The Druid Robe

avardruidThe blog has had a facelift, and a new year has begun, and with it I’ll be updating the blog in a different way. On Mondays I’ll be writing about an aspect of my spiritual life, and on Friday the post will be of a musical/creative theme. There’ll be other posts in between but this is the pattern I’m going to aim at. So, it’s Monday – time to explore a part of my spiritual life.

Let’s start with robes.

I’ll start by saying I have a very positive relationship with ritual dress. I have a modern Druid robe. It’s off-white with Rowan embroidery to show my spiritual association with this tree. To me it is a sacred garment that I only ever wear during ritual, or some other spiritual or religious activity. I’ve been asked to wear it for media photographs but I always refuse – that is not what it’s about. It is not about dressing up to show off. It’s about intent and focus.

When I put on my Druid robe I know that magic is about to take place. Like an executive putting on their well groomed black suit, the act of putting on the robe can act as one of the many shifts in focus that take us out of the ordinary, and into that frame of mind where we engage the Magician. Do I need to wear it? No, of course not. But like the smell of incense, the lighting of a candle, the chanting of a sacred word, the walk into a twilight forest, it is one more thing that can help to deepen my relationship with the intent of the moment.

I believe that, over time, and with regular use, magical items can absorb the memories of ritual and magic. Like the magic wand they can become allies for the magician – friends and companions that almost take on personalities of their own. I am blessed that Cerri is an amazing seamstress, and she made my robe to my own requirements. Like any magical tool it is always best if you can make them yourself. The shop-bought wand might be a great companion, but better the personally hunted and cut wand from a tree you have known, and one you can return to again in the future. I think the same can be said for the robe. If it is made for you, or even better if you can make it yourself, there will always be a closer relationship.

I know there are some who say we shouldn’t wear robes, that they make us look daft, and bring embarrassment. I don’t agree. I think they bring colour, drama, and can help bring a shift of consciousness, but in the context of ritual and sacred acts. You will never see me robed on stage, but you might bump into me in the woods, robed and chanting, singing and playing music to the moon and stars, to the trees and to the Fae.

And they seem to turn their gaze toward me in familiarity, and recognise the white robe, in the greenwood grove.

16 responses to “The Druid Robe”

  1. There is one more thing to my robe : it protects, when I am wearing it I am pretty “harmless” and “not to be harmed” . I have no good explanation for this, though.

  2. I think it depends on the robe. I really like yours and I can’t imagine you wearing anything for ritual, but I have seen plenty of Glastonbury-bought crushed velvet jobs that are always on display no matter the occasion, and that I do find embarassing – especially when paired with excrutiating headgear.

    • I agree, some look like they are out of some medieval drama,that is embarrassing, I wear a very plain robe, for ritual only, I agree with Damh, that the robe is very special when put on for ritual, it creates a sacred space around us, that takes us for awhile from our every day busy lives, into a place were we can connect with the ancient ones,

  3. Typo! I meant to say “I can’t imagine you wearing anything else for ritual”. Damh does not do skyclad ritual that I’m aware of!

  4. I totally agree. My friend’s sewing machine broke down when I was attempting to make my robe, so we sewed it together by hand, which was a beautiful, old fashioned,bonding moment, and makes my robe even more special now. I’m definitely pro-robe!

  5. I believe it as a recent post by Cat Treadwell that I read where she mentions comments made about a Pagan Pride Festival and how the attendees dressed up. While different from ritual dress, dressing to celebrate or conduct a ritual is something that is done in many cultures. Anyone who makes a snide remark in regards to what druids (or other pagans) wear are just trying to find a reason to make fun of them.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts Damh.

  6. @ Julianne, only in the dreams of thousands of pagan yuppies does Damh suddenly enjoy skyclad rituals lol
    I agree though Damh, robes should be for ritual only, not for media “look at me, i’m a pagan!!” (resists the urge to sing Paul Mitchell) I have to confess i rarely robe up, but when i do it is, like you say a part of the shift in consciousness into “this is my sacred space and time”

  7. Great to read this Damh. I was having quite a chat on this very thing at lunch today, and now I read this. I was saying much of what you have blogged here. Not much for me to add really, but your point of not wearing for the media is strong.

    Like you, the Rowan is a huge key with me partially because of my passion and the very strong local tradition as I live below the hill or the Rowan, the Coarran around here, and it has a strong association with the Morrigu here, the Morrigan but here she is more with the tradition of renewing passion and bravery in men. My big tree labyrinth here is devoted to this, but each spring young deer visit and eat all of the sweet rowan blossom so my rowans are a bit limp from exhaustion from that.

    For my last comment on this, really I just find the robe is extremely comfortable in quiet sacred situations, much better than a pair of jeans or cargo pants chewing up the groin.

    Nice post 🙂

  8. I agree on making them yourself if you can. I made a green tabard to go over my white robe and appliqued oak leaves and ivy and mistletoe on it while camping in the New Forest. I feel a close kinship with the trees and the land when I wear it as I am back in the dappled shade surrounded by birdsong and wild ponies.

  9. I wear my robe in ritual, at the Mistletoe Ceremony, it can often be quite chilly, and so my purple velvet robe keeps me warm and dry, and it does take me to a different “place” It was bought for my birthday by my sister in law, a complete surprise, I love the purpleness of it, as I am a colour addict. I have worn it for the media, once because I was being interviewd by Radio 4, after a ritual, so was still wearing it, and once for the bbc, they asked me to wear it, I thought about it, and what I was doing, was my Druidry, so I said yes. Some may criticise me for going on the telly, but I made it my own, they had a script for me, and did several takes, when I wouldnt say what they wanted me to, in the end, they filmed what I said. Last year, I was asked to be interviewed by ITV, they wanted “Druid in appropriate robe” I didnt do the interview at all. A robe is part of my spirituality, but not my everyday clothes, I am a Druid all the time, but when it’s called for, by intuition, it takes me to another place. Does that make any sense?

  10. @ awenic_waterfall, you said what I was trying to say, but a whole lot better! I must admit I have a plain green robe (I’m not a druid and don’t feel entitled to wear the white) which I did buy and not make. It’s also been used as costume for an elf in ‘The Hunt for Gollum’ but it seemed fitting somehow and not profane. I guess it’s time I made my own robes, ones that I wouldn’t feel happy to lend to a film. I’ve made them for other people but I was always happy with my old green one, I guess that proves the point that Damh is making!

  11. A ritual robe is like getting dressed for work, or to do yard work. Putting on your robes sets you mentally for what you are about to do. Feeling foolish in your robes is more about being comfortable with who you are, and accepting yourself. I have walked the streets of salem MA. and even when to the airport and come back home in ritual garb! Did people look at me? yes, did I care? no. I am who I am, and I was on a ritual high having just completed and running to the airport to come back home.

  12. I’ve never worn a robe, partly because I’d feel uncomfortable and partly because if I wore one in my suburban woodland I’d get beaten up. Yet I like your description of the magic and can understand the appeal.

  13. @julianne. Well that puts me in my place. Not being great with a sewing machine or particularly well off I attended a beautiful Beltane ritual yesterday in cheap crushed velvet cloak and flowery headgear made by a close friend for me. I have always believed that the pagan folk around me would be non judgemental and accepting of whoever I may be and whatever I choose to wear. Yes of course I would love a good quality robe or cloak and one day I may manage to make or find one I can afford. But in the meantime I think it is important that judging a pagan by his / her dress is no better than a judging a child by their worn and patched trousers

  14. I agree I made my own robes out of white cotton drill and would only wear them for rituals I think it adds to the moment also and agree putting it on forms part of the ritual itself

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