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Ethics 2

1)  Provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide an illustrative example for the term “ethical dilemma” (minimum 100 words, excluding the definition)

An ethical dilemma is a complex situation that requires a choice to be made between multiple options regarding a course of action, and no matter which course of action is chosen, some ethical principle is compromised (Allen).  Essentially, there is no perfect solution to a situation.  There are both absolute and approximate ethical dilemmas.  An absolute ethical dilemma is one where “two or more ethical standards apply to a situation but are in conflict with each other” (Allen).  A conflict between personal and professional ethics is not an absolute or pure ethical dilemma because it involves personal feelings where the rational processes for solving ethical dilemmas can’t be used for conflicts in values.  So, even though situations where professional ethics and personal values collide are difficult and uncomfortable, they are not absolute ethical dilemmas, but rather approximate dilemmas (Allen).  This means that in order to have a pure or absolute ethical dilemma a situation must require a decision to be made between two conflicting ethical standards from our Clergy Council Code of Ethics.  A situation that presents a conflict between the Clergy Council Code of Ethics and our own Personal Code of Ethics would be an approximate ethical dilemma at best.

I’ve experienced both absolute and approximate ethical dilemmas within the field of education.  When a student confides abuse to me, I am required by state law as well as standard 3.e in the “Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators” to make an official report.  However, standard 5.a in that same Code of Conduct also forbids sharing confidential student information, which is needed to make the report (Ohio Dept. of Education).  Because there is a conflict in the ethical standards put forth in the Code of Conduct for Educators with this situation, it is an absolute ethical dilemma.  There is also an approximate ethical dilemma present in this situation if I fear for the safety of the student if I make the report.  However, the Code of Conduct, as well as the overall continued safety of the child depend on making an accurate report, and thus while both conflicts in ethics and values technically present ethical dilemmas, for me this was not a particularly difficult decision.

2)  Identify, list and briefly explain the steps to a “Problem Solving Process.” Process steps may vary in style depending on student preference and source. (minimum 100 words each step; citation of source for process required)

Many problem-solving processes are similar in their layout of steps to take.  The problem solving process presented by the Global Development Research Center has six steps (Srinivas), as explained below:

1) Define the Problem – The first step is to define what the actual, specific problem is.  This requires those that are involved in the problem solving process to focus in on what the problem is.  When you write down the problem, you are creating a check you can use throughout the rest of the process.  This is also useful for those working through the problem and possible solutions to be sure that they are remaining focused on the problem at hand, and not off shoot or unrelated other problems.  By writing down the problem you are focusing on, you then have a statement you can come back to ensure you’re coming up with as many solutions as possible and that they relate directly to the problem.

2) Analyze the Problem – The next step in the problem solving process is to analyze the problem. This can take a couple of forms, all of which are important.  One analysis should look at the root cause of the problem.  By examining this, you are looking at base issues which may be feeding into the specific issue at hand, and you will also be examine base issues to ensure that the problem won’t repeat itself in another form.  Depending on what you find in this step, you may want to go back to step 1 and redefine your problem.  Another aspect to analyzing the problem is that you want to know what kind of environment the problem exists in, because that will determine what kind of solutions are viable.  This is also the step where you will come up with criteria with which you can evaluate the possible solutions you will come up with in the next steps.

3) Brainstorm Solutions – After cycling through steps 1 and 2, and perhaps revisiting step 1 a number of times in order to determine what the actual problem you’re focusing on is, you will then begin the process of brainstorming solutions.  The important note for this step is that this is not where you will be evaluating their merits, how well they may work, whether they’re viable, whether you like them, or choosing which possible solution to attempt at all.  This is the step where your goal is to come up with as many ways to solve the problem as possible, as off-the-wall as some of them may be.  I would even say that a few off-the-wall ideas are good, because they will encourage thinking outside the box and creativity in the brainstorming process.

4) Analyze Solutions – This next step is similar to step 2, except that you’ll be looking at each of the solutions you brainstormed, rather than the problem you came up with.  This is the step where you will take a close look at each possible solution and define its good and bad points.  You will examine where the places are where it could work well, and where the places are where it has some weaknesses or possibilities for failure.  At this point you are still not yet picking which solution you will use, but rather are examining each individually on it’s own merits.  You may find that this step may circle back around to step 3 as you see specific ways that a solution could be improved.

5) Pick a Solution – In this step you finally go about evaluating each individual solution and ranking them based on usefulness and likelihood that they will work to solve the problem.  This can be done with a yes/no system, a weighted voting system, gut and intuition, or some combination of those.  When you rank all your possible solutions you end up with a smaller list of those you may want to implement.  If you still have too many, it may be worthwhile to refine your ideal requirements so that you end up with less possible solutions to work with.  Ultimately you’ll end up with no, one, or many possible solutions.

6) Plan the Next Steps – In this last step in the problem solving process you’ll be working with the possible solutions you came up with in the previous step.  If you didn’t come up with any working solutions in the previous step, you’ll need to back to at least step 3 and brainstorm more solutions, if not all the way back to step 1 and redefine what your actual problem is.  If you have one or more solutions, you’ll want to decide which solution you’ll try to implement first, and then write out the actual steps for making that happen.  It may include deciding what materials and personnel you need, as well as timeframes for certain things to happen in, and checking each step along the way to be sure it has been done and things are still on track for solving.

3)  Provide the following information for each of the situations described below.

  1. a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum);  b) Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum);  c)Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

Question 3: Situation 1

It is a long-standing tradition within your Grove to pass the Waters of Life using a single vessel for high day celebrations. Your group has always been small and the group at large prefers alcoholic Waters of Life, which is the plan for this high day event. Prior to the beginning the ritual pre-briefing you become aware that several new individuals are in attendance. One of these individuals discusses with a member of your Grove that they learned of your event from a poster in a local Unitarian Universalist Congregation where they attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that there may be those present at a ritual who do not drink, or who do  not wish to be pressured to drink.  In our grove we’ve already taken into account this kind of situation to help avoid it.  In general, we simply don’t use alcohol of any variety as the Waters of Life.  Not only do the spaces we rent prohibit alcohol, we also don’t want to put anyone in this type of situation, whether or not we suspect a recovery status or not.  In order to be welcoming to all, including those in recovery and to families and children, we simply don’t use alcohol in the Return Flow.  Other possible solutions to this situation are to offer both alcohol and water in separate vessels, allowing each person to determine which one they will take.  Another possible option would be to explain the various methods of ‘taking in’ the blessing.  At sumbels it is common to hear an explanation that you may drink from the horn, kiss the horn, or pour out a libation on the ground.  All are acceptable.  If we offered options that included alcohol in a ritual, I would be sure to always take a non-alcoholic option to ensure that the folk knew that it was acceptable in practice, and not just in words, to do so.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

There are two main ways my personal Code of Ethics supports my resolution to not offer alcohol as the Waters of Life.  First, because “I will be kind to others” that means that I will ensure that all have the safest space possible in which to experience a relationship with the Kindreds.  This means removing the pressure and stigma of alcohol.  Second, because “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law, I will not violate the regulations of the spaces that we rent for our rituals (Avende).  In the Clergy Council Code of Ethics, under Integrity, the Priest has a “responsibility to promote inclusivity,” and as such, I think to be inclusive both to those in recovery and to families, we need to allow for changing circumstances that may necessitate us using non-alcoholic beverages for the Waters of Life (ADF Clergy Council).

 c) Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

This is neither a difficult decision for me, nor is it an ethical dilemma.  Not only do I feel that I have a moral imperative to ensure that I make reasonable accommodations for all ritual attendees in order to ensure that they all have the ability to experience joy and a relationship with the Kindreds, my personal Code of Ethics specifically supports the decision to use a non-alcoholic option in this case, and the ADF Clergy Council Code of ethics empowers me to use my best judgment to make this decision.  This is neither an approximate nor an absolute ethical dilemma.

Question 3: Situation 2

While meeting with a couple to plan a hand-fasting ritual you have been asked to facilitate, you notice one of the partners continually makes all of the decisions concerning the ceremony and refuses to let his/her partner participate in the discussion. When you encourage the silent partner to participate the other individual becomes obviously agitated. You notice several bruises on the silent partner legs and arms and he/she appears afraid to express any thoughts and ideas. Following the discussion, you receive a phone call from the silent partner apologizing for the conduct of his/her partner. The wedding is a month away and the couple has written an oath for the ceremony that professes a desire for a healthy relationship and equal partnership. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that presumably one of the partners is being physically, and also perhaps emotionally, abused by the other.  When I analyze this problem, I find that it is outside both my skill set and comfort zone to address the issues at hand.  My response after speaking with the couple would likely be to inform them that I was unavailable on their preferred wedding date, and to refer them to the other local ADF priest in the community who I know has a better ability to cope with this situation than I do.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

The decision to refer this particular situation on to a fellow priest within my own ethics comes from a place of integrity.  When I am a “responsible and independent person” it means that I know my own skill sets and my own limits, and do my best to not exceed those limits.  When I “am loyal” it means that when I don’t know, or in this case, can’t do, something, I will find someone who can (Avende).  The decision to refer this particular situation on to a fellow priest within the Clergy Council ethics comes from the concept of *ghosti and the concept of Competency.  Because a priest may refuse service to anyone, and “will make every reasonable effort to refer the individual to other options for that service,” I will refer to a fellow priest who I believe has the skill set to manage the situation.  I will do so because I recognize that I have strengths and weaknesses and that I will “work within those realizations” (ADF Clergy Council).

c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

While this is a difficult decision for me because I feel like I want to be able to help, it is not in fact an ethical dilemma because both my personal Code of Ethics and the Code of Ethics for the Clergy Council require me to not handle a case that is outside of skill set when I have the ability to refer the case to one who is better qualified and I have a reasonable expectation that they could help.  Because the Clergy Council Code of Ethics specifically allows for a Priest to refuse services, particularly as long as they refer the client to someone else, this solution to the situation is not an ethical dilemma, despite being a difficult decision requiring me to know myself well.

Question 3: Situation 3

You are facilitating a children’s activity concerning the 9 virtues and the Kindred for your Grove. A ten-year old child approaches you during the activity and says, “Can I tell you a secret?” You let the child talk and he tells you that his stepmother, who is an active member of your Grove, doesn’t follow the virtues or care about the Kindred. You ask him why he believes this and he tells you, “Because if she did she wouldn’t hurt me!” Once more you ask the child what he means and he shows you a horseshoe-shaped belt mark on his back and says, “Don’t tell anyone.” The father and stepmother are in the next room at an adult workshop. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that there is child abuse occurring, specifically that it is occurring within my religious community.  The only acceptable solution to this problem is to make a report to Child Protective Services.  The fact that I suspect abuse at all means that I am obligated to make a report both by my own ethics and by law.  Possible methods could involve making the report immediately with the child in the room, or waiting until the meeting is over and making the report after.  From experience and training in education, the process I would follow would be to inform the child that I am there to support them, that I believe them, and that this requires me to report the suspicion to children’s services. I would not inform the parents that I was making the report, because I do not have the expertise on dealing with safety of the child once the parents know, whereas Children’s Protective Services does.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

The decision to make a report to Children’s Protective Services fits with my personal Code of Ethics because “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law (Avende).  I am a mandated reporter according to Ohio Law, and as such, if I suspect abuse, I am obligated to report it.  Relatedly, the decision to make a report to Children’s Protective Services in response to this situation fit with the Clergy Council Code of Ethics because according to the principle of *ghosti “privileged communications … are considered confidential information … subject to limitation only by … applicable law” (ADF Clergy Council).   Again, because I am a mandated reporter, even though the child asked me not to tell anyone, I am required by law to report the suspicion.

 c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

Because my personal Code of Ethics contains a point stating that “I will be loyal” and goes on to explain that “I will maintain the confidence of those who have trusted me to hold space with them” but also states that “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law (Avende), along with the clause in the Clergy Council Code of Ethics that contradicts my own confidential point with it’s exceptions, this is technically an approximate ethical dilemma because it points out a discrepancy between my professional and personal ethics.  Nevertheless, it is not a difficult decision for me.  If for some reason I didn’t believe that reporting child abuse was in the best interest of the child, perhaps it would be a difficult decision in addition to being an approximate ethical dilemma, but as I believe my reporting provides the best support and safety for the child, and follows the law, the decision for me to report is easy.

Question 3: Situation 4

A young woman from your local Neo-Pagan community contacts you and expresses a desire to attend your Grove’s upcoming high day; however, she explains that she is in a wheel chair and has an uncontrolled seizure disorder. Another local Neo-Pagan group had explained to this individual that they were unable to accommodate her needs at this time. The young woman plans to bring her personal care attendant with her, but the attendant is opposed to Neo-Pagan beliefs and does not want to actually participate in the service and plans to wait outside the ritual area. Your regular outside ritual space is not readily handicap accessible and the ritual is planned for this outdoor space. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that the ritual space does not meet the woman’s needs.  This is an issue of accessibility.  Possible solutions may include telling the woman that we can’t accommodate her needs, moving or rearranging the current ritual space, or telling the woman that on this short notice we don’t have the ability to accommodate her needs, but will need time to make the space accessible to her wheelchair and invite her to the next public ritual.  While the second option is the best option, if the space is already not handicap accessible, the likelihood of our Grove being able to make it so without switching locations on short notice (near impossible to do in our parks system) is very unlikely.  Therefore, the most likely solution for this situation is to discuss with the woman what specific accessibility needs she has (ramps, distance from parking lot, etc.) and arrange for those accommodations to be made at the next ritual.  Even if this particular woman does not show up again, it is an important modification to make regardless.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

My own personal Code of Ethics relates to my resolution regarding this situation in a couple of ways.  First, “I will lead others to the flame” means in part that I will do what I am able to do in order to ensure that all can experience the relationship they desire with the Kindreds.  Second, “I will be kind to someone.” This situation goes beyond mere kindness in my opinion and is more akin to civil rights.  Being kind means that I will grant all basic human rights to individuals, and this means as a Priest I should provide access to a person’s desire to experience this spirituality as much as I am able (Avende).  My decision relates to the Clergy Council Code of Ethics in multiple aspects.  Under Service, “The Priest has a responsibility to provide service to the Folk.”  This does not specify which Folk are worthy of expending the effort to provide service.  Additionally, the Clergy Council Code of Ethics specifically focuses on non-discrimination, stating “The Priest has a responsibility to promote inclusivity, diversity, and non-discrimination; additionally, our clergy should promote the respect, self-worth, and dignity of individuals” (ADF Clergy Council).  This means that we have a duty to make an attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for all members and potential members of our community.

c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

This is not an ethical dilemma because it doesn’t conflict with either my personal Code of Ethics or with the Clergy Council Code of Ethics.  This may be a difficult situation, depending on what kind of accommodations are needed, and it may be an awkward conversation with both the woman, and perhaps with her non-Pagan caretaker, but it is not an ethical dilemma.  Every person has a right to pursue the spiritual path that they feel called to, and they have a right to expect reasonable accommodation to be made for that if they have a disability.  It may take some work and some time to figure out how to meet those needs, but it is not an ethical dilemma. 

