The Gift Exchange Relationship


Writing about gift exchange as we slog our way through the holiday season seems absolutely appropriate to me.  Gift giving as a practice is nearly universal.  In fact, I cannot think of a single culture existing today or in the line of the ancestors that doesn’t practice gift giving on some level.  For the sake of this writing, I’d like to discuss at some level, what gift giving actually is.

To truly gift, is to honor another.  We’ve all heard it said that it is not the gift that counts but the spirit in which that gift is given.  It is the thought behind giving a gift that matters more than the gift itself and in this modern and largely materialistic culture, we have lately taken that to mean:  The nicer the gift, the more it matters.  In the way I see it, the gift exchange relationship has a greater value.  I often leave small amounts of food outside as an offering to nature, with the understanding that nature has given me a bounty.  I have accepted that I have no greater right to existence than any other being and so every moment that I remain alive has value.  Offerings can come in many forms.  I read an incredibly cool blog post recently by Anna Walther that discussed some the of the ways she honors her interactions with Nature.  Quickly on the heels of that, came another blog post by Lupa Greenwolf that illustrated more devotional practices.  I think that these are wonderful examples.  They are simple and beautiful in their scope and do nothing to ruin the land at all for the Earth or other beings.

In the practice of my Druidry, I often think on this when I am with the land and those who dwell there.  As I have stated before, the elements of Nature do not require my acknowledgement of their existence for them to exist.  Fire will not fail to burn because I choose not to believe in it, nor water flow, nor air move, nor earth support my weight if I turn a blind eye to them.  It is rather safe to say though that because these elements exist, I exist and so to engage in the gift exchange with these forces means that I consciously engage in relationship.  When we exchange gifts with the Wild, it doesn’t mean mittens or transformer toys.  It means the way we walk, the things we do to reduce our harmful impact.  Would that we could live as our ancestors did, wearing  animal skins and walking barefoot, we might still have some level of negative or harmful effect.  We would also probably be arrested by the local authorities for hunting out of season and causing a public scare.  I digress…

The gift exchange is about balance.  I can tell you for certain that there is no manner at present that I could ever repay the Wild for all that it has gifted to me.  The walks, the wild blueberries, the sight of animals, the laughter of my son as he tosses rocks into the streams and ponds, the smile of my wife beside me in the sun and snow.  These are gifts I can never thank the Wild enough for, whether the Wild meant them as gifts or not.  What does matter to me is that I show my appreciation for these gifts by honoring nature by giving something of myself as well.  Some memento of my passing, a thank you for the wonder, the sustenance, the experience of walking and being a part of Nature.  In essence, I honor the Wild in myself by honoring the wild outside of myself and this is how the gift exchange relationship reveals itself to me.  This is the balance that I am personally capable of establishing with the Wild and with each day, I try to do something more that brings my own influence into greater parity with Nature.

Ultimately, the gift exchange is essential to edgework.  It would be wrong to characterize every relationship as a transaction because gifts are not transactions in the manner you might see them in the realm of politics and finance.  I give freely and the Wild gives freely.  Where we give freely there is relationship that has honesty without pretense or guile.  I may find myself lost in the woods on a snowy night and no matter how much I cry to the gods of winter for mercy they may never come to my aid and no matter how much I plead or beg, ultimately I owe my body and my life to the Wild.  This is honest relationship even though it does not exactly favor my own hope for survival and this is the type of relationship that I feel as a species we do not honor enough.  As human beings, we have a tendency to believe we have a right to exist when Nature has shown time and time again throughout the long history of the Earth that there is no right to exist.  The ability to adapt we credit ourselves with and so carefully covet is a result of the expansive rate of technological advancement our species has enjoyed.  This advancement, it should be mentioned, has come at a cost that we have barely begun to see but the next several generations will be paying interest on.  When our natural resources have declined to the point we can no longer access them to survive, our technology will not prove to have been an exceptionally useful investment.  I use these terms because that is how our species has come to view the Wild:  How many liters of water? How many tons of salt?  How many barrels of oil?  There is nothing honest in a relationship when we are seeking to benefit from that relationship at the expense of another, in this case, the Earth itself.

