How did I become a Druid?

This week's Faith Column is written by Damh who devotes his first blog to explaining how his interes

Since I was a child I’ve loved Fairy tales - stories of myth, old folk tales of the land, stories of fairies, giants, heroes, and magic. I always felt there were places on this island where another reality was close by, and that doorways existed to these other realms that coexist on the same land as our own, but at a different vibration.

To help discover what you are, you often have to realise what you are not. I remember going to Sunday School as a child. Each week we learned a different quote from the Bible. I was learning about the religion of a land that felt so far away from me. I also thought it strange that the Bible was seen as a spiritual book that contained deep religious meaning, but the old tales of the Gods of this island were just ‘myth’, and most of those weren’t even mentioned at school. I saw around me that some people seemed to have a fear of the unknown held within these old stories – almost as if we shouldn’t look too deeply or we might find something distasteful, or even ‘evil’. But I did look, and I found a place of beauty and wonder, a hidden but well-trodden pathway through a woodland that lead to a clearing in the forest.

There I met Herne, the old Pagan Horned God, I talked with Blodeuwedd the Owl, and she told me her mysteries, I looked to the Sun and found Lugh, and within the crescent Moon I heard the voice of Ceridwen, Goddess of Bards. I learned to love the drama of folk custom, to revere the Spirits of Nature, and to write and sing of that love through my songs and growing interest in the Bardic tradition within Druidry.

People often write of the moment of realisation of their own spirituality as ‘coming home’, and it certainly felt like this for me. The more I explored my new home, this island’s mysteries, the more I found, and the more I fell in love. In a human world that often seems so clinical and separate from nature, the path of Druidry heals that separation. As I looked deeper I didn’t find anything distasteful or ‘evil’ at all, anything but! I found my place within life. I discovered my relationship with the animals, plants and minerals around me, and found that everything I did affected something else, that I was a part of all life, and with that realisation also came responsibility to be more aware of my actions and consumer decisions. The world through the eyes of a Druid is a magical place of wonder and beauty, of colour, and life.

For further information about Druidry click here and for Damh’s personal website click here.

Damh (pronounced Darv) is a modern-day Bard whose spirituality, and love of folk tradition, is expressed through his music, storytelling and poetry. He is an Honorary Bard of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD)
Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.