5 Questions with Cat Treadwell
I am thrilled to be speaking with Cat Treadwell, author of a fabulous upcoming release ~ 'A Druids Tale' which is featured in my next post. But first I just wanted to learn a few things about Druidry from an actual Druid Priestess before we got onto the subject of her new book.
Druid Priestess Cat Treadwell at Stonehenge
Here are my questions, fundamental as they may be, think of this as a crash course in Druidry in modern day society.
What is a Druid?
Generally, when people think of the word 'Druid', the image that comes to mind is either Getafix from the 'Asterix' cartoons, or some other Gandalf-esque figure: an old man with a white beard, robed and cloaked, working mysterious magic. I'm (obviously) not that!
Historically, as the Roman writers tell us, the Druids were the 'priests' of the tribes of the land that has become the United Kingdom, as well as mainland Europe. They were prophets, healers, teachers, lawyers and advisors to the chieftains. They were also largely wiped out by the Romans, who replaced indigenous ways with their own.
Modern Druids can differ greatly in their practices, but what they have in common is that they hold the natural world as sacred. Druidry is a Nature-based faith. We are part of this planet, one of numerous species, but with the responsibility of conscious knowledge of how we live within that. We can be aware of our connection to the land, our relationship to our neighbours on it, both human and non-human - so I call myself Druid as a Priest of the land, my homeland. In public ritual, I hold the relationship between the people present and the spirits of place, ancestry and the wider Universe. In daily life, I try to live with awareness of my own personal connection, as well as my duties to myself and others. On one hand, a very simple path; on the other, indescribably complex!
What do Druids do?
Personally, I do whatever I'm called upon to do!
Generally speaking, I'm a Priest. This means I am available to help those who need me, from a quick chat on the phone to an in-person meeting, private ritual to public celebration. I've performed handfastings (Pagan weddings) and funerals as well as seasonal celebrations; I hold regular teaching workshops and 1-1 training; I can undertake healing, journeying and divination... general spiritual support. I also blog on Druidry as I live it, and have a book based on that coming out at the end of June.
I'm also a Trustee of The Druid Network (see link below), a registered Charity in the UK, and Regional Coordinator (Derby) for The Pagan Federation. This means a certain amount of public speaking, explaining Druidry and Paganism in the media - from website interviews to the BBC!
What is it like being a Druid Priestess in the 21st century?
I'm never entirely sure what people expect of me. When they first meet me, there's always nerves, as folk don't know what to say to a 'Druid' - the mental picture doesn't tally with what they see in front of them! But then they find that I'm a real person too... and there we have connection and can start to develop relationship.
We can only ever be ourselves, ultimately. I can be a 'Professional Druid', being informed and articulate enough to explain my path and that of my fellows to those who don't understand. I can be a priest, teacher and friend - I'm honoured that more and more people are contacting me each week for my help in some way. I always promise to do my best for each and every one. No questions are 'stupid'; I actually encourage curiosity, as how else do you find things out? And it challenges me often, to say what I mean in a manner that can be understood!
To me, the spiritual path that we call Druidry is as relevant today as it ever was (if not more so). I think in these modern times, people are gradually growing out of the secular, politically-correct view of spirituality and religion. They are curious and want to know why others believe the things they do. Unfortunately, folk often think that it's 'rude' to discuss faith matters with relative strangers, finding it hard to start a conversation without feeling silly. I do my best to make people feel at ease, answer their questions and help.
I do NOT evangelise or recruit! Paganism is generally a welcoming path, due to its great diversity; but you won't find us knocking on doors with leaflets! It's up to individuals to make their own decisions - I just aim to provide information. I speak my truth... it's up to the listeners what they do next. Responsibility is a key tenet of my spirituality.
What are the differences between Paganism, Wicca and Druidry?
I find it very hard to categorise these labels easily. Each person's faith is subtly different, based on their own beliefs, practice and relationship with 'God' - but there are certainly more similarities than differences.
Paganism is the overarching term for most Nature-based spiritual paths - it is to Wicca and Druidry what Christianity is to Catholic or Protestant. Recognising the sacred in the wider world, generally peaceful, and seeking to understand the energies at work which we can use through focused 'magic'. Pagan paths recognise festivals based on the Wheel of the Year, including equinoxes and solstices.
Wicca was formalised into a practice in the 1950s by Gerald Gardner, and the rites that he and others drew together formed the basis of modern Wicca. I understand from practitioners that Gardnerian Wicca is quite different to traditional 'Witchcraft', but as I said, there are places where the lines of difference blur. Generally, Wicca has quite a set mode of practice, with certain unofficial 'rules': 'And it harm none, do what thou wilt', and the Threefold Law - whatever you do will return to you, multiplied by three. Deity is divided into God and Goddess, as reflected in the masculine and feminine of life.
Druidry as a modern practice can be both formal in ritual style, or almost casual, 'on the fly!' There are no set rules as such, as each Druid explores his relationship with the world personally. Therefore Druids can be pantheists, animists, even Christians (combining other faith paths with Druidic practices). Generally, Druids divide their skills into those that we understand were practised historically:
storytellers, musicians, those actively expressing their creativity
seers, diviners, ritualists, those seeking deeper connection to spiritual realms
overall Priests, holders of knowledge, teaching and representing all three
A common symbol for modern Druids is the 'Awen' - see image below - three drops above three rays, symbolising the three drops of inspiration that spilled from Cerridwen's cauldron in ancient mythology. We seek connection to and through our inspiration, our creativity, the life and blood of our lineage and the earth and history of our homes.
Druid symbol of Awen
What was the inspiration behind your book?
I've always wanted to write - and I always have. But my blog originally came about as a result of being forced into giving a talk at a Pagan conference, with five minutes to prepare, and overcoming a lifetime phobia of public speaking!
It went well enough, but I resolved to do better - and formed the blog in order to ask people what they wanted to know about Druidry. It's now entering its third year.
Moon Books were excited to publish the 'book of the blog' (admittedly with a lot of editing and additions!), as I believe there are very few books out there that deal with Druidry and Pagan spirituality as I have. I try to write as I speak, questioning myself as I answer others, exploring, foraging for the reasoning behind methods of practice, and of life.
We take so much for granted these days. Druidry has taught me that for spiritual practice to be honest and true, so your life must be. This means walking your path with awareness, responsibility, bravery and a good sense of humour - it's not easy, you will fall over, and there will certainly be challenges! But without that variety, it'd be very boring... We're learning to wake up to our connections, to really see the world and ourselves as part of it. That's where the magic begins.
Very many thanks to Cat for taking the time to answer my questions and for educating me, my followers & readers in the amazing world of Druidry! I've got two words: TOTALLY AWESOME!
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To find out more about Cat and Druidry, you can visit her website by clicking here:
To learn more about Druidry visit these websites:
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See you in the next post and don't forget to 'follow me' to keep up to speed with all the latest happenings on my blog and if you want to leave any comments, please do so, I love them and reply to all of them.