Works Cited

ADF Clergy Council. “ADF Clergy Council Code of Ethics.” Adf.org, Ár nDraíocht Féin, 9 Oct. 2011,www.adf.org/system/files/members/org/clergy-council/adf-clergy-code-of-ethics.pdf. Accessed 13 Sept. 2016.

Allen, Karen, Ph.D, LMSW. “What Is an Ethical Dilemma?” SocialWorker.com, 22 Dec. 2013, www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/ethics-articles/what_is_an_ethical_dilemma%3f/. Accessed 12 Sept. 2016.

Avende, Rev. Jan. “Thoughts on Virtues and Ethics.” Mist to Open. Mists to Bind, 4 Sept. 2015, hellenicdruid.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/thoughts-on-virtues-and-ethics/. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

“Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators.” Ohio Department of Education, 11 Mar. 2008, education.ohio.gov/getattachment/topics/teaching/educator-conduct/licensure-code-of-professional-conduct-for-ohio-ed/licensure-code-of-professional-conduct.pdf.aspx. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Srinivas, Hari. “The Problem Solving Process.” The Problem Solving Process, The Global Development Research Center, www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Summer Solstice: Honoring Anahita, the Mother of Waters

Summer Solstice: Honoring Anahita, the Mother of Waters

Ritual performed by Three Cranes Grove, ADF for a Grove-only Summer Solstice in 2016. All parts written by Rev. Jan Avende unless otherwise noted.

Lighting the Fire

Born in the Water and Kindled on the Land
Atar, Son of Ahura Mazda!
To the Fire, the Great Fire –
To you I call!

Worthy of Sacrifice you are! Worthy of Prayer!
Worthy of Sacrifice you’ll always be!
To the Fire, the Great Fire –
To you I call!

I come with fuel in hand,
with ghee in hand,
That you may be burning, ever burning, ever blazing.
To the Fire, the Great Fire –
To you I call!

Come to me, O Fire, Great Fire.
Through Asha, through right action,
Brighten this work and come to me here!
May you be provided with proper fuel! *fatwood*
May you be provided with proper incense! *incense*
May you be provided with proper nourishment! *ghee*

Atar, Great Fire,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Atar, accept this sacrifice. *offer fatwood, incense, & ghee*

Atar, accept this sacrifice.

Purification

Before we begin his rite, let us wash the mundane from our hands,
and become pure as clean, flowing water.

*Celebrants will wash hands in a bowl of water, and dry on a towel*

Now…
Look within yourself, and set aside those things that will not serve you in this rite.
Look within yourself, and strip away the disorder that clouds your vision.
Look within yourself, find the center of you, and come be welcome in this sacred space.

Outdwellers

Now, Children of Earth, we stand with Ahura Mazda,
against the Daevas who sought to destroy the order of our world.
All those who bring druj instead of asha,
chaos instead of order,
stand aside and leave us to our rite in peace!
Accept this as a token of peace between us,
and disturb us not in our rite.
Outdwellers, be at peace! *offer cream*

Outdwellers, be at peace!

Opening Prayer

The spirits of the sky are above us.
The spirits of the land are around us.
The spirits of the waters flow below us.
Surrounded by all the numinous beings of earth and sky and water,
Our hearts tied together as one,
Let us pray with a good fire. (~Three Cranes Grove, ADF Liturgy)

Purpose & Precedent

We have come together today for the Summer Solstice, when the sun stands at its highest in the sky, to honor the Kindreds on this holy day. As our Ancestors did before us, so we do now; and so may our children do in the future.

We come to honor Ardvi Sura Anahita, the Mother of Waters, Crowned by the Starry Heavens, who rides strong and bright today, pulled by four white horses in her chariot of gold. She who brings the life-giving waters in summer – for her brightness and her glory, we will offer her a sacrifice. So let us come together now, as one folk, and make our offerings in joy and reverence.

Honoring the Earth

The Children of the Earth call out to Zam,
to the Wide-Earth itself.
Within your mountainous reaches,
washed by the waters of the sea
You support all the living beings in your domain.
Integral to the cosmos,
You are the wheel to the chariot of the Heavens.
Home to the Son of the Waters,
in his bright and shining glory,
and home to us as well.
In your domain we are able to offer up sacrifices,
and so we make this first offering of leaf and grain to you.
Zam, bountiful Earth,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Zam, accept this sacrifice! *offer leaves and grain*

Zam, accept this sacrifice!

Calling for Inspiration

The Children of the Earth call out to Haoma!
Sweet scented and swiftly spreading,
you grow as we pray to your stems and branches!
We speak your praises that we may then
speak the praises of all the Bountiful Immortals!
Where your praise is sung in truth, you come
And so I praise you with my voice:
I praise the clouds that water you,
the rains that nourish you,
and the mountains where you grow.

O yellow one, granter of many blessings,
I make a claim on thee for inspiration!
Your healing liquors flow, inspiring of the pious.
We open ourselves now for the taste of you,
That our mouths be filled with your sweet nectar
inspiring us to strength and glory.
Let our words of praise flow out
like the freshly pressed juice of your being!

O Haoma, golden-hued, you who drive death afar,
we beseech thee, give us your vitality!
You are well-endowed, inherently good,
and beautiful in nature, with your bending sprouts.
We have sat long hours, searching many books
that you may give us knowledge and wisdom.
Haoma, sparkling, milk-white liquor,
for your brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice.
Haoma, accept this sacrifice! *offer incense*

Haoma, accept this sacrifice!

Attunement

Now, standing in our Nemeton, preparing to do the work ahead, let us take a moment to find our center, and attune ourselves to this space, and to each other. Take a moment to watch your breath, as it flows in and out, deep and regular… As we celebrate the Summer Solstice today, turn your attention to the sky where the bright sunlight is streaming down through the trees and you’re enveloped by the heat of the day. Close your eyes now, and allow your attention to be consumed for a moment with the feel of the light and the heat.

Then, notice, streaming down from the heavens, life-giving Waters. Watch with your Vision Eye as droplets fill the air, plunging down through the heat to splash into the Earth. The Earth, having been warmed by the Sun, takes in the Waters and their nourishment, and as the ground in quenched, arising from the soil, comes a mist. Watch with your Vision Eye as these mists arise. These are the Mists of Magic.

As the Mists rise into the air around you, into the heat, feel their cooling vapors caress your skin. As they continue to rise, notice how the sunlight filters through them. And as they crest above your eye level, notice how, all at once, the brilliant Summer Sun is refracted, and a multitude of colors pour out to bathe this space in its rainbow light.

Focus your attention now on those colors, born out of the Mists from mixing the Life-Giving Waters, the Deep Coolness of the Earth, and the Bright Fire in the Sky. Let the colors wash over you, and take their power and magic into yourself. The reds and pinks that are our life-blood and sexuality. The oranges and yellows that bring healing and light to our world. The greens and teals that exemplify nature and magic and art. The blues and purples that fill us with serenity and harmony, and connect our spirit to the world at large. Let this riot of colors, this brilliant diverse rainbow, wash over you as the Mists caress your skin, as you breathe in this magic.

And now, as the Mists sink back to the earth, to pool, swirling on the ground below as we prepare for the work ahead, see those colors merge again back into one. They become a brilliant white light, all colors merging into one unified glow. Expand your awareness now, and remember the people standing around you. Know that they too have been bathed in the colored mists, and are filled now with that white glow. Open your eyes, and see standing about you, your Grove. We are all filled with the Life-Giving Waters, the Cooling Power of the Mists rising from the Earth, and the Bright Sunlight. We stand, united in diversity, as one Sacred Grove.

“The waters support and surround us.
The land extends about us.
The sky stretches out above us.
At our center burns a living flame.
May all the Kindred bless us.
May our worship be true.
May our actions be just.
May our love be pure.
Blessings, honor, and worship to the holy ones.” (prayer: Ceisiwr Serith)

Recreate the Cosmos

Children of Earth, we now stand at the Center of World, with the Waters flowing about us, the Sky stretched above us, and the Land all about us. The Cosmos was not always in ordered in such a way though…

First the Sky came into being, a great dome arcing above. Then the Waters came, a deep pool below the Sky. Then the Earth was formed, stretching from edge to edge of the great sphere, dividing the Sky from the Waters. With the Land, Sea, and Sky in place, life began to form. First one plant: Gao-kerena, the Tree of Life; then one animal: Gav-aevodata: a Great Bull; and then one Man: Gaya Mareyan. Finally, at the last, came the Fire, burning hot and strong, permeating all the realms, igniting in all places, both seen and unseen.

Then the gods assembled, and through sacrifice created life and brought order to the world. They crushed the Tree, and hundreds upon hundreds of new plants sprang to life. They slaughtered the Bull, and animals of all forms sprang to life. They dismembered the Man, and humanity, in all its races and glory, sprang to life. Thus the vegetable, animal, and human realms were populated and Asha – order – was born.

Now in acknowledgement of those primordial sacrifices and to recreate and maintain that cosmic order of the world, so do we bring our own offerings to the Fire and the Water.

Sweet Milk and Leaves we bring for the Waters. *offer Milk and Leaves around the Well*
Let all the Waters flow through this Well,
And through us.
Sacred Waters, Flow within us!

Sacred Waters, Flow within us!

Sweet Incense and Fat we bring for the Fire. *offer Incense and Fat to the Fire*
Let this Fire be kindled in all Realms,
And in us.
Sacred Fire, Burn within us!

Sacred Fire, Burn within us!

Holding all the realms together,
Great Tree of Life, we acknowledge your Sacrifice.
You who stand on the Peaks-Above-the-Eagles,
You who are the Tree of All Seeds
Stand now connecting all Worlds, all Realms, all Life
Sacred Tree, Grow within us!

Sacred Tree, Grow within us!

Calling the Gatekeeper

Now, Children of Earth, with the Waters flowing through us, and the Fire burning within us, see those powers mix and mingle. It is out of that Fire and those Waters that the Mists of Magic are born. In your mind’s eye, let those mists, ethereal and formless, flow out from you and envelop the landscape. Take a moment to breath in those mists, and anchor yourself within this Ordered and Centered Cosmos.

And now, let those mists begin to roll back, to dissipate, revealing a waterway. The sound of the gentle lapping current greets your ears, and the scent of wet, flooded soil and fresh cut trees fills your nostrils. As you gaze out across the waterway, you see a natural dam stretching across the current. Twigs and logs carefully and firmly held together by layers of river mud.

The water beside the dam is calm and tranquil. Then, you notice ripples forming, traveling across the surface of the water, until you catch a glimpse of ears, then nostrils, then a small head cresting the surface, fur glistening with rivulets of waters running down its face.

The creature gracefully swims ashore, coming out of the water, broad flat tail swishing across the mud and it pads softly towards the underbrush. Then, just before reaching cover, it turns, and makes eye contact with you, rising up on it’s hind feet, carefully balanced with the aid of it’s tail.

This is Beaver. She is graceful, fierce, an ecosystem engineer and a builder of communities.

And now, the Children of the Earth call out to Beaver!
Your warm and glossy fur shining before our eyes.
You take the dry, dying lands of our world
and create a space for all creatures to live and thrive.
Builder of Communities, and Champion of Diversity,
We call to you!
You engineer a world, across all the realms,
Where spirits of all kinds are drawn in by your skill.
Hard-working and clever,
the communal space you nurture is our greatest boon.
Protecting your family and your space:
A welcoming lodge for us all.
Working on the Land, Swimming in the Water,
And floating between the realms,
You draw all creatures in from the edges,
bring all spirits to the Center.
Beaver, Community Builder,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Beaver, accept this sacrifice! *cattails & clover*

Beaver, accept this sacrifice!

Opening the Gates

And now, Beaver, mix your magic with mine
and aid me in Opening the Gates!

Let this well, filled with the waters flowing across the wide earth,
Join with the the Waters below and open as a Gate.
Our connections with the Ancestors deepen as the Gate is opened.

Let this fire, kindled upon the Land, smoke spiraling up to the Heavens
Join with the Fire there, and open as a Gate.
Our connections with the Shining Ones deepen as the Gate is opened.

Let this tree send it’s roots deep into the cosmic Waters Below,
and let it’s branches stretch ever upwards and reach for the Fire Above.
This Tree stands at the Sacred Center as a Crossroads between all Worlds,
Allowing our voices and our offerings to travel to all the Spirits

We stand here, connected at the Sacred Center
to all the realms of Land, Sea, and Sky.
Let the Gates be Open!

Let the Gates be Open!

Children of Earth, the Gates are open. Let naught but truth be spoken here.

We now turn our attention to the Kindreds and call first to the Ancestors.

Inviting the Ancestors

The Children of the Earth call out to the Fravashis,
Ancestors and guardian spirits!
You who traveled this world before us
and know its twists and turns.
So do you guide us as we walk this path.
Bountiful Fravashis, who are asha-sanctified.
Heroes and saints, descending to earth to stand by us,
you guard the souls of the living and the dead.
You souls who hold the ancient lore,
sharing its knowledge with those worthy next of kin;
You radiant and overwhelming beneficent spirits;
Grant us succor!
We bring you libations of sweet milk,
in homage and in praise.
Meet us at the boundaries
Be warmed by our Good Fire.
Fravashis, Ancestors, Guardian Spirits,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Fravashis, accept this sacrifice! *offer cream*

Fravashis, accept this sacrifice!

Children of Earth, see in your mind’s eye the Fravashis, the Ancestors, stepping out from the mists and joining us here at our sacred fire. As their presence fills our awareness, we turn now to call forth the Spirits of Nature!

Inviting the Nature Spirits

The Children of the Earth call out to the the Yazata,
You Helping Spirits of the Natural World.
To the waters as they rush across the earth,
Springing up and flowing.
To the growing plants of plain and forest,
green and blooming in abundance.
To the heavens above, and all those that dwell there:
Stars and sun and moon.
Wind and rain.
All those lights without beginning or end.
To the creatures that live amongst us,
those that walk the earth, swim in the seas,
wing above, and roam the plains.
To those who dwell in the highest reaches of the mountains,
where snowy peaks are ever whitened,
To those who dwell in gorges and abysses,
where the brightness of the day may never reach.
All you helpings spirits of the Natural world,
Meet us at the boundaries
Be warmed by our Good Fire.
Yazata, Nature Spirits, Helpers & Guides,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Yazata, accept this sacrifice! *offer incense & leafy herbs*

Yazata, accept this sacrifice!

