The Circle System of A.D.F. (c) 1984 P. E. I. Bonewits Reprinted from +quot;The Druids' Pr

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L---+---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----T----7--T-+--rJ The Circle System of A.D.F. (c) 1984 P. E. I. Bonewits Reprinted from "The Druids' Progress" #2 Some Thoughts on the Training of Neopagan Clergy: The ˙overwhelming majority of religions on this planet require many ˙years of hard study and training before a womanor a man is admitted into the ranks of the clergy. ˙This study and training usually includes not only the acquisition of ˙magical and religious knowledge, ˙but also the mastering of skills in ˙such diverse areas as counseling, teaching, ˙art, music, drama, dance and the basics of what each culture has in the way of science and technology. Among ˙the ˙Paleopagan Druids, ˙this training may have taken ˙as ˙long ˙as twenty ˙years. ˙In the modern western world, ˙outside of a few ˙fundamentalist denominations, ˙˙this training is done through several years (as many as ten or twelve in some groups) of college level classes and experiences. However, ˙for several reasons, ˙there is no universally (or even commonly) accepted system of qualifications for Neopagan clergyhood. Most Neopagan magi- cal/religous ˙groups are outgrowths of the 60's counterculture, ˙and they ˙thus have strong egalitarian dogmas. ˙The idea that clergy could be "better" ˙˙than the ˙members ˙of their congregations, ˙in any way at all, ˙has ˙been ˙repugnant enough ˙to ˙be ˙nearly "heretical." ˙The Protestant Christian ideal ˙of ˙every person ˙(or at least every man) ˙being their own minister has been accepted ˙by many ˙Neopagans without examination of the historical or magical causes ˙behind the creation of that ideal. As ˙I have mentioned before, ˙Neopagans have a tendency to be strong indi- vidualists ˙and ˙are often extremely distrustful of both leaders and ˙organized political structures. ˙Most Neopagan groups ˙prefer to stress informal collec- tive decision making. ˙Such factors are especially prevalent in the more self- consciously feminist Neopagan groups, ˙such as those now calling themselves the "Dianic ˙Craft." ˙This is understandable, ˙since the overwhelming majority ˙of mainstream religious heirarchies have been grossly male-chauvanistic, ˙at least insofar ˙as the extent of overt power has been concerned. ˙(Oddly enough, ˙the religious ˙groups that have been run by the worst MCPs are often the ones ˙most dependent ˙upon ˙the support of and covert power manipulations by ˙their ˙women members!) In ˙any ˙event, ˙thanks to these and other factors, ˙the very concepts ˙of religious ˙organizational ˙structure ˙and ˙of ˙specialized ˙qualifications ˙for clergyhood ˙have ˙been discarded by many people as male ˙plots ˙against ˙women. Most Neopagan groups, ˙because they tend to be supportive of the feminist move- ment, have gone unquestioningly along with this assessment. Most Neopagans who become priests or priestesses do not attain their posi- tions because they have studied, mastered and then demonstrated specific skills relevent ˙to ˙their chosen roles. ˙Rather, ˙they become members of the ˙clergy because (a) ˙they have belonged to the group for a minimum length of time, ˙(b) their ˙house ˙is the one everyone meets at, ˙(c) ˙they are so nice that ˙nobody wants ˙to ˙hurt their feelings by denying them a higher rank than ˙they ˙really deserve, and/or (d) they have gotten =very= close to the High Priest/ess. Although ˙individual ˙organizations occasionally have clearly defined ˙and strictly ˙enforced standards for their own clergy, ˙those standards are ˙seldom applied outside of such groups. And having any kind of standards at all is the exception, not the rule. Does it matter? For nondruidic groups, perhaps not. Many Neopagan tradi- tions ˙seem to get along just fine (or think they do) ˙without a highly trained clergy ˙at ˙all. ˙A ˙surprisingly large number of Neopagan clergy have ˙become competent through sheer experience (the old "sink or swim" ˙method). Yet being a priestess or priest is not an easy task, ˙as most of us have found out. ˙˙In order to keep up with the demands made upon us, ˙we wind up needing the ˙skills and knowledge of magicians, ˙psychics, polytheologians, therapists, scientists, artists, ˙˙dramatists, ˙˙politicians, ˙public relations ˙experts ˙and ˙healers. Juggling all these activities, ˙when our training was haphazard at best, ˙makes for a frustrating and difficult "career" in the Neopagan clergyhood. Now ˙add ˙in ˙the fact that Neopagans currently have ˙a ˙strong ˙prejudice against ˙paying their clergy any money at all, ˙let alone enough money to allow them ˙to function as fulltime religious workers. ˙This forces us to study ˙and practice ˙our clergyhood on a parttime basis, ˙usually while holding down full- time jobs in the mundane world. Put it all together, and you have a splendid recipe for creating frazzled, scattered, ˙incompetent, but very sincere priests and priestesses who, ˙if they take their responsibilities at all seriously, suffer professional burnout after only ˙a ˙few ˙years. ˙They then leave the community, ˙taking ˙with ˙them ˙what knowledge and training they =have= managed to accumulate. I've suffered this sort of burnout myself, ˙and seen several of my ˙fellow clergy go down in flames. I would rather this did not happen with ADF. It's a topic I've been thinking about for many years and which I've discussed at great length with my sibling clergyfolk. Now here's my plan..... Going around in Circles: To begin with, I'm stealing the idea of using "Circles" of development and commitment ˙from the old Church of All Worlds, ˙who in turn got it ˙from ˙Hein- lein's _Stranger in a Strange Land_ (see Margot Adler's _Drawing Down the Moon_ for ˙details). ˙˙Everyone's familiar with the idea of ˙"inner ˙circles" ˙˙that secretly ˙run ˙supposedly democratic groups. ˙In point of fact, ˙˙every ˙large organization ˙is actually run by a small number of people, ˙regardless of ˙what they ˙may ˙tell ˙the general public. ˙This is due to factors ˙involving ˙human communication capabilities and varying degrees of dedication, ˙as well as ˙with the commonly mentioned (and less ethical) motives of greed and power-hunger. With ˙ADF, ˙I ˙want everything to be as open and aboveboard ˙as ˙possible. We're ˙starting ˙out ˙by stating that our structure is one ˙of ˙circles ˙within circles. ˙˙The more hard work, ˙dedication and time a person is willing to put into ˙ADF, ˙˙the ˙further they will progress towards the ˙inner ˙circles ˙where increasing ˙power ˙and responsibility will be wielded. ˙But we will never ˙put pressure upon anyone to go further or faster than they are ready to go. I could have chosen other symbols for this system. ˙Ladders, for example, or ˙even climbing a tree (that's both Druidic and Shamanistic!), ˙would provide an image that would be very hierarchical. ˙But such climbing images also imply (a) ˙that people "on top" ˙are spiritually better than those "below" them, ˙and (b) that only a few people can be on any given level at a time. Or we could use a pyramidal structure, ˙which allows more people to be ˙on the lower levels, ˙with fewer and fewer near the top. But that symbolism would make ˙some folks think we were running an imitation of the Catholic Church, ˙or even (Danu forbid!) a "pyramid scheme." The ˙advantage of using the images of circles within circles is that ˙=all of ˙the ˙circles ˙can be viewed as being on the same ˙horizontal ˙plane.= ˙˙As mortals, ˙˙we all stand upon the same Earth, ˙and no matter how high a tree ˙or building we might climb, the stars are just as far above us as they always have been. It's ˙probable ˙that ˙many ˙people ˙in the ˙inner ˙circles ˙will ˙be ˙more "spiritually evolved" than those in the outer circles, at least if our training system is doing what it's supposed to do. ˙But it's also entirely likely ˙that some ˙people will choose to stay in the outer circles for personal reasons that have ˙nothing to do with their spiritual development. ˙For this reason, ˙we're going to try to avoid referring to "higher" ˙and "lower" circles, even if we do use a numbering system for them. Instead, we'll call them "inner" ˙and "outer" circles, and talk about "inward" and "outward" movement between circles. Currently ˙I'm thinking in terms of five Circles, ˙the Fourth and Fifth of which are now unpopulated. ˙The Circles indicate particular degrees of commit- ment, of knowledge acquired, of experience gained, and of skills mastered. The ˙First ˙Circle is composed of people who have dedicated themselves ˙to learning about Paganism in general and Druidism in particular. Most of them do not ˙intend ˙to ˙study for the clergyhood, ˙but they do ˙desire ˙both ˙Neopagan fellowship ˙and a course of Druidic study. ˙This is the Circle that, ˙˙ten ˙or twenty years from now, will constitute the bulk of our congregations. The ˙Second Circle is for those who have decided that they want to take ˙a greater role in the affairs of a local grove, or to organize one if none exists in their area. Some of the members of this Circle will be preparing themselves to become priests and priestesses through studying for the Third Circle. Membership in the Third Circle will be a rough equivalent of having gained a ˙Bachelor's Degree at a good university, ˙and will also be the minimum Circle for holding clergy credentials from ADF. ˙Third Circle members will be running local ˙groves and performing all the duties of the