Sacred Actions, Blending of Inner and Outer, Oak Knowledge, Living Druidry – Insights from my AODA 3rd Degree Process

I started the Druid’s Garden blog a little over three years ago.  I started this blog specifically as a way to document my journey while completing my Ancient Order of Druids in America’s 3rd degree program, which was a self-designed program where I proposed and enacted a project focused on investigating the relationship of druidry and sustainability and building more sustainable practices in my local community.  I have now successfully completed my degree!  Despite this, I plan on continuing this blog as a way to keep moving forward with my efforts, as there is so much left to do and learn about.  So in this post, I wanted to share some “take aways” I had in the reflection and completion of my 3rd degree project, which will hopefully help others and generate some conversation.


Scarlet Runner Bean in the Garden, Summer 2013
Scarlet Runner Bean in the Garden, Summer 2013

Changing Interactions–Actions as Sacred.

One of the “take aways” from this process was a shift in how I view and interact with the world.  After reading books, attending classes and talks, and really thinking through these issues, I worked to   integrate principles from permaculture and sustainability into my life.  As this progressed, I experienced what can only be called a “paradigm shift” (to use Thomas Kuhn’s term for it). The spiritual perspective that I’ve taken to sustainability allows me to see every action as a spiritual act, with every decision one to enact more sustainable practices or continue as an average American.  This isn’t a binary fallacy, instead, it represents a choice that one must make over and over again, and one that I seem to find myself in often.  Our society encourages certain kinds of behavior, mostly surrounding/encouraging/demanding consumption, and shifting away from that is a continual process with continual choices.  But when we start viewing every action we take as a sacred interaction with the land, and thinking about ourselves as belonging to a greater whole, those actions become easier and easier!

Druidry and Sustainability.

After hosting a few of our permaculture meetups, something magical started happening.  I don’t often come out and say “We had a grove here, I’m a druid” but people started asking—“I saw that you had a stone circle back there…” or “I saw your nature altar in your house, can you tell me about it?” or “You seem to be really spiritual about plants. What’s the deal?” and suddenly, we had all these people who were already interested in sustainability now interested in our grove and in druidry. I spoke to John Michael Greer about this a bit when he visited in April, and I think what is happening is that concepts like Deep Ecology are making their way into the sustainability community because deep work in closeness to the land leads to a spiritual perspective. Although concepts like Deep Ecology are useful in that they provide a spiritual side to sustainability, they also lack the deeper tradition of magical practice, philosophy, and history that Revival Druidry can provide. Since Revival Druidry has several hundred years behind it, and draws upon the western Esoteric traditions that span much longer, it is standing on firm magical ground. Reviving and adapting old traditions (like a Wassail) has been a long-standing practice in revival druidry, and I think we druids have much to offer the sustainability community (and vice versa).

Leek going to seed, Summer 2013
Leek going to seed, Summer 2013

Druids as Keepers of “Oak Knowledge”.

The concept of the druid as a holder of “oak knowledge” draws upon the etymology of the term “druid.” I’ve been contemplating what we mean when we say “oak knowledge” for quite some time through my studies with the AODA.  Knowing even a little about plants, for example, being able to point out poison ivy at a wedding when we are setting up seating areas can save a lot of suffering later. Knowing about herbalism comes in handy when you are working with a group of people for long hours, and you walk outside and find a few sprigs of sage and rosemary to lift the spirits of everyone involved. Or, another recent example, when you are camping and a young person in the group slashes his hand up, knowing a bit about healing herbs (such as plantain) can quickly help seal the wound. I can see why the ancient druids engaged in 20+ years of study….even though I have some knowledge now (certainly much more than I had at the start of my journey with AODA coursework) I have much more to learn.  The idea of being a lifelong student in the pursuit of Oak Knowledge is an appealing one!

The Blending Inner and Outer Worlds.

Sign says it all!
Sign says it all!