One of the important things to remember about the gift exchange is that both parties come away with something of value to them.  For a moment, think of it like a trade.  When I sit with a Pine or an Oak tree and begin my edgework, the tree needs nothing from me and I need nothing from the tree, yet both myself and this other being that is the tree come away with something of value, the opportunity to blend edges.  When I do this, I often will leave a small memento of my passing to honor the Tree and the beings that live in it’s drip circle, something the squirrels and chipmunks can take home with them (nuts are rather popular).

This type of gift exchange allows me to be consciously involved in the relationships I establish which is ultimately, the most important aspect of the gift exchange to me.

So this year, as we spend time with our families exchanging gifts and enjoying the familiarity of the holiday season, don’t forget to honor the land we walk upon, the Earth that holds us to her bosom and the Wild that is all around us.  This is the gift exchange relationship, to honor the forces that honor us through our very existence and in doing so, we consciously bring ourselves into greater parity with the Wild.

In my next post, I’ll begin to talk about my personal perceptions of the sacred elements and how I use them in the practice of my Druidry.

Alban Arthuan

Upon the barren branch alights the sober darkling wren,

To remind us of the winter chill ’til the Robin comes again,

Dandelion seeds on the breeze that float away,

Is as the light disappearing from the edges of the day,

And hearken now the gathering light, the Oak King climbs to station,

And despite the harsh of winter cold, the old King’s abdication,

Hearing wings as they beat the air,  Further to the south,

Tasting warmer waters in its tiny peckish mouth,

And soon to North it will return, bringing Beltane sun,

We await you Robin redbreast, the Holly King has done.

May you all have a blessed Alban Arthuan!  hail the return of the Sun!

~Alban Artur

Magic in the Music

While I am working on my next post I wanted to share with all those who may read this blog, a little something wonderful.  Eric Robbins, aka Harper Meader, has come out with a full length album titled “Sweet Insomnia”.  Harper wrote the songs and James Lindenschmidt produced.  Both of these fine individuals are among those who helped to launch the Order of Maine Druidry.

You can find Harper’s website where you can listen to selected tracks and purchase the album itself in physical or digital format.

Part and parcel to making changes in our world is supporting the artists who support us.  I greatly encourage anyone interested in a local artist sharing his song to give Harper a listen.

The link to his website can be found here:

A link to James Lindenschmidt’s blog post about making the album can be found here:

It should be stated that even though several of the people that provided background chorals for “Havamal” are also members of the Order of Maine Druidry, our compensation for adding our voices to Harper’s album is the friendship we find in circle with a wonderful poet and songwriter.  Thank you Harper for including us in your adventure and for your service to Maine!


Edit:  The following is a link to a short youtube version of the song “Havamal” from Harper’s album.


And the video is embedded here for your viewing pleasure also!

Finding the pattern


A few years ago I explored the idea of Druidry as I looked for a path that suited my evolving ethic.  I went back and forth about it for awhile before deciding that Druidry was just too intimidating.  I decided that at the time because I am no good at puzzles.  That might seem a strange thing to say, but if you practice Druidry the way I do, almost everything becomes a puzzle.  You observe the connections between things and begin wondering how they fit together.  It never takes the form of “I can’t believe those things fit together!”  It is always more along the line of “Now this is interesting!” and then you want to take those examples and see how you fit with everything.

During my first year of Druid College we talked about edgework.  For those who need a primer, edgework is the practice of blending our own edges with the edges of other beings.  I felt particularly intimidated by this exercise as I had never attempted this in an active manner and I had no idea what the results were supposed to look or perhaps feel like.  Our initial exercise was to do edgework with some common trees that could be found anywhere.  I had middling success.  I sensed some level of connection but it was not deep and the gathering cold of winter drove me to warmer environments pretty quickly, complicating the process.  I tried a half a dozen more times to do the edgework until I finally found the key that opened that door to me a bit wider:  The Pattern.

