ADF Election Questions 2019

The ADF Elections are coming up, and while the bios that candidates provide are helpful, they are by necessity too short to truly convey the things the membership would like to know before casting their votes.  To that end I’ve compiled the many questions that folks have asked across social media.  I’ll be sending out the questions to the candidates, and providing their answers here, in a separate post, so that they are all in one place for folks to read.  If you’ve got any last minute questions you want to see added to this list, please send me and email at rev.jan.avende @

Additionally, sometimes it’s hard to know what all these leadership positions actually entail, so I’ve summarized the basics of them below.  To see the full list of descriptions for the Mother Grove officer positions, look here: (you will need to be logged in as a member)

Here’s the list to see who has been nominated thus far:

Continue reading “ADF Election Questions 2019”

ADF Elections: take a chance on someone new

Some thoughts on the upcoming ADF nominations and elections:

While we have groves and protogroves as the backbone of our physical community, solitaries make up the backbone of our online community, which is not only much larger, but also the only community many of our members get. That being said, if you know folks in our online groups who have thoughtful opinions, often seem to be starting or contributing to conversations, and seem like someone whose ideas you agree with: reach out to them and see if they’d be willing to run for an office. We want our leadership to be people who are passionate about ADF Druidry, and those who are active participants in our various groups often are. If everyone waits until they feel recognized enough or experienced enough, we will continue to have the same people in leadership, which leads to stagnation in any organization. A lot of people just need the little push of someone else thinking they would be a good fit to convince them to run.

Additionally, I always encourage diversifying our leadership. Diversity is important, and it doesn’t happen by accident. We have to deliberately cultivate it. We like to think of ourselves as a welcoming and inclusive organization, but we need to walk that talk by encouraging, electing, and supporting our minority members into various leadership positions.

Part of diversifying our leadership also has to do with giving more folks a chance to be involved in leadership. This means encouraging and electing folks to hold only one leadership position, rather than electing some who already holds one or more leadership positions. The more positions a person holds, the more likely things are to fall through the cracks, the more likely certain aspects of a particular job will not be a focus for them. We won’t get new folks in leadership if we keep stacking people into multiple positions and not giving new folks an opportunity to serve. Take a chance on someone new this election cycle.

Once the nomination and election period gets a little more underway there are often folks who put together a series of questions that they ask nominees to answer. Feel free to ask your own questions and listen to the answers that the nominees give. This is a chance to for you get to know them a little better, but more importantly to see if their vision for bringing ADF into the future matches your vision for what you want to see from your church.

Regarding what positions are up for election this year, Rev. Amber Doty has put together a great listing of our organization-level positions:

Ethics 2

1)  Provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide an illustrative example for the term “ethical dilemma” (minimum 100 words, excluding the definition)

An ethical dilemma is a complex situation that requires a choice to be made between multiple options regarding a course of action, and no matter which course of action is chosen, some ethical principle is compromised (Allen).  Essentially, there is no perfect solution to a situation.  There are both absolute and approximate ethical dilemmas.  An absolute ethical dilemma is one where “two or more ethical standards apply to a situation but are in conflict with each other” (Allen).  A conflict between personal and professional ethics is not an absolute or pure ethical dilemma because it involves personal feelings where the rational processes for solving ethical dilemmas can’t be used for conflicts in values.  So, even though situations where professional ethics and personal values collide are difficult and uncomfortable, they are not absolute ethical dilemmas, but rather approximate dilemmas (Allen).  This means that in order to have a pure or absolute ethical dilemma a situation must require a decision to be made between two conflicting ethical standards from our Clergy Council Code of Ethics.  A situation that presents a conflict between the Clergy Council Code of Ethics and our own Personal Code of Ethics would be an approximate ethical dilemma at best.

I’ve experienced both absolute and approximate ethical dilemmas within the field of education.  When a student confides abuse to me, I am required by state law as well as standard 3.e in the “Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators” to make an official report.  However, standard 5.a in that same Code of Conduct also forbids sharing confidential student information, which is needed to make the report (Ohio Dept. of Education).  Because there is a conflict in the ethical standards put forth in the Code of Conduct for Educators with this situation, it is an absolute ethical dilemma.  There is also an approximate ethical dilemma present in this situation if I fear for the safety of the student if I make the report.  However, the Code of Conduct, as well as the overall continued safety of the child depend on making an accurate report, and thus while both conflicts in ethics and values technically present ethical dilemmas, for me this was not a particularly difficult decision.

2)  Identify, list and briefly explain the steps to a “Problem Solving Process.” Process steps may vary in style depending on student preference and source. (minimum 100 words each step; citation of source for process required)

Many problem-solving processes are similar in their layout of steps to take.  The problem solving process presented by the Global Development Research Center has six steps (Srinivas), as explained below:

1) Define the Problem – The first step is to define what the actual, specific problem is.  This requires those that are involved in the problem solving process to focus in on what the problem is.  When you write down the problem, you are creating a check you can use throughout the rest of the process.  This is also useful for those working through the problem and possible solutions to be sure that they are remaining focused on the problem at hand, and not off shoot or unrelated other problems.  By writing down the problem you are focusing on, you then have a statement you can come back to ensure you’re coming up with as many solutions as possible and that they relate directly to the problem.

2) Analyze the Problem – The next step in the problem solving process is to analyze the problem. This can take a couple of forms, all of which are important.  One analysis should look at the root cause of the problem.  By examining this, you are looking at base issues which may be feeding into the specific issue at hand, and you will also be examine base issues to ensure that the problem won’t repeat itself in another form.  Depending on what you find in this step, you may want to go back to step 1 and redefine your problem.  Another aspect to analyzing the problem is that you want to know what kind of environment the problem exists in, because that will determine what kind of solutions are viable.  This is also the step where you will come up with criteria with which you can evaluate the possible solutions you will come up with in the next steps.

