Calling Oneself a Druid

A blog post about whether to call yourself “Druid” or not has been brewing in my mind for weeks – when do we think we can claim the title?

Simply because in the past one could not claim to be a Druid until after 19 years training (depending upon the source you use) doesn’t mean that we still have to follow that way of thinking today. The Celts did many things that we don’t or wouldn’t do today. For instance, the ancestors performed animal sacrifice – we don’t. We have to adapt to the modern day to be able to let our path expand and fulfill our needs of today.

To call oneself a Druid is to simplify our intention – how else would we go about it? To say “I am a follower on the path of Druidry” just doesn’t roll off the tongue in casual conversation. The term is there to clarify the path, not to claim grand titles. Christians don’t believe that they are Christ. Buddhists don’t claim to be The Buddha (they are all Buddhas). Therefore, those that follow the path of Druidry, in my view, can call themselves Druid – what are the alternatives? Druidists? Druidans? Druidarians?

Doesn’t quite work.

If we don’t adapt the Celtic worldview to ours, we are simply are creating or following dogma, which is an anathema to Druidry, in my view. We should learn all that we can from our Celtic ancestors, to inform our current worldview. The future is built brick by brick up on the past. The ancient Celtic worldview teaches us of a time in history, a specific point and that specific point only. What is no longer relevant to modern day society we need to address, and find new ways of making it work. We aren’t changing it into a completely new religion – it must adapt and flow like the awen itself.

Therefore, to me a beginner on the Druid path may call him or herself a Druid without fear. So can one who has followed the path for 7, 13, 25 years or more. What matters more than the amount of time you have spent on this path is what lies within your heart.

If you love and honour nature, if you seek to learn and inform your worldview from it and feel called to the path of Druidry, then you are a Druid. Walk your talk, live in balance and harmony, and inform yourself – become a student of life. Learn history, language, biology, ecology and astronomy. Gain the intelligence and use it – experience it. That is the path to wisdom. Above all, honour your own nature as well – for in seeing the divinity within nature, we see the nature of the divine.

38 thoughts on “Calling Oneself a Druid

  1. Very simply and eloquently stated. It is the intention of our minds linked by the Awen to the actions of our hearts that define us as Druids. I think that the first without the second is hollow, together they allow us hallow our path.

  2. I struggle with what path I am on often. I have recently been being called by Brigid, I feel and I have ancestry in Celtic practice. However, I relate strongly to nature in a very pantheistic way

  3. I am Druid – my ancestors were pagans, followers of the Nature Path. I feel very affirmed in my spiritual path after many years searching and exploring other ‘religions’ including an OU course on World Religions. Shamanism, Wicca, Druidry had been on the periphery for many years until one day whilst looking for a particular book on my shelves I noticed a book on Shamanism and Paganism – started reading and that was it – I had come back to Ancestral roots of Tradition.

  4. I think it is foolishness to call one’s self a Druid without actually knowing what that means. The way to discover that meaning is clearly established: through dedication; through study and achievement; through initiation and acceptance.

    One can also also discover what it means to be a Druid through revelation from the gods and spirits. I f that is so, then the shared knowledge of other Druids can easily be verified through a series of interrogations, questions and answers.

    Anything else is open to falsehood, illusion, and a lessening of what it actually means to be a Druid.

    • I think we have to be careful to state that our way is the only way, the one way and the true way. If it works for us, great – but we cannot apply that to everyone. Therein lies dogma and fascism. Both an anathema to Druidry, in my personal opinion. Study and achievement, yes – but achievement can have so many various interpretations. Initiation – well, I personally do not believe that one person can confer the title of Druid up on another – that is between the gods and the individual. Acceptance – again, not everyone is going to accept your vision of Druidry – there are so many forms, each valid to their adherents. An interesting discussion!

      • By initiation, I was talking about things like spending the night on Mount Snowdon, meditating in a cave, holding a vigil in the wilds, and then coming back to describe one’s experience. After that, is when testing and installation occurs. There are a lot of ways to become a Druid: one can do the work and study individually and alone; one can study under another Druid; one can attend a school; one can be chosen by the gods. What they all must share is knowledge, dedication and truth. That is what a Druid is known for in any age or culture.