Children of Earth, see in your mind’s eye the Yazata, the Nature Spirits, stepping out from the mists and joining us here at our sacred fire. As their presence fills our awareness, we turn now to call forth the Deities!

Inviting the Shining Ones

The Children of the Earth Call out to the Amesha Spentas!
Shining Ones! Life-giving and Bountiful Immortals!
We call out as praisers and priests,
invoking you as we speak of your glory
and sacrifice to your brightness.
To the Shining Gods and Goddesses
who preside over cattle and wealth,
over order and fire and devotion,
over the bountiful earth and the flowing waters.
You who are tall, fair of form, and self-sufficient.
Conquering the Daevas, you are ever-victorious,
Furthering the world and it’s order.
Blissfully filled with asha-endowed splendor,
you overflow with brilliant light.
Meet us at the boundaries
Be warmed by our Good Fire.
Amesha Spentas, Shining Ones, Bountiful Immortals,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Amesha Spentas, accept this sacrifice! *offer ghee & honey*

Amesha Spentas, accept this sacrifice!

Children of Earth, see in your mind’s eye the Amesha Spentas, the Shining Ones, stepping out from the mists and joining us here at our sacred fire. As their presence fills our awareness, let us take a moment and welcome in our hearts and minds the Three Kindreds who join us here today in our celebration of the Summer Solstice.
Have the folk brought praise for the Three Kindreds?

We have!

Then, for their brightness and their glory, bring it forth now: speak your praises and make your offerings!

Three Kindred Praise Offerings

*folk make offerings. remember to teach them the phrase: “__________, for your brightness and your glory, I offer you a sacrifice”*

Inviting the DotO: Ardvi Sura Anahita

Surrounded now by all the Kindreds, we call out especially on this day to the Mother of the Waters.

The Children of the Earth call out to Ardvi Sura Anahita!
Strong, bright, and beautiful,
Your graceful and flowing form sends down,
both day and night,
Waters that run powerfully all along the earth.
You hold as much Glory as the whole of the Waters.

Sweet Maiden, Mother of Waters,
Pure and glowing with radiance,
You stand in statuesque stillness,
Holding the baresma in hand,
Crowned in the gold of a hundred stars
that shine brilliantly down in eight pure rays.
Clothed in garments of the finest beavers,
worked till their skins shine to the eye
With a full sheen of silver and gold.
All the Waters of the Earth belong to you,
A thousand lakes, and rivers and streams.
Mantled in gold, the wide-expanding Waters,
Worthy of Sacrifice. Worthy of Prayer.
For whom Ahura Mazda made four horses,
Wind, and Rain, and Cloud, and Sleet.
Increasing all things, righteous and victorious.
Crushing down the hates of all haters,
Defeating the Daevas and their ilk.
Your strength and your glory are far-reaching,
Purifying the essence of us all.

O Ardvi Sura Anahita!
come down from those stars,
towards the earth made by Ahura,
towards the sacrificing priest,
Meet us at the boundaries
Be warmed by our Good Fire.
Anahita, Mother of Waters,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Anahita, accept this sacrifice! *offer ghee & honey & herbs*

Anahita, accept this sacrifice!

Children of Earth, see in your mind’s eye Ardvi Sura Anahita, the Mother of Waters, flowing out from the mists, radiant and stately, come down from the stars above to join us here at our sacred fire, in our celebration of the Summer Solstice.

Have the Folk brought praise for Anahita?

We have!

Then, for her brightness and her glory, bring it forth now: speak your praises and make your offerings!

DotO Praise Offerings

*folk make offerings. remember to teach them the phrase: “__________, for your brightness and your glory, I offer you a sacrifice”*

Prayer of Sacrifice

Children of Earth, we have given of ourselves
in words of praise and in sweet offerings,
and we now seek to speak once more
to all those spirits here gathered,
that they may receive our love,
for they are worthy of sacrifice and worthy of prayer.

Let our voices arise on the Fire,
Let our voices resound in the Well,
Let our voices travel across all the realms,
and pass the boundary into the Otherworld.
Anahita, Kindreds All,
for you brightness and your glory,
we offer you a sacrifice!
Anahita, Kindreds All, accept this sacrifice!

Anahita, Kindreds All, accept this sacrifice!

Omen (water scry)

*the divination cup (Cup of Yima) is a abalone shell filled with Waters, which can then be added to the pitcher for the Return Flow*

(Priest speaks) We have made offerings for the brightness and the glory of those spirits called to our Fire. It is time now that we seek an omen to see if our offerings were accepted and what we may receive in return. Seer, gaze now, deep into this vessel and see where the whole world is reflected in its depths. See the mists of magic flow in from the edge of our fire, and see them pool within the vessel. Let the Vision fill your Sight. Seer, gaze now and speak to us of the worthiness of our offerings, and what we may receive in return for them.

*seer scrys and speaks*

Return Flow

Calling for the Waters

Having given of ourselves, and received wisdom and blessings in return,
we now seek to take of those blessings
to enrich ourselves for the work that is to come.
We seek to fill ourselves with these blessings
so that we may be thusly imbued with the sacred powers
and bring that magic and wisdom into our community and into the world.

Ardvi Sura Anahita is the Mother of Waters,
She grants the ever-flowing, life-giving Waters to all beings,
sending them down, both day and night,
to increase and purify and bless
All the beings of the Earth.

All Waters are by their very nature sacred,
We take these Waters now, in which our blessing was seen,
And set them aside for our use,
Mix them and mingle them into our Cup of Blessing,
*pour the Cup of Yima into the pitcher*
That we may take these sacred waters into our hearts and our minds.
Anahita, give us the Waters!

Anahita, Give us the Waters!

We call to these Waters as they run powerfully along the Earth,
drawing them forth, to sparkle in the air about us,
That we may feel their cool mist surround us,
And quench our thirst in the Summer’s heat with their blessings!
Anahita, give us the Waters!

Anahita, Give us the Waters!

We open our hearts and our minds to the blessings we have been given.
As we stand amongst the Kindreds and our Folk,
United with all the Powers of the Worlds.
Anahita, give us the Waters!

Anahita, Give us the Waters!

Hallowing the Waters

Let the brightness of the Shining, Bountiful Immortals
reflect in these waters the omens we have received.

Let the light pass through these Waters,
and refract into the multitude of blessings we receive.
Let the blessings in these Waters grow in strength,
and shine with the brilliant power akin to this Summer Solstice Sun.

When we share these Waters
We share our own wisdom and love.
We prepare to do the good work of the Kindreds in the world.

Shining and Bountiful Immortals, we rejoice in your gifts.
Bless our spirits and our lives with your magic and bounty.
Behold, the Waters of Life!

Behold, the Waters of Life!

Receiving the Blessing

Children of Earth, before us is the Cup of Blessing.
Do you wish to share in these blessings?

We do!

Then, as these Waters are poured out,
know that they contain the blessings of the Kindreds.
As we sing, reflect on how these blessings will fill you
and shine out in your life and our community.

*waters are passed and quaffed*

“Power of the Spirits” (~Ian Corrigan)
Power of the Spirits
           Flowing through me
Power of the Spirits
           Shining in me
Power of the Spirits
           Growing with me

Now, having taken the Waters of Life into ourselves,
feel them within you, and know that you are blessed.
So be it!

So be it!

And now, having made offerings, and received gifts in return, it is appropriate that we thank those who we have called.

Thanking the DotO (Anahita)

Ardvi Sura Anahita, Mother of Waters,
Crowned in a hundred stars and glowing with radiance,
You have shared your the flowing sweetness of yourself with us today.
You are worthy of Sacrifice; worthy of prayer.
Righteous and victorious, crushing down the hates of all haters,
You came down from the stars, sharing your abundance,
Purifying the essence of us all.
Your brightness and your glory have brought joy and blessings to us today.
For all you have done, and all you may do in the future,
Anahita, Mother of Waters, we thank you!

Anahita, Mother of Waters, we thank you!

Thanking the Shining Ones

Amesha Spentas! Shining Ones! Life-giving and Bountiful Immortals!
Victorious ones who preside over cattle and wealth,
over order and fire and devotion,
over the bountiful earth and the flowing waters.
Your brightness and your glory have brought joy and blessings to us today.
For all you have done, and all you may do in the future,
Amesha Spentas, Shining Ones, we thank you!

Amesha Spentas, Shining Ones, we thank you!

Thanking the Nature Spirits

Yazata, Helping Spirits of the Natural World.
Flowing waters and growing plants.
Stars and sun and moon. Wind and rain.
All the creatures that live amongst us,
from highest peak to deepest abyss.
Your brightness and your glory have brought joy and blessings to us today.
For all you have done, and all you may do in the future,
Yazata, Nature Spirits, we thank you!

Yazata, Nature Spirits, we thank you!

Thanking the Ancestors

Fravashis, Ancestors and guardian spirits!
You who traveled this world before us,
who guard the souls of the living and the dead.
Your brightness and your glory have brought joy and blessings to us today.
For all you have done, and all you may do in the future,
Fravashis, Ancestors, we thank you!

Fravashis, Ancestors, we thank you!

Thanking the Gatekeeper

Beaver, Community Builder, Champion of Diversity,
You have aided us in the work of connecting the realms today,
drawing all creatures out from the edges and us to the Center.
You who work on the Land, swim in the Water,
And float between the realms:
Your brightness and your glory have brought joy and blessings to us today.
For all you have done, and all you may do in the future,
Beaver, we thank you!

Beaver, we thank you!

Closing the Gates

And now, Beaver, we ask for your help in one final task today:
To aid us in Closing the Gates.

Let these Waters, which have flowed across the wide earth,
Draw back up into this vessel here,
No longer a Gate opening to the many ways.

Let this Fire, which was kindled upon the Land, smoke spiraling up to the Heavens
Draw back down to this flame here,
No longer a Gate opening to the many ways.

Let this Tree draw it’s roots back from the cosmic Waters Below,
and draw it’s branches back from the Fire Above,
No longer standing as the Axis Mundi connecting the Worlds.

Let the Gates be Closed!

Let the Gates be Closed!

Children of Earth, the Gates are closed. Let all be as it was before, save for the magic we have done and the blessings we’ve received.

Thanking Inspiration

Haoma, sparkling, milk-white liquor,
You have granted us many blessings today,
Filled our mouths with your sweetness,
inspiring us to strength and glory.
Our words of praise have flowed
like the freshly pressed juice of your being!
Your brightness and your glory have brought joy and blessings to us today.
For all you have done, and all you may do in the future,
Haoma, Inspiration, we thank you!

Haoma, Inspiration, we thank you!

Thanking the Earth

Zam, Bounitful and Wide-Earth.
In your domain we are able to offer up sacrifices,
You are Integral to the cosmos,
The wheel to the chariot of the Heavens.
Home to the Son of the Waters, and Home to us as well.
You have supported us, and all beings throughout this rite,
As you always do.
Your brightness and your glory have brought joy and blessings to us today.
For all you have done, and all you may do in the future,
Zam, Bountiful Earth, we thank you!

Zam, Bountiful Earth, we thank you!

Closing Statements

Children of Earth, this is good work we have done today, honoring Anahita, the Mother of Waters, and celebrating the Summer Solstice. Remember the blessings you have received today, and carry them forth into your lives and into the world. Go now in peace – this rite is ended!

Liturgy Practicum 2: Small Group Practice

Liturgy Practicum 2: Small Group Practice

Requirement #1: Key concepts

  1.  Describe three differences between personal or domestic rituals and small-group rituals. (Minimum 150 words)

One difference between a personal ritual and small group ritual is the amount of magical ‘juice’ that you can manifest and have access to during that ritual.  “Having more people present makes more mana available” (Bonewits 58).  This means that you could theoretically do more powerful magical workings, or maybe have a deeper or more meaningful experience.  However, a challenge to work through with this idea is that you also need to keep more than just you focused on the task at hand so the mana doesn’t dissipate. The ritual leader(s) will have to keep the whole group focused.

This leads to a second difference between personal and small group rituals: the need to develop a group mind.  The effects of intra-group familiarity were discussed in Liturgy Practicum 1, and play strongly into a group’s ability to develop the well-established group mind that is necessary to focus the energy generated by increasing amounts of people.  In creating a group mind, the chief liturgist or clergy leading the rite will ideally need to know the skill level of the participating congregation in terms of visualization, trance, and energy work (Bonewits 57).  This will allow them to design a ritual that will keep everyone engaged as much of the time as possible, and modify the ritual on the fly if needed to accommodate unexpected reactions or circumstances.

This touches on a third difference between personal and small group ritual: the presence of clergy or other leadership.  Bonewits’ touches briefly on the varying views of having clergy, but in general seems to agree with the idea that clergy are the specialists that have studied the arts of magic, liturgy, and other topics pertaining to religion.  A group ritual of any size is likely to be aided by having a leader who is trusted by the group, and by a group that values a mix of leadership by hierarchy and consensus (Bonewits 50-3).

  1.  Explain the importance of a shared worldview or cosmology within group ritual, and what can be done to help foster that shared cosmology. (Minimum 200 words)

Having a shared worldview or cosmology in a group ritual is important because it helps to establish group mind by giving all ritual participants a starting point. One way we can work to ensure that our rituals have a common starting point is by providing a thorough pre-ritual briefing before beginning ritual work.  This can address the common ritual structure that is central to ADF rites, and answer questions that a newcomer may have (Bonewits 59-60).  Because ADF is orthopraxic, our shared ritual structure is a large piece of what ties us together, rather than a shared set of beliefs about how the cosmos or world works, though we do work from similar assumptions in our practice.

Having a shared cosmology also helps to ensure that a ritual carries meaning for all participants (Bonewits 59).  When individuals share a common set of understandings or assumptions (not necessarily beliefs) about how the cosmos works, they are more likely to find the same sorts of experiences meaningful.  Within ADF one way we work to have a shared cosmology by limiting our public practice to Indo-European cultures.  We include all Indo-European cultures because there are many similarities between the cultures, including root language, community values, and myth cycles.  This limiting of our cultural focus helps to foster a shared cosmology by allowing a common discourse between members who may worship following the practices of many different hearths.  By limiting our focus within ADF we foster a point of connection between practitioners of various Indo-European hearths. It also fosters a common language that all ADF members can relate to, such as discussion of the Three Kindreds, the Earth Mother, and the Gatekeeper, and allows us to focus our study solely on Indo-European cultures so that we can draw deeply from a few sources, rather than shallowly from many.  This limiting means we are able to keep a more solid identity of who we are, and that solid group identity is important to forming group mind, which is even more important because we offer public rituals (Dangler 7).

