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Author Topic: Is Druidry Initiatory?  (Read 2047 times)

Nymree

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Is Druidry Initiatory?
« on: May 19, 2020, 09:09:48 am »
So I thought to post this here because, after a few internet searches, I really couldn't find much on this.

As someone pointed out in a previous thread, 'Druidry' is a pretty broad category/grouping, with a lot of variety and difference between many of the communities within it. Because of that, I have a feeling the answer to the question of initiation will vary masssively depending on community and tradition.

This is supported by what I've found so far, where OBOD is an initiatory tradition/community, ADF is an initiatory church and BDO (according to a dm between us) prefer not to initiate their students because they don't want to exert that level of control over them - instead, they offer a self-dedication ritual as part of their distance-learning course for the student to complete on their own.

The situation is further confused when, looking over several basic-introduction type webpages, books and threads about Druidry, initiation is not mentioned to the same extent or with the same emphasis as, say, the same pages on Wiccan traditions, which is of course highly initiatory. When I looked at the Druid Network's page 'How Does One Become a Druid?', initiation is not mentioned and even when OBOD and BDO are, there isn't a whole lot of emphasis on their training courses, with the main focus being on private study and practice (which, of course, does involve looking into local groves and reading widely).

I apologise if I've got anything wrong here - I'm not a Druid myself, though I am seeking to enter the tradition, hence this thread. So, to what extent is Modern Druidry initiatory? I personally have some hesitation in signing up for OBOD and BDO training, for individual reasons. I know of a local grove, though I'm not sure as of yet how good a fit we are (I'll find out when I eventually make it to a ZOOM meeting!). I do a lot of reading, which I've found huge success with in my spiritual life and I'm now looking at the free resources listed on the Druid Network's website, which involve a few year-long courses I could take on my own.

Anyway, I'd be really interested to see what people on here think of the question. Blessings and thanks.

Sophia C

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Re: Is Druidry Initiatory?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2020, 05:24:18 am »
As someone pointed out in a previous thread, 'Druidry' is a pretty broad category/grouping, with a lot of variety and difference between many of the communities within it. Because of that, I have a feeling the answer to the question of initiation will vary masssively depending on community and tradition.

I think you’ve essentially answered your own question. I don’t think you can ask if a whole diverse movement is initiatory. You can only ask if each tradition/order is. Druidry isn’t one tradition - it’s multiple traditions with a bit of shared history in common (sometimes not even that). You’ve already got the vast difference between revivalist and reconstructionist Druidry, with their completely different roots, and then each order has varying approaches to initiation.

I had two Druid initiations/dedications. One self-dedication to OBOD, which I don’t actually see as an initiation, since it was me, the trees and a booklet telling me roughly how to go about it. I don’t think OBOD calls it an initiation either. I did pass my Bardic grade, but IMO anyone who had read the booklets could do that. Distance and a lack of in-person teaching is always going to make it tricky for most Druid orders to initiate people.

My other, actual initiation was into a particular OBOD grove, which had its own traditions of admitting people to membership. It felt much more like a ‘real’ initiation, but it wasn’t into Druidry - only into a group.

Cat Treadwell, who is a Druid priest who belongs to no order (but trained in an informal lineage), has talked a bit about this. https://druidcat.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/modern-druidry-a-talk/ I recommend her blog generally on this subject, which she started in 2010 with this lovely post: https://druidcat.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/the-druidry-wot-i-does/

I don’t personally think you need any kind of initiation to call yourself a Druid. You can join almost any order without needing to pass anything, and there are solitary Druids who don’t even do that. You might get asked which order you belong to, and you may end up having to explain you’re a hedge Druid or solitary Druid if the answer is none. But in my experience, most Druids know how diverse the traditions are, and will accept your experience with Druidry as your own. But that’s just my opinion. Members of certain orders might expect you to be initiated into (or a member of) an order.

If you’re looking for a definitive answer to what Druidry is, I don’t think you’re going to find it. I personally tend towards Cat Treadwell’s kind of hedge Druid approach, these days (which would be far too imprecise for some Druids, but is the kind of approach shared by a lot of us fluffier revivalists): “Druidry is connection, relationship, to each other and the greater world. Responsibility for yourself and others, human and non-human, with a view to gaining a greater understanding of our place and what we are doing in this life. And while always alone, we are never truly isolated – there is always someone there. That’s a start.” (From https://druidcat.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/the-druidry-wot-i-does/ )
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Is Druidry Initiatory?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2020, 08:39:46 am »


Extremely well said, in my opinion - also, thank you for the links  :)
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Nymree

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Re: Is Druidry Initiatory?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2020, 04:07:10 pm »
I think you’ve essentially answered your own question. I don’t think you can ask if a whole diverse movement is initiatory. You can only ask if each tradition/order is. Druidry isn’t one tradition - it’s multiple traditions with a bit of shared history in common (sometimes not even that). You’ve already got the vast difference between revivalist and reconstructionist Druidry, with their completely different roots, and then each order has varying approaches to initiation.

Thanks Sophia, this is a really comprehensive response and it does put into context a lot of my reading.

