Patience - it has never been one of my virtues. I was (and still am!) so enthusiastic about my search for a face-to-face Pagan community; but waiting for the open circle of the local Wiccan group to roll around has been killing me. It's still a week away! So to kill some time in the meanwhile, I went searching for a Pagan forum that was a little more active than eCauldron. After hours and hours of internet sleuthing, not only did I find a nicely active forum with lots of interesting discussion - the Druid Grove, messageboard of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids - but I had also become interested in joining up with a Druid organization. The OBOD has a wonderful looking training course, but unfortunately the cost was prohibitive for me.
That's when I found Ár nDraíocht Féin. While they don't have a messageboard, their mailing lists are full of interesting people and content. They also offer a free and good looking course to all of their members (and membership is a reasonable price!). The first step of the coursework, the Dedicant's Path, is designed to take about a year to complete; there is one lesson or area of focus for each of 52 weeks. I'm taking this on as a bit of an experiment - ADF is definitely closer to hard polytheism than I'm used to. I identify as more of a pantheist, but I'm certainly open to honoring deities, nature spirits, and ancestors as 'aspects' of the energy that makes up all of us. Honestly, I'm not sure how well I'll fit in, but I have no problem taking a year or so to see if I can work in the ADF framework.
So I signed up as an official member of the ADF, and requested my membership packet. Of course, membership takes a few weeks to process; so what does an impatient lady like myself do when faced with more waiting? Keep exploring my options, of course! And it was after a few more hours of searching that I found the New Order of Druids, a smaller organization than ADF or the OBOD based in Belgium. Membership in the New Order of Druids, however, is entirely free! They also have a 'college', three series of coursework which from my initial overview appears to be half meditation and concentration, half Celtic polytheism. The first level, Bardic, is meant to take from six months to a year to complete; and as the free 'basic' membership includes the coursework, I've decided to give it a go as well. It certainly can't hurt; and though participating in two programs at once might slow down my progress in both, ultimately I think it will make the experience that much richer. The NOD is an all-inclusive organization - on the site's messageboard (which you must have a membership to access), there are Christian Druids and other interesting combinations, as well as your typical Pagans; so it seems I won't have any doctrinal conflicts with this organization.
And that was my weekend! Rather busy, but I think I've made some good progress - reaching out and connecting with others via a coursework program is certainly a step in the right direction, even if it isn't my ideal of a face-to-face ritual group. At least I'll have some interesting material to chew through while I continue to explore groups in my area!