“The reaction to any word may be, in an individual, either a mob-reaction or an individual reaction.  It is up to the individual to ask himself:  Is my reaction individual, or am I merely reacting from my mob-self?  When it comes to the so-called obscene words, I should say that hardly one person in a million escapes mob-reaction.”  D.H. Lawrence

In a language there isn’t just words to communicate with, there is also a whole psychological structure specific to it. It gives us a model with which to view the world and to communicate about the world we sense, both the world within and the world without. But it also gives us our identity, since each language has its own history and also its own character. That character transmits itself into us a “national personality,” a sort of personality that deeply structures the human psyche from birth. In other words, stereotypes.

On one hand this can be useful; as we can see that languages and the qualities they carry are the accumulation of experience from history. Through language we are being transmitted the “wisdom of the ancestors”. On the other hand it can also carry the rubbish, the karma, of the past which is undeserved by future generations. Language isn’t just an encoding of ancestral wisdom, it has also acted as a waste bin to conveniently give the load of one generations responsibilities on to the next.

Time to sort the wheat from the chaff. Time to make a review of the type of language we use and how we use it. Say no to what is useless and harmful and encourage the growth of what is useful and healthy. Languages contain patterns, and we have to ask ourselves do we really want to repeat the past blindly? In a synchronicity a friend made a comment on Facebook about not letting an anger he had inherited from his ancestors carry on further. His affirmation that since it was not his it would stop with him and within him.

Like this we can all reject the “mob- reaction” within us, the stereotypes that have been transmitted to us through the generations, and so, as the Great Invocation says, “seal the door where evil dwells.”

For me it has been an important experience to move to another country and see my own country from “outside”, to see it from a different perspective and see its virtues in comparison to other cultures and also its vices . And so also see myself from an other perspective. Learning a new culture, and a new language, makes me rely less on the “safety blanket” of my native culture and seek to communicate with the world in a new way, and so I can only grow, retaining the benefits of my culture and discarding the disadvantages of it too, and adopting a broader view of the world that is not so limited.

La humanidad no sirve la nacionalidad, la nacionalidad sirve la humanidad. Hay mas que una lengua en el mundo y por eso el aprender otras lenguas, sólo es sentido común, el sentido de la humanidad (Thanks Mika for correcting this).

“People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other for now.” Denzel Washington as Eli in The Book of Eil

Why are post-apocalyptic films so resonant? Why do they speak to us as though they are relevant? Is it because they talk about something that will happen?

Or is it because they are talking about something that has happened, and in fact is happening now?

Appearances aren’t what they seem. What Denzel is describing isn’t just something that happens before a apocalypse, something that creates it, it itself is he apocalypse. Instead he is describing an apocalyptic world! The Buddha was right, the action that creates the karma is the karma itself.

Let’s face it, whilst there are lots of nasty happenings in the world can we really believe that everything is right in the wealthier countries? We’re in the midst of an apocalypse right now, but some countries can hide it better than others. But how long can we hide it?

Ok ok ok, maybe saying “apocalypse” may be a bit of an exaggeration. And by that I mean I don’t expect the Four Horsemen to materialize and cause havoc, the anti-Christ to wage war or the Kingdom of God to miraculously descend on Earth after all the bad things have happened. Or that the Earth suddenly stop existing, like it really is the “end of the world”.

But there is something not quite right. And apocalypse seems to be a frighteningly relevant word even if not particularily accurate.

I look at our “wealth” and have a feeling that something isn’t quite right, that it’s all a lot of a show and no substance, that the foundation is all a bit, well, flimsy to say the least. A look at the facts about peak oil shows just how flimsy. We have built a stone castle of cardboard foundations!

What are the essentials for living a fulfilling and healthy life that don’t include “lots of stuff”?

How can we dig down through the foundations of our society and find the bedrock that we really need?

Can we do it before this Great Edifice collapses on us?

And what is it that we really need to build and develop?

One thing’s for sure, some films get you thinking and questioning… and if more people do that we are en route to a better world.

The quote above hints at something, and that is the values we hold, the values that lead us to use or misuse the world around us… and each other.

