Druidry for Beginners – Where to Start? The Senses.

Black_Forest-_path_(10562040746)I know a lot of people who have been walking the Druid path for many years who hunger for books and information that take them deeper, but I also know there many people who are new to the path, who are looking for some kind of guidance on how to fully immerse themselves into their newly found Druid Way. The shelves of alternative bookshops (remember bookshops? Thankfully there are still some left out there…) once had a number of introductory books about Druidry, but over the years these books, and the bookshops themselves have slowly disappeared. I got my copy of Elements of the Druid Tradition by Philip Carr-Gomm from WH Smiths back in the early 90s and this book helped to guide me on my first footsteps on the path. Browsing Amazon can be confusing. There are introductory books, but there is nothing like picking up a physical copy from a shelf, feeling its weight, browsing the contents, reading about the author. Harder to do in the Kindle store, or do I just sound like an old fart missing the good old days?

I’ve also read that peoples’ reading habits are changing. Rather than sitting down to read a book, it would seem that many are exploring blogs, podcasts, and shorter fiction. This can’t be 100% true otherwise the sales of George RR Martin’s books wouldn’t be so high – it takes a serious time commitment to read those! But there is no doubt that our time is precious, and that committing to reading an entire book is now, for some, a serious decision.

So I thought I would begin a series of posts on the blog about things people who are just starting out on the path can do to make their experiences deeper and more enjoyable.

To join an Order or not to join an Order?

My first port of call would be the course run by the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. Way before I became their Pendragon in 2010 I sent off a self-addressed envelope in April 1994 to begin my Journey. It helped tremendously. Does it answer every question? No, nothing can. But what it did for me was to provide a focus. A map and a well-trodden path through the forest from which to explore the tributaries and smaller pathways along the way. So if you can, try their intro pack. I suggest this as a member of the Order for whom the course was a great help.

If for whatever reason you don’t want to do a course or join an Order, this series of blog posts might be of help to you. Starting a course is also a commitment and maybe you just don’t feel ready, or joining an Order might not feel right for you at this time. Whatever the reasons there is no requirement to join an Order to follow the Druid Way. As time passes though, you might find that the idea of community and meeting others might encourage you to look at this again.

Get outside

My advice right now? Turn off your computer, put on whatever clothes are appropriate for the weather, and get outside. Go for a walk in the countryside or in the woods. If you’re in the city get yourself to a large park. This will be a walk with a difference. When you get to your destination find a quiet space. Even when we go for walks we can bring all the baggage of our everyday lives with us. We might be thinking about the bills we need to pay, what is going to happen to John Snow in the next episode, is the car MOT due? What do I have for dinner in the fridge? That person at work who is just getting you down. We can be focussed on anything other than the walk we are taking. Like we have this incessantly chattering voice sitting on our shoulders and talking into our ears, drowning out every other sound.

We need to shut them up.

See through the Eyes of the Owl

So find that quiet space in the woods or the park. What you are going to do is open up your senses. Raise your arms out to your side to make the shape of a T. Look at a point straight before you, just above where you think the horizon might be. Then push your arms a little further back. Wiggle your fingers and whilst doing this slowly bring your arms forward until you see your wiggling fingers either side of you. Stop moving your ams, but keep your fingers moving when you see them in the periphery of your vision. Keep looking at that imaginary horizon too. In Wilderness Awareness this is called Wide Angle Vision. I’ve also heard it called Seeing through the Eyes of the Owl, which I much prefer. Once you can see your wiggling fingers slowly drop your arms but keep your awareness on all you can see around you. Using the Eyes of the Owl you can see so much more. More movement. Stay like this for a while.

Hear through the Ears of the Hare

Next place your hands behind you ears. Use your hands to direct your hearing. Listen and see how much more you can hear. Do this for a while then take your hands away and listen deeply to the sounds around you. I bet you will hear layers and layers of sound that you thought you were hearing, but until this moment you weren’t aware of them. Listen deeply to the sounds around you. both near and far. Then, at the same time do the exercise above and see through the Owl’s eyes at the same time as you listen with the ears of the Hare.

Smell through the Nose of the Fox

The next sense to work on is the sense of smell. Reach down and pluck some grass. Crunch it up and stiff it. Don’t take a long sniff – that is our natural way of smelling things. This time sniff in short bursts, like you see a dog sniffing the ground. You will smell so much more if you sniff quickly. Do this with some earth, a twig, whatever is around you.

Then do the same with the air around you, hear the sounds through the ears of the Hare, and open your Wide Angle Vision to see through the Eyes of the Owl. Using all three senses at the same time.

