You Say Tomato, I Say Druid.

First image that came up when I googled, "Druid."

Ever since I took the name, Teo Bishop, and made it my own — both in a religious sense and through the proper legal channels — I’ve had cause to explain what it is that I do on this blog. My writing, as well as my deepening engagement with my own spiritual work, are both major influences on my decision to undergo this transition.

Identity is interesting, and something that often goes undiscussed. What we are, how we identify, is often more experienced than it is questioned. That is, this seems to be true for many people I know.

Then there are people like me, my queer compatriots, and my Pagan brethren who appear to always be in a rich, complicated, and often conflict-laden dialogue about what it means to be us; always debating which words are right to use, and which are out-of-bounds. In fact, it was my little inquiry into identity with publicly not-Pagan, totally world-adventurer, Drew Jacob, back in May of last year which led to his firestorm-post, Why I’m Not Pagan, and my followup piece, Pagan is the New Gay. The whole back-and-forth put my lil’Druid blog on the map.

When I started writing Bishop In The Grove, my intention was to have this blog be a place for me to document my studies through a training program offered through the American Druid fellowship, Ár nDraiocht Féin (ADF). This was going to be my Dedicant Journal, a series of writings that charted my progress on the Dedicant Path. But, it wasn’t long before my focus shifted, and questions of identity began to surface.

How was I to reconcile the Christianity of my youth with this burgeoning practice of polytheistic Druidry? What, exactly, did it mean to be a “Druid?” How could I avoid falling into the trap of allowing this new religious expression to become a kind of role-play? How was I to remain authentic, both to myself and to my community? (Dig through the Post Archive and you’ll find evidence of all of this….and more.)

The conclusion I’ve reached, which is still very much an idea to be examined, is that my spiritual and religious life is intended to be more of a dialogue than a single state of being. Any religious moniker I take, be it Christian (as it was for two decades), Druid, Neopagan, or Pagan, it is most important to me that this title is representative of an ecosystem of practice as well as serving as an introduction to a discussion on belief. The latter may not be paramount, but it is important to me. Practice also means more than how I approach my home shrine; it also extends to the way I navigate my internal world, the world of ideas and emotions, and which methods and approaches I use to engage with my thoughts and inquiries.

Druid, then, is not simply a title which connects me to ancient Celts, or to other Indo-European peoples; it is a word that is representative of a very modern, very immediate, and very personal religious expression which is influenced by a variety of modern, and possibly ancient religious technologies, some Irish, others American, and some completely unique to me; and at the same time, the word points to a practice of deliberate and persistent inquiry, introspection, and contemplation.

This resonates with me personally, and so this is how I intend to use the term.

But would you say that I have, what a friend recently called, “a Druid’s perspective?”

In an interfaith setting, where individuals are often called to speak as ambassadors for their religious or spiritual traditions, how does my definition hold up? Patheos is an interfaith blogging website, and my blog is the lone Druid’s Grove on their servers, but what I’m talking about is real, person-to-person, interfaith work.

How does the description I’ve offered of Druid resonate with you? Does it make sense? If you use the word to describe yourself, does it feel accurate to your experience? If you reject the word altogether, could you explain why?

Second, could you imagine a situation in which a modern Druid is acting as a representative for the wider community of Druids within an interfaith setting? How would you feel about there being an “Ambassador of Druidry” to other faith traditions?


29 responses to “You Say Tomato, I Say Druid.”

