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1.   Why do you want to be a Priest, and what is your plan for making that goal happen?

I have had a calling to priesthood since I was in elementary school, but in each phase of my religious journey, I have hesitated to seek (or been denied) access to the priesthood. This was no different when I found ADF. I devoured my dedicant year, completing the DP in just 11 months, but I fully intended to proceed immediately into the Initiate’s path. I knew I had a calling to clergy, but I also was a solitary druid and had no idea the changes that would come about in my life and my practice over the next year.

Shortly after beginning my work on the Initiate’s Path, I started a study group. I have led that group for three years, and now they are Nine Waves Protogrove and are in the process of preparing to apply for a grove charter. In that time, it has become crystal clear to me that the work that I have spent my life preparing for is this work – the work of building a church, of leading this little group, of being a resource for them and teaching them what I know. I’ve gone from a solitary, introspective pagan to trying to be a public presence in my community (or as close to that as I can get, it’s a work in progress). My calling to serve these people is stronger than ever, and it expresses itself in the oddest of ways. Since I began the preliminary courses, I have become a spiritual resource not only for my in-person community, but for my online community as well. I regularly provide spiritual guidance and counseling to people online (both in and out of ADF), and mentoring those folks is as important to me as the mentoring work I do in my Protogrove.

From my Baptist minister grandfather, I learned how to care for people, how to talk to them, and how to lead them; I learned how to be a minister. From the Methodist church, I learned how to step away from the inevitable drama while still taking care of the people who needed help. From the Catholic Church I learned personal devotion, private prayer, and the effect that private practice has on public service (and a minor addiction to prayer beads). As a solitary pagan, I learned how to create my own, meaningful spirituality. From my Wiccan coven, I learned the power of a devoted small group of individuals, I learned how to serve the gods, and I learned how to learn a new tradition from scratch. From my Protogrove, I’m learning patience, humility, perseverance, and the virtue of building something from the ground up. I’m learning to live the virtues in public and in private.

From all of these paths, I have learned different aspects of what is needed in a priest. It is now up to me to fulfill that calling, and to do the work necessary to become the priest I’ve spent pretty much my whole life preparing to be. From a purely practical standpoint, I intend to complete approximately one course a month until I have finished the First Circle of training.

2. Why do you want to be an ADF Priest in particular?

ADF is my spiritual home. I’ve studied a lot of theology, and tried on a lot of religious hats, but it wasn’t until I found ADF – and specifically a devotional polytheist current within ADF – that I truly felt like I’d found the tradition I was supposed to call home for good. In ADF I’ve found a tradition that values both study and piety, ritual and action, history and inspiration. Reimagining the Indo-European religious practices has given me a depth and breadth of spiritual practice unlike anything I’ve known before – and unlike my days studying Christian theology, the more I study, the more sure I am that I’m in the right place.

3. What does being a Priest mean to you in the cultural context of your Hearth Culture?

Sadly, the concept for an Anglo-Saxon heathen priesthood is troublesome and really exists only through secondary accounts. Pollington believes that it is evident that “certain people had to perform specific ritual functions at public ceremonies, but who these people were and how they were chosen is nowhere made clear” (Pollington 116). Perhaps the term “ritual specialist” is more applicable, as presumably people had duties for opening and closing public ceremonies, guarding holy symbols, and caring for sacred groves. Pollington offers the following description of what an Anglo-Saxon priesthood probably looked like:

The notion of a priest as an ‘officiant’ is probably closest to the heathen idea: the leader of the community held sway in religious, legal, and secular matters. He presided at feasts, in acts of worship, at court and in war. He was able to mediate with the gods on behalf of his community. He kept safe the holy objects used in ceremonies. (117)

I should mention as well that all of these “priests” were male. While there is evidence of sacred roles for women in Anglo-Saxon England, they were not typically chieftains and priests, though it is possible that the existence of such women would have been suppressed by the Christian monks writing about them (Pollington 120).

This is not at all the model of priesthood that I intend to follow, merely being a keeper of religious objects and a person who knows how to make sacrifices. I think there is a need for real spiritual leadership in our communities, and that leadership extends beyond simply knowing when and how to have a ritual. Mentorship, spiritual counseling, teaching and sharing wisdom are as important to my definition of priesthood as are things like being able to host a ritual or perform a wedding. A priest also should not (in my opinion) be the same person who leads you in war and makes legal decisions for the group, though leading feasts sounds at least like it might be fun and less like it would be a huge conflict of interest.

Pollington, Stephen. The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England. Little Downham, Ely, Cambs: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2011. Print.

4. How long have you worked the ADF Dedicant Discipline, what has been your experience of the Work, and what do you expect when you begin the Clergy Student Discipline?

