Originally published in Goddess Times October 2006
Recent events in the druidic community have compelled me to take a firm position in support of what I think is right and attempt to uphold one of the basic principles of druidry (and life in general) – the truth. As people, honesty and trust are the basis of any good relationship, how much more so is that required of those who profess to follow a spiritual path? Much of the human world is tinged with cynicism – this is due to the gap between word and deed, how many of us can truly say that we trust our politicians, civil servants and religious leaders?
As druids, our first concern should be truth in word and deed, the two are inseparable. Sun Tzu (in The Art of War) wrote that deception is of key importance in war; if that is so, then perhaps during war is the only acceptable arena where untruth can be permitted. As a general principle, honesty should be adhered to, except perhaps in the most dire of life-threatening circumstance such as during war. As druids if we are to deserve the respect of the public, other druids and other spiritual paths we must be seen to uphold that principle.
In a recent trip to Uisneach with other druids I went wandering by myself after the ritual was over. As I made it over the brow of the hill near the royal ruins I came across the broken stump of a large oak tree which was split, charred and smouldering. The rest of the tree was lying in the next field, together with a small ash tree that it had brought down, whisps of smoke were still rising from the fallen oak trunk. It was quite clear that the oak had been struck by lightning very recently (the fire did not reach the ground), I thought this auspicious and later mentioned it to some of the other druids who interpreted it in a positive light.
Looking back on events that have taken place since that day, the significance of the oak tree as the tree of the Dagda and the ash as that of the Goddess is not lost on me, or indeed the lightning (Dagda’s axe). At the time I was unsure of the meaning but in retrospect I see this as a warning of worrying events that were to follow in the weeks after. In recent days, leading up to writing this I have felt obliged to re-evaluate my own path, after all who am I to criticize others and make demands if my own house is not in order?
Having spent a confused night on the top of Mount Leinster in freezing fog and terrible gales, a troubled sleep which was plagued by disturbing visions and the severe cold I re-emerged in the morning exhausted, starving hungry but spiritually renewed. That night I placed three solemn Geis upon myself, and in all seriousness if I fail to keep them then I will cease to call myself a druid. I am sure I will continue to make mistakes and like all those who follow a spiritual path I will be tested by others and by my own shortcomings, but I have committed myself to at least try to live a life of integrity.
At the end of all this where does it leave me? I realize that like all spiritual questers I must always remain vigilant, be prepared to face my own demons and discover my own truth. If we are not able to do that how can we uphold truth in a world of dishonesty and trickery? There is a lot more to Druidry, of course, than being guardians of truth, but if we fail in that respect, we may as well forget the rest.