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The harvest season comes, and the kids go back to school. I can’t pass a rack of school supplies without stopping to see if there’s anything I want need. There rarely is, but I still like to look. The eco-folders and notebooks, while more ecologically responsible, are nowhere as cool as my Trapper Keeper.

It was rad.

Not my actual Trapper Keeper.

I love school. Or, I love the idea of school. Perhaps I’m nostalgic for a time when I was unaware of the responsibilities that accompany adulthood, many of which creep up on you unexpectedly; a time when all I had to worry about was punctuality, or juggling homework assignments, or ensuring that I was just a little more cutting edge with my clothes than the kid with the thick sideburns was. School provided me with an environment in which to be outwardly inquisitive, inwardly critical, and overtly creative.

Yeah, I love school.

That said, it looks like returning to school to complete my Bachelor’s Degree — a desire of mine for some time — will have to wait a bit longer. (Sorry, Marylhurst.)

There are a few reasons for this decision.

First, college is stupid-expensive, and I don’t want to take out loans. The federal government was kind enough to toss me a few hundred dollars per quarter, but that barely covers books. This is a dry-beans economy, man. Who can dish out two, three, four thousand dollars ever four months on top of everyday-life bills?

Not me. Not now, at least.

Second — and perhaps more relevant to the themes discussed on this blog — I have some unfinished druidic work to do.

I began an ADF study program called the Dedicant Path (DP) almost two years ago. This blog, in fact, was first created to record my progress through the program (check out the first few 2010 posts in the Archives). As the blog evolved, I moved away from my DP studies and more into the realm of a public discussion and dialogue around all-things-pagan. I don’t regret this decision. I’m delighted at the evolution of our work in community.

But over the past month I’ve watched several of my friends, ADF members who started the DP around the same time as I did, submit their work to the DP review board, and pass. Some are involved in Groves and Protogroves now, and a few are even considering clergy training. I look at them, and I remember what I started. I remember looking at ADF’s course of study and thinking — this is a really legitimate approach.

From ADF.org:

Here is the outline of our Druidic Basic Training:

1: Right Action – It is proper to attempt to do only good for one’s self, family and community. We present a model of virtue based on Pagan lore.

2: Piety – Pagan ways are based on active individual involvement with the rituals and practices of tradition. To be truly involved is to attend or perform rites regularly and do the work.

3: Study – The study of actual archaeological, folklore and classical sources is vital to restoring the old ways in out time.

4: Basic Meditation – In order to open the mind and spirit to wisdom, improve well being and learn control, nothing is better than simple, silent meditation.

5: The Two Currents – Using skills of imagination and concentration, the student learns to connect with the primal energies of fire and water, sky and earth.

6:The Home Shrine – It is proper to set aside a corner of one’s home as a personal shrine where the student can deepen her awareness of the spirits.

7: Full Ritual Worship – The core of ADF’s work is our order of ritual, which brings closed contact with the God/desses and spirits. The student completes a set of worship tools and learn the order of ritual.

8: The Dedicant’s Oath – When you feel sure that the Pagan Ways are your ways, we encourage a formal oath to announce your will. This is the first step in the formal work of our Druidry.

9: Patronage – In polytheistic religion it is proper for each person to develop a personal relationship with a specific Deity or pair of Deities. We offer techniques to establish and enhance that special partnership.

As I look through the Dedicant Manual, which comes with the cost of annual ADF membership ($25), I see how the DP could absolutely be treated as one would treat a college course. There are a few time-sensitive activities, such as needing to document your meditation work for a six month period, and attendance at a year’s worth of ADF rituals (the latter of which I’ve kept up with). But, aside from those, most of this work could be done in the course of one or two college quarters.

So, that’s what I’ll do. I’m putting off college in order to keep some food-money in the bank, and to complete my Dedicant Path work. If I start now, I’ll be done with my studies by Imbolc.

