Path of the Druid
The path leading to recognition (ordination) as a Druid in our tradition has three major steppingstones, bard, oblate and druid. One is not expected to master all there stones, that would take a life time. As members of The Grove progress from one stone to another they are expected to lay a foundation for further study and mastery. Along the way some may decide that they want to specialize in the roll of bard, oblate or druid. That is encouraged, however, we expect all members of The Grove who want to lead their or sister groves to be conversant and experienced with all three stepping stones.
The entire path can take as long as you want it to. The path expects that you will spend at least one month in second steppingstone practice and another month in third stone practice the shortest time to completion is a little more than two months. The “little more” time is the time that it takes you to complete the first stepping stone activities.
Here is a list of blog posts that may help you with different topics in this program as you walk across the stream and in so doing become a Druid.
The First SteppingStone
The bards formed a professional hereditary caste of highly trained, learned poets. The bards were historian-story tellers who leaned the history and traditions of clan and country, as well as in the technical requirements of a verse technique that was syllabic and used assonance, half rhyme and alliteration, among other conventions. They served as officials of the court of king or chieftain. As such they performed a number of official roles. They were chroniclers and satirists whose job it was to praise their employers and damn those who crossed them. It was believed that a well-aimed bardic satire, glam dicenn, could raise boils on the face of its target. The bardic system lasted until the mid-17th century in Ireland and the early 18th century in Scotland.
To stand firmly on the first steppingstone in the middle of a stream of fast-moving water an initiate should:
The Second SteppingStone
Once you have started to master the bardic skills it's time to take a big leap to the second steppingstone. Now you are close to the midpoint of the stream. In our tradition the oblate is a soothsayer or someone who practices divination. The Oblate serves the community by gaining insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic process.
To stand firmly on the second steppingstone in the middle of a stream of fast-moving water an initiate should:
The Third SteppingStone
Now it’s time to take a big leap over the water in the center of the stream, the part of the stream where the water is deep and fast moving. In our tradition the Druid is the shaman-priest who officiates at ceremonies and who travels to the other worlds. You should start to master two responsibilities as you learn to stand firmly on the third stepping stone in the middle of the stream. First, you should develop the ability to undertake shamanic journey so that you can work with you helping spirits in the lower world, the middle world, and the upper world. Second, you should develop the ability to author (at least in outline form) ritual for both private and public use.
To stand firmly on the third steppingstone in the middle of a stream of fast-moving water an initiate should:
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Shamanism is probably the oldest spiritual path on the planet and one that seems to cross all cultural boundaries. It is a bit surprising, because religions seem to come and go, that shamanism is a valid spiritual path today. Have you ever wondered if shamanism is calling you? Many of us feel called to this ancient spiritual path and maybe you too are being called. Spirit may be calling you to awaken. You may be called to be a shaman to heal others, or you might be called to be a shamanic practitioner, someone who uses the tools, cosmology, and practices of shamanism for their own spiritual path of awakening. Both paths are equally valid and one is not superior to the other.
Here are a few indications that Spirit is calling you:
I strongly feel that we all chose our spiritual paths before birth. Unfortunately, most of us also inherit a religion from our families or tribes. These inherited religions may not be the ones that we chose before birth or the ones that we are currently being called to follow. However, most of us were already acculturated, "brainwashed", into our inherited religions long before we had the mental maturity to rationally choose our spiritual path . Nevertheless, if you hear the call to break free and follow a different path then heed the call. Listen to Spirit and trust that Spirit will guide and teach you. Your path is yours. Your path can’t be given to you or imposed on you by birth, marriage, or society. Spiritual maturity and fulfillment only come when we follow our own authentic paths.
If your true path is shamanism then follow it with joy and excitement. If, on the other hand, your true path is Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, or whatever, and you chose and still choose that path then follow it the same way, with joy and excitement, but not out of sense of responsibility. After all, the purpose of life isn’t to suffer guilt or frustration, but rather to find joy in being. I drum a prayer to Inti Tayta that you will find joy in your path, whatever it is and where ever it leads you.
To finding joy,
 The first home that I remember, and I was probably only 4 years old at the time, was on the last street on the Northeast side of Fort Collins, Colorado, with the prairie as my back yard. Since then I have always physically lived on the edge of the community. I find this interesting because my four younger brothers with whom I grew up all live in traditional urban settings with houses in traditional neighborhoods . . . but not me.
 Could this be why mainstream religions expend so much time, effort and money in youth programs, even for the youngest of children. Marketing research, and yes mainstream religion is big business, shows that it is much easier and less expensive to capture and hold current clients (members) than it is to attract new ones.
The name of this web site could very well have been "The Urban Druid" rather than "The Modern Druid". I am asked from time-to-time how one can even think of being a pagan or druid in the city. After all, doesn't that path require that one live in nature? How can I practice pagan spirituality when surrounded by concrete and asphalt?
