If there is one topic that is bound to create interest, discussion and (usually) disagreements, it’s the role of titles within the Druid community. Emma Restall Orr’s recent disclosure that she no longer uses the title of Druid for herself has created some discussions about this as well.
Titles can give a person some form of permanence in their lives. It (usually) is a signal of the achievement of a personal goal or objective. A level of understanding and experience that warrants a statement. For many years, after first encountering Druidry, research into the classical and historical information meant that, although I strongly aligned myself to what I saw was “common” druidic ideas, I wouldn’t adopt the title for myself at that time. I wasn’t at the “right place” to warrant it.
Once one has reached that level of “competence” to warrant the title, it is not surprising that people would wish to continue to attach some form of worth on it. My own experience in this mirrors my experience within my own work experience. That is, reaching the level of competence, whilst worth celebrating and taking a pride in, in most cases, the reality is that it just marks the start of the serious work. Again, using another analogy, passing your driving test means you are then in a position to start to learn about the reality of driving.
So whilst celebration and personal satisfaction with the achievement of a title are (in my opinion) a good thing, the title itself can then run the risk of becoming self-limiting. Because it marks a specific place in time. Again, in my experience, the continuing accumulations of both experiences and relationships that are revealed in the subsequent personal journeys of individuals means that, for a lot of people, a title can then run the risk of becoming self-limiting. Because that marker in time (the title) can create almost a spiritual and physical brake on a persons own journey.
It therefore occurs to me that a title can only be a useful thing if it’s relevance remains within the context of the journey being experienced at that time. And my experience of the only law of nature that appears to be an absolute (apart from the one that is that we all die), namely the only constant in life is change, means that for the majority of people, the acquisition of a title will eventually lead to a relinquishment of that very same title (be that completely or partially) at some stage.
This thing we call life involves the almost involuntary accumulations of experiences. The attaining of a title marks a particular place in time, a place of sanctuary from which to collate and appraise those experiences. But, in my opinion, sanctuary can run the risk of becoming a prison if one is forced to appraise the ongoing experiences from that one place in time. And that appears to me to be in direct contravention of that prime directive.
For some people, the title attained may provide that safe sanctuary with which to appraise life’s experiences. It may continue to provide a useful and appropriate place from which to work. But it is also completely “natural” that people may wish to move on from that particular marker, without it necessarily marking a move away from the basic premise of the sanctuary (the title).
At this time, my own confirmed title of Druid continues to be appropriate and I suspect will be for quite a number of years to come. But I wouldn’t at all be surprised if my path follows a similar path to that which Emma has now reached in her own journey.