It occurs to me that we’ve had dialogue on Bishop In The Grove about formal education as it relates to Pagan leadership, but we haven’t talked much about our individual experiences with pagan study programs. So…

Have you ever been involved in a formal study program through a Pagan group? What was that like?

If you’re an ADF member, have you done the DP? If so, what was that experience like for you (feel free to share links to your any of your DP work that lives online)?

How have you been schooled in your form of Paganism? 

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  • I am now nostalgic for my Trapper Keeper. What a good BoS it would have made….

    • Somebody needs to market an eco-Trapper Keeper/BoS for Pagans. It would be a smash.

      • This post made me think of this: “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” – Tom Hanks

  • Janna misisox

    Fantastic blogging I’d love to learn more 🙂 will be watching this space <|:-) good luck with your choice of what to do's 🙂

    • Thank you, Janna! Glad to have you join us here! Thank you for the words of encouragement!

  • Kristin McFarland

    I, too, love school supplies. In fact, I went into Target to buy a few three-ring binders to hold my forthcoming ADF study program work, and I ended up having a total old-fogy moment when I saw that 1-inch binders were $6 each and refused to buy them.

    I should save that story and tell it at parties.

    Anyway, good on you! The DP is awesome, even if some of the work seems tedious at times. Here’s the link to my snazzy new DP documentation page: http://greywren.wordpress.com/dedicant-path-documentation/

    • This is a tremendous resource, Kristin. Thank you for sharing it here. I think others who are considering the DP would be wise to read your work. I know I’ll be doing that over the coming days.

  • I’m currently starting the Hellenion Clergy Ed program. It promises to be “interesting”

    • I’d love to know more about it, Anne!

  • PhaedraHPS

    Isaac and I talked seriously about doing the DP together (me under my own identity and he using a pseudonym), then maybe even writing a book about the experience. He felt that it was both useful and important that he should go through the same experiences as current ADF members were being asked to go through. Unfortunately, his health crashed before we did more than touch the surface of the DP. But I wish we would have been able to follow it through. Good luck with it. (I still have a couple of my own essays stashed here and there.)

    • Thank you, Phaedra, for sharing this story of your experience with Isaac. Thank you for your encouragement as well.

      Have you ever considered picking it up again? I think your involvement in the DP would mean a lot to ADF members, and your feedback would add a great deal to the conversations taking place in ADF.

      • PhaedraHPS

        Well, it’s an interesting thought. I couldn’t cope with it while I was caring for Isaac and then dealing with the aftermath of his passing. It really turned my life upside down.

        Unfortunately, I have since discovered that my own crash ‘n’ burn in the aftermath was complicated by serious health problems which have only recently been diagnosed. I’m facing quite a few challenges right now, including the fact that my concentration is often not very good. Although I would enjoy being part of the DP community, I would not be able to take it on right now.

  • Tasha

    Sounds like something for http://www.thrice-great.com to market. Trapper Keepers with pentagrams!

    • Love the alchemical symbol sweatshirts.

  • emjay ecks

    I (re)started my DP work last Imbolc, and am pushing myself to have it completed and ready to turn in by this coming Imbolc. Hopefully we both meet our goal.

    PS–the link to my blog in the sidebar is incorrect. It should be courageanddevotion.wordpress.com. Thanks for linking me, though!

    • Thanks for the update on the link – I’ve made the change in the sidebar.

      Here’s to both of us meeting our goal!

  • Bridgette Bynum Adkins

    I finished my DP almost a year ago and have been slowly gearing up to work on the IP. I have found that since finishing the DP I’ve had more satisfying, deep spiritual work just spontaneously evolving and showing up. The DP gives me a foundation to go back to any time that I’m feeling a bit disconnected. I also found that I sort of read all the requirements and started reading the books, but floated along, figuring out my spirituality at the same time. Eventually I was at a Chenille Canopy event and showed my DP mentor a small rite I had written for my weekly devotion (I call it “Having a Beer with the Kindreds”) and she pretty much bopped me over the head and insisted I finish writing up everything. So for me, it was awesome and amazing. It took me right at 18 months to finish it all.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Bridgette! I’m glad that you’re a part of the conversation here.

