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An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)

October 1, 2015

Interview by Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Athelia Nihtscada

Abstract

An interview with Athelia Nihtscada. She discusses: geographic, cultural, and linguistic background; pivotal moments in personal life leading into druidism; other spiritual and religious traditions with differences in core beliefs about the structure and function of the universe, the interrelationship with human beings at individual and collective levels, and the common and esoteric separations of druidism; and the lessons from 20+ years of druidism.

Keywords: Athelia Nihtscada, common, druidism, esoteric, human beings, religion, spiritual, universe.

An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)[1],[2],[3]

*Please see the footnotes and citation style listing after the interview, respectively.*

1. In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your family background reside?

My parents and older brother immigrated to Canada from London, England in 1974. I was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada just over a year later. My father was born in Nottinghamshire, the son of a RAF fighter pilot and a socialite. Because of his father’s military career, he and his family moved around often.

2. What seem like pivotal moments in personal life leading into Druidism?[4],[5]

For the first 10 years of my education, I attended Catholic school. Although my parents were not fond of organized religion, they had heard that the Catholic education system was better than the public. I never quite fit in because I openly questioned my teachers about matters of the spirit. If the soul were immortal, why would it only have the span of one human life to prove its worth and then be consigned to either Heaven or Hell? A human life span is merely a drop in the bucket to an immortal being. When I was 8 years old, I asked my father what the soul was. He explained that the soul is like a driver and the body is like a car. The driver switches on the ignition and drives the car everywhere it needs to go. The car would break down, or end up in a collision, but could be fixed. Eventually, a time would come when the car could no longer be fixed because the damage was too great. That is death of the body. I asked what the driver did after that. Dad said that he supposed that the driver would just get a new car.

Later that same year, while on vacation at Mara Lake in British Columbia, I was playing in the lake and got in over my head. One moment, I was scared and could not swim to the surface. Suddenly, I was standing in a large field, with the sun beating down on me; a few people were standing around me. They were all very kind, but I did not know who they were. Turning around, I saw a large grove of trees and I asked the people if I could see it. They said it was not yet time. All of a sudden, I felt like something was grabbing me by the back of the neck. I then found myself on the beach at Mara Lake, sputter and cold. My brother had pulled me out of the water.

When I started high school at the age of 15, I befriended a girl who was very aware of her Scottish Heritage. She told me about her family’s tartan, crest, customs, etc. I knew our family was not directly from Scotland, but what was our heritage? I asked my mother and she said we were descended from the Celts. Over the Summer, she brought me a book from the library called “The Celts” by Frank Delaney. I felt a certain ‘tug’ in my chest when I read about the history and religion of the ancient Celts. Something was there, but I did not know what.

After that first year, I switched to a very unique public school, which focused on self-directed learning, accountability and democratic process. For the first time in my life, I was happy at school and excelled academically. The year was 1991. I fit right in with the culture of the school and it was there that I found my spiritual path.

Some of my schoolmates had discovered Wicca and were reading up on it at the library. I kept myself occupied with reading books about the Celts. That tug in my heart had become stronger and I knew that it had something to do with the Druids. For some reason, I really wanted to be one, despite knowing that the original Druids had died out a long time ago. Why would I be pining so much for something unattainable? It made no logical sense!

I attended a Wiccan teaching circle with a few of my schoolmates and found that it was close to what I was looking for, but did not feel 100% right. Later that evening, I was approached by an older woman who offered to “teach me the Wiccan Way”. I politely declined, but did ask if there was such a thing as Druids in the modern world. Instead of looking at me like I had three heads, she said yes and that more information about modern Druid practice could be found in the bookstores. I spent the next six years amassing quite a collection of books about modern Druid practises and books about the history of the Celts. Above all, I was thrilled to know that my desire to become a modern Druid was actually quite attainable.

3. Other spiritual and religious traditions differ markedly in the core beliefs about the structure and function of the universe, and the interrelationship with human beings at individual and collective levels.[6] What sets druidism apart in theory and practice, in common and esoteric contents?[7]

At the most basic level, Druidism is based on what we know of Celtic spirituality from myths, written accounts and lore. Druids were a large part of society in Celtic countries such as Ireland and Wales.

