Frequently Asked Questions about Neopagan Druidism 3.1
Copyright © 1983, 2001 c.e., Isaac Bonewits
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
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 theyre asked.
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
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 con-artists.
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!
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 insiders and outsiders. People 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 Evaluation Frame.
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.
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 in A.D.F.
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.
The 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.
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
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
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 and O.B.O.D.
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