Druidry in a wider ecological and philosophical context.
We are experiencing a time of ecological crisis and the outcome could be the end of human society as we know it. Already thousands of other species have died, and the IPCC predicts the extinction of 1 million species in the next decade. Species extinction, climate change, resource depletion, habitat degradation and overpopulation are the five major threats which will lead to collapse if we do not change our course dramatically. The time for shallow ecology is over and deep ecological measures are essential for survival. We all intuitively know that Druidry has a positive effect on our relationship with nature and also on the ecosphere we live in. But how does Druidry relate to and be integrated into the big picture of ecological philosophy and environmental movements?
Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher, invented the term Deep Ecology in 1973 for an environmental grassroots movement and presented a framework where different philosophies and religions can provide fundamental premises from which principles, general views and lifestyles, as well as practical decisions, can be derived. ‘Ecosophy T’ is the name Arne Naess has chosen for his own ecological philosophy, the T referring to Tvergastein, a mountain hut where he wrote many of his books. Naess suggested that there could also be a philosophy A and B or a religion A and B which provide the fundamental premises for Deep Ecology. Following this approach, I propose to call Druid philosophy, religion or culture in the context of Deep Ecology ‘Ecodruidry’, which could also be termed ‘Ecosophy D’.
The Deep Ecology framework is illustrated in the so-called Apron diagram.
The general level 2 Platform Principles of Deep Ecology are derived from the level 1 Premises of a specific Ecosophy:
• The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves. These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
• Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves
• Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital human needs
• The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
• Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening
• Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
• The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
• Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes.
These principles can be reduced to three simple propositions:
• Wilderness and biodiversity preservation
• Human population planning by non-violent measures like better health service and social & pension systems, education, jobs. Here we must keep in mind, that industrial countries have a much higher impact on resource consumption and CO2 emissions and this goal must not lead to blaming less developed countries for getting too much babies.
• Simple living (or treading lightly on the planet)
From the general platform principles, individual non-concrete level 3 lifestyles and practical level 4 conclusions and recommendations, such as OBOD´s Campaign for Ecological Responsibility and the Sacred Grove program, can be derived. According to Deep Ecology the Platform Principles should be the same for all philosophies, but Ecodruidry can define own principles it the general principles turn out to be incompatible with Druidry.
Let us now compare Arne Naess´ Ecosophy T with likely elements of Ecosophy D. Naess composed norms and hypotheses, with ‘Self-realization’ as the ultimate norm, out of which he derived further norms such as Diversity, Complexity, Symbiosis, Local autonomy, No exploitation, and Self-determination. His ultimate norm ‘Self-realization’ very much resonates with the druidic ideals of ‘Wholeness’ and 'Connection', as opposed to ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Perfection’ in other religions. Wholeness and Connection also include our natural and bodily selves, which are embraced in Druidry. Self-realization includes a widening and deepening of the self and develops the Eco-self, or Self with a capital letter. Traditionally the Self is depicted as developing through the stages of ego-self, social-self and metaphysical self, completely overlooking our vital connection to the natural world around us. By identifying with the direct environment, one develops the Eco-Self, with the effect that environmental activism is no longer perceived as an act of altruism for something outside the Self, but as an act of Self-defence.
Furthermore, a bodhisattva ideal, the Buddhist intention to gain enlightenment for the good of all beings, automatically arises from the most basic norms starting with norm N1, ‘Self-realization!’, from which three hypotheses are derived: H1: The higher the Self-realization attained, the broader and deeper the identification with others. H2: The higher the level of Self-realization attained, the more its further increase depends upon the Self-realization of others. H3: Complete Self-realization depends on that of all. This leads to norm N2: ‘Self-realization for all living beings!’. The Druid path includes all of these ingredients as well. Druids seek to come into contact with nature and identify deeply with it. As Druids, we strive for ‘Wholeness!’, or the awakening of the Mabon, for the sake of all beings. This results in the intention to be of service to the human and non-human community.
To conclude, the Ecodruidry philosophy proposed here shows how Druidry supports ecological consciousness and sacred activism for Mother Earth. Ecodruidry provides a source of inspiration and a starting point from which other spiritualities, such as Joanna Macy´s dharmic Deep Ecology, can be integrated. Critical opinions of deep ecology should also be evaluated and considered when moving forward with an enfolding druidic ecological philosophy.
If you like the idea of Ecodruidry, please join the Facebook community via https://www.facebook.com/groups/Ecodruidry/