This article originally appeared in the past print version of the ADF Membership Guide, and as such is rather long. However, it does have a lot of very good information about ADF’s organizational structure, information that many new and potential members frequently ask about.
The “local” level is the level where most ADF members interact with ADF on a regular basis. For many members, this means spiritual work in our local congregations (groves), but it also means private spiritual work on a solitary basis. This level also includes day-to-day religious practices such as morning libations, daily offerings to one’s patron gods, interactions with other local ADF members, etc. While ADF as an organization provides an overarching framework for individual spiritual practice, the majority of our most important work occurs by individuals practicing their devotion to the Kindreds at their own hearths and among their own folk, and there are as many ways for individuals to do that as there are members in ADF. In fact, one of the most fundamental functions of ADF as an organization is to give members a network to share their own religious practices with other members and thereby enrich their own spirituality.
Groves and Protogroves
Local spiritual practice is for many members synonymous with group worship in groves and protogroves. The formal definitions of groves and protogroves are, as taken from the ADF Grove Organizer’s Handbook, the following:
An ADF grove may be formed by any group of three or more voting members of ADF who live in the same geographic area, who gather at least twice a lunar month to study and practice Druidism within the context of Ar nDraiocht Fein, and who are chartered by the Mother Grove as a local congregation.
A Protogrove may be formed by one or two voting members in a given location who are attempting to start a grove. Protogrove status is given to most who request it, provided there is a publishable (secular or religious) name and an official mailing address.
Those definitions indicate a few things, the first being that groves are larger, requiring at least three ADF members. Second, groves must be established through a formal application and chartering process while the process to establish a protogrove is much more speedy and informal. Lastly, groves have some other requirements that protogroves don’t, such as doing eight High Day rituals a year, quarterly community service, etc. It is possible for a protogrove to grow to a size where its members wish to apply for grove status, something that happens frequently and is usually approved fairly quickly.
For more information about founding a grove or protogrove, see the ADF Grove Organizer’s Handbook or contact the main ADF Office online or using the paper address listed at the end of the ADF National section.
Some groves and protogroves have sufficient members and interest that they have their own local sub-groups such as grove guilds and special interest groups. The Shining Lakes Grove’s Liturgist Guild, for example, is a sub-group within Shining Lakes Grove which focuses on liturgical issues for the grove. Often such groups have special forums or meeting times that are apart from the normal grove calendar of events, providing extra means for interested members to get involved in the grove.
Finally, while you may encounter an emphasis on grove-oriented spirituality in ADF, we are by no means an organization that serves only grove members. Our emphasis on public ritual does lead us to focus on grove activities, such as founding new groves, encouraging sharing of resources among existing groves, etc., but we recognize that a very significant portion of ADF’s membership is solitary (and often solitary by choice). Here we must reiterate that while group ritual is important, it is also relatively infrequent (eight times a year for groves), and that the real work of Our Druidry occurs every day in our individual homes and hearths. For that reason, we value our solitary members especially for continuing the work of Our Druidry in their lives and sharing their experiences with others. The most valuable resource we provide for solitary ADF members, then, is the networking between members that occurs at the national level.
The “national” level of ADF is the level of ADF as an overarching organization that provides services to individual members and groups such as groves and protogroves. Many of our members outside the United States have expressed concern that “national” means the U.S., but “national” is actually used in the sense of “at the level of nations” and thus includes our valued members in Canada, France, Germany, and other countries. This is the level at which individual geographic origins are largely ignored as we work together to build the larger infrastructure and spirituality of Our Druidry. Often this is made possible by our electronic services such as the ADF electronic mailing lists and web site. These resources will be covered at the end of this section after the different organizational structures of ADF at the national level are described.
All of the various organizational systems in ADF work together to maximize our total communication with each other. Unlike most mainstream religions, which have only “vertical” communication between people who are “higher” and “lower” on some kind of totem pole (and which inevitably run into blocks, censoring, and “screening” of information in both directions), in ADF we encourage everyone to talk to everyone!