  1. Naomi J. Avatar

    Interesting post, Teo –  as always! As many people have said below, there are so many ways to ‘do’ Druidry. In my short time on the OBOD course (I’m a student Bard) I have met Druids (or people on a Druidic path) with a range of approaches. I could characterise these as Land-focused, deity-focused, magic-focused and many more, or I could stop being an over-categorising idiot. What I’m learning from settings even as small as my little Grove is that everyone on a Druidic path conceptualizes that path differently. (One Forest, many Paths?) I identify with Emma Restall Orr’s very Land-focused Druidry, but I’m learning a lot from the mysticism-focused OBOD course, and I’m privileged to have a teacher (Cat Treadwell) whose Druidry is different again (and I’d have a hard time labelling hers – awareness-focused, maybe!) Then there’s the difference between British and American Druidry, which can be vast – as I’m learning, since I’m drawn to polytheism but living in a country where pantheist/animist approaches dominate. (I laugh every time I read something along the lines of “Most Druids are polytheistic” on The Wild Hunt or similar sources. Not in the UK, they’re not!) 

    So, yes. I’m going to go with ‘One Forest, many Paths’ here. As people have said far more eloquently than me, below, the roots of Druidry are diverse and shrouded in mystery – and when we do know them, we like to pretend we don’t – Iolo Morgannwg, anyone? In the end, we can only claim to do what we are doing. We can claim that our gods or ancestors give us the authority to do what we do (and that’s good enough for me), but that only works for our own self-validation. I do think the label ‘Druid’ has now been widely enough claimed that those who mock should think about whether they would mock other New Religious Movements for the ways they describe their spiritualities – especially if they are also Pagans. 

  2. Melissa DeGenova Avatar

    Since I (an eclectic pagan/wiccan) recently got a lot of egg on my face for writing some incorrect info about Druids on a forum, I think I need an ambassador for my self.   I’d made a few generalizations based on my limited knowledge of AFD about all Druids and also confused a few things about AFD practice.  I’m new to your blog, but will be very interested in reading more.

  3. Kilmrnock Avatar

    And as far as the term Druid is concerned in ADF , we all call ourselves Druid , concerning our beliefs and what we do . Within Sinnsreachd , a Druid carries the ancient definition of  a well trained wise member of the priestly class . I personaly am a warrior and tradesman, professionaly.    Kilm

  4. Kilmrnock Avatar

    As far as representing my faith in interfaith dialog , not sure i’d want to . I have recently expanded 0r as i call it evolved once more am new to a  designation for what my faith is . Altho i am an ADF druid , i have always had Recon leanings …………even b/f i had a name for it . Have always been deeply interested in my celtic heritage and it’s history and legends . I now follow a recon Celtic , tribal faith Called Sinnsreachd , which is a formal name for what i have been doing all along . My ADF grove is Celtic focused so it all works , both follow the Tuatha de Dannon . One other thing that helps in my Celtic Pagan identity is the fact i was Agnostic for 10 yrs , before a life changing event and finding Celtic paganism .I have no conflicts w/ my previous faith , due to a fair amount of time away from it b/f becoming pagan, was previously a southern Methodist  . I got into Celtic paganism as an extension of my interest in all things Celtic .Been on this journey for over 20 years now . But i personaly am more a person of action . I don’t do well with public speaking , stage fright etc . Tis not my forte so to speak.I can talk to small groups or one to one , but not public speaking . I am nearing 60 yrs old in a few years , i wouldn’t even mind mentering a young pagan someday soon . Helping a youngly along our twisted paths . Kilm aka Dennis

  5. sidhemoonwitch Avatar

     This is a complicated and often debated issue, and I don’t imagine that will ever change. For those of us who lean more towards reconstruction or recon approaches Druid is a specific title with particular meanings and associations, including a certain amount of effort, knowledge, and community work. For people coming from a more Revivialist approach, who see Druidry as a philosophy first and not a religion at all calling yourself a Druid is simply a matter of feeling that you want to do so. These two approaches are antithetical to each other, yet they both exist today as valid within their own contexts. And of course there are very possible shade of understanding in between.
      In the end one must answer the question: what does being a Druid mean to me? And move forward from that answer. What it means to me may well not be at all what it means to you, yet we are both trying to live our own Truth.

