1.Explain why public, inclusive ritual is important to ADF. (200 words min)
Public, inclusive ritual is one of the things that sets ADF apart from many other neopagan traditions. There are multiple reasons it continues to be a defining feature of our religion, from both an ancient and a modern perspective. The need for ADF to provide inclusive public rituals is noted specifically in the Article 1, Section 2 of the ADF Constitution:
“Since one of the primary duties of the ancient Druids was to lead their tribes in magical and religious activities, ADF advocates and practices, as an integral part of our faith, open, inclusionary, and public ceremonies to worship the Earth Mother and the Old Gods and Goddesses, rites of passage to mark the cycles of our lives, and magical rituals to accomplish our other goals in an honest and ethical manner (“ADF Constitution”).
This indicates the historical factors that have gone into the decision to make ADF a public neopagan religion. It was the duty of the ancient Druids to organize and perform these religious tasks, such as making sacrifices, organizing ceremonies, treating with the spirits, and divining for and counseling the folk. These things were done in the past for the folk honoring those traditions, and so as we draw from those same traditions, it is important to be sure we are also offering those things (Corrigan “Magical Skills”).
However, these historical factors are not all that goes into the need to provide inclusive, public ritual. We are not ancient Druids. We are a neopagan religion, and need to present ourselves as and active, thriving part of a rich, spiritual community. If we want to be welcomed amongst the mainstream religions, then it is important to allow ourselves to be a part of that same river. Additionally, as ADF Groves seek to provide public rituals, it is important to note that these may be the only pagan rituals that are offered in a wide geographical radius, that are open to anyone who wishes to attend. An ADF Grove will provide, consistently, an open ritual about once every 6.5 weeks, and that is extremely important to the Folk we are serving. (Dangler GOH 7).
2.Describe the duties and function of clergy in ADF. (100 words min.)
If we look once again at the role of the ancient Druids, they “seem to have been responsible for all public rituals.” This included a variety of roles from music to recitation of prayers to making sacrifices to divination. A Druid was required for a public ritual to take place (Bonewits “IE Paleopaganism”). Competent clergy is imperative to having a healthy, growing religion. So if we hope to continue to see our religion grow, there must be well-trained priests who are capable of performing the roles and duties of their job (Bonewits “ The Vision of ADF”). It should be noted that “our theology does not require a priest to stand between the householder and the gods, but our priests are trained in such a way that they can stand between the householder and the gods for those who need it” (Dangler Chat).
An ADF Priest has basically three jobs as determined by the Clergy Council: First, they “have an obligation to ensure that sacrifices are made at the proper times and in the proper way.” Second, they “have engaged in training, and provide training and service to others.” Third, they “can, through their training and dedication, aid members in developing and maintaining those relationships” with the Kindreds that they have established (“The Role of the Priest in ADF”). This relationship that folks are developing and the training that our priests helps to provide is wide in the scope of who the clergy are serving. Kirk Thomas notes in the Quarterly Reports (CC 2010 Q4) that he has been serving some folks at Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility. One member in particular has been working through the study programs, including the DP and IP. The Traveling Clergy Program is also in place to allow Priests to visit folks who are geographically removed from a Priest and require the services of one. This is why a Priest of ADF swears to “honor the gods, serve the folk, and love the land” as well as dedicate themselves “to the ongoing program of study in ADF.” There is absolutely no implied or explicit exclusion as to who they serve.
3.Explain why ADF has an Indo-European focus, and why we use the term “Druid” in our name. (200 words min.)
ADF is “the legal structure for a Neopagan Druidic religion based on the beliefs and practices of the ancient Indo-Europeans, adapted to the needs and sensibilities of modern people… Neopagan Druidism is a polytheistic, non-dualist, non-sexist, non-racist, scientific, holistic, and ecologically oriented faith” (“ADF Constitution”). So, as far add why we have ‘Druid’ in our name: that is simply the name chosen for our religious organization. It does not limit the organization to only practitioners of Celtic religions, though we may draw on the role of the ancient Druid to inform our studies and organization.
