What does a Druid do?

Admin
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Further to a recent discussion in the community Meet and Greet or in the real-time chat room between community members, rather than posing the usual question of ”what is a Druid?”

Druidic Dawn would like to ask it in another way relating to what a Druid does?

We welcome community’s members comments, opinions, or even from family traditional perspectives, to verifiable facts in historical sources, to even what linguistics’ have identified as being Druids within specific regional cultures.

Looking forward to an interesting discussion...

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Eadha Deora
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a shameless plug

 

A shameless plug I know, but while we are talking about what Druid-folk 'do', would you be interested in contributing to our newsletter at all in regards to personal practices? For more information, see here. Thank you! I am hoping to post my own thoughts on this a bit later, although Kenneth, Morri and Gillian -- you have all articulated many of my private thoughts in ways far excelling my own! Very interesting read and I hope when I do post, I can add something different to the conversation. 

May peace encircle you,

~Jenn

 

--

'Just once let what is in your care grow wild enough to see the world through its own eyes.'

http://www.feralpoetry.com

 



Gillian
Posts: 5
Joined: 2008-04-06
forgot to add ...

To the post I have just made, I would like to add a gentle warning. In the words of Castinada in the 'Teachings of Don Juan' --

The moment when a man thinks he knows and understands is a dangerous moment because that is the moment he closes his mind.

Smiles and blessings,

Gillian 



Gillian
Posts: 5
Joined: 2008-04-06
my thoughts

I very much agree with all that Kenneth has said, and having Welsh family ancestry and traditions like Morri's Irish ones, I can deeply relate to what she has said too.

I have been on my own druidic path for the whole of my 53 years. No matter how well qualified and knowledgable anyone aspiring to become a Druid may be, one must never stop questing for more -- there is an infinite amount to learn! More importantly, it is not the amount of knowledge that one has acquired, but the degree of wisdom with which one applies it on every level and in every area of one's existence that is vital. 

I really like that word 'accountability' and we all have that responsibility, whether we care/dare to acknowledge it or not. Another deeply relevant word that Morri used is 'integrity', which should colour all that we do, all that we are. Following a druidic path, one should surely allow one's deep, spiritual beliefs to touch and colour EVERY facet of day-to-day existence. The historical Druids were known for their many roles in society, from judges and arbitrators, mythkeepers and kingmakers, counsellors, peace-seekers ... the wise ones. Therefore, if we aspire to a druidic path then we too must follow in the footsteps of the Druids, to bring the skills of arbitration, counselling and peacemaking to every occassion, with personal responsibility, honesty and integrity and in a manner of tolerance, empathy, kindness and universal love.

Lots of trite little sayings learnt as a child begin to spring to mind: to let one's life 'speak'; to perform each task, each little action to the very best of one's ability; to allow actions to speak louder than words. We all know such admonishments. But if we really think about it, they are so important and can help guide our steps in the way we behave, react, respond and achieve.

Personally I try to honour and nurture all life in everything, be it a pebble on the path below my feet, a greenfly on my rose, the very earth I step upon, the stray cats of the neighbourhood or the scallywag misbehaving in the town centre. All life is sacred to me. I try to be actively and fully engaged in my own life and to live it to the full. 

Family activities, gatherings of friends, and the 'mundane little tasks' of life such as cleaning and housework and the preparation of food, have all become sacred rituals. I attempt to integrate all the tenets of my beliefs into something positive and living. In other words, I constantly endeavour to actively bring into physical reality all my dearest and deepest held spiritual beliefs, my gifts, skills, knowledge and wisdom ... and my loving good wishes that go with them. 

What druids believe, and how they put it into practice, surely only represents the basic truth of good human existence. It is how one lives, not the nametag that is applied to it, that is most important. It doesn't really matter if you call yourself a Druid, Christian, Buddhist or Muslim, etc -- it is how  you ethically and honourably apply your beliefs and manifest them in your everyday life. That is surely of prime importance.  



Morri
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Joined: 2008-08-20
Hi Kenneth! Thank you so

Hi Kenneth! Thank you so much for that comprehensive description! I must say that I thought the question was rather broad, but your answer gave me even more than I could have anticipated.  I appreciate the insight you have given me, I have had little contact with CR's in my travels (I expect I have often felt intimidated by them). Your generosity, openness, clarity and respect on the boards have given me a rare opportunity to ask questions and learn so much. You have my deepest respect and gratitude.

