I have finished reading The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington, so here are my final thoughts about her presentation of Druidry.
I really liked the way she laid out the three paths of Bard, Ovate, and Druid, and spoke so much to their essence. She gave the impression that one could choose to specialize in an area strongly calling to one, or pursue all three paths simultaneously, in various aspects of one’s life, which I resonated with. I like this idea, as a personal spirituality, better than the idea of moving through hierarchical grades in a straight destination. I prefer to relate with the paths as different but specific ways of engaging one’s spirituality in the world, and find this more fitting to a spirituality for today, rather than as a social institution of the past, when a more graded approach was reasonable. I find I still do not fully resonate with the historical druid, aside from feeling that my role as a priestess of Brìde fits into this somewhere, albeit loosely and peripherally, but I fully resonate with the idea of Druidry as a spirituality grounded in ancestral wisdom and tradition which is nature-centric and emphasizes service.
I think that, through my priestess work, I have been already expressing some of the elements of each path.
Penny describes the Bardic path as one connected to Awen/Imbas, the vital and magical current in the land, which gives inspiration, and through inspiration, poetic and artistic expression, which brings Imbas into the world of form. She defines all acts of creativity as bardic expressions, from child-rearing and arranging one’s home to the more formal expressions of poetry, musical, and artistic expressions. I like the range she perceives. I have walked the Bardic path as a priestess of Brìde in my Order by writing poetry inspired by my deep mystical experiences with Her as I tend Her flame, by writing songs for both healing and seasonal rituals, and creating a set of seasonal rites centered on Brìde’s mythos with Angus and the Cailleach.
The path of the Ovate is described as one of pursuing knowledge of the natural world, through study of natural sciences and the ogham, as well as knowledge of one’s inner world, through meditation. Ancestral knowledge through study of ancestral myth is also included, which I applaud. I love her appreciation of symbol and metaphor and cultural relevance found in myth, and how it is meant to be used as a guide to right behavior and action in the world with one’s people and land. I find this is not spoken of or emphasized enough in pagan communities, and I am so glad she brought this out to share. While the Welsh mythos is not the mythos I personally work with, her explorations of it were so spot-on, I thought, and certainly are an excellent guide to working with myth from any tradition. I have done this myself with Irish myth, and this sense I definitely express the path of the Ovate. She also ties in healing of the land with the Ovate, which I have also done, through water blessing and earth blessing chants and rites I have composed and performed, as a part of my priestess work. I also tend a local riverway by picking up trash and leaving offerings to the river goddess as a form of well-tending with my Order, and so this is a part of the Ovate path as well. Some of us in the Order are also pursuing an exploration of the ogham, which is Ovate work. The Ovate is also the path of the healer, and it was through a Reiki II attunement that Brìde first came to me over a decade ago. I would in this sense place meditation in the Ovate path, as it is a form of spirit-healing one can do for oneself, in a variety of ways, beyond specific exploratory guided meditations. Perhaps one might also think of such meditation as a type of contemplation. I have also pursued specific immrama meditations through my flametending Order, journeying to the Otherworld, and this too is Ovate work.
The path of the Druid is described as coming out of the forest and back to the tribe to be of service to one’s community with the knowledge one has gained from study. It is also the path which is most connected to contacting and community with the gods. Certainly I feel my role as a flametender for Brìde fits into this path, as I share a very mystical relationship with Her while I commune with Her as I tend Her perpetual flame. I think of my performance of seasonal rites as a form of service, although I do not currently share them the public, but they are done on behalf of the people, even if unbeknownst to them. Well-tending is a service as well, which impacts how people enjoy the space I tend. I have donated to some charities and signed some petitions for causes I support which serves the world I live in. I am wondering how else I might pursue service. Penny also discusses ethical living in the path of the Druid, as walking with integrity, in alignment with the Truth of the way of nature, and living one’s nature-centered values. Certainly I do this through organic gardening, composting, mulching, organically raising chickens for eggs, and putting up my harvests, as well as other acts like recycling, shopping at a consignment store for clothes, purchasing organic and/or local foods when I can, using cloth bags when I shop, and sharing important political stories on social media.
In conclusion, Penny directs readers to weave her three rays into our daily lives into a patter of living Druidry.
Through the Nature ray we are guided to always walk in harmony with the land, both through regular communal and contemplative walks in nature, ever-mindful of the magical current running through the land from which we derive spiritual vitality, and through being involved in whatever the local community is doing which affects the land.
Through the Knowledge ray we are asked to continually question, how may I serve, and listen for responses through regular meditation and visualization.
Through the Devotional ray we are guided to recall characters from myth, and their stories, to understand how they provide guidance for us in our daily lives, in forming right values which lead to right action and right relationship, in balance and harmony with Truth. We are guided to examine prayer, and how we might incorporate it into our daily lives. We are reminded to make our way in the world through compassion, connection, relationship, with all beings.
I offer gratitude and thanks to Penny for the guidance she has provided in her book. I will continue working with her ideas, and will work on meditating and nature-walking daily, to feed my body, mind, and spirit.