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on 23 May 2013

The sign of a mature, cultured person is that they can mix well in a wide variety of social settings and can contribute to, and benefit from, interactions with many different kinds of people. So it is, one might say, with religion and spirituality, and by this criterion Druidry is a very mature and sophisticated path indeed. In the 18th & 19th centuries, Druid Revivalists found concordance with Christianity, and in the 1970s the Reformed Druids of North America experimented with combining Judaism and Zen Buddhism with their path. I don't know how whether the Judaism combination survived, but the combination of Zen with Druidry struck a chord, and 33 years later the RDNA grove in Seattle is still going strong, forming a branch known as the ZDNA - the Zen Druids of North America - with its founder reporting that `hundreds of people have been through the Zen Druid experience', and that they now have `a dance group, recording artists, choir, and other expressions beyond their ceremonial meetings. Now called the Emerald Grove, after the city's namesake, it is alive and well; growing like a tree.'

In the 1990s a collection of essays entitled The Rebirth of Druidry, included an article that explored Druidry's parallels with Taoism, and more recently in 2010, Jon Moore published his book Zen Druid: A Paganism for the 21st Century. That same year the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids pioneered The One Tree Gathering, designed to explore the connections between the Dharmic paths of the East and Druidism, and now in 2013 we have the appearance of Joanna Van der Hoeven's book Zen Druidry affirming the richness of this particular combination, and offering an excellent insight into the ways in which the ways of Zen and Druidry can be united to form a rich and meaningful philosophy and way of life.

Joanna's book is one of Moon Books `Pagan Portals' series, which takes interesting topics and asks writers to cover them in 60 to 70 pages. For those of us haunted by the piles of worthy books we want to read, but simply can't find the time to get to, a Pagan Portal book offers the tempting prospect of finishing an entire book in one or two sittings. This is not, I know, sufficient reason to recommend a book, but the format forces an author to get to the point and not repeat themselves or expand to fill their requisite 200 pages, and the result as far as I can see is that it works.

Joanna's Zen Druidry is divided into two parts. The first, taking up 34 pages, sets the scene, providing us with a resumé of Zen and then Druidry. In the second part the chef then combines these two ingredients.

The first part of the book is a necessary preparation for the second, but the most interesting and novel part of the book comes in the second section. Here Joanna suggests ways in which the two approaches can be combined, showing us the connections between the Five Noble Precepts of Buddhism and Druidry, and then looking at how the two approaches can work together in meditation. As she writes: `Druidry, when applied with the [Zen] mechanics of non-attachment, allows for a total immersion in the present moment, where true relationship can be obtained and where the awen flows as freely as it ever could.'

One of the most interesting parts of the book is left to almost the end, when Joanna suggests a way of relating the Druid celebration of the Eightfold Year with a contemplation of the Buddhist Eightfold Path, so that - for example - one decides to focus on Right Mindfulness at the Winter Solstice, and Right Concentration at Imbolc. Although relating a specific spoke of the Buddhist wheel to a particular festival is arbitrary, Joanna points out some nice resonances, and the idea of an annual pilgrimage of contemplation around the Wheel is an attractive one - particularly to solitary practitioners and to those who shy away from the sometimes more `showy' manifestations of Pagan celebration.

The best dishes are the ones that leave you wanting more, and Joanna's book is like a perfect hors d'oeuvres. She shows you how well the two paths can weave together, and if someone were to ask me what books I'd recommend to those interested in combining Buddhism and Druidry, I'd say: start with Zen Druidry and then move on to Jason's Kirkey's Salmon in the Spring which continues the journey of exploration into the way the traditions of Celtic spirituality and Buddhism can complement each other, a journey wonderfully introduced in Joanna's Zen Druidry - Waking To The Natural World.
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on 9 April 2013
This is a fascinating book that explores the areas of overlap between Druidry and Zen practice. If you have an interest in either tradition, I think you'll derive great benefit from reading Zen Druidry. There's much to draw inspiration from. Speaking as a Druid who is not following a Zen path, I found the ideas in this book really useful, and it has caused me to rethink aspects of my own practice and attitude. Jo is a great writer with a very accessible style and the book is a pleasure to read.
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on 18 November 2016
Could not get into this book Gave to charity
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on 23 February 2014
Clearly covering all of both of these deep subjects in any one book would be a massive task, however Joanna van der Hoeven does a wonderful job of looking at how they compliment one another.

It doesn't give the full explanation of all aspects of either path, as she rightly says there are many other texts which do that. What it does do is give an inspirational consideration to how well the two interlock or complement each other.

For anyone with a familiarity with either it will be valuable as a reflection, leading to further thought on the values each holds dear.

Basic principles of each are covered, with the focus on their common ground and how the understanding of either deepens the understanding of the other.

The authors style is non-prescriptive and gentle, easy to read and well informed.

I found that despite it's modest size (67 pages) it was in many ways a far more inspirational and stimulating read than many books twice it's size as it allows for intellegence on the part of the reader.

