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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

February 4th, 2009

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07:27 am - 1,500: Reviewing my vocational statement
Here is a basic timeline of my tenure in ADF:
  • April 2001: I join and began working on the DP.
  • May 2001: the "newness" wore off and I started to drift a bit. I didn't get back to my studies quickly.
  • August 2001: I showed up at Summerland and Amergin mentioned that he figured I'd be one of those people who showed up once, joined, and was never seen again. He was happy I'd come to Summerland.
  • August 2001-February 2003: loads of DP work, revisions, and putting stuff up online in what I later found to be the first completed DP available for others to view.
  • June 2002: Three Cranes Grove founded, with anivair
  • February 2003: I turned in my DP, and I waited.
  • May 2003: I bugged the Preceptor at the time, Rob Barton, about my DP's status. He declared it "passed" the very next day, and to this day I don't believe he seriously read it.
  • May 2003: romandruid is elected Preceptor of ADF. Recognizing the failings of the current state of the DP, I start working toward building the bridges I wished I had had when I started the DP, myself, and I am asked to become a Deputy Preceptor shortly thereafter.
  • June 2003: the Generalist Study Program is passed by the Council of Lore, and I begin work on that. I stop shortly after completing two courses.
  • May 2005: The first circle of the Clergy Training Program is completed by the Clergy Council. I work sort of off-and-on to finish it.
  • January 2006: first edition of "The Dedicant Program Through the Wheel of the Year" (better known as "WotY") is completed and provided for free to ADF members.
  • February-March 2006: I sit down and, within a two-week period, complete 80% of the courses for the first circle of the CTP.
  • March 2006: I complete my Clergy Vocational Statement for admission to the Priesthood
  • Early August 2006: I rush through my last two or three submissions and probably greatly annoy the ADF Preceptor and the Clergy Council Preceptor.
  • August 2006: I am consecrated as a Dedicant Priest in ADF by Rev. Skip Ellison, in a ritual led by Rev. Kirk Thomas, at the Summerland festival. My parents attended, making me quite proud, as did nearly my entire Grove. I also spent the ritual standing next to Amergin, which made the whole thing even more special. I begin working on writing the next few circles of the CTP almost immediately following my consecration.
  • August 2006-September 2008: nearly every waking moment at the festivals I attend is spent at a computer, working on CTP and LGSP study courses.
  • February 2008: I take a new job that rips my life away and effectively prevents me from doing many of the ADF-focused things I would like to do. I struggle to find time to study or work with the Grove.
  • November 2008: I am required to submit a plan, with clear targets, regarding my completion of CTP Circle 2 by Samhain 2009. I provide them to the Clergy Council Officers, as well as to my Grove and ADF as a whole via my website and LJ.
  • December 2008: CTP Circle 2 is finally passed by the Clergy Council and the Council of Lore. CTP Circle 3 goes into final draft.
  • January 2009: an internet-outage affects my ability to work on CTP items at home, and so I fall far behind my targets. I determine it is time to re-visit my vocational essay one more time.

Not so long ago, I started thinking back on the work I've done as ADF Clergy, and began re-exploring the vocation I have for it.

I started down this path in college: old journals turn up statements like, "If I were Catholic, I'd be in seminary right now." I know now, looking back on it, that I was feeling a call to lead services and help others for a very long time, even before I'd graduated high school.

I remember when the Universal Life Church put their ordinations online and opened up access to the entire world. I also remember making the conscious decision not to obtain ordination in that way. I didn't make that choice because I felt it was an invalid method of becoming clergy, or because I thought it was beneath me; rather, I felt it was not the right path for me to take.

What was important to me was not ordination. It was not the powers conferred by the state or by other priests. It turned out that I didn't see ordination or priesthood in that way.

What I wanted was recognition of status achieved by the body of my chosen spiritual community.

I remember feeling shocked and somewhat embarrassed that the ADF Unity Rite I was consecrated in was so much about me. Every invocation and evocation mentioned me, with the Kindreds being addressed and asked to support me and give me strength during their invitation. I didn't know what that meant at the time, but I do now. It wasn't about the various Priests recognizing me, but about the fact that I'd done things within ADF to the point that the recognition was just right. It just came naturally to them. I don't believe any instruction for those invocations was ever given to those who participated in the rite: they just did it.

That thought, by the way, humbles me even more deeply, and makes me even more embarrassed in retrospect.

It has been, now, nearly three years since I took my oath that day, and dedicated my head, my heart, and my hands to this journey that we call ADF.

