitemane, funny you should mention Ronald Hutton; I was inspired by recently reading his Witches, Druids and King Arthur. Recommend it! (well, anything by Ronald Hutton, really)

The Naturalist Druid
Naturalism is the idea that only nature exists, or to put it another way, everything that exists is nature. In this view there is no room for the supernatural. Also, the scientific method provides the best way to objectively explore the Universe.
I started with “weak” naturalist view, that is to say I believed in gods, spirits and otherworlds, but they could all be considered as part of nature, not separate from it. But bit by bit I relinquished this view, becoming more materialist or physicalist, i.e. everything can be explained by a physical view of the universe.

I considered the “duality” between spirit and matter and, like many followers of a nature-based spirituality, saw this view as part the root of our environmental problems. When spirit is somehow seen as something “better than”, “higher than” or “separate” from nature, we denigrate it through our indifference to or distain of it. From then on I could not take seriously anything that separated soul and body, which I see as two sides of the same coin (roughly speaking, the internal and external experience of ourelves).

I said above that everything can be explained in physical terms. I think everything can be explained in physical terms, but human perception is not limited to rational empiricism. We are intuitive, symbolic, irrational creatures, and certainly not limited to “physical only” thinking, no matter how hard we try.

Categories like “spirit”, “soul”, “gods”, and “Otherworld” are useful way of describing how we perceive the world around us or ourselves. They are symbolic of the human being and its relationship to the world within and without. The gods became archetypes; soul, the psyche; the Otherworld, the unconscious. The world religions represent a real need for humans to understand the world around us in other-than-physical terms, though science can, for me, play an important role in our religious thinking.

For a while I was an active member of Caer Abred, the Druid Order of Naturalists’ online forum. The forum no longer exists, and the Order is effectively defunct, but there is still a Wikispace page here if you want to have a look at how others have combined Druidry and Naturalism. I contributed some things on this wikispace (mostly about the Holistic Spectrum Mercenaries on the Gangster Connection page), which I’ll shortly publish here.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Next blog, looking at my (a)theism.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby Brân Gannaid » 18 Aug 2014, 04:06

An interesting short talk by a so-called "nontheist" or even "atheist" that focuses on how we label ourselves and brings the concept of "ignosticism" to mind.

Starts about 4:30. About 30:30 it shifts to another interesting topic.

http://youtu.be/3KG5s_-Khvg
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 21 Aug 2014, 12:19

Druidic Theism
Within modern Druidry there is a wide range of theistic belief. Most Pagan druids will describe themselves as polytheistic or pantheistic, though there are others that embrace monotheism, duotheism, monistic-polytheism, panentheism, and even atheism and agnosticism. In this post I describe a little about my ‘theistic’ beliefs and how atheism, polytheism and pantheism have inspired me.

So, since I’m a naturalist and materialist/physicalist, that must mean I’m an atheist or agnostic. Well, yes… and no. I don’t subscribe to traditional theistic beliefs, meaning that labels such as personhood, consciousness and purpose can only be fully applied to humans (acknowledging other forms personality, awareness and intention in some life forms). As a basic intellectual statement of belief I could describe myself as an atheist or agnostic. But the gods that appear in world mythology do exist… albeit within the confines of the human imagination. But we can say that they represent something real, dressed in human form to make them more relatable.

Looking at definitions of polytheism, there is a weak polytheism that regards the gods as aspects of the One or as representing archetypes and natural forces, and a strong form that believes in them as literal beings, not just symbols. If this is so, then I am a “weak” polytheist. I don’t believe that archetypes and natural forces are endowed with consciousness or purpose; they are forces that follow inner patterns without planning or reflection.

One definition of theism I like is that of pantheism, or more or more accurately scientific or naturalistic pantheism. As Paul Harrison defines it “Pantheist beliefs are above all statements of an emotional response of reverence and belonging to Nature and the wider Universe in all their power, beauty and mystery.” I am in constant amazement of the Universe, and find science a wonderful source of inspiration and wonder, which leaves me with a sense that the universe is indeed “divine”. The gods represent parts of the whole or All that is the universe.

