A Call for Peace

The call for peace is a frequent feature of druid rituals. I’m not sure where it originated (probably in the romantic revivals of Iolo Morganwg and his ilk). The precise form varies from group to group, but the gist involves facing each direction in turn and making a brief prayer for peace. ‘May there be peace in the east’ – being typical. Once the four directions have been approached, the caller stands in the centre and asks for peace in all the world, or worlds. Many finish with a line like ‘for without peace, no work can be done,’ or ‘without peace, the voice of spirit cannot be heard.’

Druids have a traditional role as peacemakers between angry Celtic tribes, although they would also fight when they felt it necessary, according to Roman observers. A druid could command battles to cease, and be listened to. So, whatever the modern sourcing of this call for peace, it does draw on the known historical activity of ancient druids.

Peace in ritual is a practical necessity. All those present have to be co-operative with each other. If there is animosity or bad feeling, then you can’t make a circle work or run an effective celebration. It’s also an important reminder of the need for peace in the rest of our lives, and in our hearts.

As we approach Peace One Day, I’ll be writing more about peace as a topic – from personal and political angles, considering the role of the modern druid in all of this. How do we deal with conflict? How do we work for peace? When (if ever) is peace not the answer? Is peace the same as stasis or passivity? I used to think it was, but I’ve learned differently in recent years.

Blessings of peace go with you. Peace in your heart, peace at your hearth, peace in all the worlds.

3 thoughts on “A Call for Peace”

  1. Iolo is responsible for the thrice-asked and thrice-answered question at the start of the Royal National Eisteddfod in Wales, while a sheathed sword is held aloft horizontally, and then drawn partway from the sheath: “A oes heddwch?” (“Is there peace?”) — and the assembled crowd shouts: “Heddwch!” (“Peace!”) Then the sword is re-sheathed and lowered, and the Eisteddfod proceeds.

    Presumably, if there were not the condition of peacetime (at least among the attendees), the bardic festivity could not be held.

    But I have not heard that the Eisteddfod was ever canceled due to wartime in the outside world.


  2. Libana, a Boston-area women’s choral group, perform the traditional Celtic “Deep Peace” blessing as a circle or round song, on their “Night Passage” (2000) album:

          Deep peace of the running wave to you;
          Deep peace of the flowing air to you;
          Deep peace of the quiet earth to you;
          Deep peace of the shining stars to you;
          Deep peace of the gentle night to you;
          Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.

    Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues recited a slightly more Christian version as part of “Celtic Sonant” on their 1991 album “Keys of the Kingdom”:

          Deep peace of the running wave to you
          Deep peace of the flowing air to you
          Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
          Deep peace of the shining star to you
          Deep peace of the son of peace to you


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