As the year turns in the Samhain season, many of us are making plans and resolutions. Mine is to complete the Dedicant's Path, ADF's year-long foundational study course, and if other people in the community are interested, I would love to have a group of us do it together.
ADF is the druid organization I belong to – if you have been to rituals hosted by me or Alisa or both of us as Bull Moon Hearth, then you've been to an ADF-style ritual, and our ADF background has heavily influenced TAPA ritual, so if you've been to one of those, you may know more than you think you do! You can find out all about ADF and its 32 year history at adf.org, but I can tell you what's most important to me, as a member who first joined in the 1990s, is that ADF focuses on creating deep relationships with our gods, ancestors, and spirits, and on helping its members grow spiritually, intellectually, and ethically. (Although we call ourselves by Celtic terms like "druid," ADF embraces all Indo-European paganisms; our members can choose to focus on Gaelic and Brythonic, Norse, Greek, Roman, Slavic and Baltic, or polytheist Vedic Indian and Persian traditions. Some ADF members keep a tight cultural focus, and others mix-and-match.)
The DP is organized around the three foundational practices of ADF druidry, which are Virtue, Study, and Piety. The course requires deep thinking and journaling about learning your values and practicing them, reading and reflecting on three books (drawn from a study list that offers both beginner-level and more academic options), celebration of the eight neopagan High Days, and most importantly building a practice of regular devotions and meditation to help you discover or refine your spiritual path. There is an optional process known as the "DP Through the Wheel of the Year" that breaks the work into manageable pieces and provides week-by-week homework to help you get through the year without getting lost or overloaded at any point. I'll be working through that process in 52 weeks, beginning in the second week of November.
You don't have to join ADF to do the DP, although if you choose to submit your DP work as a member and have it reviewed and approved by ADF, that's great, and you'll be eligible if you choose to pursue further studies with ADF. If we have a local group of study-buddies, we can meet however often we choose to check in with each other, ask questions and offer advice, and share books or other resources. Anyone who's interested, please contact me! I'm Heather Darla on Facebook, and if you'd like to talk to me in person about it, I'll be at the TAPA meet-and-greet on Wednesday, Nov. 2 and at the Gaia's Circle Samhain event on Saturday the 5th.
The DP is designed to be foundational, meaning that absolutely no experience with paganism or druidry is required, so it's perfect for people who are just beginning their path who think that a polytheist, earth-honoring, life-affirming Indo-European tradition that balances spirit, intellect, and action might be for them. For those of us who have been doing our work in different ways for many years, there's something uniquely challenging about going back to those foundational skills and evaluating who you are and where you're headed from a standpoint of beginner's mind. (Full disclosure: I've been through the DP before, but chose at the time not to have it formally approved. So this is the study program so nice I'm doing it twice!)
Adf.org has lots and lots of resources on the vision and values of ADF, as well as how the training programs and other institutional things work. I'd also be thrilled to answer any questions that I can! Don't feel pressured by the quick start-date, either; anyone who wants to take a little time before starting can absolutely join in with us, whether you choose to double-up homework assignments to catch up, or just continue to work at your own pace. The group wouldn't be about checking your homework (unless you find that motivating!), but just about having fellowship on the journey, and companions to witness the changes you're making along the way.