  6. Faoladh Avatar

    Well, no one owns the word anymore, ever since the Druid order was suppressed, so I guess anyone can call themselves whatever they want. However, to some of us, seeing the word “druid” used as loosely as it does is rather like watching someone who maybe took a couple of Community College classes putting “PhD” at the end of their name or using the title “Doctor”. Sure, it happens, but at best it evokes more of a sense of condescending amusement than respect.

    Which is not to say that there aren’t some people who deserve the title, by any means! It’s just that the title has gotten so watered-down by overuse that it has become largely meaningless, and brings no sense of honor and grandeur on its own. The widespread use, or perhaps misuse, of the term in role-playing games both computer and tabletop doesn’t help matters, either.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Hi Faoladh,

      Thank you for posting your comment here. I saw that you shared it with the Celtic Paganism and Druidry group on Facebook as well, and I’m grateful for that as well. Your comment points to a few interesting ideas that I’d like to unpack a bit further. 

      First, this notion that condescension is an acceptable response to someone’s outward religious or spiritual expression in interesting to me. I think when one finds themselves condescending to another, and willfully withholding respect, there’s just cause to examine their own motivations and intentions. Does condescension allow them to feel superior, and is that more important to them than mutual understanding? Condescension does little to engage dialogue, which is part of the quest of this post and the purpose of this blog, and I wonder if there is another response besides condescension that wouldn’t shut people down so quickly. Inquiry, perhaps?

      The second thing that struck me about your comment was this notion that the title “Druid” should belonged to a specific, ancient, hierarchical structure, and that this hierarchy is preferable to a modern, self-elected identity. This may be rooted in historical record (and I’d love to know if that’s how you came about this knowledge), but I’m of the opinion that it is perfectly acceptable for a person seeking to identify and locate their own inherent sense of mysticism to express that mysticism in whatever way feels most resonant to them. In a way, Druid can be come an indication of a internal process of learning and discovery, or a commitment to a mystical, introspective life; one of service to the earth and community, and to the world of spirit.

      I’m reminded of what it felt like to identify as gay before having a sense of what gay meant, historically. I was locating an internal experience, and seeking to make it intelligible outside of myself. Could we imagine a similar thing happening with our religious monikers? Could one begin to use Druid after a recognition of some internal, mystical experience?

      Food for thought.

      1. Faoladh Avatar

        It’s interesting to me that you characterize the condescension that I mention as being “acceptable”. I didn’t indicate that – I only said that it was the result. Acceptable or not, when a child hands you a toy phone, you condescend to answer it. To do otherwise would be rude at best. Similarly, when someone who doesn’t have 20 years of intensive training in poetry and poetics decides to call hirself a “Druid”, then those who understand that title to mean what it does have the choice to either condescendingly smile and nod, or else to rudely disabuse the person of their idea. Though I am being pushed toward the latter, my inclination (after many years of being more combative on the issue) has been toward the former.

        Humans live in hierarchies. We can’t do otherwise. Sometimes, those hierarchies are based on beneficial arrangements, like determining who is best at what and deferring to them on that subject. Such flexible hierarchies may be ideal, but they are also difficult to maintain for various reasons. Other times, those hierarchies are based on less egalitarian, but more robust, structures. The fact that Druids were higher up in the hierarchical scale of their society had to do with their extensive knowledge in areas that were considered to be important in that society. (How I came about this knowledge was long study. However, most of the information I proposed in that short comment in very briefly sketched-out form is easily available in several of the popularized books by various experts in the subject, most with titles like “The Druids” or similar, such as Miranda Green’s or Stuart Piggott’s.)

        “Druid” refers to an actual, real order existing in a particular time and place, made up of real people with a real body of knowledge. There are, obviously, fuzzy edges to this (especially to the way the term found use in Latin after the suppression of that order), but the core idea has an actual meaning and existence. To try to make it fit a randomly chosen “internal, mystical experience” is to try to fit a square peg into a round hole, to use the common expression. Internal, mystical experiences are intimately bound up with wordless, sometimes ecstatic, states of meaning.

