Druids Gaming, Fictional and Real   4 comments

Druids seem to be enjoying a superficial popularity these days.  Games like the world-wide phenomenon of World of Warcraft, a massively multi-player game, typically make up the first several listings on most search engines if you type in “druid.”  These druids are of course characters or roles that players adopt and then develop or “level up” through prolonged experience of the game, in ways both like and very unlike daily life.  Here’s an excerpt from the World of Warcraft Wiki:  “Druids are keepers of the world who walk the path of nature, following the wisdom of the Ancients and Cenarius, healing and nurturing the world. To a druid, nature is a delicate balance of actions, in which even the smallest imbalance can create storming turmoil from peaceful skies. Druids draw their power from this wild energy, using it to change their shapes and command the forces of nature.”

[Image Source]

The French comic series Asterix, better known in Europe than in the U.S., features the druid Getafix (his name, like those of many of the other characters in different translations, is either a pun or play on words):

In the world of fiction a casual reader can also encounter some engaging and reasonably accurate stories that attempt to portray Druids in a balanced way.  Fantasy and historical novelist Morgan Llywelyn has written several fine novels, one of her best being the eponymous Druids.  Set in Celtic Gaul (more or less modern France), the story takes place during the growing conflict between Julius Caesar and the Celtic tribes he is “pacifying.”

The tale is narrated by Ainvar, a young apprentice druid of the Carnutes, a historical Celtic tribe whose homeland was in central Gaul, south-west of the modern capital of Paris.  Ainvar is a “soul friend” (Gaelic anam cara) of Vercingetorix (82-46 BCE), chief of the neighboring Arverni tribe and another historical figure who stood against the incursion of the Romans under Caesar by attempting to unify the fiercely independent Celtic tribes against the Roman general’s encroaching legions.  He is even mentioned in Caesar’s military memoir The Gallic Wars and in a few other ancient sources.

Throughout Llywelyn’s book, several other Druidic practices and beliefs emerge in ways natural to character and story, notably a sense of the sacredness of the land, the interconnectedness of all things, the value of ritual and blessing to imprint events in consciousness and experience, and the balance and pattern of the world, of which humans are a part, and which we ignore at our peril.

[Amazon books]

Contemporary British druids in ritual garb (Wikipedia image):

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4 responses to “Druids Gaming, Fictional and Real

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  1. How’s the following the “path of nature” any different than simply doing what you want? Why dress it (or yourselves) up with the name “druid” when you’re simply following your own desires? Why justify it with a name that’s just a distraction from what you really are doing? Just do it already. No need to talk or blog aobut it is there?

    • Thanks for your comments, Chris. The “path of nature” that is Druidry includes listening to other beings and observing the patterns around us. “Doing what we want” can often be a part of that. But we can want things that are bad for us, and not want things that are good for us. I find that I can be somewhat lazy, and not keep up my daily practices (without various tricks and strategies). That’s doing what I want on one level, but on another, not doing what I really want, which is to stay in harmony with myself and the world.

      Thus, I’m not simply following my desires, but checking whether they’re also for the good of the whole. Sometimes they are, or at least they’re neutral. And if I decide consciously to do what I want in the face of evidence that I shouldn’t, at least I’m acting consciously, and when fallout and payback come around, I can accept responsibility for them, pay the balance due, and move forward. Multiply this to the national scale, and I suggest the U.S. would be a lot better off if we started making a few more responsible choices for the long term, instead of consuming the planet in an orgy of “doing what we want.” Markets give us what we want, but not what may be best for us in the long term.

      We already can see Europeans enjoying lifestyles generally comparable to ours, but on far less energy. But we don’t want to do anything to change now, while the costs and consequences are fairly tolerable, because it would be disruptive and politically it’s a non-starter, unfortunately. So we’ll have to do it the hard way later, and face shortages, social disruption and instability, environmental and physical/medical consequences, and a difficult adjustment later, with our backs to the wall. We’re just seeing the first “easy” stages right now, with the various crises we’re facing here in the U.S., but also world-wide. They’re not going away any time soon. They’re part of the payback for “doing what we want” without checking if it’s in our own best interests.

      As for the dressing up, it helps to put us in ceremonial and ritual consciousness, and it’s fun.

      As for the name “Druid,” it captures who we are and what we do better than other names we’ve come across.

      And as for the need for this blog, I write it to track my own journey, and make it public on the suspicion that here and there my experience will be instructive to even one other person. I’ve visited blogs like that, with small readership, which nevertheless left me with something valuable I didn’t have before visiting. Hope that answers your questions. If not, prod me some more! — ADW

  2. So how do you know you’re not simply reacting out of social conditioning? You’ve internalized a monitor or monitors of your behavior in the form of social norms and mores as “freedom” and can’t see beyond it to REAL freedom. The druid get-up you sometimes wear is just one of several forms of compensation you allow yourselves to make up for the lack of freedom you actually face. IF you just cast off the whole imposed order, and acted out of desire, you’d finally experience freedom and realize that worrying about the good of the whole or “your best long-term interest” is just another form of social control you’ve swallowed whole. This doesn’t sound like freedom, but just another tired justification for oppression of the sort we’ve heard and suffered several times before, from Christianity and other thou-shalt-not religions and philosophies that caused half the problems we’re having now.

    • Chris, thanks for this follow-up post and “prod.” I can certainly turn your first question back to you: how do YOU know you’re not also responding to a (different) form of conditioning?!

      We’re all subject to some form, and as along as we can be conscious of it, and not be swept into thinking we’re liberated when everyone else is still “caught,” then we have a chance like anyone else to become more conscious, harmoniously flourishing beings. The freedom you mention sounds like a form of Nietzschean thought. If that works for you, go for it.

      But I’ve found through experimentation that the natural world is much less interested in human constructs of “freedom” and much more likely to pursue its own patterns. The practice of Druidry observes those patterns and offers ways to live in harmony with them. To me there’s a substantial difference between the “thou shalt (not)” of “don’t put your hand in the fire or you’ll get burned” and “believe _____ (fill in the blank) or you’ll destroy our values/wreck the economy/destroy civilization as we know it.” The first has pretty immediately testable consequences, while the second is something we’ve been hearing in one form or another for at least the past few thousand years.

      If you’ve found freedom and happiness (if those are your goals) following your practices and beliefs, excellent. The example of your life will promote it better than any arguments you or I can make on a blog. That’s all any of us have in the end: the example of our own lives and choices and experiences. And that’s how most changes occur and spread — from people seeing what actually works. And that’s what I find in Druidry. — ADW

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