1. Explain why public, inclusive ritual is important to ADF. (200 words min.)
Public, inclusive ritual is one of the cornerstones of ADF, and as such is written directly into the 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)
Public ritual is “where non-members get to see the organization at work and get a feeling for the aesthetics” (Gold). It opens up our ranks to outsiders, and allows us to act as ambassadors for the Kindreds, putting our worship out in the open and allowing new people to experience and worship and make sacrifices with us. Open rituals foster community in a large sense, and follow in the traditions of the ancient world, where large public community ritual was typical.
“In the Druidic tradition the obligation to perform public ritual has always been strong. The ancient druids were the administrators of ceremony and acted as sacrificers, diviners and counselors for their folk. We hope to follow their example, and our work centers around modern public Paganism” (Corrigan “Magical”).
Being open and being a modern face to public Paganism also helps Paganism become more mainstream and accepted in the current culture. When Pagan rites are secret and mysterious, it opens the door for all kinds of false things to be said about them. Open rituals are easily attended by any non-disruptive person who wishes to see for themselves what these Druids are really on about. Keeping things open allows that person to learn about us and our ways without relying on the (generally inaccurate) media portrayals and entertainment portrayals of what Paganism is and is about.
This also allows us to bring Paganism out into the open in areas where it might otherwise be inaccessible. While there will always be room for mystery traditions, if someone doesn’t get along with a local coven, they may be out of luck when it comes to being part of a Pagan community. ADF offers to change that with open, inclusive rituals that do not demand anything other than a willing, community-minded spirit to participate in our work.
2. Describe the duties and function of clergy in ADF. (100 words min.)
The duties and function of the priest in ADF is summed up quite succinctly in the essay “The Role of the Priest in ADF”:
- To formulate and articulate the theology and liturgy of ADF and to act as spiritual advisers to its membership.
- Ordain, train and supervise all of ADF’s Clergy, both in ceremony and in the common lives of our members.
- Establish and conduct an ADF prison ministry and will train, authorize and supervise ADF Prisoner Spiritual Advisers.
Starting from these points, the role of the priest is to ensure that sacrifices are made at the proper times and in the proper ways, to engage in training and provide training to others, and to aid others in developing relationships with the Kindreds. While not all priests will be called to pastoral care, all priests are expected to be capable sacrificers and ritualists. ADF priests serve both the Kindreds and the Folk, and in doing so help further the overall goals of the organization – to create a public and accepted Neopagan church with well trained and accessible clergy.
ADF’s “Subgroup Charter Manual” further elaborates on the role of the priest in ADF, including in their list of activities determining ADF liturgical and ordination standards, representing ADF Druidry in theological matters outside of ADF, and researching, writing, and publishing works based on ADF Druidry. As well ADF priests govern the various Orders of ADF.
3. Explain why ADF has an Indo-European focus, and why we use the term “Druid” in our name. (200 words min.)
ADF has an Indo-European focus because that was the goal of Isaac Bonewits when he founded the organization. From the ADF Constitution: Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, Inc., also known as “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. It’s in our founding documents that we are Indo-European focused, and that focus keeps us from being overly generic in our Paganism. Everyone needs boundaries of some sort, and Indo-European cultures have enough similarities with each other as to be familiar in a cultural and religious sense, as well as enough time since their existence as a contemporary religion to not approach cultural appropriation of existing minority religions.
Bonewits created ADF on the premise of a pan-Indo-European Neopaganism that was founded in scholarship but still created an approachable, meaningful religion for a modern person. He saw “Druids” as the “artists and intellectuals, magicians and clergy” of their respective communities, and in seeking to recreate that in a modern context, the word “Druid” got appended to what we do (Bonewits Essential Guide 107-9).
While a large portion of ADF does work in the Celtic hearth culture, there are many who do not, and who would be just as capable using the term “flamen”, “brahmin”, “godi/gythja”, or other culturally appropriate names for the priest class. However, Druidry is what Druids do (Bonewits Essential Guide xix), and the word “Druid” in its modern context incorporates all of us. ADF never really defines the term “Druid” in the sense that one must be seeking to re-create the ancient Celtic Druid class of people and scholars. Instead, a Druid is simply “a polytheistic, non-dualist, non-sexist, non-racist, scientific, holistic, and ecologically oriented” person who worships in the Indo-European context in some way (ADF Constitution).
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)
ADF’s guilds exist to foster “study, learning, and training in a particular focus area” (Subgroup Charter Manual). They are represented by a guild chief on the Council of Lore, which oversees all ADF study programs. All guild training activities are overseen by a Preceptor. Guild members must be current ADF members, and all officers must be current members of their respective guilds.
Guilds foster three main activities:
- Develop training programs subject to the requirements and approval of the COL
- Support guild members in activities relating to their focus areas
- Offer services to the ADF membership if guild resources permit (Subgroup Charter Manual)
Within the organization, Guilds represent the furthering of study and training in specific areas that aren’t represented by the CTP, Initiate’s Path, or Generalist’s Study Program. Some courses that are approved for guild use overlap with other training programs. Guilds pertain to things like the arts, bardic, brewing, dance, healers, liturgists, magicians, naturalists, scholarship, seership, and warriors.
ADF’s Kins exist to “support ADF members worshipping in a particular Indo-European hearth culture context” (Subgroup Charter Manual).Kin charters are governed by the Council of Lore. They have one leadership position (a Leader or Chief/Chieftain) and sometimes secondary leadership as appointed or voted on by the Kin membership. All Kin members must be current ADF members.
Kins foster three main activities:
- Develop culturally specific traditions within ADF
- Network between ADF members sharing the same hearth culture
- Assist guilds in their educational missions (Subgroup Charter Manual)
There are currently eight approved Kins within ADF: Eastern/Vedic/Iranian/Zoroastrian, Germanic/Northern, Hellenic, Slavic, Welsh, Irish/Scottish, Roman, and Proto-Indo-European. Each operates its own mailing list and occasionally will host events and get-togethers at festivals for kin members. Kins are excellent resources for hearth culture contexts, including books and other scholarly resources, liturgy, personal gnosis sharing regarding the traditions of the kin, and common fellowship among people who practice with ADF in similar cultural contexts.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are a sort of catch-all set of groups which exist to “support ADF members regarding an interest not otherwise in the scope of an existing subgroup” (Subgroup Charter Manual). They are governed by the Council of Lore, and each SIG has an Organizer who is elected by a simple majority vote of the SIG members. Any ADF member may join any SIG.
SIGs foster two main activities:
- Support members in activities related to the SIGs focus area
- Provide networking for ADF members interested in the SIG’s focus area.
SIGs range widely from Children’s Education and Parenting to Military Outreach to GLBT support. They cover a wide variety of topics including hobbies, languages, or anything else about which members want networking and support. SIGs are frequently started as mailing list groups or groups on Facebook or Google before becoming officially chartered, as a way to discover if there is enough active ADF interest in the group to form an official SIG. SIGs that become large enough or that wish to develop into part of ADF’s training program may eventually develop into a Guild.
The Guild, SIG, and Kin systems serve to provide specialized support to ADF members beyond their local grove (or their solitary practice). They connect members with like interests together, and provide places to share knowledge and experiences within the ADF context.
5. Describe ADF’s official ceremonial calendar, and discuss why it was designed in this way. (200 words min.)
Article 4 of the ADF constitution lays out the ceremonial calendar of ADF, which runs from November 1st through October 31st of the following year. This ceremonial calendar comprises eight Neopagan High Days which occur evenly spaced throughout the year, and which occur on the Solstices, Equinoxes, and the Cross-Quarter points between them.