        Why not ask yourself why you are so interested in this particular term as one you wish to have others identify you with? Why not “Visionary” or “Jedi” or “Plubat” or something else? What makes being known by the term “Druid” so important to you?

        1. Teo Bishop Avatar

          I apologize if I mischaracterized what you said, Faoladh. I didn’t mean to offend, and I’m very grateful that you’re sharing your perspective here on the blog. Thank you again for that.

          Here’s a question:

          Say I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life studying or writing poetry, songwriting, and prose, and examining the intersection of those disciplines with ministry, service, and cultural outreach, but my study has focussed on, or been rooted in, the mythos of modern, popular culture–my culture, the one in which I was raised in and am actively contributing to–would I be functioning similarly to how a Druid functioned?

          1. Faoladh Avatar

            I hate to answer a question with a question, but bear with me.

            Would you characterize such a person as a Kahuna? Or a Bishop? How about an Imam? Kohan? Kannushi? Hem Netjer?

            To put it another way, why would you characterize such a person using a Celtic (Gallo-Brythonic, particularly) term instead of a term from another cultural matrix? Or, why wouldn’t you call such a person a Doctor (of Divinity, for instance, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) or Professor or whatever; that is, why not use a term from English in an English language-speaking cultural matrix?

          2. Éireann Lund Johnson Avatar

             My thought here is that Druids served many functions, such as lawyers, priests, poets, bards, genealogists, philosophers, scientists, lore keepers, etc.  Their body of knowledge also consisted of native Celtic laws, poems, genealogies, songs, myths, science, etc.  While I am sure that mystic exploration and practices likely constituted -some- of their work, much of it was sociological in aspect.  Would you characterize your work as falling into these disciplines, or functioning in these ways for a particular community which recognizes the value of this native Celtic knowledge?  If your knowledge and work is more generic than specifically Celtic, then it is appropriate to self-identify that work with a specifically Celtic term containing  specifically Celtic ideas and culture?

          3. Themon the Bard Avatar

            Back up a minute.

            I think we need to distinguish between “druid” (participant in a particular path of study in a multi-faith, multi-cultural secular society), and “Druid” (a person who has attained a particular rank within that system.)

            OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids) has a three-year course in which one progresses through the grades of Bard, Ovate, and Druid. Most people take quite a bit more than three years. Within that hierarchy, I am a student-Bard: I have not yet finished the Bardic course. So of course it is inappropriate for me to call myself a Druid.

            On the other hand, I have found that I am comfortable with being a druid: more so than being Wiccan, or Heathen, or Classical Pagan, or Christian.

            It’s a pretty fine distinction to capitalize or not-capitalize a word, and that distinction vanishes in the spoken word. I am a druid. I am not a Druid. Try saying that aloud in a way that makes any sense.

            This same thing happens in any other context of conversation. A university student in the freshman year with aspirations to become a college professor is an “academic,” though they have no credentials within any academy. A teen-aged girl who has picked up a Raven Silverwolf book and self-initiated into Wicca is a witch, though she has attained no rank, standing, or significant knowledge (yet).

            It’s very different when you live in a more homogeneous culture where the term denotes ONLY the rank, and not the inclination.

    2. KiFunStuS Avatar

      What a lovely POst.

      Thou respect comes from within
      and then comes from action.

      So no matter how many people are called Bob.

      bob is still special to people around them

  7. Kristin McFarland Avatar

    Some of the comments here make me feel deeply intimidated, and that I should not call myself a Druid.

    That’s ridiculous of course, but the difficulty is that we pagans (which in itself is a troublesome thing to say) actively resist definition. Ours is an experiential religion, not a revelatory one, and my experience of Druidism is bound to be different than that of any other ten Druids… and therefore, I will likely define “Druid” differently than anyone else.

    It’s interesting to me to have witnessed our mutual experiences on the ADF DP, which, if I recall, we began at about the same time. You’ve expanded, taking your blog to a much wider audience, and I’ve pulled in and away from my blog, retracting my questions into myself. Neither approach is better, necessarily, but you’ve taken a more “traditional” Druidic role by becoming a teacher and searching for answers in a wider context.

