Meditations on the
7-Pointed Star of Druidism
Seren Derwydd Series
Part 6: Dysg - Learning

by OMS Patriarch El Arseneau

Moving right along, we now consider the 6th attribute of a Druid, "Dysg", which in the Welsh means "Learning."

Caesar wrote that it took twenty years for a candidate to amass enough knowledge to take the title of Druid. We don't know if that is true or not, and frankly, given Caesar's hatred of the Druids it's reasonable to assume that he lied about this and everything else. But since this is a positive aspect of Druidry, it's equally likely that he was telling the truth. My thinking on this is that more than likely either the parents of a candidate took them to the Druids to be raised (just as Merlin was given charge of Arthur as an infant) or, that the Druids divined candidates for their order from the newly weaned among the Celts, perhaps in a similar manner that the Dalai Lama is chosen. Either way, that twenty years began at a very young age, and included an education in just about everything, including science, math, poetry, history, astronomy etc.

Today a Druid's education begins when he or she decides to become a Druid. That education never ends, because the Druid's appetite for new knowledge is insatiable. We can never know too much, and we will always know too little. Our education needs to be broad, so that we have a working knowledge of everything, yet, we may want to specialize at least for a time on a subject we are particularly attracted to. For example, I of late have become very interested in higher mathematics and quantum physics. This I find odd, since neither of these subjects interested me when I was in college (I was a Journalism and History Major, with a Minor in Sociology and Religion). Recent advances in Physics are revealing the blending of quantum mechanics and religion, and yielding fascinating new theories regarding time, and history. Calculus and Trigonometry are the language that explains these theories and phenomenon associated with them, so I'm finding my interest piqued. At the same time, my long term study of Kabbalah is also helping stimulate my new interest in higher math, especially in regard to what is called "esoteric mathematics." This all dovetails nicely with my long term interest in astronomy and cosmology. But this is just an example, and other Druids may find that there interests lie in other branches of science, or in history or literature. Other disciplines a Druid might learn are in the realm of the esoteric, such as Reiki, Native American Medicine, Shamanism, Tantra, etc.

Of course, foremost of all, the Druid is also a magician. Magick is the science of bending the universe to one's will. For the Druid this means acting in harmony with the Gods as collective caretakers of the Earth, and maintaining and restoring the balance. Our understanding therefore of science, ecology, biology and physics greatly enhances our ability to grok what actions to take when confronted with a cusp.

Lastly a Druid is a Priest. Clergy are expected to be therapists and so a working knowledge of psychology and sociology are necessary tools for dealing with the crises of life, as well as an expertise in ritual for those rites of passage common to all of human kind: birth, coming of age, marriage, divorce, eldering, and death, each with their own psychology and emotion.

What of knowledge of the ancient Celts, and of modern Celtic culture? I'm going to lay out something highly controversial here. I think a working, general knowledge of these things is good, especially for the development of ritual and mythology, but other than that, these studies have very little to do with being a Druid. Think about it: the ancient Druids probably didn't spend a lot of time learning their own culture, and really, of what practical use is it? There is also the problem of our having almost no knowledge whatsoever of what the ancient Druids actually believed, that being a problem associated with Druidism having been a oral tradition. But we can do what we know the ancient Druids did: they made up their religion, as we are making up ours.

Part of our mission in the Order of the Mithril Star is to develop educational tools and resources for all Druids, and Reformed Druids specifically. To that end we are also always learning, and from the beginning, we have found the need to constantly tweek "The Druid Path" course, now in it's 13th incarnation. Our vision for the near future sees the course expanded into three separate courses. Waiting is.

Next time we'll discuss the seventh and last point of the Seren Derwydd: "Delfrydwr" – Idealism.