As we walk the magick path, there are times when we realize some things no longer work for us, or we find ways to enhance our path and make it even more personal. This has happened to me recently, when I began a formal study of Druidry. I resisted the druid path for so long, and even wrote in one of my books that I could not be a druid, however, the voice of the Oak kept calling and calling until finally I gave in. It’s sort of like one of those moments when your deities and spirit guides are leading you down an unfamiliar path and as much as you try to resist, you just cannot. The differences between Witchcraft and Druidry are minor, and many people are unaware that the founder of modern druidry, Ross Nichols, happened to be great friends with Gerald Gardner, the “father of modern Wicca”. The two studied together and both formed their own spiritual paths which evolved to where they are today. Salem witch Laurie Cabot refers to Druidry as just another branch, or tradition, of Witchcraft. The two paths, though different, have much in common. Witches and Druids believe many of the same things, such as the reverence for Nature and the Ancestors, the powers of crystals, stones, the Sun and the Moon, animal and tree lore, the Goddess, the embracing of sexuality and wisdom and many other concepts. Druidry acknowledges the Awen (poetic inspiration) as illustrated by this symbol below. The three dots at the top are the three sacred drops from Cerridwen’s brew, and the three rays represent Love, Wisdom and Truth, the Triple aspect of Deity, and the points at which the Sun rises on equinoxes and solstices.
I received my first packet of studies from the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids the very next day after the Winter Solstice. It was meant to be a holiday surprise from my partner, (I had mentioned to him that I wanted to join the Order), but the envelope was addressed to me instead of him and did not have a return address. I had no idea who it was from, but I did notice the Airmail postage. I have several friends who live in the UK and I assumed it was from one of them. My partner was none too pleased when I told him I had opened his gift to me a few days earlier than planned. I really had no idea what it was until I opened it. Still, for me, it came at the perfect time. I had just led my last ritual as High Priest with Evening Star Circle, an eclectic pagan group with whom my 2-year commitment ended at Yule. My study materials from OBOD arrived in the mail the day after Yule. To me, it signified the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
Studying with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids can be expensive, but they do have a number of payment plans and will make arrangements with people in financial hardship. They send out study materials each month, and they are designed to build one upon another. I receive both the printed and audio materials, and there is plenty to keep you busy until the next materials arrive. They say that each packet contains a week’s worth of study, but if you really want to absorb everything I think it is good to study it for the whole month. There are three grades of study: Bard, Ovate and Druid. Everyone begins with the Bardic Grade. Each grade takes about a year to complete, but you can study at your own pace and take longer if you need to. There is reading material, along with CD’s that contain stories, music and spoken text from the pamplets, along with information about Ecological responsibility, tree planting, and the official members-only OBOD magazine Touchstone. There is also practical work to complete, which include meditations and other assignments. I received a Book of Rituals, and some specific information about the druid celebrations of Alban Arthan (Welsh for Winter Solstice) and Imbolc. I love all of this, I cannot express how much. It feels a bit like coming home.
Two of the differences between Druidry and Witchcraft are that 1) Druidry does not place much emphasis on moon phases and such, but tends to focus more on the Sun. 2) Druids do cast a circle but not quite the same way as in traditional Witchcraft.
The blend of Druidry and Witchcraft is referred to as Druidcraft, and Philip-Carr Gomm has written a wonderful book about it. I will continue to call what I do Witchcraft, although it is heavily influenced by Druidry, and I will continue to cast the circle in my usual manner, albeit with Celtic influences. Druidry is not dogmatic, you do not have to follow everything to the letter. You can incorporate those elements and ideas that work best for you.
The word “druid” means “Oak Wise” and comes from the same word meaning “Door” or “Doorway”. From these definitions we can say that Druidry is a “doorway to wisdom” for the “people of the Oak”. The Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex, England is a perfect illustration of this, as he appears to be standing in a doorway, and druid ceremonies are regularly held there.
My birthdate on the Celtic Tree Calendar places me in the Oak category, and I have always had a strong connection to the Oak tree. I am glad to be called a Witch, a Mystic and one of the People of the Oak.