And how does it relate to the Reformed Druids of Gaia and the Reformed Druids of North America?
by Druid Max MacMullen, OMS
The Order of The Mithril Star (OMS) is the teaching order of the Reformed Druids of Gaia (RDG), and the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) among whose members are people of various faiths, including the Abrahamic traditions. RDG has an international membership that includes a board of elders, an ordained priesthood (of women and men) and a fellowship of consecrated members, Druids, who are dedicated to the service of Nature. It has a process of personal development delineated by the first 3 degrees (called “Orders” in the RDNA) that lead to the priesthood, local congregations called Groves and various subsidiary organizations. Druids promote lifestyles that support personal freedom and responsibility, the reversal of societal programming, environmental stewardship, progressive and cooperative social order and pluralistic democracy.
In 1996 OMS evolved from a group of friends and lovers who were in part inspired by the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and who were also members of the now defunct Church of All Worlds (CAW). This book suggested a spiritual and social way of life and was a metaphor expressing the awakening social consciousness of the late ’60s, a time most from this group grew up in. Inspired by this awakening of consciousness and Heinlein’s book, this group grew, evolved, and created a spiritual fellowship which they named the Order of The Mithril Star. The Order’s organizing spiritual and social values include: a belief in immanent Divinity, a pluralistic perspective towards religion, living in harmony with Nature; self-actualization, deep friendship and positive sexuality. In time the Order’s spiritual and social concepts and values became recognized as Druidic, and eventually the members joined the Reformed Druids of North America(RDNA). As OMS continued to develop, it both influenced and was affected by the RDNA. As OMS grew, so in turn did the RDNA. Eventually Groves formed in 8 countrys, many of which were beyond the North American continent. Recognizing that, and compelled by a personal vision, ArchDruid Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear declared a new epoch of Reformed Druidry – the Reformed Druids of Gaia. The RDG is intended to be an international canopy organization of all the Reformed Druids living on the planet Earth. We believe that the nature of our universe and planet is a manifestation of Divine being. As such the nature of human being is an expression of Divine being. In recognition of this we greet and honor one another with the phrase ” Thou art God” or “Thou art Goddess”. .
A fundamental rite of Reformed Druidism is a communion of souls called “the Rite of the Waters of Life” (or what OMS refers to as “Water-sharing”). In OMS’ version of the rite participants share water with one another. They recognize within each other the Divine Being with the phrase ” Thou art God” or “Thou art Goddess”. This similar to the Hindu greeting of “Namaste” which means the “Divine in me greets the Divine in you.” “May you never thirst” is spoken when the shared water is drunk. Since water is essential to all known life on this planet it is seen as being very precious. OMS envisions Water-sharing as a way of honoring this preciousness. This symbolic act also recognizes one believes Divine Being is a living experience in all Humanity. The phrase “never thirst” serves as a reminder of one’s conscious connection with living as an experience of Divine being.
RDG’s vision is rooted in a shared value system whose core values are accepted by its members regardless of belief. The RDG does not ask or require members to give up their religious affiliation or beliefs, as long as they share RDG’ common values. One of these core values is a pluralistic attitude toward life and religion. Druids see this attitude as reflecting a valuing of diversity with harmony in Humanity and nature as expressions of Divinity. Druids believe a pluralistic acceptance of a diversity of belief systems fosters religious freedom and peace within humanity. As a result the religious/spiritual orientations of Druids may include animistic, polytheistic, pantheistic, naturalistic, monotheistic and monistic concepts. The Druidic diversity of beliefs about Divinity is expressed through a variety of religious practices or worship. These various religious practices seek to bring humanity into conscious harmony with Nature and Divinity within it.