Senior Druids talk to each other, their grove members, and the Mother Grove. Participants in the Study Program talk to each other and to members of the Council of Lore. Anyone can organize a guild, study circle, or other SIG, drawing members from across all Circles and around the world. Hierarchy has its uses, provided that it stays organic and flexible. In ADF we are evolving new ways to empower all our members, while still staying structured enough to get some work done.
Bylaws and Policies
ADF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation as recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. To comply with the legal requirements of non-profit status with the IRS, and for our own clarity and surety of operation, ADF operates under a set of “bylaws” which govern ADF as an organization. Bylaw changes are made with a 2/3 vote of the Mother Grove. The original bylaws were adopted in 1990 by the Mother Grove when ADF was founded, and the bylaws are regularly revised in minor ways by each Mother Grove; the most recent modification at the time of this writing was late 1999. The founding of ADF as a Corporation in 1990 replaced the Association of ADF which had been established in 1987, although ADF was actually started in 1984.
The ADF bylaws describe the operation of rather mundane aspects of ADF’s functioning, such as elections, the positions, and requirements for Mother Grove and other Officers, how other sub-groups are founded and governed, etc. They are published with the ADF quarterly publication Oak Leaves each Lughnasadh, and are also available online.
The Mother Grove has also found that there is a need to document methods of handling situations, which do not need to be in the bylaws per se because they may need to change more often. The Policies and Procedures Manual serves as a place to document these policies and includes such things as our policy on mailing list moderation, the voting system of the Mother Grove, current Study Program policies, etc. As with all other governing documents in ADF, if there is a conflict, the ADF bylaws supersede it. The Policies and Procedures Manual may be reviewed in the Members section online or upon written request to the ADF Office.
The Mother Grove
The Mother Grove is the legal equivalent of and is referred to in the ADF bylaws as, the ADF Board of Directors. All members of the Mother Grove are Directors of Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship, Inc. The composition of the Mother Grove is described fully in the ADF bylaws but will be summarized briefly here.
The Mother Grove is led by the Archdruid, who provides long-term spiritual guidance and leadership to ADF.
The Vice Archdruid exercises the functions of the Archdruid in her or his absence and will replace the Archdruid in the event of her/his recall, death, retirement, or permanent incapacitation.
The Secretary (also known as Scribe) keeps a record of all votes and minutes of the proceedings of all meetings of the Mother Grove, and announces summaries of those meetings periodically to the membership.
The Treasurer (also known as Pursewarden) 1presents budgets to the Mother Grove for approval, reviews and reconciles the bookkeeping of the ADF office, creates financial reports for the MG and membership, and approves expenditures greater than $200.
The Members’ Advocate functions as an ombudsperson, representing individual members of ADF at large, with special attention to the needs of minority factions not otherwise represented; the Members’ Advocate is a non-voting member of the Mother Grove.
The Chief of the Council of Senior Druids is elected by the Council of Senior Druids to serve on the Mother Grove, thereby representing groves and protogroves.
The Chief of the Council of Regional Druids is elected by the Council of Regional Druids to serve on the Mother Grove, thereby representing individual ADF members in various membership regions.
Non-Officer Director(s) may be elected by the ADF membership as a whole and do not have specific defined duties, but represent the membership at large; there are currently three Non-Officer Directors (NODs) on the Mother Grove.
The Archdruid is elected for a three-year term, and at the time of this writing, the next election of an Archdruid will be in May 2007. The Members’ Advocate is elected yearly, and all other positions are elected every two years.
For further information about specific Mother Grove positions or election specifics, refer to the ADF bylaws.
The National Membership Meeting
ADF has a meeting of the membership annually. Members may cast their ballots for elections at the national membership meeting or by mailing the ADF Office, as described in the bylaws. The location of the national membership meeting is determined by a vote of the membership. The policy on determining the location, from the bylaws, is the following:
The time and location of the annual meeting of the voting members of A.D.F. shall be determined by the membership prior to the close of the previous annual meeting. Nominations for events to host the annual meeting shall be collected by the same method as officer candidate nominations. The nominated events shall be evaluated for suitability and willingness to host the meeting by the Secretary. Candidate events must be held between May 1 and September 1, be sponsored by ADF member subgroups and have been held for at least one year unless no qualifying events exist. All nominations that meet these criteria shall be placed on the annual election ballot for a vote by the general membership. The outcome of that election shall be determined by a plurality vote. Write-in votes shall not be permitted for annual meeting locations.
