Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University is leading a five-year research project on the history of Druidism, funded by the government’s Arts and Humanities Research Board. This project involves major research endeavours, an academic conference and the publication of two books.
Gordon Cooper, co-founder of the Inis Glas Hedge School, is researching, amongst a variety of topics, the relationship between modern Druidry and the Woodcraft movement.
John Michael Greer, an established author who specialises in Western Magical traditions, is researching, again amongst a variety of topics, the connections between contemporary Druidry and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Fourth Mount Haemus Lecture: Question, Answer and the Transmission of Wisdom in Celtic and Druidic Tradition
Caitlin & John Matthews have dedicated their lives to researching and presenting material on Celtic spirituality and Druidism. They are the authors of numerous books and are past presiders of the Order and frequent speakers at Order events.
Fifth Mount Haemus Lecture: Universal Majesty, Verity and Love Infinite – A Life of George Watson Macgregor Reid
Dr. Adam Stout, gaining his doctorate in Archaeology at Lampeter University, has specialised in a study of George Watson Mac-Gregor Reid, the flamboyant and eccentric Chief of the Ancient Druid Order.
Professor Roland Rotheram was the senior lecturer in Myths and Legends and Comparative Religious Studies for 12 years at the University of Staffordshire. In this study he develops a new theory on the relationship between humans and animals in a shamanic and spiritual context, exploring the symbolism of animal figures in early faiths and examining the links between various priesthoods and the animals they invoke in their rituals. Surviving traces of early nature beliefs in modern world religions are examined as well as those in use by those following the shamanic and druid paths.
Seventh Mount Haemus Lecture: ‘I Would Know My Shadow and My Light’ – An exploration of Michael Tippett’s ‘The Midsummer Marriage’ and its relevance to a study of Druidism
Philip Carr-Gomm is the author of a number of books on Druidry and here he explores Tippett’s work in depth, comparing the lives of Tippett and Ross Nichols, and the relevance of his opera to modern Druidry and the Bardic training of the Order.
Dr James Maertens (Alferian) explores the world of Faerie and its value for us today. Elves and Faerie folk are alive and well in modern culture, especially among the culture of magical folk and those pursuing a nature spirituality, but also most obviously in children’s literature. Fictional representations of the Hidden People are drawing more and more on the study of folklore and actual present-day accounts of “meeting the Other Crowd.” Rejecting the term “supernatural” and the dichotomy between subjectivity and objectivity, I consider the reality of the Sidhe as something that is part of Nature and part of the human psyche at the same time. Modern Druids must walk a fine line between the study of old folklore and the creation of new folklore. How do we live in a culture of scientific materialism and yet challenge the dominant knowledge paradigm?
Ninth Mount Haemus Lecture: How Beautiful Are They – Some thoughts on Ethics in Celtic and European Mythology
Dr Brendan Myers explores the way in which In Druidry, both ancient and modern, ethical ideas are presented not in the form of rules and laws, nor in the form of a utilitarian calculus of benefits and harms, but rather in the form of character-values. This way of thinking about ethics is known in contemporary philosophy as ‘Areteology’, or ‘Virtue’. Furthermore, many of the most important Druidic virtues, such as honour, integrity, inspiration, strength, courage, and so on, are not only categories of ethics. They are also categories of aesthetics. We value them not just because they are right and good; we also value them because they are beautiful. I shall therefore also explore this overlap between the aesthetic and the ethical, and show how Celtic spirituality is particularly well positioned to embody a meeting place between the ethical and the aesthetic, the beautiful and the good.
Dr Andy Letcher looks at the way in which Druidry is currently undergoing a process of reflection and self-examination. Given that it professes to be a timely and necessary worldview, to offer practical solutions to some of the world’s problems, why isn’t it more widely recognised and appreciated? One possibility is that it has yet to adjust fully to life in a post-Hutton world. Much of what we assumed to be true about Druidry has been revealed as the wishful thinking of Romantic laudanum addicts, Edwardian anthropologists and other fantasists. If we are drawn to call ourselves Druids or Bards, how do we answer the challenge thrown to us by the new historicity? Upon what principles can we base our practice?
