What is Druidry?
Druidry, also known as Neo-Druidry is a spiritual practice, faith and way of life. It is comparible with Shinto in many ways, and is based on what is known of the indigenous faiths and beliefs of the Isle of Britain, specifically the Celtic people.
Originating in 18th century romanticism, Druidry was a cultural movement – a reclaiming of Celtic ancestry for many Celtic people. Druid orders at that time were very exclusive and were fraternities modeled off freemasonry. Over time, Druidry became more spiritual in nature, especially thanks to the spiritual boom of the 1980s, leading to the modern religion we know today.
The term ‘Druid’ comes from ancient words ‘dru’ meaning ‘oak’ or ‘doorway’ and ‘wid’ meaning wisdom. Therefore the term is used to describe someone who is wise in the ways of nature.
Druidry focuses on many of the old Celtic tales, especially Welsh and Irish. Different orders of Druids may derive teachings from different pantheons. These stories are not seen as sacred text but instead a kind of cultural DNA from our ancestors as they reflect their culture and beliefs of the time.
Although it is not essential, many Druids are part of an order. I myself am a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids based in the UK. Other Druid orders include the British Druid Order and The Druid Network.
The Core Principles of Druidry
It is important that there is no sacred texts in Druidry, and no absolute set way in which it must be practiced. There is also no universal list of beliefs. Each individual and order may believe different things, though we are all united in our love and reverence of Nature.
- Respect for nature and all living things
- Gods and Goddesses can be important to Druids, but not all. Druids may be polytheists, monotheists, duotheists, animists, pantheists or even atheists.
- Peace with other religions and faiths; many Druids are also Wiccan, Christian, Buddhist or of another path
- The Otherworld is seen as an unseen realm in which we travel to after death but also visit during shamanic journeying, meditation and dreams.
- Reincarnation is seen as an important aspect of the life cycle. Unlike some other religions, in Druidry we believe that anything can be reincarnated as anything; not necessarily the form you were already in.
- The respect and veneration of our ancestors
- The Awen, known as Imbas in Ireland, is a spiritual force that is inspiration, the force of life, energy flow and everything in between. The awen symbol is also the symbol of modern Druidry.
- Sacred Sites, such as Stonehenge contain immense natural and ancestral energy
- Living our lives is important. We are to let go of past negativity, and are encouraged to live in the here and now.
What are Bards, Ovates and Druids?
In many, but not all Druid orders there are Bards, Ovates and Druids. These are not ‘levels’ or ‘classes’, more like roles. However, when studying through an order, the student will start at the Bardic level, then Ovate and finally Druid. The reason for this is that the Bardic level provides the base foundation of Druidry and the understanding of much of the concepts and lore surrounding it. Of course, Druids who are not of an order may consider themselves all, or part of these roles. Also anyone can call themselves a Druid, the term is not strict and there is no stigma attached to how one identifies themselves in Druidry.
Bards are storytellers, poets, artists and musicians, very much like the Bards of old. During our Bardic studies, we learn about the myths and legends, the deities and about Nature both in our local area and across the world.
Ovates are seers and focus more on the inner world. In our Ovate studies, we learn to meditate and journey, reaching into ourselves for signs and messages to apply to our physical lives.
Druids are philosophers, teachers, conductors of ritual and are often involved in community work. They may open a grove, similar to a Wiccan coven, or hold meetings. It takes an average of 3 years to study from Bard to Druid through an order.
Do you need to be of Celtic heritage to be a Druid?/Do you need to speak Welsh/Irish/another language to be a Druid?
Absolutely not! Although it did originate in Britain and Europe, Druidry is a Global faith which is relevant today. As Druidry is a very open and individual religion, it is also perfectly acceptable for someone from another country to incorporate their own culture’s deities, should they want to. Druidry also does not discriminate against any race, gender or sexual orientation.
As for language, this is not needed. In my opinion, the deities do not speak human tongue at all, and so can be contacted regardless of language. Of course, if you already speak a Celtic language then you could always pray in that language for the added energy you may feel.
Is Druidry a type of Wicca?
No, Druidry is a seperate religion from Wicca and the two are both very different. There is no need for a Druid to study Wicca, or vice versa. However, many people have found that they do enjoy to cross the two paths and this is sometimes referred to as Druidcraft (from Druid and Witchcraft). You can read more on Druidcraft here. The only true similarity the two paths share is that they are both Pagan religions.
Can I be a Druid if I am a Christian/Buddhist/etc?
Absolutely! Druidry is at peace with other religions and spiritual paths. One of the most important teachings of Druidry is the tolerance for other religions and philosophies. Many Druids are pagan, but there are also those who are also of other religions. Interestingly, Druidry and Christianity have a strong historical link as well.
What is a grove?
A grove is a group which meets regularly and is led by people usually in the Druid ‘grade’ of Druidry. The aim of the grove is to bring together Druids and celebrate the eight festivals, give initiations and to hold ceremonies.
Do I need to adopt certain beliefs in order to practice Druidry?
No – Druidry recognizes that all people are different and come from different cultures, backgrounds and upbringings. The individual is encouraged to experiment and find their own beliefs, Druidry merely acts as a guide on that journey.
What is a Bard? – BDO
What is an Ovate? – BDO
What is a Druid? – BDO
Wicca and Druidcraft – OBOD
The Harmony of Wicca and Druidry – OBOD
Christianity and Druidry – OBOD
Druidism and the Ancient Religions of India – OBOD
Rites and Rituals – The Druid Network