Tuesday, March 3, 2015

History of Neopaganism and Druidry - Part 11



Describe the groups that have split off from ADF, their history and work (minimum 600 words)

                No one group is perfect, nor is there one group that will fit all people. Though ADF’s primary mission is to create a public tradition, there are those among who would change the way we as an organization function. However, since ADF is galvanized against fundamental changes to our base structure and beliefs; schisms are have, do, and will occur. One of the most frequent issues that seem to come up is the desire to not have open public rituals. This is one of the primary functions of ADF that will more than likely never change, as it was part of the original vision Isaac Bonewits had. Rev. Jeffrey Wyndam (Ian Corrigan) says it best “The ADF Order of Ritual has been evolved mainly for public worship…” (Wyndam) As with all religious paths, these schisms seem to be a natural evolution that is directed by the needs of the people over time.

                Shadow Path Grove is listed as the first group to schism from ADF in the mid 1980’s. From the research, they were a Grove, which was located in Connecticut. Their chief difference with ADF was the desire to hold private instead of public rituals. When I tried to research their group I was unable to find anything on the organization in that area. It is possible that they have become defunct since they never seemed to grow beyond the single group (The Reformed Druids of North America 38).

                The Henge of Keltria is perhaps the most noted group to break away from ADF. At a gathering in 1986 five ADF members created a list of specific concerns they had regarding ADF as an organization. Among their chief concerns was the desire, to have closed rites instead of public and their belief that Druidism should remain Celtic in nature. Again, both of these concerns were in completed contradiction to the tenants, which ADF was formed on. Another of their chief concerns was that they felt that ADF did not have “magic rites at the time; there were no mysteries.” (Bonewits, The Origins of the Henge of Keltria) The Henge of Keltria was established in 1987 and incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit religious organization in 1995 (The Henge of Keltria)The following are the set of statements which encompass the major points of their worldview:
  • We believe in Divinity as it is manifest in the Pantheon. There are several valid theistic perceptions of this Pantheon.
  • We believe that nature is the embodiment of the Gods.
  • We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.
  • We believe in the immortality of the spirit.
  • We believe that our purpose is to gain wisdom through experience.
  • We believe that learning is an ongoing process and should be fostered at all ages.
  • We believe that morality should be a matter of personal conviction based upon self-respect and respect for others.
  • We believe that individuals have the right to pursue enlightenment through his or her chosen path.
  • We believe in a living religion and spiritual practice able to adapt to a changing environment. We recognize that our beliefs may undergo change as our tradition grows.
Much like ADF, their groups are organized as “Groves” and are free to create their own traditions and magical rites provided they remain within the framework of the Henge, the mother organization. From my understanding, originally there was a great deal of influence from the Wiccan tradition in their rites such as circle casting, but the majority of these traits have faded over time.

                Uxello-Druidactios was founded by Tom Cross in 1988 after a “… very short stint in ADF, to study its organizational patterns & literature” (The Reformed Druids of North America 39). This organization is considered by most to be Mesopagan. Their official handbook is the publication “The Sacred Cauldron: Secrets of the Druid” written by Cross himself. When I tried to find more information about the current operations of this organization it seems there is little to nothing available. It is possible that the continual derogatory writings of Cross has created such a fracturing that the organization has become defunct.

                The Divine Circle of the Sacred Grove is listed in by the RDNA as a split off of ADF. Much of the information listed in their documentation seems to center around legal infringement of the ADF name as well as falsification of ADF credentials. The group seems to have become defunct with what members remained forming a new group under the name American Druidic Church. (The Reformed Druids of North America 39) According to the same documentation ADC is currently in the process of forming their own customs and training with the aid of ADF and OBOD.

                Much like Henge of Keltria, the Primitive Celtic Church founded in 1992 split off from ADF to focus on the Celtic aspects of Druidry. No further information could be found on this group so it is very possible that it too has become defunct.

                The Celtic Traditional Order of Druids was originally founded in 1986 as a Celtic Reconstructionist Order. The entirety of its founding members was from one family, Vickie and Howard Meith, but the popularity of the group quickly expanded well beyond this. Though the group received much ‘new blood’ allowing it to grow, it was this expansion that proved to be the demise of its first incarnation. A major power struggle resulted in the founder members leaving the central grove. These founding members scattered, losing contact with one another as they joined various other Neopagan organizations. The information contained on Isaac Bonewits’ web site states “… the principle founder became a local grove organizer for the organization Ár nDraíocht Féin. It was the prodding and encouragement from ADF’s founder… that spurred her involvement, which eventually progressed to her election to the post of Vice-Archdruid of the organization” (Bonewits, The Origins of the Celtic Traditionalist Order of Druids). Vickie received many requests from the remaining member to retake control of the CTOD, which in the end she did. From what the information I was able to find, it seems that her time in ADF influenced the revitalization of the Order for a period of time, even if they did not originally split from ADF itself. The Order was dedicated to continual learning, which it could pass down to its members. This originally formed as a Celtic Reconstructionist Order and they considered themselves “… to be following a path laid down for us by our long ago ancestors…” much like ADF. From all accounts I was able to find the last active website for the organization went offline as of 1/25/05.
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