I worked for a while looking after the Druid Network’s directory. It was an interesting job. The directory holds listings for a many Druid groups as care to be there, but it did tend to bring in some strangeness. Doing that, and other things, I’ve seen the kinds of questions people bring, and there are some interesting trends. There’s a great deal of misconception out there about what Druid Orders actually are and what they do. So, I thought I’d throw together some of the widest-of-the-mark frequently asked questions and air them, for your entertainment and enlightenment.
1) I’ve just found some evidence that my late grandfather was a Druid. Can you send me his records?
The short answer is, no, probably not. Most grandfathers who were Druids were either involved with the Welsh eistedfodd movement (which is all about Welsh culture and language) or were fraternal Druids (which is a lot like being a Freemason). Most grandfathers of this sort were not spiritual Druids. Most modern Spiritual Druid orders are not old enough to have records that would go back to an ancient and deceased grandfather. There are some longstanding fraternal Druid orders out there, but they aren’t that easy to find or contact.
2) Can you teach me the ancient wisdom of the ancient Druids?
No. You see, the thing is that the best in academic research into archaeology, period texts written by the Romans, and what might be Pagan remnants in mediaeval literature leaves us with a lot of uncertainty. We can teach you what we know and what we think, but you are better off considering contemporary Druidry to be a modern path inspired by the past rather than an embodiment of it.
3) There is a Druid who has made me angry. Please strip them of their title.
Almost certainly, no. There is no overarching hierarchy in Druidry, no one outfit with the power to strip anyone of anything. Most Druid titles are self given, or given by the Order to which said Druid belongs. If you’ve got the right Order and proof to support your grievance, you’ll get a hearing, but your evidence had better amount to more than personal dislike.
4) One of your Druids made me cross, please tell them off.
No. Even if you’ve got the right Order, and someone really did wind you up, most Orders will not police anyone’s private life. If someone has acted on behalf of the Order in a way that would bring said Order into disrepute, that’s another issue. Basically, if there’s something criminal going on, you need to take it forward as a criminal issue and go to the police. If you have a personal problem with someone who happens to be a member of an Order, do not expect the Order to take any interest in you.
5) I have a book of ancient wisdom that proves something very important. Do you want to read it?
No. While the details vary, these come round a lot. I’ve been offered original and ancient, world shattering texts from more parts of the globe than I can actually remember to name. If you have genuinely stumbled across a really ancient text, a Druid Order is not well placed to help you. What you need for this is an academic institution with the means to check out and verify your document – carbon dating, reading ancient languages, that kind of thing.
If you have spontaneously transcribed, through the power of spirit, something you know to be a truly ancient and important text, your best bet is to publish it yourself. Please don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get a huge cult following, a TV program, and a publishing deal. The spontaneous writing down of truly ancient wisdom happens far more often than you would begin to imagine and inexplicably causes a lot of scepticism amongst potential readers and publishers who were not present for the revelation.
Start one. Seriously. Most Druid groups are not started by holders of ancient wisdom who have been through decades of training. Most groups are started by people who want to be Druids and who want there to be other Druids and who learn on the job. It works surprisingly well. Take the plunge. Have an adventure.
7) Those other Druids are doing it wrong. Make them stop!
No. That’s not the business of any Druid. If there’s a crime, go to the police. If you just disapprove of what someone else does, learn to live with it. Avoid them. Start your own group. A lot of groups also start because people don’t like what’s already available in their own area and want something new. This also works surprisingly well.
8) How do I do Druid spells?
Spend ten years studying Druidry, then it will be easy. Unlike the Wiccans, Druids don’t have a big element of spell making in the tradition. We do it sometimes, when there’s a need. We have a consciousness of magic as part of life and part of the natural world (mostly). Druid magic is often a lot more ephemeral, creative, spontaneous than the idea of making spells. Quite often the answer to problems in your life is to either fix them, or learn to live with them. There are Druids who do spells, but this kind of question is not likely to inspire them to want to teach you. It’s like wanting a shortcut, not Druidry. This is not here to make your life easier, it is here to enrich, inspire and take you deeper into things.
9) I was looking for World of Warcraft Druids and seem to have landed here by accident.
That wasn’t an accident, that was fate. Clearly you were meant to come here. Sorry, couldn’t resist that. It is entirely possible to start out as a gaming Druid, in any system, and recognise you did that because you felt a pull, and come over to this side. You may be surprised how many Druids do start by playing at being a Druid, and then get hungry for more. There is no wrong way of getting here, so long as you don’t kill anyone.
Mostly Druid Orders teach, make resources available to members, run rituals and learning groups, and have a social aspect. Mostly they do not police, enforce, or have much time for other people’s craziness. Questions like ‘I want to know more,’ ‘How does this work then?’ and ‘Do I need robes and a beard?’ will get you off to some kind of a start.
Druidry is nothing like as orderly as many people seem to assume. It’s not even slightly like a church, it’s like a lot of small groups and gatherings with all manner of connections and overlaps between them. And no, you don’t need a beard.