C.G. Jung said “You can take away a man’s gods, but only to give him others in return.” Certainly, in terms of natural forces and archetypes we can strip away consciousness, purpose and the anthropomorphic appearances from the world myths, but the underlying realities that they represent remain. Gods can also represent our highest values and aspirations, an aspect of human nature, and even if we remove the images of the gods, the underlying values remain. Money, science, family, work, art are all things we can find valuable in our lives without having to mention “God”. They give us sense, meaning and direction without being labelled “gods”. But they represent the focus of meaning and direction in our lives. In this sense, theism is not a statement of intellectual belief in something, it is an innate sense of value within each of us.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 25 Aug 2014, 11:37

The Pacifist Druid and Budo
"Let us begin by giving peace to the quarters, for without peace can no work be." from OBOD ritual

One theme that is strong in modern Druidry is that of peace. The image of the ancient druids as “peacemakers” (whether accurate or not) is a compelling one, such as the one of a druid walking between two armies to stop them from fighting.

In OBOD ritual we are taught to call for peace to each of the cardinal points (North, South, West, East) for “without peace can no work be.” Many modern druids have different ideas about peace and pacifism, but for me peace is an important part of my druidry, and I look for practical and creative ways to live my life by it. One way, perhaps surprisingly, is through martials arts, more specifically aikido, which has a philosophy of non-violence and peace. It emphasises harmony between humanity and nature, mind and body, attacked and attacker, all of which are intimately related.

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, learnt various forms of jujutsu. Later he became involved with Ōmoto-kyō, a Shinto sect where pacifism is very important, and so he began to develop his martial art in a way that not only became effective way of defending oneself, but also a way of not harming your attacker, if done skilfully. There are ways to let their energy pass, reflect it back or use their movement to unbalance them.

In aikido you don't attack first because 1) it is a response to violence, not a way to achieve it and 2) when someone initiates an attack, their own aggression becomes a source of imbalance, and can be used against them. All techniques are defensive, and any strikes and punches are for distraction. Having said that, all techniques have their origin in causing pain and damage; where one technique involves an elbow strike to the throat, in aikido this becomes a way to simply touch the chin and tip over the opponent with little effort.

Ueshiba included Budo, or the Way of the Warrior, as part of his philosophy, but it is not a way to hurt or destroy others. It includes, instead, a martial attitude, discipline, sense of honour and inner rectitude for facing the “enemy”. Not the outer enemy that attacks us, but the inner enemy that produces weaknesses in us and prevents us from living life harmoniously.

Here is something that Ueshiba said about Budo:
“The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.”

I think there is an idea about pacificm (which I've held) that is about <em>avoiding violence</em> or "being passive" even. Budo, in the context of aikido, does not avoid violence, it faces it. But then, instead of responding to violence with violence we learn to face it and actively transform it, neutralising it through harmony. This principle can be applied not just to martial arts but to different aspects of our lives, which is certainly something to be encouraged for any Pacifist Druid.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby MountainGnome » 25 Aug 2014, 18:17

Hi Treegod,
Yes. I like the thinking. What ARE we saying when we call ourselves Druids? FYI I am saying this:
1. Sorcerer. Understanding the immanent spirit in myself and nature by using psychological concepts and spiritual experience. Being spiritually experimental. Trying to follow a path of positive personal development and understanding.
2. Poet. Being expressive of what I find, feel and see in a Bardic way through expression of the AWEN.
3. Activist/Warrior. Trying to effect change in the way that the social/corporate world works, my particular chosen path is the protection of ancient yews.
4. Scientist/Empiricist/Phenomenologist. Creating new knowledge, and understanding scientific truth. Fictions and bubble existences get us no-where, they are a shallow diversion. On the other hand there is the phenomenon of individual experience. There's still a lot to be discovered, and true personal experience has value even if it may run counter to received wisdom.
5. Maker of reality. The earthy component. The paid work I've chosen to do involves the bio-diversifying of grassland, woodland and water. That is being day-to-day Guardian of a fragment of real world.
All these aspects link together in a broadly harmonious whole, and inform one another. They are things which make me content, and cause me to believe that I'm a Druid.
This is almost exactly my approach as well, Sciethe. :D See how I give different shades and colors to your ideas with my ideas:

