1. Public Ritual
Explain why public, inclusive ritual is important to ADF (200 words minimum).
ADF views public ritual as a vital part of the organization for many reasons. To begin, one of the primary roles of the ancient Druids was to lead their people in magical workings and ritual. By providing public rituals, ADF honors this role and tries to continue this tradition. Holding public ritual also allows ADF to be an organization that is both inclusive and open, which is vastly different from many other Modern Pagan traditions, which are more secretive. Being an open organization allows people to see positive, honest, and ethical activities within the Pagan community.
Another reason that ADF holds public ritual is as a public service. Paganism is still a minority in the religious community. Because of this, many modern Pagans feel alone in their spirituality. By holding open, public rituals ADF is helping to build a community for people that may otherwise feel alone. It shows an active spirituality and helps to fill a void that many people miss when they leave behind a traditional church. The increase in the number of people who consider themselves Pagan have made the need for public worship options even more necessary.
Holding public rituals with my Protogrove has allowed me to meet new and interesting people, and to build a bond that I may never have had otherwise. It also gives people an exposure to the religion in a very practical way that is easier to understand when encountered than when read. I was always very skeptical about public ritual, but at this point I fully understand and appreciate that ADF encourages public interaction within their practices. (268 words)
2. Clergy Function
Describe the duties and function of clergy in ADF (100 words minimum).
Clergy within ADF is different than many other organizations. I believe the primary difference is the training and education provided to ADF Clergy that gives them the tools to be successful in their roles. ADF Leadership has shown the desire to have well-trained and professional clergy who are active in both the organization and the community
(Bonewits, The Vision of ADF). ADF clergy are the advisors and encouragers
of the organization. They are there to give guidance, provide counseling, and
mentor members in different areas. ADF
clergy are capable and often excellent at leading and organizing rituals and
developing liturgy but that is not their only duty. They develop theology and liturgy, but they
also act as spiritual advisors to the members of the organization. ADF Clergy is
also accepting and encouraging of growth in other members while providing a
positive reputation of the organization. (118 words)
3. IE Focus
Explain why ADF has an Indo-European focus, and why we use the term “Druid” in our name (200 words minimum).
ADF focuses on Indo-European cultures in its public rituals and rites instead of leaving it completely open to all cultures. Narrowing down the cultural focus from every culture throughout history makes it easier for people to relate and work together to build liturgy. It also helps to define who ADF is and what the practitioners may believe. However, it also allows for a level of diversity that a simply Celtic focus would not allow. Many of the Indo-European cultures have similar beliefs and practices that make it possible to interweave them within the organization.
Including multiple hearth cultures in ADF has definitely opened the door to people who may otherwise be less inclined to participate. As someone of a Hellenic hearth, it is one part of ADF that I appreciate the most. It has also allowed the community to draw in people from different groups to participate, including those who are Hellenic or Norse in their focus. This has definitely helped my local Protogrove to be more successful and inclusive, and I love the community that we are building within that diversity.
The term Druid, however, is one that has traditionally been Celtic focused so many people automatically assume a Celtic culture when you use it. ADF has used the term because of the roles and duties of the Druids and what they represented and not because of the culture they were tied to. Druids were the wise ones, who held the knowledge of the community and lead the religious activities in many communities. By using the term Druid in their practice, ADF insinuates the same role for the members. (270 words)
4. Subgroups of ADF
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 minimum for each type of subgroup)
ADF offers a wide variety of groups to their membership. These groups have a range of roles, but they all work to build a community and connection between the members of the organization. ADF groups are divided into three primary categories: guilds, Kins, and SIGs
A guild within ADF is a group that is based upon building and developing a specific set of skills and understanding how it can be used and related to spiritual practices
(Ar nDraiocht Fein). The guilds within ADF provide opportunities to
study, learn, and train in a specific focus area, while sharing experiences
with other members. Most guilds have
developed training programs, which have been approved by the Co, to help people
to further develop and explore the skills of that guild. The study program requirements vary, but they
are developed to help build the skill for that Guild and understand how it can
apply to their spirituality, when they can easily feel mundane. Guilds encourage
and support members in those activities, often giving advice, while helping to
build a better understanding of the skillset. There are a wide variety of
Guilds available to ADF members, ranging from Artisans and Bards, to Brewers and
Warriors. It is one more area that ADF
encourages community through diversity and experience sharing.