I can only speak from my own perspective as the main tenet of Druidism is “seeking truth against the world”. There is a joke that if you ask a group of Druids one question, you will receive many different answers. Seeking truth against the world can be simply interpreted as finding one’s own truth through study, experience and belief. It is not a matter of simply accepting the truth as dictated by others, but using that knowledge to find one’s own answers. It is also important to know that some modern Druids view their path as their religion, while others see it as a philosophy that can work with any spiritual practise. In my case, Druidism is my religion, so I approach it from the angle of worshipping the Gods, serving my community and striving to better myself as a person through spiritual practice and practical study. I call it the Path of Service: Service to the Gods, Service to the Community and Service to the Self. (‘Self’ being used in the Jungian context of the higher self or complete self that comes with the practise of individuation.)

I believe in the Source; what some might call God. However, I do not believe it is a person, but rather a universal force. It is the energy that makes molecules vibrate and form matter. It is the spark that is life. We are all made of it, and we are all connected to it. The Gods are people who have reached a higher spiritual level. This not detract from their power or status for they are the ones who guide us toward our spiritual destiny, whatever that might be. Will our souls eventually progress to a similar state? I believe so. I believe the spirit is on a path of learning and growth. Our bodies are merely the vessel in which the soul fulfills certain aspects of its development. This is how I can explain the span of a human life-time versus the immortality of the soul. Like a grade in school, the soul learns and grows through its experience, gets its review and rest after the body’s death and then moves on.

Looking at what we know of the ancient Druids, the writings of the Revivalist Druids, and what is considered Druidism today, there are a few common threads that appear: truth, service, connection, reverence of nature, ancestor worship and the belief that the soul is immortal and can transmigrate from life to life.

The ancient Druids were considered the learned class. They served and advised the leaders and people alike in their capacity as philosophers, judges, physicians, teachers, keepers of history, and priests. Many ancient writings about the Druids tell us that they believed in the immortality and transmigration of the soul, as well as being drawn to sacred groves of trees. The Druids themselves wrote nothing down, so we do not have the benefit of getting that information from the source. Julius Caesar had an agenda to vilify the Celts and make it worth the while of Senators to approve expenses for continuing wars. However, writers who were not as invested in making the Celts look like savages also made similar observances with regard to the Druids’ role in society, their belief in the soul’s immortality, the importance of keeping the history of the people, their tendency toward worship in wooded groves, and their knowledge overall.

The Revivalist movements of the 18th and 19th centuries, in the form of Masonic-like “orders” of Druids, also followed the common threads in their own manner. Many of them were well-educated and sought to revere nature. Some even recreated stone circles on their properties. Many believed in the immortality of the Soul and sought to revive the stories of old. They were quite prolific in their writings and wrote about the pursuit of truth, etc. (While many of those writings are simple “forgeries” of supposed ancient documents, they do seem to adhere to the common factors.) Their orders were also “service clubs” of a sort. They raised money for charities, built hospitals and connected people to social services.

The Modern Druid movement arose in the 60s and is still going strong today. There are a number of large Druid groups and Orders that one can join; as well as sources of learning online for solitary practitioners. Many of today’s Druids appear to be well-educated and pursue truth through study. They strive to honour nature through environmentalism or “getting back to nature”; serve their communities in various capacities, believe in the transmigration of the immortal soul, and are connected to the world in a way that neither the revivalists or ancients could even imagine through the internet.

Each Druid’s practice is unique to the Druid, but the common threads are there: truth, service, connection, reverence for nature, honouring of the ancestors, and the belief in the immortality of the soul. Throughout each “age”, Druids have lived and served in their time, according to what is needed and what is happening.

