(Assisting folks with school projects and handling hospital counseling issues have eaten up my writing time this week, so I’m posting an article I wrote for Shining Lakes News, Imbolc 2000. But it’s just as true now!)
One of the more common questions I’m asked as Senior Druid (and was asked waaaaay back when I was an Assistant SD) is, “What if I don’t consider myself a Druid? Am I still allowed to join Shining Lakes Grove? If I do join, do I have to stop practicing my current beliefs and only practice Druid rituals?” (Well, okay, that’s three questions, but they’re related. Work with me here, people!)
SLG has always looked to the practices of our spiritual ancestors, the pre-Christian Indo-European peoples, for our inspiration. On this topic, we find that the ancient cultures drew a sharp distinction between community worship and home worship. The ancient Greeks are a good example. Each community as a whole would have certain deities who were honored during public rites. These rites would bring everyone together and build a group identity for everyone in the community. But each household would have its own deities, which the would honor on a regular basis. They even went so far as to use the informal verb tense when addressing their household gods, while using the formal verb tense in community rites or at public shrines.
Here at Shining Lakes Grove, we come together eight times a year for big community rituals, and we do other rites throughout the year, such as the Sacred Hunt, the Dawn Rite at Beltaine, and the Brídeog procession. We also have our An Bruane meetings, where we do both scholarly research and spiritual work to develop the Grove’s cosmology and rituals.
But that doesn’t stop us from doing our own household practices as well. We encourage our members to have their own personal spiritual practice, and we don’t much care what that practice is: Druidic, Wiccan, Voudon, Christian, whatever! Fox, our former Senior Druid, works with the Dagda at home. While the Dagda is a Celtic deity, he isn’t one of the deities our Grove specifically honors. My own household practices are mostly Hellenic adaptations of materials from the ADF Dedicant Program. It’s actually pretty rare to see me invoking any non-Greek deities at home, apart from Ana and Lugh. And Genevieve Stoyak, our Outreach Coordinator, honors the Virgin Mary in her home workings.
If we limited our Grove’s membership to those who worshipped the exact same deities, then we’d probably have only three or four members. By honoring our Grove deities at Grove rites, and continuing our home practices with out own deities, we can come together as a group and build community without discarding our own personal beliefs.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF