Showing posts with label American Druids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American Druids. Show all posts

The Path to Neopagan Druidry




Contemporary Druidry is a religious movement that appears to be descended from the ancient Indo-European Druids. 

This links isn’t really historical; they're more ideological. r nDraocht Féin (ADF) represents a critical and growing modern religious phenomenon in the United States and Western Europe as one manifestation of this kind of Druidry. The topic of how people come across ADF and what causes them to become adherents emerges.



This essay examines field data to build a structure for comprehending the different routes to ADF. The essay examines conversion theory considering ADF adherents' testimonies, using the Lofland-Stark model of conversion. The essay ends by arguing that religious inequality, religious identity, and religious authority are all aspects that influence conversion and should be investigated further in conversion theory.


Religion continues to play an important part in people's lives, as shown by the plurality of religious views. 

Most of them identify as religious or spiritual. The resurgence of ancient European religious practices, also known as modern Paganism or Neopaganism, is one manifestation of this spirituality.



The diverse forms and rise of Neopaganism and other modern faith movements contradict Max Weber's hypothesis of religion's waning presence because of a rationalizing Western monotheism that eradicated spirits and sorcery. Druidry is an expression, or revival, of an ancient European religious practice that is resurfacing in Western culture. “Far from Weber's disenchantment of the universe, [Druidry's] worldview entails just the opposite: a radical re-enchantment,'” says one Druid insider.


The advent of one specific movement in North America, r nDraocht Féin (pron. arn ree-ocht fane [ADF]), also known as A Druid Fellowship or, simply, Our Druid Fellowship, would be discussed after identifying and situating Druidry in the form of modern Pagan religions. 

Three elements that make up routes to ADF are put forward in the sense of conversion theory: religious deprivation, identity, and legitimacy. As a result, the analysis shows that these aspects have a substantial impact on a person's religious identity and should be included in prospective conversion research.

Data collection is one of the problems that modern Paganism researchers face. While it is not impossible, the private essence of certain religious practices makes outsider interpretation difficult. Pagan celebrations are usually only open to practitioners. Religious ceremonies performed in public, such as our participant observation of a summer solstice celebration at Glastonbury Tor, are less troublesome.

Around the same time, owing to the private essence of a Druid ordination at Stonehenge after the summer solstice ritual, permission to attend it could be refused. 

It's much less difficult for the researcher after they've formed a rapport with the insider. A Druid grove asked us to videotape a holy rite after nearly three years. It was a Druid priest's ordination rite in this situation. And though, the intimate essence of the ritual prohibited certain people from being videotaped.



Nonetheless, our six-year investigation resulted in multiple interviews with seventy followers conducted primarily through the Internet and electronic mail, as well as participant impressions of three religious traditions. This study aims to define Druid values and equate them to the religious beliefs of Western culture. 

The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and the ADF are the two Druid groups with the most respondents. Interviews with twenty-six ADF participants provided the basis for this essay. Thirty autobiographical drawings of ADF officials were also collected and posted on the group's Web site (www.adf.org).



THE SEARCH FOR DRUIDRY IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES


The religious identity of modern Druidry is based on the Celtic peoples' historical record. Most of what we know about the ancient Druids, the Celts' priestly order, comes from archaeological and written records from Greece and Rome. Since they relied on oral history to hand along cultural patterns, there are no primary source sources for this ancient people.


The Celts' faith was marked by nature veneration, polytheism, and worship of both male and female deities, as were many indigenous Indo-European religions. 

Though it's almost impossible to pinpoint the Celtic pantheon, Celtic Studies scholar Nora Chadwick speculates that "devotees may have sought from their deities such benefits as safety in battle, succor in trouble, and help in life generally" from their gods.



Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, among other ancient texts, associated Celtic deities with Roman deities, recounting their faith in a sovereign authority as well as gods of architecture, manufacturing, healing, and battle. 