1. Wizard. Studying everything, because everything is a manifestation of the one thing, and using this to better understand how to accomplish the greater will of the one thing and my own lesser will, how and where they differ and how I can bring myself more into alignment with the one thing.
2. Musician. Using music as a way of creating and exploring other worlds and sharing their energies with others.
3. Hold-Out against the NWO. I speak my dissent against corruption I see, and watch and express my support for new ways in which people are waking up and giving themselves back the power. A practical part of my study of and communion with plants and trees is to be able to protect myself and my family from starvation and disease in the case of long periods of time without access to commercial food centers or electricity.
4. Ambitious skeptic. I consider myself a skeptic in the original sense of the word, of taking nothing for granted, but keeping all possibilities on the table. In spite of this I have grown to believe that there is at least a little truth to every idea, somewhere, and the problem is just to find out where it is and how it relates to the greater reality. Even with things said on mainstream news channels about politics for example, it seems when certain politicians claim something then the truth in their statement actually often lies in the exact opposite of what is being said. And so the truth might be found within something even in that way. :P
5. Co-creator of a new Earth. I try to align my will with the greater will and the will of others as it opens the possibility of a new golden age on Earth, the arrest and removal from power of all parasitic money-eaters (ie western banking cartels), the severance from dependence upon fossil fuels, decentralizing power and bringing it back towards the family and local communities, regrowing rainforests and the gardenification of the Earth's surface, and opening more direct contact with everyone else on Earth, where it be someone from a foreign country, or plants, animals, or extra-dimensional beings.


The paths I follow not only allow me to think I'm a Druid, but also a Christian, Buddhist, Alchemist, psychonaut, American, Virginian, mountain-dwelling hillbilly, member of the Bray, Frazier and Martin clans and a few other things besides. Depending on who I'm talking to I can put on a different tradition's perspective like changing my invisible wizard hat. :merlyn:


It may be better to have no formal religious structure for the Druids. It helps prevent dogma and keep the focus purely spiritual or maybe naturally (like an ally of nature) spiritual. ;)

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby Sciethe » 26 Aug 2014, 00:17

Hi Treegod, hope you don't mind me rambling in response. :grin: And thanks Whitemane!
One definition of theism I like is that of pantheism, or more or more accurately scientific or naturalistic pantheism. As Paul Harrison defines it “Pantheist beliefs are above all statements of an emotional response of reverence and belonging to Nature and the wider Universe in all their power, beauty and mystery.” I am in constant amazement of the Universe, and find science a wonderful source of inspiration and wonder, which leaves me with a sense that the universe is indeed “divine”. The gods represent parts of the whole or All that is the universe.
Yes. That's the one. If you have Gods and Goddesses than you inevitably have division; also I can't personally see the point. One has moved away from the object itself. To me it feels wrong to anthropomorphise rocks trees and animals, they are themselves, they are divine.
I think there is an idea about pacificm (which I've held) that is about avoiding violence or "being passive" even. Budo, in the context of aikido, does not avoid violence, it faces it. But then, instead of responding to violence with violence we learn to face it and actively transform it, neutralising it through harmony. This principle can be applied not just to martial arts but to different aspects of our lives, which is certainly something to be encouraged for any Pacifist Druid.
I agree with this too. Peace and love through personal discipline and strength -in an imperfect world with ignorant bullies, dangerous people and other such creatures in it. I train (and compete) as a swordsman and exactly the same philosophy applies. Facing and neutralizing or understanding opposition is an essential skill for those who wish to propagate love and harmony. I see pursuing a martial art with the right philosophical attitude an essential part of the Warrior aspect of my way.
The paths I follow not only allow me to think I'm a Druid, but also a Christian, Buddhist, Alchemist, psychonaut, American, Virginian, mountain-dwelling hillbilly, member of the Bray, Frazier and Martin clans and a few other things besides. Depending on who I'm talking to I can put on a different tradition's perspective like changing my invisible wizard hat. :merlyn:
It may be better to have no formal religious structure for the Druids. It helps prevent dogma and keep the focus purely spiritual or maybe naturally (like an ally of nature) spiritual. ;)
It's not just me then! Thank Bob for that :grin:
S
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 01 Sep 2014, 11:36

The Three Circles of Existence
The Three Circles of Existence can be traced back to Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg by his bardic name) who claimed they were part of ancient druid tradition but are largely accepted to be inventions of his own. Still, much of his work has contributed to modern druidic tradition, such as the Druid’s Prayer, and even the Three Circles can provide inspiration for modern druidry.

