The Founding Vision for FoDLA:
A Fellowship of Druidism for the Latter Age
April 2006 C.E.
The Fellowship of Druidism for the Latter Age—or FoDLA–is a Druidic religious community for polytheist Neopagans in the United States of America.
This vision for the community known as FoDLA includes a combination of words in the Irish language—“Draíocht Nua”—which is a modern and poetic expression for this path. That the acronym, “FoDLA,” is also the name of one of the Sovereignty goddesses of the ancient Irish is a significant part of this vision.
The Fellowship is part of a larger tradition of Neo-Druidism, often also called Neopagan Druidism, and regards it as proper that its members be called Druidic Pagans or Celtic Pagans, but does not mandate the use of such terms by its members in describing themselves. The Fellowship derives inspiration for its customs from what is known of the spiritual ideologies of the pre-Christian societies within which literary testimony places the Druids. The Fellowship seeks to understand the practices of the past—whether through direct evidence or the work of reconstruction—and draw forth from them values and customs that are both meaningful for modern people in a predominantly English speaking society and respectful of the cultures of the ancient Celtic speaking peoples.
The Fellowship is polytheistic: It is a community for those who have found importance in their lives for many gods or spirits. Respectful disagreement about the ultimate nature of the deities is welcome in the activities of the Fellowship, but not the assertion that one God or Goddess is superior to all others and must be recognized as such by all.
The Fellowship is unreservedly Neopagan in that it does not seek to recreate the societies of the past nor to operate their religious cults. The Fellowship fully embraces the use of the term “Pagan” and also embraces the responsibilities attendant on its place outside the mainstream religious communities of America—in terms of both the fertile dialogue that is created with the mainstream and the challenge to avoid marginalization by accepting a term that carries a connotation of status as “outsider.”
The Fellowship asserts its identity as a church as the federal government of the United States defines the term and claims its place as an equal to the other churches and faith communities of America and will defend its right to equal treatment as such with vigor.
The Fellowship encourages an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance of diversity within its community.
The Fellowship asserts that every human being has inherent worth and seeks to protect the right of each person to seek the fullest expression of that worth, while respecting the rights of others to do the same. The Fellowship rejects discrimination by racial identity, gender, or sexual preference, and any other creed or practice which would seek to elevate one class of person above another merely by virtue of identity.
The Fellowship advocates for the most inclusive and least dogmatic expression of its core values. The Fellowship esteems shared values and practices above rigid definitions and explanations of metaphysical matters. The Fellowship rejects the establishment of definitive accounts of such matters of individual faith as the origin and fate of the cosmos; the independent nature of the deities, spirits, and otherworldly realms; and the existence and nature of an afterlife. The Fellowship trusts in its members to contemplate such matters in a meaningful way and to reject the temptation to use them as a means of division.
The Fellowship asserts that no person requires clergy to commune with the Powers they revere and also that the role of the Druid in leading community ritual is indispensable.
The Fellowship unreservedly asserts that each person has not merely the ability but the right to commune with those Powers whom they are called to worship directly and without need for mediation by clergy.
The Fellowship equally asserts the need for trained and skilled individuals to guide community worship, so that it reaches its fullest value for the greatest number of participants. The Fellowship names such individuals its Druids and reserves that title solely for those who have demonstrated both merit—as judged by the Fellowship, not by the individual—and sincere commitment to the community. The Fellowship is committed to maintaining a system for the instruction and recognition of such individuals and to protecting their right to receive the same respect due to other religious officials in American society.
In keeping with the customs of the ancient Celtic peoples, the crafting of the word is seen as the quintessential sacred action and oral transmission of lore and practice is prized, with the opportunity for face-to-face instruction deemed essential to an adequate development of the skills of the Druids of the Fellowship.
The worship practices of the Fellowship are above all devotional and sacrificial.
The Fellowship promotes the giving of offering to the Powers guiding its individual members and communities of members as its highest expression of worship. The Fellowship asserts that the offering of art, song, praise, labor, and other gifts of value—even aesthetic value—are sufficient as expressions of hospitality towards the Powers. The Fellowship rejects the taking of the life of any animal solely for the purpose of ritual offering or the making of animal or blood offering at community rituals facilitated by its Druids.
The Fellowship recognizes and supports the desire on the part of individuals to explore magical and mystical practices that enhance their experience of spirituality, but does not regard such practices as essential. The Fellowship rejects suggestions that the ability to achieve meditative or trance states are requirements for the life lived well and supports such practices as spontaneous prayer, emotional reaction to sacred art, intellectual contemplation, and even the act of dreaming, as sufficient foundations for spiritual practice, now as they were among the ancients. The opportunity to achieve an attitude of reverence is in itself seen as a sufficient justification for participating in worship. The Fellowship sees Neo-Druidism as above all directed toward a connection with the other, rather than primarily a turning inward. The worship practices we especially prize are those which forge closer connections to all the Powers of the Cosmos which guide, guard, and inspire us and, in particular, to the Land itself.
