Dissent and Activism

Nature is sacred, the Earth is sacred, the Land, Sea and Sky are sacred and yet human people are doing significant harm to all that which is sacred. The harm is such that it has triggered what is now being termed the Sixth Mass Extinction, an extinction event that threatens the lives of animal and plant persons, as well as human persons – indeed all that is alive. The harm we do to the Sacred Earth has been normalised by human society over thousands of years and in many ways enshrined into our laws.

So as Druids, we find our social norms and our laws drive us to harm Nature and by extension, ourselves. We find pressure to fly away to a holiday destination each year, to buy water in plastic bottles, to heat our homes and offices with fossil fuels that will both run out and that damage our seas and sky. We are pressured into jobs that manufacture weapons to kill people, jobs that require us to drive great distances, jobs that extract non-renewable capital from the Earth and jobs that take us away from what is real.

Asking ourselves why we should allow these things to happen is an important spiritual awakening. Asking ourselves why we participate in actions that damage Nature is an important part of Druidry.

Refusing to take part in the social norms of Nature damage is to dissent to western culture. It sets us apart from the mainstream. It makes us different. It initially damages our community and distances us from our tribe. It is difficult to do. But we soon find a new tribe and we soon build a new community.

Standing up against the actions taken by corporations, governments, organisation and sometimes individual puts us in the realm of the activist.

We could call this Active Druidry. Living our lives as if Nature is sacred. Living our lives in honour of the Land, Sea and Sky and to honour the Sacred Earth.

Active Druidry may simply involve dissenting, moving ourselves towards a more sustainable life, gradually making changes that reduce our ecological footprints so that we walk lightly on the Earth.

Dissent must come first but Active Druidry may involve activism too. However standing up for a cause without attempting to make some personal changes first puts us in the realm of the hypocrite. It undermines our credibility, it opens us to easy challenge. We must at least take some baby steps in walking the walk before we can be taken seriously when we talk the talk. Flying half way round the world to join a protest against fossil fuels is simply wrong.

Activism is not for everyone but it covers a spectrum from signing a petition through to marching on the street, right up to getting arrested and prosecuted for non-violent direct action. Most of us will sign a petition for a good cause. Quite a few of us will join a march, protest or ritual against damage to Nature. And a much smaller number of us are prepared to risk arrest to protect the sacred.

Druidry is a way of being. It has values and beliefs. How can we be Druids unless we attempt to live within those beliefs and values? We may not feel confident enough to speak truth to power, but how can we feel happy if we ignore our own impact on that which we hold as sacred?

Active Druidry is trying to live within those values and beliefs. It is trying to live as a Druid, as a Pagan, as a member of Nature’s household and trying to live by her rules. It has to involve some level of dissent towards our western culture and it can involve us standing against the powers that damage the Sacred Earth.

n.b. written for The Druid Network