The Three Circles through which a soul journeys are Annwn, Abred and Gwynvid. Finally there is Ceugant which represents the Infinite, God or Spirit. The journey of the soul begins in Annwn, the Cauldron of Rebirth. From here souls are incarnated in the physical world, Abred, and when the body dies the soul returns to Annwn with the lessons learnt. The soul continues evolving through mineral, vegetable, animal and human forms, until finally it reaches a spiritual perfection where it may then enter heavenly realm of Gwynvid, from where it need not return.

In naturalist terms this doesn’t hold water, but I have found a parallel in Teilhard de Chardin’s work on cosmology: Annwn represents the geosphere (inanimate matter), Abred represents the biosphere (biological life), and Gwynvid represents the noosphere (human consciousness and its development). Annwn is the entire material universe, within which we can find the living world of Abred, and from that evolves Gwynvid.

There is a constant “reincarnation” or recycling of matter through biological lifeforms: soil is consumed by a plant, incorporated into the plant as a leaf, the leaf then dies and returns to soil (or it is eaten and recycled/reincarnated through the food chain). Life evolves, and from it appears the noosphere, specifically human consciousness.

For me, this fits with the Gaian worldview (see Gaia Theory by James Lovelock), where the planet as a living system has developed a mind through humanity, which forms a network of consciousness (noosphere). At present the noosphere is disparate and even volatile, and certainly not a harmonious contributor to the ecosphere, but we can see through history how it and human culture have developed, and how ideas have travelled and helped form a globalisation of culture (and with the advent of the Internet, information can now travel round the world at the blink of an eye, making the Internet function like a nervous system for the noosphere). As each individual develops noetically, the noosphere in turn evolves, becoming more refined and coordinated, and it becomes another part of the evolution of Gaia, a composition of Annwn, Abred and Gwynvid.

Ceugant is a bit more difficult to include, but we could say it parallels Teilhard’s Omega Point, the apex of the evolution of consciousness. Ceugant stands beyond what we can know, and perhaps represents an “infinite mystery”. We may never reach beyond the known, but there is always the possibility that the unknown can, progressively, become known. There are plenty of horizons of potential!

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby DaRC » 01 Sep 2014, 15:16

ahh that's very interesting as a worldview - can you provide the book references?
I can then add them to my wishlist for once I've finished several large Prof Barry Cunliffe books.

My personal view of the 3 circles relates them to my understanding of Germanic Cosmology and that of the tribes formed from Proto-Indo-European languages.

Annwn - relates to the primordial cauldron worlds of fire and ice that are Musspelheim and NIflheim. In this they are the raw nature of the universe. There is Helheim as well which is the primordial world of the soul, these are the places that will escape the ravages of Ragnarök. They sit outside of time.

Abred - this contains the worlds of the here and now that form Earth; the world we humans experience that is Midgard, the primal natural world of Jotunheim (the natural forces in the world) and the underground world of Svartalfheim.

Ceugant - this is the inspirational/aspirational worlds that are Alfheim (the world of natural beauty), Asgard (the world of the human gods) and Vanaheim (the world of the nature gods). Essentially they represent a future state or the world to be / that can be.