    Do I think you’re a perfect Druid Representative, and ambassador to all other faiths? Perhaps not. 🙂 But that’s because there is no perfect Druid. That said, you’re a seeker and a questioner, and if that’s not a Druidic trait, I don’t know what is. There may be no better ambassadorial trait than a willingness to question, learn, and engage in a dialogue with oneself and with other parties.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you for posting here, Kristin. I’m glad you’re a part of this conversation, and I appreciate that you recognize my need to question and seek understanding. I like that this inherent part of me might be druidic, in nature.

      Your experience of intimidation is noteworthy. As I mentioned to Faoladh, I think there is cause to look closer at our desire to condescend to others about their choice of religious title or descriptor, and it could be that you were on the other end of that experience. I assure you, though, that this is a safe space to express your thoughts, your stories, and your choice to call yourself a Druid.One thing that really struck me about your comment is this line:”Ours is an experiential religion, not a revelatory one.”I’m still not sure that I agree with this.I feel that revelation is often used in the Pagan world to identify only that knowledge which comes to humans from the Divine (which most Pagans don’t seem to accept as a possibility) but not the kind of personal revaluation that comes through experience. Call it semantics, but I feel it’s important to remember that our personal revelations are valid.More food for thought.

    2. Éireann Lund Johnson Avatar

       “That’s ridiculous of course, but the difficulty is that we pagans (which
      in itself is a troublesome thing to say) actively resist definition”

      I wouldn’t say that at all, as there are many many many definitions and labels in the pagan world for the various flavors of pagans in the wider community.  I would contend rather that pagans, like other people, are very concerned about how they self-identify, and how well they identify with a chosen community, in the world.  Problems arise when the same words are used with a variety of meanings, as this has the effect of watering down any term and definition.  This is what has happened to the term druid over the centuries.  Originally they were keepers of traditional knowledge and culture, which does not equate with seeking and questioning; it had to do with upholding the social order.  But when the term was revived so much later, after said order had long been extinct, it took on a new personality, and a new definition.  Some speak of paleo-, meso-, and neo-druids; maybe those would be more specific labels to learn and use, to cut down on definition confusion.  Because those definitions are all out there, and pagans really do like to use them!  😉

  8. Searles Avatar

    I follow the Druid way. I do not say that I am a Druid
    because I believe that a Druid is a being whose spirit is serving truth and
    harmony within the society of Nature, the world and their people. It is being a
    seeker and a servant rather than being an authority and a master. Here is the
    question most often asked:

    What are Druids?

    Druids are the truth-seekers, priests. sages, teachers,
    poets, professionals and judges of Celtic society. These Druids work within the
    established order as a part of the nemed class. There are also Fianna types of
    Druids that work in the liminal areas outside of and between society and
    Nature/Otherworld. Memory, magic, philosophy, science, tradition, observation,
    experimentation and divination are some of the skills that Druids exhibit in
    their workings.

    In modern society, the roles of Druids have diversified to
    fill the changing needs of the people and the advances in science and natural
    philosophy. The Druid meme has been at work in English speaking society since
    the 17th century and has gradually attempted to synchronize itself to the
    traditions of the past while assimilating the new data and knowledge of modern
    times. This effort has led to a period of turmoil and evolutionary changes in
    what modern society perceives Druids to be and to a lot of discussion and
    contention within the ranks of the various Druid groups today. Not everyone is
    on the same page in this process, with some coming lately to the process while
    others are entrenched in their earlier views and efforts. Growth is occurring

    A more important question than what a Druid is would be what
    can Druids become to better serve truth and society now and in the future?

    1. Searles Avatar

      Thought I’d post a bit of an expansion on the Druid way from an article in a book I’ve written.

