Random thoughts on Druids, the Celts, War, Peace and the Environment

“The Celts were not a “peaceful” culture but warrior based, and to say that to be nature based one has to focus on peace, non violence, don’t judge, don’t harm, etc.. is bull. To reduce one who wants to embrace the Celtic Spirit, and their spirituality, to a pacifist, is to dishonor every warrior, be it man, woman, or child.” –Unknown

That was then, this is now. Yes, the Celts were a warrior culture. The question is: “What does it mean to be a Celt today?” There is no truly Celtic nation today, and what Celtic culture does exist has no standing army. Further, warfare is not the honorable profession it once was. Back in the days of the Druids, we had mostly hand to hand, one on one combat. The warrior faced his enemy eye to eye. His life was at equal peril to his enemies, his only hope of survival was to be better skilled than his opponent. The honorable warrior did not kill women, children and old men. The warrior was an honorable profession then. Today it’s different. “Warriors” may be piloting aircraft miles above their targets, unleashing death and destruction on thousands, many of whom are innocents, and they will never see the whites of their opponents eyes. Where is the honor in that? “Warriors” may also be in a bunker, thousands of miles from a target, their hands at computers controlling missiles armed with nuclear warheads. With one touch of a button, this “warrior” can kill millions, who will be mainly innocents, and never hear their screams, never see blood, never know the terror he has unleashed. Where is the honor in that?

Many of us became Druids because we found it to be a spirituality based in Nature. For Reformed Druids, the primary tenet is “Nature is Good.” Most of us are also environmentalists, and in a sense, warriors for Mother Earth, fighting not with weapons, but with words and with actions, to turn back the tide of modern cultures destruction of the environment.

When it comes to real war, we must be pacifists, and we must promote peace. This is because modern warfare is one of the worst polluters there is. Every explosion, every bullet fired, every weapon tested leaves pollutants behind that are toxic not only to humans but to other species as well. Even hunting with modern weapons leaves a significant environmental impact, just in the use of
lead alone.

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble here. The bottom line is this: we’re not living in the Iron Age anymore. This is 2009. The world has changed since the glory days of the ancient Celts. Their values cannot be our values. We’re not going to be mounting our enemies heads on pikes, nor executing criminals in giant wicker men. We’re not going to go on cattle raids, and given the environmental and moral reasons alone, we cannot be warriors.

Today the Celts are a culture of peace, not war. We’re alive today, not back then.

We Druids are called to be men and women of Peace. This is what our Gods call us to be, and this is what honors our ancestors.

“The Celts were a class society, basically triune: warrior class that ruled, worker class that farmed and crafted, and intellectual class- the Druids, a number of which were warriors or fought alongside warriors.”

The most important word here is “WERE.” We spend way too much time trying to glorify the past, trying to remake Druidry into what it WAS. I personally don’t want to go back into time. I want to make a Druidry that is relevant to the now, and will continue to be relevant in the future (and will evolve). A Druidry that will speak to the hearts and souls of those of us alive today.

Most of the military actions of the past were aggressive, not defensive. The warrior tribes of Europe were looking for new lands to cultivate. They could have stayed where they were and found new ways to make their lands more productive. Instead they chose to go out and conquer. Those who occupied thosenew lands were on the defensive end, so for them warfare was about survival. Most wars are started for economic reasons, and today, for profit. In fact with the exception of WW2, there was profit motive behind every war the US has undertaken.

We have a class society in place today. The ruling, wealthy class, starts wars that the poor and middle classes fight for the benefit (profit) of the ruling wealthy class. You can count the number of (former) Republican Senators whose sons are fighting in Iraq on one hand.

9/11 is a good example. It was used as an excuse to start the war in Iraq so as to fill the coffers of Haliburton etc. The coffins coming back are filled with the bodies of the working class. If instead of going this route, we would havedispatched some of our elite, secret units, we would have had Osama Bin Laden in chains and on trial within the first year. I think we could have enlisted the Mossad, and had the job done in 6 months, and not even used our own people. But there’s less profit in doing things that way. Much better we bankrupt ourselves and our children, and our childrens children spending money on a war with no foreseeable end in sight, which will never result in bringing Al Queda tojustice.

We say we’re fighting for “FREEDOM.” Right. The freedom of the rich few to make more money off the backs of the poor.

However, regardless of the motives for our wars, there are still some who are true warriors, and who deserve the honor (and I still say there is no honor in sitting under Cheyenne mountain with your finger on “the BUTTON”). Those are the ground troops – the infantryman; the Marines, etc., who serve us on the ground in Bagdad, and whose lives are on the line minute by minute. I personally would favor giving the survivors who return “cradle to grave” benefits not only for themselves but for their families as well: free healthcare, free education, free job training, guaranteed public sector jobs for life, free housing, free cars. In fact, why should they have to work at all? Let them come back and
retire on lifetime pensions. They deserve it (I’m only talking about those serving in actual combat situations though, let’s not get crazy here). Of course, the reality is that we screw them over once they get home. Shame on us.

The big issue for Druids is the environmental impact of warfare, and not just actual combat as in Iraq, but in the development, testing, and training of modern weaponry. It’s not even about killing people (though we should try to avoid that as much as possible). It’s in this sense, that Druids need to be pacifists, so maybe what I am defining is strictly “political pacifism.”

Defending ones family and ones self is not even a choice. It’s instinctual. It’s natural. That said, I think there is great spiritual and physical (fitness) value in learning a martial art. If I were to start a Druid Monastery that would definitely be on the curriculum. But all martial arts (that I am aware of anyway) have embedded in their philosophy that use of such is a last resort, and actual killing is the last of last resorts.

There is a spiritual aspect of all this as well. On the one hand, when a soldier kills an enemy combatant, he is really killing himself, in the idea of “the oneness of the all.” On the other hand, as we are all part of one another – one body withthe earth mother – cells of the Earth mother — we need to recognize that some cells are cancerous, diseased, and detrimental to the whole. They need to be surgically removed (and don’t Doctors sometimes refer to white blood cells as”the bodies soldiers?”).

If some of this seems contradictory it is. And it’s not. It’s really all about finding the balance.

Nature is good.