Here’s a blog I recently put on Druid in Training, on which I’m more active. Usually longer articles go here and shorter ones on DiT, so now I’m sharing this one here.

“The mystery religions were instituted in order to protect the marvels of the commonplace from those who would devalue them.” Peter Redgrove

“Here then, at the outset, is a potent secret which is inaccessible to the majority of people; a secret which they will never guess and which it would be useless to tell them: the secret of their own stupidity.” Eliphas Lévi [Stupidity? Bit harsh don’t you think? Or maybe not… ;)]

Mysteries, esotericism, the occult: these words bring up images of secret orders, with strange rituals and sharing their secrets only to the select few. Historically this has been true, and is still true today. I’m sure most of us have heard of the Freemasons, for example. But information that was esoteric in the past isn’t so much now, and the content in many modern day “mystery schools” is out in the open. I’ve been told by a Wiccan that most, if not all the information of Alexandrian and Gardenarian traditions, is out there already, and as a member of druid order (OBOD) I can see that a lot of the information isn’t necessarily esoteric, but the structure by which it is presented is; it is meant to guide you through certain information along a certain way, instead of having to wade through the chaos trying to make sense of things by yourself (though this also has its virtues).

There are many subjects that are “esoteric” to me, and there are people with specialised knowledge in which I am not trained. Quantum physics for example, is an esoteric subject for me, though I understand or know of some ideas from it. Through the ages there have always been people with specialised knowledge and those without. I rely on the “esoteric” knowledge of builders, plumbers and electricians to fix what I can’t. School, colleges and universities are “esoteric” organisation, sharing their knowledge with the fortunate few (though in recent centuries education has become more open, not to just an elite class).

What really makes these subjects esoteric for me is my own willingness, ability and necessity to understand these things. There is nothing barring my way from understanding them except my own limits. And it is much the same for anybody. The “exoteric” information is simply data that the general public can understand, whilst “esoteric” information is what we don’t. And the boundary between exoteric and esoteric is always changing as the understanding of the general public changes.

If I want to understand something, I will. If I am able to understand it, I will. If I need to understand something, I will. And these three things, more often than not, should coincide. A year and a half ago the world of linguistics was very unknown for me, but I have since waded into the subject and understand more than I thought I would have. Though there still remain things I have a lot to learn about.

All “esoteric” information is out there, in plain sight. What “hides” or limits it, rather than secret orders (thought we might assume there are some), is simply my own need, want and ability to understand certain information. “Know thyself”, at the heart of esotericism, is something that no one can hide from you, except yourself.

“Although many a Druid, both man and woman, wielded the sword of justice when needed, the role of the Druid transcends petty tribal rivalries and jealousies. The Druid-as-mediator walks between the worlds and the tribes, between the battle lines, between the living and the dying, between our world and the ‘others’.” Tom Cowan, Of Ancient Shapes and Memories (preface to the book The Rebirth of Druidry)

So, once again, I find myself inspired by a message board. This is an edited version of what I originally wrote for one message board. This grew out of another thread I was involved with which I’ll will publish a part of in the near future.

For me the Druids were an intertribal and transcultural network working spiritually and politically for their tribes. Their “wisdom tradition” wasn’t situated within any single cultural context, except a Celtic one. But even this wasn’t exactly one thing, as Druids have apparently been in Gaul, Britain and Ireland, and possibly further afield. And in these lands there were Goidelics and Brythonics and maybe others that I don’t know. And across this geographical range, around the time when Druids were supposed to exist, there were several different pantheons.

When I imagine what may have happened, I think that perhaps the priests and shamans of different conflicting tribes got together to forge a common understanding, a common wisdom, that transcended tribal loyalties and cultural context so that the tribes could better coordinate and collaborate and yet still keep some form of autonomy, focusing their energies in different ways than by all out war. Perhaps they had limited resources or environmental troubles, like today, and saw that collaboration was a better way of getting out of the situation than violent competition. Together these “proto-Druids” maybe have pooled together their wisdom, using their position within their tribes to influence their chieftains and kings for the benefit of all tribes. In time, Druid schools may have developed and more complex political systems arose. And over time this spiritual-political institution may have spread to other tribes and other Celtic cultures.

 In time though, the Roman Empire and later Christian conversion saw the disappearance of Druids, at least as an intertribal institution. What if they had not disappeared? What if Romans and Christian had never took over and left the Druids to their own devices? They may have spread further, perhaps seeding themselves and integrating the Germanic, and even Norse, tribes. Perhaps they may have gone south through Gaul and over the Pyrenees becoming part of the Iberian-Celts culture. Perhaps parts of Europe may have become a confederation of Druid guided tribes and nations. With this in mind, I do not envisage the Druid Way being of a specific culture. The Druids belonged to different Celtic peoples but their Wisdom transcended these peoples to somehow unite them. Today, this is what we need. For me a Druid’s mission is to work with others, across the borders of their native culture and provide a network of wisdom and transnational vision for the fragmented nations of the world, following a global vision through local action.

I am a Pagan Druid. My ethnic history goes deeper than the Christian-centric history of Europe. I am British and within that I have Germanic, Norse and Celtic roots, each has influenced what my culture is today. Each has its own wisdom that can be revived to show us what has been missing under the deep layers of Christian history and what other ways there are of viewing the world, through magic, through myth and through the sacredness of nature itself.

I am a Christian Druid. The culture I was born into and the childhood I enjoyed was very much Christian. It provided me with a deep optimism of the universe and of humanity. The humanist element within its ethics being part of my own conscience, and the conscience of my culture through its Law. But also we are all united “in Christ” or “in Humanity.” No matter what “type” I might be; male, British, white or European, and no matter what “type” you might be; [insert types here], we are still human and our history is a common one, which is now reconnecting across the globe.

I am a Gaian Druid. The Earth is a living system and I exist in and evolve as part of this system. Humanity has existed and evolved within this system and the future depends on our relationship with this living Earth. As we evolve, Gaia evolves and as Gaia evolves, we evolve; our qualities become qualities of Gaia. We are the mind of Gaia reflecting upon itself. This global and Gaian vision guides what we are and what we are to become in our local lives.

My Druidry is a synthesis. Christian-Humanist ethics, embedded within a Gaian Worldview and complemented by my ethnic background, this is my Druidry.

All of that, plus my membership and training in the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids lol.