      • Ah – thank you for clarifying that idea – I thought you were referring to traditional Wiccan-type initiation. Indeed – we undergo initation, testing and installation throughout our lives, don’t you think? At what point do we call ourselves Druid, if we are constantly being tested, constantly learning, evolving and growing? This is a geniuine questions, eager for more discussion, and not meant as an argumentative challenge…

      • {{{{By initiation, I was talking about things like spending the night on Mount Snowdon, meditating in a cave, holding a vigil in the wilds, and then coming back to describe one’s experience. After that, is when testing and installation occurs. }}}}

        I wish from the bottom of my heart that I could do this. I’m disabled and unwell, so all of those wonderful options are, unfortunately, not an option for me. I’m limited to my back yard and outings on the boat to commune with nature, and I cherish those moments. I open my soul to the Universe during those times, and just take it all in, like a sponge! I don’t resent my limitations, I’ve learned to accept them and find a way around them to do what I can in order to be the best Druid I can be. :o)
        Brightest Blessings and the joy of Awen!
        Jenni (aka Bryn)

  5. I agree with you as well. But there always were different kinds of Druids with different skills and training, and the same should be true of us today. They were Aos Dana, and we should be to. So we should strive to BE Druid naturalists, Druid herbalists, Druid social scientists, Druid historians, Druid story tellers/teachers, Druid psychologists/physicians, and Druid artisans, Druid astronomers, Druid geographers, and Druid ceremonialists. there are Gaelic and Brethonic terms for all of these crafts of the gifted ones. Druidry is the spiritual and philosophical path that guides us in our studies and in the skills that we develop. We are all Druids on the path of seeking knowledge and understanding. And then we are what we have learned on that path and the skills we have gained.

  6. You’ve put my heart at such ease, I can’t thank you enough. I was called to the Druid Path 4-years ago,23-years after coming out of the broom closet, so to speak. I’ve been reading and learning what I can, and walking the talk, but wondering if I had the right to call myself a Druid, even though it felt right. Thank you, now I know I can do so without feeling like maybe I shouldn’t. Brightest Blessings and the joys of awen!

    • Different people will answer your question differently, Jenni – some people will say yay, some nay. It what is in your own heart that matters most. The opinions of others can inform our life path, but they cannot walk it for us. Blessings on your journey! May the awen shine and flow deep in your soul. x

  7. There have been some interesting discussions around this topic on the Druid Network recently.

    As a slightly dissenting voice: I accept that anyone has the right to call themselves a Druid if they wish to but I defend my right to say that I am walking a druidic path but don’t feel that I should call myself a Druid, at the moment at least. I also question the validity of your conclusion from the statement “Christians don’t believe that they are Christ. Buddhists don’t claim to be The Buddha (they are all Buddhas). Therefore, those that follow the path of Druidry, in my view, can call themselves Druid – what are the alternatives? Druidists? Druidans? Druidarians?”. I feel your conclusion is the wrong one. Christians don’t call themselves Christs: Buddhists, I believe, don’t call themselves Buddhas. In this respect, Druidist etc would, indeed, be a more appropriate name. In addition, the title Druid did not originate from a deity or the founder of a religion. Historically Druid seems to have been a title used to describe either a Celtic social caste or, more recently, someone admitted into a specific Order. Thus it used to imply a particular status not just a spiritual path or a follower of that path. The broadening of the title to include anyone who wishes to declare themselves a druid seems quite a recent trend, perhaps in line with the coining of the term “hedgewitch” some years ago.

    I repeat, I’ve no objection to people choosing to call themselves druids if they feel that they are and I accept that the meaning of words changes over time. I accept that “To call oneself a Druid is to simplify our intention” is your valid interpretation of how to use the title now but I also defend the right of those who feel that there is more to it than that, those who choose to imbue the title with more meaning, to wait until they feel the time is right before claiming it for themselves.

    “It what is in (sic) your own heart that matters most. The opinions of others can inform our life path, but they cannot walk it for us.” I totally agree. I thought I’d put this alternative viewpoint for the sake of balance – do keep challenging me with your posts, I may comment only rarely but I do look forward to reading them. (Also looking forward to getting the Kindle edition of your latest book.)

    • Hi Gwion! Thank you for your comments. Indeed, I do believe that everyone has the right to call themselves Druid – equally you have the right to not call yourself a Druid, which perhaps I should have touched upon in the blog post. It is entirely personal choice, the path, tradition and the relationship with the environment, the ancestors adn the gods that inform our worldview and our thoughts and opinions on matters such as these.

