Long List Time!

(Warning: Content may be very boring to non-ADF folks, and only slightly more interesting to anyone else!)

So at the Clergy Retreat last weekend, at one point when we were discussing what kind of devotional practice we’d expect our clergy to do, we all took turns saying what we did now, including both our ritual/spiritual work and the more administrative/functional things we did for ADF. I only had four things to say, and since one of those was “I’m clergy” it was a little redundant to mention it at the Clergy Retreat. >8) But between that and working on a CTP course about ADF’s structure, I remembered just how many different things I’d done for the org in the last fourteen years. Italicized items are the ones I still do, and I’ll try to keep it brief, starting with SLG offices ands going roughly chronologically:

SLG Outreach Coordinator – A whole three months after I joined in 1996, they put me in charge of getting us and our events listed anyplace I could get us listed for free. I did this for about a year. (This is now called the Public Relations Coordinator.)

SLG Assistant Senior Druid – Fox called me one night in December of 1996 and said he wanted to appoint someone to help him run the Grove. I naturally assumed he meant Johnna, since this was before we found out what her husband had been up to. No, amazingly, he meant me! I did this for not quite three years.

SLG Pursewarden/Registrar – The first office I was actually elected to, making me responsible for collecting membership dues and other funds and keeping the list of members. Thankfully I’d just taken a course in using MS Access and could actually write queries and such for our database. I served the full two years of my term, 1997 to 1999.

SLG Healers’ Guild Chief – Back when our local Guild scene was thriving, I was in charge of the Healers for a few years. I even achieved Journeyman status in herbalism under our teeny-tiny local Healers’ study program, which I now realize is more than the ADF Healers have managed to put together yet.

SLG Senior Druid – Elected in 1999 and three times since. Now that Earrach is no longer Senior Druid of Sassafras Grove, will I be able to surpass his record-setting sixteen years as SD? And would I want to? (Would anyone?)

Member and Chair of the ADF Grove Organizing Committee – The folks who help new Protogroves get started up and become Groves. Only current and former Senior Druids can hold voting positions on this committee, but I joined a year before I became SD as a non-voting member, because I really wanted to help new groups get going. After becoming a voting member when I became SLG SD, I chaired the committee from 2000 to 2003 or thereabouts, stepping down to focus on my clergy work. I’m still a member of the committee, though, and do still mentor Protogroves once in a while.

ADF Office Manager – Yep, I’m one of those hapless non-paid OMs who was either much better than the other hapless OMs, or worse, depending on who you ask. I quickly learned the secret to being seen as a good OM was responding to e-mail complaints quickly, even if I couldn’t do anything about it for a week or two. People like to feel like someone’s doing something about their issue, and e-mail is an amazing way to make them think that. >8) I did this for a year, stepping down when I was elected SD.

ADF Warriors’ Guild Chief – Me, a Warrior? With no military experience? I did study and practice aspects of warrior spirituality, though, and managed to get onto the Council of Honor and then to Guild Chief for a few years.

ADF Guildmaster – The office that only existed for about three months in 1999. The Mother Grove decided that having a representative for all the ADF Guilds on the board would be a good idea, and then I won the election (being Warriors’ Guild Chief at the time), then they decided it wasn’t a good idea after all and got rid of the office entirely. And thus passed my two months on the Mother Grove, at least until…

ADF Great Lakes Regional Druid – I was elected in 2001 and served the full two years of my term. I had such lovely plans to travel around the region and visit the Groves and Solitaries there, but being laid off from my computer programming job killed that dream toot sweet. This was back when the regions were divided by watershed boundaries rather than geopolitical ones, which I thought was a wonderful idea for a pagan group, but just about everyone else found too confusing. I probably wouldn’t have wanted a second term anyway, but when it became official that we were no longer using watersheds, I knew I would never want to be a Regional Druid/Director again, and I’ve turned down a few nominations since then.

Registrar of the ADF Magicians’ Guild and the ADF Healers’ Guild – Not much more to this than maintaining the membership rosters of the two Guild from roughly 1999 to 2009. The new database functions on the ADF Web server that would have made this much easier were introduced shortly after I finally managed to get someone else to take the offices. Feh.

Member of the ADF Clergy Council – I was consecrated – no, wait, we’re calling it “ordained” now – at our Grove’s Imbolc rite in 2002, when Fox showed up and performed it during the rite without even mentioning it to me beforehand. Skip, as ArchDruid, did a more formal version at our Lughnasadh festival (the last one we did at Emrich) later that year. And somehow I’ve managed to get the work done to maintain my credentials every year since.

