M: Thank you very much for joining me for this interview. I really appreciate your time.
J: You're welcome.
M: Can you describe the role of the Archdruid in ADF?
J: The role of Archdruid (AD) in ADF is several-fold. First of all, the AD is the administrative head of the org. I'm the Chairman of the Board, so to speak. I'm the Chairman of the Mother Grove, which is our Board of Directors. As such, we hold several meetings a year, and I usually run those meetings. I do have the ability to name people to various positions, one of which is the ADF Preceptor, who is in charge of the overall study programs, which is relevant to this discussion, and also the Clergy Council Preceptor, since I am the Head of the Clergy Council. I am also the Spiritual Head of the Organization. I say that with a little bit of caution, I mean I take that very seriously and I do my best with that.
M: You have had a lot of focus on the spiritual health of ADF for quite some time.
J: I've tried.
M: As someone who has known you for quite a while, I have seen that echoed in the work you have done. Thank you for your service in that.
J: No, thank you for saying that.
M: How would you describe the program development process in ADF?
J: Well, that's an interesting question. Much of the program development process was in place when I got here. There was a theory behind the process originally, and I don't know how much detail you want. We started with, as far as clerical studies go, we started with "The Super Druid" program, a monumental program of 17 different categories which were anywhere from counseling to cooking.
M: Wow, 17. I didn't realize it was that big
J: I think it was 17, and you were able to originally clap out of them if you could demonstrate skill.
M: Like testing out of it?
J: Yes. So, the Super Druid program went away. It was a very difficult process, and there were challenges with the Preceptor. Because at the time, since we didn't really have rigid--I don't want to say rigid standards--we didn't really have formalized processes. It all fell on the Preceptor who got very busy, and I think got behind. And I am characterizing this from distant memory.
Then, there was the Dedicant Program, which is our entry-level program, that came into being along with the Clergy Training Program and Guild study programs. The idea behind some of these--there was a design behind them in that as you moved through the Clergy Training Program you were also filling courses in other disciplines. So, if you did courses in the Clergy Training Program, they counted in an equal level in the Liturgists program. To finish the first circle in the Clergy Training Program, you were almost finished with the first circle of the Liturgists Guild program. And this was the case for many of the programs, liturgists program, seers program, naturalists program, where there were four foundational courses in each that, once you accomplished those, the beauty of it was you already had a foothold in the program, and then there were more specialized programs.
That has changed over time, that kind-of unified structure has since diminished somewhat. What has happened since then is that the development process has focused less on the whole and more on individual needs, the needs of individual training programs. I'll give you a couple of examples.
M: Thank you.
J: In ADF, we have Guilds, Kins, and Special Interest Groups or SIGs. The Guilds were the groups that had training programs. While not all Guilds had them, the intent was that they would. This year, the Norse Kin for the first time has their own study program, which has been approved and is really cool. So, that was developed because there was a perceived need to set up a study program. I don't think we really looked to the greater whole, and said, "How's this going to fit into things?" It's like, "This is off on its own, and we're going to do this program."
We really are rather decentralized in that, and we give rather broad autonomy to groups that are going to set up study programs. The one requirement is that they are under the auspices of the ADF Preceptor. And the ADF Preceptor also deals with the Council of Lore.
The Council of Lore is made up of two groups. The one group is the Chiefs of the small groups who debate the topics that come up, and the other is the Preceptors of the Guilds who vote. Now, the Preceptor of the Norse Kin, if I understand it correctly, will also have the ability to vote on the Council of Lore, so we are kind of broadening that field.
So, we also recently started an Initiates Program. Well, the Initiate Program was already in place, but it has been decoupled from the Clergy Council to its own council by an act of the Mother Grove, and they are designing their own [revised] study program that somewhat mirrors the previous program, but has some differences.
One of the challenges that we have is that there seems to be a desire to take existing courses, and I'll use an example, "Magic 1," which is part of the old Clergy Training Program, that was replaced with "Magic 1 for Priests." So, Magic 1 still exists in the Initiate Program, Magic 1 for Priests exists in the Clergy Program, and now there is talk of Magic 1 in the Initiate Program. I think that the ADF Preceptor would like to see a more unified vision so that we all have the same course but currently, that is something that is being worked on, because we do give autonomy to the groups. We really allow them to do more of what they want to do.
So, to get back to the original question of which I have gone off on a tangent--
M: No, this is great! Thank you!
