10: Personal Spirituality Essay
I was a druid looking for a scholarly-based group before I even knew that’s what ADF was. I didn’t identify as a druid when I stumbled into my first ADF ritual but I had had a bad experience with a wicca coven around 2006 and had stayed away from any organized group ever since. I was a free-spirit eclectic witch with deep-rooted passions in botany and history.
A friend suggested we attend a public ADF ritual with a new group local to me and although I was hesitant, I decided to give it a shot. What I experienced at that ritual was a group of what felt like everyday normal people, doing magical workings and teaching stories at the same time. I had never been to a druid ritual before and I had never learned so many new things about specific gods and goddesses in a ritual environment either. This ritual was Columbia Grove’s Lughnassadh (2013), honoring the Irish Celtic hearth. I watched offerings being made, I witnessed group meditations in ritual and most important to me, I learned about Lugh, and Danu and about The Morrigan. Even though I was unfamiliar with these deities, a spark was lit and I wanted to know more about their history and worship.
I spoke with the ritual leader after the rite was over and he explained to me that Columbia grove did all eight High Days publically and cycled through different cultures. I was over the moon excited as I had been an anthropology major previously and I loved the idea of learning about different cultures as well as being part of a pagan community.
I dove headfirst into learning about ADF and the differences between Druidry and Wicca. I learned about the Dedicant study path and I knew I wanted to do it. I am scholarly driven and I enjoy a good book on history and religion. I have always struggled with meditations, and putting my spiritual emotions into words, but this group brought out the scholar side of me and a brief introduction to the Dedicant Path had me eager to start.
I attended 2 ADF rituals with Columbia, and then an ADF ritual at Trout Lake Abby for Samhain lead by former Archdruid Kirk Thomas. If I had not already felt pulled to ADF druidry by Columbia Grove, it was Kirk’s ritual that drove the nail home. I had never had a genuine religious connection in ritual until that Samhain when he opened the gates as the sun was setting. Mount Addams seemed to glow, the waning moon was visible in a cloudless sky and a hawk flew overhead as Kirk drew energy from the crowd and from Manannán mac Lir. We were surrounded by trees and nature and I felt, for the first time, connected spiritually with where I was suppose to be in that moment. I felt at home. This was the first ritual I felt like I could be a Druid.
Imbolc of 2014 I officially joined ADF and Columbia Grove as a member of both. I started looking at the Dedicant path but was pulled several ways as Columbia needed some strong members to put in the time and work to lead public rituals and work with the community. In many ways, I was thrown into the deep end before learning to swim. I had just joined Columbia officially right before Imbolc and the grove leader had asked me to preform a small task of handing out stones and receiving messages for Brigid. I was nervous, and I decided to start praying to her to see if I could form a relationship to her. I researched Brigid, I sang to her, I gave her offerings of milk and I began to feel that she were with me telling me that I was strong and that she supported me in my role.
I collected earth from beneath an oak tree and hollowed out a bowl shape to make an earthen candle. I also decided to drag out my sewing machine and to sew a gown inspired by Brigid’s fire. It was a milk white gown with long red flame-like sleeves. The first gown I had made in years.
My first ritual as a member resulted in me taking a lot more responsibility than simply a priestess of Brigid, I became a face for Columbia and found my place as a budding ritual leader. It felt amazing to feel so much, both from a personal experience and from a community standpoint. I realized I was doing something that I desperately needed to be doing.
It was after that first ritual that I decided that in an act of personal piety, I would not only take as many parts as possible in the year’s rituals, but I would learn about different deities and sew a gown inspired by each high day for the entire year. I did far more than succeed at that. I found myself at Beltane co-leading my first ritual ever (with a broken foot none-the-less). I began work on my Dedicant path. I learned about public ritual from the outside in, and learned about ADF and the history of modern paganism from the inside out. Both of these elements went through me like an electric current and I wanted to learn and do as much as I could.
That entire first year of my membership with Columbia, I helped it grow strong and draw in some truly amazing people that would later become members as well. My focus was always on community work and providing the best researched rituals that I could. My Dedicant work fell a bit to the wayside as I was out doing the work instead of writing about it. I had never felt a deity, called to them, or heard them call to me before honoring Brigid that first Imbolc. I work with Brigid daily now and have a shrine to her beside my ADF home shrine.
Working through the Dedicant path helped in many other areas of my spirituality outside the public community and ritual performance. I learned different ways to meditate; something I had always felt was a spiritual dead end for me. I learned new books to read on the Indo-European history and the Irish Celtic culture. I learned how to honor, respect and understand the three Kindred even though I struggled with connection to the Ancestors until I started taking college courses on Native American prehistory and could begin to honor the dead spirits of this land.
My druidry is a living thing that I have allowed to thrive. I have tended to my growing beliefs and cultivated new ideas as they present themselves. I have no doubt that even though I have accomplished so much within only a few years that this is only one step on my spiritual path. The Dedicant Path is a path all on its own, but it has opened my eyes to so much more. There are worlds left to discover about myself, and about my spirituality through the eyes of an ADF Druid.