It might seem superfluous to offer a FAQ on any form of Druidry, since information on generic Druidism is now generally available. But we are not generic Druids and, while there are many ways in which we mirror ‘Neodruid philosophy’, there are also many points of divergence between our own and other Paths. Neither the surviving stories of Avalon’s ‘Golden Age’ nor the modern retellings of her myths accurately reflect our beliefs or practices; thus if others are to have a real sense of what we believe and do it must come from us. May this information help to lend clarity to your decision, and offer some reassurance to concerned family and friends.
Question (Q): What is Avalon?
Answer (A): Avalon is the Popular name of a pre-Celtic Otherworld isle (Ynys Afalon, the ‘Apple Isle’) and native mystical tradition, whose origins lie deep in the native Dreamtime of Western Europe and eastern North America. The Avalon Mystery Tradition and Avalonian Tradition are modern names for a native (‘Faery’) spirituality arising from this Dreamtime. The tales of Avalon were reconceived / Christianized in Arthurian legend.
Q: Where is Avalon? Is it a real place?
A: Avalon is equally real and accessible in all places and times, and to all those who know how to find and follow the heart’s hidden ways.
Q: Isn‘t Avalon all about Arthur and knights and the Holy Grail?
A: While a part of Avalon’s mythos includes knights, grails, and secluded monastic priesthoods, Avalon’s roots are in the healing of the Wasteland as it was understood in the time before the warrior cults; a time barely remembered by the Age of Arthur. It is from this taproot that our spiritual practice blossoms.
Q: Who created and defines the Avalon Mystery Tradition?
A: Folklore, literature and scholarship attest that Avalon existed long before any modern Avalonian mentors,groups or lineages. It predates even the Celts. If one accepts that the ancestors created the Tradition,then it follows that the ancestors defined it for us.
Q: Who regulates the Avalon Mystery Tradition and its various Branches?
A: The Tradition is self-empowered and self-regulating, therefore it has no central authority with theright to impose standards or validate “credentials” for the whole Avalonian Tradition. The reach of a title’sauthority is limited to the circle of people who choose to recognise it at any given time; usually, to the circle or group in which it is bestowed. Public acknowledgement of titles across different branches,groups, or spiritualities remains a customary, but purely ceremonial courtesy.
That Tradition ‘branches’ exist is self-evident, since, though all Avalonians hold beliefs and follow spiritual practices arising from a common wellspring of Avalonian myth, motifs, folklore, cultures, signature energies,and archetypal sacred landscape, Avalonian groups typically found their spiritual templates on sufficiently different times and cultures to warrant terming them ‘denominations’; however, being Druids, we prefer the term ‘branches’.
Q: How is ADO Druidry different from Wicca, Neopaganism, Neodruidism, and/or other forms of Avalonianism?
A: Not hard: (1) Our Sources, (2) Our Methods, and (3) Our Worldview.
- Our core teachings and spiritual practices derive mainly from Avalon’s oral tradition, and not from ceremonial magic, popular books, the ‘Barddas’, or the Annals of hostile cultures.
- We do not count conventional (‘Roman’) schooling as valid preparation for becoming a Druid, but uphold the worldview, method, and standards handed down to us by our own mentors, as attested in primary sources, and as verified by our own experience, research, and scholarship.
- We see ‘Spirit’ and ‘matter’ as aspects of one animating force that is inherent in all Creation. From this force numerous orders of being emanate, including our own.
- We honour Land, Sea and Sky (and their respective powers) equally, rather than emphasising only an Earth-Mother and/or Her Consort.
- We are pan/polytheists who understand the Gods as unique, consciously aware natural forces; the shapers of our world and the mentors of humanity, whose descendants founded Avalon's three “ancestral houses” and whose nature and relationship is not 'psychological' (i.e. only real in one's own mind), but actual. Our deities are whole and complete in themselves, rather than 'aspected', and generational, representing lineages rather than a simple 'pantheon'.
- Our belief system is governed by ancestral cosmology, and not that of mainstream Neopaganism or later Avalonian Ages or Archetypes.