The second sub-group type within ADF is the Kin. A kin is a group that focuses on a specific hearth culture
(Ar nDraiocht Fein). ADF has an Indo-European focus
as an organization, but the kins allow for exploration of specific cultures
within the Indo-European tree. The kins
help people to build an understanding of a particular hearth culture in a
spiritual context and help to develop ways of worshipping within that hearth in
a way that works with the ADF structure.
Kins are responsible for developing culturally specific spiritual
traditions within ADF and can help to develop liturgy and devotionals to that
hearth culture in juncture with the Liturgists Guild. Kins also allow for networking between ADF
members that follow the same hearth culture.
This allows them to share their experiences and understanding of the
hearth. The primary goal of a kin within
ADF, in my opinion, is to help members understand how to follow a hearth they
feel drawn to in an ADF context. It can
be a challenge to incorporate a Greek cultural focus into ADF ritual without
some guidance, and Kins are available for this reason.
The third sub-group type within ADF is the Special Interest Group (SIG). Special interest groups are those groups that do not seem to fit into either of the other two categories. They do not focus on a specific culture, or a specific skillset. Instead they focus on a specific interest, such as a hobby, language, or lifestyle
Fein). These groups support ADF members with this
interest and offer assistance for interests that do not fall into the scope of
the other types of groups. They provide
a network of ADF members with similar interests and discuss how those interests
can be utilized and incorporated with their practices and spirituality. These groups vary extensively, ranging from
the focus of a specific deity like the Brighid’s Hearth SIG and Morrigan SIG to
the use of technology in spirituality like the Technopagan SIG and sexuality in
the People of the Purple Feather and Polyamory SIG. These groups can help people to feel
connected, when in many cases these interests could lead them to feel
Each of these groups offers something to the members that may otherwise be missing in the traditions of ADF. They all allow members to feel connected and that can be very beneficial for the organization as a whole. (606 words total)
5. Ceremonial Calendar
Describe ADF’s official ceremonial calendar, and discuss why it was designed in this way (200 words minimum).
ADF’s official ceremonial calendar follows the traditional eight Neopagan High Days, including the solstices and equinoxes throughout the year and the cross-quarter days between them. The ADF ceremonial calendar begins with on the cross quarter which falls on November 1st. It then continues throughout the calendar year, with High Days approximately every six weeks on December 21st, February 1st, March 21st, May 1st, June 21st, August 1st, and September 21st. The ceremonial calendar then ends on October 31st and the cycle will begin again. ADF groups are allowed to celebrate these high days within a two-week window of the actual day, somewhere between one week before and one week after the “official” date. This gives groups flexibility to schedule events at a time that is more convenient for the members, while still observing the High Day
(ADF Mother Grove).
In my opinion, ADF uses this calendar for two main reasons. The first is that many of the Proto-Indo-European cultures had a religious cycle that followed the seasons and celebrated the harvest cycles, or fertility cycles, which helps build the connection between modern practices and ancient traditions, mythology, and history. However, I also believe that this “Wheel of the Year” cycle is the holiday path that most modern Pagans are familiar and comfortable with. By incorporating this wheel into the core practices of ADF, more members are able to connect and understand the calendar, which makes it easier for them to develop liturgy for it and incorporate it into their personal practices. (247 words)
6. Law, Policy, Tradition, and Customs in ADF
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 minimum).
Reading through “Law, Policy, Tradition, and Customs in ADF” I was very surprised to see how much ADF has grown and developed over time. However, I was also pleased to see that the core of ADF has remained very similar to the original goals. To begin with, ADF still tries to focus on order and structure and avoid the chaotic nature of many Pagan groups. The organization as a whole also still avoids the usage of any dualistic extremes, whether it is good and evil, male and female, or black and white. These themes are very present in some Neo-Pagan groups, but ADF has worked to keep most ideals more spectrums based, which I find personally fulfilling. There are also specific rules about discrimination that I am thrilled have been present from the start.
