I’m going to take a different stance on my running commentary about ADF. Just to try and pick away at a few threads I’ve seen, for me, and for others.
ADF’s current woes appear to be a dissatisfaction over what appears to have been a coup by the Clergy council, to place themselves in a place of power over everyone else. For an Indo-European (IE) flavoured organization its an interesting observation people have made. So lets dig in. I’m not sure if this will be dynamite archaeology, or tooth pick and tooth brush archaeology, but screw it, lets do it.
ADF ostensibly claims to be a Pan Indo-European spiritual organization. By this they have claimed (though they keep changing their bloody stance on this) to be a mildly reconstructive Pagan organization, which tries to encompass the full spectrum of the “pagan” Indo-European peoples, and allow people to find a place to worship in some form of this Indo-European pan culture. These are my words, not theirs, fuck theirs, I don’t trust them to be more than weasel words… ok dynamite at this stage it is.
If you look at some of the older ideas about the Indo-European peoples, the idea of the Trifunctional Hypothesis states that the Indo-European peoples were split into three distinct functions:
- Sovereignty (split into the formal Juridical and priestly, and the supernatural), ie the priests (Clergy)
- Military i.e. the warriors and nobility
- Producers Ruled by the first two.
This trifunctionality can sort of be seen in a number of the cultures though you might have to squint hard for some.
- Indo-Iranian – Brahmin/Athravan, Kshatriyas/Rathaestar, Vaishyas
- Roman – Flamines, Milites, Quirites
- Celtic – Druids, Equites, Plebes (note these are Roman and Greek not Celtic language terms)
- Anglo-Saxon – Gebedmen (prayer-men), Fyrdmen (army-men), Weorcmen (workmen)
- Slavic – Volkhvs, Voin, Krestyanin/Smerd
- Nordic – Earl, Churl, Thrall
- Greece (Attica) – Eupatridae, Geomori, Demiurgi
- Greece (Sparta) – Homoioi, Perioeci, Helots
So, lets look at this. The beef here seems to be that the Clergy, the supposed Priests have taken over running of things. This is illustrated by those who are dissatisfied by the fact that the Arc Druid (AD) and Vice Arch Druid (VAD) may only be held by folk who are Clergy. On top of that, the AD is the leader of the Clergy council. They see this as limiting the pool of potential leaders.
So, putting an IE hat on the gnashing and wailing of teeth is over the Priestly caste, being in charge. Which is odd, as they in some form almost always were (Druids, Brahmin, Athravan etc). SO from an IE point of view, its natural.
BUT taking the hat off, and being serious here. We are not in an Indo-European culture, even inside ADF.
I helped lead the warriors for a long time. BE it as the Chief, or a member of the Clergy council, or a senior voice in debates. The warriors were not nurtured, the warriors were feted as dogs by the leadership. The most we ever did on an organized basis was the damned warriors’ games at the annual meeting, and sorry folks those were a joke. Similarly, the producers were not a thing. ADF due to it’s neopagan roots, had embraced the idea of us all being our own clergy that Gerald Gardner had encouraged in the 1950s. What this was supposed to mean, is you (yes YOU) could commune with the gods, not needing a big muck muck clergy person telling you what to think, or say, or do. Sadly in most pagan orgs, it means you have an organisation of people who are of the mindset of “don’t tell me what to do”.
So with ADF, assuming you have done the dedicants program (and that’s a poor assumption as the adoption used to be less than 10% of the membership), we all sat in that upper caste. Ooops. So the idea of the Clergy taking over can be seen two ways.
- The fuck are you talking about we are all clergy if we’ve done the dedicants program, and you needed to do that to hold many offices.
- Yes indeed there is a movement towards elitism.
Elitism, that’s a dirty word to many pagans. Not me, but many. But the problem here is, and I can speak to this first hand, you can be road blocked towards the road to being Clergy. IF someone in the Clergy council dislikes you, or disagrees with your ideas, you are done, you can not proceed. My Initiates progress was held up, due to my higher education. When I submitted a paper (for a module to show reasoning, logic, and research) from my Masters of Entrepreneurship (as I felt my science papers would be too hard for a layperson to follow, yes that’s arrogance, but based in experience), I felt that someone could follow. It was I know over 5000 words long, its was for the equivalent of a MBA after all. I was told it was not suitable, and to find something else. When I asked for ideas, I was basically shut down. So I went and wrote some others things, to show, reasoning, logic, that I could research, I was still shot down. I was either using the wrong form of APA citations (which as a professional scientist, I would never use), or my conclusions were wrong.
Basically, the then Preceptor (equivalent of head teacher) of the Clergy council, in charge of all of this, did not like me, or my writing. So I sat, for 5 years, not progressing in either the Generalists program, or the Initiates. Despite making appeals to others to intercede. I was told to cope. I was privately told “yes we see a problem, but be patient, we need her to move on”. Well I moved on first (then she did). I left ADF, disillusioned. I was actually more informed, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally, than those marking what I did. Again, yes that is my ego, but I have always tried to put my spiritual path into everyday action. I live my virtues, I fulfil my oaths, and I mentor my students.
Long couple of paragraphs later. ADF made a concerted effort to keep many of us out of a place of potential power.
So back to the theme of the blog. The peasants are revolting.
You have the vast majority of the ADF membership being seen as the producers (insert a term that suits) and a small, handpicked elite of Clergy, from which leaders could come. Not only was this elite a small group, it contained people who had been “grandfathered” in from prior to the Clergy qualifications being formalized. It was basically full of Isaacs old drinking buddies. This can be seen from those who have held positions in the 17 years I was in the organization. The best a n00by could hope for, would be to some how get a Non-Officer Director (NOD) position in the mother grove, or perhaps the Members Advocate position (its non-voting, but you do get to witness things, for good or ill).
Lets add to an observation I can’t back up, that the majority of ADF seems to be leaning towards a Germanic (Northern mostly, so Scandinavian) spirituality. These cultures did not have an overt priestly caste, and much of the (judicial) power was in the hands of the Kings/Chiefs. Lets take this a step further, the English culture (even in the guise of the British Empire) from which the vast majority of ADF members can trace, is Germanic. Thus, the idea of a bunch of priests, taking over, is an anathema.
ADF has found its self in a position, of perchance being culturally (pagan Indo-European) correct in trying to place its judicial (and supernatural) power in the hands of the Clergy, but ethically dubious in doing so. Because again, we live in a modern world, where the Indo-European culture is not what we live, even if we try to.
So what can ADF Do? Well, that’s a great question. I don’t know they can fix it, short of burning down their organizational structure, and beginning anew. That’s not going to happen. Period. I wishy they could prove me wrong. But I include an organizational chart by a fellow blogger. For an organization barely over 1000 members, its weighted to the clergy, and also top heavy.