AR NDRAfOCHT FEIN Irish Caelic for “Our Own Druidism,”Ar nDrafocht Fein (ADF) is an American-based neo-Pagan Druid religious fellowship. Although not related to the ancient Druids, it is a reconstruction of Druidic and Indo-European pagan rituals and religions. The organization’s founder Issac Bonewits, former Archdruid of several groves of the Reformed Druids of North America, served as Archdruid while Shenain Bell served as Vice-Archdruid. The ADF was formed in 1983.
The organization integrates religion with alternative healing arts, ecology-consciousness, psychic development and artistic expression. It is organized in groves (chapters), many named after trees, as the oak was sacred to the Druids. The groves observe eight seasonal High Days (the Sabbats in Witchcraft) and conduct regular study groups as well as various artistic activities. By participating in study and training members pass through five circles; the fourth is the equivalent of a master’s degree while the fifth equals a doctorate. The circle structure idea was barrowed from the Church of All Worlds (CAW).
Generally the worship and rituals are held outdoors. ADF is polytheistic, and the recognition of various deities is left to the discretion of each grove and also depends the purpose of the individual rituals. The Earth-Mother is worshipped at every ritual. Deities, ancestors, and nature spirits of the Three Worlds-Land, Sea, and Sky-are invoked. The Waters of Life, passed or asperged (sprinkled) in rites, represent the spark of the immanent deity.
The liturgy and rituals are based on scholarly research into old Indo-European religions, folk magic, art, and social customs. Even though little is known about the Druids themselves, scholars say that it is likely that Druidism shared much in common with other Indo-European religions. Such ongoing research involves the translation of numerous foreign and archaic language texts.
Bonewits succeeded in identifying five phases of liturgical design common in the religions of related Indo-European cultures:
The consecration of time and space; the psychic centering; grounding and unifying the participants into a “group mind.”
The opening of the Gates between the Worlds and the starting of a flow of energy between participants and deities.
The raising and sending a major part of the congregation’s energy to the deities being worshipped.
The returning of power from the deities to the congregation.
The reversing of the rite’s beginnings and closing down the psychic; magical and spiritual fields that were created.
Sacrifices offered to deities include tree branches, fruits, flowers and vegetables. Although animal, and even human, sacrifices were performed in most paleo-pagan religions; they are strictly forbidden in the ADF rituals, as well as in most neo-Paganism.
Clergy wear long white robes, while the congregation is encouraged to wear paleo-pagan garb. The white beret was introduced by Bonewits as the signature of the ADF, the berets and any other head coverings are removed upon entering the ritual site, except during very hot weather. The ADF’s sigil is, a circle pierced by two vertical parallel lines, was first associated with neo-Pagan Druidism by David Fisher, the founder of the Reformed Druids of North America (inactive). This sigil was perhaps derived from the shape of a foundation of an old Roman-Catholic temple. The logo, a branch sprouting from an oak tree stump, is a Celtic rendition inspired by the badge of the Scottish MacEwen clan.
The periodicals of the ADF are a journal The Druid’s Progress, edited by Bonewits and published twice yearly, and a bimonthly newsletter News from the Mother Grove. A.G.H.
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