For reference, it has been my experience that relationship is about pattern.  How we feel about someone or how someone feels about us is often based on patterns.  We observe these patterns in one another and decide for ourselves if their pattern dovetails with our own and this varies from person to person, being to being.  The more complex our own pattern is, the harder it is for others to reconcile it with their own and vice-versa.  On the flip side, someone who has a very simple pattern, can find themselves far too open to others whose patterns may have unhealthy elements.  Our pattern, which is a complicated amalgamation of who we are and what we believe about who we are, is what defines our edges.  Our edges will change depending on a variety of factors.  Fear, anger, Love, Jealousy, happiness, elation, relaxation and even physical well being, will cause us to define our edges as we pass other beings.  So the edgework that I did became about familiarity with the patterns I observed in blending my edges with other beings like trees, plants, animals, family members, etc.  After a while, I began trying to expand my edges outward to touch other beings even as I drove my vehicle past trees and farms, sort of a “passing hello” in the context of edgework.

The thing I always have to remember is that this is not about language.  It is not about hearing some voice in my head in the language of the tree or the bush or the family pet.  The reality is that everyone does edgework on some level it is simply that people don’t tend to do it consciously and actively or recognize that is what they are doing.  However, we distinguish patterns in those close to us all the time.  We can look at the face of a friend or partner and understand their feelings based on our prior experience with them.  There was a friend of mine years ago who had a completely flat affect.  He never seemed angry or upset and he would laugh at all my jokes, even the shitty ones.  I came to find out years later that many of my jokes offended him horribly and he grew a deep resentment over it.  Unfortunately, by the time he and I were able to come to a place where we could talk about it, the relationship was already so damaged that there was nothing I could do.  I use this example because as soon as I began to use edgework in an active way, the results were not what I expected.  I ended up discovering that he had a deep level of self loathing that was enough to make even me angry when I was trying to help.  It overwhelmed me and the relationship fell apart.  In that case, I fumbled the ball.  I was not careful and I left my own edges too open and vulnerable.  This was an important lesson for me and in reality, I only just recently found myself able to completely process it in this manner.  Edgework is also an act of balance and precision if it is to be effective.

Edgework is vitally important to my Druidry.  The land speaks through the beings that walk across it and it speaks through us.  My wife has told me many times that one of the observable patterns of nature can be seen in the number of a particular plants one sees in the growing season.  If we see an increase in the number of a certain type of plant in nature, it is an indication that the land is trying to provide for us something that it feels we will need.  I like the idea of this and tend to believe this is entirely likely.  Nature is a complex and seemingly chaotic system to many people. Those who spend time learning to consciously tease out the patterns in Nature begin to see the way it all comes together and I consider edgework vital to that process.  The land, the beings that exist there, ourselves, our communities, our relationships, are all connected.  We can establish relationships through edgework by recognizing the patterns we observe in this network of life and adjusting for that in a way that is respectful and helpful.  I refer to this the gift exchange relationship and I will talk about that in my next post.

A world of Druidry in my own back yard


Alban Artur.  Photo by Michael Bérubé

I thought I might take the time to explain some of my philisophical practice of Druidry

As I have mentioned previously, Druidry for me begins with relationship.  There are many people who approach their spirituality through the named gods of our ancestors.  I have never heard the call of those beings other than to appreciate the stories and myths that surround them and to honor my ancestors by learning those stories.  To me, this is establishing relationship with my ancestors because it helps me to understand how they saw the world around them, how they established their own relationship with the Wild Earth.  In this manner, I can understand how they lived their lives without passing judgment upon them for it.

Of my ancestors, I most closely relate my practice to the Celtic and Gaelic tribes of Ireland, Scotland, Brittania, Wales, France and the Iberian peninsula.  By many of todays standards, these were brutal people who practiced some level of human sacrifice (allegedly), constant tribal warfare and did not possess a sophisticated lifestyle based even on the conditions of the more affluent cultures of the day.  Their art though is something that trumps many of our modern assumptions about the sophistication of their spiritual and cultural evolution.  Their stories are something that survived far longer than their culture did and through these stories, we enjoy a window into their world that most can only glean snippits of relevant information from.  I will by no means purport to be a scholar in reference to the lives of the Ancients.  What I do have are instincts, instincts that tell me in the voices of my ancestors how they lived, how they loved, how they fought and how they died.

