In the second of a two-part series, the current leader of Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), Archdruid Jean Pagano who goes by Drum, sat down with The Wild Hunt to discuss ADF, its work and its future. Ár nDraíocht Féin (modern Irish for “Our Own Druidry“) is a Pagan religious organization based around the concept of Druidry as Proto-European religious practices.
Last week, Drum shared his thoughts about ADF as an organization. We talked about how ADF views rituals and working with what ADF calls the kindred which are the ancestors, the nature spirits as well as the Fair Folk, and the various deities of the Proto-European pantheons. This week Drum shares plans for ADF and upcoming activities, including the just-announced program Hearth Keeper Way for “individuals, families, and small groups that have aligned themselves and at least a portion of their practice with ADF.”
Michael: If you were to go back before you joined ADF and give yourself some advice to help you get the best out of your Druidry practice, what would you tell yourself?
Drum: Well, I would say “Read up on it.” When I first joined up in ADF in 1984, there was no internet. There was no Facebook. So everything had to be done via the Postal Service. So at that time, I was reading books and trying to gather information from books. It was Drawing Down the Moon that drew me to eventually come to Druidry and to ADF. So I would just say “Learn. Learn about things. Ask questions and find the resources in your world. Whether it’s in your library, whether it’s on the internet, whether it’s on Facebook, whether its someone you know who is a Druid, reach out to somebody and try to find out what they think about Druidry and such nature.
Michael: One of the big paths of learning through ADF is the Dedicant Path. Can you explain it and what advice would you give to those people who are working on that path?
Drum: Well, the Dedicant Path is kind of a, for lack of a better term, a year-long program, we’ll call it a year and a day program. There are eleven different tracks that are part of what the Dedicant Path program is: things like building a meditation practice or building an individual or grove-based practice, understanding our virtues, defining the high days, attending high day rites, building an altar, taking an oath which is not taking an oath to ADF but to Neopagan Druidry. These are the different aspects of it.
So what I would do is take a look at the website. You can find information out about the Dedicant program. It’s kind of a full program where we try to give you a little view into a lot of different parts of ADF. You put this information together and you turn it in as the Dedicant course.
One of the things I’d like to see is that currently, you have to turn all eleven pieces in as one. That’s kind of a big task for a number of people. I’d like to see people be able to turn in those eleven tasks individually. That’s something I’ll be working on in the months to come to see that can come to pass.
We also have a Hearth Keeper Way program that was announced a few days ago. The Hearth Keeper Way program is also an introduction to ADF practice that’s a little bit different, but contains some of the components of the Dedicant program, but are a little different.
The Dedicant program is important because once you get past the Dedicant program, it opens the door for other programs in ADF: study programs, guild study programs, order programs, things of that nature. So, if you want to continue on in the paths of learning in ADF, the Dedicant Path program is the first step. It’s the first step that you have to do. It’s a complete program. It’s a very good program and we want to make it as easy as possible for people to get through that program and understand it.
There are mentors available. I’ve acted as a mentor. We have the ability to offer the Dedicant Path program in a number of languages. You can do the Dedicant program in English. You can do it in French. You can do it in Portuguese. You can do it in German. We try to make it as easy as possible for people to present that information in their native languages as well.
Michael: You said that a big core concept of ADF is a religious approach and also daily devotionals. What is your view on how someone can start, in a brief statement, a devotional practice?
Drum: We have some YouTube videos on the ADF channel. I did a presentation in Ottawa last year about building a devotional practice with the land, sea, and sky. I’ve also blogged those three things, not that I’m schlepping my log or pushing my log, but it’s called From a Common Well that I share with another ADF member, Chris Godwin. If you look out there, there are three writeups on daily devotional practices, and I go through the steps on how to do that. Otherwise, contact me or take a look at the website.
I mean, basically devotional practice is setting up a repetitive practice where you are devoted to a concept or an entity and you want to build a better relationship with them. So we start with need, and then we build to building a relationship with them. Then we become devoted to that practice. It’s not just something to kind of do because you want to do it. It’s something you do because you’re dedicated to doing it and you do it on a timely basis.
My recommendation, not necessarily ADF’s recommendation, is to do it on a daily basis. Build those relationships on a daily basis. You can do eight high days a year and be very successful at building your Neopagan Druidry. But if you do it on a little more timely basis and a more regular basis, I think the dividends that you build up and are paid by doing that are much more substantial.
It’s kind of like if you want to make a friend. If you say, “Hey! How are you?” every six weeks, there’s a relationship that can develop. But I think that relationship will be fairly loose. If you build a relationship with your neighbor or whomever in your life on a daily basis, you come to a better understanding. And building that relationship is by having an exchange of thoughts, of offerings, and coming to understand one another.
In many ways, the kindreds are entities that we are learning about: the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones. I could go on that for days. These are entities that we can build relationships with–whether it’s those three or household spirits or the Earth Mother or whomever in your life, gods or goddesses, heroes. All these things are things you can build devotionals to.
Make it a regular part of your life. If you make it a regular part of your life and you miss a day, it’s not the end of the world. But I do encourage you to do this on a regular basis. It’s a long answer to a short question.
Michael: I know a lot of people might wonder, even people who are not Druids.
Drum: If you have any questions, I’m not hard to find. Look me up.
Michael: To close things out, what message would you give to the greater Pagan community about ADF and, maybe, building bridges?
Drum: You know, everybody’s welcome at the table. I think we had our statement of inclusion that came out, and it said that in some specific terms, but in general terms that everybody of good heart is welcome.
We have our core order of ritual that is something that’s 18 steps, but there’s a lot of space in between those steps to add things. I think that when people come to our rites, because of the open way the rites are handled, we want to make people feel welcome. We don’t require anything of them. We just ask them to come and share our practices.
So, come and see one of our rites. You can find us at Pagan Pride events. You can find us on YouTube. We instituted on YouTube a series of clergy rituals a couple of years ago. Since then, Reverend Amber Doty has continued to put together and upload to the site recordings in which different clergy members have different parts of the core order of ritual, so that ADF members and those curious can watch and learn from them. She has now expanded this to having High Day rites conducted by solitary members.
We’ve done rituals on YouTube now with our solitaries doing the same things. So take a look at what our rituals look like so you can see what our practices are. Take a look at our website to learn a little bit about our history and what we are about. Reach out to our people: our Mother Grove, our Senior Druids, regional Druids, or just our Druids in general and ask them what they think. I think they’ll give you a good read on what they think.
If there aren’t any questions that aren’t answered there, look me up. I’m not hard to find.
Michael: Drum, thank you for your time and your answers.
Spotlight on Traditions. is a new feature in The Wild Hunt for us to explore various paths, practices, vocations, and traditions in the Pagan, Heathen, polytheist, and animist community. We welcome your suggestions for this feature. Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.