Having an Indo-European focus is the umbrella that we have placed ourselves under. It is both this narrow and this broad for a few reasons. We include all Indo-European cultures because there were many similarities between the cultures, including root language, community values, and myth cycles. It allows for a common discourse and a common ground between members who worship following the practices of many different hearths. This allows a point of connection between practitioners or various Indo-European hearths, and by allowing all Indo-European cultures to be represented it allows for a broader community base in a religion that has a minority following it, meaning that it allows ADF to draw membership from smaller specific groups, such as Heathens and Hellenes. It also allows for the common language that all ADF members can relate to, such as discussion of the Three Kindreds, the Earth Mother, and the Gatekeeper. In addition, by focusing solely on Indo-European cultures we can draw deeply from a few sources, rather than shallowly from many. This allows for less inconsistencies or discrepancies within a ritual when blending multiple cultures. All these reasons for focusing on the historical traditions of ancient Indo-European cultures, and the ways they are now reconstructed and reimagined make the resulting religion that ADF is fostering a more coherent and valuable whole.
However, by limiting ourselves to an Indo-European focus we are able to keep a more solid identity of who we are. Rather than having an impossibly huge focus, were able to pare it down to a more manageable focus. This becomes even more important because we offer public rituals (Dangler GOH 7). I think it is also important to note that this should not be interpreted to limit anything beyond official ADF rites. Anyone may practice what they will and worship who they will, it just may not be ADF, and that is fine.
4.Describe the Guilds, SIGS, and Kins of ADF in general, their function within the organization, and the goal of the Guild, SIG, and Kin systems. (150 words min. for each type of subgroup)
The purpose of Guilds, SIGs, and Kins within ADF is to provide a place for more specific discussion and training to take place for members. Because Indo-European focus is so broad and the spiritual interests of our members are wide and varied, these sub-groups provide that space to explore more deeply other aspects of our spirituality.
Guilds are meant to provide “study, learning, and training in a particular focus area” (“Subgroup Charter Manual). One of the main tasks of the Guilds is to develop and maintain study programs that aid in training members in their focus areas. These study programs are approved by the Council of Lore, and are most often structured in “circles” of tasks, with each successive circle delving deeper into the subject matter and how it applies to our spirituality. Each Guild has an email list and page on the ADF website to help them support their members and to help those members connect to each and share experiences. For example. the Bardic Guild members create creative pieces as one of the components of their Study Program, and these are then posted to the webpage. Bards are also encouraged to share new works, whether related to the Study Program or not, on the email list. The Guilds will also sometimes offer other services to the wider ADF membership, such as the Seers providing divinations on request, the Healers doing healing work and offering prayers upon request, and the Liturgists writing and reviewing liturgy. Other Guilds include the Artisans, Bards, Brewers, Dancers, Magicians, Naturalists, Scholars, and Warriors.
The Kins are meant to “support ADF members worshipping in a particular Indo-European hearth culture context” (Subgroup Charter Manual). The Kins are part social structure to allow ADF members following a specific hearth the ability to connect via email lists and there website, and part instructional as they help members navigate the waters of how their specific hearth culture fits into ADF as a whole. The Kins develop culturally specific spiritual traditions within ADF, providing a smaller and more intimate worship context. Some things that are done to help this are the sharing of liturgy and household customs that allow members to practice the same way. Many of the Kins have worked to develop culturally specific rites for each of the eight high days (for both solitary and group worship), and have shared these on the website. The Kins will also help support the Guild Study Programs by providing input on how their hearth engaged with the domain of the Guild. The Kin leaders are part of the Council of Lore in part to help with this as it relates to the Guilds’ Study Programs. Beyond suggesting sources and reading material, some examples of this may include how divination was performed within a hearth culture to support the Seers, or how magic was performed within a hearth culture to support there Magicians. The Kins include Aus Dhwer: Eastern Gate Kin (including, but not limited to, the Vedics, the Indo-Iranians, the Tocharians, the Armenians, and the Anatolians), Eldr ok Iss: Kin of Fire and Ice (Northern/Germanic traditions), Tylwyth Y Draig Goch: Red Dragon Clan (Welsh), Oi Asproi Koukouvayies: White Owls Kin (Hellenic), The Slavic Kin, The Roman Kin, Clann nan Gael: the Gaelic Kin (including Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man), and Pontos Proto IE Kin (Proto-Indo European).
