Tag Archives: druids and earth

Authenticity, Ancestors and the Druid Revival Tradition: Reclaiming our Ancestors and Living Druidry Today

A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, anthropomorphisms, in short, a sum of human relations which were poetically and rhetorically heightened, transferred, and adorned, and after long use seem solid, canonical, and binding to a nation. Truths….are coins which have lost their image and now can be used only as metal, and no longer coins.”

“On Truth and Lying in a Moral Sense” Nietzsche, P. 250

 

Standing stones in Bangor, PA (recently set)

Standing stones in Bangor, PA (recently set)

There seems to be a preoccupation with “authenticity” and “truth” within the druid community (and outside of it). Time and time again, people have asked me a lot about the history of the tradition, the “truth” of the druid revival material, the lack of knowledge about the Ancient druids, and how we can be a “legitimate” religious or spiritual tradition. This has come not only from the outside, but also from members of the two druid orders to which I belong, including new folks that start digging into some of the history of the druid revival. Because, as soon as one starts reading on either the ancient druids or revival druids, truth and authenticity seem to be a never-ending focus. For example, from the back cover of The Druids (Ellis, 2005), “Finally, a book that separates fact from mythology, telling us what we can and cannot know about the ancient Druids.” In the same book’s opening pages, Ells says, “The simple truth is that one person’s Druid is another person’s fantasy. The Druids have been conjured in a wide variety of perceptions, as to who they were, what they believed and what they taught, since the sixteenth century” (11).  In 1927, Kendrick writes of the “prodigious amount of rubbish” written on Druids in The Druids: A Study in Celtic Prehistory.  These scholarly sources, of course, have their own bias situated within the realm of what is acceptable scholarly work. However, even within our own druid orders, similar conversations are also being had.

 

The underlying questions seem to be: is this an authentic tradition? Is it true? From where does our truth derive? Is it real, even if some of what we based our practices on is historically suspect or created by our spiritual ancestors? These are very good questions for those who have been practicing druidry to ask, especially concerning the rather “colorful” past that the Druid Revival tradition has had. This questioning typically comes from two sources: first, we have A) so little left of what the Ancient Druids actually did/believed/practiced (less than 12 pages in total, written mostly by the enemies of the druids, the Romans) and B) the Druid Revival itself is, in part, assumed to be based on elaborate “forgeries” and “creative repurposing” from leaders of the early Druid revival (like Iolo Morganwg’s Barddas). Further, the question of authenticity is the basis of one of the larger rifts within the modern druid community in terms of where we base our practices (Celtic Reconstructivism vs. Revival Druidry).  So let’s dig into this a bit today and see how deep this rabbit hole of authenticity really goes.

 

“Authenticity” Challenge 1: On the Changing Nature of Text and Text Ownership

There is little doubt that the history of the Druid Revival is clouded with many inaccuracies, misunderstandings, and downright fraudulent texts. Iolo Morganwg as his contemporaries claimed to be working from ancient lost texts, and in some cases, they certainly were. But as much “ancient knowledge” might be true within their texts, there is also a lot of their own original material (creatively repurposed and or heavily adapted) to fill in the gaps. For a while, it was accepted that much of what Revival Druids believed was a carefully constructed fable perpetrated by Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg); now, some recent scholarship (such as John Michael Greer’s work on the Coelbren), shows that it might be based on more original material than originally believed.

 

One of the most important issues to understand within Revival Druid tradition is the radically changing definitions of history, accuracy, and plagiarism. In the 20th and 21st centuries, we are very concerned—one might say obsessed—with copyrights and originality.  I’m a writing professor by trade, and I can speak from direct experience at the near obsession our current academic culture has with plagiarism: a plagiarizing student is subject to severe academic sanctions that can, in certain cases, lead to them being permanently expelled or losing tuition money. If I were caught plagiarizing a professional academic publication, I would lose my job and be permanently ostracized from my field. When examining figures like Iolo Morganwg who developed original works based on earlier manuscripts, we often apply the same academic standards, viewing them as frauds or fakes; someone who committed serious crimes against history and accuracy.

