Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | February 29, 2012

Druidry & the Ancient Religions of India

While preparing today for a visit to India on Friday to attend a conference on Indigenous Spiritualities, I came across this interview that I gave in India in 2009 about the relationship between Druidry and their ancient religions. I hadn’t seen it before – perhaps because of the unusual spelling of my name.

If this subject interests you, you can find more on it here.


Responses

  1. Cool

  2. This is a subject I’m deeply interested in. I am constantly changing my main path from Druidry to Buddhism.A significant difference between Druidry and the dharma traditions seems to be that while Druidry seems to be at ease with the physical world, embracing the arts, sexuality and the natural world; Indian spirituality seems to find the physical realm problematic, a place of suffering, a place to leave and not be reborn in again. Interestingly Buddhism became more Druid like when it interacted with Chinese culture , particularly Taoism. Here the natural world is delighted in, as shown in Zen influenced Haiku, or Hakuin’s ” This very body is the body of the Buddha this very land is the Lotus Land”.

    I like Druidry because it is native and embraces the natural world,it also stimulates my collective unconscious with its imagery and archetypes of grails and dragons etc. Coming from a Buddhist / Taoist background I have difficulty with it’s polytheism and more personal god. I like Buddhism because it has a strong but not dogmatic philosophy, but dislike it’s tendency towards mysogony and asceticism

    Does anybody seriousy combine the two traditions beyond the rather naive New Age approach?

    Keith.

    • Quick reply en route to India! I hope others will respond to Keith re his last very interesting question!

  3. Hello Keith
    I do not think there is anything particularly naive about attempting to combine two traditions, or even more than two traditions. If we start at the point that within every tradition there is an element of truth and all paths ultimately lead to the same destination.
    After joining and interacting with Christian and Druid communities, face to face and online I get the distinct feeling of hidden agendas with both, some political agendas and an awful lot of inhouse competition between factions. All rather tedious and a waste of time. Buddhism in it’s purest form for me is a middle path, and a peaceful philosophy, but I have learnt again this week that there are offshoots and supposed cults and all that crap within that. Human nature for top dog status I suppose. New age, I have a lot of new age friends and on the whole their hearts seem to be in the right place and they are community minded, if unicorns and angels are also in the community what the hell!
    I suppose if you are looking for community spirit, compassion and respect for others and their views, based on my personal experience alone, New Age would win. Modern Druidry with its odd mixture of Pagan/Wiccan/Goddess worship seems to bring out the absolute worst in women, and I don’t know whether they are basing that on the Celtic Mythological image of warrior women in equal status to men or a feeling of feminine superioty or just out right female catty competition. Or perhaps a feeling of inferioty or seeking revenge for wrongs, based on the witch trials and the part of the Ancestors in that. In which no doubt all of our Ancestors would have played a part on one side or the other.

    Compassion and respect and understanding of another seems to be lacking. Christian women have some of the same attributes, but the competition is shifted towards holiness and good deeds in front of the community/priest etc. I at the moment follow no-one and no path, other than my own intuition and the simple things in life. I have found through my searching and travels that group identification has no importance or place in my life and I really do not need any false or patronising friends. Hard and bitter? Or just realistic!

  4. Philip touches on the similarities of the ancient Druid and Vedic calendars. Why aren’t we using and promoting a 13 month/28 day calendar such as promoted by Jose Arguelles?

    re: Keith,
    Being born a Druid on another continent (North America) with no knowledge of or access to the ancient traditions, I found Taoism, and Native American spiritual traditions, informed by Buddhism, worked very well in synthesizing an ontological understanding. We are historically unique in our ability to study so many different spiritual traditions, which as Joseph Campbell pointed out, are like software. The problem is that we are imprinted before our reason allows us to be objective. Those of us who remember and maintain our innate childhood fascination with nature seem to be drawn to these ancient indigenous systems (and are much better for it!)

    Now, exposure to my “proper” heritage as an inheritor of Celtic DNA means that I can express these fundamental, core beliefs without feeling I’m trespassing or appropriating in some unseemly New Age fashion. These spiritual systems are, after all, simply “fingers pointing at the moon”, they are not the moon.

