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A.D.F. Druidism in the Pittsburgh Area
Sassafras Grove ADF, is the Pittsburgh area's chapter of Àr nDraíocht Féin
(pronounced: "arn ree-ockt fane" - Irish for "Our Own Druidism" )
having become an officially chartered "Grove" of the ADF tradition in the summer of 1992.
ADF is dedicated to serving the greater Neopagan community by providing quality open ceremonies commemorating each of the eight annual High Holy Days of the Neopagan Year (the Solstices, Equinoxes and the crossquarters between them). In our rites we always honor Earth, The Great Mother, first and foremost. Then, at a secondary level, we appeal to The Blessed Ones (ancient gods and goddesses,) as well as paying tribute to the Ancestors and Nature Spirits. Our rites follow a well researched and spiritually effective format based on years of practice and the best modern scholarship available on the ancestral ways of Europe and the British Isles.
ADF's approach to Druidism is often both attractive and somewhat challenging to the average newcomer. Though many of the persons involved in creating ADF have backgrounds in Wicca (some are still practicing Wiccans; it is possible to do both…) Wicca and ADF Druidism do have a number or basic differences. Such things should be discussed at length to be fair to both parties but let it suffice to say that three basic categories might cover most of the issues.
- ADF has a "community oriented" open-door format for providing religious services to the Neopagan community-at-large with open, public rites. On the other hand, Wicca is by design, a system of close-knit private groups, admission into which is gained usually by petition and/or invitation only. Both approaches have their value and their limits; like apples and oranges, it's not a matter of one being "better" than the other.
- ADF has selected to address a more limited range of cultural sources. Whereas Wicca uses cultural sources from Europe and around the world, including Middle Eastern, Egyptian, even Asian and Native American, ADF chooses to focus its attention to material originating with the various branches of what modern archaeologists and linguists now call the "Indo-European" peoples (which include: the Celtic, Scandinavian, Germanic, Slavic, Latin/Romance, Greek, Persian, Armenian and the Vedic/Hindu speaking peoples). Modern scholarship has shown that the peoples speaking Indo-European languages share powerful and amazingly consistent foundational patterns of mythos and cosmology, as well as their societal and religious practices. It is that tradition of commonalty and consistency we are seeking to tap into; not the dangerous illusions of blood-ancestry or race. We do not intend to represent the Indo-European peoples, their folkways or their descendants as being 'better" than those of other lineages; yet we do come together because of a common affinity for that body of cultural cues (essentially, a motif); we are brought together by our "tastes" - not by our "blood."
- And finally, the reason which stands as the closest to being a true criticism of Wicca: "Historical Verity." In no way does ADF mean to represent its activity as a "survival of an ancient religion." Nor does ADF claim that its rites are "true reconstructions" of ancient Celtic (or other) religions. Nobody (nobody-) knows how the ancient Druids (or Witches) practiced and we would suggest that you avoid anyone who claims otherwise. ADF however, is creating a healthy, positive modern religious practice based on the best modern Celtic and other Indo-European scholarship available. Key here is the term "scholarship" meaning that we strive to utilize the most up to date archaeological, historical, and comparative religions reference material available and exercise a prudent degree of skepticism when drawing on folklore or "New Age" source material.
In ADF, more so than in many of the mainstream Neopagan traditions, we endeavor to thoroughly and objectively research the ways of the Old Ones to arrive at a point where our rites can achieve a certain archaic "resonance" with their ways; a format created in accord with, but still not pretending to truly recreate their ways (alas, such "re-creations" will have to wait for the advent of the time-machine and even then we must recognize that it's unlikely we would like what we'd find: a fact that may serve our spiritual, romantic and ethical tastes best in the long run anyway).
In many ways, Sassafras Grove is still a highly informal organization. Over a dozen years along, we're still ironing-out basic practicalities like how to run meetings and how to procure a public meeting/event space. What you will find is a bunch of friendly, sincere people(our planning meetings rarely have more than 7 or 8 people of varying levels of familiarity with Neopaganism, Celtic or Indo-European studies, ADF Druidism, and group dynamics. Many of our attendees are beginners to all of these topics; please understand that we believe that every individual present has something vital to contribute to the process. So... if this stuff sounds appealing, or even mildly interesting to you: come on over and check us out!
- Earrach of Pittsburgh,
-------------------------------- and ALL of the hard working folks of Sassafras Grove, ADF