Druid in Training

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treegod
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 03 Nov 2014, 10:33

As promised, here it is. I am also working on The Buddhist Druid and The Taoist Druid.

The Pagan Druid
Having grown up with Christian beliefs and then experimenting with Spiritualist and New Age ideas in my teens, I didn’t start an active spirituality until I discovered Neo-Paganism. Here I started to examine my previous ideas and experiment with new ones.

Modern Paganism offered me a spirituality that was non-dogmatic and experiental, leaving me to experiment and investigate various beliefs without committing myself to any particular one. Above all, it offered me a spirituality connected to nature, affirmed life and inspired me with myths and symbols forgotten after the coming of Christianity.

Pagan (or pre-Christian) religions represent a long buried source of spiritual inspiration that is not Christian or an exotic Eastern one. They are native to the Western psyche, with symbols and myths corresponding to a deeper “archeological” layer of our cultural psyche.

Neo-Paganism is often described as a Revival or Reconstruction of ancient pagan religion, but I would not describe it like that but I think of it in terms of Reconnection: we can reconnect to the ancestral traditions, which can bring us insights about ourselves, our world and the universe, insights that can reconnect us with our instinctive selves and with nature. This also means that other sources of spiritual inspiration are not precluded; Paganism represents just one layer in my spirituality, one of primal religion, connected to instincts and nature. Christianity provides another substantial layer in my thinking, as do Buddhism and science.

Aspects relating to this “primal religion” are polytheism, pantheism, Goddess worship, animism, shamanism, celebration of the seasons and reverence for the ancestors and their ways, which I’ll describe briefly here:

Pantheism and Polytheism the universe and the natural forces that comprise it are divine and so sacred and worthy of our respect, individually and as a whole.

Goddess Worship for many centuries Western culture has held fast to the image of the Divine as masculine, a significant part of Neo-Paganism is to redress this imbalance, reviving the image of the Divine Feminine. In it, women may find empowerment and respect, positive “feminine”* qualities can be given due credit, and we can find ways of living harmoniously with the Earth Mother instead of exploiting her. (*here I talk of a cultural definition of gender that is by no means pan-cultural, and may in fact belong to men as much as women).

Animism the universe is alive, as something organic and not merely mechanical. Each being and presence in nature deserve recognition and respect.

Shamanism the awareness of hidden aspects of ourselves and the world around us, we see all things as interconnected, and the human mind reveals itself to be something more than just a conscious ego, but contains upper, middle and lowers worlds through which we can “travel”.

Celebration of the Seasons a major part of modern Paganism is the use of the Wheel of the Year. With eight, roughly equidistant festivals we observe the changing seasons, celebrating them and integrating our observances into our lives, which all too often are urbanised and disconnected from nature.

Reverence of the Ancestors the past is often forgotten in the rush to get the newest, shiniest electronic devise before the next one comes along in six months. We advance in ignorance of our roots at our own risk! To know our roots or ancestors is a way of knowing the ground we walk on and the wisdom (or lack thereof) of its stability. But here we must also apply discrimination, sorting the wheat from the chaff, as not all we inherit has necessarily been for our own good or that of the future. And let us not forget Reverence for the Descendants, those who will be left with the legacies (good and bad) that we leave behind.

From this we have a life-affirming spirituality that is ecological in nature, integrating all that is organic, interdependent, primitive, wild and instinctive in harmony with our modern intellectual and technological ways. I feel this integration is an important part of gaining stability as we advance into the future.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 05 Nov 2014, 12:03

Here's an article on Unitarianism that I wrote shortly before commiting myself to writing this series on my druidry.

A Unitarian Druid
Some years ago, when I lived in England, I went to a Unitarian church, a church of “religious liberals”. I even led a couple of services introducing Pagan ritual (one for Imbolc, 1st Feb, and another for Beltane, 1st May) and I remember the time fondly. It was a small congregation, but very welcoming and active. I was a member for a couple of years, attending most Sundays,

There’s not many congregations in Spain (one in Barcelona and another in Madrid) and it can’t be recognised as a religion here because “it lacks creeds”. Individuals may come from a variety of faiths: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, Pagan, Buddhist and so on. The lack of any single creed is integral to it. We can’t really talk of “believers” but “seekers”.