I have been an ADF Dedicant since October 3, 2013. As part of my dedicant oath, I drew the following omen:

  • Jera: Year, the harvest, hard work
  • Fehu: Cattle, Wealth, Generosity
  • Algiz: Elk-sedge, Offensive/Defensive Balance

Though I no longer read with the Elder Futhark, I have always taken these runes as both a blessing on my dedicant year and as a prediction for the work I will do as an ADF Dedicant. It has been a path of hard work and also great reward– I have started a Protogrove, and am actively leading them toward Grove status. That work has involved a great deal of my time, money, and energy – time, money, and energy that I give generously, because that is part of my calling. But it has also been a work of determining boundaries – like the elk-sedge determines the boundaries between dry land and marshes, and protects both. I cannot give everything – I must refill my own cup before I tend to filling the cups of others.

I have kept to regular daily and monthly practices for the last two years, as well as recently adding a weekly devotional. I fully intend this work to continue as I set forth to do the Clergy Student Discipline. I expect that the demands on my time and energy will continue to grow as I grow toward my ordination, and I hope that these runes that have defined my dedicant work– rewards for hard work, reciprocity and generosity, and setting appropriate boundaries – will continue to bless me as I move along this path.

*****

Hello, Lauren,

Several questions have arisen concerning your application to enroll in the Clergy Training Program. Please respond back to me and I will pass the answers back to all the Clergy Council Officers.

You stated: “A priest also should not(in my opinion) be the same person who leads you in war and makes legal decisions for the group…”

  • Comment #1: I would like to see her clarify what the conflict of interest is to her with a priest assisting to “make legal decisions”.
  • Comment #2: I would like to know what “war” means to her in a modern context as well as how she interprets “making legal decisions”.

We look forward to your clarifications.

Blessings,
Drum

*****

Hi Drum –

I’m happy to clarify, though I think I can answer both questions at once.
My main point with this sentence had to do with the way that priests functioned in the Anglo Saxon society – where they were not just religious leaders, but also political, legal, and war leaders. In an ancient tribe, that breakdown certainly works – the tribe is small and culturally homogeneous (for the most part). But I think in a modern context, the separation of church and state is a good thing, and we should encourage that. I would not want my position as a priest to be anything other than a spiritual leadership role – leading a spiritual group.
As an extremely hypothetical example, should I somehow become Governor of Texas, I would not want my position as an ADF priest to be in any way related to that role. Certainly my values would be influenced by being part of ADF, but as a political leader, I expect that leader to make decisions for all Texans, not just the ones s/he agrees with spiritually, because political leadership in the United States is over a large group of ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse people. This is where I think the conflict of interest is a problem in the ancient model if we apply it to today – the religious leader of group of people also being the political leader leads to a lot of opportunities to abuse power, and I think that’s a bad thing (and, in fact, that sort of situation is exactly what brought many people to the United States in the first place).
As a leader in ADF, I fully understand that there are administrative roles that priests fill. And, in fact, I am a grove organizer, and expect that I will begin to serve as Senior Druid sometime in the next six months or so (as Nine Waves finishes up our bylaws and applies for our grove charter). But that leadership will remain in a spiritual organization to which it is related, and Nine Waves is also structuring our group so that if I become an ordained Priest, I will be able to step into a separate leadership role (which is yet unnamed), and allow someone else to take on the administrative duties of a Senior Druid.
As far as war leadership goes, I think that again is a different skill than priesthood. Certainly chaplaincy is related – but a chaplain doesn’t lead troops on the battlefield. That job is left to battlefield leaders. (And, in fact, the Geneva Conventions specify that chaplains be non-combatants, and in the United States military, chaplains are unarmed.) I expect that, should I be asked to do chaplaincy work, that I would do my best to counsel in that situation, but I don’t feel like that is a war leadership position, at least not in the sense that the Anglo Saxons were talking about it. I also don’t feel like “leading the charge” in things like social justice work is comparable to the type of war leadership that the Anglo-Saxons were talking about. Certainly it’s powerful, important, strategic work, and you could argue that it is definitely “fighting a battle”, but I think we’d be talking about two different kinds of leadership and two completely different skill sets (only one of which involves killing people).
Hopefully that makes my answers a little more clear. Perhaps I was too literal with my reading of this question, taking much more from the Anglo Saxon model and not expanding it into what is realistic for a modern-day priest?
Let me know if you need me to clarify anything else.
Blessings,
Lauren

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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).

(more…)

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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;.

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I think it’s about time I repost and update my daily practice, since it’s been a few years since I’ve talked about it, and it has evolved a bit. First, though, my altar has some new items that I want to show off!

Altar - April 2016

This is just the working surface (which you can tell is used, by the amount of ash that I continually fight to keep cleaned up). I have a shelf full of deity and spirit icons/tokens above the tree, but it’s hard to get a picture of both that looks good.

The new items are the incense burner on the left, and the oil lamp in the middle.