      Searles O’Dubha
      Walking the Druid Way

      To walk the Druid way, one must walk as a Druid would walk.
      One must learn as a Druid learns. One must see what is here and now, while also
      seeing what is not there (but has been there). One must swim in uncharted
      waters to walk as a Druid. One must fly on the smoke of the fire. One must
      carry the woods for the fires of spirit and one must sing in the face of
      danger. Every letter of every word we think and say has meanings in a web of
      creation. Each of these meanings will be given by one’s teacher or one’s self.
      Each letter affects the others around it. Sound and form flow together,
      sometimes overlapping as powers play a dance of creation.

      Tradition has recorded the journeys of other Druids living
      and working before us. Their stories will speed our journey if we learn from
      them. The framework of existence has been shaped to suit our minds through
      their countless discoveries. These discoveries and actions by other Druids have
      created the worlds in which we ourselves live and act. We stand on their
      shoulders and perceive a land through the Druid way. We sail into the unknown
      seas with charts and tales of their adventures, our own awaiting us. We ascend
      to the skies through our own vision quests, on waves of sound and smoke, as
      well as through darkness and the essences of Nature. The Moon ways and Sun
      ships go forth into the unknown, yet they return in mind, words, tales and

      The ability to use a word to create beauty is a gift that we
      will be given through our own work at the altar of order. The channels that
      control chaos need to be established within our psyches through dedication.
      Attention and discipline. At the Battle
      of Moyrath (Cath Magh Raith). Cennfaeladh suffered a
      wound to his ability to forget that preserved the ancient knowledge for us.
      From that time on, he remembered everything that he studied, saw or thought. In
      the beginning of our own studies and efforts, we will also establish the means
      of memory even as we give up our own forgetting. This will be our first sacrifice
      to the gods of wisdom as an offering in search of the blessings of knowledge.

      Cennfaeladh’s gift of memory
      preserves the knowledge of the Druids and the ancients. It was first preserved
      in mind and then recorded on wood with the hand and knife of Ogma. The words
      have been copied and recopied by scribes, on the hides of cattle and through
      papers made from the pulp of trees and plants. Today we see it again as
      lightness and darkness on the veils and screens between worlds that some call
      computer monitors. Two of Cennfaeladh’s surviving  works are The Book of Acaill and the Scholars Primer (Auraicept
      na n-Eces). This knowledge can be chanted or sung to our ears and
      hearts. It can be carved and handled with our hands. It can be worn as a cloth
      upon our prophecies or it can be a draught that we drink in times of ecstasy.
      There are nine ways that worlds can be built and there are nine doorways for
      the soul to enter. All of this is taught in the schools of the Druids. The work
      of this wisdom can be painful, yet its rewards are boundless and beyond all
      price. Those ways and Cenn Faeladh’s memories are what we will be studying in
      the Ogham Keys to Wisdom series.

      Twenty years some have spent in
      the work (or is it the joy) of seeking along the Druid way. Sit and pause at
      this way station to rest while you consider how best to spend your energies.
      You will have many lifetimes to shorten the work even as wisdom grows both
      without us and within us. No matter how large the task becomes, resolve and
      dedication can become larger still. There is no ending without a beginning and
      a continuing in the circles that some call being.

      Enough of mysteries! Now it is time for the
      lessons to begin. Your journey has begun on the Druid way.  It started as you read the page before you at
      the entrance to this work and it continues with each step that you are taking
      as foot follows foot, as measured word connects with words. Let’s walk the way
      as Druids would walk it and learn as Druids have learned. Worlds of creation
      await us, worlds of discovery and lives of lifetimes. The sign posts are
      written in Ogham, preserving knowledge from those who would profane the way

