Our Druidry can appear rather daunting to those taking a first look at us. We propose new ritual paradigms, challenge Pagans to take up scholarly study, and suggest real devotion to real Gods. So it seems wise to focus the attention of new students on our most core values, offering some direction, while leaving personal work open-ended.
When a student has examined our way's work and worth sufficiently to satisfy herself, and is prepared to make a personal commitment to Druidic Paganism as at least a part of her spiritual path, then it is time for the First Oath. This oath is made not to ADF as an organization, nor is it given to our Archdruid, or to any local leader. The First Oath is between the student and his Gods and Spirits.
In the First Oath the student swears to take up the Three Ways that are the core of our work:
- Virtue - to do right and live well.
- Piety - to keep the customs and work of the Pagan Way.
- Study - to seek to increase Pagan knowledge and skill.
At this stage there is no need to prescribe any particular fulfillment of these virtues, though the Dedicant's material gives the basics. Interpretation can be left to the individual, or to whatever local consensus might develop. In time we should develop a body of writing that will help new members begin their spiritual quest for the blessings of Pagan Druidry.
Here is an example of what a First Oath might say:
I, (name) , before this assembly, declare myself to be a Pagan, a seeker of the Old Ways, a worshipper of the Elder Gods. With this holy oath I set my foot upon the path, the Druid's Way, and I vow to make my dedication plain. I vow to seek virtue in my life, to do right by my kin, my friends and my community, I vow to make my Paganism real, by keeping the rites and works, and honoring the Gods and Spirits, that call to me. I vow to deepen my understanding of the Ways through study - to fill my mind with the truth of the Elder Paths. These things I swear to the Gods, with those gathered here as my witnesses. So be it.
With the First Oath completed, the student can feel themselves to be a part of a definite community, whether local or distant - the community of sworn Pagans.
We need not set standards for the fulfillment of this oath. It stands as a personal, individual commitment that need not be measured by our organization. It might, however, give leadership a basis on which to build the work of members. Local programs for new members, and support material for solitaries, might be organized into one of these three core modes.
For many Pagans this level of involvement may be sufficient. To seek virtue, to be as pious as our life allows, and to increase, however gradually, one's knowledge is as much religion as many will need.
We might hope, however, that many others will be drawn toward a deeper practice. The next triad of the Dedicant's work - the home shrine, meditation and nature contacts - opens naturally before them. Those who are prepared to make a shrine in their homes, who want to begin to grow a personal paganism in their lives, can proceed with these Works of the Grove.