In Druidry we use a prayer that we often recite together when standing in a great circle at Stonehenge or on Glastonbury Tor. It’s known as the Druid’s Prayer and it was written by a Welshman Iolo Morganwg just over 200 hundred years ago. The version we use in the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids goes like this:
Grant, O God/Goddess/Gods/Great Spirit thy Protection
And in protection, Strength
And in strength, Understanding
And in understanding, Knowledge
And in knowledge, the Knowledge of Justice
And in the knowledge of justice, the Love of it
And in the love of it, the Love of all Existences
And in the love of all existences, the Love of God/Goddess/Gods/Great Spirit (or: the Earth our Mother) and all Goodness.
When you hear it recited in a big group it turns into a shambles right at the beginning. Some say ‘Grant O God’, others Grant O Goddess, others say God & Goddess, others O Gods, others O Great Spirit. This chaos is a good thing. There is no dogma in Druidry – no mandated theological stance. We celebrate this diversity. Unanimity is soon restored in the lines that follow, and the chaos only returns at the end, when Deity is invoked once more.
Some people baulk when they hear the term ‘justice’ being used in this prayer. It conjures up images of authoritarianism – of aggressive policing. But they’ve misunderstood – and nowhere can this be seen more clearly than if we look at what happened in Minneapolis a few days ago when a policeman murdered a man brazenly in the street undeterred by the knowledge he was being filmed, and that people were calling out for him to stop.
Justice is what every human being requires as a fundamental right, and that is why the fury has broken out in reaction to that apalling act. Racial justice, climate justice, social justice. The modern Druid movement stands for these values and I am proud that one of our founding figures, Iolo Morganwg, wrote those lines of the Druid Prayer, and proud too to know that outside a shop he ran in Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, was a sign saying that the sugar he sold was from plantations that employed no slaves. He also refused a legacy from his brothers, whose plantations in Jamaica used slave labour.
Druids pray for the Knowledge of Justice and the love of it. They pray for peace too, and after sending peace to each of the four directions in a Druid ritual, everyone in the circle – of every colour, gender, race, and age who is gathered there – says: “May there be peace throughout the whole world.”