My ancestors speak to me of how they developed relationship to the land where their feet touched the Earth.  While the stories and myths they told around their campfires and in the village commons were connected to that land, there are a great many lessons there to be appreciated and emulated as we seek to craft relationship to the location in which we find ourselves.  My own feelings are that the gods of our ancestors are beings who belong in the lands our ancestors walked and while I can appreciate their presence in those stories, I feel a deeper kinship with the spirits of place that I find myself standing next to.

It is with this in mind that I view my spiritual beliefs, that I am a product of the natural forces that have sculpted the lines of my body as surely as they have sculpted the lines of the Earth itself and that my presence here is as relevant as the presence of any other being, the gods included.  I don’t acknowledge these beings as existing in a context that is removed from us but neither do I have the opinion that their perspective encompasses our own.  If we look at the mythologies of nearly any ancient culture, what we see is that the gods often interacted with us because they needed us to complete tasks that they were, for whatever reason, unable to do themselves.  While monotheistic religions trend towards believing that their own center of worship is an omnipotent being capable of changing reality at will, in Pagan antiquity there was no such belief.  The gods were/are capable of marvels yet remained somewhat dependent upon the human race to achieve very human goals and resolve very human jealousies.  My ancestors want me to go deeper than that, further.  I often think of the Gaelic chieftain Brennius.  The story of Brennius goes that he and his army of Gaelic warriors took it upon themselves to wage a war upon Greece and in the process, managed to sack Delphi.  When he entered the defeated city, Brennius observed the carefully carved marble busts of the Greek gods and when it was explained to him what they were he laughed at the Greeks that they would think the gods looked like men.  While I fall rather short of laughing at those for whom the gods approach with human faces, I tend to agree with Brennius.  The gods I acknowledge are the gods of wind and rain, sea and storm, the fire and lightning, the growing tree and the rich soil of the Earth in which things grow.  I see the forces of nature at work in everything and the more I notice, the more I realize how little those forces care about me, seek my favor or acknowledge my existence.

My spiritual center stands with nature because I am a realist.  It does not matter to me that I am not spoken to or chosen by the gods of my ancestors.  Those beings will choose who they wish to choose and for me, it does not speak honorably of relationship for me to become a supplicant seeking the favor of these beings.  Should they favor me at all, I want it to be because they have seen me walking with honor and admire my commitment, dedication and willingness to craft sacred relationship with the same home they occupy:  The Earth.  More importantly though, is to recognize that they are as much the gods and spirits of place as they are the gods of my ancestors and my feeling is that it is disrespectful for me to summon them here in an attempt to gain favor.  Someday if I can, I will travel to them and then perhaps I will see them.

There are those who will think that there is some amount of judgement upon those who do feel the presence of those gods in their lives and I think it important that there is no judgement intended or actualized.  Those who do commune with those beings feel their presence and have relationships with them.  We each walk our own path and each of us have our own gifts.  That is the nature of our existence and it does nobody any good to question such things in a derogatory manner.  We each have our own path and if the gods walk with you, all the better.

So, I begin with relationship and I end with relationship but there are so many more, important steps in between.  I wish I could create a flow chart for this but honestly, the road itself, the walk I take along this path is more about instinct than it is about directions.  There are days when my direction seems clear and other days it is shrouded in fog and every day, regardless of how clear or foggy things seem, it is my own instincts that guide me, it is the voice of the ancestors that encourage me.

