Questions of Faith

The first installment in our guest blogger series is Travis, AKA Zeus...


What faith do you espouse?
My faith is to follow, as closely as possible, the teachings of the Druids. I realize this is vague, but hopefully it won’t be by the time I am done. Druid is an old Celtic word meaning – “OAK WISE.”

I am but one of many who follow this faith; I do not speak for all. There are too many diverse people and opinions represented by this faith to begin to do so. Further, I do not speak for the God or Goddess or any of their representative lower deities within this faith. I am not qualified to do so via this medium or on such broad questions. What is contained herein is a culmination of my knowledge from my years of researching, practicing, meditating, and living within this faith.

Who was the founder of your faith? When did he/she live?
There is no single identifiable founder of the principles of faith that I follow. I acknowledge and understand the argument that true Druidism died during the time of the Roman Empire. The Romans made an official policy of wiping out the Druids as the clergy of the Celts. Two factors, however, allow me to base my beliefs on the tenets of the Druidic teachings.

First, the practice of a nature-based pagan tradition was not wiped out by the Romans. As there was no policy of targeting women, they were largely responsible for passing down many of the traditions. Further, in order for the Roman Catholic Church to make inroads into Celtic society, they adopted several of the holidays and founding principles of the Celts. This made Catholicism more palatable to the people and helped to preserve those holidays and principles.

Second, the conquering Romans were very meticulous at studying their adversary. They left detailed accounts of the practices of the Druids, both in the reality of what occurred as well as the beliefs of the people. Due to these texts we know that Druids were the advocates, negotiators, and judges of the Celtic society. We know that the Druids would consult the natural world around them for the advice they would give. Also, we know that there was a strong belief in these persons as advisors to warlords, to the extent that societies would act, or not act at the advice of a single Druid. There was also a very high faith among the people in the Druid’s ability to perform acts of what are today called magic. These acts range from the blessing/creating of holy water to control of the weather.

What are the sacred texts of your faith?
There are no texts that I know to be sacred in the Druidic faith. There are many that explain the main tenets of the faith, and prescribe how one should act to be called a Druid. The closest thing a Druid keeps to a “sacred text” is his own journal in which he documents his own actions and prescriptions for how others should act. For the most part this tradition was a verbal one, passed down from a practicing Druid to his apprentice, who was expected to memorize the full extent of his teacher’s knowledge and expand upon that knowledge as he became a practicing Druid himself.

What is the central teaching of your faith?
The central idea for those following the path of the Druid is to live a good life. This means living in harmony with nature, and with your fellow man. For many practitioners today this means following the Wiccan rede. Due to the fact that the tradition is almost entirely a verbal one, there are few other overarching guiding principles. The idea of what is just and right is left up to the solitary practitioner. This is surely the most common reason given individuals of the faith may disagree, and these disagreements are part of the reason that negotiation was always a highly honed craft amongst Druids. There are several sub-groups who all call themselves Druids. They run a gamut of beliefs ranging from simply providing moral ideals through the writings of the Romans all the way to finding “true” druidic spell-craft embedded in surviving documents such as the Bible and English common law. Most practitioners fall somewhere in the middle relying on personal judgment as to whether a proposed ceremony is true to ancient or modern-adapted traditions.

How does your faith define sin? What are the major sins, and how is one absolved?
The Wiccan Rede, as stated, is a prime source for many who profess to be of a Celtic faith. Just about anything that can be said about it has also been said of the “Golden Rule.”

“Bide this wiccan law ye must
Be in perfect love and perfect trust
Eight words this wiccan rede fulfill
‘and it harm none do what ye will’
Lest in self defense it be
Always mind the rule of three
Follow this in mind and heart
And merry ye meet and merry ye part.”

The piece, which bears explaining, is the rule of three. The basic premise of which is that everything you do comes back on you threefold. A very common application of this rule is, “do not hate, lest ye can bear its threefold return upon you.”

Roughly how many adherents does your faith have?
That depends on what you believe allows one to be called a Druid. Some believe, as I do, that you must be called a Druid by others, or even be formally initiated before you can adopt that moniker for yourself. This calls one to act as truly in the path he believes a Druid would follow without any reward from it, possibly for his entire lifetime. Others believe that you can initiate yourself, or simply by calling yourself a follower of the faith can call yourself a Druid. To those who disagree, it could be likened to every Catholic calling himself a priest.

