Paganism and Enterprise

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by Guard, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Guard

    Guard New Member

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    I understand the need for certain mainstream religions to acquire funds in order to contribute to the various costs associated with the provision and ongoing maintenance of their respective places of worship. Most of us I believe are happy to accept that salaries are paid to clergymen for their services within these mainstream religions.

    I came to this forum to learn something of Druidry as well as other "paths". I am here because like others I found it difficult to source anything other than generalistions about the history, beliefs, practices and philosophy of Druidry.

    It seems to me that there are Druids who prefer to cloak and secretise their knowledge, path, belief system, religion, (I'm not sure which designation to use) in order to nurture nothing more than enterprise. In my search for a deeper understanding of Druidry I didn't have to look very far to discover that there are many courses offered by both groups and individuals (at a price) to satisfy my curiosity.

    Could it be that this intentional cloaking and witholding of information only serves to create a greater need for the ""knowledge "". ie, tell someone they can't have it and they want it all the more.

    Not all Druids adopt this approach but I think those that do are creating a bar to learning and discovery which ultimately limits the growth of Druidry.

    I understand that people need to feed and cloth themselves and I don't begrudge anyone a living but is it not innapropriate for certain individuals to manipulate their chosen path simply to create enterprise ?.

    Just for balance, I acknowledge that there are of course many UK Druid groups that offer open invitations to their regular meetings and are happy to share their knowledge and experience without charge. No bar to learning here then !

    Oh and just out of interest, how would you classify Druidry and what constitutes a religion ?
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    While I can't comment on any specific religious group, the sad fact of life is that where profits can be made, enterprising individuals will try and exploit such markets.

    That may not apply to your specific instances, but it's a general issue of business.
     
  3. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Just to clarify, I'm not a Druid myself and have no formal associations with any of the modern Druid groups. I am involved in the wider Pagan community though (I'm an eclectic Wiccan) and I have read a bit about ancient and modern Druidry, and have talked with modern Druids.

    In pre-Christian times Druidry was definitely a religion as the Druids were clearly the spiritual leaders, the clergy, of the Celtic peoples. However we do have that annoying gap in historical information about the Druids to contend with. And because there is that gap in the history about the Druids the modern practitioners and groups who have adopted the name sometimes end up focussing on different parts of what is known or what is speculated about the Druids. Some of these modern recreationists have chosen to focus on Druidry as a religion, and others have chosen to focus on it as more of a knowledge system or philosophy or collection of practices rather than a religion.

    So I guess I'm saying there is some diversity in modern Druidry. Some are clearly about Druidry as religion while others aren't. People who come to Druidry today need to decide for themselves which factions (if any) they wish to align with. And because the historical gap exists it's debatable which of the modern factions are correct or have the most authority to claim descent from the ancient Druids. It's highly unlikely that the modern Druid factions will come together and homogenize -- and I'm not sure it something that should be desired.

    On the topic of payment for training or information, Brian put it most succinctly -- if there is money that could be made, it's not surprising that some people will try to make money off of it. However, sometimes sharing of information does involve monetary costs. Books aren't free so there is cost there. People who offer classes (regardless of the topic) often find that when the classes are offered for free the students tend not to be as dedicated to doing the work required. Sometimes students seem to need the commitment of having to pay for a course in order to take it seriously.

    When it comes to spiritual training though many modern Pagan teachers will take on serious students without expectation of payment. Students will be expected to buy their own supplies (paper, pens, ritual equipment, books) of course so there is cost there for the student. But for classes that are done in public spaces there is usually a fee involved as few teachers have the available cash to pay for renting public space for students who might or might not show up or be serious about learning in the first place.

    I imagine there are some modern Pagan groups that are structuring themselves in ways similar to Christian or other religious groups, with mandatory donations expected of members, fundraising events, etc. in order to cover costs such as renting or buying public meeting space, or at least to purchase ritual supplies such as candles, food and drink. Most Pagan groups are much less formal though and meet in their members' homes and are more like families or friends than a group of strangers coming in off the street for religious services.
     
