This has nothing to do with Ancient Druids or my own Practice (Druidobessus Galation)
this is about Modern Druidry. The basic elements are here to have a starting point as I get asked these questions a lot, so within you will find some answers.
What is Druidry?
That is a question with many answers; there is a saying ask 3 Druids what Druidry is you will get 4 answers.
Druidry can be a religion, it can be a spirituality, it can be a way of life, or it can be all those together. However, at its core, it is a way to have a relationship with the sacred (Nature). It teaches us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, and the study & active practice can bring us closer to the natural order of nature. It is free from dogma and fixed practices, but at the same time, it can be dogmatic if the individual chooses. We have no sacred text or universals beliefs – with that said – there are common ideas and beliefs that most Druids hold. We share a common belief in the spiritual nature of life. Folk’s way maybe animistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, among many others.
Pantheists and Animists believe that Deity does not exist as one or in many personal gods but is everywhere. Polytheist Druids believe in many Deities. Monotheist Druids believe in only one Deity. No matter what one view, all druids see nature as the Sacred. All are part of the divine web of life—nothing over another. Druidry differs from anthropocentric belief greatly.
Most of us believe in the otherworld, the realm of realms. In this realm, we can reach in our dreams, meditations. Journeying in a trance and death. We all vary with our views of the otherworld, but it is a common idea among us. Most classical sources claim the druids believed in metempsychosis (in which a soul lives in a succession of forms, including both human and animal). In between each life ~ in human or animal form, the soul rests in the Otherworld. With this, there is the idea of Death and Rebirth, so we druids believe in reincarnation; well, most of us do. Philostratus of Tyana documented this view in the 2nd century. We are born in this world and die in the otherworld. Furthermore, when we die in this world, we are born in the otherworld—this a common theme in Druidry Death, Rebirth, and Renewal. We can see this in Nature all around us.
MODERN DRUID ROLES
Within most orders, you have three grades, in which you take 1 year or longer to complete each grade if you wish. Alternatively, you can stay at the grade if you wish. It is not a ladder to complete to get to the top.
The Grades are
What does each of these grades entail?
Bard – They are the Poets, Artists, Singers, Storytellers, Performers, Musicians, and Keepers of Traditions. In The Bardic Grade, you learn to express the world in the most inspirational ways in story and song. This helps us to be rooted in the now of nature and the cosmic spiritual world. The Bard grade shows us the wonder of Awen.
Ovate – They are the Seers, Healers, Herbalists, and Natural Philosophers. The study of divination, herblore, Ancestor spirit work, and the magic that is all around. The Ovate grade teaches us the flow of Awen.
Druid – They are the Philosophers, Priests, Teachers, Peacemakers, Facilitators, Mediators. Ritualists and the Walkers between worlds. They understand how to do a Ritual for celebrations and festivals. A most important role was service, showing people how to be peaceful helping solve a conflict. Getting involved in things to help make a better world. The Druid grade helps us to spread Awen.
There are so many things that I can say about each Grade, but that would be a whole other page, so in keeping with the flow here, I will leave it simplified and basic.
Samhuinn November 1
Alban Arthuan December 21 Winter Solstice
Imbolc February 2
Alban Eiler March 21 Spring Equinox
Belteinne May 1
Alban Heruin June 21 Summer Solstice
Lughnasadh August 1
Alban Elued September 22 Autumn Equinox
These high days are the most well known and the most universally acknowledged within all Druid Orders/Groups/Groves.
Only four of these are actual holidays from the Celtic Cultures; these are the fire festivals.
Samhuinn/Imbolc/Beltinne/Lughnasadh mark the midpoints between the two Solstice and the 2 Equinox days. We have 2 days within the wheel of the year balanced with light and darkness, Alban Elfed Fall Equinox and Alban Eiler Spring Equinox; this is the balance time of the year.
The other days are the light and dark half of the year and reflect the seasons. These are Times of Growth, Harvest, Decay/Compost, And Rebirth.
Following the wheel of the year brings one closer to the dance of nature. Marking the passage of time and learning what the seasons can teach us. Understanding the never-ending cycle of life. Reflecting on this can be beneficial for oneself and can bring you comfort in knowing that we all are a part of nature and have the same cycles within us. Nature is a great teacher.
Acknowledging and celebrating these days is simple. There are many ritual layouts within different orders of Druidry. One can have Gatherings with friends in the outdoors or indoors. You can have shrines and altars resembling the theme of the season. Planting and harvest ritual or just planting and harvesting in general Cleaning up the forest and roadways (make sure safety first).
You might want to create your own meaning for these days to bring it closer to you. There are so many ways one could go on and on.