I've ignored Gwynvid for similar reasons to your ignoring Ceugant.
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby Gwion » 02 Sep 2014, 09:53

The soul continues evolving through mineral, vegetable, animal and human forms, until finally it reaches a spiritual perfection …. Life evolves, and from it appears the noosphere, specifically human consciousness ……As each individual develops noetically, the noosphere in turn evolves, becoming more refined and coordinated, …
I’ve edited the above to highlight the source of the problem, for me, in accepting this view. It seems to me to fall back on the assumption that 4½ billion years of evolution on Earth has culminated in this wonderful thing (the human). But in what way are we the most “advanced” or “perfect”? We’re not the most recent species to evolve (Spartina maritima for example is only about 100 years old but has spread rapidly (successfully?)); we’re not the most resilient or adaptable (cockroaches, Periplaneta, have been around at least 50 million years); we’ve only been here for a couple of million years and, as a species, have hardly had time to show whether we’ll be an evolutionary success at all.

As a personal view, it seems to me we only think we’re the most advanced/evolved/successful/best because we choose to cite intelligence as the most important characteristic and then we rank organisms according to how close they come to that defined characteristic. Humans seem to go for the thing they have that others don’t, call it the most important and then use that to justify their own importance. We do it with intelligence (as defined by human-influenced IQ style tests); we do it with skin colour; we do it with ethnicity; we do it with body shape etc.

Apologies for subverting your post (I’m enjoying reading this thread) and I do agree that we can learn from many aspects of Iolo Morganwyg’s creations but I also think that models such as this need to be treated with care.
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 03 Sep 2014, 12:27

ahh that's very interesting as a worldview - can you provide the book references?
I can then add them to my wishlist for once I've finished several large Prof Barry Cunliffe books.

My personal view of the 3 circles relates them to my understanding of Germanic Cosmology and that of the tribes formed from Proto-Indo-European languages.

Annwn - relates to the primordial cauldron worlds of fire and ice that are Musspelheim and NIflheim. In this they are the raw nature of the universe. There is Helheim as well which is the primordial world of the soul, these are the places that will escape the ravages of Ragnarök. They sit outside of time.

Abred - this contains the worlds of the here and now that form Earth; the world we humans experience that is Midgard, the primal natural world of Jotunheim (the natural forces in the world) and the underground world of Svartalfheim.

Ceugant - this is the inspirational/aspirational worlds that are Alfheim (the world of natural beauty), Asgard (the world of the human gods) and Vanaheim (the world of the nature gods). Essentially they represent a future state or the world to be / that can be.

I've ignored Gwynvid for similar reasons to your ignoring Ceugant.
Yes, interesting. There's a lot of parallels with other systems.
The soul continues evolving through mineral, vegetable, animal and human forms, until finally it reaches a spiritual perfection …. Life evolves, and from it appears the noosphere, specifically human consciousness ……As each individual develops noetically, the noosphere in turn evolves, becoming more refined and coordinated, …
I’ve edited the above to highlight the source of the problem, for me, in accepting this view. It seems to me to fall back on the assumption that 4½ billion years of evolution on Earth has culminated in this wonderful thing (the human). But in what way are we the most “advanced” or “perfect”? We’re not the most recent species to evolve (Spartina maritima for example is only about 100 years old but has spread rapidly (successfully?)); we’re not the most resilient or adaptable (cockroaches, Periplaneta, have been around at least 50 million years); we’ve only been here for a couple of million years and, as a species, have hardly had time to show whether we’ll be an evolutionary success at all.

As a personal view, it seems to me we only think we’re the most advanced/evolved/successful/best because we choose to cite intelligence as the most important characteristic and then we rank organisms according to how close they come to that defined characteristic. Humans seem to go for the thing they have that others don’t, call it the most important and then use that to justify their own importance. We do it with intelligence (as defined by human-influenced IQ style tests); we do it with skin colour; we do it with ethnicity; we do it with body shape etc.

Apologies for subverting your post (I’m enjoying reading this thread) and I do agree that we can learn from many aspects of Iolo Morganwyg’s creations but I also think that models such as this need to be treated with care.
For me it describes a retrospective and emergent view of our evolutions and how "Abred" emerged from "Annwn" and how "Gwynvid" emerged from Abred. Life emerged in the physical universe and consciousness emerged within life. There's nothing preordained or anything inherently superior as far as I'm concerned. And they represent a wholeness, because I am at once Annwn, Abred and Gwinvid, and if we remove one of the previous stages, then the following stages disappear. E.g. life depends on the physical universe to exist; human consciousness is a quality of my biological brain.