The Special Interest Groups (SIGS) are meant to “support ADF members regarding an interest not otherwise in the scope of an existing subgroup” (Subgroup Charter Manual). This may seem rather vague, but it allows the SIGs to form up around basically whatever other practices or interests that inform the spirituality of their members. This ranges from broad commonalities that ADF members may share (Solitaries SIG, American SIG, LGBT SIG, Military SIG), to specific interests that at some point may wish to pursue becoming a Guild (Ecstatic Trance SIG, Sacred Feast SIG, Children’s Education & Parenting SIG), to groups that represent a subset within a hearth (Brigid SIG, Morrigan SIG), to any combination of these or some other special interest. SIGs are often viewed or used as a stepping stone to becoming a Guild or Kin in order to gauge interest, but this is certainly not the purpose, and not all SIGs will want to change their status as a SIG. They are a vibrant and important part of the ADF Subgroup ecosystem. Other SIGs include the Ancient Iberia SIG, Non-English Speakers SIG, Polyamory SIG, Safe Haven SIG, Spirit of the Hunt SIG, and Technopagan SIG.
5.Describe ADF’s official ceremonial calendar, and discuss why it was designed in this way. (200 words min.)
ADF’s official ceremonial calendar follows the eight neo-pagan high days, with the year typically beginning at the November Cross Quarter. These high days are the Solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarters between them. The calendar is detailed in the ADF Constitution and is as follows:
- Cross-Quarter = November 1st
- Solstice = December 21st
- Cross-Quarter = February 1st
- Equinox = March 21st
- Cross-Quarter = May 1st
- Solstice = June 21st
- Cross-Quarter = August 1st
- Equinox = September 21st
Local congregations celebrate these holidays within a two week window, from a week before to a week after the specified date (“ADF Constitution”). This means that a local congregation will have at least one opportunity for public worship about every 6.5 weeks or so. These dates correspond with the generally accepted Neo-Pagan High Day calendar, and because we seek to be part of the Neo-Pagan community, this is an important designation. It is also worth noting that the dates in the ADF Constitution do not attribute names to the High Days, allowing different hearth cultures to celebrate as they feel appropriate, as well as allow for variations in the seasons based on which hemisphere the celebrants are located in.
Another reason it is important to have a recognized calendar is to support our designation in the United States as a 501c3 Church, and partly because of ADF’s mission to provide regular public worship opportunities. One of the characteristics in the United States that help to define a church for tax purposes is that they have “regular congregations” and “regular religious services” (“‘Churches’ Defined”)
6.Compare Isaac’s original “Law, Policy, Tradition, and Customs in ADF” article with how you see ADF today. Describe what is still true and what is no longer accurate in that document. (300 words min.)
My initial reaction to this essay is that very little appears to have changed, which I consider to be a good thing. It means that the core, guiding principles that founded the organization are still shaping the vision of the organization for the future. The continuum of Laws to Customs makes sense, and is still at least generally in practice.
ADF does at times still struggle with finding a middle ground between strict reconstruction and neo-pagan concepts founded in good scholarship. Part of this appears to be because of the dichotomy between the way the ancient pagans did things, and what is still valid and acceptable in our modern world. While I think that it is true that we still suffer from prejudice in regards to what is acceptable in the mainstream, I also think that the vehemence that is portrayed in this article is overstated, and no longer as severe as it once might have been. I am willing to admit, however, that my view on this is likely colored by the fact that I am a Millennial, and as such, my generation, and the people I spend the most time around, are pretty accepting in a live and let live kind of way. I recognize this is not true in all parts of the world, and that various communities will react in various ways to public pagan events. Thus, the point about being aware of how we are perceived based both on what the ancients did, and on how it affects our modern practice, is still valid.
