Msg#: 3104                                         Date: 10-12-96  01:24
  From: Elf                                          Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: The Circle System of ADF
 >>> Part 1 of 2...

                       The Circle System of A.D.F.
                        (c) 1984 P. E. I. Bonewits
                 Reprinted from "The Druids' Progress" #2

     Some Thoughts on the Training of Neopagan Clergy:

     Theoverwhelming majority of religions on this planet require
manyyears of hard study and training before a woman or a man is
admitted into the ranks of the clergy.  This study and training
usually includes not only the acquisition ofmagical and religious
knowledge, but also the mastering of skills insuch diverse areas as
counseling, teaching,art, music, drama, dance and the basics of what
each culture has in the way of science and technology.
     AmongthePaleopagan Druids,this training may have takenaslong
as twenty years.  In the modern western world,outside of a few
fundamentalist denominations, this training is done through several
years (as many as ten or twelve in some groups) of college level
classes and experiences.
     However,for several reasons,there is no universally (or even
commonly) accepted system of qualifications for Neopagan clergyhood.
Most Neopagan magical/religousgroups are outgrowths of the 60's
counterculture,and theythus have strong egalitarian dogmas.  The
idea that clergy could be "better" than themembersof their
congregations,in any way at all,hasbeenrepugnant enoughtobe
nearly "heretical."  The Protestant Christian idealofevery person
(or at least every man) being their own minister has been acceptedby
manyNeopagans without examination of the historical or magical causes
behind the creation of that ideal.
     AsI have mentioned before,Neopagans have a tendency to be
strong individualistsandare often extremely distrustful of both
leaders andorganized political structures.  Most Neopagan groups
prefer to stress informal collective decision making.  Such factors
are especially prevalent in the more self-consciously feminist
Neopagan groups,such as those now calling themselves the "Dianic
Craft."  This is understandable, since the overwhelming majorityof
mainstream religious heirarchies have been grossly male-chauvanistic,
at least insofaras the extent of overt power has been concerned.
(Oddly enough,the religiousgroups that have been run by the worst
MCPs are often the onesmost dependentuponthe support of and covert
power manipulations by theirwomen members!)
     Inanyevent,thanks to these and other factors,the very
conceptsof religiousorganizationalstructureandofspecialized
qualificationsfor clergyhoodhavebeen discarded by many people as
maleplotsagainstwomen.  Most Neopagan groups,because they tend to
be supportive of the feminist movement, have gone unquestioningly
along with this assessment.
     Most Neopagans who become priests or priestesses do not attain
their positions because they have studied, mastered and then
demonstrated specific skills releventtotheir chosen roles.  Rather,
they become members of theclergy because (a)they have belonged to
the group for a minimum length of time, (b) theirhouseis the one
everyone meets at,(c)they are so nice thatnobody wantstohurt
their feelings by denying them a higher rank thantheyreally deserve,
and/or (d) they have gotten very close to the High Priest/ess.
     Althoughindividualorganizations occasionally have clearly
definedand strictlyenforced standards for their own clergy,those
standards are seldom applied outside of such groups.  And having any
kind of standards at all is the exception, not the rule.
     Does it matter?  For nondruidic groups, perhaps not.  Many
Neopagan traditionsseem to get along just fine (or think they do)
without a highly trained clergyatall.  Asurprisingly large number
of Neopagan clergy havebecome competent through sheer experience (the
old "sink or swim"method).  Yet being a priestess or priest is not an
easy task,as most of us have found out.  In order to keep up with the
demands made upon us,we wind up needing the skills and knowledge of
magicians,psychics, polytheologians, therapists, scientists, artists,
dramatists,politicians,public relationsexpertsandhealers.
Juggling all these activities,when our training was haphazard at
best,makes for a frustrating and difficult "career" in the Neopagan
     Nowaddinthe fact that Neopagans currently have astrong
prejudice againstpaying their clergy any money at all,let alone
enough money to allow themto function as fulltime religious workers.
This forces us to studyand practiceour clergyhood on a part-time
basis,usually while holding down full-time jobs in the mundane world.
     Put it all together, and you have a splendid recipe for creating
frazzled, scattered,incompetent, but very sincere priests and
priestesses who,if they take their responsibilities at all seriously,
suffer professional burnout after onlyafewyears.  They then leave
the community,takingwiththemwhat knowledge and training they have
managed to accumulate.
     I've suffered this sort of burnout myself, and seen several of my
fellow clergy go down in flames.  I would rather this did not happen
with ADF.  It's a topic I've been thinking about for many years and
which I've discussed at great length with my sibling clergyfolk.
     Now here's my plan.....