J: We really try to have a unified approach to this thing, but currently, it is very much decentralized and decoupled. Whether we are able to return that unified vision is questionable just because I think of the decentralized nature of the study programs. Recently, the Magicians Guild revamped their study program, and it was done without thought to a centralized vision, since there probably isn't a centralized vision, but the way that program was developed was really by a group of officers with minimal input. They developed this and then they presented it to the membership of that group--which is how it is usually done. I'm not saying they did this wrong. I am proposing a third circle for the Naturalist Guild, and I asked the guy who I worked with on the second circle to put this together and present it. So, we try to keep the standards of the training program in mind and for example with the Naturalists Guild, we are going to create Nature Awareness 3, which is a course that doesn't currently exist, but we want to follow the lead of the other ones. So, we try to keep an eye on history and protocol and precedence, but that's not always the case.
M: So, much like the religion itself, the development of study programs is very orthopraxic, and it has to do with modeling a different structure within each one to the best of their ability with certain autonomies for each group.
J: Right. That's actually a very nice way of putting it. It's about the practice. The Magicians are going to do this, the Seers are going to do that, and they may not be the same thing. I think there are still some core programs that are the same. It used to be that when you finished the first circle of the CTP, you had almost finished the first circle of the IP.
M: At one time, that was also the Generalists Program.
J: The Generalists Program, right.
There was a beauty there, and that has kind of gotten decoupled, but you know, we evolve and we change. Honestly, and I don't know if the Preceptor would agree with me, but I would rather that we grow more organically in those programs than have to try to fit into a centralized, rigid structure. We are all working for the same good and working toward the same thing.
M: What role do you think the Mother Grove plays in this?
J: The Mother Grove role is when new programs are brought up, they are the ones that say, "Yes, let's do it. We approve of this program." And that is kind of a weird thing, because it's evolved in several different ways. Most recently with the Initiate Program, and I'm pretty sure that the vote on the IP to decouple it from the CTP was unanimous, we said, "Okay, here is an existing program. We are now going to move it out from under the auspices of the Clergy Council, create their own Initiates Council, and they can do their thing." And so the MG says, "Yes." So that was kind of the MG saying we agree that this piece is now on it's own.
M: And then, once they develop new study program materials, those will then get vetted by the Council of Lore. The Mother Grove approves the body, and the Council of Lore approves the content.
J: That is correct. The other example is the recent leadership program that was brought the MG four years ago by a couple members who said, "We think there should be a leadership program."` We brought it to the MG and said, "What do you think?" and the MG said, "okay." We basically presented the MG a structure, because this was something brand new, and so the structure was "these" are what the courses are going to be. Then, once those courses were actually built, the MG sent them on to the CoL for approval. So that's where that is. It's actually going to the CoL, and they will vote on it. So, we'll see what happens.
M: I am secretly (and not-quite-so-secretly) very excited about the leadership training program.
J: I am, too. It's really, really hard.
M: Good; leadership is hard.
J: You have to have the DP done. It is not a two-month program; it's a two-year program. I'm anxious to start it, because I was part of the development process. So, I encourage you, if you are interested, to do the work, and maybe become a reviewer, because at first, who's going to do it?
M: *raises hand* Me! I will!
J: Yeah, we'll do it! And then we can review, so that will be helpful for both of us.
M: I'm very much looking forward to it. I've heard great things about it. I haven't seen any of the drafts, but I think it's a fantastic move in my not-so-humble opinion for the organization as a whole.
J: There were a couple members who really took a leadership role in this. Jeremy Baer, who is currently not with the organization, and Chris W(:. They really did a lot of work up front.
M: So, what other positions are important to developing programs? You already mentioned the Council of Lore. Did you want to expound upon that a little?
J: The CoL are, to use a common parlance, stakeholders in the education process, both the Chiefs of the Guilds and the Preceptors, the head of the subgroup and the preceptor who is in charge of the education. They're instrumental, because they vet the program. They say yes, this is good, this is not good, what about this, what about that....and I'm seen some good things come out of the CoL. I think we have some talented people in there.
I think that the ADF Preceptor is also an important part of that, because they kind of in a way present the new program. I don't know that I would say they defend the new program, but they present it. I don't think the ADF Preceptor has a stake one way or another in that. I don't think the ADF Preceptor even has a vote on the CoL.
M: I think they run the elections and serve as more of a facilitator (I'm on the CoL) where they kind of do what you do on the MG. They hold that space for the conversations to happen, make sure it's directed back toward the focus if it drifts, and then run the vote at the end of the discussion.
