An interview with François Bourillon

We caught up with this French druid to discuss magic, ritual and misconceptions.

Read the short conversation below.

An interview with François Bourillon
“My interest in the esoteric began after I experienced my first visions when I was around 14. I discovered druidism when I was 22 years old. My grandmother, my mother and myself belong to a lineage of what is called Matzeri, or ‘soul passers.’ This is a tradition or belief in Corsica that certain men and women have the ability to help heal and predict deaths. So, my grandmother was a healer, and my mother predicted deaths. When my mother would dream of someone in the family who was already dead, you could be sure that three days after there would be another death close to the family. And me, I’m able to feel what has happened in a house or in a place. I see certain things. It’s an ancestral culture or consciousness that I’ve inherited. It was not a druidic faith in the beginning, but I was exposed to mysticism from a young age that was rather pagan, one could say. It was later that I discovered druidism through reading. I knew right away that it was for me.”

François grew up in Marseille, a port city in southern France. He is single and has no children. He says he comes from a “very average family” with both of his parents working for the government. François had one uncle who took care of his extracurricular education – when he was little, he made him read Jean Paul Sartre. On the other side of this family, he also received a mystical education from his grandmother and mother, whose roots lay in Corsican culture and its superstitions and beliefs. François went on to study engineering and when not practicing as a druid, he works as a director of education. Learning is a central element of druidic practice.

“Druidism is a tradition of knowledge. In our faith, there is no original sin, so we have nothing to atone for. We are free, which is important. As druids we should be able to look at ourselves in the mirror without being ashamed of ourselves or what we are. We are here to help others, and to help nature. It’s an initiatory tradition which reveals itself little by little: a tradition where all beings – human beings but all living beings in general – are accepted. And when I talk about human beings, it’s without any notion of color, age, sex or sexual orientation. Everyone has their role to play in the universe, everything has its place and everybody is important. So, that’s some basic principles that are important. And of course, we work with the deities, the acting symbols of the universe, and the spirits of nature. There are eight key ceremonies throughout the year: Imbolc (Saint Brigid’s Day), Spring Equinox, Beltane (May Day), Summer Solstice, Lughnasa (Harvest Feast), Fall Equinox, Samhain and Winter Solstice. And then there are life ceremonies like weddings, baptisms, funerals. Druids and their followers come from a real mix of backgrounds and of orientations. We have young people, old people, rich, poor, gay, straight, different nationalities... the one thing we all share is that we’re pagans. There are those who have more seniority and experience, and those who have less, but there is no hierarchy. Everybody has the right to speak and to be heard, and everybody has the right to participate in making decisions. But it’s the druid and the druidess that will have the final word.

“I believe there are as many ‘typical days’ as a druid as there are druids. I mean, we don’t necessarily all have the same practices. But me, in the morning, I get up, I wash, which is pretty normal whether one is a druid or not... but as a druid, it’s important to be cleansed on the inside as well as on the outside. So afterwards, I do my ablutions, my prayers and my offerings to the deities, and then get about to whatever I have planned for the day. In general, I take a moment during the day to do a sun salutation. At the end of the day, before going to bed, I renew my ablutions and my prayers. Ceremonial days are a bit different. On ceremonial days, I prepare several days in advance in order to embody the energy of the ceremony, to have the strength and authenticity necessary to conduct the ceremony. Each ceremony has its own requirements. Obviously, the stone circle where the rituals are performed has its particular configuration. And then people often choose to wear clothing or jewelry for the occasion, such as white robes, the pendant in the form of a wheel or torque necklaces. Most use a wooden staff that they might have found in the woods. There are those who see us as a sort of sect, with the negative connotations that the word brings, but mostly people are positive. Some see us as joyous nutballs, non-threatening but a bit strange. But many are also genuinely interested and curious. So, in general, I get more positive reactions than the contrary.”

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