 

Druid Wisdom

Druid Wisdom

But a deeper examination of the changing historical ethics at the time they were writing paints a different picture. Copying and creative expansion were used as teaching tools and often considered the highest form of flattery for most of human written history. Consider a work like Virgil’s Aneaead, which is a near-copy of Homer’s Odyssey (and Homer himself was likely several storytellers who based their work on still older works that were passed down from one poet to the next). Despite the “plagiarism”, Virgil’s work is still lauded as a masterpiece in its own right. Even William Shakespeare, considered one of the greatest playwrights, borrowed extensively from previous predecessors and contemporaries for his manuscripts, including his famous Romeo and Juliet. Ronald Hutton in The Druids, writes, “Ancient historians simply did not work according to the same priorities and conventions as their successors in the twentieth century. They were less concerned to establish the exact truth of the past than to propose lessons from it, of utility to present to future readers” (p. 5). In “What is an Author” Foucault (1977) describes the rise of the concept of ownership of a text—this ownership itself as a product of the commodification of goods and the rise of the consumerist society.  In other words, “ownership” of texts in this way has everything to do with the rise of our particularly form of capitalism.  Foucalt demonstrates that before the 18th and 19th centuries when writing was commodified, writing was an act, not a product or thing. Through this Foucault demonstrates that the very idea of “Authorship” and “ownership”—ideas which we so highly prize in our materialistic and post-industrialized world—were nearly non-existent through most of human history.

 

And so, we have a long-held historical and literary tradition of adapting material to suit a common purpose—often with cultural significance.  Hutton demonstrates that much of the renewed interest in the Ancient Druids during the early Druid Revival attached the term druid to all kinds of things.   For example, John Seldon, a politician living in the 14th and 15th centuries said that druids were the foundation for free assembly and the British Parliament while Thomas Caius in the same time period claimed the Druids were the intellectual heirs to Cambridge University (Haycock, 2001).  Obviously none of these things were necessarily true, but they were done as part of a cultural reclaiming act and in a way that was within acceptable bounds at the time.

 

To be clear: I think part of the reason that the Druid Revival materials are “suspect” and treated with disrespect compared to say, Shakespere or Virgil, has everything to do with time. Apparently 156 years is simply not long enough.  Shakespere or Virgil are older, established in the canon, and therefore, not suspect to the same criticism that Iolo Morganwg and his contemporaries are. If Morganwg’s writings were from 1000 years earlier, there would be no suspicion. And because of the long historical and literary tradition present in many ancient texts, it is likely that many sacred texts, from all around the world, were probably created in the same way.  Its just that those mysteries are lost to time in ways that Barddas is not.

 

This is one important lesson for us to take away from the “authenticity” debate–we cannot apply the same standards of scholarship present in the 21st century to the 19th. There is a lot more to Barddas than what has been espoused by academics, that’s for certain.

 

“Authenticity” Challenge 2: On the Industrial Revolution and Changing Ecological Realities

Ducks on the Water at Yellow Creek State Park (PA)

Ducks on the Water at Yellow Creek State Park (PA)

The other piece of this, of course, is the relationship between our spiritual ancestors and the crashing force of the industrial revolution.  Two hundred and fifty years ago, our spiritual ancestors faced a radically changing world: a stable agrarian society, where the common people shared common lands and people made their own homecrafted goods was quickly disappearing. Their society was being quickly replaced by an exploitative society that forced farmers into factories, that filled the skies with pollution and the rivers with poison, that undermined traditional ways of life, and that pillaged the natural world for raw materials. Of course, our spiritual ancestors looked to their own past histories, drawing deeply from what materials remained, to offer some alternative perspectives to what was unfolding before them.

 

I come at this particular issue from a place of deep compassion and understanding, as I, too, live in a region, a culture, and a civilization that continued to perpetuate the myth of progress, and whose ultimate aims are profit and exploitation. I wonder what any one of us would have done during that era—and I am grateful for the work that these spiritual pioneers did so that today, I have the tools and knowledge to thrive in these difficult times, to connect with the living earth, and to heal and regenerate the land becuase they paved the way for it..

 

Reclaiming our History and Honoring Our Ancestors of the Druid Revival Tradition

 

At this point, I’ve offered two key arguments that help us shift our understanding of the origins of the druid revival. First, that Morganwg and his contemporaries that helped found the Druid Revival tradition were working under very different cultural and scholarly values and that it isn’t appropriate to hold them to our standards of today. Second, Morganwig and his contemporaries were responding to the beginning of an ecological and social crisis (of which we are now experiencing the final act). If we accept these two arguments, the question now is, what do we do with this information? I see at least three pathways forward: reclaiming our history and honoring the ancestors, recognizing druidry as a “living tradition”, and reframing authenticity as direct experience.  We’ll now explore each of these in the second half of this post.