I think part of my affinity with Unitarianism is that it has a Christian past, like me, and recognises that as an important part of its history. However, the Church and/or the Bible are not seen as the ultimate authorities on religion, but that we have it within us to work it out for ourselves (conscience, reason, life experience, intuition, etc., “gifts from God” we might say). I grew up visiting Baptist and Anglican churches, and considered myself Christian until my early teens, but later my curiosity just “spilled” over the cup of Christian theology. I had my doubts, I prayed to God about it, and He gave me a very definite answer: this is the way I made you! Or as Jesus said in the Bible “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” – I reckon that includes any religious belief or practice.

I may not participate in a congregation but I still feel “Unitarian” (or Unitarian Universalist as it is in the US). My beliefs aren’t a fixed set of prescribed beliefs, they are subject to change and plenty of updates, so the idea of a church that not only tolerates but encourages this is extremely appealing. As one Odinist friend of mine put it “It’s seems very futuristic”.

Here’s a description of Unitarianism from the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches’s website:

We believe that:

Everyone has the right to seek truth and meaning for themselves.
The fundamental tools for doing this are your life experiences, your reflection upon it, your intuitive understanding and the promptings of your own conscience.
The best setting for this is a community that welcomes you for who you are, complete with your beliefs, doubts and questions.
In the spirit of civil and religious liberty, equality of respect and opportunity is for everyone.

We can be called religious ‘liberals’:

Religious because we unite to celebrate and affirm values that embrace and reflect a greater reality than self.
Liberal because we claim no exclusive revelation or status for ourselves.
We afford respect and toleration to those who follow different paths of faith.

We are called ‘Unitarians’:

Because of our traditional insistence on divine unity, the oneness of God.
Because we affirm the essential unity of humankind and of creation.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby DaRC » 05 Nov 2014, 13:10

I think part of my affinity with Unitarianism is that it has a Christian past, like me,
Interesting, :old: your point make me realise I never really had a 'willing' Christian past. My mother left it until I was 4 before I was baptized which is a Methodist view (I think) that you should consciously choose to be Christian.
She was the driving force behind Sunday School, me becoming a choirboy and generally attending church. She was disappointed that I never chose to be confirmed in the Church, but by then I disliked the Vicar (he was de-frocked later proving that my innocent instinct was good) and my favourite piece of music was Widor's Toccata which the organist played as I escaped at the end of the Sunday service. I liked the singing and to an extent the church (as a building) just not the rest of it all.

When I was naughty she referred to me as a little heathen, as I hit my tweens my love of mythology made that an attractive label (as opposed to my knowledge now that is tainted by some modern groups).
It's probably a lesson in beware of what you nickname your kids....
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)
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 05 Nov 2014, 19:28

I think part of my affinity with Unitarianism is that it has a Christian past, like me,
Interesting, :old: your point make me realise I never really had a 'willing' Christian past. My mother left it until I was 4 before I was baptized which is a Methodist view (I think) that you should consciously choose to be Christian.
I know Baptists don't believe in infant baptism, but that you can only be an adult believer. I'm not sure about the Methodist policy towards it, though it's possible they've adopted the Baptist line (a very good policy IMO).

My parents were never moralistic about religion. My dad's Christian upbringing was strict, and I think he was never a dedicated Christian as when I was around 9 or 10 he turned to Spiritualist beliefs. My mum describes herself as "Free Christian with Baptist tendencies". She grew up with Catholicism, so she's adverse to formalised and institutionalised forms of Christianity and won't align herself with any particular denomination. She's just "Christian" and that's that. She believes in a personal relationship with JC, which means its up to each individual to create their own relationship with him and not rely on prescribed forms of religion - though in terms of Christian theology and cosmology she can still be fairly orthodox.

