Greetings, one and all. I've been interested in the druidic path for some time, and finally discovered this wonderful font of information (and friendship) today, thanks to a very nice person who pointed me the way. (*smiles at Sarah, wherever she might be*)
I read a bit on here in some of the forums, particularly the one about "What is Druidry?" (as answered by members), and while I get a good idea of how wide and varied the druidic path can be for each person, I'm still not fully sure what to think about something I experienced, and where it fits into everything.
I decided to seriously explore the druidic path about two years ago, and after some study I performed a binding ceremony connecting my spirit to a grove of trees near where I lived. I expected the spirits of the grove would provide me energy as a result, but what I didn't expect were the reverse repercussions -- that I would become essentially part of the grove, and that therefore my spirit would be transformed to become a tree spirit as well. I researched afterward to determine if the mental and spiritual sensations I experienced during and after the ritual were normal, and I found that they were -- and that perhaps I had taken my decision to spiritually join to the grove a bit too lightly (not that I regret it in any way, mind you). In fact, from what I could tell, it seems the word "druidess" has its roots (pardon the pun) in the word for "dryad," with the point apparently being that a druidess is actually a woman who is both human and a tree spirit simultaneously (which makes me think the expected fate upon death being for the druidess's soul to be reborn as a tree within the grove where she dedicated herself). If you had asked me a few years ago what I thought of the idea of becoming a tree someday, I would have been horrified at the idea, but after the effects of the ceremony flowed through my mind, I knew in my heart the pure peace and comfort that being a tree could be, standing still and silent for years with kindred spirits.
In the grove I joined, I find I’m able to connect intrinsically to the trees there, to talk to them directly, to hear their spirits, to feel them and truly become one of them. One of them is the “mother” spirit of the rest, and she is the central caretaker and foundation (more or less – it’s hard to describe her role in words). Other trees seem to be the guardians of the grove. And the trees have male and female spirits, with one of the males ones apparently particularly interested in me – not in a sexual way (naturally), but in a very tender fashion, and I’ve gotten the impression that he is especially looking forward to the day I can join them in plant form.
I’m 48 years old, and talking with spirits is something I’ve done all my life, despite the fact I was initially raised to be Southern Baptist in a small Texas town. After searching spiritually in college and trying numerous paths, I finally let things go and decided to not worry about it that much – and about that time is when Coyote spirit came to me in a series of very vivid dreams, followed by him talking to me while I was driving a car through the New Mexico desert countryside. Instead of discounting my experiences I decided to explore them, and I’ve been a Native-American-based shamanic practitioner ever since, with most days spent talking more with my spirit guides than with any human friends I know.
Sooo … back to my original question. Is what I experienced in the grove a form of shamanism or a form or druidry or both combined somehow? I’ve read that druidry might have been actually, at heart, western-European shamanism (a concept that is given at least a brief nod in the introduction page for the OBOD), and if so then my experiences make perfect sense. Whether or not they can be neatly packaged, though, I know my experiences were valid, and what I’m now wondering is whether I should attempt to follow a formal druidic set of training (like what you offer), or follow the training I’ve pretty much always followed – which is to let the spirits of nature talk to me directly, and guide me and teach me what I most need to know.
Thank you very much for any insight and opinion you might have.
Take care, and enjoy yourself!
-- Eris Brianna Caver
-- Broomfield, Colorado