- While we recognise the validity of the Neopagan/druid “Wheel of the Year”, our understanding, observance, and experience of the sacred year differs from it substantially in many ways, and is unique to our Branch of Avalonian Tradition.
Q: What do Avalonian Druids do?
A: We work to realise our full potential both as individuals and as members of a spiritual collective. Truth, Love, Honour, Loyalty, Kinship, Justice, and Wisdom are central values for all ADO members. We strive to live in harmony with Creation, resanctify the land, reclaim our role as world stewards, and honour the far ancestors through Dreaming and other acts of remembrance.
Q: How does ADO convert or recruit new members?
A: We don’t. Many who love the idea of becoming clergy lack the discipline, discernment, drive, and commitment to becomeAvalonian Druids or community members. ADO membership is a lifetime commitment. If we have to persuade you, you’re not ready.
Q: I’ve heard that Avalonians are pacifists. Isn’t being a pacifist unpatriotic?
A: No, unless you consider love and honour Truth, Freedom, Justice, and Life to be somehow acts of treachery ...Those who defend us deserve our gratitude, but they may still place their trust in the wrong things. They have our prayers and compassion, but the way of violence is not our path.
Q: Who are ‘the real Avalonians’? How can I know who to believe?
A: 'Real Avalonians' follow a well-documented, ancestral European spiritual tradition whose characteristics are described in countless scholarly and literary works, in archaeology, and in the sacred landscape. 'Real’ Avalonians also treat others with courtesy and respect, conduct themselves with integrity and dignity, have excellent discernment, and cherish diversity -- even within our own Tradition.
Q: Who is the head of ADO? Where do ADO’s spiritual credentials come from?
A: Spiritual guidance for the Order is through the Elder Council; the Band of Guardians (BoG), Officers, andstaff see to the Order’s practical needs (see Bylaws for more information). As to credentials, the only real authority empowered to confer spiritual 'credentials' are the Mighty Ancestors themselves --and they don't generally distribute licenses to practice. Within the Order 'spiritual credentials' are conferred by unanimous agreement of the Council with the acceptance of the general membership.
Q: Is ADO an offshoot of another Avalonian group?
A: No, it is not. ADO is a completely independent spiritual Order within the greater Avalon Mystery Tradition (or Avalonian Tradition). Its spiritual beliefs and practices derive solely from the Founder's Motherline (i.e. teaching lineage), and not from any other paths, mentor(s), group(s), or Tradition branches. Avalonian Tradition is a native European/ancestral wisdom tradition whose roots and character are essentially Pagan; the Tradition and the Order are not affiliated with modern Christian groups who may appropriate the term 'Avalonian' for their own purposes from time to time.
Q: How can you be ‘Avalonian’ if ADO is based in America?
A: Being Diaspora does not eradicate blood lineage or spiritual ancestry. Like many native or Faeryfaiths, we believe that cultures and spiritualities abide with their adherents -- wherever they choose todwell. The myths and histories themselves attest that the arrival of the Braithion and Celts in the Isles was neither the first nor the final, but the next chapter in a continuing story; a story in whose unfolding all of their descendants share, and play an equally valid and vital role. Thus, Avalon exists wherever Avalonians live and practice.
Q: Can you prove your claim to a spiritual lineage?
A: Actually, we can. An ‘objective’ criteria defining Avalonian lineage already exists, and is shared byscholars and modern Avalonian practitioners alike. It defines Avalonian spirituality as existing wherever Avalon’s unique identifiers (as defined by Celtic Scholars) comprise the core motifs, tenets, and elements of spiritual practice. Ergo, ADO has an authentic Avalonian spiritual lineage and a valid place within the greater Avalon Mystery Tradition. We also have a traceable teaching lineage ("the Motherline"), which is conferred at Druid Investiture.
Q: Why is lineage important?
