Thank you for your interest in the Hedge Druid Network.
WHAT IS A HEDGE DRUID?
A Hedge Druid is one who works substantially alone. There are probably more Hedge Druids than there are Druids in the Orders. This is not surprising. There is, after all, a streak of anarchism in Druidry that derives from the fundamental belief that we are each responsible for our own thoughts and actions – something that cannot be fully realized within a hierarchy.
Indeed, most people, on deciding to explore the idea of being Druid, begin alone. They read books and pagan magazines, practise the workings they find, get into the countryside as much as possible, look at trees, and do generally druidic things. Eventually they come to feel that it would be good to have contact with others of like mind, share what they have learned, broaden their perspective, and deepen their understanding.
This normally means joining a Grove or an Order. Whilst the Orders have done much to provide teaching, many do not find other aspects of interest. Joining an Order involves embracing the ethos, rules, and structures devised by other people. It is a big step - one that an increasing number of Druids are unwilling to take. There are, of course, other reasons why people work alone. They may not know any other Druids, or their personal circumstances may make it difficult to meet with others. Some do not wish to practise openly for fear of persecution – sadly, a reality even today. On a more positive note, many Druids simply feel that working alone is the best way for them to explore the Forest.
There is a long and venerable history of Hedge Druidry. When religious and political pressure forced the Druid colleges to close, Druids left their groves and took to the highways, byways, and old green roads to practise and to teach. The wild hedgerows became their companions, their source of food and medicine, and, often, their shelter. In fact, the majority of Druids in ancestral times would have worked alone once they had completed their training. They would have been attached to something like a ditched enclosure, a sacred site, a tribal leader, or even a village – offering their wisdom and practical skills to all who were in need of them.
The path of the Hedge Druid can be most rewarding. Indeed, they fulfil an extremely important role and are by no means any less Druid for not working within a Grove or an Order. They can focus on their own exploration and concentrate on their own practices without having to do what others ordain. They do not need to become involved with group politics. They can do things how they like and when they like, following their own path through the Forest and adding to the great commonwealth of knowledge and understanding as they go. In particular, they are often much clearer and stronger in their vision. Their withdrawal, paradoxically, enables them to form an outward looking and intimate bond with the Land, practising for the Goddess and for Truth, rather than for the Grove.
Of course, there is a down side. It is always good to be part of a community of like-minded souls, to discuss things and pass on what one has learned, as well as gaining emotional and spiritual strength from knowing we are not alone. Without the contact afforded by a Grove or an Order, this is not possible. Moreover, it takes a strength of will to carry on when there is a lack of connection with the wider Druid community. This is a particular problem at the festivals. It can be difficult finding the enthusiasm to perform a ritual when working alone, especially on a cold, wet winter’s night. Many Hedge Druids end up doing most of their workings indoors. This is perfectly acceptable, but it does diminish the experience by removing direct connection with the Land.
That is why we have decided to start the Hedge Druid Network. We hope that it will provide that sense of community we crave without needing to forgo the autonomy we all prize. To begin with, it will be a simple newsletter, or ‘journey’, to which we can all contribute. Eventually we hope that it will become a more substantial journal for all Druids who wish to practise alone whilst having access to the thoughts, experiences, and ongoing conversation of their sisters and brothers in spirit.
THE AIMS OF THE NETWORK
Our aims are very simple:
What we will not be doing is evolving into an Order or offering teaching on an organized basis (although we hope that what we publish will count as teaching). And whilst we intend to foster discussion about all things relating to Hedge Druidry we will not allow personal comments of any kind.
Each season, we will produce a small magazine containing articles, poems, jokes, knitting patterns, recipes, line drawings, news, views, personal reflections, ideas, books to read, music to hear, films to see, food to taste, places to go, things to do... Anything that is both seemly and in keeping with being a Hedge Druid. We have already featured practical pieces on ritual as well as giving astronomical information. An ongoing section will be the building of a comprehensive bibliography of works of interest to Druids, with information sent in by members. Another regular item will be reviews of websites, music, books, films, television, plays, poetry, dance, and art. And with any luck, members will feel confident enough to contribute their own thoughts on being Druid.
If you feel that you would like to journey with us, then print off the form below, fill it in, and return it to us with your annual subscription. In return, you will receive four editions of the magazine GreenWay in the medium of your choice. As the network grows, we hope to expand the range of services available in line with what members feel would be useful.
There will be a small annual charge of £6.00 for this to cover our costs. Cheques should be made payable to Grey House in the Woods. Your name and other details will be kept confidential and will not be passed on to any other organization.
If you live outwith the United Kingdom, but would still like to join, do not worry. Exchange rates may make monetary transactions difficult, but we can always come to some other arrangement. E-mail to: greenway @ greyhouseinthewoods.org (Due to the inordinate amount of spam we receive, please copy and past the address into your e-mail and then delete the spaces either side of the @. Thank you.)
Click on the old man for a printable subscription form.