Haptalaon

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Re: Is Druidry Initiatory?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2020, 09:44:25 am »
As someone pointed out in a previous thread, 'Druidry' is a pretty broad category/grouping, with a lot of variety and difference between many of the communities within it. Because of that, I have a feeling the answer to the question of initiation will vary masssively depending on community and tradition.


That, pretty much; the term Druid has been claimed by a bunch of different people for different purposes.

I got "initiated into druidry" by making friends with a guy in the pub, and then being made a member of his grove because there was an internal schism and he wanted more people on "his side", and couldn't ever get a straight answer from him about what that meant in terms of rights, responsibility, doctrine or training. But I'm picking up bits of druid-lore over time, in an unstructured way; but my experience of druidry has been, pretty much, a bunch of blokes who go to the pub together and have been doing so for the last 60 years - far more informal than I'm sure some orders are. It is an ancient order by neo-pagan terms.

So (without wanting to be a contrarian), part of me is like "how can anyone even 'want to be a druid', when - as far as I can tell - the term is broad enough to be meaningless".

Roland Hutton has two very good books on the Druids (they're versions of the same book - one is a brick for historians, and the other is a slimmed down version for the popular history market.), and he traces our ideas about druids - including the desire to create druid societies - up to the present day, and this has shaped my ideas of what the druid concept is. Hutton is a massive crush of mine, he makes the act of writing/assessing history so extremely delicious.

What puts me off druidry is the link it's always had to law, justice, honour, peace, it's quite "lawful" in D&D terms, the sort of "old men with grey beards in white robes". And this comes out of the Roman interpretation of what "wise men" are like, followed by the British hellenic-cultural-fandom desire for something that looked/felt the ancient Greek philosophers and senate. It doesn't have the "wild" edges I crave.

But that's not to say that some Druid traditions don't do that too.

Um, I think my response is in summary...maybe it would help to try and pin down to a greater extent what you mean when you say "druid", and therefore what you're looking for. My impression of irl druidry is that, it's "non-wiccan neopaganism", with a lot of generic elements within it, a coming together of all sorts of different neo-pagan stuff but under the umbrella of some specific druid concepts, like the importance of peace-making and fellowship

I don’t personally think you need any kind of initiation to call yourself a Druid.

See, I don't think I can describe chilling out with my mate down the pub as spiritual apprenticeship, but you pick up bits here and there; and one of those things is, you can't just call yourself a druid - you have to be made one, by another druid. So that's evidence for at least one tradition in which both hierarchy and implicitly initiation is present.

Because that's the *local* and specific tradition I interact with, that's what I hold to; I don't think it's necessarily a firm rule for what you, internet strangers, should do or how you should use words.

It's just, evidence for at least one living British druid tradition that's been ongoing for a significant number of years, in which the word "druid" is not one you can just claim. I'm part of a druid grove, but that doesn't make me a druid.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Is Druidry Initiatory?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2020, 04:44:14 pm »


Interesting perspective.  Also, do you have the specific titles of the Prof. R Hutton's books you're referring to?  I think I have at least one of his already on my reading list (Blood and Mistletoe plus possibly at least one other), but just want to check whether I need to add further titles.

(Argh I made the mistake of Googling and now I've hundreds of articles on my reading list as well as books!  I find myself unusually hoping they're not all available without a subscription to the relevant journal!)
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Haptalaon

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Re: Is Druidry Initiatory?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2020, 07:12:16 am »
Interesting perspective.  Also, do you have the specific titles of the Prof. R Hutton's books you're referring to?  I think I have at least one of his already on my reading list (Blood and Mistletoe plus possibly at least one other), but just want to check whether I need to add further titles.

(Argh I made the mistake of Googling and now I've hundreds of articles on my reading list as well as books!  I find myself unusually hoping they're not all available without a subscription to the relevant journal!)

So I think Blood and Mistletoe is his "proper" book on druids, and then he's got another one just called The Druids - the latter for a "popular" audience. I liked it though, it groups its chapters by Druid "tropes" - so, for example, druids as sage loremasters...druids as hippy earth-protectors...and traces where those ideas came from. But my guess is, if you've already got B&M, the information is broadly the same. But if you struggle with reading/retaining information as I do, you might still want The Druids, because it's so much more concice & focused.

If you want to shop for more Hutton generally (heart-eyes for Prof H), then Triumph of the Moon is a must read for any neo-pagan types, and I also learnt a lot from The WItch.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Is Druidry Initiatory?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2020, 08:52:01 am »
So I think Blood and Mistletoe is his "proper" book on druids, and then he's got another one just called The Druids - the latter for a "popular" audience. I liked it though, it groups its chapters by Druid "tropes" - so, for example, druids as sage loremasters...druids as hippy earth-protectors...and traces where those ideas came from. But my guess is, if you've already got B&M, the information is broadly the same. But if you struggle with reading/retaining information as I do, you might still want The Druids, because it's so much more concice & focused.

Many thanks - The Druids does sound familiar and from how you've described it it might suit me quite well.

If you want to shop for more Hutton generally (heart-eyes for Prof H), then Triumph of the Moon is a must read for any neo-pagan types, and I also learnt a lot from The WItch.

I feel like I should, though it might be a while - thanks again for the recommendations
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