We build our world by our values. What values are we building with?

 “You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” Irish Proverb

 When adults ask kids “What do you want to be when you grow older?” kids will often respond with “I want to fit in to society providing a function for it and conforming to a stereotype.”

Ok, not exactly! It’s usually put into simpler words than that, but if you look between the lines, this is the answer that usually pervades what a child will say about their future. The point is you won’t get a kid saying “I want to be happy,” “I want to be myself”, or “I want to experience lots of things, and express myself in lots of different ways without limiting myself to one thing because you only live once.”

The problem is that society has been built with the principle of conforming to it or fitting in with it somehow. A child, when asked about their future is being asked about how they want to fit a role and provide a function in society. In short, be a stereotype.

From birth many people are conditioned to be something because of the stereotypical expectations of their parents and other peers. It usually starts with gender; boys wear blue and girls wear pink, girls have long hair and boys have short hair, boys are supposed to be rough and adventurous and girls are supposed to be calm and sweet. Toys and television are also a factor in how kids are programmed as they are symbolic of the reality they have to prepare for. One form of gender “branding” that alway suprises me is that of newborn girls having ear piercings. In some cases it’s so expected that people make the mistake of calling a girl a boy because they don’t have earings!

This is later reinforced by schools. The children move in social circles that reflect and reinforce their conditioning. One of my schools used to have a partial gender segregation on the playground, where boys would get the larger area because, typically, boys would play football and other rough games, whereas the girls would spend their time in a smaller area playing hop scotch and skipping ropes.

Further steps in this programming or conditioning are what class they belong to, how much money they have, how popular they are, what nationality they are etc.  Once adulthood is reached the identity of an individual is supposed to be dedicated to solely one career (it was once upon a time, less now though). Literally you are a nurse or you are a gardener. You don’t do nursing or gardening. There’s a sense of becoming specialised and losing the full range of potential that a single human being can be. School lessons in self-discovery and self-development are strongly lacking because society has a “self” designed for you already so there’s no need to be an individual.

What if society had been built a different way? What if it was designed, not to conform to, but to be a platform to creatively discover and develop yourself within? This is the creative potential of society that many people don’t realise. Society can be far more malleable than many people take for granted. It is not a structure to fit into, it is more like a mine to extract raw material from, something that can help you realise your individual potential. Although reinventing society’s old structures to replace it with new ones is itself quite a work, and many give up trying.

When adulthood is reached people have either conformed to society or become disillusioned and rebelled. But many of these “rebels” are just reinforcing this rigid system by fulfilling a stereotype, or more appropriately anti-stereotype. They see only two choices, to define themselves for society or define themselves against, not knowing that they can reclaim an individual identity independent from either conformity or rebellion. Either way, conditioned or “anti-conditioned” individuals are faced with the task of re-educating themselves. The real problem is not society itself, but the individuals within society that don’t realise they have other choices other than rebellion or conformity; they can choose to be themselves.

There is a difference between natural human development and conditioning. Development comes from within and grows outwards, whereas conditioning comes from without and works inwards. An individual’s development will always be informed, to some extent, by their interaction with the world and there will always be rules and laws to conform to, but there is always the seed of their natural development within them, which does not need to be imposed but encouraged and left to naturally blossom. In this way society is outgrown, the individual is not constrained by it but nurtured by it. But instead of leaving society behind, they turn their energies back to society and in this way society grows with each generation, outgrowing itself and being reinvented for the changing needs of people.

“We do not live on the Earth, we are a part of how the Earth lives.” David Richo

“You go to Nature for an experience of the sacred… to re-establish your contact with the core of things…The final test is whether your experience of the sacred in Nature enables you to cope more effectively with the problems of humanity.” Will Unsoeld

“Paradoxically, turning attention to the inner life can make us acutely aware of the beauty and fragility of the earth. Since our collective habits of behaviour appear to be leading toward annihilation, recognition of our capacity for conscious evolution has become an increasingly compelling necessity. Spiritual awareness of our relationship to the whole earth can no longer be considered the prerogative of a few introverted individuals. Although it may take a leap of faith to believe that a radical shift in human consciousness is possible, this global mind change may be necessary to shift our collective trajectory from self-destruction to self-renewal.” Frances Vaughan

