Archdruid Blog

News from the Archdruid – Mid Vernal/Autumnal Equinox Season 2018 To begin, please let me cite our ADF Constitution to emphasize how we feel on matters of discrimination: Article 5: Discrimination 4.Proven communication or behavior that discriminates against any person based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, disability, or any otherwise virulently offensive language shall be grounds for expulsion from ADF. This does not include strong verbal statements about the theology, history, or psychological characteristics of other religions. There have been a number of issues in front of the Mother Grove and I would like to discuss them here. First and foremost, ADF Elections have just completed and we wish to thank all the individuals that participated as candidates, and also to those who participated in the vote. The newly elected positions are: Rev. Sean Harbaugh – Vice Archdruid Desiree Cook – Member’s Advocate Jenn Hatter – Non-Officer Director Rev. Lauren Mart – Non-Officer Director Shaz Cairns – Asia-Pacific Regional Druid Rev. Amber Doty – Central Regional Druid Rev. Nancy McAndrew – Southeast Regional Druid I would like to congratulate each and every one of these individuals and I look forward to working with them in the very near future. To the following outgoing Mother Grove members, I thank you for your service to both the Mother Grove and to ADF: Rev. Carrion Mann – Vice Archdruid Selene Tawny – Non-Officer Director Electronic Oak Leaves – as of this morning, the dream of an electronic version of our exceptional Oak Leaves publication has become a reality. The Mother Grove has voted to make Oak Leaves available at a reduced cost for our membership. Details will be forthcoming. ADF Store to be an on-line only store – the Mother Grove has voted to make the ADF Store an on-line only store. It will continue to be available via the website and offer the products it is known for. The Clergy Council currently does a healing working around the last quarter of the Moon each month. We put together a list of individuals who have agreed to be on the list, and we do a collective working around a certain time. Would there be interest among the Folk for doing the same kind of activity monthly? If so, please drop me a note at nightdrum@juno.com. Perhaps we can set this up through the Healer’s Guild. I hope that everyone’s Spring/Autumn is going well, and if you have any comments and/or suggestions, please feel free to send them along. Vernal and Autumnal Blessings, Rev. Jean (Drum) Pagano Archdruid ADF  
Greetings! This has been a busy Imbolc season for ADF. First and foremost, we had forty members of Leadership take Cherry Hill Seminary's Consent Culture course, beginning in late January 2018. Cherry Hill kindly extended us a generous discount for signing up so many members - Thank you, Cherry Hill! - and one former and one current Archdruid donated 25% each towards the total cost of the course. This was not an easy undertaking for the Leadership group. We really didn't know what to expect from the course since we had roughly one week to sign up and begin the course. This was also a very challenging course for a number of leaders who were themselves victims of sexual abuse. Revisiting difficult and painful topics such as sexual abuse - especially when one was victimized - made for some difficult times for some leaders. In my eyes, I want to thank all the leaders that did take the course. I wanted our leaders to be exposed and made aware of the topics of what exactly a Consent Culture is, what it entails, and how to make ADF - especially ADF groups - safe for our members. Those who completed the course were awarded course credit in Cherry Hill seminary. The Mother Grove recently brought on a new Public Relations Director. Richelle Stephens came to us through a request for applications from the membership. We are very fortunate to have her on board. ADF Elections are now under way. Our Election Officer, Bonnie Landry, also came to us through an application request from the membership. The election began on March 15th and continues through April 15th. The Mother Grove is currently reviewing applications for Office Manager. The Office Manager position was vacated last year with the untimely death of Hugh Hampton, long-time ADF Office Manager and friend. Selene has been acting as Interim Office Manager until a new Office Manager is selected. The vision of an Electronic Oak Leaves is becoming a reality. The Mother Grove just passed a motion to make the option of electronic Oak Leaves available to members, so members can choose electronic, hard-copy, or both. Details will be made available in the coming weeks. A Blessed end to the Imbolc/Lughnasadh season for our members all across the globe and may there be balance as the Equinox comes to our world very soon. She Knows The Earth Mother knows all souls, All languages, All hearts. The deep waters that flow within her Are the rivers of our lives, Flowing and rippling Until they find their way to the sea. The waters evaporate into the sky, They fall as rain, And absorb, Until we come again. -Drum, late Imbolc 2018    
