Pursuing the Salmon of Wisdom
The Sacred in Folk Botanical Knowledge Revival among Modern Druids
Keywords:folk knowledge, Druids, pagan, ethnobotany, local ecological knowledge, sustainability
I investigate the relationship between the revival of practical folk knowledge and the construction of a spiritual-magical worldview within the context of a Western religious movement, Druidry. Ethnographic and survey research were conducted over a two-year period (N=164). I ?rst explain how the construction, transmission, and use of knowledge are treated as sacred acts and how learning about other beings is a path to spiritual development. I discuss this form of contemporary animism as simultaneously a code of ethics, an epistemology aligned with the production of traditional ecological knowledge, and a spiritual ontology. I then describe the primary ways in which Druids interact with and generate knowledge about plants, drawing from both Western science and spiritual practices. Finally, I explore the challenges arising from attempts to live animist ethics within the context of Western capitalism and a still-forming religious tradition, and the potential or promise of greater sustainability in doing so.
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