 

From a matter of historical accuracy, we have challenges to the legitimacy and authority of our tradition from outside of our community. For example, Ellis (2005) writes of the present Druid revival with disdain, “With the onset of the 1960’s ‘Hippies’ and ‘Alternative Religions’ the Druids were fair game again” (277). Ellis is quick to dismiss current Druidic spirituality as a “quick fix on spirituality; because people, in the quest for truth and meaning in life, which seems the perennial human drive, prefer simple answers. It is easier to accept the cozy pictures of non-existent romantic Celts and Druids rather than ponder the uncomfortable realities.” (280).  Clearly, Ellis has not dug very deeply in our own rich traditions as a teaching order to understand the kinds of work that a modern Druid does. Druidry is not a passive spiritual path but rather one in which druids must engage both the difficult questions surrounding our colorful past and the ecological and spiritual realities of the present. I think that these kinds of perspectives and challenges will likely always be with us—but these are no different than the same kinds of challenges faced by other religious traditions.

 

Honoring our Ancestors

Calling in our Ancestors

Calling in our Ancestors

However, to address external challenges to our own legitimacy, I believe we first must begin in hearts and minds of those of us who are the spiritual descendants of the Druid Revival. I think, at the outset, we need to seek peace with our history and our ancestors. We might begin to honor those founders of the Druid Revival tradition as ancestors—for that very much is what they are. It is highly likely that, without Morganwg’s work, we might not have a modern Druid spiritual tradition in any sense of the world. Morganwg, Stuckley, and their contemporaries were pioneering spirits whose work and inspiration continues within our tradition. Each time we invoke “Awen” or say the druid’s prayer, or draw upon the three currents or declare peace in the quarters—these basic practices are rooted in their works. We can’t use these, in good faith, while attacking and holding in disregard those who helped bring us these practices.  So within our communities and druid orders, I believe it is important to begin to honor them with the due respect given to any other ancestor.

 

Recognizing Druidry as a Living Tradition

A number of years ago, I was able to attend a workshop with Penny Billington, who published Paths of Druidry and runs OBOD’s magazine, Touchstone. When asked about the colorful history of the druid revival, she gave one of the best answers I had ever heard. She said that we were lucky, as druids, to not have any ancient sacred texts holding us back. She said that druidry is a living tradition that we are co-constructing, and as such, it could adapt to the rapidly changing world. Nature is our text and our greatest teacher. And so, we co-create this tradition as we grow, both as individuals, but also as druid orders and as participants in the broader movement of reconnecting with the earth.

 

I have found a lot of peace in Penny Billington’s statement. When people ask me things like “Well, how old is druidry anyways?” I know it’s often an underlying challenge to the authenticity of this path. But, as I’ve meditated on her statement over a period of years, I think it holds tremendous value and also tremendous wisdom.

 

While other traditions struggle to address and interpret ancient texts in a very different day and age, our tradition is on the forefront of adapting. In AODA, for example, we recognize that nature-based spiritual practice is not only rooted in the rituals and energetic work, but also, in our own connection and path to walk more lightly and kindly upon the living earth.  This is not something a text of 1000 years ago gave us.  It’s something that we know to be inherently true when we look outside of our window or read the news—we know if we are to align with the living earth spiritually, especially in these times, we must also change our physical actions. This is something that even 75 or 100 years ago was not as painfully obvious as it is today, with the rise of climate science and the harsh ecological realities that we experience.

 

Druidry is helping us lay the groundwork for what is to come if the human race is to survive, both personally but also culturally.  We are rediscovering ancient ways of knowing, living, and doing in the world.  Nature teaches us this through her own rhythms, cycles, and truths.  Our ancient ancestors around the globe learned all they needed to know from observing and interacting with the living earth on a constant basis: and as we return to these same practices, we uncover wisdom lost with the eradication of indigenous wisdom around the globe.  It might turn up in a different form, but it will turn up again—because we are getting it the same way our ancestors got it—from the sacred book of nature.

 

Our tradition has room to grow, to adapt, to change—just like nature herself.  By learning from nature, by heeding her voice, we are putting ourselves, and by example, others, on a more earth-centered path.