News from the Archdruid Early Imbolc 2018 Greetings! I just returned from Texas Imbolc in Texas and I must admit it is an excellent ADF festival, full of excellent workshops, rituals, and wonderful fellowship. Held at the beautiful U-Bar-U Ranch, it is a great way to begin the festival season. As I mentioned last month, I would like to begin each ADF festival with the first workshop addressing Consent and I am very pleased to announce that the first workshop at this festival was an airing of the “Consent Tea” video followed by a discussion with the attendees. The Mother Grove voted today 8 for and one abstain to appoint Richelle Stephens as our new PR Director. Richelle’s application came to us via our solicitation for applications. We are very excited to have her join our PR and Social Media team – welcome, Richelle! FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Mother Grove Approves New Public Relations Manager Members of the Mother Grove have voted to approve Richelle Stephens (ADF member #11904) for the position of Public Relations Manager. Stephens is a solitary practitioner in southern Colorado, and joined ADF in 2017. She currently works as a producer in the television news industry, and has experience with video/audio/graphics editing, marketing, and producing content for Web and social media. Stephens’ academic research into reporting on issues of diversity and culture was presented at the First Conference on Louisiana Studies in 2009. She is also developing a blog on full-time RV living. “I am excited to have someone of Richelle’s caliber help us with our Public Relations work and with our social media presentation,” said Rev. Jean “Drum” Pagano, ADF’s current Archdruid. Contact: Richelle Stephens, PR Manager (817) 455-6556 richellestephens2010@gmail.com   New Protogroves announced so far this year: Winter's Gift Protogrove, January 5, 2018 Protogrove of the Singing Oaks Springs, February 5, 2018 Protogrove of the Three Gorges, February 5, 2018   Upcoming Festivals:   Pantheacon – San Jose, California (Pan Pagan) 2/15 – 2/19 ConVocation – Dearborn, Michigan (Pan Pagan) 2/22 – 2/25 *Ghosti-Con – Albany, New York (ADF Festival) 3/22 – 3/25        
Imbolc and Lughnasadh blessings to People all across the world! The seasons and their cross-quarters dance hand in hand across the hemispheres. The increasing light of Imbolc and the great fires of Lughnasadh give us cause to celebrate!  
Imbolc and Lughnasadh blessings to People all across the world! The seasons and their cross-quarters dance hand in hand across the hemispheres. The increasing light of Imbolc and the great fires of Lughnasadh give us cause to celebrate!  
A Call to the Nature Spirits   It is cold this winter. Too cold. I feed a couple of outdoor cats and I stopped seeing one of them in mid-December. It is now the end of January and I fear the worst for her, although I remain always optimistic for her return. The life of an outdoor creature is a difficult one anytime of the year. It is especially difficult now. Everyday, I put food out for my outdoor cats. Every evening I do the same. My other outdoor cat, Ghost or *Ghosti or Ghost-y, comes everyday, often twice, and dines on the offerings I put outside. After the first cold snap in Dec ember, I became worried for these gentle creatures. When I have a concern, especially beyond the ability I have to care, I turn to the Earth Mother or the Kindreds for help. I thought that if anyone would understand the plight of outdoor animals, it would be the spirits of nature themselves. I believe that the spirits of nature are instrumental in teaching us about the cyclical nature of reality in our world. They are born, they grow, the flourish, they diminish, and they pass away. Like us. Some of them go through these cycles on an annual basis; others go through it over the course of time. Like us. While I put out food and shelter for the animals in my world, I begin to think of the other kindred spirits who are struggling with this weather like my friends do. What can I do to help on a grander scale than my offerings of food and shelter on the front porch? I know that my animal