‘Under Ben Bulben’ Benbulben (also called Ben Bulben) is a large rock formation in County Sligo, Ireland. It is a table mountain, part of the Dartry Mountains, in a beautiful area sometimes called 'Yeats Country. W.B Yeats, Ireland’s most famous poet is buried in a small graveyard at the foot of the mountain. 'Cast a cold eye On life, on death Horseman, pass by!’
Hi, I was just wondering whats the difference between a Druid and a Celtic polytheist? If there is one.
It’s a rough thing to try and describe, mostly because definitions will be personal, I suspect, on both terms. I think the easiest way to try and explain it is this:
“Celtic Polytheists” are, I suspect, people who believe in a multiplicity of divine or spiritual beings, who are primarily Celtic in nature (that is, they are the sorts of beings that he Celts honored, or would have honored). The Celts, as we know, spanned most of the known European world, from Ireland to Turkey to Spain on a modern map, at some point in their history. You can follow just about any path you want, and if it includes multiple Celtic deities or spirits, I guess you can call yourself a “Celtic Polytheist.”
“Druids” are, typically, also Celtic polytheists. Speaking quite strictly, the term “Druid” refers to the priestly class of folks involved in the maintenance of relationships between humans and the divine in the ancient Celtic world. It’s an institution unique to the Celtic world in many ways (certainly, the word “Druid” is unique to the Celtic world), but it’s also part of a wider Indo-European framework of priests and how they relate to their folk.
Modern Druidry is different than ancient Druidry in a variety of ways (not the least of which is “It’s not ancient”), but one key way is that most (and I stress most) are neither exclusively Celtic nor exclusively polytheistic. The revival of Druidry has seen organizations like OBOD and AODA, which are mostly Celtic in nature but see Druidry as a way of life (attracting monotheistic Druids, Christian Druids, and Atheist Druids alike); as well as organizations like ADF, which is pan-Indo-European in cultural focus, but completely polytheistic in the way it deals with the Spirits (and attracting almost entirely polytheistic folks as a result). There are modern Druid groups that are entirely Celtic and polytheist (the Henge of Keltria is a prime example), and there are Druid groups out there (in the real minority) that are neither polytheistic nor Celtic.
So Modern Druidry isn’t always strictly Celtic and polytheistic, but it is typically one or the other (or both). The best organizations, I think, give you as an individual the right to choose how strict you, personally, want to be with that practice: if you want to just be a Celtic polytheist in ADF, for example, you certainly can be. I believe the same is true for OBOD (I’ve never seen anything to the contrary). The way I’d describe the two is “If you want to work mostly with Celtic-inspired folk and see Druidry as a way of life, OBOD is a good bet; if you want to work mostly with polytheists and see Druidry as a spirituality or religion, ADF is a good bet,” but in both, you’ll find people of like mind that you might really enjoy working with.
“The Green Witch knows of the connection of all things, the immortality of life, and draws upon the Power of the Divine directly, or through the Elementals of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, or such spirits, devas, and Other People as may be helpful. The Elementals are the Kith and Kin of the Green Witch, for body and strength are of Earth, breath and thought are of Air, energy and drive are of Fire, and emotions and vital fluids are of Water. In olden days, The People learned in the ways of the Old Religion were called Wicce — voiced in the Middle English speech as Weetch’ie — meaning Wise, and the use of that wisdom was called the Craft of the Wise — WicceCraft, from whence comes the word Witchcraft. The Green Tradition of Witchcraft sees the Practice of the Craft as spirituality, and holds the word Witch as honorable and spiritual.”
“The Morrígan is probably the most powerful yet mysterious figure amongst the Celtic Gods. The popular image of the Morrígan is as the Goddess of Battle and Sex, a perception that only scratches the surface of this complex and manifold Goddess. From Bestower of Sovereignty to Earth Goddess, from Lady of the Beasts to Faery Queen, from Lover to Witch Goddess, the Morrígan stands out as one of the pre-eminent Celtic Goddesses. More than any other Celtic deity the Morrígan embodies the resurgence of the divine feminine, appearing in a wide variety of guises to express the full spectrum of feminine power. The strength and control the Morrígan displays, as well as her ferocity and tenacity, and her ability to control events to ensure the desired result are all displayed repeatedly in the myths. As a Liminal Goddess the Morrígan connects not only the different realms of earth, sky, sea and otherworld, but also the myths of the British Isles through her different guises.”
- Sorita d'Este & David Rankine The Guises of the Morrigan - The Irish Goddess of Sex & Battle http://amzn.to/1GhnreA