These high days occur on:
- Cross-Quarter = November 1st – (typically) Samhain, or the November Feast
- Solstice = December 21st – (typically) Yule, or the Winter Feast
- Cross-Quarter = February 1st – (typically) Imbolc, or the February Feast
- Equinox = March 21st – (typically) Ostara, or the Spring Feast
- Cross-Quarter = May 1st – (typically) Beltane, or the May Feast
- Solstice = June 21st – (typically) Litha, or Midsummer, or the Summer Feast
- Cross-Quarter = August 1st – (typically) Lammas or Lughnasadh, or the August Feast
- Equinox = September 21st – (typically) Mabon or Autumnal Equinox, or the Fall Feast
Local congregations are required to celebrate the high days within one week prior or after the official dates.
ADF’s official constitution does not name the high days (though I have given their most common names above), as a nod to our Pan-Indo-European belief system. These high days were celebrated in different ways in different hearth cultures (and in some, not at all), and so ADF retains the flexibility to celebrate these high days within a hearth culture as desired by the ritual participants.
This ritual calendar was selected because it integrates well with the rest of the Neopagan movement, which was mostly spearheaded by the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It combines several Indo-European observances and is divided equally throughout the year, providing members with regular opportunities for ritual observance.
As well, it is frequently tied to the cycle of the seasons and provides an opportunity to celebrate seasonal progression and the cycles of the Earth, which ties in nicely with the environmentalist side of ADF’s practice.
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.)
Upon reading this document for the first time, I’m struck by just how much of it remains in place today, many years after its original publication. Though some things have changed (details of the training program) some things have remained quite the same (there is a training program), and the overall goals of the organization seem to continue to line up with Isaac’s original vision for the group.
Isaac lays out four major categories of “rules” (for lack of a better word) in this document, which vary on a spectrum from the extremely strict (Law) to the extremely flexible (Custom):
Laws – ADF is now governed by a Constitution in addition to bylaws, but the general effect is the same. Laws are not to be broken, on penalty of being removed from the organization. There are very few actual laws to ADF (which is good), and they primarily constitute that human sacrifice is forbidden, as is the commission of other felony crimes with victims, discrimination is forbidden (no matter whom you’re discriminating against), illegal drugs are never to be used in ADF ceremonies (and legal drugs are restricted in use to those who are of legal age to partake), and racist symbols are not allowed, nor is participation in any racist movement.
Policies – ADF policies are official decisions that have been made by the governing bodies of ADF and which are widely publicized. They are primarily about how ADF groups and representatives interact with the organization and the general public. ADF policies include the prohibition of animal sacrifice and continued vigilance against nepotism in the Neopagan community.
Traditions: ADF traditions are things that we think characterize our religion, and which we hand down from generation to generation. Traditions in ADF typically are matters of liturgical design for public worship rituals and other like matters. The main traditions of ADF include the Core Order of Ritual, which has undergone several revisions but still maintains its core flavor, and basic polytheology. The article “What Do Neopagan Druids Believe?” was only updated in 2013 (by Ian Corrigan), but maintains largely the same content that it did prior to the update. Some of Isaac’s listed minor traditions have changed, however, such as the use of whiskey as the waters of life (water is more common now, or mead/ale), associating specific deities with high days, and the specifics of ADF’s training programs.
Customs – ADF customs are simply the things which are customary to the various members and groups of ADF, which includes things like wearing white robes at rituals or the Druid Sigil. This list seems largely unchanged from when it was originally written – many people still wear white in ritual, some groves host vigils for Yule and other celebrations, we make (casual) use of the Druid Sigil and the ADF logo on t-shirts and other paraphernalia, host regional gatherings, and foster growth among other groups.
In general, ADF still holds true to the principles laid out in this document, though some things have changed in the intervening years. Mostly this is in the form of tweaking or minor changes over time. ADF is a growing organization, and will need to be flexible enough to change when needed, but yet steadfast enough to maintain our own identity, and I think the lack of variation from this essay places us in a good balance between those two goals.