3) Brainstorm Solutions – After cycling through steps 1 and 2, and perhaps revisiting step 1 a number of times in order to determine what the actual problem you’re focusing on is, you will then begin the process of brainstorming solutions.  The important note for this step is that this is not where you will be evaluating their merits, how well they may work, whether they’re viable, whether you like them, or choosing which possible solution to attempt at all.  This is the step where your goal is to come up with as many ways to solve the problem as possible, as off-the-wall as some of them may be.  I would even say that a few off-the-wall ideas are good, because they will encourage thinking outside the box and creativity in the brainstorming process.

4) Analyze Solutions – This next step is similar to step 2, except that you’ll be looking at each of the solutions you brainstormed, rather than the problem you came up with.  This is the step where you will take a close look at each possible solution and define its good and bad points.  You will examine where the places are where it could work well, and where the places are where it has some weaknesses or possibilities for failure.  At this point you are still not yet picking which solution you will use, but rather are examining each individually on it’s own merits.  You may find that this step may circle back around to step 3 as you see specific ways that a solution could be improved.

5) Pick a Solution – In this step you finally go about evaluating each individual solution and ranking them based on usefulness and likelihood that they will work to solve the problem.  This can be done with a yes/no system, a weighted voting system, gut and intuition, or some combination of those.  When you rank all your possible solutions you end up with a smaller list of those you may want to implement.  If you still have too many, it may be worthwhile to refine your ideal requirements so that you end up with less possible solutions to work with.  Ultimately you’ll end up with no, one, or many possible solutions.

6) Plan the Next Steps – In this last step in the problem solving process you’ll be working with the possible solutions you came up with in the previous step.  If you didn’t come up with any working solutions in the previous step, you’ll need to back to at least step 3 and brainstorm more solutions, if not all the way back to step 1 and redefine what your actual problem is.  If you have one or more solutions, you’ll want to decide which solution you’ll try to implement first, and then write out the actual steps for making that happen.  It may include deciding what materials and personnel you need, as well as timeframes for certain things to happen in, and checking each step along the way to be sure it has been done and things are still on track for solving.

3)  Provide the following information for each of the situations described below.

  1. a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum);  b) Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum);  c)Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

Question 3: Situation 1

It is a long-standing tradition within your Grove to pass the Waters of Life using a single vessel for high day celebrations. Your group has always been small and the group at large prefers alcoholic Waters of Life, which is the plan for this high day event. Prior to the beginning the ritual pre-briefing you become aware that several new individuals are in attendance. One of these individuals discusses with a member of your Grove that they learned of your event from a poster in a local Unitarian Universalist Congregation where they attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that there may be those present at a ritual who do not drink, or who do  not wish to be pressured to drink.  In our grove we’ve already taken into account this kind of situation to help avoid it.  In general, we simply don’t use alcohol of any variety as the Waters of Life.  Not only do the spaces we rent prohibit alcohol, we also don’t want to put anyone in this type of situation, whether or not we suspect a recovery status or not.  In order to be welcoming to all, including those in recovery and to families and children, we simply don’t use alcohol in the Return Flow.  Other possible solutions to this situation are to offer both alcohol and water in separate vessels, allowing each person to determine which one they will take.  Another possible option would be to explain the various methods of ‘taking in’ the blessing.  At sumbels it is common to hear an explanation that you may drink from the horn, kiss the horn, or pour out a libation on the ground.  All are acceptable.  If we offered options that included alcohol in a ritual, I would be sure to always take a non-alcoholic option to ensure that the folk knew that it was acceptable in practice, and not just in words, to do so.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

There are two main ways my personal Code of Ethics supports my resolution to not offer alcohol as the Waters of Life.  First, because “I will be kind to others” that means that I will ensure that all have the safest space possible in which to experience a relationship with the Kindreds.  This means removing the pressure and stigma of alcohol.  Second, because “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law, I will not violate the regulations of the spaces that we rent for our rituals (Avende).  In the Clergy Council Code of Ethics, under Integrity, the Priest has a “responsibility to promote inclusivity,” and as such, I think to be inclusive both to those in recovery and to families, we need to allow for changing circumstances that may necessitate us using non-alcoholic beverages for the Waters of Life (ADF Clergy Council).

 c) Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

This is neither a difficult decision for me, nor is it an ethical dilemma.  Not only do I feel that I have a moral imperative to ensure that I make reasonable accommodations for all ritual attendees in order to ensure that they all have the ability to experience joy and a relationship with the Kindreds, my personal Code of Ethics specifically supports the decision to use a non-alcoholic option in this case, and the ADF Clergy Council Code of ethics empowers me to use my best judgment to make this decision.  This is neither an approximate nor an absolute ethical dilemma.

Question 3: Situation 2

While meeting with a couple to plan a hand-fasting ritual you have been asked to facilitate, you notice one of the partners continually makes all of the decisions concerning the ceremony and refuses to let his/her partner participate in the discussion. When you encourage the silent partner to participate the other individual becomes obviously agitated. You notice several bruises on the silent partner legs and arms and he/she appears afraid to express any thoughts and ideas. Following the discussion, you receive a phone call from the silent partner apologizing for the conduct of his/her partner. The wedding is a month away and the couple has written an oath for the ceremony that professes a desire for a healthy relationship and equal partnership. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that presumably one of the partners is being physically, and also perhaps emotionally, abused by the other.  When I analyze this problem, I find that it is outside both my skill set and comfort zone to address the issues at hand.  My response after speaking with the couple would likely be to inform them that I was unavailable on their preferred wedding date, and to refer them to the other local ADF priest in the community who I know has a better ability to cope with this situation than I do.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

