My friend and fellow ADFer, Victoria, had an excellent question for one of the ADF e-lists today. Feeling secure in ADF’s scholarly approach, she was looking for a way to add enchantment and whimsy to her personal practice. Somehow, the “magic” had fallen to the wayside through her reading and community building within ADF itself.
Druidism can be quite intellectual. You spend a lot of time reading history, mythology, anthropology, maybe some philosophy, and science. If you join a Druidic organization, you’ll probably find yourself writing to complete one of various study programs or to contribute to a publication. If you’re lucky enough to attend a festival or grove gathering, you might find yourself sitting around a fire with other Druids, debating the nature of the cosmos.
Just don’t get too caught up in that! Yes, the scholarly approach of Druidism is a huge draw to me. Yes, it’s important as it provides us with a real grounding in our hearth cultures and the lessons of the past. However, if you don’t balance it with some inspiration and some hands on experience, you’re likely to experience a sense of let-down, a disconnect from the spiritual, or, worse, the reputation as someone who is all talk and no walk!
For me, Druidism came alive when I started to experiment with Ian Corrigan’s Nine Moons system. Although I have yet to finish it and plan to start again when life isn’t as crazy, it’s an approach that had me working with the spirits each day. I didn’t feel so connected until I started to do that… It demanded that I nurture my novice meditation and trance skills through practical experience and practice. It got me making frequent, if not daily, offerings. It had me spending hours in the forest…
And truly, you don’t need the Nine Moons system to do any of that! You just need the self discipline to sit down, to quiet your mind, to make offerings, to express gratitude, and to go outside and just be… listen…
Taking the time to sit outdoors truly opened up my senses. The Nature Spirits, as they are, started to reveal themselves to me. There are the flesh, blood, and bark beings we are used to. We know they are there, but we can take them for granted. I started to notice more, to experience more. Bones began to appear; fungi I hadn’t ever noticed before revealed itself to me; I saw wild animals in person I had never encountered outside of a zoo. It’s been a humbling, deeply gratifying experience to feel that I am forming a relationship with the land – especially after moving here and feeling like a bit of a stranger. And the unseen nature spirits… they too make themselves known, but in subtle ways. Sometimes terrifying ways as they are often mischievous. You have to be ready for that, especially in the more wild places. You have to work to maintain a level head – perhaps even listen and do when you are told to GO. Perhaps make an offering to show kindness, or learn about the old protective charms and amulets… And for goodness’ sake – take care of the Earth! Pick up trash, join/support conservationist organizations (don’t overlook the local orgs that exist in your region!), plant trees, and advocate for the land you love. It goes a long way towards empowering you, the land spirits, and your relationship with them. Perhaps that doesn’t sound terribly spiritual, but such experiences can be transformative for Earth-centered Pagans – just ask Starhawk! The journey is never done and I will always be learning – but I had to take the first steps!
Which brings me to a recent revelation. ADF is my spiritual community. I’ve found it difficult to relate well to most other Pagan groups because their approach isn’t as harmonious in scholarship and inspiration. ADF groves are places I can go to comfortably worship the Old Gods in the way that feels most natural to me with others. I love the chance to celebrate, grow, and socialize with ADFers. And yet… the greatest chunk of my spirituality, the greatest growth, has always been what I’ve experienced on my own at my altar or in the forest. Whether or not you’re in a grove or even a bigger Druidic organization, you are always a solitary in some way. And you must be! Only you can commune with the spirit realm on behalf of yourself. Are there others out there with more experience than you? Yes, there always will be – it’s just a fact of life. Perhaps they are better skilled to help you in some ways (a lot of spirit work appears to take years of experience), but if you want to grow in your own Druidism, you at least have to try and take the baby steps on your own. Learn from others, heed the advice of those more experienced (provided they demonstrate integrity) – but don’t ever give up on your own. If you have to take a step back for awhile, it’s never too late to come forward and pick it back up, review, and resume.
If you are like my friend, and are looking for the whimsy in Druidism, then I encourage you to go out and find it – or make it! Embracing the magic of your hobbies is an excellent way to start. Approach making meals as kitchen magic. See sewing, crochet, spinning, painting, weaving, sculpting, leatherwork, smithcraft, dance, song writing, poetry, etc as the magical practices they already are! Pray to an appropriate deity or spirit before beginning a hobby and always thank him/her/it for the help and inspiration! Talk to your houseplants, view their care as part of a magical relationship, and thank them when you harvest. Pray before eating, traveling, sleeping… Yes! Pray! It’s not just for monotheists!
Finally, stop worrying so much. Enchantment exists everywhere but you have to stop and see it – experience it! Sometimes, as in forming bonds with the land, it takes time. Others it’s right there to be had! It’s as simple as brewing a cup of tea and whispering your words… It’s as easy as pouring an offering in the light of the moon… It’s as electrifying as stepping beyond the hedge after sunset… It’s as satisfying as dancing around a fire, even if that fire is only a little candle in your bedroom. Put your anxiety aside, dress yourself with a smile, and dance like the wild child you always wanted to be!
Allow yourself to be enchanted! The growth will come in time.