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Posts Tagged ‘protogrove’

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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15.    Describe possible cultural variances for elements discussed in questions 3 through 14 above. (minimum 100 words)

ADF’s Core Order of Ritual is designed to remain coherent even while being adaptable to different hearth cultures. The following are cultural variations that might be found for the various elements of the Core Order:

  • Center and Gates – The sacred center can be represented by the World Tree (Yggdrasil/Eormensyl – Norse/Anglo-Saxon), or by the Sacred Mountain (Olympus – Hellenic). It can also be seen as the “center place” between Niflheim and Muspelheim – the Ginnungagap, the center of creation. The gates could be represented by something like the Bifrost Bridge in Norse mythology, making a direct connection to the world of the Gods.
  • Sacred Space/Outer Boundary – Roman rituals typically took place in temples, with defined boundaries and spaces, so a Roman rite might provide specific space as sacred (especially if they repeatedly use the same ritual space) rather than allowing for a completely open ritual (Wikipedia “Roman Temple”).
  • Earth Mother – A Hellenic ritual might substitute Hestia as the Hearth Goddess instead of an Earth Mother figure (though I believe substituting out the Earth Mother invalidates the Core Order, so substitutions here are a little problematic, but you might ADD an offering to Hestia as the one who gets the first sacrifice).
  • Fire and Water – As purification goes, some ritualists might add “earth” to Fire and Water, to make Land, Sky, and Sea as elements of purification (though I don’t know that this is specifically attested in any hearth culture, the Irish particularly liked references to Land, Sky, and Sea). As the two powers, chaos and order can be substituted for fire and water, or even Niflheim and Muspelheim (Fire and Ice).
  • Fire, Well, and Tree – Hellenic ritual might substitute a mountain (or rock) for the tree, and a pit for the well, as those are culturally significant in Hellenic mythology (Mount Olympus and the pit to access the underworld). Depending on the rite, a Vedic ritual might make reference to the pillars that hold up the world instead of a great tree.
  • Outdwellers – In the Irish hearth, these would likely be seen as the Fey/Faerie folk, and would generally be appeased, rather than warded against. In an Anglo-Saxon or Norse hearth, you’d be more likely to see warding against the Jotun, especially with invocations to Thor/Thunor, as that’s part of his function.
  • Three Kindreds – An Irish Celt might call to the beings of Land, Sea, and Sky instead of the three typical Kindreds (Corrigan “Worlds”).
  • Filling out the Cosmic Picture – An Irish Celt might make reference to the five provinces rather than the three worlds. A Norse ritual might acknowledge the nine realms (instead of three) and possibly make mention of each one.
  • Key Offerings – For a warrior ritual, one might make offerings to The Morrigan, or to Odin and Freyja, or to Mars, depending on one’s hearth culture. Similarly, depending on the type of divination being done, Odin (runes), Freyja (seidhr), or Apollo (oracle) would be appropriate.
  • Sacrifice – Perhaps the most dramatic (in size at least) culturally specific sacrifice is the hecatomb – a sacrifice of 100 cattle to Apollo, Athena, and Hera in the Hellenic culture (Wikipedia “Hecatomb”). (Someday I would like to see this replicated with a herd of children’s toy cows, or possibly of hamburgers.) Norse mythology also has the very dramatic (in function) sacrifice of the King in order to reverse a series of bad crops or famines. Less dramatically but perhaps more realistically, the Anglo-Saxons typically “sacrificed” the first loaf of bread to the fields at Lammas (hlaf-mas) to ensure good crops the next year.
  • Omen – Different forms of divination would be typical to different cultures. The Romans were particularly fond of watching the flight of birds, where Norse divination by casting lots/symbols is attested in Tacitus.
  • Blessing Cup/Return Flow/Waters of Life – The word “whiskey” (or “whisky”) is an Anglicization of the Gaelic word “water”, as part of the phrase “waters of life”, so you are very likely to see whiskey used in Irish rituals. (Whether this is because it’s significant or because people generally like whiskey I’ll leave up to the reviewer.) The Latin “aqua vitae” also is a reference to distilled spirits and means “waters of life”, so Roman ritualists may also use a distilled spirit. Norse rituals are more likely to use mead, as that drink was sacred in their culture, and the Norse have a direct “cup” symbol in Odhroerir (Wikipedia “Óðrerir”).

While leaving the original structure intact, there is a great deal of variation that is possible within the Core Order.

