“Somewhere in everyone’s heart there is a dream trying to be born”. – Philip Carr-Gomm.
I’m no expert. I am not a Grand Archdruid of anything, I have written no books and lead no Groves. I’m just a person, walking along the Druid path as best I can, sometimes forging ahead, sometimes wandering away from the path to explore some other part of the forest, sometimes getting thoroughly lost and going backwards or round in circles.
Such is Druidry: it is a lifelong project, no matter how much training and experience you have, there is always more just around the bend. And it doesn’t matter if you start at eighteen, thirty-eight or eighty. There is always a new path to discover.
And we are all, always, seekers.
A Druid is never “done”, for a Druid understands that there is always more to learn.
That said, if you are new to Druidry, or if this blog has got you interested, then there are some signposts that may guide you. What worked for me may not work for you, but I hope to be able to offer some gentle guidance.
Read. Ancient Druidry was an oral tradition, but modern Druidry has been written into many, many books, some better than others. As you go on, you’ll develop your knowledge to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff a bit, but to start out I recommend any one, or better yet all, of the following:
Philip Carr-Gomm, Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century (Rider, 2002).
John Michael Greer, The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth (Weiser, 2006).
Penny Billington, The Path of Druidry: Walking the Ancient Green Way (Llewellyn, 2011).
Joanna Van Der Hoeven, The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid (Moon Books, 2014).
Read other books too, not just ones about Druidry. All knowledge is valuable and knowledge of nature in particular is foundational for Druidry.
Spend time in nature. This is more important than any book you might read. Druidry is a nature spirituality, so you need to spend real time in real nature. Get outside every day if you can. Watch the sunrise, stand out under the moon when it is full and new, feel the sun and the rain and the wind and the soil.
You don’t have to go anywhere to do this. You don’t need to meditate on a mountaintop, or visit Newgrange or Anglesey or Stonehenge or Glastonbury (though all are good things to do), you just need to step outside. Wherever you are, even in the heart of a city, there is nature. There is the sky, there are birds, there are trees and plants. Find them and get to know them. Give something back where you can, pick up litter or plant a tree.
Druidry is about connection to the land where you are, so learn its ways. How do your seasons change, what are the natural signs that mark transition from Autumn to Winter, Spring to Summer? What trees and plants grow in your area? What birds and animals live there? Where does your water come from and where does your household waste go? What history and folklore does your land hold?
When you can recognise the signs of nature, know when the local crows leave their roosts and when they return, know where the river flows, welcome the Canada geese back in Autumn and bid them farewell in Spring, know where to pick blackberries and sloes, then you’re on your way to having that relationship and connection with the land that marks a Druid.
Look for groups. Mostly my Druidry is solitary, but I have found some group support very helpful. It’s good to meet others on the path and know you’re not alone, and you can learn from others and explore Druidry in community.
I studied with Druid College UK, and am a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, both of whom have excellent Druid training courses. I meet regularly with a small, newly-formed local Druid grove and have gone to larger Druid camps. Some may work for you, others may not. There’s no shame in leaving a group that isn’t the right fit.
Even if your daily practice is solitary, finding others can help from time to time. These groups can be online, but the usual warnings about misinformation, online arguments and trolls always apply here. I’ve stopped engaging with a lot of online Druid groups, and prefer to find community in-person where possible.
Practice. Those books at the start of this post? They all have suggestions for Druid practice, meditations, rituals, inner and outer work, journalling. Don’t just read them, try them out. Some will no doubt feel awkward and weird, but some just might resonate with you. Either way, learning what your Druid practice might look like largely depends on actually practicing, trying things out and seeing what works for you.
Practice is both the easiest and the hardest way to find and maintain your own Druidry. And let’s be honest, it’s what I struggle with most of all. It takes discipline and will to make time in your day to meditate, or do a ritual, or even just go for a nature walk.
But you make the path by walking it. Druidry isn’t really about what you read, or what you know, or who you know. It’s about what you do.
Like the Zen Buddhist before and after enlightement, chop wood and carry water. Keep practicing the basics until they become part of your soul. And keep practicing.
A Druid is never “done”. There is always more to learn.
And that is, if nothing else, exciting!
[Prompt from Alison Leigh Lilly’s 30 Days of Druidry]