Awen, the Welsh word meaning “Divine inspiration” factors heavily into my spiritual conduct.  I had a friend many years ago, an Atheist, admit to me that he was devastated when he heard me speak of Awen and assumed that “Divine inspiration” meant that some force outside of my body inspired me to create.  I have not before or since heard such an awful explanation or misunderstanding of what Awen actually is or how it works.  As an Animist and a Druid, I tend to see that all things are connected.  I view this connection the way someone might look at a mist that saturates everything.  Awen is like seeing a shape in that mist and thinking “That looks so cool, I’m going to paint that”.  Awen has no “will” I have ever been able to discern.  Instead, Awen pours through me in the times when I am alert, awake and present in the moment.  When that flow of Awen hits me, I cannot help but want to create.

The author Steve Blamires talks about this a bit in his book “The Irish Celtic Magical Tradition”.  In the book, Blamires peels back the layers of the story of the 2nd battle of Mag Tuired, when the Tuatha Da Danaan defeat the Fomoire for the rule of Ireland.  For anyone curious about some of the legends of the Tuatha Da Danaan, I highly recommend this book.  To paraphrase, Blamires suggest that magic occurs in three stages:  First on the spiritual plane (What I refer to when I speak of “The Mist”).  When we work “magic” we are reaching into the Mist and grasping an idea or concept.  We process this concept or idea on the mental level and then we manifest it on the physical level.  When I extrapolate that idea and set it outside the realm of hocus pocus, nearly every action we take is an act of magic.  If Blamire’s assessment is true, and I happen to believe it is, then artists, writers and musicians are people who are the great magicians insofar as the magical tradition of our ancestors.  Works of art like the Gundestrap cauldron, the Norse Eddas and the music of the Irish bards which still exist today are some of the greatest works of magic ever created as they still exist and we still recognize them.  From this perspective, it seems to me that the greatest magic we can work is that of tradition, song and story.  When we look at what little we are able to discern from what remains of the Celtic/Gaelic cultures, we can see that these are exactly the kinds of things the varied tribes of those cultures valued above all else.

This is one of the many reasons I wanted to create an order of Druidry that is local to our Maine community and the smaller, immediate communities we find ourselves in.  In the tradition of Druidry, it was part and parcel to the duties of the Druids to strengthen the bonds of the community to the living Earth and interpret the will of the gods.  They did this using acts of magic that were so powerful, even being wiped out and taken over by the monotheistic religion expanding out of Rome did almost nothing to stop their stories from surviving to the present day.

When we look at a culture that prizes a “good death” for the Bards and singers to write songs and stories about, it makes sense to reconsider how such a culture would view the context of magic.  These are not people who would have been less impressed with the person who could shoot fireballs from their hands than the warrior who bested them or the warriors who died glorious deaths in the effort.  In the stories of Cuchulain, the glory of combat was featured far more than his magic weapon, the Gae Bolg.  A weapon of such terrible power, once deployed it would penetrate Cuchulain’s opponent and immediately fill them with spikes.  The weapon is described and described as being used but only in passing.  The same can be said of Lugh’s spear, Areadhbhair.  Again, a weapon so powerful that it’s thirst for blood was legendary and it would fly around the battlefield slaughtering friend and foe alike unless it was hooded with a leather bag soaked in sleep inducing herbs and salves.  In both cases, the details of the Gae Bolg and Areadhbhair are put together from a variety of stories rather than one simple explanation outlining the capabilities of the these weapons.  These stories valued the Warrior over the weapon for a person who had a weapon of such fierce magic needed the skill to wield it and there is much to be gained by remembering the story and not just the exciting parts.  To the ancients, the world was full to the brim with magic.  At any moment they might walk over a hill and be in the otherworld or face to face with fantastical creatures.  The Gaelic word for Magic is “draíochta”  which literally translates as “What Druids do”.  What we might see as “magic” items, for the ancient Celts, this was just a part of life.  I would not go so far as to say that Druids are the only practitioners of magic, I am certain there would be more than a few people who might object and with good reason.  What I am saying is that we have to look at the cultural significance of Druidry alongside what little we know about their practice to understand the entire picture.  If we were to take the legends and myths at face value, here is a culture that prizes warriors with powerful weapons and yet magic is “What Druids do”.  I find that fascinating and more than a bit intriguing.  I am certainly not a “reconstructionist”, I will openly state I think reconstructionism is a waste of time.  We will never really know with any certainty.  We need to go with what works and what works for me is to understand the manner in which the Druids of antiquity established and maintained sacred relationship to the land and use what I have learned to do so here.  This is part and parcel to why I acknowledge the spirit of the gods my ancestors experienced without expecting them to appear on Mt. Katahdin.

