2020 – The Feminist Druid: Making Way for New Stories/New Work
Dr. Michelle LaFrance, Assistant Professor of English, George Mason University (US), a feminist critical ethnographer, will urge Druids to consider the opportunities feminist thought presents to our spiritual practices. At the center of today’s Druidry lies an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, to be part of any neo-pagan movement means to be familiar with feminist principles—from goddess worship, to the empowerment of women, to the challenging of traditional religious structures that limit women’s roles and experiences, to the equation of environmental and social activism with human/women’s rights. On the other hand, even as some women hold key positions in this international movement (contributing books, blogs, and other resources), (mis)representations of Druidry as a path dominated by men are yet a mainstay. And no wonder, most of the historical knowledge we hold about Druids, including the traditional mythologies/poetics of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales that orient much of today’s Druidry, reinforces “the archetypal Druid” as a learned man in service to elite individuals, social structures, and culture. Exploring feminist thought and principles as they apply to 21st century Druidry is a rich opportunity for our living and evolving spiritual tradition. The author of this talk will draw upon several principles of current feminist thought to open out new visions, new stories, and new work for today’s revivalist Druid. Topics will include considering how feminist folktales may shape/reshape the inner landscapes of Druids, embracing the lessons of consent culture, and an exploration of animist principles which resist the gendering of nature, spirit, and practice. (To be published Beltane 2020).
2021 – World Druidry: A Globalizing Path of Nature Spirituality
Dr. Larisa A. White is an educator and independent scholar with over 25 years’ experience using mixed research methods to shed light on the ways in which people learn, grow, and change, under the influence of changing educational contexts. She is also a global nomad, fascinated with the ways in which intercultural mobility affects people, habits, and beliefs. She now turns the focus of her academic research on discerning the ways in which Druidry, as a globalizing path of nature spirituality, has evolved as it spread beyond the traditionally Celtic lands of its origin and took root in other countries and cultures. As practicing Druids around the world grow beyond the initial mastery of received ritual forms and practices, and begin to follow the Rule of Awen, what do they continue to hold in common? In what ways do their practices and beliefs diversify? What, if anything, forms the spiritual “common-core” of contemporary World Druidry that is able to transcend local culture? This paper will present the findings of an extensive survey-research project designed to answer those questions. (To be published Beltane 2021).