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.
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.
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?