Near Imbolc (the first of February), 2013, I decided to become a Druid.
There are probably near a thousand different conceptions entering the head of most who might read this, and, as any good writer or storyteller knows, I am as responsible for how you hear these words as you.
So, let's start again.
What they were/are
Millennia ago there lived women and men who served as priests, scholars, and storytellers to the people of Europe. We know of them from the people who fought and killed them, and the people who converted them.
Sometime in the 7th century, we have the last mention of a living druid, though a little bit later than this, we have tombs in Northern France inscribed with greek lettering indicating more Druids survived. But past this, for all we know, all Druids died out.
At the same time, in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, Bardic schools continued, telling tales and stories and repeating laws while the Church slowly solidified their hold over the pagan lands of Europe. Old gods appeared to have disappeared from any official worship, while new saints, conveniently named after the conquered deities, began to be worshipped.
The unifying trend (or, hegemonic-syncretic trend) of the Catholic Church continuously limited the scholarship and activities of the Bards until soon they could no longer exist in schools. The last of these, probably utterly-different from the original schools, ended in the 16th century (in Wales) and 17th century (in Scotland).
Modern Druidry," as lots of people call this, began in the early and mid- 1700's, not long after the end of the last bardic school. It started with fraternal orders and a crazy Welshman who decided to revive Druidry, collecting texs (some of which he probably forged) and holding a druidic ritual in public, surrounded by 19 stones he'd carried in his pocket.
Whether any of the original teachings of the first, "true" druids survived is greatly debated, with the preponderance of modern Druidic schools stating, almost emphatically, no. Druids, it seems, care an insane amount about being truthful and authentic and historical.
What I am
But, more than 1400 years after the last historically-documented Druid died, and 300 years after the end of the last Bardic school, I decided to become a Druid.
I "initiated" into the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, which is the largest druid organization in the world and is one of the successor organizations of the one created by MacGregor Reid, a socialist who thought a resurrected, spiritual druidry might unite humanity in an "Universal Bond." There's something like fifteen thousand other druids through OBOD, which is the largest. There are others, and I also work with much of the training material for the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA).
But that's all impersonal, historical information, and my guess is that anyone reading this would be more interested in why I decided to do this. You are, after all, still reading.
Dreams and the gods
I'm one of those odd sorts who decided that giving attention to recurring images and themes in dreams is a good idea. I've had all sorts of intense dreams, some nightmares, and a few of them so profound that I can recall them still in complete detail. These particular ones have involved strange people whose identity I can only really describe as gods (or, more often than not, goddesses).
The goddess Brighid, particularly, has shown up quite a bit. I didn't know who she was until one of the dreams. I was standing in line with a host of people from all sorts of cultures in front of a strange building that I one could not enter without a pass-code. I didn't know the passcode, and then asked a man who said, "Oh. It's Brighid. You can tell by the way the rain is falling on your shoulders, and just in-between the rain."
And then more gods appear, gods I was utterly unfamiliar with until those dreams.
I'd learned about Druidry and the OBOD previous to this, but didn't seriously consider it until, after the end of a relationship, I asked Brighid for something which would make me understand what I was supposed to do in a certain situation. I hadn't prayed to her at all before this, and it was a whim. Later I realised I'd "invoked" her on her holy day, Imbolc, though that hadn't been my intention.
I decided at that point I would try study Druidry and join OBOD. The day of my decision, I chanced to meet, in a completely unrelated context (a gay dating site) someone who'd been studying druidry already. My friendship with him both accelerated my understanding deepened my commitment to this path.
Then, not much longer, I met another man, same thing. Two friends in a such a short period of time, without looking, in utterly unlikely contexts (who meets druids on OK Cupid besides me?) seems to me, still, as some great gift from some external influence who noted what I'd decided and considered it meet to help me.
This isn't a conversion story, to be clear. I've no intention of convincing anyone reading this that my gods are correct and theirs are not, nor do I think it makes much sense even to attempt to convince anyone whether or not the gods even exist. I suspect they awaken in the hearts and minds of people, more often through stories and songs, sometimes through tragedy or joy. I don't think arguing about the matter of their existence does anyone any good.
All this being said, I will add that the dreams haven't stopped, nor has the synchronicity. And I've begun to see something else when I look at certain things, and I don't yet have the words to describe precisely what those things are...yet.
I'm a writer, and am training to be a Bard, so maybe those words will come. Until then, I hope these words suffice.