Ceremony & Ritual

Druid Magic

Article 3:

Maya Magee Sutton, Ph.D.

I have been a drop in a shower,
A sword in a hand,
A shield in battle,
A string in a harp.
Nine Years in enchantment,
In water, in foam,
I have absorbed fire,
I have been a tree in a covert,
There is nothing of which
I have not been a part.
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Druid Magic

Many people today think that hardly anything is known about the spiritual traditions of our Druid ancestors and believe that the knowledge of them is all but lost; but this is not true.

The reality is that there is so much information about Druidry, and there are so many new developments in Druidry, as a living spirituality, that we need guides to help us follow this ancient but ever-new tradition.

Because Druidry was transmitted mostly by oral tradition, it was effectively destroyed by its Roman and Christian opponents although a few traces have come down to us from Druid hands. There are three main sources of evidence for the reconstruction of Druidry: Celtic stories of Wales, Ireland and Scotland that have survived in folklore and literature although written down centuries after the era they purport to describe; Greek and Roman classical writings, many of which were biased in their views; and material evidence retrieved by archaeology.

The value of the Druidic Tradition is measured by how it helps us to live our lives now without attempting to recreate the past in historically unobtainable detail. Modern Druids choose to lie in the stream of spiritual tradition that, like the Celtic wells of inspiration and plenty, is always pouring forth its abundance.

You are the magician and can only perform true magic from the place of the Self! When you know who you are, where you come from and why you are here, you can activate your magic. Druid Magic works with our eternal Self, the part of us that knows all that there is. Druid Magic comes from a true understanding of the powers of the eternal Self, our divine being that incarnates in many lives. The important thing to keep in mind here is that the miracle is before us right now! From the eternal Self it is possible to bring about every manifestation in its rightful time and place, and when the Self is awake, wisdom, perspective, judgment, inspiration, and skill will be present to accomplish magic.

A miracle is, by definition, something that could not happen according to the normal function of the universe or laws of physics. It must therefore happen according to some supernatural means or by some secret law. In contrast, Druid Magic works according to the natural means and laws available to everyone. We define magic as actions, thoughts, intentions, and energies that cause transformation through a knowledge of all aspects of nature. It is miraculous in a deeper sense. It accomplishes things according to the ordinary way the universe functions; it observes nature, dances and works with it, rather than attempting to do things out of natural order.

To the Druid, the primal order is found in nature, including parts we do not fully understand. It is this quest to understand life in a greater way that is the impetus for walking the spiritual path; and one will have these experiences directly because of the Druid emphasis on getting inside all other existences such as the tree and animal realms, and journeying to the Otherworlds.

Ethics is one of the central components of modern Druid Magic, which is always used for positive purposes that harm no one; and as one practices this magic the connection between power and responsibility increases. Whenever you choose to use the power of the eternal Self for magic, work toward an outcome that is beneficial for all concerned.

By way of example I will now introduce to you three aspects of Druidic magic that have their root in the distant past.

Protecting with Wards

The words reward, warden, steward, warn, wardrobe, warrant, wary and beware all come from the same Old English root "ward," that meant to guard, protect, or watch out for. "Setting the wards" is a magical technique for guarding and protecting an area or a person. We know that the Druids protected places from unwanted attention. The Roman poet Lucan wrote of a grove never violated over the ages, which people did not use for worship but left fallow for the gods. Guarding people and places is within our ability today and setting wards is one way to do it.

Stand outside the envisioned area to be protected and imagine a square around it. Begin in the front left corner; you'll be designating the corners as black-white-black-white. Call the first corner "black" and allow the polarity of blackness to be there. With strong intention, start some energy at that corner in order to ward off anything unwanted. Turn towards the next "white" corner and move your intention and protective energy here. Complete the third and fourth corners all the way back to the starting point. Two corners opposite each other will be black and two will be white; this will foster a dynamic tension between them. You have set a parameter and called in the balance of light and dark to work for you. Complete safety requires three-dimentional protection and this necessitates moving into the spheres of Above and Below. Envision the protected area extending down into the earth and up into the sky.

