Review by Greywolf(an Amazon.co.uk Customer 5-star review)
"A unique insight into modern Druidry"
"If you’ve ever wondered what modern Druids believe and what they get up to inspired by their beliefs, then this book is a must for you. It had already created quite a buzz in the Druid community prior to its publication and it not only lives up to expectations but exceeds them. Here I must declare an interest, having been a Druid since 1974, founded the British Druid Order, having many friends in other Druid groups and having worked full-time as a Druid since 1995. This makes me an ideal market for the book, but you don’t need a similar level of commitment to enjoy it. Indeed, anyone with an interest in modern Druidry, Paganism or what academics sometimes call ‘New Religious Movements’ will find it a fascinating and incredibly rich source of detailed, well-researched information. Nothing like it has been attempted before and it will undoubtedly stand as a definitive work for years to come, informing current researchers and hopefully inspiring further research on its subject as well as providing unprecedented insights for the general reader.
It draws on a world survey of Druids conducted by the author over a two-year period. The questionnaire (still available online) is very well constructed, consisting of 189 separate items, allowing respondents to expand on their answers and providing 18 open-ended questions specifically aimed at encouraging longer responses. The fact that the author is a Druid herself encouraged Druid groups to promote the survey online, resulting in 725 respondents from 34 countries returning completed forms, providing detailed insights into all aspects of modern Druidry. White carefully analysed this mass of information, breaking down the results into the book’s eight chapters. These cover Druidry as a personal path, how Druids interact with the world, Druid theology, ritual, meditation, seasonal festivals, etc. In short, all of present-day Druidical life is here, all illustrated with relevant quotes from practising Druids. The sheer quantity of information is astonishing and the author has done a remarkable job in breaking it down into accessible chunks. Whenever the data looks like becoming too complex for words alone, she provides clear, informative bar or pie charts to make it clear.
Having been involved in Druidry for nearly half a century, you’d think there wouldn’t be much I didn’t know about it. You’d be wrong. While the book supports much that I already knew or suspected, either anecdotally or from personal observation, it also contains several surprises, some welcome, others less so. In the latter category, I was shocked to learn the extent to which modern Druids are actively persecuted, primarily by Christians. I genuinely thought we had progressed beyond the kind of medieval thinking that prompts such persecution, yet some Druids, particularly in the USA, still fear to ‘come out’ about their beliefs, even to members of their own families. Globally, the survey reveals that 19% fear discrimination, 17% fear harassment and 8% fear physical assault. These numbers are significantly higher in the USA.
A more welcome finding is the extent to which Nature plays a part in modern Druidry. Those of us who run Druid groups are always banging on about communing with the natural world and its indwelling spirits, but it’s hard to know to what extent the message actually gets through. At least, it was until this book arrived. When asked to rank the importance of different influences on their spirituality, 91% put Nature at the top of the list, 71% Nature spirits. Yay! It’s working! Clearly Druidry warrants its description as a ‘Nature Spirituality’ in the book’s subtitle. 85% of Druids, for example, report being actively engaged in some form of environmental stewardship.
Having spent the last 15 years creating distance learning courses for the BDO, I was also pleased to find Druid courses cited as a major influence by around half of Druids worldwide. That said, another surprise was how many Druids practice their path alone or with a partner, rarely if ever engaging with group celebrations.
As a ‘hard polytheist,’ defined by the author as one who sees their gods as “objectively real,” I was intrigued to find that this belief is shared by only 15% of respondents, while 49% identify as ‘soft polytheists,’ i.e. those who “typically work with their pantheons in a symbolic manner,” and 37% as ‘pantheists,’ regarding “all of Nature [as], in essence, a single, divine consciousness.” The sheer variety of belief revealed in the survey is remarkable. By contrast, chapter 8 is devoted to “Druidry’s Spiritual Common Core.” This finds a shared set of core beliefs that define modern Druidry. Again, engagement with the natural world features prominently.
At the end of the book, the author provides a useful and admirably clear Glossary offering succinct definitions of terms used in the text, including deities from numerous pantheons, folk and seasonal festivals engaged in by Druids, and terms such as ‘animism,’ ‘awen’ and ‘imbas.’ The survey form is included as an Appendix while another lists 147 Druid groups worldwide.
A final thing to commend the book is simply its look and feel. The hardback is a thing of genuine beauty. The attractive, dark blue dust jacket is printed on a high quality paper that feels like velvet while the book inside is fully cloth-bound in a matching shade of blue. It’s a joy to handle, the text clear and readable, the photographs well-chosen and clearly reproduced.
