The Three Kindreds as described in Druidism consist of three aspects: The Nature Spirits, the Gods and Goddesses, and the Ancestors. Despite my Christian upbringing, which has obvious emphasis on God and lacks the other two, I have always felt a call towards the Ancestors and the Nature Spirits despite this.
It’s been a long time coming, but for the moment, I’ve settled on what can be best described as panentheism. I’d describe it best as something akin to the nature of Purusha, described in the Rig Veda as “both immanent in the manifested world and yet transcendent to it” (Wikipedia, Panentheism). My relationship with the Shining Ones is twofold: one part is that I see and respect Them as separate entities from the universe, but that there is a divine “spark” to everything. I’m unsure as to whether the Gods and Goddesses, inside of that theory, are actual beings, or are more of a manifested consciousness, much like the debate between hard and soft polytheism. I bounce back and forth between the idea of actual Beings and Jungian archetypes often.
Before finding Druidry, I was very much drawn to Hinduism and Yogic philosophy, which has probably formed my cosmic worldview considerably. I have felt the pull towards Celtic mythology as well since I was little, as I have always been interested in genealogy. My family, at least as far back as the 1800s, is from Ireland, and I very much felt as though it was a homecoming when I visited in 2008. Since then, I’ve been very interested in the Druids and the ancient approaches to spirituality. I haven’t felt strongly towards working with a specific Celtic deity, although I do attempt to say “hello” as frequently as possible. I have felt the call of Eriu while meditating with a shamrock I had just adopted. I have had wild and vivid dreams of Ireland every night after doing so. So Eriu and I have had a meet-and-greet at least, and I look forward to working on my relationship with Her.
From my “Indian roots”, I have formed a very strong relationship with Ganesha. I understand that he is not a part of Vedism, but I choose to keep up this relationship, as it has been intensely powerful at trying times in my life. During my yoga instructor course, the first mantra we learned was the Ganesha Mantra (Om gam ganapataye namaha), and I was instantly hooked. I have found great peace in this Mantra, and have had many “obstacles” removed when the options were seemingly very limited. I am very familiar with Krishna as well, as I have studied the Gita a lot, and I feel as though he is approachable and kind. I have had some interest in and contact with Kali and Shiva as well, and I hope to further those relationships. Mantras, to me at least, seem to be the best way to get in touch with these Gods and Goddesses, which is probably why mantra work is so popular!
I feel very fortunate to have a connection to and a need to understand the divine, regardless of how complicated it may be. Not everyone is so lucky. As connected as I feel to the Natural World, I don’t feel as though my Druidry would be the same without the feeling of wonder the spark of the divine brings.
The Nature Spirits and I have always been close friends. I grew up as an only child, and was often in the care of both my maternal and paternal grandparents. They both were fortunate enough to live on the water. I spent a lot of time communing with the creatures in the water, like little mussels and snails and fish, and would spend hours watching them swim around. It was, in retrospect, quite meditative. I have been brought up in a culture of awareness of the natural world, and quickly caught on to names of trees, being able to identify birds by their song, and to the natural comings and goings of all the local creatures with the change of the seasons. My upbringing, though officially Christian, was very Druidic.
More recently, I have been attempting to improve my relationships with Nature Spirits in a more focussed way. I now have a house of my own, and have had the opportunity to plant trees and shrubs around my house. Unfortunately, the previous owner had cut all of the old growth trees down, and I had this desperate need to find healing for our little slice of land. I’ve been fiercely trying to protect my little leaf babies, and hopefully they will continue to thrive this year. I’ve been meditating with them, and although I haven’t received much in the way of feedback other than a sense of unconditional love, I’m open to seeing what wisdom they have to impart. I feel as though my Druidry has brought a name and a reason to the feeling that I was always more of a part of the natural world than this human one we have so carelessly constructed.
The way by which I am most in touch with the Nature Spirits, however, is actually indoors. I have two cats (Bosco and Maya) and two dogs (Boober and Farley), and they teach me more about myself than would have ever thought possible. Farley especially. Farley has an intense anxiety problem, which he comes by honestly, as so does his fur-mom (also known as, yours truly). I suspect I may have had something to do with that when he was a puppy, but we both lean on each other to help relieve the other’s anxiety. Our favourite thing to do when we’ve just had enough is let out a big ol’ howl. I’m sure the neighbours love us. But we have this thing when we howl that feels so instinctual. I can tell how he’s feeling by the sounds he makes, the pitch of his voice; he tries to meet my voice’s tune and volume exactly. It feels like being part of a wolf pack. Figuring out how to be the alpha-critter in my house has been no small feat, as you have to “be” them. I can’t figure out how to solve problems between the four of them until I think like a cat or a dog. Sometimes I have to literally get down on their level and communicate with them that way. It has been the greatest lesson in so many ways, but mostly in compassion. All four of them live precisely in this very moment, and love unconditionally as a result. They connect me to my Druidism by bringing out my inner “wild”. I try to live up to their perception of me.
My relationship with the ancestors is admittedly the one I have the most difficulty with. I don’t feel especially close to my family, with a few exceptions, and I keep those people in mind when I talk about ancestors. Mostly, though, my ancestors are ones of heart. They include those from which I have learned much, despite their distance or passing (Paramahansa Yogananada, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Farley Mowat), and those of different species (my pets who have gone over the Rainbow Bridge). I hold these ancestors of heart, who have made me so much who I am, in the same high regard as those of blood.
My actual ancestors came from Kircubbin in Northern Ireland around the time of the potato famine. I’ve been to the gravesite of my namesakes, and, interestingly enough, I still live within a 20 kilometre radius of those who arrived in Canada around 200 years ago. The place they settled looks actually very similar to Ireland; rolling hills, green valleys and dramatic shorelines. I can see why they picked it. I was also married in the church that my family attended when they arrived in Canada. I just felt so drawn to that place, and now I understand why. This island is my ancestral home, and I didn’t realize the significance of this until I began to study Druidry. I have only lived outside of my current hometown while I was away at school, and while the place I lived in was very wild in comparison to my current, more urban habitation, I felt very ill at ease. In fact, I generally feel strange whenever I am visiting a place that is outside of the shores of Lake Ontario.
I feel as though my ancestors still play a part in my life and my life’s plan. Certain things have worked out for me along my life that felt as though someone “up there” had had a hand in it. I feel on some level it is possible that I have known some of them for many lifetimes.
I hope that, in the future, I can continue to know each of the Shining Ones in new and creative ways. I really feel as though I am open and ready to receive whatever they would have me know or do, but I am trying to be intentionally slow at building these relationships. I want to be respectful, and I’m hoping that my patience and work will pay off in developing both my relationships with the Shining Ones, as well as the relationship with myself.