Both are made by blacksmith David Cohen, at Dark Moon Forge in Austin. I’m lucky enough to know David in person, having met him at the Texas Imbolc Retreat the last two years, and he is a wonderful artisan. I purchased the incense burner from him last year, and then a few weeks ago he was posting on Facebook about the new oil lamps he was making to gauge interest. Typically he doesn’t do mail-order items, preferring to sell his wares in person in the Austin area, but I asked very nicely, and he mailed me my new lamp.

I had to wait a few days to get the lamp oil in (I’m using Firefly Clean Lamp Oil, since it’s odorless and smokeless), which was agonizing, but I’m SO happy with how it looks. I’ve tried various configurations of candles for the fire representation on my altar over the years, and never found anything I truly loved. I also had problems with candles getting weird and needing to be replaced because they were only lit for 5-10 minutes at a time. This lamp will burn for any amount of time, and I just love the leaf handle (which does allow me to carry it around, but since it’s an open container of lamp oil, I’ll have to be super careful with anything like that). I still love and burn lots of candles, but for my altar, I see myself using this oil lamp for a good long time.

Regardless, if you happen to be in the Austin, TX area, I can’t recommend Dark Moon Forge highly enough.

As for my daily practice, I first posted about it in June of 2014 as I was working on my first pass at the Liturgy Practicum class, before I had started on the Clergy Training Program. I typically do this practice at my mid-morning “coffee” break (I don’t drink coffee, but I like to get up around 10:30 or 11 and stretch a bit.)

Not a lot has changed, but I have added to it slightly, and I still feel like it’s not quite finished.

(Three breaths to center self)

Hail to you, Hertha, Earth Mother – may I always be supported as I walk in your ways.

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The flame lights the way! (Light lamp)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The well flows within! (Fill/touch well)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The tree spans the world! (Bless tree)

Let us pray with a good fire! (Light incense)

Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn, hold fast these gates that I may speak into the worlds.

I make offering to the gods.
May their power be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the ancestors.
May their wisdom be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the nature spirits.
May their blessing be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

The waters support and surround me
The land extends about me
The sky stretches out above me
At the center burns a living flame
May all the kindreds bless me.
May my worship be true
May my actions be just
May my love be pure
Blessings and honor and worship to the holy ones.

Mighty, Noble, and Shining Ones, thank you for your blessings and your presence.
Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn, thank you for keeping fast the ways.
Hertha, Earth Mother – thank you for upholding me always.

(Three breaths to center self)
(Extinguish lamp)

I always think it needs a daily rune draw, but I haven’t managed to figure out a good way to do that. If I leave my runes on my altar, I forget about them when I need them for ritual or study group meetings, and though I have a journal specifically for readings, I never seem to remember to write down what I drew. (I have a working memory like a rusty sieve these days.)

I also feel like I should make some kind of offering to the deities I’m working with by name (Ing Frea, Hela, Frige), as well as to my ancestors and house spirits, but I also don’t want to have a 15 minute practice. I’ll never remember to do the whole thing if it’s going to take more than just a few minutes. Perhaps I need to have a weekly practice to make specific offerings. Or maybe I need an evening practice to do?

I’ve talked to other ADFers, and they seem to have more “built in” practices – an offering to the ancestors with breakfast coffee, and the like. I have trouble starting anything like that due to just sheer forgetfulness, but with all the beings I’d like to be building *ghosti with, maybe I need to just send myself a bunch of reminders!

Anyway, this is obviously a work in progress – I try to balance as much oomph as I can get into a small bit of time, knowing that I’m most likely to actually do the offerings that way, and so far it works nicely.

Any thoughts you might have on polishing this into something a little more “complete” feeling would be really nice!

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Nine Waves Protogrove gathered tonight in the park, under the late summer sun, and around an open fire, to celebrate Lammas. Our ritual honored Frea, the Golden Grain God, and celebrated not only with praise and offerings, but also with a personal sacrifice from each person, that they are willing to give up until Samhain to ensure a good harvest this year.

While we did not announce our sacrifices, I know mine will be hard to keep. I dunno if it’s the Wiccan background, but I take Lammas sacrifice VERY seriously. The harvest is a thing you don’t want to fuck up, especially when your surviving the winter depends on it. And with all the hardship that’s going around in our country, I figure a good harvest is something we all need right now. (With as badly as my garden did this year, I figure a difficult sacrifice is due – I got very little personal harvest this year, so I’m going to have to rely on my community until next year’s garden.) While Lammas is definitely a celebration – it is a High Day after all – it’s also a serious occasion and one that it’s important for us all to be mindful of each time we pick up a bag of fresh apples in January at the grocery store.

We also read the Tale of John Barleycorn – which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8878chOvfI (This is a slightly different version than the one in my book, but it’s the more famous version by far.)

