Tags: druidry

Apprentice Druid 2008 To-Do List

Reminder to Self: A To-Do List, now that I have achieved the level (1) of Apprentice Druid and am working toward Level 2... There is a list of things to do that will cover about 2 years of work, and this forum will help remind me of the list...

=Keep a Druid Journal... I am rather spotty at maintaining daily journals; the closest I can come to consistency at doing so is this blog!


=Spend time with and on the Earth...learn to read it, to listen to it...get better at it...

=Always improve one's relationship with the Earth through action of lifestyle changes...I shop for organic foods and buy locally-grown products and drive as seldom as possible...thinking...

=Continue planting trees and support organizations that plant trees and restore ecosystems...I will be doing much of this in the one-man business I am developing, but more on that later (gotta not _talk_, but DO)

=Invoke the Awen, the Divine Essence, daily for the healing of self, one's circle of immediate responsiblity, and the Earth...ok, good reminder...


=Celebration of the Equinoxes and Solstices...the next one coming up will be Spring (Vernal) Equinox...March 20, 2008...ok, marked it on the calendar

=Celebrate other holy days according to your spirituality...for me, these would include the Catholic Holy Days of Feasts and Obligation, and the days important to my family (birthdays and anniversaries)...and those days by natural events, moon cycles, storms and plants and animals, which are holy, each day in its own way, a holy day...

=Pray every day to the Creator, to my Lord Jesus Christ...greet the Grandfather Sun on its rising and in its setting, and Our Grandmother Earth in birthing and sustaining Life...In nomine Patris et fillii et Spiritus Sancti...to Our Lady and my patron St. Michael


=Sphere of Protection...can always get better at it...

=Daily Meditation...discursive, and walking....regular spiritual practice...ok


=Need to think about this one a little more..."two of the seven Spirals outlined in the First Degree curriculum, in addition to the one studied in preparation for the First Degree, and one additional art, craft, or discipline not included in the seven Spirals, gaining a basic level of competence in each of these subjects...the seven Spirals - the arts of poetry, music, divination, healing, magic, sacred geometry, and Earth mysteries, which have long been traditional in modern Druid circles - and gain a basic level of skill in the chosen Spiral. In the Second Degree curriculum the same principle guides the study of three additional arts, crafts, or disciplines."

1. Choose two more of the seven Spirals from the First Degree curriculum, other than the one you studied in your First Degree training, and fulfill all the requirements given.

2. Choose an art, craft, or discipline that is not one of the seven Spirals, and do a comparable amount of work with it. The subject you choose need not have any historical connection with Druidry at all, but you should be prepared at the time of your Second Degree examination to explain what studying and practicing it has contributed to your personal Druid path. If you have questions about what would qualify as an appropriate amount of work contact the Grand Grove.

...Need to think about these...


=Get the required books...Judy Harrow, Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide (Toronto: EWS Press, 2002) and William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Longman, Green, 1902)...and at least one other book from the list...

="Using these and any other resources you wish, come to a personal understanding of spiritual development, and write an essay describing the process of spiritual development as you understand it. In the essay, explain what you think spiritual development is, what its goals are, what its stages are, what potential problems have to be met and overcome in the process, and what help a more experienced person can offer to others who are pursuing their own spiritual directions."

="Compile a list of emergency and mental health resources available in your community, with full contact information for each. Along with each entry, list the situations in which you would recommend that a person you were guiding should seek help from that resource."

="Spend at least 20 hours helping other people with their spiritual development in a Druid context. Among the activities which would qualify for this requirement are one-on-one mentoring, leading a discussion group, and teaching one or more classes or workshops on Druid spirituality or related subjects. Keep detailed notes on these experiences."


=Opening and closing a Grove...ok, gotta get moving on this...

="Study and practice the AODA Solitary Grove opening and closing ceremony. You should plan on performing this ceremony at least once a month for at least the minimum period of two years you spend preparing for the Second Degree initiation. If at all possible, commit the ceremony to memory. Explore its uses as a framework for other ceremonies and spiritual practices."

="Study and practice the AODA Candidate initiation, until you can perform the entire ceremony for another person skillfully and with effect. If at all possible, commit the ceremony to memory."

="Familiarize yourself with traditions of seasonal ritual, and design an original set of ceremonies for a yearly cycle of Druid holy days, drawing symbolism and themes from any appropriate source; the ecology and natural history of the area in which you live are particularly recommended."

Now this sounds pretty interesting, as I have been refreshing my knowledge of my homeland's ecosystem here in Montana, and its symbolism in Native American traditions...and how a Montana tree ogham might appear...

="In the AODA the following holy days are traditionally kept:

Alban Arthuan, the Winter Solstice, approximately December 21;

Alban Eiler, the Spring Equinox, approximately March 20;

Alban Heruin, the Summer Solstice, approximately June 21;

Alban Elued, the Autumn Equinox, approximately September 22.