Basileus(Chief) of the Hellenic Kin – After the guy who founded the Kin left ADF, I took over, in part just because the bylaws he’d written specified that the Basileus had to be a member of the clergy if at all possible. I did this from 2004 to 2007 or so, but with no money to travel to festivals during that time, I couldn’t do much more with it than try to keep the e-mail list active.

Archivist of the ADF Liturgists’ Guild – Elected not quite a year ago, I’m responsible for archiving things on the Guild’s section of the ADF Web site, which I will totally get back to doing as soon as my desktop system is working again. Whenever that is. Gods I hate all laptop keyboards.

And I think that’s it. Have I really been here that long? Did I really used to do all those things at once before I was a Senior Druid and a Priest? Ah, but ADF was a smaller organization back then, and now there are actually other people to do things and I can focus on being a Priest. Now all I need to do is get someone trained to be the next Senior Druid of SLG…

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

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Tredara And Back Again, Again

Ah, yet another “day late” post, although I was expecting it this time. After the weekend’s activities in Ohio, I stopped by the world’s biggest corn maze in Dundee on the way home. (Odd how I seem to be spending my days off walking only slightly less than I do at work!)

I spent the weekend at Tredara for the ADF Clergy Council Retreat, the second one I’ve been able to attend, and being car-capable I got there in about half the time of the bus ride from last year. I got there early enough for the opening rite this time, so of course it started an hour or so late. >8) After that there ws some socializing before I went to bed, or maybe I should say went to table, in A.J.’s camper. Yep, that’s the problem with having twenty-one people (the largest gathering of ADF Clergy ever, I think) show up for the retreat: limited space. Last year I ended up getting the camper to myself, this time both beds were taken and I ended up on the padded table in between. One of those rare times I like being shorter than most folks!

Saturday morning brought discussions of Michael’s proposed changes to the CTP, and of the terms we use for our First, Second, and Third Circle Priests, which we had all sorted out by… 2:30? We didn’t get that much finalized all weekend last year. Were we all in a agreeable mood this time around? Hard to say.  It did give us extra time for photo-taking, which we needed after everyone’s camera batteries seemed to stop working. (Aha, maybe there really was some weird energy bouncing around!) I’m not sure if these will be visible to everyone, but have a look here and here.

Dinner was potluck ( all very good stuff, though I admit I missed having Chinese food like we did last year) and then we went out to the big nemeton in the back for our evening ritual, which was amazing. I can’t say much about it because it’s one of the few secret-ish things we Clergyfolk have, but if you remember my comparisons of all-Clergy ritual to an all-star game from earlier posts, and then imagine the most Clergy ever in one place doing it, well there you go.

I went to bed early Saturday night, blast this early work schedule making 11 PM late for me, and was occasionally woken up by the voices of Ian and others on the back porch talking until around 4 AM. I still think I shoulda just gotten up and gone there, even if I was too tired to talk, the listening would have been worth it!

On Sunday morning (and how old am I that I can’t believe people were up before 9 after all of that?), we discussed a few more issue before everyone headed home. Again, making the trip in half the time was nice, much as I love the idea of mass transit.

So, yep, it was a wonderful weekend and a great chance to see everyone again, and I’m already eager for Wellspring to get here!

Next week: After one of our discussion points from the retreat, I’ve decided to up a list of every different office I’ve held with SLG and ADF since I joined in 1996. Will I overload the server? Can I even remember them all? Will anyone believe that there was ever such a thing as “the ADF Guildmaster”? Check in and find out!

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

One Pilgrimage Plus Three-Quarters Of A Walk

Alas, another late entry, maybe I should just cheat and say that all entries between Fall Equinox and Samhain will be on Mondays from now on?

Not that I don’t have a decent excuse this time, after the day I had yesterday. In the early afternoon, I took part in Crop Walk, the fundraiser that Jen suggested we get involved with. Sadly, i was both the only one from SLG to show up for the walk and the only one to donate any money. Not that I should be too surprised, with as little money as we’ve been getting from our own fundraising for the last several years. But having some other folks to walk with me would have been nice, especially since they probably could have talked me out of doing the 6 mile course instead of the 1 mile course. Yesterday saw a new record high temperature in Ann Arbor, which didn’t exactly help with the walking, but even then I think I could have finished the longer course (I do more walking than that during an average day at work) except that I needed to be somewhere at 5 PM, and 4 found me two miles short of the finish line and needing a rest break. So I called Rodney, who was nice enough to come pick me up and take me back to the start/finish line, and as I waited there, I looked over the map they’d given us, and found the phone number for us to call if we needed to be picked up and driven back. Oops! Rodney dropped me off at Seventh St. and I walked the last half mile, so I at least managed to walk 75% of the long course.