  4. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Hi, and welcome to CR, Guard!

    I consider myself a Christian Druid. I would classify Druidry as either a religion or a spiritual path, depending on the way one identifies with it. The two largest Druid organizations, the ADF (A Druid Fellowship, US based) and the OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, UK based) are quite different in how they approach Druidry and how it is classified. For people in ADF, Druidry is a neo-Pagan, polytheistic religion. For people in OBOD, it is a spiritual path and there are many people of different religions following it- some are Christian, many are Pagan, some are agnostic or atheistic, some Buddhist or other religions. For me it is a spiritual path- a bunch of ways to enhance things I already did as part of my spirituality- finding God in nature, meditative techniques, etc. It is a way for me to understand some areas of my own journey that are generally untouched by most Christian denominations, such as nature spirits/energies and having a more artistic and earth-centered expression of my faith.

    I understand what you are saying about Druidry costing money, I have not found it to be unreasonable. There is a general argument against much of the neo-Pagan/earth-based movement that it costs money. However, it is useful to remember that for the most part, these movements have no church or clergyman to support, and so instead of taking up an offering each Sunday and then paying for a building, all the stuff in the building, ritual necessities, and the people who operate the church, we do ritual and teaching amongst ourselves. I personally don't know of too many people who are paid to teach in Druidry, but there is a cost for books and materials, which I find to be reasonable.

    I believe ADF does not charge for its courses; if you don't mind polytheism, you might check that out. I have more experience with OBOD. They do charge for their courses because you get written materials and they have to pay for the printing, paper, postage, etc. somehow. It is more expensive than you'd expect, but partially because they are very careful to use recycled materials, to plant trees, and to not harm the environment in making the materials. There are (I imagine) a couple people who get paid something to do all the postage and communication. If you take OBOD courses, you are given a mentor, and this person volunteers- they are not paid anything. Also, though I haven't gotten over to England yet, I understand the meetings are relatively inexpensive and people will help you find a place to stay if you can't afford it. OBOD also does scholarships for courses for those in need and you can study with a friend and split the cost and materials. While their courses cost money, their website has a lot of excellent articles and it is free. You can PM me for it if you like and haven't found the site yet. Their message board is also free and you can ask any questions you have and gain a wealth of information there (as well as the incredibly broad and diverse beliefs of modern Druids) by skimming through old posts.

    If you're just curious, I'd just check out the websites, as well as go to your local library and read a few books that would describe Druidry in more detail. I'd be happy to hand over a list of books if you like- I just read most of them out of my university library and then bought my favorites (or reproduced them at the university printing center and paid the nominal copyright fees). The stuff out there on Druidry ranges from the more shamanism-oriented to the more ritually based neo-Pagan stuff- it just depends on the individual. It's a pretty open-ended religion/path/whatever.

    As for knowledge gained, this is not secretised in the OBOD as much as it is considered to be essential to go in order if one is studying. That is, like math, some stuff is built upon earlier stuff. If you read (and try out the techniques/exercises/etc.) lessons from year 2 in the middle of year 1, you're likely to misunderstand it, have it not work properly, etc. This is why they ask Ovates (year 2), for example, not to discuss their work with Bards (year 1). There is plenty of discussion among Bards on Bardic work. I'm pretty open about discussing my belief system/path/religion/etc. on this forum and with nearly everyone (I really like religion- it's fascinating to me). I'm not very far along with the Bardic work yet, but I'm decently well-read in other Druid works (it's slow-going for this grad student- I haven't the amount of time I'd like to give it). I'd be happy to answer any questions I can (that aren't beyond my understanding or knowledge) and to discuss what I "do" as a Druid. Just understand that Druidry, from what I've found, is very personal so each person's rituals, etc. may be quite different and mine are (of course) flavored quite heavily by Christianity.

    Peace to you,
    Path
     
  5. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I just wanted to add to bgruagach (who posted while I was writing :rolleyes: ) that I second his information about the relationship of the ancient Druids to the modern ones.

