The primary goal of this course is for students to compare and contrast historical and current structures, customs and policies of the organization to demonstrate an understanding of its evolution, as well as current implications.
1. Students will increase their knowledge of ADF organizational structure and function through research and comparison of past and present documents pertaining specifically to administrative structure, subgroups and the role of Clergy.
2. Students will explore the origins and evolution of ADF‟s liturgical customs to demonstrate and explain the development of public, inclusive ritual, praise offerings, and the current ceremonial calendar.
3. Students will define and demonstrate an understanding of the origin and importance of concepts critical to the foundation and current identity of ADF.\
1. Explain why public, inclusive ritual is important to ADF. (200 words min.)
It was the belief of the late founder of ADF, Isaac Bonewits, that the Neopaganism would grow into hundreds of thousands of members and, because of that growth, these neopagans would “need publicly accessible worship, teaching, counseling, and healing” (Bonewits “The Vision of ADF”).
While this may seem outside of the norm for many closed or private neopagan groups, as early ADF druids saw it, the future of neopaganism would require a wide variety of different group sizes, structures, and ritual styles so “going public” would give modern druids the opportunity to have something unique and wonderful to share with the entire world (Ibid).
Early ADF Druids, such as Ian Corrigan, saw the value in embracing the Druidic tradition and the obligation to preform public ritual as the ancient druids once did was at the center of the belief system. Paleodruids were the administrators of ceremony and acted as sacrificers, diviners and counselors for their folk. Modern druids strive to follow their example, and that work must center around modern public Paganism. (Corrigan. “Magical Skills in Druidic Ritual.”)
“We're looking to show people that we are an active, spiritual tradition. We also want to bring consistent, accessible ritual to areas that lack it. Quite often, ADF Groves will be the only Pagan group in town that provides open, public worship, and many people need that" (Dangler. “Commonly Asked Questions). This need is seen clearly at Columbia Grove rituals as a large percentage of guests attending do not identify as ADF Druids but they often mention that there is nowhere they can go celebrate High Holy days or find like-minded pagan communities to join. Public ritual makes practicing neopagan holidays accessible to a broad community and has grown both our grove attendance and tremendous ADF interest in the process.
ADF liturgy is unique, structured and powerful. We need look no farther than the word Liturgy itself to see its meaning. The word "liturgy", says the Merriam-Webster dictionary, comes from the Late Latin liturgia, from Greek leitourgia meaning public service. This definition describes a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship such as a eucharistic rite or baptismal liturgy ("Liturgy"). ADF Druidry is far outside the traditionally described Judeo-Christian actions listed above but our liturgy is centered on the importance of public worship and accessibility as well. In fact, public worship is specifically described in the ADF Constitution in Article 1:2:
2) Since one of the primary duties of the ancient Druids was to lead their tribes in magical and religious activities, ADF advocates and practices, as an integral part of our faith, open, inclusionary, and public ceremonies to worship the Earth Mother and the Old Gods and Goddesses, rites of passage to mark the cycles of our lives, and magical rituals to accomplish our other goals in an honest and ethical manner. (“ADF Constitution”)
Public, inclusive ritual is important to ADF, because it gets our neopagan voice out there and announces that “we are here, and we welcome you at our fire.”
2. Describe the duties and function of clergy in ADF. (100 words min.)
“In ADF we believe that excellence in clergy training and practice is vital for any healthy, growing religion. To that end we are attempting to create a professional clergy training program equal in difficulty and superior in results to anything done by the world's other religions” (Bonewits “The Vision of ADF”).
These words, written by ADF founder Isaac bonewits, speak to the heart of the clergy training program in ADF Druidry. The duties and responsibilities of clergy can be found in the Clergy Council Bylaws:
There are many other areas in which ADF Priests have specific individual focus such as ensuring that sacrifices are made at the proper times and in the proper ways. Priests must not only engage in the formal training, but are open to provide training to others. They sould also aid members in developing and maintaining close relationships with the Kindreds (“The Role of the Priest in ADF”).
In our modern fast-paced world of technology we have a need for social media communication focused involvement as well. Rev. Missy Ashton writes about the importance of creating a positive clergy presence in social media and on our list-feeds, as a negative presence can be viewed as discriminatory and can undermine the value of a clergy member (Ashton, “Principles of Communication”). Clergy members must be good communicators in addition to their many other talents.