In bringing together such a wealth of information and presenting it with such crystal clarity, Larisa A. White has done a great service to the Druid community, the broader Pagan community, those interested in ‘New Religious Movements’ and general readers with an interest in contemporary spirituality more broadly and with how spirituality impacts on environmental concerns. I therefore wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend this unique and fascinating book."
Review by Philip Carr-Gomm(an Amazon.co.uk Customer 5-star review)
"Here we have the first worldwide survey of Druidry as a contemporary spirituality followed by thousands of people on all continents. Larisa White's detailed analysis of her survey, which was completed by 725 in six languages from 34 countries, offers a fascinating insight into a spiritual, and for some, religious approach that is set to become increasingly significant as we struggle to preserve the ecological integrity of the Earth. Highly recommended!"
Review by Ronald HuttonProfessor of History, University of Bristol
Author of "Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain"
"If anybody wants to know what modern Druidry is like, across the world at the present day, then this is the book which provides the answer. It is researched to rigorous standards of academic scholarship, while also allowing Druids to speak in their own many voices, unmediated. No other work brings out so clearly what they have in common, and what distinguishes them between groups and nations. It is an excellent achievement."
Review by Neil PitchfordTrustee for The Druid Network, and Vice-Moderator for the Faith Communities Forum of The Inter Faith Network (IFN-UK)
"With this book, the written history of Druidry has now entered a fourth stage. The first stage were the writings of antiquity. The second, the personal writings of the Druid pioneers of the late 20th / early 21st Century such as Carr-Gomm, Shallcrass and Restall-Orr. The third, the academic histories of the Druids as revealed by the likes of Hutton et al. Now we have a book which, for me, is probably the most important Druid book in the last 10 years.
The start of the fourth age of Druid literature, as I confidently predict this book will come to represent, discloses how Druidry is actually practiced by its 21st Century adherents. Using questions formulated in conjunction with many leading Druid figures, Larisa A White delves into the "what, how and why" of the Druidry practised by modern day Druids from around the World.
Using statistical analysis, the results can be surprising but for me, it is the disclosure of the common practice amongst the, often, solitary practitioners from very often completely different backgrounds, that point to how the shape within the modern world of Druid practice currently lies.
Easy to read and full of the personal, and in some cases, necessarily anonymous responses from Druids around the world, this is a book about the lived experiences of Druids today. It shows and explains both concisely and statistically the commonalities between distant practitioners, geographically close groupings and the wider Druid organisations.
For someone who is active in interfaith such as myself, this book will be a great toolkit with which to refer to when, in discussions, the inevitable "what Druidry actually is, and how it is practiced" questions arise from time to time within the national UK interfaith setting.
Review by Graham HarveyProfessor of Religious Studies, The Open University, UK
Author of "Animism: Respecting the Living World"
"World Druidry offers a fascinating and unrivalled survey of contemporary Druidry internationally. It is enlightening about attitudes and activities, clarifies dynamic frictions between individuality and community, and traces generational changes. Among many virtues, its inclusion of the many voices of diverse Druids will make this an invaluable resource for researchers and practitioners alike."
Review by Suzanne OwenReader in Religious Studies, Leeds Trinity University
"This is a fantastic resource showing the diversity of views and practices among Druids today. Larisa White’s World Druidry survey has found Druids engaging with their environments in Europe, the US, Australia, South America and in many other locations with some surprising commonalities as well as differences. This volume is invaluable for anyone interested in finding out more about contemporary Druids."
Review by Malcolm Brown(a 5-star Google Books review)
"While this book will be essential reading for academics researching the resurgence of Paganism and particularly Druidry across the World, it has an importance far beyond that audience. Here is the voice of ordinary people explaining why they are now finding fulfilment and meaning in their lives through Druidry. This is Druidry as it is, not as many might think it is. For some the Druid belief is a philosophy, a way of life based on a deep respect for all of those with whom we share this beautiful planet and the understanding that all in Nature are of equal worth. For others it is a recognition of the spirituality of Nature, that all things have Spirit and are due reverence. And there are many who practice Druidry as a religion with its own Deities reawakened from the past. Not only are all these perspectives vividly brought to light in this fascinating book through the words of ordinary people across the World, but also the reasons why they have embraced this new belief and the positive changes it has brought to their lives.