="To qualify for the Second Degree, your cycle of holy days should include the solstices and equinoxes, and may contain any other days you feel are appropriate to your Druid path. Once you have designed your yearly cycle, perform each of the ceremonies, either by yourself or with the help of others. If others are involved, you should take the primary role in at least four of the holy day ceremonies. Be prepared, at the time of your Second Degree examination, to explain the symbolism and structure of your ceremonies in detail."


="The Second Degree's Air Path requires the Druid Apprentice to learn the basic skills of scholarship, to gather useful information and present it in an accessible form, in order to serve the Druid community and the Earth as a teacher and an information resource. This Path also directs attention to the history of the modern Druid tradition, and to several of the major sources of that tradition, so that the Apprentice's Druidry may be informed by a clearer sense of the past and its legacies.

="Study the ancient Celtic Druids and the mythology and traditions of at least one Celtic people. Choose a topic of interest to you from among this material and write a paper on the topic."

I am mostly interested in the mythology and traditions of place, so that is the direction I will take...

="Study the legends of King Arthur and the knights and ladies of the Round Table. Again, choose a topic of interest to you from among this material and write a paper on the topic."

="Study the history of the Druid Revival and the growth of modern Druidry. Once again, choose a topic of interest to you from among this material and write a paper on the topic."

"Each of these papers should include a discussion of the relevance of the subject to people following a Druid path in the modern world. Include a bibiliography with all the sources used in your paper."


"In the Second Degree curriculum the Spirit Path explores the spiritual and philosophical dimensions of Druidry, using comparative religion and the history and theory of nature spirituality as tools to help you understand your own personal Druid path."

="Study another living or extinct religion of your choice, preferably one about which you know little or nothing to start with. Read its scriptures or traditional texts, study its history and doctrines, and learn about its art, music, and rituals. If possible, attend one or more of its ceremonies. Having done so, write a paper comparing this religion to Druidry. Among the points of comparison you may wish to explore in this paper are attitudes toward divinity; attitudes toward the world of Nature; attitudes toward the human soul and its destiny; traditions of organization; seasonal and other ceremonies; and methods of spiritual practice."

="Read at least five books from the recommended reading list on nature spirituality and use ideas from these books as themes for meditation. Through this and any other methods meaningful to you, come to your own understanding of Druidry as a path of nature spirituality, and express that understanding in some form that can be experienced by others."

The recommended reading list for nature spirituality:

Catherine Albanese, Nature Religion in America (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1990).

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (New York: Ballantine, 1972).

Peggy V. Beck and Anna L. Walters, The Sacred: Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life (Tsaile, AZ: Navajo Community College, 1977).

Graham Harvey, ed., Indigenous Religions: A Companion (London: Cassell, 2000).

Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (New York: Vintage, 1972).

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949).

James Lovelock, Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Jim Nollman, Spiritual Ecology (New York: Bantam, 1990).

Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends (New York: Anchor, 1972).

Jeffrey G. Sobosan, Romancing the Universe: Theology, Cosmology and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999).

Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings (New York: Modern Library, 1992).

"This may take the form of a written essay; it may take the form of an artwork, such as a story, drama, cycle of poems, or the like, on the same scale; or it may take some other form appropriate to your talents and your personal Druid path. It should be a summing-up of all your experiences as a Druid so far. The Grand Grove will not attempt to judge the quality or content of your work, but it will look for effort and originality in the work, and may not accept projects that show little evidence of these."

And of course the Working Tools, the Knife, the Robe, the Gate, the Sign, the Stone, the Cord, and the Crane Bag...Body, Land and Trees...

Who says the AODA Path of Druidry is easy? ;-)

Deep Time in North America

[Driving Montana's Highway 12, between Lavina and Martinsdale, 12/27/07]

In my development as a modern-day druid in AODA, I am not particularly interested in throwing out who I am as a Catholic (going on 48 years now, from the time of my baptism as an infant in 1960) or as a Native American (over 48 years now, from the time in my mother's womb) or as an anthropologist/archaeologist (over 26 years, from my beginnings as an anthropology major at the University of Montana in 1981), just to swap it all for a different Celto-centric mythological system in order to be called a "druid." Thankfully, the AODA does not require this.

In addition, my path of nature spirituality is not so much about syncretizing everything into some kind of ill-advised mish-mash of beliefs, but at getting at the underlying commonality of all of them...such as the natural world is essentially good, death will come to us all, and life is beautiful and often harsh. And so the discoveries of science are also necessary to compare and incorporate for a better understanding of "truth" as well.

As an archaeologist, the concept of "Deep Time" as one of these "scientific truths" comes very naturally to me. It feels right, it makes sense, though I am not saying I can really comprehend it in the same way I can comprehend my lifetime or even centuries. The climate change we are experiencing is made easier to accept and deal with if one accepts "Deep Time" as part of one's knowledge system.

