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Thread: Druidism's foundations

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    Druidism's foundations

    Sorry if this offends but is Druidism 'druid' in anything other than name? Genuine question as I can't see what they would draw from.
    I'm not one to ever pray for mercy
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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    Well yeah, the question is actually worded in a way that is fairly offensive...simply by virtue of using the "sorry....but" format that usually indicates that someone is well aware that someone is going to be offensive and is actually not sorry. Honestly, it not bad--I've seen the question put in ways that are much worse.

    The problem is that you seem to be conflating authenticity with validity, as if a lack of the former negates the latter. It's an important nuance that is the source of most of the infighting among Pagans--most people don't understand it when they start out, but over time, some people get it and sadly, some people never do (and sadly they seem to all be BNPs).

    Put most simple, Druidry (or Druidism) is a spiritual tradition/philosophy and/or religion that emphasizes the divinity in Nature that is inspired by Celtic mythology and inspired by ideas what we know of the Ancient Druids and/or the later Druid Revival.

    With that being said, there are two main Druid groups (there are many more, but most of them model one or the other or are a hybrid of the two), the OBOD and ADF:

    The OBOD is based on Druid Revivalism. It is more of a masonic style organization (one can be of any religious faith) than a dogmatic religious organization that originated in the UK. I would say its more concerned with the philosophy of a reimagined and recreated romanticism of Druidry.

    ADF is a PIE reconstruction-centered tradition that looks to a number of sources from archeology to linguistics to UPG. It is a religious organization that espouses hard polytheism and worships the numinous as the gods, the ancestors, and the spirits of nature-- though there is a wide variety of views and personal practices within its ranks.

    This is from an older essay by the ADF on the origins of Druidry (the same essay I link in my blog post) in these groups:

    This diversity is rooted in the way the two organizations relate to issues of Druid origins. It deserves to be said first off that neither group is descended from the original ancient Druids. The very last of the ancient Druids went extinct in the ninth century, and the surviving scraps of their teachings and lore are so fragmentary, diffuse, and contradictory that they don't form anything like a workable system. All modern Druid groups—OBOD, ADF, and everyone else—were invented in the last three centuries by people who used some mix of scholarly writings, personal spiritual insight, speculation, and sheer fantasy as raw material for their concoctions.


    Thus if "real Druidry" is defined as the sort that was practiced by Druids in Celtic countries before the arrival of Christianity, all modern Druids practice fake Druidry. That can't be avoided, since "real Druidry" hasn't existed anywhere for more than a millennium. What differentiates one modern Druid tradition from another is the particular kind of "fake Druidry" each practices.


    ADF's version of Druidry has been created using a good deal of material from late twentieth century scholarship on Celtic and other Indo-European Pagan religions. That material has been filled out from many other sources, but ADF takes pride in the scholarly basis for its Druidry. Any element of ADF practice that can't be supported by at least some bit of current scholarship in the field of comparative Indo-European religion faces constant challenge from within the organization.


    OBOD, by contrast, was created using a good deal of material from late nineteenth century scholarship on Celtic and other Indo-European Pagan traditions. This was unavoidable, since OBOD is directly descended from the Ancient Druid Order, a group founded around 1900. Since much of nineteenth-century scholarship has been discarded by more recent research, many of the central elements of OBOD practice are based on ideas about the ancient Druids that are considered inaccurate these days. Yet these elements can't simply be discarded; they form core ingredients of a system of knowledge and practice that works on its own terms.

    (snip)


    These same differences spill over into the realm of ritual and practice. OBOD and ADF both celebrate the days of the modern Pagan eightfold year-wheel, but the ceremonies they use differ not only in form but in intention. ADF rituals, drawing inspiration from historically attested Pagan ceremonies, make offerings to gods, goddesses, and other spiritual entities, and ask these entities to grant various favors and blessings to the congregation and the community. These rituals are straightforwardly religious, in the sense that the word "religion" has most often been used in the modern West; they serve as frameworks by which people communicate with spiritual powers. Most ADF rituals are also culturally specific, drawing on the pantheon, mythology, cultural forms, and sometimes also the language of a particular Indo-European culture.


