I have been thinking about renewing my ADF membership. This is not an easy decision for me – I have been hard on Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship in the past…but I think that ADF has attempted to address some of the concerns I had, the concerns of many other members. I do not confront this choice flippantly, but it is an honest one that I feel I must address.
From the ADF website, frontpage:
“Our vision is that the Gods and Spirits are served in the modern world through:
- Public temple worship with a skilled priesthood
- Accessible religious training for all
- A spiritual relationship with the Earth
- Sustainable Pagan institutions
- A flourishing family and community Pagan culture
- Commonality of ritual practice
- Honoring the Earth Mother
- Scholarship and research
- Reciprocity with the Gods and Spirits
- Respect for others through living our virtues
- Service to the community, land, and the Gods and Spirits” (2018)
These are ADF’s core ideals as a Church. As a Pagan, how do I feel about these? Do I feel these fit into what I think Paganism is and should move toward? Yes and No.
Thinking about each of those statements…..
“Our vision is that the Gods and Spirits are served in the modern world through” I’m not too hip on the fact that ADF right out of the gate presents its sole purpose as serving the gods (which should be lower case btw) and spirits. Service to the community, yes. Service and commitment to improving the self and others through learning and empowerment, yes. The gods quite frankly can take care of themselves – granted I worship the gods and give offerings to many of them on a weekly/daily basis and understand the reciprocity that takes place between god (thing) and worshipper, but its not my primary goal in life to serve the gods every minute of the day. In fact our pagan gods tell us directly not to be overly dependent upon them.
Public Temple Worship with ‘skilled’ priesthood – This is good for the most part. Just what is meant by ‘Skilled’ priesthood I’m not sure – I’ve had horrendous experiences with ADF’s clergy programs – so I’m not convinced of ADF’s program oversight or that who is conferred priesthood necessarily is deserving. Pagans should inherently be wary of organizations that create hierarchies as Neo-Paganism is so much about personal understanding and in my opinion should be a revolt against the emulation of systems that are built on segregating members into various groups and intelligenstia. (0)
Accessible Training – Of course I agree with this (2)
A Spiritual relationship with the Earth – Fundamental to Pagan thought and practice and especially any org using the ‘Druid’ moniker. (2)
Sustainable Pagan Institutions – Not too sure what this means, rather an obtuse statement. (0)
Flourishing Pagan culture – As long as it is good and serves the community, great. (2)
The We Value section are all ‘I agree’s’ for sure. However, the ritual liturgy found in ADF is dry. Quite frankly it’s rather boring, and the participant can sometimes feel left out because much of the attention is placed outside of the self, away from ones awareness. One of the large complaints of mine is the Order of Ritual found in ADF – it inadvertantly sets up robotic worship, a congregational mode of religiosity that forces some into a watcher mode. Being a Watcher is not Pagansim – the immediacy of Paganism is its power; doing, working, existing with the gods, ancestors, spirits.
ADF’s constant look toward growing and bettering, making their religion more visible as a public Indo-European religion is sometimes a blinding goal. I’ve had my share of experiences with ADF personages who are so hell-bent on its active tenets of building and growing that they forget or ignore the tenets of virtue and humility and sincerity that religious practice synthesizes within the self – but that’s neither here nor there, and generally pagans, in my experience, are boastful people and can be bold in their actions, this may be different overseas and I’m usually the quite one…so this may just be my thing.
So, I’m still thinking about this – I always felt ADF was a good fit with me. I keep telling myself that a member can’t like everything about the organization he’s part of…but I’m not quite sure yet how much I’m able to ignore in order to count myself back in the fold.