  9. snowcrashak Avatar

    wonderful post! Pagans are a diverse lot, there is no way of getting around that and that could make it harder to have any kind of ambassador…. some may be 100% Something and totally own a title…and some others may draw influence from several paths and reject labels. But should we give up altogether on any kind of interfaith understanding and work because we are so diverse? I dont think so. I like and have no problem with the idea of an Ambassador to Druidry. I think it would be incredibly important for Druid folk to have a voice in interfaith dialogue – just like it is for Wiccan, Dianics, Asatru, Hellenics, Christians, Jews, Mormons, etc. Pagans will never be on a 100% wavelength with each other regarding spiritual beliefs, but there is enough common ground to be able to stand on and talk with others about it. I do like what you said Teo – “very personal religious expression which is influenced by a variety of modern, and possibly ancient religious technologies, some Irish, others American, and some completely unique to me; and at the same timethe word points to a practice of deliberate and persistent inquiry, introspection, and contemplation” – does that make you a Druid or seeing from a Druid perspective?  If you have studied and learned and thought, and this is how you see Druidry, who am I to say it’s wrong? My own description of ‘Druid’ is basically this: connecting with the Land. Being a Druid is learning about where you live, where you came from and what’s around you – Alaska, tree spirits, my community, meditation, my Ancestors, myths and legends, history, ecology & science, hiking & camping & fishing……all of these things make me a Druid. I like the fact that Pagans are so diverse and unique. I see where the problems come from, and I can respect that, but it doesnt mean we stop trying, stop conversing with others both within and without or faith. Like I said, great post. It brings up a lot of good points and I look forward to the discussion here!

  10. Kitti Avatar

    What little I know of Druidry tells me that I would not identify your description as a Druid.  I would say you’re a pagan religious seeker.  The Druid spent many years in study and lived as a sort of nomadic, public religious servant. 

    Do you serve as a resource to your people?  Do you:

    -tell mythologies and other organizing stories at gatherings, to entertain children and instruct everyone in your shared culture
    -serve as mediator in sometimes judge in disputes and conflicts
    -practice nutrition and medicine
    …and lots of other stuff.  

    But how much of that is accomplished via the Interwebs, now?  Probably a lot of it.  Since you’ve got your very own blog, you might do all these things that way.  (Now I’m arguing with myself.  One of my favorite pasttimes.) 

    As the descendent of many Irish people, I know we tend to speak for ourselves rather than speak for a group.  It’d be hard to think of any Irish person authoritatively representing any group of people;   we’re usually happy to debate a topic and leave it unsettled.  I like it that way. 

    Hard to believe that image came up as the top search for “druid”.  I think that’s an elf. 

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      This is a wonderful comment, Kitti. Thanks for asking all of these questions!

      Yes, I think to a degree I do all of these things. They may look much less mystical from the outside, and they may be common enough to other people for them to seem less “druidic” than they are simply “mystic.”

      I feel that my function as a writer of this blog is to facilitate dialogue by the telling of my own stories, as well as those of my traditions, and to inquire about the nature of our shared cultural experiences. Browse through the comments of past posts and you’ll see that I often take the position of mediator; I’m not necessarily a “professional” at this, but I see this is an important act of service to my readership. As for practicing nutrition and medicine, there are many in the community who are more skilled at this than I. I have an intuitive sense about plants, but it is something that I still need to work on.

      In response to your statement about authoritative representation, I wonder if there’s another kind of representation we could imagine; one that is not authoritative, but more something else. Something that is instructive, or broadly representative. I’m not sure I have the language around this, but I think it’s worth exploring.

      Again, thank you for your comment!

      1. David Dashifen Kees Avatar

        “I wonder if there’s another kind of representation we could imagine; one that is not authoritative, but more something else. Something that is
        instructive, or broadly representative.”

        These are pretty good words, actually.  I think if we are to have Pagan representation, it’s not going to come with a mantle of authority in the same was as similar representation from another faith might have. And we would have to make that clear when working with others as best as we can. 

        That said, I wonder how much authority within the (for example) Jewish community a given Rabbi truly has.  Maybe as we stand outside other faith groups and look in we see the people who’ve stood up and assume that they’re authority figures or empowered by their congregations. 