"To understand evolution, humans must think in much larger units of time than those we use to define our lives. After all, evolutionary change isn't apparent in days, months, or years. Instead, it's documented in layers and layers of rock deposited over 4.6 billion years. ...The stretch of geologic history is commonly referred to as "deep time," and it's a concept perhaps as difficult to conceive as deep space. Can humans measure deep time? Yes. Will we ever truly comprehend such immensity of time? Probably not. But to develop a better understanding of evolutionary change in its proper historical context, we must try. ...The story of life is told primarily by its ghosts -- the victims of extinction. Scientists say that only one in a thousand species that have ever lived survives today. The other 99.9 percent are extinct, gone forever" (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/change/deeptime/low_bandwidth.html)

In our search for ways to re-connect our spirituality with nature, and with the actual land on/in which we live, "Deep Time" is an essential ingredient. But how do we integrate this new understanding into our life and value system? One way is through ritual and ceremony.

I came across a wonderful resource (http://thegreatstory.org) for a ritualization, a dramatization or play, of the concept of "Deep Time." It is called "Coming Home to North America." It is focused on North America, on the changes and challenges our continent and its lifeforms (biota) has/have faced for millions of years. And what it means to become "native."

An excerpt http://thegreatstory.org/NA-8council-narrate.pdf):

LANDFORMS AND CLIMATE (in unison) - What is to be done?

BIG AND FEROCIOUS: [After Landforms & Climate ask in unison, "What is
to be done?" stand at your seat and proclaim:]
What is to be done? We can invite the HUMANS to remember the great
beasts who were here before their own cultures arrived. We can invite them
to tell stories about these big and ferocious creatures. We can urge humans
to take inspiration from ELK, MOOSE, BISON, GRIZZLY, AND GRAY WOLF,
because these creatures only very recently became native to this continent,
and perhaps the newest humans can too. That is what is to be done.

CONNECTIONS: [After Big & Ferocious speaks of "What is to be done,"
stand at your seat and proclaim:]
What is to be done? We can invite HUMANS to tell and tell again the
65 million year story of North America, and to begin to deeply value the
connections this continent has always had with the rest of the world. Surely
HUMANS can learn from this Sacred Story. Surely they will see how
important it is to walk gently when establishing connections with continents
in which they and their technologies are not native. That is what is to be

PLANTS: [After Connections speaks of "What is to be done," stand at your
seat and proclaim:]
What is to be done? We can invite all the HUMANS of North America,
of all ethnicities and heritages, to become ROOTED to this continent, to truly
view it as their one and only home. We can invite these same HUMANS to
seek out partnerships with the natural world around them for the good of all,
just as nut trees forged partnerships with squirrels 32 million years ago, and
just as grasses forged partnerships with grazers some 20 million years ago.
That is what is to be done.

THE LITTLE ONES : [After Plants speaks of "What is to be done," stand at
your seat and proclaim:]
What is to be done? We can invite the HUMANS of North America to
remember how the Little Ones played a profound role in both the IROQUOIS
creation story and the GOLDEN AGE OF TURTLES. We can show these
humans that it is possible to honor both the traditional story and the science
story. We can urge them to develop a deep love for Turtle Island. We can
also remind them that Raven, the trickster, flew in from Australia and then
became native to Turtle Island ó and that they can too. That is what is to
be done.

LANDFORMS: [After Little Ones speaks of "What is to be done," stand at
your seat and proclaim:]
What is to be done? We can teach the newest HUMANS that Native
American stories of ancestors rising up from the ground or descending from
a sacred mountain are deeply true in this sense: they all show that to be
native to this continent is to belong to a culture that emerges from the
landforms of this continent - no matter where the ancestral genes may
have immigrated from. That is what is to be done.

CLIMATE: [After Landforms speaks of "What is to be done," stand at your
seat and proclaim:]
What is to be done? We can teach HUMANS that Climate is a powerful
and mysterious force, not to be tinkered with. We can do this by telling the
65 million year story of this continent so that humans will remember the
consequences for life whenever climate warmed or cooled or dried. That is
what is to be done.

CRISIS and OPPORTUNITY: [After Climate speaks of "What is to be
done," stand at your seat and proclaim:]
What is to be done? We can remind HUMANS, whenever they grow
despondent, that a Crisis may, through their own actions and the grace of
God or Nature, be turned into an Opportunity. We can do this by helping
humans find ways to bring the Sacred Story of North America into their
seasonal and religious celebrations. That is what is to be done.

(Chart of mammals which evolved in Eurasia, and those which evolved in North and South America, and the exchange of species/genera across Beringia; from http://thegreatstory.org/NA-ritual-choices.html)