While all of this “outer” work I been describing in this blog was going on, I also experienced deep transformation on an inner level. As part of my 3rd degree, I continued the daily magical practice (Sphere of Protection, meditation) and regular other practices (divination, rituals, seasonal celebrations with the grove, reading and study, spiritual mentoring, etc.) that I had developed through my years of study. But these practices changed and melded in new ways. The Sphere of Protection, a daily magical protective practice we use in the AODA, it turns out, is a wonderful way to bless and consecrate a growing space….the panflute I learned to play during my AODA 2nd degree music spiral is great for calming chickens or encouraging seeds to grow. The ritual work I’ve learned (and developed) can be used to help prepare a harvest or for planting new trees. The holidays, the turning wheel of the year, took on much more meaning when I was living so close to it—I started understanding why these festivals took place, their importance, and their power. I found that my spiritual

practices became my sustainability practices, and each melded with the other—deepening both. I really learned to LIVE druidry, and started seeing every action, every interaction as sacred. This is not a new concept for me—its something I discovered quite a bit through my earlier druidic work. But I think the concept has worked on me in a much deeper level.


  1. I’m so happy you’ve decided to continue this blog.

    1. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Congratulations on receiving your 3rd degree. That takes remarkable dedication–I can say with feeling as I may not even reach my first degree.

    1. Karen – you can and will reach it! I kept journals that documented my timeline and progress, monitored where I was heading, and also kept track of what I was doing and how things went. The whole process taught me a lot about myself and the world around me. When I started my candidate year (in 2005-2006) I was *completely* new to everything. I remember posting what I now consider kinda funny questions on the AODA list like “What’s this thing called ritual? Why do we do it?” or “Why do we need daily protective work like the SOP?” Its pretty amazing to look back on that journey (which is one good argument in favor of keeping good journals during the work!)

  3. Congratulations on receiving your third degree in the AODA. I imagine keeping a blog up and going is quite a bit of work but I would like to see you continue this for purely selfish reasons. I am in my candidate year with the AODA and your blog has been a great source of influence, information and motivation as I travel this path. Thank you for all you have done.

    1. Carl, I would love to hear more about what you are doing in your candidate year! I have a friend here who is also working through his candidate year–its a wonderful path to walk! 🙂

  4. Congratulations on your third degree, and I’m glad to hear that you’ll be continuing to blog. I like your focus on the practical, “outer” work of Druidry, rather than just the inner practices of meditation and ritual, which seem to be more commonly discussed on Druid blogs. Seeing how you have lived your Druidry has been inspiration for me to be more active with my practice as well.

    1. Heather – thanks for the comment. I think that there are a lot of people out there doing the practical, outer work (its certainly encouraged by the AODA curriculum) but maybe not so much talk about it in the blogsphere. Both are necessary, at least, I think so! 🙂

  5. Congratulations on your achievement. I echo others when I consider you run an educational blog on sustainability. It is interesting to read how naturally some people come to a spiritual path such as Druidry through sustainability.

    1. Alex, thanks for commenting! I think that a spiritual, earth-based path like druidry is pretty easy to come to if you are interacting with the world in order to preserve it. I have some friends who are farmers–a lot of them don’t have a spiritual path per se, but they see the spiritual side of their work and you can see their sacred interactions with the land!

  6. I love all your posts and look forward to each one. They help me know that I am walking hand in hand with others in my journey here in mid-Michigan. Thanks for your time! and energy! that it takes to create this site in addition to the work you are doing. Vicki Kibby

    Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2013 13:32:29 +0000 To:

    1. Thank you, Vicki! 🙂

  7. I want to say congrats! (although it is old now)! Thank you for your wonderful blog. I found it recently, and I come back to it often. My husband and I have started to “find” our spiritual path and it is amazing how it is connected to sustainable practices. The ancients had more wisdom than we do now. We have yet to find any kindred or grove that we can join, but we look. We have 3 kids and hold our rituals together. Samhain is the family favorite.

    1. Thank you so much for you kind words. I’m so glad to hear you have found your path into the forest :). Its a wonderful experience.

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