This was originally going to be about flyer design, but I think that’ll wait until later. What I’m in a mood to talk about today is: Why Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF)? Why did I join, why have I stayed, and why did I want to start a group?
My initial hesitancy to join ADF has been documented elsewhere, and I was just talking about how I stumbled upon ADF, but there is the question of where my interest came from. I’d been curious about ADF for a while, ever since stumbling upon them years back. I hadn’t figured out how it all fit together even with all the resources on the web site, and while I had managed to attend a grove rite there was so much going on I didn’t get it. On top of that, my attempts at solitary “genero-Wiccan” ritual hadn’t left me feeling much; it works for many people, but not for me. So my eventual thought was that if I joined, I could learn whether or not ADF was for me. The wide range of Indo-European cultures was a bonus; I wasn’t “locking myself in” to a single-culture practice. On top of that, I was joining for about the same as it would cost me to buy two books.
So I joined — but why did I stay?
The first reason was all the resources that seemed to open up. ADF’s online members-only offerings can be a bit difficult to find the bits you want at first, but my investment of effort paid great dividends. Looking through the sitemap on the members’ site, joining every list of even passing interest, and wandering about the wiki were all useful, as was plugging any concept I didn’t get into the members’ site search. In addition, the large number of people ready to discuss various concepts on the lists helped enhance the offerings for me, as I eventually gave up on trying to manually save all of the worthwhile emails.
The second reason was that ADF’s “system” worked for me. I started walking the Dedicant Path in early 2005. By the beginning of August I found I had made tremendous progress in making it work for me. I had begun to truly feel contact from the Three Kindreds, and I had found interest in a hearth culture that surprised me. I find the cosmology, centering around the idea of a sacred center, truly appeals to me.
The third reason was my view of ADF’s vision. Those who know more about my personal practice know I follow a Norse hearth culture. If I’m doing that, why not just go pure Asatru? From the group perspective, I think it’s important to highlight ADF’s orientation toward public worship. The generally private orientation of Asatru kindreds has its advantages — anyone who has been in a tight-knit group probably could enumerate them. At the same time, meeting new members is made more difficult, and there tend to be more tensions when the group is explicitly made to be family. Additionally, ADF’s wider range of Indo-European cultures interests me, as much from a group standpoint as a personal one — a chance to experience both the differences and commonalities of various I-E Pagan cultures.
Then what made me decide to start a group?
The first part would be my local vision of ADF’s larger vision. A significant part of ADF’s vision is local congregations that Pagans can attend without having to be full-on priests in their own right. Indeed, while ADF’s liturgical format can be said to have roots in Indo-European cosmology (and the RDNA), the format has obvious differences from common Pagan practice that I feel makes it work better for public rites. (The lack of an impassable circle while the rite is going on, for one.)
So, I wanted to help bring this vision to reality through starting a local ADF congregation. While I talked earlier about finding a group…I know, to a degree, it’s much easier to stumble upon a local group than a national one. I started off doing public ritual without being a protogrove, and I began to realize it was important to me personally to provide a local outlet for celebration of the High Days that anyone could attend.
Additionally, I will admit there is a social aspect to my religious impulses. It is easy in some ways to be solitary, but for me, it can be lonely, even with online community. I wanted to try to find others local to me that ADF ritual works for. I can’t say I’ve quite found it, but I do find the discussion post-ritual to often be much more interesting to me than my previous attempts at more general get-togethers (via Meetup).
In the end, this is a way I can give a gift for a gift. I was inclined towards a more public reconstructionist approach, and willing to give the Indo-European cultures as viewed through ADF’s lens a try. Having found it works well for me, I now work to make it available for others, whether they are “lay pagans”, veteran practitioners, or, as is most likely, from the middle ground between.