I have been asked if there are different type or styles of Druid practices. To answer that in one word.. YES. There are Celtic Reconstructionist, American, Old School, and Norse Druids to name a few. They all have some things in common and they also have differing opinions and practices. The things they have in common are rituals and how most of them are practiced however there are many differences in the rituals as well. Most Druid rituals follow similar layouts to many pagan rituals like the calling of the quarters. The calling on the Old Gods. All the Druid paths or practices deal with honoring nature and the natural surroundings.
Most people think that the Druids were only in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. This is a misconception only because the most known Druids are from those places. The truth is that most of the Celtic regions of Europe had their own Druids. From the British Isles through Gaul which is now France, and on into Germany. For the most part the ancient Druids travelled throughout Europe in their lifetimes to learn and to teach.
Unfortunately the TRUE Druidism seems lost as the Romans were so hellbent to eradicate any religion, faith or philosophy which did not conform to theirs. I believe there have been pockets of Druidism that survived and have been passed down through the generations in the old way. The biggest difficulty is in finding those of the old teachings and gaining their trust in order to fully learn from them.
I am not saying that what we have now in the way of Druidism is wrong, far from it, just that it has changed from the original. Some, like myself, seem to know instinctively what it means to be a Druid. This does not mean that we do not need to study the path but that we may have an insight or inspiration as to what to study.
But I digress. All forms of Druidry rely on meditation. Whether it be for ritual, or understanding. It has become a learning technique which allows those who follow the path to open themselves to Awen. The inspirational guide of the paths. Most paths require you to learn certain instruments in order to progress through the ranks of their paths. Let’s take one Path as an example.. The OBOD which is the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids has a certain curriculum for their order. The first level is initiate technically in which you are studying to become a Bard, in this you need to learn how to play a harp, open yourself to Awen, and learn about the world in which you live. This can take quite some time but it is worth the study. The second level is Bard in which you are learning to become an Ovate. This is where you learn divination. There are many types of divination in which you can school yourself, however the primary form of divination utilized in most if not all paths is that of the Ogham, or tree divination. The Ogham teaches us which trees are sacred to the Druids and why. There are three levels of trees in the Ogham: the common, the noble and the sacred. An example of each is as such. The Common is things like Gorse or Vine, the Noble is the Hazel, and of course the Sacred is as most would have guessed the Oak. Once you have mastered the required teachings in the Ovate level you move on to the final level of teachings, that of the Druid. I will say this now, though the levels may vary through each path one thing is certain, the level of Druid does not mean you stop learning quite the opposite. At the top level of most orders if not all the Druid does not stop learning but becomes a student of life. If you cannot learn how to pass on the knowledge and experience to younger minds the order will wither and blow away like chaff. So you must continue to learn whether it be about things like Archeology or even mentoring.
All paths focus on life as sacred. If you cannot find the divine within or without then you need to look into whether you are following the correct path for yourself. But to truly know that you are on the right path requires dedication and inspiration. If you find that you cannot dedicate yourself to learning what you need to learn then you must find the inspiration for a new path.
The path of the Druid is not an easy path, no matter which order you belong to or which practice you follow. It is a way of life, a philosophy, and a spiritual passion. You must grow with it, learn FROM it not about it. There is no failure in the path just set backs and stumbling blocks. Learning how to avoid or navigate the path with all of it’s twist and turns is what makes the path worthwhile.