The following requirements have been established by the Grand Grove for AODA Apprentices wishing to advance to the Second Degree of AODA, the Degree of Companion.
Continuation of the First Degree Paths
As the First Degree is the foundation of the Second, so the essential work of the Second Degree includes a continuation of the fundamental practices you learned in the First: the Earth Path, Sun Path, and Moon Path. Thus you should continue your weekly time in nature, and pursue additional steps to make your life impose fewer burdens on the Earth’s biosphere; you should continue to celebrate a cycle of seasonal rituals, including the solstices and equinoxes, along with any other festivals you find appropriate; and you should continue to practice meditation, preferably discursive meditation, and the Sphere of Protection ritual on a daily basis. These should be continued throughout the two years you spend as an Apprentice, in preparation for initiation as a Companion.
Core Curriculum in Druid Philosophy
In addition, your preparation for the Companion degree will include close study of the following seven books, which will provide you with seven distinct perspectives on the underlying ideas of Druid philosophy and their expression in AODA:
- Ralph and Mildred Buchsbaum, Basic Ecology
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
- Three Initiates, The Kybalion
- Anonymous, The Mabinogion
- Ross Nichols, The Book of Druidry
- John Michael Greer, ed., The Druid Revival Reader
- Ancient Order of Druids in America, The AODA Grove Handbook
The first triad of these books present three ways of thinking about whole systems—one scientific, one philosophical, and one occult; the second triad present three ways of looking at Druidry—one from the standpoint of legend, one from the standpoint of tradition, and one from the standpoint of history; while the last book sets out the traditional ritual and organizational forms AODA created out of these sources. Each of these books, in its own way, is about the same thing—how to live a spiritually meaningful life in harmony with the cycles of nature—but each pursues this goal in its own distinctive way, and there are important disagreements between them.
It is important that you not merely read these books, but grapple with the ideas they present, including the points at which they disagree, and come to your own conclusions about the value—or otherwise!—of those ideas. Discursive meditation that takes concepts from these books as themes for exploration is perhaps the most valuable tool for doing so. AODA will also host a discussion list where members pursuing their Second Degree studies can discuss these books, and the ideas they contain, with other members following the same path and with senior members of the Order.
In preparation for your advancement to the Second Degree, you will need to write an essay of at least 5,000 to 7,000 words on one or more themes drawn from one or more of these books, discussing your personal reactions to the theme or themes, and how it relates to the Druid path that you are creating for yourself. This essay will not be judged on its literary merit, though we encourage you to write it as clearly and creatively as you can; rather, we are looking for evidence that you have taken the time to understand what the books in the core curriculum have to say, have thought about their ideas, and have come to meaningful conclusions concerning them.
If you would prefer to express your personal insights and reactions to these ideas in some form other than an essay—for example, in a work of art—this is also an option. In this case, however, you will need to contact the Grand Grove in advance with details of your proposal, and have it approved before you begin work on it.
Bardic, Ovate, or Druid Work
The threefold division of the ancient Druid path into Bardic, Ovate, and Druid studies applies also in this degree. You may pursue your work in one or more of these three paths, and you may do so in two different ways.
The first way is to complete the following requirements:
- Establish a personal practice as a Bard, Ovate, or Druid. This may include, for example, taking lessons and engaging in regular practice of a musical instrument, as a Bard; pursuing ecological or scientific studies, as an Ovate; or practicing a particular system of Druid magic or spiritual practice, as a Druid. You will need to inform the Grand Grove in detail about your personal practice, and provide ways in which the Grand Grove will know you have actually done what you claim.
- Study and practice the AODA Solitary Grove opening and closing ceremony. You should plan on performing this ceremony at least once a week for at least the minimum period of two years you spend preparing for the Second Degree initiation. In the process, you should commit the ceremony to memory, and explore its uses as a framework for other activities, including those of your Bardic, Ovate, or Druid path.
- Study and practice the AODA Candidate initiation, until you can perform the entire ceremony for another person skillfully and with effect. If at all possible, commit the entire initiation ceremony to memory.
- Design an original set of activities for a yearly cycle of Druid holy days, drawing symbolism and themes from any appropriate source; the ecology and natural history of the area in which you live are particularly recommended. Those activities may be artistic or musical, if you are pursuing initiation as a Bard; scientific or environmental, if you are pursuing initiation as an Ovate; or ceremonial, spiritual, or magical, if you are pursuing initiation as a Druid.
- Spend at least 20 hours helping other people with their spiritual development in a Druid context. Among the activities which would qualify for this requirement are one-on-one mentoring, leading a discussion group, and teaching one or more classes or workshops on Druid spirituality or related subjects. Keep detailed notes on these experiences.
***Please note that this first option is REQUIRED if you intend to apply for a study group charter once you have been initiated as a Companion, and if you intend to apply for a grove charter once you have become an Adept.
The second option, for those who do not intend to lead a study group or grove, is to design a personal curriculum of in Bardic, Ovate, or Druid study and practice, involving at least two years of steady work. This curriculum should include some means by which the Grand Grove can assess the aspirant’s achievements. Apprentices who choose this option must present their proposed self-designed curriculum in advance to the Grand Grove, which may accept it as given or request changes. Once the curriculum is approved by the Grand Grove, the aspirant needs only complete its requirements to qualify for the Second Degree. Please contact the Grand Grove if you need more information or assistance putting together a self-designed curriculum of this sort.
Those who intend to pursue more than one of the three branches of the Druid path may do one of them by way of the first option, and any others by way of the second option, and qualify in this way for a study group charter. The requirement is that the first option be done at least once by any prospective study group or grove chief.