I have spoken of three functions of ancient Druidry and have put them into a relevant form for modern times, but what I have not really gone into detail about is Druidry as a nature-based spirituality. We could say, maybe, that Druids were ecologists and environmentalists. But considering the times they were living in, everyone in their cultures had to have some basic ecological knowledge of some sort, so it could not be seen as a druidic “function” but a basic fact of life for everyone. Today, whether we are into Druidry or not, this is something we should all have, we should all be familiar with ecological knowledge, of the fact that we are part of an ecological system and that it is the very basis for our existence. Locked away in our cities we are disconnected from where our food comes from, where our oxygen comes from, where our water, gas and electric come from, even where out money comes from! We are so familiar with a world which is so human dominated we forget just how embedded we are in the living systems of the Earth, how much we depend upon them and how much we affect them.

It’s important for our eco-starved species to once again gain an ecological perspective that pervades every aspect of our activites on, or more appropriately as part of, the Earth. Humanity and every aspect of its evolution should find a way to evolve with the Earth’s evolution and also creatively contribute to it. The development of a holistic intelligence is one that can only grow as a part of nature, the work of politics and relationships also includes our relationship with nature and the journey of the spiritual life is a part of nature not apart from it. Nature is such a fundamental part of Druidry that each of the functions I have described can be better understood if we put the suffix “eco” on each; ecoeducation, ecopolitics and ecospirituality. In such a way we recognise that ecology isn’t just one of many subjects but the entire context of our lives. An important resource for modern Druidry’s worldview can be found in the scientific developments of the Gaia Hypothesis and Earth Systems Science and the implications they have for every aspect of our lives.

Such a fundamental part of human life is ecology that I’m reluctant about treating this as a separate subject, because our various activities, like spirituality, education and politics, do not stand apart from nature, but can only exist because of nature. Each of the functions of Druidry can be envisaged as pillars of Druidry; The Three Pillars of Druidry. Or better yet, trees; The Three Trees of Druidry. The fourth “pillar” or “tree” is nature, but it does not stand separately, it itself is the Three Trees and also the sky above them and the earth below them. The “function” of ecology or environmentalism, must be so fundamental to the other three functions that it pervades them, their growth and their evolution, as it should with the whole of human existence. Leaving this subject last and apparently separated from the others signifies the human psyche’s split from nature. Something that a nature-based path like Druidry can facilitate in this modern world is the healing of the human consciousness in relation to nature.

“The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.” Krishnamurti

 

“Only the development of his inner powers can offset the dangers inherent in man’s losing control of the tremendous natural forces at his disposal and becoming the victim of his own achievements.” Roberto Assagioli

 

“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.” Anne Sullivan

 

Druids were educators. They had schools that taught many things; history, genealogy, stories, laws, lore and other things. They were living breathing archives that could be called upon by tribal chiefs and kings, or the common people of the tribes. They must have had complex mnemonic systems to catalogue everything into their memory, since their tradition was an oral one and it was forbidden to write anything down. One such system is their alphabet, the Ogham, that was used to list things and their attributes. The most well known is the tree alphabet, but there was plenty of others for birds, animals, herbs etc. This system, or one like it, must have been used to remember extensive information.

 

Druids today don’t have to be living breathing archives, we have books and computers for that sort of thing, and it is not forbidden to write anything down. A shame in some ways, as writing things down (like I am now) has the tendency to abstract information, removing it from living experience. And we can see that in the book-based education of today, it emphasises a lot on intellectual knowledge; what to think than on how to think. I don’t say that we should ban books (I love them too much!) but that they are not the be all and end all of education, and that education should be directed towards living experience. For me, a Druid education is an integrated one, based on developing a holistic intelligence, not just an intellectual one. And also it is about self-development and discovery and not for a student to conform their knowledge to a school’s syllabus. Another thing to remember is that education doesn’t just take place in a classroom, all aspects of our life educate us in different ways; from the media we get our information from, the books we read, the films we watch, the toys we have as children, the relationships we’re involved with, the careers we choose. All of these things are symbols of the educational and psychological structure we build up inside us.

