Druid Lessons From AODA- First Degree Curriculum

April 16, 2009 at 8:23 PM (Paganism and Life)

I am posting these lessons in case anyone would like to see them, I am planning on completing them as well as the Lessons that are posted on my grove site from M’lady Gwyn…

First Degree Curriculum

The following studies have been established by the Grand Grove of the AODA as basic requirements for the First Degree, the degree of Druid Apprentice. Under ordinary circumstances members who have enrolled in the Order and received the Candidate initiation must perform the following steps and wait a minimum of one year before receiving the First Degree. The Grand Grove may waive some or all of these requirements in special circumstances.

The First Degree curriculum consists of four parts, which are designed to be done simultaneously during the year between the Candidate initiation and the First Degree initiation. The Earth Path of nature awareness and service to the living Earth, the Sun Path of seasonal celebration, and the Moon Path of meditation are required of all Candidates.

In addition, each Candidate must study one of the seven Spirals, studies which have traditionally been part of the Druid Revival – poetry, music, divination, healing, magic, sacred geometry, and Earth mysteries – and gain a basic level of competence in her or his chosen Spiral. Candidates who wish to study more than one Spiral are encouraged to do so but this is not required for the First Degree. We also highly encourage Candidates to study other arts, crafts, and disciplines as part of their personal Druid paths, and independent work in studies outside the three Paths and seven Spirals is required for the Second and Third Degree study programs.

At this point, due to a shortage of trained Second and Third Degree members, opportunities for mentoring for Candidates are somewhat limited, and the coursework and initiations are done on a self-study basis. The members of the Grand Grove will do their best to answer questions as time permits.

Candidates should keep a Druid journal in which details of all Druid studies may be noted down. The Druid journal need not be shown to anyone else, including AODA officers, but will serve as a resource from which material for your First Degree examination may be drawn. When you complete the First Degree study program, contact the Grand Grove so that arrangements can be made for your examination.

Much of the First Degree curriculum is covered in detail, with practical advice, rituals, meditations, exercises, and commentary, in a book titled The Druid Handbook by John Michael Greer. The Druid Handbook will be published by Weiser in January 2006, and some of the following studies may require substantial independent work on the part of the Candidate until the book is available.

The Earth Path

The Sun Path

The Moon Path

The Seven Spirals:

Poetry

Music

Divination

Healing

Magic

Sacred Geometry

Earth Mysteries

The Earth Path

1. At least once each week during your Candidate year, spend fifteen minutes or more in direct contact with the natural world. This may be in a wild place (such as a forest or a seashore), in a place recovered by nature (such as an overgrown vacant lot), or in a place created by humanity and nature together (such as a garden or a park). Part of your time in nature should be spent in the practice of stillness, which simply involves sitting, keeping your mind empty of thoughts and distractions, and being wordlessly aware of everything around you. Part should be spent in the practice of focus, which involves detailed attention to some specific thing – a tide pool, a wild plant, the living things in a six-inch-square patch of grass, or the like.

2. Read at least nine books on the natural history of the area in which you live, learning about the living things, the natural ecosystems and communities, the patterns of weather and water, and the development over time of the land. Relate as much of this information as possible to your own experiences of nature.

3. Make three changes in your lifestyle in order to take less from the Earth and give more back, and maintain those changes through your Candidate year. Different people lead different lives, and a change that would be easy for one might be difficult or impossible for another; Druidry also affirms the need of individuals to make their own choices, so the choice of changes to make is left up to each candidate. Whatever you choose should be something you’re willing to keep doing for an entire year, and a small change you can sustain will do more good than a larger one that goes by the wayside when it proves unworkable.

Some things that would meet the requirements of this phase of the Earth Path include buying locally grown organic food whenever possible, even when it costs more; using public transit, bicycling, or walking to work, every day or at regular intervals, instead of driving a car; taking steps to decrease your household energy use by, for instance, replacing one or more electric appliances with hand-powered ones; replacing toxic cleaning or yard care products with ecologically safe ones; composting your kitchen scraps and yard waste; and so on. Donations and the like supporting political or environmental advocacy organizations do not qualify. The Earth Path requires you to change your own life to bring it closer to harmony with nature, rather than trying to make other people change theirs.