J: Right. So they do that. The CoL is the functional group there. Then, underneath that, it's really the subgroups themselves. They're the ones who come up with the ideas, and they are the vehicle for the creation of the program. Whereas the CoL is the deciding body, and the subgroup is the vehicle, it is really the members within the subgroups that are the seed for those ideas.
I would say that it is never the case, at least in the modern day, that the MG would say, "we need this program, and so we are going to do this." While we could, I think that in the common day, most of it comes externally to the MG.
M: So, it's very "bottom-up?"
J: It's bottom-up.
M: The folk who belong to the subgroup decide they want a program and work on creating it, the MG says yes that's fine, and then they send it to the CoL to review the content.
J: Actually, for the Norse Kin, I don't think the MG was involved at all. I think that was totally though the Preceptor and the CoL. And that was something new: first kin with a study program. With all the things we offer, we try to give autonomy to the groups beneath us.
M: Excellent. What ideas do you have for evaluating these programs? Now that they are in place, what types of things would you like to see or what ideas do you have to help us ensure they are actually meeting the goals they promised?
J: That is a very good question, and something that I have given some thought to. I think that the evaluation process has to be somewhat statistical and somewhat evaluative. I think that it is important to say, from a number-crunching perspective, how many people finish the program. And while that is not the driving force behind it, I think that it's an interesting way of evaluating things, because if you have an old program that you revamp, and the number of people that are created from the changes hasn't changed, then I think that tells us something, and I'm not quite sure what it does tell us. But, I think that's important. I think it's also important for students to review the course and to review their reviewers. We have good reviewers, and we have reviewers that are learning. And I think the way we do that is we evaluate it. What's interesting is that when someone submits something through our tracking mechanism (SPTracker), they have the ability to take a survey. What do you think of the course, does this help your Druidry, does it not? They may or may not be the best questions, and I don't know how much that is looked at. I know that in the past when I've said, "This course was the worst course I've ever taken," that the Preceptor at the time got back to me and asked why.
M: Oh. I've done that a couple times and no one has contacted me, just for clarity.
J: Oh, okay. That's too bad, because we should be looking at that. Let me know if that has happened and you haven't gotten a response. Because I...not all of the...our websites have gone through some transitions, and so some of the things don't go where they used to go. So, let me know, because if the website isn't working, we'll fix it. If you're not getting a response and you should be, we'll fix that, too.
M: Thank you.
J: The course is reviewed as you submit it. It asks if you need more resources or less...
M: And for some of those, the answer is always going to be, yes, because some of those are very broad questions. Like, your exist standard is to research a thing. There are so many different sources you could choose from that there is no way we could list them all.
J: Right, and I think necessarily the answer has to be yes. I wouldn't expect anyone to do a brain dump in a course without looking externally.
But I think that we have to review the reviewers. And we do that on a non-formalized basis. I do get feedback from people who say, this reviewer is just amazing. Or this reviewer is awful. If we have reviewers that aren't the best, they get less course work than they have.
M: Have we considered providing training to reviewers?
J: We have done some remedial work with some reviewers. We've offered it to them.
M: Oh, good. I must be doing all right then. *laughs*
J: *laughs* I've never heard a complaint about you.
J: *laughs* I've never heard a complaint about you.
But I know in some instances we've said, "hey, person A, we looked at these things, and would you be interested in corrected this?" I don't think there is a formalized methodology for that, but I think it's more of an impromptu or ad hoc process for helping people out. Also, if we think people are overworked or having other issues, we try to lessen the workload. It's not like our reviewers are really, really busy, but the way some of them--for example, the CTP, it's very mechanical the way they are assigned. The person who designed it is an engineer, and it is an engineering work.
M: So, I actually have a, this is kind of a tangential question, and I may or may not include this later, but I am interested in your thoughts on this. This has come up for me as I've been watching some of the changes. We've made some really good changes and some improvements to bring standardization (which I want to applaud you and Carrion for doing that, because that's been desperately needed). My concern has been that now that the first circle priests aren't really reviewing anything, by the time they finish the second circle, they haven't reviewed anything for a very long time. So I'm wondering if there is some other way to incorporate them? Just as food for thought, to incorporate a reviewing practice for them, because all of a sudden, once they hit second circle, now that have to go back and look at stuff they haven't seen sometimes in two years or longer.
J: Right. Well, we did that for a couple of reasons. The old rule was that you couldn’t review something that you haven't completed yourself.
M: I agree; it is a great rule.
