On The Symbols of Druid Identity Copyright (C) 1985 By Isaac Bonewits [From The Druid's Pr

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On The Symbols of Druid Identity -------------------------------- Copyright (C) 1985 By Isaac Bonewits [From The Druid's Progress, Report #3] One of the many reasons why people join organizations and movements is to gain a sense of belonging, of having a family of others who share their worldview. To this end, most groups use certain images as signs of membership. These shared symbols of identity help to create the psychological, social and psychic connections so necessary for effective group action. Provided that these images are used as positive signs of inclusion, rather than as negative signs of exclusion, they can only be of benefit to us. So what are the signs asn symbols of being a Druid, at least in ADF? The most obvious ones are the ADF Logo, the Druid Sigil, and the use of white clothin, especially berets. The official ADF Logo is shown on teh cover of every issue of DP. SOme folks have asked about the history and symbolism of this design, and fortunately, its fairly simple. The basic idea comes from the badge for the Scottish clan of MacEwen, which shows a new branch sprouting from a tree stump (and which I used ten years ago for a card in my unpublished neotarot deck). The symbolism is obviously that of survival and revival. The axe marks in Jim Odbert's magnificient rendition make it clear that the tree the MacEwen badge is supposed to represent, but ours is definately an oak. Jim added the touch of interlacing to show that, although ADF is Pan-Indo-European, "we have Celtic roots." So far, this has appeared only in black and white, although Pat Taylor did a wonderful leather carved banner of it for PSG. A colored version of it is being done for an appliqued cloth banner (on white Irish linen) by some folks I met at PSG, from whom I hope to hear soon (please?), so Jim and I have had to begin thinking about appropriate colors. My first thoughts were these : The heavy lines of the roots, stump and branch should be black or dark brown, with the outside stump lines fading into dark green on the horizontal line, which in turn could fade into dark blue as it rises into the circle. The oak leaves would naturally be green, the inside above-ground perhaps sky blue, with the inside belowground light brown. Jim wants to work out a way to use some of the old Indo-European color associations, especially in the interlaced knots of the roots. ABout 10% of you have a background in graphic arts, so if you come up with any additional coloring ideas, let us know. We'll decide on a standard set of colors to use this summer (1985) and with luck we may have some iron-on logos for t-shirts and instant banners by next fall. In terms of jewelry such as rings, pendants, etc, this design is complex enough to require photoetching or some such process. I have met one craftsman who said he would be willing to make pendants out of brass or bronze sheet for $10-15 each, provided enough (ten or twenty?) people were interested. If you are, let me know, and I'll tell him to start making them as soon as we have enough potential orders (but don't send money yet!) I do expect buttons of the logo to be available far sooner. A symbol that's far less complex, and thus open to even more creative variation, is the Druid Sigil, most often rendered as a circle with two verticle lines passing through it (vertically). Frequently this is drawn, painted, embroidered, etc. as a wreath of leaves with two staves (or spears for the warrior types). Several years back, a ceremonial tabbard was made with a tree in full folliage on the front and the Sigil on the back with its wreath and stavewood matching vestments that follow this pattern, using different types of trees for different ceremonial functions or occasions. Pat Taylor also did a gorgeous carved leather version of the Sigil for the cover of the notebook in which she keeps her copies of DP. As far as jewelry is concerned, currently the Druid Sigil is available in the form of silver rings, thanks to well known Pagan jewelers Fred and Jill Buck. These have either 7/8" or 1/2" diameter circles (for $12 each), in the full range of standard ring sizes. About a dozen of us are wearing these now, and they do look rather nice. If you're interested they can be directly ordered from me. Where did the Druid Sigil come from? Nobody knows for sure. It first became associated with Druidism in modern times by the founder of the Reformed Druids of North America, David Fisher, twenty years ago. He claimed that it was a symbol oof Druidism in general and the Earth Mother in partiocular. Some think he may have gotten the design from a picture in Piggott's book 'The Druids', which showed the foundations of an old Roman-Celtic temple. Others think he may have gotten it from a Mesopagan Druid organization to which he may have belonged. (on the other paw, while writing this essay, I happened to be browsing through a dictionary of alchemical symbols and found one very similar to the SIgil as the sign for "oil"...) Regardless of its historical origins, I think that it is a truly quintessentially female symbol, in both the Freudian and the Jungian senses, and is thus psychollogically powerful. For political and metaphysical reasons, I think it's important for members of a religion that many foks assume is male-dominated to have a constant reminder of the eternal power of the female forces of Nature. As a magical sign, I've used the Druid Sigil for over fifteen years as both a blessing and as a banishing sign. It is fully as powerful as a pentagram, seal of solomon or cross, and meditation upon it will provide many insights. I noticed more and more people wearing white berets at Pagan festivals last year. These have now become an identifying symbol for ADF members across the country. The story behind the white beret is this: When we first started having local grove meetings in the New York City area, we were meeting in coffeehouses in Greenwich Village. Since many of the folks at the early gatherings knew about ADF only through the mails, and had never met me or each other, we needed some sort of ID signal to help us find our fellow Druids. Since I was wearing a white beret at the time, I suggested that the others do the same. Red, brown, black and other colors of berets are still worn in the Village, but white ones were fairly rare. This made our folks stand out fairly clearly across a crowded room and enabled us to find each other easily. Last spring, when I sent out a mailing to midwest members about our plans for PSG, I suggested that those whow ere going to attend PSG could also wear white berets. Some did so, and more have done so at subsequent festivals. With anywhere from 100 to 500 people at the average Pagan festival, this easily visible symbol has come to be quite handy. How historically authentic is this custom? Not very. A few people have pointed out that teh ancient Celts usually wore no headgear at all, and the only headcovering examples we have at all seem to be the hoods of capes. We do not know, on the other hand, that the color white was associated with the Paleopagan clergy. This is one reason why I tend to wear white clothing (with various colors of decoration) as my public and private "clergy garb" (a habit others in ADF have also been picking up). There's no particular reason why one's "Druid hat" should be a beret, I just think it looks appropriately ancient and is a way of honoring my Breton and Gaulish ancestors. When I want to focus my psychic energy on my Irish ancestory, or keep the sun out of my eyes, I have a white Irish Tweed cap I wear instead. The only real drawback to wearing a beret, other than it not having a brim, is that to modern eyes it can look semimilitary. (Yes, several folks are already working on verses for a "Ballad of the White Berets". We'll publish the best ones in DP). What about signs of rank in ADF? Well, I'm not too sure its a good idea to encourage them, but they seem to be a universal human need. Perhaps the best idea I've come up with so far (based on a suggestion from Sally Eaton) is that we could use narrow bands of interlace or similar designs (Celtic, Norse, SLavic, Greek, etc) climbing up the sleeves and hems of our robes We could use the colors associated with the old IE castes: blacl/brown/green for First Circle members, red/blue for second, white (with green & blue outlining) for third. Perhaps silver and gold colored threads for fourth and fifth? One idea I did come up with at the begining of ADF seems not to be too popular, that was for only those intending to work their way into the Third oir higehr circles to wear full length white robes, and for others to wear tunics or other premedieval garb. Apparently this makes the others feel like second-class citizens, so we'll drop it. However, I am going to stick with the rule that hoods on robes must not completely cover the face, especially in groves south of the Mason- Dixon line. Further ideas for Druid costume and/or identity symbols are very welcome! SO send them in! *********************************************************************** Ar n'Draiocht Fein : A Druid Fellowship (ADF) PO Box 1022, Nyack, NY USA 10960-1022. The Druids Progress is published semiannually (Gods willing) and is sent primarily to the subscribing members of ADF. Please write to this address for further information. Reprint Procedure: NeoPagan, Druidic, Scholarly, Mideievalist and Cultural Publications may Reprint any Material written by P.E.I. Bonewits but this copyright notice must appear. If more than 250 words are exerted, one cent per word should be donated to ADF. ***********************************************************************


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