How does Druidry today compare to what Druids did in Ancient times? (by Druid Network)
It differs a great deal. The main reason being that the Druids did not leave any written records! What we have to go on today are the legends passed down through the ages, writings of people who observed the Celts (some of those writings were pretty biased), and what scholars have learned through study of archaeological evidence.
Modern Druidry has evolved from the fantasy-like meanderings of the 19th Century Druid Revivalists to the modern century of practitioners with access to a whole world of information which was severely limited in earlier times. Most Druids today want more scholastic proof of things, more Celtic or hearth-culture focused spirituality and an identity of their own. Many want to be as authentic as possible, but we have so little to go on. However, some people are not as interested in the scholarship aspect and just go with what feels right.
Some of what the Romans wrote about the Druids is definitely illegal by today’s standards, such as Human Sacrifice, etc. Since the Romans were the only ones to really touch on this subject, the importance of human sacrifice is questionable. Were these folks sacrificed or were they murder victims or executed criminals?
Numerous studies and writings have shown that the Celts were well known for collecting and keeping the heads of their more valiant enemies as battle trophies. Was this sacrifice or a way of reaping the spoils of war for a proud warrior race of people?
Regardless of the endless debate that could go on about this, human/animal sacrifice is not done nor is it condoned today. The same goes for any other illegal practices, such as the intake of illegal substances or the improper wielding of bladed weapons in public places. They are absolutely not condoned in modern day practice!
Looking at what was written about Druids of the ancient times is that they seemed to be very connected with their times. They dealt with cultures all over the world with trade agreements, they were involved with politics since they advised the rulers, they healed using more advanced medical techniques than the Romans (actually, it was the Celtic people who introduced soap to the Romans) and served their communities as ritual leaders, teachers, law makers and advocates, as well as for spiritual or counseling services.
Druids were well known for being the educated class. If one were to try and draw comparison to what an ancient Druid knew and practiced to what would be required today to do the same work in society today; one would require university degrees in law, medicine, psychology, education and religious studies. One would also require training in diplomacy, several languages and Public Relations. No wonder it took approximately 20 years of training to become a Druid!
Druidry seemed to be a philosophy or faith that was with the times in its day, so it is important that Druids stay “with the times” today, but without losing the connection to our ancient past. We live in the modern world; therefore we have different needs, culture, skills and issues than our ancient ancestors. However, that should not prevent you from studying the history of the Celtic peoples and researching what culture was like and how it has developed. There is no doubt that Druids served their communities and were considered an important part of Celtic society.
While the Earth was not in danger of pollution in ancient times, it is definitely in danger of it now. Our ancestors dealt daily with the need to find and grow food to survive. Many of us may not be working the fields or raising cattle today, so we may not understand the agricultural importance of the seasons and the sheer cost of mere survival in a culture where one couldn’t just run to the supermarket for medication or food. While most Druids are not advising rulers or politicians today, they can still be involved in their communities and still keep up with world peace or aid efforts.
Druids can serve their communities today through community service or choosing a career that allows them to serve in a way that helps. There are many Druids who are psychologists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. Being a Druid should not excuse us from living in society…it did not in ancient times either.
Image: art by Mark Zug, www.markzug.com
~ Creating an Herb Spiral ~
Herb Spirals produce a moisture gradient which forms microclimates along the spiral, with the most dry and sunny climate at the top and the most moist and shady climate located at the bottom of the spiral, facing the north. Herb Spirals efficiently utilize space and work with gravity and natural water flow to store and sort resources.
A spiral shape is constructed with bricks or rocks, and the spiral is filled 3/4 full with straw, and then topped with compost.
Plants are arranged according to their microclimate preferences.
Herbs such as Thyme, Sage, Basil, Aloe, Rosemary, Oregano, Terragon, Calendula, and Lemon Grass prefer to be dry and should be planted near the top of the spiral. Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Echinacea, Chives, Chamomile prefer a balance between wet and dry and so are best in the middle of the spiral, with Mint and Watercress preferring the moist bottom.
Starfall painted by Anselm Kiefer, 1995
The stars are like letters which inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky. Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other; as has been said: “Everything breathes together.” — Plotinus