Other Committees, Boards, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
The Council of Senior Druids is made up of all past and current Senior Druids and Grove Organizers and serves as a resource for SDs and GOs to support each other and share mutually helpful information. The CoSD is also the board from which the members of the Grove Organizing Committee is drawn on a volunteer basis. The Grove Organizing Committee is the group that oversees the application process for new groves and protogroves. More information on the Grove Organizing Committee can be found in the ADF Grove Organizer’s Handbook.
The Administrative Board is chaired by the elected ADF Administrator and has such positions as Chronicler, Pursewarden, Webmaster, Listmaster, Office Manager, and Regalia Manager. Appointments to the Administrative Board are made by the Administrator. The Chronicler is responsible for overseeing all ADF publication efforts, the Pursewarden is responsible for reviewing our financial records to ensure that they comply with generally accepted accounting principles, and the Office Manager is responsible for the main ADF Office which handles new membership processing, membership renewals, and general information requests.
Special Interest Groups (or SIGs) are informal, freestanding groups that may be formed at any time by interested members, and are included in ADF’s full national group listing for networking purposes. Examples include the Solitaries SIG and the Children’s Education SIG.
Other Committees, such as the Outreach Committee, may be created by a vote of the Mother Grove at any time, on a standing or ad hoc basis. Such committees will be chaired by a Director of the Mother Grove, will have a defined purpose, and must notify the Mother Grove of their activities periodically.
Guilds and the Council of Lore
Guilds are groups of ADF members who have organized together for mutual benefit, especially study and training. They are established by a vote of the Mother Grove and must have their own governing documents, systems of rank, election methods, decision-making processes, etc. While Guilds do not exist solely to support the ADF Study Program, a major portion of their activities is the development and administration of relevant portions of the ADF Study Program. For example, the ADF Liturgists Guild is currently developing liturgical portions of the ADF Study Program, and when the Study Program is complete the Liturgists Guild will administer those training sections.
The ADF Guilds are grouped into the three primary functions of Indo-European society identified by the scholar Georges Dumezil. The first function is magical-religious and contains the Bardic Guild, Liturgists Guild, Seers Guild, Magicians Guild, and Scholars Guild. The second function is martial and contains the Warriors Guild. The third function is the “producer” function and is associated with the natural world. It contains the Artisans Guild, Naturalists Guild, and Healers Guild.
The Council of Lore consists of the elected Preceptors of each Guild. The present purpose of the Council of Lore in terms of the Study Program is to formulate a set of General and Functional requirements to submit to the Mother Grove for approval. It will also review Guild specialties as the Guilds submit them, and then will pass them on to the Mother Grove for approval. The long-term purpose of the Council of Lore will be to administrate the General and Functional requirements of the Study Program (or delegate the administration appropriately), led primarily by the ADF Preceptor.
The Dedicant Program and Study Program
ADF currently has two training systems, one of which is complete and the other which is under revision. The former is known as the Dedicant Program and it is a year-long study and practice designed to introduce new members into the ways of Our Druidry, including such things as meditative skill practice, recommended readings, consideration of ethical and philosophical issues, etc. The latter is our more comprehensive Study Program and at the time of this writing is still under development, though several Guilds have approved their Study Programs. It should also be mentioned that ranks in the Study Program and Guilds have no religious connotations–any member may lead rituals and no one is considered spiritually superior to anyone else due to her/his Study Program or Guild rank.
