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As of this morning, I have officially completed ADF’s preliminary program that leads up to the First Circle of the Clergy Training Program. All of that coursework is now posted here (apologies for the post spam, but I figured the only way I’d get around to posting it was all at once).

My next step, once my coursework is reviewed and I am marked complete for CTP-Prelim, will be to submit my intention letter and to allow the Clergy Council 2+ weeks to review my work and determine my eligibility for the Clergy Training Program. I will post that letter here once it has been approved (I imagine there will be some discussion about it).

Huge thanks to all of you who have helped me out with this, and been patient while I took a year sabbatical from my own studies to start Nine Waves Protogrove. I wanted to finish this in six months, and – minus the year off to start a protogrove – it took about eight months of active work to complete the Prelim courses. While it’s not the way I imagined this going, I’m very happy with how things worked out.

The First Circle of ADF’s Clergy Training program contains eleven courses, one of which I have already completed (from when I was pursuing Initiation) – Divination I is already posted here. For the rest, I have:

  • Discipline 1
  • Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice
  • Ethics 1
  • Crisis Response
  • Ritual Mechanics
  • Liturgical Writing 1
  • Indo-European Myth 2
  • Bardic Studies for Liturgists
  • Magic 1 for Priests
  • Trance 1

Trance 1 and the Liturgy Practicum course both require journaling, which I may post here just as an accountability for keeping my journaling practice regular. I actually already completed Liturgy Practicum, in 2014, but since I switched study programs, I never finished the course, so I will be re-doing it.

I’m really excited to have completed this step, and looking forward to moving on into the first circle of training.

1.   List and discuss the major primary sources for the mythology of three Indo-European cultures, including their dates of origin and authorship (if known). Discuss any important factors that may cause problems in interpreting these sources, such as the existence of multiple revisions, or the presence of Christian or other outside influences in surviving texts. (minimum 300 words)

In Vedic mythology, there are the samhitas of the four Vedas, which date from between the second to the first millennium BCE: The Rgveda, which is used for recitation; the Sama-Veda, which is used for chanting; the Yajur-Veda, which is used for liturgy; and the Atherva-Veda, which is named for a group of priests. These documents are the foundational texts of the Vedic religion, but they are also cited as foundational texts of Classical Hinduism, and are almost always translated through that lens. Unfortunately, according to Puhvel, “classical Hinduism… is worlds removed from the cultures of the early Vedic period” (Puhvel, 46). In fact, many “serious” scholars of the Vedas have problems with non-Hindu translators like Wendy Doniger, leading to an increase in bias. This is especially true with movements like Hindutva (the Hindu nationalist movement), which, over the last five years, have led to an increasingly strict and conservative reading of the ancient texts and are actively trying to subvert or destroy other versions.

Greek texts include the Iliad and the Odyssey, both by Homer, but the only written copies of these epic poems are from well after his death, so their compositional age is unknown. As well, works by Hesiod (Theogony and Works and Days – 7th to 6th century BCE) and the Homeric Hymns (Hymns in the style of Homer, also 7th to 6th century BCE for composition) are considered foundational texts. There is some discussion to be had about all of these texts, as they were typically carried in the oral tradition for a long time before being written down, so changes almost certainly occurred over time. Generally speaking, the Greek texts are better translated and have less cultural baggage, as they were not translated by conquerors or religious people who overtook/replaced the original religion, but were preserved, and often studied, in the original language. Since they are still studied as part of the regular education curriculum, many modern translations seek as much as possible to reflect (what best we know of as) ancient Greek culture as accurately as possible. Even for scholars who do not read ancient Greek, there are often many translations that can be compared to gain better understanding of the original texts.

The foundational texts of Norse mythology are the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century in Iceland by a Christian monk named Snorri Sturluson, the Gesta Danorum, written in the 12th century in Denmark by Saxo Grammaticus, the Poetic Edda, a collection of earlier poems and sagas collected in the 13th century in Iceland, and various Sagas, mostly from Iceland as well, that were collected over the course of Iceland’s Christianized history. These texts are both well preserved and dangerously full of bias – because they were written by Christian monks, they often have layers of Christian morality and meaning layered over older stories, and there is a good deal of euhemerization that goes on (especially in Saxo’s work), turning the divine stories of the gods into stories of kings and other mortals. Complicating the matter, most of these texts were (of course) written as Old Norse poetry, and so English speakers must often choose between comprehending the text itself and understanding the complexities of the written poetry styles common to that era.