friends are not alone in this harsh season. I know there are others, just like mine. I act locally by the things I do here, but I truly feel that by calling upon the ubiquity of the Nature Spirits, that I can help not only my own friends, but all of the other creatures that may need. Will my offerings be enough to change the reality for millions upon millions of outdoor animals? Probably not. I may help one. I may help a few. I may help an ever-increasing number. Yet, through my practice, I can only do so much. Therefore, I put together a prayer that I say during my daily devotionals (they keep growing!) and I wanted to share that prayer with you. Here it is: Hail, Nature Spirits! I call out to you today, In this time of cold And harsh weather. Please, watch over Those Nature Spirits who are Least able to fend for themselves: Give them food, Give the shelter, Protect them from harm, I pray you, Nature Spirits Accept these offerings from my hands, Through yours, Into the places where they will do the most good.   The offerings I made were ones of food and shelter. I felt that these were offerings of immediacy and speak to the matter at hand. In my prayer, I ask for the Nature Spirits to protect the at-risk animals from harm – this is where the magical protection comes into play. What exactly can the Nature Spirits do? Will they keep all animals safe from harm? I think probably not. But I do believe, in my small corner of the world, that perhaps the animals at risk will find a place where they can stay out of the elements, either those that I have created, or those small, out of the way places where animals may find shelter. I believe that offerings and prayers are the things we can do to nudge the universe. I believe that the magic that the Nature Spirits can do is to nudge the physical universe in small ways as to make passage ways open, to make safety and shelter available, where it was seemingly not available before. This is my belief. It is not difficult for us to relate to the Ancestors – we all have someone that has passed from this world into the next. We can still remember them, we can still recall our interactions, we can still feel their presence in our world. They were there, and now they are not. It is not difficult for us to conceptualize of the Gods and Goddesses, the Shining Ones. When we first experienced need, or wonder, or piety, we put a face, a feeling, a sense to those entities that we call the Gods. We may not be able to picture them in our minds, but we have a sense for who they are. It is difficult, I believe, for us to conceptualize of the Nature Spirits. They are the entities closest at hand to us. They are here, living with us in this middle realm, our Earth. The Earth of the Nature Spirits and the Earth of we humans is here together, yet we may never see them. We may find that the unseen among the Nature Spirits are hard to fathom, are just beyond our understanding. Yet, I feel that they are there, waiting. By offering them the hospitality of your home or your environs, you acknowledge them and allow for a deeper relationship to blossom and develop. The Nature Spirits, in my mind, know those secret and hidden places that our animals friends can use to survive in this harsh time. The Nature Spirits cannot help alter the weather, but I truly believe that they can help other animals endure the weather and flourish. I will make my offering and my prayers. I remain optimistic.  
I am writing you today to inform you that Rev. Carrion Mann has resigned as ADF Preceptor effective 31 October 2017. Carrion first took over the job of ADF Preceptor in November of 2014 and was instrumental in implementing some needed changes in the office and the Council of Lore. I want to thank her for her hard work and dedication. Carrion will remain as a resource during the transition to the new ADF Preceptor. I have asked Rev. Rowen Grove to take over the job of ADF Preceptor and she has accepted. Rowen has been an ADF member since 2010. She finished her DP in 2012, became an Initiate in 2014, completed the Seers Guild Study Program also in 2014, and was Ordained as an ADF priest in 2016. She is a co-founder and Senior Druid of Chokecherry Grove in Denver, Colorado. She is currently working on the Generalist Study Program and the 2nd Circle of the Clergy Training Program. Please join me in welcoming Rowen as ADF Preceptor.  
We send out our hearts and prayers to the victims and families of those killed or injured in Las Vegas. It is impossible to understand the wanton disregard for life in such events but we pray for healing and peace. To this end, we make offerings in memory and hope.
