Druidry and the Ancestors
Exploring how we use the past to construct ourselves, and how we imagine the future.
Ancestors are part of our shared humanity, we all have them. Ancestry in the guise of race, has been used as a tool to divide. Even so, it might yet help us move in greater harmony.
Are we playing out the motifs of our family history, or making our own lives? Are we held back by the past, or empowered by it? And why does any of this matter?
Druidry and the Ancestors will take you on a journey into how you imagine yourself, and how you can take control of your identity and future.
Druid, author, bard and dreamer. Nimue Brown is OBOD trained, a founding member of Bards of The Lost Forest and Druid Network member.
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Modern Paganism sets a lot of store by ancestors, with an awareness of where we ourselves have come from and where we are going. However, quite often this is expressed (if at all) in a very wooly, amorphous manner, if our ancestors were in fact just the unwanted elders at a student party. Unless, of course, those ancestors happen to be Real Witches/Druids/Vikings... Nimue deals with this tricky topic head-on in her second book, following the excellent 'Druidry and Meditation'. I'm certain that quite a few modern Pagans will hate it. She combines academic investigation and curiosity with spiritual depth, exploring our connection with our ancestors (personal and geographical), as well as our IDEA of ancestors, the myths that we create about our lineage, which often say more about us as individuals than our families. Yes, it would be lovely to be able to prove an unbroken bloodline back to the ancient Druids. But we can't. Too much time has passed, and too many other steps have trodden the earth since then. However, Nimue questions why we feel the need to do this, as well as the value of looking at the alternatives - specifically, our immediate (knowable) ancestors, and everything in-between the ancient and the current. I was hooked at the simply-stated truth that the hardest ancestors to relate to are often the most immediate: our own families. We are human. Our ancestors came in all shades of humanity too - mothers and fathers, by definition, but also workers, lovers, sinners and saints. The sheer amount of people throughout history means that we may have heroic or lordly ancestors, but likely also such evil folk as heretics, midwives, warriors and writers... all acceptable now amongst modern Pagans, but certainly not at various stages in our past! Nimue follows the thread of life as story, in all its twists and turns, unending and definitely worthy of investigation and honour. While the first real century in history to realize the value of history, we still fail to learn from it by treating it with respect and an objective outlook (why should we, when the 'cool' stories are far more exciting!). She highlights the pitfalls that both regular folk and academics fall into on their quests, but while there may be a sigh of exasperation, there's a smile as well. We ARE human, and so we are fallible. But it's important to keep trying. What do our ancestors give us? What are their stories, held in our blood and DNA? How do we, as modern Pagans, learn from them? By looking, and honouring their truth. Nimue certainly does that here, and her tale is one that we can all learn from as we move to take our place amongst those fascinating folk. ~ Cat Treadwell, direct
The description of this book sounded intriguing: Ancestors are part of our shared humanity, we all have them. Ancestry in the guise of race, has been used as a tool to divide. Even so, it might yet help us move in greater harmony. Are we playing out the motifs of our family history, or making our own lives? Are we held back by the past, or empowered by it? And why does any of this matter? Druidry and the Ancestors will take you on a journey into how you imagine yourself, and how you can take control of your identity and future. Druid, author, bard and dreamer. Nimue Brown is OBOD trained, a founding member of Bards of The Lost Forest and Druid Network member. And I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. Nimue has a lovely style of writing which makes you believe you are sitting across the table from her having a chat. She shares her thoughts and ideas on the ancestors in an extremely thought provoking way. This book really made me stop and think about how we see the ancestors and how we define them, Nimue’s book has caused me to ponder on all the ideas I had and to reassess them. This book will make you look at not just the history of druidry but your own history too, it will make you re think about how you see and work with the ancestors, not just your immediate family but on a much, much wider scale. It will make you think about ancestors in a completely different way. Whether you are a druid, a witch, a pagan or not this book will challenge your ideas and make your brain do some overtime (in a good way!). Highly recommended, it will definitely be on my book shelf at home. ~ Rachel Patterson, Kitchen Witch (school of natural witchery)