clergy, ˙including ˙training members of the outer circles. Preparation ˙for ˙the Fourth and Fifth Circles will parallel ˙studies ˙for Master's and Doctoral Degrees. ˙Further Circles will correspond to ˙"post-doc- toral" work. (Where ˙do I fit into this system? ˙As an individual Druid, ˙I ˙˙consider myself to be in the Third Circle, with the Fourth still a couple of years away. As the Archdruid of ADF, I'm in the unnumbered "innermost Circle" -- but not at the Center. That spot is reserved for the More-than-Mortal.) Now it's time for some further details on the training system. We'll look first from the direction of further defining the Circles themselves, ˙and ˙then examine the Study Tracks that run through every Circle. Details on the Circles: First Circle: Entry ˙Requirements: ˙There are no special requirements for ˙joining ˙the First ˙Circle, ˙other than a commitment to working with your advisor ˙(for ˙the time ˙being, ˙that's me), ˙a ˙desire to learn, ˙and a willingness to work hard. Folks ˙who wish to function in the First Circle should notify me, ˙and ˙perform some sort of self-dedication ritual (see elsewhere in this issue). Study Program: consists of (a) keeping a journal; (b) reading and discus- sing ˙introductory ˙books ˙and attending introductory classes ˙in ˙the ˙various Tracks; and (c) beginning practical work in some of the Tracks. Minimum ˙Duration ˙& Testing: ˙People are expected to normally remain ˙in this Circle for at least one year, ˙and there is no regular testing period ˙for remaining in this Circle. Graduation ˙Requirements: ˙(a) ˙achieving satisfactory results on testing for all 13 ˙Tracks; ˙(b) ˙making an oral or written report on your First Circle experiences, ˙with a self-evaluation of your progress; (c) ˙showing and discus- sing your journal; (d) making a formal request for advancement; and (e) working with your advisor(s) ˙and group (if any) to create an appropriate Second Circle initiation. Second Circle: Study Program: ˙(a) ˙more advanced exploration in the various Tracks; (b) continuing your journal; (c) assisting any First Circle members in your geogra- phical area. You may choose a Specialty while in this Circle, such as healing, teaching, counseling, leading worship, divination, movement awareness, etc. Minimum Duration ˙& Testing: ˙Members would normally stay in ˙the ˙Second Circle ˙for at least two years. ˙After two years, ˙you must either retake ˙the tests ˙that got you into the Second Circle, ˙or else take those for the ˙Third. You can try for the Third at any time after this, ˙but if you choose to stay in the Second Circle, you must requalify every other year. Graduation ˙Requirements: ˙(a) ˙achieving satisfactory results on testing for all 13 ˙Tracks; ˙(b) ˙making a written or oral report on your Second Circle experiences, ˙with a self-evaluation of your progress; (c) ˙showing and discus- sing your journal; (d) making a formal request for advancement; and (e) working with your advisor(s) ˙and group (if any) ˙to create an appropriate Third Circle initiation. Third Circle: Study ˙Program: ˙˙(a) ˙advanced study and skill gaining ˙in ˙the ˙various Tracks; ˙(b) continuing your journal; (c) ˙assisting First & Second Circle mem- bers ˙in your area; ˙(d) ˙teaching at least one class -- ˙on the topic of ˙your choice -- ˙every year you stay in this Circle; ˙(e) ˙leading private and public ceremonies, ˙including general worship celebrations and rites of passage; ˙˙(f) changing your life's pattern dramatically -- ˙going on the road if you've ˙been settled, ˙settling if you've been a wanderer, ˙a ˙drastic change of occupation, etc.; (g) choosing a Specialty if you haven't already. Minimum ˙Duration & Testing: ˙Members would normally stay in this ˙Circle for at least three years. ˙After three years, you must either retake the tests that got you into the Third Circle, or else take those for the Fourth. You can try for Fourth at any time after this, ˙but if you choose to stay in the ˙Third Circle, you must requalify every three years. Graduation ˙Requirements: ˙(a) ˙achieving satisfactory results on testing for all 13 ˙Tracks; ˙(b) ˙making a written or oral report on your Third ˙Circle experiences, ˙with a self-evaluation of your progress; (c) ˙showing and discus- sing ˙your ˙journal; ˙(d) ˙having successfully run a healthy ˙congregation ˙and having performed all the routine duties of a priest/ess for at least two years; (e) ˙making a formal request for advancement; ˙and (f) ˙creating an appropriate Fourth Circle initiation. Fourth Circle: Study Program: ˙(a) ˙continuing advanced study and skills training; ˙˙(b) assisting outer Circle members in their work; ˙(c) ˙spending at least one month in ˙residency ˙with ˙your advisor; ˙(d) ˙teaching at least one ˙class ˙in ˙your