J: And there was a time where the Preceptor and the Chief, or in this case the Archdruid, had to be the reviewers, because it fell to them. In many cases, the Preceptor had a hand in writing those courses, so they were intimately knowledgeable of that. You know, that's a good question, because I know that there is in the scholar's guild some stuff about reviewing. What it is now is that you always review at a level below you or where you are, if you are a third circle priest. So, first circle priest review pre-CTP people. Then, second circle priests review first circle and pre-CTP. You know, maybe we should...what currently happens is that because of the way this mechanism is in place, there is an opportunity for me, as a third circle priest, to review pre-CTP work. Maybe that's not such a good idea. Maybe that's something that should fall to a first circle priest.
M: Just some thoughts. As I was doing my other work, it's one of the things that came up. We have a whole set of people who finished the first circle of the CTP, which is a lot of work. It's a huge accomplishment at the end of which is your first ordination, and then they don't review or do anything unless there is a pre-CTP student coming up OR they've finished the second circle. I personally haven't reviewed a course in probably close to a year.
M: You know, and I'm wondering if there is a different way to make sure--it's not because I think we should have more work. If we're going to all of a sudden at second circle require them to review things, and they haven't reviewed anything in over a year, since we don't have reviewer training in place, it might help us more if the people interested in reviewing have other things to do throughout that time. Even if we just say, "hey, it's been six months. I need you to review this course." And send them a pre-reviewed course to do to keep that skillset up for them.
J: That's what I was going to say. My suggestion was going to be maybe we can go back in the archives and take the names of a course, send it out and say, what do you think? Because I know that when Fox became CC Preceptor, he actually reviewed every course ever submitted. It took weeks to do it.
M: That's why he is the Super Druid. *laughs*
J: *laughs* That's why he's Super Druid, exactly! I mean, he reviewed everything. Not just the current era--everything. So, I like that idea. I like the idea of re-reviewing some courses, and maybe that's something....let me think about that and see how we can manage that, because it would be good to have people say, I re-reviewed this course, and this is what I see and then have a discussion with the Preceptor or somebody. That's a great idea.
M: Thank you. Since I had you in front of me, I wanted to share. I said to myself, "I get to talk to him for a minute!"
J: No, I'm learning, too, and I rely heavily on my CC Preceptor to do some of this stuff, and that's not something we thought about. OR excluding higher-level priests from reviewing introductory/pre-CTP work. Maybe the first circle priests should be the ones reviewing all the pre-CTP work, because really, you've come from it more recently than we have. A lot more recently. So, good idea. Thank you.
M: You're welcome. If you could implement one change, what would it be?
J: Implement one change....
M: This is actually my favorite question. *laughs*
J: Okay, let me think about that for a second.
(Sue in the background, "And it can't relate to Trump."
J: It will not relate to Trump, I guarantee you.
M: If we had that power, we would be having a different conversation right now.
J: Yes, that's true.)
J: If I could implement one change....I think that Reviewing the Reviewers is really an important thing, and I think that the other thing that would be interesting to talk about, and you brought this point up, is reviewing the resources that we recommend to others. Some of them are out of date.
M: And they were great at the time.
J: Right. But people like you who are involved in academia now have the ability to say, "this is the latest and the greatest." You know, at one time, we could have said that The White Goddess was a great resource.
Both: And at the time it was!
J: It was fantastic, but now, it's not so good. It would be nice if we could have....I don't want to say a Board of Regents, have some people who at least say, "look, I've just gone through these books, and I think this is a really good book to add as a resource."
M: It might be useful to hand that to the CoL as the people who are managing the study programs and have them ask the subgroups for a list of the sources for their study programs, and if there is anything more than 10 years old, send it back to them and ask them to at least look for an updated source. If the one listed is the definitive text, then so be it, but we will know that. Just put this to the people who are running the individual programs to maintain that bottom-up structure and not put it all on one person.
J: I like it. No, I like that idea, so when you send me a copy of this, if that's incorporated in there, then I will definitely have it.
J: Because that makes sense to me. So, those are two things. The other thing that I think would be helpful--and this is really not prophecy, but pre-announcement--would be Deputy Preceptors. They would really be helpful for the ADF Preceptor, and we already have that in the DP world. The announcement is on the tip of someone's tongue now. So, we have Deputy Preceptor or Preceptors coming. And they can handle some of the stuff. The reporting process for the ADF Preceptor is pretty large.
M: Yes, it is quite an undertaking! I've read a lot of the previous reports from many different areas in the course of my studies, and the Preceptor is a very large role.
