Back in the early 1800’s began the long process of creating modern Druidry.
From an industrialised culture that had become disenchanted from its spiritual connection to the planet we live on. They watched the birth of the Industrial Age & for some the environmental crises looming. For these founders of the Druid Revival magick was the last thing on their minds.
Faced with a Hobson’s choice between dogmatic religion & material science, they took a third path, drawing inspiration from the legacy of the ancient Celtic Druids to craft a new spirituality of nature. It never seems to have occurred to them; however, that magick might be part of that path. However, during the great revival of occultism in the late nineteenth century the first magickal practices did start finding their way into the Druid movement.
Magick has a valid place in Druidry today.
The ancient Celtic Druids who provided the original inspiration for the Revival, & whose example still guides it today, had a reputation all through the ancient times as first-rate magicians. The Celts, like all other races of the times, were devoted to magickal practices, many of which could be used by any one, though, on the whole, they were in the hands of the Druids & their female counterparts, ‘The Ladies of the lake’, the ‘Great Mothers’.
Their interest in Magick was so keen that the Greeks claimed the Druids acted as if it "were they that had invented Magick & not the Persians - Magi".
There existed two organisations of Celtic Magickal Power – one male & the other female, that both these bodies served the Celtic people is well documented, & that they frequently came together for ‘great workings’ of magick. It took most of a century to become a significant part of the modern Druid tradition. Yet even today, some of the more conservative Druid Revival Orders will have nothing to do with magick.
Magick belongs in Druidry because the core principles of Druidry & Magick are the same.
Both unfold from the awareness that the world around us is a community to which we belong, not a commodity we can own.
Both recognise that subtle connections weave every part of the cosmos together & offer us unexpected ways to sense & shape the flow of events.
Both realise that our fate is a co-creation of our actions & the patterns of space, time, & meaning that define the world around us.
That these principles also form the foundations of ecology stands as a sign of their wider importance.
Druid Authenticity & Ceremonial Magick
Where do today’s Druid & Ceremonial Magick Ritual teachings come from?
It is a bit of a shock for some to learn that the magick of the old Druids vanished forever more than a thousand years ago. We know, as it happens, that the ancient Druids practiced magick. We know this from the passages of Greek & Latin writers of the day. From the vast collections of the Welsh & Irish records. The Irish passages referring to Druids in such vernacular sources were "more numerous than those on the classical texts" of the Greeks & Romans, & paint a somewhat different picture of them from the revival romantic picture painted in the 1800’s.
The Druids in Irish literature—for whom words such as drui, draoi, drua & drai are used—meaning one who does magick, they are magicians, with what appears to be supernatural powers - to those uninitiated, who are respected in society, particularly for their ability to perform divination.
All these sources put together offer only a few fragments of Druid magick – not enough to teach anyone today how to practice authentic Druid magick.
However the teachings included in the Twrch Trwyth lectures/blogs trace their roots to many esoteric sources. This allows an evolution for the needs of modern man wishing to practice Druidic magick.
There are writers & teachers today who insist that the value of any system of Druidic or magick for that matter, depends on its claim to historical authenticity. If Druid teachings don’t copy the practices of the ancient Celtic Druids as exactly as possible, this argument goes, they must not be worth much. This sort of thinking has tangled roots. Modern man today yearns for ways of life more richly human than the ones they find in today’s society. Such yearnings speak to powerful needs, but a quirk of the modern imagination leads many of those who feel the call to a better life to think they have to find it in some other culture far from ours in space or time.
The reality is much more nuanced. Just like ours, ancient Celtic cultures had vices as well as virtues, such as:
Animal & Human sacrifice
Severe class distinction
Of the people of today…who would want to live in that utopia???
The ancient Druids & Celtic culture has been the inspiration for the Modern Druidic & Ceremonial Magick of today. Yet that inspiration must be tempered by the knowledge that a yearning for a richer life can’t be satisfied by idolising somebody else's culture or trying to pretend that you don’t belong to the one you actually inhabit. It can only be fulfilled by the hard work of self-knowledge…& that starts from the livid experience of your own place & time.
Step Into Magick
‘The world of magick awaits you.
It can be thought about, written about, represented in pictures or diagrams, but the reality of magick exists in life & action.
Magick is within you, a part of your essential being, & you need but to bring it forth & to surround yourself with it, so as to live magickally.’
Denning & Phillips
With the forming of the ‘Twrch Trwyth’ (Torrrc– troi-ith) OBOD seed group/grove for Swindon & surrounding areas of Wiltshire, UK, it needs to have purpose, a vision, made up of a series of goals. Whilst the primary ones have been written, they are not set in stone & will be subject to review by the community that forms within ‘Twrch Trwyth’.
As Crowsfoot I must state that I am not an ‘original thinker’, as the author of several of the blogs on our website, I claim none of the original work (gathered from a vast collection of authors & traditions, to many to be named here) except in the act of considering myself to be a ‘reformer’, with only the desire to make available ideas & philosophy in ‘my way of understanding it’, for your personal considerations, with the hope that it inspires you into your own research & ‘practical - direct personal experiences’. My personal motto being ‘Verbum en Nilus’ (Take no one’s word for it).
“Twrch Trwyth will exist for the purpose of creating a common ground in which OBOD Bards, Ovates & Druids & pagans of many different paths will meet together in harmony, teach, learn, & explore the possibilities of practical magick within the Craft of Druidry, using the lodge system.”
