Reviewed By Dr. Frank Malone
With this extraordinary work, independent scholar Larisa A. White, M.S.Ed., Ph.D. has established an historical place for herself within religious studies. World Druidry: A Globalizing Path of Nature Spirituality (2021) is the first work of social science focusing on Druidry as a contemporary religious movement.
This mixed-methods study presents a comprehensive picture of Druidic practices and beliefs in 32 nations. As Dr. White states, it is “the richest data set on contemporary Druidry the world has yet to see (viii).” Dr. White’s methodology is explained and illustrated throughout the text. The survey instrument is also included in an appendix for future researchers. The book is indexed, and features an extensive glossary for those new to Druidry.
Some of Dr. White’s interesting findings:
- 92% of druids reported being solitary practitioners.
- Druids in the United States reported being the most fearful of discrimination and harassment.
- Druids in Brazil and the United States reported being the most fearful of physical violence.
- Only half of Druid respondents wear ceremonial apparel.
- OBOD Druids are the most likely to use visualization as a regular spiritual practice. (This is an influence of English psychologist Philip Carr-Gomm, longtime leader of the order).
As a solitary Druid, I was frankly relieved to see that there are so many of us! Having constructed a stone circle in my back yard, I was also interested to see pictures of other stone circles Druids have built at home. Wildcrafting was a new concept to me, and it was captivating to learn of it and its role in globalization. Furthermore, it led me to modify part of my daily practice to address local geography.
It is suggested by anecdotal evidence that since the 1990s Druidry has been growing quickly as a world religion. After discussing the problems involved in making an accurate count, the study gave the following estimates (p. 256): British Isles and Ireland, 4,528 Druids; North America, 53,564 Druids; Oceania 1,207 Druids. (An appendix deals with the issue of population estimates).
Though Druidry is astonishingly diverse, she analyses and discusses the spiritual common core of all of its manifestations, which she sums up as a process of creating and maintaining honorable relationships with self and all others, including spirit and nature beings (p. 253).
This work provides a template for future study and will be of interest to scholars of religion. This would include sociologists of religion, who could bring in other areas of focus, such as educational levels and political affiliation. In her study Solitary Pagans (2019), sociologist Dr. Helen A. Berger found Heathens to be the most politically conservative of Pagans. I wonder, given the centrality of nature to Druidry, if the same would be true of Heathen Druids (such as the Norse hearth of Ár nDraíocht Féin). The book will of course also be of interest to Druids, who are as this study shows, a studious lot (p. 258).
Dr. White movingly concludes by stating,
“I find myself in awe of the inclusiveness of this religious tradition, its wonderous diversity, and its willingness to learn from all cultures and religious traditions, while still maintaining a common core. I feel humbled and honored to count myself as one among this group of inspiring people” (p. 258). I can say that I felt even more proud to be a Druid after reading this work.
Dr. White will be presenting some of her findings at the 2021 Parliament of the World Religions, for which I registered.
Find out more on Larisa White’s website – https://larisa-a-white.com/worlddruidry.html