4. In the article Hello World! (2011) from The Once and Future Druid website, you said:

“I’ve been on the Druid path since 1991 and I have been fortunate to meet a lot of wonderful people, gain insight into many different views on Druid spirituality and philosophy, and grow as a result.  Some might find some value in these posts…”[8]

Furthermore, in Druid Writer – Athelia Nihtscada Voices on the Path (2012), you said:

“I follow a tri-fold path of service: Service to the Gods (through meditation, ritual, etc.), Service to the Community (through volunteer work, teaching, being an active part in the global community) and Service to the Self (through learning and growing, taking care of my health, etc.).”[9]  

With respect to druidism, and some of the previous personal commentary in mind, what have the previous 20+ decades taught you?

I have learned about the common threads that connect each “age” of Druidism, as well as how to incorporate my spirituality into everyday life. I’ve learned that there is truth in every belief system and that no one path corners the market on access to the Divine and the workings of the universe. Everyone can learn about these things from each other and from experiencing the world with an open mind. Some of the greatest lessons I have learned have been through ordinary experiences and interactions with people and the world around me.

I’ve come to know the Gods and Goddesses who have called me into their service, and have learned from them.

The last 20+ years have also taught me to question what I learn, to approach things like a scholar as well as a spiritual being. I have learned to look at things from a number of viewpoints and see the value of them.

Above all, I have learned the importance of balance; whether it be balance of the spiritual and mundane, the balance of responsibilities, or the balance of body, mind and spirit. For things to work in harmony, there must be some sort of balance.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder and Arch Druid, Awen Grove; Member of the Third Order of the Reformed Druids of North America; Member, Order of Bards Ovates and Druids; Member, The British Druid Order; Member, Henge of Keltria; Member and Past Regional Coordinator, Druid Network; Member and Past Regional Druid of Western Canada, Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF).

[2] First publication on October 1, 2015 at www.in-sightjournal.com.

[3] Photograph courtesy of Athelia Nihtscada.

[4] In I am a Druid (2010), Nihtscada stated:

“My name is Athelia Nihtscada and my journey along the Druid path started back in 1991. My husband and I live outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. When I started out, there were no Druids in my locale that I could find so I did much of my studying alone and under a few teachers (in other traditions) for the first 6 years. While most of my early years were spent in solitary practice, I did become involved in the local Pagan Community starting in 2000. In 2003, I decided to form Awen Grove…In 2005, I completed the Dedicant Path with ADF and was initiated as a Third Order Druid with the Reformed Druids of North America…I love the diversity of our global Druid community and find that I have learned a lot from every tradition and am grateful to be able to provide seeking Druids in my locale with information on each group so that they can find their best fit. Druidry is about Service to me and I am honoured to serve the Global Druid Community in any way I can.”

Please see Nihtscada, A. (2010, July 1). I am a Druid. Retrieved from http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Am-A-Druid/1091403.

[5] In addition to the previous statement, Nihtscada, in Druid Writer – Athelia Nihtscada Voices on the Path, said:

“I am 36 years old, married and living in Southern Alberta, Canada with our 3 cats. Currently, I am employed as a manager of volunteers at a non-profit organization and also work part time as a freelance IT consultant.  My hobbies are: writing, drawing, singing, playing guitar and piano and making jewelery…I first began walking this path in 1991 when I learned about my Celtic heritage. Upon reading about the Celts, I found myself strongly drawn to the Druids and their spirituality. I asked around and soon found myself pointed in the right direction and beginning my studies.”

Please see Nihtscada, A. (2012, July 26). Druid Writer – Athelia Nihtscada Voices on the Path. Retrieved from http://paganbookshelf.blogspot.ca/2012/07/druid-writer-athelia-nihtscada-voices.html.

[6] Major groups including the Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism), Islam (Shia, Sunni, Sufi, and Kharijite), Hinduism, Chinese Traditional Religions, Buddhism, various Ethnic Religions, African Traditional religions, Sikhism, and so on. Inor groups including Christianity (Restorianism, Chinese Originated Churches, Church of the East, and Unitarian Universalism), Juche, Spiritism, Judaism, Bahá’í, Jainism, Shinto, Cao Dai, Zoroastrianism, Tenrikyo, Neo-Paganism, Rastafarianism, Scientology, Pastafarianism, Mormonism, Arceusology, Discordianism, Paganism, Crowleyites, and so on.

