I’m a fake Druid. So is everyone else who names Druidry as the path they walk. And I’ve come to love it.
In a guest essay on the ADF website, J. M. Greer notes,
The very last of the ancient Druids went extinct in the ninth century, and the surviving scraps of their teachings and lore are so fragmentary, diffuse, and contradictory that they don’t form anything like a workable system. All modern Druid groups—OBOD, ADF, and everyone else—were invented in the last three centuries by people who used some mix of scholarly writings, personal spiritual insight, speculation, and sheer fantasy as raw material for their concoctions.
Thus if “real Druidry” is defined as the sort that was practiced by Druids in Celtic countries before the arrival of Christianity, all modern Druids practice fake Druidry. That can’t be avoided, since “real Druidry” hasn’t existed anywhere for more than a millennium. What differentiates one modern Druid tradition from another is the particular kind of “fake Druidry” each practices.
Of course, Greer writes here as an outsider might see it, to try on a truth many still feel uncomfortable to admit. As Archdruid of AODA, he obviously doesn’t habitually dwell on his particular flavor of Druidry as “fake.” And when I practice my Druidry, it doesn’t feel like a “concoction” at all. It coheres, because like anything used — steps, coins, dishes, skin, planets — the edges get smoothed, a few chips and dents show up, and everything takes on that “lived-in” look, that patina that makes antiques look antique, that gives worry-stones their shine, and faces their habitual smile or frown lines. I make an offering at an altar, I join my Druid brothers and sisters at a festival, I sit for an hour in moonlight meditating, and whether a group of people 300 years ago rediscovered things most traditional peoples have long known doesn’t really concern me. Clearly, the moment itself offers me better things to do.
The Druid community has on occasion been racked by squabbles between traditions, caused as often as not by simple misunderstandings that could have been quickly cleared up by people familiar with more than their own tradition. Since none of us have any right to claim possession of the One Genuine Real Live Druidry, a willingness to share the world with other Druid traditions, and to participate with them in celebrating the cycles of nature and the miracle of the living Earth, is a virtue that may well be worth cultivating by Druids of all kinds.
Ah, “One Genuine Real Live Druidry” — Ogreld, I’ll call it. My new tradition, founded right now as you’re reading this. Here we go … unlike every other practice and belief on the planet, Ogreld sprang into existence full-grown and perfect, without parents or kin. To get that essential temporal edge over other faiths and practices, Ogreld is the original “source faith” of humanity, practiced when people first became human. In fact, to top it off, it was Ogreld that made them human. Now we’re cooking! … This is faking with a vengeance. ”I’m faker than you are. Na-na-na-na-na!”
In the Egyptian afterlife, the human heart is weighed against the feather of Maat, who personifies truth and justice. The Wise among us understand that whether I acknowledge three elements of earth, water and air, or four elements of earth, air, fire and water, or a god whose elements are bread and wine, my rituals will still work in accordance with the reverence and love I bring to them, and the holy presences that empower them. Whether I have helped or hurt the earth and its inhabitants will matter a lot more than the color of my robes, the rank I’ve achieved, or the number of gods I pray to. The only real Druidry is a “path with heart,” a way of walking the earth that wisely honors all paths with heart. I’m busy faking that wisdom, practicing till I get it “righter” than before. Insofar as faking is doing something, it’s generally better than not doing anything at all. So yes, I’m a fake Druid. Have you met any other kind?!