Gods and Goddesses
about Batman for a moment. Suppose you were casting a new Batman
movie. Would John Goodman be a good choice? How about Don Knotts?
Or maybe Keanu Reeves? If you answered ‘yes’ to some of these
choices, and ‘no’ to others, you probably did so because you
have a preconceived notion of what Batman looks and acts like.
In other words, you have an archetype for Batman.
In 1971, a group of college students at Stanford University were
part of a ‘prison’ experiment. They were randomly divided into
guards and prisoners. Within hours, they assumed these roles
perfectly. They were so good at it that the experiment was cut
short before someone got hurt. They were able to fall into these
roles so perfectly because each of them had an archetypal idea
of what both a prisoner and a guard should be.
In Druidry, we recognize the power of archetypes. The Gods and
Goddesses of the Druid pantheon contain archetypal energy. Some
Druids believe that these Gods and Goddesses actually exist,
while others recognize them as simply symbolic for certain
states of consciousness. In either case, we make use of the
archetypes they represent.
Consider for a moment the triple goddess archetype of
Mother-Maiden-Crone. Think about what the word ‘mother’ means to
you. Now compare and contrast it with the idea of a ‘maiden,’
then with a ‘crone.’ Each of these ideas has a different energy
that can be used in different ways to symbolize a specific
intent. For example, invoking a Mother Goddess unleashes the
power of your unconscious mind. By invoking a Mother Goddess,
you are allowing the energy of your mother archetype to come to
your own consciousness.
are many Gods and Goddesses, and each contains a different type
of archetypal energy. Suppose you were to call upon a ‘hunter’
archetype. Suppose further that you allow yourself to become the
hunter. How would that change your consciousness? Now picture
yourself becoming a wise old sage. Would that be a different
type of energy than you’d have than if you were a hunter?
This idea of using the energy contained in archetypes allows
Druids to use this energy to create change in their own lives. I
can call on my Sage aspect to help me to become wise enough to
solve a problem. I can call on my Hunter aspect to allow myself
to become confident and courageous when faced with a challenge.
I can call upon my Golden Child archetype to allow me to find a
peaceful approach to things.
Druidry allows us to consciously use these forces. When I talk
of Gods and Goddesses, it doesn’t matter if these Gods and
Goddesses have any independent existence outside of my own
unconscious mind. What matters is the utility of these ideas. So
when I call upon a God or a Goddess in a rite or a ritual, I
draw upon their archetypal energy.
Somewhere between 90% and 95% of people on Earth practice some
sort of spirituality. Obviously, spirituality must be pretty
important. Studies tend to back this up. What the studies show
is that the type of spirituality doesn’t really matter. Whether
you’re Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu or Pagan,
practicing some sort of spiritual path yields benefits.
the particular type of spirituality is secondary to the benefits
gained (in other words, since all spiritual paths lead to a
better quality of life for those who practice them properly),
what is it about spirituality that allows it to work its magic?
Suppose you could take all the spiritual paths practiced
worldwide, put them into a cauldron, and boil them down to their
essence. What would remain? I believe that the common thread to
all spiritual practices is a feeling of connection. This
connection could be to others, or connection to the divine, or
simply connection to nature and to ourselves. In short:
Spirituality is all about Connectedness.
If you think back on the spiritual experiences you’ve had in
your lifetime, do recall feeling connected on some level? Many
people describe their spiritual experiences as a sense of
‘oneness.’ Oneness implies connection to something outside
ourselves. In this sense, even an agnostic or an atheist could
achieve spirituality through such connection.
Druidry teaches that matter and spirit are not separate. From
this viewpoint, spirit is not supernatural; it manifests itself
through matter. If the matter weren’t there, the spirit couldn’t
manifest. One way to think of the spirit world, or the
Otherworld, is as the place of ideals. This would mean that the
Otherworld, the Land of the Young, is a place of divine
imagination. This imagination creates the framework for spirit
to manifest in the physical, material world.
Jung believed that some parts of our unconscious mind were
‘hardwired’ to recognize certain symbols, just like birds are
born with a migratory instinct without having to learn how to
migrate. This hardwiring causes us all to recognize things he
called archetypes. Archetypes are symbols that have special
significance and meaning. This group of archetypes he called the
Collective Unconscious was common to all the cultures he
observed everywhere on Earth in their mythologies, legends and
histories. Since these symbols occurred worldwide in all
cultures, Jung believed that they had to be inborn rather than
learned. An example of one of these Jungian archetypes would be
the Sacred Tree. The Bible speaks of the Tree of Knowledge,
Druids talk about the Tree of Life, Buddhists believe that
Buddha received enlightenment under the Lotus Tree, etc. In
fact, all cultures Jung observed have some legend or myth of the
of these archetypes have a great deal in common with the Gods of
different cultures. Jung believed that our Gods were projected
onto these archetypes. The Gods may or may not exist in reality,
but they most certainly exist as archetypes within our own
minds. Could it be that our personal God/spiritual experiences
are the result of our getting in contact with our God
I don’t claim to speak for all Druids, but for me personally,
when I speak of magic I recognize it as getting in contact with
the archetypes in my unconscious mind. By exploring these
aspects of myself, I allow my unconscious motivations to come to
the surface. I come into contact with my deeper, inner and
hidden motivations for my actions and feelings.
As you explore the Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic world, you
may consider them as archetypes or as real entities. In the end,
what matters is how you are able to commune with them. Explore
the links on the right to learn more about the Celtic Pantheon.