I was recently asked some questions by my German publisher for an introduction to their edition of What Do Druids Believe? I thought I’d share some of this with you:
How do you see the future of nature religions, especially Druidry, in the modern world?
As environmental degradation increases we are bound to experience an increase of interest in Nature religions. When you risk losing something then you start to treasure it more. But there are other phenomena occurring which I believe will also affect people’s spiritual affiliation. While there is now a trend towards fundamentalism in all religions, there is an interesting and quite contrary phenomenon occurring. More and more people are recognising the universal themes they see expressed in every religion and they are becoming less interested in dogma and in rigid identification with any one religious path. Instead they might be inspired by elements of a number of paths to create their own rather individual way. A prosaic analogy is the way you can now combine paints in a hardware store to create just the shade of colour you need. On the one hand this can lead to a consumerist approach which is naturally criticised by theologians and religious thinkers. They talk about the ‘New Age schmorgasbord’ which goes for variety rather than depth, but if we go beyond this judgemental position to observe what is really happening we can see that many people can no longer hold an allegiance to just one religion. They are becoming ‘global citizens’ in their faith as well as in other ways.
Perhaps we are coming to a time when for many of us our previous life-memories are being reactivated, or our experiences of having various lives following different faiths is now reaching fruition – a particular evolutionary stage whereby we can embrace more than one approach. In Druidry I see this with people who feel particularly connected to both Druidism and one or more other traditions. So there are people whose path is a combination of Buddhism and Druidism, or Wicca and Druidism, or they see themselves as Christian Druids or Taoist Druids, for example. It is as if the two or more strands that they combine somehow reinforce and deepen each other.
But there is another process at work too. There have always been paths which are ‘meta-paths’ which are able to transcend religious distinctions, such as alchemy. An alchemist could be Buddhist or Jain, Christian or Muslim, Hindu or Jewish. Some people who follow Druidry follow it in this way – considering it an inner ‘meta-path’ that they can combine with another path of a more conventional religion. When a Christian alchemist from Europe met an Arab Muslim alchemist they shared a common understanding and language. I see the same thing happening in our Order when Christian and Wiccan or Buddhist Druids meet. Even though they have allegiances with very different religions there is a common ground that they share – a common source of inspiration for them both.
So when you ask about the future I see one in which a growing number of people feel sufficiently free, sufficiently enabled or empowered to ‘follow their bliss’ – as that great mythographer Joseph Campbell expressed it – in their own unique and special way. And as this happens I see a tremendous growth of creativity – artistically, but also socially and scientifically too. Although I suspect we’re in for a tough time in the decades ahead, I think it’s going to be a very exciting, innovative and colourful time too.