However, the organization has definitely grown and changed over time, and that has lead to the necessity of some changes. Some of these changes are definitely for the better, while others are things that I would like to see continued. One custom that I would like to see return is the adoption of new protogroves by larger groves to guide them and help them grow. Today, each protogrove is given a mentor, but from personal experience, the mentor plays a very minor role and often has no contact with the protogrove at all. Having the guidance of a successful grove could be beneficial to many groups.
Fortunately, there have also been many changes that I think are for the best. Originally animal sacrifices were forbidden only through policy, but I believe at this point any sort of blood sacrifice in ADF ritual is forbidden as a law. There also used to be the allowance of self-bleeding rituals for SIGs and individuals within ritual, but as far as I understand it, this practice is no longer allowed within an ADF ritual. Another major change that I noticed is that Provisionally Chartered Groves were previously allowed to hold 3 non-public rituals prior to their first official public ritual. From my understanding, this is no longer the case and all Grove rituals must be public. Protogroves do have the option to not hold public rituals though, as long as there are 8 public events throughout the year. The last change that I noticed was the evolution of ADF liturgy. At the time of this paper, there was a “Standard Liturgical Outline” that members were encouraged to follow through tradition. Now it is required that public ADF rituals follow the Core Order of Ritual, which did not exist at that time. I believe this change is present because of the natural evolution of the organization, and helps to build a standard liturgical flow to be used across the many different groups within the organization
(Bonewits, Law, Policy, Tradition,
and Custom within A.D.F. ).
Overall, I appreciate seeing the progression and evolution of ADF by reading through some of the older documentation. It helps me to understand where the organization started, and where it may go in the future. (499 words)
Describe ADF’s use of Dumezil’s “tripartition” and its effect on ADF’s structure, study programs, and the religion of ADF members in general (200 words minimum).
Tripartition is defined as “the act of dividing or the state of being divided into three parts” (Merriam-Webster). Dumezil divided Indo-European society into three separate functions: priests, warriors, and farmers
(Momigliano). These divisions have been incorporated into
ADF’s structure in multiple ways. Guilds
within ADF can be divided within very similar standards, using the term
“producer” instead of farmers. The
priestly actions would fall upon the Bardic, Liturgists, Seers, Magicians, and
Scholars Guilds. Each of these guilds
focuses on the spiritual and religious aspects of ADF. The second group would include the Warriors
Guild, which focuses on the martial functions of ADF and how those can be
incorporated into a spiritual practice.
The final group of guilds would be the “farmers” or the producers group,
which would include the Artisans, Naturalists, and Healers guilds (ADF Mother Grove). These guilds all work to create new things
and repair those things around them.
Their function can easily be tied back to the farmers of the Dumezil
Tripartition can also be seen in other aspects of ADF. The dedicant’s path includes the three triads of practice, which are divided into spirituality, practice, and skills. Within this, I have seen some people who also divide the virtues themselves into three triads, which fit into these partitions. Our clergy program is also divided into three separate systems as well, although I don’t feel that those necessarily fall into the Dumezil divisions. Within ADF there is definitely a repeated occurrence of triads for cosmology, study programs, and many other factors. I have always found that very interesting, but was unaware of Dumezil before looking into it for this paper. (272 words)
8. Orthopraxy vs. Orthodoxy
Explain the difference between “orthopraxy” and “orthodoxy.” Where do you feel ADF falls? (200 words minimum).
Orthodoxy is defined as “a belief or way of thinking that is accepted as true or correct (Merriam Webster). From my experience, orthodoxy is typically seen in religions with a set dogma that its members are expected to believe in and follow without variation. This means that orthodoxy encourages the idea that there is a single set of beliefs that are accurate, which leads to the feeling within these religions that a group of a different faith may believe in the “wrong” religion. Orthopraxy, on the other hand, is defined as “the belief that right action is as important as religious faith” (Dictionary.com). Orthopraxy is a method of organization that emphasizes living and behaving in a positive manner, or having “right actions.” In an orthopraxy, actions are just as important as the spiritual beliefs that a person may have. I believe that ADF is definitely an orthopraxy. The organization as a whole allows for UPG practices, a variation of hearth and deity connections, and a wide variety of beliefs within its system
(ADF Mother Grove). The limitations within the organization are
all focused upon the actions of the members and not upon the beliefs or faith
of those people. There is also not a set
doctrine or dogma within the organization.
