**This is filed under Unverified Personal Gnosis**
A very simple and yet very complex definition of Druidism is that it is a response, but a response to what, and how does that response differ from the ancient Druids to the modern ones?
Humans before culture responded to the natural world around them. They responded to the land, the animals, the rivers, the mountains, the skies and stars. This response was a basis for them to go beyond the usual limits of ego and personality to the source of any spiritual practice. From this response came culture, which is a way to look at the world in a sacred way, so it can be said that culture is a byproduct of how humans looked at nature, and this is not specific to a certain spirituality.
So what makes Celtic spirituality different? Celtic Spirituality differs because the Celtic lands were not one unified place rather the Celts lived on different lands and so their responses differed depending on the lands they lived in.
What was the Celtic response that made Druidism, is a very difficult question to answer because no writings by the ancient Druids survived. However, we can guess at the response from the myths of legends of the Celts and the practices that still survive in Ireland and other Celtic nations.
“Druidism is based on a response to the natural world that works with non-ordinary states of consciousness and holitropic practices fostering growth and wholeness in individuals.” (1) This is what we know of the Druids, they have a reverence for the natural world and they worked with non-ordinary states of consciousness. So in essence Druidism can be seen as a dialogue between humans and the landscape around them.
A question that gets asked a lot is why should we have a modern expression of druidism, if it is dead then surely there is a reason for that? Well, because now more then ever we need primal ecopsychology and we need cultural psychology.
I guess this is a good place to start defining some concepts. Some people see the human psyche in layers where the personal conscious and unconscious come first then underneath that comes the collective unconscious and then the ecological unconscious. So what are all these layers? Let us start first with the word psyche and what it means. According to dictionary.com psyche is the human soul, spirit or mind. (2) Now let us define the collective unconscious. According to the American Heritage dictionary the collective unconscious is a part of the unconscious mind, shared by a society, a people, or all humankind, that is the product of ancestral experience and contains such concepts as science, religion, and morality. (3) The contents of the ecological unconscious represent the living record of cosmic evolution, tracing back to the distant initial conditions of the creative event we call the Big Bang. (4) Ecopsychology connects psychology and ecology in a new scientific paradigm. The political and practical implications are to show humans ways of healing alienation and to build a sane society and a sustainable culture. Theodore Roszak is credited with coining the term in his 1992 book, The Voice of the Earth. This was a call for the development of a field in which Psychology would go out of the built environment to examine why people continue to behave in “crazy” ways that damage the environment, and the environmental movement would find new ways to motivate people to action, ways more positive than protest. (5) And finally cultural psychology, cultural psychology is the study of the way cultural traditions and social practices regulate, express, and transform the human psyche, resulting less in psychic unity for humankind than in ethnic divergences in mind, self, and emotion. (6)
Our environment right now is in great danger from global warming and the destructive practices that we as humans have been engaging in, and this is where ecopsychology comes in, this is where humans can re-establish there connection to the land. An example of this is the Kingship rites of the Celts where the king is ritually married to the Goddess of Sovereignty who is also a Goddess of the land. The king is responsible for the land while the goddess is responsible of the fertility of the land and the food and shelter of the people. This is a relationship of reciprocity. If one fails so does the other. (1)
Another thing that will help is cultural psychology where we can reconnect to the cultural traditions and social practices of our ancestors and our people. An example of this is the myth of the Settling of the Manor of Tara where the people forgot how the land was divided and why and that caused them a lot of troubles until they were able to resolve the issue by asking the one person who was able to tell them the story of their ancestors and why things were they way they were. Also the telling of history and tradition is very important and is evident in many of the Irish myths and legends. Another example from a different culture (the Arabic culture) is a proverb they like to use which says know your ancestors and their ways to know yourself and where you are supposed to be.
Coupling ecopsychology and cultural psychology together will transform our consciousness and this is the heart of engaged druidism. Engaged druidism can also be expressed as the dynamic relationship between the soul and the ego or the self.
To be able to reshape the ego and to connect to the soul a process called Initiation is necessary. Initiation is defined as an experience of the death of the ego and the re-birth of the ego in a way that is inline with the soul. So instead of living from an egocentric place you live in a soul centered place. (1)
There are many ways or maps through which this can be done. One such map is presented by the author Frank McEowen, and it is called the three Spirals of Initiation. The spirals are the downward spiral in which you lose the ego you have, then comes the threshold spiral, which is basically a journey of looking for a new vision or world view and then finding this new vision and taking it through the upward spiral into the outer-world and this is the re-birth of the new ego. An important thing that is needed to be realized also that going through this cycle is not just so you could stop after that, you need to integrate what you learned and your new ego into your life and the world around you for your cycle to be complete. (1)
This cycle is not a one off experience but a life long journey into the soul. And this is the best way to define Engaged Druidism.
- A lecture by Jason Kirkey, Engaged Druidism
- Psyche. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 07, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: Here
- Collective Unconscious. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved January 08, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: Here
- Roszak, Theodore. The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology. Phanes Press, INC. New York, 2001.
- Ecopsychology. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved January 08, 2008, from Reference.com website: Here
- Cultural_psychology. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved January 08, 2008, from Reference.com website: Here