You are now arrived at the living, beating heart of our Order. It is in the Grove's Hearth, Henge, and Tribes that members have the greatest possibility of actualising their spiritual potential. Unlike many other magical and/or mystical systems or faiths, the heart of Avalonian Druidry is life in full community, including our friends and family. Within the Order, we strive to develop personal self-empowerment and enlightenment while advocating the skills essential to any successful community. We are glad to see you here and look forward to sharing this journey with you!
All Learning Circle members must first be either ADO Aspirants (prospective members enrolled in the required Home Study course who have paid the Aspirant Fee in full) or approved Lifetime Members of the Order. You must have at least two Aspirants to form and maintain a Circle. Your Tutors will guide your learning and act as liaisons to the Council, and one Aspirant must serve as Scribe to keep attendance records and other notes required by the Order. Circle members must adhere to all ADO membership requirements, keep current on Lessons, and attend and participate in scheduled Learning Circle functions. (See the "Join ADO" and "Groves" pages of this website for more information.)
[NOTE: Your demonstrable willingness and ability to meet this commitment will form part of the Council's criteria for deciding whether to approve you for future Grove Charter or as future Grove members. In this way, we may best ensure that our Learning Circles and Groves create satisfying and positive environments for all members.]
The same conditions apply to Groves as to Learning Circles except that you must have at least three officers to form a Grove (a Grove Head, Scribe, and Warden), You must also be prepared to meet the higher commitment expected of Grove members. Your commitment and follow-through will be more than amply repaid! Please acquaint yourselves with these expectations and be sure that you all agree before applying. If you need assistance to understand the intent of any requirement please feel free to contact the ADO Members Liaison by writing to the ADO email address (Subject Header: Members Liaison). When you are all ready, you may submit the application for Charter! (Download a copy of the Charter at the bottom of this page.)
Approval of the Elder Council & Band of Guardians
All Learning Circle and Grove applications must be approved by the ADO Great Council prior to forming. The same form is used for both new applications and for reinstatement of lapsed or suspended Grove Charters. Copy the completed form into a word document before submitting, and send it, with a copy of your Circle records, to the ADO email, "Attn: Grove Charter". Approval is based upon both administrative compliance and compatibility with/potential impact on our spiritual community.
Grove applications may be held or denied for many reasons, including (but not limited to):
Choosing a Circle or Grove name that is already assigned to another group
Inclusion of non-ADO members or omission of participating ADO members' names in the application
Unresolved conduct or disciplinary issues
Failure to provide ADO updates of member contact information
Failure to meet annual training requirements
Violations of ADO member requirements
Because the actions of each member affect the entire group, we stress reviewing both individual and group compliance with all requirements and coming to agreement together before applying for Charter. In this way, you may be sure that you share an understanding of expectations and be better prepared to commence your explorations.
Duration of Circle or Grove
Learning Circles are viable for a period of one year and one day from the date of founding, as provided in the ADO Approval Letter. At the end of that time, Circle members must choose whether to disband and return to solitary membership, perhaps enjoying occasional informal Moots, or to apply for full Charter as a Grove of the Order.
Groves must successfully complete a probationary period as prescribed in the ADO governing documents and Grove Charter in order for their status to be finalized. To maintain Charter, Groves must file quarterly financial reports (even if you are reporting zero income), keep a book of members, keep monthly and annual meeting minutes, hold elections for officers, maintain required member training and spiritual practice as prescribed by ADO Grove governing documents, and in such other member materials as ADO may publish from time to time, and keep ADO informed of all changes affecting Grove contact information and/or functions. Grove Charters are reviewed annually for compliance with these requirements.
Learning Circles, Groves, and their respective members are subject to being placed on probation, or to having their status revoked or changed, for noncompliance and/or infringements of ADO member requirements. Such changes shall be imposed at the sole discretion of the Elder Council and/or the Band of Guardians, in accordance with the governing documents of the Order and with the customs, precedents, and expectations of our Tradition.
Only ADO Aspirants who have paid the Aspirant Fee and are current in their Lesson work may form and/or participate in Learning Circles. You must be an ADO Lifetime Member to apply to form or to join a Grove. Please download and read the terms of Charter (below), Grove Training Requirements and Closing Thoughts (below) carefully, and consider the commitment you will be expected to make and maintain, before submitting your application to maximise your chances of success.
You are now on the Path that leads to the Great Wood. We look forward to meeting you there!
Application to Form or Reinstate
ADO Learning Circles and Groves
[Please complete all sections of Form before submitting. The Elder Council will respond as quickly as possible (usually about 3 weeks). Please note that applications for each type of Circle or Grove must show sufficient numbers and kinds of members to qualify.]
Member Name/Title/ADO Number: Please enter full legal names.
(Incomplete/incorrect forms may result in delays or denial of your application by the Council.)