In looking at the examples of the Laws, I’ve found that most these hold true. We still don’t condone human or animal sacrifice in any form, we still don’t condone the use of illegal drugs in ritual space, and discrimination and discriminatory/hateful symbols are still not allowed. I am unsure on prisoner relations, and how becoming an ADF member while a prisoner or former prisoner requires some sort of renunciation of their ways, or what the “probation” mentioned would look like.
In looking at the examples of the Policies, many of these still hold true as well. Notably, that “an ‘official ADF ceremony is one that is either public or semi-public.” This is what holds true for Groves and Proto-Groves, however, Solitaries are still engaging in ADF liturgy when they follow the Core oRder of Ritual, even though their rites aren’t public. Clergy Ordinations (and many Initiations) have been fairly consistently taking place at public festivals, and have public components amongst the Folk. There is still no bloodshed in ADF ritual.
In looking at the examples of the Main Traditions, these are essentially the same. We still have a standard liturgy (the Core Order of Ritual) that, while it has evolved, makes it easy to move from grove to grove and still mesh into the ritual structure. We are still a polytheistic organization, we still have a commitment to good scholarship, we still maintain the same ritual calendar, and we still firmly oppose fraud in the New Age and Pagan communities. The only thing that really stuck out to me as something that does not occur is requiring clergy to be addiction free. This isn’t defined anywhere else, nor are there any stipulations as to how it would be tested.
In looking at the Minor Traditions, I begin to see some distinct changes. We rarely use whiskey as the Waters of Life, or if it is used, water is always offered as an alternative. The ADF Study Program has grown and branched out into multiple programs. There are a few groves that work with local Spirits within the context of ADF liturgy (ex: Shining Lakes Grove working with Ana as their Earth Mother). Things that still hold true are Groves deciding their own hearth focus, some groves collecting dues and renewing memberships, and some groves putting out local publications.
Interestingly, the Customs of ADF also appear to have changed relatively little. Many members wear “Druid Whites” during ritual, and some still keep the custom of holding an all night vigil prior to high day rituals or for specific ritual purposes. The Druid Sigil and ADF logo are still emblazoned on much of our “bling.” There are gatherings and festivals that are open to druid-friendly attendees, and local groves still help out new proto-groves in their area to help them grow.
All in all, while some things have changed over time, a great many of the Laws, Policies, Traditions, and Customs have remained the same. We’re still growing, but also still maintaining a cohesive whole and haven’t strayed too far from the vision of ADF to begin with. (Bonewits “Law, Policy, Tradition, and Custom within ADF”)
7.Describe ADF’s utilization of Dumezil’s “tripartition” and its affect on ADF’s structure, study programs, and the religion of ADF members in general. (200 words min.)
Dumezil divides the people and jobs of ancient Indo-European cultures into three different functions: the magic/religious function, the martial function, and the producer function (Bonewits “Indo-European Paleopaganism and Its Clergy”). When looking at how this division of functions applies to ADF, the most obvious place to see it is within the Guilds and SIGs and their Study Programs (if they have them). For example, the Bardic and Seers Guilds would fill duties of the first function, the Warriors Guild and Spirit of the Hunt SIG would fill duties of the second function, and the Artisans Guild and Sacred Feast SIG would fill duties of the third function. Additionally, the Clergy Training Program and the Initiate Path both operate mainly within the first function. A Priest who is active in the various guild study programs will also be able to specialize into one of the three functions as well (“Vision of the Study Program”). Additional parts of the Study Programs that draw on the concept of the three functions are within the Dedicant Program where the Dedicant is asked to look at the 9 Virtues, where there are three virtues for each of the three functions.
As far as the structure of ADF is concerned, the three functions are not as defined. We seem to acknowledge that they exist within our scholarship, and welcome the place in society that this concept gives our clergy, but don’t focus so much on the details and specifics of each function within the structure of the organization. I think the same holds true for the religion of our membership at large. Dumezil’s theory of tripartition is a fascinating lens through which to view the cultures, myths, and religions of the ancient Indo-Europeans, but does not appear to play a large role in the day to day practice of our religion.
