Reformed Druidism is a gentle protest against organized religion. We're not really anarchists, just simplists.
We've noticed that good Archdruids (animate and otherwise) spend much of their time explaining what Druidism is not. In a Taoist sense, what is not there can make something usefull (like a doorway in a wall).
Former Carleton AD, Pookum's Summary
If you join, you get a whole lot of nothing, which is what most of our members want. Hopefully, our system (or lack of a system) will simplify your search for Awareness.
Former Berkeley AD,
Isaac Bonewit's Summary
Former Chicago AD, Thomas's Summary
Former St.Olaf AD, Sam Adams's Summary
I really don't know.
DC grove AD, Mike's Long Summary a.k.a. "The 15 Lousy Lessons of Merlin the Schlep" (soon to be a book?)
We've noticed that good Arch Druids spend a great deal of their time explaining what Druidism is not. In a Taoist sense, what is not there can make something usefull (like a doorway in a wall).
You may notice that in each individual Grove, you might find one or more exceptions to these rules of thumb.
1. Not Celtic-Focused. Any inspirational source is okay, 25% or more member seem to choose Celtic.
2. Not a Religion Ok, we're rather split on this one. Some say it's a religion. Some say it's a philosophy or outlook. Some say some rather silly things. Others ignore the question as unimportant and not tending towards edification.
3. Not Neo-Pagan Well, actually, about 40% of us are Neo-Pagans, and we do resemble Neopaganism very closely (which came after our founding), but most of us don't define ourselves or the entire Reform as such. We generally do include Neo-paganism among our many possible sources of inspiration. The NewRDNA, however, is more firmly in the Neo-Pagan camp. As a rule, Druids are mischievously difficult to pin down.
4. No Established Dogma We don't take anybody too seriously, especially ourselves. We really like Nature, think alot, and sometimes share our thoughts in writing. We do have Two Basic Tenets and some think that's too much.
5. No Established Ritual Attendance is, of course, unnecessary, in general, and perhaps undesirable. Members of some Groves occasionally meet on the 8 festivals and the moons, but we are split on whether ritual is more distracting to Druidism or if Druidism is more distracting to ritual... Regardless, we recognize that a lack of ritual can become a ritual, in and of itself! There are other ways to get together than liturgies.
6. No Strong Priesthood Sure we've got priests (they grow like weeds) but no established common seminary program (including this pamphlet), just a period of observation and loose mentoring. Non-priests can lead services of their own devising, of course. The RDNA has generally hobbled its own priests, for their own good.
7. No Membership Requirements We're not exclusive, any background can join, if they respect the other members. There is no official excommunication or defrocking; Nature knows Her own. Inanimate objects are equally able to join, some even doing a better job than the mobile Druids. I can think of several Groves entirely composed of trees, imagine that. Groves and Branches have the right to determine who can join their local groups.
8. No Cross-Membership Restrictions You can simultaneously belong to other groups or dimensions. Even if other groups don't like you be part of us, we have no disagreement with you belonging to other groups.
9. No National Organization We used to have one, but it wasn't useful, so it's thankfully defunct, except in the sense that its continued existence prevents the establishment of a replacement.
10. No Buildings When nature is so wonderful, why hide inside a building? Some folk may own property that they share, but few Groves have had a corporate ownership of facilities or funds.
11. No Money or Fees It's sad, but we're always in the red, relying on generosity to pay for the sacramental whiskey and such. Most fees that I have seen are quite nominal and are for feast costs, mailings or site usage.
12. No Regular Paid Publications No official monthly journals and such, you're on your own. There is A Reformed Druid Anthology of past attempts, but since there's no money in it, few publish much. Stacey is currently publishing the free newsletter A Druid Missal-any eight times a year. But that's it.
13. No Prosyletization We're not secretive, but how do you effectively advertise a lack of something? People generally find us, stay for awhile, and move on when they're ready. That's cool.
14. No Uniforms Occasionally somebody dresses up in SCA clothes, but casual clothes are cool. Homemade is impressive, though. Dress appropriately for the weather.
15. No Bad Stuff Well, we've succeeded, so far, at least. Like the vast majority of Neo-Pagans; we don't do blood/animal/human sacrifice (although we occasionaly offer a carrot or zuchinni) because we are gReformedh and we think that's yucky. We are however divided on whether fungi should be ritualistically categorized as animal or plant because they do possess biological characteristics of both. Likewise, we don't do such un-cool things like brainwashing (who wants a clean mind?), orgies (which is obviously a fast way to get STDs), take money/property, or abuse our members (who'd want to be in such a group?). We treat our members with respect, and they freely come and go.
Sounds Like There Isn't Much to Define the Group!
Yep. It does seem that way. Yet, we're still here, without all those things after 40 years. Guess they aren't so necessary for everyone? How do you know a Reformed Druid then? I guess I know most of them when I see them, read their works, or if they say they are one.
Feel free to read more by our various members, and we'd like to hear about your journey too if it's like ours. Write to me, firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a lovely time.
Mike the Fool