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October 13th, 2009


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11:06 am - On the role of an ADF Priest
I have been spending a lot of time, recently, on examining the role of the Priest in ADF (and, slightly more broadly, in Neo-Paganism in general). In a lot of ways, I find it very straightforward and simple, while in other ways it is very complicated. There is a lot of good information in a variety of sources that expand on the basic question of "What is a Priest and what does he or she do?" Really, reading a few articles answers a lot of questions.

Ian's words ring very true: we are not shepherds, we have no flocks.

The "ritual specialist" language is too simplistic, though, and speaks to a very limited role. I'm not overly pleased with it, so I expect to mostly abandon it soon, or at least modify it with additional terms.

Over and over, though, I come back around to three things: partnership with laity, commitment and training.

The commitment is really the central piece; training is an addendum, really, that leads to obligation and commitment, a sort of *ghosti relationship where when you do the work to get trained, you find yourself committed to training others in the ways of Our Druidry, and to use the skills provided by that training to ensure that the proper rites and sacrifices are made in the proper way at the proper time. In many ways, an ADF Priest is first and foremost a person committed to serving the folk through their training and making sacrifice to the Kindreds.

In any case, there is a two-way commitment: one to the Kindreds, and one to the Folk. I am generally not of a mind that a Solitary member cannot become a Priest, but I think about the oath I took and I wonder how I could fulfill it from a Solitary point of view. I also, though, accept that every individual will find a different vocation, and that they will be called to serve the Folk in different ways. Because of that, my own notion of how someone else might fulfill their oath is fundamentally flawed: not knowing their vocation, I cannot question their fulfillment of it effectively.

It occurs to me that there is also an ineffible quality to priesthood, within ADF and (I suspect) outside of it: those who have been through the processes of consecration and ordination (and now, initiation) will view their role differently than those who have not passed those boundaries and have not made those commitments, and differently than those who have not done the training. I suspect that there is an element of intent to the training, as well, since a trained Liturgist might find similar courses but a very different experience in them, as I know I have.

I think that, because of this, I can only see the role of the Priest in ADF as a partnership of sorts: just as you cannot define a "partner" in ballroom dancing without discussing dancing, one cannot define Priests without discussing the relationship and interaction between Priest and laity. If we consider separating the Priest from the laity at all (either by defining one group as "useful" or one group as "useless"), each category must understand and express the value of the other in order to find value within itself.

A book that I love describes it like this: "We can ask, What is a wombat or an edible dormouse?, but not, What is a priest? The priest is no independent species – the 'laity' are part of the picture of what the priest is, and the priest is part of the picture of what the laity are." The notion that priests can be defined in isolation from the congregation is a ridiculous one, and I suspect that the true issues that surround "defining a Priest in ADF" likely revolve around insecurity about what an individual's role is in relation to the ADF Priest, not insecurity about the role of the external priest.

My initiation into the ADF Initiatory Current was a very reflective thing: I am deeply engaged in retrospective thinking and considering new things that are coming up. My actual essay on this topic (meant for Oak Leaves) is already stretching several pages, because the question of the role of ADF Priests is so very complicated, so I won't dwell on it here much more.
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From:prophet_maid
Date:October 13th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
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I find this interesting, especially the priest vs. solitary stuff. The thing is, as someone who lives ~150 miles from the nearest priest (Barbara Wright, whom I've talked to all of twice, maybe), I couldn't say what, if anything, the ADF clergy does. So in my mind a priest is pretty much a solitary, doing their own thing off in the (proverbial) woods somewhere, and occasionally presiding over a rite with their own grove.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
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I think that there is value to that sort of priest, with this caveat: Priests cannot work in complete isolation, though they may do their rites in isolation; an ADF Priest has made a commitment to serve the folk and honour the gods (and love the land), and a solitary priest is likely to do this through keeping the fires burning on their hearth shrine. . . but they do not do the rituals on their behalf alone, but on behalf of the Folk at large. In other words, they ensure that the sacrifices are made, that the cosmos is maintained, and that right action is done, regardless of what others do (or, as the case may be, do not do).

That can be a lonely and solitary path on its own, as my own path has recently become at times, when you are told over and over again that you are not a useful person, that your work as clergy has no value. But still we do what we committed to do, and we keep the rites.

