Revisiting Druidry, A practical and inspirational guide, by Philip Shallcrass

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Revisiting Druidry, A practical and inspirational guide, by Philip Shallcrass

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  • #10655
    david poole
    Participant

    Thanks Dowrgi, that sounds like a good idea. I am looking forward to that. I need to do some more research on calenders and how people measure time, especially the Coligny calender, but I can get around to doing that soon. I have more or less abandoned any idea of digging for a Celtic tree calender, I think we both agreed there that there might not be anything there to find. But I might come up with some more on that, or on the Ogham language. Languages are something that I am very interested in. I have been trying to pick up some Gaelic but I am a very slow learner. I think that the Ogham language is key to understanding the Celts as it embodies tree knowledge not just divination. It is clear from this that trees and tree worship were a crucial part of Celtic culture. Did you know that there were different classes of trees and that you could be fined a weregild for damaging them as if damaging trees was a criminal offence? Some trees like the oak were considered to be chieftain trees, like the leading trees, other trees possessed a lower class or grade. The Celts had a caste system running for all trees, within their culture trees were that important. I think the fine system was part of what used to be called Brehon law.

    I find it curious how much of an influence Wicca has on some Druidic practices. As far as I am aware the Celts never practiced Wicca. Wicca is a very modern invention, starting with Gerald Gardner in 1951 with the repeal of the Fraudulent Mediums Act. There seems to be a lot of talk about Wicca even within Druidic circles. I think this is a little bit misleading. I don’t think that you have to follow a Wiccan style of practice in order to be a Druid, or that you have to follow Wiccan beliefs or a Wiccan hierarchy, yet many people do. Is this really a good idea? Isn’t this really limiting the definition of what Druidry can be?

    #10658
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Afternoon David.

    That’s some interesting stuff you have there about the Brehon Laws, and of course, even today, many people in Ireland won’t go anywhere near a fairy tree – there was the case, several years ago now, of a new highway that was diverted around a fairy tree. Anyway, I’m still researching the calendars, it’s quite difficult to separate historical fact from modern speculation at times, but I’ve found some interesting stuff about the folk calendars of Scotland and Mann with some parallels in the Welsh, Cornish and Breton systems. It seems that these calendars were more flexible and followed seasonal weather patterns and phenomena as well as festivals. I’m surprised there isn’t more research on this to be honest, because it seems like there’s a lot of lore in there. I’ve also come across some interesting stuff related to Ogham and the planets, but I’m still sorting out the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I’ll put some links that you may find interesting at the foot of this post.

    As far as Wicca is concerned, well, it may be a modern creation, but it does draw on a vast variety of older materials and given that it was created in the British Isles, it’s not surprising that many “Celtic” elements pop up. Nevertheless, I do agree with you and see them as separate. The words for witch and witchcraft in the old Welsh and Irish texts are not synonymous with druid or druidry and I don’t think there’s a strong argument based on historical fact to assume that they were ever part of the same tradition really. In fact, Old English had the word drycraeft– “druid craft” – however, this word never made it into later forms of English; although drycraeft refers to magic, it suggests that the Old English speaker may not have regarded it as the same as wiccecraeft. I stand to be corrected on this point, and let’s not forget that the accusation of “sorcerer” or “witch” has been levelled at many things in the past merely because they were different or part of another tradition. Having said that, however, people tend not to attribute different words to the same things, especially not in ancient languages; even when synonyms pop up, there’s often a difference to be found deep down and way back.

    Links:

    The Celtic Tree Calendar at http://www.maryjones.us/jce/celtictreecalendar.html

    See also: Michel-Gérald Boutet, “Celtic Astrology: A modern Hoax” and Peter Berresford Ellis, “The Fabrication of ‘Celtic’ Astrology”.

    #10689
    Anonymous

    Language geek Dowrgi, Let me make it clear to you, I honor and love Chief Philip Carr Gomm, and have probably read everything he has ever written. So, don’t try to make it look like I am insulting him if I talk in metaphoric language in order to make a valid argument. I feel you have been shooting these arrows at me ever since I have been on this board. Here are two quotes from you that show what I am talking about, two arrows you have shot at me.

    In life you’ll always come across narrow-minded people, usually badly informed,

    , but as the Greeks said – empty vessels make the loudest noise and those who babble the most lack wit.

    The truth is in life, you come across people who try use peer pressure to silence creative poets and writers, and I will not bow to your peer pressure. It is okay to disagree with people, but not to make veiled attacks on them. I feel that you have some real problems with understanding that magic is real. Your arguments are not even arguments, they are just insults, with your arrows aimed at me. Your comments make me feel bad, considering I am taking my time to share with you my views on what a druid is.