I think they were both "rebels" to their earlier experiences of Christianty and didn't want the same for us.
I liked the singing and to an extent the church (as a building) just not the rest of it all.
Yes, that was always fun, especially in the Baptist church of my grandparents, which could get quite lively. Methodism has a very good musical tradition, too, and I think some of my mum's favourite songs come from there.
I was fortunate that I didn't have to go all the way through church services but spent a song or two with the adults then all the kids would disappear to Sunday school to have our own mini service with fun, creative activities.

I never really became dissillusioned with Christianity itself, but sort of "switched allegiance" in my early teens towards Spiritualist ideas. Though strangely enough I still visited the local youth group of one of the churches I went to, and I think my beliefs from then were like my Christian beliefs minus the negative bits with a New Age gloss. So it never really went away, as I reflect on it now.
When I was naughty she referred to me as a little heathen, as I hit my tweens my love of mythology made that an attractive label (as opposed to my knowledge now that is tainted by some modern groups).
It's probably a lesson in beware of what you nickname your kids....
Yes, rather. :grin:

I always consider that I had a very active imagination as a kid, and believed in all sorts of things: ghosts, fairies, tooth fairy, Father Christmas, Jack Frost, easter bunny and so on, which my parents never discouraged me from disbelieving, and I think of this as the source of later interest in Paganism (and have joked with my mum about it). I seem to remember the 90s Lion, Witch and Wardobe series had a very strong impact on me (other worlds and mythological beasts!).

Some ideas were restricted by my Christian upbringing. One imaginary friend was a wizard (with an owl, like in the Sword in the Stone) and I think of this as a compensation for the prohibition against magic - if I couldn't do magic, maybe I could invent someone who could. Once I went towards the New Age, the brakes were off and I could indulge in all sort of fantastical beliefs that were out of bounds for a Christian. :poof:

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 01 Dec 2014, 12:27

The Buddhist Druid
Buddhism has had a great impact on my thinking, and though I may not officially take refuge in “Buddha, Dharma, Sangha", or adopt the Buddhist precepts as a rule of life, many of its ideas have helped me overcome many philosophical tangles, simplifying and clarifying many of my thoughts.

The appeal of Buddhism for me is its universalism, that the Buddha’s teachings weren’t simply directed towards a specific tribe, ethnicity or culture but were used to describe the human condition, in much the same way as I see Christ and his teachings. Of central importance to both is love or compassion, conceived of and practiced in slightly different ways, but essentially the same. Bodisattvas delay complete release from Samasara (cycle of rebirth) in order to help others in their search for enlightenment and the cessation of suffering. For me enlightenment and compassion have become closely allied if not synonymous.

The concepts that really underpin what I’ve received from Buddhism are the three signs of being: dukkha, anicca and anatta, roughly translated as suffering, change and no-self, respectively. All beings suffer, all beings are subject to change and all beings are lacking in any permanent sense of self. The sense of self itself can change over time, but also it can appear and disappear, much like the light in a light bulb (science seems to confirm this: “I” am a cluster of neurons that serves the purpose of identity in this organism). I think in the realisation and acceptance of dukkha, anicca and anatta, I suffer less, I worry less about these things and learn the meaning of The Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

The Buddha originally sought a way to cease suffering through spiritual means, and this culminated in his enlightenment, Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, but what he taught was the Middle Way, moderation between the extremes of hedonism and asceticism, that both extremities can become obsessions and thus sources of suffering instead of liberation from it. Perhaps even the pursuit of moderation can become obsessive, so we can say “All things in moderation, including moderation.” The Buddha offered a way to help the world, and so he encouraged people to take what they felt was helpful in their lives and not obsess over or accept all his teachings.

Recently, I saw a picture of the Buddha “going to Nirvana”. It was an image of his death and around his body were his followers in various states of mourning. We tend to think of Buddhism as encouraging detachment and dispassion, yet here is a scene of pain and passion! Buddhism certainly isn’t about denying these feelings, but just not becoming attached to or obsessed over them. Feelings come and go like the tides, like the tides of change. In the acceptance of this we can find a measure of peace, even in extreme times, and develop a mindful attitude of acute observation. For me, Buddhism is a deeper and clearer way of feeling and living, and not letting ourselves become overcome by our passions.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 05 Dec 2014, 20:36

The Taoist Druid
walked into a bookshop and looked at the religion and spirituality section, and there before me were two scriptures from the East: the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching, so I bought them and read them. Out of the two the Tao Te Ching spoke to me the most, and I soon became enthusiastic about its philosophy.

