I’ve begun this blog because I am a Druid and I live in a small city. I’m having to create a Druidic path on tarmac and concrete instead of being able to disappear into the forest and discover Nature. I am an urban Druid.
It’s not like this in the books. Many of them support a Romantic view of Druidry derived largely from the 17th Century-18th Century founders of the modern movement. The Romantic view harks back to a golden age when forest sages communed with Nature and brought its Divine wisdom into human affairs. The Druids, at once primitive and noble, unspoilt by civilization, finding God among the trees and in the stone circles they allegedly built for worship.
You can just see it, can’t you? Most of the Druids I know can see that this description is a bit wishful and they don’t swallow it whole, but I still seem to detect a lingering attachment to it, made more poignant by the fact that they all live in town. Yes, they get on with their Druidic lives and all, but we don’t really talk about the fact that we’re mostly miles from the wild. We enjoy our outings to the nearly-wild and we moan about being semi-detached from the countryside. We don’t really address the fact that forest Druidry just doesn’t come off in city and suburbia. So my ongoing challenge is ‘how do I create a Druid path on the city streets, in the traffic, surrounded by mismatched architecture, never out of sight and sound of the general public?’
And I don’t believe I’m the only one who is facing this knotty little problem. After all, according to the World Bank’s website, over 80% of the UK population live in urban areas. That’s 4 out of 5 of us. And it’s a similar proportion in the United States.
According to CT0116 – Religion (detailed) by sex by age – England and Wales (Excel sheet 87Kb) from the 2011 UK census, there were 56,621 pagans in England & Wales and 4,189 Druids. 4 out of 5 pagans equals 45,297 and of Druids equals 3,351 out of 4,189. So the statistical likelihood is that only about 11,324 pagans and 838 Druids live in what we shall charitably call the natural environment. This kinda ruins the romantic dream of the forest-dwelling nature mystic, eh?
So it’s the urban Druid that is most common by far. This strange creature bears little resemblance to its Romantic stereotype. The urban Druid may not get out into the trees much except after a lengthy trip by car or bus. Walking barefoot on the forest path is a little risky because of broken glass and used syringes. Sustained chanting of Awen in the back garden may draw complaints or rude remarks from neighbours or passers-by. And on the subject of noise, the urban Druid pursues inner quiet despite the traffic on the street or the squawking from the TV. And then the mobile phone rings with that godawful ringtone that seemed like such a witty idea at the time.
But most challenging of all is the nagging doubt that we can be at all authentic in the middle of suburbia. Are four fifths of us Druids kidding ourselves? ‘Can I really be a Druid here in town?’ I ask. Maybe you do too. I could even ask ‘Should we even try to pursue Druidry in an urban environment? Does it not belong in Nature? Wouldn’t an urban Druidry be no more than a corruption of the real thing?’
So this blog. It isn’t a journal as such, rather a series of shared experiences and reflections, shared with you. I’m going to switch back and forth between recent events and the rather lengthy backstory that was my life beforehand. Chronological order is overrated anyway. I hope you will join me on my journey, share with me your thoughts on it, and that between us we can unfold what it means to be an urban Druid. Thank you for coming. It’s going to be a lot of fun.