J: You know, the Preceptor has to wait for all the other reports to come in before they can file theirs, and sometimes when the subgroup Chiefs are late, the Preceptor report says, "I wrote to this person and am still waiting for this report." It's like a 75-piece jigsaw puzzle with only 60 pieces on the board sometimes.
So, I think additional help is important, and those are my three topics. If I had a magic wand, and I could wave it, I would have more people involved in the study programs. I tried in my own way to take those programs myself and finish them so that someone would say, "Oh wow. Someone finished that program. Maybe I can do it, too." Some were more difficult than others. You know, I'm not much of a warrior-type of a guy, and that program has been hard for me. I'm also not a drinker, but I did finish the first circle of the Brewer's Guild program, which was very enlightening. I think it broadens us to do things we haven't done.
M: I agree. It's actually been inspiring for me to watch you finish a lot of these programs and see that you can do it. So, it has been working! I don't know if that's been recognized by other people, but I would imagine there are people like me who have noticed your work and been moved to do more as a result. You're idea to say, "we can do this" has a lot of potential to be useful.
J: Thank you. I try to lead by example. I used to have more time than I do now to finish those programs. It was something I thrived on. I'm kind of a geek, and I would go home and that's what I would do. Study programs.
M: I did, too, until I started my Masters.
J: I'm sure! I would like to go back to school, too, but right now, my time is tapped.
M: We certainly appreciate your gift of time.
J: I have two full-time jobs. One is ADF, and one is work.
M: Final question: If you could preserve something, what would it be?
J: I'm going to give you two answers. The first answer is the Super Druid program. I would really like to see the Super Druid program become the fourth circle of the clergy training program, because you know what? I think our third circle priests would maybe like something else to do. I would like to take some of those courses. Some of them were monsters. I remember Fox talking about the counseling one where he had to provide pastoral counseling for someone and get counseling himself as part of it. Wow! That's a big one! That's bigger than the cooking requirement. I'd like to preserve the Super Druid program not only as a historical resource, but as a living process for continuing education.
The organization has changed in terms of education, but I think that as a Capricorn and maybe as a person who has been in the organization for a long time, that there is some value in those older things. That's the first one.
I wish there was a way to get more people into the programs. I want to preserve what we've done so far, and if it would be possible, more resources that say, look, for Missy Ashton or Jean Pagano, here is the work that they did in these programs. We could have excerpts from them on the website. For example, we would have Missy's Magic 1, questions 1, 4, and 7. Because, there are people out there like Kirk Thomas and MJD who have copies of theirs available.
M: Crystal, Robb....
J: Yes. And when I get stuck on a question, I can go and see what they did to help me.
M: I go to their work often, because I like to look at what sources they used to and then go back to that resource directly. Most of the time, they are books that I already have, and this is useful for me to unlock my writer's block on a question.
M: I actually find it to be a great resource.
J: I think that is helpful as well. And the idea behind not printing everything is that, I mean I trust our members, but there may be someone who will try to use someone else's work wholesale, and you can't police all of that.
I think that it would be nice to have. Sometimes, it is not a resource issue. It may be a matter of "what are they asking for here?" I think people have gotten better on the delivering end of asking what the questions mean.
M: General Bardic Studies, genres and styles are the same thing. Actually, no they're not.
J: Exactly! No, it's not the same thing. SO it's hard. I think if we had those resources there...
We are working on revamping the website. That's coming. Hopefully, in our lifetimes. I think it's coming sooner than that, but hopefully, we will organize things a little bit differently.
I think preserving the work that has been done and preserving the programs we've had in the past are important. There are occasionally times when people come to us and say, "I was an ADF member in 1999, and I did my DP and turned it in. Do you still have it?"
J: And, that would be nice to have. We have a recent example of a former member who said, "I did my DP and my computer crashed and I lost it. Do you have a copy?" I think it would be nice for us to do this and in many cases, we can. But when people are no longer members, I don't know what happens to those documents. I hope we keep them.
M: Minus the ones we lost in the fire.
J: Yes, exactly. So, those are my hopes. That's my wishlist.
M: Do you have any final statements you would like to speak on?
J: I really appreciate the time to talk about this, because I really don't think about this as a whole very often. I think about the pieces, and usually just the pieces that bubble to the surface. So, you've given me some things to think about today and some things to do.
M: Thank you.
J: I appreciate that, and your input is always important to me. Thank you for taking the time.
M: Thank you very much.
J: My pleasure.