Already you will notice that the chattering voice is becoming quieter. It simply can’t compete if your awareness is on your physical senses. For some focussing on these three senses all at once can be quite hard, so I’ll leave it there for today. This exercise is a standing meditation. It stills the mind, and brings us into a deeper relationship with the space around us. Try to do this every time you go for a walk in the country, woods or park, and you will notice so much more than you ever did before. More movement, more smells, more sounds, more wildlife, more birdsong, more flowers.

It’s a great place to start.

By | 2016-10-14T11:00:29+00:00 July 24th, 2015|Categories: druidry, Druidry for Beginners|Tags: , , , , , , , |25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. David Morris July 24, 2015 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Oh how I really enjoyed reading this.
    Thank you

  2. Margret July 24, 2015 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    What a lovely post, Damh. This has been a practice of mine for so many years that I had forgotten that it is a form of meditation. I love the naming of the steps – the eyes of the owl, the ears of the hare… I travel with my work, and after a long day on the road, a walk in park in a new city is a great way to relax and recharge at the same time. This little meditation helps me to ground and connect myself, and know that earth is earth, and I am part of it wherever I go.

  3. Rebecca Renbourne July 24, 2015 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    My Brother,
    I love you so dearly and profoundly appreciate your blog.
    What an awesome post this one is. I feel moved to contribute a tiny humble bit.
    I might suggest that for a beginner who has any difficulty picking a book or a master teacher and thus getting locked into someone else’s interpretation, perhaps if they are suited to it they might try just sitting in a natural place and stilling their thoughts. Listening as you describe, then turning that superhearing of the hare within, waiting for the inner voices and the eternal Voice that comes from without to give the ancient primordial teachings that are uniquely tailored to their particular Self.
    I always like to remember what John and Caitlyn Matthews [“Celtic Shamanism”] said about the ancestral wisdom that seemingly has been lost, that it will always and forever be in the other world waiting to be renewed by anyone who goes there to find it and give it new life.
    Travel within, my Sisters, my Brothers, and leave the writings and the spoken words for a bit.
    Open to the wisdom that waits quietly to come to the one who desires it most fervently from the heart of the Heart. In the experience of the voices of the trees, of the wind, the little bugs that scurry and gyre, we find the truths that truly become our own.
    Bless you All,
    Rebecca

    • karen July 26, 2015 at 12:13 am - Reply

      Excellent post also

    • He Who Walks July 27, 2015 at 6:16 am - Reply

      You are completely right; that’s exactly how you should begin 🙂 quieting your mind is key in many crafts

  4. Char Lewis July 24, 2015 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    How wonderful this blog is. For me, the timing couldn’t be better as I am just venturing out into shallow waters on the Druid path. And I do have many questions and queries. This is an immense help.
    I feel this path calling me, there are too many coincidences to ignore.You have been my main inspiration to go on this journey that I cannot resist.
    I thank you so much. Love and light in all that you do. Blessed Be. X

  5. Karen Cooper July 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Lovely.. 🙂

    You should write your own book.

  6. ms mickey July 24, 2015 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Yes, you are a good old fart, friend
    from a podcast groupie

  7. Nancy Wisser July 25, 2015 at 1:04 am - Reply

    Thank you! I saw this and ordered the intro pack. Attending the ceremony at Glastonbury Torand then the Eistedfodd, both as a guest, and then talking with individual Druids, changed the way I see them and Druidry, and I’m very interested to learn more.

  8. Broadwood July 25, 2015 at 2:28 am - Reply

    Motivational…thanks Dave! \m/

  9. Hobbits Gully July 25, 2015 at 10:06 am - Reply

    It’s a common thing to forget how to feel ,smell and hear,,when you are surrounded by the modern world,,, unless you chose to educate people of the benifits of nature and technology at the same time, ,,,bars should be in all education systems, ,,,, and bedtime stories

  10. Sabine July 25, 2015 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Thanks a lot for those kind words. I have been following your blog for a long time and I have listened to all of your songs and received so much blessing from them. I am outside a lot, I try to experience nature and the spirits with all of my senses but I then wish I would live in England, where there is company. I have yet hesitated to get the introductory course, because I am afraid that I would end up following the path on my own, without people to share and to celebrate.

  11. Damh the Bard July 27, 2015 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Wow. Thank you all so much for your kind comments. The response to this blog post has been quite overwhelming so I will definitely be following it up with more. Obviously Druidry is a very personal Journey and these exercises and ideas are just some of the things that have worked for me over the years. We are all very different in our approach so if you read something that doesn’t sit well with your practice by all means leave it.

