I did a lot of pondering about this path I have started down. I looked at the website for AODA and the requirements for finishing the first degree Druid program and have decided that while I like the idea of formulating a goal with the end result making myself feel like a Druid, I don't like the idea that someone would test me to determine that I have reached that goal. I lived for 50 years within a religious institution that measured spirituality based on their own criteria. In fact Zach and I saw a bumper sticker just Monday that stated that you can't be both pro-choice and Christian. That's what I lived with most of my life. Someone determining what the parameters were that said you were a Christian.
I won't do that within Paganism. I just won't. I do like The Druid Handbook for a guide, and I can use the resources they have set out as an outline but frankly, I can't afford the out of print books they require for study. It's my path, not theirs. I can understand them viewing it as the ancestors did, with the passing down of information and examining the candidate to determine they have learned enough to carry the torch from then on. But that was then. This is now. We don't pass things down word of mouth anymore. We have books, internet, movies, etc.
I guess I'm just a bit rebellious about the whole thing. None of this stuff is cheap. We're talking hundreds of dollars in books because there's no way my library system has even one percent of those books. Not to mention the membership fees that seem affordable until you realize how much money you have to spend on books in order to achieve first degree Druid. Then there's 2nd and 3rd degree.
Several years ago I tried my best to tithe to my church like a good little Christian, having been assured that God would honor my efforts and bless my socks off. The end result was I couldn't pay my bills unless I stopped tithing because he didn't "bless my socks off" at all. When I questioned it, I was told that my attitude must be wrong or I wasn't being responsible with my money because done right, that was the assured result.
I stopped tithing from that day forward. And stopped listening to the annual money grubbing sermons. Testimony after testimony about how God had blessed people with huge amounts of money because they tithed. I can't begin to tell you how bad it made me feel, how unloved and inadequate.
AODA isn't saying you need to finish up their course to be a Druid, but they do dangle the titles around in a seductive way. I guess I looked at Paganism, and Druidry in particular, to be more organic institutions. I'm not interested in joining something that acts like a church or a seminary. [ As a side note, a blog I read lately had an entry that seemed to put across the point that neo-Paganism is newer than Christianity so we should learn from them and incorporate those things we like. I wrote a cryptic response that there was nothing I wanted to learn from an institution that had treated people so cruelly but the counter to that was one of sunshine and sweetness and how it was okay we (I wasn't the only one who didn't like her entry) felt that way but she thought it was a good idea. If Paganism is going to start looking like Christianity, I'm outta here.]
And yet I do feel like I need interaction with other Druids. I've been looking into The Druid Network to join. Membership fees aren't extravagant and their spiritual viewpoint is very similar to mine. Moreso than either OBOD or AODA. But I won't do anything without giving it a lot of thought so I won't decide until Samhain.
In the meantime, I intend to plot my own course of study using AODA's book and their recommendations, only finding books within my library system that are comparable. I will most likely have to buy a book or two before I'm done with my one year Bardic study but it will be on my terms. And after I've researched to find the best resources.
All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about it.