Samhuinn – This is the first part of the dark half of the year. Summer has ended, and the last harvest is brought in, and the livestock is butchered and the meat salted and stored. This is the time the gates to the otherworld are open. Celebrating the ancestors and connecting to the spirits of the deceased. The deceased are honored with feasts.
Alban Arthur / Winter Solstice – This is the second of our dark half of the year. This is a time of darkness and decay—this a time of relaxation and reflection. We put light around to bring light into the darkness—a time of burning the winter log and giving gifts.
Imbolc – This is the third part of the dark half. The days are getting longer Signs of growth are in the air as winter comes slowly to an end. The hearth goddess is worshiped at this time which most folks see Brighid as the protector of the hearth and house. A fire is lit in her honor.
Alban Eiler/Eilir / Spring Equinox – This is the first of our balanced days. The night and day are equal at this time. We are heading to the light half of the year as the day becomes longer. Time to plant our ideas and let them grow along with our seeds for the season. This is the transformation for all things as the earth and her creatures shake the cold off and let the warmth come. This time has another name Ostara; its origins come from Germanic origins and are associated with the goddess Eostre, where the word Easter comes from.
Beltinne – This is the first part of the light half of the year. Fertility is in the air and bonfires are lit. The Veil between the otherworlds is open again but instead of celebrating death like Samhuinn, it is celebrating life.
Alban Hefin/Heruin / Summer Solstice – This is the second half of the light half of the year. This is the longest day of the year—time to celebrate the height of the growing season. The days will become shorter now.
Lughnasadh – This is the third part of the Light half. Harvest has started, and festivals of the first harvest are celebrated for the bounty and future bounty of the land. Sacrifices to the land are common during this time.
Alban Elfed / Fall Equinox – This is the second balanced day of the year. Also, when the dark half of the year starts to take over. The second of the 3 harvest festivals. (Lughnassadh, Autumn Equinox, and Samhain) harvest is here, and we can see the world around us start to change. So we prepare for winter to go and start to wrap all our tasks up. So look at the goals you set and did you accomplish them.
“RITUAL IS THE POETRY OF THE WORLD OF ACTS” ~ROSS NICHOLS
A songwriter can bring awareness to the listeners connecting them to things unnoticed. The same is with ritual as it has no powers on its own. The powers come from the effects it has on those that take part in it. Ritual helps the individual focus, consciousness, intuition, intentions, and many more things. It helps to remind us of the bigger picture of the universe and that we are just a small part of it all. We use ritual to get closer to the gods and the natural world, give thanks, & bring more awareness of the Sacred.
The act of ritual is symbolic.
It is an art form that should be honed, just like anything else. Done with skill and the basic layouts can bring meaning and many wonders to the individual’s life. Ritual is diverse; while it is often done outdoors, some choose to ritual indoors. It can be solo or in a group gathering.
Most Druid rituals are done in circles; this symbolizes the unity of each one of us as one people. We honor the four directions and the earth, the sky, the sun, and the moon, the ancestors, the gods, and goddesses. And consists of blessing members within the circle with fire and water. At times, a man and a woman face one another at the circle’s entrance, symbolizing the gateway into which we are brought into the world. Prayers and chants are offered. Ritual clothes are worn, and it is a big celebration with many people.
These are some things that are within each Druid Order and each Druid Grove, and they vary from one to the other. This is a big thing in a group setting, but many do not have people to gather for big rituals. At the same time, others will not have an outdoor space to have things set up. Some of us live in small areas and lack the means to have a big flashy ritual. Nevertheless, you still can have rituals.
This is a stripped-down version of ritual: just the basics that you can do in a small place with which you can then make it much more to incorporate into the outdoors or with a gathering of people. You can add to it and make it your own.
Purification of the self and space first must wash one’s self and turn anything off that will disturb you. It is important and often forgotten: Lighting! Turn off any cool lights and have at least 1 warm light to set the mood & quiet the mind naturally. A quiet mood helps purify oneself. This also should include washing, grounding and centering to balance yourself before the ritual.
Here is a basic ritual you can do. There are many Rituals one can do, but they all have the basic steps; this one has the most important ingredients.
- Make a Sacred Space.
- For the lighting of Fire and Candles along with incense, one can use a diffuser as well.
- An invocation of the recipient.
- An offering to the recipient.
Rituals can be much more involved, offering to the fire, deity, spirits, ancestors. Meditations and prayers can also help with connecting to deities, spirits, and ancestors.
Within Druidry, there are bunches of different rituals for many things.