The religion seemed to be tribal in nature, with no discernible gods and goddesses. A deity's cult was linked to a specific site, such as a spring, lake, river, or woodland. The Druid central places of worship were in natural settings, unlike the Celts who had religious enclosures or temples for laypeople. Druids worshipped gods in uninhabited groves of trees called holy places only accessible to Druids, according to Greek and Roman authors.



The Druids were partly responsible for Celtic philosophical and religious life. 

Chadwick describes their instruction as “on a lofty plane and included such subjects as the stars and their movements, the essence and beauty of our world, the strength and glory of the everlasting gods, and other matters which constituted natural and moral philosophy.” According to Caesar, the Druids knew both Greek and Latin and were involved in their people's political and military affairs.


He regarded them as people's scientists and political thinkers, as well as judges and arbitrators in both public and private disagreements. They learned that the soul was invincible and that it was a part of the god Caesar referred to as Dis Pater. The soul's life will transfer to other bodies rather than being destroyed at death. The Celts' fearlessness in the face of death was attributed to their belief in the afterlife.



Relying on the Druids' historical record, which is mostly secondary and tertiary, may be troublesome. Political interests colored Caesar's friendship with the Druids, at least two of whom he directly met and whom he seems to have glossed throughout the letter. Nonetheless, as Monica Emerich points out, there are two approaches to look at historical manifestations of this ancient faith. Revivalist groups, on the one hand, use tradition as a reference point for the development of religious traditions.


As a result, these movements adopt rituals and beliefs from other Pagan faiths, as many old Druid practices are lost. 

Since revivalist movements bring something new to their historical interpretation, they are usually called Neopagan. Reconstructionist groups, on the other hand, value history rather than archaeology and claim that ancient rituals can be uncovered and recovered by research into archaeology, epigraph, historical sources, folklore, and early British literature.



“ADF Druidry is a restoration religion,” one informant says in attempting to justify ADF. We do this by studying literature, archaeology, and the way people lived, as well as their belief structures and migrations.” To be sure, there is some debate on whether modern Druidry is a revivalist or reconstructionist faith.

There are elements of modern Druidry that fall under both groups. Nonetheless, since this research is focusing on a single Druid group and its founders, it is critical to learn how they describe themselves. Druidry is defined as follows by ADF: Neopagan is a term used to describe a group of people Druidry is a collection of religions, philosophies, and ways of life with roots in the past but aspirations to the stars. We are a member of the NeoPagan revival, which is one of the most vital and innovative recent religious awakenings in the world.



We are polytheistic nature worshippers, like most of that movement, operating with the best elements of our forefathers' Pagan religions within a new science, artistic, ecological, and wholistic sense, using a nondogmatic and pluralistic approach.

One informant defined ADF as follows in response to our initial contact: There are other Druid churches, just as there are Christian churches other than the EFCA [Evangelical Free Church of America]. Our views may vary from those of other Druid churches, much as they may differ from those of the Byzantine Catholic Church of Slovakia, for example. Since ADF is pan Indo-European in origin, our views can vary from Grove to Grove, for example, one Grove may have a Celtic emphasis while another has a Slavic focus. We are close to the EFCA in this sense, or at least our interpretation of the EFCA, which is, I think, an organization of congregations with a central mission but no central dogma.


Druidry was described by Isaac Bonewits, ADF's founder and first Archdruid, in light of its connection to ancient expressions, or "paleoPaganism" in Bonewits' terms. 

Druidry is therefore a Neopagan faith. This suggested that ADF would be a modern manifestation of what Bonewits considered "Paleopaganism."

He wanted to distinguish Neopaganism from Pagan faith sects that combine aspects of Christianity or other religions into their culture, or "Mesopaganisms," which emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and can now be found in fraternal societies like Freemasonry and mystical orders like the Ordo Templi Orientis.