The Fellowship seeks to minimize the promulgation of dogma, but does recognize that no religious community can truly be a community without a core of shared beliefs and values.
The Fellowship recognizes three central commitments: The commitment to study, so as to honor the past and the path; The commitment to piety, so as to honor the gods and the spirits one recognizes as worthy of worship; and The commitment to hospitality, so as to honor the community and also the Land that community shares.
The Fellowship recognizes three central mysteries: The mystery of the hearth fire, wherein the fire is a living presence and is to be present in all acts of worship; The mystery of the otherworldly feast, wherein the making of offering is seen as a gesture of respect and hospitality and is to be part of all acts of group worship; and The mystery of the union with the Land, wherein an offering to the Land by a fit representative is seen as a way of promoting unity and prosperity and is to be part of all acts of public community worship. The Fellowship unreservedly protects the right of individual members to understand the mysteries in such ways as may deepen their connection to them without prejudice: literally, metaphorically, psychologically, or as they will.
The Fellowship recognizes nine yearly festivals: The four Celtic fire festivals, known as Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, and Lughnasadh (and by other spellings as well); The solstices and equinoxes, in common with the Neopagan community of which we are a part; and The Conclave of the Druids, the annual gathering of the Druids of the Fellowship and a time for rituals expressing unity among the hearths of the membership. The Fellowship recognizes an absence of definitive evidence for celebration of the solstices and equinoxes among the ancient Celtic peoples, but asserts that acknowledgement of these occasions in the latter day is one of many examples of positive evolution of Pagan spirituality.
The Fellowship is rooted in the local community.
As such, the Fellowship provides for the establishment of local observance of the annual festivals, facilitated by its Druids. It also encourages them in the establishment of places of worship, as local resources permit. The Fellowship accepts its responsibility to foster smaller group worship in private settings in whatever ways can be found to do so while protecting the safety and privacy of individual members.
The Fellowship supports the nurturing of young people who carry forward a respect for tradition balanced with an inquisitive and open-minded spirit.
As the Fellowship honors diversity, it therefore does not proselytize. The Fellowship encourages parents among its members to seek to raise their children with open hearts and minds and with a trust in their ever-developing capacity for good judgment. At the same time, the Fellowship unreservedly accepts the need to support the efforts of parents to meaningfully articulate their own spiritual values to their children and, therefore, to provide materials for the religious instruction of the young.
The Fellowship embraces its identity as part of contemporary American society and its roots in ancient Celtic religious practice.
As a religious community made up principally of Americans, the Fellowship uses the English language as a means of expression in ritual and accepts the use of honorifics for the deities and spirits in English, such as “Lord of the Dead” or “Mother of the Waters.” Celtic names for deities and spirits are welcome as well. The rituals of the Fellowship are intended to be welcoming to all American polytheists who are open to a worldview derived from Celtic traditions; they are not primarily intended as a place for the worship of the gods and goddesses associated with othercultures. Expressions of worship for such deities can be suitable in the act of giving honor to personal ancestors and personal patrons and matrons.
The Fellowship is committed to promoting and preserving a safe and non-abusive environment for worship.
The Fellowship recognizes chaos as being as much a part of the Cosmos as order and that actions will occur that disrupt the community, whether on a local or national scale. At the same time, the Fellowship follows the precedent of the ancient Celtic law codes in dealing with disruptions caused by the malicious or negligent actions of members: The principal criterion applied in addressing such disruptive behavior is the way in which the ability of the community to function has been impaired and the principal mechanism to be used is to seek restitution over retribution in the first case, restoring order to the community and honor to the aggrieved. In the most egregious cases, the Fellowship recognizes the existence of the punishment of banishment among the ancient Celtic societies and the existence of testimony as to the role of the Druids in imposing this most extreme sanction.
The Fellowship offers membership to all people of good will who unreservedly embrace this vision and will seek to defend to the best of its collective ability the right of its members to be treated with respect under law and in the eyes of adherents of other religious communities.
Above all, the Fellowship seeks to be respectful of the deities and spirits, of the ancestors, of the other beings with whom we share this Earth, and of all people of good will. In this we ask the support of the mighty Powers and hope to earn that support through our worship, our teaching, and all our acts of generosity.
Bíodh sé amhlaidh.
© 2006 Fellowship of Druidism for the Latter Age, Inc.