A project in my head since about 2004, here is a comparison of some popular Druid groups in the US. Information is taken from each group’s own website and is current to August 2011. Group origins, culture used in worship, festivals and other aspects are covered, with specific links provided for further information. If any group representative has better data to update the table, please feel free to contact me.
|Group||ADF Ár nDraíocht Féin : A Druid Fellowship, Inc.||AODA Ancient Order of Druids in America||Henge of Keltria||OBOD Order of Bards Ovates and Druids||RDG Reformed Druids of Gaia||RDNA Reformed Druids of North America|
|Origin||Neopagan2||Druid Revival1||Neopagan2||Druid Revival1||Neopagan2||Neopagan2|
|Approx. Start date||1983||1912 (as the US branch of the Ancient & Archaeological Order of Druids- founded 1874 in London)||1964 (split off from the Ancient Druid Order, which started in 1717)||1996 with Order of the Mithril Star, then established by itself in 2006 (both are offshoots of RDNA)||1963|
|Membership||1100+||8,000 in 50 countries||663 registered, 4,000+ defacto members||?|
|Ideology/ Spiritual Path||Ideology||Spiritual Path||Spiritual Path, and/or Ideology||Spiritual Path||Spiritual Path|
|Church/ Initiatory Order||Church||Initiatory Order||Initiatory||Initiatory Order||Neither||Neither|
|Divinity||Pagan Polytheistic||Agnostic, monotheistic, polytheistic, animist, +||Celtic Specific Polytheistic||Monotheist, polytheist, pantheist +||Monotheist, polytheist, pantheist+|
|Culture of worship||Indo-European only (Celtic, Germanic, Lithuanian, Polish, Greek+)||Traditions include lore from Celtic culture- otherwise international & multicultural||Celtic Irish||Celtic lore for some training, otherwise none specified||NA|
|Liturgy||Yes- Standard Liturgy||No||An Introd. to Keltrian Druidism||No||No- but see their large archives- Reformed Druid Anthology|
|Rituals||Order of Ritual||Book of Ritual|
|Festivals||Wheel of the Year3||Solstices & Equinoxes (many also keep the 4 ‘cross quarter’ days)||Eightfold cycle3||Eightfold Cycle3||Wheel of the Year3|
|Moon cylces||Some groves celebrate||Mistletoe & Vervain Rites||Optional full moon Meditations for Peace|
|Congregations||Chartered groves & protogroves||Chartered Groves & Study Groves||Autonomous Groves; Chartered Groves & Study Groups||Groves & Seed Groups||Autonomous Chartered Groves & Proto-Groves||Autonomous Groves|
|Study Program||Dedicant Program, Guilds||Individual Study Program||Online study info||Training Program||Druid Path CD|
|Administration||USA based; elected Archdruid & Mother Grove (Board of Directors)||USA based; Grand Grove of 4 Archdruids||USA based; Archdruid, Council of Elders, Board of Trustees||UK based; Chosen Chief , Pendragon, Scribe, & Modron; tutors, bards, +||USA based: Archdruid, Nemeton of Dalon ap Landu||USA based; no oversight|
|Ordaining of Clergy||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Main Organization is Tax Exempt||Yes||Yes- 501c(3)||No|
|Membership||Annual||One-time lifetime membership for each degree||Annual||Course/ Membership for each grade||One Time Initiation|
|Website||www.adf.org||www.aoda.org||http://keltria.org/index.html||www.druidry.org||http://rdg.mithrilstar.org/||Unofficial site: http://rdna.info/|
1- Druid Revival: starting in the mid 1600’s people in Britain – and a little later on, in several other countries – turned to what little was known about the ancient Druids as a source of inspiration and a basis for a new spirituality founded on nature and personal experience. This was the start of the ‘Druid Revival’. It is inspired by the accounts of ancient Druids, and draws on the work of historical researchers, folklorists, and early literature. One essay on the start of the Revival can be found at AODA.
2- Neopagan: a term that distinguishes the historical Pagans of ancient cultures and the adherents of modern (c1960’s on) pagan movements. Neopagans tend to emphasize pantheism or nature-worship, or have revived or reconstructed aspects of historical polytheism. For more interpretations or definitions of this term go to Wikipedia, and ADF.
3- Eightfold Cycle or Wheel of the Year: the eight seasonal festivals consist of the solstices and equinoxes – four moments during the year which are dictated by the relationship between the Earth and Sun – and the four ‘cross-quarter’ festivals which are not determined astronomically, but are related to the traditional pastoral calendar.
In the interest of disclosure I am currently a member of AODA, OBOD, RDG, and RDNA and a past member of ADF. Most of my interactions with other druids (in decreasing order) has been with OBOD, AODA, ADF & RDG. I’d love to hear from Henge of Keltria or RDNA folk to flesh out their portions of the table. And a shout out to Mike at his RDNA info website for his similar ‘Different Types of Druidic Organizations‘ chart. (I came up with my table and then checked it against his. He gives his very educated take on the group organizations, humor, etc and his chart is worth looking at.)