When Druids Meet
When Druids meet, how do they recognize one another? The answer to this question has many answers today because there are many ways that a person can be a Druid. In one of the few references available to us on this subject from antiquity, The Colloquy of the Two Sages, we can discover that some of these many ways are as follows:
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by detailing the truth of the inner *nature* that caused them to seek to become Druids.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by providing the *traditions* of the studies that formed them into Druids.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by describing their *rank* of attainment in their chosen specialties of Draíocht.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by itemizing the *skills* in the art of Druids that they practice as Druids.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by outlining the *goals* that they've set for themselves as Druids.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by detailing their *accomplishments* in their life as Druids.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by tracing the Druidic *lineage* of their teachers.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by performing *prophecy* that is inspired through imbas.
- Druids recognize one another through inquiry and by *acknowledging truth* when they see it.
These nine points of being a Druid are clearly provided to us from the Druids of the past in the tales about them and their interactions. I think they ably provide us with three questions that we each need to answer:
· Can we ignore these nine points of being a Druid when we seek to be Druids ourselves?
· Can we afford to ignore discovering them in others who say they are Druids?
· Can we demonstrate them to the world through the truth of our own actions?
When we look for Druids among us or within ourselves, will we find the requisite nature, tradition, rank, skill, goals, accomplishments, lineage, prophecy and truth that is the mark of a Druid? Will we be able to ask and answer the three questions of seeking, discovering and demonstrating? When Druids meet, the knowledge of tradition, experience and inquiry are each validated through the harmony of respect, openness and imbas.
What is demonstrated and meant here is that Druids tell one another what it was that set them on the Druid Way and describe this epiphany of choice in such a way that other Druids can identify and synchronize with it.
Wouldn't you want to know the degrees that a person has as well as their experience if they were going to be your doctor or discuss other professional matters with you in a professional specialty? Wouldn't you want to know the qualifications of your lawyer, your clergy or your doctor? Would you eat in a restaurant that had not been inspected or drive a vehicle without assurances that it was safe to do so?
To evaluate whether a person is actually a Druid, one might consider itemizing their areas of specialty or attempt to understand the techniques or systems that they use. In medicine, this might be reflected in looking for a diploma from a medical school, a license or a certification on the wall. One should hopefully ask if they specialized in surgery before contracting with them for an operation. One might want to know if a doctor practices holistic medicine vs. heavy use of drug therapies, etc. Some of these questions are answered or assured by reputation in the community or by the certifications and regulations for the hospitals and health facilities where doctors are employed and ply their craft.
Establishing a professional relationship with a person or colleague pretty much mandates that one understand their skills and levels of competency. After that, associating with a person is pretty a matter of getting together with like minds who share a common dream and then pulling together in the same direction.
Knowing a person’s lineage, school or level of training, is also very helpful in evaluating where a person is coming from.
If the teacher, school or group is already well known, the evaluation of the individual's practice as a Druid might be better understood against that background. Knowing a person is a member of Keltria, ADF or OBOD might suggest something about their overall belief structure and practice.
If the Druids of one’s lineage are known, then one’s credibility as a Druid is established and measured though that connection. I hope that Druids everywhere consider intelligence to be a great measuring stick, along with truth, intuition and awareness.
I also think that using the various ways that have been listed of evaluating anyone's claims are sensible. What we are talking about here are credentials that are similar to what would be on any resume.
It is a major focus of my work as a Druid to effectively establish credentials and other clear-cut ways of defining who and what we are as Druids. It's my great hope that much of the confusion and hoopla associated with the many who *claim* to be Druids (but who are actually something else) can be eliminated through these (and similar) efforts. That's why some of us in The Summerlands are working toward the establishment of a Druid Seminary.
I suspect that is also why OBOD, Keltria and ADF have improved (and continue to improve) their training courses. I also think that's why the Druid College of Avalon is being established. I think that we can establish centers of credibility and authority without having to have one central authority. If we do this, I think we will be emulating the ways that the ancient Druids also established and maintained their own centers of learning and authority. Most modern Druid groups are really not that far apart in terms of requiring education and dedication from their members. The traditions mainly differ in regard to degree and point of focus. They also have differing histories and cultural focus, but these are to be expected as they are geographically and culturally separated.
Without some type or center of credibility and authority, anything can be misused or become off-centered. Anyone’s claims can be considered as valid as another’s. Throwing away standards and definitions opens up order to anarchy. That is why most workable systems and Druid groups have some form of checks and balances as well as a listed way of self-evaluating and regulating.
How this can or is being done is worthy of another thread and further discussion. Maybe some of the more successful groups or schools out there can tell us what their experience has been?
The idea behind having certification is to provide an easy means of determining credentials and capability, even relative authority. These standards should not be considered the "be all and end all" of Druidic society. Rather, they are ways for the general public to get a grasp on what Druids are all about in a fairly uniform and consistent manner.
A feature of such groups should be their ability to recognize individuals who have obtained the necessary standards of excellence on their own as well as through divine inspiration. Here (and also in the case of those who attend regular schools and training) there should be a criteria that establishes what a Druid (no matter the specialty) actually is.
That same yardstick can measure the conventional as well as the unique. In fact, that is one reason I started this thread (to attempt to place some marks of reference on that stick). The Inis Glas Hedge School was an excellent example of a knowledge base that could serve as an educational yardstick for traditional knowledge that a Druid should be expected to have. The ADF, Keltria, AODA and OBOD study programs define levels of knowledge and achievement sufficient for their organization to recognize levels, rings, orders and types of Druids. Some of these are ordered with tree names like Birch, Oak and Yew, while others separate the disciplines as Bard, Ovate and Druid. Each level or ring has its own uniquely defined skills and tests for achievement.
This study, discipline and testing is a traditional requirement for being recognized as a Druid.
In ancient Ireland, an ollamh (in any skill but primarily in law, poetry or priestly duties) was established and recognized through a process of education, examination and installation involving other sages and ollamhs (of that discipline), as well as by the local kings and chieftains. Our recognition of modern Druids should require similar standards of education and achievement that are measured and established by a similar process of recognition by schools, boards and governmental offices today. That is actually how the university system still works in much of the world. That's the way that it should work among us as well.
Perhaps the members of any such board should come from the schools, the leadership of government and from those who are independently acknowledge experts in the field on some rotating basis? That way, we might minimize any one group gaining a control over the process in a restrictive manner? How to do this in balance and fairness is a discussion and an outcome that I eagerly await.
I generally agree with addressing the general warning signs as being red flags about a person’s claims and credentials (needs details) but do reserve judgment on ruling out wisdom that is found in unusual, controversial and little known traditions. This does not mean that one should endorse the unusual or the controversial (or even the outright wrong) just because it is different but it does mean that such sources can contain truth beyond conventional wisdom. The unorthodox can inspire us to go beyond the normal and usual into realms of truth that would otherwise be ignored.
Common sense tells us that to be generally accepted knowledge must be evaluated and substantiated through careful research and thorough investigation. In these considerations of the unusual, wisdom is found almost as often from failure as it is through success. Perhaps the list of warnings and red flags should be qualified or limited through accurate definitions while a list of positive affirmations for Druids is also clearly stated? What a Druid is not is equally and more easily understood at times than what it is that defines a person as being a Druid. The negatives often times screen the dreck more efficiently than the positives recognize the jewels.