While it may appear early or even unseemly to take or make an oath, and while I have generally avoided these sorts of things under the guise of needing more information or data or a feeling of not being ready to commit, the powers that be in ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship) suggest it is time for one.
This is a personal commitment to Druidry, and while I have practiced spiritually and religiously as a Druid in one form or another since 2009 initially as a Fwd: Checking inmember of OBOD and then as a member of The Druid Network and the Ancient Order of Druids in America (both TDN and AODA I remain committed to and involved in), it seems high time to take this step. ADF suggests it fitting to do this early during the Dedicant Path, one that is made between the student and his or her own Gods and Spirits, and since I have long been committed to the path of Druidry, now is the time.
This First Oath involves a pledge the Three Ways core to ADF work:
Virtue: to do right and live well – this seems fair, and even a good thing to be virtuous.
Piety: to keep the customs and work of the Pagan Way – why not be pious if we recognize there are greater spiritual forces beyond ourselves?
Study: to seek to increase Pagan knowledge and skill – I live for intellectuality, so this makes perfect sense to me as well.
OK, nothing outrageous there or beyond my ability to do at this time, so onward I go. I did this on Sunday, August 26, 2018. I have been a member of ADF for a couple months now, but here is my First Oath, one that happened amidst a short ritual which I did on the roof of my building. Druidry can be expressed in cities just as strongly as it can in remote groves or henges.
Before this assembly of Shining Ones, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits, I declare myself to be a Druid, a seeker of the Old Ways, a worshiper of the wonders of nature, and student of those before us who celebrated Pagan ways. May I build upon these into the future.
With this holy oath I set my foot upon this path, the Druid’s Way, and I vow to make my dedication plain and clear.
I vow to seek virtue in my life, to do right by my community.
I vow to make my Druidry real, by keeping the rites and works that call to me.
I vow to deepen my understanding of the Ways through study, to fill my mind with truths revealed in the Elder Paths.
These things I swear to the Gods, the Ancestors, and the Spirits of Place. So be it. Awen
I have been a Druid for a good number of years now, and while I the path have been following has its levels of fulfillment and satisfaction, there are two things I find missing that I see in ADF:
1. Shared ritual (there is a Core Order of Ritual that is adapted based on the local community or grove needs).
2. A shared approach to community (with shared beliefs that, once again, are adapted to individual needs).
I do not envision leaving behind the Druid workings or communities I am already a part of, as they offer other things that I have not yet seen in ADF. However, as we make our own path, we need to do what is right for ourselves as we best understand it.
The other Druid communities I belong to are very individualistic, and while I like that freedom (I hate being told what to do or believe), I like having some practices or statements of ethics that are shared.
With this said, let me begin with the questions we are invited to consider:
Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?
I like the shared ritual and community, and the various members of ADF I have met all seem to committed, interested in ADF, enthusiastic for helping others, and overall a jolly bunch. Lots of good energy so far, and this has made the Dedicant Path appealing, as all those I have met have spoken highly about it. Likewise, if I want to be a member, I may as well understand and experience that about which I am now committing!
Is this a step on your path, or will this become the Path itself?
Who knows? For now, it is a step. Nobody, especially not I, can predict what the future will bring. I will be open to wherever it leads.
What do you expect to learn?
Again, I have no idea. However, in theory I expect to learn enough so that I have a shared sense of what it means to be a member of ADF, along with what values, visions, and practices are sufficient for a sense of an us.
What would you like to get out of this journey?
I want to feel a part of something much larger than myself, and in the process better understand what I can contribute, in my own way, to make it better with my having been here.
Do you know where this path will take you?
Further into a spiritual practice of Our Own Druidry as a religion.
If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?
I joined ADF a couple months ago, so while this is not exactly immediate, it is still relatively soon. Why would I not want to embark upon this study and experience? How else could I be an active member if I do not know more about the organization I have joined?
If you have been with ADF for a long time , why are you starting only now?
This is not my issue at all!
Does it look hard or easy?
It looks hard, though not because there are many steps (what doesn’t have many steps?!?!). It is hard because it is the first time I am becoming a part of an organized religion since leaving Catholicism many years ago, so adapting the vagarities of my private practice with the shared expectations, even the minimal ones, of a formalized group, can be hard. I am not sure at all if this will be the same for me at a future point, but I see this as a challenge.
Which requirements appear to be difficult for you now, and which appear to be easy?
The most difficult one is the notion of Indo-European polytheism. I have been more of a Druid Animist for years now, and while I have a sense of Cernunnos, many of the other deities that are worshiped by ADF members are little more than names to me. I am not sure what to do with this, so I will leave it for making sense of another day. Which appear to be easy? Outside of the calling of the Earth Mother (which I was told could be referred to as the Earth Spirit; mother issues on my end) and a certain repetition I see in the Core Order of Ritual), there is little else I see as being anything but easy. Let’s hope I work through the former and embrace the latter!!
Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about?
Nothing that I have not mentioned above. Very eager to begin. Yet, I think I may benefit from a mentor. Will look into that . . .
Three weeks into my explorations of ADF, I find a need to better understand what these Indo-European myths and traditions are all about, so picked up and and started reading one of their recommended texts for their Dedicant Path studies, Comparative Mythology by Jaan Puhvel.
Just when I thought my studies of myth were over, I find myself now seeing connections I had never noticed before, namely related to the links between, across, and amongst various traditions spanning the European and Asian landmasses.
What would possibly bring me to an academic book like this, beyond my proclivity to things academic anyway? Well, ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)) styles itself as a Pagan church based on ancient Indo-European traditions expressed through public worship, study, and fellowship, and thus its focus on Indo-European traditions is somewhat central.
May as well know more about what I am thinking of getting myself into!
For those who may have no idea what this means, myself amongst them only a week ago, I propose this basic understanding — the languages of Europe, Iran, and India have certain similarity, and this history also speaks to related myths and cultures that somehow connect in ancient times. That ADF faith traditions form from that broad galaxy of interconnected worlds means that I need to at least holistically grok how they relate.
One initial area of learning that I think I always knew but has become more informed through my reading — Celtic traditions are far from being only in Ireland and the UK. In fact, the Celtic peoples stretched from there across France (Gaul, my spiritual home!), much of central and western Europe, and even into Italy, Greece, and Turkey. How, in my former days as a Christian, could I have not noticed that Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was just that — a letter to a group of Celts in Asia Minor?
Nothing like learning new things to connect many formerly disparate pieces of knowledge!
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!!