We Are All Druids
There are many kinds of Druids: British Druid Order, Anglesey Druid Order, OBOD, ADF, RDNA, and many others. We come from different places and we approach our Druidry in many different, varied, and beautiful ways. I have been meeting with Druids around the world and I have come to understand one thing that they have in common: a profound love for Nature and the Earth. This, I believe, is as a binding force. I am firmly committed to the greater community of Druids and I have studied with many of the programs and I find Nature at the core of it all.
In Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), we follow Isaac’s Vision. Isaac Bonewits put together a vision for the organization that was way ahead of its time in the 80s and is still vital today. I have followed this vision for a long time. I too, although I am not Isaac Bonewits, have a vision, much like all of the other Archdruids of ADF. My vision is the large group of Druids, gathered together for ritual and for discourse. My vision is the larger group of neopagans, gathered together, firm in the own beliefs yet tolerant of others’ and again gathering and sharing amongst each other. Finally, I would like to see Druids AND neopagans following their own ways with other faiths and being accepted as legitimate along with all the rest. I see it as three circles of acceptance: Druids, neopagans, and all others.
The Earth Unites Us
In a recent visit to Australia, I was fortunate to spend five days on Mount Franklin in Victoria. Mount Franklin is an extinct volcano, so it probably more accurate to say that I spent five days IN Mount Franklin. We camped on the floor of the volcano and the sides rose us all around us. Pine trees – a non-indigenous arrival to this area – graced the sides of the mountain along with the ubiquitous gum trees.
As they reached for the sky, the sun rose late over them and the it also set early because of them. I felt nestled in the bosom of the Earth Mother like never before. Yet, this was a distinctly local Earth Mother. Perhaps we all have our own local Earth Mother. I remember standing on the shore of the Southern Ocean, feeling the strong winds from Antarctica blowing through my hair. I could only imagine what the Earth Mother was like across that broad expanse of water.
The Earth Extends Around Us
When I travelled to Brazil, I remember seen vast expanses of land from the airplane. The Earth stretched for miles around in unique and varied ways: plains, rivers, mountains, browns, golds, greens, blues; the variety was astounding. This was the same Earth Mother, generally speaking, but a very different one depending upon local. It instilled in me the notion that we make speak of the Earth Mother in various ways, really depending upon where we are and how globally we wish to consider Her to be.
The scenery in Curitiba was different than the scenery in Florianopolis and it occurred to me that while we say the words “Earth Mother”, what we visualize, what we feel fundamentally is most likely a reflection of what is going on in our own back yards. In some way, the many, many different Earth Mothers are like waves in the ocean: always in motion, always “waves”, yet always the “ocean”.
What Makes a Druid a Druid?
Several years ago, OBOD Chosen Chief Philip Carr-Gomm invited me to attend the OBOD Summer Gathering. I was unable to attend that year or the next, but with ADF’s first European ordination this year, I had the opportunity to attend the OBOD Summer Gathering in Gastonbury, my first OBOD event ever. I took the train from London and rendezvoused with Philip roughly mid way between London and Glastonbury. While we had previously spoken together, the spontaneity of speaking face-to-face gave us an excellent opportunity to talk about our respective organisations and to compare notes.
As a Druid Grade in OBOD, I was fairly familiar with the structure, practices, and approach of OBOD Druidry and I have always found it strikingly beautiful. It is lyrical and uses inspiration, in my opinion, to fuel the Druid experience. Much like with OBOD, we at ADF also call upon Bardic Inspiration early on in our Core Order of ritual structure and I began to visualize how our practices were similar and also how what we did was different.
I had many opportunities to speak to other Druids in Glastonbury about what ADF was about and about what we do. I was invited to a meal with Damh the Bard (an amazing gentleman) and friends and we exchanged stories all throughout our meal and afterwards. During the Gathering proper the next day, we broke down into groups to put together pieces of the ritual later that afternoon. I was struck by the deep level of understanding and cohesiveness in practice with the OBOD Druid Grade group and I was reminded of similar work that I have seen done with ADF as well and also with RDNA when we get together for ritual work. We called upon classic Druidic imagery and came together with a ritual component that was very moving and very effective. The pieces for the afternoon’s work were coming together.
Looking Down on the Earth Mother
One of the great experiences in Druidry was walking from Glastonbury Abbey, past Chalice Well, up the hill to Glastonbury Tor, over the various stiles and then donning my white robe and walking up the Tor. The trail wasn’t especially easy and while their was an easy approach and a difficult one, I found myself taking the more difficult trail. The weather was soft and a slight drizzle fell from the skies. The sky was grey and overcast. As I walked up the Tor, I looked out to the land that surrounded me and it was a Grey Earth Mother that stretched far and wide, with different shades and hues and landscapes and it struck me that I was looking upon this scene as many had done before. Who knows what She was called back then? I know what I call her now.
