My dive into Druidry
And the Wheel of the Year
I have always held the wild world in the most sacred light. As a child I did go to Church most Sundays, yet nothing there brought awe, reverence, or heightened awareness as much as sitting in my favorite Hemlock tree and trying to build a nest like the birds, or finding my favorite sunny rock right after sunrise to warm myself on before school.
When I found Ayurveda, the language just made sense to me. I don't mean the Sanskrit, but that the baseline understanding demands that we realize that we are the same as nature, made of the same stuff, literally elementally. And so in this truth, our human bodies and minds are held to the same by the same laws. This is not something to take personally, it is a reminder…we are nature. Humans are natural, we are part of the web of life and we belong here. AND we can learn these natural laws, pay attention, through all our wonderful sense faculties, and weild this information with power. Having language for the patterns we see if our envornment, and weather cycles, and also what we choose for food, for medicine. Learn that ‘this’ causes ‘that,’ and choose accordingly.
That’s probably why many of you are here, too - we jive with this deep layer of meaning, of understanding about what it means to be human upon the Earth at some basic level.
I feel as though I have always known a bit about the Whee; of the Year through ‘witchy’ or ‘granola’ types that were our family friends, and those novels that drew my attention as a kid and beyond. Several years ago I became interested in delve in a litle more, and bought a book on Druidry and the 8 solar holidays/festivals, and began to create little rituals to mark those days, in my back yard by myself, mostly!
I learned about The Green Mountain Druid School through meeting Fearn (teacher, co-creator and steward of Dreamland) at a woman’s gathering. I mean, this is why I love Vermont - a Druid School? An hour away from where I live? So, 2 years ago I started what will be a 3 year (plus) journey into studying and practicing Druidry in community. And it is nothing like I’d ever imagined.
Some of you have been asking, curious about my Druid studies. Druidry itself is ancient, yet in this revival movement, practices are modern in some ways, and can be extremely eclectic. The word Druid means priest, or magician, from latin and Gaelic origins. Much of our historical references come from writings from Julius Caesar, the Romans, who were conquering the British Isles and so coming into contact, or even fighting, Druids, and observed them as priest and ‘wise-men’ type figures, holding healing rituals, knowledge of healing arts, divination, and council to other leaders and royalty.
Apparently, Druids did not seem to keep written records for themselves, or perhaps histories were destroyed. A prominent resource for learning more about the history and revival are books by Philip Carr-Gomm.
For me, this experience feels like nature yoga school, and it hits me at a deep cellular level. I do have British and Irish ancestry, and feel something awaken in me in these opportunities. Yet also, there is something just so deeply human in sitting in community around a fire that I bet we can all receive nourishment from.
I spend about a weekend a month on the land of the GMDS called ‘Dreamland’ with my ‘clan.’ There are practices, rituals and initiations aimed at deepening awareness and growth, in order to become a better human and lead an authentic life path. All with a reverence for the natural world as source, and personal exploration and experimentation held paramount. I get to be in ceremonial space with some of the most loving, genuine, magical humans I know, in a literal stone circle around a fire.
I had not realized how much my studies with Dr. Daniel Foor in Animism would make this shift into Druid perspective so smooth. Many different human peoples were/are considered to be ‘animist.’ Basically this is the understanding that nature is alive and sentient. That other-than-human people (trees, stones, elementals, and beyond) can be interacted with, communicated with, related with - and should be so for the betterment and healing of all.
If you want to learn more about Dreamland and this program, visit the website. Http://www.greenmountaindruidorder.org
The Wheel of the Year
The thing that directed me to explore deeper into Druidry and Earth based Spirituality was the holidays! The Wheel of the Year, the 8 solar festivals. I have always felt a connection with the Equinoxes and Solstices, hearing names like ‘Yule’ and ‘Beltain’ sparked interest and knowing deep within me. So as I started my self-led study in Druidry, that drew the most interest for me. And in some ways still does, as a more obvious and outward way I can acknowledge and honor the sacred connection between my body and the environment in which I live. Celebrate the place I take in the world, remember the relationships I am in, the braiding that I am a part of between Earth, sky, animal, vegetable, human and more.
