My relationship with Druidry is growing deeper, more committed and a little bit complicated. Tree roots come to mind.
I began searching out information on modern expressions of Druidism a few years ago, finding The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) first. I immediately connected with the spirit of the organization, and was delighted that they put such a great emphasis on creativity. I’m a writer and musician, and I’ve always sought out ways to express my spirituality through my creative gifts. That this tradition was encouraging it seemed like a sign that I was in the right place.
After a period of a few months working through their Bardic course, I drifted away from OBOD. Looking back, I attribute that to a lack of community around my spiritual work, as well as a lack of a religious structure. I got a great deal out of it, but there was something missing. Leaving the studies wasn’t a failure in my eyes; it was just the choice that felt best for me.
Then I found Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF), the group I’m working with now. ADF is a religious organization, and through them I found the structure and religiosity I was missing with OBOD. The community I was searching for has, more or less, been available to me, and I’m working my way though the year-long course of the Dedicant Path.
Here’s where the roots begin jutting out in yet another direction.
I just read The Druidry Handbook, written by John Michael Greer, Archdruid of yet another Druid group, The Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA). I flew through the book, and found myself enchanted by their philosophy and approach. I loved the book so much that I purchased The Druid Magic Handbook, a follow up title built on the principles in the first book.
If you are unaware of the subtle differences between these organizations, and their respective takes on Druidry, let me try and explain one key point. OBOD and AODA accept the work created during the “Druid Revival” of the 18th and 19th century as valid material, created by inspired individuals and worthy to include in a modern spiritual practice of Druidry. They both acknowledge that some of the work created during this period was forged and misrepresented, and that there were great historical inaccuracies in the Revivalists’ perspective about Druids and Celtic culture. But, in accepting that they also believe in the idea that if the writing and traditions which originated from that period are inspiring and useful, then they should be celebrated and made use of. In the end, for them, its all about doing what works.
ADF takes a different perspective altogether. The emphasis, for them, is on building a new tradition around what is historically accurate, as best we know, about the ancient religious practices of not just the Celts, but the Indo-European cultures as a whole. ADF dismisses the writing created during the Revival, and places the emphasis on striving for a kind of historical authenticity that feels, to me, to be bordering on re-constructionism. It isn’t quite that rigid, but it still is searching to graft the new ways on top of the old, as best we can assess what those were. Being as true as can be to the “old ways” is very important in ADF.
Now, back to me.
I feel a pull towards the writing and approach of the Revivalist Movement, and I don’t really care that they made up or borrowed a great deal of what they were doing. What they created speaks to my heart, and that counts for a great deal, I think. I’m seeking to live a life that is rooted in this world, and that allows me to expand in my creative expression and my spiritual awareness. I’m looking to grow in my connectedness to the world while simultaneously become more fully myself. Shouldn’t the heart lead the way in that quest?
The question is, must I be a strict adherent to any one of these traditions in order to accomplish that? Can I be an ADF member, following through on my commitment to the Dedicant Path, while still harboring this love for the Druid Revivalists and their modern spiritual offspring?
I’m open to thoughts and comments from members of any of these groups. What has your experience been like? What resonates about ADF, OBOD or AODA for you, and why do you lean towards one or the other? Or, do you pull from all three traditions? Tell me about your tree roots and Druid groups.