2.    Describe how ADF liturgy corresponds with your personal or group practice. (minimum 100 words)

I am currently involved with two groups that use the Core Order of Ritual fairly extensively. First, Protogrove of the Live Oaks does core order rituals every high day (as you would expect for a functioning protogrove). I have written several rituals for their use, and aside from not usually evoking the spirits of Inspiration, have found that they appreciate the structure of the core order and that it works well for our groups to have 3-4 people perform the ritual each high day, while the crowd of participants/laity sometimes approaches 15-20 people.

In the study group I lead, as we work through the Dedicant Path, we specifically have studied the core order, and use it for our own high day rituals every season as well. I help my students write these rituals, but primarily it is an exercise for them to get used to writing rituals so they will develop good liturgical skills. In the study group, everyone participates in some way in all the rituals, since there are only 5-8 of us, and we divide up the parts before the ritual so that everyone can be involved in gaining ritual skill. While this sometimes makes for less powerful rituals, it does a good job at helping us feel connected to one another, even if not everyone is destined to be a great liturgist and performer.

Privately, I occasionally do full core order rituals, especially if I am doing a particularly serious working, but in general I do condensed forms of this structure. I like the core order a lot, and I like high ritual, so I enjoy it, but for everyday use, it is much more likely for me to be able to continue a regular practice that only takes 3-5 minutes at a time. As I work on the Liturgy Practicum portion of the Initiate’s Path, I will be adding more core order elements to at least a weekly ritual, if only so that I can get better at improvising aspects of the ritual and can get away from using a ritual book.

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It is with great excitement (and only a little abject terror) that I get to announce that the Clear Lake Druidic Study Group has chosen to branch out, and has been accepted as a new Protogrove in ADF. I am ostensibly the Grove Organizer, but as I am more interested in service/ministry/spiritual stuff, I have taken it upon myself to welcome volunteers to be in charge of things like “budgets” and “bylaws”.

We’re working on a website, and have a Facebook group (two things which seem to be required for group legitimacy these days).

Our name – Nine Waves – comes from a couple of sources. First, we are a coastal protogrove, and so an ocean reference seemed appropriate. Second, we work mostly in the northern hearth (Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic), and our chosen gatekeeper is Heimdall/Hama, who is said to be the son of nine waves. Third, we all thought it sounded nice (which is always important when naming things).

Not a whole lot has changed so far – we’re still meeting every Friday for coffee and study group, but we now have business meetings each month, and we’re working on some publicity stuff. ADF stresses open ritual – PUBLIC open ritual, to be exact – and so part of our job as a Protogrove is to let people know that we will be hosting High Days, and where to find us.

We don’t have a permanent ritual location yet, since it’s hard to find a place that works in both good weather and bad, but we did find a fairly large gazebo at a local park that worked nicely for Ostara. The only problem with it so far is a complete lack of electricity, and no place to build an actual fire, but candles are okay. (Note: Grove Ritual Organization Box needs a small supply of book lights for evenings when it gets dark during ritual.)

If you had told me three years ago when I joined ADF that I’d be part of ADF leadership, I probably would have laughed at you, but the change has been slow and steady, and I’ve learned a lot through running the study group. I hope I’m up to the task of leading a protogrove. I made an oath at our Ostara ritual that, barring crazy unforeseen acts, I would lead the PG for three years (unless they throw me out). I’m excited to see what kind of a community we can build in three years. There are 4 founding members of the protogrove, which is pretty neat (as that’s enough to be a chartered grove eventually), and I hope we only build from there.

 

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“Cat hoovering (also Cat vacuuming) – 1. any excuse to avoid writing, even vacuuming the cat (Gerri); 2. A pointless exercise used to avoid real work. (HughSider)”

I was reading this article by John Beckett (if you don’t read his blog, you should) on what priests are and aren’t. He said the following:

A priest serves as an exemplar.  He should model the behaviors and lifestyles he advocates.  He is human and will not be perfect in any of this, but he should strive to live a life in alignment with his highest values and in the spirit of the Gods and Goddesses he serves.  Or, to borrow a phrase from my Baptist childhood:  “practice what you preach.”

A priest will be a counselor.  Show a little competency in leadership and begin exemplifying the Divine to any extent and people will begin telling you more than you want to know about themselves.  One of the most valuable services a priest can provide is simply to listen and be an unanxious presence.

While a proper mixture of divination, prayer, ritual, and counseling can be helpful, a priest can’t solve people’s problems for them.  What he can do is to be with them and support them until they can solve their problems themselves.  A priest must also recognize the limits of his expertise – is what you’re hearing a spiritual problem or is it mental illness?  A priest must know when to say “I can’t help you – you need to see a mental health professional.”