One allegorical painting, The Vinegar Tasters, depicts China’s three main philosophies and their reactions to life: Confusianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Confucius, the Buddha and Lao-Tzu are standing around a vinegar pot and they have each stuck their finger in the pot, taken a taste and are left with different expressions on their faces. Confucius has a sour look, seeing life as out of harmony with Heaven and thus needing the proper rules and institutions to regulate it. The Buddha has a bitter look, seeing life as something we suffer (First Noble Truth: “Life is suffering”) and from which we should seek liberation. Lao-Tzu has a happy look because he realised that vinegar (or life) is as it should be, and it is our meddling in it that causes problems for us. The taste of vinegar is not pleasant, but that is as it should be; it is vinegar being vinegar!

Here was a philosophy that affirmed that life and nature are fundamentally good, and not something we should control or seek liberation from, which really clicked with my Pagan and Gaian sensibilities.

There is a principle of harmony and unity at work in nature, called the Tao, or Way. It is not one particular way, it is the Way of All Things, of Heaven and Earth and the “ten thousand things,” so it cannot be constricted or encapsulated by any one belief or thought system, which are all partial and limited.

Each being has its own contact with the Tao, called Te meaning virtue, the inborn nature of each being that has its source in the Tao. A mountain has its Te, as do the stars, as do ants, as does a rock, as does a flu virus, as does a water molecule, as do human beings! All things have their own Te, which is, by nature, in harmony with the Tao. If we are in harmony with our own Te, we are in harmony with the Tao, and if we are in harmony with the Tao then we are in harmony with the Te of All Things. No need for control, no need for liberation. All things can happen “Self-so”, if we let them.

But I cannot now say this is my philosophy, because this is something that is “done without doing”, a concept known as wu-wei. It has become a non-philosophy for me, because it is something achieved without contrived effort, it is something we are born with and not something we can achieve, it is something we simply are – if only we would let ourselves! What is the Uncarved Block? It is the form of the block in its naturalness before human hands took it and shaped it, it is the tree in its natural state. This is the Uncarved Block. Wu-wei is simply letting the Uncarved Block be what it is, a tree in its natural state.

In considering wu-wei, Taoism is not a system that can be applied like other philosophies, it cannot be thought out, planned or systemised, because it represents Nature as it is. Its goal is Harmony with Nature, except that Nature is Harmony, and so it is impossible to achieve with the usual goal-driven manner of thinking. It already exists. But even the goal-driven conscious ego has its own Te, its own function in the nature of things. It is not a matter of denying this ego, to stop it interfering but to observe nature (including the Nature within the human mind) and learning from and applying its principles, and let Nature transform our way of thinking.

We can plan, scheme, manage, invent and have goals and expectations, because that is simply the nature of the conscious mind, and how we evolved, but we can do it in harmony with nature. The conscious mind can consider itself as one function within the wholeness of the human psyche, and the human being can consider itself as one part of how Nature functions, instead of somehow separate from, better than or above it.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby DaRC » 09 Dec 2014, 13:23

A great post Treegod - I also had a dalliance with the Tao before finding Druidry.
In considering wu-wei, Taoism is not a system that can be applied like other philosophies, it cannot be thought out, planned or systemised, because it represents Nature as it is.
Except that people, being people :roll: , have tried to systemise or plan whether it be using the i-Ching for augury or by developing Feng Shui which can then be followed to the n'th degree.

However, I still love the principles and the poetry of Taoism.
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)
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby hawthorns » 09 Dec 2014, 13:53

These posts have been very interesting and illuminating to read.

