2350 Spring Rd. PMB-140, Smyrna, GA 30080-2630
The Henge of Keltria was established in 1987 (incorporated in 1995) by cofounders Sable Taylor and Tony Taylor, both former members of the Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF). Keltrian Druidism is a spiritual path that reveres the nature spirits, honors the ancestors, and worships the ancient Irish deities. The Henge of Keltria provides information, training, and networking to those who practice or who are interested in Keltrian Druidism, Druidism in general, and the evolution of mind, body, and spirit through an Irish Celtic context.
Special emphasis is placed on spiritual development fostered through study and practice of the Druidic arts and Celtic magick. Through training, networking, resource material, ritual participation, and meaningful communication, the group aims to provide a religious and spiritual framework through which people may reach their full potential.
Affiliated local groups are called groves. Each grove is free to compose and perform ritual and magick geared to its own particular focus, provided such work remains compatible with the beliefs, ethics, and ritual and structural framework of the Henge.
Members progress through three grades of initiation called rings, a symbolic name derived from the rings of a tree; the ring system measures the growth of its participants. The three rings are named for sacred trees: the Ring of the Birch, the Ring of the Yew, and the Ring of the Oak. Within the highest ring, the Oak, there are three tiers—Hawthorn, Rowan, and Mistletoe. Advancements are based on time, knowledge, and service to either a local grove or the Henge. Special provisions are made for those transferring from other Neopagan paths, so that those with several years of training and experience do not need to begin at the bottom.
Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magic • Henge Happenings
The Henge of Keltria. www.keltria.org/index.html.
The Henge: An Introduction to Keltrian Druidism and the Henge of Keltria. Smyrna, GA: The Henge of Keltria, 2004.
Hopman, Ellen Evert, and Lawrence Bond. People of the Earth: New Pagans Speak Out. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1996.
PO Box 1215, Montague, NJ 07827-0215
IMBAS (an Irish word meaning “poetic inspiration”and pronounced “im-bus”) is a Druid Neopagan group founded in the mid-1990s. It promotes what it terms “Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism” and the cultural heritage of the Celtic peoples. Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism is grounded in folk tradition, mythological texts, and the archaeological and historical records of the Celtic people, who include the modern peoples of Alba (Scotland), Breizh (Brittany), Cymru (Wales), E’ire (Ireland), Kernow (Cornwall), and Mannin (Isle of Man). IMBUS focuses on the home, the family, and the community or tribe in honoring the land, the ancestors, and the traditional Celtic gods and goddesses. Though Celtic in emphasis, IMBAS is open to people of all ethnic backgrounds.
In reconstructing the Celtic tradition, IMBAS members show a deep reverence for the pre-Christian Celtic deities. They attempt to make contact with both the ancestors and the land spirits, which in a modern context assumes a concern for family and a deep environmental awareness. Members are also students of history and strive to be as historically (and mythologically) accurate as the evidence allows. Gaps in the evidence often make it necessary to create something new, however. These new realities should nevertheless be as consistent as possible with what is known about the Iron Age Celts and their legacy. Thus, IMBAS represents a balanced approach to understanding early Celtic religion, relying on both sound scholarship and poetic inspiration, but without mistaking one for the other.
At the same time, IMBAS has distanced itself from ceremonial magick (and modern traditions influenced by it, especially Wicca), romantic Revival Druidism (that is, anything inspired by Iolo Morganwg or the Druidic movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), and eclecticism (the combining of early Celtic religion with other cultural traditions).
IMBAS publishes a quarterly journal and other material, charters local IMBAS groups, provides a training program for prospective Seanch i (traditional lore keepers), and attempts to provide the public with accurate information about Celtic culture and Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism.
An Trbhs Mhr: The IMBAS Journal of Celtic Reconstructionism (not currently being published).
Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA)
c/o Michael James Scharding, PO Box 353, Elmore, OH 43416-0353
The Reformed Druids of North America was formed in 1963 by a group of students at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, as a protest against compulsory chapel attendance. In a conversation among David Fisher, Howard Cherniack, and Norman Nelson, the idea emerged to form a Druidic group involving no bloody sacrifices. If students were denied credit for attending its services, then they would claim religious persecution; if they received credit, the whole project would be revealed as a hoax, thus ridiculing the requirement. The requirement was dropped in the summer of 1964, and the Reformed Druids quickly claimed victory. The group decided that, since it benefited from the spiritual inquiry and enjoyed the practice of rituals, it would continue.