What does your faith teach about the afterlife? Is there a heaven, and how do you get there?
Most Druids have a very real belief in the afterlife. Many ceremonies operate with the belief that those who have gone before us watch out for us on the other side. Druids believe that there is a ‘veil,’ of sorts, between the place where those who have passed now exist and this reality. This veil is crossed by the practitioner for purposes of communing with the dead, protecting oneself or others (only at their request) from negative energies, and even communing with friends from far away.

In my work with other people who practice Shamanic traditions (because we have this idea of brotherly love and a global society) from around the world, I have found it interesting that a similar view of the ‘otherworlds’ exists and is routinely used to the extent that both practitioners have very similar accounts of what has occurred between them.

What are the practices of your faith? (Daily, weekly, etc.)
The basic daily function of a modern Druid is nothing more than to live by the Rede. Beyond that there are religious ceremonies for almost every phase of the moon, although only full moon and new moon are regularly observed.

Druids also have several “high-holidays,” which mark the calendar. Both of the solstices are observed, as well as the Autumnal and Vernal equinoxes. There are also annual festivals to a handful of sub-deities representing everything from the “lord of fire” to “the lord of our local plains.”

Traditionally, Druids also held festivals in relationship to the harvests. Most villages would wait for specific festivals to be held before planting, harvesting, and even in some cases weeding their crops. Modern Druids still hold these festivals, but in a much less formal manner as few people still base their crop harvests on them.

How is your faith organized? Are there priests and bishops and archbishops (oh my!) etc…?
Druids are not organized by any specific social hierarchy. It is generally assumed that all druids are equal, even between those of us who disagree on matters such as initiation to the ranks of Druid. Like I said before, one of the major pieces of our tradition that we get from the Roman historians is the idea that we solve disputes rather than create them. When large groups meet, a general leader is usually recognized. I find that to be unnecessary between a group meeting in “perfect love and perfect trust.”

Are there regular services available to you locally? If so, where?
There are many local services available to all earth-honoring practitioners. It depends on what you are into, what you are looking for, and on what level you believe in things like the practice of what some see as “real magic.”

How did you come to be a believer?
I could write a series of blogs about my story of becoming a believer in this tradition. The bottom line is that in my search for a tradition, this one DOES NOT tell me who I have to be or conversely who I cannot be. Members of this faith do not pass judgment on me for being gay, as a matter of fact it is considered to be an asset. And most importantly, I received a very obvious, very clear, and very powerful sign, in nature, that this was the path for me to follow.

A word about being a believer: Many people try to debunk this faith by saying things like; you can’t honestly believe that you can commune with the spirits in some ‘otherworld’ can you? Or, those tarot cards don’t really tell you shit do they? My answer has always been, nope they won’t. This is something, like all other faiths that you have to believe in. There is no magic / magick / majik without believing. It is a lot like Santa Clause. If you are expecting a man in a red suit with a fake beard that is what you are going to get. If you are expecting the spirit of Christmas, you are in for one hell of a ride.

What do you wish others knew about your faith?
First, there is nothing, I have found, in this faith that keeps women from calling themselves Druids. There are some who would say otherwise, but some of the best books I have read in the gamut of historical to religious practices of Druids are written by women. These women practice the faith and so too should any woman who wishes to do so. I recognize that many men as well as women look to the Roman’s accounts as evidence against this. However, so much of our tradition survived on account of women, that many of us believe they have a very important place in our circles.

Secondly, this is not about making fogs appear from thin air or calling dragons down from the sky. A large component of the craft was/is/and always will be understanding the world around the Druid and therefore being able to predict when the fog will roll away from a battlefield in such a way as to be advantageous to the side the Druid represents.

Finally, while I may have gone a little overboard with the notion that the Druids have a 'choose your own adventure' religion; there are still many formal traditions that most of us follow. The only way to truly appreciate them is to be introduced to them. If you would like more information I would be more than happy to point you in the direction of some great reading to get you started.


Please feel free to leave comments for Travis here, or on his blog. If you have questions that would be better handled by Email, you can mail them to me at the address in my profile and I will forward them on to him.


Post a Comment