The following is an article excavated from the Druidic Order of Naturalists, which is unfortunately now defunct (though its website is still accessible). While the Order may no longer operate, its legacy remains instructive for naturalists of all stripes.
This is a non-exhaustive and definitely non-compulsory list of things that some (but not all) members of the Order might be involved at any one time and which the Order can encourage and facilitate:
- Celebrating Nature and our fundamental connection and response to it, notably the seasonal festivals and cycles of nature familiar to most pagans. We wish to design and take part in rituals and celebrations that don’t require a belief in the supernatural but are yet evocative, profound and inspiring.
- Celebrating the entirely made up festival of Yode (See below)
- In the long term contributing to the development of alternative rituals for rites of passage from birth to death and developing celebrants to take part in these. Promoting humanistic and non-religious celebrants and rites of passage generally.
- Practising meditation techniques that include promoting tranquility, mindfulness/focus or a sense unity with nature and all that is, to find creative inspiration, and solve problems. A meditation may be guided or solitary, through, say breathing exercises or chanting/drumming or focussing on some aspect of nature or deep immersement in creative acitivity. Individuals may ‘meditate’ through a simple walk in the woods or sitting watching the sea or through the thrill of a thunderstorm and so on……
- Working with the unconscious and understanding mind-body relations in health promotion including the placebo effect, and learning how ‘alternative therapies’ factually result in healing, if and when they really do.
- Journeying in the profound inner ‘other world’ including practices that produce altered states of consciousness and awareness (e.g. sweat lodge, legal substances). The purpose of this is self knowledge, the promotion of self-healing and personal transformation.
- Developing our unconscious ‘intuitive’ capacity which appears to be the true basis of ‘divinatory’ techniques, while demonstrating the non-scientific and erroneous basis of some predictive claims.
- Utilising mythological archetypes in our journeyings (including those drawn from ancient polytheism and folk stories) , for self-understanding, visualisation, affirmation and individuation.
- Having an interest in parapsychology and applying scientific methods to the study of supernaturalistic claims e.g. ESP.
- Developing critical thinking skills that enable us to see through pseudo-science, logical fallacies, urban myths, snake oil purveyors and false religious or New Age hogwash generally
- Discussing and developing ideas about the interplay of science, ecology, psychology, art and spirituality that has implications for the individual and society, seeing mankind as one among other species, with no ‘right’ to treat the rest of nature for his own exclusive ends. Nature has no particular purpose or goal, man has no particular privileged status, yet if humans have worth we can also treat other creatures as having inherent worth and rights too. Our regard for other creatures is not sentimental, while our ethics avoid any unnecessary harm, we note that species compete and kill to satisfy their needs, yet each may develop a niche and there can be a ‘balance’ within nature.
- Emphasing in the need for individual freedom with responsibility. Personal ethics may involve enlightened self interest but also noting society has its own ecology – social life is more than the sum of individual desires and as social animals we must co-operate for the good of all.
- Our eco-humanist ethics may be manifest in environmentalism and the protection of species/landscape from our fellow man
- Pledging ourselves to preserving the planet through changing individual life-styles, appropriate activism and politics. In much of the world environmental damage is the result of social injustice and poverty and we must challenge this injustice too.
- Caring for future people/ descendants working to bequeath them a world at least as beautiful and diverse as the one we inherited.
- Druidic Naturalists are committed to the traditional druidic role of peacemaking, reconcillation and dispute resolution. We support world leaders who promote a just peace.
- We would reject racism but also the labelling and classifying of people in arbitrary ways e.g according to race or religion, and we also realise that self-identity and sexuality is fluid.
- Druid Naturalists will tend to be very skeptical of supernaturalistic claims and miracle stories, asking for evidence’. We believe in the druid maxim ‘truth against the world’. No spiritual (or political) leader or teacher should be beyond challenge.
- Druid Naturalists will tend to strongly challenge theistic and supernaturalistic perspectives where these are being imposed or preached by other groups/religions while seeking to offer alternative philosophical and spiritual meanings and outlooks.
- Druid Naturalists may campain for a secular society. Religious belief/dvisions – even benign beliefs – should not be the basis of our institutions and law making including in education.
- Promoting creativity and artistic self expression and skills, particularly through the traditional bardic arts of creative writing and poetry, story telling, music and craft, but also modern methods including photography and webdesign. This creativity is especially inspired by our relationship to the landscape, nature, history and folklore of the Celtic lands.
- Considering it a duty to remember and respect (without idealising) our ancestors and their stories. For those who have gone before are immortal in the sense of being still with us – in our memories or our genes and/or in the knowledge they passed on and in the consequences of their actions for good or ill. We hope that we too will weave interesting and authentic life stories and be remembered among the honoured ancestors,
- Seeking a sense of belonging/rooted-ness in our land, its stories, folklore, customs, by community and co-operation. Having a positive view of our identity while at the same time not treating those with other identities unfavourably.
- Not considering any particular period of history ‘better or worse’ in all regards, but finding particular sense of identity in the pre-Christian celtic and pre-celtic cultures and being interested in the mysteries of the megalithic monuments e.g. Stonehenge.
- Celebrating and demonstrating that our ancestors include the non-human species from which we have evolved by natural selection, a river of life back to when our ancestors were single celled creatures. And further back in the aeons of time, ultimately we know we are ‘stardust’ – made of elements created within dying stars.
- Promoting/defending Darwinian Evolution by natural selection as the best explanation for the origin and diversity of life forms and underpinning our belief in kinship with non-human animals.
- While looking for inspiration in the past at the same time fully embracing sustainable technology and a scientific worldview.
- Creating an internet community through forums, social networking sites and discussion boards to which everyone can contribute and be heard.
- Encouraging open, fun and somewhat anarchic gatherings of the Order including camps. A gathering is called a ‘Speak Easy’.
- Being part of/co-operating with the wider druid/pagan community: seeking wider acceptance/recognition of the naturalistic path, and acceptance of pantheistic, agnostic and atheist paganism/druidry as valid expressions of spirituality/paganism
- White Horse: Has a day job working for an insurance company and lives with his wife and children in South East Wales. His interests include: law and public policy, environmental issues, ancient and early medieval history, and the Western Mystery Tradition.
- White Horse blogs at Silurian Grove.
Many of us speak of the Cosmos almost like we have a relationship with it. Why? And is it appropriate?
What if the universe doesn’t love you back? by B. T. Newberg
Appearing Sunday, June 2nd, 2013