The Groves

Learning Circle, Hearth & Henge

The Apple and the Oak
Fair and Bold their Manner
In the Halls of Kings
There are No Nobles Finer
Blest Be the Grove in Which They Prosper
Purpose of Learning Circles
          A Learning Circle is a group of Aspirants undertaking the Aspirant Home Study Course together with a view to possibly joining the Order and forming a Hearth, Henge, or Grove.  The purpose of Learning Circle is to acquaint prospective members with the joys, expectations, and responsibilities of sharing experiences as a spiritual community, as well as to enhance support and encouragement for each Aspirant's studies.  It also allows you to assess whether our spiritual community feels right for you.

Purpose of Hearth, Henge & Grove

          A Grove is basically a Learning Circle of at least three members who have become ADO Lifetime Members and made a long-term, mutual commitment to continue regular study and practice together in service to the ADO spiritual community, and who are engaged in deeper studies and more advanced spiritual practices as a result.  Groves are expected to provide for the ongoing training of their members locally, and by sending at least one representative annually to the Order or to a mentoring Elder for formal training. Since the member's training is conditional upon their agreement to return and share their discoveries with their Grove mates, it is not uncommon for Groves to assist with any related expenses. This makes advancing our spiritual practice quite easy and affordable for everyone.

          Groves must be Chartered by the ADO Elder Council, and are reviewed annually for compliance with our Bylaws , Tradition, and member requirements as a prerequisite to renewal. (The Elder Council may revoke a Grove's Charter or demote its status for chronic noncompliance or member conduct issues.  Please see the Governance page for detailed information on legal requirements.)  Grove members are required to participate regularly in the life of the greater ADO spiritual community, and to fulfil all other requirements of ADO membership.  The object of the Grove is to:
  • Further the spiritual development of its members through study and practice of our Tradition within local same-sex and 'co-ed' community Circles;
  • Serve as ambassadors of the Tradition and the Order; and
  • Work collaboratively with other ADO Groves in support of the Order's Traditional vision and goals.
Hearths and Henges accomplish these goals through work and study in Women's and Men's Circles, respectively, while Groves reunite the two through the Mysteries of Union.

Grove Structure

Types of Groves

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          The ADO recognises three types of Groves defined by three different levels of attainment:
  • Novice Groves: Those Groves whose members are (re)establishing a basic level of proficiency and understanding in ADO Tradition.  All Groves are first Chartered as 'Novice' Groves and must successfully complete a probationary period to attain full Charter. Novice Groves are not approved to officiate ADO ritual ceremonies.
  • Maiden Groves: Those Groves whose members are demonstrably working at an intermediate level of proficiency and understanding, but which have no ordained Druids or Novices to officiate at ritual cermonies, and whose ability to conduct ADO rituals is therefore limited to nonceremonial or public forms.
  • Mother Groves: Those Groves a majority of whose members are demonstrably working at an intermediate to advanced level, and have at least one ordained ADO Druid approved to officiate and teach all types of ADO rituals. These Groves may be called upon by the Elder Council to preside over regional events and training.
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Learning Centres

          Mother Groves whose officiating Druid(s) are the primary mentors for a region may be designated as Regional Centers by the Elder Council.  Where the Grove's senior Druid(s) provide most of the advanced training for the Order,  the Elder Council may designate them as Training Hubs (or, where their Druids travel extensively to fulfil their mentoring obligations, as 'Hedgerow Schools').  In consideration of these additional responsibilities, such Groves are exempt from minimum Grove membership and open event hosting requirements. Oversight and assessment of such Groves is under the auspices of the Elder Council.
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Grove Requirements

           You must have a minimum of three members to Charter a Grove:
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  • One (1) Grove Head(s) (local equivalent of the Elder or Chieftain/'president');
  • One (1) Scribe (local equivalent of the Midwife or 'secretary'); and
  • One (1) Warden (local equivalent of the Pursewarden or 'treasurer').

Once your Grove is established, it may be maintained by demonstrating consistent progress in member training and preparation for a spiritual life in the Tradition, continuing to meet all ADO member requirements, and submitting all required reports by the published deadlines. The Order provides guidance, direction, and oversight via the Grove section of our Forum, and through the medium of The Book of Tribes and The Grove Book. Liturgy is available to Maiden and Mother Groves who meet the requirement for in-person training through mentoring and various ADO training manuals, such as The Grove Book, which provides many examples of Avalonian ritual and ceremony. All books are PDF format. (Additional charges for some texts may apply. Please see our Resources page for more information.)

