Norma and I have led a number of workshops on ADF Druidry and been on some
panel discussions. Surprisingly, one of the questions weve often been
asked is: Do Druids believe there is such a thing as absolute evil?
I dont know why this has come up more than once, maybe its my
goatee, but I thought that the question warranted a short essay in the pages
of our Samhain issue.
What is evil anyway? Originally, in Old English, the word meant exceeding
due limits. Today, evil is a loaded word, fraught with implications,
loaded with fury and righteousness and pretentious importance, that, for all
I can tell, means nothing.
But, they always say What about Hitler? What
about the Holocaust? What about the witch burnings? (etc. etc.) Werent
What about using words that are a little more specific?
When you say that Hitler was a meglomaniac, that he was power-hungry, bigoted
and paranoid then youve got a chance at understanding Hitler,
and possibly subsequent incarnations of Hitler and his ilk...
And you could read up on the conditions in Germany in the 1930s, find out
about anti-semitism in the middle ages and how it survived into the modern
And you could research mass hysteria and religious fundamentalism and the
various social conditions that led to witch burnings...
When people say that something is evil, theyre just being
lazy. Theyre not trying to understand what theyre talking about.
And by blowing things off as evil, they run the risk of repeating
those very things, because theyve failed to see that they too could
get into that position.
When you say something is evil, its like youre shutting
the light, closing the door and leaving the room. Youve lost the battle.
Youve given up.
No, we Druids do not entertain a concept of absolute evil. And, personally,
I dont believe in any kind of evil. I believe that people can be stupid,
arrogant, full of themselves, passionate for all the wrong reasons, deranged,
or just plain mean but I believe evil is a meaningless word.
Its a word that people use to hide whats really going on.
Be specific! Use real words!
All of this is important to Druids because people who dont know what
theyre talking about have sometimes called us evil, and
much of the violence and bigotry and genocide throughout history has been
incited and organized by people claiming to be fighting evil.
When I was crossing the road in Johnson Park during the Pagan Picnic that
Hands of Change organized this August, a car drove by, and the woman driving
it turned to her children and said Those are evil people, referring
to the hundred or so Pagans gathered around the picnic tables. I wanted to
run after the car and say But you dont even know us!