Thursday, March 26, 2020

Goal of ADF Druidry

Among the world’s religions, the practice of Neopagan Druidry, particularly those of Ár nDraíocht Féin, A Druid Fellowship, Inc., is not widely known. Though the bulk of the world’s religions stemmed from practices similar to the practices in this new path, mainstream religious monotheistic faiths such as Christianity and Islam overshadow them all. Societal beliefs transitioned from the universal pre-axial tribal views in the differing tribal societies to become the religious practices in existence today. These practices are relevant to the modern polytheist in several ways, including relationship-building, examination of the self, and virtue ethics as a way of life.

The Mountain Ancestors motto, for me, speaks to what I believe is the ultimate goal of ADF: A liturgy of offerings, a practice of relationships. We are tied as one organization by our Core Order of ritual (shared orthopraxy) built on the foundation of reciprocity in feeling (orthopathy) and the exchange of gifts (sacrifice) with the divine. In other words, the ultimate goal of ADF is to make offerings in the right way with the right intent to the right beings.  This very basic function of our religious path stems from the pre-axial cosmotheology of the earliest Indo-European peoples, as mentioned above, tying us to a truly unbroken current. This current may have existed beneath all things without our knowledge for sometimes generations at a time, but we have tapped into the same energies our Ancestors did to fuel their spiritual endeavors. While our Ancestors shared some beliefs (the Gods were real, the cosmos required specific types of actions to maintain itself, and any misstep in performing these actions could potentially bring devastation to the entire tribe, to name a few), they had a well-defined system of what needed to be done for whom and when. Today, we have a common calendar of events and shared way for upholding these holy days that is consistent with that of our forebears.

Taking a deeper dive into how this manifests in the greater community reveals several places where ADF has room to grow into this vision of our ultimate goal. The most current debate lies in the different ways we treat with the Outdwellers. Some groves and individuals still view the Outdwellers as any spirits who purposes are “cross” to ours who also possess the desire to disrupt the work of our Druidry. Others are taking a different approach and using this space to bring healing to the native peoples of their lands, those who honored the spirits of place and the Earth Mother before our Ancestors settled here.

As an othropraxic faith, the idea of “right” is not one easily defined without creating an accidental belief system. The way forward for ADF as I see it relies on a coming to together of opposing “rights” to build understanding and practice the right relationships we seek with the divine with one another.

Thursday, March 19, 2020


During times of crisis, when life is hard and leaves us sad or afraid, we often find ourselves turning to our authors, our singers, our artists, and our musicians. We turn to those who produce works of inspiration to lift our spirits and bring us the gift of perspective that is the very seed of hope. During this time, when the whole world seems to be shutting down, we need these people more than ever to remind us of our humanity.

As an author and a singer, a writer and a composer, I feel a great sense of expectation. As a priest, it feels more like an imperative: I should be writing *something* to help others find their center and be at peace as best they can in this uncertain and unsettling time. I've been noting my own silence on social media and email and whatnot. I'm not writing! Where are my words of encouragement for my loved ones? Where is my drive to create during this time when creation is the balance to all this seeming destruction? Why am I not writing???

But I am.

I am a healthcare worker, specifically laboratory medicine. I am in the place where your nasal swab goes when they want to test you for COVID-19. I am on the front line of ensuring we keep the tools available and follow all the rules to get you diagnosed, cared for, and restored to health. This is my work right now. This is my mission. This is where my words are.

I am writing. I write responses to doctors and nurses, providing information they need to answer questions from their patients. I participate in group chats almost continually to coordinate with other departments and make sure they have the supplies and receive test results in a way they understand. I reply to other healthcare workers with facts and kindness to ensure those doing this work are in the best headspace possible to make decisions that may save your life.

I also make phone calls and have tea with those precious few who have a moment and are allowed the face-to-face contact, holding space for their fears, their stories from their experiences, and their big emotions surrounding the future.

I may not be posting prayers or hosting online services, and that's okay. There are others carrying that torch. I am holding a different torch in my hand, and I am where my skillset is needed most. I am in the laboratory.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Practice and Initiation

Adherence to a religious practice provides benefits to the practitioners regardless of the church or group. The belief systems of orthodoxic religions such as Christianity provide a change in mindset that becomes the filter through which the practitioner view the world and their place within it. For example, converting to Christianity culminates in a baptism in which the convert is anointed and blessed with oil and Holy Water, sometimes even submerged and pulled from the depths in a reenactment of birth to give the convert the full-body memory of being reborn into their “new life.”

While orthopraxic faiths do not boast a set of new “facts” the adherent must now accept as truth, there are certain actions that will produce similar alignments in the minds and perspective of the new practitioner. The decision to worship the Earth and her inhabitants, for example, will transform the way a person moves through the world. Recycling and focus on one’s carbon footprint are the easiest and most common immediate results of the transformation to the ADF polytheistic worldview.

Hellenic Cult Practices such as the Cult of Dionysos and the Eleusinian Mystery Cult are well-documented ancient examples of the transformative function of religion. In the Cult of Dionysos, the devotees practice a form of ritual ecstasy through entheogens and ecstatic trance promising to lead them into audience with the God himself (Burkett, 1985, p. 223). These group experiences are not unlike the modern charismatic Christian worship sessions in which the participants may speak in tongues (glossolalia) or even be “slain in the spirit” (typically, fainting due to overexposure to uncontrolled ecstatic trance). Similarly in the Eleusinian Mysteries, the audience at the Greater Mysteries ritual observance were given a cocktail of herbs laced with ergot, a naturally occurring lysergic acid (LSD) to induce a similar state of shared otherworldly experience and revelation, after which the participants are treated as Initiates into the sacred, privileged knowledge (Wasson, Hoffmann & Ruck, 2008, p.35). Those few who hold these secrets are charged with responsibility, and the way they live their lives moving forward reflects their new purpose.

ADF was never intended to be an initiatory organization but a public-facing pagan church (Bonewits, Vision). ADF does not condone the use of entheogens, most of which are illegal in the United States, for trance or ritual purposes. When comparing to the reality and the lore of the Indo-European peoples, as a non-reconstructionist group, ADF practices are more themed on the ancient ways than influenced by their purpose and modalities. As mentioned above, while the ADF structures are not reconstructionist, they do provide capabilities for transformation for the practitioners.