Druidry is a collection of many different traditions that are inspired by the tales and mythology of the Iron Age druids in the Celtic regions of Britain, Gaul, Ireland and Wales.
The classic druids were the law-givers, judges, healers, poets and priests of the Celtic peoples during the Iron Age. All of their knowledge was passed down orally so there are no direct self-written descriptions of their beliefs and practices. Invasions by the Roman Empire and the later arrival of Christianity led to the extinction of these druid traditions.
In the 17th and 18th century there was a revival of interest in Celtic traditions including the druids. Fraternal orders and other secret societies were numerous at that time and some of them incorporated druid concepts and labels to their practices. In Wales during the 1790s there was a Bardic revival called an Eisteddfod or Gorsedd. Celtic myths and legends were utilized to inspire new music and poetry. During this time new sources of information about the classic druids was claimed to have been found (most often invented) and a new class of druids arose around these teachings.
In the early 20th century, there was a second revival of druidry which was mostly based in neopaganism. Fraternal druid groups (or their spiritual successors) also continue to this day in the Celtic regions and neopagan druid groups started forming in America around 1963.
Beliefs and Practices
The beliefs and practices of today’s druids are incredibly varied due to the individual’s chosen path. Some druids worship the old Celtic gods and goddesses while other druids simply use Celtic mythology as a source of inspiration. Other druids are non-religious and follow more of a philosophical path. Still other druids follow a non-pagan tradition while incorporating druid concepts and practices in their path.
The greatest common belief among nearly all druids is the importance of nature. Nature is to be studied, enjoyed and protected. Rituals and gatherings almost always occur outside in nature often in groves of trees.
Another important belief is the concept of Awen/Imbas, the source of poetic and spiritual inspiration. This is often depicted by the Three Rays symbol that has been adopted by many druids and druid groups.
The veneration of ancestors is also a common practice among modern druids. These ancestors can be the druid’s personal ancestors as well as spiritual ancestors in their chosen path.
Gatherings are usually held at the equinoxes and solstices and some groups also meet during the cross-quarters. Some druid groups also meet on the sixth day of the lunar cycle in remembrance of the mythical mistletoe rite spoken of by Pliny the Elder in the first century.
Active Druid Groups
- Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA)
- Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF)
- Black Bear Grove, ADF (Bloomington, IN)
- British Druid Order
- Henge of Keltria
- Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD)
- Order of WhiteOak
- Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA)