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Druidry, Paganism, Heathenry

The Hammer

[REDACTED]
Premium Member
I've mention Ursula Goodenough's The Sacred Depths of Nature more than once.

I'd be curious to know what folks think they gain from paganism and neopaganism that is absent from naturalism and/or pantheism.

As I mentioned in my post above this. The body of myth, symbolism and the emphasis on ritual weaves a rich tapestry of meaning that a simple pantheistic or naturalistic worldview alone do not.
 

Quintessence

Consults with Trees
Staff member
Premium Member
I don't really have anything to add that hasn't already been said.

Except to also mention that "Druid" is a popular character class in tabletop RPGs. In some really weird ways, there's a lot of correspondence between actual Druids and those in tabletop RPGs.
 

vulcanlogician

Well-Known Member
In some really weird ways, there's a lot of correspondence between actual Druids and those in tabletop RPGs.

Would you mind elaborating? I'm curious. I know there is a philosophy of oneness of nature present in both, but anything else?

I'm more familiar with D&D druids than I am the actual historical druids. All I know about historical druids is that some Roman writers were quite impressed with them and considered them adept philosophers.
 

Tamino

Active Member
My head always twists into a knot when I see people distinguishing between "Heathen" and "Pagan". For me, they are synonymous.

In my native German, a pagan is a "Heide". Which I identify as, even though I am not following a Norse or Germanic path. Both "pagan" and "heathen" translate to "Heide"

Heide= a non-christian, word is derived from "Heide", a type of barren countryside only good to graze sheep on... implying that the "Heiden" are dumb country hicks. It used to be a derogatory term, but the Heidentum has reclaimed it and is proudly using it to self-identify

Heathen= a non-christian, word is derived from "heath", a type of barren countryside only good to graze sheep on... implying that the "Heathens" are dumb country hicks. It used to be a derogatory term, but Heathenry has reclaimed it and is proudly using it to self-identify

Pagan = a non-christian, word is derived from latin "pagus", meaning village or country province... implying that the "pagani" are dumb country hicks. It used to be a derogatory term, but the pagans have reclaimed it and are proudly using it to self-identify.

Three words, three languages, same etymology... And then some people start using heathen and pagan as different words. I am not saying that's wrong, it's just something I am not used to so it confuses me.
 

Quintessence

Consults with Trees
Staff member
Premium Member
Would you mind elaborating? I'm curious. I know there is a philosophy of oneness of nature present in both, but anything else?

I'm more familiar with D&D druids than I am the actual historical druids. All I know about historical druids is that some Roman writers were quite impressed with them and considered them adept philosophers.
Very little is known about the historical Druids, so you are honestly not missing much. What is more fascinating is to look at the history of how Druids have been regarded throughout the ages, which Ronald Hutton has a wonderful book on. He does miss the D&D bit though, but I can't blame him as he's the scholarly historian type and not really aiming to cover modern pop culture in his work.

I dunno if I'd frame things as a "oneness" of nature as much as an interconnectedness and interdependency, but to get into the player character class and how it can reflect contemporary Druid practices?

  • Druidry and nature. Contemporary Paganism on the whole is nature-based, but especially Druidry. Druids are the "tree hugger" class of tabletop RPGs and that really reflects how Druidry as a religion operates. They literally speak to (and for) the trees, the animals, and the land. That's more or less what we tend to do IRL also.
  • Druidry and wisdom. The prime mental stat for Druids in tabletop RPGs is wisdom. Intuitive ways of knowing that are governed more by sense and sensation, experience and life lessons, rather than book learning and academic dissection. While in my experience Druids are pretty intellectual too, I would say the current of wisdom is the stronger of the two.
  • Druidry and shapechanging. In tabletop RPGs, Druids can literally take the form of other animals. Obviously that's not a thing IRL, but it has some strong parallels with the mystery aspects of the tradition. Shapeshifting or transformation as a type of initiatory process is certainly a teaching within OBOD at least, though I can't speak for other orders of Druidry.
  • Druidry and partnership. If you take a look at the spell list for different classes, they have a particular tone to them. Druid spells in tabletop RPGs very much have an air of "power with" nature as a partner as opposed to, say, wizard spells which are very much "power over" nature. This is a decent reflection of the ethos with which IRL Druids approach nature - power with, not power over.
I could get into the subclasses and what not too in D&D in particular, but that's enough as a window.
 

vulcanlogician

Well-Known Member
@Quintessence Dude! Nice analysis.

It might be a little off topic for this thread but I'd love to hear a similarly structured analysis of the traditional (lawful good) paladin from you some time... like what specific Christian (and non-Christian) archetypes it captures.
 
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