When did you hear the call to the path of ADF Priesthood? What did it sound like?
When I was first considering what direction to go following the approval of my Dedicant Path documentation I waffled for a long while between the Initiate Path and the Clergy Path. I talked to current initiates and priests. I asked questions. I did divination, journaled, and wrote a lot. When I asked the counsel of my gods, it was obvious to me: I needed to do the Initiate work. I didn’t feel ready, and didn’t know that I would ever feel ready, to embark on the path of clergy. I still felt like I had a call for it then, but it was quiet and I questioned whether it was actually there. I wanted to do the Initiate work first. I needed to solidify my own practice before I could truly listen to see if the call was true.
The closer I got to completing the course requirements for the Initiate Path, the more I noticed that as I was growing in my own work, the louder the call was getting, and the more insistent. As my own practice grew, I began seeing places where I could offer my knowledge and skills to those around me. I feel that, next to walking your walk and owning your path, it is imperative to help others walk their path as well. I found myself seeing voids in the community, and they were voids that I could fill. I began leading Full Moon rituals every month, with the focus for those rituals being the magical work that we didn’t really get to do or engage in elsewhere. It was also a place where I have fostered a “no fail” zone. I wanted to help others find their voice, the way I felt like I was finding mine.
As I reached the final months of journaling for the Initiate Path, my call to the work of the priest solidified. It felt just as obvious to me as my initial decision to embark on the Initiate Path first. I knew without a doubt that I needed to first complete that work, and that I could then allow my focus to shift and set my foot upon the path of clergy work. The paths all merge. The work of the Dedicant is the first stream. As it flows along, other rivers join it, bringing with their new waters new inspiration, new knowledge, and wider banks. The Dedicant stream continues to flow strong in the river of my own Druidry, and will always flow in my river as its headwaters. It has been joined by the Initiate Current, which brings a deeper understanding and a deeper level of work. These two rivers flow, their waters mingling, and yet each flowing just as strong, now a single river. As I encounter new waters, like the work of the Clergy, the river will continue to flow, and grow stronger as all the waters mingle. My work as a Dedicant is a constant, ever continuing path, as is my work as an Initiate now, feeding the river. I see the work of a priest the same way: once joined they are ever flowing, becoming just as much an integral part of the river as the other waters.
I want to be a priest because I want to help others on their path, whatever that path may look like to them. I want to provide liturgy to folks who are having trouble coming up with something fitting on their own. I want to provide my knowledge and skills to those who need them. I want to help grow our children in our tradition. I have built my strong foundation, and the pull has intensified. I understand why so many people refer to it as a “Call.”
It is not a loud resounding gong, nor a can I necessarily put my finger on an exact moment that I felt called, but it is a constant and insistent part of my being now. It is a constant ringing in my ears and a constant throbbing in my being. The clergy serve the gods the folk and the land, and that is what I feel drawn towards, pulled towards, called towards. I’ve grown in my understanding of this faith community, and I’ve come to realize that what I want to do and who I want to be can’t be done elsewhere. The sound of the call was when I heard the sound of that need in my community, when people started looking to me in that role, and when I was able to begin seeing myself in that more confident and capable place. When I understood that by becoming an ordained priest I would be able to answer that call and fulfill that need, it felt right. The call encompasses the sounds of multiple melodic lines weaving together in harmony as the gods, the folk, and the land all sing together in my soul.
What form do you expect your vocation to take?
I have been doing a lot of work as an Initiate that has revolves around part of the oath that states “…and with these tools I will lead others to the flame.” My vocation I expect will continue to reflect this work. I will be involved in making Our Druidry accessible to any who seek it. For any who seek the flame, I will act as a guide on their path, aiding where I can, challenging when I need to, and supporting always. I will be involved in the educational programs that we have (in the form of the DP, IP, CTP, and Guild SPs), and with those that are just now blossoming (such as children’s programming, especially locally). I want to help grow ADF into a church that my children can be a part of and feel connected to from a young age. I want to help develop programming that engages our new members, particularly those who are being raised in our traditions. One of the biggest draws to ADF for me is its inclusiveness and family-friendly nature, and I want to help grow that.
There is great joy and potential in the balance that exists within ADF between faith and scholarship, between practice and study. I want to help others see that same joy. I want to help others in ADF blossom in their practice, and should they decide to embark on the course of higher study within ADF, I want to make sure that the coursework is accessible to them in a way that they can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. I want to help others feel capable and confident in adapting their hearth culture and practice into the greater whole that is ADF practice. I want to help others find their voice.
Do you feel prepared to become an ADF Priest now? Do you see further work that you will need to do to prepare yourself for the work ahead?
I feel as ready as I can without having actually set foot on the path yet. I know that I am going to run into obstacles and challenges, but I feel confident that while I won’t be prepared in the sense that the challenge wouldn’t have happened, that I am prepared in that I will be able to work with or around the issues that arise.
There is always work to do, and there is always room for more growth. I don’t think I will ever be done learning and improving. There are always new things to learn, and new things to experiment with. There are specific experiences that I lack, but that I’m not sure can be gained before ordination. I’ve never married anyone, though I witnessed folks declare themselves for each other. I’ve never helped anyone cross the veil, though I’ve sat with those left on this side. I’ve never done conflict resolution from a religious point of view, though I it do it on a regular basis at my job and amongst my friends.
These are life experiences, and I think they simply take time. I cannot say with certainly how I will handle them when the time comes, but I feel that I have been well prepared, and have a solid support network of my own in the form of current Priests and the Kindreds to draw on when I need help or guidance along the way.
Clergy is not all weddings and funerals. It’s not that glamorous or that that clear cut. It’s listening and liturgy. It’s meditation and magic. It’s the interactions and relationships you develop. It’s about the day-to-day work – the hundreds of small differences that you are able to make in the lives of those around you. It’s about fostering a community and growing and tending what you have. It’s about the thousands of minute details and small-scale actions you take each and every day to serve the gods, the folk, and the land. That I am prepared for.
We are all students, and all continually growing beings. There is nothing wrong with, and perhaps even something good about, accepting that the path we walk doesn’t have a clear end and that there is something new around every twist and turn. I am prepared in this sense, because I have faith that I can handle the experiences that are to come with the skills that I have gained along the way.