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The Future of Druidism

This article was written by Tadhg MacCrossan on May 31, 2002
posted under Druidism

As long as there are people who remember their Celtic heritage and its contributions to modern culture and civilization, and the legends, folk-tales and myths of the Celtic peoples, there will be those who dream about the ancient Celtic magic, about Finn, CúChullain and the other heroes, the Celtic deities and sacred places.

Where one finds Irish Celts, one finds people whose roots may go back to the learned men of old Ireland. Family names indicating lineage from Druids include O’Droody, and Drury Ó Druada ("descendent of the Druid"); the filídh, Neeley, McNeely, and McNeilly mac an Fhiledh ("son of the fili"); from healers, Hickey and O’Hickey Ó h-Iceaidh ("son of the healer"); from bards, Ward, and MacAnward Mac an Bháird ("son of the bard"); from satirists MacCrossan, McEncrossin, McCrossen, Crossen, Cross, Crosbie and Crosby Mac an Chrosáin ("son of the satirist"); from smiths, O’Gowan, McGowan and Gowan, McGahen O Gabhain/ O Gobhain ("descendent of the smith") and Mac Gobhain ("son of the smith"); and from Brehons or judges Abraham and O’ Brahan, O Breithemháin. The Old Irish learned class became known as the Aes Dána or "men of arts," and this title stuck throughout the medieval period. That is how names were passed on (as well as professions). After the English conquests, many Gaelic names were Anglicized by translation or respelling. Welsh and Scottish names went through similar Anglicizations.

We are entering the postmodern era; people are returning to their roots both spiritually and culturally. Resources are scarce: The earth and its atmosphere cannot stand any more pollution; we must end the population explosion. Technology may have led to many of our problems of overproduction, but it can also lead to the solutions for these problems. We must allow ourselves to grow spiritually and individually while using these new tools for the betterment of humankind, not the destruction of our natural resources. People are not going to be able to afford materialistic and greedy lifestyles in the near future.

Spiritual paths such as Druidism are coming to mean more to us because they emphasize family, hearth home, and natural lifestyles in harmony with the ecology of the cosmos and human diversity. People are finding greater pleasure in fine books, folk music and simple fellowship with friends and family. Perhaps in the future less time and money will be spent in gossip over the decadent lifestyles of the rich and famous, and people will begin to turn their energies toward positive ways of cleaning the environment and precious resources.

In tribal and folk religions, elders are respected for their experience and the insight they have gained from age. This is how I envision the postmodern era. The old, modernist view dictated that everything be changed, and that the older generation had things all wrong. In the postmodern era, tough times may come and go, but people will return to what worked in the past, with the belief that what has endured will serve the present as well as the future.

The return of Native American peoples to their traditions, of the Japanese to Shinto, of African Americans to African traditions, the Germanic peoples to Asatru or Troth, Hindi to Sanatana Dharma, and Celts to Druidiacta are signs of this trend.

The movement is anti-racist and anti-ethnocentrist because it allows people to be who they are, to grow within their own cultural identities, and to resist a universal and ecumenical religious monolith for all humankind. Universalism and synchretism force all people to conform to one way.

Some New Agers and neopagans would like to unify all religious systems under one monolithic, synchretistic system in the pursuit of cultural relativism. Such a system actually implies that the smaller ethnic religions are somehow inferior and should be subsumed into one large religious empire. Is it not better to allow diverse systems to remain true to their own traditions and histories, than to insist they blend with perhaps incompatible practices and beliefs? Genuine religious tolerance goes beyond synchretism and superficial unity.

The "new" age isn't really new at all; instead, it is a time for many old ideas to be revived. I believe we will see the return of Celtic Druidism, with its high gods, the Tuatha Dé Danann, Aes Sidhe ("folk of peace,") or Daoine Sidhe ("people of peace,") local land and water goddesses, priesthood of Druides, Uates, ("prophets;") and Gutuatres ("invoking priests;"), and Bardoi ("bards.")

Nemetons will be rebuilt similar to the ancient ones on sacred land consecrated to the powers of the cosmos. People will feel deeper kinship from their local natural environments and weather patterns, and will have less need to travel in fuel-burning engines as they interface with the virtual reality of their computer systems.

It is up to future generations to seriously re-search the ancient ways of their ancestral faiths, and reconstruct the wisdom of their pasts so that these heritages may live in the present. For celts this means going back to original sources by asking elder Druids about their native traditions, using critically sound and scientific methods of reconstruction— instead of reinventing Druidism from the fancies and fictions of the modern redactors revisionists, and poseurs.

In Irish tradition, there is a wonderful story of bile, the ancient tree. It grows by the side of a sacred well, and acorns, nuts, and apples spring from its branches. How wonderful it would be to live in the world of folk-tradition: a magical place where the world is joined-up, the sacred is apparent in the everyday world, and every living thing... read this article
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