Part 1:I recently went on a Permaculture course. One of the first things that became evident is that there are as many definitions of what Permaculture is as there are practitioners. What it is becomes apparent through practice, and is coloured by the practitioner’s experience and character. Just like Druidry, really. And that’s not the only thing the two have in common. In fact, I think Permaculture is basically secular Druidry.
The most obvious thing that Permaculture shares with Druidry is a deep respect for Nature. Both accept Nature as a teacher and a guide for how to live our lives. Permaculture observes patterns in Nature and uses them to design solutions to practical problems. We learned on the course that observation is the start of every Permaculture design.
Druidry also starts with observation. The inspiration of the Bard comes from getting all our senses engaged with nature, listening deeply and watching patiently. When this observation develops into a spiritual practice, it becomes a wellspring of inspiration and creativity. It is the foundation of the Druid path.
Permaculture design looks at how different elements of a system work together to bring abundance. It carefully arranges elements in a design so that their interconnections become as productive as possible. Permaculture gardeners will make sure the ducks are housed near the vegetable garden, so that as well as producing eggs, they will also keep the veg patch slug free. Or they will place a new building on a site in such a way that it uses the sun for heating as efficiently as possible.
Like Druids, Permaculture practitioners realise that everything is interconnected and interdependent. Honouring the potential of these connections is central to the practice. It values the richness that comes from co-operating with many different people.
Druids may go a bit further when developing connections between themselves and other beings in the natural world. We turn towards the more-than-human world and find ‘people’ there that we can co-operate with on many different levels. We are wont to talk to trees and may develop profound relationships with the spirit of the place where we live.
A Druid’s dialogue with nature is up close and personal – we speak and are spoken to. This conscious interaction with the spiritual side of reality is, to me, the main difference that sets Druidry apart from Permaculture. Some Permaculture practitioners may have followed their experience to a similar place; they are Druids without knowing it.
Both Permaculture practitioners and Druids seek to bring harmony to the world we live in. Permaculture strives for harmony between people and the planet, so that we can continue to live a life of abundance into the future. Druids have long been known as peacemakers, seeking to bring harmony where there was strife. They would walk between opposing armies, urging peace. Because, only in peace can there be life in abundance.
My aim as a Druid is to work for the flourishing of all beings. I believe that Permaculture can help me work towards abundance for everyone and everything. Fresh out of my very first formal introduction to Permaculture, I want to play on the edge between the two. I wonder if my Druid practice can add something to the connections I can make between elements in my garden and thereby increase its abundance. Or if Permaculture can help me design a spiritual practice that is more deeply integrated in my daily life.
Both Druidry and Permaculture seek to make a positive impact on the world and the way we live on and with the Earth. Bringing the two together seems both obvious and exciting. I’m feeling inspired.
I’m still learning (and probably always will be) both Druidry and Permaculture. These blog posts are intended as a record of my own thoughts and learning. If you find them useful, that’s a lovely bonus.
Part 2: Where do your talents & the needs of the world meet? This is where you are needed.
Western culture gives us so much to enjoy. The sheer quantity and quality of music, theatre, literature, art and film is impressive, and all of us have a passion for at least a small corner of it.
But Western culture is also deeply flawed. What defines a culture are the shared beliefs and assumptions that is held in common by the people who participate in it. And the great myth that binds us all together is progress.
All of us have grown up with the idea that we are going somewhere, and that where we’re going is bigger and better than where we are now. Our industrial growth society is built around this myth.
Even if we have come to the conclusion that this kind of progress is not sustainable, even if we make life choices that directly rebel against the idea, it’s a very hard assumption to break. But if we want to survive as a species, and keep many others on this planet with us, that is exactly what we have to do.
Permaculture started life as an alternative to industrial agriculture. Its founders were looking for a way to do agriculture that was sustainable and therefore permanent. As time went by, Permaculture practitioners realised that it wasn’t just agriculture that isn’t sustainable, and that the same principles could be applied to just about any aspect of life. Permaculture is ‘permanent culture’, a culture that measures its success not by how much money is made but by the abundance and quality of life. It is an alternative to Western culture as we know it.
This life sustaining culture is not a pipe dream. It is growing and thriving already, all over the planet. Any practice that helps to create harmony with ourselves, with each other, and with the Earth is part of it. If a culture is defined by its shared beliefs and assumptions, then any practice that values harmony and abundance is part of it.
As a Druid, I have many assumptions and beliefs in common with Permaculture and the life sustaining culture it is helping to grow. Many of the practices of Druidry are aimed at creating harmony between people and the Earth in all her facets. As we connect more deeply to the Earth and the living beings around us, we feel more at home in the world, with other people and with ourselves. These connections also generate an abundance of creativity that adds beauty to our world.
Sharing our practices and creativity is only part of Druidry’s contribution to a life sustaining culture. We also bring a number of skills that we have learned or developed in our Druid communities. Over the years I have learned to hold ceremonies, and have had many opportunities to practise my skills as a group facilitator. Together with my non-Druidic skills as a teacher and a communicator, I have much to contribute to a culture of permanent abundance.
What beliefs do you have in common with the life sustaining culture? What are your skills and interests? What practices can you share with the world? Don’t be afraid to name them. You possess valuable resources and our world needs you.