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ADF Structure, Customs, and Policy; Requirement 6

Compare Isaac's original "Law, Policy, Tradition, and Customs in ADF" article with how you see ADF today. Describe what is still true and what is no longer accurate in that document. (300 words min.)

The first thing one notices when reading the document, "Law, Policy, Tradition, and Customs in ADF"¹ is that there is a clear tension between the ways the ancients did things and the way that moderns would react to certain things. This particular tension is still very much alive within ADF: there is a feeling that while the ancients really knew what was going on, they were working within a cultural bubble that we cannot hope to penetrate without busting it wide open. As a result, while we need to start with their practice, we also need to modify it to make it fit our lives.

The bylaws mentioned are no longer the primary governing document of ADF (the ADF Constitution now is), but this is a minor point. In this document, Isaac outines a variety of "rules" that have various "consequences" for failing them. I think that Isaac saw us as needing a non-binding document within ADF that gave us a lot of "good ideas" to guide us beyond the true governing documents.

Isaac's "Laws" have not really changed over the years: it's still not okay to sacrifice humans, illegal drugs are never used in ADF rituals, and discrimination is strictly forbidden (regardless of who you are discriminating against). We do not have any specific legal requirement for our prison members to go through a "renunciation" of their past crimes, however.

One change to the "Laws" section which is not visible because the document was revised in 2006 is that in the original version, swastikas were permitted (though under very specific circumstances). When better historical information presented itself (i.e. swastikas are not seen in the Vedic period, but rather are later developments), Isaac consented to to the removal of the exception in this document.

In "Policies," Isaac defines "official ADF ceremony" as having a public or semi-public component. Now, solitaries doing their own rites are considered to be doing "official ADF ceremonies" so long as they follow the Core Order of Ritual during their High Day rites. In addition, we're thinking about initiations and such as "official" rites at this time. Animal sacrifice is still banned, and the line of "no bloodshed, even your own" has taken root, as well. The Good Neighbor Policy is no longer part of the Grove Organizer's Handbook (and it's no longer a recognized policy, either).

The "Main Traditions" haven't changed very much at all, and we've continued to develop our outline of ritual primarily to ensure that we're all speaking the same language. The "What Neopagan Druids Believe" document has never been updated, nor has it evolved, however.

Our clergy are not required to be addiction-free (primarily because it's a hard thing to test for, and besides, what constitutes an "addiction"? Smoking? Getting caffine headaches?), and we continue to focus on IE peoples and deities with the best scholarship available. We are also still strong opponents of fraud in the New Age movement.

Our "Minor Traditions" have less well stood the test of time, of course, but some still does stand up strong: while whiskey is rarely used as the Waters of Life (water is now more common, as are ales or mead) and deities are not set by high day, our study programs (there's now more than one) still advance by circles and involve testing. We stil involve local nature spirits and non-IE deities when appropriate and our Groves get to chose their cultural focus on their own.

The "Customs" have changed relatively little, interestingly: you don't see a lot of white robes, but you will often see them in ritual. All-night vigils still happen in various Groves, the Druid Sigil is still used on lots of things (and nearly all of us own one old, ratty ADF Logo shirt). There are some regional gatherings and festivals, and all the festivals are open to the community at large. We still adopt local PG's and assing out Grove Mentors.

In general, we still hold up to the essay here, though things have changed somewhat over the last 25+ years. It's probably a good thing, too: while we're growing, the visions that started this organization still hold true to many of us.


¹ - Law, Policy, Tradition, and Custom within ADF - Isaac Bonewits, originally published in Druids' Progress #14.


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