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1.   Describe several of the factors that define a culture as Indo-European and how those defining factors are useful in understanding that culture. (minimum 300 words)

The term “Indo-European culture” is somewhat misleading, as the designator “Indo-European” specifically relates to a language group. A more accurate term would be “the culture of a group which speaks an Indo-European language”. There are several other factors that influence whether a group is designated as Indo-European, but the most important is that the language spoken by a group or culture is a descendant of an Indo-European language, or that it is a descendant of the ancestral Proto-Indo-European language (Mallory 7).

Culturally, there are several factors that are common to these linguistically related cultures that go into determining their status as Indo-European. Among these common cultural inheritances are a class structure of tripartition (Dumezil), a common or comparative mythology (Puhvel), and similar societal rules and obligations (Forston). Tripartition, as most notably outlined by George Dumezil, suggests that the society is divided into three classes or functions – a priestly/religious function, a warrior function, and a producer/cultivator function. Jaan Puhvel’s Comparative Mythology sets out to explain the mythological symbolism that is shared by these cultures, and Benjamin Forston sets out to describe the common societal rules and explanations in chapter two of his Indo-European Language and Culture.

None of these cultural factors are, alone, enough to designate a culture as Indo-European, however compelling the similarities might be. The best way to look at a group and consider whether it is Indo-European or not is to look at its linguistics in a cultural context. The Roman and Vedic societies can be linked through their common function of the position of brahman and flamen, both priests who oversee sacrifices, who also have cognate names. Similarly, we can find the cross-cultural terms for “sky-father” as the head of the gods in various pantheons as evidence of shared culture and language (Mallory 128). The names of sun gods and goddesses, similarly, can be used to show such commonality (Mallory 129).

In addition to religious cultural similarities, there are also economic and familial ones. Economically, “some of the best attested words in the Indo-European languages are those which concern domestic animals, and, of these, words relating to cattle are probably among the most prolific” (Mallory 117) Cattle and sheep are easily attested as grazing herd animals, and cattle in particular have some religious significance as well. Sheep provided both meat and wool, and words for wool and weaving are well attested (Mallory 118). Other animals that have significance are goats, pigs, horses, and dogs, though their economic function is less easily attested. Familial ties in Indo-European cultures were patrilineal in descent and largely male dominated. Mallory suggests that “the residence rules of the Proto-Indo-Europeans involved the woman going to live in the house of her husband or with his family” (Mallory 123), a familial structure which exists even into modern Western cultures where it is most common for a wife to take her husband’s last name, officially becoming part of his family. Forston agrees with this patrilineal model of culture (Forston 18).

These factors provide the starting point for examining two cultures and looking for ways in which they may have influenced one another or both have been influenced by a similar outside culture.

2.   George Dumezil’s theory of tripartition has been central to many modern approaches to Indo-European studies. Outline Dumezil’s three social functions in general, and as they appear in one particular Indo-European society. Offer your opinion as to whether you believe Dumezil’s claim that tripartition is central to IE cultures. (minimum 300 words)

The first function is the magico-religious function, which contained priests, lawyers, and kings. This first, or sovereign function, is often expressed through paired gods “Varuna-Mitra, Jupiter-Dius Fidius, Odinn-Tyr” (Mallory 140). These are typically one religious and one legal deity.

The second, or “military,” function was assigned to the warriors of a society and “was concerned with the execution of both aggressive and defensive force, for example the war-gods Indra, Mars, and Thor” (Dumezil, quoted in Mallory 132). While I have some qualms about putting Thor in a warrior position in the cosmos, as I think Odin fits this role better, he certainly has his place as a defender of the people, and so his place in this list is not entirely unwarranted.

