Clergy Blog

Druidry is communicated (and occasionally practiced) in a wide variety of media, and one of them that I use is Tumblr. You can find me over there under the username Chronarchy. I also recommend the ADFDruidry Tumblr and tags. Recently, an anonymous user asked my opinion about a particular tough nut to crack, where there appeared to them to be an increase in people of a "conservative" nature entering ADF and OBOD. Here's the question from Anonymous: "What do you think about the growing number of conservatives in Druidry (like ADF or OBOD) and in Paganism as a whole? Especially amongst the Gen Y set?" I ruminated on this for a little while, and came up with the following answer (I have some questions about the thrust of the original questions, but because the person is anonymous, I can't ask them for clarification). It's not perfect, but I hope it sheds some light on the topic.  For the most part, I tend to think that Druidry, like any religion, is apolitical, but that does not typically satisfy anyone (myself included). On the other hand, I also feel that Druidry requires a level of activism in both social and political spheres (though exactly what that level really is may be up for debate). "Conservativism" is not a bad thing, I think: people become more conservative as they age and look fondly on the past. They want to protect the things that made their path easy and ensure it does not become corrupted. It makes things both stable and brittle: the trick is to find enough stability to survive, and to be flexible enough to bend in the wind. But I suspect that the question is all about political conservatism, not the general idea of being conservative, and you are right: that is growing within Paganism in general (certainly not just Druidry).* In many ways, I am fine with most educated, socially-forward conservative ideals: I hold many myself. But without getting too political, there are a few things that I find personally incompatible with Druidry, though others may differ: Denial that humans impact our environment - whether this is about “Big Issues” like climate change or small issues like littering, the inability to accept that our actions can positively or negatively affect our environment and the cosmos in which we live is short-sighted and will never fit a “Druidic” cosmology. Fear of science - somewhat going along with the last point, Druidry is, in many ways, a poetry of the soul that describes the natural world in its most spiritual state. Science provides us with the backdrop of accurate, real language for the poetry that is our rites, and to be dismissive of the accuracy science brings through observation and description is to cripple our voice before it has formed in our mouth. A sense of entitlement - the idea that I, personally, have gotten where I am on my own, and that those seeking to do the same must do so without help, and in doing so must also conform to some idealized version of my own mythic history. This does not mean that people get “hand-outs” or “free rides” or whatever other nonsense you might hear. It simply means that every story is different; that what worked for you is not going to work for everyone; that your privilege is different than anyone else’s; and that we all benefit from gifting to others, especially those in need, regardless of why they are in need. Dismissal of the power of groups of humans to affect positive change - humans are immensely powerful creatures when they are alone in the cosmos, but when they band together they can do amazing things. Distrust of large groups of humans, whether they are “black people,” “gay people,” “corporations,” “doctors,” or even “the government,” shows a cynicism with the systems built for us in nature: we are social animals, and the reality is that we are all working toward the best for everyone… And when we are part of those structures, we must do the same. Use of these structures to benefit the self over the whole is where “Druidry” might depart from some conservative philosophy, which tends to suggest that “working in only your self interest” will help society, and can be taken (way) too far: in those cases, criticize specific actors, not generalized groups. Hate - no matter what your position is on any other topic, hatred of any sort is non-Druidic, in my opinion. I don’t care if it is general (“I hate democrats”) or specific (“I hate the Koch brothers”), the expression of hate is simply not Druidic. And this is not only about what is verbalized: setting up structural hate is just as bad: to suggest people of color do not have the “right” to worship Northern European gods because of their ancestry is just as bad. A failure to act - there is no judgement here about quality or quantity, but Druidry must have some form of activism associated with it. Whether this is small like picking up trash when you see it on a hike, or big like picketing fracking by chaining yourself to drilling equipment, you must be acting on the concepts behind Your Own Druidry in a way that improves the cosmos, in your vision of it. Equally important: never looking down your nose at another person’s activism, in its scope or its nature, so long as it is in benefit of other humans, or the Earth Mother. I don’t know if that is exactly what the anonymous querent was looking for, but it is what I have. Also, I'm assuming I answered the original question well enough for the person asking, since I haven't gotten a follow up message (anonymous or not) about the question. I hope it is helpful to you as well. I encourage you to view the original Tumblr post, and share in the conversation there, as well. Notes * - In 2003, a survey was conducted that included political leanings of individuals identifying as Pagan. In it, by political party, 42% of Pagans identified as Democrats, 6.6% identified as Republicans, and 27.9% identified as independents. Since then, the increase in "conservative-leaning" individuals entering Paganism is an informal observation that I appear to share with the Anonymous user, but there's no data I know of to back this up. See Berger, Helen, et al. Voices From the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2003. Print.
Since endings and new beginnings flow together as the old year ends and a new one takes its place, we call to the Spirits that we hold dear, and to the Divine within ourselves. Kindreds! Fill us with gratitude for the blessings we have received, since gratitude improves all lives. Help us learn from our mistakes and not be blind to how our deeds impact the world. Self-knowledge leads us to forgive, both others and ourselves. Grant us compassion for both our fellow creatures and for each other, and may we live in harmony and peace. Compassion helps us know that we are all in this together - when one is hurt, no one is safe. Let us give to others that they may give to us, and not be stingy with our humanity. For the ties that bind us all together are the ties that hold us up. And may the coming year bring health, wealth, and happiness to us all! So be it.