The lack of set rules about faith, and the emphasis on actions and
activities are what lead me to believe that ADF is an orthopraxy. (234 words)
9. Praise Offerings
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 minimum).
The ultimate goal of a praise offering is to foster a relationship with a being. This offering can be a physical offering of some sort, ranging from food and drinks to an artwork or piece of jewelry. However, it can also be a song, poem, or prayer that has been written to share during the ritual
(Bonewits, Step by Step through A Druid Worship Ceremony). The important part of the offering is that it
is used to build a relationship with a spiritual being. These offerings are made in ritual, and how
they are delivered varies by group and by offering. If the item is something that can be offered
to the well or the fire, it typically is.
However, because the offerings can be made in a non-physical form, they
can instead be performed for the deity or kindred. There is a time in the Core Order of Ritual,
during the Key Offerings, where praise offerings can be given. These offerings can be made to the Being of
Occasion, to a specific deity or group of deities, to an ancestor, or to the
The offering of praise offerings can vary greatly from person to person and group to group. For a solitary practitioner, this may be a small piece of the ritual where a special word of thanks, or offering is given. However, in a group, this may be a much longer part of the ritual depending upon the number of people in attendance. In my protogrove, Prairie Shadow Protogrove, ADF, we tell members that they are welcome to bring any praise offerings they want to give, and have a few extra incense and food type offerings available, for them to come up during the praise offerings section of the ritual. We typically allow a person to come forward as they will, which generally means they come up one at a time to make their offerings. We do have a relatively small group, which makes this method practical, but I can see how it would become very difficult for this type of offering in a larger group.
Three Cranes Grove varies their praise offering method based upon attendance and other factors. They focus their offering on the Deity of Occasion and encourage people to participate, although it is not required. Their website has several guidelines about praise offerings to help people understand what is going on. These guidelines include the fact that praise offerings may be done all at once if there is a large turnout and being aware of physical items and how to “properly” dispose of them. One rule in particular is “If you offer it to the Kindreds in ritual, you will not get it back”
(Three Cranes Grove, ADF). This is a rule that I believe would come
about after a specific instance or group of instances.
Overall, praise offerings are used within ADF to help create, foster, and honor relationships with the Kindreds. It is a unique part of ADF ritual that I find very interesting, and helps establish the ideas of *ghosti and hospitality. (505 words)
10. Administrative Structure
Describe ADF’s administrative structure (150 words minimum).
ADF’s administrative structure is one that seems vary similar to many large businesses that I am familiar with. The organization is lead by a board of directors, called the Mother grove. This board is made up of a group of directors including the Arch Druid (President), Vice Arch Druid (Vice President), and Scribe (Secretary). From there the board varies from some other traditional organizations to include a member’s advocate, and 4 Non-Officer directors. The board also includes the Council of Regional Druid’s Chief, and the Chief of the Council of Senior Druids
(ADF Mother Grove).
One of the aspects that I most appreciate about ADF is that each of these positions is an elected position. The membership of the organization are given the opportunity to vote to elect people they feel could best fit these positions, which prevents any sort of dictatorship or negative leadership habits. I definitely appreciate that.
Outside of these elected positions there are also 3 positions that are included in the administration of ADF that I feel should be mentioned. These positions are Administrator, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization, the Preceptor, who oversees the study programs, and the Treasurer, who is responsible for overseeing the organization’s finances. Each of these positions is an appointed position and often require a background check to verify that they are qualified and will have no issues with the requirements of the job.
I appreciate the administrative structure of ADF and find that it is set up in a way to help encourage the growth and betterment of the organization and not to grow individual egos or attitudes. (269 words)
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—. Kins. May 2014 <https://www.adf.org/groups/kins/index.html>.
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