Old Druids, and New

Too often we can still hear and read speakers and writers who proclaim, “We don’t know anything about the ancient Druids, so how can you call yourself Druids today?” Apart from the fact that wearying ourselves with approving and disapproving of whatever it is our neighbors are doing is usually a colossal waste of time, we actually DO know quite a lot about the Druids, from a variety of sources that have existed in many cases for hundreds if not thousands of years. From classical authors to modern archaeologists, our knowledge will always be incomplete, and it will also continue to grow.

The following TED-Ed video is a quick (4 minutes) and fun way to gain an overview of these sources.

[You can read a transcript here: https://www.ted.com/talks/philip_freeman_a_day_in_the_life_of_an_ancient_celtic_druid/transcript?language=en%5D

Virtually every statement in the video has a source in classical authors. Of course modern Druids don’t feel bound by what is, after all, an incomplete knowledge of the past, any more than a modern physicist needs to be concerned with what the ancient Greeks knew about the cosmos. But there is a discernible continuity in contemporary Druid practice of careful observation of the natural world, attention to all the other lives around us, both human and non-human, an awareness of many levels of reality, a sensitivity to intuition and the realms of Spirit, and a desire to live in harmony as far as possible with the natural cycles of life.

Living such a life, beyond its immediate practical wisdom and common sense — and often in the face of the treadmill of many modern lifestyles of excess, unhappiness, strain, discomfort and hollowness — proves deeply rewarding. It offers a deep sense of meaning and value to the lives all around us, as well as our own. It also nourishes and supports our creativity — witness the many old and new arts and crafts that abound in Druid practice and community, and that shine at Druid Gatherings.

Certainly in one sense no one ever needs to be or become a Druid to live such a life. The whole point of Druidry is that it is a set of wise practices and creative approaches anyone can try out and adopt, not a religious belief or doctrine to believe in.

But in another sense, especially as climate change, resource depletion, pollution, overpopulation and ravenous energy consumption will continue to challenge human creativity, we all need to be Druids: to live wisely in accord with the earth, neither tearing off our roof, kicking out the walls, excavating the foundation, or setting fire to the house we all live in.

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