An RDNA Druid Training Program, & Joining the RDNA
Formal training programs are antithetical to the spirit of the Reformed Druid movement. They have an indoctrinating effect. Yet the program exists. It is not required, but has been made available for those who want to be subjected to it. Individual Groves in the Reform have the autonomy to decide whether to utilize this training program or not. This training program is currently under construction. The course will be in three units. Unit 1 is tentatively complete, and is currently undergoing its first draft review and revision. Unit 2 is mostly complete, and Unit 3 is in the planning stage.
Unit 1 will be a broad curriculum of the main aspects of Reformed Druidism and general druidism: the known history of the ancient druids, the revival of druidry in the Age of Enlightenment, the emergence of Reformed Druid movement, contemporary practices and philosophies, and practices to develop. The second curriculum is an ARDA Study Course and accompanying exam. Since this program is designed to be a self-study, the exam will be open book, with a 90% score or higher required to pass. Units 1 & 2A will be assessed as either Incomplete or Complete, and after passing the exam in Unit 2B, the student will be inducted into the Order of Bradán Feasa and will be given a certificate of completion. Unit 3 will be for the essentials of training for the RDNA priesthood and the Grove Governance Guide (GGG).
The Order of Bradán Feasa
Whoever completes the training program will be inducted into the Order of Bradán Feasa, a non-priestly order within the RDNA. Please note that completing the OBF program does not constitute ordination to any rank of the RDNA. Bradán Feasa means Salmon of Knowledge in Irish Gaelic. The salmon is named Fintan in the Fenian Cycle. Fintan ate three hazelnuts that had fallen into the stream, and those nuts possessed all knowledge. This knowledge was transferred to Fintan. Fintan was then caught by Finegas the druid, who gave it to Finn to cook for him. Finn burned his thumb while checking to see if Fintan was done cooking, then in a sudden reaction brought his singed thumb to his mouth to soothe the burn, at which point Finn took on all of Fintan's knowledge. There's more to the myth, but you'll find that in a book.
Initiations and Ordinations - AKA "Joining"
Some of the most common questions we get pertain to initiation: entering the ranks of Reformed Druidism, and ordination: entering the priesthood. In the RDNA, initiation and ordination are collectively referred to as "Consecration." For those who attend rituals of a formal Grove presided over by a Third Order druid priest, this may provide the opportunity of becoming a Reformed Druid of the First Order. Given time and demonstrating your dedication, opportunities to enter the Second, Third, and maybe the higher Orders may present themselves to you as well. In the Reformed Druid movement, consecration to numbered orders typically only occur from Beltane to Samhain, but consecration to the Order of the Acorn can be done any time of year.
Since there are two ways to join, this sometimes leads to more questions. Some ask if they have to start with the Order of the Acorn before entering the First Order. The short answer and long answers are both "no." You can enter the First Order at your very first Grove ritual, unless it's in the winter half of the year. Sometimes people might have attended a ritual 15, 20, or 30 years ago for a different Grove and don't remember if they entered the First or Second Order. If you were Second Order, usually that's something you'd remember (hopefully), but if you don't, then let's just do it again. If you said you had been consecrated to the First or Second Order, can we look up your name on an old member roster? Now that's a huge question. The short answer is that in the RDNA, only membership of the Third Order is tracked by the Council. Membership of the First and Second Orders is not tracked. And the Order of the Acorn would be patently impossible to track, as it's a self-dedication level. This means there's no method of "signing up" for the RDNA like other druid orders have.
Oakdale Grove does track all consecrations to any of the orders when it takes place at our Grove's rituals. That way if another member of the RDNA Council contacts me and asks if I consecrated someone (by specific name) to the Second Order roughly four years ago or whenever, I can check my Grove's records and confirm their claim. For any priest that doesn't track those consecrations, they may be able to remember, and if they do it would be considered sufficient evidence between fellow Third Orders. Given the chance that an RDNA priest might not remember all of the consecrations they've conducted, I strongly encourage them and other ordaining priests to make a log of everyone they consecrate to any of the orders, and send the Council a list if they ever retire from services as priest in the RDNA. They would already know they are expected to report all their Third Order ordinations to the Council immediately after it takes place. We've had one or two charlatans over the years claiming to be Third Order when we'd know right away if they weren't.