Type of Application:Group Type: [L. Circle min. 2 members; Grove min. 3 members each]
Portal Date: (Samhain or Beltane only)
Prop. Group Name: (subject to Council Approval)
Have all members submitted required consents (COPPA) and read, understood, and agreed to the ADO "Hold Harmless" agreement which are conditions for membership in ADO and in all ADO circles, groups, and gatherings?
As a condition of continued ADO membership and Charter, are all members agreed to abide by all ADO member and Learning Circle/Grove rules, guidelines, and requirements, and such amendments and changes as may be published by the Order from time to time?
Learning Circle or Grove Tutor Information:
Please list all ADO training and experience to date by the person who will be acting as Grove 'tutor'.
(This person may or may not be the same as the Grove Head, depending on the circumstances.)
Years of Tutor's membership in ADO: (please choose one)
Learning Circle or Grove Head Information:
Please list all training and experience to date, or (for renewals) all ADO training successfully completed within the past membership year.
If during the past year you have completed the necessary training and been approved by the Elder Council to perform ritual invocation on behalf of the Order at ADO events and gatherings, please indicate below:
If yes, please indicate what percentage of your rituals you choose to invoke versus evoke the presence of Spirit. (approx.)
Check if you have begun training:
If there is more than one invoking Druid in your Circle or Grove, please indicate in the field below how you share your ritual and other Circle or Grove duties.
Congratulations! You are now ready to submit your group's Application! Please take a moment to be sure that all form fields pertaining to your application have been completed before submitting. (An error message will appear if you have missed a field.) Thank you and we look forward to walking the Path beside you!
If applying as a Grove, do you have a copy of The Grove Book?
Do you need a replacement copy?
Grove Charter Agreement
To open and print the Charter agreement simply click on the Icon below. Please do not link to documents and files presented on our website, as this could cause crashes and other interruptions of service to members. To copy the document to your own hard drive, double click and choose 'Save As' from the document's File Menu. Then choose the location on your own computer to save the document. If your Grove has been approved and has its own website, please be sure that you identify yourself as a Chartered Grove of ADO. To use this document on your Grove's website, save it to your own hard drive, then upload it to your website host's FPT from there. Please do not attempt to alter this document in any way. Altering official ADO documents may result in disciplinary action or termination of Charter and/or individual memberships.
From time to time, ADO may make changes in the Charter Agreement and/or member codes, rules, or other requirements. Please check back at Samhain and Beltane to be sure you have the latest copies of all governing documents. Groves may be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of the Grove members, provided the following procedures are followed: close any Grove accounts; remit any Grove monies and Order-owned physical resources; and submit written Notice of Grove Intent to Dissolve with a copy of all Grove records, to the Band of Guardians. Your Charter will be ended upon receipt of Notification and appropriate distribution of any material resources as required by the Order's Bylaws. (Please note that as individual members you remain bound by current member requirements for as long as you remain in the Order.) Concerns about changes in requirements or other policies may be presented for review by writing the ADO Members Liaison at the address provided on the Bylaws page of this website.
While it is less expensive for most Groves to simply send one member to a workshop, immersion, or short apprenticeship with an Elder, there is another option: You can bring the Elders to you! This is more expensive, but allows all members to benefit directly from the training experience. Costs will include Elder transportation, room and board, and stipends; however, the additional cost of bringing Elders in to conduct training is small in comparison to what is gained! Members who share the process of training together build stronger bonds and make much faster progress. Your Grove will see immediate benefits from this vital direct experience of Avalon's tribal spiritual life. Follow the link below to see suggestions for things to consider in hosting Grove events.
Thoughts & Musings on Grove Life
A lot of fuss is made about titles in the world, generally, and in paganism specifically. There are those who love them and those who hate them, those who see them as badges of honour and those who see them as tokens of elitism. The IRS, as part of legally enforcing 'corporate accountability', requires the entitlement of those in positions of authority. We have provided more "tradition-friendly" terms where possible, but titles remain a condition of maintaining our nonprofit status.
Other titles (such as Singer, Pathwalker, Dreamer) are solely traditional, and exist mainly for three reasons:
To recognise personal attainment within the Tradition and the Order
To identify those with special expertise in situations where their skills may be needed
As a sign of respect for our ancestors, mentors, and Elders, on whom we rely to pass down the teachings, and provide spiritual guidance and stability for our community
Members often ask how titles are bestowed in ADO and who bestows them. The easiest, most truthful answer is simply this: the Elders confer titles upon qualified members who are demonstrably living our spirituality and actively serving our community. Who entitled ADO's first Elders, some will ask? Not hard: Those of other Avalonian groups bestowed their titles first, but within ADO the first titles were bestowed by our Founder, affirming that all ADO requirements for these positions had been met. Those bearing the titles mentored, approved, and named those to follow them according to the manner set forth by the Tradition and criteria established by the Order -- and so we continue to the present day.
