Druids… When Sylvan Celtic Fellowship was first being visualized it was a Druid based entity. It was originally going to be just another Druid group out there in the vastness of the pagan landscape. But one of the problems we foresaw is that we didn’t want to be just another Druid group out there among the many. So we decided to look at how the ancient Druids were structured and use that as a role-model for how we approached Druids and Druidry within our organization.
Speaking of role-models… Our research showed that the ancient Druids were a part of the Nemed or sacred class of the ancient Celts. In our modern world we wanted to find a way to define “druid” for our modern membership. Luckily we were able to find a modern book that gave us a great jumping off point.
“…a Druid is a professional invigilator of living spiritual mysteries as expressed by Celtic cultural forms.”
-Dr. Brendan Myers “The Mysteries of Druidry”
This was our answer. With our research and this bit of knowledge from Brendan we realized that Druids should be seen as a role within Celtic Polytheism. As a guardian of and a communicator of Celtic polytheist tradition, the role of the Druid would be an important aspect of how we approached the growing of our organization.
We also did not want to fall into the same grooves as other Druid groups out there. Most Druid organizations today view the idea of Druids as either a religion or a magical path. While our take on Druids does have a religious aspect, we do not view it as a religion in and of itself. And while we do have magical aspects in our view of Druidry we do not view it as a magical philosophy. Instead we see Druids as filling the role of the spiritual professionals for modern Celtic polytheists.
To better facilitate the training of Druids for our tribes benefit, we created a training arm for Druids within Sylvan Celtic Fellowship. We call this arm the Order of the Sylvan Oak.
This arm takes its cue from most modern druid orders but there are significant changes. First and foremost the Order of the Sylvan Oak is strictly Celtic focused. We do not apply the stance of Indo-European cultures as being Druidic. The ancient Druids were a Celtic phenomenon and although other Indo-European cultures had their own holy men and women, they most certainly were not Druids. Non-Celtic cultures had their own names for their learned classes. So to be true to our mission we choose to focus on strictly Celtic cultures, such as Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Gaulish in our approach to Druidry.
And as we are discussing that we are Celtic focused, it should be noted that our Druid training is Pan-Celtic in its scope. Since we do not have the best records from our Iron Age counterparts, the training that we are constructing will use sources from all Celtic lands. This is not to say that individuals Druid wouldn’t have a specific cultural focus, just that they will be getting a well-rounded Celtic education.
As for how we teach, similar to the Druids of old we organize our groupings of Druids into Groves. Groves within the context of the Order of the Sylvan Oak are gatherings of Druids and Druid students for; the teaching/learning of lessons, gathering to discuss philosophy, fellowship with other Druids, and the working of magical rites. To be able to be a part of a grove one must either be actively working on our Druidry lessons, or have finished the training course work. We are not trying to exclude non-Druids on the basis of elitism, but because our goal is the training of Druids to serve their communities. While the Druids of a Grove will hold public rituals for the Celtic Holy days, and semi-public and private rituals for their tribesmen, the rites we do together as Druids will for the most part be private affairs. We do welcome other Druids from outside organizations into our groves for cross organizational meet and greets. We feel that Druids from all traditions can learn from one another.
One of the things we are aiming to do is for our Druids to be a link between the tribes we are creating in the Fellowship.
“They (the Celts) lived in many tribes which were politically autonomous from each other. Yet they had an inter-tribal institution, the Druids, who could operate across tribal boundaries- evidence of highly advanced social organization.”
-Dr. Brendan Myers “The Mysteries of Druidry”
We envision our Druids to be the scholarly religious professionals for our tribes. They are a part of the tribes but they also stand apart in that they are a part of an initiatory tradition that serves the Gods, the people, and the land.
In our next blog we will tackle our tribal organizations and how they fit together with what we are doing in the Fellowship.