Cat Treadwell — professional Druid and nature-mystic - gives us a perspective from the English countryside.
Sometimes, as a public Druid, I get frustrated. Because over and over again, I seem to be saying the same thing. 'What's a Druid?' 'What do Druids do?' and so on, and so forth. I suspect we all get this at some point or another, if we're 'out of the broom closet' in any way. We just smile and get on with it as part of life.
But I do worry. Is this because nobody's listening? Am I actually trying to con people into following this mad 'cult' of modern Paganism? And of most concern, am I on the take?
I'm not - but it's easy to see why people would think that.
Spirituality is a deeply personal, heartfelt thing - a state of being, mind, emotion... so much contained in a such a complex state that it's virtually impossible to put into words. Especially, I might add, when someone asks me suddenly to explain my Druidry in two minutes or less.
(Yes, this is me - in the woods near my home)
We live in a cynical age. People react reflexively sometimes, responding to their own perceptions and understanding of the word 'Druid' or 'Pagan' without really understanding what it means - and not always wanting to know.
Fortunately, I'm also pleased to say that this age appears to be one where the cynicism has turned into curiosity, a wish to seek out personal truths, because those in charge aren't necessarily to be trusted any more. So people do listen, ask questions out of genuine interest, and actually want to know the answers.
However, since I was published and became some sort of 'expert' on my path, I seem to be slipping over the line into that 'authority'... and have been seeing a fair bit of sour grapes as a result.
'How dare you' is the most easy insult, of course. How dare I stand up publicly as a Druid! How dare I charge for my services (I'm self-employed as a writer, Priest, multifaith consultant and professional chaplain, depending on which day of the week it is). How dare I DO my spirituality?
It's something I've considered for many years, and will no doubt continue to for many more. The easy answer?
How dare I NOT live my spirituality? How can I call myself a Druid, active in my community, without living it, working, doing whatever I'm called upon to do as a priest/minister/counsellor/creative... if nobody wanted me, I wouldn't be able to pay the bills (just!) doing this. But personally, I would doubt my own integrity if I wasn't able to reasonably explain why I choose this path.
As I said at the start, it's hard. Words don't come easily when trying to explain a fairly amorphous experience, let alone the power of inspiration, ritual energy work or even just holding space for someone to weep. But I do my best.
That is my promise. I do my best, when asked for anything, as a Druid. Because that's such a key foundation stone of my spirituality. Even if modern Druids bear no resemblance to their historical antecedents, that serving of our community (tangible/geographical or virtual) is part of what we do.
It's not about me and what I want, although my beliefs guide me. It's about providing what is needed for those who ask. I'm not knocking on doors spreading any word; I'm not telling anyone that my way is the best and only way (although I have occasionally been told I'm doing it wrong by folks keen to correct me).
Spirituality is not just hidden in the heart. It's enacted every day in my work (and play). Correspondence to those with questions, or in need; preparing ritual, which I will oversee; writing articles like this. Explaining, over and over, but also very much physically doing. Next week, I'm speaking on local radio, the week after at a public Moot.
And my spirituality evolves as a result, affected and influenced every time I compose an answer to those repetitious questions. Because everyone's understanding is different, and each one is a challenge: to represent my path, my Gods, my ancestors... and me. Often in two minutes or less.
How dare I be a Druid? Very well, thank you. How about you?
Addendum - This post was inspired by the person who told me off (with a terrible social media passive-aggressive attitude) for posting a link to my book on a Pagan forum. I had simply been doing so in the hope that it might help people. Judging by the responses I get from readers, it does. Nor do I make much money from it - my words are out there in the spirit of sharing. So I'm not sorry, but thank you for making me cross enough to write this retort (as with the book, turning the negative into creative).
Keep on Doing your spirituality, lovely people x
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