(On not doing) the Dedicant Oath

Sign in woods near Bergen. Photo by me.

Sign in woods near Bergen. Photo by me.

The final requirement of the ADF Dedicant Path is to work a Dedicant Oath Rite and take the final Dedicant Oath as a sign of commitment to the Path. Our Own Druidry describes the Dedicant Oath as “the crown of the first stage of our Druidic work…It says that your work is recognised by fellow Pagans and that you have taken a significant step into a like-minded spiritual family”.

I have a complicated relationship with oaths. Being raised Catholic, I took an oath at my Confirmation to uphold the doctrines of the Catholic faith…guess how that turned out? When I started the Dedicant Path, I put off doing the First Oath for several months, and made sure to allow myself an “out” clause by swearing to follow a Pagan way “for as long as the Path leads me”. I take oath-making seriously, as did ancient Pagans of almost every hearth culture, especially the Norse, and so I feel it disrespectful and dishonorable to make an oath you are not fully committed to.

While Michael J. Dangler states that “We do not expect you to swear allegiance to ADF, to the Archdruid, to a Grove or anything like that”, the Dedicant Oath does mark a formal commitment to the path of “Neo-Pagan Druidry” as understood and practiced by ADF as your “primary path”.

I have come to feel that ADF’s explicitly religious approach to Druidry, its self-definition as a Church, and its emphasis on polytheism and worshipping the gods, simply does not fit with me and my own Druidry, which is more of a nature-centred philosophy than a deity-centred religion. With that in mind, I have decided not to take the Dedicant Oath to complete the Dedicant Path.

Dangler writes of those who have decided that ADF is not the right path, “That is fine. We do not expect the ADF Dedicant Path to be for everyone…The DP is not a set of goals to complete, but a journey that we take. You’ve seen all the wonderful things it has to offer, and the journey isn’t over, but has rather just begun. You may not finish the DP, but you have come to an understanding on the same level as one who has. There is nothing to be ashamed of in stopping here”.

Unfortunately, not taking the Oath means that I cannot formally submit my Dedicant Path work to ADF, and get a nice certificate of completion, but I don’t feel that this was time wasted. I have learned so much on the Dedicant Path and as an introduction to Pagan thought and practice, I would recommend it to anyone. It’s been a great journey and a transformative experience.

So what does this mean for me? I have no intention of giving up Druidry, far from it. The Dedicant Path has shown me that, while ADF might not be my final destination, Druidry is definitely my path in one form or another. I think I will re-start my OBOD studies, and spend some time immersed in a different, but equally valid, form of Druidry.

References:

ADF. Our Own Druidry. ADF Publishing, 2009.

Dangler, Michael J. The Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year. Garanus, 2010.

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2 Responses to (On not doing) the Dedicant Oath

  1. Fny says:

    I can’t help thinking it seems strange. Not wrong, just strange – unfamiliar to me, this way of studying for ones spiritual path, to follow a course and get a diploma, a certificate? Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t critique of ADF, I know far too little of the details of ADF to be able to say whether or not I agree with the contents! But this system of studying… it sounds strange. Yes, strange. Can’t find a better word. I’m probably tainted by too many years of academic study, and always seeing that as widely opposed to spiritual life. Though perhaps I would think differently if I actually learned more of what exactly this course contains, who knows. Either way, it is good to hear you taking your own choice at the end, reflecting on what is right for you personally and not just following a set course. And hopefully the studies have all been worth it!

    • Ryan says:

      I get that, and the formal training system isn’t for everyone. I certainly don’t think you need to do a course like the DP to be a Druid or a Pagan, but I like the structure it gives, and the essay assignments made me think more deeply about aspects of the Path that I otherwise might not have considered. I’ve done the academic thing too, but I don’t find it opposed to my spirituality. In fact, without doing my first MA in theology and religion, I would never have begun to explore anything beyond my familial Catholicism, so it was a real stepping stone for me.

      If you want more info on the ADF Dedicant Path Course, you can click on the “Dedicant Path” tag at the top of my blog, and you’ll see all the assignments they ask you to do, and all my responses to them. http://www.adf.org has a bunch more info as well. As I say, it’s not for everyone (and in the end, not quite for me) but it is an excellent course for people wanting to know more about Paganism ancient and modern, and experience a year of walking a Pagan path.

      Thanks for your support about me making my own choice, I felt very nervous writing this post, as I didn’t want people to see my decision not to take the Oath and submit my work as a failure in any way. Even without the final grade, I definitely think that my ADF studies have been worth it, and have set me up well to continue along a Druid path in future.

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