As we all begin to experience the increasing and potential devastating effects of Climate Change, these perspectives take on a new and vital importance. Whatever the future holds for humankind, it will be the same future for all in Nature. This book explains how ordinary people with new perspectives are both caring for and working with Nature and all its denizens as we live our lives and face that future together. When you read this book, you will find not just a new way of thinking, living and believing but also true hope. For us and for all in the Natural World. I cannot recommend this outstanding book too highly."
Review by Jon G(an Amazon.co.uk Customer 5-star review)
"Druidry today - as it is lived"
"Before describing the book, I must explain that the modern philosophy and faith of being Druid attracts controversy as it has several differing origins.
The European historical (Iron Age) druids were described by numerous classical authors as being an elite social class of religious officiants, healers and judiciary living alongside and complementing the warrior class. A considerable body of writing mentioning the druids and their lives also exists in the Irish mythologies. The faith of the druids just about survived the Romans and seems to have succumbed to Christian pervasiveness in the Early Medieval era.
Archaeologists have found many remains and artefacts of ‘Celtic’ or Romano-Celtic origin that have faith, healing and judicial implications, but nothing clearly labelled “Druid”.
In the Age of the Enlightenment, when literacy and education became widespread, and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church reduced, a London-based Welshman began a revival of Welsh culture and needed an indigenous faith to promulgate it. He found the druids in antiquity and rebirthed them using visual elements from Ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian artworks. The backstory and philosophy were constructed from surviving early Welsh writings and ideas from Hinduism (which, unknown to Mr Williams, shares a common ancestor with the indigenous European faith).
There was a separate revival of interest in occult ritual and spiritualism in the 19th century. Figures such as Éliphas Lévi, Israel Regardie, Helena Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley entered this forum and marked the landscape indelibly.
In the 20th century, as a cultural rejection of the imperialism and jingoism that had led to two world wars and subsequent technological and economic aggression, the New Age movement was birthed. Cladding itself in Eastern philosophies and a new reverence for the ecology of the planet, the adherents looked for order in the new chaos of thought. Some found the druids.
With the stage set, we can now view this opus, which is a significant work of research.
Dr Larisa A. White is a teacher and researcher with a background in “mixed-methods sociological research, curriculum design, educational program evaluation and teaching”. She poses the question, “What does it mean to be a Druid, circa 2020?”
To answer this, a battery of questions, The World Druidry Survey of 2018-2020, was devised and spread via the internet to individuals, most of the larger Druid schools and many of the tiny ones. Given the diverse thought sources, the results show a surprising cohesion of principle and an amazing diversity of thought and practice.
The 322-page work begins with acknowledgements, historical background, an overview of the World Druidry Survey and lists of many of the most influential published writings on this subject. These alone are of great use to a scholar.
Dr White analyses the answers according to (using the book section headings) physical, social and cultural environment; ethnicity; theological belief; ritual practices and those of personal event; periodic festivals; and other factors influencing personal growth.
What makes this a joy to read though, are the writings chosen from the personal testimonies of the hundreds of practising druids from around the world that supplemented their answers. Some are quite stark, others have a lyrical quality, but all are deeply felt, sincere and refreshingly without any hint of the evangelism that pervades other religious writings.
Towards the end of the study, Larisa brings the threads together for a “Druidry’s Spiritual Common Core”, an unbiased overview of that first question, “What does it mean to be a Druid, circa 2020?”
The larger ‘mystery schools’, orders and movements, analogous to denominations in other faiths, are surprisingly similar in practice and outlook. The individual practice of unaligned druid adherents can be extremely tangential. In a worldwide context, Druidry shares the building of relationship with the natural world and an almost sacred responsibility to continue to study, learn and develop as an individual, and as a component of both society and the bionetwork. The larger schools vary in their emphasis on esoteric exercises and rituals – for some these are core, for others, ceremony is almost non-existent. Some movements employ a ‘shamanistic’ approach with animism as key concept, others a polytheistic outlook with formulae for addressing each god and goddess.
Druidry is a faith of the land and the land has an effect on residents’ perspective. Europeans often have ancient places available that may or may not have connection to the historical druids. Some movements encourage the seeking out of these. In the Americas and Oceania, ancient places are rightfully claimed by indigenous populations and that is respected. A working relationship is sought and, if denied, that is respected. Unsullied natural places are reverently used instead to commune with the deities and spirits of the place without cultural appropriation.
The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids order, based in the UK but a worldwide movement, considers Druidry to be a philosophy rather than a faith with Christian, Wiccans and Buddhists among their number. The smaller Druid Network charity (UK again) takes a converse view, although many adherents have other faith values as a spiritual baseline and the Network forms a meeting place for Druids of all orders and variations. Druids have a mistrust of unchanging “dogma”, preferring their way to grow and evolve according to their experience for a rich spiritual lifestyle with a distinctly practical edge.
