The Druid and the Mystic

p1080469-768x1024For me, Druidry is mostly a solitary path, though I do belong to some Druid Orders and networks, and celebrate the seasons with a small group of friends.  But the everyday Druidry, the currents of intention that flow through me and my home, through the landscape where I live, is my main focus.  Like learning, I always preferred to do so on my own, rather than working with a group, for I found that my concentration was higher, and I could have a deeper level of experience than I could with the influence of others upon my work. Indeed, personal and private ritual is always more profound than most shared ritual, though there have been a few occasions where, such as at the White Spring in Glastonbury, there has been a mix of private ritual and group celebration with my best friends deep within the cavernous walls that house those sacred waters that have changed my life forever.

Of course, we are never truly solitary creatures, but in this sense I am using the word solitary with regards to other humans.  I am never truly solitary, for I am always surrounded by nature and all its creatures every single second of my life.  I am always a part of an inter-connected web of existence. Living this connection, weaving the threads of my life to that of my environment and all that exists within it, means that there is no separation, no isolation. Yet, when asked to describe my path, I use the word solitary in the sense that I prefer to find such connection on my own, without other human animals around. Why this should be so is perhaps due to my nature: naturally shy, and sensitive to noise, light, barometric pressure and other phenomena, it is just easier to be “alone” most of the time.  My husband is much the same, so it is easy to be around him for most of the time, taking day-long walks with him through the countryside, with little words between us, for there is no need for unnecessary talk; just being with another being in a shared space is enough.  We live in a small village near the coast, so it is easy to get away from humanity by just walking out the door and down the bridle paths, or simply stay in and enjoy our beautiful garden visited by all sorts of wildlife, from deer and pheasants to pigeons and blackbirds, and even a family of badgers one time!

The path of the mystic is much the same, a solitary path where personal connection to the divine is the central focus.  Some would say that the mystic path is the search for the nature of reality. For me, Druidry is the search for reality within nature, and so the two can walk hand in hand down this forest path. There are many elements of mysticism in my everyday life, where the songs of the land and the power of the gods flow through me, the knowledge from the ancestors deep within my blood and deep within the land upon which I live, rooted in its soil and sharing its stories on the breeze. To hold that connection, day in and day out, to live life fully within the threads of that tapestry is what I aspire to do, each and every moment.  Sometimes a thread is dropped, and it requires a deep mindfulness to restore it, but practice helps when we search for those connecting threads, becoming easier with time and patience both with the world and with your own self.

The dissolution of the ego can be seen as at the heart of many Eastern traditions. Druidry teaches us integration, our ego perhaps not dissolving but blending in with that of our own environment. The animism that is a large part of Druidry for many helps us to see the sacredness of all existence, and in doing so we are not seeking annihilation, but integration. We can perhaps dissolve the notions and out-dated perceptions that we have, both about the world and about ourselves, leaving the self to find its own edges and then blending in to the world around us, truly becoming part of an ecosystem where selflessness is not altruistic, but necessary for the survival of the system.

The flowing inspiration, the awen, where soul touches soul and the edges melt away into an integrated way of being, has always been at the heart of Druidry.  The three drops of inspiration or wisdom from Cerridwen’s cauldron contain that connection; contain the awen that, with enough practice, is accessible to all. We have to spend time brewing our own cauldron of inspiration, filling it with both knowledge and experience before we can taste the delicious awen upon our lips. Some prefer to do this with others; some prefer to do so alone.

It is easier to quiet the noise of humanity, and of our own minds, when we are alone without distraction. Notice I said “easier” and not “easy”, because again it takes practice. But time spent alone, daily connecting and reweaving the threads that we have dropped can help us create a wonderful, rich tapestry that inspires us to continue in our journey through life, whatever may happen along the way. Though the solitary path might not be for everyone, having these moments of solitude can be a great tool for deep learning, working on your own as well as working within a group, Grove or Order. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the world in order to better understand it, and then come back into the fold with a new awareness and integration filled with awen, filled with inspiration.

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22 thoughts on “The Druid and the Mystic

  1. I too am a solitary Druid, though I do rejoice in the occasions I have to meet with members of the network of which I am a member. Usually, I find it difficult to work regularly in spiritually focused groups. The more open to the Awen I have become the more sensitive I have become to the energies and agendae of others. Connections to the land on which and the landscape in which I live are the focus of my personal rituals and these places come with their attendant gods, spirits and ancestors. So, I too am never alone.

    Mystics have never been joiners, as it were, even if in Mediaeval convents or monasteries, they spent much time in private meditation. Given the nature of the experiences they had, the communal setting for their lives afforded them protection from the religious authorities who otherwise might have found ways and means to remove them and the threat they could have posed to the order required to maintain an ecclesiastical superstructure. These days it is easier for a nature mystic to function and this is a cause to rejoice, but it is necessary to maintain focus and remain focused on the sources of the gifts of insight they receive and when appropriate share with others.

  2. As usual Joanna, your words are full of wisdom and inspiration. I am a weaver by profession and today a thread kept repeatedly breaking. I tried everything to stop it happening and was becoming very frustrated. Eventually, I noticed that it was an adjoining thread that was causing the problem. It was soon fixed and my peace returned. A lesson in life perhaps? x

  3. Thank you for writing this. Your work has been, and continues to be, intensely meaningful for me, as I begin to weave together my Zen practice and my hearts deep longing for connection with the earth, trees, and wild green. Thank you.

  4. I’m very much the same. While I’m a member of OBOD, I don’t go to a local grove, and I tend to work through the course by myself. I had a great time at Druid Camp, but I do like to do the deeper work of Druidry on my own for the most part. One question about solitary working: without the pressure of other people, how do you keep the discipline to do a regular daily/weekly/yearly practice? I frequently start with good intentions and then fall. Any tips for keeping on the path as a solitary Druid?

    • Hi Ryan! I think we need to reclaim the word, discipline. It’s often seen in a very negative light, but really all it means is taking things seriously and actually walking our talk. We need discipline to inspire, not the other way around. One of the ways that I keep my practice up, even when I’m exhausted, is in knowing that the ancestors, the gods, the spirits of place are all around me, all the time. I aim to work with them, to do right by them, in as much as I possibly can. That usually motivates me 🙂

  5. This really resonated with me Joanna. As an OBOD Ovate and as someone who works shamanically, as a writer and an artist I also am solitary. I appreciate this goes against the idea of a shaman needing a community but I find my human community transient, coming and going as needed whereas my community in the natural world is always preset as are my allies and guides therein. For me it is also easier to focus on and go deep in my practice when I am alone, quiet and can hear and see clearly.

  6. Beautifully expressed, Joanna. Thank you.

    I too walk the path ‘alone’, but since childhood have always felt least lonely when out walking across the fields, wrapped in sky, footsteps beating out my own rhythm with the earth. Away from the noise of society, it’s so much easier to hear my soul sing.

  7. I’m so glad I happened upon this! and you! How wonderful the weaving of the Universe is. From a plant Spirit medicine practitioner posting about using a downed cedar for smudging, to a search for making my own smudge sticks that found me reading a post online by a Druid gardener, to searching WordPress to find her and voila, I found you!
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and I look forward to reading more 🙏🏻

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