Below is a long quote and I apologise for it. I thought it would be good to quote it in its entirety because it says something solid to me. I think RavenLord sums everything up I feel in a very good way. I take the title of "Druid" because I am walking that path, not because I am there yet. Though the path RavenLord speaks about is exactly what I am walking.
As far as courses go, no one course can bestow anything but tools you can use on the path you tread. This O.B.O.D. course I take is nothing more then a series of tools I am acquiring along the path to use in achieving the Oneness described below.
I think the term mysticism and magick as it applies to druidry is only in the aspect of brief moments were we work to achieve and punch through to that oneness. Sometimes we achieve it and things happen around us then we lose it and try to find another way to capture. The key of course is in finding out how to be it instead of achieving it through constructs and focuses.
RavenLord wrote:I do not so much think of myself as a "practitioner of Druidry", because I do not "practice" the ancient Druid way of life. Not for a lack of wanting, but I simply find that in the world and the life in which I live, it is far too difficult, and in fact would cause more problems than good, to try and live by the Old Ways. So rather, I see myself as a believer and follower of the Old Ways of Druidism. I have always been far more involved with the spirituality and philosophy of the ancients, than I have been wanting to practice their rituals and ways. I would very much love to live that life, and have others around as I, who could celebrate Samhain and the Solstices and Equinoxes and so on and so forth.....to live in such a place where this is commonplace, that everyone does it, and it's just like any other gathering or celebration of holidays. But I have never met another "Druid" in my lifetime, and I feel incredibly awkward trying to relate to the many local "Wiccans" in my area, although to be fair I've tried. But at the end of the day, I simply find that I cannot relate to them, they are far too different, and with the few similiarties aside, their thoughts, their attitude, and their ways seem to me to be nothing like what I feel in my heart Druidism is all about.
I have never felt, and still do not feel, that Druidism (the ideals), or Druidry (the practice), is about "magick" and mysticism, as much as it is about looking at things from a different perspective, seeing the world through the eyes of the world, instead of through your own. Stiving to be one with everything around you, instead of trying to find what I feel might very well be a nonexistant "Oneness" within the self. The relation to nature is Paramount to not only the ancient Druid beliefs, but also their very ways of life. They attributed everything they learned and knew, and kept as Truth, to studying Nature, to studying the seasons, the stars, the winds, the waters, the animals, the trees and the grass....everything. Their philosophies were not taught in a course or learned in books, they were learned by opening their eyes and observing the world around them. I have read that they learned of the eternal flow of time by watching the tides of the ocean. That they learned of life, death, and rebirth by watching the seasons come and go, of watching the plantlife be born, grow old, and wither to nothing, only to be reborn every spring. That they didn't really worship the Gods, so much as they respected and revered them, and saw themselves, on some plain, as being equals of the Gods, which I think is quite unique in and of itself, compared to most spiritual paths, ancient or new.
I have learned in my studies that in many ways, Druidism is much like Hinduism, the striving for Oneness with all, the reverence of the world and the things in it, the passion for life and art, and also the belief that All Gods are One God, and that while all things are seperate from the source of creation, they too are all a part of Creation, a part of God, so in essence, we all have the spirit of God flowing through us. The Druids called that the Awen, the Flowing Spirit, that created and animated all life. But I also found that as similar as the two paths were, they were also very different. I think the key difference being that Hinduism focuses on finding inner peace within you, by becoming one with all by seperating yourself from it, and becoming One within yourself. To my understanding, the ancient Druid's philosopies were geared more to the thought that to become one with everything, you truly must BECOME One with the world around you, to become attuned to the elements, the seasons, the earth , the sky, the stars, the animals and trees and everything in between. It is said that that is where the notion of "Wizards", in the commonly accepted modern fantasy sense, originated, from the image of old Druids who had reached such a point in their lives, in their path, where they truly had attained Oneness with the world around them, and could manage incredible feats of "magick", indeed like wizards of old, and could perhaps even command the elements, and talk to nature, read the stars and the clouds and the tides.....to heal without medicines.....truly incredible things. And while much of that to the modern scheptical mind may sound indeed like nothing but fantasy....I for one have always believed that magick must have existed in some very real form once, and that for all the similar stories and "myths" of the ancients, of Dragons, of Giants and "little people", of other humanoid races, of great monsters and fantastic feats.......not every single ancient people could have been "wrong" about all of that...or that every single ancient culture on earth, who all seem to share very similar stories and world views, could all have been just imagining things, because they were not yet blessed with the modern miracle of science, which obviously explains everything to us as fact.