    We have very little information about the ancient Druids, and most of what we do have is wrapped up in historical documents that may have been propaganda. Any good book on Celtic history will discuss this- I have read a few if you're interested for references.

    Though some modern Druids would disagree with me (even perhaps many), as an anthropologist and knowing archaeologists, I cannot say that modern Druidry in any form is close to what it was in ancient times. We just don't know enough about ancient times to reconstruct such a religion/path. What is more the case is that modern Druids take what we know about indigenous European shamanism and the ancient Druids and take what they feel is relevant in today's world for their own lives. For myself, I was already very earth-centered and mystic before finding Druidry, and Druidry just fit nicely as a way to interpret and further this part of my spiritual experience, which Christianity more or less ignored. Druidry filled the gap, so to speak, between my own personal spiritual experience and the religious training I already had, and so I've found it useful.

    What I've seen with the OBOD, for example, is that they extend their idea of "Druidry" to include a variety of things that pre-dated the Druids, but were part of the Celtic shamanistic trajectory (or were probably a part of it). This is why OBOD members may go to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice, for example, even though Stonehenge predates the Druids. There is an understanding that although the Druids may be a sort of archetype, what we are really getting at is Celtic shamanism. OBOD is not the most historically accurate (my own opinion) but it's the best fit with my own experience and path, and ADF wouldn't work for me since it is polytheist and its own religion. ADF tends to be more concerned with historical accuracy (though still has problems with the lack of historical information), but clearly markets itself as a religion, which doesn't quite work for those of us who aren't polytheistic.
     
  6. Guard

    Guard New Member

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    Thank you Path, I like it here.

    Quote: Path of One
    I consider myself a Christian Druid. I would classify Druidry as either a religion or a spiritual path, depending on the way one identifies with it. The two largest Druid organizations, the ADF (A Druid Fellowship, US based) and the OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, UK based) are quite different in how they approach Druidry and how it is classified. For people in ADF, Druidry is a neo-Pagan, polytheistic religion. For people in OBOD, it is a spiritual path and there are many people of different religions following it- some are Christian, many are Pagan, some are agnostic or atheistic, some Buddhist or other religions. For me it is a spiritual path- a bunch of ways to enhance things I already did as part of my spirituality- finding God in nature, meditative techniques, etc.

    and

    I cannot say that modern Druidry in any form is close to what it was in ancient times. We just don't know enough about ancient times to reconstruct such a religion/path. What is more the case is that modern Druids take what we know about indigenous European shamanism and the ancient Druids and take what they feel is relevant in today's world for their own lives. For myself, I was already very earth-centered and mystic before finding Druidry, and Druidry just fit nicely as a way to interpret and further this part of my spiritual experience, which Christianity more or less ignored. Druidry filled the gap, so to speak, between my own personal spiritual experience and the religious training I already had, and so I've found it useful.


    Something unexpected cropped up here from Path and Bgruagach which to me could be more pressing than the enterprise issue. I have often considered Druidry to be not so much a religion as a path. It seems there are many who take what they need from Druidy to augment there main religion and in this sense would it be fair to say that Druidry is more a bolt-on to the mainstream religions ?. I'm sure there are Druids who would not agree with my interpretation but it just seems to me that even if I did consider it to be a full blown religion I can't escape the fact that half of that religion (or more) is missing. Where would Christianity be if say, the new testament was missing ?. If I decide to jump in at the deep end and spend a lot of time and effort researching Druidry I get the feeling that I am going to become extremely frustrated at some point around 400 AD. It's like doing a jigsaw without the lid for reference, in fact, it's like doing a jigsaw with half the pieces missing. There is an awful lot of conjecture, too much guess work for me to follow as a religion. So for me it will remain firmly in the Bolt-On pigeon hole. But I will give it a go.
     
  7. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    :) Welcome to the wonderful world of archaeology! :)

    As far as I know, ADF has managed to come up with a religion out of it, but whether or not it is like the religion of the ancient Celts and how much any religion can be like an ancient religion when the social structure, technology, science, everything is different is another question entirely.