In the past few days we have seen some horrific acts done in the name of religion.  In Pakistan, we had an extreme part of the Islamic faith kill nearly 150 people, mostly school children, in the name of religion.  In Sydney Australia, we had a lone follower of this extreme set of beliefs take many people hostage and cause the deaths of 3. These events are thankfully rare, but they are still common enough.  It is a major shame that people are doing these horrific acts in the name of religion, any religion.  Religion in general teaches us values to live by.  None that I am familiar with have the majority of the followers and the majority of the clergy preach or believe that violence is acceptable.  It is only the minority that ruin it for the rest of us, and have been doing so throughout history. Back to my point though, all religions tend to teach a values system, and overall, these are really not greatly different.  They tend to teach peace and love.  They generally can be summed up in the so called golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  This is what the vast majority of the people follow, if they follow anything at all.  This is one of the points of religion, to give you a framework to be a good person and a good citizen of the world. The few that are violent in the name of religion, they are not truly being religious.  They are perverting their religion for power, or perverting it because they have racial issues, or perverting it because for some reason they just don't like that person or group of people.  If we react to these few people and treat all members of a religion by shunning them, verbally or physically attacking them, going to war, or what have you, the violent minority wins.  The violent minority gets justification to continue with their actions and recruit more to their cause.  This is the exact thing that should not be done, it only will perpetuate the violence. The people of Australia have had the best reaction to the hostage situation in Sydney.  One person on public transportation saw a Muslim woman remove her hijab and told her not to do so, that they would walk with her in solidarity.  This is the start of the #illridewithyou hash-tag on Twitter.  At the last check, this is approaching 250 thousand uses.  Standing up and with those that are having their religion perverted, saying that they and their religion are not at fault, and not just saying it but showing it through their actions.  That is the way to fight this.  Violence only begets more violence, but love and understanding begets love and understanding and can diminish the violence. I call on all those that see this to be respectful of those of other religions.  Take the time to learn about other religions and what their actual teachings are.  Take the time to get to know those of a different religion from yourself and get to know them as people.  When you see events like we have seen recently, remember that hash-tag and stand up and with all people and don't perpetuate the violence.
This was a prayer used during a Beltane ritual about transformation.  This particular prayer was in honor of the Earth Mother. Sacred earth Mother to us all You teach us the beauty in the ways of transformation Each day we can observe and learn something new thanks to you, for you are constantly changing. From your deep slumbering winter, to your fragrant and fertile spring we see before us, your cool rains in the heat of summer, your rich decay but decadent bounty in the heart of autumn, only to succumb to the cold sleep once again, with each transformation, you continue on. Though your harsh winds, thundering storms, raging waters, purifying fires that sweep across open prairies and all that would destroy our complacency with transformation, you continue on. Even through the destruction that your children place upon you with our chemicals, genetically modified foods, pointless or unethical slaughters, deforestation, and worse yet nuclear and biological destruction in order to destroy one another, even through all of that, you continue on. May we learn through your tenacity to think before acting, keep compassion in our hearts, walk softly with our brothers and sisters, and always strive to protect you and continue on. Earth mother, we love and honor you.
I call for nine blessings on the nations of America. On the transplanted, on the remnant, on the deep-rooted, on men and women and every child let there be nine blessings. First a Blessing of the Well. Let the land and the nation give to each the fullness of sustenance. Let us remember that we are all one tribe, and that the Well must serve us all. Second a blessing of the Fire. Let us all come together at one hearth in our hearts. Though we dwell apart, let there be a fire of welcome in our hearts for one another. Third a blessing of the Tree. We are many families, many clans, many colors and tongues. Yet our roots drink from the same Well, our faces are warmed by the same Sun. Let us stand together in that joy and peace. For it is only by living as one people that we can have peace. But let there be Justice, and True Dealing, and Wise Reform. Let force be leashed for the common good. Let arrogance be quelled. Let prejudice be schooled. Let the bully’s heart be softened. Let poverty and desperation be relieved. Let ignorance be scorned. Let diligence be praised. Let generosity overcome judgment. Let old ways be cast aside. Let the Clubs of Old Boys be thrown open, the Codes of past centuries be discarded, let locked arms be opened. Let the people’s strength stand against that which harms the people. For it is only by living as one people that we can have peace. But let there be Kinship, and Forbearance, and a New Heart Let us forgive the errors of the Dead. Many were fools, racists, exploiters of their fellows. Many killed for their gain, and allowed killing. The wealth of our tribe is built on this slaying. It is fit to speak truth in love. Let us forgive the errors of the Dead; Those who raged in violence; Those who mistook vengeance for justice; Those who taught hatred to their children. Let rage and spite be the rot that feeds the tree of wisdom. For we all live on One Earth, drinking from One Well, standing at One Fire. So let it be kinship, my kin! Let it be Euro and African, Asian and Islander, pale and red and ebony and every kind of beauty. Let it be forbearance, that we remember and set aside, that we open our lives to one another. Let it be a New Heart, and an end to old fear. I call for nine blessings on the nations of America. For it is only by living as one people that we can have peace. So let it be peace.
My voice in prayer is raised this day. Ragged words spun into the tangled thread of history and pain. Fear rides Blackness like a cancer caused by Whiteness And I can only assume my complicit action unseen by my own eye. This is a false dichotomy more dangerous than many; Decartes’ divide of mind and body doesn’t bring Death’s implacable grasp. I call out! I call out to my Gods and my Ancestors and I say: no more! No more! Let the River Mother flood us with wisdom. Let us see people as people not as pigmentation. Let the Sky Father bring proper discernment to our police, That truly they may keep all of us safe. Let the Gods of the land rise up! To protect those who need protection. Let the ancestors of us all protect the young Black men who must walk in fear. It matters not what Gods we worship: we are all people. We are all people deserving of equality. We are all people deserving of walking in safety. We are all people looking into each other’s eyes. May humanity rise. The challenge is before us. Each of us. Take heed. Take hold of your own struggle. Raise your voice against this pain. And don’t let go.