A Vision of Comhaltacht Draiocht

At first glimpse Comhaltacht Draiocht, a name which translates simply as Fellowship of Druidry, may seem to be difficult to understand with the different local congregations, study groups, councils, warrior spirituality group, poetic studies specialty, clergy training, child education program and a wide variety of practices and the names of things being in Irish. And to top the whole thing off we have no by-laws or policies and operate from various sets of customs. For the newcomer this may seem like territory that is strange and difficult to understand. So for those people just trying to understand the structure and principles of Comhaltacht Draiocht we have in this article, a map. An outline to the core structure of the fellowship and how we operate, designed to clarify details of Comhaltacht Draiocht. This guide most likely will not answer every question that the newcomer has but should serve as a start and allow the newer member to figure out where to direct the question.

The founding structural principle of Comhaltacht Draiocht is the same as our most basic cosmological principle and is the idea of centrality. It is around this center that the entire structure is built and it is around this strong hub that the fellowship turns. At the center of Comhaltacht Draiocht is our charter which takes its authority from the body of our membership and which contains our most basic identity and our central mission. This central document identifies who we are and what we do. Conveying that root identity and mission from the center to make it manifest throughout the organization is a set of very direct customs which serve as the initial guide for how we apply our identity and fulfill our mission. These two sets of documents tell exactly who we are, how we come to be, what we do and how we do it. They are simple documents which can be understood in just a few moments and which establish the clearest understanding of Comhaltacht Draiocht.

Established in the central customs are two councils one of which is the Comhairle Dhraoithe, a name which simply translates as Congress of Druids and is the council made up of our ordained Clergy and active Ministers and which manages issues of religion and religious education. The other council is the Comhairle Cheannais a name which simply translates as Congress of Leaders and which is made up of the administrative heads of the local congregations and which manages issues of administration, membership and the establishment of new local congregations. Each of these two councils elect a chairperson who leads meetings and business in the council and each council has a charter to give it a clear identity and mission and each council has a set of customs by which it fulfills those duties. Each council meets as needed to manage its agenda and these meetings may be physical or may be facilitated through electronic communications. In reality, meetings could be quite often or they could be very rare with long periods of time when nothing is required of the council and so it does not need to be called to meeting.

The central customs also declare the existence of local congregations which are called Pobal, a term which simply means congregation. Each Pobal has a charter which identifies it and sets a clear mission and each Pobal has a set of customs which act as did the living Brehon Law or traditional law system of ancient Ireland. Each Pobal has an administrative representative on the Comhairle Cheannais and a ministerial representative on the Comhairle Dhraoithe and these representative positions can be two different people from the Pobal or they can both be held by the same person. How the Pobal chooses and disposes of these positions are decided entirely on the local level by the membership of the Pobal. The options for structuring local congregations are numerous and you may see one Pobal with a clear Tribal structure that has a Chieftain and Druid as leaders and another Pobal with a structure which only has a single Druid as a leader while still another Pobal has numerous titles and jobs filled by its members. Each local congregation is given a wide range of opportunities to express itself and its own spirituality.

Another local body that occurs is the Rang, a term which means class, these are the little study groups that form with minimal formality and structure but they also provide the seed which may grow into a Pobal. On the local level a study group will form when a couple of members start getting together regularly or when a member decides to start a study group and invites like minded people to attend and learn. These study groups begin to organize people on the vital local level and often provide the first initial training and experience for those who eventually come to be good local leaders.

Also established in our central customs is a clergy training program which is operated by an Ollamh a term simply meaning professor and a staff of teachers who have been appointed to the task and who are overseen by the Comhairle Dhraoithe. Also set forth in our central customs are religious orders which are assemblies of members and which have their charters approved by the Comhairle Dhraoithe. There are also specialty religious education groups each one of which will be headed by an Ollamh and which are also chartered by the Comhairle Dhraoithe. These groups are not local Pobal but they are also not organizational wide councils they are cross sectional groups forming lateral bonds between the members of the organization, bonds that are outside of the local relationships and give us a wide reach of spiritual support and knowledge.

A council, Pobal, religious order or educational program will have a charter to give identity and define it’s mission and will also have a set of customs which guide operations and any group may develop positions to be filled by people who are fulfilling those missions. Each category of organization decides what it must do to fulfill the mission and identity assigned to it by its charter and cannot reach outside of its charter to increase its mission or authority.

Authority within Comhaltacht Draiocht resides ultimately with the membership making up the body of the organization and is invested by the members in our central charter and customs. Then that central authority is delegated to bodies which are directed again by customs and populated mostly by people directly representing the local level congregations and elected by the people who know the representatives best.

It is at the local level that most of the activity of worship and teaching goes on in Comhaltacht Draiocht. And it is the members who make up the body of this fellowship and who interact with the world around us. The members are the rim and body of the wheel, the part that touches the ground and allows for motion. It is with the members that the ultimate authority resides and the members who build and sustain this fellowship that we call Comhaltacht Draiocht.