Thursday, April 21, 2011

What is a "Druid UU"?

Bleeding Tooth fungus on Michigan's
Isle Royale National Park
I've entitled this blog Druid UU to best reflect the religious path I am traveling and the source of my spiritual inspiration. Modern Druidry means many different things to different people and is a highly personal spiritual path. Respect and worship of the divine in nature is a common thread for most of us, as is reverence for our ancestors. Awen's Light Grove, a chapter of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids explains: 

"One of the most striking characteristics of Druidism is the degree to which it is free of dogma and any fixed set of beliefs or practices. In this way it manages to offer a spiritual path, and a way of being in the world that avoids many of the problems of intolerance and sectarianism that the established religions have encountered."

If a Unitarian Universalist were to read the above paragraph with the words "Unitarian Universalism" in place of the word "Druidism" they would never know the difference! In many ways, the two are remarkably similar approaches to spirituality and religion. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) website explains:

"Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that embraces theological diversity...While our congregations uphold shared principles, individual Unitarian Universalists may discern their own beliefs about theological issues. As there is no official Unitarian Universalist creed, Unitarian Universalists are free to search for truth on many paths."

Water Communion UU Chalice

Especially in the days before the internet, Unitarian Universalism has been quite a well-kept secret in most communities. Our denomination is a small one compared to other mainline religions -  we usually fall into the "other" category on polls and surveys about religion in America. Currently, there are about 200,000 UU's in the United States, with about one in every 1,300 people belonging to a UU church or fellowship. As an entity, Unitarian Universalism itself was officially formed in 1961 with the merging of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. 

Modern Druidry (or Druidism) is less well organized as a whole than Unitarian Universalism. Many groups exist, such as the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the Ancient Order of Druids in America anÁr nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (to name a the larger ones). According to the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) there were 134,000 Pagans, 130,000 Wiccans, and 33,000 Druids in the United States (as of their most recent survey in 2001.) With over 311 million people in the  United States the chances of running into a Druid on the streets (or in the forest) is a slim one!

[As a side note, ARIS figures on Unitarian Universalism are about twice as big as the UUA's own figures, because official UU numbers only report active, contributing members. Information on survey results and methodology is available at:]

Identifying myself as a Druid UU, I have become quite comfortable falling squarely into the "other" category of modern religion. As such, I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Michigan and also a member of the Ancient Order of Druids in America. I find inspiration and wisdom from the trees and animals of the forest, written works of prophetic men and women and even from the realms of Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings.

It's not easy being "other" sometimes. But I have discovered kindred spirits in the plants and animals of  the forest field and a family of Unitarian Universalists who share in a quest for truth and meaning, even if we don't all believe the same things or share the same opinions.  

Next time, I'll dig deeper into the shared principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Learning from each other is one of the best gifts we can share on this wonderful journey of life. Thank you, dear reader, for sharing the journey with me.

Blessed Be,

Skybranch /|\

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Today at our UU Fellowship we read the litany "We" by Rev. Joy Atkinson. I found it powerful and uplifting, an excellent example of why I have chosen to walk the UU path.

The womb of stars embraces us;
Remnants of their fiery furnaces pulse through our veins.

We are of the stars,
the dust of the explosions
cast across space.

We are of the earth:
We breathe and live in the breath
of ancient plants and beasts.

Their cells nourish the soil;
We build our communities
of their harvest of gifts.

Our fingers trace the curves
carved in clay and stone
by forebearers unknown to us.

We are a part of the great circle of humanity
gathered around the fire, the hearth, the altar.

We gather anew this day
to celebrate our common heritage,
may we recall in gratitude all that has given us birth.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slowly the Wheel Turns

Spring is slow in returning to the Great Lakes State this year. Today is April 5 and it snowed this morning. At the same time, the rivers are rising and are cresting just above flood stage as I write this post. Small snow piles still dot the edges of driveways and big, dirty masses line the edge of parking lots.

I'm glad for the flood this year. For a while, it looked like this spring rite of passage would pass us by this time. The rivers melted slowly and the ice did not break in spectacular fashion as it often does, bashing into trees as it makes its noisy way downstream. But spring rains and melting snows finally did their job and rising waters will wash the riverbanks clean, ready for new growth as the sun returns to the land.

I can't help but think we need the cleansing power of nature, such as the floods in spring, to help us wash away our doubts and insecurities, pain and grief that builds up within us. Words sting, people pass away or leave our lives like ships passing through the night. But Nature heals, brings new growth, fresh possibilities and never-ending promise for a new day.

Tomorrow, I will watch the swollen rivers flow and feel the spring gifts of the Spirit-that-moves-in-all-things. Maybe I'll watch a flower shoot slowly poking its way through the soil or the last maple sap of the year dripping from a tree. And I will take a deep breath, feel the breeze in my hair and be thankful for a new day with new possibilities.

See you in the Woods,

Skybranch /|\