The decision to refer this particular situation on to a fellow priest within my own ethics comes from a place of integrity.  When I am a “responsible and independent person” it means that I know my own skill sets and my own limits, and do my best to not exceed those limits.  When I “am loyal” it means that when I don’t know, or in this case, can’t do, something, I will find someone who can (Avende).  The decision to refer this particular situation on to a fellow priest within the Clergy Council ethics comes from the concept of *ghosti and the concept of Competency.  Because a priest may refuse service to anyone, and “will make every reasonable effort to refer the individual to other options for that service,” I will refer to a fellow priest who I believe has the skill set to manage the situation.  I will do so because I recognize that I have strengths and weaknesses and that I will “work within those realizations” (ADF Clergy Council).

c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

While this is a difficult decision for me because I feel like I want to be able to help, it is not in fact an ethical dilemma because both my personal Code of Ethics and the Code of Ethics for the Clergy Council require me to not handle a case that is outside of skill set when I have the ability to refer the case to one who is better qualified and I have a reasonable expectation that they could help.  Because the Clergy Council Code of Ethics specifically allows for a Priest to refuse services, particularly as long as they refer the client to someone else, this solution to the situation is not an ethical dilemma, despite being a difficult decision requiring me to know myself well.

Question 3: Situation 3

You are facilitating a children’s activity concerning the 9 virtues and the Kindred for your Grove. A ten-year old child approaches you during the activity and says, “Can I tell you a secret?” You let the child talk and he tells you that his stepmother, who is an active member of your Grove, doesn’t follow the virtues or care about the Kindred. You ask him why he believes this and he tells you, “Because if she did she wouldn’t hurt me!” Once more you ask the child what he means and he shows you a horseshoe-shaped belt mark on his back and says, “Don’t tell anyone.” The father and stepmother are in the next room at an adult workshop. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that there is child abuse occurring, specifically that it is occurring within my religious community.  The only acceptable solution to this problem is to make a report to Child Protective Services.  The fact that I suspect abuse at all means that I am obligated to make a report both by my own ethics and by law.  Possible methods could involve making the report immediately with the child in the room, or waiting until the meeting is over and making the report after.  From experience and training in education, the process I would follow would be to inform the child that I am there to support them, that I believe them, and that this requires me to report the suspicion to children’s services. I would not inform the parents that I was making the report, because I do not have the expertise on dealing with safety of the child once the parents know, whereas Children’s Protective Services does.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

The decision to make a report to Children’s Protective Services fits with my personal Code of Ethics because “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law (Avende).  I am a mandated reporter according to Ohio Law, and as such, if I suspect abuse, I am obligated to report it.  Relatedly, the decision to make a report to Children’s Protective Services in response to this situation fit with the Clergy Council Code of Ethics because according to the principle of *ghosti “privileged communications … are considered confidential information … subject to limitation only by … applicable law” (ADF Clergy Council).   Again, because I am a mandated reporter, even though the child asked me not to tell anyone, I am required by law to report the suspicion.

 c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

Because my personal Code of Ethics contains a point stating that “I will be loyal” and goes on to explain that “I will maintain the confidence of those who have trusted me to hold space with them” but also states that “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law (Avende), along with the clause in the Clergy Council Code of Ethics that contradicts my own confidential point with it’s exceptions, this is technically an approximate ethical dilemma because it points out a discrepancy between my professional and personal ethics.  Nevertheless, it is not a difficult decision for me.  If for some reason I didn’t believe that reporting child abuse was in the best interest of the child, perhaps it would be a difficult decision in addition to being an approximate ethical dilemma, but as I believe my reporting provides the best support and safety for the child, and follows the law, the decision for me to report is easy.

Question 3: Situation 4

A young woman from your local Neo-Pagan community contacts you and expresses a desire to attend your Grove’s upcoming high day; however, she explains that she is in a wheel chair and has an uncontrolled seizure disorder. Another local Neo-Pagan group had explained to this individual that they were unable to accommodate her needs at this time. The young woman plans to bring her personal care attendant with her, but the attendant is opposed to Neo-Pagan beliefs and does not want to actually participate in the service and plans to wait outside the ritual area. Your regular outside ritual space is not readily handicap accessible and the ritual is planned for this outdoor space. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that the ritual space does not meet the woman’s needs.  This is an issue of accessibility.  Possible solutions may include telling the woman that we can’t accommodate her needs, moving or rearranging the current ritual space, or telling the woman that on this short notice we don’t have the ability to accommodate her needs, but will need time to make the space accessible to her wheelchair and invite her to the next public ritual.  While the second option is the best option, if the space is already not handicap accessible, the likelihood of our Grove being able to make it so without switching locations on short notice (near impossible to do in our parks system) is very unlikely.  Therefore, the most likely solution for this situation is to discuss with the woman what specific accessibility needs she has (ramps, distance from parking lot, etc.) and arrange for those accommodations to be made at the next ritual.  Even if this particular woman does not show up again, it is an important modification to make regardless.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

My own personal Code of Ethics relates to my resolution regarding this situation in a couple of ways.  First, “I will lead others to the flame” means in part that I will do what I am able to do in order to ensure that all can experience the relationship they desire with the Kindreds.  Second, “I will be kind to someone.” This situation goes beyond mere kindness in my opinion and is more akin to civil rights.  Being kind means that I will grant all basic human rights to individuals, and this means as a Priest I should provide access to a person’s desire to experience this spirituality as much as I am able (Avende).  My decision relates to the Clergy Council Code of Ethics in multiple aspects.  Under Service, “The Priest has a responsibility to provide service to the Folk.”  This does not specify which Folk are worthy of expending the effort to provide service.  Additionally, the Clergy Council Code of Ethics specifically focuses on non-discrimination, stating “The Priest has a responsibility to promote inclusivity, diversity, and non-discrimination; additionally, our clergy should promote the respect, self-worth, and dignity of individuals” (ADF Clergy Council).  This means that we have a duty to make an attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for all members and potential members of our community.

c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

This is not an ethical dilemma because it doesn’t conflict with either my personal Code of Ethics or with the Clergy Council Code of Ethics.  This may be a difficult situation, depending on what kind of accommodations are needed, and it may be an awkward conversation with both the woman, and perhaps with her non-Pagan caretaker, but it is not an ethical dilemma.  Every person has a right to pursue the spiritual path that they feel called to, and they have a right to expect reasonable accommodation to be made for that if they have a disability.  It may take some work and some time to figure out how to meet those needs, but it is not an ethical dilemma. 