    Precisely none of these things are true of OBOD rituals. OBOD celebrations of the eight Pagan holidays draw their inspiration primarily from nineteenth- and twentieth-century magical and Pagan traditions, so that such standard elements as invocations of the four elements in the four quarters of the circle have an important place. A certain amount of Celtic material does play a part in OBOD rituals, but the sort of careful reconstruction of cultural patterns that guides much ADF ritual has no place there. Only rarely in OBOD ritual are offerings made to spiritual beings, or favors asked of them. Instead, figures representing the Earth, the growing grain, or other symbolically powerful realities enter the circle, speak to the assembled Druids, and give them gifts appropriate to the season. Where ADF rituals invoke, OBOD rituals enact.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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    Sr. Member Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    The OBOD is based on Druid Revivalism. It is more of a masonic style organization (one can be of any religious faith) than a dogmatic religious organization that originated in the UK. I would say its more concerned with the philosophy of a reimagined and recreated romanticism of Druidry.

    ADF is a PIE reconstruction-centered tradition that looks to a number of sources from archeology to linguistics to UPG. It is a religious organization that espouses hard polytheism and worships the numinous as the gods, the ancestors, and the spirits of nature-- though there is a wide variety of views and personal practices within its ranks.
    Thanks, that's a useful distinction to be aware of, as I'm still trying to get an overview of the various traditions. It seems that like Buddhism, paganism is very diverse.

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    Copper Member Briton's Avatar
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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    Well yeah, the question is actually worded in a way that is fairly offensive...simply by virtue of using the "sorry....but" format that usually indicates that someone is well aware that someone is going to be offensive and is actually not sorry. Honestly, it not bad--I've seen the question put in ways that are much worse.

    The problem is that you seem to be conflating authenticity with validity, as if a lack of the former negates the latter. It's an important nuance that is the source of most of the infighting among Pagans--most people don't understand it when they start out, but over time, some people get it and sadly, some people never do (and sadly they seem to all be BNPs).

    Put most simple, Druidry (or Druidism) is a spiritual tradition/philosophy and/or religion that emphasizes the divinity in Nature that is inspired by Celtic mythology and inspired by ideas what we know of the Ancient Druids and/or the later Druid Revival.

    With that being said, there are two main Druid groups (there are many more, but most of them model one or the other or are a hybrid of the two), the OBOD and ADF:

    The OBOD is based on Druid Revivalism. It is more of a masonic style organization (one can be of any religious faith) than a dogmatic religious organization that originated in the UK. I would say its more concerned with the philosophy of a reimagined and recreated romanticism of Druidry.

    ADF is a PIE reconstruction-centered tradition that looks to a number of sources from archeology to linguistics to UPG. It is a religious organization that espouses hard polytheism and worships the numinous as the gods, the ancestors, and the spirits of nature-- though there is a wide variety of views and personal practices within its ranks.
    Thanks for explaining. I was and am genuinely sorry if it offended, I tried to phrase it as best I could and I certainly don't think a lack of authenticity makes something less valid. I would only say that a claim to authenticity which isn't there is disingenuous. If these things are inspired by what we know and that's all that's being claimed then of course I have no qualms, after all that is what I intend to do, but drawing inspiration elsewhere, as I'm sure you're aware now. I don't know how else to better phrase the question. I guess "Is druidism authentic to the Iron Age or a religion/practice which draws inspiration?" might have been a better phrasing, but alas, it's too late now.

    Again, genuine apologies for my poor wording to anyone who considers themselves druidic.
    I'm not one to ever pray for mercy
    Or to wish on pennies in the fountain or the shrine
    But that day you know I left my money
    And I thought of you only
    All that copper glowing fine

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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    I don't think your question was offensive. It can be best answered by quoting Philip Shallcrass (British Druid Order):
    Some [Druids] are overtly pagan, some are avowedly Christian, others try to steer a path between the two, others simply say that being a Druid has nothing whatever to do with religion.
    Fortunately, Druidry seems to find room for many faiths within it. This is partly because Druids are unusually open and tolerant in their outlook, and partly because we know so little about what Druids got up to in the past that we are free to concoct just about anything and call it Druidry today.

