“Why should I let the toad work squat on my life?” – Philip Larkin.
I work as a librarian in a large and busy research-intensive University. I enjoy my work, for the most part, because I like helping people figure out how to find resources they need for study or research, how to manage information and data and how to engage with all the reading they need to do for their courses.
There are some within the librarian community who make a big deal about the profession as a vocation, that being a librarian is a calling, a noble goal of sharing knowledge and opening the doors of learning.
It isn’t that for me.
I enjoy my job – but it is a job, nothing more and nothing less.
I could relate the work of the librarian as guide (not guardian, and never gatekeeper) to knowledge to the role of the ancient Druids as teachers and disseminators of wisdom in Celtic society, but that would be a stretch.
Where Druidry intersects with work for me is unclear. I find my moments of Druidry outside of work, for the most part. It’s hard to be a Druid in an enclosed office, rushing from one task to the next. But there are moments.
I teach, as part of my job. I lead classroom sessions on information management topics to students. When I do, I think of the role of the Druids as teachers and how, as far as we know, they taught; as well as how modern Druidry is taught. It isn’t about reciting facts as dogma, but about asking questions and gently helping people find their own answers.
Doing my job as well as I can is a practice of virtue, I am paid to do a thing, so I do it to the best of my ability (which given my fluctuating mental health sometimes simply means keeping my head above water). Druids place a high value on honour, and the Celtic tribes placed high value on keeping your oath. A contract to do a job is an oath.
Working to support mental and physical health as a First Aider and Mental Health Champion at work is a Druidic thing to do. Druids were, and are, healers. So too is working to support diversity and inclusion, as Druidry is open to all.
I keep my work and my spirituality separate, as is the done thing in UK culture. Nobody wants to be sat next to the religious bore in the office, and nobody wants to be that person. I can honestly say I know nothing about the religious or spiritual beliefs of any of my colleagues, and that I think is how it should be.
But if we are to be Druids, rather than simply pretend to be Druids at the seasonal festivals, we need to be Druids every day. We need to be Druids in business casual as much as we are when in white robes. We need to be Druids in the office as much as in the grove.
Bringing the values of Druidry, of honour, creativity, healing, relationship, to the workplace is a challenge, particularly on busy and stressful days. But it is a challenge that is at the heart of Druidry – to take the Awen and make it manifest, not just on special occasions, but every day.
[Prompt from Alison Leigh Lilly’s 30 Days of Druidry]