Yesterday I was asked why I wanted to be a druid, if I would not join in with a small group of other druids condemning the people who celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge by drinking and partying in the same way that almost everyone else in our western culture celebrates… Just about everything.
My point is, that many people still feel the pull to these places, in large numbers, to have a shared celebratory experience around the sun, but we have through the passage of time, lost our culturally recognised universal ritual, and people naturally fall back into the only cultural celebratory ritual that they know. One of the points of large numbers of people coming together to celebrate at the same time is the undercurrent of doing the same thing at the same time. This is not the same as a small number of neo pagans dictating how everyone should act, in a way that is meaningless to most people today. It has to come from shared experience.
The question, for me is not “why am I a druid…” but “How am I a druid….”
And today, unexpectedly, I had an experience which I would like to share as an example. To promote thought perhaps, rather than say “look at me I’m so special.” I’m not.
Today, the day after the summer solstice I took my dog for a walk along the edge of Llyn Tegid, Bala Lake. Cerridwen’s Cauldron. A sacred place.
As I walked along the shore enjoying the sunlight coming through the trees and the gentle lapping of the water, I noticed all the other people there also enjoying the place. People swimming, people fishing, people having a picnic.
See, there are many layers to the pull of a place. Someone swimming in the water does not detract from my feeling of sacredness there. People fishing took no notice of me laving my head with the water.
A bit further on I found a spot where people had obviously camped. And left all their litter behind. 2 cases of empty beer cans, and all the litter and packaging that comes with bringing shop bought food with you.
I did sigh at the amount of rubbish scattered around, but I did also think how nice it must have been to have camped there at the lake edge, and watch the stars with friends. And I’m glad that people can have that experience.
But the litter.
I spotted a couple of carrier bags in the rubbish (there usually are) and spent about 15 minutes crushing the cans so they would fit in the bags, and collecting up all the wrappers and empty crisp packets. All bundled up I carried it away and carried on with my walk.
A short distance away I passed the back of the Byth Mary Jones Centre, so I had a look, and sure enough there was a bin in the carpark where I could drop it all off.
This is just one way of How I am a druid today. How I share space with other people, and how, because I see the lake as sacred, took the opportunity to clean up just a small part of it as an offering to the lake, and also as an offering to the next people who come along wanting to find peace and beauty.
Most people today just know how to take. The concept of giving back has largely been eradicated from our culture. Some people come to a site and just take. They get what they need or want, and leave. Often they know no better or different.
And sometimes those people are druids and pagans, who should know better, but only find it within themselves to condemn others who have hindered their ability to take what they wanted from the site.
The site is many things to many people. If you respect the spirit of the site, then do you really have to impose your own idea of what it should be upon it? Experience it as it is and thank it for the experience, and give something back of yourself so the site gets to experience what you can be.
Why do druids go to a site expecting an experience in their terms and react with anger when they do not get what they want? Will your offering be anger (at other people) or will you give it care or happiness?