     Going around in Circles:

     To begin with, I'm stealing the idea of using "Circles" of
development and commitmentfrom the old Church of All Worlds,who in
turn got itfrom Robert A.Heinlein's _Stranger in a Strange Land_
(see Margot Adler's _Drawing Down the Moon_ fordetails).  Everyone's
familiar with the idea of"innercircles" that secretlyrun
supposedly democratic groups.  In point of fact, everylarge
organizationis actually run by a small number of people,regardless
ofwhat theymaytellthe general public.  This is due to factors
involvinghuman communication capabilities and varying degrees of
dedication,as well aswith the commonly mentioned (and less ethical)
motives of greed and power-hunger.
     WithADF,Iwant everything to be as open and aboveboardas
possible.  We'restartingoutby stating that our structure is oneof
circleswithin circles.  The more hard work,dedication and time a
person is willing to put intoADF,thefurther they will progress
towards theinnercircleswhere increasingpowerand responsibility
will be wielded.  But we will never put pressure upon anyone to go
further or faster than they are ready to go.
     I could have chosen other symbols for this system.  Ladders, for
example, oreven climbing a tree (that's both Druidic and
Shamanistic!),would provide an image that would be very hierarchical.
But such climbing images also imply (a)that people "on top" are
spiritually better than those "below" them,and (b) that only a few
people can be on any given level at a time.
     Or we could use a pyramidal structure, which allows more people
to beon the lower levels,with fewer and fewer near the top.  But
that symbolism would makesome folks think we were running an
imitation of the Catholic Church,or even (Danu forbid!) a "pyramid
     Theadvantage of using the images of circles within circles is
that all ofthecirclescan be viewed as being on the samehorizontal
plane.  As mortals,we all stand upon the same Earth,and no matter
how high a treeor building we might climb, the stars are just as far
above us as they always have been.
     It'sprobablethatmanypeoplein theinnercircleswillbemore
"spiritually evolved" than those in the outer circles, at least if our
training system is doing what it's supposed to do.  But it's also
entirely likelythat somepeople will choose to stay in the outer
circles for personal reasons that havenothing to do with their
spiritual development.  For this reason,we're going to try to avoid
referring to "higher"and "lower" circles, even if we do use a
numbering system for them.  Instead, we'll call them "inner" and
"outer" circles, and talk about "inward" and "outward" movement
between circles.
     CurrentlyI'm thinking in terms of five Circles, the Fourth and
Fifth of which are now unpopulated.  The Circles indicate particular
degrees of commitment, of knowledge acquired, of experience gained,
and of skills mastered.
     TheFirst Circle is composed of people who have dedicated
themselvesto learning about Paganism in general and Druidism in
particular.  Most of them do notintendtostudy for the clergyhood,
but they dodesirebothNeopagan fellowshipand a course of Druidic
study.  This is the Circle that, tenor twenty years from now, will
constitute the bulk of our congregations.
     TheSecond Circle is for those who have decided that they want to
takea greater role in the affairs of a local grove, or to organize
one if none exists in their area.  Some of the members of this Circle
will be preparing themselves to become priests and priestesses through
studying for the Third Circle.
     Membership in the Third Circle will be a rough equivalent of
having gained aBachelor's Degree at a good university,and will also
be the minimum Circle for holding clergy credentials from ADF.  Third
Circle members will be running localgroves and performing all the
duties of the clergy,includingtraining members of the outer circles.
     Preparationforthe Fourth and Fifth Circles will parallel
studies for Master's and Doctoral Degrees.  Further Circles will
correspond to"post-doctoral" work.
     (Wheredo I fit into this system?  As an individual Druid,I
consider myself to be in the Third Circle, with the Fourth still a
couple of years away.  As the Archdruid of ADF, I'm in the unnumbered
"innermost Circle" -- but not at the Center.  That spot is reserved
for the More-than-Mortal.)
     Now it's time for some further details on the training system.
We'll look first from the direction of further defining the Circles
themselves,andthen examine the Study Tracks that run through every

        Details on the Circles:

        First Circle:

EntryRequirements:  There are no special requirements for joiningthe
FirstCircle,other than a commitment to working with your advisor
(forthe timebeing,that's me),adesire to learn,and a willingness
to work hard.  Folkswho wish to function in the First Circle should
notify me,andperform some sort of self-dedication ritual (see
elsewhere in this issue).

