Lugh brought me to Druidry. I’ve been Pagan for most of my life – ever since I figured out what the word meant (in the modern context) – but the specific vocabulary I use to describe myself and the nature of my practice has changed several times. The word that has stayed with me the most consistently, if privately, is “witch,” and that’s still how I think of who I am and some of what I do. It’s a problematic word, though, and means such a variety of things to different people that it’s not really useful to use in public. I know what I mean when I call myself a witch, but I doubt most people would. “Druid” is equally problematic, but I don’t mind using it out loud because I am actually a member of an order of a particular type of Druid as well as a member of a grove of people who practice varying forms of Druidry. It was Lugh who led me there.
He showed up uninvited and un-looked for at a liminal time in my life – around 2003-2004, several unpleasant events took place that were traumatic initiations for me. I turned, as I always seem to in difficult times, to Buddhist meditation practices to get through, and Lugh showed up in the middle of one of those.
How do I know it was Lugh? Mostly because he told me so. I knew it was a god because of the feeling that Mole and Rat also had* – that sensation of being pinned to the ground, flooded with awe and a peculiar type of terror that isn’t really fear at all but something else, some nameless emotion that is both like and unlike fear and joy. I have only ever had that feeling in the presence of a god, and since other writers have described the same thing in similar contexts, I feel comfortable using the word “god” to describe that Presence. I asked who he was, he told me his name and many other things.
Lugh** is the god of competence. He knows how to do everything, and he does everything well. He brings the light of understanding and knowledge. All information, every quest to understand the world, is sacred to him. This is what Druidry is to me – it gives meaning and coherence to the quest for more knowledge. Within the path laid out for me by my culture, I’m done learning – I have the career, the home, the marriage – there’s no particular practical reason for me to learn anything outside of those fields. Without Druidry, there’s nothing to explore. Being who I am, of course, I would continue to explore and learn whether there was a druid order around to encourage it or not. I wouldn’t have a name for it, though. Labels are powerful, as everyone who has rejected them knows. I can see my gardening, my cooking, my writing, my studies of magic and mythology, my meditation, my knitting, my herbalism, my faery explorations, all as part of this big tapestry of Druidry. I can find connecting threads there because I have this practice that unites everything into one great quest to understand the world and know how to live in it well, which was the core of Lugh’s initial message to me.
I’m sure there are people out there who do all that without using my vocabulary or my interpretations of religious experiences – even without interpreting any of it as religion at all – but I couldn’t. Without Druidry, it all unravels into a pile of loose threads and I would struggle to get it all to make sense.
Ali put it beautifully: “Being a Druid is like searching for the presence not just of one God, but of all things–everything has Spirit, everything has a song. When I pray or meditate, I’m not just listening for that one Someone, I’m listening for the Song of the Whole World, and how we all fit into it. I quiet myself down and connect, and then I reach out to sing my own soul’s song, the best way I know how. In Druidry, we can feel the whole world living and breathing around us, pulsing with sacredness and inspiration. We sing, we tell stories, we study old myths and new myths, we decorate our homes with pieces of art and expressions of nature–but mostly, we spend a lot of time trying to learn how to be fully present to the world.”
*I have a bad habit of assuming that everyone has read the same things as I have – I’m referring here to the bit in “The Wind in the Willows” where Mole and Rat see the Piper:
Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror–indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy–but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near
`Rat!’ he found breath to whisper, shaking. `Are you afraid?’
`Afraid?’ murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. `Afraid! Of HIM? O, never, never! And yet–and yet– O, Mole, I am afraid!’
**(and by “Lugh” here I mean the being I met and interacted with, both at that time and several times since – not the mythological character. They might be the same being. I don’t actually know – I only make the distinction here to make it clear that I’m talking about my experiences and to avoid confusion with other sources. This is, in the amusingly useful terminology I’ve heard from ADF members, Unverified Personal Gnosis)