The Three Kindreds are the three spirit realm that ADF druids work with and honor, especially on High Days and other rituals. The Three Kindreds are the Ancestors, The Nature Beings, and the Shining Ones.
The Ancestors, also known as the Sacred Dead or the Mighty Dead, are those humankind who have lived on earth once and now live in the beyond after their death. These human spirits may live in the underworld, in another realm, or even among the gods at times, but they continue live their lives after their physical death on earth. The path they take is unclear to us but they may reincarnate back into life in our realms or continue on in their own. They have interest and influence in human activities and are likely vested in the outcome of descendants of their family lineage. The ancestors are one of the allies we can call upon in our mortal lives (and likely beyond too).
Archdruid Drum (2019) describes three groups of Ancestors that help us express their roles in our lives. First, he describes those of blood which were our biological ancestors and contributed to our existence on earth. Secondly, he identifies those Ancestors of Hearth. These are the Ancestors who make up the Hearth Culture in which we hold attraction towards. They may also be heroes from our past which we respect and admire. Lastly, Ancestors of the Bone are the group who are buried in the grounds we stand or live. These are largely influencers of the local lands where their bodies rest and may have interaction with the nature spirits.
Because the ancestors have both a hand in our existence and continued influence in our realm, we build our practice to honor the ancestors and grow a relationship with them. The ADF Core Order of Ritual includes all three Kindreds, and offerings to the Ancestors. Additionally, we should seek to perform regular devotional practice to all the Kindreds, including the Ancestors. These may be simple remembrances and shrines or special altar pieces that we focus upon to give our respect and continued relationships. The Ancestors form one of the three triads of Kindreds ADF recognizes.
The Nature Spirits are the non-human beings that inhabit many planes, but include the earth in which we live. Human history is full of encounters and interactions with these beings, sometimes called the Noble Spirits. These spirits are creatures and beings of place and elements, and some may have inhabited our planet long before humans evolved. They not only share the land, sky, and sea but they also affect and influence our lives and fates. Yet they may not live in our plane all the time but visit to accomplish desires and goals only they understand. They can be our allies but may also be distant and untrusting of humankind.
Additionally, these beings may be similar to humankind in appearance and shape but live very different lives. These are the other spirits such as dryads and pixies, the leprechauns and Menehune, the Elves and the Alfar, and so on. These beings are as varied as the wild spirits that live in the lands and often interact with our world for purposes that may benefit both their kind and humankind. These Nature Kindred balance the forces and effects across the planes and work in conjunction with the Shining Ones to maintain order and inject chaos where necessary.
ADF Druids understand that these Spirits of Nature deserve our respect and honor as Kindred because they share the realm we inhabit and can have similar interests. They are not necessarily our allies or friends but we seek to have a good and reciprocal relationship to help each other. They can benefit our lives through fertility of the land and enriching our spaces. As Druids, we should seek to care for our planet, not just for ourselves, but for all beings who occupy and visit our plane. This partnership must be built into reciprocal trust because the Nature Spirits are the most likely to distrust us. However, with respect and honor we can build a connection that enables us to work together and share goals for a better planet.
The Shining Ones
The Shining Ones are those beings we usually call Gods, Goddess, and Godden. They are the eldest, mightiest, and wisest beings in our accessible universe (Corrigan, 2010). While they typically appear in human-like appearance, they may be in this form simply for our benefit. The true form and nature of the gods’ existence is mostly a mystery to humankind, but we understand their power and influence in our civilization. Most reside in the upper worlds or planes but have a vested interest in our Midworld and the lives of humans. For as long as humans have lived, they have worshipped the God/desses in hope of benefitting our lives and gaining favor.
Often deities were grouped around a particular culture. However, people brought their gods and beliefs with them as they migrated and those beliefs shifted and adjusted to new settings. We recognize the Shining Ones are individual beings with their own personalities and goals, but it is not uncommon to find deities in different cultures with similar domains or characteristics. Now that we live in a widely globalized and connected world, people are experiencing different Shining Ones then their culture may have granted in the past and the diversity in Paganism grows. There are also Gods and Goddesses of places in our planet and examples throughout our history of the gods of rivers and mountains. Generally, however, we look to the sky and the heavens for the Shining Ones.
Much of our ritual practice and devotion is directed towards the Shining Ones. We view the deities as the most powerful influence over our world and seek to form reciprocal relationships to benefit each other. The relationships we form with the Shining Ones are as varied as the people on Earth. Some people seek out deities to follow, serve, or worship while others feel called to a particular God/dess. Regardless of how we have come to recognize our deities, forming relationships with the Shining Ones is important in our practice.
The Three Kindred
Together, the Three Kindred make up the spirit world that ADF druids seek to work with in Our Druidry. All are important relationships to build although each druid will find different beings and relationships formed in his or her practice. The Core Order of Ritual celebrates and honors each of the three Kindreds in a fashion that recreates the desires of our predecessors from the Proto-Indo-European people. The Kindres are our allies in our lives and in our spiritual practices.
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Corrigan, I. (2010, October 21). The worlds and the kindreds. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from Ár
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