I think preserving a culture, defending it, and not allowing it to be polluted by romantic or foreign otherwise fantasy is a just and noble cause. I see all faiths as being beautiful paths up the same mountain, or colors of the rainbow. It is a very difficult position, because many so called fundamentalists are not tolerant. They are self serving, close minded, and unwelcoming to goodness and divinity in any universal sense. Which at the very core or roots of all faiths share an unspoken unity and an agreed principle.
I often times have had it with the vast majority to Neo Druids and their wishy washy hippy attitude, they have no respect for culture or tradition. Yet they are the first to rip off, or steal from the traditionalist to try and use something ancient to fit their needs. I ask where would their tradition be without its roots, roots that many of us are still keeping alive without foreign influence. They invent things, and give it gaelic names to make it seem like they are something else, and for the most part they are pretending to be something they are not educated in.
What these Neo-Druids do is no more connected to the practices of Wiccans with their Eastern mysticism, Judeo-Christian-derived symbology, ripped-off Masonic-based rituals (courtesy of Gardner), Thelemic ideology, etc. None of which is Celtic in the least, despite the trappings and poorly-pronounced and vastly misunderstood nomenclature they apply. They can claim whatever they want, they have a right to speak as much as I do, but I reserve the right to dismiss them as fools. The Draoithe are a part of a larger overall culture, not alone, solitary wizards running around playing "Celtic High Priest" at Neolithic stone circles with empty trappings derived in the 18th century. It does not earn them any respect from the real tradition-bearers.
There are very clear-cut elements that define traditional Gaelic (and, to a lesser extent, other Celtic) culture(s)- a social structure defined by the Féinechais (Laws of the Freemen, aka Brehon Law) that have been the core of our cultural structure since time immemorial, the existence of the various loose castes- féine (freemen), laochra (warriors), aos dana (poets, seers, draoithe, craftsmen, etc.) and the ríochais (airí, or lords, and the chieftains and/or kings). Religiously, there is also a great deal of pre-existing core defining elements- veneration of the Gods, namely the Túatha de Dannan for the Gaelic tribes, the Ancestors, the triune realms of Sea, Land, and Sky (represented within Gaelic faiths as Tír Tairngire, Mide, and Tír na nÓg respectively), the veneration of spirits, the personal responsibility of the individual to maintain their relationship with the Gods and Ancestors, etc.
From an outside perspective it may all be a big mish-mash, but the differences are less like those between Judaism and Christianity, and more like the differences between Christianity and Vedic-influenced Hinduism. In other words, VASTLY different, so much as to be incompatible.
A tradition and culture exist because of things that define them. Those from outside of a culture or tradition that wish to embrace a free-form way of life are welcome to do so, but when they threaten the existence of my culture and way of life by trying to corrupt it, then I have a SERIOUS problem. If one wishes to hold to a self-indulgent do-what-thou-wilt way of life, feel free, just don't call yourself something you are not.
If people try and pervert our way of life by trying to promote their Neo-Druidic faith as something Gaelic or Celtic, and then they are crossing the line into corrupting what I and our people hold dear. I will not only have a problem with that, I will fight to my last breath to protect our way of life. If they don't agree with it, they can go found their own organization and call it something modern without the trappings of our cultural labels; stop pissing in our well. These are the issues I have with many--- but not all.
(Rhetorically) Do you present what you believe and practice a traditional Gaelic or Celtic culture and faith, ie The Way of "druidism", etc.? If not, then you're not guilty of what many of the neo-druid groups are. If you are, then we have a problem. It would be as if someone living a communist lifestyle claimed they were democratic, apples and oranges. ALL Celtic cultures- and the faiths that are an intrinsic part of them- are focused on the túath, the tribal body, and the extended family clan. Even solitary folks of our faiths and culture still recognize this to be a truth. Far too many folks out there have presented wholly non-Celtic agenda-laden socio-political drivel wrapped in Celtic terminology and claimed it to be the traditional Celtic faith, eschewing the very things that are the centerpoint of traditional Celtic cultures- honouring the tribe, the Gods, the Ancestors, and holding to the customs and laws of our people, albeit with a good foundation in the living native languages of our people.
