So the Druidry forums have been quiet for a while now and I've had a few people ask what Druidry is, so I figured I'd go ahead and make a simple introduction for those who are new to this path and possibly trying to decide if it is right for them. But who am I to make a guide like this?
My experience with modern Druidry and knowledge comes from my studies with 3 of the largest Druid orders and a few smaller groves. I am a member of Bardic grade within The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, currently a dedicant going through my year study with Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship (ADF), and I have studied the core dedicant course of The Ancient Order of Druids in America. Outside of those major organizations, I have studied as a dedicant in the Black Mountain Druid Order. I am by no means an adept or a master scholar in Druidry and the information in this post is from my studies and research over the years that have helped me along my path.
So first of all, what is Druidry? This is a question with a few answers depending on which approach you take.
Druidry as defined by Wikipedia:
"Neo-Druidism or Neo-Druidry, commonly referred to as Druidry by many adherents, is a form of modern spirituality or religion that generally promotes harmony and worship of nature, and respect for all beings, including the environment."
Druidry as defined by John Micahel Greer, Archdruid of The Ancient Order of Druids in America in his book "Druidry: A Green Way of Wisdom":
"Above all else, Druidry means following a spiritual path rooted in the green Earth. It means participating in a living Western spiritual tradition drawn from many sources, including surviving legacies from Celtic wisdom teachings, but embracing the contributions of many peoples and times. It means learning from archaic traditions, from three centuries of modern Druid scholarship, and from the always changing lessons of the living Earth itself. It means embracing an experiential approach to religious questions, one that abandons rigid belief systems in favour of inner development and individual contact with the realms of nature and spirit."
Druid as defined by The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids:
"In ancient times a Druid was a philosopher, teacher, counsellor and magician, the word probably meaning 'A Forest Sage' or 'Strong Seer'. In modern times, a Druid is someone who follows Druidry as their chosen spiritual path, or who has entered the Druid level of training in a Druid Order."
As you can see, it varies a bit depending on the Grove and person.
So now the we know generally what Druidry is, how does a hopeful aspiring Druid approach this world? This, just like the definition of Druidry, has many options and ways of looking at it
Generally, you can break down Groves or established Druid Organizations into certain groups depending on how they practice their particular flavor of Druidry. I will go into a little bit about 4 common approaches to this path.
1. Reconstructionism - This approach to Druidry usually favors looking at what little historical evidence available rather than a modern or eclectic practice focusing on what simply works. Groves or groups with this approach tend to focus on a specific Celtic culture to draw upon their history.
2. Revivalism - Revivalist Druids focus on the Druid Revival movement which started in the 17th, 18th and 19th century and is itself, diverse. It is based on the inspirations and creations from texts and scholarly research into possible Druid beliefs and tradition. It is typically blended with Western esoteric beliefs and traditions or even in some cases, Christianity. A huge example of this approach would be The Ancient Order of Druids in America. Revivalism, like most approaches, does not claim ancient authenticity.
3. Solitary - Typically solitary Druidry is very similar in the way of solitary Wiccans. Druidry itself is not inherently a religion and to many it is more of a philosophy, leaving it open as a way of looking at and living life. Due to this, it can be taken on as an eclectic path allowing practitioners to mix it with a variety of practices.
4. Mixed Philosophy - The last I will mention is a mixture of Reconstructionism and Revivalism. In this mix, Reconstructionism is usually mixed with esoteric beliefs like in Revivalism, following a kind of Western Occult framework while also keeping as best as possible to historic evidence.
There are other ways and approaches to Druidry and I encourage seekers to look them out if those I've mentioned don't sound like a match for you.
"Where do I go from here?" you might ask yourself. Well below I will include some resources to hopefully help you out on starting you out into the world of Neo-Druidry.
a. Recon (these are more scholarly history) - "A History of Pagan Europe" by Nigel Pennick and Prudence Jones, "Comparative Mythology" by Jaan Puhvel, "The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe and Early Ireland and Wales" edited by John T. Koch, and one of the most important of all "A Brief History of the Druids" by Peter Beresford Ellis.
b. Revivalism: The Druidry Handbook, The Druid Magic Handbook, and The Celtic Golden Dawn by John Michael Greer.
c. Solitary: "The Solitary Druid: Walking the Path of Wisdom and Spirit" by Rev. Robert Ellison, "The Path of Druidry: Walking the Ancient Green Way" by Penny Billington, "Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today" by Margot Adler
Two common themes in all branches of Druidry are scholarly study along side spiritual and magical and environmental/ecological education.
- Web Resources-
http://tiny.cc/wkhbhy - Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth - with John Michael Greer
http://tiny.cc/jmhbhy - Druidry - A Beginners guide - part one
http://tiny.cc/dnhbhy - Seven Gifts of Druidry
http://tiny.cc/5nhbhy - Under the Oak Pt 1: The Celts & the Druids
In closing, if anyone has any questions not addressed here or would like more information on literature on common Indo-European hearth cultures to draw inspiration or tradition from, etc. please feel free to respond here or mail me.
Disclaimer: Please understand the modern (Neo)-Druidry is not an ancient path and be cautious of anyone or any group who claims to practice some ancient form of unbroken tradition in Druidry. There is simply not enough unbiased written historical evidence to recreate completely or even understand what it is that ancient Druids practiced or believed.