What does paying for advancement through degrees earn us?

I originally added this to my Introduction post, but I realized it would probably not draw any responses because it wasn’t directly related to my introduction. I wanted to get some input on this subject, as well, because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one either working on a low budget or next to no budget.

What is the actual value of paying for advancement through the degree system? Is it just for the privilege to be able to say that someone is such-and-such degree in the AODA? Since the curriculum’s provided online, there are no actual teachers involved who would need to draw some wage for their time.

Are there actual events that a degreed student would have access to that others would not?

I realize that $50 might represent a significant burden to a person experiencing homelessness or extremely limited income. I think a more relevant question is could you afford the cost of any supplies and other resources needed to complete the curriculum itself? For example, I’ve probably spent more than $50 just on the books I’m reading as part of the earth path.



Please remember to maintain a non-judgemental tone in this discussion.

While inquiring about advancement and sharing our own takes on it are encouraged, please recall the Code of Conduct and maintain a focus on how we embrace and share our own practices, rather than telling others how we may perceive they should practice their own.



I agree that it can be a hardship. I am on disability and foodstamps. Lucky for me, my town has a great library. I have also found articles on line with free downloadable PDFs for information on some of the explorations I hope to make.
I can not help you this month as SSI made an error on my deposit. Maybe next month I can help a bit? I am also considering a Pollinator Pocket, mini garden for pollinators and myself. I can use foodstamps to buy vegetable and herb seeds. Just some thoughts. I may have to use an imaginary golden belt for my candidate ceremony, but will get a real one as funds are able. There is usually a way if we work together on it!


Sadly, it also costs money to move out of state, which is exactly what I’m working towards now. :slight_smile:

I moved to this city in the hopes of pursuing graduate studies. The job market is hardly suitable for someone without an interest in corporate or government work. I moved when I still had an income and I have yet to find the kind of work that I’d be qualified to work without compromising my values and interests. I’d never recommend that ANYONE settle for a job, no matter how great the pay or perks, if it meant they’d end up miserable and still broke after all the expenses are taken care of.

These past 5 years have also been a tremendous learning experience for me, providing the kind of humbling insight that I’d think a Druid should possess. Of course, I needed to live here and endure the hardship in order to finally realize that I really have no business living in a big city like this. And now I look toward life in a smaller city in Oregon, where I’m not surrounded by people who pretend to be progressive and concerned about solving the homeless crisis.


It always helps to see how others handle the hardships I go through. Of course, there are many little things that we could do without in order to put that money towards more important goals like delving deeper into Druidic studies.

Thank you for your words of kindness! Indeed, this is the beginning of a long process that I’m in no rush to finish.


To answer your original question, you wouldn’t be able to form an AODA home circle or study group without AODA membership, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t be eligible for a position in the Grand Grove. Of course you could always start something like a home circle but not call it that. If there were an AODA event, I don’t know if it would be members only. That would be up to the planners.
So, for yourself, you could certainly go through the curriculum and develop your own practice without even joining, although you would not have initiations or the testing and feedback experience of completing a degree. I deeply hope that your situation improves so that you are free to make choices.


Thank you for your comments, and your question, @Evenstar! I have a few responses to this question, so I hope you’ll bear with me.

Every organization (certainly all spiritual ones, including all druid orders, and nearly all other organizations) requires financial support which to do our work. We offer lifetime membership in AODA for $50 (which has not, I’ll note, risen at all in the 14 or so years in which that was set). This helps us do everything from pay for this forum (which requires a monthly fee) and our website to offer our journal, Trilithon, to do mailings of our newsletter, to purchase office supplies and equipment to maintain our archives, and much more. For the record, those of us in the Grand Grove do not get paid or gain any other kind of tangible benefits from your contributions to AODA, as we are an all volunteer organization. But those contributions does give the AODA some operating capital in order to make this a successful organization. We had a centennial celebration in 2012, and member fees helped pay for that. We are planning another gathering in another year or two, and our operating capital will come out of that. In a nutshell, then, our member fees help this organization stay afloat and financially viable.

Some druid organizations ask for a yearly contribution, others charge by the course, and still others use our model. Each of them, you’ll find, have certain benefits for membership. One of the things our new Grand Grove has been doing is trying to increase our member benefits (we are just entering our 2nd year as a new Grand Grove, so a lot of things right now are “in progress” - but this forum is one of those new benefits).

And after you’ve been a member for a while and have progressed through your studies, we ask that you contribute financially again to complete your degrees and continue your studies. Remember that as a member of a druid organization, its not just about what the organization does for you but also what contributions you make to this organization for the benefit of all members. This organization exists because of its members (and folks like me are simply people who have been around long enough to work our whole way through the curriculum and help guide the organization now). I, and the rest of the Grand Grove, are listening closely to hear what your needs are and are doing everything we can to make this the best organization it can be in support of our members.

