What is Neopagan Druidism?
Neopagan Druidism is a family of religions,
philosophies and ways of life, rooted in ancient soil yet reaching
for the stars. Like other new religions throughout history, we
are responding to the crises of our times philosophical,
environmental and spiritual. Like many other members of what
has come to call itself the Neopagan
community, we are polytheistic Nature worshipers,
attempting to revive the best aspects of the Paleopagan
(original) faiths of our predecessors within a modern scientific,
artistic, ecological, and wholistic context, taking nondogmatic,
pluralistic approachs. Like our namesakes, the original Druids,
were people who believe in excellence physically,
intellectually, artistically, and spiritually.
Whats the Difference Between
Druidism and Druidry?
Those of us who emphasize the social and religious
roles of ancient and modern Druids as clergy and community leaders,
tend to favor the -ism
ending. Those who prefer to stress the solitary
and mystical/philosophical side of the Druid paths, tend to prefer
the -ry version.
Many Neopagan Druids use both terms, depending upon the moment
What Do Neopagan Druids Do?
Were designing and performing powerful
magical and religious ceremonies to change ourselves and the
world we live in, including regular public worship of the Old
Gods and Goddesses, as well as rites of passage (weddings, child
blessings, etc.). Were adapting the polytheologies and
customs of both the Indo-European (especially the Celtic) Paleopagans
and the Neopagan traditions that have been created over the last
fifty years. Were researching and expanding sound modern
scholarship (instead of romantic fantasies) about the ancient
Celts, as well as (in A.D.F.) the
Norse, Slavs, Balts, Greeks, Romans, Vedics, and other Indo-European
peoples, in order to reconstruct as much as possible of what
the Old Religions of pre-Christian Europe really were. Were
working on the development of genuine skills in composition and
presentation in the musical, dramatic, graphic, textile, and
other arts. Were creating non-sexist, non-racist, organic,
flexible and publically-accessible religions to practice as ways
of life and to hand on to our grandchildren. Were integrating
ecological awareness, alternate healing arts, and psychic development
into our daily activities. Were holding regional festivals
to help ourselves meet, study, pray, and play with other like-minded
folks. Some of us are actively preparing for the time when Neopagan
religions will be part of the mainstream global culture, with
large congregations meeting at temples and sacred groves throughout
the Western world. Together, were sparking the next major
phase in the evolution of Neopaganism and planting seeds for
generations to come.
Are Neopagan Druids Real Druids?
Organizationally, our denominations are as
real as those of any other religious movement. A.D.F.,
Keltria, and O.B.O.D.
are all legally registered as nonprofit organizations with their
respective local and national governments, and have received
recognition of their tax-exempt status. Appropriate legal and
tax status in other nations is being obtained as needed.
Historically, there are no real
Druids left. The Paleopagan
Druids were wiped out centuries ago and only fragments of
their traditions survived, despite the claims of some would-be
Spiritually, we believe that we are following
the paths once trod by our namesakes and that no other name is
nobler or more suited to our modern intentions and that
makes us real as far as were concerned!
Are Neopagan Druid Groups Cults?"
Not hardly. The only dogma promulgated by
any group so far has been the Doctrine
of Archdruidic Fallibility, requiring
the members of A.D.F. to accept that their Archdruid makes mistakes
not a problem with their first one (myself). Members of
Neopagan Druid groups are encouraged to (politely) argue with
their leadership, to form their own opinions and special interest
groups, and to communicate as much as possible with both
without a sense of humor and proportion are discouraged from
seeking leadership positions. Nepotism is discouraged, financial
records are open, everyone is accountable to everyone else, and
the leadership generally winds up poorer, not richer, than the
average member. So what more do you want?
You might find it interesting to score the
Neopagan Druid movements with my Cult Danger
What About Other Druid Groups?
Neopagan Druids maintain friendly relations
with the fraternal or Mesopagan
Druid orders in England and elsewhere, as well as with other
Neopagan and Druidic groups. They encourage their members to
investigate these other organizations and to learn as much as
they can about alternate paths of Druidism. They will, however,
expose groups and individuals they believe to be fraudulent or
dangerous, even though such vigilance may be controversial.