Adherents don't appear to care for these differences. As Breanna points out, "as for us, we answer shamelessly yes to all words." I'm a Neo-Pagan and a Pagan. However, as time passes, I find that I am mostly referring to myself as a Pagan rather than a Neo-Pagan. Perhaps that I've been a Pagan for over a decade and a half. It's not like I'm new to it anymore.

Nonetheless, ADF contains both revivalist and reconstructionist elements. They are also known as geopagans, neopagans, and recopagans. However, since a precise description is difficult to come by, the following seems reasonable: Contemporary Druidry is a modern faith phenomenon aiming to restore and/or recreate ancient Indo-European folk traditions. As a result, modern Druidry is polytheistic and nature-loving, in an explicit effort to adapt what is understood of ancient Druidic religion and practice.


A SHORT HISTORY OF DRUIDRY IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA






Druidry in North America started at a small Lutheran college in Minnesota. The Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) was established in 1963 on the Carleton College campus in response to demonstrations against mandatory chapel attendance. 

The pioneers had no intention of starting a religion, and they had no expectation that it would last until they graduated from college. RDNA drew its name from no historical documents, and many of those who joined the revolution later returned to their former religion. RDNA has been compared to the United Ancient Society of Druids and other fraternal orders grouped along the lines of freemasonry, according to others.

ADF started as a breakaway from RDNA. In 1968, Archdruid and cofounder of RDNA Robert Larson dropped out of Carleton College without graduating and founded a Druid grove in Berkeley, California. 

He found a following there because he was fascinated with ancient Paganism, and one of his followers, Isaac Bonewits, would start ADF. 19 Bonewits will attempt—unsuccessfully—to shift RDNA from its Mesopagan roots to Neopaganism after becoming a Druid priest in 1969.



Over the years, I've learned, practiced, and written on several different types of magic and religion, but I still come back to Druidism. Many people have written to me to tell me about their divine journeys and how they knew they were supposed to follow the Druid Path. 


But what will we do for communion as Neopagan Druids who want to worship and grow? 

About the fact that the Masonic Druids are not Neopagans, they have a lot to teach us.


Wicca's "Druidic" rituals are intriguing, but not particularly Druidic. 

The RDNA has little involvement in being coordinated by others or in hiring and educating Neopagan Druids. There doesn't appear to be any concerted effort to recreate what the Paleopagan Druids originally believed and did, or to extend that experience to the development of a Neopagan religion appropriate for the Space Age.

Bonewits outlined his vision for Neopagan Druidry in 1984, which would eventually lead to the founding of ADF: The aim of this letter is to inform you of the existence of a new Neopagan religion called Draocht Féin, as well as to invite you to participate in it. 


The Irish words (pronounced "arn ree-ocht fane") mean "Our Own Druidism," and that's just what I'm talking about: a whole new kind of Druidism that's not only Pan-Celtic, but Pan-European as well

(By this latter definition, I mean all European branches of the Indo-European culture and language tree, including Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Baltic, and even pre-Classical Greek and Roman.)

Surprisingly, this will imitate Paleopagan Druidism even better than any attempt in the last thousand years. It will be focused on the most up-to-date scholarly study, as well as what we've heard (about poetry, psychology, small-group politics, and economics) from contemporary Neopaganism's philosophy and practice, as well as our own understanding of (polytheological and realistic details) mystical and religious phenomena.



The founding Archdruid retired twelve years later, on January 1, 1996, due to personal health concerns and other issues. 

“I am also weary of struggling to uphold our values of teaching and liturgy, of endless backbiting and speculation that has replaced real work for many of our members and some officers, of egalitarian campaigns to cripple our office, and of sanctimonious attempts to silence me from voicing unpopular opinions,” he wrote.

 Of course, all of these are typical human practices by people of all faiths. I just don't have the physical or emotional stamina to deal with them.”