I've thought of it recently as a position with no sick leave: regardless of how the priest is feeling, he or she is required to do the work. The laity can call off a ritual, secure in the knowledge that the Kindred will be served if they don't do their work, but a priest has no such luxury.

druidkirk showed a good example of this when he had his eye surgery, and did his Lughnassadh ritual lying down because he was not permitted to stand. He did the ritual out of his sense of obligation to the Folk and the Kindreds, and from his love of the land.

So I can see the "total Sol" model (though my own vocation won't permit that model: I need to serve the folk directly rather than indirectly): it's perfectly valid as a path, I think, even if I don't really believe that it is a path for me, or even a path that I will ever fully understand. But I see it as a valid path only so long as it continues to serve the Folk and the Kindreds.
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From:prophet_maid
Date:October 13th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
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Well, no person is entirely solitary, not even the hermit. Even as someone who's not a trained priest I've been put into the priest-role numerous times. And if you define a solitary as ADF does (not a member of a grove), I was a solitary during much of that.

What I'd like to see is how a priest is different from the concerned and involved laity. Is it just the training, or is it something more?

Cuz from my perspective, it's the training plus you get neat people to talk to and the support of a likeminded community. But again, I've never actually seen a priest in action, rituals at festivals excepting.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
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Training is a large component, I think, and intent of that training; also, the commitment to train others or help others along comes into play.

I also think that this notion of relationship between priest and laity is vital to what we do, both further muddling and further clarifying the notion: every priest is a layperson and every layperson is a priest. By that same token, we have Priests in our church, too. The question then becomes, aside from the mystery of consecration/ordination, what is it that an ADF Priest has that regular members do not?

As I've spoken about it with others, it does come down to a few particular items: training done that is then used in the service of others; commitment to keeping Our Druidry alive and well at our hearth shrines for the Folk; and aiding others (through training and dedication) in building and maintaining relationships with the Powers.

We have, at the moment, too few Priests and too few resources to really get to all our members, though that is changing: resources have been donated to get our Priests out to the membership in a more personal way, and I'd expect to see an announcement soon about that.
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From:dubhlainn
Date:October 13th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
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when you are told over and over again that you are not a useful person, that your work as clergy has no value

This is the second time in as many days that I have read your writing this.

Honestly, I am sorry, I think it is completely untrue. I am sorry you feel this way but no one who has questions about Clergy in ADF has said that you are not useful or the work you do has no value.

Am I wrong? Please direct me to the archive so I see it for myself because I never saw anything on the list like this. Even if it was flat our said it would be the opinion of one person which the rest of us do not agree with.

As frustrated as you feel that the questions come up is exactly how I feel when everytime we have these discussions and this claim is made. How is wanting to know what it is Clergy does and how we should define Clergy in ADF expressing a viewpoint that you are useless and have not value?

This discussion is not, and never was, personal
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
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Honestly, I am sorry, I think it is completely untrue

It is not, actually, untrue at all. It is precisely how I feel. I do the work I do because I have made commitments to do it, and because I find value in the work I do for others, regardless of whether the majority of others share value in my work.

How is wanting to know what it is Clergy does and how we should define Clergy in ADF expressing a viewpoint that you are useless and have not value?

That is not at all the question that causes issue, though it is admittedly a basis for the outgrowth of other questions, particularly about the integrity of our clergy, that have come up. People describe themselves as "suspicious" of our clergy, that they believe the CC has "too much power." This insinuates that we lack integrity as a body, that we are not people who can be trusted or people who should be invested with trust. It has led to hyperbole, insinuating that the CC has no oversight, which is not the case at all (we are, in fact, overseen and occasionally overruled by a body that is 100% elected by popular vote).

It's also clear that people don't find use in our clergy: either we aren't there for them at the time they need us (whether they asked us to be or not) or we don't produce anything that they personally find useful (whether we produce other items or not).

There are many vocal people in the Org who tell us that clergy are not useful, that we do nothing. The recent discussions about how untrustworthy we are have been a major blow that I fear will lead some to burnout. We continue our work because we are obligated to do it, because there is a value that we find in our commitments, and because we have faith that a few members will gain from our work. We work for the Folk, even if the Folk don't want us to in many cases.

The webteam has been in the same predicament, though at least no one has called their integrity into question publicly. They've just said that the webteam isn't actually doing anything.