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’s theory of “tripartition” postulates that ancient Indo-European societies were (in general) divided into three main functions: magico-religious, martial/warrior, and producer/cultivator. Essentially priests, warriors, and farmers or herders.
Within ADF this is mostly only experienced in the Guild system, and then only superficially. While the Seers and Bards and Magicians are clearly first function, the Warrior guild is second function, and the rest of the guilds (artisans, brewers, healers, naturalists, etc) fall under the third function.
Under close scrutiny this falls apart, however. Within ADF we don’t see the Bards as being superior in function to the Brewers (heaven forbid we have songs without beer!), and in general this type of tripartition isn’t actually explained or brought forth. The guild main page lists the guilds alphabetically, not by function, and while we have our own class of clergy (and three convenient ranks among those clergy), there is no particular reverence for those clergy beyond that which is afforded them for the long hours and hard work they put in for the folk. (And much of that honor is similarly afforded to Senior Druids.)
The three levels of clergy training might be a nice nod to tripartition, but the CTP mostly pertains itself with first function course work. There are no current warrior or farming traditions among the clergy. In short, priests, even with three circles, are still first-function priests.
ADF’s nine virtues can be seen as having a nod to tripartition – they can be divided up into priestly (wisdom, piety, vision), warrior (integrity, courage, perseverance), and producer (fertility, hospitality, moderation) virtues (Dangler “Virtuous” 10). These virtues are seen as important to ALL ADF members, however, not just the priestly virtues for the priests and so on. This division into three parts can help ADF members better learn and understand the virtues, but it is far from the only way to divide the nine virtues, and the virtues themselves are seen as universally applicable.
The ancients may have afforded a greater reverence to those in the first function, using the various classes to denote the hierarchy of society, but modern day Druids don’t seem to have fallen prey to that line of thinking (which is good). ADF’s modern day structure, while it uses the tripartition theory as a way to examine the past and the civilization of our ancestors, just doesn’t revolve around classes or castes.
8. Explain the difference between “orthopraxy” religions and “orthodoxy”. Where do you feel ADF falls? (200 words min.)
Orthopraxy is “right practice”, where Orthodoxy is “right belief,” and they represent the two ends of a religious spectrum on which ADF falls somewhere. A religion that only consisted of belief, such as the “saved by faith alone” strain of Christianity (especially the once-saved, always-saved variety), would be a religion that values orthodoxy, where a religion that only cared about the accuracy of practice (which would be the case for some ancient religions) would be orthopraxic. “The majority belief seems to be that what unites ADF is not our belief, but our practice,” which would put ADF more strongly on the Orthopraxy side of that spectrum (Dangler “Where’s”).
Personally, I believe ADF falls much more strongly on the orthopraxic side of the spectrum. While there are a few core beliefs that *most* ADF members will hold in common (such as those in Dangler’s “Nine Central Tenets of Druidic Ritual”), those are merely the underlying principles on which we build our practice. Belief in something is important, certainly, but I don’t find that ADF particularly stresses any one type of belief, beyond maybe the very basic belief in polytheism (and even that is negotiable, to a certain extent). Ian Corrigan’s “Core Ideas in Druid Theology” also seems to stress polytheism as the one big idea that ADF finds central to its religious practice, and there again, it’s a practice more than a belief system.
ADF’s central religious structure is the Core Order of Ritual, not a set of tenets or beliefs. What is important to the Core Order of Ritual is the following of the correct steps. To have a valid ADF public ritual, the group must honor the Earth Mother – but whether they honor her as a goddess, as the Earth itself, as a greater life form, as the Gaia Hypothesis, as the local body of water, or as some combination of the above is up to the group. As long as they are honoring the Earth Mother, they are successfully completing that step of the ritual and can proceed with the rest of the Core Order. In essence, this is the definition of orthopraxy – what is important is the practice, with belief coming out of that practice and exhibiting some variation among members.
