Political Changes in Druidry: Is There Meaning To Them?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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Rev. Michael Dangler

Author's Bio:

Rev. Michael J Dangler is a Grove Priest of Three Cranes Grove, ADF, an ADF Senior Priest, and also a former Clergy Council Preceptor who helped drive the creation of the Clergy Training Program. He's fond of hiking, hammocks, cheeseburgers, and Buffett songs. He's 35, 6'4" tall, and has a good sense of humor. Walk up and talk to him if you ever see him at a festival, because he likely thinks you've got something interesting to say and wants to hear it.

Articles by Rev. Michael Dangler

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