Just don’t call me a druid…

I’ve been exploring Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) lately. I signed up as a member to see if it’s a good fit.

First off, my background with them is limited. I became a Pagan in 1993. In 1994, I moved to Tallahassee, Florida along with my two good friends to go to college and live with my brother. While there, I met up with a guy who had his own local Druid group. He was affiliated with ADF and did ADF-style rituals. We became good friends and in the year or so that I was in Tallahassee, I spent quite a bit of time hanging out with him.

When he got married shortly after I moved away from Tallahassee, the wedding was performed by Isaac Bonewits and one of our group’s priestesses. At the reception, I tried to talk to Isaac about Druidry, his life and experience, etc…but he was a little intoxicated and had no interest in talking to a geeky awkward 21 year old dude. He was trying to score with a priestess. I awkwardly bowed out of the conversation once I realized that I was cockblocking the Archdruid of ADF and coiner of the word “Neopagan”.

Over the years, I’d been curious to explore further…and even attended some local ADF rituals when I lived in the Jersey Shore during my illness.

Here’s what I like so far and what I don’t like:

-I really like the emphasis on scholarship. It was one of the first NeoPagan groups to really do this. It was sorely lacking in Paganism at the time.

-That said, despite the emphasis on scholarship, they still require their groves to publicly perform rituals for the Wiccan 8 sabbat “wheel of the year”, which is decidedly a modern innovation. (I’m more of the opinion that Wiccanisms should be phased out of modern Paganism unless one is Wiccan.). I do like that they emphasize public rituals, though, rather than secretive cult initiatory meetings as with Wicca and OTO. (No doubt inspired by the Freemasonic influence within both.)

-I find the emphasis on Indo-European religion intriguing. Though it seems odd to me that a group specifically focused on Druidry and which also seems to emphasize Gaelic deities/phrases/whiskey to be a little incongruous with the larger focus on I-E religion.

(I’m not as big of an I-E religion fan. I tend to be more intrigued by the matriarchal religions that the I-E religion supplanted and mingled with. For example, I have little interest in Vedic religion but Sakta Tantrik Hinduism is fascinating to me. The same goes with some of the Hellenic cults.)

-I like the emphasis on creating a shrine and developing a shrine culture. The eventual goal of ADF is to establish temples, which I think should be lauded. I would love to see that as well. Though I do think it’s odd that this doesn’t seem to have happened yet. They’re one of the older, more established Pagan organizations.

-I really don’t relate to the term “druid”. In the past, when I was a baby Pagan, I did. But as a Pagan of twenty-something years, “druid” tends to connote dressing up and playing pretend to me. I associate it more with New Age than Paganism. Often times, people that call themselves druids also believe in Merlin and are really into crystals. Which is great for them, but I’m not sure there’s much of a place for that within Paganism.

-I admire a group that has a well-thought out training curriculum. ADF has the Dedicant Path, which is somewhat impressive, so far.

Joining was a bit of a brash move but I wanted to go through their literature. There’s no local group here in Boston. The nearest local grove is up in New Hampshire, I believe, which is an Amtrak train ride away (i.e, expensive). So I’ll be exploring it as a solitary.

Just don’t call me a druid…

~ by R.M. McGrath on 06/21/2016.

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