When I was a few years younger and I was asked my religion, I tended to reply with a rather long-winded statement rather than a title. I would say, "I'm an historically-accurate, modern Neo-Pagan Druid who doesn't ignore modern trends in order to honour the old Gods."
I'm still not entirely certain I knew what all that meant at the time, but I am certain that it's just much easier to say, "I'm an ADF Druid."
What attracted me most to ADF after a string of D. J. Conway books was a definite wish to get away from the fluff and get back to what had turned me on to Druidry in the first place: the actual practices (which we might find relevant) of the ancient Celts. I was sick and tired of being fed the line, "We do this because the ancients did that," especially when I found out that it generally wasn't true at all.
So I decided to start researching. I cracked open my pony edition of Caesar's Gallic War, where I had first encountered the druids, and started reading the English and the Latin together to seek the nuances in the descriptions. Over time, I have moved from Caesar on to Tacitus, Pliny, and a number of other writers who had at least reasonable knowledge of the Celts (whether they liked them or not). What I found was that I was able to take the information provided and then start down the road of inspiration.
And, amazingly, that road began to take me places that other roads had never even dreamed of leading me.
What I found is that spending time on scholarship allows me to keep myself grounded, showing respect to both the Deities and the Ancestors by refusing to fly off into major flights of fancy that misrepresent who they are or what they believed. Further, scholarship informs my practice by giving me a basis for practices I can then work from, helping me create rituals and define practices that proceed from a position of understanding and reflect a coherent cosmology. Also, I find that it keeps my practice consistent over time.
I find that I do wish to be a scholar in my own right. I want this, I think, because I know that scholarshhip is foundational to my religious work, drawing out nuances in ancient practices and reflecting them in my own soul. The concept of being "known" as a scholar is less important, but it would be good to have some influence on the modern scholarship about Neo-Paganism.
My own primary interest is in the academic study of Neo-Paganism. Over the years, the focus of that study has varied widely, but particular themes have been the concept of mythic drama within Neo-Paganism, the creation of permanent sacred spaces, and the purpose of play within Neo-Paganism. Since graduating from Ohio State, I have taken a number of graduate level courses in the academic study of religion (my GPA in graduate work is a 4.0). I hope to enter full-time study in a graduate program in the next year or so.
I enjoy bringing academic theory into my work teaching workshops and courses in ADF and the greater Pagan community. I have also taught classes at Ohio State, expanding on Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon for a variety of courses, including a New Age and New Religious Movements course and a course on Religious Diversity in America.
I hope to continue this general direction, and to use it to further my work in ADF both as a member and as clergy.