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Druid Meditations
Gods and Goddesses
Think about Batman for a moment. Suppose you were casting a new Batman movie. Would John Goodman be a good choice? How about Don Knotts? Or maybe Keanu Reeves? If you answered ‘yes’ to some of these choices, and ‘no’ to others, you probably did so because you have a preconceived notion of what Batman looks and acts like. In other words, you have an archetype for Batman.
In 1971, a group of college students at Stanford University were part of a ‘prison’ experiment. They were randomly divided into guards and prisoners. Within hours, they assumed these roles perfectly. They were so good at it that the experiment was cut short before someone got hurt. They were able to fall into these roles so perfectly because each of them had an archetypal idea of what both a prisoner and a guard should be.
In Druidry, we recognize the power of archetypes. The Gods and Goddesses of the Druid pantheon contain archetypal energy. Some Druids believe that these Gods and Goddesses actually exist, while others recognize them as simply symbolic for certain states of consciousness. In either case, we make use of the archetypes they represent.
Consider for a moment the triple goddess archetype of Mother-Maiden-Crone. Think about what the word ‘mother’ means to you. Now compare and contrast it with the idea of a ‘maiden,’ then with a ‘crone.’ Each of these ideas has a different energy that can be used in different ways to symbolize a specific intent. For example, invoking a Mother Goddess unleashes the power of your unconscious mind. By invoking a Mother Goddess, you are allowing the energy of your mother archetype to come to your own consciousness.
There are many Gods and Goddesses, and each contains a different type of archetypal energy. Suppose you were to call upon a ‘hunter’ archetype. Suppose further that you allow yourself to become the hunter. How would that change your consciousness? Now picture yourself becoming a wise old sage. Would that be a different type of energy than you’d have than if you were a hunter?
This idea of using the energy contained in archetypes allows Druids to use this energy to create change in their own lives. I can call on my Sage aspect to help me to become wise enough to solve a problem. I can call on my Hunter aspect to allow myself to become confident and courageous when faced with a challenge. I can call upon my Golden Child archetype to allow me to find a peaceful approach to things.
Druidry allows us to consciously use these forces. When I talk of Gods and Goddesses, it doesn’t matter if these Gods and Goddesses have any independent existence outside of my own unconscious mind. What matters is the utility of these ideas. So when I call upon a God or a Goddess in a rite or a ritual, I draw upon their archetypal energy.
Somewhere between 90% and 95% of people on Earth practice some sort of spirituality. Obviously, spirituality must be pretty important. Studies tend to back this up. What the studies show is that the type of spirituality doesn’t really matter. Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu or Pagan, practicing some sort of spiritual path yields benefits.
Since the particular type of spirituality is secondary to the benefits gained (in other words, since all spiritual paths lead to a better quality of life for those who practice them properly), what is it about spirituality that allows it to work its magic?
Suppose you could take all the spiritual paths practiced worldwide, put them into a cauldron, and boil them down to their essence. What would remain? I believe that the common thread to all spiritual practices is a feeling of connection. This connection could be to others, or connection to the divine, or simply connection to nature and to ourselves. In short: Spirituality is all about Connectedness.
If you think back on the spiritual experiences you’ve had in your lifetime, do recall feeling connected on some level? Many people describe their spiritual experiences as a sense of ‘oneness.’ Oneness implies connection to something outside ourselves. In this sense, even an agnostic or an atheist could achieve spirituality through such connection.
Druidry teaches that matter and spirit are not separate. From this viewpoint, spirit is not supernatural; it manifests itself through matter. If the matter weren’t there, the spirit couldn’t manifest. One way to think of the spirit world, or the Otherworld, is as the place of ideals. This would mean that the Otherworld, the Land of the Young, is a place of divine imagination. This imagination creates the framework for spirit to manifest in the physical, material world.
Jung believed that some parts of our unconscious mind were ‘hardwired’ to recognize certain symbols, just like birds are born with a migratory instinct without having to learn how to migrate. This hardwiring causes us all to recognize things he called archetypes. Archetypes are symbols that have special significance and meaning. This group of archetypes he called the Collective Unconscious was common to all the cultures he observed everywhere on Earth in their mythologies, legends and histories. Since these symbols occurred worldwide in all cultures, Jung believed that they had to be inborn rather than learned. An example of one of these Jungian archetypes would be the Sacred Tree. The Bible speaks of the Tree of Knowledge, Druids talk about the Tree of Life, Buddhists believe that Buddha received enlightenment under the Lotus Tree, etc. In fact, all cultures Jung observed have some legend or myth of the Sacred Tree.
Some of these archetypes have a great deal in common with the Gods of different cultures. Jung believed that our Gods were projected onto these archetypes. The Gods may or may not exist in reality, but they most certainly exist as archetypes within our own minds. Could it be that our personal God/spiritual experiences are the result of our getting in contact with our God archetypes?
I don’t claim to speak for all Druids, but for me personally, when I speak of magic I recognize it as getting in contact with the archetypes in my unconscious mind. By exploring these aspects of myself, I allow my unconscious motivations to come to the surface. I come into contact with my deeper, inner and hidden motivations for my actions and feelings.
As you explore the Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic world, you may consider them as archetypes or as real entities. In the end, what matters is how you are able to commune with them. Explore the links below to learn more about the Celtic Pantheon.
Aengus Mac Og
Green Man
Holly King
John Barleycorn
Lugh Lámhfada
Oak King
Sheela Na Gig

All materials copyright 2014 by Black Mountain Druid Order unless otherwise indicated