I have been a member of the Ancient Order of Druids in America since this summer, but there are no other druids in that order anywhere nearby. For us, it has been very important to find other druids, because of the children.
Children really enjoy ritual, and they get a lot out of it; but my wife and I don’t have much experience in that area. A community of druids who really know how to do rituals would be very valuable for the kids. Also, religious community is, I think, even more important for children than for adults. Children learn primarily by imitation, at least in the first dozen years, and it’s great if they have more examples than just their parents. We want them to learn, too, that religion is something done proudly in public, as part of one’s identity, not kept to oneself at home. A religious community is ideal for that.
So we cast around for other druids. A web search brought us to Ellen Evert Hopman, a well-known herbalist and author living nearby. As it happened, she was in the process of incorporating an order of druids, the Order of the White Oak. The Order has been around in one incarnation or another since 1997, but this is the first time it’s been given by-laws and a firm organizational structure. One thing we think is quite good about the Order of the White Oak is its focus on public service, and actively promoting the values of druidry — peace and environmentalism chief among these. You can find its web site here.
We also joined Ellen’s grove, Waters of Life Grove, named after the lovely little stream that flows past her ritual space among the oaks. We’ve done a couple of rituals together now, rituals which were very meaningful for the children and everything we could have asked for. I’ll be writing more about them soon, once the holiday rush has past.
Ellen has proven to be a valuable teacher. I’ve already posted her recipe for relief from colds and flu, and she has many deeper teachings as well, depths which we’re only beginning to plumb. She is firmly in the Reconstructionist camp of druidry, which fits well with our own predispositions. She also has a lot of personal experience with Native Americans, something we value highly. Plus the kids love her!