Order of the Acorn
Entering the numerical orders of Reformed Druidism, as you will see farther down, can be a bit tricky as it means you have to attend a service of a formal Grove. Thus the Order of the Acorn was devised for solo druids and Protogrove members as a self-dedication rite of passage to become a Reformed Druid. Look for the Order of the Acorn self-dedication ritual script on page 63 of the Unofficial Welcome Pamphlet (the link should open right to that page). There is also a modified version on the 96th page of the Black Book of Liturgy scripted for winter but also to be read to the seeker by someone else (such as during a Protogrove service). It can be adapted for use in any season as long as the context of the rite is preserved.
First Order Druids
Most people who officially join the Reform this way will prefer to stay at the First Order level. A priest of Dalon Ap Landu will recite the Two Basic Tenets and ask you if you understand and agree with them. You are then given the consecrated Waters-of-Life and are declared to be a First Order druid. There are no other prerequisites or responsibilities unless at some point you wish to be a candidate for the office of the Server in the Grove, whose duties would entail assisting the Grove Preceptor.
Second Order Druids
For First Order druids who wish to train for the priesthood, the Second Order rite of passage isn't much different, but it does have more questions of the seeker. Futhermore the presiding priest might first assign some "homework" to you. Becoming a Second Order Druid unlocks your eligibility to be a candidate for the office of Preceptor of the Grove. A Preceptor's main responsibility would be to assist the Arch-Druid in rituals which sometimes also calls for you to recite portions of the Common Order of Worship. Ideally any seeker to the Second Order should already be capable of taking on the office of Preceptor.
The role of the Preceptor comes to the Reform via Freemasonry, one of its inspirational roots. A Preceptor is in simple terms, a tutor. In the Reform, an ideal Preceptor can be a guide for new druids. They should be able to convey the history and basics of Reformed Druidism. They could host public seminars about the Reform, of course with the assistance of their Arch-Druid as backup. To that end, the Preceptor is in charge of all the other secular operations of a Grove as well, such as event planning and other secretarial duties.
Third Order Druids & Priesthood (The Order of Dalon Ap Landu)
When a Second Order druid is certain that they feel a higher calling to serve their community, they may be considered for advancement to the Third Order. This is the first level of the priesthood in the Reform, and is also named the Order of Dalon Ap Landu, or ODAL. Before a seeker enters the Third Order, an existing ODAL priest may ask you questions to gauge your motives. Do you feel a call to serve, or are you just after a title? When it is decided that you are prepared to enter the priesthood, you must then face the ordeal of the All-Night Vigil, awake in Nature, communing with the Earth-Mother in contemplation, free from all modern technology and conveniences.
It is a semi-supervised rite of passage punctuated by solitude and meditation. At sunrise if you have completed the Vigil correctly, you would be consecrated to the Third Order. This also means the Vigil and Third Order Ordinations must be in the presence of a Third Order druid. In Reformed Druidism, there is no dogma or orthodoxy (the right way to believe) beyond acknowledgement of some form of the Two Basic Tenets. For those who desire ordination to the priesthood, this is where the orthopraxy (the right way to practice) comes in. Please review the "Bylaws" governing the All-Night Vigil and ordination to the Third Order of Reformed Druidism.
Once ordained to the Third Order, you would then be able to campaign for the Grove office of Arch-Druid, which is an elected title in the Reform for Grove leaders. A Grove can certainly have multiple ordained priests, but the one who is elected to be Arch-Druid is the one in charge of leading services, conducting ordinations, consecrating the Waters-of-Life, and seeing to all matters of the spiritual. Third Order druids (regardless of elected office) can also establish new Groves or travel to ordain others (we call them Missionary druids) when called upon and if they are able to travel.
Higher Orders of the Priesthood
There are seven main higher orders in the priesthood above being a Third Order. They are harder to get into, but the good news is that you don't have to enter them sequentially. The numbers don't mean much above Third Order, aside from knowing the order in which they were originally created. The higher orders are named after various Celtic deities: Grannos, Braciaca, Belenos, Sirona, Taranis, Llyr, and Danu, and serve as different areas of focus in accordance with the symbolic correspondences of the deities.