  1.  Explain how you can incorporate words, motion, dance, posture, music, and gesture in a public, small group ritual. How is including each one in small group ritual different from how they are included in individual or domestic ritual? (Minimum 50 words per item, and minimum 150 additional words for comparison)

Words:

Praying through words is often one of the most intuitive ways to pray in both private practice and in small group worship.  When praying with a group one way that words are incorporated is commonly through the invitations that are spoken to each of the spirits in the core order of ritual.  These spoken prayers are sometimes pre-written and performed either from a script or from memorization, or sometimes performed extemporaneously.  Words can also be used in a group ritual specifically within set prayers that are common to the group.  In Three Cranes Grove, we use Ceisiwr Serith’s prayer “To the Holy Ones” as a spoken group prayer following the attunement.  We also pray through words when we engage in the call and response style liturgy that is common, particularly at the end of an evocation and during the Return Flow portion of a ritual (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 17-9).

Motion:

Praying through motion in ADF group ritual is most often done through the processional into the space, and the recessional out, as well as occasionally through the methods of treating with the Outdwellers and purifying the space.  When the whole group enters or leaves a space, this is a method of prayer through motion, as they are declaring that space to be separate from the mundane.  When the person treating with the Outdwellers walks a good distance away from the declared sacred space to make their offering, this is a method of prayer through motion.  When one or several people circumambulate the declared sacred space asperging or wafting incense to purify the space, this is a method of prayer through motion (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 22-4).

Dance:

Praying through dance is a continuation of prayer through motion.  Dance most often displays emotion, though it can also be used to attain an ecstatic state to open yourself more fully to the Spirits, or to raise energy for a specific magical working. In a group ritual, if the whole group is expected to dance, it becomes important for the dance to be accessible for all participants (or for another comparable role to be available) and for the dance to be choreographed enough that all can participate together without causing injury.  This can be as complex as a structured unison or group folk dance, or as simple as ensuring that all have enough awareness to be moving in the same direction, or within a space that they won’t run into each other (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 24-5).   

Posture:

Praying through posture often accompanies praying through words, since when speaking, you have to hold you body in someway.  I think it becomes prayer through posture when you make the way you hold you body intentional.  In small group ritual, developing a common posture to accompany certain prayers or ritual actions can be part of establishing and maintaining group mind and the energy level within a rite.  For example, when honoring the Earth Mother, Three Cranes Grove has two common positions: kneel and touch the ground, or stand in ‘half orans’ with one hand palm down and parallel to the ground, and one hand up perpendicular to the ground, elbow bent and close to the body, palm facing away from the body.  We also have adopted certain postures for calling to each of the Kindreds: when calling to the Ancestors we look and reach towards the ground, palms parallel to and facing the ground.  When calling to the Nature Spirits we reach out to our sides, looking levelly across the earth, arms bent at the elbows and palms facing in towards the center flame.  When we call to the Shining Ones we reach up and look towards the sky, arms extended and palms facing up.  Additionally, when calling to the Gatekeeper or Being of the Occasion, we typically stand in a modified orans posture, with arms bent at the elbows, forearms perpendicular to the ground, and palms facing away from the body (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 19-22).

Music:

Praying through music can be done in small group ritual through the use of chants or songs that the group sings together.  Music can also be used when played or sung by one or a few people to generate a mood for the group as a whole.  I find music to be particularly useful in the context of barding for ritual in order to maintain the energy of the ritual.  Music helps to maintain the focus and the group mind so that the energy generated doesn’t dissipate before it is used (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 25-7).

Gesture:

Praying through gesture falls somewhere between posture and motion.  In ritual, we most often use gesture when we are making offerings or when we are changing our body posture from one thing to another.  In group ritual gesture large, or over-exaggerated, gesture is useful in giving that motion meaning and ensuring that the Folk present see the ritual action as significant.  In Three Cranes Grove, some common gestures that we use, in addition to switching between the postures described above, include raising an offering to about eye level before pouring it out, and the variety of gestures that are used when opening and closing the Gates (often spirals or traced Druid sigils) (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 27-8).

 

The difference between using each of these methods of prayer between private and group worship depends on which one it is.  Words are often common between the two types of ritual, though in a private ritual one may be more inclined to not pray out loud, or to use more extemporaneous prayers.  In a group ritual it is important that if prayers are going to be said as a group, that they are set.  The use of bookends at the beginning and end of spoken prayers also becomes more useful. Motion, posture, and gesture can be used similarly in both types of rituals, however in a private ritual one wouldn’t be using those methods of prayer to establish or maintain group mind, but rather to focus their own mind to the task at head, and put themselves into a sacred headspace.  Similarly, music, when used in a group ritual helps keep the energy and focus of the congregation engaged, but when used in a private ritual is more focused on the feelings that it evokes within the solitary practitioner.  Similarly, when dance is used in a private ritual, it is based entirely on what the solitary practitioner needs, whether it is designed to be an offering or designed to create a certain mental state.  Music and dance are also similar to words in that if they’re going to be used in a group ritual with multiple people participating in them, they need to be set, rather than extemporaneous.

  1.  Explain the strengths and weaknesses of marked and unmarked speech in prayer. Explain how each type of speech manifests in your personal practice, and provide a description of your performance of a prayer for each type of speech in public ritual, including the text of the prayers. (Minimum 200 words)

Marked and unmarked styles of speech lead to different styles of prayers, and different levels of formality when using those types of prayers.  Unmarked speech is conversational, and more prose in nature.  In prayers, this speech is best used for spirits with whom you have a preexisting relationship with, who you’re on good terms with, or who are close to people in general.  Serith suggests that High Gods, such as Zeus, may not appreciate prayers in this style, deeming it too disrespectful to speak in this manner (Serith Pagan Ritual Prayer Book 2-5).  I don’t necessarily agree with this, and think that it depends far more on the relationship you have with a particular spirit, rather than on their job description or where they reside. Perhaps my view also comes from a generational position, as I’ve been told time and again that Millennials are less formal than previous generations, particularly in interactions that used to demand more formality. On the other hand, my prayers typically use marked speech almost exclusively, even when extemporaneous.

Marked speech is more formal, ranging from elevated prose to poetic in nature.  This is the type of prayer that was used most often in ancient times, or at least was written down most often, may use more archaic language, and is designed to be spoken rather than read.  Prayers like this may not be best for off-the-cuff, extemporaneous prayers, because they typically require more drafting and knowledge of poetic form and other literary devices.  They are excellent for more formal scenarios and high liturgy magical acts though, as they clearly sound different than regular patterned speech, which marks them as sacred (Serith Pagan Ritual Prayer Book 2-5).

I am far more likely to use marked speech in my personal practice.  I think in large part this is because not only have I read a lot of translated primary source material, but I also have a degree in English and I teach writing.  This means that understanding poetic form is more intuitive for me, and I have an internal vocabulary and set of phrases that live in my brain that I use when speaking and writing prayers.  When I have watched rituals, I have noted that even the prayers that I have spoken off the cuff sound more like marked speech. I have a strong internal set of scripts and phrases that combine with my knowledge of literary devices that allows me to do this.

Another reason I think I use marked speech even in scenarios that may otherwise have been more informal is because much of my prayer is done first in writing.  When I pray, or write prayers for others, I write so that I can send it to them for their use.  This allows me more time to think about it before I speak it or share it.  Here is a typical example of what a prayer written in a marked style of speech looks like for me.  It is a prayer written for an ADF member as they were going into labor, performed at a Druid Moon rite, as well as sent to them so that they could use it themelves:

I call out to gentle Eileithyia!
Make your way swiftly to this mother and child
that labor may be eased and pains dampened.
Sweet Opener of Ways:
As new life springs forth, hold your torch high
that the path may be illuminated
so this shining child may join us here
in full health and full joy,
Bright-eyed as he shouts his arrival to the world!
Eileithyia, for your gentle and practiced protection and delivery,
I make this offering to you!

There have been a few times that I use unmarked speech, but they are rather rare comparatively speaking.  I think most often I use unmarked speech in prayers that I haven’t formalized or finished drafting yet.  A prayer that has unmarked speech in my practice is often an unfinished prayer, one that I haven’t used frequently or polished up yet.  But, again, my brain tends to live in a more formalized style of writing and speaking when I am praying, so I don’t use much unmarked speech.  It is one of the ways I differentiate my mundane speech from my sacred speech.  I notice this especially about myself in watching the videos of our rituals, and noting that even when I am speaking off the cuff, my speech is patterned in a more formal style, using various literary devices and parallel structure. It is just where my brain tends to live. A rare exception is a call to Cerberus that I use sometimes around Samhain, and even it was written with the intention of being informal.  It goes something like this:

Cerberus! Here boy! *whistles*
*wheedling voice* I’ve got a treat for you if you let me pass.
*offers dog treats*
Who’s a good boy?
You are! Here you go, Cerberus!
Let me go see your master.

  1.  Explain why it is important to include physical offerings in ritual. (Minimum 150 words) 

Serith states in A Book of Pagan Prayer that “when we come before the gods, it is wise not to come empty handed” (7).  This is absolutely true in my opinion.  At the very least, we can come before the gods in prayer, and speak our devotion.  Even better is to come with physical offerings.  One reason that Serith gives explaining why physical offerings are important is because we are a religion that focused on right action, and that by giving material things, the gods remind us that the material, the here and now, is sacred too.

Another point that Serith makes is that by bringing physical offerings, and not just words or “energy”, sincerity is encouraged.  We are more likely to be sincere in our praise when we are giving something of value.  When we are taking something we value out of human use, it gives it more meaning (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 6-12).

Finally, I think the most important reason to give physical offerings to the spirits is because physical offerings encourage a reciprocal relationship.  We talk a lot in ADF about *ghosti, and giving physical offerings is a way to maintain that reciprocal relationship.  It encourages the idea of movable wealth and sharing the blessings between us and the Spirits.  We give the best of what we have, what we are able to give, so that they might give to us the best of what they have in return.  “Do ut des.” (Serith A Book of Pagan Prayer 6-12).

Requirement 1: Works Cited

Bonewits, Philip Emmons Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals That Work. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.

Dangler, Michael J. “Commonly Asked Questions.” Grove Organizing Handbook. : Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship., 2005. Print.

Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2002. Print.

Serith, Ceisiwr. A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book. York Beach, ME: Weiser, 2011. Print.

 

Requirement #2: Documenting domestic and small-group ritual practice

  1. Keep and submit for review a journal covering a period of not less than six months and not more than a year that documents your active participation as a celebrant at six or more group rituals, including three observances of seasonal festivals. The text of individual prayers written by you should be provided as frequently as possible (at least one for each ritual). Include an essay for each rite that involves the analysis and commentary on the ritual’s structure, as well as a critical review of the performance of that rite.

3CG DIF Lughnassadh – Irish – Lugh (8/2/16)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IJIB0mBC7E

Attendance:  ~350

Analysis/Commentary/Performance:

This was our 5th year doing the Lughnassadh rite at the Dublin Irish Festival alongside all the other Sunday morning church services. There are a lot of things we have polished up over those five years that have needed rethinking from our usual style since it’s in a different setup (we’re on stage), has a time constraint (1hr), and is for a huge congregation (typically between 300 and 400 people). This year’s ritual started off a bit rockier than normal, since some of our celebrants we’re running late. I ended up adding an additional song to the pre-ritual set to allow for that buffer time.

Some of the changes we’ve had to make to this particular ritual that are different from the normal for us are: not having a praise offering section due to the stage arrangement and the time constraint, having to restrict the number of people taking parts because only so many of us will fit on stage, having everyone wear white robes, and having everyone memorize their parts. Running ritual is pretty old hat at this point, and we have a very solid ritual team, especially for this rite. The ritual flowed just fine, and followed the Core Order of Ritual without any problems.

Things that I’d like to modify for next year include changing our altar set up so that it is easier to see some of the action that takes place closer to the ground, such as silvering the Well. I would also like to work on blocking more, so that we have a better idea of how parts flow from one person to the next with the use of the two different speaking mics. To a lesser extent, I think we could use some more work on big gestures that scale well to this large of an audience.

Significant Portions of the Liturgy I wrote:  Call for Inspiration

The Children of the Earth call out to Oghma!
Sunny-faced one, your brilliant rays shine down upon us this morning.
We ask now that you alight upon us.
Lend your honeyed words to us.
As your silvered-chain travels from your tongue to our ears
Might we speak with the eloquence that you give us.
Oghma, Meet us at the boundaries,
Join us at our sacred fire, and be warmed at our hearth.
Guide us and aid us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Oghma, accept our offering!

Hermes Full Moon (8/28/15)

Attendance: 6

Analysis/Commentary/Performance:

I lead full moon rituals for my grove and others (I would generally classify these rites as semi-public). During them we honor the Three Kindreds in a Greek context, Selene, each individual’s Patron of Magic, and one of the Olympians based on which month it is. I choose who we’re honoring that month based on the Hellenion schedule of libations, and the focus of the moons is doing a more intense magical working or trance journey based on which of the Theoi we are honoring that month. These are rites that I have written the entire litugy for, and have slowly been giving more folks parts, and encouraging them to try them. I’ve fostered these moon rites to specifically be a learning, no-fail environment, where I’m able to encourage folks to try out parts they’ve not done before in a public rite, or want to practice before doing in a public rite.

In August we honor Hermes. For this rite, I told the story of Hermes stealing Apollo’s cattle and how he came out on top of that bargain thanks to his excellent communication skills.  We did a working where I took the omens we had received into the waters and we each anointed our lips with the blessing of Hermes to give us added power in bargaining and communication. I am always surprised at the power of touch in ritual, and have been reading more about it, and how to consciously incorporate it within the bounds of a consent culture.

The flow of the ritual went well, even with having my 2 year old daughter ‘helping’ me with the whole rite. I did manage to forget my omen set for this ritual, but the other grove member who reads Greek Alphabet Oracle was there, so it was good practice for her to take the omen anyways.

Significant Portions of the Liturgy I wrote: I wrote the entire ritual for this. I’ve excerpted a couple of my favorite parts below:

Opening Statement/Prayer –

  O, Makares, (Blessed Ones)
As the moon in its cycle is timeless,
Growing in power each month until it bursts with luminescence,
So we return each month at the time of the Full Moon
In the timeless act of worship
Echoing with our prayers and our offerings,
The moon’s glowing promise of power and magic.
This night, beneath the bright and shining moon,
We gather to do as our Ancestors did before us,
To reforge the sacred *ghosti bond in our worship,
And to mix our powers together to achieve great works.
Elthete (Come) Theoi (gods),
Bless us with your presence,
And partake of what we offer,
In reverence of you here in our Ekklisíasma (Congregation). 

