From my New Order of Druids studies:
The Relevance of Druidism Today
Stubborn reliance on fossil fuels have led to more ecological disasters than I care to count. Landfills are overflowing with refuse that could largely be recycled or reused, including vast amounts of food waste. Deforestation continues to threaten our world even decades after we knew it to be a problem. Our US president-elect thinks that climate change is a hoax, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary and the united evidence presented by the vast majority of scientists. And the list of slow and fast-moving ecological disasters goes on and on.
We humans have grown out of touch with the natural world. Our spiritual practices no longer take us to the land for wisdom – instead most major world religions exhort us to seek to transcend the physical world, and some followers seem to take that as a mandate to trash the planet. Our leadership is no longer aligned with the land, and there are few who can act as a conduit between humans and our planet. Those few are druids, and our very survival depends on them – and this is why a revived practice of druidism is relevant – indeed, crucial – to the world today.
Carl Jung introduced us to the idea of archetypes in the early 20th century. A website dedicated to his work describes them thusly: “Jung talks about the archetype … as of biologists’ ‘patterns of behavior’(inborn behavior patterns). In short, archetypes are inborn tendencies which shape the human behavior.” (http://www.carl-jung.net/archetypes.html). Our reading says archetypes “are primal patterns of consciousness, transcend human nature, and remain a numinous mystery” (p. 11), and goes on to say that we would be errant in trying to align the druid archetype with time. Why? Because the culture from which that archetype arose is gone. But if we come to know the druid archetype through an integrated study of the original intention and practice of druids, then we can begin to have a relationship with the archetype. And the archetype I think we should most strive to make our model is that of the druid as a conduit or advocate between the land and humanity, between the collective human unconscious and the ecological unconscious.
Our reading tells us that the human collective unconscious is “a repository of cultural, religious, and social patterns, symbols, and archetypes” (p. 12). Conventional or “pop psychology” definitions also tell us that “the often repeated observation that myths and universal literature stories contain well defined themes which appear every time and everywhere. We often meet these themes in the fantasies, dreams, delirious ideas and illusions of persons living nowadays” (http://www.carl-jung.net/archetypes.html). As I read through the selection in the Bardic Handbook, I noted that this is a consciousness that connects us on a tribal level, and some argue, on a genetic level. Somewhere in that unconscious we all know that we are stewards of the land, sea and sky. Druidism reminds us about this and gives us a framework to use so we know how to go about the business of restoring and maintaining. This is different from the ecological unconscious, but works in tandem.
The ecological unconscious is defined as “a repository of all the ecological, wild, and environmental patterns, symbols, and archetypes within the history of cosmogenesis” (p. 12). As I mentioned above, this is in tandem with the human collective unconscious, connecting human archetypes with universal environmental patterns. And druids are the force in between, translating and guiding our current society to caring for our planet, engaging with it, and honoring its place in our spiritual and physical worlds. We druids provide the translation between humanity and the earth in what our reading calls the “druidic conversation.”
Why are druids relevant today? They’re the connection between our humanity and our home, fostering a “deep bond with the natural world, working with non-ordinary states of consciousness, and ‘holotropic’ practices fostering growth and wholeness in individuals” (p. 13). Our planet is going to survive no matter what, at least until the sun goes super nova, but our continued ability to live here may well be destroyed by our own ignorance and greed. Druids and other indigenous practices are the way to our salvation, and there’s nothing more relevant than that.