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About Druids and Druidry

Are you a Druid?

Most practitioners of CR tend to avoid the word “druid” unless they are actively serving as priests or priestesses to a community of people. The word implies a great deal of knowledge and study that most folks just don’t have yet and, quite frankly, some people aren’t interested in being priests or priestesses. There are a lot of CR folk who are much more comfortable in the role of householder, homesteader, artisan or warrior, or some unique combination of these roles.

Those of us who do use the word “druid” to describe ourselves usually only do so after much soul-searching, many years of study and practice, and after other elders in the community acknowledge us as such. It is never a title taken out of the blue because we feel like it. CR is not in and of itself a form of modern “Druidism” or “Neo-Druidism” though a number of CRs consider themselves to be on a druidic path, and working towards being worthy of the title. The acknowledgement of this title (draoí in Irish) usually comes only after many years of contributing substantially to the local and online CR communities.

Anyone presenting themselves to a CR group or individual who claims this title is likely to be quizzed on their knowledge and experience rather than being taken at face value. This is not meant as an insult, it is simply that we hold the title in high regard and believe that only those qualified should bear it. Anyone can call themselves a druid, but few genuinely live up to the claim. Furthermore, such quizzes of knowledge are attested in the literature as having occurred between druids, so if there is a problem with it, blame the Celts.

See also What’s the difference between a warrior path and a poet’s path? Are there other options within CR?


Aren’t all Druids men?

No. The tales and Classical commentators are quite clear and unanimous that there were both male and female druids. CR does not discriminate in regard to gender or sexual identity, and in fact many of the founders of CR are gay, bi, lesbian, or transfolk. Feminism is an important part of many CRs’ lives. Anyone who chooses to dedicate their life to study and service to the community and who has a sincere calling from the Deities may eventually become a druid. See also: Are you a Druid?.


Since the Druids didn’t write anything down, how do you know what you believe is accurate, and isn’t just guessing?

See the If they didn’t write anything down, how do you know what they believed? section.


Weren’t the Druids the Celtic Shamans?

The druids filled many functions in Celtic societies, only some of which involved mysticism, spirit-mediation, or other types of interactions with the Otherworld. More often, the “druids” were teachers, lawyers, historians and political advisors. Only some druids were spiritual officials or ritual leaders.

CR practitioners do not refer to themselves as shamans for a variety of reasons.

Please see the Do you practice Celtic shamanism? section for further details.


Did the Celts really call their priests “Druids”?

Yes and no. They called their priests, priestesses, and other people who fulfilled an official religious role by a variety of titles, in the languages and dialects spoken in their particular time and region. “Druid” is an English translation of the Irish draoí and the equivalent from other Celtic cultures.

But the druids were also in large part the intellectual class in Celtic societies. “Druids” included doctors, lawyers, the equivalent of modern college professors, and other non-religious educated elites, both male and female. This is part of the reason why CRs are reluctant to take the title of druid upon themselves without a specific understanding of what is meant by it in the community they serve.

See also: Are you a Druid?


Do you separate people into Bards, Ovates and Druids?

Generally speaking, no. These distinctions are most often used to indicate degrees of progress in Neo-Druidic organizations like the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (or OBOD). The Neo-Druidic groups who currently use this degree system are generally based on the assumptions of the 18th Century “Druidic Revival,” which tend to have a very different approach than what we are doing with CR. The Neo-Druidic groups, especially the older ones, do not always have a Celtic orientation, nor do most of them prioritize scholarship.

When dealing with titles like bard, ovate, or druid, we have to remember that context is important. While in medieval Wales being called a bard was a mark of respect, in Ireland a bard was an untrained poet, and generally regarded as inferior to a file. Modern Scots Gaelic uses bàrd to refer to any poet today, and the word does not necessarily carry the musical connotation that it does in the minds of most modern Pagans. Ovate is a Brythonic word referring, most likely, to a variety of prophesier. It is related to vate, a word used by Caesar to describe some members of the class he called “druids”, and to the Modern Irish word fáidh “prophet; wise man, sage”. In Modern Irish, ollamh is a title used by the master of a craft, or by a professor at a university. Originally, it was used to refer to a master of a craft, but especially a master poet, or file. The issues surrounding the use of the title “druid” are addressed in several other questions in this FAQ. Due to all these concerns, there is currently no CR group that divides its members into the grades of bard, ovate or druid.

See also How do you determine who your spiritual elders are when you don’t always have an ordered hierarchy? and Are you a Druid?


Can you be a Druid even if you are not Irish/Welsh/etc.?

Anyone who has a sincere calling to be of service to the Celtic Deities and the CR community can study to become a druid. We do not discriminate in any way based on national, ethnic, or racial origins. The Deities call whom They will, and it’s not our business to say which Gods and Goddesses you can follow based on the color of your skin or the percentage of your blood that hails from the Celtic lands, or anywhere else for that matter. Anyone discriminating based on these things is not practicing CR, despite any claims they may make to the contrary.

See also Don’t you have to be Irish/Scottish/Welsh to be a Celtic Reconstructionist?


Aren’t Druids sun worshippers, like Wiccans are moon worshippers?

No. This misconception seems to have originated with the 17th century antiquarians who first started Neo-“Druidic” orders based on Masonic models. These romantic revivalists were not looking to Celtic history for their theology or cosmology, and instead chose to believe that all Gods are solar in nature, and that the druids practiced a form of monotheism that presaged Christianity. Actual Celtic scholarship proved these models false, but with so many people reading the books written in that era, these outdated misconceptions found their way into the occult community and are still repeated by those who do not actually study Celtic history.

Celtic religion does value the beauty and power of nature, and celebrates the changing of the seasons and the shifting balance of darkness and light. But while there are Deities who are described as bright or effulgent, and Who are connected to the changing seasons of the year, there is no Celtic Sun God. Many occult or Neopagan writers have claimed that Lugh is a Sun God; however the lore actually shows Him to be connected with lightning, storms, and rain. Ogma being called “Sun-Faced” is a reference to His brilliant wisdom and strength, not a solar affinity. All the words for the sun in the Celtic languages are female, and even in the case of Goddesses who have distinct solar attributes — such as Áine and Grian (Whose name literally means “sun”) — to describe Them only as Sun Goddesses would be limiting and misleading.

The religion of the Ancient Celts was not about sun worship, nor is CR.


A lady druid is a dryad, right?

No. A “dryad” is a Greek tree-spirit. It has nothing to do with druids.

This misconception, like so many others, seems to have begun with the fantasies of some of the eighteenth or early nineteenth century romantic revivalists, who were uninterested in cultural or historical accuracy. It has been repeated by some modern writers such as Barbara Walker who postulates, purely on the accidental resemblance of the words, an entire Greek female “druid” cultus. Whatever other virtues that the works of these writers might have, etymological rigor is clearly not one of them.


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