Read it but don't rush it. Allow each chapter to permeate into your mind and understanding and start to reflect in your life before rushing on to the next section and you'll never notice it's a slim volume. An appropriate approach for a student of either path. It's simplicity also means it's not likely to be too heavy or complex for a beginner, the power of the values it addresses means it's rich enough to be worthwhile reading for any more experienced student of either path. Quite an achievement of healthy balance and right thinking and action.

A lovely read I would happily recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in either or both subjects.
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on 9 April 2013
Back in the distant past when I was taking early steps along the Druid path, I was also studying Eastern ways - Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Brahmanism, and the like. I stayed on the Druid path and became Druid because I better understood the imagery and symbolism which allowed me to better shape my own metaphysical stance. But I have never ceased to be a student of those other ways.

It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, to pick up this little book which outlines both Zen (a school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in China during the 6th century) and Druidry (the modern name given to a spiritual path developed from that overseen by ancestral Druids) and shows how they can work together. It is a little book, so you might not expect too much of it. You will, however, be pleasantly surprised. It manages to pack a lot into its 74 pages, largely because it is written without fuss or pretensions - indeed, very much in keeping with the subject matter. That alone speaks to me about how valuable this little book is. The author not only knows her subject inside out, she clearly practises what she preaches.

I found the application of the Buddhist Eightfold Path to the eight annual festivals of the Druid way to be of particular interest. Meditation is important to Zen and I have long felt that following the ritual year is a form of extended meditation. And here we have an extra layer to contemplate, integrate, and practice as the seasons revolve.

The greatest connection between Zen and Druidry (for me, at least) lies in mindfulness. It is, perhaps, an attribute common to all spiritual paths, but it is of especial interest to those who recognise their rootedness in this world, who recognise that the worlds of spirit and matter are as integrated as everything else. From the extempore prayers said by Celtic peoples over everyday tasks and events, words that spring from an awareness of working in the now, to the formal ritual built up around significant events in the life of the planet, the individual, the family, and the community, a Druid needs to be mindful. But it goes well beyond word into every aspect of our being - our thoughts, our dreams, and our every action. All this is simply and powerfully highlighted by this book.

So what we have is an engaging and thoughtful introduction to a pertinent fusion of ideas. A book which beautifully illustrates that when you strip away the fluff, the images, and the symbols there is very little that is different between the paths. And whilst it is something you could read at a single sitting (as I did), it is worth revisiting on a regular basis so as to be able to return to that clear and simple vision on which it is based. A book I would willingly recommend to anyone.
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on 19 July 2017
This is a pamphlet not a book, it has only 67 pages.
This is the type of pamphlet that is given away in Buddhist temples.
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on 1 November 2013
Zen Druidry is written in such an easy-going style that you almost don't realise that Joanna van der Hoeven is presenting some pretty profound ideas about Zen, Druidry and life in general. In essence, her key insights are that life is best lived while awake, alive to its wonders, and the means to awakening is mindfulness - a practice found in both Zen and Druidry. But don't let this simplification fool you; the stuff she covers, and the way she covers it in so few words, is thought-provoking and there are plenty of 'wow' moments in store for any reader.

If you are new to Zen or Druidry, this short book is a great starting place. It covers some of the key ideas of both traditions, then goes on to show how they work together, in a way that is easy to understand and use in everyday life.
If you have experience in Zen and/or Druidry, this is a great book to revisit first principles and see them in a new and revitalising light.

From my own experience, Buddhism and Druidry have much in common, and where they differ, they complement each other. And in this deceptively simple book (which is worth every penny and more), the author shows just how well suited these two practical philosophies, from opposite sides of the world, really are.
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on 15 June 2013
Joanna Van Der Hoeven's book is a little gem!
When I first picked up this book, I was both curious and skeptical - how is it possible to combine two quite different approaches, one from the East and one from the West? I was rather worried that it would be a complete mish mash, and hard to understand.
Luckily the author's beautifully straight forward writing style and perfect turn of phrase, waylaid my initial fears. Firstly there is a clear introduction to both Zen Buddhism and Druidry. It is extremely easy to understand, follow and participate in. Her precise explanations, and examination of each aspect of both philosophies, show deep insight, aswell as potential overlapping within each. I was particularly impressed with the second section, "Integration". Van Der Hoeven shows us an innovative way of combining the eight wheel year, and the eightfold path.

In conclusion this is an excellent introduction to Zen Druidry, well written and enticing. Buy it!
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on 24 July 2013
A book that is hard not to recommend but with so few pages it can only skim the surface of these two deep subjects. Certainly enjoyable as an introduction to zen but druidry as an individual and continually evolving path is not so easy to define. The concept of zen inspiring druid thinking is not a new idea, and for many it may work (and does). Worth a read!
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on 24 May 2013
A well written book that I would recommend for anyone to read not just those on a spiritual path. The combination of Zen teachings and druidry is a powerful one which resonated strongly with me. I shall be taking on some of the Zen teachings to enhance my own druidry. Being the flow, not just going with it is so important. A beautiful read!
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