The intrinsic value in work, not the value others place on the work and not value in self, is the only thing that keeps some of us hanging on from time to time. For many of us, value of self is nearly completely drained.

For me, the value I have for the work I do, and the tiny minority who tells me that the work excites them (perhaps three to four people in a given quarter on average, some of whom are fellow clergy: we have learned to help each other along) is what keeps me going, what keeps my hearth shrine lit with the soft flame of devotion.

But some days, I look at it and it's hard to light it again, to bring that flame to brightness and kindle it in my heart at the same time. The initiation brought much needed spark, and for a long time it was fading (just look at how often I was posting until recently), but there's a long way to go before I can safely say that the fire is brightly burning again. It's been doused so often by others that I am often surprised that it remained lit at all.
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From:dubhlainn
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
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People describe themselves as "suspicious" of our clergy, that they believe the CC has "too much power." This insinuates that we lack integrity as a body, that we are not people who can be trusted or people who should be invested with trust.

I am one of those people and I never implied or insinuated any such thing. Let me present this in another way, why hasn't ANYONE on the Clergy Council wrote or called to work with me or speak to me about this? I fear it is just easier to assume what my motives are than to actually talk about this.

You all had a prime opportunity at the retreat. I could have come up for a couple hours on one of the mornings or for dinner or whatever where it would not have affected the private nature of the retreat, and I would have been glad to do so.

What does that insinuate about how Clergy feels about non-Clergy? What does it insinuate about the work I do, my experience, and my role in our organization that no one even bothers? I do not have as high a level of training and am, therefore, not even worth talking with? Laity is such a pain that we should not even take the time to talk with them but just figure it out on our own? And then be shocked when our conclusion is not what they expect or want?

For the record, I do not believe any of that is true. I think you all had a busy and full weekend and my being there would not have really added enough to the discussion to open up your retreat. I was just making a point that insinuation can be a dangerous slope.

For me, personally, the last talks about the role of Clergy were very helpful. A lot of people shared their perspectives and if gave me a great deal to think about and a lot different perspective.

I have to ask, do you see the danger in us not even being able to share our fears and concerns? If I cannot even say that I perceive a power imbalance in ADF without the Clergy feeling that somehow I am saying you are untrustworthy or have no value how can we ever work through these issues?
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
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I can only tell you how I feel about it. I cannot tell you whether it is true. I also do not believe it is true.

But it is exactly how I feel about it.

I spend a great deal of my time seeking to separate the comment from the person. I often start my day on the lists by saying, out loud, "No one means this about me." But I often end my day saying to myself, "Man, I'm one slimy bastard."

You asked for a specific example from a list, so I provided one from the list. I could have chosen other ones, I suppose, but this one stuck out when I did a search for the term "clergy." The CC is a body, and we are individuals on it. If the body is corrupt, then the individuals are, too. If the body is abusing its power (or is capable of doing so), then so am I.

So, I have to go back and wonder: "Am I the kind of person that would do that?" And that sort of exercise is healthy.

Until you find yourself doing it every day.
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From:dubhlainn
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
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So, I have to go back and wonder: "Am I the kind of person that would do that?"

From what I know about you, which is -- granted -- mostly from only talking with you and reading your thoughts and ideas online. I would way "absolutely not!"

Which does not mean that I do not believe there are other members of our Clergy who would not or who I do not believe are capable of abusing its power.

And that sort of exercise is healthy.

Until you find yourself doing it every day.


This may a little like Dr. Phil but you do have a choice to not do this every day. You can say to yourself, "today I need to concentrate on (insert whatever)". That kind of exercise is healthy too. I know a lot about it because those are the kind of exercises I have to do pretty often.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
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"absolutely not!" ... Which does not mean that I do not believe there are other members of our Clergy who would not...

Right. Part of my issue with this, though, is that this second part comes back on me, too: I'm (currently, term up at Samhain) an officer in the CC, which means that I am ultimately responsible for both the perception and the power of the CC. There is this distinct feeling of, "Well, I feel like this whole thing is my fault," going on, one that is irrational and virtually impossible to sanitize, but very real.

This notion of "too much CC power" is what led the CC to hand the entire Order thing back to the MG, and why the CC never voted on any proposal and refused to do so at the CC Retreat. We've provided advice here or there, but we've not pushed for anything or tried to implement anything with Orders, except when asked. Individual clergy have responded (particularly myself and Carrion) because word has leaked out that we're done-or-mostly-done with creating an Order and the MG asked us specifically for ideas. Orders, though, will be what the representative body wants them to be, with input from the CC and input from the lists.

