I received an email today with a lot of good questions - so good, in fact, that I'm posting them here, with changes made for the privacy of the questioner:
Please understand that my responses are pertaining to ADF druidry. I do not know enough about all the other groups to speak for them.
--What do druids believe?
Ask 10 druids what they believe and you will get at least 15 answers, possibly more, depending on the day. :)
A lot of what druids believe and think are incorporated in the pre-ritual briefing (copy to be posted) and in ritual itself. Mostly we believe in the Earth, in nature, and in the spirits within nature.
ADF druidry is Pan-Indo-European in scope. Most of the ancient pantheons and religions of Europe have significant similarities:
The three Hallows (Fire, Well, and Tree or Pillar).
The Three (or multiple thereof) Planes/Worlds of existence.
The Kindreds (Ancestors and Honored Dead, Nature Spirits, Shining Ones - Higher beings, Gods, Goddesses. Godden,)
--Is there a doctrine or dogma that Druids follow that other pagans don’t?
The only doctrine ADF has is the Doctrine of ArchDruidic Fallability also known as "Even the ArchDruid messes up". No one, not even the elected head of our organization, is perfect.
We all make errors and need to make them right.
We are an orthopraxic (right action) as opposed to orthodoxic (right belief) religion. We are much more concerned about doing the right things rather than individual beliefs.
--My ancestry is *X* European. Does that have an impact on someone learning about Druidry or becoming Druid?
Ancestry has no bearing on whether or not someone can learn about druidry or become a druid, at least not with ADF. There are folkish groups out there. I am not fond of them.
Having said that some people feel drawn to the religions and lore of their ancestors. We call our Grove post-Viking British Isles. We do Irish, Scottish, Anglo-Saxon, Gaulish, and Norse rituals.
There are other ADF druids and groves that follow Hellenic (Greek), Roman, Vedic, Balkan, and other Hearths and pantheons.
--Are there holy days of obligation or high days? If yes, why are those days considered holy or high?
Not precisely. ADF is a neopagan religion and celebrates 8 high days. They consist of 4 solar holidays and 4 fire festivals or cross-quarter days. Different groves call them different things, depending on the grove's chosen Hearth or Pantheon for that celebration. They fall roughly 6 weeks apart throughout the year
Officially, they are named and celebrated as follows:
· The November Feast - Samhain (pronounced Sow-an) - The feast the the dead - Summer's End - Third Harvest
· The Winter Feast - Winter Solstice - Yule - Longest Night - Midwinter
· The February Feast - Imbolc or Oilmelc - Brighid's Day - Candlemas - Groundhog Day
· The Spring Feast - Vernal (Spring) Equinox - First planting - Days and nights are equal
· The May Feast - Bealtainne (Beltane), May Day, Hinge (or beginning) of Summer
· The Summer Feast - Summer Solstice - Longest Day - Midsummer –
· The August Feast - Lughnassadh - Lammas - Feast of Lugh - First Harvest
· The Autumn Feast - Autumnal Equinox - Second Harvest –
Some but not all groves also celebrate Druid Moons, these usually take place as close to 6 days after the new moon as possible, during the waxing moon. We usually call these Blessing Rites. They include a call for blessings and peace in the world.
--Is membership required in this community?
No, but if you go to rituals regularly and hold the beliefs of the group, wouldn't you want to be a member?
Membership gives you the right to vote in the running of the grove and the international organization.
I'd suggest checking out www.adf.org. If you become a member, that opens up about 2/3 of the website that is members-only.
Additionally, there are a lot of FaceBook groups that are members-only.
--If so, what does that entail?
$30 annual dues paid to the international organization.
An extra $20 will get you a subscription to the quarterly magazine of ADF.
Any financial or volunteer support you wish to give the local grove. Other groves have dues. We do not, at this time.
Our long-term goal is to be able to purchase a small parcel of land on which we can at least build a pavilion for a permanent place of worship.
--If I were to become a member am I expected to stay Druid the rest of this life?
