I’ve been a self-initiated practicing Druid for about 35 years or so. Even before I knew what that was, I followed that path and it wasn’t until later, after I’d studied just about every spiritual practice on earth, I learned there was a name for the collective way I defined my universe. I’d always thought I was a bit odd before that and didn’t really fit in with the rest of the “normal” world. Turns out, I was just a Pagan.
If that makes me odd, well then I embrace the weird!
What a Druid is and Druidry in general means different things to different people, so I make sure I add a couple of qualifiers when I speak about myself, so no one gets their knickers in a twist about it. I don’t do the white robe thing (or, at least, haven’t been moved to do so to this point) and you’ll never catch me jumping around naked near a fire. I don’t like to expend energy on things that are non-productive and that seems like a waste of it to me.
I’m tied to the earth in a big way, though, and feel it most concretely. My Druid obligation is congruent with my writer personality, and I’m compelled to work on things in the background, sending intentions out into the world without people seeing my face. I don’t think that part’s important, the recognition part, so I’m not fussed that no one knows where it comes from. It’s the outcome of those actions and intentions that are the most important, the people touched, the earth healed – just ignore the man behind the curtain, please.
I’d seen the term “Feral Druid” coined somewhere I was reading (I think by John Michael Greer, though I could be wrong there), and the description fit me, so I tend to go with that. And to be honest, it feels the most comfortable to me if a label must be applied. I really am a bit of a lone wolf. I don’t like to be told I must do something one way over another when I know the correct way to do anything is to listen and do it the way that feels the most correct and harmonious in the moment.
Creating my own Bardic Druid tools of the trade
Over time, I’ve been compelled toward having things that I later learned were tools. In the past, I never thought of them as tools, just things I needed to have near me that either made me feel more focussed or still. Me being me, so a little off the beaten path all around, I never seem to find many of these things pre-made that sit quite right or strike the right chord for me. As a result, I’ve made most of my own Druid tools when I have a sudden want.
My staff is the most favourite tool in my possession. It’s as important to me as my pen. It stands about a foot taller than I do and is made from a smooth and mostly straight windfall branch of a tree I found during a hike one day with my buddy Blair Mueller from Bony Fiddle.
We were climbing through the scrub around a small pond down near the lake several years ago and I saw this smooth, thick branch laying there in my path. It didn’t have any bark on it and was a really cool honey colour and came up to a ‘Y’ at the top. There weren’t any other branches like it laying around in the same area, just that one, and for whatever reason it made me pick it up. I actually walked past it several times and each time was compelled back, because it beckoned me for no real reason.
In the end, I had to carry it all the way home on the bus. I didn’t even have anywhere to put it at the time, because I was living in a different place where I shared space and it felt wrong to bring it there. It moved in with Blair for a couple of years until one day I was driven to retrieve it for no obvious reason except I felt it was calling to me. I had moved by that time, so brought it home.
The Creation Process
I didn’t trim it down at all and left it in the shape it had fallen to the earth with one point of the ‘Y’ a little higher than the other and looking very antler-like. Another one of those things that rings in me for no particular reason except maybe my man heart recognises the power of the stag and I often channel it. The only modification I made was when I sanded it by hand to grind down some of the small branch nubs that were sticking out, so it feels nicer to hold, but that’s all.
I spent quite a long time on that one etching and inking symbols down the length of it with a calligraphy pen and a bottle of India ink while we steeped in Frankincense smoke over the several days that etching took. Every symbol was added with conscious intention. A lot of careful consideration went into the individual symbols as well as for the collection as a whole combined. The end result of the pattern of symbols is they’re congruent and create harmony and balance so weighty you can feel it when you hold it.
I had a lot of small shards of clear quartz points laying around, so I dug out a couple of slices from the wood and embedded the crystal point shards into it and affixed them with Dragon’s Blood infused wax to keep them from coming loose and for the protective and power benefits the Dragon’s Blood added. When I was done, I sage smoked it to purify it. But that wasn’t the end. For whatever reason I was compelled to keep going, because it needed to be stronger. I spent time dedicating the staff for my personal use while I smudged more Frankincense over it to purify the embedded, woven intentions. And then smoked it over one more time with Dragon’s Blood incense to add power to all the intentions.
How Things Turned Out
The whole endeavour from beginning to end took me about two weeks, if I recall. I remember the whole time I was narrowed in focus and managed to sustain that even though I had to keep pausing to do other things like work and talking with people. It was odd, because I didn’t even have to try to hold that position in mind and I found it really easy. Anyone who’s attempted to do that knows it’s difficult enough to hold that brain space for a short amount of time on purpose, so it was quite a personal accomplishment to have been able to sustain it for that long. Sometimes, it’s just the correct time to do things and the energy around us lends us exactly what we need just then to accomplish it. I’ve learned not to question those things and just go with them when they happen.
After doing all that and having been in the exactly perfect frame of mind when I made it, it turned out to be a fairly substantial piece. Even now, several years later it’s the same. Holding it in the hand is an experience and it actually vibrates against the palm when I’m hanging onto it and is exactly tuned to me.
It’s powerful and pure and throws my mind back to the past and into the future at the same time. I feel the connection to not only the earth, but what I know as the energy in the Streambed of Inspiration, where the collective knowledge and thoughts of all the ancestors flow through time. Sometimes, you never know exactly how a tool will turn out, but this one is rather like an energy antenna along the lines of a dousing rod, but about a hundred times stronger.
Most days, the staff sits next to my altar beside where I write and it inspires my art while it remains clear and pure. I know it has a job to do, though we haven’t got there yet. It waits for the day when I have a Druid garden I’ll dedicate to sending out healing vibrations to the earth as my contribution and obligation to fulfill for this lifetime.
Until then? My Druid staff powers my dedication and focus to the art of the Bard.