4. Plant at least one tree during your Candidate year, and water and tend it until it is well established. The Arbor Day Foundation can provide helpful information on tree planting.

The Sun Path

During your Candidate year, celebrate a cycle of Druid holy days. The AODA traditionally celebrates the four Alban Gates of the solstices and equinoxes as its holy days:

Alban Arthuan, “the Light of Arthur”, is celebrated on the Winter Solstice (December 21); this is the festival of the sun’s rebirth and the returning light.

Alban Eiler, “the Light of the Earth”, is celebrated on the Spring Equinox (March 22); this springtime festival of flowers celebrates the reawakening of the Earth in spring and the planting season.

Alban Heruin, “the Light of the Shore”, is celebrated on the Summer Solstice (June 21); this is the high festival of the Druid year, celebrating the culmination of the solar light.

Alban Elued, “the Light of the Sea”, is celebrated on the Autumn Equinox (September 20); this is the Druid harvest festival and celebrates the gifts of the waning year.

Many members of the AODA also celebrate the “cross quarter days” of Imbolc (February 2), Belteinne (May 1), Lughnasadh (August 1), and Samhuinn (November 1), while others choose different days based on their own spiritual and cultural interests. The holy days may be celebrated alone or with others, using a ritual you create yourself or one drawn from other sources. Participation in community celebrations qualifies, so long as your role in the celebration is not simply that of a spectator. Write a detailed account of each celebration in your Druid journal, and write at least nine pages on the place of seasonal celebrations in your own Druid path and in the Druid tradition in general.

The Moon Path

Meditation is the key method of spiritual development in traditional Druidry, and Candidates should practice some form of meditation regularly during their Candidate year. The method taught in A Druid Meditation Primer, which is called “discursive meditation,” is particularly recommended, but other methods that work with mental focus and the development of awareness, such as vipassana, zazen, or insight meditation, also meet this requirement. Daily meditation is best, and while many people who are new to meditation need to work up to daily practice, this should be a goal to achieve by the end of your Candidate year.

In addition, Candidates should practice some form of movement meditation, focusing on awareness of the physical body. This may be as simple as walking or running; it may take the form of dance; or it may involve learning and practicing some form of martial art, ch’i kung (qigong), or yoga. At least two sessions a week, each at least thirty minutes in length, will meet this requirement. Movement meditations practiced in a natural setting also meet the Earth Path requirement for time spent in nature, and learning a martial art, ch’i kung (qigong) or yoga system will also meet the requirements of the Fourth Spiral, the Spiral of Healing.

Finally, the Sphere of Protection ritual should be learned and practiced daily during your Candidate year, or if you prefer another simple working to protect, balance and purify your body of nwyfre or subtle energies, this may be substituted.

Your experiences with all three phases of the Moon Path should be recorded in your Druid journal.

Spiral One: Poetry

Probably the oldest of all human arts, poetry has been close to the heart of Druidry from earliest times. Greek and Roman sources comment that Druids in training memorized traditional lore in verse form, and the Druid Revival inspired poetry all through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today Druids study and practice poetry as a traditional craft closely linked to ritual and magic, as a way of shaping and expanding awareness, and as an art to be practiced for its own sake.

Work for Spiral One

1. Read and study poems by at least nine poets. Memorize three or more of these poems, totalling at least fifty lines.

2. Read at least three other books on the writing of poetry and use information from these in your own poetic practice. From these readings and your study of poetry, select at least thirty themes for meditation, and use them in your daily meditations.

3. Keep a poet’s journal. Set aside time at least once each week to write poems and do exercises.

4. Complete at least eighteen finished poems and revise them as needed. Nine of them must be in traditional poetic forms, while the others may be either formal or free verse as you prefer.

5. In your Druid journal, write at least three pages on the role you think poetry has in Druidry in general, and in your own Druid path.

