Like many, my Druidry is a founded in a deep and magic connection with Nature, understanding that I am part of Nature and living in a way that puts my relationship with Nature at the centre of all that I do. This relationship is of course one that strives to honour Nature as sacred.
I do this through the three core areas of Druidry. Bardic arts help me express my thoughts, Ovate mysteries help me understand and shape my thoughts and Druidic leadership helps me act in confidence in my reverence of the sacred.
Encompassing these three aspects of Druidry in both the protection and celebration of the sacred is vital aspect of what it means to be a Druid for me. This means that I feel that my Druidry requires me to act outwardly as well as inwardly.
We often choose to celebrate Nature and the Gods through rituals, ceremonies and daily meditative practices in as we live our Druidry. These help honour and strengthen our relationship with our gods and goddesses but I increasingly wonder how this fits with a world that is under rising pressure from human activity, activity that demonstrates the opposite of an honourable relationship with Nature.
While we honour our gods and Nature in our rituals, our fellow humans including many of us, are causing devastation to Her that is as far from honouring Her as it is possible to be – i.e. our actions are sometimes out of line with our intentions.
My Christian (and Muslim) friends put their beliefs into practice where I live, through homelessness work and support for the poor. Their ethos is more human centred and their ostensible focus on poverty fits nicely with that. Sometimes this work is done under a Christian banner in order to convert people to their faith, an objective that doesn’t sit comfortably with many of us especially if it is the main reason for the work. However, not doing this work under a Christian (or other) banner would lead to questions about why they were not helping the poor!
While there is significant work undertaken by Christians and Muslims, and acknowledging that Druidry is tiny in comparison, I struggle to understand why there seems to be little local action being taken in the name of Paganism or Druidry. Many, if not most, Druids and Pagans that I know volunteer or support good causes but rarely do we organise in the way members of other religions do.
I was outside the High Court a few months ago with an activist from The Warriors’ Call and other fellow anti-fracking campaigners fighting for the right to protest when this concern prompted me to reach out to others about the lack of organised action being taken or supported by Druid orders.
Others have recently spoken out calling for a more active expression of our beliefs and values such as John Halstead who stated: “there is nothing more truly spiritual than a radically activist life”.
While radically activist is one end of a spectrum of action that some are not comfortable with, the other end is generally warmly embraced as it might include anything from supporting community groups to do litter picks through to responding to public consultations by local councils.
I know there are many people involved in Druidry who are active in their community or are activists of some description, yet I haven’t found action to be at the forefront of most of our main orders. I belong to two orders. OBOD is primarily a spiritual teaching order and one that has a great focus on the finer side of bardic arts, roles that it does very well, and the Order of the Yew is described as the dark heart of The Druid Network. There are other orders too, such as the British Druid Order which has a real shamanic and magical feel to it. But there is little focus in those orders on getting out there, making a statement and campaigning in a way that honours the sacredness of Nature.
The Order of the Yew might be the dark heart of The Druid Network but where is the bright light? Where is its counterpart, an Order of the Oak, to champion active Druidry and to be the shining light of Druidry?
I have started this debate about the need for more support for action by Druids on a number of forums. While there was some concern about “activism” from a few people, it is word that seems to have some antibodies for a few people, there was good support for the underlying principle of more organised actions and a greater focus on active Druidry.
This is a debate that needs to carry on and the questions that I am continuing to ask are should we be more organised and active in our expression of Druidry and how can we do this. Is it through working with existing orders, is it through a new order with this focus on active Druidry, or should we not change what is there?