Study Program:  consists of (a) keeping a journal; (b) reading and
discussingintroductorybooksand attending introductory classesin
thevarious Tracks; and (c) beginning practical work in some of the

MinimumDuration& Testing:  People are expected to normally remainin
this Circle for at least one year,and there is no regular testing
periodfor remaining in this Circle.

GraduationRequirements:  (a)achieving satisfactory results on
testing for all 13Tracks;(b)making an oral or written report on
your First Circle experiences,with a self-evaluation of your
progress; (c)showing and discussing your journal; (d) making a formal
request for advancement; and (e) working with your advisor(s)and
group (if any) to create an appropriate Second Circle initiation.

 >>> Continued to next message...

~~~ ReneWave v2.00 [NR]
-!- Free Speech is...Communication!
 ! Origin: the Burning Times BBS (318)747-5785 (68:68/0)

  Msg#: 3105                                         Date: 10-12-96  01:24
  From: Elf                                          Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: The Circle System of ADF
 >>> Part 2 of 2...

        Second Circle:

Study Program:  (a)more advanced exploration in the various Tracks;
(b) continuing your journal; (c) assisting any First Circle members in
your geographical area.  You may choose a Specialty while in this
Circle, such as healing, teaching, counseling, leading worship,
divination, movement awareness, etc.

Minimum Duration& Testing:  Members would normally stay intheSecond
Circlefor at least two years.  After two years,you must either
retakethe teststhat got you into the Second Circle,or else take
those for theThird.  You can try for the Third at any time after
this,but if you choose to stay in the Second Circle, you must
requalify every other year.

GraduationRequirements:  (a)achieving satisfactory results on
testing for all 13Tracks;(b)making a written or oral report on
your Second Circle experiences,with a self-evaluation of your
progress; (c)showing and discussing your journal; (d) making a formal
request for advancement; and (e) working with your advisor(s)and
group (if any)to create an appropriate Third Circle initiation.

        Third Circle:

StudyProgram:  (a)advanced study and skill gaininginthevarious
Tracks;(b) continuing your journal; (c)assisting First & Second
Circle membersin your area; (d)teaching at least one class --on the
topic ofyour choice -- every year you stay in this Circle;(e)
leading private and public ceremonies,including general worship
celebrations and rites of passage; (f) changing your life's pattern
dramatically --going on the road if you'vebeen settled,settling if
you've been a wanderer,adrastic change of occupation, etc.; (g)
choosing a Specialty if you haven't already.

MinimumDuration & Testing:  Members would normally stay in this
Circle for at least three years.  After three years, you must either
retake the tests that got you into the Third Circle, or else take
those for the Fourth.  You can try for Fourth at any time after this,
but if you choose to stay in theThird Circle, you must requalify
every three years.

GraduationRequirements:  (a)achieving satisfactory results on
testing for all 13 Tracks;(b)making a written or oral report on your
ThirdCircle experiences,with a self-evaluation of your progress; (c)
showing and discussingyourjournal;(d)having successfully run a
healthycongregationand having performed all the routine duties of a
priest/ess for at least two years; (e)making a formal request for
advancement;and (f)creating an appropriate Fourth Circle initiation.

        Fourth Circle:

     Study Program:  (a)continuing advanced study and skills
training; (b) assisting outer Circle members in their work;(c)
spending at least one month inresidencywithyour advisor;(d)
teaching at least oneclassinyour specialtyona continuing basis,
and one other class every year you stayin this Circle; (e) continuing
to perform the usual clerical duties; (f) intensive practice of your
Specialty on a professional basis; and (g)helping to run the national
activities of ADF,as well as leading and advising one or more groves
throughout their time in this Circle.

MinimumDuration & Testing:  Members would normally stay in this
Circle forat least four years.  After four years,you must either
retake the tests that got you into the Fourth Circle, or else take
those for the Fifth.  You can tryforthe Fifth at any time after
this,but if you choose to stay in the Fourth Circle, you must