The role of the priest is not to stay stagnant or to quiet their voice. A priest is to be actively involved in ADF policies, groves and with the people much like we would see in the paleopagan ancient Druids.
3. Explain why ADF has an Indo-European focus, and why we use the term “Druid” in our name. (200 words min.)
Ar ndraioct Fein means “Our own Druidism” in Irish, and that what Isaac Bonewits had in mind when he created the fellowship, a brand new form of Neo-Druidism, not just Pan-Celtic but Pan-European. This would resemble the original Paleopagan druidism far more than any efforts of the last thousand years. It would be based on the best scholarly research available, combined with what has been learned through the theory and practice of modern Neo paganism. (Bonewits. “The Beginning of Ar ndríoct Féin”).
Bonewits defines Paleopaganism as “the original tribal faiths of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, Oceania and Australia, where and when they were (or are) still practiced as intact belief systems.“ This definition was central to ADF’s creation as he compares this Paleopagan approach to the approach that other Druidic groups at the time of ADF’s Mesopaganism creation. Mesopaganism is the word used for those religions founded as attempts to recreate, revive or continue what their founders thought of as the Paleopagan ways of their ancestors. (Bonewits, “Indo-European Paleopaganism and Its Clergy”)
ADF Druidry focuses on Indo-European cultures which extends far beyond the Irish Celtic lands since that history (and many other Indo-European cultures) has been flavored almost exclusively by Christian voices and what does remain is fragmented. By following linguistic patterns, as opposed to focusing on one specific culture, across parts of South Asia and Europe scholars can plainly see similarities in trade, religious practices and lifestyles. This is something ADF Druids, as neopagans can use to help develop a respectful modern practice when “filling in the gaps” is needed in fractured modern archeology for an individual culture.
Since the ancient Druids were the intellectuals of their tribes, ADF advocates and practices, as an integral part of our faith, scientific and scholarly research and debate about the ancient Druids, the Indo-Europeans, comparative religion, folklore, ethnomusicology, and every other relevant field of human knowledge (“ADF Constitution”). Regardless of our title as “Druids” many members of ADF do not honor Celtic cultures exclusively and many do not honor these cultures in their personal practice at all. I have always personally seen the title “Druid” synonymous with deep devotional scholarly focus and thus the title can apply to any person who devotes themselves to modern archeology-linked Indo-European religions. Rev. Michael J Dangler puts these commonly asked questions thusly;
“Very simply put, that's who we are. There are many similarities between IE (Indo European) cultures, and ADF was not founded as a purely Celtic organization. If ADF were a Neo-Pagan church, open to all versions of Paganism, we would have no real identity. Our focus on IE cultures helps us move from having an incomprehensibly huge focus to having a somewhat smaller focus” (Dangler, “Commonly Asked Questions”).
4. 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 min. for each type of subgroup)
Each ADF member is as unique as the snowflakes that fall in winter and as such there is a great need for diverse programs in which members can deepen their practice and focus on areas that they are most drawn too. Many members aren’t interested in clergy but they have other areas in which they wish to expand their spirituality and strengthen their connection to their Kindreds. ADF encourages this individuality and has created a Guilds, Kins and SIGS to help accommodate the needs of it’s members.
Guilds are wonderful study programs that provide training for members to pursue their individual interests alongside other members who are also excited to study in the same area. These programs offer unique study tracks with different levels of requirements that help advance the member’s knowledge and dedication in a particular direction. Members are not tied to one track and can be part of more than one if they so desire if their heart is called to it. “As the Druids of old were not only priests, neither are our members” (“Guild Study Programs”). Some individuals will be drawn to liturgy, writing and preforming public rituals, and others to bardic arts of song and poetry. There are a number of other guilds including, artisan creativity, brewer fermentation science, magicians, naturalist focus on nature spirits and the land, scholars diving into Indo European spiritual history, seers deepening their divination practice, and warriors working on survival, strategy and connection to body and spirit.
The Guild Study Programs are assets to ADF as they provide the option to elevate each member’s practice through various levels (circles) of achievement. These guilds help to focus specific spiritual growth, develop methods of dedication and strengthen the contribution each member makes to ADF fellowship, their grove (if they have one) and to their community.
