The Order of the Stone Circle is a fraternal revivalist Druid order with its roots in the revivalist Druid orders and traditions of the 18th century and later. Traditionally, these groups have been male fraternal orders – sometimes with women’s auxiliaries. Traditionally these “lodges” have been pre-dominantly Christian, as well. Modern fraternal / revivalist druids may admit women, and may have a mix of Christians, Neo-Pagans, and mystic seekers. Usually these groups are not strict reconstructionists, but instead use loose Druid symbology to explore life’s mysteries. Often these are formed as mystery schools or mystical orders in the manner of the Masons, Order of the Golden Dawn, and other similar orders.
In 1781, the Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) was formed in London, England. The United Ancient Order of Druids is one of the earliest known fraternal organizations based upon the ancient Druids. This and other Druid orders of the time arose out of the British Romanticist movement which glorified and sought to imitate the ancient Druids and Celtic culture. Because little accurate information was known about the Druids at the time, interpretations were loose and held to the romantic ideal.
These early fraternal Druids were generally educated, wealthy gentlemen with a liberal Christian outlook who were inspired by the idea of an educated elite class in Britain’s history. Writings of these early fraternal Druids, such as those of Iolo Morgannwg’s Barddas, were partly based on the information available at the time, partly based on interpretation, and partly based on creative inspiration. These men believed that Druidry was a philosophy that could be merged and blended with other religions and spiritual practices.
They were highly ceremonial and borrowed liberally from other fraternal orders of the time, such as the Freemasons. Elaborate rituals were created for the solstices and equinoxes, for regular meetings, and for initiations into the various degrees held by the orders. Classical ideas of Platonism, alchemy, and calling the four directions of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water were incorporated into their rituals and teachings.
In 1833, the United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD) was formed in Britain as the result of a schism within the Ancient Order of Druids. The UAOD tended to be more democratic and socially-conscientious that its predecessor. They sought social and intellectual discourse, philanthropy, and benevolence.
The UAOD came to the United States in 1830 and the first lodge was officially charted in New York City in 1839. The UAOD was open to men over the age of eighteen of “good moral character.” Women’s auxiliaries were formed as a counterpart to the men’s lodges. The 20th century brought a significant decline to the organization, though some lodges are still known or rumored to meet.
In the 1990s, it is believed that the Order of the Stone Circle (OSC) split off from one of the still existing lodges of the UAOD. The Order of the Stone Circle tended more toward incorporating neo-pagan beliefs and making fraternal druidry accessible to the masses including starting chapters on college campuses.
OSC hopes to continue its mission to bring Druidry to the masses and to re-envision Druidry for the 21st Century. To become a member, one doesn’t need to know the ancient Celtic languages or extensively study the historical texts. What is required is an interest in ancient, revivalist, fraternal, and modern Druidry and its basic concepts and symbolism. Creative license is accepted and encouraged including merging Druidry with other paths and traditions. Strict purists need not apply. Two areas that are frequently lacking in many modern Druid and neo-pagan paths are a connection to science (including scientific principles and sciences like astronomy) and to modern technology. These are areas we hope to build on. We hope to provide a place for those seeking the lighter social, fraternal, and casual Druid aspects of our Order, as well as those who are seeking deeper knowledge, wisdom, and connection to the Druidic mysteries.