There’s many a discussion whether Druidry is even a religion. Some say yes, some say no, for many different reasons. No, because ‘religion means dogma’, means ‘someone telling you what you are supposed to believe’, and so on. My personal definition of religion is an extremely simple one. I’d say it means ‘doing some kind of devotional practice that involves honoring the divine and its expressions in the world around us.’ By that definition, I would say that yes, Druidry is a religion. (Or at least, my Druidry is. )
So then, how to go about it: how do we come face to face with the divine, where do we even find these gods? How about taking inspiration from our ancestors? When reading the old tales, it becomes obvious where to look. The same place as where people have been finding them from the beginning of time. In our interactions with the world around us.
Many of us came to Druidry (or paganism) to satisfy a deep yearning, hoping to find something that they felt was missing from their life. A desire to connect with what was sacred. A desire to find our center. A desire to reconnect with nature, and to find true community.
A desire to making living our life a sacred act again.
And that begins by standing still. Stopping to run away. Finally starting to listen to ourselves, and truly seeing the world around us.
Stop what you are doing for a moment. Close your eyes. Breathe. Become conscious of the miraculous fact that you are alive. Then listen. To each thought that wells up. It doesn’t matter what it is. Listen to it. Acknowledge it. Give it space to be. If you continue doing this – not just in this moment, but for days, for months, probably for years to come, you will at some point reach a moment of stillness, when your conscious mind has told you everything it desperately wants you to hear, right now. The stillness means that it is satisfied that you are at least trying to listen to it.
Enjoy the open space of that stillness, and keep listening. Keep listening for the voices that are coming next. For these are the voices of the sacred. These are the whisperings of the world around us. The voices that are always trying to reach us, but which are mostly being drowned out by the noise and static in our head.
Who is speaking now? Don’t worry about that at first. Don’t worry if no words come either. For not all spirits speak with human voices. If you feel like dancing, then do so. If you feel a sudden urge to go down on all fours, sniffing the grass and enjoying its aroma’s, then do so. And note what you are doing. You are beginning to interact. Dancing is a conversation with your body, with the air around you, with the space you are in. Taking in the aroma’s of the grass means starting to listen with different senses.
Continue your acts of listening. Go to different places and listen at different times.
Do not worry if sometimes (or maybe often, depending on your life situation), here-and-now thoughts and worries seem to take precedence. The fact that they are there means that they need to be listened to. (And interact with them. If they keep emerging again and again, that may simply mean that you have been trying too hard to ignore their existence.) If they are actual cold-hard real life worries that cannot be resolved in the short run (or which are beyond your power to fix by yourself), then simply listen, acknowledge, do what you can, then dismiss them for the time being. This is not an exercise in running away from life. This is an exercise in starting to live it. That means doing what you can (important!!), but not being a slave of pointless worries.
Start using all your senses. Make a habit of being open for listening. That is the only way hear.
For this is where you will meet your gods. In starting to be in conversation with the world around you. In walking through the forest, and having a sudden emotion well up while touching that special tree that means so much to you. By looking up at the full moon, and feeling blessed by the power of its light seeming to illuminate the way forward, and that sudden urge to do something crazy. In that one line that suddenly jumps out in the middle of a song, carrying special meaning. In walking through the city and suddenly seeing rainbows everywhere.
You want to meet the gods? Then be prepared to actually hear their call. Out in the world is where you will hear their whispers, not in the dusty tomes of the library. You may want to read these later, when you eventually want to give a name to what you felt or what called out to you. But that will rarely be the first step.
And maybe you will never feel the need to connect your experience to something as official as a deity with a pedigree and a fully fleshed out mythology. In the end, names are not what counts most. For even that soft whisper from a tree, or the caress of the moonlight is a meeting with the sacred. And that is where it all starts. The place of relationship and connection. Where names and status are ultimately of minor importance…
Tell me: how many of your friends did you meet by looking up random names in the phonebook? How many of them did you meet by going out in the world and starting a conversation? And did you start out with the intention of meeting a celebrity, or did you simply want to make friends? Which approach, do you think, will be the most successful one? Meeting the gods is, ultimately, not all that different.
I plan to write about some of my own personal encounters with deity and spirit in upcoming posts. But if you have stories of your own to share, I’d love to hear them!