In 1990, most people’s idea of Druids was of groups of people (mostly men) standing around in stone circles wearing pristine white robes and performing staid and scripted ceremonies. They were seen as patriarchal, monotheistic sun-worshippers and deemed incomplete if they didn’t have a beard.
Since then, the idea of Druids as the native ‘shamans’ of Britain and much of pre-Roman Europe has taken hold and spread, replacing white robes with animal hides, scripts with rattles and drums. More women than men are now actively involved in Druidry, and many of us are polytheistic, pagan animists who follow the cycles of sun and moon. Solemn reverence is gradually giving way to wild shape-shifting.
How did this come about, who has been driving the changes, how do they link us with the Druidries of the past and, more importantly, what do they mean for those of us working in the tradition today, and what prospects do they hold for our future?
Last year we introduced a mead workshop to the programme and unsurprisingly it was very popular! Starting with a tasting session where many different varieties, flavours and recipes were compared and sampled. Recipes were exchanged, more mead was drunk to the pleasure of a welcoming audience. There was a demonstration on how to make mead with the opportunity for anyone to take part (and take home). We looked at simple methods of producing the liquid gold together, using basic equipment available in most households.
This year Jay and Rick (as seen on the BBC!) are looking at the ritual year and have prepared some meads to seasonally represent the druid celebrations. Once again there will be the opportunity to drink, talk, share and make mead together with like minded people, with an enjoyable atmosphere.