It is a bit linear, showing a series of progressions, but that for me is simply a few conceptual divisions we can make when we draw a line from "there" to "here" (physical through biological to noetic, for example). And Ceugant offers something "more" than Gwynvid. We might reach Gwynvid, but it's not the pinacle of anything, just another stage, beyond which we might discover more. A lot more. :wow:

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 10 Sep 2014, 10:58

The Gaian Druid
Gaia philosophy has deep roots, with ideas abounding for millenia about the Earth being a single organism, and ourselves being a part of this. This forms a very important part of my worldview, which you can see a glimpse of in my previous blog post on The Three Circles, and there are a number of my blog posts on Gaian philosophy and science – just look through the Gaia tag on The Grove of Quotes. In the last century it has been given substance by the scientific work of James Lovelock and his Gaia Hypothesis. The Earth, together with its atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere, is a life-sustaining system that can adapt and evolve like an organism, and may be described as a superorganism. The scientific name for this is geophysiology. Though Gaia works just as well for me.

The Gaian Druid sees themself as part of Gaia and seeks to turn their qualities to the service of Gaia and all the life that she sustains. Everything we are and everything we do can be seen as part of the way Gaia functions, all our technologies, sciences, religions, spiritualities, arts, cultures, traditions, etc.. Though many have had a tendency to go astray, and we live in a state of disharmony with the earth, in much the same way that the human brain may seek to own, control and coerce the body and its functions to its own goals, instead of providing a useful function for the whole organism. The Noosphere/Gwynvid (as manifest in humanity) is an infant quality of Gaia, and has a lot of things to offer but a lot of challenges to overcome too. The Gaian Druid is there, acting as midwife to support this process within themself and the world around them, as Gaia gives birth to a new phase of her life: self-awareness.

“Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe.” James Lovelock

One day I imagine all words prefixed with “eco-” (ecopsychology, ecotechnology, ecobusiness, ecovillage, etc.) will become meaningless as we realise that all aspects of human life are essentially “eco”, i.e. fundamentally related, interrellated and identified with the natural world. As David Richo said “We are not living on the Earth, we are part of how it lives.”

And some more of my favourite quotes on this subject:
“You did not come into this world, you came out of it. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.” Alan Watts

“Concern with the environment is no longer one of many “single issues”; it is the CONTEXT of everything else- our lives, our business, our politics.” Fritjof Capra

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 16 Sep 2014, 08:38

The Humanist Druid
As a human being and druid, I believe that being human and human beings are important and valuable. This value transcends culture, religion and nationality. Human nature is something that is universal, and over which no one has a monopoly; it is something that connects us all. What it is and how to recognise it are on-going processes involving the self-discovery of each individual and the evolution of the human race as a whole as we realise just how many ways there are to be “human” and how deep our cultural conditioning goes.

One image of the ancient druids that inspires me is that of a network of Celtic intelligensia that worked between tribes, kingdoms and cultures that make up the diverse range of peoples we call “Celtic” (with an area stretching between the British Isles, Iberian Peninsula and Turkey). Their wisdom and training transcended their tribal loyalties and traditions to bind them together with a common human spirit. The value of this image is not whether it is fact or fiction but how it inspires us to live our lives.

A modern druid, like anyone in the world today, is in contact with and influenced by international ideas and relations. Indeed, they may even find themselves outside the traditional range of the Celts, and perhaps not even with Celtic ancestry. Modern druidry and its ideas themselves are not limited to Celtic tradition, but have for centuries been mixed with others.

We live in an era where international human rights have been developed and agreed upon, we are connected by the Internet and other forms of media that stretch across the world, bringing us information instantly. Inevitably, the mix of cultures can prove a volatile powder keg, provoking much conflict. But a modern druid takes all this in their stride, joining with the flux of culture that lays over the undercurrent of humanity.

This particularly resonates with me, being a British expat living in a bilingual part of Spain with a French-speaking Swiss family. I have gone beyond the “comfort” of my anglo-centric box and discovered other cultures and other parts of the world. And when relating to other human beings, I cannot rely on the familiar or conventional ways I was brought up with, but must learn to relate to other human beings, not as a druid or a Brit, but as a human being.