Bonewits says the process went well, and he is now the order's Archdruid Emeritus. ADF has grown steadily over the years, with three Archdruids since 1984: Bonewits (1984–1996), Fox (1996–2001), and finally Skip Ellison (2001–present). According to Ellison, the ADF had 49 groves and 957 members as of March 2005. ADF now claims sixty-one groves and 1177 followers as of August 2007.



THEORY OF CONVERSION


Even though ADF has evolved, the issue of why people are drawn to this religious structure remains unanswered. For decades, theological studies have focused on conversion theory, which began with the hypothesis that conversion to religious denominations was usually exemplified in a Pauline way. The Pauline conversion was dramatic and divinely initiated, influenced by St. Augustine's understanding of the Apostle Paul's encounter. Augustine also saw the New Testament as teaching the coercion of heretics and unbelievers, which could be brutal at times.


Conversion philosophy has grown to take individual responsibility in the conversion process more seriously. 

Predisposing circumstances and situational contingencies, according to the LoflandStark model of conversion, precipitate people's inclination to associate with faith movements. Three variables were identified by Lofland and Stark as predisposing conditions. For starters, pre-converts feel a conflict between an idealised version of themselves and their present situation.

This friction then causes pre-converts to believe that a new religious identity would help them overcome the conflict. Finally, pre-converts seek a solution to their dilemma through a divine framework that makes sense of their present circumstances. As a result, new recruits are predisposed to religious changing due to the lure of an agenda that alleviates feelings of injustice.

The second explanation Lofland and Stark said pre-converts were associated with a religious movement was because of situational contingencies, or "conditions that contribute to the effective recruiting of individuals predisposed." These contingencies are based on four main characteristics.

First, at the time of interaction with the religious movement, a pre-convert has hit a tipping point. Second, the pre-convert forms a "affective relationship" with a participant or members of the faith movement. Third, social networks that compete are diminished or eliminated. Fourth, the pre-convert is subjected to "intense contact" with recent converts. As a result, the Lofland-Stark hypothesis proposes that the conversion decision is influenced by the transition in a pre-social convert's network.

Although the Lofland-Stark hypothesis has been evaluated several times over the years, Lorne Dawson evaluates the model in terms of how empirically validated their seven variables (three predisposing conditions and four situational contingencies) are. “The degree to which any or more of these considerations are involved in recruiting to any NRM is subject to variation,” Dawson admits. Rather, a person's decision to convert or reaffiliate may be influenced by a variety of factors.


As a result, while religion is important in some instances of conversion, the social network is important in others. 

While Stark and Bainbridge argue that social networks are critical for recruitment, Helen Rose Ebaugh and Sharon Vaughn discovered that the essence of those networks, as well as their ability to recruit, is mediated by the politics of a religion.

When looking at conversion myths, Dawson notices seven generalizations of why people join new faith groups. At a larger extent, social networks are used to recruit people to NRMs. Affective links are used to persuade recruits to join NRMs. Intensive contact with participants aids in the conversion of recruits. Weak social links outside of an NRM's activities reinforce the NRM's activities. Weak ideological views strengthen an NRM's grip. Any conversions are preceded by active search for theological answers. Conversion is accelerated by promises of incentives.

Conversion or reaffiliation of a certain religion may be influenced by some variation of these generalizations. Social networks that lead people to turn to Druidry seem to be lacking in the case of Druidry (at least absent from the testimonies of adherents). Ideological attraction and suffering, on the other hand, play a major role in the road to Druidry.



THE PATH TO ÁR nDRAÍOCHT FÉIN



Many factors influence people's decision to join a religious movement. Despite the fact that many ADF members will not call themselves converts; faith shifts have occurred. Conversion and reaffiliation are two terms coined by Rodney Stark and Roger Finke to describe such a transition. “Shifts through faith traditions” is how conversion is described. In the majority of ADF cases, followers have "converted."

In certain cases, association with ADF coincided with reaffiliation, or “shifts within religious traditions,” as in the case of moving from Other Pagan or Wicca to Druidry, as described by Stark and Finke. The most significant change in religious practices happened as Christianity gave way to Druidry. Conversion took place in the bulk of cases (54 percent), with reaffiliation accounting for 30%.


