When I tell people that I'm an aspiring druid I receive varied responses. There are those who are curious and want to know more (which I gladly tell them.) The second most common group are those who have heard of Druids in fantastic and horrific tales. These are a bit harder to tell about my faith because they have a lot of untruth and imagined things associated with the word "Druid." Neverthe less I usually can shake these misconceptions.
So what is a Druid you ask? Let me first disspell a few myths. Druids are not the lost tribe of Israel (or any other tribe or Israel for that matter). Druids are not kings, Druids did not build Stone Henge (the ancient ones found it, thought it was nifty, and used it.), and above all, Not all Druids have long white beards!
Alright, now that we have that over with, let's delve into what a druid is. In Celtic society Druids were the high priests. That means they presided in divination, provided counsel to the kings, worked magick, were the ritualists, artisans, bards, and judges. Today druids get to do most of the fun stuff that the ancient ones did, but our role is a bit different. We are the keepers of the ancient Celtic wisdom, we practice the magick of the Celts and worship mainly Celtic deities. In other words, through our rituals, magick, storytelling, attempts at singing, and various other crafts we keep the traditions of the old world alive. At the same time, however, we add to it the traditions of the modern world. We tend to attempt to be sort of an encyclopedia as we drink in everything around us.
Notice that I said that Druids worship mainly Celtic deities. It is in the nature of the Druid to be eclectic. There was no one united Celtic nation or religion. Celtic society was one of tribes. Druids of the day would learn all the myth and ritual of all the surrounding religion and incorporate it into their own. This allowed the stories to always be constant, and to come closer together. Of course, most religions start this way. Even Judeo-Christian faiths did this very thing. (The ancient Hebrew people borrowed much of their faith from the early Zorastians and the Sumerian myths which were already ancient in the time of Moses. What sets druidry apart from that is that we don't write scriptures. Most of our knowledge is read nowadays, but we still don't say "This is what happened" and write it in stone. Our stories evolve with the language, by never writing them in an ancient language, we deftly avoided much debate. Instead it is the IDEAS that we carry on. The ideas are what is important. No one cares if you get the names or places right here, (though that does add a bit of mysticism to the process.) And of course we are constantly adding to our ideas. We love to study other religions because those religions then become part of our own. (a quick look at my bookshelf will attest to my love of other religions.) Still the main thing that makes us Druids is that we are first dedicated to the Celtic spiritual paths.
Druidry is a pagan faith, much like Wicca. In fact Wicca has some of its roots in the druid traditions. Based on my own observation of the Wiccan faith, Wicca seems to be a somewhat eclectic blend of Druidism and Native American shamanism. But I digress. Druids do practice the arts of magick. One thing that modern Druids do not do is human sacrifice. (This is one myth I forgot to mention.) It is true that the ancient ones did sacrifice humans from time to time. This was a last result measure, and as we aren't in danger of famine any more I don't see any human sacrifices being made. It just is simply a practice that is no longer necessary. We have found better ways. The ancient ones did not enjoy human sacrifice, it was as I said a sacrifice, and a supreme one at that. For those who would condemn the ancients as barbarous, I would like to remind you that the so called civilized faiths (Judeasm, Christianity, Islam, and the like) have killed many more people than all the human sacrifices ever made by all peoples who practiced that rite.
There was a time when Druids were hunted, as were witches. Unfortunately this time
is not entirely passed us by. Really I don't understand the reasoning behind any of
this. Druids and witches are loving peoples who respect all living things and seek
to take care of this Earth that we live on. Our main objective is one of love and
peace. We are as human as the next group! If you have any questions I would be
happy to answer them. I hope this brief article has shed a bit of light on what
a Druid is/does. Also, I would love to hear about your faith as well. (Though
I do humbly request that there be no conversion attempts.)
May the information presented here serve you well. Blessed Be! (A favorite phrase I picked up from Wiccan friends...)