    These posts are also titled ‘for beginners’ so I’ve started in a place that I feel is right for the very beginning of a journey. To learn to listen to nature, to learn how to open ourselves to our immediate environment will help greatly on any new adventure of discovery.

    So, more ‘Druidry for Beginners’ coming soon!

    • mark cromo October 21, 2015 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Could you please explain to me in laymans terms the difference between Bards, Ovates, And Druids?… thank you so much for your feedback. Sincerely Mark Cromo.

  12. Kathy Atkinson July 28, 2015 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Thank you so very much!
    I was curious as to where to start for this has been stirring in my bones for quite some time. I did order the intro pack from OBOD just last week and will look for the book you have mentioned above 🙂
    So my journey continues….

  13. the Kite August 10, 2015 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Excellent practical stuff Damh. Do keep this series coming.
    May I be so bold as to recommend also the Urban Druid blog on my own website, listed above? Your reply form doesn’t seem to want to take the URL …
    Peace,
    Kite

  14. Moss Bear August 11, 2015 at 2:28 am - Reply

    Thank you for a well-written guide.

    We would love to share your entire series on our Facebook page if that is okay with you.

    • Damh the Bard August 11, 2015 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Fine by me. Glad you are enjoying them!

  15. […] hopefully you have been practicing the senses meditations offered in the first post, and you also now have a space in your home dedicated to your […]

  16. Dean P February 29, 2016 at 8:39 am - Reply

    I too am thinking of starting down the long winding path of Druidry, and googled “Druidry – where to start” your blog was the top of the list.. It must have been fate.. Regarding clearing the mind and going for a walk.. I can see the point to this.. It’d be a way to get away from the busy buzzing of everyday life, so.. I will do as you suggested as soon as I’ve eaten dinner.. Walking in the bush in the evening would be better would it not than walking in day light, due to less traffic.. There is a Grove about 10km from my doorstep, and I have been in contact with their head guy.. Question – Whats the name for a chief Druid? Is he a High Priest like in Wicca? I have always felt that there is something more going on in life.. Something in the background.. Maybe thru druidry I might find the answers I seek..

    Also.. at 50 years old.. Am I too old to start?

    Blessed Be… /I\

    • Damh the Bard February 29, 2016 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Greetings Dean. It’s never too late to start and I’m so pleased you stumbled upon my blog. My advice? There’s seems to be so much to take in a learn when you first discover Druidry so be gentle with yourself and take your time. There are a couple of other posts in the Druidry for Beginners series on my site so have a look for those. Also take a look at http://www.druidry.org and have a browse around. But most importantly, go for that walk 🙂

      A Chief Druid can be called simply Chief, or some Order’s use the term Arch Druid. Manny Druid groups discard group hierarchies and terms like High Priest etc, with roles in the group being more connected to functions. For instance OBOD has three functions of Chief, Pendragon and Scribe (me being the Pendragon) but these are roles and not hierarchical bumps in the circle. Hope that makes sense.

      Many blessings on your Journey!! Enjoy the ride Brother.

  17. Izatulla Jumaev October 9, 2016 at 9:49 am - Reply

    The senses and feelings are very important to live long and happy life. I have found it long ago. We continue to live healthy life as long as our senses and feelings are acute and strong. And we stop living healthy as soon as our feelings get dull. So in that sense your teaching has really deep meaning. Thank you Sir!
    Sincerely, Izatulla from Uzbekistan.

  18. Izatulla Jumaev November 18, 2016 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I work in a small island of 44 hectares area and with 1200 population right in the middle of the Indian ocean. It was terribly boring at first. But thanks to Damh’s blog, I found great happiness in my lonely life. Everyday in the same time when ecuatorial sun begin to sit I go out and take a quite walk along the wild jungle all alone with myself. I began to hear even small sounds of insects, splash of far away ocean. I began to smell the fine fragrance of blossoms and grass as well as salty sea air. I notice even the small insect that flew past my way. I feel that I am an important and lovely part of nature. I think that is the beginning of my journey in druidry.
    Thanks you all.

  19. Dan January 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I laughed and laughed. But then I remembered that some people do need to be reminded to do these things. I am a very busy person, a father, a teacher, husband and natural druid. I try to take time and embrace the environment I’m in. I love the bush, but I love the city as well. Try to embrace the earth energy where ever you are. Sometimes you will find this in the people there, the markets,or buskers, even those less fortunate. Try to feel the energy and give as well. Love is all we need.

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