The next part of setting wards requires you to shift from sending out energy to receiving an image. Concentrate on the space or person that you are protecting and let an image come to you that arises naturally. You will simply be the conduit for the already existing spirit of the place or guardian of the person. Let the image emerge and move until it covers the entire space, above, below, and all around. The power that has chosen to be guardian knows what to do. In your mind, see and say clearly what the protective image is. You can leave now, in total confidence that the wards are set and the space or person is protected.

Shape Shifting (Fith-Fath)

Fith-fath (fee-fawh) is a Scots Gaelic term meaning "deer aspect" or taking on the appearance of a deer. There are numerous Celtic stories of people being changed into deer or other life forms. However, it is possible to share with you other ways of shape shifting that are Druidic, magical and far more usable.

When you learn to shapeshift, the purpose is to become like something else, so like it that you are almost it. For example, Welsh Mystic Shapes call on the practitioner to work with the animal he/she feels closest to. On this path you are called upon to examine your interests, pursuits and personal tendencies as these will assist you in identifying whether you want to work with animals of the sea, sky or land. Once you have selected the element that attunes closely to you think deeply about specific animals. Visualize them, visit animal refuges, wildlife sanctuaries, aquariums, and the like. Hike in the wilderness and sleep out to experience which animals come to you. Make representations of your chosen animal to help you shift into that reality. These separate realities all exist simultaneously and it is up to us to find the veil or crack between the worlds.

When you have found your animal presence, perhaps through the quality of an element or lucid imagery, be ready to slip across realities and into its form at any time. Remember, this form is an ageless presence: it may have been on earth far longer than humans, and its intelligence is of the primal order of the world. Entering the form of an animal places you within a primal order where nothing is fixed and transformation becomes possible. It puts energy at your disposal for creativity and action.

Other forms of shape shifting involve talking with nature, masks, guises, costumes and teleportation, the latter of which requires a change in perception and consciousness as well as the "intention" to be elsewhere. Talk with a rock, a plant or a tree at least once a week. They have heard and seen everything and have much to teach you about patience, reliability and age old wisdom.

The Druid Egg

Pliny the Elder, a Roman scientific writer, mentions the Druid Egg in his Historia Naturalis ("Natural History," XXIX.52). He described it as a small talisman called a "serpent's egg" that gave an unfair advantage to a Gaelic Vocontian chief who carried one during a legal battle. Pliny wrote that the Druid Egg was the size of a small apple with a pocket shell made of something like cartilage.

For our purposes, the Druid Egg is a smooth round, oval, or, yes, egg-shaped stone that can be conveniently fit in a pocket. It may be of any material including glass, and of any color. Be alert and sensitive as you look for a stone that signals to you. The Druid Egg is a tool used for developing single-mindedness. Stones are good at waiting, at not leaping into the future, therefore they can help you to stay in the present. Learn to focus your gaze and awareness on the egg until distractions die away. You will soon understand why this is known to be a tool for empowerment as it will assist you to become centered and ready to concentrate on any matter at hand.

I hope that my article gives you a basic introduction to Druid magic and encourages you to explore this very powerful and empowering area of Celtic Wisdom. The information shared with you here is excerpted from my book The Practice of Celtic Wisdom: Druid Magic, which is an in depth-book coauthored with Nicholas Mann.

For information on my book eMail: celtic wisdom@dwij.org   The purpose of the book is to show you how Druidry can act as a wellspring of spiritual energy and direction. This energy springs from a source rooted in the Timeless but it is anchored here in this world of time, in the ancient memories of myth and legend.

We must acknowledge that there are boundaries to the physical senses that make it very difficult to perceive beyond them. This is at once a great blessing and a great limitation for humans. The blessing of the body is that it provides the Self with a wonderful vehicle of experience. The body as a vehicle for the Self is an amazingly refined organism that has evolved over eons and is perfectly suited to the nature of this world . . . and the nature of this world includes much that is hidden. Like an unpolished gem it awaits the knowledgeable and respectful stroke of the initiate to release its beauty and splendor.

As a great Irish story points out, incarnation in the human body is a wonderful gift for us to enjoy.

Maya Magee Sutton, Ph.D.

Maya Magee Sutton, Ph.D. has taught courses for 20 years at the University of New Mexico, where she originated the Celtic
Studies concentration. She teaches courses in Celtic Mythology and Urban Druidry. Dr Sutton holds Irish and U.S, Citizenship.

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