ADF has always been committed to comprehensive training of its members. Originally, ADF had a single comprehensive Study Program, but we quickly found that a single training program was not well suited to the multitude of needs and training demands that individual members required. We discovered there was a demand for specialty training as healers, artisans, bards, scholars, etc. so we created Guilds for each of those specialties.
Is there one main Study Program, or are there several?
There are many. All ADF study programs have the Dedicant Path as a prerequisite. Beyond that, other programs are offered to help build upon the knowledge gained through the DP, in a direction that the student can choose based on strengths and interests. At present, we have eleven Guilds working on study programs (seven of which have completed their programs). The Clergy Council has approved the Clergy Training Program and the Initiate's Program. Also available is the Generalist Study Program, offering a general background in Druidic studies and offering a core group of courses for for the other study programs to build off.
What is the difference between the Dedicant Path and ADF's other study programs?
The Dedicant Path is an introduction to Our Own Druidry and helps to lay the groundwork for ADF's other study programs. The DP is the first step along the ADF Druidic path. Members who finish the DP may move onto another study program, but no one is expected to do so. The study programs are designed to increase the spirituality and/or scholarship of our members, and can lead to eventual ordination.
What are Guild Study Programs?
ADF's Guild Study Programs offer a main advantage to the student seeking training: members are not tied to the same track as everyone else for advancement. As the Druids of old were not only priests, neither are our members. To that end, we seek to provide training to those who wish to specialize in a variety of directions.
Each of the Guilds has either completed or is working on a Study Program. Currently ADF has the following Guild Study Programs approved: Artisans, Bards, Brewers, Liturgists, Magicians, Naturalists, Scholars, Seers, and Warriors. The study programs currently under development/revision are: Dance, Healers.
Most students, after completing the Dedicant Path, will move on to a Guild Study Program. Each member can choose a program that plays to their personal strengths and interests. We understand that not everyone is a linguist, nor will every person lead public ritual. Some people are primarily attracted to Druidism because it has a strong nature-based component, some to the bardic aspects of poetry and storytelling, while others are drawn to the magic inherent in the cosmos they participate in. In offering Guild Study Programs, we allow our students to choose the best way for them to express their own Druidry.
What is the Generalist Study Program?
The Generalist Study Program (GSP) is something like a liberal arts degree in college, where you learn a bit of everything. The GSP is focused more on academic or intellectual skills, rather than spiritual or pastoral skills. It is designed to serve two functions: 1) to serve those who desire this intellectual foundation, and 2) to provide core courses from which Guilds may draw.
What is the Initiate's Program?
The ADF Initiate Program is a program designed for those who wish to either expand their training beyond the ADF Dedicant Path but do not want a purely academic course of study, or are unsure if they are interested in becoming ADF Clergy.
At the end of this program a student can expect to be a full ADF Initiate and to have done substantial coursework, all of which will count toward Clergy status, should the student wish to pursue that path. While the student may end their studies as an ADF Initiate, this program is also a good interim step between Dedicant and Clergy.
What is the Clergy Training Program?
The Clergy Training Program (CTP) is designed to provide ADF and the Pagan community as a whole with competent, trained clergy. Someone who has completed this training will be have the liturgical and pastoral skills expected of clergy, and will be able to provide and lead the rites that define our lives.
How much time/work is involved in this?
Well, none of the study programs have a time limit set on them, so you can take your time and work through them at your own pace. Most are designed to be worked through one circle per year, and may have three to five circles. That said, the amount of work will vary depending on which study program you are asking about, and how adept you are at the work and how much time you have to devote to it. For instance, for some people math is a subject that takes a lot of work, while for others its concepts are easily grasped. Likewise, students will find that their capability to learn various Druidic skills (such as magic, liturgy, and bardic skills) will vary depending on their ability, and the work one person does will not necessarily reflect the amount another must do.
How much does it all cost?
Most of the study programs are, at present, free. There may be a nominal cost to join the Guild (and of course you must be an ADF member), but once you have done that, there is usually not a cost. It is best to check with the individual Guild, however, for their particular policies before assuming that it's free for everyone.
Do I need to order booklets each month? How often am I sent things?
There are no booklets sent out each month, which allows us to offer training at a lower rate (and save trees, like good Druids). Most of the information for the study programs is available to ADF members on the website. If you are an ADF member and do not have access to the ADF site, or would prefer a hard copy to be mailed, you should contact the preceptor in charge of the study program you wish to work on and request that the ADF office print and send you a copy. There may be a nominal fee involved in this.
So how/when can I get started, what are the requirements, etc.?
First, you need to join ADF. Then you can start on the Dedicant Path which runs about a year in length. After you have completed that, you need to contact the person in charge of whichever study program you are interested in and request the necessary information (such as requirements, book lists, fees, etc.).
What do I get out of the Study Programs?
The easy answer, of course, is that you will get out of it whatever you put into it. Beyond this, though, you will be working with some of the best minds in ADF and learning much (and they, in turn, will also be learning from you). You'll obtain skills that are useful not only in ADF ritual, but in any Neo-Pagan work you do. ADF's Study Programs are like journeys: they are not ends in and of themselves, but they are means to an end. ADF's Study Programs do not entitle you to fancy honors or positions, but it can (and likely will) give you the tools to earn those honors and to fill those positions.
Do I get a personal mentor?
If you require a DP or GSP mentor, you can contact the ADF Preceptor and request that one be assigned. The Guilds and Clergy Council may have a system of mentors set up with varying levels of formality; usually all you need to do is ask, either on a public list, or directly to the preceptor of that Guild/Council.
Where do I ask questions about the programs or about requirements?
The best place to ask questions is to check with the Senior Druid of your local Grove. The most widely accessible and second best sources of information and assistance are the email lists and their archives.
There is an email list set up specifically for those students in the Dedicant Path and one for the Generalist Study Program, and each Guild also has an email list that members can access and ask questions on, thereby receiving a large number of responses to a single question. It is usually the lists that are most helpful to a student.
If you wish to begin Clergy Training, you must contact the Clergy Council and request it. There are no other points of contact available for this type of training.
Can I join ADF and not go through a study program, or even start the Dedicant Path?
Absolutely. Status is not assigned by the movement through study programs in ADF. Not everyone aspires to priesthood, leadership, or even to embark on a training program. The choice is entirely up to you.
I want to order a Study Manual.
As there is not currently a single study program, there is no "Study Manual." There is a Dedicant Path booklet available which is shipped with your new membership packet. The manual for the Generalist Study Program is available for members to download from the ADF website (hard copies are available from the ADF Office). The Clergy Council is currently working on its own study manual as well. Guilds may or may not work toward creating a document of this sort.
What if I don't like [insert name], Chief of X?
If you perceive a potential conflict of interest with the person assigned to review your work, please contact that person first and see if you can work something out. The DP and the GSP are overseen by the ADF Preceptor. If there is a problem with the ADF Preceptor, you should contact the ADF Members' Advocate. The Guilds will each have a preceptor elected by the members of the Guild. Many Guilds will also have other people acting as advisors. If this is the case, you can request a different advisor than the preceptor. If this is not the case, if you feel that you have been discriminated against, you should contact the Preceptor of ADF, so she can look into the situation and come up with possible resolutions. If her response is not satisfactory, you are welcome to take your complaint to the Members' Advocate.