Wicca and Druidry: Pagan Paths for the Modern Traveler
Wicca & Druidry: Barefoot and Magickal
If you like nothing better than being barefoot on the earth, and mysteries and magic have never lost their pull for you, Wicca and Druidry are paths well worth investigating. Both are earth-based (pagan) wisdom traditions that invite us to develop our relationship with the natural world and help us connect with the deeper powers we all have within us. As a Wiccan or Druid, you would honor the cycles of nature as magick in action. But you don’t have to practice magic spells to be a Wiccan, and you don’t have to have a long beard to be a Druid. Both Druids and Wiccans do not have a universal set of beliefs – there is no dogma or ‘Bible’ – but what they both have in common is a belief in the basic spirituality of life on earth: there’s no need to wait till after death to experience Heaven. Read on to find out more.
Spirituality & Nature
As a Wiccan or Druid, you don’t need any intermediaries – like a priest – to communicate with God/the Universe, and you don’t need a building to worship in. A forest, stream or mountain can be your ‘church’, and you will develop a personal relationship with God/Goddess, setting aside time to communicate with your chosen deity through prayer. As a Wiccan, you might decide to create an altar, where you can make offerings to God/Goddess, or to make a Wiccan staff. Spend time regularly in nature to connect with the energy that runs through all life, and to bond with the Creative Force. Practising both Wicca and Druidry means doing rituals to observe the Sabbats which mark changes in the year to do with Nature, like the start of spring or the drawing in of darker days. As a Wiccan you can choose to practice magick or not. In any case magick spells should never aim to control another or harm them in any way, and should be used only for good. So, a Wiccan spell to bring love into your life might be a good plan, but you shouldn’t decide who the object of your love is – that would be going against the Wiccan Rede. If you or someone else is in need of healing, you can can do a healing ritual after casting a sacred circle. Wiccans and Druids don’t try to convert others to their beliefs – they respect the beliefs of others.
The three goals of a Druid are wisdom, creativity and love – sounds like what we could all do with a bit of. As a Druid, you would practice observing the natural world, the changing seasons and the way time passes, and also observe your self and how you fit into the natural world. Druids use every aspect of life to connect with their gods, ancestors and the environment – there is no separation, because the Druidic path is all about interacting with all things in a respectful way with an attitude of devotion. There’s a belief in the ‘Otherworld’ as well as in the sacredness of nature.
Initiation & Self-Dedication into the Wiccan and Druid Paths
You don’t have to be initiated by a High Priest or Priestess to call yourself a Wiccan and follow this path. Your spiritual self-definition is up to you: there’s so much information out there about Wicca for beginners, from websites to books to pagan pamphlets, to help you find a tradition that works for you and to find out about Wicca spells and Wicca supplies so that you can practice at home. Lots of Wiccans work on their own. Similarly, you don’t have to be initiated as a Druid to connect deeply with the Druidic beliefs and way of life. But getting into a Wiccan coven or Druid group (called a ‘grove’) is a good idea if you want to go deeply into this path. A Wiccan coven will offer initiation – a symbolic rebirth where you say ‘Hey God/Goddess, I’m here, and I’m going to serve you’. If you’re not in a grove or coven, you can do a Wiccan self-dedication ritual or Druidic self-dedication ritual. There are a few different traditions of Wicca to choose from, with exciting names like Alexandrian Wicca, Blue Star Witchcraft, Circle Sanctuary and Covenent of the Goddess. If you decide to investigate the Druid path, there are courses to become a Bard, Ovate or Druid including distance courses, which allow you to become part of an Order of Druids. Although most members practise Druidry alone, there are also over 100 worldwide groups where you can gather with other Druids to celebrate, practice and socialize.
Magick, The Green Man, & Self-Renewal
Druidry beliefs and Wiccan philosophy both see no separation between Nature and the Divine. And magick is seen as natural rather than supernatural – magick is part of nature’s power. The pagan idea of renewing yourself just as nature renews itself through the different seasons each year, is symbolized by the image of the Green Man – a face with leaves coming out of it. In Wicca, the Green Man often represents the Horned God, a symbol of personal transformation in meditations or ritual. By practising Wicca or Druidry, we could all become a ‘Green Man’ or ‘Green Woman’, connected to nature and in our full power of renewal. In both of these paths the afterlife – karma and reincarnation – are accepted as truth, and this means taking responsibility for all your choices. The religious aspect of Wicca includes observing the Wiccan Rede – ‘An it harm none, do as ye will.’ – and the Threefold Law – whatever you do comes back to you times three. This means recognising the divine in each person, avoiding harming others, and keeping a high level of consciousness of the results of your actions, including sharing whatever good comes your way. Wiccans see the whole world as an interplay of opposites – not unlike the yin-yang concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine (insert TCM article link) – and so the Wiccan God takes both masculine and feminine forms, with Wiccans honoring different aspects of this – for example the Horned God and Isis. Goddess worship can also be seen as a way of correcting the imbalance of thousands of years of emphasis on an exclusively masculine God- a bit of a feminist thing, if you like.
Druidry is traditionally divided into three areas of study and practice; those of Bard, Ovate and Druid. Bards are the creative keepers of tradition: you might feel drawn to the Bard path if you are a storyteller, singer, poet, musician, or artist. Ovates are healers and future-seers as well as philosophers, while Druids are teachers, shamans and counselors. As Western pagan traditions, Druidry and Wicca have a lot of overlap, with some people practising a blend called ‘Druidcraft’ developed by Philip Carr-Gomm, Chief Druid of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids – but there are differences including between the forms of the rituals.
History: From Secret Forms to Neo Druids: The Roots of Wicca & Druidry
Wicca’s roots are relatively recent – Gerald Gardner introduced Wicca as a religion in the 1950’s, in a secret form requiring oaths and initiations. He drew on old esoteric knowledge from Eastern, Hebrew and British traditions, but Wicca is a modern reconstruction rather than a continuation of ancient practices. Inevitable splits and new traditions emerged, but the Gardnerian principles are still at the foundation of many Wiccan groups today. Today, there are nearly half a million Wiccans in the United States – and maybe even more. For more on Wiccan history see here. Druidry’s origins go back almost 3,000 years ago to the European Iron Age, and its earliest roots go back even further than that. A druid, originally, was a member of the educated, professional class of the Gaul, British and Irish Celtic peoples. Druidry has been evolving ever since. The emphasis of modern Druidry, and the practice of Neo Druids, is around finding ways to reconnect with life’s cycles, with the spirits of nature and with our gods and ancestors.300 years ago there was a ‘Druid Revival’, and later historian and poet Ross Nichols founded The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, the most well-known Druid organization. In recent decades there’s been a huge resurgence of interest in earth-based spirituality, as people have started to craft their own paths independent of church and established religions and connected with their longing to be one with nature.
Why is it Ripe and Ready?
Wicca and Druid paths empower and liberate us by helping us to re-connect with Nature, ourselves and our divinity, discovering a vibrant alive-ness that weaves through our entire lives as we benefit from the wisdom of our ancestors.