          There are two levels of Grove membership:
  • Tribes ('congregational' members who are not pursuing intensive Druid training)
  • Druids (Tribes members who are ADO Druid Novices, Apprentices, or Druid clergy, i.e. Dreamers, Singers, or Pathwalkers)

While a Tribes level membership focus is less strenuous and more socially oriented than Druid level membership, Groves are working communities, in which Tribes members must attend Grove lessons at least twice each month (preferably weekly), maintain all other ADO membership requirements, and attend and assist with all Grove events as directed by the Grove Heads and/or Druid Novices. Failure to follow through may result in removal from the Grove.  (Failures involving a majority of Grove members may result in revocation of the Grove Charter.)

          The Grove's 'Druids-in-training' (Novices and Apprentices) must successfully complete all Tribes level work,  distinguished themselves through reliable service in the community, and have the approval of their Mentors and the ADO Elder Council, as a prerequisite for entering the Druid Novitiate.  To enter a Grove as a Druid candidate is truly to be reborn to a new life in Avalon.  Novices and Apprentices meet once each week for Druid study, twice monthly for Grove study, and attend all Feast Day ceremonies (i.e. the Calends, and the Albans) and other Observations (e.g. the Feast of Age and the Feast of Remembrance), as well as personal, lunar, solar observances, soul workings, mentoring, Tribal Rites of Passage, Dreams of Calling, and Council. Members of Groves serving as Teaching Hubs must also assist with training events while continuing their own studies -- all of which represents a substantially increased level of commitment.  Failure to follow through may result in reassignment of individual ADO membership from Druid to Tribes focus. [ Note:  If you are a new mother or a college student, we strongly recommend completing these important commitments first, as your Druid training will leave you little time for other studies or pursuits.]

'Roving Groves' (Taking Your Grove on the Road)


          Groved typically require a relatively stable environment in which to practice; but where does this leave members whose lives are more nomadic? Here, as in other matters, we do as the ancients did. Nearly all regular travel follows some kind of pattern. Salesmen, truck drivers, medical technicians, and 'snowbirds' all follow established routes and schedules, and we can make these schedules work for us, if we choose.  Check to see whether there are ADO members along your route, and whether you can make the time to see them.  If so, you may be able to establish a 'Roving Grove'.

          Roving Groves follow the same basic requirements as conventional Groves; their members simply live or work in different locations along a route. Although you may not meet as often, if you can establish relative regularity (meeting no less than once every month), you can maintain a Grove at least at a Tribes level. Your efforts will help you and other members enroute who might otherwise be limited to working through our cyber community.

          If you can't manage regular meetings, consider holding informal Moots to connect with other members.  Set a simple meeting agenda listing topics for exploration to ensure that your time is well spent.

Who, What & Where?

          We've made as many viable options for you to connect and share as Tradition will allow. Now it is up to each of you. If there is not a Circle or Grove in your area, you have a clear choice:

  1. Work on your own through cyber resources supplemented by tuitioned, face-to-face training.
  2. Start your own Member Study Circle or Roving Grove to work more intensively with other members.
  3. Ship in ADO mentors for weekend workshops and intensives.  (Even members who aren't interested in joining a Grove may be interested in pooling their resources to bring the training to them.)

          The ADO is an intimate group who have just completed a time of substantial change.  Several members have just relocated, which means starting new Groves. The Grove directory (below) reflects this new  beginning and shows the direction of its progress. To contact Groves or Learning Circle Facilitators, click on their names, descriptions, or symbols below.

Candidacy

Tests of Compatibility:
  • The Grove's Tests: Grove Heads may use questions, tests, energy scans, divination, or other empirical or intuitive means, test your knowledge and experience, ask for a copy of your natal astrology chart, perform a group meditation for guidance, or use other such Traditional means as may seem appropriate to determine whether your personality, intention, and energy complement those of current the Grove members and focus.  While intuitive methods may not be acceptable in the wider society, they are very much within Traditional Avalonian beliefs and protocols, and your request to join constitutes your acceptance of them as part of the standard criteria used in making membership and other determinations.
  • The Candidate's Tests:  You are encouraged to meet the Grove members, and to devise your own questions and tests in order to ascertain the Grove's appropriateness for you, and your preferred way of working.  (Bear in mind that it is you who must adapt your way of working to fit within Tradition parameters, and the fabric of the existing group.   Not all Groves are right for all ADO members.)
All parties are admonished to avoid investing in specific outcomes, and be open to whatever outcome best supports a comfortable fit for everyone.

[ Note: ADO recognises the potential for abuse of all forms of criteria. If you believe you were unfairly discriminated against (i.e. denied on the basis of a different criteria than is applied to other applicants), then please contact the Members Liaison.  Your concerns may be investigated and the Council will contact you if it deems further action is waranted.]