    Personally, accuracy means virtually nothing to me. I am not an ancient Druid, I don't have the same cultural background or social structure, and I can't think like a person that existed all that time ago. It would be pointless for me to try to ignore enough of my own cultural baggage to even begin to guess what being an ancient Druid would be like. Besides, I'd have to ignore lots of the things I love from Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, and other faiths I've learned about in order to do so. "Druid" for me refers to an archetype- it's a useful symbol for the spiritual stuff that's bound up in nature, energy, and magic (in a broad sense), which is a big part of my spirituality. I guess if I didn't have the other stuff it could be my religion. Religion need not be too organized- depends on what you're looking for.
     
  8. gwenwifar23

    gwenwifar23 Mistress of Light & Love

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    I can not speak about organisations or people I do not know very well. So what I say is on behalf of Andreas Firewolf. The same kind of criticism has been uttered against Andreas in the Netherlands. Around 1989 some magazines banned him and even refused adds of him, because he was thought to be to commercial. When you come to know him, he is not selfish at all. From 1989 to 2000 he lived on a very meagre income. Since 2000 he works again with computers, because he just could not live from his earnings of spiritual teachings. I consider this a very great loss to society. He should be able to do what he does best: teaching yoga, meditation, teutonic mythology, etc. He is the greatest healer I have ever met. Besides this, he is also a great scientist.
    (off topic:
    In fact, when he was 15 he falsified formulaes of Einstein like

    • E = mc2
    I don't know if his falsification is right or wrong. Scientific American and New Scientist rejected his publication. In Netherland it was published in the magazine of the Mensa-organisation and it was not proven wrong. He himself is not really interested. He is more interested in educting people and bringing them to a higher level of consciousness.
    I do not understand what it means but he states:

    • E = 1/2 mv2 ( m = mass, v = velocity)
    • E = hf ( h = constant of Planck, f = frequency )
    • So: f = m/2h * v2 (The non-lineair) velocity of a foton depends on the frequency.
    • If: E = mc2
    • E = hf
    • Then: f = c2 / h * m (the mass of a lightfoton depends on the frequency)
    • Einstein used the lineair velocity of light, while he should have used the non-lineair velocity of a foton. This non-lineair velocity is a function of the frequency and the constant c.
    • According to Einstein one can not travel faster than light. According to Andreas: When one travels faster than light, one is seen at two points at the same time.
    Sorry for this physics, which I don't understand. I translated it with some help of Andreas.)
    Andreas Firewolf set up an enterprise with a marketing-model in order to educate people. Any educational organisation needs money. When you don't want to be controlled by big government, you have to get the money from the people. So you sell courses and with the money you produce more courses. The money comes from people who benefit from the courses. What is wrong about that ???

    In publications it was sugested that Madonna was disappointed by some QaBaLaH-teacher, who was more interested in real-estate for family-members than in teaching. I don't know the truth about this accusations. The way gossip-magazines described this QaBaLaH-teacher was really ugly. That kind of "news" spreads distrust. It makes life harder for the reliable teachers.
    On many occasions Andreas Firewolf made a stand for people who were abused without benefits for himself. In fact, the government of Netherland fears and loaths him, because he expose them for what they are: A bunch of thugs. At the moment he is attacking the dutch minister of justice and the dutch society of lawyers on behalf of a 16 year old boy, who was raped in a prison. That boy did not belong in a youth-prison. He had some mental problems, his parents could not handle him, so the justice-department violated his human rights and put him in a prison for more than three weeks, together with a 23-year old psychopath who raped him. According to the lawyer representing the state: "That boy was not damaged mentally and it is not the responsibility of the state".
    Before criticising a spiritual teacher for asking money, one should look carefully to the lifestyle of that person. If he owns 365 BMW's, large real estate or if he invests his money in weapon-industry, there is reason to be suspicious. But if he lives in a modest home, drives an old car and he is very gentle with people at the bottom of society, there is reason to trust him/her.

    In the western world we adopted the dogma: One is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Why do we not take that dogma seriously? We should assume that our fellow-men are decent people until proven otherwise.
     

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