A: The power of lineage is not in age; it’s in ancestry, and in knowing how to draw wisdom from theancestral well. When we embrace a spirituality we also adopt its spiritual lineage, in much the same way aswe might be adopted into someone’s kin group through fosterage. If we remain true to this lineage and to the sovereignty of ourland, we remain rooted in ancient Tradition --even where its form may appear new.
Q: Why can't I obtain a list of living/recent ADO 'Motherline' mentors?
A: Avalonian Mentors are not *Pagan celebrities*, but private people living in communities which are in many cases unwelcoming to Pagans; to 'out' our Founder's mentors to their neighbours seems a poor way to repay their efforts on our behalf, wouldn't you say? Especially when the test of a path's validity is not lineage, but whether it actually works, and that is revealed only through direct experience. If you need a pedigree to feel that the path you have chosen is legitimate, then ADO is probably not for you. If you have other concerns about joining a group, we advise you to join their public list(s), forums, and social networks (or better yet, meet them in person). How do you feel participating there? Also, group dynamics can change over time, so talk to current members for a sense of the group's history, and trust your own instincts. Only you know what is best for you.
Q: What is the significance of ‘Faery bloodlines’?
A: Certain families are mentioned in folklore as having Faery beings in their family bloodlines. We consider such families to be charged with serving as stewards of specific threads of ancestral memory that act as warp and weft in the weave of Avalonian Tradition. However, while it identifies them as having special duties, it doesn't tell us how well they perform them.
Q: Didn‘t Druids conduct human sacrifices?
A: There are deranged people in all times, religions, and walks of life. There are even deranged societies, but they do notdefine our Tradition. In Avalon, all life is precious. We offer nothing in ceremony that has not been givenfreely and with consent, nothing that would endanger the life of another being.
Q: Who are the ‘Braithion’ and why haven't I heard of them before?
A: The Celts themselves attest to having eradicated or suppressed the language of the ‘native Druids’ they encountered, conquered, and with whom they intermarried. Thus we cannot know with certainty what the people we call "Braithion" called themselves. In the interest of allowing them a unique identity apart from that imposed upon themby their conquerors, we have named them according to their nature as our lore reveals and remembers it.
Q: Can you prove that your beliefs are true?
A: No one can prove ‘belief’ empirically; even ‘evidence’ is subject to interpretation, and ‘facts’ changewith time and new understandings. We each tend to place the most faith in the things we discover for ourselves. Therefore, we encourage Seekers to find their own verification of our teachings. Once verified, we expect members to give primacy to ADO oral teachings and lore, even above the opinions of mainstream ‘authorities’. As a primarily oral tradition, we make no apology for this.
Q: If ADO is not a cult, why are your teachings secret?
A: We do not tell people what to perceive; we teach them how to perceive. ‘Answers‘ arise from contemplation of direct personal experience. Your answers (like your experience) will be unique to you, and they will be revealed to you through walking and living the path. The only ‘secrets‘ are the ones you keep from yourself.
Q: Do Avalonians worship the devil or Satan?
A: No. ‘Devils’ and ‘demons’ have no place in our spiritual belief. In Avalon, there are no angels or devils, and no battle between "good and evil"; there is only the search for Truth. However, they may be conjured up if one obsesses about them long enough.
Q: Do Avalonian Druids believe in One Almighty God?
A: We do not. We are taught that the impression of god-like omnipotence is an illusion created when beingsoperate outside their accustomed spheres; thus it may be said that we have no Gods in the usual, mainstream sense. The Wellspring or Source is not a deity, per se, but the hive mind and collective presence of all beings that ever were, are, or will ever be--which is not at all the same thing as 'one almighty god'.
Q: Does ADO have a Creation (‘Beginning and End/Final Judgement’) myth?
A: We are taught that we are all the co-Creators of our shared reality (Creation), and that the realitywe experience is created moment by moment through our collective thoughts, words, and actions. Since this process is perpetual, there can be no ‘beginning’ or ‘end’ myth; only a continually evolving assessment of our individual and collective evolution towards Oneness.
Q: How does Avalon see mankind’s ordained dominion over the Earth?
