After the first announcement about the Solitary Druid Fellowship, I received a number of messages of encouragement and support. This project, this experiment at creating an experience of congregation in solitude, did not go unnoticed in the community of solitary Druids.
In one correspondence, a solitary Pagan spoke of the Fellowship as an “online community,” and I was quick to point out that I don’t use that language in the description of the Fellowship. But since we were communicating on Twitter, a medium with little space for lengthy explanation, I was unable to explain exactly why those words do not feel resonant with this project. I shall attempt to do so now.
The Solitary Druid Fellowship is not an “online community”, nor is it a “virtual grove”. These terms, and any which place an on-ground phenomenon firmly on the internet, do not describe the work we’re embarking on here.
What we are doing is an exercise in hybridity.
The Fellowship utilizes the Internet as a means for organization, and as a method for distribution of ideas and liturgy. But aside from those things, the Fellowship is an on-ground organization; it’s simply on a number of different grounds, spread out far and wide across the land. The Fellowship is centered around the work of the individual solitary Pagan. This work, while connected in part to the resources provided on SolitaryDruid.org, is done away from a computer within the sacred space of one’s own ritual practice.
There are several examples of how the Fellowship’s website will help to balance and maintain this hybridity.
First, there is an absence of online forums. The point of the Fellowship is not to provide yet another place on the internet where people can engage in threaded conversation. Rather, the Fellowship seeks to provide the solitary practitioner with regular prompts for reflection, a shared ritual practice, and the opportunity to join others in a common spiritual journey.
There will, however, be occasions where we join in dialogue directly on the website. Blog comments, while closed on most posts, will be open on the blog post immediately following each High Day. This will be our opportunity to open up a conversation with one another about what it felt like to partake in the shared practice. We can describe how we customized the ritual for our hearth culture, where we found the language relevant and useful, and where we may have stumbled.
Once we’ve done this, we return to our solitary practices. Our on-ground work is informed by our online work, with the emphasis placed on the former.
So we will become a congregation in solitude. We will be a body of people, joined in a common practice, journeying through a series of spiritual reflections with one another. We will not be an “online community,” but rather a community grounded in hybridity; one which utilizes digital technologies to better inform and enrich our analog religious practices.
May you take these words and reflect upon them, and may they inspire you to innovate, to create, and to pray with a good fire.