To me, Druidism is about Truth. Understanding, a deeper understanding than most. To me, the practice of scientific study, which of course is all the word "science" means, "to study", while very useful and helpful in many ways, tends to miss the important details, because if the universe were a great puzzle, science only seems to focus on the individuals pieces that make it all up, to see how each one works, and try to understand how all the pieces come together. To me, while commendable, that way seems backwards and counterproductive. To me, I'd like to think of the Druidic line of thought, to be more about taking a step back from yourself, and instead of trying to study all the individual pieces of life, of the world, of the universe at large, instead it is about trying to percieve the entire puzzle, to stand back and try to see the bigger, complete picture, and accept it for what you understand it to be.....and in that simpleness of thought, through accepting the bigger picture, knowledge and understanding, combined making wisdom, comes to us, instead of us looking for it.
We who strive to follow what we understand of the Old Ways refer to ourselves as Druids, because they are who we are trying to be, and in a sense, we are on that same exact path. But while we call ourselves Druids, I do not, in my heart, really believe that we can call ourselves such a thing, for what they went through to earn that title, and what we, in our many varied ways, attempt to reach the same end, are very different indeed, and in most cases, I would think, certainly not as long and diciplined as those who once spent most of their lives striving to earn the title of Druid....much like martial artists spend most of their lives striving to earn the rank of Master. At the same time, though, I disagree with those who hold the notion that there can never be Druids again in the world, because they are long gone and we have no connection to them. I do not think that to be true at all. If any of us truly believe what little we know of their ancient ways, than of course we know and understand that any number of us could have once been the Druids of Old....and we are mearly coming back to it in this life. Nothing is coincidence of course. But that brings up the matter of "how can anyone these days become a Druid? How can you call yourselves that when you know so little of the real Druids?"
And to that, I say, it's not out of the realm of possibility at all. I do not neccisarily think that one needs to take a "course", or jump through hoops, so to speak. I think the same Truths that were available for the ancients to study, are still around us today, and we have but to look at them and learn to follow the same path as our ancestors, of blood and spirit. In my heart, I do indeed one day hope that I will earn the title of Druid, to finally be at that level. But I know also that I am nowhere near that place now, and that I have a very long way to go. The knowledge is all there, I feel, and the wisdom come and goes, but it's still a lifelong path, and it is one, in my case, that I have accepted I must take alone. There was a time when I longed for nothing more than to find "others like me", "my kind", my kindred spirits....people who I could feel that I belong with. To some extent, I still want that. But unlike then, when I was much younger and very naive, although comendably passionate, I now have learned, on my path, that just as the ancients must have known, acceptance is the only true path to understanding, and therefor I must accept that there are no other "Druids" around me, nor anywhere close to me, and thus this is not a path I can really share with anyone. At least not at this point in my life. It is a path that I must traverse alone, like a spirit quest through the wilderness, till I can make it through, and come back with the right to call myself "Druid". Perhaps someday, I still hope, that I will reach that place, and that too I will have access to others like myself, and in fact perhaps even help to lead a movement, towards better things, and share what I know, and what I have, and will have learned, before my time is done.
To me, that is Druidism. It is a neverending cycle of Truth and a quest for the acceptance and understanding of that Truth. I am not One with the world around me, not by a long shot. If I were, I'd be a lot more at peace than my restless and tired soul is right now. But I accept that I am not there yet, and that I have a long way to go, and I also understand that I have much of the knowledge inside me, some of it known to me, some of it not quite yet revealed, that will help carry me through on my path...and so it is my belief that that acceptance and understanding in my path for Truth, that I walk the walk of the Druid. There is so much more to it. It is so complicated, with so many facets. Yet it is also so very simple in it's nature, and all those many facets still come together to form the One. It's all the same, so there's no reason to say it all at once. That is impossible. But yeah....I guess I am very much a "lone Wolf", a "solitary practitioner" if it sounds better....and those are my thoughts on Druidry.