And you are right, turnabout is fair play! Thank you for indulging me as I finished my battle with my dentist (you know you are on the losing side when they had you a pamphlet that says to put a towel on your pillow at night to soak up the blood! LOL!)....

My tradition is a wee bit different in how we approach things, but it actually doesn't sound like we are that much different at the end of the day.  So first, for clarity, I am not speaking of my experiences with OBOD, I have not done nearly enough study with them to speak to their practice and/or compare it with my own. This is the Sidhe family practice.  And I am having a hard time figuring out where to begin,

I guess the first thing is that it would appear that most of our Druidic practice is taught to us as we are raised. There is an emphasis on learning, but not just in formal schooling. Learning and reading are fun things, the library is a weekly outing that is an anticipated event. Reading together as a family is a way to pass a quiet Sunday afternoon, stories are read aloud, questions are encouraged and disputed answers are settled by looking them up in the myriad of reference books collected. Study is encouraged in all areas: sciences, literature, humanities, philosophy, theology, etc. Games that require strategy are also encouraged: chess, go, pente, chinese checkers, etc.  Taking extra courses in school, through university extension programs or through summer programs is also something that children in our family are encouraged to do.

The motto: "Fierce in all things and honour above all" is something that is drilled into us. Being fierce means you put all your focus, passion, and effort into anything that you do. Honour is that complex set of virtues that underscores the integrity of character and the values of honesty, commitment, duty, mastery, loyalty, justice, courage, equality, equanimity, wisdom and hospitality (there are others, but I hope I have hit the highlights here).

We are expected to attain Mastery in three areas: an area of knowledge, a physical area, and an area of art. Mastery is something that continues for a lifetime, just like the search for knowledge, however the area of mastery that is pursued may change as we become older and our interests or circumstances change.

Children are enrolled in three programs outside of school: an art class, an athletic program and a community program. So, for example: piano, swimming and air cadets, would fit the bill. The idea is to give children skills in all three areas in addition to the skills learned at school.

Can you tell that we don't have a great deal of confidence in the public/private school systems to teach children how to be well-rounded citizens? hee hee....

Family outings include going to museums, botanical gardens, nature preserves, parks, art galleries, performances and, of course, the library. We bird watch, we learn about trees, we learn the different plants. We garden. We grow our own vegetables and fruit when we can (it was a bit of a challenge when we lived in Newfoundland). So, I was composting when I was 5 (forty years ago), I was picking up litter, I was aware of the dangers of using chemicals to control insects and learned alternate forms of discouraging insect bites while camping or in our garden, etc. etc. Family rules include things meant to encourage creativity and conservation, like one birthday gift must be handmade from things that would be thrown out or recycled.

The things that would seem to be more spiritual are not really defined as such. Offerings of food are left in the garden, at the base of trees, at gravesites, in the fields (as with my grandfather's farm) in much the same way as gifts and food are given to the local charity pickups in the malls or grocery stores (we do that too). You gave what you could when you could as thanks. That might be to the trees at your campsite, or to your flower garden when you picked flowers or to your school teacher when someone in the school had their house burn down. We talk about our history and the stories of our grandfathers and greatgrandfathers, and the tall tales and myths. We look up the places our family came from and live in on the atlas, and we read about the areas and the history.

This was how I was raised, this is how my brother is raising his daughters, this is how my father was raised, and his mother and father before him. By the time we are adults we love to learn, we love nature, we love art, we love athleticism, we love to make things right, we take responsibility for ourselves and our problems, we are honest, and we serve our communities in a myriad of different ways. Our service is the way we honour ourselves and our ancestors.

And we aren't even studying Druidry yet.

Studying Druidry requires the commitment to serve the Ancestors in a direct way. Understanding that we are like many Irish families and believe that we are descendants of the De Danann, and that there are many claims of chieftainship amongst our forefathers, coupled with the fact that both my great grandfathers and my grandfather were landowners who had tenants, means that I was educated about the De Danann, about the role of the Sovereignty Queens, and about the role of Kings. So, of course, I had to start reading everything I could get my hands on about Druidry and the Celts.

One of the roles of the Druids in my family is to ensure that those who hold power over others in matters of business (our chieftains) are fair and remain concerned about the impact of decisions on both people and the land. Another role of the Druids is to protect, heal, and balance the world in which they live. This includes community and global interests as well as family interests. I have been given the lore of the family, the family trees and those heirlooms that were important to certain members of the family which are to be passed on to the right individuals at the right time. The first is my job to share at every gathering, the second I am responsibile to keep up to date, and the last requires that I give the items and explain the importance of them when the time is right.