Religious injustice, religious identification, and religious authority arose as recurring concepts in practitioners' reactions to their association with ADF.

In most cases, these themes, or routes, have worked in tandem, allowing for more investigation into theological shifts. Though there are systemic and institutional aspects of ADF's development that can be identified, they are outside the reach of this paper. The emphasis here would be on practitioners' self-awareness as they walked the different Druidry routes.



Deprivation of Religion


Disillusionment with western Christianity was a common trend among ADF members. The Christian age is viewed by Druids as one of ruin and futility. Western Christianity, they believe, has become a patriarchal power that has oppressed women and ignored the world. Similarly, it is distinguished by a focus on logic rather than creativity. The world was demythologized and disenchanted because of this emphasis on rationalism, as defined by Max Weber and Peter Berger.


“Christianity today: I believe all of it is NOT Christ like,” Christopher said of his experience of Christianity. 

I believe Jesus will be deeply embarrassed by what ‘his' followers have done in his name over the years. This isn't to suggest that "any Christian" behaves in this manner. I am aware that there are genuine Christians, and we hold them in the highest regard.”


Many practitioners of Druidry come from Christian traditions, as one would imagine in a world governed by Christianity. 

Seventy-seven percent of ADF interviewees had formerly belonged to a Christian denomination. Although it is unsurprising that migration in the Western world occurs away from the dominant faith, the causes for such conversion are of special concern. “Since I was raised as a ‘Christian,' I can say with conviction that Christianity as a ‘Formal Religion' is the most perverted, dishonest, wretched excuse for a religion I have ever heard of,” Peter, for example, said.

Bryan Perrin vowed to abandon his parents' Christian faith after seeing the death of a pet. He writes: It was then that I was taught that animals had no spirits, no heaven, and no savior, as the Bible says. I reasoned that if God's heaven didn't tolerate animals, I wouldn't want to be a part of it! The Bible is incorrect as it teaches that humans are the only kind of life with a soul. I put the book down and went straight to the source—the Earth, the Mother of All Life.


This disillusionment with Christianity led to the exploration of new religions and, eventually, Druidry. ADF's new Archdruid was raised in a Baptist parish. 

He characterized his Christian experience as "born again" before changing his religious affiliation. “The more I read, the more I knew it just wasn't true,” he says. There was more of the world than what they were letting on.” When asked what he believed the Baptists weren't teaching him, he said, "I hated the fact that I had to accept everything that was written in one book when there were more manuscripts available from that time period that disproved it or talked about other topics."

The more history I researched and the more archaeological studies I saw, the more I resented that the Baptists weren't telling me the whole story. I began purchasing and reading books. I was a member of the Psychic Book Club. This was in the 1960s, and I discovered that it was more in line with my requirements. Yet nature, the forests, and hunting have always piqued my curiosity. And I don't believe that most monotheistic religions support all of that, that embraces nature and makes your way of life a part of your religious experience. No, only a small percentage of them do.


There are a few emerging green Christian communities, but they are heretical.

The notion that Christianity was leading people astray was widespread. Ann, for example, says, "Let me tell you a little history." I grew up in the Assembly of God and the Church of God. I attended AG summer camp for three years (one of which I was one of eight candidates for "Camper of the Week"), was a member of the youth group, and began a Bible study class in the library every morning before class my junior year of high school. I initiated a lunchtime fellowship party my senior year at a new high school...


I've been baptized twice. 

When I was seven years old, I saw it for the first time. I opted to do it again at seventeen because I didn't believe I fully comprehended the gravity of baptism as an infant. Much of this is to let you know that I have "lived" the life...

