July 2013: An interview with the Russian website koodesnik.su
1). Tell us how the magic and mystery of druidism came into your life?
I was awoken spiritually when I was eleven by two things: I read the book ‘The Life of the Buddha’ by L.Adams Beck and I met the old Chief Druid Ross Nichols. The book introduced me to the idea of enlightenment and I found that thrilling – gaining that exalted state became my goal from that moment. Meeting the man who would become my spiritual guide was less dramatic. My father introduced me to him, and I thought no more about it until I was 16. Then I became fascinated in the teachings of the Druids, and in the thought that I was living in a magical landscape, with its ley lines and stone circles. I started to visit his house every week and he taught me about Druidism, until at the age of 18 I was initiated on Glastonbury Tor into the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.
2). Tell us about 3 most striking moments of your life associated with mysticism and druidism?
A few days after my Druid teacher died, in May 1975, I experienced a lucid dream in which my teacher stood with a number of other people in a circle. I was asked to lie down on the earth, on an old barrow, in the centre of the circle. They then directed a flow of energy towards me which became very intense, as if thousands of volts of electricity where being sent through me. In the end I had to ask them to stop – I thought it would kill me. But I was filled with energy and inspiration and felt I had contacted a stream of powerful and sustaining spiritual energy.
Nine years later an event occurred which changed my life dramatically. One morning I became aware of my old teacher standing beside me (even though he was ‘dead’). He told me many things and asked me to fulfil certain tasks, which I did. As a result of this my life changed completely. I was asked to lead the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids and now I spend my time writing books and travelling the world giving workshops and talks.
When my teacher was alive we used to perform Druid ceremonies on Glastonbury Tor. Our Order only had a dozen members or so, and our ritual would be observed by perhaps another dozen members of the public. Now when we hold our ceremonies, a hundred or more of us stand in a circle, with Druids from all over the world, and we are surrounded by many members of the public who want to experience this. There is so much joy and love of the land and of each other expressed at these festivals.
3). You write books, give interviews, and release discs to enlighten the world about who Druids were, and who they are now. Why do you do it?
I believe we have entered a new era in which more and more of us no longer need the old religious structures which treated us like children who needed discipline. Instead we need spiritualities which help us connect with the inner wisdom and direction which exists inside all of us – the God or Goddess within. But at the same time we need guidance to help us connect to this inner source, and methods we can use to increase our sense of connection with Nature, each other and the Divine. Druidry is such a spirituality, and although it is rooted in the ancient past, much of its teachings have been drawn from the modern era, and it is a manifestation of what is known as the Western Mystery Tradition, or the Perennial Wisdom Tradition. I write and talk about this subject because I have experienced the tremendously positive impact it can have on people’s lives.
4). You have many books, why are they not printed in Russia?
Because no Russian publisher has been sensible enough to do this! Much of my work has been published in Bulgaria, but not Russia yet.
5). What inspired you to create a deck of Druid Tarot cards?
The Tarot offers a wonderful medium to convey spiritual teachings. The fact that it uses imagery, as opposed to words, means that it can reach different parts of our brain, and different levels of our consciousness. The fact that it has emerged over the centuries out of the Westerm Mystery Tradition means that it is finely tuned to the archetypal ideas and forces that underpin our reality. For that reason we decided it would be a powerful tool for conveying the teachings of Druidry and Wicca.
6). Why did you replace the Page-Boy with the Princess?
We were determined to introduce gender equality into our deck. Most tarot authors find the Major Arcana so rich and fascinating that they devote most of their attention to that, and the least attention to trying to understand or convey the value of the 16 court cards. But the court cards offer the Tarot’s very own typology – showing us 16 types of character, just as astrology shows us 12 types. So we pay a lot of attention to these cards, and have made sure that 8 are female and 8 male.
7). Is there a card in this Tarot deck that you associate with yourself?
No – although Stephanie would say I’m the Fool a lot of the time!
8). How was it that three artists – you, your wife, and Will Worthington – were able to create and reconcile such solid images?
Stephanie is an artist and so she has a well-developed visual imagination. I meditated upon and studied the meaning of each card and then talked about it with Stephanie. She would suggest how we should represent the card as an image and we would communicate that to Will, the artist of the deck. Most of the time he would follow these instructions, but sometimes he would suggest an alternative way of depicting the card, and invariably these suggestions would be wonderful.
9). What attracts you to the subject of druidism?
It emphasises the importance of Nature, the land, and the power of stories and music, through its Bardic tradition. And those are the aspects of life which feed my soul: music, story and being out in the wild beauty of the natural world. In addition, Druidry is a little ‘crazy’ – it is eccentric, wild, and unconventional – and my experience is that you don’t find creativity and fulfilment by being conventional and restrained. And look where being ‘normal’ has got us – the bankers, politicians, industrialists are the so-called ‘normal’ ones, and look at the mess they’ve got us into! In addition, the history of Druidry in the last few hundred years is a history of radicalism. Druids have challenged the status quo and that is a good thing.
10). Do you consider yourself a druid?
Yes, but although my spiritual practice is rooted in Druidry, I believe we have entered an era in which we can move beyond labels and follow the Nameless Way – being inspired by the wisdom in all spiritual paths and teachings. So it’s like asking me if I consider myself an English man. Yes at one level that is obviously true – a fact of who I am, but I don’t really think of myself in this way, because I feel a citizen of the world, and a member of the human race, rather than specifically a man or English. Likewise with the spiritual ‘label’ of being a druid – it is a fact about my identity, but I don’t really attach myself to this label. Instead I just sense myself as a ‘spiritual being’.
11). How does the British government treat the society of the Druids. Supports it, encourages it, or, on the contrary, is hostile?
A few years ago a Druid group was given charitable status, which allows it to accept tax-free donations, and the media gave it a lot of attention claiming that the British government now officially ‘recognised’ Druidry as a religion, but that is not correct. There is no mechanism for the government to accept or reject a religion. Everyone is free to practise or create whatever religion they like. There is no discrimination and no official interest even. It’s fine!
12). Is The Druid Society able to find common language with the Anglican Church, or do their interests not overlap?
The Anglican church, despite the many criticisms we might think of, are actually much more open than one might think, and we have good relations with them. Although most of our 16,000 or so members probably consider themselves Pagans, a number are Christians, and that is not a problem. As long as one maintains an open mind and heart, difference is a good thing – and a sort of spiritual biodiversity flourishes within today’s Druidry.