As an original source for academic researchers and the merely curious, it is my opinion that this will stand alongside and complementary to, Ronald Hutton’s “Blood and Mistletoe” and Graham Harvey’s “Handbook of Contemporary Animism”, for an accurate overview of what modern Druidry is all about and means to the individual seeker."
Review by MelBergInk(an Amazon.com Customer 5-star review)
"A Snapshot of Modern Druidry"
"After spending several years trying to understand what Druidry is, "World Druidry" shares interpretations of Druidry from around the world. Sometimes it felt like I was "doing Druidry wrong", but this book opened up the many different ways druids engage with this nature focused spirituality. The data came from a survey of druids from many continents, and I greatly enjoyed reading the traditions and perspectives from folks nearby and far away. It was comforting to see views similar to mine, interesting to learn about different takes, but overall encouraging to see that even though there's not a dogmatic Druid practice, there are threads that unite us all. Larisa weaves together the survey to find patterns that we can take away as a snapshot of Druidry."
Review by Michael Tenenblatt(an Amazon.com Customer 5-star review)
"Thought provoking and Insightful glimpse into the world of Druidy!"
"An amazing resource for current druids and those who are curious about the path. Larissa does an amazing job of compiling a massive amount of data into an insightful and thought provoking study of modern Druidy and what it means to be a Druid from the words of druids! 10 out of 10 definitely recommend!"
Review by Heather Mc Erlean(an Amazon.com Customer 5-star review)
"Finally an Academic Book to Share"
"This is an enlightening book that explains in the Druid's own words what being a Druid means to them. Information on Druidry is short, but this book compiles the best information there is from an academic standpoint, as well as from a personal one with each Druid that was interviewed. This is the book you want to show your friends if you are a Druid trying to get them to understand who you are. This is the book you want to show your family if you are a Druid and wanting them to accept you. It presents being a Druid in a way that allows you to have any faith you may have. Most books are written purely from the standpoint of being a Druid with little academia to go with it, but this book blends the two really well. I highly recommend this book for its non-biased, well-educated, impartial views on Druidry today, as well as for the insights from Druids all over the world. It was a joy to read."
Review by marc rhodes-taylor(an Amazon.co.uk Customer 5-star review)
"comprehensive survey of world druidry in modern times"
"this is an extremely comprehensive survey of some several hundred druids which reveals some insights which are not readily available in any previous publication; the survey covers contemporary druidry, most previous books are spiritual or historical with modern druidry being a large gap within that area. doctor larisa white has quite carefully filled in this lack in spiritual knowledge in a way not attempted before by any previous author. the result is extremely enlightening, and insightful. thanks to detailed reader comments and results some interesting data has been uncovered which will provide much food for thought. rather than history we get to see what a modern druid may do. environment for example plays a large factor within modern druidic practice. also relevant are deity and whether or not to come out to the wider public. certainly the druids approached practice a wide range of beliefs and activities, druidry is far from monolithic and there are so many different ways and approaches."
Review by Jack Stoop(a BOL.com Customer 5-star review)
"Geweldig Boek!" (Awesome book)
"World Druidry beschrijft uitgebreid de spirituele overtuigingen en praktijken van druïdes wereldwijd. Hoe zien zij het goddelijke, hoe verbinden ze zich met het land, hoe vieren ze de jaarfeesten in verschillende klimaten, hoe mediteren ze, welke rol speelt (Keltische) mythologie? Enkele honderden druïdes van alle leeftijden, verschillende stromingen en afkomstig uit 6 continenten hebben deze vragen beantwoord en Larisa A White heeft op basis hiervan een wetenschappelijk verantwoord maar helder en leesbaar boek geschreven. Een echte aanrader voor iedereen die meer wilt weten over wat druïdes nu eigenlijk allemaal geloven en doen en voor mensen die geïnteresseerd zijn in hoe een moderne spirituele stroming wereldwijd vorm krijgt.
(World Druidry describes in detail the spiritual beliefs and practices of druids worldwide. How do they see the divine, how do they connect with the land, how do they celebrate the annual festivals in different climates, how do they meditate, what role does (Celtic) mythology play? Several hundred druids of all ages, different currents and from 6 continents have answered these questions and Larisa A White has written a scientifically sound but clear and readable book based on this. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know more about what druids actually believe and do and for people who are interested in how a modern spiritual movement is shaped worldwide.)"