To be a part of all that is, was and ever will be.

I spoke about Druidry at the recent Friends of the Witchcraft Museum day in Boscastle, Cornwall and during the talk I said that I could sum up what Druidry is to me in one word – connection. It sounds so easy now, and it wasn’t always this way – it’s taken me years of commitment and study to reach this place. If I was new to Druidry and I heard someone say that I would probably think that’s all very well, but how?

Like many people I spent years researching the ancient Druids – what they did, how they lived, what evidence there was that I could take inspiration from and bring into my practice, is what I’m doing authentic and can I call in Druidry? All of those things and more. And sometimes I had other people questioning my right to call myself a Druid. Some of us will remember the internet flame war that was the declaration by some that there are no Druids in this modern age. Every time things like this came up I would ask myself the same questions and sometimes I would find shadowy places where there were no honest answers.

I posted a blog recently about my thoughts on the age of modern Paganism, and why it can feel so young, and another about the love of detail. The recent DruidCast podcast featured a conversation between two modern Druid leaders, Philip Carr-Gomm of the OBOD and John Michael Greer of the AODA, and a good deal of their discussion also focussed on authenticity versus validity. It’s obviously something in the air right now, and what I’m hearing time and again is an acceptance. An acceptance that our modern Pagan movement is in its youth – that we are a new people taking inspiration from ancient religions and that we are working with them very much in our own modern ways. An honest acceptance of this throws light into those shadowy places where I couldn’t answer accusations of authenticity because I’m no longer viewing modern Druidry as needing it. It’s a new Druidry for our modern age, and the validity comes from the fact that for thousands of people it works.

What to me is its greatest gift? That word. Connection.

A connection to the land, to each other, to the plants, animals, stones, rivers, seas, mountains, stars, sun and moon. A connection to our ancestors through their stories, poetry, songs and the physical remains they have left us that help us to understand how they lived, who they were. A connection to the Otherworld, to Deity, Faerie, and other realities. To understand that I am a part of all of this, I am one with my brothers and sisters, one with the land, one with Spirit.

To be a part of all that is, was and ever will be.


12 responses to “To be a part of all that is, was and ever will be.”

  1. I would expand that with two more words. “Connection To Nature”.

    In my own work, which is intensely with trees, I meet several folks who call themselves druids, wizards and the like but they have a strong emphasis in carrying out their “connections” within human created temples, structures, buildings etc.

    But when these folks are invited to take their sharing out into the woodlands, I am barraged with all kinds of excuses and denials even to the point of being told that it would not be as powerful as from their own created alters.

    This is why I extend the word “connection” to “connection with nature”. I find with several folks who claim to be druids the “connection” they encourage is for others to connect with the druid’s own ego, proclaiming that doing so is a connection to nature.

    The druid types who work this way carry a shuddering fear of truly connecting to nature because of its total ego breaking flow of unconditional love.

    There is still a huge preference, by many folk, to connect with the human created church than being with and flowing with the love created nature.

    • I very good point John, thanks for posting – and I know what you mean by that too. All I could add is that a part of my acceptance has been to shift my view away from the idea that anything ‘human’ isn’t a part of Nature. To me we are another species of animal. We are part of the natural world, but one who believes we are not, and therefore we can abuse what we see as separate from ourselves. So a part of this connection is to truly connect us to who and what we are, a part of Nature – otherwise that separation will always continue unchanged.

  2. Interesting to accept “part of my acceptance has been that shift my view away from the idea that anything ‘human’ isn’t a part of Nature”, as this would include acceptance of the human activity of things like fracking, nuclear weapon creation, genocide as being being our human part of nature.

    Carrying the concept of judgement of what may be and what may be not of nature is a tricky one.

    The question I carry is subjective, as some folks would say, because I relate to recent memories of inviting people to activities we share in the wood lands. Often this invitation is rebutted with something like “sorry I’m to off too xxx house to do a back to nature meditation” – and that response to me is like something out of a BBC Goons Show.

    We had similar just a week or so ago when we had a woodland event near our rural home in Co. Sligo and at my partner’s venue in Dublin someone was hosting a back to nature mindfulness weekend in Dublin where the facilitator had an alter of twigs, nuts, leaves etc. 5 people from Co. Sligo travelled to Dublin for that, even after being told of what we are doing here live in the woods close to where they live.

    That causes me to question connection or disconnection. On the other side of the coin, we did have a couple of people from Dublin travel by train to here to join us.

    On another interest, folks will often go to Dublin for entertainment by a musician there even though similar musicians perform something similar very well locally.

    • Cheers John. Great thought provoking questions.

      I remember seeing a nature program that showed a group of killer whales stalking another species of whale, a mother and her calf. They separated the mother and drowned the calf, then swam away. They didn’t do it for food, territory, any obvious good reason – we might call that murder. Chimps can be incredibly violent to their own species.

      I look at what we do and see an intelligent animal who thinks they are separate from the natural world and therefore uses that mind to destroy rather than create. To me we do things like ‘fracking, create nuclear weapons and genocide’ because of that perceived separation.

      In my post the final paragraph says: A connection to the land, to each other, to the plants, animals, stones, rivers, seas, mountains, stars, sun and moon. A connection to our ancestors through their stories, poetry, songs and the physical remains they have left us that help us to understand how they lived, who they were. A connection to the Otherworld, to Deity, Faerie, and other realities.