Spiral Two: Music

Far and away the most popular of all arts around the world, and a central element of ancient and modern Celtic traditions, music has had an important role in Druidry since the beginning of the Revival, and many modern Druid organizations set aside time in their ceremonies for musical performance. Druids today practice it as an art, an element of ritual, and a tool for healing and the transformation of consciousness.

Work for Spiral Two

1. Either select and buy a musical instrument or take up singing. Practice two hours a week as an absolute minimum – thirty to sixty minutes a day is a better target to aim for – using lessons, books, videos, and other sources of instruction to guide you. If you can attend at least one workshop on your chosen instrument during the year, do so.

2. Learn at least three solo pieces well enough that you would be willing to play them in public. If you have the chance, do so.

3. Read at least three books on music aside from your instructional books. From these readings, select at least thirty themes for meditation, and use them in your daily meditations.

4. Write at least three pages in your Druid journal on the place of music as a Druid art.

Spiral Three: Divination

Divination is the art of perceiving subtle patterns in the flow of events, and interpreting them as keys to the hidden present and future. All the sources on the ancient Druids confirm that they practiced many kinds of divination, and the practice of divination was taken up by the Druid Revival early on. Modern Druids practice it as a way of self-knowledge, a path to expanded states of awareness, and a practical tool for counseling and decision making.

Work for Spiral Three

1. Choose a method of divination and begin learning how to use it.

2. Perform daily divinations with your chosen method, using a simple spread, for at least nine months – in other words, at least 270 divinations. Keep a record of your daily divinations in your divination journal, and review them at intervals.

3. Perform at least nine other divinations, besides your daily readings, during your initiatory year.

4. Create a personal handbook of divination, writing out the meanings of each of the symbols in your divination method. Half a page per symbol is a good minimum.

5. Read at least three books on divination during your initiatory year. From this reading, select at least thirty themes for meditation, and use them in your daily meditations.

6. In your Druid journal, write at least three pages on the role you think divination has in Druidry in general, and in your own Druid path.

Spiral Four: Healing

The art of treating illness and injury through natural means was practiced by the ancient Druids, and became an important concern of the Druid Revival early on. Modern Druids practice various healing arts for their practical benefits, and also for their power to teach about the self and the world of nature. Herbal healing has been important in Druidry for well over a century and a half, but any other natural healing art can be pursued for this Spiral, including energy healing arts such as Reiki, bodywork methods such as massage or acupressure, movement arts such as martial arts, ch’i kung (qigong) or yoga, and other natural healing arts such as homeopathy or flower essence healing.

For many years AODA has had close links with the Order of Modern Essenes (OME), which teaches a distinctive system of energy healing. In recognition of these links and the proven value of the Essene healing system, completion of the OME training program to the level of Apprentice Essene Healer counts automatically as successful completion of this Spiral.

Work for Spiral Four

1. Take classes to get certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

2. Keep a health diary during your initiatory year. At least once each week, and more often whenever it seems useful, review your own current physical, emotional, and mental state. Keep track of anything that seems to affect your health in a positive or negative direction.

3. Select a healing art to study during your Candidate year. Choose and study at least three books on the subject, select from this reading at least thirty themes for meditation, and use them in your daily meditations.

4a. If your chosen healing art is herbalism, learn the properties and healing powers of nine common herbs. If at all possible, either grow them yourself or visit a place where they grow, and devote some of your Earth Path time to learning about them and their place in nature. Get to know them thoroughly and use them for your personal health care needs during your Candidate year. Make at least one infusion, one decoction, one tincture, and one salve. Any time you use one of the herbs for healing, take notes on your symptoms, how you treated them, and what happened.

4c. If your chosen healing art is something else, do a comparable amount of work in that art; for example, if you decide to study acupressure, learn the routes of the meridians, memorize the location and healing effects of at least thirty important treatment points, use them as needed, and keep notes on your experiences.

4d. Whether you choose to study herbalism or some other healing art, a study program, correspondence course, or apprenticeship which includes at least an equivalent amount of work is a valid alternative to the program of independent study outlined here. As mentioned above, completion of the Order of Modern Essenes training program to the level of Apprentice Essene Healer automatically qualifies for this Spiral.