SIGs (Special Interest Groups)
SIGs (Special Interest Groups) cover a wide variety of topics including hobbies, languages, or anything else that members want to network and support each other about (“Special Interest Groups”). Like Guilds and Kins, SIGs allow each member to focus on a particular area that they are called to in their spirituality and join a community of other members who share that passion. The main goal of SIGs is to “support ADF members regarding an interest not otherwise in the scope of an existing subgroup” (“Subgroup Charter Manual”).
There are many active SIGs and they are quite unique ranging from deity dedication such as Brighids Hearth, Foireann Mhorrigan (Morrigan SIG), to networking avenues such as the Polyamory, Children’s Education and Parenting, Safe Haven (disabilities/Mental Health), People of the Purple Feather (LGBTQIA+) and the Social Justice SIG’s. There are also a SIG for Solitaries, Technopagans and Military Outreach to name a few more. There are a total of 20 different SIG’s currently and any member can join the email lists (and often times social media groups) to network with other members that share their interests.
Kins are groups of ADF members supporting each other in practicing ADF Druidry in the context of a specific culture, such as the Celtic or Norse cultural groups (“Kins”). Each kin is a great opportunity to focus on a particular culture in an intimate group setting through email lists and often times social media groups. These kins can help expand the member’s cultural knowledge and allow newcomers to interact with more advanced scholars in a wonderful supporting environment. Membership in any Kin is available for all ADF members and there are currently eight kins within ADF. There is the Aus Dhwer: Eastern Gate Kin that practices Vedic, Indo-Iranian, Tocharian, Armenian, and Anatolian traditions. Eldr Ok Iss: Kin of Fire and Ice that practices Germanic and Northern traditions. Tylwyth Y Ddraig Goch: Red Dragon Clan which practices the Welsh tradition. Oi Asproi Koukouvayies: White Owls Kin which practices the Hellenic tradition. The Slavic Kin, the Roman Kin, Clann na nGael: The Gaelic Kin and the Pontos Proto Indo European Kin.
Kins are a great place to discuss deities and study the lifestyles that are of particular interest to the individual member and provide diversity and roundedness to the ADF Indo-European culture base as a whole. It is easy for new members to feel discouraged because they are a “Druid who does not worship the Irish Celtic culture” so the other Kins offer a great space for connection with other druids who share their interests if they lie outside of the perceived “Druid norms” of modern culture.
5. Describe ADF's official ceremonial calendar, and discuss why it was designed in this way. (200 words min.)
ADF’s ceremonial calendar is a Neo-Pagan invention that is a synthesis from several different sources including Gardnerian Wicca, OBOD Druidry, and RDNA Druidry. There is no “complete” ancient calendar that is used, but instead one that incorporates known fire/feast festivals within Indo European recorded history as well as the solar holidays (equinoxes and solstices). Together they produce a calendar with sacred occasions spaced evenly every six or seven weeks throughout the year (“The High Days in Depth”).
ADF was founded after the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) had came up with the four fire festivals from books on the Celtic religion after a time when Gerald Gardner, The Father of Wicca, and Ross Nichols, The founder of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), had previously discussed whether the Celtic “fire festivals” or the Germanic and Mediterranean “solar festivals” were the most important to preserve in Neo-Pagan movements. They decided to include both and RDNA which was the seed in which ADF grew did as well. OBOD gave the eight Holy Days Welsh names and Gardner titled them Wiccan “Sabbats”. (Bonewits, 181) Both Wicca and OBOD Druidry were widely practiced so synthesizing these other groups into RDNA and ADF Druid practice was both familiar and respectful to the fire festivals of Indo European archaeological history (especially Celtic history) as well as including the solar holidays as Gardner and Ross’s groups had done. The bonus of practicing both the fire festivals and the solar holidays was that these Neo-Pagan groups could have a party every 6 to 7 weeks of so! One thing that ADF members agreed on quickly was the removal of the word “Sabbat” and they replaced it with “High Holy Day”. “The term ‘sabbat' was abandoned as it was invented by the Church as a slur against the Jews” (“The High Days in Depth”).
Per ADF Druidry, the eight High Holy Days are as follows:
As Rev. Michael J Dangler mentions in his companion book to the ADF Our Own Druidry manual, these High Days are celebrated because we are Neo-Pagans not reconstructionists. While not every Indo-European culture celebrated them all (to our current archaeological knowledge) at the same times or in the same ways that we do, we are still modern Neo-Druids and have decided that part of our identity is keeping these holidays sacred (Dangler pp. 22). It is our modern practice, with respect, guidance and inspiration of the old ways that binds ADF Druidry together.