    Thanks to the scholarship of modern Druids like Philip, we can reclaim a living tradition which in dealing with core issues will have many similarities to others. After all, they concern the same hardware; the human mind.

  5. To my mind there is nothing unseemly about New Age philosophy, there is a huge cross over with contemporary Druidism, mainly in the “Ovate” section concerning natural methods of healing. I think “New Age” people are off their backsides and putting those skills into practice rather than sitting about discussing myths and legends. I appreciate the fact that Philip is a committed and genuine scholar with very good intentions but I fail to see how one system is superior to another and when basic core values of human decency and respect are neglected it is not a valid path in my opinion. A proper heritage to anything? I have as much “Celtic” blood and DNA coursing through my veins as the next neo pagan/modern Druid it’s not something that gives me more or less good or bad attributes of a follower of any other tradition. If one has a concept or belief in reincarnation which was apparent in early Christianity and Druidry and of course Buddhism, a spiritual lineage may possibly override physical one, many strands.

  6. To interject if I may? This touches on a question that has plagued me for years, one to which I believe I have been gifted with an answer. Chi’ kung philosophy speaks of a principle: There is no smallest or biggest. Simply put, there is no better, there only is.
    The truth comes in many forms but you will know truth by the fruit it bears, if you are willing to learn to see the fruit for the leaves… 🙂 some tree philosophy for ya.
    The value in tradition and religion is three-fold.
    Firstly, fellowship. We are like trees, all of us, we are different in out own way, our needs differ from one another. Some of us need more light, some less. Some are no more than shrubs, some are mighty oaks. But we are all plants. We all have bark, we all crave water and sunlight, and we all live in the earth. In this we are the same and united. Like trees, the strength of one cannot compare to the life, diversity, and wonder of an entire forest and it’s evolution. Each fulfils it’s duty and has it’s place in the dance, and so the whole may grow.
    Secondly, strength. A united tradition has the strength of years, even if it only just a few. Do you know the theory of thought-forms? Egregors? The group mind forms an idea, a belief, a concept, and over time this idea is re-affirmed and strengthened. In turn this idea grows, begins to live, fed by the emotions and joint power and intent of the group, and it begins to strengthen the group. In turn this re-affirms it’s reality to those of the group and the cycle begins again. This is as true of beliefs as it is with certain spirits. These ideas become strong roots growing in the hearts of the fertile Druid, roots of conviction and unity.
    Thirdly, wisdom. In this group, each helps the other grow. Like a tree falling in a forest, it’s death heralds fertile ground, so as one falters upon a path those round may see and learn and grow from that experience. Wisdom is the result of knowledge in action viewed through the eyes of a child. Once we free ourselves from bias then we can begin to see that there are no failures or successes, only lessons, trials to strengthen us upon or eternal journey. We live to learnt, and so we learn to live.
    But babbling aside, anyone every look at the Anthropological similarities between Taoism and Druidry? It’s fascinating!

  7. A PS This isn’t to de-value the lone tree. After all, if not for the lone Rowan how would we find thelter in the storm where there is none other? And if not for the Hawthorn on the fringes how would the forest grow? The trailblazer is the Hermit, a bearer of light upon untrodden ground, hope and renewal and the caution of wisdom gained through the pains of experience. 😉

  8. I think we can dare speaking about a primordial tradition. A first ancient spirituality , born from hard life and death experience and which evolved diffrently in the various places of the globes. Do you see important diffrences between, hindouism and even tao or shamanism? One thing is sure some individuals are more able to deal with the other word. There is a kind of specialization. Dont know if it is in the genes, but it is not given to anybody to feel it.
    It is a very special secrete skill, not recognized by current society. You will get indifference or will be considered as a mad or original.
    Wisdom will be seen as madness. You wont be in the right box of the society. There is no box to tick for pagans. where is your church? In the wood. who is your god? i dont know exactly, i have so many. Some times i see a crow flying high, sometime a snake from the earth, or a deer looking like a dead tree in the fog. druidism is creativity, observation, research, sensation and feeling. Feeling very close to, which means to love and to remember and to tell story of life.
    Frienship under the ashtree


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