The holidays are historical, but the Wheel of the year is another modern revival and reclamation. The practices and meanings originate in the British Isles, and that environment and mainly acknowledge the plants, animals, foods and mark harvest times and land-based living needs. There are 8 points in this solar wheel, about every 6 weeks; 4 of those based more directly on solar positioning, and the other 4 on important agricultural awareness.
I feel lit up by all of this, my ancient animal body knows the importance of the sun, and how its movement changes my nutritional needs, and mental, emotional and spiritual focus. My ancestry feels how vital it is to remember the rhythms of the land and plants and animals were I live, for survival, and sustenance on a deeper level - that my place is here, I belong, I am reliant upon this delicate dance of life, and and and (!) to remember to celebrate and give gratitude.
The Wheel of the Year is a way one can literally know where ‘when’ they are, a calendar, and feel into those shifting elements and energies in their environment. And this wheel picture can be layered over one’s life as a whole, or even the menstrual cycle, for finding deeper awareness and understanding. Wheels within wheels, spiraling. This is where I reflect on the spiritual implications of this wisdom.
The inner a reflection of the outer reality, and is it also perhaps the outer reflecting the inner? The natural law of the macrocosm and the microcosm. These perspectives may seem philosophical, but I feel that they are truly the root to feeling belonging, connection, and in so respect and reverence for the Earth.
How deeply do you value belonging? I will just let that one hang there.
The new year begins as the old year dies at sunset on Samhain, October 31. Then follows the Winter Solstice or Yule, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltaine, Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox…and we slide into Samhain again. Even writing the names, I am journeying lightly through my feelings of the emotional and mental states I associate with those times of the year. It's like my eyes can actually remember the differences in the light, the literal quality of sunlight and elicit a mini remembering in my body as well, simply by remarking on those days.
Because I have created a deep memory, a samskara in yoga, through my rituals practices, a celebration, ceremony or bonfire, even simply journaling and reflecting on my state of being on that day. Perhaps there is an ancestral samskara…that feels good in my cells, but I'm not sure if it's really more than making, remaking culture.
Within the remembering and revival of the celebration of these days is a wealth of offering. Each day could pull in the astronomical meanings and also historical or mythic figures and stories. There can be an acknowledgement that at certain points in the wheel, this marks the time to move your cattle from one place to another, or remark upon the lambing season. This could be a time to reflect on the change from summer to winter, or the time to celebrate the abundance of apples or milk or whatever resource and give gratitude, and make use of it. It could be a time, like at Samhain, about now, when we reflect on our relationships with our ancestors, and death, and also allow ourselves to shift into a more winter mindset, put the gardens to bed, literally or figuratively. More on Samhain, later…
So, the Wheel of the Year is important for me as part of my practice and expression of Druidry. It is not as central to everyone studying, but I'd say this acknowledgement is a core worldview.
This is my second year of study, and in the past two months alone I have undergone a death and rebirth ritual, and I have walked on fire. There have been two major, literal deaths, in my family. I have also been a parent to two littles, a wife, and held down a job. To say that my life, days and hands are full seems like an understatement sometimes. I will say that I wish that I had more space to integrate these experiences, yet I am infinitely grateful to take them on. Sometimes I joke that going away for these intense initiatory experiences is what I do to relax from being a mom 🤣 digging my own grave and sleeping in it? No problem, I might even sleep through the night, or deeply enough to dream…alone…undisturbed…
Thanks to those of you who have been interested. I am so grateful to live rurally. I am so grateful that each time I step into the woods, or put my skin to the Earth in some way, I am literally in my church. I am in a place where I can access deep healing on all levels. I am in a place that offers the possibility of shift in consciousness and perspective, of connection, communication, guidance, and ultimately unconditional love.