Well, I have done it. I am now the Grove Organizer for a new Ár nDraíocht Féin protogrove. Our mission is to nurture spiritual community in our local area. We plan to hold our first “open” rite next month.
I believe that Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) is the future of Paganism in America. ADF will not have a monopoly on polytheistic religion any more than Catholicism has a monopoly on Christian religion, but its concepts will surely influence our culture as more and more people become aware of this international Pagan fellowship.
For decades contemporary Pagans have been faced with a choice of two extreme movements. At one end of the spectrum is the if-it-feels-good-do-it philosophy; a Paganism with little respect for the cultures and traditions of our ancestors, where the only thing that matters is that everyone is having fun at the party. Those at the opposite end of the spectrum are so put off by this that many of them insist on identifying by a term other than “Neo-Pagan”, although, of course, it is what they are. (Neo-Pagan simply means a contemporary, 21st century polytheist.) The reaction has been Icelandic Pagans (Ásatrúar) who will only associate with other Icelandic Pagans, Roman Pagans who only associate with other Roman Pagans, and so on.
ADF has found the balance between these two opposing perspectives. An ADF ritual has a format that does not fit exactly with any specific Pagan culture, but is instead a satisfactory compromise for all Indo-European Pagan cultures. Within the parameters of this format, ADF recognizes and respects cultural integrity. Rather than chopping and dicing Paganism into eclectic hash, each ritual addresses a specific hearth culture: Irish, Norse, Roman, Hellenic, and so on. Including, of course, Anglo-Saxon.
When I join in a ritual honoring a foreign god, the format recognizes this also, and during the ritual a celebrant welcomes the “High Ones” or “Shining Ones” – where I can connect with Ing Fréa or Woden – in a way that does not clash with the liturgy. In ADF, I can join in worship with my neighbors – be they Hellenes or Welsh or Slavs – and still be proudly Saxon.
I have been a member of ADF for six years now. During those six years I have worshipped with Sassafras Grove, which is an awesome group of people, but which is a distance from me, down in the city of Pittsburgh. I am still a friend of Sassafras and will be attending some of their events, but it is my hope that Cranberry will grow into a viable, thriving group here where I live.
To be as inclusive as possible, we plan to hold rites with two hearth cultures. Not simultaneously, of course. At solstice and equinox we will hold Anglo-Saxon rites to honor the gods of the English. At the “cross-quarter” high days we will hold Romano-British rites honoring Celtic gods and goddesses.
These efforts may very well bear fruit. Cranberry Protogrove was officially recognized only two days ago, and already we have two people interested in joining us for our Yule rite in December. By “us” I mean Scott and me. Hopefully “us” will soon grow into a larger group.
If you know of any Pagans who live in Pennsylvania, in Butler County or northern Allegheny County, please send them our way! They can email us at Cranberry@alaricalbertsson.com, or connect with us by subscribing to firstname.lastname@example.org.