- Rites of Passage
- Coming of age
- And many more
Advanced rituals using the above and adding more in-depth steps.
A Druid Ritual Based on John Greer
.Your altar should be in the center of a circle
- 4 small bowls placed on the altar
- For the North – Half filled with salt or earth
- For the South – Half filled with sand with a votive candle
- For the East – Half Filled with sand with incense
- For the West – Half filled with pure water
- Distilled water is dead water – Tap water is treated and can contain chemicals.
- Use well or spring water
- The bowls represent the four elements
- Air- East
- Fire – South
- Water – West
- Earth – North
- We are representing the three druid elements with
- Incense – Nwyfre
- Water – Gwyar
- Salt/Earth – Calas
- You will also represent three rays of light with the candle.
- You will sit in the north
- Three more items are needed
- A Knife/Sword/Dagger
- Drinking horn, with wine, mead, juice ~ you pick
- Robe/Ritual clothes
Opening The Grove
To begin, get your ritual space all set up. Clear your mind and begin.
- Enter into your circle, walk around it with the sun. Walk around to the north side of your altar and face south.
- Raise your palm to salute the sun saying.
- Let the powers attend as I am about to open a grove of druids in this place. The first duty of druids assembled in the sacred grove is to proclaim peace to the four quarters of the world, for without peace, our work cannot be done.
- Take your sheathed blade and go to the east. Face outward, raise the blade head level and horizontally—left hand on sheath right on the hilt.
- Pull the blade halfway from the sheath, push it back in, saying.
- I proclaim peace in the east.
- Lower the blade and proceed to the south and repeat all
- I proclaim peace in the south.
- Go to the west; repeat the steps.
- I proclaim peace in the west.
- Go to the north; repeat the steps.
- I proclaim peace in the north.
- Now return the blade and go to the north.
- Facing south across the altar saying.
- The four quarters are at peace, and the work of the grove may proceed. Let the grove and all within it be purified with air.
- Now head to the eastern part of the altar, pick up the bowl with the incense, and carry it to the eastern edge.
- Walk-in a circle around the circle’s outer edge; you can move your arm in a slow sweeping or side to side motion to help widen or spread the smoke.
- Visualizing that the smoke is purifying and blessing everything in the grove.
- Making your way back to the east to return the bowl saying.
- Let this grove and all within it be purified by fire.
- Go to the southern part of the altar, pick up the bowl with the candle – without sweeping or excessive motions.
- Repeat above but this time – visualize fire purifying everything in the grove saying.
- Let this grove and all within be purified with water.
- Now take the bowl with water and go to the western edge. Repeat the above this time, visualizing water purifying saying.
- Let this grove and all within be purified with the earth.
- Now take the bowl with earth to the northern edge repeat visualizing earth purifying everything.
- At the north of the altar say.
- I invoke the blessing of the mighty ones with the words that have been the bond among druids.
- Grant o holy ones thy protection
- And in protection strength.
- And in strength understanding.
- And in understanding knowledge.
- And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice.
- And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it.
- And in that love, the love of all existences.
- And in the love of all existences, the love of
- Earth our mother and all goodness
- When finished, say “Ah-oh-en” three times.
- Awen Awen Awen
- Feel that word flow through all in the grove.
- Now take the seat in the north. This completes the opening of the grove.
Closing the Grove
- When your work is complete, take a seat in the north and return to stillness in your mind. At the north side of the altar, face across to the south and say.
- Let the powers attend as I am about to close a grove of druids in this place. Peace prevails in the four quarters and throughout the grove. Let any power remaining from this working be returned to the earth for its blessing.
- Ritual work leaves energies behind so visualize the energies flowing towards the altar down into the center of the earth. Concentrating on that till the space feels clear of energy, say.
- I invoke the sword of swords.
- Draw your blade to the sky and say
- From the rising sun, three rays of light.
- From the living earth, three stones of witness
- From the eye and mind and hand of wisdom
- Three rowan staves of all knowledge
- From the fire of the sun, the forge
- From the bones of the earth steel
- From the hand of wise, the shaping
- From these Excalibur
- By the sword of swords, I pledge my faithful service.
- To the living earth, our home, and mother
- When finished, say “Ah-oh-en” three times.
- Awen Awen Awen
- Raise your right hand to salute the sun and walk around the altar to exit.
Any ritual can be easily modified and put the “meat” of what you are doing in-between the Opening and closing Offerings to the gods, Divination, holidays, etc.
