Questions and Answers about ADF

Where did ADF come from?

ADF started in 1983 as a network of independent scholars interested in legitimate research about the ancient Druids and their Indo-European colleagues. It quickly grew into a new Neopagan tradition (denomination), complete with personal and group worship rituals, artistic endeavors, jokes, songs and chants, and a genuine sense of family. In many ways it was an outgrowth of the Reformed Druids of North America, an anarchistic movement begun by college students in the mid-1960's, modified by the experiences of the Neopagan community since (see Margot Adler's "Drawing Down the Moon" for details). Today, ADF is the largest Neopagan Druid organization in the English-speaking world. While there are other Neopagan Druid organizations in existence, by far the largest, best organized, most widely spread, and most active is ADF.

Are you real?

Organizationally, we're as real as any other religious group. We are registered in the state of Delaware as a Nonprofit Corporation and have received recognition of our tax-exempt status from the IRS. We have almost twenty chartered local congregations (or "groves"), with more on the way in the U.S. and Canada. Appropriate legal and tax status in Canada, Australia and other nations will be obtained as needed.Historically, there are no "real" Druids left. The Paleo-pagan Druids were wiped out centuries ago and only fragments of their traditions survived.Spiritually, we believe that we are following the paths once trod by our namesakes and that no other name is nobler or more suited to our modern intentions -- and that makes us real as far as we're concerned!

What about other Druid groups?

ADF maintains friendly relations with the fraternal ("Meso-pagan" or mixed Christian/Pagan) Druid orders in England and elsewhere, as well as with the handful of other Neopagan Druid groups. We encourage our members to investigate these other organizations and to learn as much as they can about alternate paths of Druidism. We are, however, quick to expose groups and individuals we believe to be fraudulent or dangerous, even though such vigilance may be controversial.

Are you a "cult"?

Not hardly. The only dogma promulgated so far has been the Doctrine of Archdruidic Fallibility -- requiring the members to accept that everyone in ADF, from the Archdruid on, makes mistakes. Members are encouraged to (politely) argue with the leadership, to form their own opinions and special interest groups, and to communicate as much as possible with both "insiders" and "outsiders." People without a sense of humor and proportion are discouraged from seeking leadership positions. Nepotism is forbidden, financial records are open, everyone is accountable to everyone else, and the members of the Mother Grove are not getting rich. So what more do you want?

But what if I'm not Irish?

You don't have to be. Despite the Irish name for our organization and the use of the Celtic term for clergy ("druids"), our members come from a wide variety of ancestries, including European, Asian, Native American, and African. We have no time or sympathy for racist nonsense or cultural bigotry. Our members honor Celtic, Germanic, Lithuanian, Polish, Greek and other Indo-European deities, ancestors and nature spirits. If you're sincerely interested in any of the old I-E cultures and its meta-physics, arts, and customs, then you're welcome in our ranks.

Is ADF Wiccan?

The Wiccan ("Neopagan Witchcraft") movement includes the vast majority of the 100,000 to 250,000 people involved in Neopaganism in North America. About three-quarters of our membership are or have been followers of Wicca, including a sizable number of Wiccan priests and priestesses who are using our Study Program to improve their clergy skills. The primary differences between Druidism and Wicca are these: Druidism is polytheistic, large-group oriented, and public. Wicca is duotheistic, small-group oriented, and private. Nonetheless, the two religions have far more in common than they have separating them (see "What Do Neopagan Druids Believe?" for details). Wiccan covens can (and do) function as special interest groups within larger ADF groves, along with bardic, healing, ecological, divinitory, and other groups.

Are Druids all men?

Despite the stereotypes of the ancient Druids as having been long-bearded patriarchs, you didn't have to be a man to be a Druid back then and you don't need to be male now. Half of the membership of ADF is female and women hold half of the positions of power in the organization. We have deliberately chosen to make gender and affectional preferences irrelevant to participation in ADF. As worshippers of the Earth Mother, we can do no less. In fact, one of our primary religious symbols, "the Druid Sigil," represents Her.

Didn't the ancient Druids do human sacrifice?

Yes, it's true. But then, so did the clergy of almost every other religion in human history, including the monotheistic ones. Neopagan Druids are forbidden to practice human or animal sacrifice in our rituals. Instead we offer the Goddesses and Gods flo- wers, fruits, wine, incense, music, song, drama, prayer, and -- most important of all -- our love. The deities seem to find it more than sufficient.

What are the Druid holidays?

We celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year by observing eight "High Days" -- the solstices and the equinoxes, as well as the halfway points between which were originally the great fire festivals of our European predecessors). Due to our calendrical researches, we often celebrate the Major High Days a few days after other Neopagans do. Some groves also celebrate the various phases of the moon, or the beginnings and endings of various hunting, fishing, and agricultural seasons.

What exactly is an ADF grove?

An ADF grove is any group of three or more voting members of ADF over the age of 18, who live in the same general geographical area, who gather together at least twice a month to study and practice Druidism within the context of Ár nDraíocht Féin, and who are chartered by the Mother Grove (the Board of Directors) of ADF as a local congregation. An ADF grove provides open worship ceremonies for all eight High Days, study groups for various Druidic arts and sciences, fellowship, hard work, and lots of fun. Almost any member of ADF can plant a "protogrove" just by asking. All groves and protogroves are listed in our publications on a regular basis, making it easy for other members to contact you. See the ADF "Grove Organizers' Handbook" for more details, or contact the Registrar.

Author Information

Rev. Isaac Bonewits

Author's Bio:

Isaac Bonewits (10/1/1949 - 08/12/2010) was the founder of ADF and was our Archdruid for ten years, and a contributor to ADF until his death. He was very active and well-known in the Neopagan community at large.

Articles by Rev. Isaac Bonewits

2017 Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, Inc.

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