Move along the bus ….

 

 

So I have put off 100% leaving ADF until my renewal is due (December 7). I’ve also given them 3 strikes (well it’s a US run international organization, they will not understand a cricket reference of 10 wickets) to convince me to stay. Currently they are at 2.5 strikes (yes I split strikes). I’m not going to get into how this has occurred, just that its been a bad week for ADF and my trust.

 

So where to from here? That really is the question. For the last 17 years I’ve walked a path already blazed by hundreds of other ADF members. Now I’m looking longingly to paths less trodden. My gut tells me that is where I need to go. That I can’t effect change in an organization that does not see that it needs to change. So where now?

 

Not everything from ADF will be left behind. I love the idea of *ghosti. The reconstructed Proto Indo-European word (hence the *), from where guest, host, and yes Ghost (it once meant stranger not a spirit) came from. But unlike the majority of ADF, I will not be just practicing reciprocity with my deities of worship, or the spirits of the land, or my ancestors. I plan to make this a part of how I live my day to day with people. Because in the end, that is how my ancestors would have lived.

 

For me, that is not a big paradigm change. I’ve tended to always live my life in a way, where I treat others as I’ve been treated. Rather than being nice to everyone, I am nice to those who treat me that way, and not so nice, to those who treat me not so nicely. I’m not afraid to be outspoken and aggressive, when the need seems to be there, just as I am not afraid to lurk at the edge of things, and just observe.

 

I feel called ever more strongly to the service of An Morrigan. This began in 2008 in Milwaukee, when I was at a dark period in my life, and every year seems to be a bigger focus of my life. It is something I could have applied in ADF, but I’m pretty sure that outside of ADF I will achieve more.

 

My warriorship is now just my own, and that of those I will now call tribe.

 

I think that is the hardest part. I am leaving a tribe. In essence I am going to probably become an outsider (using the ADF parlance). Currently I’ve made myself ever more an outdweller. A person at the edge of the tribe, who is becoming ever more unaligned with how the centre of the tribe wishes to be. So I’m going to be a solo traveller for a time, perhaps perfectly. I don’t fear this, I welcome it. Its been almost two decades sine I did this. I’m a vastly different person now, more dangerous in some ways (spirituall speaking) because I know who I am, and what I believe. But at the same time, I have habits from being part of a tribe for so long. Habits that may or may not need to be unlearned.

 

Where does this put me? I don’t know. Perhaps I will be convinced to stay? Any reading this are welcome to try and do that. I’m always open to discussion. But I’m my own man. Remember that. No longer am I willing to be loyal for the good of the Tribe. I serve my gods, my family, the ancestors, and the spirits of the land. Not an organization.

 

 

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Moving along ones SlÍ….

 

Let me open this with the Statement: I have left ADF, I am unlikely to join again, and it feels that this is the correct path for me to walk.

Each person has a path (SlÍ) which they should walk, and I believe I am still on my path. We shall see.

 

Next let me lightly touch what set this off:

 

Many of you will have heard that ADF had a member recently arrested and subsequently convicted of a crime, involving pictures of children. He has blogged about his side of this at length (note his blog may disappear at some point, I’ve saved a screen shot copy of his story, just in case, I can provide these at request).  His initial statement of “I was tricked by a malicious torrent, when I was trying to download a movie” was believed by many. So when his conviction (via a plea deal, he was only charged with Disseminating an obscenity (a level 1 felony), ordered to undergo sex offender re-education, submit to warrantless searches of his electronic devices, but he avoided having to register as a sex offender (the crux of the plea deal)). He sold his conviction as “he was not convicted of anything major, and was the victim here”). ADF did not investigate further, and released a statement, that they did not expect him to run of a position of authority again (he had been a Protogrove leader, and assistant regional druid) but he was not excluded, nor was he under special observation.

 

Skip forward a fortnight, someone (no not me!) obtained the court transcripts. They tell a vastly different tale. The prosecutor states that he admitted to downloading over 300 pictures, for the purposes of self-gratification. These were pictures of pre-teen children, undressed, or provocatively clad and posed. When this information came to light. Scott Holbrook changed his story slightly to account for the discrepancy. He claims he was ambushed by the claim, and did not have a chance to refute these claims (he later has changed this to he did not feel he could refute it, least he loose his plea deal). A constant shifting of goal posts is a sign of a logical flaw in an argument. Take from this what you want. I certainly have.