I live in a small city of about 80,000 people with a metropolitan area population of over 275,000. Not quite farming country. While we do live on about an acre of forest in the city, we are still in the city, and I'm proud to be an urban pagan (see also). Remember that the word "pagan" came from the Late Latin word "paganus", a word that was used to define a "villager, rustic, civilian, or non-combatant". The noun use of adjective meant "of the country, of a village," from pagus "country people; province, rural district". Urban, the opposite word, comes from the Latin " urbanus " which literally meant "of a city". So once again, how can we be "of the country" when we are literally "of a city"?
Here are a few of the things that I do:
I would love to read how you address the seeming dilemma of being pagan in an urban setting. If all of you will send me your ideas, please use the contact form, then I'll compile them for a future blog post.
Oh, and thank you so much for reading and for sharing my blog with others. I appreciate you more than you know. It helps my spirit immeasurably to know that you, at least, are reading this and that I'm not just writing to myself.
A new branch of shamanic practice appears to be evolving, one that I call "Shamanic Energy Healing". This technique marries traditional shamanic practices and energy medicine practice. You should be aware that medical doctors "cure"; they diagnose and treat symptoms in the hope of curing the underlying medical issue. Shamans, shamanic practitioners, and shamanic energy healers "heal", or better yet, they help the body regain its energetic balance so that healing can occur.
Most shamanic energy healing sessions use the following steps:
Note that this a very eclectic modality. If the opening of the sacred space includes calling the quarters then the process is a combination of wicca, shamanism and energy medicine. Some practitioners have tried to mystify the process by adding fancy terms like Wiracocha as the term for a personal sacred space. Wiracocha was simply the name of the Inca creator diety . Others have taken to calling the energetic bodies that surround each us by fancy names like the Luminous Energy Field or (LEF). These, to me, are marketing gimmicks. You don't need fancy terms or titles to do shamanic energy healing. What you do need are good intentions and the ability to sense and manipulate energy. Good intentions come from your heart. The ability to sense energy comes with practice.
If you want to learn to perform shamanic energy healing then here are a few first things:
Start with those two and we will build on that in future blogs.
Walk in peace my friends,
 Wiracocha is most likely a Quechua word borrowed from the Aymara Wila Quta (wila "blood"; quta "lake"), one of the names for Lake Titicaca.
 A wooden pendulum seems to work better than a metal or crystal one. Some assert that metal and crystal pendulum can "cut" the energy vortex formed by a chakra. I haven't noticed that, but a wooden pendulum is much lighter and seems to move easier in the subtle energy vortex of a chakra .
Yesterday I asked you to think about how deep your roots are in shamanism and I also wrote that I would respond in my next post with some ideas about how to grow deeper roots. When we want a plant to grow we nourish it, we give it fertilizer. The same is true with shamanism. So here are a few of my ideas:
This probably doesn't seem like a very exciting list. It's not. If you played sports in high school or college you probably remember how you improved your skills. For example, if you played basket ball, then how many practice free-throw shots did you take in practice? Thousands? Shooting thousands of free-throw shots in practice over three or four years of high school isn't new, exciting or different so why did you do it? To get better, to perfect your skill. Maybe you didn't play basket ball, maybe you were on the track team or the tennis team, or you played soccer. It doesn't really matter, you improved your skill little-by-little every day. And if you kept at it, it worked. You did improve. Shamanic practice is exactly the same. Work at it every day and little-by-little your skills will improve, and more important, Spirit will start to recognize you and work with just because you show up.
I'll look for you in the lower world this evening when I journey.
A storm blew through our community in Central Virginia last weekend and brought three tornadoes with it, one just blocks away from our home. I was amazed the next day to see the number of sixty foot tall trees that had been toppled by the wind and the tornado. I look at a tree reaching for the sky and think that it must have a strong central root that anchors it to the earth. Not so. Check out the root system in the image above and you will see what I was seeing. That got me thinking about my shamanic practice, and yours too.
How deep do our shamanic practice roots go? Could you and I survive a storm? Are our roots deep enough and strong enough that when a storm come, and they always do, our tree might sway back and forth in the wind but it would remain firmly planted in the ground?
Please think about this today and tomorrow I'll share some of my ideas with you about how to ensure the strength of our practices.
Peace my friends,
This weekend we have three events that seem to run into each other. On April 29, 2018, you can enjoy the Pink Moon, The next night is Hexennacht (Walpurgis Night), followed the next day with May Day / Beltane. Let's take them one at a time.
Pink Moon -- The Pink Moon in April is also know in pagan circles as the Wind Moon. Both names allude to the changes in nature that take place at this time of year. The Pink Moon reminds us the budding plants, and around here of the pink, flowering trees. The name, the Wind Moon reminds us of the breezes of April that stir up seeds and pollen from newly budding plants. With regrowth everywhere you look, it's only natural to focus on new and exciting things coming your way, too. The Pink Moon is a good time for spell working for new beginnings, just like spring is a new beginning.
