Into the Woods – To the New Druid
To share your experience of Druidry (or any belief/passion/lifestyle) online is to connect with others who share similar stories. When you don’t have that connection in your day to day life it’s a beautiful way to foster relationships. It also connects you to others who are just starting out their journey. I’m always a bit surprised when someone reaches out via a comment or message on youtube looking for how they can also explore Druidry. I am obviously not an expert or capable of speaking for ALL Druids (because no one can). However, since I’ve been asked I’d like to share the things that I’ve found to be most enlightening as I’ve studied and grown in my Druidry.
GET OUTSIDE! No, seriously, right now get connected with the natural world. Take your body outside. Find a place you can observe and create a relationship with. Druidry is not an armchair practice. “Outside” might mean the balcony on your apartment, the herb box you plant in your window, a walk to a local park, or your very own garden. You don’t have to physically be able to walk 10 miles every day or own acres upon acres of your own private wildlife sanctuary. Physical limitations can be worked with; land ownership is not a hurdle. You will benefit greatly from finding some method of regular interaction with the natural world in whatever way is possible in your life right this moment. Druidry is heavily rooted in the natural world and our connection to it. This is full stop the most important part of my practice and, I think, most Druids’ practice.
There is a vast world to explore within Druidry. Multiple orders function to provide members with resources that foster wisdom and growth. Every year more and more books are published that target the Druid audience. There are thousands of blogs and pagans online that can provide valuable lessons. Try not to get lost in this onslaught of information. Pick a small goal for yourself and pace yourself. It’s easy to push yourself to study with an order and rush through all the coursework so you can feel “done”. Druidry isn’t about achievement. We as people are never finished. The beauty of Druidry comes from letting it guide and walk with your own personal development throughout your life. There is no harm in giving yourself one year to try Druidry on for size before committing to an order or teacher. Let your practice grow organically as your life changes. Patience (Goddess knows this is hard for me!) is going to serve you better than any other teaching. After you’ve given yourself some time to explore Druidry you might explore committing to further study through an Order. As a member of OBOD, I’d obviously recommend the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. You can see my review of their Bard Course on YouTube.
Start creating in a medium that is new to you or brings you joy. Sing in the car again, doodle regularly, paint those landscapes you keep dreaming about, learn a new instrument, take a pottery class, go out swing dancing, do anything that allows you to develop your bardic skills. We are all creative people. Art is a fantastic way to explore ourselves and the world we live in. Connections are made as we develop our skills with fascinating teachers. It’s also a chance to gift Goddess, or whatever Gods we believe in, the fruits of our journey.
Since I read all the time and love to watch/make book reviews I have quite a few opinions about which books are worthwhile and which aren’t. I’d like to give the newbie Druid my top five books for beginning a Druid practice.
- A field guide for your area. The National Audubon Society does this fantastic guides per region on birds, trees, flowers, and so much more. Learning to identify and name what you see in the world around you has the profound affect of bringing confidence to your interactions with the natural world. Our society encourages isolation and disconnection from the spaces that sustain us. Make a bridge to Mother Nature by learning more about what makes her function. This is the one book that I suggest buying over picking up at your local library. You’ll want to take this one with you all the time when you are out and about.
- I’d suggest with just picking ONE “beginner” Druidry book. The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington, The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer, and Druid Mysteries by Philip Carr-Gomm would be my top three choices. The idea is to sit with the ideas of Druidry. You don’t need to know all the different interpretations to start incorporating Druidry into your life. If you start one of these books and find after reading 25% of it that it just doesn’t work for you, then maybe try a different author. There is no shame in not enjoying the “big” authors’ take on Druidry.
- Dive deep by reading some myth and folklore. There are a ton of options out there. I’d strongly suggest reading about the myths in your local area not just the Irish and Welsh myths we associate with Druidry. Myth teaches us the wisdom gained by our ancestors. It adds depth and mystery to our practices. An inspiring myth can bring our practice joy and light instead of feeling like we are studying or learning all the time.
- Side Project of your choice! There is some kernel that brought you to Druidry. Perhaps the bardic arts drew you to this path. Your ancestors might have pushed you to explore Druidry. Learning how to heal through herbs or being a midwife of birth and/or death could have inspired you. Your activism might have needed a boost. Whatever that seed was, feed it. Pick a book by a Pagan author that delves deeper into that seed. Nimue Brown has fantastic books that really touch on some of the most interesting seeds. I’d recommend Pagan Dreaming or Druidry and the Ancestors by Nimue Brown. A book on Ogham might also be helpful. A Druid book on herbalism might help you become the Ovate you hope to be.
- Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. This is not strictly a book about Druidry. It’s just one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. I re-read it all the time and find great wisdom in its pages. Don’t be afraid to find the threads of Druidry in the places you least expect it. If this is the right path for you right now, you’ll find it impacting your life in a multitude of ways.
I wish you joy and wisdom as you dig into the path of Druidry. You’ll find your own way, but hopefully these ideas help you feel excited about what Druidry has to offer you. You’ll note that I said nothing about you needing to be white, Celtic, poor, wealthy, able-bodied, or live in a certain area. I firmly believe that Druidry has gifts for everyone. My Druidry has very little with trying to re-create a historically accurate Druid practice. I’m all about allowing the wisdom of our ancestors and the spirit of place to meet us where we all are in this diverse world today. To all beginners, I wish you the peace of the sacred grove.