If the concept of “magic” is bringing something from the mist, through the mind and into the physical world, then what place does Awen have here?  I would say Awen describes the motion of this process.  When we invoke Awen, we are invoking this process in it’s entirety, to be inspired, to process that inspiration and then manifest it.  I’ve gotten the impression from many that manifestation is supposed to be physical.  If someone asks for healing and a ritual is done around it, the expectation is that the person will at least be helped along by the effort.  When I think about my family and I am filled with Love and I tell them how much I Love them, this to me is also manifestation, it is also magic.  It is the mechanism of identifying something in the mist and processing it through our minds into the physical world.

Every being does this in their way.  This process probably looks a lot different for a rabbit than it does a human and a lot different for a human than for the beings we  identify as gods.  I say this in the context that we might not recognize the thoughts a rabbit has or the gods may not recognize the thoughts that we have but the actual process likely bears striking similarities and it is the nature of our existence that different beings will be able to manifest different things using such a process.  If one needs proof of this, they need only go to an art museum and look at the multitude of different paintings, drawings, sculptures and exhibits on display and you should at least begin to understand what I mean if you don’t already.  Even our own species manifests magic in an amazing variety of ways, I believe this is the reflection of nature upon us.

If I turn this practice to observing the wild, a panorama of color appears.  Nature itself is as much a product of manifestation under the process of magic as anything else.  This leads me to believe that the universe itself is aware and that it’s existence is a product of intention.  I won’t bother to pretend I have some line on what that intention is or that I believe in a single omnipotent creator.  I merely believe that the sum of consciousness in the universe is connected and that I am a part of that connection and that to touch the Universe, I can start here, where my feet touch the Earth, where the Earth touches the Solar system, where the Solar system touches the galaxy and out into the Universe ad infinitum.

To me, these concepts have become so ingrained that I have begun to see the land where my feet touch the Earth as patterns of swirling colors and sounds.  I smile at how beautiful they are rather trying to make sense of them in a manner that only benefits myself.  I hear the stories those colors tell and I sing the songs they inspire to my tribe around the ruddy light of a campfire as my ancestors once did in a time that was at once more simple and more brutal.

I seek to craft relationship to this land in the manner of my ancestors but do not call upon the gods of my ancestors to do so.  Their place is across the ocean in the land where their own feet touch the Earth.  The Druidry I practice seeks balance and relationship with the land, with the spirits of place, with the ancestors, the gods and the powerful forces of nature.  Ultimately, I see myself as a phoenix in flight and the ancestors are the feathers on my great wings, lifting me higher into the air, helping me glide through the darkness.  The winds are the voices of the spirits of the land where my feet touch the Earth.  They want me to tell their stories.  Someday, I will die and be reborn as the feather on an even greater phoenix.  My voice will join the voices of the ancestors as a sigh of  air over the plumage of a great bird of fire and we will soar.

The Order of Maine Druidry: The Land Where Our Feet Touch the Earth


It was earlier this year that I was talking to my friend Magnus, a fellow apprentice in Druid College, regarding the idea that our collective notions of doing great things are valuable but we need to begin locally.  The “Think globally, act locally” movement is nothing new of course but with the increasing popularity of social media and online news outlets, people tend to think themselves connected to events that occur a world away in a manner that actually distances us from them rather than puts us in the trenches.  It is now far easier to look at issues around social, economic and ecological justice and pretend we are doing something about it by claiming concern on our social media page than it is to actually do something.  This is of course not to say that those who espouse concern over such issues don’t do something in their own lives that matters to such causes.  What I am saying is that social media does not demonstrate connection, it merely trumpets it in a manner that allows us to believe in some way that complaining is a way to effect change outside the sphere of our actual influence.