I didn't just do the bare minimum... I, on the other hand, challenged and questioned. I couldn't imagine how God could condemn decent people to hell just because they had contradictory beliefs. People who were TRUELY GOOD will have to suffer because of their actions. I couldn't comprehend how He could cause people who had never heard of Him to suffer. “What about the people in the African jungles who have never heard of God?” I once asked my youth minister. “Everyone will have a chance to convert to God,” was the message I received.

Anyway, as I grew older, more and more things didn't sit well with me. THEN I met my husband, who happened to be a devout Catholic. That was a “no no” in my household when I was growing up. Catholics will be damned as well. This was still perplexing to me. My dear husband's family was made up of some of the nicest, most beautiful people I'd ever meet...

I kept on to these convictions for years after we were together... but I was divided. “Because the Bible says so,” was my typical response to questions posed by others or by myself. Yet I was also torn. It didn't feel seem good... I then took a comparative religion class eight years ago. This was the catalyst for things to get moving. Later, I began to read a portion of the Tao te Ching. I'm speechless!

Many people had beliefs that were somewhat close to those of Jesus. Many of these, though, occurred before his day. And, oh, how many common “creation” myths there are!!! Anyway, one thing led to another, and I came to call this place home. I don't consider myself to be a druid. I joined ADF and RavenWood to learn and be with those who value ALL life as sacred.


The belief that Christianity was unsatisfying or that it misled people by depriving them of other religious experiences and expressions also prompted a conversion to Druidry, either from another religious practice or specifically from Christianity.

 Individuals clearly faced suffering because of a struggle between what they viewed as the ideal and the truth of religion, as Lofland and Stark explained it. Before affiliating with the current faith wave, there was a certain amount of latent friction due to religious deprivation.

This conflict was most exemplified in the adherents' understanding that Christianity did not meet their spiritual needs, as it was in Ann's case. This prompted them to look for a new religious expression. A longing for a religious identity somewhere linked to an ancient faith was also relevant in both cases, whether conversion or reaffiliation.



Religious Belief and Identity




The need for religious identity arose as a second universal trend. For millennia, Christianity provided a religious ideology for the Western world, but in recent years, the rise of immigrant faith and emerging religious movements has flooded the social marketplace with competing ideologies. 


Exploration in ancient European religions such as Druidry has legitimized rituals previously believed to be superstitious and disavowed by Christianity, thanks in part to globalization and widespread adoption of Eastern philosophies.

His willingness to investigate alternative religions or ideologies reflects the theological pluralism of a globalized culture, but it also reveals a crisis in late-modern society's religious identity. Several respondents said that their participation in other faiths influenced their decision to study Druidry. They were fascinated not only by theology, but also by mystery, especially as it related to nature and the divine. When ADF aims to put the past into the present, this sense of religious identity is crucial.

While Sarah Pike's claim that Neopaganism arose from religious practices linked to eighteenth and nineteenth-century Esotericism may be true in some cases, Druidry practitioners have felt a stronger attachment to nature or ancestry than to Theosophy or Asian faiths, and these two links have driven many to ADF. “My intuition about Druidry is that it provides one of the most straightforward means of communicating with certain god/goddess embodiments, and in its respect for nature, it offers humanity a stabilizing reconnection with who we really are,” Zachary says. This is something that Western culture sorely requires.”

Some people simply experience a sense of belonging to the world. “I still seemed to have a ‘connection' to the Earth that seemed, to me, akin to magic,” Debbie said. Others combine the relation between nature and heritage. “Like so many others, I craved a bond to our Mother Earth and my European ancestors,” one leader said of his motivation for joining ADF.

“I have some Irish roots, and was attracted to there, but ended up making a sort of meandering beeline to Ireland,” Dorothy said in an interview. I was awoken to something new while roaming the countryside around Sligo, especially at Queen Maeb's tomb. For the first time, I had the impression that the land was listening to me, and that discrete, sentient intelligences were speaking to me.”