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.)
We make praise offerings as an act of worship to the Kindreds and the Gods, as a way of extending our half of hospitality. As good hosts, we make offerings to say thank you, to ask for things, or simply as an act of friendship and good will. Offerings are (usually) made to the Deities of the Occasion – they are the “primary recipients of worship, and rites usually center around them” (Newburg). Though the Deities of the Occasion are typically deities, they can also be specific ancestors or nature spirits (making “Patrons of the Occasion” or “Beings of the Occasion” perhaps a better name for them). As guests of honor, the Beings of the Occasion receive “praise, works of art, material offerings” and any other offerings as presented by the ritual goers (Newburg).
It is, however, possible to give offerings to beings other than the Beings of the Occasion, such as a personal patron. This is a matter of some controversy in ADF (Newburg), as some feel that too many offerings that are to other beings will overshadow the Beings of the Occasion. Others feel that we should be free to make offerings to whomever we wish, so long as the Beings of the Occasion are also offered to. The debate is “not over forbidding non-DotO offerings, but rather over striking a respectful balance” (Newburg). A compromise seems to be to do this step in two sections, with the Beings of the Occasion getting one section and open offerings in another.
These key offerings occupy a central position in ritual – they come after the Three Kindreds have been invited, and mark the point of primary power raising (Newburg).
In the Protogrove of the Live Oaks, the praise offerings are completely open – beings of all sorts are offered praise and thanksgiving, from personal patrons to ancestors to local nature spirits, to occasionally non-Indo-European deities that are close to the participant. The praise offerings are done open-mic style, with anyone who wishes to stepping forward to take the pitcher of oil and pouring out each praise offering they wish to make. Usually these offerings are simple prayers of thanks or praise followed by an offering of oil (so far I have not seen anyone make poetry or song or dance offerings, or material offerings of any kind).
In the Mountain Ancestors Protogrove they do two types of praise offerings. When the participants make praise offerings to the DotO, there is usually some spoken word or song offering literal praise to the good deeds and blessings already given. The officiants of the ritual always make DotO offerings before opening the fire up to other offerings. The other type of offerings they do are “for the Folk”, where they open the hallows for the individual to make personal “praise” offerings to DotO or their own personal gods/Kindreds. This is done with the caveat that chthonic/chaotic/trickster deities/beings are not appropriate for offerings in this context.
Some groves, unlike the two mentioned above, may limit praise offerings only to the Deities of the Occasion, especially if they are very large groups, in order to prevent this step from going on for too long and dissipating the energy of the ritual. This requires some amount of coordination and may include having to “sign up” for a praise offering spot before the beginning of the ritual so that these offerings can be well organized.
Solitaries are spared a lot of the complexity of this step, being that they are the only person making offerings in their rituals. To avoid the praise offerings being over too quickly (the opposite problem to large group rituals, where they can go on for quite some time), Solitaries can make a combination of offerings to the Deities of the Occasion and/or any patrons (if they so choose), combining material offerings, songs, poetry and story readings, and spontaneous prayers to round out this portion of the rite (Newburg). Different solitaries will, of course, have different practices, but in general (and in my own solitary rituals) offerings are at least made to the Beings of the Occasion. When I practiced as a solitary, the praise offering section of a high day ritual was only geared toward the Beings of the Occasion, with separate rituals holding space for patrons or Kindreds offerings.
10. Describe ADF’s administrative structure. (150 words min.)
ADF’s administrative structure is chaired by a Board of Directors, also called the Mother Grove. On the Mother Grove are the
- Archdruid (president)
- Vice Archdruid (vice president)
- Scribe (secretary)
- Members Advocate
- Chief of the Council of Regional Druids
- Chief of the Council of Senior Druids
- Four Non Officer Directors (non-voting).
The Mother Grove reports to the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is appointed by the Mother Grove, handles the day to day running of the Mother Grove, and is chaired by the Archdruid.