The third function conceptualized “fertility or sustenance and embracing the herder-cultivators” (Dumezil, quoted in Mallory 132). In this realm the gods, or myths, normally take the form of divine twins, often associated with horses, and sometimes associated with a female figure. Good examples of these are the Indic Asvins (horse twins) and Sarasvati, the Greek Castor and Pollux with Helen, and the Norse Frey, Freyr, and Njordh. (Dumezil, quoted in Mallory 132)

These three examples are mirrored in the Norse tale of Heimdall, under the guise of Rig, providing the role of the “Father of Men”, whereby he lies for a night with three couples, one for each of the three “classes” in Norse society: the serfs, the freemen, and the earls. Much like the deities of the Norse, however, Jarl and his sons, who become the race of Kings, are both warriors and kings, much like Odin, and there is no “race” of warriors fathered in this tale – and, of course, the kings led armies made up of freemen, but those freemen were also farmers and cultivators when they were not out warring. So while there are three classes described, they don’t fit into Dumezil’s mold exactly. There is also no place for merchants in this myth, and the Norse were known to be shrewd merchants and tradespeople as well as fierce warriors.

Personally I think Dumezil’s claim of tripartition provides a good start to the discussion of IE societies. Obviously with any cultural theory there will be outliers, and with as broad a range of cultures as is provided by the Indo-Europeans there are bound to be plenty of differences to go along with their similarities. That said, I don’t think tripartition should be forced on any culture where it clearly doesn’t fit – it’s a theory, and should be examined, but shoehorning cultures into a system doesn’t make for good scholarship. Indo-European cultures should be examined for evidence of tripartition, or tripartition-like social structures, but if they do not conform, that difference should be noted, as with better scholarship, someone may come up with a better theory of Indo-European social structure than Dumezil did.

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1.   List nine (9) laws, or as many as possible if less than nine, concerning clergy that you have found by searching your nearest municipality laws. By municipality, we mean on the village or town level. If there are none, then tell us how you found that out.

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1.   Describe the generation of the cosmos, and what is done in ADF ritual to ensure that the cosmos remains in order. (300 words min.)

ADF’s ritual structure is, at its heart, a re-creation of the cosmos. We first channel Fire and Water – the two primordial forces – and then we recreate the world itself, through the three hallows of Fire (which connects us to the upperworld), Well (which connects us to the lower world) and Tree (which exists in our world and yet stretches to contain all the worlds). By creating a sacred center via the powers of Fire and Water, we re-create the order that maintains the worlds themselves, and we perform the right actions – the rta – that uphold the cosmos itself (Dangler).

The cosmos was itself created by sacrifice, when the primordial being (frequently “Twin”) is killed or dismembered (frequently by “Man”) and its body is used to form the world. This is reflected in several hearth cultures, including the Vedic Perusha, the Norse Ymir, and the Roman twins Romulus and Remus (Thomas). This sacrifice of the primordial being is what brings about the cosmos itself.

In each Core Order ritual, each element of the cosmos is taken and put in its proper place. The ultimate order is maintained, as “ritual order takes the formless and gives it shape” (Serith). Like the Fire and Ice combining in Ginnungagap to make the Giant Ymir, from whom the very worlds are formed, our Rituals combine Fire and Water (which are themselves both ordered and chaotic, depending on the form they take) into the elements of order that represent the cosmos itself. “From a point where the ritual begins; through to the description of the cosmos; past the sacralization and population of that cosmos; and even in the blessings poured forth upon us by the Kindreds, we are engaging in an emulation of the rta and following the example given to us by the Kindreds” (Dangler).

We then take those elements and through them we pour our sacrifices – and sacrifices themselves are ordering, as they align our purposes with each other and with the Kindreds (Dangler). “The sacrificial order takes Chaos and forms it into a non-destructive but still vivifying flow”, a flow that we can use and channel into our world as something sanctified and sanctifying (Serith). In recreating the cosmos in each ritual, we reinforce the order, the right truth of the cosmos, and then in the return flow the cosmos pours back into us the power to transform ourselves and our world, to affect and remake us after the proper order of things.

As well as the general order of ritual itself, there is the cycle of rituals that we maintain that upholds the proper order of the cosmos. As Neopagan Druids we keep the Wheel of the Year, and in celebrating key events in the cycle of the year itself, we help progress those events and ensure that they continue in the right order. We, in a sense, become agents of the cosmic order ourselves, and ensure the persistence of the cosmos (Dangler).