The Lofland-Stark hypothesis and the conversion of ADF followers have certain similarities in terms of religious affiliation. Many of their conversion accounts, for example, show a dramatic turning point, but it was most frequently articulated in terms of a sense of connection with nature and the spiritual than a sense of connection to a social network. Dawson's assertion of an ideological convergence, or what I call a preference for religious identity, is reflected in this aspect.

A relationship with another ADF member was seldom mentioned as a factor in an adherent's decision to join. However, because of the Druid belief in the divine essence of the universe and the assumed existence of ancestral and spirit encounters, social networks can be conceptualized in terms of a spiritual rather than a material bond.

Although there does not appear to be an affective bond with other members, there does appear to be a bond through the Internet. It's also uncertain if the Internet interaction was exclusive to the ADF Web site or included individual members of the discussion group. It's possible that an affective relationship was formed through electronic means rather than face-to-face communication. There's no evidence that bonds outside of ADF were cut or that there was a lot of contact with new converts. Instead, it seems that the ideological changes were prompted in part by a need for a religious ideology founded on an ideological appeal that corresponded to personal experience.



Legitimacy of Religion


Finally, a third approach to Druidry is focused on religious authority based on research and the interpretation of antiquity. Druidry's eighteenth-century resurgence, an obsession with ancient religious identity sparked in part by European encounters with native peoples in North America, shows the influence of scholarship. A renewed awareness of Europe's ancient identity arose as a result of the translation of classical texts into English.


However, there is a scarcity of historical information about the ancient Druids, and reports of a unified religious belief among the Celtic tribes, who spanned the continent from Iberia to the upper Danube, are unfounded. 

“The enormously rich vernacular literature of the Insular Celts must be approached with the knowledge that Celtic faith was not always consistent across Europe, nor was it unchanging,” writes Barry Cunliffe. “It would be impractical to pursue a consistent explanation of the Celts' convictions as such within the whole corpus of early Irish literature,” Chadwick says.

About how appealing it might be to some, there is no proof that Europe ever had a single ancient faith. As a result, Christina Oakley claims that modern Pagans, whether Wiccan or Druid, are mistaken in claiming a single extant ancient European religious heritage. Rather, it's more fitting to talk about ancient belief systems that were incorporated into the cloth of a tolerant folk Christianity.

When Christianity came and developed itself, those unique people who trusted in their local deities, cultivated psychic or magical powers, told and retold their ancient stories, cast spells and performed divinations, clothed in animal skins— nearly all called themselves Christian, even though it was just a nominal Christianity in rural areas.


Nonetheless, many Pagans in modern Western civilization are trying to locate any historical evidence of ancient traditions' continuity. 

Modern Druidry tries to give practitioners a sense of authenticity by passing on knowledge of rituals, even though their historical provenance is unknown. In ancient Druidry, oral practices and stories abound, and contemporary Druids depend on them to feel tied to an imaginary history.

In today's Druidry, a traditionally continuous line to ancient Druidry is not required; merely implying a relation suffices. The oral essence of ancient Druid traditions leaves a lot of space for modern practitioners to understand them. This isn't to say the contemporary Druids ignore their forefathers or their history; rather, it's to emphasize their desire to introduce what was once thought to be a superstitious and meaningless tradition into more mainstream fields of Western spirituality.

However, adherents say that ADF's current activities are focused on academic study. Consider Fox, a former Archdruid of ADF, who stated the following as the goal of research in ADF: ADF is trying to construct a strong contemporary Paganism by combining in-depth scholarship with the inspiration of artistry and spiritual practice. We're studying and analyzing ancient Indo-European Pagans like the Celts, Norse, Slavs, Balts, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Vedics, and others, using solid modern scholarship rather than romantic delusions.


We're trying to create a faith that these ancient people can respect and accept, but that still has depth and strength for contemporary people, based on these cultural roots. 