The group outlined two basic tenets of belief: 1) The object of the search for religious truth, which is a universal and a never-ending search, may be found through the Earth Mother, which is Nature, but this is one way, yea, one way among many. 2) And great is the importance, which is of a spiritual importance, of Nature, which is the Earth Mother, for it is one of the objects of Creation, and with it we do live, yea, even as we do struggle through life as we come face to face with it. The group, concluding that most Druids would not remember this, simplified the tenets to: 1) Nature is good. 2) Likewise, Nature is good.
The Reformed Druids came up with rituals that bore a resemblance to the Episcopal service, in addition to materials in anthropological literature, such as The Golden Bough, by Sir James Fraser. They built a fire-burning altar on nearby Monument Hill, where the first Protestant service in Minnesota had been held. Though frequently destroyed, the altar was constantly replaced, proving to be an inspiration to future Druids whenever persecuted. Later, prominent immovable boulders were used. Members often wore white robes made from bedsheets with various colored ribbons of office. They drew inspirational readings and concepts from the texts of all the world’s religions, with a strong emphasis on Oriental and Celtic sources. The passing of the waters-of-life is a symbol of oneness with nature and each other. The eight major festival days are Samhain (Nov. 1), Mid-Winter, Oimelc (Feb. 1), Spring Equinox, Beltane (May 1), Mid-Summer, Lughnasadh (Aug. 1), and Fall Equinox. Most groves, or divisions of the Druids, retained the Celtic/Druidic gods and goddesses to help focus attention on nature; some groves used other pantheons or called the simple spirit of the Earth.
Autonomous groves are headed by an Arch-Druid, a Preceptor (for business matters), and a Server who assists the Arch-Druid. Three orders of priesthood are recognized, but the majority of members do not enter them. The RDNA is not a scripture-based religion, rather deriving wisdom from experience and inspiration. Many in the group refuse to acknowledge it as a religion, preferring to call it a philosophical form of inquiry. About half of even the most active members eventually join mainstream religious movements, since the lessons of Reformed Druidism are often seen as a catalyst to inquiry and compatible with nearly all faiths.
In the mid-1970s leadership of the Druid movement passed to Isaac Bonewits, who had made national headlines when he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in magick. Many members of various groves were active protesters against the draft, which was seen as a target similar to the chapel requirement of the Founding Days, and other prominent issues. Also during the mid-1970s a debate arose over whether the RDNA was part of the Neopagan movements of California that had blossomed early in the decade. In the resulting schism, Bonewits formed the New Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA), which was amenable to Neopaganism; a further schism led to the formation of the Schismatic Druids of North America (SDNA), which was exclusively Neopagan.
After several years of publishing the Pentalpha (a national Druid periodical), trying to promote Druidism, and research into Indo-European religious origins, Bonewits formed a new organization called Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) (Our Own Druidism) in 1983. ADF was famous for a broad Indo-European source of inspiration, seminary training, intensive research into liturgical formation, church tax-status, and strong organization, and soon became one of the largest Neopagan groups in the country. In 1986 some members of ADF rebelled and formed the Henge of Keltria, based in Minneapolis, focusing on Celtic religion and more relaxed training methods (see separate entry). The bulk of Druids in America belong to one of these four members of the family of American Druism. Their only major rival in North America is the British organization, Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD).
During the 1990s, owing to easier communication and dissemination of materials through the Internet, grove formation surged. In addition to the four remaining groves of 1991, thirty-odd new groves were operating in 2002 on the West and East Coasts and in the Midwest, as well as in Japan and Canada. However, a majority of solitary members live apart from groves. Therefore, what happens in the groves should perhaps be seen as the exception to what is standard in the RDNA.
“A Psuedo-Official Homepage of the Reformed Druids of North America.” orgs.carleton.edu/druids/.
Bonewits, P. E. Isaac. Authentic Thaumaturgy. Albany, CA: The CHAOSium, 1978.
———. Real Magic. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1971.
The Druid Chronicles (Evolved). Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Drunemetom Press, 1976.