The Reformed Druids of North America, or RDNA, were founded at Carleton College in the spring of 1963 that they might protest the college's requirement that all students attend a given number of religious services or meetings. A group seeking to attack this requirement founded a druidic group, thinking that if it was not allowed it would be religious discrimination and if it was allowed, the requirement would be seen to be ineffective.
They decided they needed to associate with some other religious group, so they chose Druids because they didn't know much about them (the library was fairly scant of information) and could justify anything. In case someone who knew better showed up, they were the 'Reformed' Druids, meaning they could drop whatever they felt like.
To their shock, when they won a little over a year later, they still wished to continue it. The leaders found they were providing a valuable part of people's spiritual lives. They roughly celebrate the customs and rituals of the ancient Celts, but also have imported various Native American and other New Age traditions. They've dropped sacrifice of all sorts (even vegetable sacrifice is forbidden), leading to the tradition that the religion is what you make of it.
While it fulfills the spiritual needs of a small group of people, the structure and bylaws do not lend themselves to greater organization. It has tradition that new rules be passed by consensus among all third level Druids (even the ones that you cannot contact). This makes it hard to add any structure. In addition, there is no method to explicitly excommunicate someone from the group, resulting in a situation where no one can dictate the beliefs of the organization, nor can the organization dictate anyone's beliefs. If they were unlucky, they could have had some cult leader attach themselves to the RDNA name without recourse, but fortunately this never happened.
On the unofficial RDNA homepage, they claim two important purposes:
- It offers a reasonable alternative for the person who cannot stomach organized religion, or who feels that it is somehow deficient.
- In communing with Nature, it seeks to promote a spirit of meditation and introspection, aimed ultimately at awareness of religious truth.
They also claim two tenets:
- The search for spiritual truth is important.
- Nature is important and helpful in that search.
They see themselves in a syncretic
light, offering combinations of things to anyone that shows up. They consider themselves to be an alternative
to mainstream religion
. Their rituals are nature
oriented and held outdoors
. They celebrate the four non-equinox/solstice Celtic
, and Lughnasadh
The RDNA has only a small handful of active groves, due largely to their disorganized/anti-hierarchical nature. The RDNA has two offshoots with more organization and force, Ar nDraiocht Fein (arising from Isaac Bonewits' attempts to make the RDNA fully neopagan) and the Henge of Keltria.
They have a semi-official home page at http://www.student.carleton.edu/orgs/druids/.