Me and Ár nDraíocht Féin


Those of you who follow my blog have probably read my rambling on the different types of Paganism I’ve tried on for size; my journeys from Wicca to Celtic Reconstructionism (CR), to ADF Druidry (Ár nDraíocht Féin), to Gnosticism, then back full circle revisiting them all again.  The two that seem to resound with me the most are CR and ADF.

A while back I was reading Facebook and came across a video someone had posted titled “A Druid Dialog: What is ADF?”.  Suddenly it made me miss being a member of ADF.  Kirk Thomas is an dynamic speaker, and I can’t think of anyone who could be a better leader of the organization.  I think part of my reflecting back on ADF is that I miss being a member of a larger Pagan organization and the sense of belonging that comes with it.  I went to YouTube and started watching ADF videos and came across one of my favorite ritual songs ever- the “Portal Song”.  Oh how I love that song!  I feel such nostalgia for the music, the liturgy, and the ritual style.   I realize that, even as a CR, I still use a lot of ADF terminology and liturgy.  Even more, most of the philosophy has stuck with me through the years.

It’s been twice that I joined ADF- the first time was is in 2001, then again in 2009.  Both times I let my membership drop after a year.  The first time it was because there were no local groups to join, and the second time it was because I felt I didn’t fit in with the local group, and I was feeling that ADF style rituals seemed too elaborate.  Also I wanted something specifically Celtic.  Now I find myself wanting to re-examine it all again.  It’s not like I’m going to join a local grove or anything (I‘m involved in a mixed Pagan group right now), but I’m starting to want to go back and finish the Dedicant program, just for my personal satisfaction.  I want to actually make those ADF prayer/ritual beads that I planned out.

What I think I need to do is a “pros & cons” kind of thing…

Ritual:  ADF rituals include a few things I usually leave out as a Celtic Reconstructionist.  Upon close examination, many of these things are not something that I would disagree with, it’s just that I think they are not necessary.  And actually, many of them are not “required”.  The only “required” ritual step (for the ritual to be considered ADF), that I am not real fond of, is the Gatekeeper invocation.  I have noticed that some CR folk do this though, so there must be some kind of historical precedent for it.  And although I’m not that fond of routinely calling on a “Gatekeeper”, I am resounding, as never before, with the symbolism of the Sacred Center of Well, Fire, and Tree and the reality that they are portals to communicating (more effectively, perhaps) with the Spirits.

I don’t like the “Outsider offering”, but as far as I can tell, it’s not a required item.

I also don’t agree with the idea of taking an omen to see if the Spirits accepted the offering.  I think the Spirits accept whatever we offer them if given in love…
“If one offers me a simple leaf, fruit, or flower with love and devotion, I will accept it.”  – Bhagavad Gita
I’ve noticed however, that in many of the rituals (that I’ve read on the website lately), the omen portion of the ritual is used just to divine the nature of the return blessing, not to judge the worthiness of the sacrifice.  This I would be more in agreement with.

And well, I guess that’s it about ritual.  I’m looking at the “ADF Core Order of Ritual” and finding nothing else to disagree with.  Could it have been that I just built up the ritual structure in my mind to be something too elaborate?  Some may think it a moot point anyway; an ADF member once told me that one’s personal practice need not be effected by ADF’s protocol.  However, I think it’s a matter of principle; shouldn’t one agree with ADF’s ritual style for it to be one’s spiritual path?  It appears that, except for a couple of little things, I do agree with the ritual structure.

Can I find any other disagreements with ADF in general?  At one time I would have preferred a Celtic-only group.  But at this point I like the freedom of being able to explore the entire Indo-European spectrum.  I’ve been into Hindu-Celtic connections lately, so Vedism might be interesting to explore.  (I just want my Celtic feast days to remain Celtic.)
Who knows, this time I might make ADF my long-term spiritual home- my personal practice, whatever group I may be in.


3 responses »

  1. Thanks Julie! I’m finding that nearly all of it works for me- kind of having a series of epiphanies, understanding things about ADF ritual/traditions that I didn’t fully understand before, or am now getting at a deeper level. It will probably be fodder for some inspired writing.

  2. Hello,

    I am so pleased to read this and energised in the process. I have been a member of ADF since 2003 and have made it my personal practice as well as have been looking into both Hinduism and CR traditions.

    I’ve run a group here locally in Texas and I plan to start one in my current city of Austin, TX. I plan on organizing an Irish Celtic ADF grove that is CR friendly. I’m exploring if this is feasible.

    I just have a few thoughts I would like to share from my perspective, so let me explain that briefly. Celtic religion is my life and in my blood. I don’t go 5 minutes with out thinking about reducing my ego and serving others. I’ve watched all things Hindu that I was able on netflix, Shortcut to Nirvana, Fierce Grace, Gopi Krishna, and many other docs short and long. Now I’m reading the Upanishads and the Vedas. My perspective is that I, the only one who will in my area, do what it takes to create a local Celtic community, so I must.

    From this perspective I feel like any local group, if there was one, would be there for my shaping and influence. If the group near me wasn’t likeable, then I’ll spend the time I need to in order to help transform it into something great. Trust me I’d love to sit back and be a congregant, let others plan things, but it is my duty to fill in when there isn’t another to take over or if others need help.

    If there are personal issues with the people there that’s another ordeal entirely.

    Regarding ritual, I am amazed to see how ADF rites are similar to CR rites. I’m amazed that CR’s can even have rites since no druid could ever tell us what she’s done. All we have are Indo-European clues & what Catholicism has absorbed. The outsiders/out-dwellers, are a nice little addition that I enjoy.

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