Here’s why ADF is awesome: The Core Order of Ritual.
There are other reasons, too, but the Core Order of Ritual (or COoR) tops my list at the moment.
The COoR is the key liturgical framework for ritual that unites the Druids of Ár nDraíocht Féin, regardless of what Hearth Tradition they’ve adopted for themselves or for their groves. Each group can make subtle variations to the language of the ritual, paying homage to the Gods with whom they are in relationship (Celtic, Vedic, Norse, etc.), but the basic form is always the same.
The COoR is to ADF Druids what the rites of the Book of Common Prayer are to Episcopalians. Both are blueprints, which, if followed, can create for the practitioner a deep, enriched spiritual and religious experience.
As I’ve written before, liturgy is important to me. I find comfort in its structure, consistency, and rhythm. As I return to my altar this week, I need not have resolved all of my questions of belief in order to enact my ritual, for my ritual has a form which is independent of my state of belief or faith. The form allows the rite to function, and through fully engaging with the form I become open once again to something divine.
It’s amazing, really. It works.
Full disclosure: I was hesitant about ADF at first. I found Druidry through OBOD, the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, which is based out of England. The British Druids, led by the eloquent and satiny-voiced, Phillip Carr-Gomm, were attractive to me for their emphasis on inner work and psychology. Theirs is not a strictly liturgical, religious Druidism, but rather a philosophical model which can be applied (in their experience and perspective) to a wide variety of religious traditions. Plus, OBOD emphasizes the re-enchantment of the world, and I believe that’s a concept with which all Pagans should concern themselves.
ADF, on the other hand, felt very much like the religion that I was leaving. ADF is public about being non-dogmatic, but at the same time they affirm a very particular viewpoint on the nature of the Gods (hard-polytheist, by and large), the paramount importance of historicity, and a religious identity that sets itself very much apart from the Abrahamic traditions. If you read any of my November and December writing (which can be found in the Post Archive page), you’ll know that I go back and forth on Christianity, and on setting up your identity in opposition to another religious tradition.
I didn’t think I needed another religion after Episcopalianism. That wasn’t what Paganism was going to be for me. Religion, with all of its rules and guidelines, felt counter-intuitive; counter-Pagan, if you will.
I’ve bounced back and forth between OBOD and ADF for a couple of years now, undecided as to which kind of Druid I should be. I listen religiously to Dahm the Bard’s excellent podcast, Druidcast (which I highly recommend for its production value, creative contributions, and the glimpse it offers into what British Druidry looks like today). I also continued to revisit the audio lessons from OBOD’s Bardic Grade correspondence course. The information contained in them may conflict with the perspective of the more reconstructionist-minded Druids of ADF, but I liked it just the same.
But, as I wrote about in my last post, there is a special place in my heart (and on my altar) for the founder of ADF, Isaac Bonewits. He may have spoken against some of the very practices and beliefs held by OBOD that resonate in my heart, but he’s still an important figure in my spiritual formation.
And now I am rediscovering the value of the COoR, and in the process reconciling myself to the fact that I am, indeed, a religious person. I need the form. I flourish in the form. Religion, as I’m experiencing it as a Solitary Druid, can be a fresh fire, rekindled every morning I return to my altar. Religion need not be the enemy. Religion is just a tool; a system. In truth, I needn’t even spend too much time thinking about this practice asreligion. It’s my ritual. My personal practice to honor the Cosmos and all of its divine creatures.
There’s reason, I think, to be at peace with the back-and-forth-ness. I’m rarely just one thing. I float, I drift, and then I plant my feet on something firm. I engage in ritual, and remember something about myself. The process is a sacred one, even in the more difficult moments.
What a pleasant discovery.
So what of it, my friends and loyal readers — how do you experience ritual? Do you share with me this love of liturgy, or are you more freeform? Does your personal practice resemble something religious, structured and blueprinted, or is it mystical and abstract?
Liturgy works for me. What works for you?