Pagan Portals - Zen Druidry
Zen teachings and Druidry combine to create a peaceful life path that is completely dedicated to the here and now.
Zen teachings and Druidry combine to create a peaceful life path that is completely dedicated to the here and now.
Taking both Zen and Druidry and embracing them into your life can be a wonderful and ongoing process of discovery, not only of the self but of the entire world around you. Looking at ourselves and at the natural world around us, we realise that everything is in constant change and flux - like waves on the ocean, they are all part of one thing that is made up of everything. Even after the wave has crashed upon the shore, the ocean is still there, the wave is still there - it has merely changed its form. The aim of this text is to show how Zen teachings and Druidry can combine to create a peaceful life path that is completely and utterly dedicated to the here and now, to the earth and her rhythms, and to the flow that is life itself.
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The sign of a mature, cultured person is that they can mix well in a wide variety of social settings and can contribute to, and benefit from, interactions with many different kinds of people. So it is, one might say, with religion and spirituality, and by this criterion Druidry is a very mature and sophisticated path indeed. In the 18th & 19th centuries, Druid Revivalists found concordance with Christianity, and in the 1970s the Reformed Druids of North America experimented with combining Judaism and Zen Buddhism with their path. I don’t know how whether the Judaism combination survived, but the combination of Zen with Druidry struck a chord, and 33 years later the RDNA grove in Seattle is still going strong, forming a branch known as the ZDNA – the Zen Druids of North America – with its founder reporting that ‘hundreds of people have been through the Zen Druid experience’, and that they now have ‘a dance group, recording artists, choir, and other expressions beyond their ceremonial meetings. Now called the Emerald Grove, after the city’s namesake, it is alive and well; growing like a tree.’ In the 1990s a collection of essays entitled The Rebirth of Druidry, included an article that explored Druidry’s parallels with Taoism, and more recently in 2010, Jon Moore published his book Zen Druid: A Paganism for the 21st Century. That same year the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids pioneered The One Tree Gathering, designed to explore the connections between the Dharmic paths of the East and Druidism, and now in 2013 we have the appearance of Joanna Van der Hoeven’s book Zen Druidry affirming the richness of this particular combination, and offering an excellent insight into the ways in which the ways of Zen and Druidry can be united to form a rich and meaningful philosophy and way of life. Joanna’s book is one of Moon Books ‘Pagan Portals’ series, which takes interesting topics and asks writers to cover them in 60 to 70 pages. For those of us haunted by the piles of worthy books we want to read, but simply can’t find the time to get to, a Pagan Portal book offers the tempting prospect of finishing an entire book in one or two sittings. This is not, I know, sufficient reason to recommend a book, but the format forces an author to get to the point and not repeat themselves or expand to fill their requisite 200 pages, and the result as far as I can see is that it works. Joanna’s Zen Druidry is divided into two parts. The first, taking up 34 pages, sets the scene, providing us with a resumé of Zen and then Druidry. In the second part the chef then combines these two ingredients. The first part of the book is a necessary preparation for the second, but the most interesting and novel part of the book comes in the second section. Here Joanna suggests ways in which the two approaches can be combined, showing us the connections between the Five Noble Precepts of Buddhism and Druidry, and then looking at how the two approaches can work together in meditation. As she writes: ‘Druidry, when applied with the [Zen] mechanics of non-attachment, allows for a total immersion in the present moment, where true relationship can be obtained and where the awen flows as freely as it ever could.’ One of the most interesting parts of the book is left to almost the end, when Joanna suggests a way of relating the Druid celebration of the Eightfold Year with a contemplation of the Buddhist Eightfold Path, so that – for example – one decides to focus on Right Mindfulness at the Winter Solstice, and Right Concentration at Imbolc. Although relating a specific spoke of the Buddhist wheel to a particular festival is arbitrary, Joanna points out some nice resonances, and the idea of an annual pilgrimage of contemplation around the Wheel is an attractive one – particularly to solitary practitioners and to those who shy away from the sometimes more ‘showy’ manifestations of Pagan celebration. The best dishes are the ones that leave you wanting more, and Joanna’s book is like a perfect hors d’oeuvres. She shows you how well the two paths can weave together, and if someone were to ask me what books I’d recommend to those interested in combining Buddhism and Druidry, I’d say: start with Zen Druidry and then move on to Jason’s Kirkey’s Salmon in the Spring which continues the journey of exploration into the way the traditions of Celtic spirituality and Buddhism can complement each other, a journey wonderfully introduced in Joanna’s Zen Druidry – Waking To The Natural World. ~ Philip Carr-Gomm, Philip Carr-Gomm's Web Blog
“Back in the distant past when I was taking early steps along the Druid path, I was also studying Eastern ways – Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Brahmanism, and the like. I stayed on the Druid path and became Druid because I better understood the imagery and symbolism which allowed me to better shape my own metaphysical stance. But I have never ceased to be a student of those other ways. It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, to pick up this little book which outlines both Zen (a school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in China during the 6th century) and Druidry (the modern name given to a spiritual path developed from that overseen by ancestral Druids) and shows how they can work together. It is a little book, so you might not expect too much of it. You will, however, be pleasantly surprised. It manages to pack a lot into its 74 pages, largely because it is written without fuss or pretensions – indeed, very much in keeping with the subject matter. That alone speaks to me about how valuable this little book is. The author not only knows her subject inside out, she clearly practises what she preaches. I found the application of the Buddhist Eightfold Path to the eight annual festivals of the Druid way to be of