A: Our relationship with Creation honours all life as equally important and sacred; the idea of wielding power over the Earth (or other Orders of Being) is anathema to us.
Q: Does Avalon have a ‘hell’ or ‘purgatory’? What happens to souls that have done great wrongs?
A: The only hell we believe in is the one we each make for ourselves, and that is as real as we choose to makeit. Souls that commit great wrongs bring suffering on themselves and others, repeating the sametrials and challenges until they eventually resolve them. We see in these repeating patternsopportunities for self-transformation and growth, through which we may eventually end these painful cycles.
Q: What is the reward for goodness?
A: We believe that ‘goodness’is its own reward. Q: Do you have a Druid version of the Ten Commandments? How do Avalonian Druids deal with‘redemption’?
A: We believe that our own words, thoughts, and deeds condemn or redeem us, moment by moment, day by day.
Q: Will I burn in hell if I choose to follow this path?
A: Do you believe you will?
Q: How do I deal with loved ones who insist that Avalonian beliefs imperil my soul? What is ADO'srelationship with other religious and spiritual groups? A: If people of other faiths refuse us the rights they afford themselves, then we face a choice: to walk in thelight of our own truth or to bow to others’ disapproval and live a lie. We cannot control other people, norcan we tell you how to choose; we can only advise you to follow your heart, and let others do the same. We live in intolerant times, however, our relationship with organisations that have first-hand knowledge of us is excellent.
Q: How do Avalonian Druids define ‘worship’ and ‘prayer’?
A: In ADO we do not ask Spirit to resolve our problems for us; we pray to express our gratitude and toask support in working toward our own resolutions. Our worship is a form of respectfulcommunion with Orders of Being whose ties to our spiritual lineage are founded in relationships that mutually enhance and benefit our spiritual development and growth.
Q: Do Avalonians believe in ‘Karma’ or ‘Dharma’?
A: We believe in soul debts (i.e. real or perceived imbalances that demand remedy and which may continueto influence us until ‘repaid’) and soul purpose (destiny). Working to recognise and release these debts is part of our personal andcollective spiritual work, and is essential to realising our full spiritual potential. While we do not use the term ‘dharma’, we agree that much needless pain maybe alleviated by closely following certain teachings that bring us closer to Truth. Such teachings exist in all true spiritualities and religions; it remains for us to follow them.
Q: Is ADO a religion or a spirituality? Isn't ‘Tradition’ just a different name for ‘Dogma’?
A: Technically, ADO is a spirituality which is legally recognised as a religion. It is a spirituality in that it follows traditional spiritual beliefs and practices established by the far ancestors; it is a religion in that it is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) religious nonprofit charity. ‘Tradition’ is not ‘dogma’, but serves us as bones serve the body or as a musical score serves an orchestra. Unlike Dogma, a good structure does not strangle expression but guides, clarifies, and enhances it, preserving the main theme within infinite variations. It allows us to work ensemble, teaching the structure through which the Druid Within may improvise.
Q: Do Avalonian Druids believe in Reincarnation (Rebirth)?
A: Not as it is understood in Eastern religions. We do not believe in a linear progression leading frombaseness to perfection; nor do we see the afterlife as a form of reward or punishment. We are taught thatas souls die to one world they are reborn in another, in a continuous spiral of growth, evolution, and unfoldment.
Q: How is Rebirth Different from Transmigration?
A: Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but in ADO “transmigration” refers specifically to a process whereby a ‘great soul’ or ‘world teacher’ is reborn by cohabitating with a consenting soul, in order to continue or complete certain spiritual work (similar to the Buddhist belief regarding the rebirth of the Dalai Lama). “Rebirth” refers to the usual progress of the soul from life to life.
Q: Does ADO share the popular belief that Druidism is a philosophy applicable to any faith?
A: Though we honour the right of others to form non-denominational or even non-religious Druid groups, that isnot our path. Those who join ADO must be prepared to embrace all of our teachings, including our particular brand of thealogical mysticism.
Q: I’m considering joining, but my friends are against the idea. What should I do?