2.   Describe the physical items that exemplify the sacred center in ADF ritual, and how each constituent part reflects the vision of an ordered cosmos. (300 words min.)

The sacred center in ADF ritual is most often represented by the Fire, the Well, and the Tree. Typically, in an ADF ritual, the fire is represented some type of actual fire (whether a bonfire or simply a candle, though electric fires can also be used), and the well is represented by water in some form (typically in a bowl or cauldron, though sometimes in a dug well or pit). Representations of the tree can vary from an actual tree, to cut branches, to symbolic trees carved out of other materials, to potted plants, to posts and world pillars. In all three cases, exceptions can be had, especially exceptions of necessity. A Druid in a dorm room, for example, might not be able to have anything more than some red and orange tissue paper to represent their fire, where a Druid practicing from deployment might have to do entirely without physical representations of the hallows, or with a simple set of hallows drawn on notebook paper.

These three hallows act as gates to the otherworlds, and articulate the power of the sacred center to reach into all the worlds.

  • “The Fire points upward, with its leaping tongues and rising smoke, toward the Heaven Realm” (Newburg). Fire transmits our sacrifices (which are cosmos affirming) into the upper worlds and makes them available to the spirits.
  • “The Well leads down toward the Underworld” (Newburg). The Well gives us a connection to the Ancestors, who lit fires and prayed before us, and from whom we learn about how to maintain the world order itself.
  • “The Tree, like Yggdrasil, connects all the worlds” (Newburg). The tree is an example of an axis mundi – the axis around which all the worlds turn, and the central feature of them all. The Tree is perhaps the most interconnected of the hallows, and represents the connections we have with the spirits, be they natural, divine, or ancestral.

The three elements of the sacred center are also interconnected, and their connections maintain elements of the sacred order. “The Tree (the axis mundi) is fed by water from the Well. The Tree drops fruit into the Well. Back and forth they exchange their gifts, and the Cosmos is maintained thereby” (Serith). The Tree (the axis mundi) extends into the heavens, where light nourishes it and blesses it with green leaves. In exchange, the tree carries upward the messages of the middle world, and the Cosmos is again maintained. Fire is said to be “connected intimately with the celestial waters, often said to be born from them” (Dangler). Each element of the sacred center feeds into the others, and together they form the hallows around which ADF performs its rituals. While each individually can represent elements of the cosmic order, together they present a full picture of the order of the cosmos – an order which is reciprocal, and balanced upon the giving and receiving of gifts.

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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).

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Bonewits, Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work. Minneapolis: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.

Bonewits, Isaac. “Step by Step through A Druid Worship Ceremony.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/stepbystep.html&gt;.

Brooks, Arnold. “A Druidic Ritual Primer.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/ritual-primer.html&gt;.

Brooks, Arnold. “Goals of Group Ritual.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/group-ritual-goals.html&gt;.

Corrigan, Ian. “The Intentions of Drudic Ritual.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/intentions.html&gt;.

Corrigan, Ian. “Magical Skills in Druidic Ritual.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/magskills.html&gt;.

Corrigan, Ian. “The Worlds and the Kindreds.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/worlds-kindreds.html&gt;.

Dangler, Rev. Michael J. “Nine Central Tenets of Druidic Worship.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nine-tenets.html&gt;.

MacCulloch, J. A. The Religion of the Ancient Celts. Sacred Texts Online. Web. 16 September 2014. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/rac/rac16.htm&gt;.

Newburg, Brandon. “Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual Tutorial for Ár nDraíocht Féin.” ADF. Web. 21 August 2014. <https://www.adf.org/members/training/dedicant-path/articles/coortutorial/index.html&gt;.

Paradox. “Sacred Space, an Exploration of the Triple Center.” ADF. Web.  2 June 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/sacred-space.html&gt;.

Thomas, Rev. Kirk. “The Nature of Sacrifice.” ADF. Web. 16 September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nature-of-sacrifice.html>.

Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2002. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. “Hecatomb.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 16 Sep. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hecatomb&gt;.

Wikipedia contributors. “Óðrerir.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 16 Sep. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%93%C3%B0rerir&gt;.

Wikipedia contributors. “Roman temple.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 16 Sep. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_temple&gt;.