Druidism And Its Limits5
Oct 20, 2017 by Rua Lupa
Druidism – Is It Celtic?
Druidism. It is most commonly seen as being strictly Celtic in practice, so much so that “What Does It Mean To Be Celtic” is the primary subject in most Druidism circles. And most every Druid group has some aspect of Celtism in it (and yes, I just made that word up on a whim – but feel that it makes complete sense in this context). Which does make sense as the word “Druid” is directly linked to the Ancient Celtic Elites – with today’s Druidism being mostly associated with the Spiritual Leaders of that ancient group.
Unfortunately, modern ideas of what it means to be Celtic, at least in terms of pagan religious practice, have attempted to bottle up the place and time of Spiritual Druid origin, which cannot reflect the realities of other bioregional areas and what we have come to know about the world today. To limit it so is kind of an out-of-touch way to practice in my opinion.
This is where I feel that many Celtic Reconstructionists are correct in the stance that, as a culture, to limit the practice to a geographical place and time is not how the Ancient Celtic Religious practices would have resulted had they continued unabated and if it had spread to other regions – which is what Celtic Reconstructionists are all about.
So ALL Druids of today essentially practice Neo-Druidism, as we cannot go back to that time and place and must accept what is done here and now will never be the exact same as it was then, and thus no matter what is ‘New’, hence ‘Neo’-Druidism. And Neo-Druids who have adapted their practice to their bioregions and material goods of where they are today is what would have happened, to the best of our knowledge. Druidism would simply have had different expressions in different regions – just as it did in their prime in Europe. Viewed in this way so many arguments of Druidism being limited to “The Homeland”, “Gaelic Language” and the way things are done there today are a blatant misconception of what a Culture is and how Cultures function. Cultures cannot be boxed and isolated, and thus will always, and always have changed.
So with regards to that, it is possible to be a Druid – in the essence of being based on what we know about Ancient Druid belief and practice, having adapted it to your modern and regional realities – while at the same time, be no longer Celtic.
I realize what I just stated may be regarded as blasphemy to many, but, as I see it, that is the long and short of it because “Celtic” as a culture, has it’s definitions – the Gaelic languages and the material goods associated with that language’s reach. And even so, modern peoples who are, with all intents and purpose, Celtic people, today frequently do not speak Gaelic, nor partake in the traditionally associated cultural goods (food, music, clothing, craft etc.). Being more likely to describe themselves by their modern national names – Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, etc.
So, does this not mean being “Celtic” in Druidic practice is a moot point to begin with? With Druidism being it’s own expression?
Is the term “Celtic” more appropriately left to the ancient world?
These very questions are the primary reason why I instead call myself a Saegoah – or alternatively to non-pagan aware folks, a Naturalist (which also refers to Naturalism, which I ascribe to). It is nascent still, but useful and accurate for me, because, while I still most strongly relate to Druidism out of the main Pagan branches, I realize that the Celtic aspect of it is something I have difficulty with. In the end, what is being done now is in no way how the ancient Druids would have seen and done things anyway, so why should I feel any attachment to the term?
As a Saegoah, I have found that I feel liberated in my religious exploration of my Local Ecosystem and Biosphere. Whereas trying to stick to what is “Celtic” felt limiting, even though it remains inspirational to the point of Ehoah originating as an off-shoot of Druidism. Which is why I still study Neo-Druidism and Celtic Reconstructionism. But, I find Shintoism just as inspiring, and as a Saegoah can study it in the same capacity without having my religious practicing perceived as no longer of that practice.
Ultimately, as a Saegoah, I study Nature-based beliefs from around the world, along with Druidism and seek out the tangible ways they benefit Solar-Earth Life (Solterrestriale Vitae) and apply that to my practice. This, in a nutshell, is how you can be a Saegoah.*
Mind, that not all Saegoahs are Naturalistic. Saegoahs can be Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Animists, Wiccans, Druids, Hellenic, Kemetic, Jewish, Christians, and more. Such diversity in worldview is encouraged in the Ehoah Path. The core of being a Saegoah is our approach to religious practice – facilitating tangible outcomes in accomplishing Ehoah (Complete Harmony within Nature).