Our next ritual will be for the Autumn Equinox, and will celebrate the second harvest. Our ritual focus hasn’t been selected yet, but we’ll announce it as soon as we have it planned.

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I started in on this on twitter, but realized there was a lot more than I could cover in even a series of tweets here.

ADF is, at its core, welcoming to Pagan laity. We hold public high day rituals because we want people to come and worship the Gods. We don’t force everyone who comes to our rituals to join ADF, and we don’t force everyone who joins to complete their Dedicant work, and we don’t even require attendance at regular study meetings, let alone mandatory ritual celebration (solitary or in groups). Can you spend a lot of time studying in ADF? Absolutely. And I think there’s a ton of value there. But if you just want to show up, get your worship on, and then go home and continue with your life… THAT’S OKAY.

It is 100% okay to want to be a practicing Pagan and just do your thing, practice your devotions to your gods, and live your life.

ADF is a public Pagan church. That inherently includes both priests and laity. And this is good! Not all Pagan groups are run with laity in mind!

So let’s knock off the shit about how we’re more spiritually enlightened because we have bookshelves worth of study materials and enjoy debating the finer points of paleo-religious theory. You can be pretty damn spiritually enlightened with a small home altar, some candles or a triple hallows, and heartfelt devotion to the Kindreds or your spiritual beings of choice. And, in fact, if you’re actually practicing and doing the religious devotional work, you might even be MORE spiritually enlightened than someone who never does any actual religious work but spends all their time reading without applying or doing anything with what they’re learning.

ALSO WHILE I’M WEARING THE RANT PANTS.

Someone believing in the disproved “Great Ancient Mother Goddess Religion” of Gimbutas and her ilk DOES NOT MAKE THEM WICCAN. It makes them ignorant of current scholarship. There are lots of ways to be Wiccan (of various flavors and types – it’s a hugely diverse religion), and most of those ways are at least duotheistic, if not truly polytheistic (the Trad coven I was part of the outer court with was polytheist). Also there is an entire religion devoted to a Great Mother God that has nothing to do with Wicca.

(Also with the “this person believes a stupid thing about a goddess therefore WICCA”? WTF? Wiccans are not uneducated morons.)

If someone says “I believe in the Goddess, but I’m not Wiccan” you say “okay”. You are not the arbiter of other people’s religion. You don’t try to force them to change their mind about how they’re really secretly Wiccan. Double especially if you’re trying to convince them to be Wiccan because they’re disruptive and embarrassing, and you just want them to go away and stop coming to your particular group’s meetings. Be straight with people about their behavior. If they’re a pain in the ass, tell them so and ask them to shape up or stop coming. The Wiccans don’t want embarrassingly disruptive people either.

So. Let’s be welcoming to the laity, and encourage them on their spiritual path(s). Let’s encourage, rather than one-up, each other, and remember that studying might make you knowledgeable, but it doesn’t make you a better person. And let’s quit it with the ridiculous assumptions about Wiccans. Many Wiccans (especially coven/Trad Wiccans) have just as much homework as the more well-known-for-being “studious” traditions, and often more spiritual discipline to go with it.

And in case it wasn’t painstakingly clear from the rest of this post, if you choose to use my comments section to bash Wicca, I will send your comments straight into the spam oubliette.

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8.    Discuss the Outdwellers and their significance in ritual (or not, as the case may be). (minimum 100 words)

Outdwellers are representatives of the forces of chaos, and generally are seen as beings that would act contrary to the rite that is being performed (specifically to the order that ADF ritual seeks to create) (Newburg). While some view them as specifically malevolent or chaotic beings, others view them as simply “anyone we’re not actively making offerings to today” (Newburg). Some groups also include human feelings and impulses (like anger or jealousy) that would have a negative impact on the rite as part of the outdwellers (Newburg), though making offerings to those feelings seems odd to me. The outdwellers can be a significant (or not) portion of ADF worship depending on how they are viewed by any particular group that is performing the ritual. Some groups make offerings to the outdwellers directly, some groups make offerings to a protective god/ess or spirit to protect the sacred rite from the influence of the outdwellers, and some groups ignore them entirely, preferring not to name those forces and thus garner their attention. I usually do some of the first two – I make an offering to the outdwellers directly (usually beer or soda or cider), and then ask Thunor’s protection of my ritual space – which is something of a threat, considering how Thunor usually deals with things that disrupt the order of the universe.

Added 7/15: Our protogrove has chosen simply to ward our ritual space through an offering and song to Thunor, which is based on an Anglo Saxon hallowing charm, set to music. We tried several other methods of offerings, and nothing felt quite right, but we also didn’t feel right completely ignoring the idea of the outdwellers, and so we settled on using a guardian deity whose function is the protection of the middle world to specifically protect our ritual space. We make these offerings to Thunor both at the beginning of the ritual (asking for protection) and at the end (thanks for protection), as well as singing the charm and carrying fire around the space.

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