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An Englishman In New York: Druids And Druidry

"I’ve always been a skeptic when it comes to Druidry. There’s something not quite right, with its dubious origins. Oh sure, it’s an excuse for saving the whale, eco-warrior, granola chomping, Birkenstock wearing, tree hugging, bearded lecturers, ban the bombers, New Ager types and the like (did I miss anyone?) to get in touch with their Earth Mother or whatever, but it’s largely a reinvention of a supposed peoples,'' writes David Thomasesson.

The Charity Commission http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charity_Commission_for_England_and_Wales , an august body in charge of regulating publicly registered English and Welsh charities, recently announced that The Druid Network http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Druid_Network which acts as a framework for the global community of the Druid tradition would be classed as a religious charitable organization. The Commission added that Druidry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid (what a word, a cross between deadly and ruin perhaps?) is flourishing more than at any time since the arrival of Christianity to Britain.

Commission has accepted that druids' worship of spirits arising from the natural world could be seen as a religious activity. We should also note that The Commission’s Vision, along with its Mission, and Values and all the other rubbish-speak that institutions are supposed to care about, is “Charity working at the heart of society for public benefit” Ergo, as we like to say, granting The Druid Network it’s charitable status means it must be for the public benefit. Well, that’s interesting. I hardly think they’re working at the”heart of society” but “for public benefit” now that I could agree with. We need a laugh sometimes, and the sight of Druids on TV is definitely in the public interest. I’ve always thought there’s something just a little off about grown adults dressing up in smocks and beards. And that’s just the women. Along with the pseudo mumbo-jumbo chanting, or whatever, they dream up for the cameras. Still they could also be Morris Dancers with their handkerchiefs, bells and whistles, and for that we should be truly thankful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_dance

So there’ll be a brisk trade in white sheets and mistletoe at Ye Olde Druid Shoppe, perhaps a few crosses as it is now a religion. It won’t be long before one smart chap will say why not burn the crosses to keep warm, you know, on people’s front lawns and then where will we be?

Interestingly the Charity Commission web-site says that the Commission expects to take 40 days to review and approve a new Charity. Really, so why did it take four years for the Druid Network to attain approval. I suspect they couldn’t stop laughing long enough to take it seriously. Apparently after their mammoth and exhaustive four-year inquiry, the Commission decided that Druidry offered coherent practices for the worship of a supreme being, and provided a beneficial moral framework. According to Arthur Pendragon http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0349683/ (Celtic and Cornish with just a hint of the Round Table), self-titled Battle Chieftain of the Council of British Druid orders (I know, you really couldn’t make this up) “We are looking at the indigenous religion of these isles - it's not a new religion but one of the oldest”. What a tosser. A senior spokes-druid said “…Druidry will have the status of a genuine faith.” Well, not quite, more like genuine status of a faith. Said spokes-druid also told the BBC News website that the organization had had to "jump through hoops" to meet the Commission's requirements. With or without your white smock, I wonder?

Mr. Pendragon, of Stonehenge (don’t you just love formality in reporting, and what an address!), also said he would not be seeking charitable status for his own order - the Loyal Arthurian Warband, as it was a political wing and therefore had no need to be recognized as a charity. A Druid political wing, for what, tax breaks on white sheets?

I’ve always been a skeptic when it comes to Druidry. There’s something not quite right, with its dubious origins. Oh sure, it’s an excuse for saving the whale, eco-warrior, granola chomping, Birkenstock wearing, tree hugging, bearded lecturers, ban the bombers, New Ager types and the like (did I miss anyone?) to get in touch with their Earth Mother or whatever, but it’s largely a reinvention of a supposed peoples. There’s not one record of any artifact that could be associated with Druids, nor the practice of any form of religion, not even pagan ceremonies. We have these people in New York you know; we call them Upper West Siders. You may have seen them in the coffee shops, eating their tofu surprise (tofu is always a surprise), wheat-germ salad, fat-free nut cutlets and tofu burgers, or whatever. Which reminds me, do you know the best way to cook tofu? Fuhhgeddaboutit, there isn’t one.

So who are these self-proclaimed keepers of the faith, preservers of the ancient rituals, and devoted guardians of stone henges? According to some, they congregate in circles, having no head (anyone else thinking of chickens?), nor a beginning or end. The circle mirrors the turning of the wheel, and the cycle of the seasons that is held in such reverence by the Pagan community. Oh dear, pause for nausea. It gets worse, because there are three types of Druids.

The Bardic grade, which deals predominantly with teaching, poetic, artistic, and academic skills. Academic skills, they must be joking, it’s all made up. The Vate or Ovate (more like oy vey) grade that deals predominantly with the Intuitive and Magical skills. This presumably advances the cause of Merlin, England’s greatest fictitious practitioner of the magic arts. Have to be careful with this one, encroaching as it is on all-hallowed Potter territory. And lastly, the Druid grade that deals with Public Ritual and Judgments; with helpful hints on how best to iron and store your white dress sheet. Perhaps this grade should also include lessons on how to avoid the inevitable amount of public ridicule that accompanies Druidry. The only options being to develop a thick skin or feign convenient deafness.

According to the Spiritual New Age Wisdom Article Directory “…this image of the Druid in white is little more than two hundred years old, created during a period of revived interest in the tradition when one picture from the classical literature of two millennia ago was chosen from many: Pliny's image of the Druid cutting mistletoe from the sacred oak.” and “These ideas are really projections of ourselves onto the fog-screen of history and an archetypal reflection back to us of what we would like, or need, to be true. No doubt it fits our modern, urban, need for romance and escapism to imagine our ancestors as poetic warriors, living wild and free in great sacred forests, in idyllic communion with the whole of nature.” Quite so.

In 1927 T.D. Kendrick dispelled the pseudo-historical aura that had accrued to druids, asserting that "a prodigious amount of rubbish has been written about druidism". Well said, now we’re getting somewhere. The British Museum is also blunt “Modern Druids have no direct connection to the Druids of the Iron Age. Many of our popular ideas about the Druids are based on the misunderstandings and misconceptions of scholars 200 years ago. These ideas have been superseded by later study and discoveries.” In other words, it is absolute tosh, dreamt up to preserve a romantic vision of our ancestors.

So, quite clearly, the only point of Neo-Druidry is for the modern-day Pagan to get their 15 minutes of fame by performing “Here Comes the Sun” solstice rituals at Stonehenge.

A little humor to end with (from Paganlibrary.com):

What's the best thing about a Pagan friend……………….They worship the ground you walk on

What do you call 13 Witches in a hot tub………………………..A self-cleaning coven
**

Do visit David's Web site
http://www.britoninnewyork.com/

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