Only if you want to. I've only officially been a member of ADF for 7 years, but I've felt the druidic spirit, if you will, most all my life.
--Is the year and a day program welcomed in the Druid community?
Not exactly, that's a Wiccan thing.
Our Dedicant Path study program (the introductory study program) can be completed in roughly a year, depending on how much time you can and wish to spend on it. I’ve been busy running a grove and have not finished it yet.
--What kind of divination or witchcraft practices do Druids participate in, if any?
Whatever works for them. Ogham is an Irish form of divination but many ADF members use tarot or runes depending on their personal preference and what draws them. There are people who practice reading tea leaves or fire or groups of birds.
Witchcraft is an outside matter. I am a kitchen witch - my craft works best through herbals and brews and cooking. That is not religious nor is it anything specifically to do with my druidry. If you are an ethical witch, we will not have any issues.
--How is someone held accountable in the community if something is wrongly done?
One of the good things about having an international organization is that we have practices in place to deal with wrong-doing. Grievances will be dealt with. First, grove leadership. If they are the problem or do not resolve the issue, then Regional Druid and Member Advocate. Situations can go all the way to the Mother Grove (Board of Directors consisting partially of clergy and partially not clergy - all of whom are elected).
If it is a legal matter, law enforcement will be involved unless the victim specifically requests law enforcement not be called in.
--Is there a concept of sin or confession?
Not really. We focus on the 9 Virtues:
· Wisdom (seeking good judgment, knowledge),
· Piety (observance of ritual and social traditions, making offerings),
· Vision (broadening one's perspective to see the big picture),
· Courage (doing the right thing, especially when it isn't expedient),
· Integrity (being true to oneself, being honorable, oathkeeping, honesty),
· Perseverance (doing what needs to be done even when it's hard, following through)
· Hospitality (acting as both a gracious host and guest, not only with humans and animals but with the Kindreds),
· Moderation (in all things), and
· Fertility (bounty of mind, body and spirit: nurturing creativity and industry in oneself and others)
Having said that, if you harm someone, physically or mentally, in my personal opinion, that's wrong, but not necessarily a sin. For instance, BDSM is not a sin or wrong, as long as it's safe, sane, and consensual.
--To whom do Druids pray to, if anyone or anything?
Whomever they want. It depends on the druid.
In ADF rituals, we invite, offer to, and pray to the The Kindreds (Ancestors and Honored Dead, Nature Spirits, Shining Ones - Higher beings, Gods, Goddesses. Godden,) and special guests of the occasion.
In our personal practices, we can pray to all, some, or none. Officially, ADF is pantheistic, but not all of its members are.
--Are Druids welcoming of the LGBT community?
Absolutely. I've taken part in the last 3 (and helped with planning the last 2) local InterFaith Pride Celebrations.
ADF and our Grove have members and/or attendees who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, including me.
--Norse pagans who are members of TAC, or The Asatru Community?
I'm not all that familiar with TAC, but as long as they aren't racist, bigoted, and/or sexist, I don't have a problem with them. I am familiar and friendly with at least one local Kindred.
ADF doesn't require members to give up membership in other organizations. Membership in a racist organization would be a problem.
At the beginning of all our events our expectations are made clear (see the pre-ritual briefing).
All of our posted events are open to the public and family (child) friendly. Everyone in attendance is to be treated with courtesy and respect. No discrimination or bigotry in any form will be tolerated. Consent culture is both important and required. Any word or action counter to those expectations are then grounds for immediate expulsion.
All large ADF events and festivals require a signed statement more or less to that effect by each attendee that they understand and agree to abide by them. ADF festivals always have a consent culture workshop.
There are bunches of books. Several are written by former ArchDruids and Priests. The main book for the Dedicant Path program is available on Amazon. It’s called Our Own Druidry.
We hold zoom social/study meetings that are peer led most Sundays that are neither holidays or rituals. They are posted on our facebook page. There will be one today at 4:30.
I hope all of this has been helpful.