My name is Raven Mann and I am the current Senior Druid of Whispering Lake Grove, ADF.
I was born on a cold winter's morn in 1963... No wait maybe that is too far back. For as long as I can remember, I have been a student of religion, all religions. This has led me on a spiritual journey that included Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shamanism and finally Neo-Paganism. Along the way, I have probably drifted into others, but cannot remember any of them.
In High School I become a "born again" Christian and started making plans to become an ordained Methodist minister. I think even then I knew Christianity was not the right spiritual path for me. During my first year of college, I experimented with many different spiritual paths. However, by my sophomore year I had returned to Christianity no more satisfied than before.
A college degree, two years of seminary and six churches later I walked away from a spiritual path that I had tried to fit into with no success. I spent the next few years putting my Psychology degree to good use by working in the social service field as a counselor for at-risk youth and working with the developmentally disabled.
It was not until I roamed into a little "hippy" shop one evening that my interest in things spiritual returned. I purchased some books on healing stones and a set of Runes. I soon became a regular and a friend of the owner. It was not until I had relocated to North Carolina that I encountered my first Neo-Pagan. We had been working together for a few months and had many conversations about crystals and healing stones. One evening he shocked me by putting a copy of A Witches Bible Compleat on the coffee table in front of me. I was so naive that I had not associated his being a Wiccan with Witchcraft. I did not know if I should excuse myself or make a mad dash for the door because the only thought going through my head was I was to be tonight's sacrifice. Well, I did neither and after a few minutes of very uncomfortable silence, I started looking through the book. Here was the spiritual path I had searched for, but thought I would never find. I left that night with a feeling that I had never experienced before, the feeling of coming home. During the next weeks and months, I studied and read all I could get my hands on, which at that time was very little. My initiation into a coven came on Samhain of 1989.
A few months later I returned to Pennsylvania. I spent the next several years practicing either as a solitary or occasionally with one or two others. It was during my search of other like-minded souls that I first heard about Druidry and ADF. I had always had an interest in the Celts, as well as, other Indo-European people. I spent the next few years studying all I could find about the Druids both ancient and modern. As my practice of Wicca began to change my wife asked me one night "Do you still consider yourself a Witch?" and I did not have an immediate answer. After practicing ADF style ritual for several years, my wife and I joined ADF in January of 2001. The pan Indo-European focus, training programs, ritual style, and scholarship influenced my decision to join ADF. Not mention the motto "Why not excellence?" which I believed in then and continue to believe in today. Since becoming a member of ADF, I have joined the Scholars, Liturgists and most recently the Magicians Guilds. I also belong to the Brewers and Parents special interest groups and the Fire and Ice Kin.
When we joined ADF, there was not local Grove in Erie, so we continued to practice together. In the February of 2003, we discovered that Sharon Smith, our first Senior Druid, had started a Grove the previous fall. Our vision had always been to see a Grove in Erie, so you can imagine our excitement upon finding that someone had finally done it. Since joining the Grove, I was elected the first Grove Preceptor, an office which I would hold from September 2003-October 2004, when I took office as Senior Druid. Spirituality is only one part of my life. I enjoy researching genealogy, participating in historical reenacting, and spending time with my family. In addition to reading books about Neo-Pagan spirituality, I enjoy a good fantasy or historical novel. I also enjoy reading history books and visiting historical landmarks. If that doesn't make me sound like a big enough geek this will, I also enjoy role playing, as well as, collectable card, and miniature games.
Well, that's the end or maybe it is just the beginning of my story.....