Posts tagged ‘Celtic cultures’

Why Modern Druidry?

So, what do you do? This post fits well with my ideas about how many of us, once we get past a beginner practitioner level, end up with some types of spiritual specialties, and how the clergy/laity dichotomy often doesn’t “translate” well into many forms of paganism and polytheism.

A while ago I had a rationale for why we call ourselves Druids in ADF and other orders. Aside from the historical reasons, in the case of British dudes who dabbled in early archaeology and mystical esoteric nature-y forms of Christianity and on our side of the pond, college students who wanted to get drunk in the woods instead of going to chapel- Reformed Druids of North America. Much is made of Ye Olden druids all being priests, judges, advisers to kings and so forth- and if we aren’t filling those sorts of roles in modern societies, we can’t really be druids. Well, of course we have things like separation of church and state- or a different state religion. But we are all way more educated than the average human being was for most of human history. We all typically get at least a high school education. And we all have to do more to educate ourselves and figure out our religion than most people who can just walk into a church and sit in a pew and it’s all set up for them. So, essentially we all end up doing smaller chunks of clergy work, druid work as individuals. Still, is it appropriate for us to call ourselves druids?

As for Celtic cultures as a whole, both historic and modern, they have all experienced conquest and imperialism by other peoples and suppression and erasure of many of their traditions, customs and languages. The many roles of druids are inseparable from their cultures of origin, and yet that is exactly what has happened, druids have been removed from their Celtic cultural contexts. At the same time, some revival Druidry groups have been intertwined with Welsh, Cornish and Breton nationalism, and revival of music, arts and languages. I admit I was once much more dismissive of revival Druidry, til I interacted more with revival Druids and learned about their history and traditions. I began to appreciate it as its own thing, expressed in particular times and places for particular reasons.

Note: I wrote this post back in 2015 or 2016 or so, & it’s been saved as a draft since. Posted after giving it some edits. I’m still ambivalent about using the word Druid as a personal identifier however as well as how many other people use it. Hence why there will be a part 2, for my more recent thoughts.

 

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May 20, 2018 at 5:39 am Leave a comment

All Wrong: Religion, Culture and Country

Wrong Country: It doesn’t matter if our ancestors didn’t all come to the United States (& various other colonies) for the specific purpose of enslaving and conquering people, but mostly were trying to escape poverty, famine, war or religious/political persecution. Or came here as slaves, prisoners or indentured servants. It doesn’t matter how long our families have lived here. We’re invaders. Or “settlers”, I guess that’s a little nicer. OK, we’ve realized that we messed up. Or someone else did, and we benefited from it. So we’re going to “decolonize” now. It sounds very enlightened and progressive. Wait, does this mean we need to move back to Europe? Black folks have to move back to Africa. (Tried that already, by the way) And so forth. Or is it OK that we stay here, so long as we admit that we have no right to be here? Just lose the sense of entitlement and gain some humility and be a good ally.  But wait, which Tumblr guide to “How to Be a Good White Ally” should I follow?

Wrong Culture: Sometimes I come across European pagans/polytheists (and non-pagans) who are baffled by Euro-American interest in their cultural heritage. But you’re Americans! You’re over there! Go do Indian stuff. Uh, no. Not touching the peace pipe. It hasn’t been offered. So be Wiccan! It’s sorta kinda generically European… Sprinkle with deities of your chosen ethnic identity. Some of us try to prove how Truly Serious & Sincere & Respectful we are. We study the languages, the customs. We become reconstructionists.  But…

Wrong Religion: We still get criticism- here’s a Scottish fellow complaining about how not Gaelic neo-paganism is. Most “Celtic” paganism isn’t very culturally Celtic, I agree to that. What I found baffling was that he specifically approved of the website Tairis, but complained about the CR FAQ. Celtic Reconstructionism was actually founded for the specific purpose of avoiding cultural appropriation that is rampant in the U.S.  Annie Gormlie, the author of Tairis is Scottish, basing her practice on Scottish folk customs. Very cool lady. The CR FAQ is pan-Celtic and written by Americans. Americans? Well in that case they must be evil cultural pillagers.  And because they talk about doing research about pre-Christian religion, they can’t care about modern culture at all, right? This is a false dichotomy Proper Scots are atheists, according to him. Another one I came across said True Scots are Presbyterians. Real Authentic Irish people are Catholic of course, no wait- atheists according to this guy. Another critic here.

Maybe we should stop arguing about which religion (or atheism) is superior and do our parts to learn & teach Celtic languages and customs? I’m in my Irish class, and there’s also a Wiccan in the class as well. No one cares what our religion is, we’re there to learn Irish. I don’t know how Pagan-friendly every nook and cranny of the Irish community is, so I don’t announce it to everyone. 

There seems to less of this among Germanic heathens- they don’t have the cultural colonization historical chip on their shoulder the way the Celts do. There are some Europeans who look down on American Heathens that get most of their info from book-learning rather than oral tradition.  But that goes both ways. 

Culture, religion, country. It would be nice if these things “matched” but life is messy and they don’t. Humans move around. They change religion and language. Deal with it. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care that much about other people’s approval. I try to do the Right Thing social justice-wise, or culture or religion-wise, but it’s always the Wrong Thing to someone else. It’s nice to get approval and affirmation when it comes but condemnation and condescension will always be coming from another direction. Once again, hey I’m an American. Guess I’ll throw caution to the wind. 

August 13, 2014 at 3:24 am 6 comments


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