Druidic Wicca: A Deeper Exploration
Author: Rev. OakLore
Human beings are drawn naturally toward the mystical. Perhaps it is the Divine seed within us that whispers to our spirits and beckons scholars and skeptics alike to contemplate the timeless message of the Druid tradition.
What would the world look like if seen through a Druid’s eyes? Nature would be elevated, once again, into a position of noble equality. It would be revered and protected as a sentient living and Divine presence. It would no longer be seen as something to simply dominate and exploit for wealth, entertainment or power. The mystery of nature would reemerge and we would suddenly be filled with wonder.
Within the wonder and mystery of nature is the flame of hope for mankind. Druids kindle and tend that flame with great care, full in the knowledge that what good is performed today, shall forever be felt in the years and generations to come. Humankind must not remain alienated from the very home of our spirit, but return to it, love it and celebrate that union, found in the gentle rhythms of the world of Druids.
Why The Druid Path?
Druids receive Divine inspiration or “Awen, ” which manifests itself in a variety of ways. Inwardly, the changes are subtle ones. Our conscious minds are opened to the greater possibilities of the world and awaken, thirsting for knowledge. Our subconscious minds are opened and the mystery within pours forth and awakens in us senses, long asleep, and we are suddenly aware of the unseen world. These gifts enable us to grow and continue our journey toward enlightenment, gathering in the knowledge and wisdom of those who journey with us now, and all those who have traveled this way before us. We together — past, present and future — shall converge in the center of all that is and find the source of Awen, which is Truth.
Druid spirituality is simplistic: Nature is Divine. There is nothing to divide you from your Gods, for They are manifest in everything! They speak in the soft whisper of wind stirring the trees. They sing with the water rushing in the streambed. They sprint through the forest, wing breathlessly skyward or remain as still as stone. Our hearts cannot escape Their gentle touch and neither shall They remain untouched by the love we give Them in return.
But Druid spirituality is also complex. We honor simplicity yet highly value the pursuit of knowledge and truth. The exploration and quest for truth becomes one of such intensity as to almost define a person’s soul. We explore the concept of reality and existence and its impact on the trinity of body, mind and spirit. We find ourselves provoked to deeper thought and further exploration and interpretation of life experiences. So too do we engage in conscious devotion to spiritual pursuits and the soulful exploration of our higher self. We seek the love, comfort and affirmation of communion with the Divine.
The term “spiritual progression” can probably best be defined as a labyrinth, in which we slowly, through the course of many lifetimes, achieve a greater understanding and awareness of our spiritual self, as well as the universe and the nature of all existences. This journey takes place on the plane of “Anwynn” or “place of rebirth.” It is here that our energy consummates its eternal longing for the Divine creator. This is the place of soul rest where healing and compassionate understanding is a sweet cup from which we drink. As we traverse the wheel time and again through the natural process of birth and death and rebirth, we attain spiritual progression. The purpose of spiritual progression is to bring the soul to a level that Buddhists might characterize as “total enlightenment.” This level of achievement is marked by a shift in awareness to embrace, with total understanding, the mysteries of the universe. Without further need to experience the mortal plane, the spirit moves away from the process of rebirth and goes to its ultimate reward, union with the Divine.
A Druid better understands these mysteries by mapping the soul’s journey through time. The Druid calendar is divided into an eight-fold year. Each holiday represents an event in time, the changing of seasons and celebration of the fertility and abundance of this our Earth Mother. There are four solar festivals, which celebrate the equinoxes and solstices dividing the year into four equal parts. There are four fire festivals that commemorate historical events as well as the passage of time.
Upon this wheel of the year we can plot the course of a human lifetime: birth, coming of age, young adulthood, middle age, elder years and finally death. This is a gentle and comforting wisdom that instills in us the natural cycle of our existence, which is in harmony with the cycle of all creation. We discover our own mortality and also the promise of immortality secure in the knowledge that the circle of life is indeed a circle.
We often find ourselves filled to brimming with the knowledge we gain as we traverse the wheel. We seek out means by which we can express and/or illustrate these events making them available to others. We reach into our own center to find wisdom and embrace the sacredness of life. Through artistic expression, esoteric knowledge, divination, natural philosophy and other means, we share what we have learned, as we walk the paths of the Bard, the Ovate and the Druid.
Contemporary Druids hold as truth that the mortal soul is not limited unto itself, but enjoys a greater communion with the energy of all living things and indeed the Divine source. When we come fully into this awareness there is within us a startling metamorphosis. We begin to see clearly our connection with all life and know that all life is sacred. That sacredness not only forms the foundation of all life, but is the root of Druid philosophy.
Chris Travers in his 1996 essay, Who were the Druids writes, “The picture that emerges of a druid is one of a thoughtful philosopher and magician, schooled in the lore of the traditions, and in charge of the education of the chieftains as well as those who sought esoteric knowledge. A druid is a knower of truth.”