Let's face it, most modern witches or druids would like to be able to boast an ancestor who was a bona fide practitioner of the craft. It doesn't seem to matter how much experience one has as a neopagan, a real witch, druid, wise woman or cunning man in the family history gives that little extra kudos. Some people I know are lucky enough to have their grandma's genuine handwritten book of spells sitting in the bookcase. And, I suspect, that if most of us were able to trace our ancestry far enough back, or find enough documentation, we would probably find a witchy ancestor or two who fit the bill. But, of course, the true spiritual importance of ancestors for modern day neopagans - witches and druids alike - is far more than simply being able to boast an impressive magical heritage. It is about honouring those who have gone and have shaped our own lives, "the ancestors of blood, the ancestors of place, and the ancestors of tradition". And most of the druid rituals I have attended have paid special importance to honouring the ancestors by inviting their blessings in the ritual space along with the spirits of place and of nature. A new book by druid Nimue Brown called Druidry and the Ancestors: Finding Our Place In Our Own History is an exploration of "how we imagine and construct our ancestors, and what the implications are of the ways in which we think about them. Samhain is the time of year when many modern pagans, witches and druids alike, remember relatives and teachers who have died as well as honouring those who lived in the land before us. It is a time when the veil between the worlds is thin and the ghosts of our ancestors of line, place and tradition can return to visit the living, perhaps to give words of wisdom from the past. Druidry and the Ancestors offers insight into how we can make sense of all those stories of our ancestors, and how we can relate to them should we contact their spirits through our rituals, meditations or dreams. Read the rest on http://www.badwitch.co.uk/ ~ Lucya, http://www.badwitch.co.uk/
Books written with authority are rare enough. Books about Druidry both ancient and modern written with authority are rarer. To begin with there are too few writers who know what they are talking about. It shouldn’t be difficult in a field where the known facts are thin on (and very often beneath) the ground. Yet the shelves are filled with books that assume an authority they do not have. It is, therefore, exceedingly refreshing, not to say a relief, to read a book that not only deals with the facts, but does so in a fashion that is confident, exploratory, and which questions itself at every turn. It may seem a paradox that a confident book questions itself, but only an author confident of their knowledge and understanding is prepared to do this, open themselves to a sensible discussion of the subject they present. In this case it is about something many Druids talk about and acknowledge but which few have explored. Here the exploration is comprehensive, not just of the subject but of the tools required to approach the subject. In order to understand the ramifications of our relationship with our ancestors, we are treated to a useful and entertaining examination of the way in which poor old Lindow Man has been treated since his corpse was pulled from a peat bog. There is no doubt he has become inspirational. I worked in museums for years and of all the wonderful things it has been my privilege to study, none has held me as fascinated as Lindow Man. Although I was never able to get closer than any other visitor, I spent many hours over many days standing and staring. However, I soon gave up reading about him as the wild speculation and outright daft claims made me realise it would be many years before we could return to him and treat him with the respect and honesty he deserves. The same is so of our ancestors in general. We cannot approach them, work with them, and learn from them until we are properly equipped to do so and fully understand just who our ancestors were. We owe them no less. And this book allows us to get well along that path and build a firm foundation for our own work – for there is no denying that we each will have a different approach, simply because it is a personal relationship. Yet we all have things in common otherwise a relationship cannot get started. And with that in mind, we must acknowledge that being Druid is more than an intellectual exercise, more than book learning. Yet our first steps into the forest (unless we want to stumble about making no contribution) need guidance. Our work with our ancestors has all the guidance you could wish for in this book. It is well set out, easy to read even though it tackles difficult subject, embracing, and clearly part of a conversation in which the reader is meant to partake. You don’t take it as gospel and you know the author does not want you to. She wants you to learn and then go and learn some more so you can come back to the conversation with something new to add. All in all, one of those books that every Druid should have in their essential library. ~ Graeme K Talboys, author of The Druid Way Made Easy and Stealing Into Winter