 

The Path of Druidry

The Path of Druidry

Of course, there may be a lingering discomfort may be present with the idea that we can create a personally valid and meaningful practice that works for us and that isn’t based on millennia of religious understanding or a holy book. That one can, essentially, call upon nature’s divine inspiration and craft something that works. The question, to me, isn’t whether or not 2000+ years of previous human history validates my practice—the question for me is, “Does it work? Is it meaningful?” To me, it doesn’t matter that some of it is rooted in Iolo’s writings, in the insights and practices of others, and in our own adaptations and understandings.  If you are one of those folks who feel this way, consider this: we are working from ancient understandings, even if those understandings are fragmented. We are also working from a 300 year old tradition that has grown, evolved, and is stronger today perhaps than ever before.

 

Reframing Authenticity through Experience

Directly stemming from the acknowledgement of druidry as a living tradition that adapts much like nature herself, one more critical piece seems to be at play in the discussion of authenticity, and that is the role of direct experience, personal knowing, intuition, and heart-centered experiences.

 

The idea of “certainty” (and to some degree, “authenticity”), stems in part from the rise of what is known as “modernism”: a philosophy rooted in rationalism and the development of the scientific method. It was through the rise of modernism and the industrial revolution that we moved from a “heart centered” to a “head centered” culture.  Modernism displaced the idea that core of the human was in feeling, experience, emotion–centered in the heart (this has been discussed through various; one of my favorite treatments of the topic is in the opening Stephen Harrod Buhner’s Plant spirit medicine). In a head centered/rational culture, we live with the not-always conscious assumptions that what is certain or authentic is what can be empirically validated, measured, or assessed.

 

Some of druidry’s core practices and practitioner experiences don’t fit within these head-centered boundaries. They are in the realm of personal experience, emotional knowing, intuition, and inner experience; they are in the realm of the heart. I can’t empirically validate many of my experiences as a druid, but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful. It seems, perhaps, that a different worldview and basic set of assumptions would better serve us—and simply acknowledging that one can exist and helping us get into the framework for it, would be beneficial. A worldview where scientific knowledge of the natural world (which is useful and wonderful) lives side-by-side with experiential ways of knowing, and that each of these have relevancy and power in our tradition.

 

I also want to note here: I teach masters and doctoral courses in social science and educational research methods as part of my profession. I am also well published learning researcher. It is because of this expertise that I know how very inappropriate the scientific method is for the work of inner spiritual life. There are questions that empirical researchers can answer, through observation and interaction with the physical reality.  And, there are questions that are unanswerable with these methods because they occur on a meta-physical (beyond physical) reality where the scientific method cannot reach. Most deep spiritual truths fall into the realm of unanswerable questions—and that is why it is in the realm of spiritual understanding, rather than historical or scientific, that I seek my own inner truth. We seem to forget, as a society, that there is more than one way of creating knowledge. Recognizing these multiple ways of making meaning, and balancing these ways, are critical for the development of a fulfilled spiritual life. And so, while as a professional, I embrace the scientific method as the meaning-making and knowledge-building tools that they are, I firmly reject them as the basis for my inner spiritual life and my tradition.

 

Conclusion

In the end, the questions I ask about the druid tradition aren’t about if it is authentic or real.  I don’t really care. In all honesty, that’s not the metric through which I’m measuring the effectiveness of this tradition. What I want to know is if the tradition “works” for me and others along this path.  And the answer has been resoundingly clear to me: druidry is a living spiritual tradition that “works.” If it didn’t work and it wasn’t meaningful, we wouldn’t have so many people seeking it out, going against the grain of the broader religious and cultural traditions, and continuing to persevere with it.  To me, that is the measure of authenticity.

 

Revival Druidry, as a phenomenon and as the forebears to the AODA, OBOD, and other Druid organizations, has much to teach us and how issues surrounding “truth” can, in themselves, be a source of inspiration and education. As druids might consider treating our knowledge of the Druid Revival (and Ancient Druids) in the same manner that we treat the many fables, tales, and stories.  It is not the “truth” that we cannot possibly know for certain that is important. Rather, the Druid Revival provides us with something more valuable than a simple historical fact or empirical reality—they provide us with a rich history and framework, and that history can today be used for teaching and reflection.  And like all great works, the story changes as the tale is told.  It morphs into what is necessary for that era and time. Our druid revival predecessors offered us much in the way of their own wisdom, their own truths—and we can honor them as the rightful ancestors that they are. They also left much up to us, to find our own way in our living tradition, seeking direct wisdom and experience form the living earth.