Btw, conversations like this and the one below are common with me, though this part is almost always internal: here, I deal pretty strictly with my feelings on the matter, and below I separate them out and set them aside. I do hope that you understand that I can and do manage this, even if I do find it very hard. While I may be defensive up here, I am trying to keep the below conversation from being defensive and painful. It's what I generally do online with these sorts of discussions.
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From:prophet_maid
Date:October 14th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
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either we aren't there for them at the time they need us (whether they asked us to be or not) or we don't produce anything that they personally find useful (whether we produce other items or not).

I think this could be the nature of the Pagan community at this time. Bottom line, we're not used to the idea of priests without the concept of spiritual authority attached to it, and at best don't know how to approach it. To be honest there have been a good half a dozen times in the past year it would have been helpful to have a priest to talk to, but that feels, at best, awkward considering the newness of the clergy.
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From:tanwyn
Date:October 14th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
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That can be a lonely and solitary path on its own, as my own path has recently become at times, when you are told over and over again that you are not a useful person, that your work as clergy has no value. But still we do what we committed to do, and we keep the rites.

Fwiw, I see a great deal of value both in you and in your work. The... fires of piety, I guess is the best description... I've seen burning in you have helped to kindle (or re-kindle?) those same fires in me. You've been there as both priest and friend when I've needed it. You are quite possibly the first neo-pagan clergy person I've interacted with that I can honestly say has inspired and helped me towards positive growth.
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From:dubhlainn
Date:October 13th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
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The notion that priests can be defined in isolation from the congregation is a ridiculous one

I tend to agree but I ask who is the congregation? Quite a few times I have been told, by Ian and a few others, that that the Priest is the ritual specialist -- in what ever terms -- of the local Grove. And yet it is not the Grove that calls or Ordains the Priest. It is no the local Grove that those of you who have attained Consecration or Ordainment have made your Oaths to. Is the "congregation" all of ADF? And if so how is the work that our Priests do different than those of the commited laity?

I suspect that the true issues that surround "defining a Priest in ADF" likely revolve around insecurity about what an individual's role is in relation to the ADF Priest, not insecurity about the role of the external priest.

In my case it is both. I am trying to determine what my role is if I should chose to never again seek status as an ADF Priest. This is especially true in regards to the Priests I work more regularly with. Is there something I owe towards our Priests? Is there something they owe towards me? Is our relationship only based on my need? If so which needs are appropriate to take to our Priests at all and which are not?

It occurs to me that there is also an ineffible quality to priesthood, within ADF and (I suspect) outside of it

Of course! Is there any group or experience, especially in regards to religious experience, that does not have some ineffible character? In fact, I would argue that without that ineffible quality it is not a religious experience at all! But, just because the wholeness of it can not, and should not, ever be defined in words means that we should define the direction that intent behind our Priesthood? This is the argument that frustrates me most. I say "how should we define our Priesthood?" and I am told that because there are parts of it that ineffible we cannot define any part of it. And yet, this is true of every study program we offer from the Dedicant path through the Guild work. All of it holds a certain ineffible character. All of the programs I have been involved in, certainly, have changed me in ways that I would be hard pressed to put into words. We still define those. We define what a Bard is and what a Seer is and what a Dedicant is. I do not understand why defining a Priest is different.

the 'laity' are part of the picture of what the priest is, and the priest is part of the picture of what the laity are

While I find this quote from your book interesting I do not believe, or at least -- have not experienced, ADF Priests working in this manner to date. I think it would be a wonderful idea to pursue. While I do feel that our priest are part of the picture of what our Priests are I do not get the impression tha the oppisite is true.

Sorry for the long comment.

because the question of the role of ADF Priests is so very complicated, so I won't dwell on it here much more

That is a shame, I think these are important conversations to have.
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From:dubhlainn
Date:October 13th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
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While I do feel that our priest are part of the picture of what our Priests are I do not get the impression tha the oppisite is true.

Sorry, this should read:

While I do feel that our Priests are part of the picture of what our laity are I do not get the impression that the opposite is true.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
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who is the congregation?