I’ve been saying for a long time that we need to make changes where we can see them and feel their effects.  There is an old saying that goes something along the lines of “If you wish to clean the street, start in your own kitchen”.  I have always taken that to mean, start with your own home, your own family.  Learn and teach the things you feel are important and then when your family goes outside the kitchen and into the world beyond, they will take these lessons with them.  Good lessons catch on for good reasons, lessons in ignorance catch on because of ignorance.  The battle between these two things has raged since before recorded history and whatever the lesson, it was learned on the level of the immediate family and supported by the community.

It seems to me that the way to make changes that will last is to start here, in the land where our feet touch the Earth and it was as I was discussing it with Magnus that I shared the thought “What about an order of Druidry that is connected specifically to Maine?”  Magnus was in for it right away.  We both agreed though, that we wanted to include Kevin Emmons, one of the founders of the Druid College as well as Shannon Rooney his wife and “Bardtographer” Michael Bérubé.  All three of them have been practicing Druidry here for a long time and it is through their collective experience that the lessons and things we experienced through Druid College are based upon.  We also spoke to another fellow classmate and long time Druid Mary Kay Casper who also enjoys membership in the Green Mountain Druid Order out of Vermont.  From there, things just sort of steamrolled.  Sylvan Thorncraft a facilitator at the Druid College joined and an announcement about the formation and founding of the Order of Maine Druidry drew interest from Harper Robbins and lady Becca Herron as well as long time Pagan philosopher James Lindenshmidt.  My own wife (a Pagan for 20 years herself) was brought into the fold and suddenly we were Eleven, finally rounding out our number to Twelve with the inclusion of Brenda Bywater, herself a first year Druid College apprentice and long time spiritualist.

This group of eclectic and talented individuals, each brings to the table different experience, wisdom and knowledge to the overall function of the Order of Maine Druidry.  The function of the Order though, is different for everyone as well.  This is an important place to note that while I may have kicked things off here, I do not speak for the Order unless asked or appointed to do so.  We are a council of equals with the concept that we are all students and all teachers and that our different experience is what gives us strength.

In the time of Pagan Antiquity, the Druids of Gaul and the Celtic regions held a position of high authority, a complex combination of Professor, Scientist, Priest, Judge, Lawyer and Officiator.  They acted as translators for the gods of their tribes (which were varied by place with few common elements), were capable of interceding in armed conflicts and had an enormous amount of respect which gave them an equal amount of influence over the daily lives of the people they served.  It would be foolish of anyone to believe that there was some sudden epiphany among the Gaelic tribes where the Druids suddenly appeared and began directing ritual and passing judgments.  Like all things in the Universe, the Druids evolved adding new knowledge and wisdom with each successive generation until they had become so intrinsic to the cultural identity of the tribes they served that they could not be ignored.

Today, I claim the title of Druid as a way of identifying the path my spirit walks through the mist.  This “title” is not exclusive to my own understanding of Druidry on the whole.  The important distinction here is that there are many who claim that title whose practice is different from my own.  Defining something is a way of claiming authority over it.  We treat a rock like a rock because we have defined it as a rock.  We treat the people we know differently than the people we do not based on how much we think we know about them.  When I use the term “Druid”, I am using my own definition but it is one that has common threads among all of those who practice Druidry in its many incarnations.  One can realistically say that the majority of people who practice Druidry are interested in respecting the Earth and establishing relationship with Nature.  We all do so by different means and definitions yet at the core is that singular concept.  This is of course, a rather wide net to cast.  I suspect that there are many people who do this by many other names and definitions.  My wife, whom I have mentioned once already, didn’t understand that much of what she does already are things I learned in Druid College and upon that realization chose to join the Order.

We are not the Druids of Pagan antiquity and that is as it should be.  Our purpose is not to have power over others but instead to help strengthen the bonds of our local communities to the community as a whole.  The next obvious question is:  How?