8.Explain the difference between “orthopraxy” religions and “orthodoxy”. Where do you feel ADF falls? (200 words min.)
Orthodoxy is defined as “a belief or a way of thinking that is accepted as true or correct” (“Orthodoxy”). In the context of a religion, it is believing what you are supposed to in order to be a part of that religion. So, while orthodoxy is “right belief,” orthopraxy is “right action.” In the context of religion, orthopraxy is doing the correct actions in order to be a part of that religion.
What this basically means is a correctness in what you believe, versus a correctness in what you do. ADF, and most pagan religions, falls solidly in the orthopraxy category. This reflects the historical context of our religion, where it was the job of the priest to make sure that sacrifices were made at the right times and in the right way (Corrigan “Discussing Pagan Theology). It also reflects the modern context of our religion. Celebrants are not asked to subscribe to a particular belief system, and public rituals are only described based on the actions that are taken in the ritual, not what the beliefs of the practitioners are. Within ADF, we also encourage healthy debate on a variety of topics, but no where is it required to state beliefs on something in order to be a part of ADF.
9.Describe why we make Praise Offerings, how they are made, when they are made, and who they are made to. Be sure to describe this in both solitary practice and in two or more Groves’ practices. (300 words min.)
Praise offerings are made to the Kindreds in order to develop our relationships with them. They build and strengthen the *ghosti bond between the folk and the spirits. They are also made in order to “ wise as much psychic/magical/spiritual power as possible” (Bonewits “Step by Step”). They can be either material offerings or non-material offerings that are made, in some way that takes them out of human use and makes them sacred. During ritual they are often made as the spirits are called.
In Three Cranes Grove we generally have two rounds of praise offerings. The first round is after the Gates are open and the Three Kindreds are called. The folk are then asked if they have brought praise, and are welcomed to bring it forth. Any spirit may be offered to at this point. The second round of praise offerings is specifically to the Deity of the Occasion, and the folk are again asked if they have brought praise immediately following the invocation of that deity. All offerings are typically made by burning something in the Fire, sinking it in the Well, or scattering it about the Tree. Less often offerings are made with only a verbal form of praise.
I also asked Rev. Melissa Hill how Praise Offerings are made in Cedarsong Grove:
How does your Grove make Praise Offerings? When are they made? Who are they made to?
The Praise Offerings in our grove are done in two different ways. Historically in ADF ritual the praise offerings were songs or offerings done by individuals specifically for the DotO. We have split this into two parts. First, after all the kindred and the DotO are invited to our rite and initial offerings have been made, we have a period where individuals can make offerings and speak. However this is not limited to the DotO, but is inclusive of any and all deities or spirits that they would like to make offering to. This inclusiveness allows us to create a moment when all participants can connect to the deities that they feel strongly about, give thanks for personal events in their lives, ask for healing for themselves or loved ones, honor their recent dead, or do any number of ritual actions that they might need a sacred fire to do. After that is done, we do one final offering to the DotO(s) This offering is the second part of the Praise Offering, given specifically to the DotO. It often includes song, dance, or movement as part of it, often we will save the largest or best offering for this end moment.
How do you make Praise offerings in your home practice? When are they made? Who are they made to?
You could argue that every time I make an offering at my home shrine it is a praise offering. Praise is defined as: “the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something.” Any time I make an offering at my shrine that is simply because I enjoy the act of sharing with my deities I would say it is praise. Whenever I am not asking for something, but simply sharing what I have it is praise. However, within the context of ADF terminology, the praise offering is more specifically the offering done at the end of the offering section of the rite just before the omen is taken. It is meant to be the last large bang of mana sent toward the DotO. When I do formal ritual at my home shrine I do perform a praise offering as part of that. Usually it is much simpler than in a public rite, and consists of an invocation and offering or possibly a song or even toning. I focus on opening myself to the transcendent quality of the gods and spirits at this point both to share with them and to ready myself to take the omen.