The other day, I went back to my Clergy Vocational Statement, and re-read it for the first time in over two years. I wanted to see what was still relevant, and get at why I chose to go this route in the first place. I know that I still struggle with being clergy. I know that Priesthood in ADF is still something that I sometimes question. I know that I still feel like a rookie apprentice among learned old wizards. But much about what I thought was calling me has changed.

I made some astute statements.
". . .to me, religion and community are intimately connected."
It's true: I could not claim priesthood in a community in which I did not belong. Credentials in any other tradition would have been false credentials, even if they were obtained within the rules of those traditions.
"I feel a definite calling to serve my community, and that is an integral part of what Druidism is to me."
Druidry still is this, to me: it is a community-concerned Paganism, one whose priests are focused on rectifying and empowering those outside of their religion, and providing public worship in all cases (even if the public may not want it). I see sacrifice as something done on behalf of the community, not as something done for individual benefit (though that may be a side-effect).
"Like the gardener with a new system of irrigation to replace a watering can or a a strong set of shears to replace a rusty old pocketknife, becoming a Priest will expand my tools and allow me to better serve my Grove, which is my primary goal."
Yeah, I went with the "gardener" analogy. But really, I was more right than I thought: being an ADF Priest has given legitimacy to this Grove, and it has helped to build it. The work I've done is recognized, and the Folk derive clear benefit from it. It turned out that while I was fighting the annoyances of a study program that I sometimes felt was under-preparing and under-developing my skill set, I was really being prepared in ways I never expected for the role of Clergy.

I also made some rather. . . un-astute statements.
"I'm already acting as priest for my Grove."
At the time, I honestly thought that I was doing things that a priest would do, that there was no actual difference between the actions I was taking and a "real" ADF Priest. I was very wrong. The credentials I have are what allow me to act as Priest, not the actions I do. One cannot be a priest through action alone.
"being a Priest involves a strong connection with the deities both in public and in private"
I wrote that, but I didn't understand it. It turns out that the private spiritual life of a Priest is more important than the public one. Everyone has heard me say it: "It is when we least want to pray that we most need to do it." I do not pray enough (I don't believe that anyone does), and I find myself constantly battling to pray more, to make myself more pious for the benefit of those who rely on me.
"I need to be available to those who call me "Priest," no matter what time of day or night it is."
Wow, I thought this would be the biggest part of Priesthood in ADF. I was so very, very wrong. Yes, I am asked to lend an ear, to give counsel, and to be there for folk. But what I do most is not answer calls in the middle of the night, or offer comfort to the bereaved. I do ritual for others. I pray for others. I make sacrifice for others. And most often, I do it at home, alone, when no one is around to thank me for "being there." And it fulfills me more than I can describe.

A lot of what I thought would be the focus of my clergy work simply isn't the focus. The things I love to do, including the training program development, the ritual, and the simple joy of being a part of this experiment that is "Our Own Druidry," are still vibrant. But my expectations have changed so much. My own struggles with relating the GSP work to Clergy training were complicated enough: I felt untrained and underdeveloped when I started, but I have realized that I will always feel like that (and, should I stop feeling like that, I'll know I have a problem!).

The thing is, I'm a very different person than I was before my Consecration. It changed me, and time has changed me further. Despite that, some people will not see me as changed, but as the kid I was when they knew me before that ritual. Some will not see me as the kid I was before, but only who I am now.

And some, those closest to me, I think, will know the change deeply, and will understand it better than I do myself. And with the changes I have undergone, they will find that it is not me that changed, but it is my true self that emerged and began to develop itself. I know this because I am more at home with myself than I was three years ago, struggling through a hard breakup and really experiencing what it was like to be scared and alone for the first time; more at home with myself than I was ten years ago, struggling to find meaning in college coursework without a clear goal in sight; and more at home than I was fifteen years ago, stumbling onto Paganism in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico and praying for the first time to divinities I found in my Latin class.

And this, my friends, is what excites me about the prospect of Ordination within ADF: if Consecration can change me in such beautiful ways, what changes are in store for me when I am a fully Ordained Priest?

This is my 1,500th LiveJournal entry, and I want to thank those who have read this journal since 2002. My longest readers are the most special to me, and I often think about what you must have seen as you've followed this blog. Don't worry, there is much more to come.

Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: indescribable
Current Music: "Landfall", -JB

(12 comments Leave a comment)


Date:February 4th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
I hope someday I will be able to post a similar retrospective and commentary.