Works Cited

ADF Clergy Council. “ADF Clergy Council Code of Ethics.”, Ár nDraíocht Féin, 9 Oct. 2011, Accessed 13 Sept. 2016.

Allen, Karen, Ph.D, LMSW. “What Is an Ethical Dilemma?”, 22 Dec. 2013, Accessed 12 Sept. 2016.

Avende, Rev. Jan. “Thoughts on Virtues and Ethics.” Mist to Open. Mists to Bind, 4 Sept. 2015, Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

“Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators.” Ohio Department of Education, 11 Mar. 2008, Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Srinivas, Hari. “The Problem Solving Process.” The Problem Solving Process, The Global Development Research Center, Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

The Lay of Thrym

Alright, while I am typically known for my work in Hellenic polytheism, when a group under the pagan umbrella spews hate based on race and gender identity, speaking out against that is imperative.  I say not here.  Not in my house.

The Asatru Folk Assembly posted earlier this week:

“Today we are bombarded with confusion and messages contrary to the values of our ancestors and our folk. The AFA would like to make it clear that we believe gender is not a social construct, it is a beautiful gift from the holy powers and from our ancestors. The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children. The children of the folk are our shining future and the legacy of all those men and women of our people back to the beginning.”

Again, not in my house.  If we don’t stand against this type of of hate and vitriol, then our silence makes us complicit.  A line is drawn in the sand, and if we won’t condemn this, take a stand, and clearly state that this is not who we are, any of us under this pagan umbrella, any of us under this human umbrella, then we are complicit.  If we don’t pick which side we stand on in these cases, our side will be chosen for us by what we don’t say.

I believe in a “come as you are” religion.  My fire is big enough, and bright enough, for all who wish to worship the gods.  I will openly denounce those who spread hate, who seek to impinge on the human rights of others, and I will stand beside those who are victims of hate and help to make space for them.

Mythology is ripe with examples of gods and heroes who were themselves, through and through, and didn’t let who they are, or the way they presented, effect their actions or their acceptance of their worshippers.  Zeus, Hermes, Herakles, Athena all come to mind.

The AFA is a Norse group (I state that affiliation loosely, so as not to offend any of my Heathen compatriots), and so the myth that I find particularly pertinent is The Lay of Thrym.  Thor loses Mjölnir to the giant Thrym, who demands to marry Freyja in order for it to be given back.  Freya says “Fuck that! Thor, you messed it up, so you go fix it!” Thor and Loki end up dressing as Freyja and her handmaiden to go marry Thrym.  How’s that half-giant/half-Aesir cross dressing Thunderer for a”masculine gentleman”?

When Thor was getting Mjölnir back, was he a "masculine gentleman"?

If you are a Norse pagan, looking for an inclusive home, I’d encourage you to check out The Troth as a Heathen group, and ADF as an Indo-European group.  Both have explicit statements of inclusivity as part of their governing documents.

“A Voice at The Fire: Invitations To The Spirits” Workshop Outline

“A Voice at The Fire: Invitations To The Spirits”

Speaking Praise Offerings and Invitations to the Three Kindreds is a vital part of our practice as Druids and pagans.  In this writing workshop learn to craft your own invitations to the Kindreds for use in your personal practice, or in small group ritual.  We will work with descriptive language, poetic forms, and other literary devices when writing.  The workshop will conclude with a short blessing ritual where each person will have the opportunity to take the invitation they have written, speak it before the fire and the spirits, and make offerings.
The full workshop may be viewed on the Three Cranes Grove, ADF YouTube Channel:

 Workshop Notes:

Writing Invitations to the Kindreds

  • Invocation – Beings Within (think “Drawing Down” and “Horsing”)
  • Evocation – Beings Without (Inviting to be present at the ritual)

Memorize bookends & formulas if possible

Hey, you’re a god!

Here’s why you’re awesome!

We’re honoring you on this day.

Here’s your offering.

It’s appropriate to give to you for this celebration because Reasons.

Here’s how it is given to you and how you receive it.

Yay, god! Take your gift!

Types of Prayers:

  • Praise
  • Petitions
  • Love
  • Focus
  • Thanks
  • Forgiveness

Types of Rituals:

  • Solitary (1) -private
  • Small Group (2-10) – intimate; everyone knows what’s going on; everyone welcome to speak
  • Medium Group (11-30)– some may be unfamiliar with what is going on; most people still welcome to speak
  • Large Group (31+) – many may be unfamiliar with what is going on; speaking parts generally scripted; praise offerings welcomed, but perhaps not in verbal form
  • Extra Large Group (70+) – celebrants guiding/leading; may be the only ones who are speaking or know what’s going on; praise offerings sometimes welcomed, rarely in verbal form

Literary Devices & Descriptive Language:

Excellent book is Writing With Stardust by Liam O’Flynn

  • Active verbs
  • 3×3 descriptions
  • epithets
  • extended metaphor
  • parallel structure

Write Your Own:



Short Devotional:

Full COoR; parts divided amongst participants

The *ghosti of Our Own Druidry

Five Gifts

Reciprocity is an essential component to walking the path of Our Own Druidry.  This is familiar to many of us in the context of ritual: we give gifts to the Spirits that we may build a relationship with them, and receive their gifts in turn.  This relationship of reciprocity is also important in how we interact with each other and with our community as a whole.  A healthy community is supported by the gifts of its folk so that it may then support each of those individuals.  There are many ways to engage in this *ghosti relationship.  Many ways to give, and many ways to receive.  We can give the Gift of Prayer.  We can give the Gift of Inspiration.  We can give the Gift of Community.  We can give the Gift of Wealth.  We can give the Gift of Service.  The more we strive to share these Gifts, the stronger our community will grow, and the more fulfilled we will be in Our Own Druidry.