Dr. Thomas C. Daffern is a philosopher, historian, and religious studies specialist. He was awarded his PhD from the University of London for a thesis which explores the history of the search for peace, and which proposes a new field of historiography, Transpersonal History. More recently he has developed the Periodic Table of the World’s Religious and Philosophical Traditions as a teaching aid for use in schools and universities. As a member of OBOD and as Peace Officer to the Council of British Druid Orders, he has had a long love-affair with Druidry and an eco-centred spirituality affirming the wisdom of primal peoples of all cultures, epochs and geographical regions. He founded and runs the Druid Peace Order dedicated to peacemaking and mediation, and directs the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy.
12th Mount Haemus Lecture: From solstice to equinox and back again – The influence of the midpoint on human health and the use of plants to modify such effects
Herbalist Julian Barker examines the relationship between human health and the seasons, with particular reference to the neuroendocrine system and the significance of the solstices and equinoxes.
Kristoffer Hughes, author of Natural Druidry, is a writer, teacher, workshop leader and Head of the Anglesey Druid Order. He is an Ovate of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids. He is a native Welsh speaker, born to a Welsh family in the mountains of Snowdonia in 1971. He is a keen student of Celtic literature and teacher of the Celtic mystery tradition, and a reader at the National Library of Wales. He lives on the Island of Anglesey. In his Mount Haemus research Kristoffer explores and interprets material from the legendary Welsh manuscript ‘The Book of Taliesin’ and presents an analysis of the magical transformations and mysteries it conveys.
Dr Karen Ralls explains how Old Irish and Scottish Gaelic literature can offer us clues to the ways in which music and sound can enrich our spiritual practice. From the beautiful, enchanting music of the faery harp to the sacred singing of the choirs of angels, Celtic literature has many references to music and the Otherworld, and to the elements and the landscape. Karen will relate these references to scientific research to enrich our understanding of the relationship between music, consciousness, and place. Karen, a medieval historian, musicologist, and world religions scholar, obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh, followed by six years as Postdoctoral Fellow and Sr Lecturer (Univ. of Edinburgh) and Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum art exhibition. Based in Oxford (UK), she is a musician (flute, wire-strung Celtic harp, tin whistle) whose published work includes the seminal Celtic academic study, Music and the Celtic Otherworld, The Templars and the Grail and The Quest for the Celtic Key.
15th Mount Haemus Lecture: ‘Almost unmentionable in polite society’? Druidry and Archaeologists in the Later Twentieth Century
Dr Julia Farley discusses the changing attitudes of twentieth century archaeologists studying the nature of ancient Druidry. As archaeology emerged as a professional discipline, its nature and character were shaped in part by its relationship to other ways of understanding the past. These included traditional antiquarian approaches as well as spiritual and religious ideas. The struggle to determine a new archaeological orthodoxy was played out in the context of a sometimes strained but always lively relationship with modern Druid movements, often centring on the understanding of particular sites, including Stonehenge. Julia obtained her PhD from the University of Leicester, and is now the Curator of the European Iron Age collections at the British Museum.
Ian Rees analyses and seeks to interpret the work of psychologist and Druid Graham Howe, showing the centrality of the archetype of the Druid within it, and comparing it to more recent therapeutic work drawing from Preiddeu Annwn and the Mabinogion. Particular attention will be given to explaining and interpreting the concepts and models behind his healing approach, which unites both non-dual spirituality with the direct experience of the body, and placing them within the wider tradition of Druidic philosophy and healing approaches. The intention of the paper will be be to represent his work in such a way that therapists and Druids of whatever occupation can make use of it today.
