Druid Prayer & Devotion

Prayer and devotional practices are central to many Druids' spiritual life. There are no prescribed prayers - each of us is free to use those prayers, blessings and practices that feel right for us, and our needs will change with the times and the seasons.

Deep Peace to You
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.

Irish blessing

The Druid’s Prayer, first recorded by Iolo Morganwg and updated in modern times, is used by many Druids:

Grant, O Great Spirit/Goddess/God/Holy Ones, Thy Protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences,
 the love of Great Spirit/Goddess/God/Holy Ones/the Earth our mother, and all goodness.

The following article by Past-Presider of the Order Caitlín Matthews clearly explains the nature of prayer and its value to those following the Druid Way:

Spiral triskelion (formed from mathematical Archimedean spirals), occasionally used as a Christian Trinitarian symbol

Prayer as our ancestral heritage

The practice of prayer is a corrective to the busy and ungrounded times we are passing through. Many people think of prayer as ‘asking for things,’ or else as a practice solely undertaken by card-carrying members of the major religions. Well, it’s also a part of our ancestral heritage too and  it helps maintain equilibrium as well as expressing gratitude. If you visit traditional cultures anywhere in the world, people pray naturally, in their own idiom, in words and song, silence and dancing. They address the spirits respectfully not with servility. They pray from a place of need to equals. Gratitude is always the mainspring of their prayer, not request.

What is prayer? Prayer is nothing less than the service of love. All love is generated by giving and receiving, and so you can regard prayer as the lungs of love, which breathe in and out. Prayer can involve actions, blessings, stillness, movement, gesture, not just words. It may consist of thanking, praising, upholding, remembering, blessing, communing, remaining in spiritual poise. It is not pleading, bargaining, or black magic. Prayer never weakens or diminishes you. At the most basic level, it is holding the object of your prayer in your heart, witnessing to their full potential and wishing them well – this can be done by everyone, regardless of whether they regard themselves as spiritual or not.

Who am I praying to? Some people have a sense of the divine as a single being, others have a sense of being companioned by allies, spirits or contacts who reveal themselves in many ways. Regard all such beings as messengers for your prayer. By stepping first into communion with these sources of love and help that gladden your own heart, by seeking out connection before anything else, our prayer goes freely where it needs to go. Go first to that strength before you address the need.

What do the ancestors have to do with prayer? Sometimes we pray through or across time: we can also receive prayer that others have made for us. For example, the sacred sites we enjoy visiting were erected by our ancestors for us – their planning and building was a prayer in itself in which we participate. We can draw upon the prayers of our ancestors by praying to them, so that the old ones can reach through to you, past the entangled place where you’ve become enmeshed to send strong spirits to find you and raise up prayers in you.  When you’re feeling particularly strong and happy, try also praying for descendants and leaving markers and handholds for them in those times when they need help.

Is it ethical to pray for others? When you pray for others, you are remembering them at times when they are not able to help themselves: but that doesn’t mean that you prescribe, judge or curse them with your words or intentions. US physician, Larry Dossey, wrote a book on prayer and after its reception by certain unboundaried readers, he was forced to write another one, entitled ‘Be Careful What You Pray For.’ If you are uncertain about permission, then you can do the following: ask your spirits to show you what someone is feeling or fearing.  Hold them in your heart and asking for what they most need. Then, get out of the way and let the help come. It’s only when we interfere and interpose our own hopes and fears upon people and situations that things get ethically tangled. If someone is dying, praying for their recovery may be a curse, not a blessing.

So how do I pray for others? The best prayer that we can make for others is ‘may a door or window open for them,’ or ‘may x receive the help that s/he needs now.’ A prayer that doesn’t close the possibilities is good. Put love and strength in the cracks and holes like mortar.  See the object of your prayer as someone full of the potential that they were born with; awaken their original nature; raise up the sparks of their soul, even though they may be ill, angry or despairing now. Pray as if the subject could hear, see, feel etc. what they needed and be able to receive.

Prayer is like a stone that drops into a pool. The ripples spread until they reach the side of the pool and then they come back towards the epicentre.  Like light or electricity, prayer works invisibly.  Sense, see and feel the sacred cosmos within you.  Stand in the place of your true abiding, in the same place as your spirits & let them do the work while you get out of the way.

It can be helpful to create a morning and evening practice – a sequence of prayers and devotions that feel right for you. You can chant, sing, speak out loud or internally your prayers and blessings. You can include a period of silence before or after them. You can incorporate a meditation practice if you wish, and you can include ritual components, such as lighting candles or incense according to preference. The secret, as with all spiritual work, is to follow the spirit not the ‘letter of the law’. Prayer and devotion comes from the heart and soul, not the logical mind that worries about correct procedures and detail. In the book Celtic Devotional by Caitlín Matthews, blessings, prayers and meditations are suggested for each day of the week over the four Celtic festival periods used by the Druids. As an example, here are the suggested devotions for a monday morning during the Imbolc season:

from Celtic Devotional by Caitlín Matthews

For the Imbolc season – Prayers & readings for Monday Morning

Soul Awakening

I arise today in the name of
the Gatherer of Hope,
the Bringer of Springtime,
the Brightener of Seasons.

The Kindling

I kindle my soul at the hearth fires of the Kindler of Souls:
breath of love,
breath of light,
breath of life,
be upon the embers of my spring-wakening soul.
Preserve my soul in gladness
May it flame forth with the sun’s returning glory.

To My Soul’s Teacher

    Bright Mystery, be free as  a guest to enter me, always finding a welcome in my heart. All strivings cease when I open the door to you. (A period of Sacred Silence) In the secret grove of the heart may we ever meet.
Teacher of my soul,  I am inspired every time I contemplate your life. As the world celebrates the coming of spring, help me to follow the path of my life and walk ever with me. Give me light to meet the question of this day.

Remembering

     I remember all new-born creatures about to begin their cycle of life, especially……. may they live and love in joyful awareness.
All souls need nurture and the fosterage of encouragement:  may the love of the Mother and Father of Soul’s Fostering be in my heart as I go about the world, that I may enable and encourage all who are despondent and without hope, especially……
I remember all who have made bad beginnings and now wish to amend their lives, especially ……. May they receive the blessing of resolution, courage and the willingness to change that the indwelling beauty of their lives can shine forth.
The day stands before me: I consider what I shall do today…. may the work of my hands and the intentions of my heart hasten the verdant springtime of the world’s spiritual awakening.

The Encircling of the Soul

I make the encircling and
go forth today under the
power of the heavens,
light of sun,
radiance of moon,
splendour of fire,
speed of lightning,
swiftness of wind,
depth of sea,
stability of earth,
firmness of rock.
From the heights, to the depths,
may I be encircled in love and safety.

A Blessing

May the blessing of the Gatherer of Hope,
the Bringer of Springtime,
the Brightener of Seasons.
be upon me as I set forth today.
Laughter of the running hours be mine,
and with the leave of lightness, may I come home in joy.