I hope this answers your question.


Dear Evenstar, et al:

Something that needs to be considered is just how expensive it is to write curricula, update it, create a new website and and generate new materials on a continuing basis.

In putting together the Home Circle guides (still in process) I have spent a few hundred on primary source books that are long out of print. To be fair, the Order has helped subsidize some of this. The GG members are unpaid. If we had to pay the officers what they are worth (excluding me), we couldn’t afford it. The article on aquifer garden beds has cost me about $40 so far just in film, and it is only this low because I can do my own image editing in-house at no cost to AODA, rather than the 60-90 dollars/hour that a lab would charge. We haven’t raised our membership fees since the revival of the Order, which was more than a decade ago. In all fairness, I think we are offering excellent value for the nominal fees. Joining fees equal about nine cups of coffee at a drive-through or 4 movie tickets. We realize how stressed folks are in this economy. Which is why we are going to be providing an extensive list of free or nearly free high quality educational and reference resources that can be had for an hour visit to your public library and the cost of a modest 4-8 GB thumb drive to download materials and keep them.

Community libraries are an under-used resource. Reference librarians (at least in my experience) live for the thrill of being asked difficult, obscure questions. State native plant societies, historical groups and the USDA County Extension Agent are excellent first stops for research.

Under the scribbling birches,

Gordon Cooper
Grand Archdruid, AODA


Gordon, when will this list be available? Is that part of the home circle guide?


Everything that’s been said here has helped tremendously. Fortunately, I’m already paid into the organization and am working through my paths for the First Degree. I’ve usually tended to be something of a solitary practitioner, even long before I took up the calling to follow the Druidic path. I wasn’t originally certain of the benefits provided for the fee, but it helps to realize just what else is going into this whole process so that everyone can benefit from these studies. I really enjoy being able to network with others who are farther along on their paths and who can offer some valuable insight into what I might do to better prepare myself.


AODA requires that members wanting to create a local teaching Grove have a certain level of knowledge, this requires moving up through the grades and paying the fees required. This is completely understandable…
Really there are three reasons for going through the degrees and paying the fees; Being recognized by the organization, being recognized in your community as someone who knows what their talking about, and for your own personal satisfaction at completing the degree and earning a title.
It’s up to you to decide if any of these are important.
I haven’t decided if any of these are important enough to warrant moving through the degrees in AODA. As I’m not one to be concerned with how others view my practice, it’s not all that important for me to work/pay for a title. However it is important for me to learn a system as honestly as possible and feel like I’m progressing within that system so I do read the material and study as though I am working through the degrees. At this time, for me, the degree fees are just high enough to warrant second guessing the need to officially move up in the degree plan.


I don’t have time to contribute much to this forum, but I have already gotten a great deal of benefit from reading it. The same is true if Trilithon, and other books and online sources that I found through AODA. It took me a while to appreciate the incredible amount of volunteer labor hours that AODA members have put in, so I and others can benefit. I hope to be able to contribute more when some of my other obligations go away. I just wanted to say thanks!


I’m glad I asked this question because it’s confirmed a few different things for me. If I didn’t want to care about recognition in the group, then I’d just proceed with the studies at my own pace. Then again, since I was drawn to the Druidic path for the disciplined study and advice from experienced practitioners, it’s a fair price to pay. Indeed, there’s no doubt a lot of energy and time that go into producing this stuff, so it’s only reasonable that we should kick down a few bucks where we’re able to.

Besides, I haven’t ruled out starting my own grove and study group whenever I’m settled somewhere else and able to commit to the process.


Some of it will be in the Home Circle material. Some will be an update to the website.

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Here, here! ~glasses clinking~

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honestly the cost to go up from level to level really isn’t unreasonable but i do understand the complaint of being able to fund the other costs of moving from level to level. This is where the community that you paid to be a part of comes in. I for one have had no issue buying the books, but i purchased the material before I even knew this was a thing. I was doing research into living “off the grid” or “learning to be poor”. As I’m sure the more astute of you just caught, this brought me onto the works of a Mr. John Micheal Greer. Now I happen to be in a situation where I own all of the material but am unable to pay for membership. That being said once i get that out of the way and manage to join a grove (the leader of which has already taken it upon herself to reach out to me) I would have no issue sharing my books and whatnot with other members if they are having issues with funds.


I’d like to complement what @kaizer5243 said, pointing all to the forum subcategory specific for this purpose, #general-aoda-druidry:book-share, created after a user proposed just such a scheme :smile:


In short, the fees associated with keeping the cirriculum up to date and accessable, and the costs of webmaster fees, compare your Membership fees to thst of another faith, and I findthem to be fair.

Another asked recently and found you can go through the strokes of bring a Druid, and have access to the forums, at no cost… IMHO, the cost of associqtion itself is acceptable

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Besides all of the above it helps you grow in every way!

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