[7] Please see Nihtscada, A. (2007). The Once and Future Druid: A Continuum of Druid Belief and Practice from Ancient Times to Today. Retrieved from http://awencanada.com/Druidpath1.html.

[8] Please see Nihtscada, A. (2011, July 28). Hello World!. Retrieved from https://athelia143.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/hello-world/.

[9] In full, Nihtscada stated:

“I would describe myself as a very down to earth modern Druid who incorporates spirituality into my everyday life. I follow a tri-fold path of service: Service to the Gods (through meditation, ritual, etc.), Service to the Community (through volunteer work, teaching, being an active part in the global community) and Service to the Self (through learning and growing, taking care of my health, etc.).  Ethics and scholarship in my practice is very important to me as well.”

Please see Nihtscada, A. (2012, July 26). Druid Writer – Athelia Nihtscada Voices on the Path. Retrieved from http://paganbookshelf.blogspot.ca/2012/07/druid-writer-athelia-nihtscada-voices.html.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD, 2nd Edition, 2003): Athelia Nihtscada & Scott Jacobsen, An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One), 2015(9) In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Anthropological Association (AAA, 2009): Nihtscada, Athelia, and Scott D. Jacobsen 2015 An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE): Nihtscada, A., & Jacobsen, S. (2015). An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. Retrieved from https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Chemical Society: Nihtscada, A.; Jacobsen, S. An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Economic Association (AEA): Nihtscada, A., S. Jacobsen 2015. “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Institute of Physics (AIP): Athelia Nihtscada and Scott D. Jacobsen, “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One),” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 1 October 2015, https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/

American Medical Association (AMA): Nihtscada A. and Jacobsen S. An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal [Online]. October 2015; 9(A). Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Meteorological Society (AMS): Nihtscada, A., and S. D. Jacobsen, 2015:An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal9. [Available online at https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.]

American Physiological Society (APS): Nihtscada A, Jacobsen S. (2015). An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One) [Online]. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Political Science Association (APSA, 2006): Nihtscada, Athelia, and Jacobsen, Scott. 2015. “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal: 9 (A). https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Nihtscada, A. & Jacobsen, S.D. (2015, October 1). An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One). Retrieved from https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE, 2010): Nihtscada, A., and Jacobsen, S.D. (2015). “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, <https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/>.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME): Nihtscada, A. and Jacobsen, S., 2015, “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One),” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, from
https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/

American Sociological Association (ASA, 4th Edition): Nihtscada, A and Scott Jacobsen 2015. “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One).” In-Sight (9.A). Retrieved (https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/).

Basic Legal Citation (LII Edition, 2007): Athelia Nihtscada & Scott Jacobsen, An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One), 2015(9) In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): NIHTSCADA, A. & JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 9.A, October. 2015. <https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/>.

Canadian Anthropology Society (CAS, 2014): Nihtscada, Athelia, Scott Douglas Jacobsen 2015 An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Nihtscada, Athelia & Jacobsen, Scott. 2015. “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 9.A. https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Nihtscada, Athelia & Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 9.A (October 2015). https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Council of Science Editors (CSE): Nihtscada A, Jacobsen S. An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One). In-Sight [Internet]. 2015; Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Entomological Society of America: Nihtscada, A., and S. Jacobsen 2015. An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/

Harvard: Nihtscada, A. & Jacobsen, S. 2015, ‘An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 8.A. Available from: <https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/>.

Harvard, Australian: Nihtscada, A. and Jacobsen, S. 2015, An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 9.A., https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): A. Nihtscada and S. Jacobsen, “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One),” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 9.A, October 2015. [Online]. Available: https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Nihtscada, Athelia, and Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 9.A (2015):October. 2015. Web. <https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/>.

National Library of Medicine (2nd Edition, 2007): Nihtscada A, Jacobsen SD. An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal [Internet]. 2015 October 1; 9(A). Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/

The Geological Society of America (GSA): Nihtscada, A., and Jacobsen, S. 2015, An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One)https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Nihtscada A. and Jacobsen S. An Interview with Athelia Nihtscada (Part One) [Internet]. (2015, October); 9(A). Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/10/01/an-interview-with-athelia-nightscada-part-one/.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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