I view it as ADF as a whole. Other priests will view it as their local Grove. Still others might view it as the Sols only, I suppose. Some make their consecration oaths at festivals, and some in a local Grove rite. A Sol who becomes clergy might make it at their Hearth Shrine with a member of the CC present, I suppose, though that hasn't happened yet. I don't know who they'd think of their congregation as, but I don't think they can be Priests alone. One may surprise me and do it, though. Who knows?

Is there something I owe towards our Priests?

The commitment made obligates the Priest to the folk, but nothing really obligates the Folk to the Priest. There is no daksina in ADF at this time, and I don't expect there to be one (though fees for services provided are always welcome, and fees for materials purchased or time spent should be reimbursed, I imagine). Still, I would suggest that if a person wants to benefit from a Priest, *ghosti would come into play and they should engage with that Priest and give of themselves, too. The commitments a Priest made will see them giving anyway, but that giving will increase through support from the member and work that builds from that relationship. Those who do not engage in a *ghosti relationship with the Priest probably ought not wonder where their benefit is, though, as I think about it, as the Priest may serve the Folk in a way that does not necessarily serve all folk.

We define what a Bard is and what a Seer is and what a Dedicant is.

To define through CTP content is actually pretty simple. Here's a quick breakdown:
  1. 43% of our courses are devoted to scholastic study. Other more practical courses apply that study directly to liturgy or other priestly work. So, our Priests are expected to be scholars.
  2. 23% are devoted to ritual knowledge and skills, so our Priests are expected to be ritualists.
  3. 17% are devoted to trance, divination or practical magic, including 2 results-based practicum courses, so our Priests are expected to be trained in "occult"-type work
  4. 17% are devoted to management, policy or leadership skills, so our Priests are expected to be leaders.
So it can be done, and it's actually a pretty good definition of what we expect an ADF Priest to be able to do, and what you can call on them to do, at least as much as you can determine what an ADF Bard or ADF Dedicant is from the SP. I'm not as interested in that, though, as I am in that ineffable piece.

I think these are important conversations to have.

They're for Oak Leaves. I've already been beaten and dragged through town once by merely posting something on my LJ (something virtually no one cared about in a large ADF forum, oddly enough), so I am not anxious to have it happen again. So this is merely an indication that there is more to come, in a more proper forum.

While I do feel that our Priests are part of the picture of what our laity are I do not get the impression that the opposite is true.

I don't understand this. Could you explain?
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From:dubhlainn
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
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While I do feel that our Priests are part of the picture of what our laity are I do not get the impression that the opposite is true.

I don't understand this. Could you explain?

Sure, or well, I'll try. Not having read the book you are quoting from it may be that I have a poor understanding of what you were trying to imply.

The Clergy I know well (You, Carrion, Raven, Ian, Sue etc.) seem to have no issues talking with, planning in cooperation with, and even learning from the laity around you. I have been in several religious systems where the clergy isolate themselves from the laity. ADF Clergy does not seem to do this (except in some cases, like your retreat, where it is neccesary). When I think of the "whole" of ADF (when I picture in my head the people and experiences I have had) I do not see a difference, really, in the Clergy and laity. The "whole" of ADF, in mind, encomapsses all of us.

ugg, not sure I am getting that our right.

Now, when I think of Clergy I do not see how the laity is any part of that picture. I am not sure why. When I was a UU we spoke a lot about "ministry" which is a term not really pertinent to ADF but the concept was always "ministry is what we do together" the laity had a voice in the ordination and selection of Clergy, in the vision and direction for the Church/Org.

I am not saying that the laity should have a vote in approving our Clergy (though I think the Mother Grove should). But I just do not feel the voice, or see the picture, of the "whole" of ADF as it pertains to our Clergy when they are acting as a whole.

Not sure if that makes any sense or not.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
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I think I see, and I thought that this might be where you were going with this, though I wasn't entirely sure.

In terms of Consecration/Ordination, I might argue that my consecration was affirmed by the people at Summerland who attended the ritual. . . there was a moment where they were asked to support me, and they said they would. Additionally, several of the offering sections specifically asked blessings for my consecration (talk about a humbling experience), and the bull-slaying/shared meal and ingesting of waters from those blessings could be construed as further affirmation. In that respect, there was definite voice there: they could have all shouted, "Hell no!" or avoided the waters.

I think that the question I would respond with is this: is it only in terms of selection that the laity seem left out? Or is there another place?

