Zen for Druids

Zen for Druids

A Further Guide to Integration, Compassion and Harmony with Nature

Where Zen Buddhism and Druidry meet, to create a holistic way of life.


The teachings of Zen Buddhism combined with the earth-based tradition of Druidry can create a holistic way of life that is deeply integrated with the seasons, the environment and the present moment. In soul-deep relationship we can use the techniques and wisdom from both traditions to find balance and harmony within our own lives.
In this text we explore the concepts of the Dharma (the Buddha's teachings) and how they relate to the wisdom of the Druid tradition. We also look at the Wheel of the Year in modern Druidry with regards to the Dharma, incorporating the teachings into every seasonal festival in an all-encompassing celebration of nature. We explore meditation, mindfulness, animism and integration with nature, learning how to find sustainable relationship in the work that we do, opening our souls to the here and now and seeing the beauty and wonder that enchants our lives in every waking moment.
Step into a new life, fully awake and aware to the beauty of the natural world.


Van der Hoeven’s Zen for Druids is her second book focuses on combining the nature spiritualism of Druidry with the teachings and tenets of Buddhism. She makes a note that the reader should have read the previous Zen Druidry before reading this one. I would disagree, and say that a familiarity with either Druidry or Zen is sufficient. I have passing knowledge of Zen, and a strong knowledge of Druidry, and had no difficulty in understanding and integrating the text material. There are five different parts, with various subheadings. Each subheading has questions for the reader to consider, and some have exercises. The first covers the basic precepts of Zen Buddhism. The second looks at the pagan Wheel of the Year, tying one aspect of the Eightfold Path to each of the eight High Days (Solstices, Equinoxes, and the four Celtic Fire Festivals of Samhain, Involved, Beltane, and Lughnasadh). The third and fourth parts focus on meditation and mindfulness practices, and how Zen aspects of these can tie to Druidry. The fifth, and last, looks to fully integrating all of these teaching into a whole practise. I found this book fascinating. van der Hoeven explained the Zen teachings in such a way that I understood them better than any other books on the subject I've read this far, making it seem more obtainable a goal than its ever seemed before. I may take the Wheel of the Year challenge, adapting as needed to my circumstances. I've been wanting to rekindle my Druid practise, and integrate it with my Rokkatru beliefs. ~ J. Aislynn d'Merricksson, NetGaley

Druid, teacher, and author Joanna van der Hoeven presents Zen for Druids, an inspirational reflection on the interplay between Zen Buddhist teachings and the druidic way of life, which is innately connected to the beauty and harmony of nature. Chapters contemplate the Dharma in a druidic context, meditation and mindfulness, the turn of the seasons, and more. "When we are mindful, we are able to see that the universe exists in everything around us, and that we are not separate... By stopping the self-centered attention that we have lived with perhaps all our lives, we turn our focus outwards so that we don't miss a thing. We learn the joy and peace that comes from really living in a mindful manner." One does not need to be a druid or a Buddhist to benefit from the wisdom of Zen for Druids! Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Zen for Druids is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.61). ~ Metaphysical Studies Shelf, Midwest Book Review

5/5 Stars First - I was absolutely blown away and I likely will purchase this book for myself. I was fascinated by buddhist philosophy at a young age when my aunt took me to visit a local buddhist monastery. I was raised by very very religious Roman Catholics (everyone in my family including my aunts and uncles and grandparents were that way) but the family religion never sat well with me. Buddhism spoke to me in a way the others didn't. After that, I started exploring other religion. Among them druidry. I found my home in it . This meshing of zen buddhist and druidic principles is both intuitive and beautiful. An amazing and well written book. ~ Lily Greer, NetGalley/TheFaerie Review

Zen for Druids: A Further Guide to Integration, Harmony, and Compassion with Nature by Joanna Van Der Hoeven is a look at integrating aspects of Zen Buddhism and Druidry into ones personal practices. We take a look at some of the basic principles of Buddhism such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path and how they can be integrated with aspects of Druidry such as the sacredness for all things. There are questions which help us contemplate these concepts within the aspects of both Druidry and Buddhism. We take a look at meditation and mindfulness in both areas of practice. We are shown how to incorporate the eightfold path of Buddhism into the Wheel of the Year and Druid festivals. I liked how this book brought together both Buddhist and Druid practices to create a practice that is one with nature and enhances our spiritual practice. I learned a lot about both Druidry and Buddhism and how they can work seamlessly together to create a spiritual practice. ~ Rose Pettit, Insights into the Wonderful World of Books