 

Holistic intelligence I think of as something that includes many aspects of the human being. As I said, intelligence is measured mainly by intellect, as the so-called “Intelligence Quotient” or IQ reflects. It’s tests are all about how well the intellectual, thinking side, of humans work. The “I” of IQ is more appropriately seen as Intellect because intelligence can also be seen as emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, social intelligence, ethical intelligence and spiritual intelligence. We could also talk about creative or imaginative intelligence as Druids were also the artists, poets and musicians of their peoples, and also health intelligence, since Druids could also specialise in healing, as doctors of their time. But knowing how to be healthy and stay healthy is a fairly basic skill for all people, not just something for professionals. Education should be about the development of the whole human being, not just the intellect. In the same way that we should have a “healthy and balanced diet” to stay physically healthy, we should also have a healthy and balanced education, in order to develop a healthy intelligence, a holistic intelligence.

“In ancient times, the Druids were members of a professional class in which their society’s religious and spiritual life was embodied. They were the philosophers, scientists, theologians, and intellectuals of their culture, and the holders of the philosophical, scientific, and religious knowledge of their age. The nearest modern equivalent, then, would be professors in universities or colleges, medical doctors, lawyers and judges, school teachers and so on. One could say that such people are the real “Druids” of our time. The ancient Druids brought all of these practices together into a single structure, unified by religious commitment. If you imagine what it would be like if your doctor, lawyer or teacher was also a priest, and the hospital, law court, and college was also a temple, then you have an idea what Druidry was like for ancient Celtic people.” Brendan Cathbad Myers, The Mysteries of Druidry

 

How can I claim to be a Druid when they and their traditions are effectively extinct? We’re only left with fragments of folklore, second hand myths written by Christian monks, vague archeology and biased reports by Romans and Greeks. What comes after those are fanciful theories and imaginative speculation. We are left with a ragged patchwork that’s 5% fact and 95% fiction (not actual figures). Some modern Druids can be seen to be attempting to faithfully reconstruct the tradition and culture of what ancient Druids were, some are guided by whatever fantasies takes their fancy, whilst others consciously embrace Druidry as a viable spiritual path, whether fact or fiction. Put me in the third category.

 

I’m not interested in the fact or fiction of what Druids were, I’m more interested in what Druidry can do in the world today. I’m not adverse to a fictional image of Druidry if it helps my purpose. In this context I’ll introduce my theory, which isn’t a description of what Druids were, but is an image, a symbol that can inspire the role of Druidry in today’s world. I’m a myth maker, and myths are symbols that help inform our attitude towards and behavior within the world. And Druidry, as I envision it, can be a useful tool to direct human attitude and behavior towards a healthy relationship with each other, with the living Earth and with the expression of our souls.

 

My theory starts with fragmented tribes violently competing with one another and making humans and nature suffer. Does that sound familiar? From this, individuals specialised in spirituality, education and politics from many different tribes, speaking different languages, practicing different religions with different pantheons, came together to create a system that would help organize and guide the balance between the various tribes and the natural world within which they exist. Through their spiritual, educational and political expertise they built a system to do just that. A system that was not limited to a single region, tribe, culture, language, pantheon, religion or nation; but one that transcended the boundaries of human identity to create a common understanding to work together.

 

My interest in Druidry is mainly about what their function and role was within society and how that image can inspire the role of Druidry today. In my mind I have an image of a triangle, made up of three functions which are, if you haven’t guessed by now, spirituality, education and politics. A sort of triangular spectrum not too dissimilar to the chart of soil types; sand, sediment and clay, one at each point, and in between some substances somewhere in between, with the centre being a mixture of all three. They were not three separate functions, taken up by specialised individuals, but rather a holistic system where they complemented one another and were familiar to all Druids. For Druidry to be a viable movement in today’s world, there needs to be an image of Druid roles today that are not confined solely to the spiritual like many of today’s Neo-Druid groups.

