Tuesday 6 May 2014

Review: Handbook of Urban Druidry - Modern Druidry

Many people see paganism as something best done out in the countryside, far away from urban sprawls full of cars and buildings, pollution and noise. Well, as nice as it might be to live in some idyllic rural spot, many people can't avoid being city-dwellers. But being an urban pagan is actually not as hard as it seems and a new book called The Handbook of Urban Druidryis a very good guide on how to go about it.

As author Brendan Howlin says "...even the most urban of environments is teeming with life". He explains that you just need to tune your senses to become aware of it - from birds in the sky overhead to the trees that line the streets and the flowers that bloom in gardens.In fact, the first lesson in the book is about how to see the beauty of nature in the city.

Using that as a starting point, the next lesson is how to relax and meditate, which of course can be done anywhere and is a great antidote for the stresses of modern life. Going for walks through city parks and green spaces can help you tune in to the cycles of the seasons just as much as walks in the countryside, while there are many ways that anyone can become more environmentally conscious.

That might all sounds bit basic, but The Handbook of Urban Druidryis a beginners' book. It is organised in two sections. Part 1 is an experiential self-help course designed to be followed for a year and a day. It is practical, with lessons to follow, but is more about personal development than learning about the history of Druidry or religious dogma. In fact, Druidry is not at all a dogmatic type of spiritual path.

Brendan explains "The beauty of Druidry is that it does not stipulate a religious belief. You are free to frame your concept of Deity in whatever way suits you. Hence I know of Christian Druids, Buddhist Druids, Pagan Druids, Secular Druids and even one Sufi Druid."

While the first part of the book shows how city dwellers can learn to live more in harmony with their natural environment, the second part relates that to ‘real’ Druidry. Starting from the basics again, Brendan explains: "Most modern Druid Orders are organised into three grades and these are Bards, Ovates and Druids... Bards are associated with creativity and the arts, Ovates with healing and divination and Druids with ritual, law and responsibility."

For those who feel Druidry is a path they want to follow further, the book goes into what to expect from an official Druidic training programme. The first section of the book in fact covers basic Bardic groundwork. Brendan also offers lists for further reading and details of Druid groups that could be approached.

Publisher Moon Books says about the book on its website: "Druidry is currently exciting much interest but has an image that is not usually associated with urban life. In The Handbook of Urban Druidry, author Brendan Howlin presents Druidry in an easy-to-understand way, making the concepts open to everyone."

Brendan Howlin is a Druid grade member of the order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). He has been Senior International Tutor for Bards and Ovates for 13 years.

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