30 Days of Druidry
In an understanding of time, and an effort to save time, I’m counting this post for both the 30 Days of Druidry and the Pagan Blog Project!
There are so many different ways to define the elements and most of it depends on what traditions you follow. Wiccans are often heavily involved with the elements, using them to define their working circles as well as invoking them in their work. Other traditional witches that I’ve known use the associations and energies of the elements in their working.
In some revivalist druid practices, the elements are called into the sacred space. In other druid circles the traditional witch/wiccan elements are not called.
I do use the elements in my magical workings, however I no longer create solid circles as I used to do when I was a Wiccan. Now I define a sacred space and invite the appropriate energies and beings into the space. Sometimes that includes elemental energies or beings.
I recognize five elements: air, fire, water, earth, spirit. Each of the elements have their own areas of focus, but there is some overlap. For instance, all elements are necessary for life, so they can all be used in healing or life-affirming spells and rituals.
Air is about the breath, communication and intellect. This is the element that most affects learning and study, it’s also the best element to use for ensuring that you are clearly communicating and are actively listening. Air can breathe life into the dying, or waft a gentle breeze to spread the life-giving pollen of plants. Air can also destroy with the strength of storms and tornadoes.
Fire is my favorite (Leo that I am) and is both destructive and creative. Think of a fire through a forest, it clears out the smaller plants and scorches the earth, but it also causes some plants to spread their seeds, and other seeds to begin to sprout into plants. Fire is also about our own internal desire, drive and our creative spirit.
Water is generally tied to the emotions, and it’s also tied to healing. Water can wash away the negative emotions and help us to heal. We can suspend ourselves in water and just be, just experience our spiritual being as it is. It is forgiving, and loving, and nurturing. We nestled in water in our mother’s womb and it reminds us of safety. But water can also be destructive, rivers cut into rock through time, floods can quickly destroy towns and land, emotions that can drown us with negativity.
Earth is our grounding, stabilizing energy. It is the stuff that forms our bodies, that forms the basis of our Earth, the building blocks of life. Earth is comforting, healing, building and nurturing. Earth is also smothering and crushing in avalanches and mud/rock slides.
The fifth element that I recognize is Spirit, some call it Awen, others have different names for it. Spirit is our connection to deity, it is that divine energy that supports us through life. It is our soul. Spirit empowers us, connects us to each other, and allows us to recognize the divine in all things. Too much spirit is also a bad thing, causing us to be disconnected from each other and from our own lives.
As you can see, each of the elements have positive and negative sides to them. As with most things, it’s about balance. Too much of any of the energies can cause negative effects, as can too little.
Take time and notice which energies are in your life, and which energies you would like more of in your life.
Cosmology is defined as the study of “the universe as a whole: its birth, growth, shape, size and eventual fate.” (“Introduction: Cosmology”). In modern science, this study is limited to the stars around us and the evolution of the physical galaxy.
To the ancient people, there was not a whole lot more universe than the world around them. The ancients saw the universe as an upperworld (the sky above), an underworld (below the earth) and the middleworld (where people live). In general, the gods lived in the upperworld, the humans and fae lived in the middleworld, and the dead lived in the underworld. While modern humans may have a different view of the sea, land and sky, many of the pagan religions still recognize the symbolism of the three realms.
In the ADF, we often use the Well, Fire and Tree for symbolism of the different worlds. The Fire represents the Shining Ones and the connection to the upperworld. The Well delves into the underworld and the connection to the Ancestors there. Finally the Tree represents the Nature Spirits that reside here with us in the middleworld. The Tree also represents the connection between the three realms.
In every ADF ritual, we re-create the cosmos as part of the rite. Defining, or re-enforcing the definition of, the cosmos in ritual helps us to connect with both the gods and the earth and reminds us that we are all part of the same system.
“Introduction: Cosmology – space – 04 September 2006 – New Scientist.”Science news and science jobs from New Scientist – New Scientist. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. <http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9988-instant-expert-cosmology.html>.
Our Own Druidry. Tucson, AX: ADF Publishing, 2009. Print.
“The Druid’s Cosmos.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF). N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. <www.adf.org/members/training/dp/dp-manual-web/01-druids-cosmos.html>.
Over on Medowsweet & Myrrh, Alison is working through a meme based on the 30 days of Paganism.
My goal is to write a post for each of the 30 Days of Druidry .. but not in 30 days, and not without interruption for other things, and maybe even not in order
So come with me as I journey through the world of Druidry and do a bit of exploring on my own.
Why Druidry is an interesting question.
As readers of this blog will know, I came to paganism through the Wiccan path and got to a point where it didn’t fit any more. Or not totally. I’m not quite sure when I realized that I was more of a Druid than a Witch .. I’m still discovering what it means to me to be a Druid!
I’m also still working on the difference between being a Witch and a Druid, and so far there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference in practice, but I’m sure that there are some who will disagree :). The differences seem to be subtle, and I must admit that most of my experience with witches are with Wiccan and Wiccan-derived groups and people, so that also colors my views. Also keep in mind that when I talk of “Druidry”, I’m talking about the modern druidic practices and not the historical druids.
From an interview with Philip Carr-Gomm 25.05.2008 in Sünna
In the past you didn’t need these labels of Druidism or Wicca, it’s just ‘the old ways’, the simple nature way. But there’s a way in which Druidry and Wicca evolved particularly around the middle of the 20th century through the two people who knew each other, Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols, so there’s a way you can see them as two sides of the same coin. You can see them as completely unique and individual and separate, which they can be, and they can be practised in that way, or you can combine them and see them as very compatible systems which can be combined.
You can find the full text of the interview on the OBOD Forums.
One of the reasons that it’s hard to define is that the difference is in the trappings, the protocols, and in the details of the goals. I like the trappings of the modern Druidry practices that the ADF and OBOD use. They’re different for each group, but they seem to have their place and speak to me. One of the main things that I like is the higher focus on the Sun and fire, as well as the inclusion of the hallows … tree, well and fire (in ADF terms). I also really like the focus on study that both groups have. I’ve noticed that it’s important to “cite your sources” and to differentiate between what is based on historical fact or tradition and what is more a more modern creation, or what you created because it works for you. I like having that tie to the past and yet having the flexibility to create new traditions for our modern world.
So now, if you ask me what I am, I’ll say I’m a Druid .. but there’s a chunk of what I do that is also done by other traditions, and I choose to learn from many different people and traditions to create the Craft that is my own.