A Setting Sun Leave a reply I watched the sun setting tonight, deep and red, a sign of things passing and the long quiet road to the West. We look to the Sun as a guidepost: the morning Sun is new and hopeful; the evening Sun is mournful and passing. I felt that passing tonight. As I looked to the West, I recalled that my path tomorrow is to the East and Pittsburgh for the memorial service for a man I called a friend and a teacher, Earrach of Pittsburgh. Earrach passed into the realm of the Ancestors on the 31 of August. He was 63. Earrach was one of what I called ADF Legacy Priests. He was Ordained, along with five other priests, in 2002. In the early days when there was a dearth of priests in ADF, Earrach took up the mantle and wore it like dignity. It always fit him perfectly in my eyes. I found Earrach to be an amazing priest full of wisdom and patience and most of all grace. I think that Earrach was sometimes uncomfortable with his mantle of priest, but he was a damn good priest. I listened to Earrach talk about the Sun, a lot – it was a topic that he was passionate about. Really, without the Sun, where would we be? Like the rest of us, Earrach had good times and bad. The good times are easy. He was awarded recognition at Wellspring when I was Vice Arch Druid for Excellence in Blogging. His blogging was insightful and he had a large body of work to his credit: the Book of Sassafras is a masterwork, almost a Druidic Proustian offering. It is a collection of Earrach through and through. His marriage to Diana Paar was also what I consider good time.  He also had loss and you can often judge a person by how they deal with loss. When Earrach experienced loss, he persevered. I was always amazed at his poise . Regardless of the situation, Earrach kept to the plan. He continued to do the work as though it was the first day of that work and the end of that work was never the issue. He had a keen and Capricornian understanding and appreciation of duty and that-which-must-be-done. I sat with him as he discussed his “Heresies”, his Druidic ideas that weren’t necessarily orthodox, but which were nevertheless representative of his belief and his practice. He thought about things, he wrote about things, and he did those things. Earrach did not pose or pretend; he was the real deal. When he read an invocation to the Earth Mother, he wasn’t performing a part, he was expressing a prayer, a belief, an understanding. If Earrach said it, he meant it and he believed it. I honour the genuine nature of his presentation and his soul. I spent a weekend with Earrach helping him with some study matters. It was an interesting combination of learning and detailed discussion around certain topics, mixed with feline matters and numerous trips to his library. He was a man in motion. He looked to the stars and taught others about the wonders of the heavens. He touched a lot of people. He touched my life. When I was told that he had passed, I could only think of a photo I had seen of him looking up at the eclipse. I wrote this poem for him: Oh the Journeys through Space! Not that long ago, You looked up at the Sun And the Moon, As they neared And joined And parted; The vibrant glow of the Sun Visible to all As the Moon absorbed all of the light. Oh the journeys in space!   How much time did you spend Looking And teaching And speaking about the stars? And the heavens? And the Shining Ones above? You used Sun And glass And geometry To make fire From the heavens Descend to the Earth. Oh the journeys through space!   And now, unfettered, You are free to soar Among the cosmos, Between the stars, Behind the moon on any given night. Where you once looked up from this little place Wondering what the heavens did hold, You now have a panoply of worlds To find, To visit, To share, As you look down onto this little place. Share them with us now, As an Ancestor and a friend. Oh the journeys through space!   Tomorrow, my friend, we honour your work, your person, and most of all your legacy at your memorial service. It will be a time of celebration, recollection, and most of all remembrance with an eye to the most important thing of all right now: the Work Continues. A life is a collection of events that stretch from birth to death and all points in between. A legacy, a living legacy, is that work continuing through others, like a planted field full of wonder and hope. We will bring water to nourish that field; we will bring blessings to praise that memory; we will bring our desire to continue that dream. Earrach, my friend, the Work Continues. Let’s do it together.  
Gastfreundschaft   My goodness, how times flies. Some things diminish with the passage of time, others, blessed with a Proustian resilience, stay fresh and vibrant for long after the fact. I recently travelled to Germany to ordain our first European Priest, Rev. Elen Schibli-Lazzaro, and this is one of those events that is indelibly etched in my memory. We are an offering religion, offerings based on the concept of *ghosti, or hospitality. I am always touched when I find myself in a new or unusual situation and am met by spontaneous hospitality. It renews my faith in humanity and also in my religion. I recently traveled to Europe to meet with Druids and to ordain our first European priest, Rev. Elen Schibli-Lazzaro. What I found as I hopped from Luxembourg City to Frankfort and then to Padenborn was a different country and a different people. From the air, I saw wind turbines everywhere I looked and interesting stone formations every here and there. I was impressed with what I saw from the air.  