Druids follow the Neo-Pagan ritual observance of what is commonly called the “Wheel of the Year”. It has 8 Holy days, the solstices and equinoxes days and the cross quarter days. Many members ritually observe each month, the Full and/or New Moon. Druids believe the ritual observation of the “Wheel of the Year” and cycles of the Moon can bring about a communion with Divinity through attunement of one’s life with the waxing and waning of Nature. Some believers see in the changing seasons, the waxing and waning of darkness and light, an expression of the life cycle of Divinity that includes birth, love, death and rebirth. RDG encourages its members to create and re-create rituals and myths that attune their life with Nature, bring honor to and communion with Divinity, reflect its values and build community. One such myth is the vision that our planet is an individual living system, a Goddess, variously named Mother Earth, Bael, or Gaia. Many members believe themselves to be children of this Goddess. This myth expresses the basic Druid tenets that our planet and life on it are sacred, and responsible stewardship of life and its environment is an act of worship. In extension, Druids believe that humanity needs to be in harmony with its Self, for the Self is seen as a manifestation of Divine immanence in Nature. It sees the human Self as the seed pattern and potential of the human Soul. As such the Soul is a “system of becoming” that seeks to actualize its potential – the Self. The human Self is a potential wholeness where there is a unity of behaviors and experiences. Examples of such are mind with body, consciousness with unconsciousness, spirit with nature, instinct with culture, self with other, community with individuality, humanity with environment and being with becoming. Druids see conscious actualization of human wholeness and the gaining of experiential knowledge of the nature of Self as an essential spiritual endeavor.
Self-knowledge and actualization make it possible for the Self-conscious creation of harmony between humanity and Nature. This harmony is part of the human potential and is a primary spiritual goal and quest for Druids. Druids envision the religious and psychological development of the Soul as embryonic. In recognition of this, OMS members will often refer to themselves as “Eggs” as in ” I am only an egg”. OMS seeks to foster, through contemplation, ritual, integrative behavior and lifestyle, this embryonic journey of self-knowledge and actualization. OMS recognizes that altered states of consciousness can be ways of becoming aware of and knowing unconscious aspects of the Self. Altered states of consciousness are enthusiastic, ecstatic and celebratory aspects of this embryonic journey and include such techniques as drumming, fasting, chanting, ritual and magic.
Some Druids envision the human Self as the image or archetypical pattern of Divinity that is immanent in Nature. For them the phrases ” Thou Art Goddess” or “Thou Art God” and “Nature is Good” and the actualization of Self have additional religious emphasis. For them, the individuation and actualization of Self is a process that grows out of instinctually determined life and ethics into a more comprehensive way of being. This state of being is envisioned as a microcosmic Deity where instincts are in harmony with the self- conscious wholeness of soul.In order to achieve the unity of instinct with culture, self with other, community with individuality, Druids believe that friendship is essential. Friendship begins for a Druid with the recognition that each human being, as a sovereign expression of Divinity, has the same rights as one’s Self. This equality is seen as a sacred bond with all humanity and a fundamental quality of the relational interdependence of Self-actualization. Druids are to give due respect and civility to the relationship of friendship. Druids are friends, or “dear ones”, who love themselves but not only themselves, treating others with the same regard and respect that they would have others treat them. Through friendship celebrated by the rite of Waters, the Druids of OMS create and grow what is termed “Water-kin”. This friendship is the value that weaves Druids into a network of relational interdependence envisioned as a neo-pagan and post-modern tribe. Public Water-sharing by members expresses this friendship and is a rite of tribal confirmation. OMS encourages deepening or increasing intimacy in friendship. This it calls “growing closer”. Part of growing closer is the increasing ability to act interdependently with others and achieving or approximating “win-win” interpersonal outcomes. Druids believe that development of such interdependence is fundamental to the psychology of Self-actualization and increasing social good.
