I have been working hard, recently, on finishing my Generalist Study Program, plus two requirements for Clergy ordination. I finished three courses last weekend, and it's looking like I'll finish the rest this weekend, if all goes well. I'm rapidly approaching the halfway point tonight, and should be on the downhill run by Saturday morning.
As I was reading some of the vast amounts of literature on and about ADF and our Clergy, I came across an article in Oak Leaves #8. It's the "Law, Policy, Tradition, and Custom in ADF" article that Uncle Isaac wrote early in our history.
In it, the following items appear (taken from various places, but in order):
- Illegal drugs may not be used in official ADF ceremonies.
- Individuals and special interest groups may do self-bleeding rites for healing purposes, establishing blood-siblinghood, etc., provided that only symbolic drops are spilled, but may not do these as a part of an official ADF ceremony.
- Individual members of the Mother Grove may discuss, but not vote upon, leadership candidates with whom they may have a significant personal relationship.
- Our overall system of Circles and Tracks published in The ADF Study Manual and the handful of absolute requirements for admission to the clergy (must be Pagan, must get rid of addictions, etc.).
- Isaac took a strong stand on this particular "Law" of ADF, and I admit to being happy to see that in there. It was like, "Oh, look: someone else thinks illegal drugs shouldn't be part and parcel of any ADF ritual. Bonus!" I got a warm fuzzy feeling from seeing that in print.
- Is a Dedicant Oath an "official ADF ceremony?" I'm inclined to say, "Eh, could be." Mostly, I recognize that a Dedicant Oath Rite is going to be two things: (a) a (most likely ADF-style) rite dedicating yourself to some sort of Neo-Pagan Druidism in some way that you will "officially" tell ADF was done as part of their training program, and (b) an intensely personal ritual that should be more or less free of restrictions on most levels. If you want to poke yourself and bleed, well, that's partly your right, I guess (though I am likely to be generally negative about the whole thing). But I'll never tell someone that they ought to consider it, and I'll always say, "Are you sure? I recommend that you email the Preceptor and ask him about that."
- The essay discusses "significant personal relationships" in generally sexual terms, but I think that it could be extended. Really close friends ought to fall in there as well. Just like I can't review latexpussy's Study Program work in good conscience, I don't think really close friends (regardless of the nature of their relationship) ought to be approving someone for leadership positions. I was extremely happy to see that in there.
- I'm all about that "Must get rid of addictions" bit for clergy. I fully understand exactly why that was in there, and when I read this requirement, I suddenly started thinking about myself, looking hard at my life. I am still looking hard at it. I'm sure I'm Pagan (no question there), but I'm not so sure on the addictions. So it's a moment when I get to seriously consider myself and think about who I am and where I'm going, as well as what exactly I'm doing.
Anyway, I expect that I'll be updating the GSP pages on my website at least once per day for the rest of the week. Some things are submitted, others are not (things submitted are marked). Much is rough draft (esp. the vocational essay!), and nearly all of it was written once and then I moved on. Kinda fun to do it that way.
Doing the GSP has caused me to stumble onto a realization about the way I learn: I don't learn by completing exit standards: I learn by helping others work through their exit standards, and because of this, my GSP work will never match the standard of excellence that I often hope it can attain. That's why I can say with such confidence that the Dedicants of ADF inspire and teach me new things every day, why I say I am constantly learning from them. I may have decided last night that the DP is such a good program precisely because it allows each person to work to their strength. When the GSP develops to that point (i.e. we have a critical mass of students working and questioning and studying), it'll be a decent program, too. But right now, I can tell I get a lot more out of the Dedicant Program than I have from the GSP, precisely because I'm not able to teach the GSP stuff to anyone.
It's interesting how things like that work.