Druid Thoughts: Druid or Pagan?

When a Pagan praysWhich descriptive title I use for myself depends a lot on who I’m talking to. In conversations with people who are neither Pagan nor part of the non-Pagan strands of Druidry, I try to stay away from religious identity. There are odd exceptions – people interested in sharing ideas and trading experiences with no judgement or desire to convert… but mostly it’s not a topic I bring up, and if it comes up, I tend to skim over it because trying to explain what I think takes a lot of effort, and in those contexts, it is often pointless anyway.

When I’m talking to other Druids, I tend not only to say ’Druid’, but to qualify that a bit. There are many different kinds of Druidry: it means very different things to different practitioners whilst having a heartwood of commonality that isn’t easily expressed. I’m OBOD-trained, but I look nothing like a stereotypical OBOD Druid – I don’t do robes, much less white ones. I don’t do organised ritual much, and when I do, I prefer to be free form, so ‘feral’ and ‘improvised’ are also frequently words on my list.

When I started out along this path, I mostly self-identified as ‘Pagan’. Even when I became aware that Druidry was the direction for me, it was a long time before I felt able to use the word. “Druid” is a weighty word, implying knowledge and skill. I still have regular rounds of not feeling qualified to speak as a Druid, and I’ve been doing this for more than a decade now… “Pagan” is an entirely egalitarian term, available to anyone who wants it. A Pagan is simply someone who has chosen a path and a perspective, and beyond that nothing much is implied, which makes it a lot more comfortable.

For a while, I wanted very specifically to speak to Druidry, from a Druidic perspective. There’s been a real flourishing in Druid thinking and publication in the last five years or so, but when I started that certainly wasn’t the case, and a small number of big names provided almost all the content. I started www.druidlife.wordpress.com because I wanted to reflect on my experiences of trying to live my everyday life as a Druid. Druid Thoughts is an overtly Druid column, although I’ve used it increasingly to talk about broader Pagan issues. My first few books had ‘Druid’ in the title.

Now I find I want to think about more universal aspects of belief and spirituality. I think a lot of the things I’m exploring have wider significance beyond Druidry, and I’m all too aware that if I put material out under the ‘Druid’ label, I’m not going to reach as many people as if I use the term ‘Pagan’. It’s not just a cynical marketing issue, but a question of how useful it is to break things down to their smallest categories. ‘When an OBOD-trained but essentially rather feral Druid with maybeist tendencies prays’ would have been a rather longwinded title, and it would have excluded more people than it included. I’d rather include people.


Druid Thoughts is published on occasional Wednesdays on Agora. Follow it via RSS or e-mail!

About Nimue Brown

Druid blogger, author of Druidry and Meditation, Druidry and the Ancestors and Spirituality without structure (Moon Books) Intelligent Designing for Amateurs (Top Hat Books) and Hopeless Maine (Archaia). Book reviewer for the Druid Network and Pagan Dawn. Volunteer for OBOD. Green, folky, Steampunk wench with a coffee habit. www.druidlife.wordpress.com and www.hopelessmaine.com @Nimue_B and can be hunted down on facebook.

  • Brian Michael Shea

    I love the cover art of the book!

  • Philip

    Congratulations on the new book Nimue! I agree whole-heartedly with your concerns around labels. I’ve mentioned this in the ‘About’ page of my new website (www.philipcarr-gomm.com). Writing an ‘About’ page forces you to express these ideas in a few paragraphs – not easy! So I applaud your attempt to articulate your wrestling with these issues! :)
    Many greetings, Philip

  • Ieshea

    Thank you


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