May the AWEN be with you...
A friend wrote me an e-mail, asking why I had chosen the Druid path, and what it means to me. In replying to her, I found that I suddenly knew the right words to explain:
>In your opinion, how is it different from Wicca? >And, what about Druidry fulfills you in ways Wicca did not? >Why did you choose the Druid Path? What differences has it made >in your life?
Funny that you ask. I have thought and talked about that several times these last weeks. The difference is not as big as you may think. It is, according to me, more the mindset you have, the angle in which you look at the pagan paths, that make you decide what road to take. I associate Wicca with rituals, Goddesses, Gods, and guidelines that are handed down by HPS's etc. Of course, solitary Wiccans have no HPS's, but still, the things I have read in books of Starhawk, Phyllis Curot and others give me this specific feeling about Wicca.
Druidry has a more natural approach, for my feeling. There are guidelines, like in Wicca, but they give me the feeling to be more free. In Druidry I can incorporate a Goddess or a God, but I can leave them out. There are rituals, but I can leave them out. Druidry is more free in this than Wicca (again, all this is my personal opinion).
Druidry, as is Wicca, is a journey towards spiritual and emotional growth, developing your inner skills in a way that is good for you. And I have found that Druidry and Wicca, Shamanism and Asatru, are just the different sceneries that you can choose from on the way to the end of the road.
I have, for myself, the awareness that Druidry is my preferred scenery. A lot of nature, natural energy, tree wisdom, connecting to the Higher Powers through thought and contemplation. In my training I get little pointers that I work out myself. And that is what works for me.
I find Wicca more related to white, moon, Goddess, ritual, strictness. (I hope this makes some sense to you. :-))
Druidry has given me insights into all kinds of areas of my life and my relation towards life and the people that are around me. I have learned wonderful things, things that speak and appeal to me. As an example: in a talk I had with a friend, something of that came up also. This friend is a believer of truth. But this friend goes so far as to say that you MUST ALWAYS speak the truth. Druidry has taught me that, when you can save an innocent person, when you can protect old knowledge and wisdom, there are times that not speaking the entire truth is acceptable. Which is something I have learnt to be true in my life on many occasions. No need to turn into a liar, but be careful with the truths you speak at times.
Druidry speaks of living your life: bold design, frequent mistakes, and giving it your best in an enjoyable manner. It is things like that which I have never found in Wicca.
Of course, a Wiccan might not agree with me. But Wiccans prefer the wiccan scenery of the road of life, where I enjoy the Druid path along the trees more. To each their own.
Sunshine blessings from under the trees, Paul
Who were the Druids?
The beginnings of Druidry have never been properly determined. Popular belief is that Druids existed thousands of years before the beginning of the Common Era, but this might not be true. Celtic civilisation came to the British isles around 500 BCE. This also contradicts the idea that Druids built Stonehenge.
The Druids of old were teachers, priests and priestesses, doctors, historians, prophets, guardians of lore and givers of law. Not much, if anything, is known about that time. There are no written accounts of that time, so all the information that exists is circumstantial. In the upcoming greek and roman civilisations, the first written details about Druids were made. They tell us that Druids were a respected class among the Celts, almost like an intellectual and spiritual elite within Celtic society. These accounts already tell of the three grades of Druidry, which are still known today: the Bards, who are the poets, singers, musicians and historians, the Ovates who are the philosophers and researchers, and the actual Druids who were priests, spiritual leaders and who dealt with legal issues.
A long time after Caesar invaded England and did his best to destroy all the Druids, nothing is heard or seen of them. But the knowledge and the awareness of the Druid spirit and wisdom lived on.
In the 17th and 18th century, Druidry became into the picture again. Several writers, among whom were John Aubrey and William Stukely, started delving into the information. They thought it time for Brittain to have its own spiritual depth again, its own oldtime religious traditions. In those days, Druidry was considered a male-only affair. The beginnings of Druidry were loosely based on the lodges of the Freemasons, who did not allow women into their ranks.
Who are these Druids now?
Modern Druids are people who generally travel on the path of Paganism, but that is not required. Also Christians can become Druids. Druidry is not seen as a religion, but as a path of wisdom. Among modern Druids, a large ecological awareness has grown to live. Many modern Druids are active in the protection of Nature. Another trend in modernday Druidry is the shamanic side of the path that sometimes is brought (back?) into Druidry.
Also worth to know is that Druidry is not a male-only way of life. Men and women equally share the wonders and benefits of being a Druid.
Above you see the AWEN symbol. The Awen Symbol, also called The Three Rays.The Awen is the single most important symbol of all the Druidic symbols. Starting from the right the first ray symbolizes the male forces in the material world. The center ray of the Awen stands for the balance nature enforces on these two competing aspects. The left ray symbolizes the female forces in the material world.
Each ray has it's own name. Again starting from the right the names are "E", "Ah", and lastly "O". 'E' is the male ray, 'O' the female ray and 'Ah' is balance in the middle. The symbol is used especially in modern Druidry.