The Gift of PrayerRta.  We maintain right action and right relationship with the Gods and Spirits.  It is important work to ensure that the proper sacrifices are made at the proper times.  We write liturgy and lead rituals.  We know the cycles and seasons, and we keep the High Days.  We pray on behalf of those who need and request it. When we commune with the Kindreds and engage in a *ghosti relationship with them, we are giving the Gift of Prayer and upholding the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Inspiration– Lead others to the flame.  We give workshops and create teaching materials.  We do community outreach and explain our beliefs to the curious.  We welcome those seekers of the Old Ways into our path.  When we ignite the fire within others that they may walk the path of Our Own Druidry, we are giving the Gift of Inspiration and brightening the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Community – One fire.  One hearth.  Our community with each other is what makes us strong.  We embody the spirit of Hospitality.  We can give the gift of community by being present and thoughtful in our online pagan communities, by attending and participating in our local pagan communities, and by being a listening ear and a sounding board to others in our community.  When we are consistently present in the lives of those practicing Our Own Druidry, we are giving the Gift of Community and being part of the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Wealth – Wealth that is hoarded is not wealth at all.  This is a common theme across our Indo-European Hearth Cultures.  When we give of our wealth, our tangible resources, we are manifesting the essence of “movable wealth.”  Do ut des.  “I give so that you may give” means that as we give in support of our community, they in turn will be able to give in support of us.  When we give of our monetary resources, we are giving the Gift of Wealth and supporting the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Service– Everyone in ADF is an expert at something.  Everyone has a talent or skill that can benefit others.  Sharing our special knowledge and our time is something that everyone can do.  There are many tasks in the work of Our Own Druidry that just require someone to donate their time, or their specific skill set, to see a task through.  We help set-up and tear-down ritual space.  We organize potlucks and take dishes home to wash.  We schedule and attend meetings.  We hold an office in a grove or subgroup.  We review coursework.  When we share our talents and our time, we are giving the Gift of Service and contributing to the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

Five Gifts: Prayer, Inspiration, Community, Wealth, and Service.  These are ways that we can give of ourselves to support the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.  In sharing these things we will find that we are given great blessings in return as our community is strengthened, we are valued and supported, and the path of Our Own Druidry is brightened.

Theater for Ritual 1

1) Describe the origins of theatre and how it relates to ritual in at least one ancient Indo-European culture. (300 words minimum)

We don’t have too much direct evidence of early theater, but from what sources remain, mainly wall paintings and other artifacts, we can surmise that theater began as a way to relate events and stories that the culture considered important to preserve.  The relation of stories and events was cyclical in ancient cultures, and as the actions of the storytellers, or ritualists, were carried out, so was the actual act within our world manifested.  Thus, these ceremonies where experiences were related were also a way of making sure those experiences would happen, such with a hunting ritual echoing the desired outcome of the hunt.  “These actions moved from habit, to tradition, and then on to ceremony and ritual.” Then, as ritual and theater became entwined, as the ceremonies and stories began to be valued for their entertainment, and as the rehearsal and repetition of the stories continued to grow, they moved more towards what we see as the basis for modern theater, as seen in Ancient Greece and other Indo-European cultures (Robinson).


Within Ancient Greece, theater, ritual, and myth were well entwined, and drama itself became a way to honor Dionysos, one of the Greek gods, particularly during Dionysia ta astika, the City Dionysia.  During this festival one of the big things that would happen was a competition of various dramatic works.  It should be noted that the temple for Dionysos in Athens was within the theater precinct, indicating a distinct overlap in the use of theater and ritual.  The plays that were performed “were never secular entertainment but always taught piety, morality and moderation, and the comedies afforded the poet a chance to make political statements that might not otherwise have been tolerated” (M, Sean). Interestingly, this was a festival that foreigners, outsiders, were able to take part in, whereas many of the civic celebrations in Ancient Greece were reserved for citizens and their families.  Civic religion in Ancient Greece was notably separated from household worship, but in the case of ritual, the civic festivals contained elements of theater so that they would be accessible to all citizens within the city.  The ritual honoring Dionysos came first, and was only later that this became an event more focused on entertainment, and thus, theater. We see this in the festivals like Dionysian ta astika where the entertainment that grew out of them was informed by the rituals that were their foundation.


2) Explain “intentional movement” and why it is important in ritual. Include how movement can both aid and detract from the ritual experience. (100 words minimum)

Intentional movement in the context of ritual is when all movements, from small gestures to full body movement, are performed with intent and focus.  This means that when you gesture in ritual you only do so if it’s necessary, and you make the movement complete, rather than half-attempted, or half-hearted.  This lends confidence and authority to your speech and any magical actions you may be making, and helps the audience focus on your words and better direct their own energy to the task at hand. It can also help solidify the look of a ritual, and get all celebrant and ritualists in the same headspace, if all celebrants are making the same gestures and motions.   For example, if you include a gesture when praying to the Shining Ones, such as raising your arms, raise them completely into position, and be willing and able to hold that position for the whole invocation.  Don’t be surprised if many of the other celebrants and Folk copy your motions. Likewise, when you move in ritual, you should only move when necessary to get from point A to point B, such as to make an offering or take the Waters around to the Folk.  When gesture and movement are not intentional, this has a number of effects, including making the ritual and ritualist look unpolished and unsure of themselves, as well as distracting the Folk gathered and thus disrupting the flow of energy in the ritual (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).