"The Angel Oak, St. John's Island" {{PD}}

Expectations


          Reasonable Limits of Mentoring:  Our mentors, tutors, and facilitators are not paid instructors, but fellow members who volunteer their time to share what they've learned with you as best they may. The limited 'Mentor Training' we provide is  not (as some have assumed) a 'traditional teaching degree', and cannot compensate for not being raised in a native culture. Each individual will have different limits and abilities with regard to the number of people they can tutor effectively at one time; limitations which may change with personal circumstances. What is possible for one person is not always possible for another.  Also, since tutoring is the primary form of reciprocation for training received within our community, members begin supervised tutoring under a Core Member starting their first full year with us.  This makes for a fairly long learning curve, given that training is tailored to the individual's needs. Therefore, we ask you to be understanding, patient, and trust that your tutors and mentors are doing their best on your behalf.

           Grove membership is potentially the single greatest benefit of joining ADO if you are prepared to engage in a genuinely collaborative endeavour. Like the rest of us, you will be challenged and confronted. Being together brings out many personal issues. As Grove members, we must adapt and learn to address issues respectfully as they arise, or be prepared to be confronted by those whom our Shadow behaviour is affecting. Those who cannot or will not work respectfully toward peaceful resolutions, or whose behaviour repeatedly undermines Grove relations and efforts, may face having their Grove and/or ADO Lifetime Memberships revoked for the good of the community.  However, most of us are skilled at adapting to new environments, and for those with a true Calling, our community is well worth the effort.

          Ours is a loving but challenging spirituality.  It is forgiving, but demands results; compassionate, but requires our honesty and willingness to forego excuses.  It nurtures, but demands excellence. Its lessons come in whatever form we most need, though not necessarily in the forms we most want or which modern society has taught us to expect. We may be comforted or harrowed, according to our own needs. Our Groves and community are supportive, but they are not substitutes for professional counselling or therapy. We may find friendship here, but it is not a 'social club'. Groves and Circles are working groups exploring and actively developing Traditional understanding and skills.  Our spirituality is all-pervasive. The choices we make, the things we do, all have real consequences carrying real responsibilities which we must accept and deal with.

          Avalon offers us the experience of enlightenment in whatever form our behaviour and attitudes demand.  While the Holy Isle is always a place of spiritual peace, security, fulfilment, strength, and Harmony (Cynhanedd) through inner balance, the unready may experience her  in her guise as the Isle of Glass; reflecting their own illusions back to them.  Most of us will meet Avalon's glassy face eventually, even if we elect never to visit the Motherland, so it is wise to respond compassionately when others experience it. Whether we may confront our truths in our own backyard or in the Isles, this landscape initiation is part of our evolutionary journey through the Earth plane.  In choosing (or in choosing to become) Grove members, we are choosing the people with whom we wish to make this journey; those who will see us at our best and at our worst, and if we cannot trust them with both, then perhaps our Path lies elsewhere.  Grove members are one's 'family of choice'.  As such, they become a permanent and important part of our lives; people who can make Grove life a blessing or a curse, so choose carefully, wisely, and well.

Refusals

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          Whenever a Grove accepts a new Grove member the energy, direction, and focus of the group changes as well. If you are all to work and grow together harmoniously, you must be compatible with one another. This is not merely a matter of personality, but of keeping a balance energetically and respecting the limits of the individual Grove Mentor's abilities.  Energy Imbalances hold everyone back, and ultimately result in members becoming frustrated and leaving. While science cannot measure it, we all know when a person's energy is negative, or when it clashes with that of other members or the group, and belief in the power and influence of different energies is intrinsic to our spirituality.  Thus, all prospective members must accept energy assessments as a partial criteria for inclusion in a Grove or Circle's spiritual work.  Having incompatible energy is not a value judgement; it simple means your energy and the group's aren't a good fit, and since everyone's work is important, we all need to be in whatever group will most empower our work.

          Because our combined energies define the character of the Grove and the kind of work it can do, Groves and Grove applicants are admonished to:
  • Keep a close balance between basic types of energies amongst members. Let the Realms, the Nine Elements, and your Avalon Guides help you in making your assessments. Groves must reach consensus to approve new members, but applicants should ask themselves whether the Grove is right for them, as well. When a decision is taken, allow equal time for each party to declare their choice, and to share their feelings about the process.  Trust that, generally, things having a way of working out exactly as they were meant to be.
  • Be mindful of potential contaminants (foreign energies, entities, or 'astral wildlife' accompanying or attached to the human aura); including 'allies' from other paths.  Tending to our spiritual hygiene is not only healthy, it helps to keep everyone safe. [Groves and/or Grove members needing further guidance on this issue should contact our Pathwalkers for assistance.]

Should your request (or invitation) be declined, please accept the decision graciously. While it may be disappointing, it was likely taken with everyone's best interest in mind -- including yours.
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Start Your Own Grove!

Click the button (at right) to submit your Application for Grove Charter:

Grove Charter
​Application