My apologies in advance for my inability of communication but I have fibromyalgia brain fog coupled with a head cold so my faculties are struggling at the moment :(

My path has also been long and winding, starting off attending c of e from 3 - 12 but deciding not to be confirmed. Then been to baptist churches and followed pentecostal word of faith. Also, read widely about buddhism. I am eurasian so although brought up in the west I do feel the pull towards the east too.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 09 Dec 2014, 14:14

Except that people, being people :roll: , have tried to systemise or plan whether it be using the i-Ching for augury or by developing Feng Shui which can then be followed to the n'th degree.
It's a finger pointing at the moon, and sometimes it's useful to systemise the finger, at least to distract the interfering mind to let nature do its own thing, and as long the difference between finger and moon isn't lost. I was always more interested in its philosophical aspect than the religious/folk aspect of it, and I love the Tao Te Ching and the stories, but in the end the function of the finger worked for me and I went from Taoism to the Tao. :)

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby DaRC » 10 Dec 2014, 13:19

It's a finger pointing at the moon,
Which brings to mind one of my favourite poets, Ted Hughes, and one of my favourite poems of his
"Full Moon and Little Frieda"
http://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/ ... ry-podcast
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 treegod » 10 Dec 2014, 15:19

These posts have been very interesting and illuminating to read.

My apologies in advance for my inability of communication but I have fibromyalgia brain fog coupled with a head cold so my faculties are struggling at the moment :(

My path has also been long and winding, starting off attending c of e from 3 - 12 but deciding not to be confirmed. Then been to baptist churches and followed pentecostal word of faith. Also, read widely about buddhism. I am eurasian so although brought up in the west I do feel the pull towards the east too.
Glad you've found them interesting, and don't worry about lack of communication, it's understandable (and on a forum like this there is no compromise to read and respond :) ).

You have been on a winding path! I've been a seeker too, roaming far and wide (philosophically and spiritually speaking) to discover my way.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby hawthorns » 10 Dec 2014, 20:05

Many thanks for the kind words. Yes, it certainly has been a long and winding road, I forgot that it also went via exploring catholicism and the quaker faith. It is nice to have found where I belong and where I can plant my feet and grow.

I like that Ted Hughes poem too, I was introduced to it via an OU course the other year.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 11 Jun 2015, 00:31

I've created a new page for my blog, a list of statements describing some of the influences on my druidry. I tried to keep it to one simple statement, but in some cases I just couldn't :wink:

Statements of Druid Thought
Following on from my series of blogs on what I consider part of my Druidry, I share here my personal “Statements of Druid Thought”. This is in contrast to statements of belief, since what I share here aren’t fixed beliefs but the customary thoughts I have about Life, Self and Universe. They are each associated with a religious or philosophical tradition that influence my approach to Druidry in the form of a definition, but this definition comes from what I have recieved from them and what each one means to me, rather than What They Strictly Are.

One thing to note is that since thinking is a process, all of these statements are subject to change and improvement.

Druidry the human spirit evolved and continues to evolve within Nature, which is a great source of spiritual inspiration and tradition

Unitarianism (or Unitarian Universalism) the basis of human religion is not unthinking belief but the free and rational reflection on the religious, spiritual and philosophical heritage of humanity expressed in the awe of living

Naturalism only Nature exists, and everything that exists is Nature; the supernatural does not exist

Psychological Physicalism everything can be best explained by a physical view of the universe; the human mind, however, is not limited to this perception

Humanism human beings and being human are important and valuable

Gaian Philosophy the Earth is a living system that may be called Gaia; everything we are and everything we do are a part of the life of Gaia; we represent Gaia becoming conscious of herself, but She does not need us

Warrior Pacifism peace is maintaining oneself upright in body and attitude, and confronting the challenges of life without falling to the aggression presented before us and, above all, not falling to the aggression that arises within

Christianity the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are important sources of inspiration and an integral part of Western cultural, religious and spiritual heritage; the love and compassion he felt for human beings in all their humble bearing is central to this

Buddhism satisfaction can be found in accepting that dissatisfaction is a natural condition of life; nothing is impermanent, everything changes, we cannot change or control this and suffer when we try; in understanding our own suffering we open ourselves to compassion for other living beings

Taoism harmony is the natural state of all things, disharmony arises from when we interfere with the natural order of things and our own inner nature

Zen it’s not complicated, it’s here and now, so stop trying and start living

Paganism life is sacred and to be celebrated; the healthy expression of the non-rational and primitive aspects of the human spirit are part of this