Zen for Druids is a guidebook on how to live one’s life according to both Zen Buddhist and Druidic values. It can be a challenge to live a syncretic Buddhist-Pagan lifestyle – they are rather different religions, after all – but Hoeven links the two religions nicely, demonstrating many clear similarities and synergies between them. The book generally handles the two religions together rather than compartmentalising them, which is good. I particularly liked the section on incorporating Zen concepts and ritual into the Pagan Wheel of the Year – this showed how well the two beliefs can be blended. One feature of Zen for Druids that makes it rather distinctive from many other books on Pagan living is its strong ethical and moral dimension. Buddhist precepts and truths form the core of the lifestyle promoted by Hoeven. This may be off-putting for Pagans who are attracted to Paganism entirely because many forms of Paganism reject classical ideas of rules and morality in religion; however, those who feel that Paganism suffers due to its lack of morals and codes will almost certainly appreciate the guidelines given in Zen for Druids. ~ Megan Manson, Patheos

I am a massive fan of Joanna van der Hoeven’s books. They are wonderfully accessible whilst still conveying a depth and clarity that helps the reader to really connect with the wisdom of the subject. Her latest offering does just that. ‘Zen For Druids’ is a companion to her earlier work ‘Zen Druidry', exploring Zen Buddhism and Druidry by illustrating how these spiritual paths can complement one another in practice. The book is written in five parts. The first explores Druidry and the Dharma giving an excellent overview of Buddhism’s Three Treasures; The Four Noble Truths; The Five Precepts; The Eightfold Path and The Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts and how these relate to Druid philosophy. The second part takes us through the Pagan Wheel of the Year and how Zen Buddhism can enrich the understanding and honouring of these festivals. Joanna includes some really useful tips at the end of each festival section, with ideas to deepen your experience of each. Part three focuses on Meditation; part four on Mindfulness and part five on Integration, each section helping to both explain the underlying spiritual meaning of these practices whilst giving practical advice, exercises and encouragement. I particularly enjoyed the section on Integration where the author writes beautifully about Awen and Relationship as a connecting, compassionate force that reveals the interconnectedness of life. In her chapter on Ego, Self and Identity the author tackles the thorny issue of the Ego. In many spiritual texts, the Ego can so easily be labelled the ‘bad guy’ but Joanna skilfully explores the difference between Representational Ego and Functional Ego, redeeming the Ego’s useful functions whilst suggesting a compassionate approach to its more challenging aspects. The concepts in this book take some thoughtful pondering but the beauty of Joanna’s writing is that it cracks open what initially appear to be very complex ideas and gets straight to the heart of each. Obviously the real work is in the dedicated practice of a spiritual path but Zen For Druids offers a wonderful foundation to build upon. In every page you can sense that the author has learned these insights through experience, that she really understands and lives these principles from a place of deep heart-knowing. We move from a purely intellectual grasping of a subject to this heart-led living of a spiritual path through the constant connection and exploration of that path; Joanna van der Hoeven’s fabulous book is both an inspiring and deeply practical aid to help you on that journey. I highly recommend this book. It is proof of how seemingly different spiritualities can enrich each other, and for those of us who are drawn to both western and eastern paths, it’s a real gem! ~ Maria Ede-Weaving, Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

If you, like me, are interested in spirituality, but are undecided exactly what you believe, this book is a great place to continue reading and learning. This book delves into the concepts of the Dharma, and explains in an easy to understand manner what these teachings mean and how they can relate to Druid tradition. I love the concepts of harmony with nature, and it is a big part of my fledgling belief system, so this was an ideal book for me. The author gives you a lot of positive reinforcements throughout her writing and helps you to see that you can turn negative forces in your life into positive things. The writing is beautiful and uplifting and made me want to learn more about these things and share them with others. I would certainly recommend this book to others looking to expand their knowledge on these topics. This book not only teaches you, but us also interesting to read. Great job by the author. This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own. ~ Ionia Froment, GoodReads

I found the integration of Zen philosophy and Druidry very interesting, and the process of going through each festival, with questions to ponder, very useful. I think for someone interested in Zen and Druidry, Joanna's books on the subject are brilliant, though they should be read in order. I would definitely recommend this book to people interested in the subject. ~ Rosemarie Cawkwell, Lost In Lindsey

