By STUART MORRISON
ATLANTA – For Pagans in the Atlanta area and much of the South, it can be difficult to find a place of belonging or even other people who are like-minded.
The Grove of the Red Earth, an Atlanta area branch of the national organization Ar nDraiocht Fein, offers a place for Pagans to get together and share their beliefs. It’s otherwise known as A Druid Fellowship.
The grove is headed by Senior Druid James Lock, who has been Pagan for 30 years. Lock said he felt that he was Pagan his whole life, he just didn’t have a name for it.
The grove does not have an official building or location. Instead, members go to various places depending on availability for rituals and meetings.
They meet twice a month, once to develop a formal plan for the rest of the month as well as prepare for the eight High Day rituals a year, and once for community building, charity projects or other less serious topics.
They also hold rituals eight times a year for the Ar nDraiocht Fein High Days, which are Pagan holidays. The holidays are set around the solstices, equinoxes and the cross-quarters, which sit between.
Those holidays follow the Pagan Wheel of the Year, and are:
- Nov. 1,
- Dec. 21,
- Feb. 1,
- March 21,
- May 1,
- June 21,
- Aug. 1 and
- Sept. 21
Though these High Days have dates attached, the actual holiday may not land exactly on them. The ritual might be performed before or after, depending on which Saturday is closer, as that is when the grove is able to organize them.
The rituals are open to anyone who wants to participate.
Because members live in various locations around the Atlanta area, rituals often have to be held at the homes of members, or other locations around Atlanta.
The Grove of the Red Earth uses the Ar nDraiocht Fein format for its rituals, which are designed to be familiar to members who might be new to the area or who may be visiting an area.
“We’ve always had to move the rituals around to various places, since we don’t have any permanent location yet,” said Lock.
The grove was founded a little over 10 years ago by four Ar nDraiocht Fein members who wanted a local group.
“We were a proto-grove for a year, then applied for grove status,” said Lock.
Since then, the founding members have drifted apart and away; Lock is the only remaining founding member that is still a part of the grove.
“Two (a married couple) had changes in their lives that took them away from it,” said Lock. “One is still involved in ADF but now lives in a different state after being offered a very good job in her chosen field.”
The grove functions much like a family, offering a place for Pagans to practice and worship, as well as a sense of community and belonging.
The Grove of the Red Earth has a Facebook presence, so that members have a way to communicate with each other and plan various events..