Under the Mother Grove are a number of subgroups, including:
- The Clergy Council (in charge of the education and ordination of all clergy)
- Orders (who provide rituals in specific mythic or symbolic complexes)
- The Council of Lore (oversee all ADF study programs)
- Guilds (who lead study, learning, and training in a particular focus area)
- Kins (who support ADF members in a particular Indo-European hearth culture)
- Special Interest Groups (support all other ADF member interests)
- The Council of Senior Druids (to foster growth and organization of all Protogroves and Groves)
- Groves (who lead and support local ADF congregations)
- The Council of Regional Druids (to define and support ADF membership regions)
(Subgroup Charter Manual)
All other administrative offices (email Listmaster, Webmaster, Treasurer, Preceptor etc.) are appointed by the Mother Grove.
On a local level, ADF is divided into Groves (whose leadership participates in the Council of Senior Druids). Groves are the standard congregational body of ADF members, and Groves provide opportunities for sacrifice and worship to both ADF members and the public. These Groves also participate in the various ADF regions, under the applicable Regional Druid. Groves are encouraged to participate in their community and in the greater body that is ADF as a whole.
Solitary druids, who do not have access to a grove or who choose to remain unaffiliated, typically fall under the Members Advocate, with access to the applicable Regional Druid. Due to the sheer area that ADF serves and the comparatively small number of chartered Groves, a number of ADF members will, by necessity, be Solitary, and ADF is welcoming to those members as much as to members of local Groves.
Overall, this provides a substructure that is fairly shallow, meaning that any given member is not far from the Mother Grove in terms of hierarchy and finding someone to whom they need to voice a complaint. Typically, any issues should be handled through a Senior Druid or Grove Organizer, or through the Regional Druid, or through the Members Advocate.
“ADF Bylaws.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/about/org/bylaws.html>.
“ADF Constitution.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/about/org/constitution.html>.
Bonewits, Isaac. Bonewits’ Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, NY: Kensington Pub., 2006. Print.
Bonewits, Isaac. “Law, Policy, Tradition, and Customs in ADF.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/organization/isaaclaw.html>.
Bonewits, Isaac. “The Vision of ADF.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/about/basics/vision.html>.
Bonewits, Isaac. “What Do Neopagan Druids Believe?” ADF. Web. 19 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/about/basics/beliefs.html>.
“Clergy Council Bylaws.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/members/org/clergy-council/bylaws.html>.
Corrigan, Ian. “Core Ideas in Druid Theology.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/identity/core-theology.html>.
Corrigan, Ian. “Magical Skills in Druidic Ritual.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/magskills.html>.
Corrigan, Ian. “A vision for Ar nDraiocht Fein.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/about/basics/vision-for-adf.html>.
“Council of Senior Druids Bylaws.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/members/org/cosd/bylaws.html>.
Dangler, Rev. Michael J. “Nine Central Tenets of Druidic Worship.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nine-tenets.html>.
Dangler, Rev. Michael J. “A Virtuous Life: The Nine Virtues of ADF.” ADF. Web. 15 October 2014. <https://www.adf.org/system/files/members/training/dp/publications/dp-req-1-nine-virtues.pdf>.
Dangler, Rev. Michael J. “Where’s the Belief? Piety in the DP.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/members/training/dp/articles/wheres-the-belief.html>.
Gold, Peter. “The Necessity of Doing Public Ritual.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/identity/pubrit.html>.
Newburg, Brandon. “Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual Tutorial for Ár nDraíocht Féin.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/members/training/dedicant-path/articles/coortutorial/index.html>.
“The Role of the Priest in ADF.” ADF. Web. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/members/org/clergy-council/role.html>.
“Standard Operating Procedure.” ADF. 17 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/members/org/docs/sop.html>.
“Subgroup Charter Manual.” ADF. 17 September. <https://www.adf.org/members/org/docs/subgroup-charters.html>.