FROM: The Office of the Fifth Deputy Vice-Arch Druid
SUBJ: Political necessity of doing public ritual
It was asked in a recent issue of News from the Mother Grove, whether an ADF ritual needed to be done at festivals such as Starwood. The arguements against it were 1) there wasn't a major holiday near the date (late July), 2) Isaac and Deborah were getting burnt out doing basically the same ritual every couple of weeks.
It is a necessity to do an ADF ritual at major festivals, especially when ADF has a large presence on-site. This is especially true at Starwood, which is the yearly member's meeting. Some of the factors to consider as to whether or not rituals should be done, are burnout, that there are only two High Days during the heaviest part of the festival season, the need to "show the flag", and the need for ADF members who aren't members of local Groves to attend and participate in an ADF ritual.
I understand that doing the same ritual every couple of weeks can lead to burnout. I don't know if this is because newcomers need to be taught the ritual everytime, or if because Isaac and Deborah are doing the same ritual every time. A couple of alternatives are availiable to help with this problem. If it is because the ritual is so much the same each time, the solution is to have more styles. In this case, a Proper, a Common, and as many more styles as can be designed. If the sameness of the ritual is boring, maybe the entire structure needs to be looked at. I don't feel that this is the case.
If teaching newcomers the ritual format is a problem, delegate. At festivals were there are other members present, have somebody else lead the ritual, and do the pre-ritual meeting. This moves Isaac, Deborah and Silverleaf into the position of "THE Druid/flamen/brahman". They would attend the meeting to make sure it goes according to the outline, and to field questions from the few people leading the ritual. This would also give aspiring ADF clergy a chance to show their stuff.
The majority of the Pagan festivals seem to be from mid-May to late August. This makes sense, since the weather is nice, and most people get their vacations during that period. During that time there are only two High Days, Mean Samradh and Lughnasadh. According to the Grove Organizers Handbook, each Grove is to meet at least twice a month. Although a ritual is not required at these fortnightly meetings, it would be nice to have examples of what to do for twice monthly ritual. A shortened form of the liturgy is one recommendation. Festivals that occur at other than High Days are a good chance to show off these alternatives.
One of the big things that needs to be done at festivals, is to show the flag. This means more than two or three workshops about ADF. Again, it is better politically if some other members of ADF get a chance to run the show. This would help dispel the idea that Isaac runs ADF as a petty tyrant, albeit an enlightened one. Besides lectures on Druidism 101 and 103, the ritual, to me, seems to be the major drawing point at festivals. This is where non-members get to see the organization at work, and get a feeling for the aesthetics. It is all nice and well for people to read about our format, but experianceing it is a major step beyond that.
The final point is giving members who are not part of a local Grove, a chance to attend ADF rituals. I met one member who had belonged to the association for two years and had never seen an ADF ritual. When going to a festival, especially Starwood, where ADF is present officially, one expects to attend an ADF ritual. At present, I believe most of our members do not belong to ADF Groves. Festivals are a chance for them to get together and be active in an ADF ritual. One of the points behind having a standardized liturgy, is to allow a small group of people, essentially strangers, to sit down and put a ritual together very quickly, and still have it work. It also allows people to attend a ritual, and know what is going to happen, without a attending a major planning meeting.