Cultural theft is still theft, as any Amerindian who has had to deal with plastic shaman can tell you. If you aren't following the culture, but pray to the Gods, and call it your own personal practice, that's fine, again it's a different matter. As for how it affects me personally, it erodes all that I hold dear, causes confusion and misinformation to be spread out there that has created biases and prejudices that I have had to personally fight against (namely people associating things- Celtic with hippies, new-age mysticism, self-aggrandizing and self-indulgent behaviour, a lack of a moral compass, complete lack of personal integrity, etc. due to ten frillion neopagan Wiccan-types out there who want to glom onto to the name, but don't have the drive, ambition, dedication or work ethic to actually become what they claim to be), and I find it offensive in the extreme. This whole new-age mentality of "I can do what I want, and call it whatever I want, and you can't say a damned thing about it" is, pardon my language, bullshit. I CAN and WILL say something about it, and I will educate as many people as I can to the fallacy that has been spread, to shine the light of truth on the lies spread by unscrupulous cult-leaders and authors, and do my best to smack an apathetic Gaelic populace awake to what is being done- both within the Homelands and without- to our culture. I am a Sinsearaí, I honour the Túatha de Dannan and my Ancestors, I honour my family and clan, I honour the ways of our people, and I will be dead before I back down from that.
Also to add to that- this is not a game. This is not some book or social club. This is our CULTURE, this is our FAITH, the very things we have fought to reclaim from the dustbin of history where empires and usurping foreign faiths have tried to put it, to the deaths of millions. The English under Cromwell annihalated two thirds of our entire PEOPLE, not to mention how many millions more died in the starvation of the many famines Ireland endured under foreign occupation. It was during that time that the last vestiges of our native culture, language, customs, etc. were stamped out, forced into obscurity in the most rural parts of Ireland or carried abroad by those sold into slavery or who managed to flee.
Christianity is a foreign faith that pushed women back from the near-equal status they had enjoyed- at a time when the so-called "civilized" societies treated them like chattel- to become near-property, stripping them of their right to rule, to lead, to fight, to stand before the túath as bandraoi or ríghan. It took power from our people and put it in the hands of priests, took the chieftains and kings who were chosen by the people and relegated them to seconds-in-command to an unelected clergy of a foreign faith with foreign ideologies and ethics. It broke the Pact between the Tribes of Miled and the Túatha de Dannan that had stood for a thousand years and more, and led to the eventual loss of sovereignty as invader after invader plundered our homeland. Not even the Romans set foot on our soil in conquest, but once the pact was broken and the old faith forgotten in all but the most rustic of regions, in came the Northmen, then the Normans, then the English, and now, the European Union. This is the price of forgetting our oaths and our ways. Those of us who seek to redress this have an uphill battle against a sea of misinformation, perversions of history and outright deceitful propaganda espoused by everyone from the Church to the neopagans today, all of whom have their own agendas, none of which are for the benefit of OUR people, only their own ends. This is why it is so offensive to see people further eroding a culture and faith that has already had numerous efforts to extinguish it.
People often focus on the Druids, and some corrupt version of Gael Pagan tradition instead of seeing the ratio or break down of CULTURE, where faith is/should be everywhere within the culture. It seems all too often the only focus is on spirituality and not the rest of the cultures many layers and subtle sub-layers of then and now. They are and should be overlapped and interwoven. Ask any modern Druid what they know of the old laws, the lore like the Táin Bó Cúailnge and you will find not much. Ask any harper to tell a traditional story while he plays his cruit using the 3 strains, they can't. Ask any Irish dancer about the earliest dances and what rituals they were about, they do not have the answer. Yet some of us know these things, and are trying to keep them safe from being lost. We wish to share them, and try as we might with groups like Neopagans, they piss on their roots of tradition, and we become defensive. So where does that leave us? Looking like war mongers, defensive, when all we really want is to share our culture in its Gaelic form, and not have what we have worked and died for perverted for romantic self indulgent title seekers.
(Taken from a Conversation I had with a friend)