ADF Druidism and me

Installation of Rev. ThomasWhat are Druidism and Druidry?

Druidism, for me, is the active practice of a polytheistic nature religion as ADF defines it, worshipping the deities and other spirits of Indo-European hearth cultures, through the establishment of local congregations, called Groves, with attending priests, fund raising, and all the structure that these imply.

Druidry, on the other hand, is the active, personal practice of these religious, spiritual and ecstatic beliefs performed on an individual basis.

So, I practice druidry within my committment to ADF Druidism. These pages will explore both sides of this coin in my spiritual practice: that of my personal practice of ritual, trance, meditation and ecstasy, and my more public face as priest of an ADF Sanctuary, ADF Archdruid (see photo at left), Chief of the Clergy Council, former Chief of the Liturgists Guild, behind-the-scenes cheerleader and, occasionally, scourge.

Both my druidry and my druidism must be carefully balanced with each other. It is very easy as head of the church to become bogged down in the minutiae of administration, to find all of my time taken up with monitoring the ADF e-mail lists, and to discover at the end of the day that I have not taken any time for my personal spiritual life. Instead, I must schedule in my personal work, if nothing else, to make sure that I get the time with the world of Spirit that I need. My practice fills and feeds me, and I would be of little use to the members of ADF should I neglect my own soul.

ADF Druidism

Ár nDríaocht Féin, A Druid Fellowship (ADF), was founded by Isaac Bonewits circa 1984 as a new way of approaching Neopagan religion. Prior to that time, Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG), the writings of folks like Margaret Murray and James Frazier, and a vague sort of mishmash of Native American and Celtic cultures were the primary sources of theology and cosmology for most new Pagans. Isaac decided that we could all do ADF Logobetter than that. He founded ADF on the assumption that sound scholarship using ancient sources and hard work would be required to build the bones of a viable, Neopagan religion, with UPG used to fill in the missing pieces. After all, the best scholarship is useless without spiritual experience to inform it. And this was an approach that worked.

Through the scholarship of religion, archeology and comparative mythology, certain cosmological themes were identified that were shared in common with some or many of the Indo-European cultures. In creating ADF's cosmology, some of these themes were taken directly from the Germanic/Norse, Celtic or Vedic cultures, primarily. Examples include the World Tree/Axis Mundi, the Sacred Fire, the Well or Pit(as connector to the Underworld), the concept of *ghosti (reciprocity), Fire in Water, sacrifice, etc.

In ADF we worship the three Kindreds (the Deities, the Spirits of the Land, and our Ancestors) by making sacrifices to Them, asking for Their blessings in return. We use divination to discover the nature of these blessings, and the use of magic is one way to connect with these Powers. ADF is an orthopraxic religion rather than an orthodoxic one, meaning that what we do matters far more than what we believe. And it is my belief that ADF Priests are primarily ritual specialists. While priests lead groups of the People in making sacrifices, acting as the face of the People towards the Kindreds, anyone, with experience and practice, can experience the Kindreds on their own.

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