The Silver Branch Grove is a community of druidic and shamanic practitioners located in the western Michigan portion of the Great Lakes region…
The Silver Branch intends to provide and hold a space for practitioners and seekers to jointly embrace all aspects of our human experience through druidic and shamanic studies and practice. We engage in a druidic practice which has its basis in Celtic tradition, and is informed mainly by the training program of the OBOD. We are broadly Celtic and engage both the Welsh and Irish traditions in our practice.
Druidry can be seen as a religion, but also as a way of life. It is philosophical, psychological, environmental, cultural, religious, and spiritual. As a philosophy and way of life, Druidry is open to all who seek a deeper experience of life and a more intimate relationship to the natural world. Along these lines, the Silver Branch is welcoming and inclusive of all spiritualities. The things that bind us together are a deep resonance with and desire to reconnect, remember, and celebrate our oneness with the spirits of nature from within druidic and shamanic practices and philosophies.
Mythological Studies and Druidic Practice
Mythological studies form the backbone of the Silver Branch. According to Joseph Campbell, “myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.” In our practice, mythology is the doorway that allows us to enter an otherworld of inner adventure and to go in search of these clues. It is within the epic journey of the mythic hero that we find our own spiritual journey, preserved in metaphor and personification. As a symbol to be contemplated, the hero’s journey becomes one of initiation into new levels of consciousness. Within our druidic and shamanic practice, the Silver Branch attempts to clear a pathway to re-forge awareness of the events that comprise our own soul-making journey.
The core of our practice is mythological, meditative, contemplative, and shamanic, and we are also ritualistic and celebrate the eightfold path of the year. Rooted in our mythological studies, our practice is how we approach our deeper authenticity. This lies in the awareness and experience of unity with the natural world and facilitates a fuller experience of being an ensouled creature in an ensouled world full of other ensouled creatures.
Druidry is inherently shamanic and our practice is framed by techniques of healing and transformation for the fragmented contemporary soul in regards to self, other, and especially nature. Through our practice, inspiration, known as Awen or Imbas, informs our dan, or soul-gift, which we strive to express into the world through our lives, replenishing and inspiring others. This path is not always easy, but we strive to live and practice within all the joys and trials of the world, always attempting to express our voice in harmony with the great song – known as the Oran Mor.
As a part of our practice, we hold group meditations, informal groups for Celtic, druidic, and shamanic study, roundtable discussions and workshops, hillwalking, service work to the community and environment, and general fellowship with people of like minds. For other members of the OBOD, we hold private discussion and study groups for the order’s druidic training program.
Dreamvine Circle – Our Nemetons
There is an inherent aesthetic and spiritual way of being and knowing that emerges from the awareness that humanity and nature are one. This is a vital recognition of what it means to be truly human and the key to engaging that being on a deeper level.
Whenever possible, we meet and practice in nature. Until our dream of our own land is realized, we meet and tread lightly on nearby public lands, where we have been led to four sacred groves, or Nemetons, following the wheel of the year within a larger mandala formed by the boundaries of the nature park. Through practicing within the mandala of the park and the ‘named and tended’ sacred spaces of the Nemetons, we consciously choose to participate in the soul-full transformation of our relationships to self, other, and the natural world as an ensouled being in an ensouled world.
There is the nemeton known as Serpent’s Egg in the northwest, which we dedicated on Samhain 2013. In the northeast is Crane’s Cauldron (aka Brighid’s Cross), dedicated on Imbolc 2014. On Bealtaine 2014, we dedicated Deer Bone Gate in the southeast, and on Lughnasadh 2013, Visionsong in the southwest. The Nemetons are a place we consciously and intentionally engage our journey.
The space of the cardinal directions of the park is held by old and gentle trees possessing energies appropriate to their direction in the Irish mandala (West: Vision or Knowledge; North: Battle: East: Prosperity; and South: Music – see the Irish myth The Settling of the Manor of Tara). Walking the mandala of the park is a quiet, contemplative practice that we often engage in. Within the Nemetons, typically a more active and intentional energy emerges.
It is important that the Nemetons are situated within the mandala of the park – as above, so below. It is a reminder that they are not outside, not separated, but an integral part of the whole. Humans, nature, soul, and spirit, all are contained within– everything already is sacred, all is within the great song.