3) Explain your understanding of the circles of concentration. (200 words minimum)

The Circles of Concentration, as Rev. Thomas describes, are about finding a focus in ritual in order to both lead and experience a better ritual in terms of energy and logistics.  There are four circles that exist in a ritual with more than one or two people.  The first circle encompasses the self.  The focus on this level is all about your own awareness (where you are, what you’re saying, etc.), and being able to continue to act without giving in to the critic that is babbling away in the back of your mind about all the things you might be doing wrong.  I would also say that the focus on the self in this first circle is important to maintain the self, especially in the face of doing intense trance or magical work, where the boundaries between what is you, and what is another may blur (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).

The second circle encompasses not only the self, but also the other celebrants in the rite.  The focus on this level is about staying aware of the other celebrants for logistical purposes, but also feeling connected to them on an energetic level so that you are able to work in harmony with each other.  This harmony between all the celebrants leads to a more fulfilling rite both amongst themselves, and for the ritual attendees (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).

Which brings us to the third circle, which encompasses not only the self and the other celebrants, but also the Folk.  The focus on this level is about being attuned to the Folk.  Can they hear? Can they see? Are they engaged?  This is the circle that I often refer to as the “Bardic Lasso.”  When I am acting in the role of Bard for a rite, it is not simply the person who brings the lyrics to pass out and leads the songs.  The Bard is the person who is intimately aware of the energy level and engagement of the Folk, and helps to hold everyone together in the ritual, and bring the energy level up and down as needed throughout the rite (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).

The fourth circle encompasses not only all the human players at a rite, but also the otherworldly participants, the spirits.  The focus on this level is where the purpose of the rite often is: feeling a connection with the spirits.  A strong fourth circle will allow the celebrant to effectively call to a spirit, and as they see the spirit approach, because they are still connected to the second and third circles, so too will the other celebrants and the Folk.  This allows everyone present at the ritual to feel that connection (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).


4) Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the three ritual configurations (proscenium, thrust, and round). Note how a ritualist can maximize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages of each configuration. Offer at least one type of ritual that would work best in each configuration. (100 words min. for each configuration)

The three types of ritual configurations are proscenium, thrust, and round.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each configuration.

A proscenium configuration is where the audience is arranged in rows facing a (often raised) stage.  This is the configuration that Three Cranes Grove uses in our Dublin Irish Festival Lughnassadh Rite, which typically draws between 300 and 400 people.  Some advantages that make this the configuration that makes the most sense, particularly for this ritual, are that the majority of the audience has no problem seeing the celebrants, and since we are mic’ed, hearing us as well.  Some disadvantages to this configuration are the possibility of being accidentally upstaged by another celebrant who is onstage as they move or fidget, as well as the distance from the celebrants to the audience lessening the energy flow between the two and a decrease in the interactiveness on the part of the audience.  Another disadvantage that we’ve had to account for by having rehearsals is the stage size and amount of celebrants with speaking parts.  When the stage is small, only so many people can be active celebrants in order to minimize time between parts.  We also have to rehearse movement and blocking so that everyone knows where they should be, and how to get from Point A to Point B when they have to move (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).

A thrust configuration is where three sides of the ritual space have audience members, and the altar typically takes up the fourth side, pushed slightly forward.  This is the configuration we use for the vast majority of our public rituals in Three Cranes Grove.  One advantage is that when a celebrant has to speak they can put their back either to the altar or to the fourth side, so that no audience members are behind them.  We often stand in front of the altar for all speaking parts that don’t requiring working at the altar, such as taking the Omen or working the Return Flow.  This could be a disadvantage, and does require awareness on the part of the speaking celebrant that they don’t turn to make an offering as they are still speaking because this turns their back to a portion of the audience while they are still talking, and thus those people can’t easily hear them.  There is also the advantage to this configuration as it relates to energy flow and participation of the audience.  The audience can feel a part of the action (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).

A round configuration is where the action and speaking all happens within the center of a circle (or egg shape, as a lot of our “rounds” end up being).  This is the configuration we use in a lot of the semi-public and private rituals, such as members-only Druid Moon rites, at Three Cranes Grove.  When we set up this space it is most often outside, and the fire is at the center.  If we have a more formal altar, it is either at the center near the fire or off to one side of the ritual space.  Because this space has a lot of disadvantages as far as the audience being able to effectively hear or see what is going on, we rarely use it for larger rites, and try to stick to rite where all the audience members are intimately familiar with the ritual structure and often will all have some part that requires participation as well. The advantages we experience using this space is that each person is a part of the action, and in these smaller rites, folks can make personal offerings to the Kindreds from all sides of the fire without the awkwardness that often happens with folks waiting in line to approach the fire.  I find this configuration is also extremely useful in magical work because the energy flow is so much better.  The person who is leading the magical working stands at the center to direct (both the folk and the energy), making sure to turn their head and body as needed so all in the circle can see and hear (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).