So we see that from both historical and contemporary perspectives, Druid philosophy, though shrouded in mythological beginnings, has a poignant relevance in today’s world. Druidry is the wellspring from which human beings will begin to once again recognize and accept our role in the circle of life, rather than trying to dominate or change it. We will begin to honor and love all creation, for it is the embodiment of the Divine. We shall honor our ancestors and harken to their voices and their spirit. We will not be afraid of the wildness of our own spirit that beckons us to explore and renew our connection with the blessed land and with the Gods. We will walk with dignity these modern times, and live the Elder Ways not only for the betterment of self, but for the benefit of all.
The Harmony of Wicca and Druidry
“While the cunning folk (Witches) worked alone or in small groups, and were the local wise people and healers in rural communities, the Druids were an organized elite, exempt from warfare and paying taxes, and they acted as judges, teachers, philosophers and advisors to chieftains, kings and queens. They appear very different to the image that we hold of Witches, until we examine them in more detail.”
— Excerpt from Druidcraft: the Magic of Wicca and Druidry by Philip Carr-Gomm
From the writings of the earliest historians of the period, we have come to know that Druidry as an ancient practice was divided into three areas of specialization: Bard, Ovate and Druid. The Druids were priests, teachers, philosophers, and in many cases, as experts in the law, would preside as judges and mediators. The Bards were poets, musicians, storytellers, keepers of lore and myth; they were enchanters, as easily able to bewitch as to entertain. But of these specializations, it was the Ovates—the seers and diviners, healers and herbalists—that are most akin to what we would describe as “witches.”
With the coming of Christianity to Western Europe around the sixth century C.E., the Druids had been assimilated as part of the professional elite in the new social order. Their assimilation was both professional and religious; they were compelled to embrace the new faith and apply their expertise toward building a society ruled by the church. On the other hand, the Bardic profession continued to flourish, although its religious emphasis (being pre-Christian) became somewhat diminished. Bardic schools continued to exist in Ireland, Scotland and Wales even into the seventeenth century. The Ovates, however, seemed to disappear from all record.
What this suggests however is not that the Ovatic stream died off—much to the contrary in fact—rather that it went underground. The teachings though less formal than before, became passed from generation to generation in a largely oral tradition. Evidence suggests that over the generations that came after them, the Ovates eventually became known, in close-knit circles, as “cunning folk, ” or “Wicca, ” meaning “wise ones.” It is from this meaning that the modern term “Wicca” finds its place in contemporary Paganism.
In the same chapter of the book Druidcraft as is quoted above, author Philip Carr Gomm goes on to say, “When the two worlds of Witchcraft and Druidry are brought together, we find at the place of their meeting the figure of the ‘Ovate-Witch’ who presides over a knowledge of the mysteries of Life and Death, whose cauldron offers the wisdom that is known in Druidry as ‘Bright Knowledge.'”
It is easy to see then where the harmony between Wicca and Druidry lies; for indeed Wicca owes its origins to Druidry, and Druidry, in no small way owes its survival to the Wicca, who in generations before them were the Ovates of the ancient world. It was these “wise ones” who passed on their teachings through the generations, keeping their folk magick alive long enough to be re-discovered, revived and re-invented by scholars and visionaries like Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols.
A modern embrace of Druidry and Wicca together as a way of life may involve a study of folk magick and metaphysics, respecting certain ceremonial rites and liturgies of worship, while also exploring the disciplines of philosophy, sciences and the arts, and culminate in an endless pursuit of knowledge, both spiritual and scientific. At the core of Celtic spirituality is the belief that all things are connected. It is a concept expressed in the earliest examples of Celtic art and literature, and remains a part of our spiritual heritage. And it is profoundly at the heart of what we mean by “the harmony of Wicca and Druidry;” that each tradition compliments the other, and can powerfully enrich the life of any Pagan.
In the Fellowship of Anamastia, we seek that enrichment through scholarship and well-founded liturgical expression that brings into our worship a marriage of the best aspects of both traditions. It is that which both illuminates the past and shapes our understanding of how to build a better future for the Earth and all the creatures that live upon Her. For more information visit us on the web at http://anamastia.webs.com.
Nichols, Ross. The Book of Druidry. London: Thorsons, 1990.
Carr-Gomm, Philip, et. al. The Druid Renaissance: The Voice of Druidry Today. London: Thorsons, 1996.
Orr, Emma Restall. Principles of Druidry. London: Thorsons, 1999.
Rutherford, Ward. Celtic Lore: The History of the Druids and Their Timeless Traditions. London: Thorsons, 1993.
Carr-Gomm, Philip. Druidcraft: The Magic of Wicca and Druidry. London: Thorsons, 2002.
Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1986.
Travers, Chris. Who Were the Druids?. accessnewage.com. 1996.