One of the things that we tried to do in our Wellspring retreat a few years ago (which didn't work well at all, though not because of lay participation, more due to organization of the event) was to involve the laity in half our retreat activities. It turned out that we shot the weekend in a pretty crappy way and failed, but we did try. I would like to see something like that happen again, with an open retreat day and then a closed one or two. The problem is, we're only doing them once per year now, and not everyone can get to Cleveland, so it's hard to fit everything in and still manage to have an open portion that everyone gets to comment on. Heck, it's virtually impossible, especially when a major part of the weekend is something like initiation.

One of the nice things about the CC, though, is that we've done very little in terms of acting as a whole. We've even been discussing giving up the one bit of "external" influence that we have (the bit about "Determine ADF liturgical standards" in the SOP): it was seriously raised at the retreat as one option going forward.

Part of the issue of "acting" is that we make very few decisions. We made one, and we learned a heck of a lot from it: the COoR is likely to be the last decision for a long time, and it still astounds me that something designed specifically to clarify "what a High Day ritual has to have" for Dedicants turned into "OMGLiturgyPolicemenAreGonnaBeatMeWithCOoRNightsticks!!!111!" I mean, it really was just a clarification on what most of us where doing. It's been handled like holy writ more by people outside the CC than by people inside the CC (I should know: I'm one of the biggest deviants from the COoR).

Most of us, oddly, rely on the lists and on personal forums to help define and decide on what we'd like to see as "policy" and then we just talk it to death as individuals. Think about the "Nine Tenets" I wrote: totally not a CC thing, but it started a new conversation about "what makes an ADF ritual" that didn't involve steps, and received serious consideration at the CC Retreat as a possible "endorsed model" as a result. And anyone could write something like that.

The CC actually doesn't do much at all as a body. Mostly, it's just a scary monster in the closet: if you turn on the light, you'll see that no one is there except perhaps a few moths.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
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My consecration oath was:

"I pledge to love the land, serve the folk, and honor the Gods. To this I dedicate my hands, my heart and my head. I further dedicate myself to continue my endeavors to the program of study in Ár nDraíocht Féin."

Current oaths read:

"I pledge to love the land, serve the folk, and honor the Gods. To this I dedicate my hands, my heart and my head. I further dedicate myself to continue my endeavors to the program of study in Ár nDraíocht Féin, in accordance with the policies of the Clergy Council."

That is the consecration oath. I have never seen an ordination oath, so I don't know if they're different or the same.

The oath is sworn to the Kindreds, in their presence, and in the presence of the Priest's chosen community (mine was done at the Unity Rite at Summerland, though some have done them at Grove rituals.

From the oath text, I have generally taken that the priest is entering a commitment to the folk and the Kindreds, and committing to training as required by the CC. The commitment to sharing that training was part of my own vocation that was solidified by the mystery of the consecration rite, which re-aligned my life with the vocation in new and interesting ways.
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From:lesyoyo
Date:October 13th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for sharing this, it has given me much to think on, espescially as I am at the point of deciding which direction to go. Each choice has almost a different outcome but also the same. I have more to say on this, but am at work so may post a response later. Thank you again for giving me something to think on and meditate on.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 13th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
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I'm pleased that it's given you something to chew on. The last post I made, about oaths and their deepening/focusing aspects, is good and seems to be reflected in your thoughts here as well. I wish you much luck on the path, whichever one you decide to take.
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From:erinelfdp
Date:October 14th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)
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I must say, I never thought about this before. A priest in ADF is so radically different from the priests I'm used to- Catholic priests who are ordained in order to "lead ritual"(administer sacraments), who live alone and away from society, and who stand BETWEEN the laity and God as the only way of accessing God.

ADF priests seem to stand both with and between an individual and the Kindred. They work on behalf of the laity, yes, but the laity is MORE than welcome(and encouraged) to approach the Kindred themselves, and the laity's approach is every bit as valid as a priest's. From a purely "devotional/high day ritual" point of view(not taking into account ordinations and the like- I know laity can't exactly ordain each other), laity and priests can, and often do, perform the exact same rituals. As an example, a grove without a priest can(and should) perform a high day rite that's every bit as powerful and moving and awesome and VALID as a grove WITH a priest. The biggest difference, for me, is that while the laity closes the ritual and is done, or is forgetting or not doing daily rituals, a priest somewhere IS doing those things, and it's a bigger deal if they don't, because they're doing them on behalf of everyone else, not just themselves. This, of course, is ONLY taking the ritualistic aspect into account.