I read Joanna's "Zen Druidry" and it really helped add an extra layer of depth to my own Druidry. This book continues down that same path, with a lot more emphasis on how to incorporate aspects of both Zen and Druidry into one's life. Not only does Joanna write in a way that is easily accessible, her approach to topics provides the reader with enough information to work with the topic or concept. The questions she asks throughout the book are definitely good moments of "food for thought" - and for me provide even more desire to dig even deeper into what she is presenting here. Is her book a be-all, end-all of Zen, Druidry, or the combination of the two? Not even, nor is it meant to be. Finding that kind of depth, in my opinion, is up to the individual bringing these concepts into their Spiritual practices. This book; however, is a definite strong start for those who are looking for ways to incorporate these two particular Spiritual disciplines into their lives at the same time. For me, this book is a timely follow on to the "Zen Druidry" title, providing more depth and clarity to the combination of these two Paths. Going further down that Path, will be up to the individual adherent and their own unique application of these disciplines to their own lives. If you are picking this book up first, set it down and get "Zen Druidry" and read that first. Then follow on with this one. The two flow together very nicely. --TommyElf ~ Tommy van Hook, Amazon

In this user-friendly book, Joanna van der Hoeven further develops ideas already present in her earlier ones, especially Zen Druidry. On my reading, this book will work best for Druids committed to a modern eco-spirituality. I imagine readers already re-enchanted by their experience of the natural world, who want a harmonious relationship with that world, and to honour, protect and preserve it. Zen for Druids confirms this stance and adds something else: the interwoven ethical and attentional training of the Buddhist tradition. The author draws specifically on Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Master who founded the Community of Interbeing and is a leading model and exponent of ‘engaged Buddhism’. This cultivates personal, social and ecological levels of awareness. It recognizes the radical interdependence of all beings and a need to make ethical/political choices in line with this interdependence. Such Buddhism is not in any way world denying, in the way that Buddhist tradition has at times been in the past. I see Thich Nhat Hanh as a perfect source of influence for this book, and several of his own works are cited in the bibliography. Zen for Druids is divided into five parts. The first is a clear exposition of Buddhist basics, helped by that tradition’s own style of clear exposition and list making. It includes chapters on the three treasures, the four noble truths, the five basic precepts for lay Buddhists, the eightfold path and the sixteen Bodhisattva precepts. By age-old Buddhist design, there is a certain amount of repetition in these lists, with the same issues coming up again in slightly different contexts. Each individual chapter ends with a set of questions designed to engage the reader in their own reflections. The second part moves through the eightfold wheel of the year, frequently found as a festival year in Druid and Pagan communities. Each festival is given its own chapter, and each chapter combines traditional Druid and Pagan themes with a principle from the Buddhist eightfold path. The author starts at Samhain (right effort), moves on to the Winter Solstice (right mindfulness), Imbolc (right concentration), Spring Equinox (right intention), Beltane (right view), Summer Solstice (right action), Lughnasadh (right speech) and the Autumn Equinox (right livelihood). Each section is followed by a list of suggestions for practice. The book’s remaining three parts are shorter. They concern, respectively, meditation, mindfulness and integration. In two chapters on meditation, the first explores ‘mind traps’ – “those little prisons of our own making. We are constantly hijacked by our thoughts and feelings, attachments to them and our egos, such that we spin endlessly in circles until we fall down”. The second shows us to how do a brief meditation session in the Zen manner. The following section, concerning mindfulness in the world, suggests a practice of ‘mindful Mondays’ and explores the relationship between present time awareness and an animist world view. The final section, on integration, focuses on our integration with nature, looking at the issue of ‘ego, self and identity’ before reflecting on ‘awen and relationship’. For Joanna van der Hoeven, indeed, “awen is relationship and integration, the connecting threads that bind us soul to soul”. In Zen for Druids, one Druid shows how she has taken an iteration of Zen Buddhism into her life and practice, combining them into one path. She sets out her stall very clearly and offers the reader specific opportunities and resources for practice and reflection. This book does a valuable job well. ~ James Nichol, Amazon

I bought this after I enjoyed previous books by Joanna and was not disappointed. This is another great read on a subject that can often be heavy. Joanna manages to write in a way that is light, easy to read and understand. This is a great book taking on ancient beliefs and bringing them into the modern world. It approaches modern issues and takes them back to basics. The content is very thought-provoking, especially the questions, making the reader think about their lives, feeling, and actions. Some of the content is something we all know, but it is written as a great reminder as we often walk through our lives without being truly present. As those dark nights draw in I have been reminded what the seasons hold and embrace them. Another recommended book. ~ Gina Ebbs (Habitat for Humanity), Amazon

Joanna van der Hoeven
Joanna van der Hoeven Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid, Witch, author and teacher. She has written several books on Druidry including the best-selling The Awen Al...
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