5. Write at least three pages in your Druid journal on the place of healing as a Druid art, in the tradition in general and in your own Druid path.

Spiral Five: Magic

The art of causing change in consciousness in accordance with will, magic is one of the arts associated with the ancient Druids in all the surviving sources. It was taken up again by the Druid Revival early on, enriched by insights and techniques borrowed from magical paths of West and East alike, and is practiced by modern Druids as a key to the inner dimensions of Druid ritual, a path of personal transformation, a method of healing human beings and the Earth, and a practical skill with many uses in daily life.

AODA also shares close historical links with the Magickal Order of the Golden Dawn (MOGD), a branch of the Golden Dawn tradition that has modified its rituals and training to work with any spiritual path. In recognition of these links and the value of the Golden Dawn system, completion of the MOGD training program to the grade of 4=7 counts automatically as successful completion of this Spiral and may be used in place of the requirements below.

Work for Spiral Five

1. Memorize a ritual for opening and closing magical space, and practice it at least once each week during your Candidate year.

2. Using any preferred method, learn to summon, direct, and banish the energies of the three Druid elements until you can work with any of them at will.

3. Prepare and consecrate a wand, a cauldron, and a crane bag as Druid magical working tools using any preferred method.

4. Learn to place magical intentions in stones, as a way of making simple talismans and amulets. Do this at least three times for specific purposes, using any preferred method. Keep notes in your Druid journal on the results.

5. Read at least three books on magic during your initiatory year. From this reading, select at least thirty themes for meditation, and use them in your daily meditations.

6. In your Druid journal, write at least three pages on the place of magic in Druidry in general and in your personal Druid path.

Spiral Six: Sacred Geometry

Sacred geometry is the traditional magical science of proportion and form, traceable in the stone circles and landscape works of megalithic times and practiced systematically by modern Druids since the beginning of the Revival. Nowadays sacred geometry is used by Druids as an art and craft, a discipline of awareness, a way of understanding ancient sites, and a tool for laying out sacred spaces and designing magical items.

Work for Spiral Six

1. Learn to construct a circle, a vesica, an equilateral triangle, a square, a square root of 2 rectangle, a square root of 3 rectangle, and a Golden Rectangle on paper, using pen, straightedge and compass, without having to look at the instructions.

2. Do at least two of these constructions outdoors on the Earth, using rope and stakes instead of pen and ink. Describe the experiences in your Druid journal.

3. Read at least three books on sacred geometry. From these books, gather at least thirty themes for meditation, and use them in your daily meditations.

4. Set aside time to practice sacred geometry at least once each week during your candidate year. Use books on sacred geometry as a source for constructions and diagrams to draw in your practice sessions. Some of your sessions may also be devoted to outdoors practice, drawing constructions on the ground in the old style.

5. In your Druid journal, write at least three pages on the role sacred geometry has in Druidry in general, and in your own Druid path.

Spiral Seven: Earth Mysteries

The study of subtle, magical factors associated with ancient sites and the Earth itself, founded on the rediscoveries of megalithic science by three centuries of modern Druids and others, Earth mysteries studies are pursued by Druids today as a way of insight into forgotten sciences, as a set of disciplines for bringing the modern world back into balance with Nature, and as a way of connecting Earth Path disciplines with other aspects of the Druid path.

Work for Spiral Seven

1. Acquire a set of dowsing tools, learn how to use them, and practice with them until you can get reliable results – for example, finding misplaced objects in your home.

2. Read at least three books on Earth mysteries from the list below. From these readings, select at least thirty themes for meditation, and use them in your daily meditations.

3. At least once during your initiatory year, plan a visit to a sacred site. Research the place in written sources, and learn as much as you can about it before you go there. See if it forms part of an alignment with other sites in the area. When you arrive, practice your Earth Path skills of stillness and focus. If at all possible, dowse the area for energy lines and currents within the Earth. Write about the experience in your Druid journal.

4. In your Druid journal, write at least three pages on the role you think Earth mysteries have in Druidry in general, and in your own personal Druid path.

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