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    Quote Originally Posted by Briton View Post
    Again, genuine apologies for my poor wording to anyone who considers themselves druidic.
    You did fine! I was (poorly, for 0530 in the morning) teasing...I just think its funny that people always do the "Sorry....but" thing. I do it too, and I both laugh and cringe at the hypocrisy when I do it.



    I would only say that a claim to authenticity which isn't there is disingenuous.
    I would agree with this now. If you read a bit about the history of Paganism in general, particularly in terms of the Druid Revival and much later, the development of Wicca, and the bits that took place in the various magical traditions in between (traditions that eventually coalesced into contemporary Paganism), I think you will find a very different attitude about the importance of authentic history--mostly that that romanticized, reimagined symbolic history was either thought to be authentic (and based on bad information for which they did not know otherwise at the time) or was known not to be factual, but was considered Truth in a way that the truth never could be... :/ I don't think you would find many people that thought a false claim to authenticity was disingenuous in the early days of contemporary Paganisms the same way we do now..

    FWIW, in the established organizations a false claim to authenticity (a direct Druid lineage of some sort) is fairly uncommon (it was more common about 20+ years ago, when I started out as a Pagan).

    But you will occasionally run into versions of "my family has been doing this since time immemorial and its a secret *real* Druid tradition that we've kept alive since the advent of Christianity". I have never met someone that claims this and is able to offer discussion on it with any sort of believability. Once again it comes to a numbers game--is it possible that an unbroken family lineage passed down for 700 years, but highly unlikely, particularly with as many people claim this heritage (its sort of like the 6 people I know that claim to have been Cleopatra in a former life...). If a small handful of people from the same one or two families were claiming this, and had some sort of corroborative documentation or heirlooms, I could maybe buy a family tradition passed down from the Druid Revival, or a family folk magic tradition passed off as Druidry, or (because this used to be the thing to do in Pagan circles) a 2-3 (maybe 4) generation tradition that was passed on as being older than it really is. But Ye Olde Authentic Druidry has (IMO) almost no chance of being a historical fact.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    If you read a bit about the history of Paganism in general, particularly in terms of the Druid Revival and much later, the development of Wicca, and the bits that took place in the various magical traditions in between (traditions that eventually coalesced into contemporary Paganism), I think you will find a very different attitude about the importance of authentic history--mostly that that romanticized, reimagined symbolic history was either thought to be authentic (and based on bad information for which they did not know otherwise at the time) or was known not to be factual, but was considered Truth in a way that the truth never could be... :/ I don't think you would find many people that thought a false claim to authenticity was disingenuous in the early days of contemporary Paganisms the same way we do now..

    FWIW, in the established organizations a false claim to authenticity (a direct Druid lineage of some sort) is fairly uncommon (it was more common about 20+ years ago, when I started out as a Pagan).

    But you will occasionally run into versions of "my family has been doing this since time immemorial and its a secret *real* Druid tradition that we've kept alive since the advent of Christianity". I have never met someone that claims this and is able to offer discussion on it with any sort of believability. Once again it comes to a numbers game--is it possible that an unbroken family lineage passed down for 700 years, but highly unlikely, particularly with as many people claim this heritage (its sort of like the 6 people I know that claim to have been Cleopatra in a former life...). If a small handful of people from the same one or two families were claiming this, and had some sort of corroborative documentation or heirlooms, I could maybe buy a family tradition passed down from the Druid Revival, or a family folk magic tradition passed off as Druidry, or (because this used to be the thing to do in Pagan circles) a 2-3 (maybe 4) generation tradition that was passed on as being older than it really is. But Ye Olde Authentic Druidry has (IMO) almost no chance of being a historical fact.
    I find historical correctness and authenticity in re-constructive practise a funny concept; if we actually performed pagan religious practice exactly as those before us did, I can imagine at least one instance where a practitioner is thrown in a mental asylum. Probably something to do with bloodletting or settling a feud by combat over someone killing a tree. (I am vaguely aware this has probably happened somewhere at somepoint).

    Surely Gods get bored with the same form of worship over thousands of years too?