Gods of Dikhomenia –

*each person speaks of their Patron of Magic as they feel called*

To those Patrons of Magic,
whom we each work with to further our studies in these arts,
with whom we’ve developed special relationships,
You who walk alongside us and keep us safe as we walk the Elder Ways.
I pour out these libations to you as I sing your praises.
Patrons all, accept our offerings!

Selene, brilliant shining Titaness, your face,
full in power and brightness,
shines down with grace and an influx of magic and power.
You who have bathed in the sacred waters of mighty Okeanos,
you who shine, luminescent,
driving your long-maned horses at full speed across the sky.
Selene, splendid Queen of the Night,
your glowing amber orb makes this night like the noon of your all-seeing brother,
I pour out these libations to you as I sing your praises.
Selene, accept our offering!

3CG Anagantios Druid Moon –  (2/13/16)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX71jDbo2KI

Attendance: 32

Analysis/Commentary/Review of Performance: 

This is a really unique ritual, and was my first year being able to take part in it. During the Anagantios Druid Moon, which is the Stay at Home Druid Moon, the priests of the Grove, rather than convening a ritual somewhere, in what is normally our worst month snow-weather wise, instead travel to the homes of each Grove member.

We begin the morning by collecting the Kildare flame from the Grove member who tends it, and then going to each house to do a house blessing and give the flame to the member and their family there. This year MJD and I were able to travel together for the whole day, rather than having to split up, since the moon fell on a Saturday, and many of our Grove members were off work and had more flexible schedules. We visited and blessed 17 homes, spent 11 hours driving, and traveled 200 miles.

Normally Michael has just done the house blessing and gift of the Kildare Flame, but since there were two of us, we wanted something for each of us to do. I figured since we were blessing with fire, we could also do something with water. So I wrote a Threshold blessing to pair with the Home blessing, where the thresholds of the home were anointed with waters from several holy wells. Another cool thing we did this year was have the members we visited take the omen for us throughout the day, with three different people throughout the day each pulling one symbol.

I did notice that I became more comfortable with the liturgy and process as we moved on throughout the day. The houses we blessed in the morning, I was still nervous on. But the houses later in the afternoon, I was pretty comfortable with.

Significant Portions of the Liturgy I wrote: Threshold Blessing

Waters drawn from the holy wells,
Flowing across the land to collect here,
And spread your blessing to the threshold of this home.
May your blessing keep this household safe.
May all who cross this threshold in welcome,
Be filled with the blessings of the Waters
As they enter in hospitality.

3CG Spring Equinox – Hellenic – Artemis & Hephaestos (3/20/16)

Attendance: 56

Analysis/Commentary/Review of Performance: 

This ritual went exceptionally well, and the feedback has continued to be outstanding from attendees.  This was an experiment in pairing two deities who wouldn’t normally be thought of as going together. I think it also helped that Artemis is a patron of mine, and Hephaestos is a patron of Traci’s. We don’t have this happen too often, where the DotO is a patron of someone leading the rite, and I hadn’t ever really thought much of it. I often feel awkward leading a ritual to one of patron’s in a public rite because it feels like sharing something exceedingly intimate with others. I’ve described it as “introducing your girlfriend to folks, when they didn’t even know you were bi.” All this aside though, I think one of the reasons this ritual went so well, felt like it had so much energy, and was so well received even by the non-Hellenes is because folks could feel and were able to benefit from the pre-existing relationship that Traci and I have and maintain. I think this is something worth considering when we do future rites.

The energy that Mike, Jeff, and I had during the DotO offering as we played (voice, drum, and guitar) was palpable and wonderful (31:50).   Traci was the Druid in Charge (traffic cop) for this ritual, and I was the Priest in Charge. She did skip the Prayer of Sacrifice, but we rolled with it and I came back around to pick it up after the omen as a final gift of thanks.  The working was fantastic, with Traci pounding hammer on anvil (brake drum) to raise energy for the blessing of tools and hands.   The use of the anvil imagery and sound I think is a huge part of what contributed to the success of the Working. We’ve been asked if we can do this particular ritual again, so I think we can definitely say it went well.

Significant Portions of the Liturgy I wrote:  Call to Artemis; Return Flow; Processional and Praise offering songs; Working (I’ve excerpted a couple of these below)

DotO – Artemis

Artemis, Chaste Maiden of the Hunt.
Delighting in arrows
You come down from the mountains,
Wind and rain flowing with you.
Following the tracks of the deer, as they run their path.
Protecting all new life that comes to us in this season.
Sweet Artemis, dancing and delighting with Cranes,
We call to you and offer you sweet amaranth.
Artemis, accept our offering!

Return Flow

Now, children of earth
Gifts have been given unto us as we have given unto the Kindreds.
We’ve been given a gift from Kindreds all,
A reminder to stay patient,
To wait for good things that will come to us.
See in your minds eye that bright light warm and ignite within you
Just as it ignites within these flames and within these waters.

And so, patience, we ignite in ourselves and in this flame
Brightening and warming these waters with this gift.

And then from Artemis we receive the blessing of her presence.
That she has come to give us her aid and her guidance
In this time of new growth and new life.
See that blessing ignite in yourself, ignite in this flame
And brighten and warm these waters.

And from Hephaestos, who gives us all,
Everything we desire and ask for,
He can forge, he can make, he can create.
Hephaestos, many skilled, can give us all these things and more.
So see that gift brighten in yourself, brighten in this flame
and brighten and warm in these waters

Children of earth, theses waters have been brightened in blessing,
have been warmed at the forge of Hephaestos,
have flown down from the mountains where Artemis dwells,
have come from across all the lands where all the Kindreds send us their aid
as we patiently wait for it, for it will come

So children of earth, here see in these waters those blessings grow
and speak with me: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

Flowing up from the deep, from the wells below
Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

Flowing across the land, down from the skies
Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

Brightened and warmed and blessed…
Behold, the Waters of Life!

All: Behold, the Waters of Life!

Children of earth is it your will to partake of these waters
and bring these blessings into yourselves.

All: It is!

*water is passed and quaffed*

3CG Beltaine – “Celtic” – Trooping Fairies (5/1/16)

Attendance: 59

Analysis/Commentary/Review of Performance: 

This is a ritual style that MJD had wanted to experiment with: the premise is that because the fairies move from place to place at Beltane (and Samhain) and we wanted to try having a ritual with lots of movement. We set up a main altar in a central location, and three separate altars for each of the Kindreds circled around that main space. Then, as we invited each of the Kindreds to join us, all of the Folk who are able processed, making lots of joyful noise, to each of the specific altars. It made our ritual take a bit longer, but it worked really well. It kept everyone engaged, and kept the energy level high. Because we had taken into account accessibility issues, those in the congregation who are less mobile were still able to experience the rite without having to leave the main altar space. The working for this rite was also movement based. I wrote a Crane Dance that we used to generate energy to aid the fairies in moving to their new home, to encourage those beneficial ones to come into our lives, and to encourage those more troublesome one to leave us be.

The overall energy of this ritual was quite joyful. We had spent several weeks ahead of time advertising it as a kid-friendly ritual, and that meant we had probably somewhere around 20 children. Children give a special kind of chaotic and joyful energy to a ritual, and I was pleased that we were able to host them. I led a kids activity before the ritual making bell-branches that we would then use in the rite, and another Grove member made 20-30 sets of fairy wings that the kids and other folks could wear and then take home with them. Many families thanked us for providing a kid-friendly ritual, particularly at Beltane. Joe, our Senior Druid, really led the charge in making this ritual one of reverence and mirth with his attunement. He inspired laughter and fellowship with his words, and connected it beautifully to the fae.

One thing I wanted to try, that I had experienced with Rev. Sara Blackwelder at Trillium this past year, was opening the gates with sound. Specifically building a chord, and letting the final resolution of the top note of the chord as it was hit mark the opening of the gates. It worked okay, though there are definitely some things that could have gone better. The first was a location issue: the roof of the shelter we were in ate the sound and bounced it all over the place. This meant that during the whole ritual, I could barely hear myself, and that, combined with projecting so I could be heard, made it difficult to hit the 3rd, 5th, and octave of the building chord. The other difficulty could have possibly been taken care of by a better pre-ritual briefing on my part. I had picked out 3 people to hold each note in the chord for me, however, our regular congregation is too well-trained, and so when I hit a note and held it, they joined in and toned with me. This meant that the key note got lost, because when we tone, we don’t worry about what note each person is holding. I still thought it worked, however, if I decided to try it again, I’ll have to be more explicit about what I’m doing.

The Crane Dance is both fun and a challenge. This is the second time we’ve done it, and I learned a bit from last time. This biggest thing was I realized after the first attempt at this that I couldn’t lead the dance and work the magic at the same time. So, I had Mike B. teach and lead the dance, which was good leadership in ritual practice for him, and I led the working. It clocked in, all things told, at about 5 minutes in length, which was half the time it took the first time we did this in 2012. I think part of the reason it was shorter was because I didn’t have to get the dancing solid before beginning the magical work, I could just start right in on directing the energy being built, since Mike was taking care of the specifics of the dance.

Significant Portions of the Liturgy I wrote: Gatekeeper invocation & gate opening opening; new praise offering song; Crane Dance

Gatekeeper & Gates

Children of earth, we stand at the center of worlds:
Where the fire and the well and the tree
Mark this as our sacred space.

And now, once again, in your minds eye,
remember the feel of those fairy hills and mounds,
the sound of the tinkling bells that seem to exude
whenever they move and wherever they go.

Now see the mists rolling across those hills,
and stepping out from that mist is Garanus, the Crane.
He stands at the edge of a pool
one foot on the land, one foot in the waters,
eye cast to the heavens.

Garanus Crane is our gatekeeper and our guide.
He leads us along the path of magic.
He guards us where we go.
He aids us in our work.
So, Garanus Crane, Gatekeeper,
You who walk with us and fly with us,
Garanus, accept this offering!

All: Garanus, accept this offering!

And so we prepare to open the gates between the worlds.
Waters flowing across the land, welling up from the deep,
raining down from above.
(sung) Let the well open as a gate.

Fire burning bright in the earth and bright in the heavens,
Burning here at the center.
(sung) Let the fire open as a gate.

Tree rooted deep in the earth,
Crowned high in the heavens,
Marking the connected bridge between the worlds.
(sung) Let the tree open as a gate.

(sung) Let the gates be open.

Children of the Earth, the gates stand open.
We are here at the center of the realms
Let naught but truth be spoken here, and blessings given.

Gods, Dead, and Sidhe (3K praise offering song)

(chorus by Ian Corrigan, verses by Rev. Jan Avende)

Chorus:
Gods and Dead and Mighty Sidhe
Powers of Earth and Sky and Sea
By Fire, by Well, by Sacred Tree
Sacrifice we make to thee.

We gather in the Fire’s Light
To watch our Sacrifice burn bright
Praise we give you for your might
Gifts of magic, strength, and sight.

Chorus

Rooted deep into the ground
Stands the Tree upon the mound
The host of spirits dancing ’round
From here the Realms can all be found.

Chorus

Hear us spirits as we pray
All the Gods and Dead and Fey
Praise we make, we sing, we say
On this blessed first of May.

Crane Dance (a magical act, danced in the round)

8 count skip right, 8 count skip left
8 count flapping LinJin
8 count skip right, 8 count skip left
4 count switch places with partner
8 count skip right, 8 count skip left
4 count spin down to up counter clockwise
4 count spin up to down clockwise
8 count skip right, 8 count skip left
4 count switch places with partner
8 count skip right, 8 count skip left
16 count clapping LinJin
lather, rinse, repeat!

Gamonios Druid Moon (5/11/16)

Attendance: 9

Analysis/Commentary/Performance:

Druid Moons in our Grove follow a standard calendar year, rotating through 13 different rituals. There is one each month on the 6th night after the new moon, with the 13th being the intercalendary moon that happens about once every five years when there is a second 6th night moon in a single month. The celebration for this month was for Gamonios, the “End of the Winter Month.” It is when we celebrate the coming of the warm days when the year is no longer in darkness, when the cold is finally bested by the light of the sun. At this Druid Moon we honored the shining Gaulish god, Belenos.

While we have a standard liturgy for each of these rites, they are not set entirely in stone, which allows me to add my own flavor and style to the rituals that MJD initially wrote. One of the things I did this year to make the ritual unique was light three fires instead of one. We had the Fire of Inspiration, the Fire of Fellowship, and the Fire of Sacrifice. All offerings throughout the rite were made into the Fire of Sacrifice.

When we got to the working, I divided up the 9 people in attendance into groups of three and gave each group a candle and a small cup of Everclear. As I called out to each fire in turn to fill us, I had one person hold the candle, one person light it, and the third make the offering to their fire. I thought this worked well, and the folk seemed to enjoy it. It gave them each something to do and be involved with (and let some of them get the experience of offering Everclear, which they hadn’t done before, and can be quite powerful). Our Druid Moons are much more intimate, and so each little thing that I can do to reinforce that feeling of intimacy, like making sure each person has something (maybe even more than one thing) to do in the rite, is important.

I took the omen for this ritual by fire scrying in the Fire of Sacrifice. It is a skill I’ve been slowly working on over the past year or so, and is a different method of taking an omen than our Grove normally sees. I find it full of good magical energy, and it makes me connect even moreso into that divinatory Seer state than normal.

Significant Portions of the Liturgy I wrote: I performed the ritual for this, with the standard working (though I modified the setup and words to fit my style, rather than MJDs). The omen was me.

Omen (fire scrying)

What is our Path: Fire dancing up and out from the Center. We are one and share our light with the those at the edges.

On what should the Grove focus until the next Moon: coal with a sheen, or coating, of smoke. When we smoor or bank the fire, we are able to tend it and carry it to others, to those in need.

On what should each individual focus until the next moon: breath of blue flame, not at the center, but at the edge of the fire. Search for the unexpected blessing and bring it to the Center, bring it to the Heart of the Fire.

Taken together, these might suggest: The Brightness of our well-tended Grove Fire of Sacrifice dances far and can reach into the darkness. We need to bring our own blessings to the Center, to the Grove. This will strengthen and unify us. As we then stand together we are able to bring our light to others who stand at the edge.

  1. Write and lead at least one group High Day ritual. Submit both your script for that ritual and an evaluation of the ritual in terms of structure (how the ritual flowed) and function (what was accomplished). Include evaluations of the ritual from two other attendees (Include contact information for the attendees providing the evaluations. Their evaluations must be at least 125 words in length and include a description of what they thought went well and what improvements could be made, as well as whether or not they believe the ritual accomplished its purpose.)