    #10690
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    The truth is in life, you come across people who try use peer pressure to silence creative poets and writers, and I will not bow to your peer pressure. It is okay to disagree with people, but not to make veiled attacks on them.

    I think you’ve read through the thread badly and misunderstood what was meant.

    #10693
    david poole
    Participant

    I have just had my Amazon copy of Piatkus Guides Druidry come through my letterbox, and I am really excited at getting the chance to read it at last. It is in fairly good condition for a used paperback around twenty years old. The condition is not perfect, the pages are slightly brown and marked and there is some marking on the covers, clearly it is not brand new, but then used books tend to look like this. I will probably read it fairly soon and then I can let you know what I think. It is clear that Greywolf has gone through all three of the grades as these are the section titles.

    #10694
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Morning David. That’s good that it’s arrived. I like second-hand books with dog-eared, yellowed pages and that “smell” of old paper. I always think that the best books are the tatty ones – it shows they’ve been read a lot! 😀

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #10701
    david poole
    Participant

    I have just finished reading this book and I can tell you that it was a gripping read and exceeded my expectations, there were some important surprises in it as well. If you have studied the BDO course then some of the material here appears in that course, although there is much more to learn within the courses. I saw the book in my own way and it made me want to read and to learn much more. There is a ritual section which has clearly been based on the work done during the period of the Free and Open Gorsedd, as parts of it appeared in the Gorsedd newsletter. The book considers each of the three grades Bard, Ovate and Druid with two chapters on each grade, there are some more chapters at the beginning on different subjects. Greywolf describes the Mabingion in ways that do not occur on the Bardic course, including going into the romances and the Arthurian tales although not in great depth, they are really only mentioned in passing. He goes into more detail with the Four Branches, which are mentioned more than once. llew Llaw Gyffes is particularly important, becoming connected with the reborn sun or Mabon Child. There is some work done with the elements and the calling of the directions and their attributes, this is standard pagan practice and could be applied to Druidry, Wicca or general paganism. The first big surprise was that the Irish lore gets brought into discussions, which really excited me as this is something which I like myself. I don’t think there was really much discussion around the subject of the Tuatha De, which I thought really needed much more coverage. The Dagda is mentioned but very little is reallys said about him. I don’t think Lugh was mentioned at all, and I can’t remember Cernunnos being discussed. Taking us back to Welsh lore, I think that Rhiannon/Epona does get mentioned as a representative of sovereignty, but again I don’t think that was covered for long. The incident with the sweat lodge and the wolf spirit is not mentioned, instead a rather different experience is recounted in which Greywolf shapeshifts into an eagle and joins a flock of other eagles, leaving part of himself behind; he returns when he senses the presence of a lightning storm this storm then occurs the next day, showing that otherworldly journeys can provide messages which foretell events. Further to this subject, there is some discussion regarding different methods of divination involving elements, including reading clouds or reading fires, I don’t think Ogham staves are covered and I don’t recall divination cards being covered. Ogham is described briefly, with some tables and some associations, as are dryads or tree spirits. The Druid section was the last section this was where the ritual came in, it didn’t cover teaching as a subject but it does indicate that shapeshifting is part of the Druid grade, whether literally or figuratively, which makes sense. Blessings and offerings to the gods and the spirits are mentioned in other parts of the book, so there is plenty of opportunity given for response and activity in a spiritual sense of thankfulness. It is mentioned that Druids may have different aptitudes and may take on different roles, some artistic for example, or political, or healing, or therapeutic. Healing is covered in the Ovate chapter, although there is no listing of herbs or plants or their properties, which would have been too large a subject to cover in a book which already has all of this. I would really recommend getting this book and reading it for yourself.

    #10705
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Evening David.

    That’s a really useful and concise review that you’ve given. Further up this thread, Greywolf has said that a new edition may be coming out in a year’s time. I’m really looking forward to that. I suppose Greywolf’s book is only meant to be a guide, so it would be difficult to put everything in and you always face that hard choice of what to include and what not to. Irish lore is so vast, I wouldn’t know where to begin! By the way, I’ve come across something, a little by accident, that I think is really important and might interest you as well, re tree lore. I’m a bit snowed under with work at the moment, but when I get the chance I’ll be putting up some new material for everyone to share.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #10706
    david poole
    Participant

    Okay, thanks Dowrgi, looking forward to it.

    #10708
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    You’re welcome. I’ve posted it in the forum as a thread. I hope the typo monster hasn’t attacked! The long accents in Irish are a bit tricky! 😀

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