Neopagan Druidism Today: Concepts and Organization
Neopagan Druidism Today: Concepts and Organization
What is Neopagan Druidry?
Neopagan Druidry is a group of religions, philosophies and ways of life, rooted in ancient soil yet reaching for the stars. We are part of the larger Neopagan movement, one of the world's most vital and creative new religious awakenings. Like much of that movement we are polytheistic nature worshippers, working with the best aspects of the Pagan religions of our predecessors within a modern scientific, artistic, ecological and wholistic context using a nondogmatic and pluralistic approach.
We call ourselves Druids, and we look to the ancient Druids - the priests, priestesses, wise ones and magicians of the ancient Celts - for much of our inspiration. Like them, we're people who value excellence - physically, intellectually, artistically and spiritually.
Although our name implies an inclination toward things Celtic, we seek to understand all of the currents within the Indo-European spectrum of religions. In addition to those who follow Celtic ways we welcome Norse, Hellenic, Baltic, Slavic and Latin Neopagans, and encourage each to take up the worship and magic of the old ways.
What is ADF?
The full name of our organization is Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, Inc. The first part, pronounced arn REEokht fane, is modern Irish for "Our Own Druidism" (or "Druidry" or "Magic") and that's what we are - an independent tradition (denomination) of Neopagan Druidism. Since many people have trouble pronouncing and spelling our Irish name, we usually just say "ADF".
ADF is working to combine in-depth scholarship with the inspiration of artistry and spiritual practice to create a powerful modern Paganism. We're researching and interpreting sound modern scholarship (rather than romantic fantasies) about the ancient Indo-European Pagans - the Celts, Norse, Slavs, Balts, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Vedics, and others. Upon these cultural foundations we are working to build a religion that these ancient people would appreciate and understand yet one which has depth and power for modern people. We're working to develop genuine skills in composition and presentation in the musical, dramatic, graphic, textile and other arts. We're bringing together people trained in ritual, psychic skills and applied mythology to bring the remnants of the old ways to life. We're creating a nonsexist, non-racist, organic, flexible and publicly available religion to practice as a way of life and to hand on to future generations.
In our almost twenty-five years of existence, we have succeeded in building the foundations of this vision's reality. We have local congregations, called groves, in many cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Within those groves we are designing powerful magical and religious ceremonies to bring the blessings of the gods and goddesses to our world. Our groves offer regular public worship of the old gods, serving as centers of Pagan organizing in many localities. We offer our people the full range of religious and social activities including weddings, funerals, child blessings etc. - along with ways of enriching the soul.
We're creating a system of training for solitary Druidic Pagans, so that those who have no grove nearby can participate in our work, and benefit from communion with the gods and spirits. ADF has long worked to build a solid, professional training program for Pagan clergy. In addition we're building a system of guilds, bodies of teachers and students devoted to traditional spiritual, physical and artistic skills. Together we are striving to make our training system the most complete and effective in the Pagan movement.
We're holding regional festivals to help our members meet, study, pray and play together. We're building temples and holy places on the land, places where the Otherworld and our common world can draw nearer. We're actively preparing for the day when Pagan religions will be part of the mainstream global culture.
How is ADF Organized?
ADF is a membership organization. Membership is open to all sincere people, regardless of heritage. While we welcome the curious, leadership in ADF is open only to those who describe Pagan Druidry as their primary religious path. Our organization is managed by a board of directors, known as the 'Mothergrove'. The major offices on this board are the Archdruid, the Vice-Archdruid, Secretary, Treasurer, Chief of the Council of Senior Druids (CoSD - groves representation), Chief of the Council of Regional Druids (CoRD - all member representation), three Non-Officer Directors (general non-specific positions) and the Members' Advocate (ombudsman) as a non-voting member. Our board, other than the CoSD and the CoRD, is elected by the membership in staggered elections (so that there is always some continuation on the board) every two years, with the Archdruid holding a three-year term.
Our local groves are semi-autonomous, each having it's own local traditions, customs, and forms of our rites. At the same time, these groves are all part of our international organization, sharing the basic order of ritual and following the guidelines set forth by the Mothergrove.
ADF was founded by Archdruid Emeritus Isaac Bonewits, known in the Pagan community as the author of the classic text Real Magic, editor, polytheologian and activist. After long serving his folk, Isaac resigned from his post in 1996, leading to the selection of our first elected Archdruid. Isaac's work and ideas continue to be one of the foundations of our vision.
In the period between Isaac's resignation and the first Archdruid election, ADF was led by Archdruid Emeritus Rev. Ian Corrigan. Ian is known in the Pagan community for his writing on Celtic subjects and for being one of the best working Bards today.
The third Archdruid Emeritus and first elected Archdruid, was Rev. John Adelmann, whom we know as 'Fox.' He is a lifelong Pagan who founded and developed one of ADF's larger local groves. He is an ordained 3rd Circle Druid Priest, being one of the few to complete the ADF study program through to ordination. He brought both management skills and spiritual inspiration to the difficult job of managing a volunteer organization while building a religion.
What You Can Do As A Member of ADF?
As a member of Our Druidry, you will be part of a network of hundreds of others interested in Druidism. You'll receive our quarterly magazine, Oak Leaves, filled with articles on Pagan ways, rituals, meditations and organizational information. You'll also receive our dedicant training program, with a simple, systematic program that you can follow to focus and develop your spiritual life in the way of Pagan Druidry. If you wish you may join our study program, enter one of our guilds or participate in one of our many special interest groups. Within the study program you can receive mentored training in the skills of Druidry - ritual, divination, magic, bardry, healing and other arts and sciences as time goes by.
If you are near a local grove, you can share in their work and ritual, and in service to your community. If not, you might consider finding a few like-minded friends and forming a grove yourself. Our Council of Senior Druids can help to get you started.
We're looking for people who want to pitch in to build Paganism's future, not just one person at a time, but also by building solid institutions that can carry the work from this generation to those following. We're looking for people who are inspired and fascinated by the old religions, who want to make them real again in our time. We're looking for teachers and students, newcomers and long time Pagans looking for a home. If you are a newcomer to Paganism we can help you build your personal spiritual work. If you have been Pagan for a while, we hope that our vision excites you, and that you might be interested in our unique ritual forms, our symbolic structure and the chance to work at reconstructing the old ways as they really were, for modern people.
Becoming a Druid
Joining our organization is as simple as filling out the membership form and returning it to us with your annual membership donation. You will receive the ADF New Members Guide, including our Dedicant training material, and you'll be able to join our Guilds and subscribe to members only mailing lists. You will also be entitled to vote in our elections, accumulating one vote for every year of membership in the organization, and after you finish your Dedicant training you'll be able to enroll in Guild training programs and the Generalist Study Program.
Becoming a Druid is an entirely different matter. The Druids of old were the spiritual leaders of their people, the repositories of art and science, spirit and law. Joining an organization cannot make you a Druid, but we hope that joining our organization can give you the resources you need to grow toward that high goal. If you do decide to join us, we urge you to begin to put those things that you will learn into regular practice. Building an institution takes discipline and inspiration, as does building your own spiritual work. We're here to help.
Note: Article was updated by Rev. Skip Ellison in 2007