I wrote and led an Avestan Summer Solstice Rite honoring Adrvi Sura Anahita, the Mother of Waters. In part because I felt bad writing every part of this ritual, rather than our typical format of letting folks write their own parts if they want to, and in part because I wanted to try to keep it under the suggested 20 people for this course (since none of our public High Days are under 40 people typically), I restricted attendance to grove members only, rather than making this a public rite. It worked out well, allowed me to experiment in a different culture than any of us have familiarity with, and allowed my Folk to feel more at ease in general. I ended up with 16 people in attendance (including latecomers), 11 of whom had parts.

Throughout the course of writing this, I did realize that I rarely write rituals in their entirety, and it is something I enjoy doing. I would like to compile more of our Grove rituals this way, so we have a better back-log of liturgy that we can share with others. I also found the writing the Attunement and the Return Flow are my least favorite parts (though they are some of my favorites to do in ritual), though in the case of this ritual, those two pieces, along with the ReCreation & Gatekeeper/Gate Opening, are the parts I’m the most proud of.

The Attunement I had been putting off writing, because I didn’t have any really good ideas for it, and I didn’t particularly want to fall back on one of my standard Two Powers exercises. But then I was reminded of the idea of Fire in Waters, and then the Orlando shootings happened, and then it occurred to me that this ritual was falling on the day of Pride. I thought about how the Fire in the Sky is often the Sun, and when you bring the Sun into the Waters, you get a rainbow, and that ties directly into Pride. So, I looked up the meanings of the colors on the original Pride flag, and worked from that for this Attunement.

The part about the Return Flow that I liked was how it flowed from the Omens smoothly. Because I had decided that the Omen would be taken via water scrying, that meant that the Blessings were literally going to be seen within the Waters. And so, in that transition between the two liturgical pieces I poured the Waters used for scrying into the Blessing Pitcher; I literally mixed the blessings that had been seen into the Waters we would be drinking.

I wrote all the parts for this rite except for two pieces of standard Grove Liturgy (noted in the script), and sent them out to people about a week ahead of time.  I checked in with folks a few days later to see if anyone needed help with pronunciation or anything.  A few of them double-checked with me before the rite started, but no one needed any significant help there.  I prepared all the offerings for the rite, set up the altar, and took care of other pre-ritual necessities.  During the pre-ritual briefing I went over how the ritual would flow, who we were honoring, and who the Avestan’s were.  I also mentioned that verbal praise was very important to them, and taught everyone the phrase “for your brightness and your glory, I offer you a sacrifice” that they could use when making personal offerings.  This worked fantastically.  I love when everyone speaks before the fire when they offer, and it’s something that, as Cranes leading huge rites, we normally don’t get to do. So, having made this a Grove-only ritual (in order to keep attendance under 20 people (it clocked in at 16 people)), everyone got a chance to make personal, verbal, heartfelt offerings.  I also made a point of giving as many people as I could a part of the ritual that they had never done before.  Since I’d written all the parts, that took away some of the nervousness for them on that piece, and it gave them the chance to stretch their wings a bit (and me the chance to push them gently into trying out something new, that I knew they could handle, that they might not have been sure on yet).

The ritual flow went really well.  I was nervous getting started because I’m not used to working with a script.  But, I had practiced, and so barely needed to use it for me.  Scripts are awkward though, doing strange things to your self-confidence, and it some ways it acted like a crutch on parts that I don’t typically need it for. We had videoed the rite, so watching it after and doing my own critique, I noticed myself looking down to check the script more often than I had actually needed to.

Leading a ritual, especially one that is just our small group, is pretty relaxed at this point.  Most folks know what’s going on, and I had given them all parts to read, so they weren’t concerned with speaking off the cuff.  I think that probably helped the ritual flow a lot.  I purposefully didn’t give anyone the whole script before the rite, because I didn’t want them to be trying to read along to the whole thing.  I wanted them to experience the ritual, and only have to worry about their own part.

The ritual itself was a simple rite of offering and praise celebrating the Summer Solstice and honoring Anahita, the Avestan Mother of Waters.  We honored each of the Kindreds and then Anahita, and folks were given the chance to make praise offerings to both the Kindreds in general (or a specific spirit they have a relationship with), as well as to Anahita.  This ritual served to strengthen our relationships with the Kindreds, as well as introduce nearly everyone to the Avestan hearth culture, and Anahita specifically.  I got a lot of good feedback following the rite.  Folks seemed to get fulfillment out of it, and the omens were good.  So all in all, it went well.

Script for Avestan Summer Solstice Ritual, honoring Anahita, the Mother of Waters

Evaluations per Course Requirements for Liturgy Practicum 2, Requirement 2.2:

Include evaluations of the ritual from two other attendees (Include contact information for the attendees providing the evaluations. Their evaluations must be at least 125 words in length and include a description of what they thought went well and what improvements could be made, as well as whether or not they believe the ritual accomplished its purpose.)

Evaluation 1

(contact info removed for privacy)

Briefly describe the Ritual:

The ritual was the celebration of Summer Solstice. Anahita, the Mother of Water, was the Deity of occasion. Rev. Jan wrote the ritual and assigned parts to volunteers, using the ADF Core Order. She attempted to have many perform parts that they normally would not have or that have not had the opportunity to perform yet. There was no working outside of worship and praise. Everyone had the opportunity to give offerings to both the Anahita and their own personal deity. Indo-Iranian names were used during the rite.

I personally had the opportunity to make peace with the Outdwellers, not a part I normally call; however, fitting given my military service.

What did you think went well?:

Jan was very precise on instructions. There was active group participation within the rite and most people spoke loud and clear. Everyone gave offerings and people actually spoke their praise to the deities out loud; something that not everyone does. People stepped outside of their comfort zone and performed well.

What improvements could be made?:

As an evaluator, I would like to have had a copy of the written ritual prior to rite. This would have given me more time to formulate any questions concerning the rite.

Do you think the ritual accomplished it’s purpose? Explain:

Yes. The purpose was for Jan to write an entire ritual and assign those to parts to individuals who volunteered to be a part of her rite to meet the criteria for the Liturgy Practicum 2, Requirement 2.2. Part of her purpose was to get individuals involved in ritual and to speak out loud when giving offerings. Everyone who came did as she had encouraged in her instructions prior to the start of the ritual.

Evaluation 2

(contact info removed for privacy)

Briefly describe the Ritual:

The ritual was held in Three Cranes Grove’s usual nemeton, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation East in Reynoldsburg, OH. Many of the attendees had assigned ritual parts, which Rev. Avende had previously sent out to their responsible parties. She had also prepared all the required offerings, which were noted in the ritual script.

I don’t believe any of the attendees were previously familiar with Avestan-style ritual; certainly there was no broad knowledge. Rev. Avende began with a briefly not only of the ritual as a whole, but also of the particularities of Avestan ritual. Specifically, she noted the customary tag to invocations and offering praises: “for you brightness and your glory, we offer you a sacrifice!” Rev. Avende’s script also delved into the particular cultural practices of the Avestans, naming particular mythological figures in the Recreation of the Cosmos, calling on the Kindred by their Avestan titles, etc.

What did you think went well?:

The culturally specific namings and invocation tags were particulary effective; much as a translator often leaves a bit of the ‘flavor’ of a source text while doing the bulk of the heavy-lifting for the understanding of the reader, Rev. Avende took historically attested forms and adapted them to the COoR while maintaining their cultural focus.

I was also impressed by the ritual’s response to the broader secular world. The summer solstice, in Columbus at least, aligned with our community’s celebration of Pride; in fact, I and others traveled directly from the Pride festival to the rite. I haven’t talked to her directly about this matter, but I suspect Rev. Avende specifically wrote subtle allusions to the secular cultural context into her script. The attunement played on Anahita’s life-giving waters that flow from the sun, and led us through contemplating the different prismatic colors of the rainbow formed in the mists of magic, which was a fairly clear connection to Gay Pride. In addition, there were repeated references throughout the script to diversity in all its forms. None of this felt in any way forced; it all would have been completely appropriate language at any time of year. But especially in the wake of the shootings in Orlando, it provided a welcome and meaningful space to honor the blessings of the Mother of Waters as she sustains us all, in our diverse array of selves.

What improvements could be made?:

I was very pleased to have the Avestan ‘flavor’ included in the rite, and usually Rev. Avende’s script did a fine job of smoothly interpreting the unfamiliar terminiology. There were a few points, however, when an unfamiliar term would go unremarked. I seem to remember, for example, (though I don’t have the full script in from of me), that the first occurrence of the Avestan term for ‘chaos’ didn’t have an immediate gloss. Similarly, my part (Recreating the Cosmos) included a number of mythological terms for the first plant, first animal, first man, which all seem to have etymologically-related names, but it wasn’t clear in the glossing whether the gloss was translation or explanation. Especially for linguistically minded people like me, that poses a danger of pulling me into my own headspace.

If it sounds like I’m nitpicking, it’s because I am: Rev. Avende’s ritual script was beautiful, and flowed smoothly; it made an unfamiliar hearth culture feel present and welcome. My quibbles above are to take it from excellent to superlative!

Do you think the ritual accomplished it’s purpose? Explain:

Indubitably. First, it assuredly marked the summer solstice: the DotO was absolutely aligned with the High Day, and Rev. Avende’s script tied her attributes back to the summer’s heat and life that we could feel and see all around us. Second, it also achieved the subtextual goals of building community and offering a space for attendees to celebrate the Kindreds and each other in all our great diversity — by welcoming difference, it bound us and the spirits more tightly in a web of care and community. It was one of the more powerful rites I’ve attended this year, and I’m quite glad to have been a part of it.

Evaluation 3

(contact info removed for privacy)

Purpose…

Our stated purpose for the rite was to celebrate the Summer Solstice, to honor the Kindreds, and to honor and give sacrifice to Ardvi Sura Anahita. The Folk did indeed bring honor and praise for the three Kindreds, as well as the Summer Solstice appropriate Deity of the Occasion Anahita, and received Blessings in return during this Avestan Rite. As a bonus, we learned about worship within a hearth culture that was new to nearly everyone who participated in this fully scripted celebration.

I very much enjoyed the ritual that began with offering to Atar, the Great Fire, with purification by washing our hands, and with an Outdwellers treaty. It was noted the Avenstans called to the Earth itself, not an Earth Mother, followed by calling to a deity of inspiration (Haoma) and the attunement. Recreating the cosmos and calling Beaver as the gate keeper continued the fire-in-the-waters theme, and then the gates were opened with well, fire, and tree imagery. General praise offerings by the Folk followed the Kindreds invitations, and offerings to Anahita were brought forth after evoking her. After the Prayer of Sacrifice (my part) came the unusual method of water scrying for taking an Omen. The Blessings were passed on to the Folk through drinking Hallowed Waters. The Spirits called upon were thanked, the gates were closed, Beaver, Haoma, and the Earth were thanked. The rite was ended.

Propitious…

There was excellent preparation for the rite, as evidenced by pre-arrangement of roles and tasks, discussion of the purpose and structure of the rite, and the availability of a full written version of the script (if we had not printed our part or had no electronic access). Jan provided effective coaching for the process and flow of the rite, as well as any parts assigned, before and during the rite. Jan adapted well to any difficulties that arose, handling changes that had to be made smoothly and gracefully.

There was also valuable assistance rendered as instruction on performance blocking, with personalized attention given to participants regarding specific questions. Jan exhibited a good understanding of individual Grove member’s aptitudes for liturgy, their current level of confidence with performance, and their willingness to stretch beyond that comfort level – and, encourage us to stretch she did! Everyone present participated in some way beyond just making personal offerings, even if it was only to use the suggested bookend phrase, “___ , for your brightness and your glory, I offer you a sacrifice,” which sounded very good and right as it was included in nearly every part spoken and in the praise offerings of so many of the Folk. It’s one of those things that quite beautifully knits a ritual together.

Along with fulfilling its ritual purpose, each part provided some information/education about the Avestan entity addressed and/or the way the Avestans might have approached their worship. I think this is one of the duties of those who lead our ritual celebrations – to teach us something of the peoples who have gone before and the deities they worshiped. Sometimes we do that in the pre-ritual briefing, sometimes through ritual storytelling strategically placed in a rite, or, as in this case, quite handily through the carefully worded liturgy itself. Even if I cannot connect with a ritual on any other level, if I come away with a new or different way to consider worship, I have “gained something in the work.”

Possibilities…

I love it when we try new things or take a new approach to things – like the water scrying for the Omen – though, it is inherently more difficult to connect with a method or approach used rarely or never before. The water scrying was completely appropriate to this rite, and this DotO, and I think it was a good call, even if it was uncomfortable as a participant to experience so much newness in one rite.

Offering to the Great Fire, Atar, and the washing of hands for each individual seemed to set the pace of this rite as somewhat slower and more word heavy than we might usually perform… though, again, both items (and all sections of the ritual) were completely appropriate to hearth culture/DotO, and were also a good call. There may or may not have been a goodly bit of wanting to get to the After-Feast in not wanting a ritual to drag on. To be fair, the lengthy liturgy was worth the information imparted.

Personal Favs…

Attunement – it seemed highly appropriate to a Summer Solstice Rite as it involved the Sun and the Waters showing how they combine to form a multitude of colors, and yet also coalesce into one unified white light… I was proud to do this Attunement at the Three Cranes Grove Summer Solstice Rite the next weekend on Sunday morning at the annual Community Festival (ComFest) in Columbus OH.

Bookends – it does indeed enhance the aesthetics of a ritual for many people to use similar formats during their parts, right down to repeating specific wording as in the case of this bookend phrase.

 

Let’s Talk Vocation: Mentoring

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that part of my Vocation, part of my Call, is mentoring. That thread of passion has woven it’s way through many aspects of my life, from coaching to college organizations to my professional life in teaching and into my role as an Initiate and a Priest. Being a mentor can be a tough job, but it is immensely rewarding work for me. It is one of the things that drives me.

I want to be helpful to others, to aid them in their growth, and to give them the tools and skills they need to do the work they want to do. In a way, I want to put myself out of job, though I know that new people, new mentees, will continue to come along. But there is great joy and a sense of accomplishment, in seeing a mentee reach a point where you can step back because they no longer need you.

As mentors, we seek to help our mentees feel welcomed, valued, and part of their own learning process. We walk alongside them, providing support and insight, and encouraging reflection, risk-taking, and confidence in their growing skills. The mentorship relationship will grow and change with time, and that is a good thing. The way that relationship between mentor and mentee develops allows for learning to flow back and forth, and for a guided, yet organic, method of growth to occur.