    2. David Dashifen Kees Avatar

       “Hard to believe that image came up as the top search for “druid”.  I think that’s an elf.”

      It’s a druid from World of Warcraft; you can tell by the long ears. 

      1. Eran_Rathan Avatar

        Night Elf Druid from WoW.


        One year clean, and still it comes back to haunt us.

        1. Vermillion Avatar

           I’m going on 3 years clean and I found myself going “HEY THAT DRUID IS WEARING CENTURION GEAR”

          /ex druid who ran Molten Core FAR too many times but what I can I say, I met my boyfriend that way lol.

      2. Kauko Avatar

         My Druid in Everquest 2 is a female Fae, not an elf. 😉

  11. David Dashifen Kees Avatar

    The idea of being a voice for a group of people as diverse and, sometimes, divided as Pagans is always going to be troublesome.  I’ve given a variety of talks in Illinois about my Pagan identity and every time I would come upon a moment where I’d want to preface my statement with “I don’t speak for all Pagans, but ….”

    That’s not going to go away.  In fact, it shouldn’t.  There’s a strength in a diversity of ideas and strength can be found in working within that diversity to find shared values and common goals that, to be frank, I don’t think you find in a lot of other religious groups.  To often we see a hierarchy which protects itself instead of a collective of people empowered to lead and grow together.  Granted, this even sounds pretty idealistic to my own ears, and I’m the one writing the comment, but I think being a spokesperson or representative of a community is something that we can all be.

    Some of us represent our community simply by being “out of the broom closet” and showing others that we’re fairly normal, everyday people who have jobs, mortgages, long commutes, and all the other concerns that come with modern life.  Others represent by leading religious groups.  And others, like myself, have tried to take up the mantle of interfaith activist and work with other religious groups as a representative of Pagans. 

    Can I represent all Pagans perfectly?  No.  But I sure that I can be a better representation than uninformed stereotypes.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I like your approach, David, and I appreciate you sharing it here.

      I wonder if you think that Pagans exhibit a kind of hypersensitivity to being represented (a debatable idea) because of a common experience of being misrepresented. Does that seem accurate?

      Also, who do you look to for inspiration when you’re engaging in your own interfaith work? Are there effective interfaith leaders from the Pagan community that you think others could look as an example?

      1. David Dashifen Kees Avatar

        I think there’s a sensitivity — I don’t know if it’s hyper or not — and I think you’re right to think it’s because of misrepresentation.

        It’s hard to be misrepresented by others, but I think it’s easier to swallow because you can say to yourself, “That’s okay … they just don’t know the details.”  In fact, it might even motivate someone to try and educate the other and solve the problem.  But if it’s someone within your own faith group that misrepresents you, suddenly it’s so much more troubling.  “They should know!” you think to yourself and suddenly we’re all fighting on the Internet again (I’m at least as guilty of this as anyone else).

        On interfaith activism, obviously, there are those like Rev. Patrick McCollum who have devoted their lives to working with other faiths and cultures, but I think those are few.  To be fair, I think there’s a fairly limited percentage of people from any faith that work in that way and since our numbers are fewer, it stands to reason that we’d have fewer public interfaith figures. 

        But, like I said above, I think many Pagans take a different, softer approach to interfaith:  we just live publicly and become active in our local communities.   On this front I can think of people, like Mrs. B from Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, who have probably done more to represent Pagans in their communities than I could ever do.  Maybe this difference is because of our sensitivity with regard to
        misrepresentation; by which I mean to say that we are so worried about
        misrepresenting others within our faith community that we’re reluctant
        to stand up to be a voice within it when speaking with members of other

        Which way is better?  Hell if I know!  But I do think that the people who blog online about their Pagan identity — even if that identity is known to others in their geographic community — are often speaking to other Pagans and not necessarily to non-Pagans.  That’s not a condemnation of bloggers (I say to a blogger), but I do think there’s room in our community for people to sit with members of other faiths and speak with them about the common values and shared ideas that can be found within it.