specialty ˙on ˙a continuing basis, ˙and one other class every year you stay ˙in this Circle; (e) continuing to perform the usual clerical duties; (f) intensive practice of your Specialty on a professional basis; and (g) ˙helping to run the national activities of ADF, ˙as well as leading and advising one or more groves throughout their time in this Circle. Minimum ˙Duration & Testing: ˙Members would normally stay in this ˙Circle for ˙at least four years. ˙After four years, ˙you must either retake the tests that got you into the Fourth Circle, or else take those for the Fifth. You can try ˙for ˙the Fifth at any time after this, ˙but if you choose to stay ˙in ˙the Fourth Circle, you must requalify every four years. Graduation Requirements: (a) ˙achieving satisfactory results on tests for all 13 ˙Tracks; (b) making a report on your Fourth Circle experiences and self- evaluation; ˙(c) ˙writing or producing a thesis on your Specialty; ˙(d) ˙having trained at least one fully qualified successor for your grove(s) into the Third Circle; ˙(e) ˙making a formal petition for advancement; ˙and (f) ˙creating your ordination rite for the Fifth Circle. Fifth Circle: Study Program: ˙(a) ˙writing or producing a thesis that ties together all your studies, in all 13 Tracks; (b) assisting outer Circle members; (c) practi- cing your Specialty professionally; ˙(d) ˙supervising the activities of several groves; ˙(e) helping to run ADF's international activities; and (f) ˙continuing to grow. There are no minimum duration, ˙testing or graduation requirements for the Fifth ˙Circle, ˙since the Circles that would be inner ones to this are not ˙yet defined. Details on the Study Tracks: Here are the Tracks as I currently conceive of them: (1) Survival and Phy- sical Health, (2) Therapy and Conseling, (3) Communication, (4) Psi, (5) Social Sciences, ˙(6) ˙Physical and Biological Sciences, ˙(7) ˙Movement Awareness ˙and Discipline, ˙(8) ˙Art and Music, ˙(9) ˙Drama and Liturgy, ˙(10) ˙Philosophy and Metaphysics, ˙(11) Comparative Religion and Mythology, ˙(12) ˙Mysticism and Al- tered States of Consciousness, and (13) Interdisciplinary Studies. Be aware that, ˙although I'll say "you" ˙throughout this description, ˙and talk ˙about ˙the ˙needs of clergypeople, ˙not all of these references ˙will ˙be relevent ˙to ˙every one of you reading this, ˙since some of you may ˙choose ˙to remain in First or Second Circles. ˙Right now, ˙and throughout the early years of ADF, ˙a ˙majority of you are at least interested in studying for the clergy. Those ˙of ˙you who want to stay in the First and Second Circles will ˙become ˙a higher proportion of the total membership as time goes by. You ˙should also note that as I use the term herein, ˙˙"exploration" ˙˙can consist of reading books, attending classes, having an apprenticeship, etc. Track 1 -- Survival and Physical Health: First Circle: you explore your own physical environment (urban, ˙rural or wilderness), in at least two fields of study. You could learn how to do simple plumbing, or repair bicycles, or grow a garden, or find edible wild plants. You analyze your personal work habits and interests, ˙and explore available ˙oppor- tunities for developing marketable job skills. ˙Also, ˙you analyze your health and ˙nutritional ˙patterns, ˙and begin some form of regular ˙physical ˙exercise (which can be from Track 7). Second ˙Circle: ˙˙you ˙explore a different environment than the ˙one ˙you usually live in. ˙You begin efforts to use your job skills to find satisfying, ethical and growth-oriented employment (working for yourself or others). Also, you begin to get rid of harmful physical addictions, ˙and continue to ˙exercise and practice good nutrition. Third ˙Circle: ˙you visit a brand new environment and learn its ˙survival skills. ˙˙You earn enough money through right livelihood to take care of ˙your needs, without interfering with the rest of your life. You continue your exer- cise ˙and nutritional work, ˙and rid yourself of any remaining physical ˙addic- tions. Fourth ˙Circle: ˙˙you ˙learn total adaptation to ˙a ˙foreign ˙environment (through programs such as "Outward Bound," ˙˙for example). ˙You develop suffi- cient ˙economic prosperity to be able to devote most of your time and energy to noneconomic activities. Fifth Circle: you take full responsibility for the safety and training of others in an environment new to them. Purpose: ˙to make you confident and competent in dealing with the ˙"Earth Plane" levels of reality, whether you are fixing machines, living off the land, programming computers, ˙or raising hogs. Clergypeople should be healthy, ˙well "grounded" ˙and practical, ˙if they expect to be of any value to those who ˙ask for help.


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