A priest serves as an organizer.  He should make sure the trains run on time:  rituals are performed, offerings are made, classes are held, this-world actions are taken.  A priest doesn’t have to do all that himself (nor should he, in most cases), but he should make sure his religious community does the things it needs to do.  People can – and should, and at least occasionally – be allowed to fail.  Communities can never be allowed to fail.

Now, to start all this off – IANAP. I am not a priest. (or a priestess.) I am a Druid, and an ADF dedicant, and a student working towards Initiation. After which I intend to do at least the first circle of clergy training, so someday I will (maybe) be a priest.

However, I’m doing a lot of things that are similar to the work of priests right now (as would anyone who is in a position of leadership in a pagan group), and gradually getting more and more familiar with that role. But it’s a hard one, and one that I contemplate a lot. I don’t know if I have the personality or the credentials to do this “right.”

And I’d be lying if I said that my mental illness didn’t sometimes factor into my worries about my future in ADF. There’s a reason I started with the IP – Initiates are called to individual service, where Priests are called to community service. Individual service lets me set more boundaries to my own availability and time.

Plus? I’m a human being. I screw up. I get frustrated and say angry things that I don’t mean, or use a tone of voice that makes people feel defensive and hurt. I’ve only been working in an ADF community role for about 9 months, and I’ve already done that at least once that I am aware of. I haven’t had the chance to make amends about it either. (Having done so makes me feel doubly unqualified to do this work.)

I know this is what the virtues are for. They are guides, things to strive for, things to judge my actions against. Have I been a good host? Have I been a person of integrity? Have I shown wisdom? What is my vision? I know I did a bunch of essays on this in my dedicant work, but somehow I still feel like I’m redefining and reimagining those things in my life. As a solitary, the virtues were very personal, and were thus much easier to write about. In a position of leadership (even of a small group), the virtues get stickier. How do I maintain my focus and still be open to others? How do I maintain the traditions of the group but allow for change and growth? How do I respect that my local group has been around for 10 years (but not had much/any growth) but still convince them that growth is possible?

Yngvi would say (and has said) “We do the best we can with what we have, and the rest will follow.” And he’s right, but there’s a lot of in between to that kind of thing. Plus it’s getting hard to juggle supporting the protogrove, planning lessons for the study group (which includes dedicant mentoring), my increasingly complex daily practice, and my own studies on the IP. I’ve completed two courses, and I’m tackling the journaling portions of Liturgy Practicum and Divination II right now, plus the reading for I-E Studies (which will probably be my next submission). Things have changed rapidly from my writing some essays over a year into Druidry taking up a big chunk of my life – which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s something to think about. (And maybe think about ways to maintain my identity as a person who is more than just a Druid.)

I’m probably thinking too hard about this, but it feels like I’ve gone from being someone who can do as she pleases with very little or no ramifications to anyone else to someone who is now *responsible* for stuff. And I dunno if I always like that feeling. But then, I also know I get a lot of fulfillment out of the work I do for the study group and the protogrove, so perhaps it’s a trade off. It’s one I think I’m glad I’ve made, but sometimes it’d be nice to not have to think deeply about every action, and just fly by the seat of my pants for a bit.

Lots of thoughts, not all of them productive, I’m sure.

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Grove is the (slightly cliché, I’ll admit) term for a group of druids. It’s the standard operating system for ADF, and the point toward which the majority of ADF ritual is designed. Groves are groups of ADF members who meet regularly and celebrate rituals together at least for the 8 major high days of the wheel of the year.

The heart of ADF, groves provide places of community, worship, and learning. There are currently 75 groves in ADF, spread around the world (though most are in the United States). Unfortunately, while that seems like a pretty big number, and it is constantly growing, there are still big gaps between groves in a lot of the US (and even more so worldwide), so a lot of druids end up as solitaries (and some may even choose to remain solitary even in a place with access to a grove or protogrove).

My local group is a Protogrove – the step before becoming a full grove. It requires fewer people, but the ultimate goal is to work towards full grove status. Groves perform regular community service and provide a space for public ritual and community, fulfilling the vision of ADF to become a public Neopagan church.

Grove-centered spirituality is a different beast for me, since I am so strongly tied to my solitary practice. I’ve enjoyed working in the small group that is my study group, but I still do solitary rituals for high days. My local protogrove is also strongly Irish/Welsh focused, and while I don’t mind doing rituals in whatever hearth culture the group prefers, I still like to have my Anglo-Saxon/Germanic rituals when possible.

