Druid’s Hall

On one of my early trips through Pt. Arena, I was intrigued by a Druid’s Hall there. It has the appearance of an Elk’s Lodge or Masonic establishment. Druid’s? My pagan side wondered what might be its history, so I did some digging.

The Ancient Order of Druids was founded in 1781 at the King’s Arms Tavern, Poland and Oxford Streets, London, England, “to promote harmony and good fellowship.”

The Ancient Order came to America with the first Grove of Druids, instituted in New York City in 1830.

The Order branched out. In 1860, California Grove No. 1 was instituted in Placerville.

The UAOD (United Ancient Order of Druids) of California is a non-political, non-denominational fraternal benefit society, first formed to assist families of miners injured or killed in the Sierra Nevada gold fields.

Over 200 Groves were chartered over the years and membership approached 15,000 in the early years of the 20th century. As with most fraternal organizations, membership has dwindled over the last half century (why is that?), with rituals and ceremonies based loosely on ancient Druidic lore.

Currently there are 13 Groves (community lodges) and a Grand Grove in California. The farthest south is Bakersfield and the farthest north is Point Arena.

The Druidic “family” of California is composed of three separate bodies: Groves, the Brotherhood, Circles, the Sisterhood, and the Chapters, known as the Fun Branch. Here’s a fine bit: “A member of the brotherhood branch can in due time join the sisterhood. However, a member of the sisterhood cannot join the brotherhood branch.” {What???} The term “Grove” derives from the oak groves in which the original Druids met. The Ancient Druids used the sky as their roof.

Druid’s Hall, New Zealand

But the term Grove is not used outside the United States: Other countries refer to their Druid organizations as “Lodges.”

The motto of Druids the world over is “United to Assist” (Integritas Pro Rupe Nobis). The California druids follow seven precepts “of Merlin, one of Druidism’s early teachers.” It’s cool that they actually refer to Merlin, though the precepts don’t make me think of anything I know of Merlin. Granted, my knowledge of Merlin comes mostly from The Once and Future King by E.B. White and other Arthurian tales. Where else?

Druid’s Hall, Australia

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2 thoughts on “Druid’s Hall

  1. This is so cool! A sisterhood meeting in an oak grove and helping injured miners and their families? Sounds great! Though I suppose you don’t have miners in Pt. Arena.

  2. Cristina, I like the sound of it, too! Pt. Arena is a struggling area economically. It has history as a fishing community – that might be the closest to mining. But also, as I’ve written about before, the families of our school district are squeezed by housing shortages and high prices. Also I was pretty amazed by a recent health worker’s revelation at a staff meeting that this area has the highest rate of opioid deaths in the state! Wow! So lots of healing possibility here. But The Center, that I wrote about last week (Action Network) is likely far more involved in community health and well being. I haven’t been able to find information on the local Druid’s Hall’s activities!

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