5) Choose a being of the occasion appropriate to a specific high day of your choosing and describe a theatrical method of conveying the mythology of that being to others during a public performance. (300 words minimum)

For Three Cranes Grove Spring Equinox Rite in 2015, we chose to honor the Vedic Gods, specifically Indra.  Indra is a Thunder-God, and the being that won the Waters for the Folk in Vedic Lore.  We get many spring thunderstorms in Central Ohio (along with the occasional tornado, derecho, and general rainy weather), and as such Indra seemed like a deity that many could find a connection with, even if they did not follow the Vedic Gods in particular.  The story of Winning the Waters is one that is not only common across Indo-European cultures, but also essential to our understanding of the Waters of Life within ADF.  This meant that the Folk were already familiar with the idea of these Blessed Waters being given to us by the Shining Ones, and that they could make connections of that winning of Waters to their own gods.

Because we’ve been working on incorporating children’s programming into every ritual, and because the Vedic mythology is not something that many in our community are familiar with (most leaning Celtic or Norse in their practice), this was an excellent opportunity to tell this story in a way that involved the children of our Grove as well as was easily understandable by all attendees.  To this end I wrote a short play with three main parts, and a selection of other less involved or optional parts, to tell the story of Indra winning the Waters during the Return Flow section of the ritual. I kept the lexile (reading level) of the play low in order to help the children learn their lines and to make it easier for everyone to understand.  I referred to the Rig Veda (1.32) when writing the text in order to pull lore-specific imagery in to the text.  (I have included the text of the playlet below.)

The ritual was performed in the thrust configuration, and thus so was the play itself.  The audience was arrayed in a general arch shape around the altar and the performers.  This made it fairly easy for everyone to see and hear, though we did have to account for some rather strong winds, and make an extra effort to speak loudly and clearly.  The part of Indra and Vrtra were played by two of our older children, and they rehearsed their lines beforehand, and were quite confident.  I was the officiant for this ritual, and employed the Circle of Concentration in this role.  It was imperative, particularly because not only was I telling the story, but I was also working the magic for the Return Flow.  Thus, I was aware of myself in my speaking role, aware of the children performing alongside me, aware of the folk watching the ritual, and aware (very keenly) of Indra as the Waters were infused with the blessings we received.  It took a lot of concentration and a lot of energy to be able to old all of that energy and focus together, but I also felt it worked extremely well for relating the mythology of Indra winning the Waters and performing the magic of the Return Flow.

“Indra Wins the Waters”

This playlet was written for the children’s programming for Three Cranes Grove 2015 Spring Equinox Ritual honoring Indra.

 Lexile: 680L (late 3rd grade, early 4th grade reading level)


OFFICIANT: The person who is doing the Return Flow portion of the Ritual

INDRA: The Vedic Storm God

VRTRA: The Dragon

CELEBRANTS: The folk at the ritual

STORM-BRINGERS: sounds of the storm (can be the same as the CELEBRANTS if needed)

Optional Cast:

DRAGONS: Vrtra’s family

SACRED COWS: to represent the Waters and Blessings

*following the Seer’s pronouncement of a positive Omen*

OFFICIANT: These are indeed good omens.

OFFICIANT: But you should know that until Indra won the Waters for us, we could not have received these blessings because Vrtra the Dragon hoarded them all for himself and his family.

OFFICIANT: Here is Vrtra now, and he is holding onto [omen], [omen], and [omen].

VRTRA: These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: But the people wanted the blessings too, and they knew only the mighty Indra could help them now.  So they called out with one voice: “Indra, Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: Listen: Do you hear him coming?  Here comes Indra the Storm-Bringer!

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers as Indra enters the stage*

OFFICIANT: In the thundering clouds with his lightning bolt in hand, Indra demands:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: Vrtra roars mightily and retorts:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: And the people knew Vrtra was going to hold onto those gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] with all of his might.  So they again called out: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: And Indra heard their plea and prepared to do whatever was necessary to win the waters for the people.  He again shouted to Vrtra:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: But Vrtra again roared his denial and shrieked:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: Indra grew angry that Vrtra wouldn’t share the blessings with everyone, and as his anger grew, so too did the sound of the storm.

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers*

OFFICIANT: The people knew now was the moment.  Now was the time to give Indra all their support.  And so they called out one final time: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: The storm rumbled as Indra went into battle with the mighty Vrtra, his lightning bolt held high.  With a flash he struck down Vrtra with his lightning bolt.  The Dragon bellowed as he fell.

OFFICIANT: The waters, the blessings, the gifts were now free.  The mighty Indra won them away from Vrtra the Dragon and brought them to us.

*INDRA brings Waters to OFFICIANT*

OFFICIANT: These Waters are infused with the blessings of [omen], [omen], and [omen].  “Behold! The Waters of Life!”

OFFICIANT: As these Waters are poured out for each of us, remember how they were won for us, and how we sing the praises of the Storm God who won them.

OFFICIANT: See how the gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] can flow into our lives.  See how they can flow into our grove.  See how they can flow into our community.  See how you and the world can be renewed and rejuvenated by these Waters so courageously won and freely given.

OFFICIANT: Drink deep, Children of Earth, and be blessed!


6) Explain how you would prepare and deliver three of the following pieces for public performance, and include an audio or video clip of your performance of each. (50 words min. each explanation) 

Audio for all 3 pieces:

 a) Strong meter and strong rhythm: selection 1

Ye who love the haunts of Nature,

Love the sunshine of the meadow,

Love the shadow of the forest,

Love the wind among the branches,

And the rain-shower and the snow-storm,

And the rushing of great rivers

Through their palisades of pine-trees,

And the thunder in the mountains,

Whose innumerable echoes

Flap like eagles in their eyries;-

Listen to these wild traditions,

To this Song of Hiawatha!