When I mentor someone I talk with them. I prod them when they need it. I’m a sounding board. They are the team leader and I’m their point person, their support person. When they need something I can’t do, or I don’t know, I find them that resource, or that other person that does know something more, or even different than me, and I make that connection.

When you’re a mentor, you’re in it for the long game, and certainly not for any sense of immediate glory. You start with your mentee, where ever they may be along their path, and you walk with them. Within many organizations, there is this push as a mentor to get your mentee over the threshold of whatever it is that you’re mentoring them for. Whether you’re mentoring them as a prospective leader of your organization, as a student teacher, or as an aspiring priest. The push is to get them to that new position. To get them to and through that Rite of Passage.

But that isn’t enough. It isn’t good enough for the mentor to lead that person, their mentee, up to the threshold of this new position in their life, and then shove them over it. Especially when there may or may not be someone on the other side to catch them, and reintegrate them back into their organization, or society, or church as a person with this new role. When you go through a transition, a Rite of Passage, there is a state of liminality that occurs. And after the state of liminality there is a state of communitas, of being part of the community.

Part of the role of a mentor, and especially for me with how I view my role as an Initiate, is to walk with that person up to the threshold, through the liminal space and time with them, and be there for them on the other side as well, to help them adjust to their new role.

I’ve had some great mentors, especially as I’ve entered the ADF Priesthood. They’ve encouraged me and given me the opportunity to grow and learn and take chances. They’ve been there for me when I struggle, and cheered me one when I’ve succeeded. The best have also been the ones that walked with me at the beginning of my path, and have continued to walk with me at each successive step along the way. These mentors, they’ve helped me navigate these waters and come to grips with my Vocation, my Calling. They’ve become my peers.

So, what are some dispositions and qualities that good mentors have? What does being a good mentor look like? What does a good mentor do, especially internally? Here are some ideas:

Picture on a green background with ADF "Why Not Empathy" logo in the bottom corner that reads: Mentors of New & Aspiring Clergy Should: - Consistently reflect on their practice and performance of ritual to identify areas of potential growth. - Engage in ongoing learning and continually strive to improve their own practice. - Know and use a wide repertoire of effective liturgical and pastoral strategies. - Be approachable, patient, and trustworthy. - Share skills, knowledge, and resources with their community and peers. - Exhibit a positive attitude and passion for clergy work. - Attentively and actively listen. - Be skillful at coaching that generates reflection. - Value the opinions and ideas of others and be able to accept an aspirant priest as a developing member of the clergy. - Invest their time and commit to supporting an aspirant priests spiritual and liturgical growth.

Leaders are Always Growing

This is excerpted from my Leadership Development course, and refers to what I see as my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader, particularly as a leader within ADF.

When considering how I fit within the context of leadership in ADF, especially as it pertains to the organization as a whole and its members, I think I am strongest in Strategy, Shared Values, and Strengths/Skills.  I have ideas how to keep moving us forward as a religion, and work to implement them, especially on a local level, with my peers.  I identify strongly with ADFs Shared Values as stated in our Mission and Vision statements, and work to align my personal work with those shared values.  I think the greatest strength of our church is our individual members.  Everyone has something to bring to the table, and we can grow stronger as an organization by using these skills and making sure all feel like valued and contributing members.

I still have a lot I think I can improve on in Staff, Systems, and Style, as it relates to leadership.  Because Staff refers to the people within an organization, and the general skill sets that they all have, I think that, although I am a people-person, this is someone that every one of us can continually improve on.  I’ve been trying to make a point of making myself available to people who don’t have a local community.  I spend time following and engaging in conversations with folks who I’m unfamiliar with, especially when they are seeking help, advice, or just other like-minded people practicing Druidry. I also do my best to make it to rituals at others groves, and to festivals, though I recognize that they are only a very small percentage of our membership, and so it must be coupled with distance communication with solitary and faraway members.

Because I believe our greatest strength as an organization is the people who are in it, I think it’s absolutely vital to continually get to know those people, and make sure that they have the opportunity to become familiar with me, and know that I’m someone they can reach out to at any point without fear of awkwardness or judgment. I love discussing Our Druidry with people, so I want continue to learn about the individuals of our membership: what their path is looking like, where they want to go, how to help them get there, what they’re carrying with them (skills, knowledge, burdens) on the journey.  I’m an extrovert most of the time, but prefer in depth one on one conversations, so in order to improve this particular Leadership Skill I need to be cognizant of my inclination to want to continue long in depth conversations with people I know, and be able and willing to step outside that comfort zone and make myself available to others.

As far as improving Systems, I think there is a lot to be done as far as the organization itself is concerned to improve these, and I have ideas on how to help.  I can improve this by continuing to follow my vocation and drive, and work on not sitting quietly, but instead taking a more active role in the changes that can and are happening.  I see our study programs continuing to grow and evolve as we get more members, and more specialized knowledge.  I see those study courses each having a rubric, both to help the student as they’re writing, and to help the reviewer as they are evaluating.  Most of all, I see more active work happening as far as creation of useful materials for members, especially solitaries.  The more practical and supplemental help we can provide for those walking the path of Our Druidry, like prayers, ritual scripts, meditations, tools, and other ideas, the better.  The focus here is on contributing more towards improving the Systems that allow each individual member to more fully and accessibly experience Our Druidry.

Because I tend to be rather quiet (indirect and reserved) in many situations within ADF, in order to improve my leadership Style, what I need to work on most here is navigating when to flex that style.  I need to work on flexing from indirect to direct so that my voice gets heard and taken seriously amongst all the other loud, forceful, and passionate voices.  I also need to work on allowing my outgoing side to take precedence more often in non-in-person scenarios.  It isn’t often a problem when I am with other people and conversing in-person.  However, since due to the small and spread out nature of our organization, online and other distance communications are more regularly used, and in those situations I tend towards reserved.  So working on being more outgoing when communicating over distance is another area of focused improvement for this.

What Makes a Good Leader in ADF?

This is excerpted from my Leadership Development course, which, as a whole, I found fascinating and useful in many different parts of my life.

When I think of leadership, the image that is in the forefront of my mind is the one where the leader is reaching down to pull others up the mountain. I think, above anything else, our job as leaders is ensure that we have a healthy community.  There are many other things that go into it, of course, but you can’t be a leader of none.  Leadership is service, especially in the context of an ADF Priest.

boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain (“Boss Leader”)

Some of the qualities and skills that go into being a good leader are a strong focus on introspection and self-reflection, being aware of and knowledgeable about your community and members, and assuming positive intent.

When talking about introspection and self-reflection begin integral to leadership, there are many reasons why.  When we work understand ourselves, we are able to not only engage in self-care, but are also better able to understand others.  Self-reflection is important when dealing with potential burnout in yourself.  You need to know when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, and allow yourself a time out to kindle your own flame.  You must keep your own flame bright, or you cannot show others it’s light.

You need self-reflection as well because you need to be aware that your words and your actions have weight, and you must be careful how you use that weight and influence. If others view you as a leader, then they are more likely to ascribe more weight to your words.

Introspection and self-reflection also allow you to continue to expand your worldview, and reach an understanding with multiple viewpoints.  Be engaging in introspection, you can allow your views to continually change as needed to be adaptable to the situations at hand.  You are better equipped to remain nonjudgmental in the face of adversity.  You are more able to be as Teutates, the Gentle Gardener and Tender of the Tribe, and help new, innovative, and strong ideas to blossom and grow.

As a leader, you must be aware or your staff and their skill sets.  This is a two-fold need for leaders.  Not only does it allow you to know whom you can lean on for support, especially if you are pushing up against burnout, but it also means that you know the potential of the future.  You will know who, and how, to build up and encourage those skilled individuals towards leadership.

Last, but certainly not least, it is important for leaders to assume positive intent, not nefarious motivations, in others.  Oftentimes leaders are so passionate about their work that they get caught up in the details of the process, and can sometimes lose sight of the vision, of the bigger picture.  It is vitally important for the health of the team and the larger community that the leader assumes we are all working towards the same bright vision, and though we may have different ideas on how to achieve it, each person is honestly doing their best.

Leadership Development 1

Leadership Development 1

1)  Define consensus and collaboration in your own words, give an example of how each can be applied in a grove setting, and explain which you prefer and why. (min. 250 words)

 Consensus: noun

1) majority of opinion;

2) general agree or concord; harmony

collaboration: noun

1) the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

2) traitorous cooperation with an enemy.

Consensus is when, in a group setting, all the members of the group come together to make a decision on a specific issue, action, or situation.  While consensus doesn’t have to be unanimous (though it can be) it is often the result of common thought and compromise.  The connotation of consensus implies that while not everyone may agree on all points unequivocally, they are in general agreement with and can accept the decision.  Consensus can be used in a grove setting where the group is brainstorming ideas for new projects, since that is a situation where ideas and issues can be brought up early on, so as to not interfere with the decision making process too much.  We use consensus when we write the new stanza for our grove poem each year.  Everyone can contribute new ideas, and then we mix them until everyone agrees.  Poetry by committee is entertaining to the say the least, and somewhat exemplifies why I prefer collaboration to consensus.  Consensus takes a long time, involves more compromise than is necessarily good, can be hung up by a single person who can’t or won’t agree to the compromises, an can leave less direct individuals feeling like their opinion and voice wasn’t heard.

Collaboration is when a small group comes together, often guided by a lead member, to create something or solve a problem that has arisen.  It involves taking input from many sources and encouraging creativity and new ideas.  It is most often goal driven, and the teams involved in collaboration may change based on what needs to be done.  A grove can use collaboration when planning rituals.  We often use the system of ritual teams, where we have a Druid-in-Charge (laity), a Priest-in-Charge, and 2-3 supporting ritual team members. This ritual team plans, writes, and assigns out parts for each of our high day rituals.   I prefer collaboration to consensus because it allows a small group to come together to focus on tackling a specific project.  There are less personalities involved, making the process smoother, and because the focus is more often on solving a problem, or entertaining multiple creative ideas in order to find a good outcome, rather than on finding something everyone can agree to, there is less hurt on a personal level.

 

2)  Describe the following traits of leadership.  Describe the types which best fit you. (minimum 100 words for each trait, and 100 words for the self-description)

There are Four Traits of leadership, with each trait divided into two opposing preferences.  These preferences are expressed on a continuum, with most people falling somewhere between the two extremes.

Influencing

The Influencing Trait ranges from Indirect to Direct, and qualifies how you express thoughts, present ideas, and assert yourself.  It has to do with communication.  It is not a measure of how influential someone is, but refers how they prefer to go about influencing others.  The Influencing Trait does not measure assertiveness, power, or self-confidence (Handley “Training” 17-8).

a) Direct – A direct style of influencing involves straightforward talk and body language.  The direct individual is willing to debate ideas, is confident and self-assured, and tends to tell people what to do, rather than ask them.  They are bold, and will say exactly what they mean without dancing around the topic.  A direct individual is good at taking charge, especially in situations that need a clear direction or someone to take point on decision-making.  They are good at getting issues out in the open, especially issues that other more indirect individuals may feel more hesitant abut broaching.  They are good at encouraging frank discussion of issues, and encourage all participants to lay all their cards on the table.  Direct individuals need to be conscious of how blunt they are being, as well as how much air time they are using.  Are they allowing other more indirect individuals openings and opportunities to talk, engage in discussions, and be heard? (Handley “Training”26-34)

b) Indirect – An indirect style of influence involves more diplomacy than a direct style of influence.  The indirect individual is more likely to be intimately aware of how their word choice, phrasing, and timing will effect their communication and ability to influence someone to their way of thinking.  They are tactful, modest, and approachable people, often open to negotiation and hearing multiple sides of an issue before nudging the conversation in the direction they want to see it going.  Indirect individuals use a supportive approach, guiding conversation so that others think ideas are theirs, and then supporting them in making that idea reality.  They are likely to present their ideas in an unassuming, often Socratic, manner.  They will ask for tasks to be done rather than telling people to do them. They are good at facilitating discussion and mediating conflicts.  Indirect individuals need to be conscious of their unassuming nature and diplomacy to be sure they don’t drift into the realm of manipulation.  They should also be aware that their gentle approach may be mistaken for a lack of confidence in their opinions, and sometimes not worthy of consideration because of that (Handley “Training”18-25).

Responding

The Responding Trait ranges from Reserved to Outgoing, and qualifies how you approach and respond to others, particularly groups.  In other personality tests this is the same scale that measures introversion and extroversion. (Handley “Training” 35).

c) Reserved -A reserved style of responding describes an individual who prefers deep one-on-one discussions and prefers to have the time to thoroughly think out their responses to people before voicing an opinion.  They tend to be quiet in large groups, but very engaged in small groups.  They recharge from stress by taking time for themselves.  In addition to their style of verbally communicating, they also tend to have reserved body language, minimized facial expressions, and use few gestures.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling emotions, but rather that they don’t tend to show those emotions publicly.  Reserved individuals often do not share a lot about themselves, and may take a long time to build a trusting relationship with and get to know. One thing that is important to note is that the reserved trait is not the same as shyness or lack of self-esteem.  A reserved individual just doesn’t talk when they don’t feel like talking, and tends to abhor small talk (Handley “Training” 35-42).

d) Outgoing – An outgoing style of responding describes an individual who on other personality scales is often referred to as “extroverted.”  They tend to be talkative and enjoy group settings.  When working through issues and problems, they are far more likely to talk out the issue, rather than think it over by themselves in order to clarify how they feel.  They are more likely to verbally process information. They recharge from stress by finding like-minded people to be around, discuss their stresses with, and generally socialize and connect with people. Outgoing individuals are open and expressive, and the often use large gestures when communicating. They stay in contact with friends, family, and acquaintances easily and frequently, and are good at making others feel at ease around them (Handley “Training” 43-48).

Pacing

The Pacing Trait ranges from Urgent to Steady, and qualifies the speed at which you make decisions and take action.  It has to do with how an individual goes about their tasks.  It is not a measure of energy level, soundness of decision-making skills, or productivity.  To judge those qualities it is more useful to look at how dedicated and motivated an individual is (Handley “Training” 49-50).

e) Urgent -An urgent style of pacing describes an individual who is able to make quick decision by considering only the most important information.   Too many choices and alternative options don’t bog them down because they prioritize importance well.  They are able to act quickly and easily adapt to change.  Urgent individuals do well in leadership roles that have many short-term projects.  They are good at jumping at opportunities as they arise and working with many projects at the same time.  They can move an organization quickly towards a goal.  Because they are quick to react, they do need to be aware of how their emotions and frustration effect their communication, as they are often described as having short fuses (Handley “Training” 50-56).

 f) Steady -A steady style of pacing describes an individual who is persistent, deliberate, and loyal.  They are not slow, but rather carefully consider as many options as possible before making a decision, and are not impulsive.  They would rather be sure that all research has been done well, and are willing to wait for other options to open up, rather than jump to a hasty conclusion. Steady individual have an excellent long view, and are good at seeing the bigger picture and how cascading decisions may play out down the road.  They do well with long-term projects that require careful research, and more easily overcome boredom associated with drawn out tasks.  They have long fuses, and are slow to get emotional and frustrated about situations, but also often have long memories when they do reach a breaking point. They often appear easy going, calm, and amiable (Handley “Training” 57-64).