I also asked Rev. William Ashton how Praise Offerings are made in Mountain Ancestors Protogrove:
How does your Grove make Praise Offerings?
We invite the folk up to the Fire and Well, and they may utilize the open Gates to call out to their gods, dead, and nature-kin, and pour personal offerings. Additionally, if the folk as individuals or families wishes to make direct offering to the Deities of the Occasion, this is the time for that to occur.
When are they made?
After the Deity of the Occasion is offered to.
Who are they made to?
The folk can make offerings to their own personal Kindreds (or to the Deities of the Occasion) during this time of praise and petition; however, in the pre-ritual briefing, we are specific that if one’s patron is a chthonic, trickster, or chaotic deity/being, that their offerings be kept at home at their personal shrines.
I also asked Kristin (a solitary) how she makes Praise Offerings:
Why do you make Praise Offerings?
“Hey you, Being! You are good and awesome!” Normally in ritual to do a nice thing for the Deities, or really any of the Three Kindreds.
How do you make Praise Offerings?
I offer a self-written prayer or poetry. I read or recite it, and then often also make some sort of material offering to go alongside it.
When are they made?
I make offerings “any damn time or place I feel like.”
Who are they made to?
I make them to any deity, or any one of the three Kindreds.
I also asked Amber (a solitary) how she makes Praise Offerings:
Why do you make Praise Offerings?
I make offerings for reasons of hospitality. “When we give to them, hopefully they will give back to us in return.”
How do you make Praise Offerings?
My offerings are typically illuminated self-written poems. I also make offerings in the form of reciting stories, dance, or by putting my own energy into a seasonally appropriate offerings (like grain in the Fall, or flowers in the Spring).
When are they made?
Offerings are made after the gates are open, but before the omen. We shower them with gifts and praise before asking for anything in return.
Who are they made to?
They’re made to the Three Kindreds and whatever separate deity of the occasion there is.
10.Describe ADF’s administrative structure. (150 words min.)
At the top of the ADF hierarchy is the Mother Grove (also known as the Board of Directors), which is made up of the ArchDruid, Vice ArchDruid, Secretary, Member’s Advocate, Chief of the Council of Regional Druids, Chief of the Council of Senior Druids, and four non-officer directors. The Mother Grove appoints other positions within ADF that keep the organization running. These are the Administrator, the Preceptor, and the Treasurer (“ADF Bylaws”).
The ADF Administrator is in charge of making sure that the business of the organization keeps up and running, and as such appoints positions to make that happen, such as the Listmaster, Webmaster, Office Manager, Chronicler, and Store Manager (“ADF Organizational Structure”).
The ADF Preceptor is in charge of overseeing all Study Programs within ADF, and may appoint other individuals to help with that job. This person heads up the Council of Lore (CoL), which votes to approve all ADF Study Programs, and governs all Guilds, Kins, and SIGs. The voting members are all Guild Chiefs, and Guild Preceptors of Guilds whose study programs have been approved by the CoL (“Committees and Councils”).
Other Councils include the Council of Regional Druids (CoRD), the Council of Senior Druids (CoSD), the Clergy Council (CC), the Grove Organizing Committee (GOC), and the Grove Coordinating Committee (GCC). The CoRD is made up of all elected Regional Druids, and is intended to foster the growth of ADF membership within the Regions and deal with Regional issues. The CoSD is made up of all past and present Senior Druids, and is intended to foster the growth of groves, and provide a space for grove leaders to bring up issues relating to the growth and organization of their grove. The CoSD also oversees the GOC and the GCC, which approve new protogroves and groves, and oversee the quarterly reports respectively. The CC is made up of the ArchDruid, the Vice Archdruid, and former ADF ArchDruids, and all current ADF Priests (“Committees and Councils”).
It should be noted that the bulk of the membership are the Folk who are Solitaries, or members of Groves or Protogroves. Anyone may raise a concern through the Member’s Advocate and have that concern reach the applicable person on the Mother Grove if necessary (“ADF Bylaws”).
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