      It can be confusing, sometimes, for the newcomer to Druidry to understand what it means to be Druid. Many see the training courses such as OBOD and misinterpret them as hierarchal levels of learning, when the Ovate is equally as important as the Bard or Druid. OBOD, BDO and other organisation are doing what they can to counter this misinterpretation.

      Indeed – if you choose to wait before calling yourself Druid then that is your path and your choice, and i honour that. My way is not better than anyone else’s. I hope that intention came through in the blog post, though perhaps I could have worded it better for those who choose to wait, to imbue the word with special religious, spiritual or titular meaning. Thank you for making me consider this!

      I hope the Kindle edition will be available very shortly. It sometimes takes a couple of weeks for the Kindle version to appear after the paperbacks have arrived in the warehouse – why I have absolutely no idea, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I hope you enjoy it!

      Awen blessings. x

  8. So let me preface this with: I am an Irish Polytheist (Gentlidecht), which is Celtic Reconstructionist faith, and a member of ADF. And as you may expect of someone from my background, I do not believe anyone should just up and decide to call themselves a druid because of the contents of their “heart”.

    You are a druid if your organization calls all members such.
    You are a druid if you tribe accepts you as such.
    You are a druid if your have undergone the rigorous training described in the history. (Ok, this one is not viable)

    You can CALL yourself a druid under any other circumstance as you see fit, but doesn’t mean anyone has to simply accept it.

    Just offering the counter perspective. Don’t expect anyone to agree.

      • I think the name, Druid, is like any other title or name, one can call oneself a Druid but should be prepared for others to attempt to verify how it is that we are actually a Druid. One could call oneself an airline pilot or a surgeon with equal freedom and a resulting reaction from most folks. Being called a Druid, generally is expected to also imply that one has achieved a certain level of competence in skills associated with being a Druid. Which skills and levels of ability one has to merit being called a Druid would be quickly revealed when the need to demonstrate them occurred. That is why most people who seek to be called Druids study the things that they think Druids should known and also why one practices the techniques and abilities for which Druids are known in any society.

        Some societies do not expect much out of their Druids and hence it is easy to be called a Druid in those societies. Other groups and cultures expect a high level of knowledge and ability in their Druids. In those situations, one would be well served to actually have a level of wisdom and skill to merit the name or position. It is like that in most professions and tasks in the world today. I think that it would be embarrassing to be tested or asked for some result expected of a Druid and to be found wanting in actually doing the task. Clarity on the part of society and its members as to what a Druid is will go a long way toward matching up skills and expectations concerning people who call themselves a Druid. Anyone cnl choose to call themselves a Druid but what would happen if a Druid was actually needed and they could not do what was expected of a Druid? I say this not to prevent people from attempting to become Druids but I do say this in hopes that they will be competent in providing to others what is expected of a Druid when that is required of them.

        I hope that what I have said remains true and reasonable when other skilled titles and names are used (like: doctor, nurse, scientist, farmer, teacher, electrician, cook, etc.). It can be dangerous and destructive for oneself and others to be mistaken in such things. I fervently hope that everyone can be called a Druid and do what is expected of a Druid in ways that bring health, joy and prosperity to themselves, their families and the world that surrounds them, That would be a perfect world and is worthy of all the work required to make it so.

      • Hi Odubhain! Thank you for your comments. I think that the disagreement lies in the labelling of Druid as a title. While I think that is fine for some to do so, I think the word, Druid, can also be seen as a path, and not a title. Not all Druids are priests, in my point of view. Not all Buddhists are monks, not all Catholic women are nuns. Using terms such as Druid layperson may apply, but that feels clumsy to me. I know plenty of Druids who are happy doing what they, for their local environment, community, charity, etc without being called on by the Druid community to act in the role of priest. That is simply one aspect of Druidry, in my personal opinion.

  9. Just to further complicate things, I use the term ‘druid’ with a small ‘d’ rather than capitalised because I’m an agnostic/atheist who follows druidry as a philosophy rather than a religion (which I would capitalise the same as Christianity or Buddhism). It all just goes to show that if you ask ten druids one question, you get a dozen answers!