      To me that paragraph holds the sentiments of the post. A connection to the land, plants, animals, trees, rocks, birds, stars, sun and moon, but also a connection to each other too. To me it has to be all of these things. I ran a bushcraft school for a year before my music took over and loved it. I learned the skills because I came to the conclusion that although I knew the Ogham and folklore of the woodland, I actually also wanted to be able to live in it and know how to survive on a practical level as well as a magical one. I needed both.

      I wish you much success in encouraging people to make deeper connections with the natural world, and helping them realise they are a living breathing part of that, and then the responsibilities that come with that understanding.

  3. I’ve noticed what seems to be this recent trend in accepting that Druidry (and Wicca) are modern religions that try to capture some of the truths of the past without actually having a direct linear descent from historical beliefs that bore similar names. I’m finding it much easier to relate to this new pagan realism and I think that the “validity versus authenticity” approach is an important step in getting paganism more widely accepted.

    As to connection; what is not Nature; where is there left that is not affected by human activity? I too find it easier to find the connection in a wood or on a mountainside but to try to deny that buildings are part of Nature encourages the idea that we, and our creations, sit outside Nature. It’s like an ant denying that an ants’ nest, a badger denying a badgers’ set, or tree denying that a rock split by a tree root is part of Nature. Many other organisms are equally brutal and uncaring; many pollute their environment, use up resources etc without thought of the consequences – this is what Nature does. What normally happens though is that evolution favours organisms that prolong their co-existence with their environment. Either we’ll realise this – we’ll connect – and learn to curb our excesses, or we won’t learn and we’ll be replaced by something better adapted. (We’ve not been here long in evolutionary terms after all, we’re still on trial.)

    For me, it seems that Druidry offers a pathway to connection in today’s world – my aim is to “connect” not just in one special place though, be it a woodland grove or man-made temple, but everywhere and anywhere that I am.

    (P.S. Why is it that older buildings tend to be exempt from the “it’s not natural? Were there contemporaries complaining that Avebury, Stonehenge etc were unnatural eyesores?)

  4. Gwion love your post and particularly your P.S. – I’ve thought of that sometimes too, and also forgot it often too. Thanks for the reminder. Brought a smile. Kind of imagining an M3-Tara style protest as Stonehenge was being built, or even and M3-Tara style protest when Cormac mac Airt was rebuilding the Tara complext itself 🙂

  5. Absolutely! I remember looking down at Sillbury Hill from West Kennett long barrow waxing lyrical about its wonder and mystery when my mate said, “I bet people complained about it when it was built – it’s an eyesore! I used to be able to see the surrounding hills now there’s a bloody great pile of earth in the way!” Made me laugh!

  6. One of the influences on my overall comments here was a visit a few years ago to our local Carrowkeel Cairns that I was guiding some visiting Aussie Aborigine folks to under some culture exchange.

    They gave me an incredible insight into them and possible intent or purpose before used as tombs. That is lengthy and OT for here but …

    One of the women said something like “we believe our people built structures like this with stone but our ancestors decided that if this idea became popular it would ruin the earth using materials the earth cannot replace or find difficult to replace. So we returned to sustainable quick replacing materials that would keep the earth happy, I think we made that change between 10 and 20,000 years ago, but it seems some of our people may have traveled and taught others these non sustainable stone structures ways”.

    • Just thinking of the irony of this and verging on the hypocritical. I am living in a restored thatched cottage made of rubble stone, the same kind of stone as used for the cairns around here both still around here and long gone. There is no guarantee of the cottage stone one being cairn stone, though some of them have fabulous fossils crystalised onto them. Add to that having a history of being a stone mason myself at sacred place restorations during the 70s and early 80s before becoming a native forestry campaigner then and again now. I do not feel like giving up this stone cottage to something of sustainable materials … though our kitchen extension is a hemp bale building 🙂 .

  7. Connection…its that simple. But as we know the world today has lost its connection to the web and weave of nature. In early September i spent an afternoon in one of my magical places working on a Gwers. Its an area of common land surrounded by many ancient trees with a clean flowing river. There is an old fallen oak tree and in the roots there was a Hornets nest. I watched and listened the Hornets fly to and fro from the nest down to the river for a drink in the last summer sun. I then had the most profound experience ..It was if i was in the film the Matrix. I could SEE and HEAR everything around me in slow motion a conscious dream . A Kingfisher perched a few feet away from my head,a Green woodpecker cackled and laughed in the long grass, a spider was constructing a new web, soft puffs of nettle spores smoking in the breeze and three young buzzards played above. The connection was suddenly broken, a helicopter flew past, and the drone of cars on a motorway in the distance. I then wept, if only we could all see and feel connected, perhaps one day.

  8. Lovely read gentlemen! Inspiring really. I would like to add that walking barefoot on rock outcroppings is very “connecting”, but I suppose barefoot itself is connecting by its very nature:o) I have placed my hand on many stone outcroppings and have gotten the same sensation as touching a giant redwood tree. All elemental after all. Looking forward to the new Damh CD , my wife is drumming to Mari Boine right now.

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