Who is a Druid? Take 2

Inevitably, on every online Druid or Celtic group I have ever been on, the following, or something like it begins a topic:

In another thread, Niall O’Draighnean states: “I keep saying; We need a clear Definition about what should be expected by those who call themselves Druids. This way those who feel they can answer to this calling have a Beacon and those who wish to follow a Spiritual path but cannot fil that Criteria can call themselves something like ‘Druish Philosophers’ Or ‘Celtic Wizards’..If we are to serve our communities, they need to know what to expect [or not].”

I am wondering if we might attempt to design that Definition together… If nothing else, for experimental sake… Can it be done? I am doubtful within the current climate of Druidry, but entirely hopeful in the wisdom of those I see surrounding me. I think the goal would be to design a “definition” of a Druid that stands beyond any particular faction of modern standard and upholds the test of the Ancients themselves.

Here are my responses, some recycled from other groups, and others, original to this one:

How exactly do you propose such a definition be enforced? How exactly do you know the “test of the Ancients”? If you could know that (my opinion is that since the ancients didn’t write anything down, what you are proposing is impossible) how would it even be relevant to Druids in modern times? The only thing — the only thing we know for sure about the Druids is that they made it all up, and that’s what we are all doing today (whether we want to admit that or not). I’m not trying to be belligerent here or start something, I’m just stating what is. The best that can be said about the various Druid groups today is that they are all interpreting what they think the ancients might have believed or practiced. Everyone’s ideas on this are equally valid (unless of course you just don’t like someone or some group — YMMV), As Sean said, if you say you are a Druid, than you are.

Caesar was the one who said that Druids take 20 years to train. He was not a friend of the Druids, and in fact tried to wipe them out. I think it was Claudius (if memory serves) who accomplished that. My point is that anything Caesar said about the Druids is not trustworthy. But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t true. Dr. Hutton has stated that families probably entrusted their children to the Druids at a young age, to be trained as such, and that would possibly explain the 20 years training. Personally, I think a Druids education begins when they decide to become a Druid, and that that education ends when they take their last breath. Or, maybe not. Who is to say that a person who calls themselves a Druid hasn’t been continuously educated over the course of several lifetimes, augmented during the present life by their spirit guides, and continuing on into the next life, and the next etc? For that matter, who is to say that those identifying as Druids today were not in fact Druids in past lives, perhaps even back to the Iron and Bronze ages? I can’t make that judgement, and neither can anyone else.

And, who decides what “the appropriate training and education” is? OBOD has their system, as does ADF. Henge of Keltria has a system as does the Reformed Druids of Gaia. Even the RDNA has a system (pretty much optional, but it’s there). The only one who can decide is the individual Druid who joins what ever group the choose, or as many as they choose. Or, maybe they receive their training directly from Nature Herself. I also believe that there are those who are Druids who do not know they are. My wife and I have been reviewing the old Cosmos series, and, though I am sure he would never have agreed, we’re pretty sure Carl Sagan was a Druid. He certainly had the Druids love for nature.

If I seem a bit “testy” about this subject it’s because every single Druid or Celtic online group I have been in has brought this “let’s define what a Druid is” topic up at one time or another. Usually (and I’m not saying that this was the goal here) they are trying to find a way to exclude a group or individual they disagree with, and trying to establish some kind of universal dogma agreed to by all Druids as to a definition of what a Druid is and isn’t. “Reformed Druids” or particular strains of Reformed Druidism are frequently the targets, unless the person starting the thread is a Celtic Re-constructionist, and then it’s usually all Neo-Druids. I think the closest we have right now to a group that actually speaks for most Druids is The Druid Network, and they are loathe to try to define “Druid.” I have found, that there is one person on the planet that every Druid I know agrees is definitely not a Druid, and that is Douglas Monroe.I have been a Working Druid now for 35 years and reserve the right to challenge anybody who uses this Title, especially if I feel their actions are making a mockery of it..Reformed Druids have been accused of that one since at least 1963. Probably because we don’t take ourselves too seriously. There is definitely a Discordian bent to the Reform. I honestly believe that there are people who are Druids but do not know it. I’ve already mentioned Carl Sagan. Here’s a list we’ve developed — people who “think” like Druids basically: https://reformed-druids.org/index.php/honorary-druids/ We also came up with a kind of questionnaire (Well, really Michael Scharding came up with it): http://reformed-druids.org/index.php/you-might-be-a-reformed-druid/ I for one do not believe the Druids of old ‘Made it all up’ but were the inheritors of a much older school of Wisdom, such an assertion implies that we can ‘Make it all up, But that will not make us Druids, Only people using a Title. ‘s a good thing. Now if you can come up with some kind of double blind test to prove that it wasn’t made up, go for it. Reformed Druids have made up several gods: Dalon ap Landu was the first. Then came Sequoia, and their offspring, Cywarch merch Dalon. Lately, I’ve been thinking (since we kind of push polyamory) that Dalon and Sequoia need a 3rd. We could pick an old one I suppose. Maybe Rhiannon? In the end we’ll do it the old fashioned way, as our Carleton forebears did, and just make up a new one. Hmmm. Maybe we could do an incest thing, and just bring Cywarch in as the 3rd. That sort of thing was popular in the Hindu religion you know. Hindu deities do things that a mink farmer wouldn’t tolerate. But, probably not. I think someone new and original. Perhaps we should look to the stars. That’s where most of the western pantheons evolved from. Carl might like that.

Now to contradict myself: there are real gods. Two types. The “Old Ones” are those who no longer walk the earth. My parents, Carl Sagan, Thomas Jefferson, perhaps Lugh (the Celts tended to deify their fallen heroes). Then there are the gods we interact with every day: ourselves. You, me, President Obama, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, your kids, my kids, your neighbors, 7.03 billion. And that doesn’t count the planet herself, who is also a living, breathing goddess (and in fact she is us — a mystery). Those that we and our ancestors made up are the Archetypes. It may not be possible to distinguish between and Old One and an Archetype, but since we haven’t evolved extra limbs as yet (I wish we would) I think most of the Hindu pantheon falls under this category. On this line, some food for thought: what if Gaia is not a single goddess, but just part of one? What if the entire universe is a single goddess? Or the multiverse? Does that mean there really is only one god? That we break it down into parts because our present existence in human form can’t grok it otherwise? Ahh mystery. What would religion be without it?

Here’s “Take 1”: https://reformed-druids.org/index.php/whos-a-druid/