When two or more people feel they have established a level of interdependence and a bond of trust that expresses kinship, then another stage of water sharing may occur. This stage is a rite of confirmation that a spiritual kinship, similar to the tribal feeling of being cousins, exists between the people sharing water. It is a stage that initiates openness to further ‘growing closer’. Continued ‘growing closer’ is characterized by increasing affection, affiliation and intimacy. When a state of being is established between Druids where those involved recognize that the other’s happiness is essential to one’s own, then another stage in growing closer may be acknowledged. Water sharing at this stage recognizes that communion of souls called love. In OMS, the water rituals that recognize the ‘growing closer’ stages of kinship or love may be intuitively given or experientially earned. Druids believe that the process of growing closer leads increasingly to a fuller understanding of, and communion with, immanent Divinity. Such understanding is connoted by the term “grok” and is also symbolized by the sharing of water.
To foster growing closer and the development of water-kin and tribe, Druids have spiritual communities called Groves. The Grove is the basic local organizational and congregational unit of RDG and RDNA. A Grove is a group of 3 or more members who come together to learn, discuss, and creatively practice the values and purposes of Reformed Druidism. Just as a Grove in nature provides life with a means and context for growth, a Druid Grove provides an individual member with a community and culture to foster self-actualization and communion with the Divine.
As a part of integrating instinct with culture, Druids believe our reproductive instinct needs to be stewarded to maintain a sustainable human population upon our planet. Druids encourage responsible reproductive strategies and choices. Men and Women share the responsibility for pregnancy prevention and child rearing equally in Drudism. Druids support the ancient tradition of “mother right”; that women have the right to choose to give birth or not. Druids believe that sexuality is an expression of the Divine. To honor this belief Druids value and encourages positive sexuality. Positive sexuality is the affirmation of ethical sexual behavior and the pleasure seeking instinct for the fostering of social bonding, including communion with one another and Divine being. Consent and peer-ship are the basis for ethical sexual behavior and positive sexuality. The expression of positive regard in human sexual behavior is essential for positive sexuality. Positive sexuality includes sacred sexual behavior. For Druids, sacred sexuality requires an attitude wherein individuals affirm their essential worth, confirm the equality and essential self worth of others, and seek to act interdependently to mutually fulfill sexual desire and affection and affiliation needs. Sexual behavior that expresses or reflects this attitude is believed to be sacred by Druids in that such behavior honors and expresses immanent Divinity.
The practice of sacred sexuality and sacred sexual rituals are encouraged by Druids. Druids believe that homoerotic and hetero-erotic sexuality can be expressions of sacred sexual behavior. When nudity is a symbolic act that reflects an individual’s affirmation of self worth, the beauty of sexuality, basic trust in others and a peaceful heart, then OMS believes nudity is a sacred sex practice that is an expression of Divinity within and fosters ‘growing closer’. OMS encourages nudity as a sacred practice for those who are called to do so within the privacy of a Grove, in a secluded natural environment or at ‘clothing optional’ gatherings. Further, Druids believe if one chooses to be naked in one of its private rituals, it can be a sign that one is free.
Druids recognize and bless a variety of committed sacred sexual relationships as marriages. These marriages may or may not be sexually exclusive and may be monogamous, polygamous or polyamorous. This variety of committed relationships not only reflects the ethical freedoms that Druids support, but also reflects the historical and anthropological facts showing that humanity has practiced a wide variety of committed sexual relationships called ‘marriage’. Druids believe multiple forms of marriage are, in part, a reflection of humanity’s diverse nature, which desires both social stability and sexual variety, and that there are many ways to satisfy these desires. The pluralistic approach of Druids to marriage is envisioned as an expression of the diversity of nature and Divinity within it. This approach, for Druids, is an essential religious concept and custom, in that it fosters humanity’s harmony with nature and immanent Divinity through integration of instinct with culture.
Reformed Druidism is a religion, a system of values, customs and ideas, organized in an organic fashion. It will grow, develop and evolve in a way that brings about the best in humanity and honors Divinity and our obligations to the greater Reform.
Note: The above is the solely the opinion of Druid Max MacMullen and may or may not reflect the opinions of other members of the Order of the Mithril Star, the Reformed Druids of Gaia or the Reformed Druids of North America
Copyright © 1999 Max MacMullen– All rights reserved — Reproduced here with permission from the author.