6. 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 min.)
In the near 4 years I have been a member of ADF this is the first time I have read Isaac’s “Law, Policy, Tradition and Customs in ADF” article and it shocked me to see the fellowship broken down into 4 directional categories that I had never heard described before. Upon digestion of the content, it is clear that while these terms may be new to me, they are, for the most part, fully alive and have been functional within ADF over the past 20+ years since this article was written.
Breaking these categories down, at the top of the spectrum there are “Laws.” These are pretty straightforward;
In second place on the spectrum is “Policy.” Policies are official ADF decisions that have been made, have been published and generally deal with how ADF groups and their members interact within ADF and with the general public. Select examples of ADF Policies are
In third place on the spectrum is “Traditions” both Major and Minor. Traditions are the things passed down through generations that help shape and define our religion as being distinct from other all other religions. There are many Major Traditions in ADF including;
Minor Traditions are just that; minor. Compared to the above selection of major ones. Some of these minor ones include
The final title at the end of the spectrum is “Customs.” Customs are the unique aspects (habits, motions, ritual gear etc) that members use to enhance their enjoyment of ADF. These have changed a lot since this article was written. I see a current trend for many ADF druids to move away from white clothing to avoid association with racist pagan groups. The all night vigils are upheld by a handful of ADF members but are not by most others. I am thankful for modern technology and social media so that there is a sense of community for those who practice the vigils but are far away from on another. Social Media connections are not something that would have been foreseen when this article was written but it has deeply shaped how modern ADF Clergy and general members can communicate with one another about various customs they agree or disagree with.
While the bulk of this article has not changed much, once you get down to the Minor Traditions and Customs you can see how the modern world has changed the original points. This was always to be expected, as the focus of this article was to highlight that there is a lot of freedom in our practice and that has certainly not changed in 20+ years.
7. 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 min.)
Dumezil's tripartition is a system which used sociological and anthropological research methods in addition to linguistics and folklore to describe how Indo-European society is broken down into three basic elements, or as he called them, “functions.” He argued that the evidence for tripartition of Indo-European society can be seen in one of the earliest sources of Indo-European religions, the Hittites, and is seen in other preceding Indo-European cultures as well. Those “functions” are as follows:
These three “functions” are often broken down simply as a three-class function of the “Sovereign”, “Military”, and “Producers.” Isaac Bonewits makes a good claim in his work Bonewits Essential Guide to Druidism that there a “fourth function” of dirty workers (serfs, servants and slaves) which are left out of this three class structure (Bonewits, pp 23)
Dumezil’s breakdown has effected ADF Druidry in quite a few ways and the first one that stands out to me is in ADF’s Nine Virtues. The Nine Virtues are listed as a triad of triads pertaining specifically to the three-class structure postulated by Dumezil (Dangler, “A Virtuous Life: The Nine Virtues of ADF”). These virtues are as follows
Another example of how Dumezil system has influenced ADF Druidry is in our study programs. It is easy to see the “Sovereign” class as represented by the Clergy Training Program as this is the academic and spiritual process that trains our priests to follow the “Why Not Excellence?” model that Bonewits has connected to ADF as a whole. While it received some pushback in the beginning, Bonewits decided that instead of just focusing on one area of study, training Clergy, he writes that “as ADF has matured, we have recognized the importance of other functions in our practice as well. The single most importance between the old study program and the new one is our commitment to training a wider range of specialties, reflecting all three of Dumezil’s functions (“Vision of the Study Program”). While all Clergy have required education in all three functions within their training, this is where we see the formation of the beautiful ADF guilds specializing in other fields of interest. ADF has guilds with tiered study programs including a Warriors Guild for the “Military” class and Artisans and Bardic Guilds for the “Producing” class reflecting Dumezil’s Indo-European system.
While Dumezil has clearly influenced the foundation of ADF’s core structures, it is rare that the average member is familiar with his name. I believe this to be because ADF has not chosen to focus on the separation of classes, and more on the variety of choices available to its members. Dumezil had a clear hierarchy structure placing the sovereign at the top and the producers at the bottom, but you will not see it appropriate to say that our priests are “better than” our artisans; they are merely on different paths of interest.
8. Explain the difference between “orthopraxy” and “orthodoxy.” Where do you feel ADF falls? (200 words min.)
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word Orthodoxy as originating from the Greek word ortho (correct) and dóx (belief, opinion) and thus: “a belief or a way of thinking that is accepted as true or correct” (“Orthodoxy”). This is most commonly attached to Monotheistic Christian church systems and their belief that their practice, opinion and beliefs are the only correct paths to follow.
