Articles

“How do I start?”

I would say that paying attention, indeed, cultivating your attention, is key. If you don’t already, start meditating. Do the basic mindfulness exercise of being aware of your breathing, of your forehead, between your eyes, or wherever comes easiest for you.

With time, you might want to add some questions to your practise as you grow more and more acquainted with calm and awareness. Calm and awareness usually beget one another. For there is a Presence within Silence, and being aware is how you will come to find it.

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I often ask myself what is it that makes Druidry what it is. Or rather, what makes Neo-Druidry such a different path from others, especially considering the many influences it shares with other currents of spirituality. Setting aside for a moment the seminal divide between Revival Druidry and Reconstructionist and/or Polytheist Druidry, which I personally think are often complementary as seen in some individuals’ practice, I prefer to ask what is the finality of being and calling oneself a Druid. What good it is to all beings that you practice this path in particular. And more specifically, how can one manifest in the world certain typical roles of a Druid in our current world, in our jobs, in our daily, overtly connected, ever interrupted lives, much unlike the priestly classes of old.

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There is no way around it… But through. As the days become shorter to give way to wintery darkness, I feel, rather, I know some deep change is about to happen. So did my ancestors, as they harvested the last of the crops and faced the big Unknown of the cold season. Whatever the three harvests had collected would determine their fate: either plenty and merriment by the fire of the hearth, or great losses, hunger and death.

Samhain is a time of liminality indeed. A time to reap, but also to start sowing the next crop, to slaughter most of the cattle for meat, except for a few selected breeders. A time to trust in the deep, ever fertile silence of the Earth.

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“Are you a Druid?”

I was taken aback by the question, an unlikely side dish to my breakfast at the guest house that morning. It was my first time in Britain, a trip I had been dreaming of since I was a child. I was staying at this little town somewhere in Wiltshire, and the Autumn Equinox was nigh. The sunrise at Stonehenge was, of course, the main attraction, and my host seemed curious.

“Well, isn’t that what Druids do, go to Stonehenge to celebrate the seasons?”

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These first days of February, I have been reflecting about the nature of this season in which many different world cultures seem to celebrate the same process of moving from darkness to light, from cold to warmth, from wintery rest to busy Spring. The promise of blossoming life. A promise, we are told in Celtic myth, that is based on the cauldron of Ceridwen, on the fire tended by Brigid. All life, it is said, comes from a sort of Womb of Being. And it is only fitting that we ascribe inspiration, passion and the urge to create to that same ever-pregnant womb.

But what gives when the Divine Feminine of myth and lore, and especially of current Earth-based revival practices, falls back to motherhood as the be-all, end-all of being a woman? And to throw ritual affairs even further back in the history of thought, a kind of motherhood which remains submissive and will-less even when faced with abuse. The Earth weeps with centuries of human hybris, but she certainly will not forever forgive and forget. It already is payback time for Mother Gaia.

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