The following is an excerpt from an essay I'm working on concerning patterns of mystical practice and how they might apply to a Neopagan mystical system. In the course of doing that I find it neccesary to ask "what makes it Pagan?"
What Makes It Druidic? – In which I stick my neck out to suggest what the boundaries of our modern Druidic spirituality might be. Please, Dear Reader, understand that I only mean to present my part in our discourse, and never to suggest any of this as fixed doctrine or creed for Our Way. I hope that this paper and these ideas will provoke discussion and adaptation of these ideas.
Druidic Spiritual Metavalues
1. Nature Centered – I feel I am safe in proposing that a Druidic spirituality is one that takes nature as a divine revelation, perhaps as the very presence of the divine. We view nature as a true and good image of spiritual reality – it is unfallen and holy as we find it. This includes the rejection of the idea that nature or spirit is divided into ‘good and ‘evil’ – we are not moral dualists, imagining that nature or spirit chooses sides between the light and the dark.
2. Life Affirming – Just as we value the material world as holy, so physical life is also holy and good, and death is a natural and holy part of life. We know that sorrow and suffering will probably be unavoidable, but we have confidence in our own virtue and strength to reduce and mitigate it.
3. Human Affirming – Just as physical nature is holy and good, so human personal and social nature is a true and holy part of nature. We are as much an expression of the divine as an oak or an eagle.
4. Polyvalent – We observe that in nature every kind of thing exists in multiple examples, similar but each unique. To us this demonstrates that the divine must also manifest as many beings, and that there must be multiple paths and methods to accomplish almost any goal. Thus, we are polytheistic, and understand the divine will to exist in and as many individual wills.
Druidic Customs and Models – These are core assumptions of the sort of Druidic Paganism that I enjoy, specifically the work of my local Grove and of ADF as a whole. These assumptions and directions will tend to have immediate influence on which models we choose.
1. Ritualistic – We are not, generally, quietists, seeking to simply be still and know whatever. We favor expression of ideas in formal speech and symbolism, and use ritual to solidify spiritual powers into the manifest world. We are slowly developing a body of meditation practice that supports and reflects our ritual ideas, but we have not very far developed our own Druidic meditation models for seeking mystical states. (See the other major section of this chapbook for Your Author’s efforts.)
2. Reciprocal – Our work joins our personal spiritual reality with that of the greater divine and spiritual world. We intend to build relationships between the divine and the personal, the core idea of our practice is, in many ways, reciprocity. We can ask ourselves how that will apply to a more immediate union between the divine and the personal.
3. Mythic – Our Druidry has tended to reject an ‘archetypal’ or purely psychosocial understanding of the Gods and Spirits in favor of a more directly mythic description. We enjoy working in the mythic models of the ancients – how will we use those tales in efforts to induce spiritual experiences, and in what directions will they send us?
4. Social and Tribal – Our Druidry has tended to focus on the social group, from the Hearth to the fully developed Grove. Mysticism is commonly done alone or in small focused groups – how will we adapt our direction for that?
Beginning with these basic ideas, we’ll go on, in the next part of our series, to examine various models of mystical practice in IE and post-IE Europe and India. In the final part I will discuss my thoughts on where we might begin in developing specific mystical practices inside our existing systems.