Stone Circles & Druids
Recently Prof.Michael Cooper came over from the US to experience the Spring Equinox in Stonehenge and on his way back to London he interviewed me about Druids and stone circles. When I first met Michael a few years ago and he interviewed me for his Phd thesis I was a little concerned when I heard that he came from an evangelical Christian university. I felt he might be biased! When his research was published on the internet, however, I discovered that the impression he gave me on our meeting was conveyed clearly in his text: he is a person of great integrity and is interested in finding common ground, in deepening his own faith, and in learning in an open-hearted way about other approaches to the Divine. His paper was entitled What I Learned About Christianity From The Druids: An Evangelical Christian Encounter with a European Native Religion and you can read it here.
He has now posted the interview he did with me recently on youtube, and my only feeling is that I should have qualified my statement about continuity of religious practice in these islands between the megalithic pre-Druidic period and the Celtic Druidic period. Like everything to do with ancient history it seems one can hardly ever be certain about anything, so when I say there wasn’t a discrete break in practice, please bear in mind that perhaps there was! Here it is:
I’ve been fascinated by Michael Cooper for some years. In addition the article you sight, there is another that gets into a theoretical framework for understanding druidry and new religious movements as an improvement on postmodernism. (I think I need to smoke a cigarette after that sentence).
Druids, Globalization and Constructing a Postmodern Religious Identity
Incidentally, if you haven’t seen it, do check out the postmodern essay generator.
Apparently, the author actually got one of these essays published.
Thought the video was superb Philip. Very sensitivley filmed and edited.
I met Micheal too, at Avebury, on the day of the Spring Equinox. And I have to agree with you about his integrity and desire to genuinely understand the modern Druids. I thought he was a lovely guy. Open and true.
In the interview he asked me to explain how I saw myself – now I’ve come quite a way into Druidry (as an ex-vicar). I heard myself trying (struggling even) to express what I now thought of terms like Incarnation / Resurrection / Sacraments etc.
It was good for me, because when you are ‘put on the spot’ and have to try and articulate spiritual matters, you can almost become your own teacher. You learn things from yourself that you didn’t consciously know before.
I learned a great deal about my own Christian understanding while I was with Micheal. I guess I learned that for me, though Jesus is still a hugely important part of my past spiritual journey, I have moved on a long way from seeing him as the literal son of god etc. – the one true way to the father . . .
For me, now, he is a beautiful example of what it means to live a fully, human, earth connected and even magcial life. Incarnation is the divine nature in all things- and JC symbolises that truth.
Micheal was a wonderful listener as allowed me to stammer and stumble through my words… expressing what many within the evangelical wing would call heresy. But he did not correct, judge or try to modify or tidy up my messy mutterings. He was a wonderful example of a fellow traveler… open, honest and genuine.
Thank you for putting him in touch with me Philip.