Christianity dismiss all other deities outside of one central God figure, passing the title of “pagans” onto others, but there is also the different branches of Christianity that believe that their practice is more correct than the others and those that disagree are given the titles like “heretics” or told they are “going to hell”.
Dictionary.com defines Orthopraxy from the Greek orthos (correct) and praxis (deed, action) as “the belief that right action is as important as religious faith” (“Orthopraxy”). This is quite different from the thought that there is only one correct practice as this word centers on how correct actions are more important.
In ADF, the virtue Piety is defined as “Correct observance of ritual and social traditions; the maintenance of the agreements, (both personal and societal), we humans have with the Gods and Spirits, Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty” (“Our Own Duridry”). This virtue focuses on the actions of members to keep the Old Ways honored without putting any emphasis on which culture those Old Ways might be honoring. As ADF is an Indo-European focused fellowship there is a vast variety of membership who honor different cultures within that spectrum. With each different culture comes different symbols, deities and customs that would not be appropriate to honor for others. Regardless of what a local grove might use as main deities, each ADF member is allowed to work with different gods from different cultures. This is seen in ancient cultures as well as one might go to a temple or community event to the god(s) and still freely honor their own gods at home (Cox).
As written into our virtue of piety, ADF is far more concerned with our personal and societal agreements with our Indo-European Kindreds (as diverse as those might be) and that we honor them in a proper manner at proper times but not with a firm hand dismissing some deities and cultural practices over others.
9. 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 min.)
10. Describe ADF's administrative structure. (150 words min.)
“ADF Constitution.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 17 Oct. 2010. https://www.adf.org/about/org/constitution.html.
Ashton, Missy. “Principles of Communication.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 11 Sept. 2018. https://www.adf.org/members/clergy- council/principles-communication.html
Bonewits, Isaac. Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism. Citadel Press. Kensington Publishing Corp., 2006. Print
---“The Vision of ADF.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. 16 Oct. 2010, Web. www.adf.org/about/basics/vision.html.
---“The Beginning of Ar NDraíocht Féin.” The Druid's Progress, no. 1, 1984, pp. 1– 4.
---“Indo-European Paleopaganism and its Clergy.” The Druid’s Progress, no. 1, 1984, pp. 7-10.
---“Questions and Answers about ADF.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 16 Oct. 2010. https://www.adf.org/about/basics/qa.html
Dangler, Michael J. “Commonly Asked Questions.” Grove Organizing Handbook. : Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship., 2005. Print.
---The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year. 5th Edition. Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Granus Publishing. 2016. Print
--- A Virtuous Life: The Nine Virtues of ADF (Study packet for DP Requirement 1). Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. 2006. Print.
Corrigan, Ian. “Magical Skills in Druidic Ritual.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. 2004. Web.https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/magskills.html.
“Clergy Council Bylaws.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 05 Sept.2018. https://www.adf.org/members/org/clergy-council/bylaws.html
Cox, Rodney. “When Your Personal Pantheon is at Odds With Your Grove's.”
Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2018 https://www.adf.org/members/training/dp/articles/personal-vs-grove-gods.html.
“Grove officers” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 12 Sept. 2018. https://www.adf.org/members/groves/starting/goh/officers.html
“Guild Study Programs.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 05 Sept. 2018. https://www.adf.org/members/training/guild-sp.html
“Kins.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 05 Sept. 2018. https://www.adf.org/members/kins/index.html
"Liturgy." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 Sept. 2018.
Mallory, J.P.. In Search of Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. Thames & Hudson Ltd, London. 1989. Print
"Orthodoxy." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2018.
“Orthopraxy.” Dictionary.com. Dictonary.Com, LLC. Web. 12 Sept. 2018.
Our Own Druidry: an introduction to Ár nDraíocht Féin and the druid Path. ADF Publishing. 2009. Print
“Special Interest Groups.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 05 Sept. 2018. https://www.adf.org/groups/sigs/index.html
“Subgroup Charter Manual.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 05 Sept. 2018. https://www.adf.org/members/org/docs/subgroup-charters.html#kins
“The Role of the Priest in ADF.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Web. 05 Sept. 2018. https://www.adf.org/members/org/clergy-council/role.html