Early on in the discussion around founding an Order of Druidry I crafted Nine tenets that the members of the Order should take into consideration when carrying out the “business” of the Order.  Those 9 tenets are as follows:

I.    Honor the spirits of place through the ancestors,
II.   Honor the ancestors through ourselves,
III.  Honor ourselves through our communities
IV.  Honor our communities through knowledge .
V.   Honor knowledge through learning.
VI.  Honor learning through teaching.
VII.  Honor teaching through the Earth.
VIII. Honor the Earth through the Land.
IX.   Honor the Land through the spirits of place.

I still think that these concepts are wonderful and I adopted them as a part of my private practice.  It was Michael Bérubé though, who helped to boil it down, by recognizing that the arc of these Nine tenets were a more complex version of three simpler and more encompassing ideas:  Location, Being and Becoming.

We start first with Location, which I consistently refer to as “The place where our feet touch the Earth”.  Realistically, it doesn’t really matter where we are if it is in Maine or elsewhere.  All of the forces of Nature have conspired together to ensure that we are where we are.  Since the focus of the Order of Maine Druidry is Maine, we are talking here about placing importance in the connection we feel to the location where we walk and the connection we have to the land here.  This would relate the Earth, the Land and the spirits of place.  This is a simplified way of looking at a monumentally complex concept because even here there are twists and turns to how such an idea operates on the ground.  However, this is only intended to give people an idea of the context in which we use this word, which, as a word, is a much simpler version of a complicated idea.

When we talk about Being, this is where the action is.  Put simply, where Location is about place, Being is about our place, where we are within ourselves and the expression of that self.  So, when I say “Honor our communities through Knowledge, our Knowledge through Learning and our Learning through Teaching” it speaks to honoring service to our community by sharing knowledge through teaching and learning.  When we do this, we are being something more than a simple title or declaration can impart to us.  This is not simply Druidry, these concepts and ideas can apply to anyone on any path.  I can really go on and on about all of this (and I probably will at another time) but the abbreviated version is that it is the cycle of learning, wisdom and teaching that provides the action needed to keep things moving.  Being is the internal cycle that brings external change, the engine that drives these concepts and keeps them in motion.

Becoming then, is about manifestation.  When I honor the Earth, the land and the spirits of place, this is done by taking the wisdom gained and processed as both student and teacher and manifest it through action.  This is more than yelling about how upset we are on Social media, this is about crafting community and fellowship.  This is about reducing our impact to manageable levels, this is about connection to the land where our feet touch the Earth and then, we come back around again to location.

Ultimately, it may help to think of these things as cycles within cycles, things that are linked together through those cycles as part of a larger cycle.  Sound confusing?  I wouldn’t doubt it.  Looking back over that description it strikes me as being a bit chaotic.  It is chaotic but there is also a pattern and Druidry helps me to see that pattern in a manner that anyone can learn.

Taking as many of these concepts into consideration as I can, this is what I drafted as a “Charter” of sorts for the Order of Maine Druidry and this is how it reads:

We establish the Order of Maine Druidry in service to the Earth, the
Land and the people of Maine.
We are a council of equals, both students and teachers, questing Awen
  for the songs and stories of the Wild  so that we may share them with our community. 
We seek to strengthen the bonds of
our tribe and the bonds that connect us to the land where our feet touch the Earth. 
We are devoted to holding space for the traditions of our communities and to the benefit of our ancestors, our families and future generations.
Alban Artur, Magnus Rhuduhl, Kevin “Snowhawke” Emmons, Shannon Rooney, Michael Eric Bérubé,  Mary Kay Kasper, Sylvan Thorncraft, James Lindenshmidt, Harper Robbins, Brenda Bywater

This will be the place where we discuss upcoming events, meetings, personal philosophies.  This is one of the places you can get to know us.  We hope to be of service to the Maine communities we live, work and play in.  I want to be present for your rituals, to bring my Druidry to them in a way that helps, even if it is to simply observe and chronicle.  I want to help foster new traditions that can be passed on to our children in a way that also passes on our knowledge and acknowledges our mistakes as well.  Thank you for reading.