Hedgerow School &
Grove of the ADO Founder


          Hedgerow Schools evolved out of necessity at a time when the study and practice of Druidry were outlawed by the new Christian establishment on pain of death.  It simply wasn't possible to train people as we had for millennia, but if the Tradition was to survive, another way had to be found.  Fences of living, edible shrubs called "hedgerows" have been used to mark boundaries and contain livestock from time out of mind; roses, sloes, and brambles predominate in these plantings, with occasional hazel, elder, and apple trees, interwoven throughout them. The branches of hedgerows are 'laid' (literally interwoven as they grow) to form an impenetrable barrier; a living boundary which also fed communities when other crops failed.  It was to this source of nourishment that Druids turned to preserve their ancient traditions.

          Students would meet wandering Druids at predesignated locations along the inside of these thorny hedges, opposite the road.  In exchange for teachings, students brought their mentors news, and vital supplies.  Shielded by thorns, lessons could be taught in safety.  Hedgerows are too tall and too dense to penetrate either physically or visually, and by the time the authorities could get round them, the students had scattered and the Druids were already headed to their next location.  The lessons they taught were then explored and shared at home by their students.  The scheme was so successful that English and Church authorities eventually ordered the destruction of the hedgerows. It was a mandate which, during the potato famine, would prove disastrous.  The ensuing loss of life prompted subsequent governments to re-plant many hedgerows, and their ancient uses have been reinstated along with them.

          This history seems to us very relevant to our own time.  Once again, the world is entering a period of extreme intolerance, in which people of minority faiths are routinely harassed and persecuted, and mainstream faiths employ violence to reassert their waning authority. People generally seem eager to rush to judgement, and keen to punish those 'different' from themselves. In this increasingly hostile worldview, the Hedgerow School is as essential as ever to preserving our Druid Way.

          Whatever services the Order may provide the Tradition abides with each of us, and we take it on the road with us, wherever we may go.  This is true of all ADO Members, but it is especially true for ADO Druids and for the ADO Founders. There are, of course, customary ways of coordinating places and locations for meetings.  Traditionally, this information was left in coded messages; as Coelbren or Ogham riddles, inscribed on sticks and stones along a path, whose deciphering relied upon a knowledge of the Sacred Lore and Landscape. Such precautions may again prove necessary, but for now you can check our Events page and Member Forum for clues.  In these times, our hedgerow may as easily be a park bench or café table as a thorny barrier in a field, but wherever it may be, we look forward to meeting you soon!
          Rhosyn Ddraig Grove is the Grove of the ADO Founder (Morgaine), and her life partner (Myrddin); who also founded the Order's Sister and Brotherhoods (AONS and DBoI, respectively).  As the Order's principle training centre, our Grove offers most of the intermediate and advanced level training for the Order.  In addition to tutoring Aspirants and mentoring weekly lessons, we lead many of the sessions for ADO workshops, apprenticeships, pilgrimages, immersions, and annual Gatherings.

These responsibilities place an extra burden of responsibility on Aspirants and New Members who join our Grove.  In addition to meeting all other member requirements, every Rhosyn Ddraig Grove member must:
  • Be prepared, and be on time;
  • Be able to work independently or to take direction cheerfully;
  • Maintain your personal ADO spiritual practice as taught without the need of prompting or reminders from Grove mentors;
  • Assist with set-up and clean-up at Grove events;
  • Maintain confidentiality regarding membership assessments, and Grove work which is not yet being shared with the general membership, should you become privy to them;
  • Accept that your level of participation in Grove work will be commensurate with your demonstrable level of Traditional knowledge and ability;
  • Assist with tutoring and mentoring as assigned by the Grove Heads;
  • Forbear to spread or to listen to gossip; and
  • Recognize and accept that your rate of progress may not keep pace with your ambitions or desires.
In return for fulfilling these expectations, you should make faster progress and advance more quickly than would otherwise be possible.  As in other areas of life, greater opportunities demand greater commitments.

          Rhosyn Ddraig is currently ADO's only chartered Grove; the other Groves having dissolved when most of their members relocated to new areas. We are also considering relocating from SW Virginia to the Northeast, where the social climate is more favourable to our spiritual beliefs and practices.   Such a move is likely several years off.  In the meantime, we are happy to accept and train new Learning Circle and Grove Members.

          If you are self-motivated, enjoy a challenge, love collaborating with other people, and are able to commit the necessary time and energy to participating actively and regularly in the life of the Learning Circle or Grove, then we would welcome you!

[ NOTE:  Two former ADO Grove members and one Lifetime Member are also prepared to start Learning Circles in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Nova Scotia.  S ee our Groves  page for more information!]