Still, plugging into a local Neopagan community, however small they may be, has been useful for me, at least in terms of inspiring me to stick with the practices that I know are important to my work, and in giving me something to help keep me accountable (the study group is really good for that).

I am hoping that our work as a study group will help further the local protogrove and vice versa, and I really do think that the two will work well together, blending their ritual practice with the more academic side of Druidry. And hey, maybe we’ll rub off on each other a bit in the meantime, and start to see more crossover between the groups. From what I have seen of the two groups, they can bring us some of the joy and levity that is so important in a good working religion, and we can provide the reverence and study that form the other half of ADF’s work. I think it will be a good partnership.

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This week Yngvi and I finally got to meet up with three members of the local protogrove. They were all very friendly, and I think we’ll get on just fine. They are okay with us continuing our study group as is, and at least one of them would like to join up with us, since she wants to work on her DP.

Also the local Grove Organizer and I have the same birthday (March 2) and two other people (Yngvi and another lady) also have March birthdays, so we’re thinking of doing a Druid Birthday Bash of some sort, to celebrate.

My “radar” is still in good working order – I walked into the coffee shop and immediately picked out the people I was going to be chatting with (as did Yngvi, who I made do the first introductions, because I am kinda shy). Dunno what led me to go “those ladies. Those are the ladies from the PG”, but I did – and apparently they picked me out as soon as I walked in as well. Hooray for good intuition and “radar”.

I don’t know yet if we’ll be joining them for rituals regularly or not. They do rituals on the official “day” of the high day (so Beltane is always on May 1), which means weeknight rituals, and that’s tough for me. They aren’t far away, so it may work, but I’ll have to rearrange my whole weekly schedule to make it fit, and depending on the week, it may just not be possible. Plus, the study group will still be having high day rituals as we work our way through the different hearth cultures, and that may conflict with the PG rituals. My primary loyalty right now is to the study group, and since I’m leading that, I can have the rituals at our regular meeting time, so the high day is on the closest Friday to the actual official “day”. (We did Imbolc on Jan 31, for example.)

The PG is primarily Irish Celtic (they call themselves the Houston Celtic Druids in some online forums), but they weren’t phased by Yngvi and my Germanic/Scandinavian/Anglo-Saxon hearths. In fact, they seemed interested and curious, which I took to be a good sign. As well, my dreams about herons and cranes have continued – and I found out yesterday that one of the locals is a member of the Order of the Crane in ADF. I am not sure I’ll bring it up with her until I know her a little bit better, but it was interesting to hear that she’s involved there.

All in all it was a good first meeting. Yngvi and I will continue to lead the study group, now possibly with some new members from the PG, and we’ll see where things go as that progresses. Now that I have some faces and personalities to put with names, I’m more comfortable going to a ritual at someone’s private home, so that hurdle is out of the way as well.

ADF serves both communities and solitary pagans. I’ve spent most of my ADF time as a solitary, but that seems to be rapidly changing. It brings up a lot of my fears about being “out” as a pagan (I really don’t want a potential employer to be able to google me and find out my religion, among other things), but for now I can still fly under the radar, since leading a study group doesn’t require my name to be on any of the websites anywhere. I know I am somewhat gun-shy of joining up with a new pagan group, especially with how quickly my involvement in previous groups ended, but hopefully this will be good for me and my spiritual development.

I’m also taking suggestions for a name for our study group. Right now we’re calling ourselves the “Clear Lake Druidic Study Group”, which works, but isn’t very creative. There are four of us so far, but we may be growing. We’re primarily split between the Norse/AS and the Hellenic hearth cultures so far, but that may change as the newer folks start doing their own rituals at home and creating a devotional practice. Any suggestions are welcome!

 

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So it looks like I’m going to get to meet the local protogrove here sometime in the next week or so. Yngvi has been corresponding with them and is working on a time we can all meet in the evening.

After my previous experience, I’m having trouble keeping an open mind about it, but I know if I’m going to do this for real, I need to be on at least communicating terms with the local group. And they may be wonderful people! My impressions from facebook may be totally off base.

I’m still nervous though. I’ve completed the DP, but I’ve not been doing ADF for even two full years yet. I like people, but they stress me out. (Also, the suggested meeting location is an IHOP, and the only thing I can eat at IHOP is fried eggs, because they put pancake batter in their scrambles and omelets, and I have celiac disease!) I know they have a Celtic focus (Irish, I think), but I don’t know much else about the group.

New things, new directions. I am getting pushed out of my comfort zone a lot recently with ADF. But that’s what happens when you start making oaths, I suppose.

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