Last updated on April 5, 2020
Druid tools are items of mysterious purpose both to our modern understanding and to non-Druids in the past. Since no Druid practices were ever written down, it’s tough to know the real or exact purpose for some of the Druid tools of legend.
Historically, observations by writers like Pliny the Elder give us some written accounts. But not a Druid, he was totally guessing at the purpose for some of the things he described. And some of his descriptions were second-hand. Like his, any observational descriptions in history are invariably coloured by the writer’s cultural and personal frame of reference. More often than not, that makes them based wholly on speculation and not fact.
Modern Druid challenges
As a modern Druid, I was never handed a step-by-step manual for “This is how you Druid”. Even the course material I studied through the OBOD and the multitude of books on Druid practices I’ve absorbed are more guides to self-exploration than an instruction manual handed down through history.
Because there isn’t one.
We don’t know a lot about exactly what Druids did or why, though we can make some assumptions using logic. And, luckily, there’s a lot of latitude in modern Druidry where everyone is free to approach their craft from ways that work for the individual. You only have the energy you were born with, after all, so everyone must do what feels correct for them.
This lack of written tradition also means we were never left instructions for how to use Druid tools. This presents us with a challenge, because these are the tools for working with our energy and the energy of the land. So what are we supposed to do? Of the ones that we know about, are these tools still even relevant in the modern world?
In the modern day, we usually don’t speculate directly on how Druid tools were used in the past except for out of interest. That’s a riddle that can never be solved. Well, not unless we invent time travel. 😉
Instead, understanding the basic principles of similar earth religions points us in the right direction. And with that as a guide, we remain mindful of what we gain by using each of the Druid tools. By contemplating what each tool is and what it’s made from, it’s possible to glean glimpses into their original purpose. And then determine how to make them work for us.
Simply listening to ourselves and using these tools in a way that feels correct for each person is the best way to go. And maybe that’s the way it always was and part of the reason instructions were never written down. Makes you wonder, eh? Personally, I think that might be true.
The traditional Druid tools of lore
Thousands of legends reference Druids and mages, sages and oracles. And some of these stories even mention their tools. Though most of this is anecdotal or in passing, it’s still a place to start. At the very least, it’s given names to some of the Druid tools we know about today. And we can credit the Druid revival of the seventeenth century for reminding us of some of those tools amidst the great quest for a “holistic view of things, a way of knowledge that took in all relevant information”. (from Chapter 1 of Druidry: A Green Way of Wisdom ©2003 by John Michael Greer).
If you’re at the beginning of your journey and wondering what kind of Druid tools you need, first off, know you don’t need any of them. You hold your own energy and can harness it yourself. But if you want to incorporate some tools into practice, you may want to explore some of these more familiar names. Made more popular through the rise of fantasy stories, they’re not all completely foreign to most people.
Probably the most recognisable of all Druid tools, a wand is a very personal tool. For use by an individual, they’re so special no one but the owner should touch one. Wands contain no power. Instead, the owner uses the wand as a conduit of personal power.
We know about the Crane Bag only from legend where it was apparently created by a god. And it contained some pretty fantastical treasures. But we believe this story was never meant to be taken literally and the Crane Bag is, in fact, something other than a bag.
Another very personal Druid tool, a staff or rod, should never be touched by anyone but the owner. They’re often interchangeable and used for the same purposes. Staffs are most often made from wood to imbue this tool with the resonant power of the tree.
Though a personal favourite of mine, in my experience, the Druid Egg is not a widely used tool by many modern Druids. Made from stone, crystals or other materials, the Druid egg still serves a purpose today in grounding us.
Like so many Druid tools, the sickle’s use could be either literal or up for interpretation. From an actual harvesting tool to a representation of the return of light to suggesting all things in balance and harmony in a cycle without end. It’s up to us as modern Druids to decide what’s the most correct for each of us.
While not quite as fascinating or mysterious as some of the other Druid tools, the Druid Cord can still be of use to us today. With a primary function of geometry, it can help us lay out sacred spaces.
Check out the articles in this series on Traditional Druid Tools:
For a more colourful demonstration of some of these Druid tools in action, check out my book, The Seer. This historical sword fantasy about a Druid in the fictional realm of Edenshire in 4th-century Britain is available at Amazon!