When reading a text with strong meter and rhythm it is important to take note of the punctuation, and when delivering it, speak to the end of the punctuation, not just to the end of the line.  You must plan beats and word emphasis.  In this piece in particular, that means lines 6 to 7 and lines 9 to 10 should be read through without undue pause at the line break.  It is also important to note where there are literary devices that are included for emphasis in the poem, for example, the parallel structure in lines 2, 3, and 4 with “Love the…” and the alliteration in lines 6, 7, and 10 with “rushing…rivers”, “palisades…pine”, and “eagles…eyries”.

c) Complex thought with complex meter: selection 3

Context: Hamlet has discovered that his uncle murdered his father to gain the throne. Hamlet is wracked with indecision about how to avenge his father and has gone into a deep depression, which stifles any action he might take. In this speech he has just seen a Player enact an emotional scene about the death of Hecuba, queen of Troy.

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!

Is it not monstrous that this player here,

But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,

Could force his soul so to his own conceit

That from her working all his visage wann’d,

Tears in his eyes, distraction in’s aspect,

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting

With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing! For Hecuba!

What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,

That he should weep for her? What would he do,

Had he the motive and the cue for passion

That I have? He would drown the stage with tears

And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,

Make mad the guilty and appall the free,

Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed

The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,

A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,

Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,

And can say nothing;

Again, it is important to take note of the punctuation, and when delivering it, speak to the end of the punctuation, not just to the end of the line.  Hamlet is speaking here in angst, not just in poetic meter.  It is also important to know the emotion that is meant to be conveyed in the text and relate that in voice and tone, as well as words spoken.  In this case, Hamlet in self-deprecating and indecisive, not sure what to do as he’s preoccupied still with his father’s death.

 d) Prose: selection 4

But Skadi, daughter of giant Thiassi, took helmet and mail-coat and all weapons of war and went to Asgard to avenge her father. But the Aesir offered her atonement and compensation, the first item of which was that she was to choose herself a husband out of the Aesir and choose by the feet and see nothing else of them. Then she saw one person’s feet that were exceptionally beautiful and said:

“I choose that one; there can be little that is ugly about Baldr.” But it was Niord of Noatun.

It was also in her terms of settlement that the Aesir were to do something that she thought they would not be able to do, that was to make her laugh. Then Loki did as follows: he tied a cord round the beard of a certain nanny-goat and the other end round his testicles, and they drew each other back and forth and both squealed loudly. Then Loki let himself drop into Skadi’s lap, and she laughed. Then the atonement with her on the part of the Aesir was complete.

It is said that Odin, as compensation for her, did this: he took Thiassi’s eyes and threw them up into the sky and out of them made two stars.

In this one, it is again important to note what the emotion is in the story.  In this case, there are points of the story that are humorous, and so knowing where that humor is, and acknowledging it with your facial expressions, is important in conveying it.  I also had to check pronunciation on a few of the names in this one (Thiassi and Noatun), being unfamiliar with them.  Generally, this means that I needed to work on speaking through them with confidence.


7) Write a statement of purpose for a rite of your choosing and one invitation for each of the Three Kindreds. Submit a video (of no more than ten minutes of total length) of your performance of all four pieces.

Hellenic Full Moon Rite Statement of Purpose:

O Makares, Blessed Ones,

I call out to you on this night of the full moon,

As it grows in power, ever luminescent.


We come to you each month

As the moon waxes and wanes

marking this time as sacred

and this place as sacred.


We come now to makes offerings

as our ancestors did before.

To reforge the sacred *ghosti bond.


Be welcome Theoi

and join us in our rite.



The Children of the Earth call out to the Ancestors!

Those of our blood and our bone,

Those of our heart and your hearth,

Those of our friends and our folk.


We call out to those Mighty Dead and Ancient Wise

Poets and Priests

Those who have walked this path before us

and have use the way

Ancestors, Mighty Dead,

Accept our offering.


Nature Spirits:

The Children of the Earth call out to the Nature Spirits,

Those Beings who swim and crawl and wriggle and fly.

All the beings of the this Earth wherever they may come from.

Those who dwell in light and those who dwell in shadow,

Seen and unseen.


Natures Spirits:

Animal friends, Mineral friends,

Plant kin and Earth kin.

You who walk with us in all that we do

showing us the ways that we might honor the gods.

Nature Spirits, we honor you.


Shining Ones:

The Children of the Earth call out to the Shining Ones:

Bright and Mighty Theoi!

You who are the first children of the Mother,

Eldest and brightest.


You of craft-folk, you of grain,

you of hearth, you of sea, you of land.

Hunter, gatherers,

forge-tenders, grain guarders.


Gods and Goddesses all:

We call out to you as you share your wisdom and your love.

Shining Ones, accept our offering!


Works Cited

Griffith, Ralph T.H. Rig Veda. Sacred Texts, 1896. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. <;.

M, Sean. “Dionysia Ta Astika.” Temenos. Hellenion, 8 Nov. 2008. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <;.

Robinson, Scott R. “Origins of Theatre.” Origins of Theatre. Central Washington University, 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <;.

Thomas, Kirk. “Concentration in Ritual.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF, December 22, 2009. PDF file. 03 Jan. 2016. <;.

Thomas, Kirk. “The Well-Trained Ritualist” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF, November 19, 2009. PDF file. 03 Jan. 2016. <;.


Let this Victory of Love Rejuvenate us!

I took great pleasure in updating the Druid Wedding fliers for Three Cranes Grove, ADF this morning!

Let us celebrate this great victory: revel and take resounding joy as love wins.

And amidst the celebration, let us remember to take this joy and this energy we’ve been given, the rejuvenation and reigniting of our spirits, and continue to fight for those who still lack protections and rights under the law. For those who identify as bi, trans, queer, pan, poly, or any other orientation that does not have the same visibility and same rights that we are currently celebrating: we see you! And the fight continues until ALL love wins!

So celebrate! And let your spirit be reinvigorated for the continued fight ahead!

Brightest Blessings on us all!

~Rev. Jan Avende