Dharma and Druidry: My Personal Journey into Belief and Science (Part One)

by Renu K. Aldrich

My life has a theme to it: transcendence and transformation. I have transcended boundaries and labels by being Indian-American, by having brown skin amid mostly White classmates, and by following a path that combines both Druidry and Hinduism. Transformation is now how I continue to live beyond labels. Turning the seeds of my childhood pain into harvests of love and enlightenment was a personal journey that led to a calling to facilitate healing for others through psychotherapy and, more recently, conducting research.

I was born Hindu in New York to immigrant parents after the Beatles made it cool to be brown and before people confused us with terrorists. The difficulty of acculturation and immigrant life is becoming part of the research I am developing as a doctoral student at Virginia Tech because I lived it, far from a temple and apart from even the immigrant Indian community. Without the warm embrace of the collectivist culture, our religious practices shrunk. But while specific traditions, such as my mother symbolically offering food to the moon in prayer for my father’s good health waned over the years, the inherent spiritual philosophy—or dharma—has always been suffused in my life.

Being spiritual for me means an integration of my beliefs into my everyday experience, living and breathing it as part of who I am. The Sanskrit word dharma does not have a direct translation into English and means something slightly different in the various Eastern religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism (Das, 2014b). In Hinduism, dharma means your personal rules for living in accordance with virtue. This holds me accountable not just to an image of God, but to myself and to my own values as well. As I developed into an adult, I incorporated aspects of other Eastern philosophies and almost any other spiritual thought I came across into my own religious belief. As part of my seeking, I was a Wiccan High Priestess before I found Druidry in 1997. However, the work didn’t resonate with me as I thought it would. It was only after I returned to Hinduism and developed a deeper faith in the religion I was born into that Druidry made any sense to me. In all of my rituals and initiations, elements of both faiths combine to form a unified of deity...(To read the whole article click on the Pdf link below).