The Study Program is still under development because we have chosen to emphasize quality over speed in our training, trying to live up to our motto of, “Why Not Excellence?” While this may be somewhat frustrating to those who wish to jump right in now, we have provided the Dedicant Program as an excellent and worthwhile form of interim training, and moreover we believe that the extra work we are devoting to involving our members in the creation of their Study Program will produce a much finer and workable program in the end. The Study Program, when complete, will also have the Dedicant Program as an entry prerequisite, so any work done on the Dedicant Program will benefit students planning to enter the Study Program. Both are only available to members of ADF, and the Dedicant Program is part of the membership package [ed.: this is now electronically distributed, though paper copies are purchasable] new members receive upon joining.
The Purpose of the Study Program is twofold. In our religion, we seek to honor the Kindreds in the best ways we can, with excellence. While we do High Day rites eight times a year, we do them from a primarily modern perspective, and we acknowledge that our ancestors who were closer to the natural world than us likely knew how to worship the kindreds better than us. We may decide that certain aspects of their worship are incompatible with our modern society (e.g., animal sacrifice), but as an organization, we are dedicated to researching their ways so that we can honor the Kindreds with the greatest excellence possible.
Just as someone can be given a piece of paper and read a greeting in a foreign language phonetically, and do so perfectly, so is it possible to fulfill the forms and gestures of our liturgy with technical excellence. However, as a religious organization, we are committed to not just technical excellence but spiritual excellence. Just as we would expect a greeting in another language to have more meaning and power when spoken by someone fluent in that language, so do we strive to understand the social and cultural context of the Indo-European peoples in order to practice our religion as fluently as possible. One purpose of the Study Program, therefore, is to provide its students a structured method of knowing the social and cultural context of the ancient Indo-European peoples, in order that they may practice Our Druidry with the understanding of its roots, and achieve spiritual as well as technical excellence.
In addition to giving individual students in our Study Program an understanding of the Indo-European basis for our religion, we seek also to build the religious community itself. We recognize that part of learning-perhaps the most important part-is teaching others and giving back to one’s community, and so the second goal of our Study Program is to produce religious functionaries who will use their knowledge and expertise to provide for the spiritual well-being of our community. An essential aspect of that corresponds to the first purpose, namely that the guiding feature of the Study Program is to bring the students and their community closer to the old ways and honoring the Kindreds with excellence.
Priests, Clergy Credentials, and Ordination
Having ordained clergy is important to any religion because such clergy members gain the ability to be officially recognized as clergy by their congregations, and where it matters, to their states also. There is also a benefit to the ADF membership and possibly Neopaganism in general when there are more officially recognized priests available to perform clerical rites and duties. Many people have contacted ADF over the years asking for a priest in their area who could help with marriage, house blessing/warding, with memorial rites, etc. and this is a need we are striving to fulfill.
There are two types of Priest in ADF: Dedicant Priests and Ordained Priests. Temporary clergy credentials are known as Dedicant Priest credentials and Ordained Clergy are permanent credentials.
At the time of this writing, ADF currently has several Ordained Priests. Due to the need for ordained clergy in our congregations, and in Neopaganism in general, our Dedicant and Ordained Priests are currently in the process of creating a special track for ordination which is separate from the ADF Study Program.
The current policies on ordination and granting of clergy credentials are the following:
Ordained Priest Credentials
- Only persons who have obtained 3rd circle or higher in the Priest, Liturgist-Priest or Seer-Priest specializations of the ADF Study Program are eligible to apply for ordination.
- Eligible individuals may request consideration for ordination by the Clergy Council.
- The Clergy Council will conduct a detailed examination of each candidate for ordination.
- Following the examination of the candidate, the Clergy Council will conduct a vote on the ordination of the candidate.
- Candidates who are approved for ordination by the Clergy Council will be ordained by the Archdruid.
- If the Clergy Council does not approve the ordination in question the candidate will be given specific reasons for the denial and given clear recommendations to address the Clergy Council’s concerns.
- Ordained individuals are expected to keep their training current through continuing education and active practice. The Clergy Council retains the right to periodically reexamine said individuals and, if necessary, revoke their right to represent themselves as ADF clergy.
Dedicant Priest Credentials
- Eligible individuals may request Dedicant Priest credentials by written request to the Chief of the Clergy Council.