requalify every four years.

Graduation Requirements:  (a)achieving satisfactory results on tests
for all 13Tracks; (b) making a report on your Fourth Circle
experiences and self-evaluation;(c)writing or producing a thesis on
your Specialty;(d)having trained at least one fully qualified
successor for your grove(s) into the Third Circle;(e)making a formal
petition for advancement; and (f)creating your ordination rite for
the Fifth Circle.

        Fifth Circle:

Study Program:  (a)writing or producing a thesis that ties together
all your studies, in all 13 Tracks; (b) assisting outer Circle
members; (c) practicing your Specialty professionally;(d)supervising
the activities of several groves;(e) helping to run ADF's
international activities; and (f)continuing to grow.

There are no minimum duration,testing or graduation requirements for
the FifthCircle,since the Circles that would be inner ones to this
are notyet defined.

        Details on the Study Tracks:

     Here are the Tracks as I currently conceive of them:  (1)
Survival and Physical Health, (2) Therapy and Conseling, (3)
Communication, (4) Psi, (5) Social Sciences,(6)Physical and
Biological Sciences,(7)Movement Awarenessand Discipline,(8)Art
and Music,(9)Drama and Liturgy,(10)Philosophy and Metaphysics,
(11) Comparative Religion and Mythology,(12)Mysticism and Altered
States of Consciousness, and (13) Interdisciplinary Studies.
     Be aware that,although I'll say "you"throughout this
description,and talkabouttheneeds of clergypeople,not all of
these referenceswillbe releventtoevery one of you reading this,
since some of you maychooseto remain in First or Second Circles.
Right now,and throughout the early years of ADF,amajority of you
are at least interested in studying for the clergy.  Thoseofyou who
want to stay in the First and Second Circles willbecomea higher
proportion of the total membership as time goes by.
     Youshould also note that as I use the term herein,"exploration"
can consist of reading books, attending classes, having an
apprenticeship, etc.

        Track 1 -- Survival and Physical Health:

First Circle:  you explore your own physical environment (urban,rural
or wilderness), in at least two fields of study.  You could learn how
to do simple plumbing, or repair bicycles, or grow a garden, or find
edible wild plants.  You analyze your personal work habits and
interests,and explore availableopportunities for developing
marketable job skills.  Also,you analyze your health andnutritional
patterns,and begin some form of regularphysicalexercise (which can
be from Track 7).

SecondCircle:  youexplore a different environment than theoneyou
usually live in.  You begin efforts to use your job skills to find
satisfying, ethical and growth-oriented employment (working for
yourself or others).  Also, you begin to get rid of harmful physical
addictions,and continue toexercise and practice good nutrition.

ThirdCircle:  you visit a brand new environment and learn its
survival skills.  You earn enough money through right livelihood to
take care ofyour needs, without interfering with the rest of your
life.  You continue your exerciseand nutritional work,and rid
yourself of any remaining physicaladdictions.

FourthCircle:  youlearn total adaptation toaforeignenvironment
(through programs such as "Outward Bound," for example).  You develop
sufficienteconomic prosperity to be able to devote most of your time
and energy to noneconomic activities.

Fifth Circle:  you take full responsibility for the safety and
training of others in an environment new to them.  Purpose:  to make
you confident and competent in dealing with the"Earth Plane" levels
of reality, whether you are fixing machines, living off the land,
programming computers,or raising hogs.  Clergypeople should be
healthy,well "grounded"and practical,if they expect to be of any
value to those whoask for help.

                      Blessed Be!

   "Magick is not something you do, magick is something you are.
   True magicians realize that since they can work magick and affect
   their lives, they are really free to do anything they wish.  True
   magicians also realize that they are responsible for their
   actions.  Thus freedom and responsibility are signs of a magickal
   lifestyle."   -Donald Michael Kraig, _Modern Magick_

... I'm bleeding an unfashionable color! -The Cat
~~~ ReneWave v2.00 [NR]
-!- Free Speech is...Communication!
 ! Origin: the Burning Times BBS (318)747-5785 (68:68/0)