Do Druids Cast Spells? A Look at Magic in Druidry 

I’m not sure where it happened, but somewhere along the way the notion that Druidry and magic are somehow separate things seems to have slipped into the collective consciousness. Perhaps it is because in Neo-paganism we tend to view magic as being the purview of witches and Wicca, the role of magic in Druidry has by consequence been diminished to the point that some may forget it is even there in the first place!

However, in discussing magic and how it plays a part in Druidic practice, it probably helps to clarify what we mean by both, especially in a modern context. Asking modern pagans just what magic is will most likely result in nearly as many different responses as there are pagans currently practicing, but as a general idea, we may borrow the following from Ian Corrigan, practicing druid and author of Sacred Fire, Holy Well: “Magic is the use of spiritual skills to achieve specific goals, according to individual will.”

With this broad definition, it becomes clear that everything from casting a spell using charms or physical tools or props to a full ritual to celebrate the turning Wheel of the Year all fall within the domain of magic. Whether you are dressing and consecrating a candle to bring prosperity or inviting the seasonal energies to enter you or influence your space, or even simply asking the gods for their blessing—you are engaging in some form of magic.

In this sense, Druids practice magic in a multitude of ways. However, given the fact that Druidry has so many faces in modern day Paganism, it may manifest itself quite differently depending on the order or the practitioner. To define what a Druid is, in of itself, something of a challenge. At a high level, we may consider Druidry to be any one of a number of nature-based religious or philosophical paradigms that gained inspiration from the real or inferred practices of the ancient Celtic class of religious leaders and wisdom keepers known as the Druids. As the historic evidence for real practices tend to be sketchy at best, there is more than a little wiggle room for interpretation, which has led to a flourishing of highly diverse Druidic practices.

Simply put, there is no modern-day Druidic tradition that can claim to have an unbroken link to the Druids of ancient Britain or Ireland, and those that exist today drink deeply from many different wells. In Ar nDraoicht Fein (ADF), we try to create rituals and practices that may have been recognizable in some manner to ancient Indo-European peoples (including the Celts) by incorporating some of the core aspects of magical and religious practice we know existed in history. These include giving offerings to deities, ancestors and spirits of place (or nature spirits), as well as conducting rituals that invite these beings to join us within intentionally-created sacred space. In this way, the public rituals each ADF grove carries out or the rituals performed at White Mountain Druid Sanctuary are steeped in magic that is often powerfully felt by participants.

But what about solitary Druids, or the day to day practices that exist outside of the eight great rites of the year? Does magic have a place here? As it turns out, for many Druids, magic certainly plays some role in the work that they do alone before their altars or home shrines (if they have them), or in their everyday lives. As with public ritual, many Druids give offerings to patron deities, to their beloved dead, or to honor the land where they live. This is often done to form something of a reciprocal relationship with these entities, where blessings may be received in return. Druids may also engage in guided visualizations that allow them to journey inward and perhaps contact spiritual allies in this way. Other Druids may attempt to reconstruct the magical traditions of past cultures, such as those of the Celts or others, for a variety of purposes, including spell work or divination. Others still may combine Druidic practice with other magical traditions, such as Wicca, creating a syncretic path that works for them…and at the other end of the spectrum, there are self-described Druids who view their deep appreciation for the natural world to be enough, without a need to engage in any regular magical practice or divine contact. In the end, there is no ‘one right way’ and given Druidry’s many tangled roots, there certainly never could be!

So while many Druids may not match the typical public perception of a wizard, witch or other spell-caster, one can safely assume that magic certainly has its place within the varied Druidic traditions.Those looking to experience magic in a modern-day Druid practice are welcome to attend any of ADF’s public rituals, or to visit White Mountain Druid Sanctuary for one of the eight rites that make up the Wheel of the Year. If you’re curious about how you can develop your own magical practice at home, feel free to check out some of the sources below:

 

Sacred Fire, Holy Well: A Druid’s Grimoire by Ian Corrigan

The Solitary Druid: Walking the Path of Wisdom and Spirit by Rev. Skip Ellison

The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid by Joanna van der Hoeven

The Druid Magic Handbook: Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer