The Political Implications of Reviving Druidism
(c) 1984 - Reprinted from "The Druids' Progress" #1
P. E. I. Bonewits
Throughout all known human history, people who had hidden knowledge (whether of healing, weather prediction, mathematics, or magic) have used their exclusive possession of that knowledge as a source of power, for purposes that were good, bad or weird. The warrior caste has always done its level best to take that knowledge away from the clergy and to put it to political, economic and military use. Today, almost all the hard and soft sciences have become tools for those who wish to control their fellow human beings. The polluters, the exploiters, the oppressers, the conquerers -- whether calling themselves "capitalists" or "communists" -- they are the ones who control nearly all the technology of overt power and a great deal of the tech for covert tyranny.
One of the very few ways we have of defending ourselves and our fellow passengers (human and other) on this Spaceship Earth is through the careful and judicious use of magic. National governments and private enterprises are spending millions of dollars (and rubles and pounds and yen) trying to develop psychic powers into dependable tools for warfare and oppression; while most of us who should be learning precise techniques and careful timing, in order to use magic and the power of the Gods to defend ourselves and our Mother Earth, have been busy being misty-eyed romantics, not wanting to "sully our karma" by trying to do magic that might really work (that is to say, for which we would have to take personal responsibility).
As a result, we have assisted the very forces of oppression which we claim to oppose. We are partly responsible for the poverty, hunger, pollution, disease and early deaths which dominate so much of our planet. Occultists have assisted by being unwilling to put their talents to the test by using them for "mundane" or "lowly-evolved" purposes. Ecologists, Celtic nationalists, and would-be revolutionaries have assisted by being unwilling to use nonmaterialistic technologies to cause changes in the material world (after all, if Freud and Marx didn't mention magic as real, it can't possibly work). The creation of Neopagan Druidism may be able to help change those attitudes.
Despite the efforts of liberal Christian clergymen to make us forget the physical and cultural genocide committed by organized Christianity against the peoples of Europe, there is simply no way to ignore the fact that monotheists in power always seek to silence competing voices. We cannot look to the mainstream churches for our physical and spiritual liberation, for they are the ones who took our freedom away in the first place. Marxist atheism is no answer either, for it is also a product of the monotheistic tunnel-reality, and seeks to impose its dogmas and holy scriptures just as strenously as ever the churches have. Those who want to live in a world of peace, freedom and cultural pluralism, must look beyond the currently available, "respectable" (i.e., monistic) alternatives they have been presented with by the mass media, and consider new alternatives.
Many people think of Neopaganism in general, or Druidism in particular (if they think of them at all), as just being "odd" religions, with no political implications worth investigating. But I believe that Neopagan Druidism has important political ideas which should be considered, especially by those concerned with the survival and revival of the Celtic peoples.
Druidism is political because one of the primary tasks of the clergy has always been to ride herd on the warriors. (This may be one reason why barbarian warriors welcomed the Christian missionaries, because they perceived (correctly) that the Christian priests would be far more likely to play ball with them than the Druids had been. After all, if the world is ending any day now, why bother controlling your local warriors?) Since the primary threat to life on this planet now comes from out-of-control warriors, it's time we started taking that duty seriously again.
Druidism is political because only a Nature worshipping religion can give people sufficient concern for the environment. Monotheism is a major cause of the current state of the world's ecology. We need a strong public religion that tells the polluters, "No, it's not divinely sanctioned for you to rape the Earth."
Druidism is political because the Druids have always been the preservers of the best of their traditional cultures. The Mesopagan Druids of Brittany and Wales, for example, are directly responsible for assisting the revival of the Cornish language and tradition from the very edge of extinction. The various traditional preservation and independence movements, such as the Celtic, Flemish, Baltic and other related movements in Europe, need religious and cultural leadership based in their own cultures. Druidism can help create an environment in which such leadership can develop.
Druidism is political because it offers a worldview completely different from that of the monotheistic/monistic tyranny that now controls our planet. One of the many things that any religion does is to shape the ways in which people see the world around them. We need a religion that offers people a multitude of options, rather than traditional western either/or, black/white, win/lose choices.
Druidism is political, at the bedrock level, because it can teach people how to use their Gods-given psychic and other talents to change the way things are. Make no mistake, magic works, at least as often as poetry, music or political rallies do. Magic is a form of power that we, the people of the Earth, have available to use, not just for psychological "empowerment" (making ourselves feel better) but to actually control the individuals and institutions responsible for our planet's current mess. If we are unwilling to use magic, then we had might as well resign ourselves and our descendents to either a life of slavery in a homogenized, pasteurized world, or a quick and painful nuclear death. And what excuse will we give to the "Lords of Karma" then?
This article has been reprinted from "The Druids' Progress", issue #1, and is copyright 1984 by P. E. I. Bonewits. "DP" is the irregular journal of a Neopagan Druid group called "Ar nDraiocht Fein", founded by Bonewits (author of "Real Magic"). For more data, send an S.A.S.E. to: Box 9398, Berkeley, CA, USA 94709. Permission to distribute via BBS's is hereby granted, provided that the entire article, including this notice, is kept intact.