The pre-walk events and post-walk meal (which I ate quickly before dashing off) were at Zion Lutheran Church, and I experienced my usual sense of “steeple envy”, between an impressive building and a large congregation and 150 years of effort. They actually had photos of every confirmation class or whatever the Protestants call them) from 1860 to 2005 on display there. Will SLG live to be that old? Obviously I won’t be around to find out – not in this lifetime, anyway – but it’s something I often wonder.

I did manage to get to Rod and Liz’s house just after 5, Noal was there and Gen arrived a bit later, and together we made our pilgrimage to the Manannan Shrine. It’s amazing how much easier it is to find when the sun’s still up! The changing colors of the leaves on the trees were visible all around the lake, which was amazing. Our bell is still hanging from one of the trees, but we need to bring another Grove necklace next time, we can’t find any trace of it. I had meant to collect some water for use at our Samhain ritual, but forgot to ring a bottle. (Given that we’ve been talking about putting more of an emphasis on the Ancestors this year, that may actually work out for the best.) After we returned to Ann Arbor, we went to Evergreen for dinner before heading home, maybe Chinese food should become part of the shrine pilgrimage tradition?

Next week, I’ll be at the ADF Clergy Council Retreat, so look for another day-late entry then. >8)

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

Different Mothers Than Others?

Apologies for posting a day later than usual again this week, the getting-the-basement-apartment-unpacked efforts went into high gear this week with the arrival of new bookcases so I can actually get things out of boxes. Hopefully I can get back to Sunday posting next week, though with a charity walk and a trip to our Manannan shrine both scheduled for that day, maybe I should keep my expectations a little lower!

Oh, by the way, I’m doing a charity walk next Sunday, and you can still donate money to it. And we’re having a Manannan shrine visit later in the day, which I highly recommend to anyone who can attend! You can read about last year’s trips here and here.

Anyway, last weekend I went up to Lansing to attend Cedarsong Grove’s High Day rite, since it wasn’t on the same weekend as ours, which always makes attendance easier. In addition to having a good time there and seeing many people I like but don’t get to see very often, it makes an interesting case study to the liturgist in me. I seldom get to see how other Groves do their rites. I do get to see the big rites we do at festivals, sure, but those are a very different experience. ADF’s regular rites, done by our Groves out there across the globe, with non-ADF folks in attendance to experience public ritual, that’s where the real work of ADF and Isaac’s vision happens, IMO.

On big difference I see with, well, just about every other Grove out there, is the call to the Earth Mother at the beginning and end of each rite. “But wait”, I hear the ADF folk saying, “isn’t that a required part of the Core Order of Ritual that we’re all supposed to be using for our High Days?” And that’s true. But we in SLG do it a bit differently, in that we honor our River Mother, Ana, instead. “Well, that’s the same thing. right?” I hear many of those same folk saying. And it’s an acceptable variation in ADF’s eyes, sure. But it always feels so different to me. Working with a local goddess of place has certainly skewed my senses of such things, I’m sure. But there’s an immediacy to working with a local goddess that I’ve just never felt with the Earth Mother. I’ve heard the argument that even if the Ancients did honor local goddesses of place, that our modern consciousness thinks in terms of the planet as a single place, especially now that we can see pictures of the Earth from space. But it still seems too distant for me to really feel that connection, and I’m betting most of my Grovemates feel similarly.

But in the end, in this Grand Experiment That Is ADF, I’m glad that we have more than one way of viewing our relationship with nature and the land, and I’m very happy for those who honor the Earth Mother in their rites. Well, except for the one it that always strikes me as silly: Why do we need to bend down and touch the earth during the invocation? If we do that to “strengthen our connection” with her, doesn’t that imply that we’re not really connected to her the rest of them time? Or that touching her with our feet doesn’t count? And even if I didn’t have those concerns, I guess there’d be no good equivalent for honoring a river mother by bending down and touching something, unless we were standing in the river at the time. We could pass a bowl of river water around the circle, but that would take way too long and violate our “try not to pass things around the circle more than twice” rule of ritual design.

And then there’s the issue of what to do with Hellenic rites – since the Greeks honored Hestia first and last at their rituals, should we consider her a Fire Mother and use her in place of the Earth Mother? Nah, I kid, I kid. A fire deity as a connection to nature would be tricky to implement, at best, and hearth goddesses are so strongly identified with our human community that I don’t think it could be done.

Well, whichever way you honor the space you’re in, may you be blessed by it!

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF