October 20, 2013

Hollis man starting a school to train people in druid priesthood

Druid College, set to open in Hollis next month, will teach Earth-spirituality connection.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Kevin Emmons of Hollis, a druid, meditates. Modern druids believe in the divinity of nature.

Gordon Chibroski/ Staff Photographer

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Kevin Emmons, left, of Hollis, a druid, cloaks a participant in smoke from a burning bundle of sage during a weaving in the woods in Casco on Sept. 28.

Photo courtesy of Michael Eric Berube

Additional Photos Below

“A druid priest is somebody who helps craft sacred relationships to the land, the people and the divine,” Emmons said. “For me, it’s not a title. It’s an ideal. It’s an invocation.”

The third year of Druid College will be more like a practicum, he said. And then the real work begins.

“You get a degree and you never use it – that’s not what this it is about,” Emmons said. “The application is the most important part.”

Part of the role of a priest is to lead rituals.

Pagans celebrate eight holy days a year – both solstices, both equinoxes and with the others sandwiched between them.

Each celebration has a purpose, all tied to the land, from the celebration of fertility on the first of May to the honoring of death, or the end of the growth cycle, coming up on Oct. 31 – what most celebrate as Halloween.

Emmons usually celebrates those ceremonies with just his grovemates. Last year, he realized there was a need for a different kind of ritual – one that would bring together the whole community.

“People don’t know their neighbors. People don’t help each other out,” Emmons said. That’s something he’d like to see change, in general. “I think working within our own traditions is a good place to start.”

So he and his wife started The Weaving.

On the last Saturday of September, about 30 pagans gathered in a clearing in the forest in Casco, up the hill from a yurt where Emmons and his wife used to live.

The group – some in capes, others in cargo shorts and several without shoes – started the ceremony in a barn, where they sat on benches and shared with one another the skills they have and the ones they’d like to learn, from making sauerkraut to speaking Gaelic.

Outside, Emmons led a meditation, asking them to close their eyes, take in the sounds and breathe into the Earth. In between, they ate homemade bread and made references to Monty Python movies.

As the day got colder and darker, they started a fire. Standing in a circle around it, Emmons approached each member of the group in turn and cloaked them in smoke from a burning bundle of sage. He was followed by Faro Estella, a Norse pagan, who dipped her finger in oil and drew a hammer on each person’s forehead. Together, the group faced each of the four cardinal directions and hailed every one, asking for peace and inviting in souls. A 15-minute trance followed.

They opened their eyes and rose from silence to dance around the fire, hollering and chanting with the beat of the drums, before joining hands in a circle.

“When we gather, we grow stronger,” they sang in unison, over and over.

Lorelei Jones, who lives in Mechanic Falls and works at a call center, said she’s met thousands of people through pagan gatherings in New England.

She was introduced to the religion 27 years ago when her college roommate told her she was a witch.

“I said, ‘You’re a what?’ ” Jones recalled. After learning more, she found that the Wiccan culture and its roots in the Earth aligned with her own beliefs.

“There’s no sacrificing of chickens. There’s no baby-nibbling,” she said.

Jones, who now identifies as a shamanistic pagan, will be attending Druid College this fall.

She said she didn’t know if her beliefs would change because of it, but wanted to learn more.

“I’m open to it,” Jones said.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:lbridgers@pressherald.com@lesliebridgers

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Additional Photos

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Kevin Emmons, right, of Hollis, plays the guitar as participants join hands and chant at the weaving in Casco.

Photo courtesy of Michael Eric Berube

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The fire glows at a gathering of druids.

Photo courtesy of Michael Eric Berube


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