credible druidry: introduction
a druid is someone who at least intends to learn to be a druid, whatever he or she might think that means. that intention seems to be hard-wired into the culture, into the mindscape in which all people learn and assimilate the wealth of healing and magic that surrounds us. every culture regularly produces its wizards, sorcerers, witches, shamans. they are people configured to focus on this magic that others don’t see and to commune with the invisible worlds accessible through it.
not everyone who does a course in druidry wants to be a druid. it’s legitimate to add-in knowledge about druidry to another magical system, or to synthesise one of your own from selections from many systems of magic. but for those for whom being a druid is a driving, central donné, there are major issues which need to be dealt with standing between us and credibility within the contexts accessible to the of non-druids. things would flow better if we acknowledge these issues.
blind faith (itself proof of the power of enchantment if we hadn’t already been convinced by things like tv advertising, the wiles of kittens and the socio-psychology of human courtship) sustains all of us sometimes, and some of us all the time, but before we can begin truly to manifest genuinely druidic magic in the apparent world, we need a credible basis for our beliefs; not just to arm us against challenges from the mainstream, but also for the sake of our own self-esteem and for the healing power of standing on firm ground, all of which are needed before the nwyfre will flow in the channels ordained for it by the druid’s spells.
we have very little hard knowledge of what druids were, but a fairly well developed sense of them pervades magical fantasy and fiction, which gets its themes and images from a perhaps planetary consciousness that remembers clearly what we of the apparent world have forgotten. we instinctively approve of tolkien’s gandalf, of getafix the druid from asterix the gaul, of harry potter and his companions, and of t. e. white’s merlin in the once and future king. conan the barbarian’s adventurescape rings true, and the good/wise and evil/power-crazed wizards of genre fantasy thrill and chill us because they are true to life in some way – or our instincts tell us so, even if we’re in denial about it.
there is so much consistency in these images that it is fairly easy for any individual to conjure up an image of a druid, or of a range of types of druids, and to incorporate a selection of its features into his or her own being. but these attributes only have credibility, the power to heal and set a disordered world to rights, and the ability to weave the creative forces into new substances, fictions and realities if they are themselves real within the context of the apparent world.
in writing my articles i want to examine some of the powers commonly attributed to druids, to ask what they are, how real or unreal each one is, and if real how can we as druids access and apply them as manifest magic in the apparent world. it will be helpful to critique fairly carefully the philosophy that is emerging as ‘druidic’ in this century, feeling honestly for its weaknesses, its instances of what sartre called mauvaise foi, and for those tender areas we tend to pussyfoot around, because of embarrassment about the apparent gaps between our fantasy and any possible reality that it might engage with – and for the even greater fear if those gaps should be suddenly effectively bridged so as to allow the fantasy suddenly to coincide with the ancient reality enough to engage with it, it might unleash terrifying powers beyond our power and wisdom to control, as perhaps it once did in the ancient past!
could a deadly druid charm uttered by a scared 5th century wizard, aimed at a nebulous, perhaps terrifying form looming out of the future at him/her from the 21st century, the shadow of a legend-probing celtic historian or modern druid seeking the true nature of the old druid, strike that seeker dead? scary thought! could a 21st century druid, incubating a charm against some nebulous, terrifying form looming at her/him, seen as a demonic presence or evil force, harm or even kill a 37th century historian enquiring telepathically into the druidry of our times?
21st century druid training is densely-packed with seed-thoughts. it’s like a genome: motifs, images and ideas interweaving in a fabric of myths and ideology with fragments of folklore, much wrought-upon ancient texts and archaeological traces, and the pervading image of the druid in literature through the ages. such is the seed we start out with. the soil we plant it in is our own personal knowledge and nature, and it’s watered and nourished constantly by our experience of the real world around us. once sprouted, the germ makes intensive use of the seed material in forming a root, which enters the soil and finds a new source of nourishment there. my aim is to mobilise the powers latent within these seed myths and fragments by unpacking them, deconstructing them a little and seeing how their power and logic can be creatively employed for magical effects in the 21st century druid.
here are some of the attributes i will be looking at
- druids are animists.
- druids talk with animals, birds, trees, rocks, and the stars with mutual understanding.
- druids shapeshift.
- druids time-travel.
- druids prophecy.
- druids cast enchantments, charms and spells.
- druids control natural phenomena such as weather, fertility and tectonic forces.
- druids have close friendly relations with space people in ufos.
- druids can speak to the dead through skulls, stones or other spirit focalizers.
- druids can commune with beings, human and unhuman, on many dimensions.
- druids can magically affect the health and vitality of all manner of systems, from individual people to whole planets for good or evil.
- druids walk and talk with the gods in ways that others do not.
- druids have bilocational experiences in which they visit other worlds, other dimensions, and transcendent realities.
- druids use enchanted objects such as cauldrons and cups for healing, entrancing and conjuring.
- druids brew magic potions.
- druids preach the transmigration of souls.
i’ll be looking at some of the factual sources of belief in druid magic in literature, saga and song and in histories old and new. i’ll also look at the mythos, most of which arises from the factual accounts greatly distorted through errors of interpretation and the tendency transmitters of lore have to fabricate sections of verse that cannot be recalled, or in the case of scripts, deciphered or translated as handscripts and languages became archaic, and all the other means by which the truth becomes cryptic over the centuries in oral traditions.
and i’ll also be looking at those branches of mysticism that deal with metaphysics and the worlds beyond the apparent world, the parapsychology of shamanism and other aspects of pagan belief and the materialistic sciences of the west. because i believe it really is possible to take the historical image of the druid, and through a genial relationship with all these systems of magic and knowledge, make of the mythic splendour a splendid reality, prophetic utterances, magic tricks and all!