*All anyone has to do to be considered a Saegoah is adhere to these three basic tenets,
“Through Nature fulfillment can be found;
Nature, being inseparable from humanity, is important in human pursuits;
As Humans are a part of Nature, it is important to ensure our connections within it are Harmonious.”
It is simple and fairly straight forward, leaving enough room to adapt to different regions of the world, community and individual expression. All the while helping avoid the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.
Thank you for being so conscientious & respectful of living & historic Celtic cultures! If only more Celtic Pagans & (neo) Druids had that mindset. It’s a continual journey trying to educate myself, and while I use (neo) Druid as a label, especially among Pagans, it’s in that context, not as a role in living Celtic cultures or the diasporas. Musicians, poets and storytellers within those cultures are cultural & spiritual heirs to the druids. There’s overlap for me in what I do spiritually & culturally, but they still are their own things in their own contexts. I’d much rather hang w/ people who have similar values/lived ethics than shared beliefs if the belief-holders don’t act in a similarly ethical manner. Valuing a living & evolving culture in modern times, serving the needs of its members is part of that, as is living in an eco-friendly manner. The Ehoah calendar & resources you’ve put together is very cool and potentially helpful to many people, thank you for sharing.
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Thank you. It is always nice to read others thoughts and experiences on things and how that influences their outlook and direction in life.
While I agree that there are differences with what modern people are concerned with and what ancient Celts were concerned with making the terminology change with time… I also feel that the term “Druid” is part and parcel with Celtic spirituality. Celtic Reconstructionism as a method has given way to Celtic polytheisms (Welsh Polytheism, Irish Polytheism, Gaulish Polytheism, etc.). As such many are turning “Druid” into a role within the greater Celtic spirituality and not a spiritual path in and of itself. It ceases to be “Druidism” the religion based around being a Druid and more “Druidry”, what Druids do and the role they perform in the great sphere of Celtic spirituality.
When one moves too far away from the Celtic paradigm in my opinion, it ceases to be “Druidic”. I truly love the term you are using “Saegoah”. I think once a person’s Druidic path reaches a place that is so far removed from the Celtic paradigm it needs a new descriptor other than “Druid”. It is personally why I never resonated with ADF. The other Indo-European cultures that they utilize had their own nomenclature for their holy men and women that wasn’t the term “Druid”.
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Reposted as requested…
If you think todays Druidry is purely Celtic based, you are out of touch.
For me “Druidry” is the start point. Like a lot of things spiritual, some people won’t go beyond a basic definition. Others, as you have intimated, won’t connect to the path because of stereotypical ideas presented. And yes, absolutely the classical druids would not recognise todays neo-Druidry, but that is no bad thing.
Because it demonstrates this thing I know as Druidry, follows the laws of evolution, it has evolved to have relevence (to some of us) in todays society. A practice that does not evolve with the present day cultures looses its connections with its practioners and is then jettisoned as an historical irrelevence. Even a brief forray into the actual history of neo-Druidry suggests this thing I know as Druidry should not be present today, but yet, here I am using the title of Druid for myself because the Druid path chose me as much as I chose it.
I live in a “Celtic” nation, Scotland, I resonated strongly with Reconstructionism which worked as a foundation for me by providing evidence based ideas instead of imaginative personal gnosis from other individuals (no matter how talented or common sense they appeared to be).
But Druidry for me, is now a living breathing path that chooses to interact with and through me, though trying to create a “definitive definition” of it is as pointless, and ultimately as frustrating, as trying to nail a jelly to a table because it continues evolve with and through us, never settling for long and demonstrating beyond all doubt that change is, indeed, the only constant in life.
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It’s a wonderful blog. I read it with interest, thanks for this share. I’m Druid and i live in Brittany.
Ya me zo drouiz, ha e Breizh emaon o chom. Trugarez vras.