Originally chartered as the American branch of the Ancient Masonic Order of Druids (AMOD), the Ancient Order of Druids in America was founded by American physician and Freemason Dr. James Manchester in Boston, Massachusetts on the summer solstice of 1912. Its membership at first came from within Masonry, but in the course of the twentieth century it drifted gradually away from a Masonic connection. In 1942 it changed its rules to allow the initiation of anyone vouched for by a Master Mason, and began admitting women; the first female Grand Archdruid, Dr. Juliet Ashley, took office in 1954. In 1976 it removed its last formal connection with Masonry and redefined itself as an esoteric religious order teaching Druid spirituality. In 2004 it incorporated as a Druid church.

Today, like most Druid organizations rooted in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Druid Revival, AODA keeps its initiation rituals private, but has few other traces of its secret society ancestry. Its teachings and most of its rituals are public. Its training program focuses on meditation, seasonal rituals, nature awareness, and lifestyle changes to help the environment, and it has a substantial online presence. See Druid Revival.


The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006