But what importance do titles have in Learning Circle or Grove? Well, that depends upon what significance we bestow upon them and their bearers. All true ADO circles are gatherings of equals sharing the experience of walking this spiritual path in community, and mentoring one another in its ways. But 'equal' does not mean 'interchangeable'. Each member's experience, questions, and sharing represent an irreplaceable, unique aspect of a Truth that can only be glimpsed collectively. No one truly becomes an "expert" on Avalon, but it is important to grant others acknowledgement for their accomplishments, even as it is important for us each to remember that no one is "first" in a circle. There will always be someone beside, behind, andahead of us as we walk.
The circle that forgets this truth departs Avalon. All of our methods and customs are geared to help prevent this. If we respect and follow them, our course will remain true. If we 'reshape' or 'reinterpret' them we will invariably become lost. Unlike "religions of clergy", in ADO, the object is for everyone to achieve a level of mastery and to exercise it ensemble, for only thus may a circle achieve its full potential. Because this is impossible to achieve where the pattern has been set for one leader and a circle of followers, we require members to take turns mentoring, leading ceremony, and doing menial tasks. In this way, we are each reminded that we lead ourselves in manifesting a collectively held vision set by the ancestors: the spiritual way of early Avalon that is ours in ADO.
In almost every case, walking the Path to Avalon will mean making fairly major changes -- not only to our accustomed ways of thinking about (and responding to) the world, but in our daily lives. No matter how appealing the 'image' of being 'Avalonian' or 'Druid' may be, we must learn and practice the Path and actively participate in our spiritual community if we are to claim the reality as our own. This means making room, time, and space for Avalon in our lives -- which may sometimes mean that other interests get crowded out. If we want Avalon badly enough, we will accommodate it; if not, we won't. In the end, the true measure of our desire lies in the moment of choice.
The kind of 'Avalonian lifestyle' we evolve will depend upon how 'Avalonian' we are determined to be. Casual browsing requires little change, but leaves one a casual observer rather than an adherent of the Path. Weekly study and practice will eventually bring us into the Tribes (community), and may prepare the way for Druid studies; but it will take more than this to walk the Path as a Druid. For most, it will take a radical change to enter into the consistent, intensive study and participation that plunge us fully into our spirituality. Few are able to do this and fewer still are willing.
But the Path is more than a 'lifestyle'. If we are to achieve competence in ADO Druidry and receive recognition for our efforts, we must make a real, consistent commitment through study, practice, and service. We must welcome questions and be eager to hunt out answers, see 'failure' as our best friend, be willing to demonstrate our abilities before our Elders and community -- and all for the sheer joy of doing it, without expectation of reward. A functioning ADO circle is one in which every single member models and fosters this attitude in themselves and others.
To accomplish this is to initiate and establish a radical change in perception and perspective. Our labour births the 'Hero or Druid within', who knows that life is a tale in which we each play a part, 'coming and going in the telling'. This knowledge allows us to act from a heightened state that makes the 'impossible', possible. It is when we achieve this state that Avalon opens her secrets to us and the full nature of her spiritual power is revealed. Some will say that it is impossible for anyone to consistently uphold this state of mind in the modern world: they are wrong. While it may be impossible for them, it is not impossible for us. We must each ask to what extent we are willing to change in order to bring Avalon into our lives. And we must keep asking; for the answer will be different for each person and in each moment.
We are here, gathered in circle, to support one another in the asking and answering of this question, as much as we are here to learn the information and skills we will need to function within Avalonian spiritual culture. We can only say how we will answer now, in this moment (none can say how s/he will answer in the moment to come); but it is by giving our full commitment to this moment, moment by moment, that will finally arrive.
Becoming a Circle or Grove brings responsibility, but it can also help to spark a renewed sense of joy and enthusiastic expectation -- not only in our spiritual practice, but in our lives. It all depends on how each of us defines and approaches it. Gatherings work best when each person there is focused on making it as pleasant and fulfilling an experience as possible for everyone, without sacrificing our own rights and privileges. This is harder than it sounds, but it is not impossible. As with any major change in habit, it takes a lot of effort and energy initially; but the longer we do it the easier it gets and eventually it becomes second nature. When it does, we find ourselves living a much more pleasant and spiritually satisfying life!
We hope you have found this information helpful and that you avail yourselves of all the resources at your disposal. As mentioned, you will find guidance at the Groves area of the our Forum, in your Grove Book, in training, in the closed pages of the website, and in the Book of Tribes. For copies of these ADO Books, or if you still have questions, please contact your ADO Mentor. Learn. Explore. Share. And enjoy!
And may the blessings of your spiritual foster-kin nourish and sustain you.