 

Now here is the problem, the story which Scott has sold, is an improbable one. Torrents tend to only house malicious files like viruses, if there were indeed almost 400 picture files, you would notice, as movies tend to only have say 5 files associated with them (less if its one which does not have multiple subtitle or sound tracks). Not hundreds of files. Given Scott knew where to look for a movie to pirate (which is what he has admitted) one would assume he was nuanced enough in this sort of behaviour to check what he was getting. He probably also was smart enough to turn of the reseeding (essentially sharing) setting. This is what got him caught.  A more probable explanation, is that Scott wilfully downloaded a file (or files) containing these objectionable pictures, and for personal use. He may well have found them on a torrent site, which insists that members, seed to perpetuate the files.

 

So we have two possible explanations (there are more, but I am picking the extremes), one which is told by an admitted thief, and one which is told by the legal system. I know which one sits right in my brain.

 

When this discrepancy came to light, many of us in the Pagan community were aggrieved to say the least. Our main media out let (the wild Hunt) had allowed Scott to tell his side of the story, but had not investigated how factual that was. To be fair, since the management changed at TWH, this does not surprise me. What did surprise me, is that ADF has implemented a Risk Management strategy (which my wife and I initially (2010) had been involved in). The Mother Grove choose (in haste) not to follow this strategy. In a rush to wash their hands of the smelly incident, they did not follow due diligence. Now many of you may say “oh but is that a bad thing?”. The answer in this case is. Yes indeed, they made a mistake, which they then had to sit in an emergency session to rectify.

 

Stepping away from ADFs problems (they are not important here). What is important is, despite the new evidence, a sizable chunk of the vocal membership, defended “poor Scott”, and implied he had been set up, buy corrupt officials. Scott had already implied he took a plea deal due to being a Pagan, in a Pagan Unfriendly ™ Upland South. So any who questioned this, were a mob of “torch bearing, pitchfork wielding peasants” who were “out for blood” (I am quoting a prominent ADF member here). Those of us who questioned the story, received abuse. Indeed, I actually got an email, sent from an anon email service (I am good at IP tracking, and I recognized the service, it stopped resolving in Asia).

Abusive email from.

Thus, when I noted that ADF either did not care, or denied he was on record, and had not refuted being a paedophile. I questioned my membership of ADF. Clearly, I was in a minority. Indeed, I was one of the few to stand up and ask that he be reclassified, as per the ADF rules. When I got the abusive email, and a couple of messages in FB. I made my mind up, and I left. Its caused problems (I vacated my Gael Kin Chieftain position (sounds impressive, but I just administered the Kin).

 

My reasons were this.

 

  • I cannot be part of an organization, which allows a member to be dishonest, when dealing with a matter of sexual abuse. The fact I had to be in essence an antagonistic arse to get them to take the matter seriously, told me, they wanted to sweep it away.
  • If the membership, can’t be “excellent” when it critically reviews a clear cut document, it does not aspire to “excellent” and I question how many of them follow the virtues.
  • Speaking of Virtues, Scott claims to be a follower of the Morrigan, just like me, meaning that I can leverage our apparent shared cultural values. The Gaels had several measures of trustworthiness. Your “Face” (oineach), which is shown to the tribe. It is your honor, and you have an honor price (enech-lann). The fact Scott is a convicted felon, in a crime that involves children (it does)), means his enech is much reduced. On top of that, he has (apparently) been caught in a lie, meaning his honesty (indracus) is beyond being in question, it is non-existent. His reputation (clú) to the greater community is abysmal. This means that he would need truly extraordinary evidence to regain any of his credibility. Instead he writes weasel words, and has a small group of closely related individuals try to repeat the story enough, to make it appear to be true.
  • I had no way (within ADF rules) of replying to the abuse levelled towards me. I bear ADF very little ill will, and did not want to be the barbarian at the gates, throwing my sword on the scales because someone questioned the cost of settlement.

 

Thus I left. I do not regret it. I fondly remember much of my time in ADF, and have made friends who I treasure. Sadly many of them are also leaving because of this, and I value my indracus over my loyalty to an organization which would give *ghosti to a criminal, and not a long standing member (I refer to the members, not the organization as a whole).

 

Here is the thing, technically I won, Scott is not allowed to hold a position of authority (unless he can disprove his charges) and is hopefully a person non-grata at events with children, or at least a leper who is escorted EVERYWHERE. But I also lost, I saw the value I was ascribed, for doing the right thing (yet again). Time to go, and be happy.

NOTE

I have been asked to reconsider, but to do this , I will require a truly extraordinary reason to stay. I don’t mean a bribe, or compensation, or even the removal of Scott. But if I were to return or stay, I’m going to need to see something that makes me reconsider, not appeals to my ego. My ego is not fragile, I can’t be bribed.

 

What is next? I am not sure. I identify as a Gaelic Reconstructive Polytheist now, I never used the term Druid, so I will continue not to use that.