I have always been drawn to the Celtic path, infusing my magical practice with Celtic symbolism and working with several Celtic deities, primarily Cerridwen, the Keeper of the Cauldron. Other paths and pantheons felt foreign to me, but the magic and mysticism of Ireland, Scotland and Wales always spoke to me deep within. As my studies led me to Druidry, I began to notice many similarities. Both paths cast a circle, both acknowledge a Goddess figure, and while not all druids practice magic, there are many who do. After joining the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, I learned about Philip Carr-Gomm’s book, DruidCraft: The Magic of Wicca and Druidry. I immediately ordered a copy and devoured every word. I enjoyed the book immensely, however, I was still left with a dilemma. I do not identify as Wiccan. I am a student and follower of the Old Ways, magical beliefs and practices that pre-date Gerald Gardner and modern Wicca. My practice blends Druidry and Celtic Paganism with Old World Witchcraft. The term “DruidCraft” did not fully express my path. What to call myself? There did not seem to be a name for it. I spent many hours in meditation with my deities and guides, and in my personal divination times, the Lightning-Struck Tower card repeatedly appeared in readings. This is usually an indication of some misfortune, some kind of personal trial or hardship that cannot be avoided. At that time I belonged to a local community of pagans and witches, and taught classes at a downtown shop. Without going into detail, I ended up leaving that community abruptly after observing a number of disturbing behaviors from the community leader. When I left, by my own choice, lies were spread and I lost many friends because of it. It was a very dark time in my life.
Shortly after this happened, the Spirit of Blackthorn introduced itself to me in my meditations, and quickly became a plant spirit familiar and guide. I learned that the Blackthorn represents strength and protection after enduring trial and hardship. The Blackthorn shrub/tree has long, sharp thorns, yet it blooms with delicate white flowers as Winter comes to an end. To me this symbolized that even in the midst of Darkness, the Light can still be found. Blackthorn appears frequently in Irish lore. The Irish-Gaelic word for Blackthorn is Draighean. This word resonated with me on so many levels, and it was revealed in my meditations that this is what I should call myself from henceforth: a Draighean: Blackthorn Druid Witch. And somehow, I knew I wasn’t the only one. I now share my practices with private students and teach them how to become Draighean themselves.
There are a magical people who feel a strong kinship with the ancient tales of Celtic lore and legend. They are drawn to the Old Ways of magic and enchantment, ancient beliefs and practices that pre-date any concept of Wicca. They embrace both the Dark and the Light, recognizing that true strength comes from overcoming adversity, trial and struggle. These mystical folk find power and wisdom in the natural world, in the philosophy of Druidry, and in the practices of Old World Witchcraft and Celtic Mysticism. They hear the whispers of the stone circles and the misty moors, beckoning those who will listen and discover their secrets of times long past. These are a people who walk between the worlds, weaving their magic along the paths of the Seen and the Unseen. The magic and mysticism of Ireland, Scotland and Wales is part of their very DNA. Who are these mystical people? In the House of Blackthorn tradition, they are identified as the Draighean: the Blackthorn Druid Witch. The Draighean path is one that honors Nature and the Celtic Path, the study and application of Magical Wisdom and Occult Knowledge, and the dedication to Healing and Service. This triplicity of magical wisdom is symbolized by three symbols: the Triquetra, the Triskele and the Celtic Knot Circle.
The myths and legends of Ireland, Scotland and Wales are filled with hidden lessons and mystical teachings for those whose eyes and ears have been opened to receive them. The Draighean study and learn many of these stories, committing them to memory and applying their wisdom in their lives. These old tales abound with magic, insight and guidance. The Draighean experience these stories not only through reading and study, but also through altered consciousness and meditation. Those who follow the ways of the Draighean learn to explore and develop their own magical and healing abilities, in creative ways that utilize Celtic imagery and symbolism. The study of the Old Ways of Witchcraft (which include divination, spell-casting and other forms of magic) is a priority, and these studies are focused on pre-Wiccan beliefs and practices. In this regard the Draighean do not adhere to the modern “harm none” philosophy. Blackthorn Druid Witches take responsibility for their own actions and follow their own ethical codes. In the House of Blackthorn tradition, the Light and the Dark are embraced equally. The Draighean become aquainted with the Shadow Self, integrating their own darker aspects in a healthy and balanced way while working to transform what needs to be transformed. Both Dark and Light are necessary. Placing too much emphasis on one or the other puts us out of balance. Those who are called to the Draighean path have walked through darkness and have found strength after enduring hardship and adversity. Blackthorn Druid Witches revere Nature and view it as alive and sentient. The trees, flowers, plants and stones all have a consciousness of their own, and the Draighean learn to interact with many of them. The magic of herbs, trees and crystals is a vital part of Draighean practice, and Blackthorn Druid Witches frequently call upon them for assistance in magical workings. Druid magical philosophy is also a major force for those learning the ways of the Draighean. While it is true that ancient Druidry was primarily an oral tradition, today’s followers of Druidry believe that many druidic teachings are encoded in the old stories of Celtic lore and legend, particularly in the Tales of the Mabinogion. The Draighean identify as both Witch and Druid, blending two distinct paths seamlessly together. The path of the Draighean is not one of merely self-development, but one of service to the community. Blackthorn Druid Witches explore and develop their own healing abilities, whether inherent or learned from a teacher. Energy Healing, Crystal Therapy, Flower/Plant/Tree Magic and other alternative healing methods are explored. Those on the Draighean path are encouraged to offer their healing abilities in service to their communities.
Training in the ways of the Draighean is offered twice a year, in the Fall and in the Spring, for those who can travel or live in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. There are thirteen (13) separate lessons taught in-person. This is currently only a private training, however, not everyone who seeks training has access to a private teacher. For this reason, the entire training will eventually be available in book form for those who wish to self-study. While this is in no way a substitute for in-person training, those who feel drawn to the ways of the Draighean but cannot travel will be able to learn it on their own.