“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?”
I had already celebrated many turns of the Wheel of the Year on my own. My spiritual search broke my heart many times — does it not always? — perhaps quite predictably. In every religious tradition I turned to, I was always the Other, and till this day I still believe that the gods of my youth are better left buried. But the Voice kept me waiting and yearning. Even when I denied it, it led me to contemplate the sky on every full moon, and my many wounds and deaths on Samhain. In the world of acts, there is no more complete and welcoming liturgy than Nature.
Yet to me, being a Druid was something not to take in vain, a training of a lifetime reserved to the worthy, and an enterprise overally incompatible with my urban ways.
Except, of course, that a lifetime commitment to Spirit, through both study and practice, was exactly what I had been yearning for. And in that regard, the Druids of old, or our rather ficticious representations of them, were just my kind of archetypal hero: the sages who intimately knew their link to Source could not be cut; the human bridges between worlds; the translators well-versed in the language of Being, of all beings.
It was with these thoughts that I went to visit the thermal springs in Bath, down where the Celtic goddess of the sacred wells and the Roman goddess of all wisdom used to be worshiped under one single aspect. There, by the waters of the Goddess, the memories of the trip so far and the anticipation for the Equinox built up quite intensely, and I heard that Voice speaking through me, as if with a prayer to the very Womb of Being. A prayer not only to return, but most of all, to always find my way Home.
The land, the power of the land, had spoken its name.
After much pondering I eventually decided to join the Order to sort it out, and by Samhain, I was preparing to begin my Bardic studies. I would soon come to realise that much about this path is about learning to be open. To live as if in the eve of the next great revelation, in the words of Maurice Maeterlinck. To let in both joy and sorrow, both sides of the shadow, until all is consumed by true Self. Thirsting for the authentic, listening to the Voice in all voices, has also been a work of Silence. A work of letting go. A course in trust.
In me and through me I find there are worlds dead and reborn; the same Goddess that sets the earth, the water and the sky to the alchemical fire is the one who unhesitatingly weeds out what I often mistake for the crop. The Goddess who gives birth to all Poetry, pouring Wisdom and Love in its turn down the stairs of the Cosmos until it rears each being, so they can continue to write the great tale of Life.
If a true and tested Bard is one who never tells a story unless they believe in it with every fibre of their being, then it is not a matter of where to start, but how deep.
The Awen calls to a path of compassion towards the burdens and mishaps we all share and cause to one another, and our underlying desire for beauty, freedom and love. It is a matter of art to invite all creatures asleep in the dark nights of the soul, both frightening and beautiful, for a dance of verses and rhyme, with the occasional drafts left unfinished. It is then that we are reborn into a mythical life.
A way of life in which plants and animals unveil secret passages to new realms of meaning, where gods not only speak in clear voice but also take over our bodies to deal with sacred business. Where helpful guides remind the soul of the stories it replaced with false tales of absent-mindedness. Mythical living imparts a renewed sense of justice and beauty to overthrow the thrones of corruption, deepen the roots of community and mend broken hearts. And as in all things, generosity starts at Home.
Knowing my way Home starts with being a safe home for me and the entire Universe. In the old triad’s saying, Nature, knowledge and truth are the candles which illuminate every darkness. Today they inspire me to tend the home within me, with the tools of the gardener and of the magician, which in fact, are but one guardian of the land.
“- Are you a Druid?
– Not yet, but already.”
I am already there every time I manage to lay aside the worries alien to the Self and the welfare of the Inner Grove, each time I embrace the Universe through the grace of Poetry, basking in the abundance and the pain of the All. My Druidry is in the Brigid’s Cross I built, now hanging behind my front door, in the flowers I planted this Spring, in my notes on the Occult and the Gaelic language, in the poems I once again find the urge to write. It is in my unashamed words, in my renewed gestures of love, in the layers I peel off my mask. In every breath I share with the world in a continuous chanting of Awen.
It is there, in my confirmed love of Mystery for what it is. Otherworldly and always perplexingly intimate.
This text was featured in The Golden Seed, the commemorative book of the 50th anniversary of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.