Organizing

The Organizing Trait ranges from Unstructured to Precise, and how you structure time, organize tasks, and handle details.  It has a lot to do with task achievement and how details for completing those tasks are managed.  It is not a measure of performance, results, or quality, which are better predicted by intelligence, experience, and motivation  (Handley “Training” 65).

g) Unstructured – An unstructured style of organizing describes an individual who prefers flexibility, diving straight into projects and tasks, and is focused on the outcome rather than the process.  They are good at coping with rapidly changing environments and are creative at finding new and different solutions to projects.  They often will let little tasks pile up, but are good at taking care of emergency things right away.  They are also good sources for creative thinking, and can function well in disorganized environments.  They prefer to be given a task and then turned loose to solve it.  As leaders, they trust their team to get the job done, and will just expect the results at the end.  Unstructured individuals need to be aware when a task and process has been well researched and if it would be better to follow the set guidelines to save themselves trouble, or if something is new and different, and their approach will be a good opportunity to discover new ways to do things (Handley “Training” 65-72).

 h) Precise -A precise style of organizing describes an individual who prefers to have a schedule and structure to how they manage time, tasks, and details.  They are timely in their work and feedback, and seek to carefully schedule and plan.  They have a method for each thing that needs to be done, and systems in place to make them more efficient in their work.  Precise individuals see organization as a priority because it will allow everything else to flow smoothly.  The seek order in their tasks and situations, and prefer predictability to change.  They seek to improve systems and policies to benefit organizations as a whole (Handley “Training” 73-79).

Self-Description – I lean heavily toward being and steady and structured individual no matter what the situation is.  Interestingly, in the professional world I tend towards being direct and reserved, but in my personal life I am the reverse of that, tending to be indirect and outgoing.  These results are from taking the insight inventory for myself, and I certainly have a spectrum of traits. Within ADF I seem to be steady, structured, indirect, and then I flex pretty easily between reserved and outgoing as needed by the situation, though I am more frequently reserved in my leadership capacity within the organization (Handley “Interpretive”).

All of this together means that my strengths as a leader are my ability: to facilitate discussions without letting my personal thoughts and emotions get involved; to carefully phrase comments to present ideas in a non-conflicting manner; to do a lot of listening and let others talk more than me; to hold information confidential; to make others feel important and valued; to understand and empathize with the variety of factors that may be influencing peoples lives; to keep an open mind to alternative methods and solutions; to bring order and structure to disorganized or chaotic situations; and to see and establish ways to improve systems and policies that help make work flow more smoothly (Handley “Training” 2-5).

 

3)  Define the seven primary skills of leadership.

These seven primary skills of leadership are based on the McKinsey 7S Model.  They are divided into Hard and Soft skills.  The hard skills are Strategy, Structure, and Systems, and are typically easier to define and management can directly influence them.  The soft skills are Shared Values, Strengths/Skills, Style, and Staff, and are less tangible and more influenced by culture within the organization.  The idea is that for an organization to perform well, these elements need to be aligned and will reinforce each other (Mind Tools).

Strategy – This is the plan to move the organization forward.  In ADF it includes the plan to keep us a viable public neo-pagan religion, as far as how we provide training, run our business, and gain and retain our members.

Structure – This is the way the organization is structured on all levels; the hierarchy or who reports to whom.

Systems – These are the standard operating procedures for the organization.  The things in place to keep tasks running smoothly.

Shared Values – These are the core values of the organization as seen in the work ethic and culture of the organization.  Within ADF, this can be seen in our Vision and Mission Statement, as well as how various members interact with the subgroups and organization as a whole.

Strengths/Skills – These are the skills and competencies of each individual person within the organization.  Within ADF, we have a huge variety of skilled individuals who all bring something to contribute to the table.

Style – This refers to the style of leadership within the organization.  This varies within ADF depending on who the leader is in each specific role.

Staff – This refers to the people within the organization and the general skill sets they all have.  For ADF, this can refer to each individual member and how their presence strengthens us as an organization.

a) Identify the three skills that you are strongest in.

I think I am strongest in Strategy, Shared Values, and Strengths/Skills.  I have ideas how to keep moving us forward as a religion, and work to implement them, especially on a local level, with my peers.  I identify strongly with ADFs Shared Values as stated in our Mission and Vision statements, and work to align my personal work with those shared values.  I think the greatest strength of our church is our individual members.  Everyone has something to bring to the table, and we can grow stronger as an organization by using these skills and making sure all feel like valued and contributing members.

b)  Identify the three you are the weakest in and explain how you plan to improve these skills  (min. 400 words describing improvement outlined in section “b” of this question)

I think I could use the most improvement in Staff, Systems, and Style.

Because Staff refers to the people within an organization, and the general skill sets that they all have, I think that, although I am a people-person, this is someone that every one of us can continually improve on.  I’ve been trying to make a point of making myself available to people who don’t have a local community.  I spend time following and engaging in conversations with folks who I’m unfamiliar with, especially when they are seeking help, advice, or just other like-minded people practicing Druidry. I also do my best to make it to rituals at others groves, and to festivals, though I recognize that they are only a very small percentage of our membership, and so it must be coupled with distance communication with solitary and faraway members.

Because I believe our greatest strength as an organization is the people who are in it, I think it’s absolutely vital to continually get to know those people, and make sure that they have the opportunity to become familiar with me, and know that I’m someone they can reach out to at any point without fear of awkwardness or judgment. I love discussing Our Druidry with people, so I want continue to learn about the individuals of our membership: what their path is looking like, where they want to go, how to help them get there, what they’re carrying with them (skills, knowledge, burdens) on the journey.  I’m an extrovert most of the time, but prefer in depth one on one conversations, so in order to improve this particular Leadership Skill I need to be cognizant of my inclination to want to continue long in depth conversations with people I know, and be able and willing to step outside that comfort zone and make myself available to others.

As far as improving Systems, I think there is a lot to be done as far as the organization itself is concerned to improve these, and I have ideas on how to help.  I can improve this by continuing to follow my vocation and drive, and work on not sitting quietly, but instead taking a more active role in the changes that can and are happening.  I see our study programs continuing to grow and evolve as we get more members, and more specialized knowledge.  I see those study courses each having a rubric, both to help the student as they’re writing, and to help the reviewer as they are evaluating.  Most of all, I see more active work happening as far as creation of useful materials for members, especially solitaries.  The more practical and supplemental help we can provide for those walking the path of Our Druidry, like prayers, ritual scripts, meditations, tools, and other ideas, the better.  The focus here is on contributing more towards improving the Systems that allow each individual member to more fully and accessibly experience Our Druidry.

Because I tend to be rather quiet (indirect and reserved) in many situations within ADF, in order to improve my leadership Style, what I need to work on most here is navigating when to flex that style.  I need to work on flexing from indirect to direct so that my voice gets heard and taken seriously amongst all the other loud, forceful, and passionate voices.  I also need to work on allowing my outgoing side to take precedence more often in non-in-person scenarios.  It isn’t often a problem when I am with other people and conversing in-person.  However, since due to the small and spread out nature of our organization, online and other distance communications are more regularly used, and in those situations I tend towards reserved.  So working on being more outgoing when communicating over distance is another area of focused improvement for this.

 

4)  Define the stages of burnout. Identify how you can utilize the strengths and skills of team members to avoid burnout in yourself and others. (minimum 200 words)

People who are involved in helping professions, like teaching, social work, medicine, and clergy work, face significantly higher risks for burnout.  Often this is because they got into those fields of work because they are very passionate.  However, the very fact that they care deeply, were ‘on fire’, puts them at greater risk for burnout (Hatfield).

Burnout is defined as “a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved work stress, resulting in:

  • Depleted energy and emotional exhaustion
  • Lowered resistance to illness
  • Increased depersonalization in interpersonal relationships
  • Increased dissatisfaction and pessimism
  • Increased absenteeism and work inefficiency” (Hatfield)

There are many different ways to divide up the stages of Burnout, however Hatfield and Gray, using the work of Veninga and Spradley, break burnout into the following five stages:

Stage 1: Honeymoon – The honeymoon stage is the baseline stage.  This is where you have high job satisfaction, and even though there are stresses in the job, you develop coping strategies to manage them.

Stage 2: Balancing Act – In this stage you begin to notice that some days are better than others at your job, and how you’re dealing with the stresses varies day to day.  There is a noticeable increase in job dissatisfaction, work inefficiency, fatigue and trouble sleeping, and engaging in various escapist activities.

Stage 3: Chronic Symptoms – In this stage, some of the same things that became noticeable in the Balancing Act Stage intensify, including chronic exhaustion, physical illness, and anger and/or depression.

Stage 4: Crisis – At this point, the symptoms from the previous two stages as they relate to your work life become critical and spread even further into all aspects of your life.  The physical symptoms of burnout intensify or increase in number, you’re constantly obsessing over the frustrations with your job, you’re pessimistic and full of self-doubt, and you seek ways to just get out.

Stage 5: Enmeshment – In the enmeshment stage, the symptoms of severe burnout are so entangled in your life that you’re more likely to be diagnosed as having some other physical or mental ailment, than you are to be labeled as a burnout case (Hatfield).

Burnout is a serious problem in organizations, and especially in those organizations that are involved in the business of helping people.  According to Maslach and Leiter, burnout occurs when there are mismatches between the nature of the job and the nature of the person doing the job (Maslach 9).  Often the value of the worker, the human, comes far behind the value of the job itself, especially when money is involved.  These mismatches happen when we feel overloaded, when we lack control over what we do, when we are not rewarded for our work, when we’re experiencing a breakdown in community, when we aren’t treated fairly, and when we’re dealing with conflicting values.  Burnout is an erosion of the soul, as we lose value, dignity, spirit, and will, and the further it goes, the more difficult it is to recover from.  People who are burned out become exhausted, cynical, and ineffective (Maslach 9-17).

Dealing with and preventing burnout is a team effort. Because burnout is a problem with the social environment of the job, there needs to be a shift in culture to help prevent and treat burnout.  Burnout says a lot about the conditions that workers are in, and it is not the individual that needs to change, but rather the organization as a whole (Maslach 18-21). The steps to navigate the process often start with one person sharing their dissatisfaction and gathering a group together to work on coming up with ways to solve burnout factors.  They then connect those proposed solutions to the organization as a whole and work to affect the related mismatches that are causing burnout.  And, because things in the work keep changing, the outcome of this process remains a process, continuing to work towards reducing the burnout factors for those in the organization (Maslach 79-83).

If you are experiencing burnout, you can lean on your team members for support in dealing with the job stressors when you’re in the early stages of burnout, but in order to mitigate the underlying problem, and not just the symptoms, a team effort is needed.  It can start with you as an individual, but will need to progress with the support of a team, and the organization as a whole, to continue to help manage the reasons burnout is occurring.

 

5)  Using the information you have learned in this course, what do you feel makes a person an effective leader in ADF? (min. 200 words)

When I think of leadership, the image that is in the forefront of my mind is the one where the leader is reaching down to pull others up the mountain. I think, above anything else, our job as leaders is ensure that we have a healthy community.  There are many other things that go into it, of course, but you can’t be a leader of none.  Leadership is service, especially in the context of an ADF Priest.

boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain (“Boss Leader”)

Some of the qualities and skills that go into being a good leader are a strong focus on introspection and self-reflection, being aware of and knowledgeable about your community and members, and assuming positive intent.

When talking about introspection and self-reflection begin integral to leadership, there are many reasons why.  When we work understand ourselves, we are able to not only engage in self-care, but are also better able to understand others.  Self-reflection is important when dealing with potential burnout in yourself.  You need to know when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, and allow yourself a time out to kindle your own flame.  You must keep your own flame bright, or you cannot show others it’s light.

You need self-reflection as well because you need to be aware that your words and your actions have weight, and you must be careful how you use that weight and influence. If others view you as a leader, then they are more likely to ascribe more weight to your words.

Introspection and self-reflection also allow you to continue to expand your worldview, and reach an understanding with multiple viewpoints.  Be engaging in introspection, you can allow your views to continually change as needed to be adaptable to the situations at hand.  You are better equipped to remain nonjudgmental in the face of adversity.  You are more able to be as Teutates, the Gentle Gardener and Tender of the Tribe, and help new, innovative, and strong ideas to blossom and grow.

As a leader, you must be aware or your staff and their skill sets.  This is a two-fold need for leaders.  Not only does it allow you to know whom you can lean on for support, especially if you are pushing up against burnout, but it also means that you know the potential of the future.  You will know who, and how, to build up and encourage those skilled individuals towards leadership.

Last, but certainly not least, it is important for leaders to assume positive intent, not nefarious motivations, in others.  Oftentimes leaders are so passionate about their work that they get caught up in the details of the process, and can sometimes lose sight of the vision, of the bigger picture.  It is vitally important for the health of the team and the larger community that the leader assumes we are all working towards the same bright vision, and though we may have different ideas on how to achieve it, each person is honestly doing their best.

 

Works Cited:

“Boss Leader Difference Climbing a Mountain.” StareCat.com. N.p., 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://starecat.com/boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain/>.

“collaboration.” Dictionary.com. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

“consensus.” Dictionary.com. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Handley, Patrick, Ph.D. “Interpretive Guide.” Insight Inventory. Insight Institute, 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. <http://www.insightinstitute.com/successcenter/manuals-guides/eInsight/ Participant-booklet-2012-V12.indd/index.html>.

Handley, Patrick, Ph.D. “Training Guide.” Insight Inventory. Insight Institute, 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. <http://www.insightinstitute.com/successcenter/manuals-guides/Insight-Training-G-2012.indb/index.html#/18/>.

Hatfield, Tim, Ph.D., and Lee Gray, Ed.D. “Burnout.” Stress Management Website. Winona State University, 18 May 1998. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. <http://www.winona.edu/stress/ 9Burnout.HTML>.

Maslach, Christina, and Michael P. Leiter. The Truth about Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do about It. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1997. Print.

Mind Tools Editorial Team. “The McKinsey 7-S Framework.” Mind Tools. Mind Tools Ltd., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. <https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm>.