And this being, of course, my very, very limited, noob point of view. Correct me if I'm wrong.
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From:prophet_maid
Date:October 14th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
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The only thing I'd change about this is that the clergy is expected to be more skilled, so a ritual with a priest is more likely to be powerful, moving, and awesome.
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From:athenamsb
Date:October 14th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)

Hmm...

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I guess I may just be close enough on the cusp of laity and clergy to get myself in trouble here, but I'll comment anyway, because, hey, why not?

The role of a Priest in ADF is complex and difficult to define because most of us have only one Priest with whom we interact on a regular basis. You folks are very spread out! Each area where you are located has very different laity with very different needs. Those Priests who practice in Groves with inexperienced liturgists and youngin's who may need a lot of coaxing will have a very different vocation than those Priests whose Groves are older and more established with highly seasoned Druids in the congregation. There are a couple of thousand ADF members in the country. There are what? maybe a dozen Priests?

The Role of a Priest in ADF cannot be standardized without hurting the very folk they have vowed to serve. In the wording of the Oaths listed above, it clearly states that the Priest will serve the folk, and that means that you fill the shoes that are empty. You cannot send a liturgist to fill the needs of a Grove whose highest skill is liturgy. The Role of an ADF Priest is to be able to see what the needs of the laity are, by listening and observing, and to fill those needs to the best of thier abilities.

One point that you make, Michael, that seems to be getting lost is the internalization of the Oath. The Priests themselves have made a personal Oath to serve their folk and the Kindred. They have expressed a level of commitment that is beyond that of the laity, and that is the main difference. Not to say that the laity are unskilled or unqualified to do some, if not all of the same types of work. This is not about capablility. Honestly, it is more about longevity. This is about a man or a woman whose devotion to the Kindred runs so deep and their desire to serve the people who honor those same beings is so strong that they have made a personal commitment and agreed to sacrifice most of their free time, resources and energy in the years to come for the greater good of those they serve.

The Catholic faith (which I HATE to bring up here for fear of the connotations it will infer, but I will because I have an Aunt who is a nun and feel that I know enough about the inner workings to comment with intelligence), describes their clergy as the "Brides of Christ." They have a level of commitment to their Gods that can only be compared in human terms to a marriage. It is a long-term devotion, a life-changing and self-sacrificing relationship between the human and the divine that is manifested in the service to the congregation. Our ADF Priests are not much different. I really don't want to hash out the differences between Catholics and pagans here, but my hope is that folks may be able to see the personal side. Most of what goes on in their lives involves charity work, answering questions, asking questions to those who need to figure things out for themselves, and generally being available for "other duties as assigned" at any and all times. That, to me, is the Role of a Priest in ADF...which is why I am not in the CTP. I don't have the time (as a noun) to sacrifice in the way that I would have to in order to do the job properly.

We throw around vague terms like "service" and "meeting needs" which sound good on paper but don't give any more information than the querants had before they asked. I think there are people who want an itemized list that can be applied to all Priests in ADF and use that as a standard to judge whether or not they are doing a good job. I challenge those folks to make an itemized list of what their responsibilities are and hold themselves accountable to those things to which they have committed themselves and see how they measure up, especially in terms of those things they get paid to do, before they start complaining about those things that the Priests do or do not do for them or their Grove for free.
From:treasadreaming
Date:October 14th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
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You've made me think (which is a good thing). I wrote a bit more than I intended, but the summary is that I think we both need clergy in ADF and mistrust the whole concept of clergy.

For me, the ADF Priest is someone who is deeply committed to the kindreds and to the community. She or he is willing to undertake the necessary training (and by this I mean that no matter the skill/learning level of the priest, she or he is always willing to learn more—it is an ongoing process), commit to a level of service to the kindreds and the community, and is recognized by our organization as being a 'good' choice (whatever that might mean, I leave to someone else).

Almost more importantly, an ADF priest is not, and should not be, someone who stands between the laity and the kindreds.
From:tn_roadmap
Date:October 14th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
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you are the first on-line friend I have made from ADF, and even though I am a couple hundred miles away I hope that I may learn much from you as I make my way into ADF. I value many of your words, and expect I will be having some questions for you in the future.

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