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    Quote Originally Posted by Mootipi View Post
    I find historical correctness and authenticity in re-constructive practise a funny concept; if we actually performed pagan religious practice exactly as those before us did, I can imagine at least one instance where a practitioner is thrown in a mental asylum. Probably something to do with bloodletting or settling a feud by combat over someone killing a tree. (I am vaguely aware this has probably happened somewhere at somepoint).

    Surely Gods get bored with the same form of worship over thousands of years too?
    I've never been a recon. I do historical reenacting for the American Civil War...and, despite ten of thousands of pages of primary documents--letters, diaries, reports, newspapers, bulletins, photograph, clothing, patterns for clothing, other artifacts, etc--we can't even get 150 years ago authentic. Sure, I can know the facts--dates, names, quotes, lifestyle, crafts...hey, I know crochet with techniques of the late 19the century and have dresses from patterns of actual dresses in museums with hand stitched buttonholes. I wear a freaking corset and split drawers with 7 petticoats in 90 weather (crotchless undies in 2015= naughty, crotchless undies in 1865=modesty).

    And I absolutely cannot fathom a mindset that says that I can't learn algebra or Latin because doing so will overheat my brain, which will overheat my blood, which will cook my ovaries, and make me unfit as a woman. I absolutely cannot fathom living in a country without child abuse laws (the first child abuse case wasn't tried until 1874 as an animal cruelty case by the Humane Society of NY). And the idea that people are chattel is such an anathema, I can't even begin to imagine how people actually justified in their mind as a point of view. And I would question the morals and/or sanity of anyone that thought we should go back to that.

    Add a couple hundred or a 1000 year or more, and I don't think it gets any better. The Greek and Roman religions are part of a culture that systematically subjugated women...yes, even in Sparta (Spartan women were given the relatively progressive (for Ancient Greece) freedom and education so they could continue to be good breeders of Spartan men, not because of some early sense of equality). The Norse religion is part of a culture that thought nothing of systematically raiding, raping, and enslaving as a seasonal sport. The Celtic religions are part of cultures that practiced human sacrifice. Sure, women-hating, going a-Viking, and dumping people in bogs aren't the entirety of those cultures, and like any society, they have stuff they did right and well too...but cutting the wheat from the chaff changes the context and the meaning of the practice completely. Pretending otherwise seems just as disingenuous to me as lying about the authenticity of a practice would be .

    This is a view that has, of course, gotten me in hot water with some more fractious recons. Which is fine...it's a reason why I'm not a recon and not a reason why I expect other people *not* to be a recon (hopefully I worded that in a way that makes sense). I don't expect my rationale for or against something to be someone else's rationale...everyone has different priorities and values when it comes to what they decide to do or not to do.


    And yes, if gods are ever shown to be actual discrete literal entities with distinct personalities and emotions, etc...I fully expect that we will find that they change with the times too...possibly just because I like to picture Ares drag racing.
    Last edited by thalassa; 17 Nov 2015 at 04:11. Reason: I forgot to finish a sentance...
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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    Copper Member Briton's Avatar
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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    All good points. We view actions of the past with some horror, but more importantly so did they about times before them. Equality didn't start in the 20th century, morality has changed and, in my opinion, improved. Albeit slowly. The idea of going backward is not what they did. Of course, we may revive practices from the past, but it's about sorting we're renewing it, not reinventing the wheel. The same should go for our religion, faith or practices. Pagans were frequently bloody people. But even a broken clock is right twice a day and they may provide good ideas. I wouldn't bring medieval sanitation back, so full on reconstruction seems baby, and I don't think any recons truly recon a culture. I bet they like toilet paper and flat roads.
    I'm not one to ever pray for mercy
    Or to wish on pennies in the fountain or the shrine
    But that day you know I left my money
    And I thought of you only
    All that copper glowing fine

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    Re: Druidism's foundations

    Quote Originally Posted by Briton View Post
    I wouldn't bring medieval sanitation back, so full on reconstruction seems baby, and I don't think any recons truly recon a culture. I bet they like toilet paper and flat roads.
    Yes, I've already noticed a tendency to romanticise the past here and there.

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