particular interest. Meditation is important to Zen and I have long felt that following the ritual year is a form of extended meditation. And here we have an extra layer to contemplate, integrate, and practice as the seasons revolve. The greatest connection between Zen and Druidry (for me, at least) lies in mindfulness. It is, perhaps, an attribute common to all spiritual paths, but it is of especial interest to those who recognise their rootedness in this world, who recognise that the worlds of spirit and matter are as integrated as everything else. From the extempore prayers said by Celtic peoples over everyday tasks and events, words that spring from an awareness of working in the now, to the formal ritual built up around significant events in the life of the planet, the individual, the family, and the community, a Druid needs to be mindful. But it goes well beyond word into every aspect of our being – our thoughts, our dreams, and our every action. All this is simply and powerfully highlighted by this book. So what we have is an engaging and thoughtful introduction to a pertinent fusion of ideas. A book which beautifully illustrates that when you strip away the fluff, the images, and the symbols there is very little that is different between the paths. And whilst it is something you could read at a single sitting (as I did), it is worth revisiting on a regular basis so as to be able to return to that clear and simple vision on which it is based. A book I would willingly recommend to anyone.” ~ Graeme K Talboys
“This little book gives an outline of druidry, what it is and how it works, followed by an introductory tour of Zen teachings and then shows you how to bring both 'traditions' together to form Zen Druidry. Very intriguing concept, well written and interesting for anyone on a spiritual path. “ ~ Rachel Patterson, Kitchen Witch (school of natural witchery)
I continue to be impressed with Joanna van der Hoeven's work. ZEN DRUIDRY is a little more informal (in tone, anyway) than THE AWEN ALONE, but both are full of information and--perhaps more importantly--experience. Rather than stifling the reader with exercises or recipes or whatever (which amounts to distraction) van der Hoeven gives the reader very clear, very useful information in forming or shaping their own spiritual experience. Many pagan authors seek to merge two or more traditions, but very few, I have seen, have tried to do so with Eastern practices. Van der Hoeven shows the utmost respect for both Zen and Druidry, which gives her an authenticity that I really appreciate. I cannot recommend this book enough for those seeking to establish a workable spiritual practice. ~ Saya Leyland, Amazon
An excellent book! The premise of this Pagan Portals volume is that "Zen teachings and Druidry can combine to create a peaceful life path that is completely and utterly dedicated to the here and now, to the earth and her rhythms, and to the flow that is life itself." To begin, the author gives a brief yet comprehensive overview of Zen Buddhism (while pointing out that the precepts of Zen need not be associated with a particular religious tradition) and Druidry. Her simple and eloquent writing style is well-suited to her topic, and gave me a more holistic view of the basic tenets of each system. She goes on to illustrate how Zen practices such as meditation fit well with living a life attuned to the seasons of the earth. Rather than going through the motions of ritual at particular times of the year, Druids (and other Pagans) can learn to listen deeply to what is happening at each moment. Van der Hoeven describes how celebrating the eight Sabbats of the Druid year can be enhanced with the ethical practices of the Eightfold Path of Zen. She also details how the practice of Druidry, or I would add, any earth-based spiritual path, can be enriched through the use of mindfulness meditation and present-moment awareness. Being a Druid is all about relationship, and when you are living in the moment, aware of all that is going on around you, you're much more able to be open to authentic relationships of all types: with nature, with other people, and with yourself. After reading this book, I realized what a perfect and harmonious union these two systems create. It's common sense, really. In my own eclectic Pagan practice, and thanks to my yoga teachers, I've embraced much Buddhist philosophy. I have frequently used the practice of mindfulness as part of my regular spiritual practice. Yet seeing the two laid out side by side in this book has helped me see the bigger picture of how they intertwine, one supporting the other. I highly recommend reading this short yet profound homage to the blending of Druidry and Zen, and implementing it in your own spiritual practice. ~ Nikki Shields
The tone of this book is friendly … one of presenting and discussing concepts in a non-judgmental manner. It is told through the presentation of facts, as well as the presentation of story. It is a humble book, packed with a great deal of wisdom. ~ Bonnie Cehovet, http://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/pagan-portals-zen-druidry/
Joanna Van Der Hoeven's book is a little gem! When I first picked up this book, I was both curious and skeptical - how is it possible to combine two quite different approaches, one from the East and one from the West? I was rather worried that it would be a complete mish mash, and hard to understand. Luckily the author's beautifully straight forward writing style and perfect turn of phrase, waylaid my initial fears. Firstly there is a clear introduction to both Zen Buddhism and Druidry. It is extremely easy to understand, follow and participate in. Her precise explanations, and examination of each aspect of both philosophies, show deep insight, aswell as potential overlapping within each. I was particularly impressed with the second section, "Integration". Van Der Hoeven shows us an innovative way of combining the eight wheel year, and the eightfold path. In conclusion this is an excellent introduction to Zen Druidry, well written and enticing. Buy it! ~ Vate, Amazon
Fantastic book, written in an accessible way with pearls of wisdom throughout and worth every penny, a great addition to anyones collection. ~ Peter Taylor, Amazon
The best dishes are the ones that leave you wanting more, and Joanna’s book is like a perfect hors d’oeuvres. She shows you how well the two paths can weave together, and if someone were to ask me what books I’d recommend to those interested in combining Buddhism and Druidry, I’d say: start with Zen Druidry and then move on to Jason’s Kirkey’s Salmon in the Spring which continues the journey of exploration into the way the traditions of Celtic spirituality and Buddhism can complement each other, a journey wonderfully introduced in Joanna’s Zen Druidry – Waking To The Natural World. ~ Philip Carr-Gomm