One Toe Further Toward ADF…

I mentioned earlier this week that I am starting to look at ADF, Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, after somehow never having it really feel like a possible venue for my Druidic path.

How time changes things, or perhaps how we make sense of things differently over time.

I was inspired by Lauren’ The Druid Swamp blog over the years, and how she explored her ADF studies in a rather public way. While I work in open education as part of my professional identity, I am familiar with and at times comfortable with learning in the open, so decided to see how others have explored a long affiliation with and path of a modern Druid using the somewhat structured ADF materials, and was surprised to find a number of examples.

Some of those that reached out to me for one reason or another include The Ditzy Druid, Hazel & Rowan, Druish in the Desert, and Into the Mound, and while I have not yet committed to starting the Dedicant Path, ADF’s beginning training program that is intended to be a year-long introduction to the beliefs and practices of Our Druidry, I have been carrying the books with me in my all week. Somehow their structured openness fits me right now.

While having spent years working across The Druid Network (which I proudly remain as an active member), AODA (the Ancient Order of Druids in America, of which I am also quite happy to be an active part of), RDNA (The Reformed Druids of North America – let’s face it, they have had a valuable effect on many), and OBOD (where I have a bit more of a conflicted relationship, quite oddly in many ways), I find myself strangely attracted to the structure of ADF. Yes, religions need to have certain spiritual practices and beliefs that resonate with us, though the notion of democratic leadership and diversity of perspectives that expand across many related traditions resonates quite well with me right now.

Not sure where they may lead or what tomorrow may bring, but I am comfortable right now with how they are starting. Even with my two outreaches to the community over the past three weeks, I found a quirky and encouraging group of people who somehow managed to make me feel welcome while knowing very little about me, my life, my wants, nor my needs. How good is that, being encouraged to explore a wide ranging family of spiritual paths without judgment?!

Again, we do not know how this may develop, but something about it feels right, even if that means right for now. Hey, something must be working here for me to post on Through the Distant Woods twice in the same week!!

Reflecting on a Solitary Yule Ritual

yulelogWhile I talked about what I did the evening of Yule, I have not yet mentioned what I did specifically for Yule itself.

As it was a rainy and stormy morning, I could not go outside to commune with nature as I wanted lest I become too distracted with the weather, so instead I celebrated in my apartment, standing in front of an antique French wooden table with a 3-wicked candle burning on top of it. I was home alone and engaged in a combination of 2 rituals — the first one arranged by Teo Bishop at the Solitary Druid Fellowship and the second one an internally created ritual shared among a small group of OBOD folk who are experimenting with creating a new grove in Manhattan. Doing more with druidry from a distance on discussion boards than in ritual, I decided to do them both.

I will start with the OBOD one first, as I have had several years interaction with OBOD. While I never seem to be able to make it to the East Coast Gathering, I am familiar with OBOD rituals and sensibilities. I breathed deeply, saluted the four quarters, and with words of stag and hawk and fire and water, I performed the rather simple ritual, made even more that way as it was not initially intended for individual use, but with a small community. I did minor adaptations, and it still felt strangely familiar though I spoke all the parts. As I celebrate all of the druid festivals as a solitary druid, this is what I expected–do it as written insofar as it feels comfortable, and leave the rest. I like that sensibility. However, their rituals and such are rather flexible, so I adapted as I went along to feel comfortable with the words and focus on why I was saying them.

I then performed the Solitary Druid Fellowship one, a newly written ritual written by Teo (who I fondly admire for his energy and intentions) with its stated purpose of using this individually, all while knowing others, elsewhere, are doing the same thing. As the website declares, The Solitary Druid Fellowship is an experiment in Pagan liturgy, and an exercise of congregation in solitude. The notion of a shared liturgy is developed a bit, though this is rather based on the Outline of Worship of ADF, Our Own Druidry. That was probably my biggest challenge, in that ADF is a druid group that has formalized rituals and beliefs, very much like a druid church, and while adaptation is encouraged a bit, it had a feeling of Catholic Druidry to me. While this is certainly related to my baggage with Catholicism, I found the stylized ritual similar enough to mass (which is mainly how I defined the term liturgy for many years) that by the time I got to the Opening the Gates and Seeking the Omen, it stopped feeling of peaceful ritual and started feeling of an odd assembly of . . . formalized oddness. Granted, this was probably due to my baggage coming up, but it had too much of a sense of calling a deity (choose whichever one you want) and then casting some divination to try to determine how the offering was received and what to do next. Again, with my personal baggage, this seemed the same as a Catholic mass, though with switching out the names of deities and bringing in some divination (again, not much different). While I read the ritual a few times before I did it, it still felt . . . odd to me. TO switch one god for several and then to do what in many ways was the same thing just did not feel well for me. Again, my baggage, but that is what I am trying to process by sharing it here.

As all of this was a bit much for a non-ADF member, I just felt . . . odd. It did not speak to me, and while I was fortunate that the end of the ritual happened at the time when I had to move on to leaving for the office, it left me a bit introspective as to what it all means for me and what I should do with it moving forward. I am eagerly reading what others thought about the Solitary Druid Yule Ritual, as when I am uncomfortable, sometimes that means there is the most room for growth.

While I am not interested in joining or otherwise following ADF druidry, and after this reflection on it I may not be welcomed to engage in it anyway, it was a useful experience that, in the process of making me uncomfortable, demonstrates how much growth I need to let go of my baggage. The OBOD one felt a bit more like me, though again it was tailored for a group and I am an individual working alone, something that the Solitary Druid Fellowship focuses on exclusively.

On to Imbolc!