 

References

Ells, P. B. (2005). A Brief History of the Druids. New York: Caroll & Graf Publishers.

Foucault (1977).  “What is an Author?”  Found: http://www.scribd.com/doc/10268982/Foucault-What-is-an-Author

Haycock, D. B. William Stukeley: Science, Religion and Archaeology in Eighteenth-Century England

Hutton, R. (2007). The Druids. London: Hambledon Coniunuum.

Kendrick (1927). The Druids: A Study in Celtic Prehistory

Nichols, R. (1992).   The Book of Druidry.  2nd edition.  New York: Thorsons.

Nietzsche (1873). “On Truth and Lying in an Extra-Moral Sense” (1873)

Shifting Worldviews: Three Books to Read on Sustainability & Druidry

I think that druids, and those of similar earth-centered paths, need to get really serious about sustainability. For what good is a spiritual tradition without the physical action that accompanies it? How can we revere the land while we take part in a society that systematically degrades that land in the name of “progress” and “growth”?   Towards that end, I propose that we take four steps towards a greater awareness and practice of our own impact on the planet.  We must begin to do the following:

  • Educate ourselves on the issues
  • Shift our worldview towards sustainability
  • Enact these principles in our own lives
  • Model these practices and teach others

 

The first step in this approach is, of course, educating oneself on the issues and understanding on a deep and meaningful level the connections. This past term, I taught an interdisciplinary research methods course with a sustainability theme.  Through teaching this course and talking with knowledgeable friends, I would like to recommend a triad of books that will help better understand issues of sustainability and their connection to druidry.  Here, in essence, are three books that I believe every one of us should read to better educate ourselves and shift our worldview:

 

Thinking in Systems

Thinking in Systems

Thinking in Systems by Donella H.Meadows

This was a book recommended to me by a friend, and it ended up being one of three core texts for my course. This book is not actually about sustainability on the surface, but about systems theory, or the theory of the relationships between elements in a systems.  One of the problems that we have as a culture is that we don’t currently think in systems. We don’t understand the relationship of human activity to the larger ecosystem–we see these relationships as linear, rather than cyclical.  We think that when we buy something, it comes out of nowhere and when we throw it away it goes away.  We think that our actions don’t have consequences, or that our actions are so small that they don’t matter.

A systems perspective helps us understand these relationships and–this is critical–intervene in existing systems to build more sustainable practices.  While this book is a fairly technical introduction to systems theory, it also provides you with a framework or paradigm, a way of seeing the world and for that it is invaluable.  I see it as a foundational text–one necessary to learn anything else about sustainability.  After you finish reading this book, you will see the world in a new way, and that new approach can help you personally as well as the world at large.

Quotes from Thinking in Systems:

  • “To ask whether elements, interconnections, or purposes are most important in a system is to ask an unsystematic question.  All are essential.  All interact. All have their roles.  But the least obvious part of the system, its function or purpose, is often the most crucial determinant of the system’s behavior. Interconnections are also critically important. Changing relationships usually changes system behavior” (p. 17)
  • “Living successfully in the world of systems requires more of us than our ability to calculate.  It requires our full humanity—our rationality, our ability to sort out truth from falsehood, our intuition, our compassion, our vision, and or morality” (p. 170)

I should also mention that a systems approach is used in the last two books I recommend, so this is really a wonderful read and place to get started.

 

The Limits to Growth

The Limits to Growth

The Limits to Growth (30 Year Update) by Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, and Jorgen Randers

One of the challenges that we face in our society is a lot of misinformation and not being able to see the big picture of what human activity is actually doing (or, at worst, flat out denial about our own impact on the planet).  I blogged about this a while ago using a rhetorical theory, stasis theory, to show the breakdown in communication.

The basic premise of the Limits to Growth is simple–humanity, particularly humans in the western world, have been working under a “growth at all costs” model and that growth comes with both costs (environmental, social, etc.) and that growth is limited based on the material resources of our planet.  (Consequentially, another book I’d recommend that delves into the economics of material/natural resources is John Michael Greer’s The Wealth of Nature which is a wonderful read).

