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How are American Druids different from British Druids?

People who write books on "the world's religions" tend to bundle together American and British Druidry under the general heading of "neo-druidism". In fact, we are two separate lines! We share in common a love of nature, a carefree attitude towards spirituality, a social focus, and a curiosity about the practices of the ancient Celts. But there are many differences:

American Orders

  1. All American orders can trace themselves back to the founding of the RDNA in 1963.
  2. Our symbol is a Druid sigil, a mark of mysterious origin (from c. 1964) and unknown significance.
  3. Our lineage was founded as a protest towards organized institutions.
  4. Our ceremonies are famous for the Waters of Life and the invitation of Nature.

British Orders

  1. All British orders can trace themselves back to the founding of the Ancient Order of Druids in 1781.
  2. Their symbol is the emblem of Awen, a forgery by the 18th century druid Edward Williams, aka Iolo Morganwg.
  3. Their lineage was founded as an organized secret society to compete with the Freemasons.
  4. Their ceremonies are famous for mistletoe, and more recently nudity.

Details

Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

The most popular British group today is the OBOD, which was founded around the same time as us: 1964. This group is somewhat closer to ours in spirit, but still far more organized.

American borrowings from the Freemasons

We borrowed from the Freemasons the system of orders, with 3rd order being the level at which you can found your own grove, and institutional patriarchy, which we eliminated in 1971.

Is there an overlap?

Definitely! There have been American order Druids who wanted to impose themselves on nature or create an institutional structure, and they have been free to do so. There have also been British order Druids, most recently the American John Michael Greer, who have been more concerned with wisdom from nature and inventing a new culture than secret rites. But nevertheless, the original practices are different!