Reply To: Differences between druids and witches

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Differences between druids and witches Reply To: Differences between druids and witches


    Having realised that Druidry was the path for me in 1974, I looked for a Druid group to join. Failing to find one, I joined a Wiccan coven being formed by my friend, Gary, who had just finished his training with Alex Sanders. It was great experience for working with a group. The process of Drawing Down the Moon into our priestess, Pamela, was very beautiful and remarkably effective. She grew in stature, her voice became deeper and more authoritative and she actually glowed with a Moon-like light in our windowless basement temple. Awesome! To this day, some of my best friends are Witches.
    I composed ceremonies for the coven and stayed with them long enough to pass through my third degree initiation and emerge as a High Priest. I was also asked to compose ceremonies for the group. These were so imbued with characters from native British myth that we eventually stopped calling ourselves a coven and became a grove instead. The BDO grew out of the seeds planted in that grove.
    Emma Restall-Orr, who I worked closely with for 7 years, had also been trained as a Witch, though by an individual rather than in a coven. Philip Carr-Gomm became sufficiently intrigued by Witchcraft that he joined a Wiccan coven in the 1990s and subsequently wrote the book, Druidcraft, in which he compares and contrasts the two. Isaac Bonewits was a ritual magician, Witch and Druid. These are just a few of many Druids who either have Wiccan training or are still active members of covens. So yes, there’s a lot of cross-over between the two traditions, especially when you get into the realms of Celtic Wicca.
    As for possession in native British tradition, there’s good evidence for it among the Awenyddion of medieval Wales, inspired seers who allowed themselves to become possessed in order to give prophecies. I’ve been possessed by various spirits, including those of a Wolf and an Eagle. Images like the antlered man on the 1st century BCE Gundestrup Cauldron suggest that possession by animal spirits has been with us for a long time. Possibly not for the faint-hearted or untrained, but, for me at least, one of the defining abilities of the Druid (rather than bard or ovate).
    It’s also quite hard to pin down differences between Druids and Witches simply because there are so many different varieties of both, some of which can look and feel remarkably similar.
    The primary difference I would suggest between the two traditions, based on my own exposure to them, would be that Druid ceremonial gatherings tend to be more focused on celebration, while Wiccan covens (at least those I’ve known) tend to be more focused on acts of practical magic. But then Wiccans also celebrate and Druids also work magic. Again based on my own experience, Wiccan ritual language, as represented by the Gardnerian and Alexandrian ‘Books of Shadows,’ tends to borrow more much from the medieval grimoire tradition of ritual magic than does any of the Druidry I’ve witnessed. That said, both traditions commonly cast circles and call their quarters in ways that have their roots in earlier forms of ritual magic.
    Greywolf /|\