I don’t think we have to deny our cultural backgrounds, and trade them in for something more universal, but simply put them into perspective. To misquote Jesus Christ, “Humanity was not made for culture/science/art/religion; culture/science/art/religion were made for humanity.”

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 20 Oct 2014, 10:44

The Christian Druid
My earliest religious experience was within the context of a Christian church, a “happy-clappy” Baptist church, an overall positive experience with singing, celebration, fun Sunday school games and the love of a benevolent God. It left me with a lasting interest in all things religious and spiritual. During my adolescence I identified with Spiritualist and New Age ideas, though continued visiting the local Christian youth group. I then discovered Paganism, rooting my idea of spirit in nature and ancestral Pre-Christian traditions. But Christianity, or at least Christ, was always there, and if I were to be consistent in recognising and honouring my ancestors, then I would have to look to Christianity as well as Pagan religions for inspiration and understanding of my roots. Perhaps the pre-Christian religions of Europe represent a long-forgotten “deeper” legacy than Christianity, but that doesn’t make Christianity's impact on my life and culture any less true or relevant.
Modern Druidry has its own roots in Christian tradition, with specifically Pagan Druidry emerging in the 20th century. Some 18th century Revivalists saw in the ancient druids a precursor to Christianity, perhaps containing little or no differences in doctrine. At other times Christian gentlemen in long, white robes would gather at Stonehenge or other significant places to conduct “druidic” ceremonies, though for fraternal or cultural motives rather than the revival of ancient religion. And today there are still plenty of modern druids that identify as Christian, combining a faith in Christ with a druid-inspired nature-based spirituality.
I’m not a follower of Christ or a believer in Christian doctrine, but I recognise the impact of it on my life and the inspiration that the teachings of Christ continue to have for me. And I can say, as Columcille once said, that “Christ is my Druid”, seeing in him a model for being a Christian, a druid and a human.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby DaRC » 21 Oct 2014, 11:24

I’m not a follower of Christ or a believer in Christian doctrine, but I recognise the impact of it on my life and the inspiration that the teachings of Christ continue to have for me.
Good words :) I too don't sub scribe to the 'I'm a pagan and thus anti-Xtian' worldview; too much of cultural signficance over the last 1500 years has come from those roots - wonderful cathedrals, music and art. There's been a lot of negative aspects too from the Abrahamic religions but I don't think pagan spirituality can move forward if it incorporates obliterating or hating any other religion or spirituality.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby Whitemane » 21 Oct 2014, 13:05

I’m not a follower of Christ or a believer in Christian doctrine, but I recognise the impact of it on my life and the inspiration that the teachings of Christ continue to have for me.
Good words :) I too don't sub scribe to the 'I'm a pagan and thus anti-Xtian' worldview; too much of cultural signficance over the last 1500 years has come from those roots - wonderful cathedrals, music and art. There's been a lot of negative aspects too from the Abrahamic religions but I don't think pagan spirituality can move forward if it incorporates obliterating or hating any other religion or spirituality.
I'll agree too. Most of my friends and colleagues are Christian (and my Anam Cara is Jewish) and they are good and kind people who do not deserve any hostility from any faith.
May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you,
Guide your way on.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 21 Oct 2014, 14:07

I’m not a follower of Christ or a believer in Christian doctrine, but I recognise the impact of it on my life and the inspiration that the teachings of Christ continue to have for me.
Good words :)
Thanks. :)
I too don't sub scribe to the 'I'm a pagan and thus anti-Xtian' worldview; too much of cultural signficance over the last 1500 years has come from those roots - wonderful cathedrals, music and art.
Yes, there is too much significance, as so much Western culture has been influenced by Christian thought - it's unavoidable. I see it as putting it into perspective, that I am moving into a post-Christian world and reconnecting with my Pagan roots, taking with me what I see as healthy and relevant.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 01 Nov 2014, 15:13

Just finished The Pagan Druid, which will be published on the blog on Monday, and I'll publish it here as soon as I can after that.

Have a good weekend everyone. :hug:


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