by Juan Villegas, E-RYT® 500
Druidry; Celtic Yoga Connections
The history of Druidry is hard to trace, early practitioners left almost no records of this ancient Celtic system of spirituality. What we know about Druidry comes from pre-historic paintings, drawings, and writings such as those from Julius Caesar. At the end of the Ice Age, people from Southern Europe traveled north to Scotland and other Celtic areas to settle, creating a culture with considerable knowledge of astronomy and engineering skills that are hard to comprehend even today. This period of early Celticism encompasses the development of Druidism, a highly sophisticated religious system that included poets, healers, seers, philosophers, judges, and teachers.
Around this time there was an exchange of ideas between Druids, Greeks, and Romans, in fact, Druidism shared many commonalities with the ancient culture of India. Historian Peter Beresford-Ellis states that ¨the very name Druid is composed of two Celtic word roots which have parallels in Sanskrit. Indeed, the root Vid for knowledge, which also emerges in the Sanskrit word Veda, demonstrates the similarity. The Celtic root Dru which means ‘immersion’ also appears in Sanskrit. So a Druid was one immersed in knowledge.¨
Druidism is known today as Druidry. When we hear of Druidry we associate it with wizards with long white beards, wearing star patterned robes and carrying a staff. However, Druidry is more than that, it is a spiritual practice that has evolved greatly into a practice of mindfulness and connection to the environment and nature. It is a path of community and every practitioner likes to practice and experience Druidry in different ways. Some people are more mystical and contemplative, the way they like to work with Druidry is in meditation and connecting with the earth. Other practitioners of Druidry prefer to work with ritual. These rituals can be found in birth, marriage or caring for the earth.
I became very interested in Druidry when I was given the opportunity to teach yoga at a retreat centre in Scotland. When the opportunity came up I realized that when I think of traveling for yoga, Scotland is not the first place that comes to mind. I discovered that I associated yoga retreats with either a beach or in India. However, I was fascinated to learn about the rich, spiritual culture in Scotland and what it has to offer to yoga practitioners.
Have you experienced similarities between spiritual practices in other cultures?