Nothing is real in Druidry? Indeed, nothing, but that is the challenge of any modern movement, religion or spirituality – our ideas, theories and fantasies need to be applied in the living world and have a relevance in our lives. This relevance needs to be proved in the world and the lives of people, i.e. have a function. They are not real in themselves – they need to be made real.
How, though? What is its value in the modern world? We can rule out historicity, but after that is anyone’s guess/invention. There are fraternal druids with social, charitable and philanthropic themes, cultural druids that use it to celebrate and strengthen their Celtic identities, activist druids that see it as a way to make changes in the world and spiritual/religious druids that seek to reconstruct, revive or reconnect with ancestral ways as they imagine it. These continue because they have value for someone in some way.
My own Druidry is of a spiritual stripe, combining reverence of nature with inner human development. The definition that most rings true to me comes from the Ancient Order of Druids in America which “understands Druidry as a path of nature spirituality and inner transformation founded on personal experience rather than dogmatic belief.”
In Druidry I found a path that turns towards nature instead of turning away from it, a quality that is vital in our age of ecological crisis, it also allowed me to experiment and investigate my beliefs without passively following an arbitrary list of them, and with this comes my own inner healing and development. I am a being with a lot of potential, and this, for the sake of myself, humanity and the world, needs to be developed and allowed to breathe. Other spiritual traditions also contain these, but its myths, archetypes and images developed out of a Western mindset and so are suited to a Western mindset, so we don’t need to seek out and appropriate exotic paths – we can find what we need “at home”.
As I said in my article on the Three Functions of Druidry “My interest in Druidry is mainly about what their function and role was within society and how that image can inspire the role of Druidry today.” I think the image of the ancient druid speaks to us and shows a powerful figure of authority and wisdom that is at the same time a nature mystic, at harmony with nature. This image, true or not, is inspiring and continues to inspire, which is nice and everything but…
is it really real? For me, as a “druid-in-training” this is an ongoing process and a lifetime’s work. Druidry is nothing if it cannot be effective and of service to the world.