Last October I rejoined ADF after a long absence and a series or realizations. Well, I never mentioned it here, but my association with the local ADF grove only lasted about a month and a half. I left the group after realizing it wasn’t a good match for me. The main issue I have is that the group (called a grove) is pan-Indo-European in their focus, with most of the members being Hellenists. I feel that this is just too broad a scope and eventually I would view the long drive to their rituals a meaningless effort if they were only going to do a Celtic ritual once every blue moon. There were other issues complicating the matter- power struggles between members, political stuff and drama. When the only other Celtic-oriented members of the group quit, I decided I just wasn’t going to fit in and I quit too.
I’m still in the dedicant program for ADF. I guess I’m hoping that by the time I complete it, another ADF grove will come along that’s Celtic focused. I learned from my short stint in an ADF grove that those who haven’t completed their dedicant program don’t have any say in writing rituals. I understand why that is- ADF wants to be sure that those who are writing the rituals have a solid understanding of the cosmology and everything. The dedicant program takes a minimum of a year to complete. I’ve gotten some things done on it- the book reports are really hard to push through. Sometimes I wonder if some of this is wasted effort, and I remind myself that I will be glad I got it done if I do get involved with a grove again.
I think I’ve said it before- Celtic Reconstructionism is the closest match for describing my spirituality, but as far as I have found, it is pretty difficult to find CR groups to have ritual and community with. As far as cosmology, scholarship, and much of the ritual structure goes, ADF is pretty close to Celtic Reconstructionism. There’s one thing though- instead of focusing on Celtic/Gaelic Paganism, they are inclusive of all Indo-European pantheons and traditions. I understand that in doing so, they have made themselves the largest Neopagan Druid group in the US- it makes sense in that way. But can one be a Hellenist and still call oneself a Druid? Everything that I have read says that the Druids were Celtic.
I read about a group that broke away from ADF mainly for this reason- the Henge of Keltria. I looked into this group, but was disappointed to find that in creating their form of Druidism, they changed too many things from the way they were done in their parent group. For instance, they made ritual even more elaborate than ADF’s– my tendency is toward KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). More steps were added to the rituals, and an elaborate system of ritual tools was created. They also made the groups initiatory and closed instead of public and open.
Surprisingly, British Druid groups, like the OBOD, are based on 17th century scholarship and uses the ritual trappings of the western mystery tradition.
So as far as Druid groups go, it’s looking like ADF is still the best match for me. I’m thinking that a compatible (Celtic) ADF grove will reach my neck of the woods before a CR Pagan community does. I don’t really think of myself as training to be a “Druid” though- a community of Celtic Pagans is what I‘m looking for, not a priestly title. But it would be handy to come up with a shorter, more elegant label for myself besides “Celtic Reconstructionist Householder and Ozark folk magic practitioner”.