Once able to read this book, it turns out to be rather boring. There are seasonal records of growth, precipitation, harvests, and similar notes for the surrounding lands for the last dozen years, and some musings on reincarnation. Belek was also a bit full of himself and convinced that he was always just misunderstood. A few excerpts are found below.
Trees in particular were mysterious, and seemed to me direct embodiments of the incomprehensible meaning of life. For that reason, the woods were the place that I felt closest to its deepest meaning and to its awe-inspiring workings.
To get a sense of how it might feel to be a Druid, try saying this: “I am strong – a steadfast seer, a knower of magic and enchantment. I am a sage of the forest. I know the secrets of the oak and the wildwood.” Say it several times over, with as little inhibition and as much conviction as you can muster. It’s important to say it out loud, because the voice has magical properties. If the exercise works for you, you will have experienced something of what it means to be a Druid – a man or a woman who even in these days can feel the pulse of life in the earth beneath them and the trees around them.
Those who study as Ovates within Druidry learn to work with the powers of Nature – they learn the Ogham and come to know the trees as living Beings with their own medicines and gifts. They work with the sacred animals of tradition, and with different methods of divination, and many begin a study of herbalism or other methods of healing, and in particular they learn how to encourage the flow of Nwyfre through the body.
So to prepare for the new, we must free ourselves of the debris of the old, and birch can help us do this, and can point the way forward, for when we are lost in the forest, the shining whiteness of the birch trunk leads us onward – it offers guidance and orientation in the darkness of our journey. The very word ‘birch’ derives from a root meaning ‘bright’ or ‘shining’ in nearly all languages with Thran origins.
Otherworld is seen as the place we travel to when we die. But we can also visit it during our lifetime in dreams, in meditation, under hypnosis, or in ‘journeying’, when in a shamanic trance.
The real test of the value of a spiritual path lies in the degree to which it can help us live our lives in the world. It needs to be able to provide us with inspiration, counsel and encouragement as we negotiate the sometimes difficult and even tragic events that can occur during a lifetime.
The primary philosophical posture of Druidism is one of love and respect towards all of life – towards fellow human beings and animals, and all of Nature. A word often used by Druids to describe this approach is reverence, which expands the concept of respect to include an awareness of the sacred. By being reverent towards human beings, for example, Druids treat the body, relationships and sexuality with respect and as sacred. Reverence should not be confused with piousness or a lack of vigorous engagement – true reverence is strong and sensual as well as gentle and kind.
This attitude of reverence and respect extends to all creatures, and so many Druids will either be vegetarian or will eat meat, but support compassionate farming and be opposed to factory farming methods. Again, the belief that we should love all creatures is likely to be tempered with a robust realism that will not exclude the possibility that we might want to kill certain creatures, such as mosquitoes, dogs or elves.
The Coming of the Druids
When the mortal races were at last born from the fruits of Precious Eliwyn, the gods born of the same tree determined it was time for them to depart the mortal sphere. They set themselves in the heavens, building great and shining cities. But on earth, the One Tree was still in bloom, heavy with an unripe fruit. She eventually came to be watched over by the Huntress and Gaea, from whom Eliwyn sprang, in case any of Asmodeus’ brood might try to harm the Tree of Life.
It was not long, though, before mortals who loved the woods and beasts and all of nature’s bounties formed an order of their own, without guidance from the gods. They turned their attention from the heavens and instead found all they revered in the dirt and grass, hills and valleys of the world. They did not heed the dictates of the gods, and were interested in nothing but the flowing power of life, from which they drew sustenance and strength.
Before long, the most powerful of these mortals, who came to call themselves druids, sought out and found the sacred grove wherein Precious Eliwyn was hid. Though the Giver of Life was shrouded from the eyes of mortals by the power of Gaea and the Huntress, the druids had become so mighty in their ties to the natural world that they saw through all veils and illusions, and came to stand at the foot of the mighty Eliwyn, who grew ten thousand spans high. Her branches reached through to the heavens, and her mighty roots shot down to the very foundations of the earth, where once the lands of the dead were found. All life came from her branches.
When the Huntress saw that these mortals assaulted the tree, she struck with her hunter’s bow. In three breaths she killed the three mightiest of their number, so great was her skill, so mighty her bow, so deadly her aim.
The blood of the first druid spilled by Eliwyn’s roots; from it spouted forth a field of red poppies, forever showing their sorrow for the great druid’s passing, and the offshoots of Eliwyn’s roots that bathed in the blood came suddenly to life, and walk the earth still. These are the treants, protectors of the wood.
The blood of the second druid spilled in the glade around Eliwyn; from it burst forth a great bramble of roses, red from his blood and thorny to protect the Tree of Life. Out of the thicket burst the naga, a great protector spirit, like a snake born of bramble and thicket.
The third druid killed was the greatest among them, and from her blood, which spilled at the edge of the glade, there grew the most perfect of all flowers: red lotus blossoms with white hearts. And from the pure white center of the lotuses sprang the most perfect of creatures—white horses with golden horns, the unicorns.
When the Huntress saw the pure and good creatures that came from these dead mortals, she realized she had committed a grave error. She approached the druids who remained, none of whom had moved, though arrows flew in their midst, and spoke with them. When she had learned who they were and understood that they wanted only to observe and protect the Tree of Life, the Huntress agreed to share the grove with them. In sorrow for the deaths she had caused, the goddess of the hunt agreed to let the grove be known among the druids and no other mortals, and so she does not even reveal its location to her most blessed worshipers, nor does Gaea.
Thus, the mightiest of druid groves is also the most serene and sacred place on earth: the grove of Eliwyn, the One Tree, the Giver of Life. To this day, the greatest of druids call the grove home, and among mortals, only they know its secrets.