      I’ve heard of others who took their time as you did — I’m one of them, it seems. You touch on something important in your comment, which is the idea that it is our spiritual growth during the process that is most important. The architects of the DP are (I believe) most concerned with *that*.

      Again, thank you for your comment!

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Having just started running Academia Antinoi, I can tell you it’s been an interesting experience! It’s been rewarding for me to put some things out there as a formal class rather than as random thoughts in a blog post or a book or essay; and, the work my students have produced thus far is really wonderful, and gives me hope for the future. (It’s also far better edited and referenced than even the best college papers I’ve graded from the collegiate courses I’ve taught.) The time management issue on my part was one that I didn’t properly foresee, but in the rush of this second term of the program, I’ve learned how to better deal with it in the future.

    It will be interesting to see where Academia Antinoi goes over the next year or two. By then, some people may have taken enough courses to get one of the certifications I offer; though, those may only carry any weight in my own group…So, it would be interesting to know if, in the future, some of these things could be “transfer credits” where ADF or other groups are concerned, etc.

    • I’m excited for you and your students! This is a great work that you’re doing.

      It doesn’t surprise me that they are deeply engaged in the work. We invest in what we care about, I think. This idea of “transfer credits” is interesting, too, and while I’m not exactly sure how that might work with ADF’s study and training programs, I imagine that people would be open to that conversation.

      • Jason Hatter

        At a rough guess, any already done work could be evaluated by the student as to how it applies to whatever tradition they’re working with, and rewritten to apply more specifically to the program, as needed. Treat it as source material for a “new” paper as it were.

  • Trapper Keeper! Love it! …I bet we can find all the originals in the landfills for the next 100 years.

    In answer to your question, I was part of a formal education program in Wicca. Not degrees in the college-sense but degreed in the Wiccan sense. 3+ years of writing, researching, papers, meditations, spiritual workings, classes etc. And that only opened the door to the real education.

    Blessings on the journey.

    • Blessings to you as well!

      Thank you for sharing your comment, and for being a part of the conversation. I love the idea that 3+ years of study simply “opened the door to the real education.” That seems exactly right to me.

      Peace be with you!

  • Paganwhls

    I am a member of Witch School International. All my learning/experience is online, including my BoS, as my current living situation doesn’t allow for anything else 🙁

    • Thank you for this comment! I’m glad you’re a part of the conversation.

      Do you find that the online classes you’re doing are serving you well? Are you experience any kind of community or congregation while working as a solitary?

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  • Having just graduated from college in May, after having spent 18 years in school and reading about all my friends returning to classes, I am also nostalgic for school. Yes, already! I’ve been hoping to find some basic Paganism classes in my area just to have a firm background in the “basics” – more for myself than to “prove” – but I don’t have hundreds of dollars to throw out there for classes. I have, however, also been looking into the ADF classes for a few months now and it has been looking more and more appealing, though I know that there are many people who feel disjointed being a Druid and working with a non-Celtic deity. As I am attempting to rebuild a relationship with my patron god of Egyptian descent, it makes me cautious. I do not want to rebreak that relationship. But I must admit, Druidry does appeal to my predominantly British self.

    • I’d be interested to see what you think about ADF’s study program, and I encourage you to look into it a little further. ADF is unique in the Druid world, as there are members who work with many different pantheons and hearth cultures from the Proto-IntoEuropean cultures. While Egyptian falls outside of this, there is no imperative that you abandon the relationships you have with your patrons.

      If you’re interested in looking at the Dedicant Path materials, you can learn more about ADF membership here: http://www.adf.org/joining/ .

      Let me know if you have any questions about it!

      • Well, I’ve been looking at the ADF and the AODA classes and I’m leaning towards the latter. It’s less expensive and I can preview much of the program on their website. I’ll have to keep thinking about it, but if I do have questions about the ADF classes, I will let you know! And definitely looking forward to reading your own thoughts on the Path.