It Takes a Global Village

The questions for the World Druidry Survey were finalized. The survey-data-gathering technologies had been mastered (both the web-based, SurveyMonkey software, and Adobe’s software for creating beautiful, fillable PDF forms). I was eager to begin collecting data. But the questionnaire is to be administered internationally, and it is important that versions of the questionnaire be prepared for all major world languages, so that respondents can read and respond to the questions in the language with which they are most familiar. Unfortunately, I do not speak all the languages of the world. I therefore needed help.

I created computer-translations of the survey form, from English into French, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese using the highly respected DeepL translation software, but even the best computers will make mistakes, and it was important to me that the questions — which ask people to think about and express their ideas about very personal issues — would be clearly and politely formulated. I therefore posted a request on the OBOD and AODA forums for translation advisors who could read the English version of the survey side-by-side with another language, and help me correct any linguistic or cultural errors.

And the Global Village of Druids came through for me, in magnificent style! As of today, I have complete, beautifully translated versions of the survey available in all six languages.

This survey research project could not have been undertaken without the generous, careful, and thoughtful work of a wonderful international team of volunteer translators. My thanks go out to:

  • Uta Frieling of Germany (for German translations, for asking me the hard, cross-cultural questions that I did not know I needed to ask, and for troubleshooting the technology, and helping me figure out how to get SurveyMonkey to do a multilingual survey)
  • Eva Leenknegt of Belgium (for Dutch/Flemish translations)
  • David Olivier Creuze of France (for French translations)
  • Rebecca Trinidad of the United States (for Spanish translations)
  • Atilio Baroni Filho of Brazil – (for Portuguese translations)

Evolution of a Questionnaire

After several months of reading, and conducting lengthy e-mail and phone conversations with the leaders of several of the larger Druidry groups and orders, the questionnaire for the World Druidry Survey Project has finally reached its final form.  At least, the English version has reached its final form.

Though there seemed to be no shortage of books in the “how to” category pertaining to Druidry, I was surprised at how little scholarship currently exists pertaining to the history and sociology of contemporary World Druidry.  Books I found particularly helpful in framing the first draft of my survey included:

  • “Blood and Mistletoe,” by Ronald Hutton
  • “Contemporary Druidry,” by Michael T. Cooper
  • “A Legacy of Druids,” by Ellen Evert Hopman
  • “Australian Druidry,” by Julie Brett
  • “The Druidry Handbook” by J.M. Greer

I also reviewed Druidry curriculum materials used by the Druidry groups:

  • Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA)
  • Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD)
  • British Druid Order (BDO), and
  • Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF).

I recognize that this does not cover all bases.  Not by a long shot.  But the approaches to Druidry described in these books, and the curriculum materials of these four Orders were sufficiently distinct from one another to help me begin to see the range of possibilities to be considered in framing my survey questions.  Once I had completed a first draft of the questionnaire, knowing that it would be biased by my own narrow experience of Druidry, I sent discussion copies to the heads of (or governing bodies of) several Druidry groups, and engaged in some lengthy phone conversations and e-mail exchanges with them, in order to answer the following questions:

1) Have I omitted asking about any major/important aspects of modern Druidry that you believe are likely to change or vary with the physical and cultural environment in which a person’s Druidry is practiced?

2) Have I included or omitted or worded something in a manner that you think is likely to be taken as having mistreated or neglected someone’s (or some Druidry organization’s) central beliefs or practices?

3) Which countries of the world do you believe to currently have an active Druid population that should be invited to participate in the study?

I am very grateful for the helpful feedback provided to me by:

  • Geoff Boswell, and Aurora Stone, Trustees of The Druid Network (TDN)
  • Gordon Cooper, Grand Archdruid of The Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA)
  • Philip Carr-Gomm, Chief of The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD)
  • Philip Shallcrass (a.k.a. “Greywolf”), and the Circle of Elders of The British Druid Order (BDO)
  • Rev. Jean Pagano (a.k.a. “Drum”), Archdruid of Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF)
  • Malcolm Brown, of the newly founded Isle of Wight Order of Druids
  • and the members of the World Fellowship of Druids.

The English questionnaire is now live on SurveyMonkey, and also available as a pdf file for off-line reading and responding.  However, before officially launching and announcing the survey abroad, I will be working with a wonderful team of volunteer translators, creating versions of the survey in other world languages, so that the Druids of the world can choose to participate, using the language most comfortable and familiar to them.

We are currently working to translate the survey into German, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Portuguese.  If you, or anyone you know, is a Druid fluent in both English and either Italian, Polish, or another world language, and would be willing to volunteer a bit of time to help bring the survey to Druids in other languages and countries, please contact me, and let me know.  We are Druids, engaged in a labor of love, in order to understand ourselves more fully.  Your participation will be warmly welcomed!

World Druidry: A Globalizing Path of Nature Spirituality

The proposal for my current research project was accepted by the Mount Haemus Awards program, organized and funded by the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, in April 2018. The results are to be published at Beltane 2021, and presented at Mt. Haemus Day 2024. A synopsis of the proposed project is as follows:

Larisa A. White, M.S.Ed., Ph.D., is an educator and independent scholar with over 25 years’ experience using mixed research methods to shed light on the ways in which people learn, grow, and change, under the influence of changing educational contexts. She is also a global nomad, fascinated with the ways in which intercultural mobility affects people, habits, and beliefs. She now turns the focus of her academic research on discerning the ways in which Druidry, as a globalizing path of nature spirituality, has evolved as it spread beyond the traditional Druid lands of its origins and took root in other countries and cultures. As practicing Druids around the world learn and grow and develop their personal paths of Druidry, what do they continue to hold in common? In what ways do their practices and beliefs diversify? What, if anything, forms the spiritual “common-core” of contemporary World Druidry that is able to transcend local culture? This paper will present the findings of an extensive survey-research project designed to answer those questions.

The complete proposal can be viewed here: World Druidry: A Globalizing Path of Nature Spirituality, proposal by Larisa A. White.

I am very much looking forward to learning more about what my fellow Druids, around the world are doing with their practices! Now, on to developing the survey questionnaire.