A family story goes that one day, my father, as a young freelance copywriter whose job took him to all sorts of countries for short two- to three-year stints, came back home to visit his mother. She told him she was very pleased to see him and all, but, she said, “My dear Andrew… just what is it that you do?” Every time her son came to visit, this question cropped up again. And no matter how many times my father told her, she just couldn’t retain the idea that her son wrote text (“copy”) for print and television advertisements.
Now I hear Granny ask me the same thing.
And this time I’m the one struggling to grasp the idea. Just what does a Chaos Druid do?
I feel I might be better suited by answering in the negative:
- A Chaos Druid doesn’t pray to god(s) because the only god is chaos and it isn’t a god so can’t be prayed to unless the druid wants to.
- A Chaos Druid doesn’t live like a celibate monk/nun though they could if they wanted to and pretty-much already do, whenever they’re not not being monastic.
- A Chaos Druid doesn’t proselytize unless asked to do so, and then only if they feel like it. (Yes, I hear you: “But… this blog…” Hey, you came here; that’s kinda like asking, and you continue to read so there’s that – thank you, by the way.)
- A Chaos Druid has no calendar to follow, seeing this as a human invention and thus utterly arbitrary. The Druid can observe any celebration they see fit. There’s no such thing as Thursday out there in Nature – there are days and nights, full moons and new moons, stretches of cold and warm, but “December” is a fiction, as is “half past noon”.
- A Chaos Druid has no fixed set of rules to live by other than those adopted through careful rational inquiry and which are continually revised throughout their life.
- A Chaos Druid has no fixed set of rituals or practices other than what feels right for themselves and for Nature.
All right, that’s a start. But describing what a Chaos Druid does not do is about as useful as telling you my age by mentioning all the years I’m not old. We could be here a long time. And to make matters worse I will have aged by the time I close-in on the age I was when I began, so I’m not that old either. You get the idea. So let’s switch to the positive for a bit:
- A Chaos Druid seeks to assist the improvement of all intelligent beings by developing a deeper understanding of the Nature of Chaos and the Chaos of Nature. This happens organically as the Druids themselves improve their own understanding and advise others inline with Chaos and Nature.
- A Chaos Druid meditates – i.e. they exercise their mind – and they also think, just normal wondering, tougher deeper ‘philosophizing’, and generally testing one’s capacity to even conceive of certain ideas.
- A Chaos Druid exercises – a body in motion tends to stay in motion (i.e. keep fit to stay fit). But exercise can take any form, even chores, or walking to the shops instead of taking the bus.
If some of those ‘smell’ of Discordianism to you then congratulations, you’re right! In many ways Chaos Druids are Discordians and some of the richest life experiences are humourous and funny. But Chaos Druids bring a little bit of ‘Dead Serious’ to balance the ‘Dead Funny’ because there is immense truth to absurdity and contradiction. It’s not for nothing that some of the most powerful Zen koans lead to contradiction (the answer to the koan is there is no answer to the koan): they’re designed to break your brain and spill out all that moulding ‘rationality’ so you can finally get in touch with the deeper irrational nature of Reality.
It takes years of agonising experience of constantly butting your head against the wall of Life’s Disappointments before you knock yourself unconscious and finally stop. – trying to find Reason in this absurd reality, trying to make your experience fit your expectations, trying to be instead of recognizing that you’re always becoming.
It took me 33 years of torturous effort before I had my awakening experience that came in such a cerebral rush that it quite literally floored me, in the middle of the pavement on my walk to work. I’ve been working to turn that insight into this path which is probably little more than a thinly veiled Discordian/Buddhist/Taoist/Druidic thing…
If you’ve been paying attention so far you’ll have noticed there is a heavier emphasis on Chaos than Druidry. Why? For one, I’m still learning about druidry. For another, it really doesn’t take much to understand that being a Druid, today, is very much a self-given title – and those who choose to adopt it, do so because they already have a deep abiding love of Nature and the creatures of earth, sea and sky. So if you were drawn to this blog because of the word “Druidry” then I’d be preaching to the choir.
I don’t need to tell you that the world’s meat industry is a horrific disaster, yet the consumption of meat is still something natural for ourselves just as it is for other carnivores out there. The problem is the disgusting industry of ignorant cruelty that we’ve built around it. It is infeasible and not to mention illegal that we all kill our own meat (which would be such a huge awakening for all those people who have only ever seen plastic wrapped and pre-cleaned meat), so many of us opt for a vegetarian diet or even vegan lifestyle instead of continuing to finance the meat industry horror show.
I don’t need to tell you that the extreme urbanisation of humankind has brought us many health benefits and greater security from the threats of the wild, but that separation from that very wilderness has left a gaping hole in the pit of our hearts, both one of longing and loss as well as one of disconnection and dissociation. Climate change almost doesn’t seem real when you’re not out there in the middle of it. It can feel like it’s ‘not our problem’. The convenience of a car still far outweighs the climatic immorality of owning one at all (I don’t own a car and I can tell you I often wish I did, but for the ability to transport my loved ones in case of an emergency).
We, as creatures of Nature, have done a deep injustice to ourselves by thinking ourselves no longer her children but her masters (and have violated her through an abuse of power). So as a druid I don’t have to tell you this is true, you already know it – and feel that biting guilt every day of your cozy urban life.
So while I would advocate the practice of taking walks outside, between the trees, I also know that ‘playing tourist’ might help you for a bit, but it won’t heal her.
There are little things you can do like stopping the use and purchase of ‘single-use plastic straws’ (SUPS) in your home. Actually, any single-use plastics, but it’s a gradual process of elimination so don’t torture yourselves at the outset.
So yes, druids go outside to ‘commune with Nature’. We do it as a kind of upkeep of a promise between ourselves and our Great Mother.