While I do not know you well, or even personally, I know your writings and experiences have been able to touch many of us. Speaking for myself I can say you have made me chuckle, made me laugh uncontrollably, made me think deeply and even inspired me.

Therefore Michael, there is no need to thank me. Quite the contrary in fact, I thank you for all you have done and for all you do.
[User Picture]
Date:February 4th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
I'm sure that you will ;)

I'm pleased, so long as I've made you laugh. And I'm flattered that I might have inspired you.

So thank you, and you're welcome.
[User Picture]
Date:February 4th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
Having only known you for *almost* a year, I probably have a different perspective than some of your long-term readers. I don't make it a habit to analyze the lives of those important to me, it just happens. I think that stems from working with Athena, always gleaning information from the world and people around you, leaving no stones unturned that I may make well informed decisions when necessary.

You remind me so much of myself it is rediculous. This is not a statement Imake lightly, but maybe some day we can have coffee, and I'll tell you about it. ;)

The Mike I met in May 08 was already a priest. I read back through some of your work for reference and inspiration during the course of my DP journey, and I agree with you whole-heartedly that some of the statements made in your youth were loaded with more than you knew at the time. But, when you ask the Kindred for guidance and assistance, and you dedicate yourself to truly listen to them, the result you get is, well, you.

I think thus far the Kindred have blessed you with much, and even in the trials and heartache you experienced, they had bigger and better things in mind for you. All of this, all of this, is because of who you are. Even when you shoot off at the mouth, you never take your faith lightly. People notice this, and they respond.

I have felt drawn to you as somewhat of an equal (though less experienced in Druidry equal) since the day I met you, and I look forward to working with you in the future on the many, many things the Kindred have planned for you.

I tell you know, and I will tell you again in person, I vow (yes, vow) to support you in your times of triumph as well as your times of need, to provide the outlet and assistance you need to help you on your path as best I can, and to walk the elder ways along side you for as long as we are placed together in service to the gods and in service to one another. The Cranes, and you especially, are my family now. You accepted me in as is, with no looking back, and you have given me unconditional love and support--which means more than I could ever tell you in words. And those are not gifts I take lightly.

I will stand by you, because you are standing by me.

Namaste, Brother,
and *ghosti,
[User Picture]
Date:February 4th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
I don't like coffee or tea, but I'd love to just hang out sometime. You can drink all the coffee :)

We Cranes know the value of people has nothing to do with who you want them to be, only who they are. We happen to like who you are a lot, and so why would we even want to try and dream up some other "you?" ;) Besides, I get the feeling that I'm not the only one here that the Kindreds may have plans for. . .

*ghos-ti- indeed. . .
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
Well, just so it's clear, I'm pretty glad to have known you since 2002 :-)

And I think it's amusing you got into this blogging thing because I convinced healing_coyote to do it, and you're more prolific than either of us at the moment. Funny how that worked out.

But I'm pretty sure you started blogging here in 2003 :-D
[User Picture]
Date:February 8th, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
Huh. Maybe. I ought to seek out a primary source and determine if that is the case. You know, like maybe read my damn journal. . .
Date:February 5th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
I have not known you long, but I am glad to be a part of the grove with you. To me you are someone who has "heart." You are not perfect, nor would I want you to be, but you are real, caring and compassionate.

The community of the grove is what first drew me, then the study and continual development of ADF and the individual members. I don't know exactly what I am looking for, but I know I am on the right path. And I have to say I am glad to know that you and other members of the grove will be there to help me when I stumble, as I will be there for you and the grove.

This was a long winded way of saying thank you. thank you for beginning the grove, thank you for sharing in all the ways you do.
[User Picture]
Date:February 8th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
I am pleased to have you in the Grove as well. Looking over the members, past, present, and (even) future, it's clear to me that we're doin' it right.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:February 8th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Date:February 7th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty glad to have known you since 1982, though those first couple of years are a bit hazy ;-) It was fun growing up with you and I think as different as we may be at times, I realized on that trip to Kansas in December how much we share.

I only wish I can have the same level of passion for something as you hold for your spirtual life.
[User Picture]
Date:February 8th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
We are very similar, despite our differences. I realized much about our relationship on that trip as well.

And don't worry: everyone finds their passion. I hope yours is one that comes with a paycheck, though!
[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC)
I have enjoyed reading these. Comment little but read. I have never really known a Pagan priest. Often wondered how that worked. Thanks for letting me in on the journey.

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