By Sarah Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
Caitlyn Cooper is like many other Flagler College students. She is an art major, has brightly colored hair, and is navigating her freshman year in a new city. What is not so common, however, is she identifies as a witch and a druid.
Druidry is a religion that stems from Celtic beliefs and is centered around the earth and the appreciation of nature, Cooper said. The ancient religion also isn’t centered around deities.
“You don’t have to worship anything to be a Druid,” she said.
Although she was not raised as a druid, her parents both support her belief and they even “dabbled in pagan beliefs” when she was younger. Cooper said this helped open her up to the ideas of paganism.
“I did go to church, but it never really clicked with me,” she said with a laugh. “I enjoyed some of the teachings, but I never really got there.”
Four or five years ago she had a friend who was raised as a druid. That is when she started looking into the belief seriously.
“I decided that it fit my worldview the most and so here I am,” she said.
In her everyday life, Cooper said that druidry is very relaxed.
“It’s nothing complicated. It’s not like a chant you have to say every day,” she said. “[It’s] going outside a lot and really feeling the wind and the grass beneath your feet. I take more notice of the leaves and the way things grow and the sun and the clouds. It’s more than just looking at them. It’s weird to say it, but it’s feeling the energies around you and people’s auras.”
Another way that she practices is by placing offerings of milk, water, honey or bread on a small altar on her desk.
“It’s really relaxed. Technically you could be a Christian druid,” she said. “Because it is a way of life more than a religion itself.”
Although Cooper doesn’t have something she does every day, she does observe eight pagan holidays throughout the year.
“There are two equinoxes, two solstices and then four in-between holidays that are correlated to the harvests and planting,” she said.
Druidry and witchcraft are not the same thing, but in her life they are interconnected.
“To show myself that I am a druid and I am practicing this religion is to do witchcraft and honor the earth around me and the energy that makes up every living life force,” Cooper said.
Although there are many different ways to practice witchcraft, Cooper said that what she does is centered around positivity and focusing herself on positive things. She collects dried flowers and whenever she feels that her friends, or herself, need it, she makes herb bags with them.
“They’re just little bags full of herbs and flowers and essential oils that smell nice and I put [in them] the intention of either healing or safe travels or good luck,” she said.
In addition, she practices “bath magic,” which Cooper says is meditating in the bath with tea and candles.
She said her magic isn’t like what you see in Harry Potter–she doesn’t just cast spells and things magically change.
“I do something that takes more thought than all of my other daily activities, has a specific purpose, and it makes me feel better afterwards or it makes other people feel better afterwards,” she said. “It’s the intention and getting a positive result.”
She said that witchcraft is secular by itself and although they are intermixed in her life, she considers druidry her religion. However, she said that the type of witchcraft you practice is often influenced by the religion you follow or don’t follow.
“My druidry is a religion because it’s my moral code,” she said. “It’s what I follow.”
Cooper said that some witches believe that they can control things such as the weather, but for her, it is more about focusing her energy on what she wants to happen and making it more likely to happen.
“When I read tarot it’s more of a this is probable to happen because of your past experiences. It’s more like extrapolating than it is future or fortune-telling,” she said.
Back home she knows other people that also consider themselves a Druid, but here she hasn’t found people who believe the same and has even experienced negative reactions to her beliefs.
“I have faced prejudice and it sucks because no matter how nice you are to that person they’re always going to see you as a demon.”