Other Rituals to look at
Modern Druid Symbols
This is a popular symbol in Druidry; its meaning is complex and goes beyond a symbol into a philosophy and a lifestyle. It has come to mean Divine Inspiration, Poetic Inspiration. The name Awen comes from an Indo-European root uel meaning to blow. The symbol was created by an 18th century Welsh Poet Edward Williams (lolo Morganwg). Many Druid orders have adopted the symbol all having different variations of the symbol.
Pronunciation of the word would be “ah-when”
The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) describe the three lines as rays emanating from three points of light, with those points representing the triple aspect of deity and, also, the points at which the sun rises on the equinoxes and solstices – known as the Triad of the Sunrises. The emblem, as used by OBOD is surrounded by three circles representing the three circles of creation.
Others have their own interpretations that are special to groups and individuals. For some, the three lines are the Earth, Sea, and Sky; Love, Wisdom, and Truth; Body, Mind, and Spirit; Man, Woman, and Child; Nature, Knowledge, and truth; Underworld, Middleworld, and Upper world. Along with countless other meanings.
A little of how I see Awen
I have a place connected to a feeling of calmness and darkness in the high mountains surrounded by the smells of Moss, Fir, and Oak trees. Lazy rivers flow. You can hear the waters splashing on the banks. It is deep in thick woods where a babbling brook is hidden. The stars are between the branches as if they are dancing when the cool breeze comes. This is where the center is; this is where Awen lay. This is my nemeton, my sacred grove, my altar within. What lays within is a glow of Awen.
Furthermore, within each of us is this glow but first, we must find it. Now this glow is in all things. Us, the earth, the universe, the otherworld, all that is and is not. This glow is what connects us to all things that are and are not. This glow is the Awen within, as I call it.
It is creation as we all come from creation. We all have a part of it within us. It is what makes us, and it is what is the ultimate force creation. The Awen is what we are representing from within to the outside of us. The bards sing and write about it. The artist paints and sculpts it. The philosophers talk about it. We are it; we are the Awen. We make it and spread it. So again, find that place where it lays. It is the place something is glowing.
Deep within the forest, there is a sacred grove, an arcane glow of inspiration and creativity lay within.
I will talk more about Awen another time.
This symbol was created by the RDNA (Reformed Druids of North America). There is no definite meaning to this symbol. It can mean many things to the individual. Some folks claim it is an ancient symbol of The Earth Mother, but it is not true. It has been taken to mean The earth mother by many modern folks. This symbol has become popular among the Druid Communities, some folks altering it and well others paying it no mind. Some see it as a female symbol for a constant reminder of the female forces of nature. How every you see it well, it is up to you.
There are many symbols that Druids use from Celtic Culture and I want to focus on the basics here as the 2 above are modern creations for Druidry.
Modern Druid Orders
There are many orders to join. Each one has its own unique flavor. Some are academic, others are practice-focused, and some a mix between the two.
Most have a fee to join.
I will share the most popular orders here, give a link, and write up about them.
Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) – This is the biggest Druid order in the world. Each month you are sent a packet with 4 (Gwersu) lessons; these are for booklets with information for you to study. Each booklet is a week’s worth of work. You get a year’s worth of work for the grade you are in. This order is less about the written tests and more about doing. You take a test at the end of each grade instead of each lesson’s end like some other orders. Everyone is welcome, no matter their religion, color, or sexuality. Welcome to all.
Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) is the biggest order in the United States. This order does not have the same set up as OBOD. It does not have the same Grade system as in Bard, Ovates, and Druids. Instead, you start on the Dedicant Path, a year-long study to learn about their beliefs and practices. Then you have Initiate, Clergy, and Generalist. They also focus a lot on Kindreds and Guilds.
New Order of Druids (NOD) – This is an academic course with essays you have to do after each lesson. It can be dry at times but are a good community of people. They have much content and free with an option to pay to get more content. The courses are Correspondence courses which means you are always in contact with a mentor.
ANCIENT ORDER OF DRUIDS IN AMERICA (AODA) is the oldest order in The United States. This order does not have the Bard, Ovates, and Druid Grades system. It has a Candidate, First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, and it has Clergy Programs. The courses are based on individual study than a correspondence course like the NOD.
The British Druid Order – This is an order similar to OBOD
Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn – This order is not your regular Druid Order. This one merges Druid thought with Golden Dawn thought. The grades are Ovate, Bard, and Druid. Created by John Greer.
The Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn is a magical order teaching a system of ceremonial magic descended partly from the Druid Revival of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and partly from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a nineteenth-century magical order.
Modern Druidry Books
These books focus on modern Druidry; they are not necessarily history books. There is plenty of books out there plus each Druid Order has its own reading materials. These are just some of the books I liked.
Joanna Van Der Hoeven
Joanna Van Der Hoeven