  10. I am Druid in my soul in that I follow the Nature Path – have reverence to all aspects of Nature – I incorporate the principles of Druidry into the way I am – the way I live. I am a member of OBOD just completing my submission from Ovate to Druid Grade. So I am Ovate and I guess by your reasoning I can claim to be Druid after completing the next Grade. Is that so? Interesting thoughts.

    • Hi Mollie!

      The OBOD course is set up as three grades, but they are not hierarchal in any sense – bard is just as important as Druid, Ovate isn’t better than Bard, etc as you probably know. This is the way that OBOD have decided to teach, and yes – I suppose that you can call yourself Druid after completing this grade. However, I would posit that you can call yourself Druid at any grade, really. I was performing ceremonies, handfasting, funerals, etc when I was taking both the Bard and Ovate courses (I had been studying Druidry for some years before deciding to take the OBOD course, as I always love learning!). It’s difficult, because the way OBOD and BDO and some other courses teach, with the three grades, is just one way on the various and wonderful paths of Druidry. If you go deep enough, you can even question the historical validity of using three grades, and their application in modern society, but I’ve always found that OBOD and BDO have done it so beautifully that it’s a perfectly valid way to study.

      It all depends on whether you consider the word, “Druid”, to be a title or part of a religion/spirituality/philosophy that you belong to. Also, as some have pointed out in previous comments, it can also be a title that is conferred upon you by others – though in my opinion that isn’t necessary, as there are so many “hedge Druids” out there 🙂

      That’s the great thing about Druidry. It’s so subjective, so local, and yet so global. x

  11. Sorry if my reply was misleading – I do know that. I was trying to respond to some of the comments above. Enjoying the discussion.

  12. Thank you for the article and the discussions that followed. New to the calling, I am seeking out information and clearer understanding daily, finding your site has been an enjoyable stop. I plan to follow further writings, thoughts and discussion you are inspired to write. I have been blessed with the most wonderful teachers and am learning as much and as fast as I am able. I am very grateful indeed to have found yet another 😉

  13. Very interesting post. I know I’m replying somewhat late, but what can I say? I find the conversation inspiring 🙂 I think the dissenting views here hinge on two concepts of Druidry: the function, and the religious path. The Druids of old were not a religion within themselves, they served a function within their culture. Fast forward to the Druidry of today, and we have an interesting scenario unfolding. Many are treating Druidry as a religion unto its own self, to include both adherents and non-adherents (in the media and government, for example). Many of those who aren’t treating it this way, who say people of any religion can become a Druid (implying acceptance of Druidry as a function), seem to focus more on the philosophy and less on the function. Without more Druids acting within the traditional functions of Druidry, my concern is that – aside from obtaining religious protected status from various governments – Druidry will only be relevant to Druids. While some would argue that this is just fine, I disagree.

    Does this mean I think we should restrict the appellation? No. It’s almost like the chicken and egg argument (I would suggest, in our case, we call it the oak and acorn): to have more Druids serving traditional functions in our modern society/ies, we need a large and established pool of people to help our modern society understand what we are about. I think we do this best by being; and then doing. At the same time, though, I think we should (as individuals) take care to not exaggerate our resistance to definition.

    Regarding the training time of ancient Druids that you refer to in your original post, I would suggest most adults in the Western world are already well along in this regard. Although public education isn’t the greatest thing in the world, most of us have an understanding of how the world, universe and society work, we understand mathematics, the written and spoken language of our people (in many cases more), we have some insight into topics like psychology and philosophy, history, and even the arts. Our formal education typically lasts 10 -12 years, is pretty intense, and often has supplemental years spent in the university or college. It seems less impressive because so many in our society have undergone the same training: in the days of the ancient Celts, this simply was not the case, and the learned had a tendency to stand out. There might be a number of Druids today who aren’t gifted when it comes to working with herbs or making various fertility potions … but I’d wager the Druids of old would need plenty of time, training and patience to understand how to access the Internet and post their insights; and an equal amount of time, training and patience to understand why this might be an important skill for today’s Druid.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment … like I said, I found the conversation and its participants inspiring 🙂

    • Hi VR – thanks for commenting! Indeed, I have had many discussions about Druidry in the Classical period, and relating to the education that we receive in modern times. Though not so specific to a local area, our knowledge in global term is vastly different (and imporoved?) to those of the Classical Druids (think geography, geology, science, physics, etc). And I love the “oak and the acorn” analogy – brilliant! x

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