But What if Im Not Irish?
You dont have to be. Despite A.D.F.s
Irish name and their use of the Celtic term for clergy (druids), their
members come from a wide variety of ancestries, including European,
Asian, Native American, and African. Their members honor Celtic,
Germanic, Lithuanian, Polish, Greek and other Indo-European deities,
ancestors and nature spirits, as well as local land spirits.
If youre sincerely interested in any of the old I-E cultures
and its metaphysics, arts, and customs, then youre welcome
Similarly, though Keltria and O.B.O.D. focus
their attention on Celtic and Celtic/British traditions, respectively,
both are interested in Native American studies and welcome members
of any ancestry to their ranks. In general, Neopagan Druids have
no time or sympathy for racist nonsense or cultural bigotry.
Is Neopagan Druidism Wiccan?
(Neopagan Witchcraft) movement includes the vast majority of the hundreds
of thousands (millions?) of
people involved in Neopaganism in North America. Many Neopagan
Druids have been or still are followers of Wicca, including a
sizable proportion of the older Neopagan Druid leadership. There
is no serious contradiction between the paths, especially since,
as polytheists, we are free to worship many deities in many ways.
The primary differences between Neopagan Druidism
(in A.D.F.) and Wicca are these: Druidism is polytheistic, large-group
oriented, and public. Wicca is duotheistic, small-group oriented,
and private. Nonetheless, the two religions have far more in
common than they have separating them (see What
Neopagans Believe for details). Wiccan covens can (and do)
function as special interest groups within larger Druid groves,
along with bardic, healing, ecological, divinitory, and other
groups. It is not unusual for small gatherings of Neopagan Druids
to use Wiccan liturgical techniques, nor for large public Wiccan
rites to borrow Neopagan Druidic methods.
Arent Druids All Men?
No. Despite the stereotypes of the ancient
Druids as having been long-bearded patriarchs, and the misogynist
ravings of Monroes 21 Lessons of Hogwash, you didnt
have to be a man to be a Paleopagan Druid. After all, it would
have been hard to pass on membership in a social class without
babies, huh? Certainly, you dont need to be male to be
a Neopagan Druid (though the emphatically fraternal
branches of Mesopagan Druids still segregate
their members by gender). Half of the membership of A.D.F., Keltria,
and O.B.O.D. are female and women hold half of the positions
of power in all three organizations. Neopagan Druids have deliberately
chosen to make gender and affectional preferences irrelevant
to participation in their activities. As worshippers of the Earth
Mother, we can do no less.
Didnt the Ancient Druids Do Human Sacrifice?
Yes, its probably true. But then, so
did the clergy of almost every other religion in human history,
including the monotheistic ones. In fact, the (Un-)Holy Inquisition
probably managed to kill more innocent people in an average year
than the Paleopagan Druids did in a century! Nonetheless, Neopagan
Druids have never practiced human or animal sacrifice in our
rituals. Instead we offer the Goddesses and Gods flowers, fruits,
wine, incense, music, song, drama, prayer, and most important
of all our love and our dedication. The deities seem to
find it more than sufficient.
What Are the Druid Holidays?
Most Neopagan Druids celebrate the turning
of the Wheel of the Year
by observing eight High Days: the two solstices and the two equinoxes,
as well as the four halfway points between (which were originally
the great fire festivals of our European predecessors). Due to
our calendrical researches, the purists
among us sometimes celebrate the Fire Festivals
a few days after other Neopagans do. Some groves also celebrate
the various phases of the moon, or the beginnings and endings
of various hunting, fishing, and agricultural seasons.
Because Neopagan Druidism (in A.D.F.) is focussed
so much on public service, local groves in the USA may also celebrate
holidays from the secular and mainstream calendars, such as Bring
Back the Snakes Day on March 17th, the Festival of the Goddess
of Liberty on the 4th of July, or the Feast of the Turkey God
in late November.
To find out more about Neopagan
Druidism, read the
other pages about it on this website, and visit the webpages
maintained by A.D.F., Keltria