Hexennacht (Walpurgis Night)-- Walpurgis Night is the christian name given to what was originally Hexennacht or literally "Witches' Night". In Northern European countries, and especially Germany, it was believed to be the night of a witches' meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the Weser and Elbe rivers. I prefer the old name, Hexennacht, and use the night to celebrate being pagan.
May Day -- I still remember how I celebrated May Day in the 1950s as a young boy. My younger brothers and I would weave small baskets out of construction paper, fill them with wild flowers from the pasture behind our house in Colorado, and place them on the porches of the homes of old ladies in the neighborhood, knock on their doors, and then run like the wind. May Day, again, is a Northern European celebration of Spring. It is well known for the May Pole which may be a remnant of the Germanic reverence for sacred trees, as there is evidence for various sacred trees and wooden pillars that were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe, including Thor's Oak and the Irminsul. It is also known that, in Norse paganism, cosmological views held that the universe was a world tree, known as Yggdrasil. (Here is the first of a series of my blog posts on Norse Cosmology) May Day leads up to the Beltane celebration.
Beltane is the anglicized name for the Gaelic May Day festival usually held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It is one of the two most important Gaelic pagan festivals of the year, the other being Samhain. Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the "symbolic use of fire". There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, and to encourage growth. Thus you might think of it as a fertility festival which again makes it a great time to initiate new projects.
If nothing else this weekend with the Pink Moon, Hexennacht, May Day and Beltane are wonderful times to celebrate the life of a pagan.
How often do you think about your ties to your descendants. It has been said that "We are the dreams of our Ancestors". I know that my children, my descendants are my dreams, I dream about their futures and what I can do to make their futures bright . . . as a father that's one of my "jobs".
Now, how often do you look the other direction, into your past. When I do that I discover that many times my ancestors are my nightmares. I see many of the traits that I disliked in my parents and grandparents in me. Things like health issues (genetic bad back for example), my father's impatience, my grandmother's need to control . . . and the list goes on and on. I wonder from whom did my father get his impatience, was it his grandfather, or maybe his great grandmother. I don't know, but genetics and personality traits seem to be passed down from generation to generation. Until we become free of the past, the past is controlling us and at best we have partial freedom of choice.
Unresolved history and suffering is passed down from generation-to-generation and is held in our ancestral lines. This cumulative energy affects our lives today. And, if we don't do something about the unresolved energy from our ancestors then we are likely to pass it forward to the next generation. All of us have the choice of unconsciously repeating the patterns of our ancestors or we can heal them. Through healing the ancestral lines, cutting our cords with the past, we free own health and well-being from the repetition of the past. Once we free ourselves from the influences of the past our freedom of choice is restored and we better reconnect with our souls' unique purposes.
Ancestral Healing is a lessor-known but essential shamanic healing form. You can follow the instructions below and undertake an ancestral healing shamanic journey alone or contact me and I can guide you through the process.
I wish you a successful journey and increased freedom of choice as you move forward. Please contact me if you would like to schedule a session.
I am frequently asked about the difference between being a shaman and being a shamanic practitioner, and can anyone be one. That is really two questions so let's address them one at a time.
First, what is the difference between a shaman and a shamanic practitioner. A shaman is a healer. A shaman is someone who the spirits work with and through so that others may be healed. Please note that it is not really the shaman who heals, rather the shaman is a vehicle through whom healing power flows. A shamanic practitioner, on the other hand, is someone who engages in shamanic practices in her or his spiritual practice. The most common practice is that of journeying. A shamanic practitioner gains access to helping spirits in a shamanic journey. Those spirits provide guidance, insight, and even healing on a personal level.
Now for the second question. Anyone can be a shamanic practitioner and use drumming, journeying, and ceremony as part of a spiritual practice. And it is a beautiful spiritual practice for those of us who practice earth-based spirituality. Not everyone can be a shaman. Being a shaman isn't something you decide to do. While you can ask Spirit to let you serve others as a shaman, Spirit must accept you and be willing to work with you. Spirit will judge your devotion, motivation, and level of receptivity and may call you to be a shaman, or may not. It's not up to you or me, but up to spirit.
In today's on-demand consumerist world just about anyone can claim to be a pastor, minister or priest and become ordained by some church somewhere. That ordination doesnt' make the person a spiritual vessel. Fortunately in shamanism there are no organizations that can ordine one as a shaman. It's all up to Spirit. For me that makes shamanism the ultimate spiritual path, it is based totally on a calling by Spirit.
So, if you feel called to be a shaman, if you are doing it for the right reasons (and none of the right reasons are ego-based) then start out as a shamanic practitioner. Get use to working with spirit and being receptive to what Spirit will teach you, then ask.
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.