Kimberly Kirner is a kind, intelligent, eloquent, and sensitive person who writes beautifully about her spiritual path and the evolving religion of Druidry. This book is an autoethnography – an academic approach that begins with the author's personal experience and reflection. As such, it offers a vulnerability that makes the reading much more powerful and real.

The book begins with a clear, effective introduction to Druidry, the why, what, and how, followed by three sections of four chapters: 1. All as Sacred – place, time, and body, 2. All as Conscious – Relational Spirituality (nature spirits, ancestors, ‘shining ones’/ deities), 3. All as Worthy – Living Druidry (right action/knowledge, Peace / Justice, Divine Connection / Loving Others). In each section, Kirner uses personal experience and reflection on aspects of each theme together with relevant training and education. The fourth chapter delves deeply into the academic literature and its theoretical aspects. 

Kirner draws from survey data and conversations with Druid acquaintances as well as her own inward journey, wide reading, and experiences in nature, to craft a beautiful and profound theology. I am tremendously impressed and moved by her compassion, intelligence, grasp of the relevant literature, and writing style, and I am personally inspired. The autoethnographic approach is challenging; if poorly done it can become self-indulgent and shallow. Kirner mastered this difficult approach and, for very good reasons, applies it to open up this spiritual path for mutual exploration and a very grounded understanding. 

My spiritual path of Wicca is a sibling path to Druidry, and although I recognized great similarities, there are also differences. However, her discussion of issues like individualism and community, adapting a desire for sustainability and a nature-centered approach to living in the current non-sustainable and exploitative societies, the issues around mystical and UPG-centred spirituality were sophisticated and very valuable – these are concerns common to our religions. 

One reading cannot exhaust the insights of this book—after just one read–through, I have rethought my relationships with the Ancestors, reframed my approach to local nature spirits, and begun to adjust my theology in other ways. I can see this book being a very important foundation for my work in the future.

American Druidry offers a valuable contribution to Druidry and religious studies in general. I highly recommend it to anyone called to a nature-centered spirituality, a relational and embodied spirituality, or a participatory spirituality of co-creation. This is complex, kind, theoretically and personally deep; simply a wonderful book! 

~ review by Samuel Wagar

Author: Kimberly Kirner
Bloomsbury Academic, 2024
228 pg. Paperback £31 / $47 Can / $39.55 US