In the theatrical, dramatic, visual, textile, and other disciplines, we're learning to improve authentic writing and presentation skills. To put the relics of the ancient ways of life, we're putting together people skilled in ritual, psychic abilities, and applied mythology. We're building a religion that's nonsexist, non-racist, ecological, flexible, and open to the public to observe as a way of life and pass on to future generations.

ADF's contribution to scholarship attracted many followers. Responding to the question, "Why did I join ADF?" for example. “Because it was just what I was hoping for—solid scholarship combined with a very workable guide to contemporary Druidic practice,” Sharon Smith responds. “Here was a faith that balanced intellectualism and spirituality; books and intuition; study and ritual; solemnity and fun,” Jenni Hunt writes.

“It makes space for a profound spirituality while remaining faithful to scholarship and our ancestors,” writes another. “I love the vision of ADF: to be committed to the achievement of perfection in any field, and to rebuild a living, dynamic faith for today, motivated by serious study into the actual activities of the ancient Druids,” says the Senior Druid of Red Oak Grove in New Jersey.

ADF's academic work is accessible on their website in large part. The Internet has helped to legitimize ADF, as it has several other religious organizations. “The very fact that Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft may get web s on the Internet almost as easily as the Roman Catholic Church suggests that sects previously considered esoteric, if not blasphemous, now achieve recognition and popularity, and therefore gradually take their place in this country's emerging religious pluralism,” writes sociologist Wade Clark Roof.

Roof continues, "In the cyberspace staging of divine possibilities, the Pope and representatives of a pagan society became equals." “I found the website and found people mingling scholarship with faith—great googly moogly!” Aesa, a Lynchburg, Virginia native, wrote, “I found the website and found people mingling scholarship with faith—great googly moogly!” I spent several days going through the ADF website, reading every article and every word I could find. Joining an organization without ever having to visit any pagans was a good bet.” “I discovered ADF on the internet, lurked for six months, and entered in 1999,” writes another ADF chief.

Scholarship has arisen as an element of religious authority that is not always recognized in conversion theory. I previously proposed that “ancientization” is a significant element in religious identity formation. Ancientization legitimizes religious identity by a link to the ancient world, similar to the impact of Easternization on the Western religious landscape.


“My fascination in Earth-based faith, my own Celtic origins, past life memories of becoming a Druid, encounters with geographically unique energies/entities, a love of intellectual pursuits, history, and social anthropology all contributed to my taking the path,” one informant said.

Druidry's resurgence, according to Philip Carr-Gomm, is due to both the inability of "established" religions to fulfil people's spiritual needs and the environmental catastrophe caused by formal religions' dualism and authoritarianism. The revival of Paganism, according to Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick, is a reaction to a need to re-locate civilization in both empirical and chronological contexts: physical in the sense that the natural universe is an essential aspect of creation, and chronological in the sense of continuity of ancient traditions and rituals. Paganism today provides a "possible theological ideology for a pluralistic, secular world," according to its proponents.

Three trends in decisions to affiliate with ADF have been outlined in this essay: religious injustice, religious identification, and religious authority. When a religious tradition fails to meet moral desires, it is referred to as religious deprivation. Religious identity encourages people to draw ideological associations that appear to match their own thoughts and experiences. Finally, another aspect leading to conversion was the fact that religious practice was legitimized by intellectual pursuits that contributed to the discovery of a historical relation.


There are intimate journeys and memories that are only inspired by those on rare occasions. 

Journeys also always involved not only the Internet, but also nature itself. Druidry's paths represent a need for a bond to something bigger than oneself, a spiritual social network if you will. Personal understanding is validated by "ancientization," which supports feelings and sentiments. Many of these paths have caused followers to believe that "this is where I am supposed to be."



Nonetheless, further research is needed. It is necessary to investigate the degree to which converts simply articulate their conversion verbally versus the degree to which they display substantive religious activity consistent with their verbal language. Other themes that arose in conversion to ADF should also be studied, such as Isaac Bonewits' position, religious flipping between contemporary Pagan communities, and the contribution of printed materials and friendship networks.