The ‘lodge system’ will use the 10 Degrees of the Rosicrucian system for its long term teaching & learning, only for those members who wish to add a greater depth to their magick.
BUT in the interest of harmony & full participation of the Twrch Trwyth members, for those who have their own spiritual/magickal system of practice other than the teachings through the grades of OBOD, this will be supported by a framework, a subset of Three Practical Degrees based on the Principles Of Alchemy, Qabalah, Tarot & Druidry. Thus allowing all Twrch Trwyth members the opportunity to be fully involved, hold positions within the seed group/grove, without having to partake in the long term teaching goals of Community of the Druids Nemeton.
The Arthurian Myths - The Core Myth of Twrch Trwyth Seed Group/Grove
This will be the identity each initiate takes on as a member. All members will become the ‘Alchemist’s Apprentice’, in a manner of speaking.
Where each member will see the lodge as the town of Camelot, based on the legends of King Arthur & the Quest for the Grail. It is here that they start as an apprentice of Merlin & begin their work in a nemeton (sacred space, usually outside in nature) & an alchemists laboratory in one of the Great Towers of Camelot Castle, where the members work together, each contributing their own special skills to the performance of the Great Work of Transmutation.
Coherence does not necessarily mean simple-mindedness, or rules out the use of meaningful paradox.
The Quest of the Holy Grail or Turning Lead into Gold.
The legends of King Arthur, his Knights, their Ladies, & the Quest for the Holy Grail enshrine an ancient secret Western Mystery Tradition. The guiding force behind the old stone circles. The Arthurian legend provides a complete run through from the depths of our primeval spiritual yearnings to the heights of mystical experience. It gives a complete picture of the way of achievement in the evolution of human consciousness. The lower self is not left behind as man advances but is maintained as the foundation for his future growth.
As with most Mysteries, the Arthurian Mysteries divide into 3 primary grades:
Puffer - Grade of the Powers of Arthur
Initiate - Grade of the Powers of Merlin
Adept - Grade of the Powers of Guinevere
These are the Lesser Mysteries. Beyond them is the Greater Mysteries of the Quest. And finally the Achievement of the Holy Grail.
Puffer - The Grade of the Powers of Arthur is the first, through which all must pass, & indeed remain in as they pass through the higher degrees.
It is the Grade of loyalty, of dedication, of service.
Its code is enshrined in the concept of chivalry, in the duty to serve loyally, uphold the law & right all wrongs (restoring personal balance through integration), particularly in protection of the weak & innocent (see blog - The Work of the Aspiring Druid. February 22, 2017). The Grade of Arthur is that of most esoteric students, men & women of good will.
Initiate - The Grade of the Powers of Merlin/Vivien for those who are tested & found worthy attain to the wisdom behind the code of chivalry & service.
With this comes knowledge in the use of invisible forces (work with the elements, breathing exercise, Imagick – working with the power of Image through your imagination) & by these means the group soul of the race may be stimulated into channels of correct & health giving activity.
These initiates bring inspiration to the nations of men, so that the higher destiny (Wholeness – Higher Self) of mankind may be worked out. The Grade of Merlin corresponds to the higher initiates & magickal or psychic ability is a sine qua non of the Grade, although there are some who work at this level under the guise of psychology or the creative arts.
The manipulation of opinion for commercial or political purposes also falls technically into this area, through media.
Adept - The Grade of the Powers of Guinevere is for those who work with power (simply the ability to ‘do’), who can form & dispel the magnetic links between individuals & groups.
This knowledge & power springs from a deep understanding of polarity & of that key to all practical occult work, the forces of the aura.
This entails not only the human aura but that of all created beings, including the earth & land itself, & the solar & other celestial powers (aura control, the Three Currents of Druidry – Ob, Odd & Or etc.). The Grade of Guinevere is behind the Higher initiates, & its members may be called adepts or masters (now a days a heavily loaded word, here not meaning authority over another but rather over one’s self, with ability to do).
They give a particular vocational service to the evolution of human & other forms of consciousness. Matters like Holistic healing, Greenpeace, equal rights movements, eco-warriors, & environmental issues etc.
The Round Table
The Round Table acts as a model that can be used for many things, from charitable action to a great stellar pattern of psychic & spiritual forces.
These 3 grades comprise only the ‘Lesser Mysteries’, in that they are concerned with the manipulation & control of elemental forces; that is, the forces of the ‘inner’ Earth, the forces of consciousness in various units that help to form the world as it is presented by our senses.
Beyond these forces of the universe is the knowledge & experience of the ‘uncreate’ realities, which forms the corpus of the ‘Greater Mysteries’.
As a general rule, stories of the Knights & Ladies, refer to Elemental forces & the Grades of the Lesser Mysteries. The Lesser Mysteries are resumed under the symbol of the ‘Round Table’.
The above system has a special relevance to magick, because a magickal tradition is first & foremost a toolkit: a set of methods & tools for making things happen…it is POWER, the ability to do. It is not a cultural fashion statement, a historical re-enactment, or a role-playing game, & if it becomes one of these things, it usually stops being effective magick. Judging systems of magick on the basis of their authenticity, ironically enough, is also one of the most historically inauthentic things a magician can do, because ancient magickal traditions borrowed things from other culture's just as enthusiastically as modern ones do today.
What works today may not work tomorrow.
There is only one constant in the universe….& that is change.
What does not grow, becomes static, eventually stagnates & dies.
What is inflexible will eventual crumble to dust.
Since magick is about making things happen, this makes perfect sense, because what matters in a magickal system is simply whether or not it works.