- Eligible individuals are defined as those who have completed the ADF Dedicant Training Program as published in the New Member’s Guide and who have at least two cumulative years of experience in the position of Senior Druid of an ADF grove composed of at least 9 ADF members.
- Following the verification of the individual’s leadership experience, the Clergy Council will approve the request for credentials by a simple majority vote.
- Upon approval, the Clergy Council will make appropriate ceremonial arrangements and issue a Dedicant Priest Certificate which will be valid for a one year period.
- Individuals who have been granted Dedicant Priest credentials may request extensions by contacting the Chief of the Clergy Council. In order for extensions to be granted the individual must demonstrate progress in either the Priest/ess, Liturgist, or Seer specialization of the ADF Study Program. Upon verification of said requirements, the Clergy Council may grant up to two one-year extensions.
- Individuals who have acquired the second circle in either the Priest/ess, Liturgist, or Seer specializations of the ADF Study Program may be granted two additional one-year extensions for a grand total of four years.
- Decisions by the Clergy Council to withhold credentials or extensions may be appealed to the Mother Grove by written request to the Members’ Advocate.
- Individuals who feel that they have a justifiable reason to hold lay clergy credentials, but who do not meet the stated requirements outlined in this policy may request credentials directly from the Mother Grove by written request to the Members’ Advocate.
- Dedicant Priest Credentials may be invalidated at any time by a vote of the Mother Grove.
Membership and rank in ADF, attendance at public or semipublic activities, and participation in the Study Program may not be denied to anyone on the basis of race, ancestry, color, physical disability, age, gender, or affectional preference. However, they may be denied to individuals practicing creeds inimical to Neopagan Druidism, such as varieties of conservative monotheism, atheism, demonism, racialism, and other such belief systems as determined by the Mother Grove. This is in keeping with our policy that people who are disruptive, abusive or dangerous can be excluded from grove and other ADF activities in order to protect the other participants. Members who feel that they have been unjustly excluded may ask for help from the Members’ Advocate (see the section of that title later in this guide).
We have only a few disabled members in ADF, but we are sure that there would be far more, both inside and outside of Neopagan Druidism, if they were made welcome. Would-be leaders are encouraged to learn Ameslan or other systems of sign language. All organizers of public and semi-public ADF activities must make strenuous efforts to facilitate the participation of disabled individuals. Such individuals, however, must let their needs be known if they expect them to be met.
The ADF Mailing Lists and Web Site
As an international organization, our members are geographically dispersed across the world. As a result, the primary mode of communication and networking between many ADF members is on the Internet, often through our electronic mailing lists. We have a wide variety of lists just for members, including ADF-Celtic, ADF-Norse, and ADF-Greek for cultural special interests, ADF-Dedicants for online Dedicant Program mentoring, ADF-Parents for Druid parenting discussion, and ADF-Solitaries for active solitary networking. Each Guild also has its own mailing list, and there are therefore lists such as ADF-Liturgists for the Liturgists Guild, ADF-Seers for the Seers Guild, etc. Two of our most venerable lists, ADF-Religion and ADF-Druidry, are for discussion of the spiritual aspects of our Druidry in particular, and general discussion respectively, though with the latter it should be mentioned that the ADF-Policy list exists for specifically policy-related discussion. If you are a member you can subscribe to any of these mailing lists via the member subscription page.
Our web site at www.adf.org has been established since the early days of the Web (1995) and has grown as ADF has grown and changed through the years. It currently serves as a repository for rituals, articles, songs and chants, and other information, and contains the archives for our electronic mailing lists.
The ADF Office
The main ADF Office, or “central office”, is the physical place where things like processing new memberships happen. It is staffed primarily by volunteers who engage in time-consuming, often thankless, and completely vital work for Our Druidry and who are thus deserving of our most sincere appreciation! We also have a number of “e-mail helpers” who answer e-mail sent to the ADF Office address, and who are also volunteers deserving of our thanks. If you would like to contact the ADF Office for some reason or would like to help reduce the e-mail load of our volunteers, please see our contact page for more information on how to reach us.