A: What does your heart tell you? ... Hear your friends’ counsel, but remember: all groups are made up of people who are imperfect and have their ups and downs, and all growth requires effort. Theonly *right* path for you is the one your heart chooses -- whatever path that might be.
Q: Will I have to quit my other spiritual groups if I join ADO?
A: No, provided that your outside activities remain ethically and philosophically compatible with ourown, and you are not obliged to share with them what you learn here. That said, some groups (including some Avalonian groups) do consider multiple memberships to be a conflict of interest. To avoid strife, advise your current circles of your plans and obtain their written consent prior to joining. Q: Are Shamanism, Sweat Lodges, Pipe Ceremonies, etc., part of ADO spirituality? If not, can Iinclude them in my ADO spiritual practice?
A: Absolutely not. We walk in the steps of our own spiritual ancestors, even as do other native spiritualities. This is necessary for the Tradition's survival, but it is also basic mutual respect. We bring into ADO workings only that which is already part of our Traditional work.
Q: Could I start a Wiccan branch of Avalonian Tradition?
A: Not using ADO beliefs, practices, or teachings. Avalonian Tradition is not Wiccan. Your only ethical option, if you wish to found a new kind of Wicca (or any other spiritual path), is to start from scratch using your own primary sources (i.e. guidance from ancestors of your own lineage).
Q: I am studying ADO Druidry with someone outside of ADO: is my training valid within ADO?
A: Probably not. Only ADO-approved mentors are qualified to teach ADO spirituality. The only approved mentors who are not also ADO members teaching within ADO are listed at Hedgerow School coursework page hosted at this website. If your mentor is not listed there, then they have not completed our training and been approved as mentors of our spiritual lineage, and your training will not be recognised here.
Q: Should I join several Avalonian groups in order to learn the Tradition faster?
A: No. While commonalities exist between Avalonian groups, the disparities will only serve to confuse you. Find a groupyou like and stay put until you know the basics in your bones, before taking on another group. Q: I am the Lady of Avalon (the Merlin, the Pendragon, etc.) reborn, and I am not here to learn, butto teach you. When do I start?
A: That's very nice, but you see, we've already got some. Please seek elsewhere.
Q: I am an ordained, titled, credentialed [name your title] someplace else. Why must I start over again when I join ADO?
A: You are not prepared to serve here, therefore be prepared to start over.
Q: What if I have no interest in the Tribes or want to be in Avalon’s clergy, but not as a Druid?
A: Then you must seek elsewhere.
Q: I don’t want to be clergy, but I still feel called to Avalon: What are my options?
A: Tribes members are not obliged to become clergy; however, your level of satisfaction will depend entirely upon you, the place you give Avalon in your life, and your ability to be at peace with other members learning and doing things that you cannot.
Q: Why does ADO have tribes members who are not clergy? Why isn’t everyone a Druid?
A: The reasons are several:
(1) Being a Druid is about serving others. Not everyone wishes to serve, and some are not suited to it.
(2) Not everyone can or will complete the full 21 years of training we require of our Druids.
(3) There are many paths to service. Some members have other callings.
Q: What are ADO study and community like?
A: They are what you make of them. For those vigorously pursuing Avalon’s Druid Way, the experience of ADOspiritual study and community is beautiful, illuminating, inspiring, and intense.
Q: What is ADO ritual ceremony like?
A: ADO is a Dreaming community, and our ritual ceremonies are rooted in our community Dreaming practice, rather than the later forms of ritual made popular by Neopaganism and Wicca. Ours are among the oldest forms of ritual known to man, and they have retained all of their original power, but they will likely be very different to anything you have experienced.
Q: How will following this path change my life?
A: In every conceivable way... Fully embrace living this path and you may expect every aspect of your life and personal relationships to change dramatically, because you will change. To succeed, your desire for Truth and Harmony must exceed your fear of the unknown.
We cannot change others; we can only change ourselves. Those who give themselves fully to this path may expect their lives to be completely transformed; how you will meet such a challenge only you can say.
Are you ready?