The Limits to Growth (30 year update)is, honestly, one of the most challenging books I have read in a while. Not because its a difficult read from an intellectual standpoint–in fact, the prose is quite clear and although they are using extensive data and mathematical models, they are presented in a clear and understandable format. No, its a difficult read because, by the 3rd chapter, when you read about the massive amounts of ways in which humans have pushed the earth beyond its capacity and the mathematical models predicting different “growth” scenarios, the enormity of the problem that we have on our hands is overwhelming.  We hear a lot about the environmental challenges in our world–but seeing them presented in a data-rich format, one after another, is something else entirely.  This book provides a planet-wide view of the problems with growth, the limits to our world’s ability to handle our destructive behavior, and suggestions for intervention and change.  I think if every person read this book with an open mind, we’d wake up to a radically different reality.

Quotes from The Limits to Growth:

  • “Can we move nations and people in the direction of sustainability? Such a move would be a modification of society comparable in scale to only two other changes: the Agricultural Revolution of the late Neolithic and the Industrial revolution of the past two centuries.  Those revolutions were gradual, spontaneous, and large unconscious.  This one will have to be a fully conscious operation, guided by the best foresight that science can provide….If we actually do it, the undertaking will be absolutely unique in humanity’s stay on the earth.”  — William D. Ruckelshaus (as quoted in Limits to Growth, pg 265)
  • “Systems strongly resist changes in their informational flows, especially in their rules and goals.  It is not surprising that those who will benefit from the current system actively oppose such a revision. Entrenched political, economic, and religious cliques can constrain almost entirely the attempts of an individual or small group to operate by different rules or to attain goals different from those sanctioned by the system.  Innovators can be ignored, marginalized, ridiculed, denied promotions or resources or public voices.  They can be literally or figuratively snuffed out. Only innovators, however—by perceiving the need for new information ,rules, and goals, communicating about them, trying them out—can make the changes that transform systems” (270)
  • ““Like the previous revolutions, the sustainability revolution will take centuries to unfold fully—though it s already under way.” (269)

 

Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth

Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth

Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology by John Michael Greer

One of the problems I’ve noticed with many of the earth-centered paths, druidry included, is that most people are more interested in the magical aspects than earth-centered, sustainable living. That is, druids seem dedicated to celebrating the turning of the wheel and embracing the earth through magical means, but still do not take the steps to truly enact sustainable living practices in their daily lives (obviously, I take issue with this, which is one of many reasons I write this blog).

Enter John Michael Greer, the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (of which I have been a member for almost seven years).  Greer certainly does his fair share of quality writing about druid magical traditions (see his Druidry Handbook, Druid Magic Handbook as two excellent examples). But Greer also writes on a host of other subjects, such as Peak Oil, and this has given him a unique perspective on the practical applications of druidry in terms of sustainability and making the transition to a post-industrial world.

Greer has done druidry and other earth-based spiritual paths a serious service in writing his new book, Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth.  This is because he is able to expertly combine many of the theories and insights from the sustainability movement into a mystery / earth-based spiritual tradition.  After reading Thinking in Systems and The Limits to Growth, I was left with lots of questions, not the least of which, “What insight can druids provide to the conversation of sustainability?” Greer provides one such answer.  Greer’s book examines seven principles within the mystery tradition, or ancient guidelines that have been, as Greer suggests, highly abused in recent times. By tying these ancient mysteries with insights into the living earth (which includes a healthy dose of systems theory) Greer provides us with spiritual insights that are transformative. The principles are simple and yet profound–understanding them takes but moments, enacting them will take a lifetime. I like this book so much because it gives me, as a druid and as someone seeking to constantly become more sustainable in my own life, spiritual principles that align with that goal.  It connects the dots between two conversations that don’t always align.

To give you a sense of this (and how nicely this book ties into my other two suggestions) here is the first principle, the Law of Wholeness, “Everything that exists is part of a whole system and depends on the health of that whole system for its own existence.  It thrives only if the whole system thrives, and it cannot harm the whole system without harming itself” (p. 21)  Reading this principle takes but a moment of time, but really truly understanding it may require a lifetime of meditation, study, observation, and action.  In addition to presenting his principles, Greer expertly describes the principles in terms of the natural world using metaphors and examples.   I will write no more here of the content, because one of the best parts of the book is the discovery as you move through it.

I hope that you will give these three books a serious read.  They have really helped me develop a deeper understanding–both physically and spiritually–of my role, as a druid in transitioning to a more sustainable, earth-centered world.