My rituals are done in solitude. They are usually designed to help me reconnect, ground, or journey to do a particular working. The other things that we do that some would call ritual are just family gatherings, there is no pomp or ceremony, each person is moved to do and give when it suits them. We acknowledge the four fire festivals, but each is an event that we may or may not be together for.  When we are, we enjoy the food, the stories and the fun. But again, those offerings are private matters between the individual and the ancestors, the land, or the individual wish they are working for. 

 I hope that gives a good idea of what we do in my family :D. If something doesn't make sense, please ask... I may not yet be as coherent as I believe myself to be!

Cheers!

--

~Morri
Fierce in all things and Honour above all.



kproefrock
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Posts: 49
Joined: 2009-03-25
Druidic Requirements...

Morri wrote: “Is there anything else that your tradition requires its Druids to do? (Curiousity prevails)”

Hello Morri,

This is a potentially very broad question, and turnabout is fair play ;-)—first and foremost we are required to live a virtuous life, emphasizing honesty, respect and mindfulness. We are obligated to teach our ways to the next generation and integrally and productively engage with the communities within which we live. These are the only “requirements” that a WhiteOak Druid must adhere to, but, I don't think that this tells you anything significant about what we do as an Order of Druids :-)  

We have a rigorous training program of one on one fostership that includes studying through the 18 texts that are listed on our webpage. Then we have a series of tasks that a dedicant must perform in a satisfactory manner. The entire process might take three years—it is colored and tempered by accountability at every turn—accountability to one's foster and accountability of the foster to our Council of Elders. Admittance to the Order is by invitation only, so most of us had some level of training prior to entrance. 

Each of us is urged to take on a specialty once we have completed our initiation as a Druid. The Specialty is the way in which we serve our communities. We are directed to cultivate a deeper, practical understanding of that specialty, and, potentially, develop a training program within that specialty, if one doesn't exist already. 

On another front, “What Druids do” in our tradition is serve our communities. It is pointless to declare one's self a member of the highest class of social servants in the Celtic world, and then to make that proclamation from an internet forum.  

We serve our communities professionally in whatever occupation we might find ourselves, we serve the spiritual needs of our communities by performing ritual, counseling and providing ethical guidance when and where it might be invited. 

In terms of ritual form here is a basic ritual outline of what this Druid does ;-)

Communication with deity, spirits and ancestors can be a continual conversation within one's own mind. The ideas that all space is sacred space and that the individual is the sacred center of their own experience are central to this process. 

When the need arises to have a more formal interaction with the spirit realm, it is important to bring some food or other offering material to that interaction. One's intent in engaging such an interaction should be clear; there are two larger categories of interaction with spirit, petitionary and contemplative. A petitionary objective is where one is asking for something in particular (i.e. petitioning a deity). A contemplative intent is to simply sit or bask in the presence of that deity, spirit, or ancestor, fostering relationship, and contemplating one's orientation to that presence. The distinction is that in one case the petitioner is attempting to encourage a spiritual presence to assist them in some way, providing a blessing, guidance, divination, etc. Where in the second instance, the human interactor is simply attempting to contact that spiritual presence for the sake of the interaction and being open to the possibility of spontaneous communication from spirit. 

With your offering, enter the ritual space, light a fire (at least a candle), and have access to water (at least a bowl). The fire links you with spirit above, the water with spirit below.

*optional: Ask Manannan Mac Lir to open the gateway to the otherworld. Reference yourself to the Sacred Center with the solid ground supporting you, the eternal sky above you and the expansive sea all around. I usually include some part of a plant ally on my person or in the ritual space a tree, small amount of herb or spice, incense or oil, that might also be used for part of the offering, as a link to spirit in the world around.

While in the presence of spirit, you can ask them to witness whatever is of concern to you, offer them praise by recalling their deeds in myth, in the case of petitionary work, ask them to accomplish yet one more deed in your favor. 

Share your food with them, burning a bit of it in the fire and casting another part of it into the water, while eating the rest in their presence. Sit in quiet meditation with an attitude of gratitude and radiant acquiescence for a few minutes.

When you have finished, thank them for having been your guests and ask them for their continued presence, alliance and friendship.  

