Reply To: Trouble in Druidville-Star tree talks some religious craic about druidry

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Trouble in Druidville-Star tree talks some religious craic about druidry Reply To: Trouble in Druidville-Star tree talks some religious craic about druidry


First, the modern druids, like you and me, really get our start form the hippies and new agers, who got their spirituality from india and the middle east.

The eisteddfodeu in Wales, albeit by a thread perhaps, have a living tradition going back to the 12th century and then the bardic traditions of the Welsh and Britons much further. The modern druidic movements in the British Isles and Ireland do not claim to represent an unbroken tradition going back to the Iron Age, however, they are entwined with the threads of the poetic and mythological traditions that go very far back to the origins. Indeed, the late 18th century and 19th century revivalists made bizarre claims, things people no longer take too seriously, yet you have to understand them within the contexts of their times and judge them accordingly. For better or worse, druids have been around in their current manifestation(s) for at least 300 years, so I think it is a little unfair to claim that it is all “new age hippy” stuff. In addition, the 1960s were what they were, a great cultural revolution and period of change, so why would any aspect of a society or culture, including its counter-cultures or alternative sub-cultures, not also be part of that?

I’m not sure who you mean when you say “druid cult leaders” as I think anyone trying to get “culty” with people within the druid tradition(s) I know of would get short shrift very quickly. I don’t what experiences you have had, but a lot of what you’ve been describing about druids is just not my experience of any druids or people into Celtic spirituality and alternative living that I’ve ever come across.

the 20s the druid movement was marketed by Iolo to rich tossers,

I’m not sure what you mean. Edward Williams, aka Iolo Morganwg died in 1826, or do you mean the 1820s? Iolo was indeed a bit of a naughty character and I too was quite annoyed and felt let down when I was much younger, having fallen into the trap of thinking how wonderful Barddas was only to find out later that it was all faked. However, with the passing of the years, I’ve also come to see Morganwg as a tragic figure too, perhaps someone who warrants some sympathy. Within the context of the Anglicisation of South Wales, here was a Welshman desperately trying to assert the Welshness of his own area that was coming to be seen as less-than-really Welsh, and this you have to see through the lens of the cultural power dynamics of England and Wales’s history. Although there can be no doubt that his literary forgeries caused a lot of cultural damage in one sense, he was also a poet who left us with the Druid’s Prayer, which is good enough on its own merit. He was also an abolitionist in terms of the issue of slavery at the time. So, Iolo is Iolo, let’s say an enigmatic figure and perhaps the “trickster” we even needed to make us dig deeper? Each to his own with that one.

I think a lot of the issue is with claiming authenticity of some kind. We live in a world that would not really accept divine or personal revelation anymore, so in order to have some kind of claim to authority, people feel they have to find an ancient lineage, some unbroken line or secret doctrine couched in pseudo-archaic language and arcane jargon that’s been handed down over the millennia so that they can be just as “valid” as the other institutionalised forms of religion – institutionalised forms of religion, I hasten to add, that might not want to look to deeply at their own “authenticity” either, but that’s a topic for another day. The tragic irony in this is that they often miss the whole point – the idea of moving away from dogmatic and doctrinal philosophies isn’t just to create a new one in its place.

So what is authenticity? Just for example, the Irish word craic isn’t “really” Irish at all, it’s even been called “pseudo-Irish”! The word is derived from Northern English/Lowland Scots “crack”, it was only known in Irish in the mid-20th century, so do we use the word or not? Does it stop being Irish because it was imported and respelled in a Gaelic way? Or do we say it’s Irish because it’s now used in Irish?

There was a time in which bronze was new.