The ogam alphabet is important in Celtic history. It is important in Druidic tradition. But the ogam alphabet that is important in Celtic history is not at all the same thing as the ogam alphabet in Druidry. This dichotomy represents an excellent example of just how different history and tradition can be. History attempts to record facts, events and decisions relating to specific times. Tradition represents the way in which people want to remember those facts, events and decisions afterwards – not simply repeating them, but finding ways to add meaning to them, to commemorate them in action or in thought, and to make them influential in their own lives. Tradition can therefore be cultural and/or religious, national and/or group-oriented, gregariously inclusive or intensely personal. Above all, however, tradition that endures over time, and expands as it does so, eventually has its own history.
18th Mount Haemus : Lecture The Elementary Forms of Druidic Life – Towards a Moral Ecology of Land, Sea, and Sky
Jonathan Woolley, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, is part of a research project studying the relationships between people and the environment, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His work with contemporary Druids explores the spiritual landscape they inhabit, and follows the political and social agency of such surroundings. By comparing the three worlds of Druidry with other cosmologies – both within the West, and elsewhere – we can develop a clear appreciation of what truly defines Druidry as a spiritual community; the elementary forms of Druidic life.
Dr. Dana Driscoll, Associate Professor of English, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (US) has long explored how people learn to write and develop as writers over time. In this study, she applies learning theory to explore bardic (creative) practices in the modern druid revival movement. Through a survey of 266 druids and in-depth interviews with 14 bardic practitioners, the research explores how people taking up the path of the bard develop expertise, seek community, reap spiritual benefits, and embrace the flow of Awen (inspiration). A key finding is the role of the Eisteddfod (bardic circle) in the development of the bardic arts. Also considered are the challenges new bards face including overcoming the myth of talent and addressing cultural conditioning. Through the lens of learning theory, the study concludes by considering how the druid community can help individuals overcome barriers to taking up the path of the bard and continue to promote and cultivate the bardic arts for individuals, groves, and gatherings.
20th Mount Haemus Lecture : What Druidry does – a perspective on the spiritual dynamics of the OBOD course
Dr Susan Jones, MBA, has a professional background in science, higher education, business and government, alongside 30 years’ psycho-spiritual involvement including 17 years as OBOD’s Mentor Co-ordinator. Most that is written about Druidry by academics, commentators and leaders focuses on what Druids believe and do – what they practice and their rituals, what ideas they share. It is based on evidence that can be seen. But Druidry develops in the hearts and minds of individuals and may be unexposed to the outside world. This paper offers a different perspective: what Druidry does. As OBOD’s Mentor Co-ordinator, Susan had a unique position from which to view the spiritual dynamics of Druidry, through the lens of the OBOD course. What does Druidry do? How does it do it? Is it of value? Does it have limits? Her new research will also seek to answer a puzzle – whatever happened to those who enrolled as OBOD members but didn’t follow the course through? Do they still find a benefit in Druidry? How could what we know so far influence what Druidry will do next? This paper will be a celebration of over 7,000 students who have shared something of their spiritual journeys, with some truly remarkable insights that add to the general discourse about Druidry and the life spiritual.
“RoMa Johnson, a Druid scholar, sets out to build bridges between Druidism and Christianity, describing these different approaches as hailing from the Well and the Chapel. Her radical exposition of communion between the two addresses the intimacy and the visceral nature and fierce and tender love that is ever present in all existences. How would it be if we as human beings were to treat the world and each other knowing this to be true?” Peter Owen Jones
In this essay, Dr. Michelle LaFrance celebrates the many women who have made significant contributions to the new Druidry, as she highlights the ways that today’s Druidry already resonates with feminist sensibilities.
Dr Larisa A. White’s paper explores data from the World Druidry Survey of 2018-2020 — the first, large-scale global effort to collect, interpret, and learn from the stories of practicing Druids worldwide.
In his paper, Bill Bruin explores the Welsh mythological figure of Caswallawn ap Beli, his human origin, and how we can piece together his long-lost legend from surviving sources.