 

This is the first post of a series. I will take each of the “functions” and put into detail how a modern Druid might approach them and work with them, and in true Druidic fashion each one will be accompanied by a triad of quotes. There will also be a last section, after the three functions, describing a very important aspect of modern Druid tradition which is the context for, not just Druidry, but the whole of human existence.

“’Yes I am,’ agreed Arthur. Of course he was a Druid. It was perfectly clear. But he wasn’t just talking Druidry. It wasn’t an academic exercise for him. He was living it, every day of his life. This was a new kind of Druidry. Warrior Druidry. Druidry with energy and verve. Druidry with a mission, not to pontificate about the meaning of Stonehenge, but to fight for it. So he set about turning the Warband into a Druid Order.” Arthur Pendragon and Christopher James Stone, The Trial of Arthur: The Life and Times of a Modern-Day King

 

“We have to bring about a psychological transformation in our relationship with the society in which we live. Therefore, there is no escape from it into the Himalayas, into becoming a monk or a nun, and taking up social service, and all the rest of such juvenile business. We have to live in this world, we have to bring about a radical transformation in our relationship with each other; not in some distant future, but now.” Krishnamurti

 

“The transformation of the world is brought about by the transformation of oneself.” Krishnamurti

 

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” Moshe Dayan

 

Here is a little something I wrote a while back. I was considering how the whole spiritual, educational and political system of the ancient Druids could have been created from a fragmented nation of warrior tribes. I imagined a council of individuals from different tribes with spiritual, education and political roles working together to direct the conflictive energies of their tribes. For me, this image is THE most relevant image for modern Druidry’s mission in the world today.

 

Long ago, there were many different people, many different tribes, all spreading across the Land. They’d come from one source, but then they separated and their ways diverged from each other. They prospered and developed many tools and skills to live and survive. But as the tribes grew and grew in number, they stopped spreading across the Land for there was nowhere else to go, but instead became crowded in it. The warrior lodges grew more volatile, desperately fighting against each other, trying to gain power for their own tribes.

But the Land suffered and as the Land suffered the tribes suffered, making the warrior lodges fight even more intensely. The blood ran and formed pools, and heads and other trophies were piled high. The life of the Land’s fabric began to fray and unravel, and the tribes’ lives deteriorated in turn.

The Land cried out… Enough!

But the tribes could not hear, so immersed in their own suffering and violence they were.

ENOUGH!

Yet some did hear, women and men, those who knew the Land as soul mate, those whose bodies and souls were intimately in tune with the life of the Land. These Wise Souls knew what was happening, they listened to the Land, very carefully, to what it had to tell them, and they were led by its wisdom together. They gathered in a secret meeting, deep in a cavernous womb of the Land, and here, with their voices weaving across one another, their thoughts and ideas brewing together into one idea; to keep the Land in balance, the tribes must be in balance with it, and for the tribes to be in balance with it they must be in balance with each other. A vision formed of one diverse tribe as part of that Land, but which required much work to forge, much collaboration to manifest that vision.

They vowed to work together, for the Greater Good of Land and tribes, to pool together their knowledge and wisdom from which all of the tribes could draw upon as a common resource so that the tribes could grow in understanding of each other and relate to each other without resorting to war. Their energies could be channeled together for a common goal of peaceful creativity. And so the Druids were born, learned and spiritual people, networking among the tribes, giving council under the guidance of their vision for the Greater Good, coordinating and collaborating through the magnificent diversity of their tribes and speaking across their boundaries in a spirit of understanding.

There is One Earth and it is crying ENOUGH! It is asking for collaboration, it is asking for humanity to channel it diverse ways together into a common vision of a truly global humanity, at one with the Earth, not ripping apart the fabric of its existence.

And it asks for a new Druidry to guide this task, or at least women and men in tune with the Land, with the Earth, with Gaia, working together to pool their diverse wisdom and knowledge into a common vision, to speak across the boundaries of humanity and affirm that we can work together, becoming a contributing aspect of the Land’s creativity and evolution, to carry on the work of weaving its fabric, to become Artists, Teachers, Workers and Guides for the Land and its tribes.