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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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Current Music: "Who's the Blonde Stranger", -JB
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[User Picture]
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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