Please pardon the long answer, the question was broad and I hope that I have covered enough bases to be able to say that I gave a fair answer ;-) 

How about you, Morri? What does your tradition require of its Druids?

Have a wonderful day!

Kenneth



Morri
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Joined: 2008-08-20
One Question...

Kenneth, I wholly support your description of the blending of science and spirit in Druidry. I do agree that a Druid is an educated member of their society, even elite for lack of a better term.  You say:

In terms of what a Druid does, we are the ones who are also able to step outside of our front door and experience the beauty of the world around us and to have a depth of experience that is proportionate to the level of education and understanding that we, as Druids, have acquired.

Is there anything else that your tradition requires its Druids to do? (Curiousity prevails)

--

~Morri
Fierce in all things and Honour above all.



kproefrock
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Posts: 49
Joined: 2009-03-25
A Druid understands...

I would propose that there is a way to describe modes of knowing based on rationalism and rational thought. Rational is all about objective understanding of the world around us and is typified by the philosophy of scientific materialism. Pre-rational modes of knowing, are full of the mystery of life, the all encompassing and subjective interaction with the world around. There is little in the way of objective understanding in the pre-rational perspective and so everything is seen as having a mystical origin and mystical intent. When the Greeks ushered in the Rational Age, part of their work was to cut away the pre-rational "superstition" that was such a huge component of the cosmology that they were evolving from. We now find ourselves in a rational age, dominated by scientific materialism and driven by science, scientific discovery and "objective" understanding; some would have us believe that this is the pinnacle of human achievement and understanding. Using the term trans-rational implies that there is a level of understanding that is beyond the rational, that there are certain aspects and elements of the world around us that are inherently mystical and have mystical intent. There are two ways of looking at trans-rational modes of knowing--one is that they are seen as mystical because science has not yet found an objective way to describe the phenomenon, the other is that there is some level of human experience that is truly trans-rational and beyond human comprehension—a timeless mystery.

For most of the recent modern era, and certainly since Freud, the reductionistic, scientific materialist's stance toward spirituality has prevailed. All spiritual experiences, no matter how highly developed they might in fact be, were simply interpreted as regressions to pre-rational, primitive and infantile modes of thought. However, as if in overreaction to all that, many of us now, especially since the sixties, are in the throes of various forms of elevationism (exemplified by, but by no means confined to, the New Age movement). All sorts of endeavors, of no matter what origin or of what authenticity, are simply elevated to transrational and spiritual glory, and the only qualification for this wonderful promotion is that the endeavor be nonrational. For many with this perspective, Anything rational is suspect--science is limiting and any nonrational experience is too quickly dubbed spiritual.

I would propose that Spirit is indeed nonrational; that it transcends normal states of consciousness and so, in our highest ability to comprehend it, it is trans-rational, not to be confused with pre-rational because it transcends but includes reason; it does not regress and exclude it. Reason, like any particular stage of evolution, has its own (and often devastating) limitations, repressions, and distortions. But, the inherent problems of one level of personal development are solved (or "defused") by moving through  the next level of one's development; they are not solved by regressing to a previous level where the problem can be merely ignored. And so it is with the wonders and the terrors of rationality: it brings enormous new capacities and new solutions, while introducing its own specific problems; problems solved only by a transcendence to the higher and transrational realms.

Many of the modern elevationist movements, alas, are not beyond reason but beneath it. They think they are, and they announce themselves to be, climbing the Mountain of Truth; whereas, it seems to me, they have merely slipped and fallen and are sliding rapidly down it, and the exhilarating rush of skidding uncontrollably down evolution's slope they call "following your bliss." Learning from our ancestors, following in their footsteps, understanding what they understood and within the context of all that we are able to understand now, allows us the possibility of transcending and including rationality. Standing on the shoulders of giants means understanding what they understood and taking the baton from them. True spiritual bliss, in infinite measure, lies up that hill of evolution, not down it. I believe that it is incumbent on every one of us to follow the path of study, to the degree that we are able, integrating information from as many different modes of understanding as are available to us, and to live up to a standard established by our ancestors; a Druid is an educated elite of their society. In terms of what a Druid does, we are the ones who are also able to step outside of our front door and experience the beauty of the world around us and to have a depth of experience that is proportionate to the level of education and understanding that we, as Druids, have acquired.

Green Forests and Blue Skies!

Kenneth