[Note: This article first appeared in ADF's quarterly journal, Oak Leaves. The ADF Dedicant Path is included with ADF Membership. Members can access more information, including the Dedicant Path PDF, on the members site.]
Basic Training in Druidic Spiritual Practice
The core of religious work, the work that sustains the uniting of the human spirit with the greater weave of the worlds, the awakening of the individual mind to the soul of nature, the communion with the God/desses and spirits, is the personal practice of trained human spirits. In every age of the world, in all cultures, the flame and flow of spirit and knowledge are kept alive in the minds and hearts of men and women. Through meditation, ritual and trance, we keep open the ways between the worlds, and help to make humanity's voice clear to the powers of the worlds.
Our Druidry is an open, public path. Our groves and temples welcome all who come to worship with an honest heart. Those who wish the simple blessing of Gods are granted it freely. Yet we hope that some, even many of those who seek the Druid's way will wish to take up a more focused spiritual practice. So we offer these nine ways, a simple pattern of spiritual and magical training.
If you come to this work through previous Pagan training, you will probably find these exercises familiar. These skills of meditation, worship and trance are common to many of the world's traditional religions. They are the pillars of many kinds of magical and spiritual work. If you are new to the work these basic techniques can be the foundation of a life of spiritual growth. If you wish, these techniques can be the first step in a path of Druidic Initiation. Or if you wish, these nine ways can serve as a full system of basic Pagan spiritual practice.
These ways are the ground level, the core work that a devout Pagan should undertake. Whether or not you feel you may continue toward the priest/esshood, these techniques will improve your personal spiritual work and help you to get more from your participation in group rites. Here is the outline of our Druidic Basic Training.
I. The First Triad
The first three points are preparatory to all spiritual work, and should be followed by all who wish to work as Druids.
1: Right Action - It is proper to attempt to do only good for one's self, family and community. We present a model of virtue based on Pagan lore.
2: Piety - Pagan ways are based on active individual involvement with the rituals and practices of tradition. To be truly involved is to attend or perform rites regularly and do the work.
3: Study - The study of actual archaeological, folklore and classical sources is vital to restoring the old ways in out time.
These first simple steps should be the duty of every Druidic pagan. without them there can be little but empty imaginings and opinion. If the new student does nothing at first but these three steps he will be able to grow in his Pagan work.
II. The Second Triad
The next three steps are a basic introduction to Pagan meditation, and to the creation of personal worship space.
4: Basic Meditation - In order to open the mind and spirit to wisdom, improve well being and learn control, nothing is better than simple, silent meditation.
5: The Two Currents - Using skills of imagination and concentration, the student learns to connect with the primal energies of fire and water, sky and earth.
6:The Home Shrine - It is proper to set aside a corner of one's home as a personal shrine where the student can deepen her awareness of the spirits.
When you have mastered the simple practices in this triad you will have a pattern of spiritual practice that can serve you all your life. These practices are the heart of all further development.
III. The Third Triad
Building on the previous work, these steps teach our formal ritual work, and two final stages of the beginners path.
7: Full Ritual Worship - The core of ADF's work is our order of ritual, which brings closed contact with the God/desses and spirits. The student completes a set of worship tools and learn the order of ritual.
8: The Dedicant's Oath - When you feel sure that the Pagan Ways are your ways, we encourage a formal oath to announce your will. This is the first step in the formal work of our Druidry.
9: Patronage - In polytheistic religion it is proper for each person to develop a personal relationship with a specific Deity or pair of Deities. We offer techniques to establish and enhance that special partnership.
When you have mastered the work of this third triad you will have a firm basic grasp of the techniques of Druidic Paganism and magic. You will have the skill to participate in ritual leadership, or to fully participate in group rites. You will also have the basics of a personal spirituality that can deepen and brighten your whole life.