The witty and erudite New York Druid Isaac Bonewits is about to hit town, and here is the poster advertising his tour. If you haven’t heard him speak I can heartily recommend the experience. And if you don’t know who he is, read this excerpt from the foreword I wrote to his book Isaac Bonewits’ Essential Guide to Druidism a few years ago:
London Braces Itself for Bonewits
Doing the mind guerrilla,
Some call it magic – the search for the grail.
John Lennon – Mind Games
If you want a Druid dude to lift the veil on Druidism, you’ve come to the right place. Isaac is like an eccentric and dedicated botanist who has decided in this book to recount his view of the exotic jungle that is modern Druidism. He’s well placed to do this because he’s been in the thick of it for some time. In fact he’s played a crucial role in its development in the modern era.
Most people think that Druidism is an ancient religion – a relic of the distant past. Others think it’s a Victorian invention, based on a few lines found in classical texts. They’re both right, but also wrong, because although Druidism did indeed originate way back in the past, and although it was ‘re-invented’ in the 18th and 19th centuries, much of Druidism as it is practised today really owes its origins to the very recent past of the 1960’s and 1980’s.
Something very powerful happened in the sixties. A wave of spiritual energy washed over the planet that influenced thousands, perhaps millions of people. One of its most important effects was to inspire the hippies who rebelled against establishment values. The hippies believed that governments were often corrupt, that war was inhumane, and that rampant consumerism and corporate greed were destroying the world. At the same time they had a vision of how the world could be, and became fascinated by alternative approaches to the spiritual quest. Although most turned to India for inspiration, some turned to the lands of Eire and Albion – with their mysterious stone circles and ley lines – and their Druids.
Modern Druidry was seeded in those old hippy days, it got a boost twenty years later in the 80s, and then another boost twenty years later as the two sides of the pond have started talking to each other. Events are moving fast! As fast, as the ADF motto goes: ‘as a speeding oak’! All good things take their time to develop organically, and that’s what’s occurring in Druidry.
What of the future? Isaac talks about his vision in the closing chapter of this book. He says ‘Many people who grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s are discovering us at about the same time that they are realizing both the desperate state of our planet and the eternal relevance of our youthful ideals.’ Something magical happened when those youthful ideals, inspired to a great extent by the hippies, met Druidism during those decades. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the hippies were right – they weren’t just naive and doped up. The evidence is all around us. Forty years ago they warned us of the dangers of corporate greed, political corruption, rampant militarism and the destruction of the environment. Now we can see that they were prophets in the true sense of the term. And I believe that part of Druidry’s purpose in the world now could well be to redeem and develop their vision – as fast as a speeding oak!