I was met at the airport and while I had spoken to Elen on Facebook, email, and the telephone, I did not know what to expect when I arrived. What I was soon to learn about my hosts was their kindness and hospitality. I found this to not only be the case with my hosts, but with every person who passed through their door. Over the next few days, I was made to feel very welcome. On the day of arrival, we did some sightseeing and saw some amazing sights. We went to the Externsteine, which is a sandstone formation in the Teutoburg Forest. There were carvings and grottos, altars and enclosures, things of great beauty and age. The topmost photograph was a small carved-out area that has an altar-like area within it and I was drawn to the circular opening in the rock on a location known as the Höhenkammer, or High Chamber. I have to wonder what that looks like with the Moon shining through, perhaps even on some solstice or equinox. The bottom photograph is known as the Sargstein or tomb stone. This type of structure is called an Arcosolium and I must say that laying in it was a moving experience. The cool temperature of the stone and the depth of the carving generated a very calming and grounding feeling. The vault overhead echoed when sound was made and I would think that this would be a powerful place for a funeral or initiation. It would make for a profound all-night vigil with the stone overhead, the mountain and grottos behind, and the water very near to the side. The length of the enclosure is approximately 2 meters. One of the other features of this place is a medieval carving known as the Kreuzabnamerelief or Christ’s descent from the cross. It is an image of some complexity, but there is a component on the sculpting which suggests the Irminsul of the Saxons, although there is no archeological evidence to indicate this site’s use during that period. In this image, Nicodemus is standing on the bent-over Irminsul, although his legs have been missing since the 17th century. Our next excursion was to the Doernberg area. The Doernberg is an elevation of 396 meters upon which were reputedly found the remains of a ring wall site from La Tène times. A Celtic fort was to have been located on the highest point of this area. It is an area of stunning views and a great place for quiet reflection. I felt that the wind that has blowing here had many stories to tell. There was a stone formation upon which one could recline and it gave me a feeling of deep peace and grounded-ness. I could feel the Earth Mother’s presence everywhere around this location. There was also a small labyrinth located on the site which we walked and given the location, the subtle wind blowing, and the general feeling of peace that surrounded the entire area, I found the walk to me quite moving. Being treated to such interesting and historical sites was a wonderful gift from my hosts. There were many more instances of hospitality for me to experience. On the day of the Ordination, people from different parts of Germany arrived. They were so very different and such good guests (from the guest perspective that I enjoyed). They weren’t here to celebrate ADF per se, but the ordination of one of their own, a new German and European priest. People spoke German, French, English, and probably a few other languages. People wore different attire, clothing which represented their traditions, their philosophies, and perhaps even their locations. Many people stopped to speak with me and I was very pleased to speak with people who spoke English so well. I had a fascinating discussion with a philosophy student concerning his views, especially some interesting thoughts about gift economies. The concept of a gift economy is especially interesting to people who follow a path of hospitality. As a participant in the ordination rite, I was honoured to be a part of this historic occasion and pleased to see the progress that this priest had made. I am very encouraged by our European presence and especially excited about the first of what I believe will be more priests. As an observer in the ordination rite, I loved to see the various people and their presentations, both is clothing and in attitude. Everyone made me feel welcome and I felt a kinship to these wonderful people. I felt like a novelty at this event, but these people, these kind people, made me feel like one of them for an afternoon. As the ceremony ended and the celebrations began, many people stopped by to say “hello”, paused to talk, and openly shared their thoughts and joys at the days events. I was like a sponge, absorbing the wonders of the days, and holding on to this feeling with a great desire to make it last, in my recollection, and in the workings of the future, both in Europe and around the world. I had a dream of seeing ADF grow in Europe and that dream was solidified by this ordination event, this priestly and personal success for Elen, and this gathering of peoples to see her become an ADF priest. Our ritual was celebrated in the shadow of a medieval fort, high on a hill. It was like the past was looking down on us in silence and in a gentle, reverent observation. Our many robes of many colours were like flowers in a garden that was blossoming in the late spring. Each observer, each participant was seed, carried to the winds with their departure. This garden became their garden became a patchwork of hopes and good works. The hospitality I experienced from my hosts is difficult to express because of the breadth of caring and sharing that came to pass on those few days in the green fields of this green land. As I walked into the airport and then flew high over the land, I saw the many windmills that stretch across Germany and I thought about the seeds in the garden in Hessen planted by and planted in a group of people, scattered in the winds by the windmills that dot the landscape, borne about by the sunshine of hope and beauty that community bring. We are so much greater when we link hearts and hands in the work of the future. To these people – I will call them friends – I look back and pledge never to forget and I pray that I may return again, like the Nature Spirits remind me each year. I take those seeds and I plant them as words in this story. Please, give them water and sunshine and treat them like a cherished guest, as I was.