Shamanism there are hidden and interconnected dimensions to life to which we may develop sensitivity and awareness

Scientific Pantheism Nature is divine and worthy of great awe and respect as we discover its mysteries

Polytheism there are many forces, seen and unseen, in Nature and within the human mind that influence us and how we think, feel, perceive and behave; the gods of world myths represent one means of coming to know these forces

Animism the Universe and everything that comprises it are alive; each being and presence in nature are worthy of recognition and respect

Esotericism as we grow and learn our perception of things changes, and we can become more aware of meaning and significance within things which we may have missed before

Magic and Alchemy we can transform the world through the power of inner vision, yet also inner vision may be transformer through its interaction with the world

Mysticism All is One, and even when the All is Many it is still One

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 14 Jun 2015, 19:53

Just added this one:
Pragmatism ideas and explanations can be very interesting diversions, but their value is in the practical application of them in life: whether they work or not. If they work, they are "true", at least until they stop working or something better comes along.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 17 Jun 2015, 21:24

And another:
Atheism the attributes of personhood, personality, consciousness and intention are not necessary to describe the creation and functioning of the universe in general

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 29 Jun 2015, 10:03

Two new posts to share. :)

Ecothought: the Ego and the Body
You go out into nature and there is a sensation of forgetting oneself, yet remembering something more fundamental. All the “cheats and tricks” you’ve learnt being amongst people (flirting, appeasing, intimidating, deceiving, negotiating , etc.) don’t work the way they “should” do, and questions like Who? become unimportant. These masks just fall away, and for anyone that identifies strongly with these masks, being in nature can be disconcerting, because you can no longer rely on the rules or script of society.

The ego is a social tool, and relies on society and human relationships for its image and structure, and as a social tool it is quite useful, but it does not reveal the entire picture of who or what you are. It is a narrow beam of light that highlights certain details (the ones we want to show), but leaves others very much out of focus.

Out in nature, a crack appears in the ego, the narrow beam of light dims slightly and lets other details appear, details which you may or may not be familiar with, and which you may or may not find agreeable. In society we may come to believe that we are an ego that wears a body, but in nature this becomes reversed and we have space to realise we are a body that carries an ego.

I feel the same doing aikido too. When practicing a technique, I am in physical contact with another person, and cannot rely on my social image to interact with them. In this way I come face-to-face with my own physical limitations, which I cannot overcome by presenting a new image to them, but only by confronting the existence of my body.

The body is our organic contact with reality, and the ego is a social tool. Perhaps we’ve spent more of our lives living in a social mode than the organic, and it’s difficult to change that habit. But the more we spend time with nature, the more the organic reality asserts itself and the social reality is put into perspective.

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Transition Between Spaces
Inspired after reading Stepping into ritual space

In many ritualistic traditions, the marking of space and our transition from “outside” to “inside” is structured so that we have a change in attitude. In Druidry and similar traditions, a circle is marked in preparation for magical or celebratory acts.

The dojo in martial arts is considered “different” from the world outside it. You can’t enter with shoes, and in some there is a certain ettiquette that has to be observed upon entering. It marks for me the moment when the work begins and informs my attitude from then on

In Ecopsychology we’re taught to ask “permission” of a natural place, following the non-verbal signals of the body (“natural attractions”) to verify what the place is “telling” us. We can’t just go in as if we own the place and do whatever we want – other beings live here, and they deserve our respect.

I think this transition is important, but I think it’s also important not to create a bubble of it, in that you only live this within that moment or place, and never apply it in your life. In OBOD ritual we’re taught to say “may memory hold what eye and ear have gained”, meaning that whatever we experience “in-circle” becomes integrated into us and we carry that attitude with us to “out-circle”.

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby treegod » 05 Jul 2015, 17:42

Reflecting on the Druid's Prayer

n Iolo Morganwg’s Barddas, there are apparently six different versions, and this is the version I learnt going to druid rituals in England and which is traditionally used by the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. It is addressed here to the “God and Goddess”, though traditionally it was just addressed to “God”, and in fact can be replaced with any other word deemed appropriate.

The form of the Druid’s Prayer is conducive to meditation, one attribute leads to another, and so we are led through a structure that can help us contemplate the connections between each quality and integrate them into our lives. This is my own reflection on the Druid’s Prayer.

Grant, o God and Goddess, thy [sic]* protection
We feel small and helpless, so sometimes it feels good to ask something that is “more-than-self” for a little help, whether that be disembodied entities, another person or the unexplored and undeveloped powers within us.

And in protection, strength;
I think we can remember some time as children wanting to try something new and different, but being too scared to. Then along comes mum, dad or another adult we trust, and with their support we can confront our limits and go beyond them. If we have a sense that we are “protected” in some way, we then have the confidence to go meet our challenges.

And in strength, understanding;
We gained confidence, meet our challenges and go beyond our limits. We experience life directly for ourselves, and so we gain an understanding of life, an insight into how it works and how we work within that.

And in understanding, knowledge;
If understanding is an insight into life, then knowledge is turning that insight into certainty. We have confidence in what we have directly observed, and the strength of knowledge to act on that.

And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
Knowledge is not stable, but something that is constantly being adapted and adjusted to new insights. Life always throws up new challenges, and so we gain knowledge of the dynamism of nature, the balance, flow and harmony inherent in the universe that serves as a natural justice. It is this natural justice that governs the natural world.

And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
As we come to know this natural justice, you see that things do make sense and that this balance, flow and harmony are what allows and sustains your existence. Gratefulness and love follow.

And in that love, the love of all existences;
We are all interconnected, all lifeforms. We are all part of the natural justice that sustains each living being, and as we see and understand this, our love expands to include all living and non-living things. They express the natural justice we love, so we love them.

And in the love of all existences, the love of God, Goddess and all goodness.
Our vision of life and love are expanded and we come to see nature and the universe in positive terms that express something of our highest ideals and principles. Love is central to many world religions, even if their adherents fall short in practicing it, and here it is given a prominent place in Druidry too.

*some time ago in the history of the English language, “thy” was actually singular, comparable to Spanish tu or French ton/ta, and is appropriate in addressing a single entity, as is the case in the original forms of the Druid’s Prayer. “Your”, which corresponds to Spanish vuestro and French votre, would be more appropriate here, but “thy” was the form I learnt before discovering the grammatical difference and tends to offer a more archaic or poetic feel to the prayer.

Or perhaps we can understand “God and Goddess”, not as two separate entities but as complementary aspects of the same divinity united in its love? Something to think about, anyway.

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DaRC
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby DaRC » 06 Jul 2015, 13:15

Or perhaps we can understand “God and Goddess”, not as two separate entities but as complementary aspects of the same divinity united in its love?
I tend to prefer the use of Nature to replace God/Goddess/Spirit... it did throw me a bit at my first group ritual when my mind was on it's way to instruct my mouth with nature, whilst my ears were hearing God/Goddess/Spirit :oops:
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)
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Re: Druid in Training

Postby malcolmb » 06 Jul 2015, 15:57

I tend to prefer the use of Nature to replace God/Goddess/Spirit... it did throw me a bit at my first group ritual when my mind was on it's way to instruct my mouth with nature, whilst my ears were hearing God/Goddess/Spirit :oops:
I tend to agree with DaRC on this. Since October of last year, I have been leading a small new Grove. I write all the ceremonies, with parts for every member of the Grove. Complete Nightmare! We are all "Druid", but not the same "Druid"! Even trying to find a name for the Grove was fraught (an understatement!). Trying to encompass everyone's belief is difficult in the extreme. So I have read this thread with considerable interest. While I have come across some of the varieties of Druid, this thread has opened my eyes to the huge variation that exists in our belief. My Grove already covers at least four of the main types. And that doesn't include me!