Ritual and Reunion
We gathered at the Tor and I looked around to all that were gathered for a common purpose: to celebrate. At five degrees Celsius, it was a cool Summer Solstice celebration. People were gathered in different attire and suddenly, from across the ritual field, I heard my named called and recognized Paul, an ADF member from Wales. However far from my home, I found someone who knew me and someone with whom I had communicated before. People were gathered all around the circle and in the middle, a fire. Yet some things, like a fire, are common to all Druids. It seems to be the focus of the work we do, to kindle the flame.
I found myself in Germany for our first ADF ordination on the continent. On the day of the ordination, I looked around at the many and varied people who were in attendance, in their different attire and with their different ways and I was struck with the notion that we were all here to celebrate the hard work of one person and the beliefs that bind us all.
I had the distinct pleasure and honour of visiting many beautiful places in the German countryside. It made me think of those that had come before, those who were here now, and those that were to follow. This land, this Earth, was home to families and beliefs from time immemorial. Whether it was in Germany or here, back at home, we find our faith in the land and in the respect for nature that surrounds us. Always “waves”, yet always “the ocean”.
Similarities and Differences
Upon my return to the states, Philip Carr-Gomm interviewed me for one of the OBOD podcasts. We talked about our similarities and differences – as we did in Glastonbury. As Druids, we share a love for Nature. I wanted to do more to illustrate and build upon those similarities. We are, after all, Druids.
Daily Practice as Opposed to High Days Only
While I am glad that people were able to learn about the various styles of Druidry, I feel it is best to show people what they can do on a daily basis, to participate in their Druidry and to honour the Earth: daily devotionals. While I felt that I could talk about what I do, I felt it would be better to have a number of people offer their devotionals to the Earth Mother or, as Ian Corrigan calls her, “the Mother of All”. I decided to reach out to other people who I have worked with and others who offered a unique perspective on their own practice.
There are devotionals in foreign languages, a short story, and a number of working from other Druids. I decided to ask Philip Carr-Gomm and Damh the Bard from OBOD, along with Kristoffer Hughes from the Anglesey Druid Order along with other friends and devotees of the Earth Mother. The result was compiled into “A Tree for the Earth Mother”, published by Dark Moon Press. As a further benefit to the Earth Mother, one dollar of the proceeds will go to plant a tree.
All Together Now, for the Earth Mother
I am extremely pleased and thankful for the contributions from all who made an offering to the book. Each of the offerings can become a daily devotional. The short story at the end gives insight into the challenges that we face as devotees of the Earth Mother. Devotion is born from piety. Piety is making an offering of prayer or devotion to the object of our veneration. At ADF, we believe that by building relationships between ourselves and the object of our devotion, we grow closer to that entity. We believe that they grow in their understanding of ourselves.
By using one of these devotions, one can make an offering to the Earth Mother. One may make offerings on a daily, weekly, or occasional basis. Water is an excellent offering to the Earth – and one can spend a small amount of time in building a stronger and better connection to that Earth Mother that nurtures, sustains, and supports us every day of our lives. It is the bounty of the Earth Mother that keeps us going from day to day. At the end of our days, it is to her that we will return.
In many ways, a devotional is a way for saying “thank you for what we have already received”. The Earth Mother gives and continues to give, always. In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to make an offering to ask for something. It is merely a way of saying “Thank you for your bounty”. Wise-use is also a part of devotion. I think this is a good approach to take with the Earth Mother. Be thankful, be mindful, and remember what it is that binds us together: a love for nature and a desire to protect the world around us.
We are devoted to the Earth Mother or committed to the preservation of the world around us. Try to speak to the Earth Mother each and every day. Offer her some life-giving and life-sustaining water, as she gives life and sustains us each and every day of our lives. However you see Her, in the many names you call Her, plant a tree for the Earth Mother in your heart. Each tree is a part of a greater forest, one alone and one of many; always “waves”, yet always “the ocean.”
I want to thank all the people who contributed to this work and to those, everywhere, that honour the Earth Mother. By speaking our devotions, we anchor our practice in the Earth Mother. By developing a relationship with Her, we watch over and protect her. As we continue to say and do things to support the Earth Mother, we protect the Earth. The example we provide to those around us, pagan and non-pagan, can only help in the days and weeks ahead. A Tree for the Earth Mother is available from Dark Moon Press and on Amazon.com.
O Earth Mother, we praise Thee!