For me, Druidry is a simple belief which I have tried to express in the standard opening of our ceremonies:

MALCOLM
By star and stone
By the power of the land within and without
By all that is fair and free

ALL

We are Druid
We believe in and celebrate the spirituality of all life
We are one with the community of the Natural World
And the ever flowing tide of the seasons
Honouring all, past, present and future
Our life is a journey
Seeking spiritual awakening and wisdom through the Awen
We are Druid


No Gods, No Goddesses, just a belief in Nature. The problem I personally find with Druidry is Deity. Old Gods and Goddesses, New Gods, other beliefs Gods etc.. They all seem to get involved somewhere. But not for me. Mother and Father are the greatest and most meaningful, honourable and sincere accolades I can bestow on our lovely planet and the Sun.

I am definitely not a "Re-constructionist". The past (such little as we know about it) is in the past and should remain so. I am equally nor a "Revivalist". I respect all that they did (even Iolo!) but with the exception of the Awen, I find little in their work that is meaningful to me.

So what is my Druidry? I see it as a modern belief. I am a "Neo-Druid" - not a good term but the best I have! I do not look backwards for meaning, form or purpose to my belief. I live today. Simply experiencing and being a part of the magnificence of Nature fills me with wonder and awe. Makes me very humble. I believe in the spirituality of Nature. My life flows with the turning of the Seasons. I seek the wisdom of Nature. I am Druid.

So I walk my Path. I respect everyone who walks their Path but hope they will respect the simple fact that their Path and mine are different.
Isle of Wight Peaceful Earth Grove: https://www.peacefulearthgrove.com/
Isle of Wight Order of Druids: https://peacefulearthgrove.com/Wight-Or ... Druids.php


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https://lylemusic.bandcamp.com/

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“So many Gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind. While just the art of being kind, is all the sad world needs.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Re: Druid in Training

Postby Green Raven » 06 Jul 2015, 20:01

Hi treegod, really enjoying your writings and musing upon them.

I broadly agree with all in that I acknowledge a ‘sentient universe’, a vast macro-Gaia if you will, to borrow Lovelock’s metaphor, although as the merest fragments of that, it is impossible for us to even begin to comprehend what the ‘thoughts’ of the universe might be, as they are vast beyond the understanding of all humans in all of our lifetimes.

There are however aspects who embody qualities of the Universal Divine and/ or human frailties. These are illustrated in the old tales, which cut the truths into easy bite-sized pieces to help us to a greater understanding of how to lead better lives and reverence the bionetwork that we are all part of. We can call them ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’ according to the gender roles that our cultures have invented and expect us to correspond with, and we can call these aspects ‘nature spirits’ when their characteristics fall into our expectations of the bestial or unhuman.

‘Nature’, Gods, Goddesses, dryads, hamadryads, fauns - my personal preference is use the illustrations of the British pantheon, and of course, the Tylwyth Teg - the ‘Fair Folk’, Ellyllon - the elves, Dweorgi - dwarves, Pwca - both helpful and mischievous, Coblynau – goblins of the underground, Bwbachod - the household brownies, the Gwragedd Annwn – water folk of the lakes and streams, the Gwyllion - mountain ‘night-wanderers’, Cewri - giants, or the Cŵn Annwn - the hunting hounds of the Otherworld.

Neither right nor wrong really…

The Ysbrydion - spirits of the Ancestors (who visit on Samhain) – are a slightly different matter, in that I feel that the soul or spirit is a separate entity from the body but exists with the body while it lives, the body being a vessel for the soul. Body and spirit are first united in the transition element, the water of the womb. Upon brain death, the spirit leaves the body immediately and transitions to a state of pure energy while the body is returned to the elements in earth’s water or in fire to the air. The spirit becomes one with the Universe as it is a part of the universe energy.

Though the molecules of the body are literally replaced every four to ten years, we can remember incidents and emotions from early childhood. Evidently, the electrical gossamer web of our brains survives beyond mere chemical record. Science evidences truth and the First Law of Thermodynamics, states that “Energy is neither created nor destroyed but transforms from one form into another”. Perhaps also a spiritual truth that could mean that all ‘souls’ have always been, though occupying many forms through many lifetimes, and that a spirit when released from the body is also one with all souls of persons past and future, as we are all one in the universe.

Anyway, it’s a gorgeous summer evening and the spirit of the Corfe Raven calls to me from the fridge… :gulp:
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)


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