Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Archdruid and The Clergy Curl

The ADF Clergy Training Program is comprised of three "circles" of study. After the completion of each circle, our Priests undergo a rite of passage that involves offering a lock of hair to the fire as a symbol of our deep connection and dedication to our clergy oath: to love the land, honor the gods, and serve the folk. Typically, we choose a small lock of hair behind an ear at the back of the hair line where it won't be noticeable as it grows out.

The first time I did this was during my initial Ordination in 2012. I braided a small lock so it would be easier to manage this part of the ceremony. As it grew back in, I began referring to it as my "clergy curl," because that short section of hair--which also turned out to be bigger than I intended!--curled up like a spring. I wouldn't exactly call my hair "curly." With hair half-way down my back, the weight of my hair pulls the curl out, typically. The clergy curl was fun and charming and served as a reminder of my oath. I found it comforting when things were hard in that first year, because the connection it represented is one we must tap into and allow to flow through us. The reminder was a source of strength and renewed purpose.

In preparation for my Consecration in 2018, I was looking forward to having that purposeful curl again. Each rite of passage leaves you with a new perspective on your work, and having this tangible and visible symbol of this work once again served me well. In Colorado, my hair tends to be more curly than it was in Ohio, so it wasn't as obvious to others. It was my own private reminder that I serve something far greater than myself. 

This year, I ran for Archdruid of ADF. The Archdruid is essentially our highest officer akin to a CEO. They also serve as the liaison between the folk and the board and as the chief officer of the Clergy Council. I completed my Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management specifically to serve ADF in an administrative role, so when I was nominated, it felt like my life path was on track. I had never considered running for Archdruid, honestly, but as soon as I was nominated, my sense of purpose buzzed with anticipation of doing the work I committed my life and thousands of dollars to do.

After I lost, I was dazed at first. During the election, I had so many great conversations, including a few meaningful discussions with previous ADF members who wanted to rejoin if I won. As the election was drawing to a close, I thought I might actually win, and I began planning to start doing the work I promised the folk I would do in my platform. I don't know if there were just too many of my supporters who weren't ADF members (and therefore couldn't vote) or if I had a skewed perspective of how I was doing based on the strong statements of support I was receiving, but I was a little surprised that I lost. Then, I was a lot more surprised. Then, I spiraled. The self-doubt and feelings of rejection came crushing down, and I felt lost. What the hell am I doing? Why did I think I would win?

A week after the election results were finalized, we held our Rites of the Dawn here at Mountain Ancestors Grove. This is a service I put together for a Summerland Unity Festival in 2009 and holding annually on Easter at dawn every year since then. I told myself this would be the last one, expecting no one to show up or even care that we were doing this. 

At 6:45am MDT, I had eleven people at my house. They brought several plates of food they had baked and prepared for the breakfast potluck to follow. They offered me greetings full of love and joy as they arrived, and even helped get more benches set up outside to accommodate them. I was the ritual leader for this service, as usual, and after the first few sentences left my lips, the familiar current of connection streamed through me. When I was preparing to do the final offering, I knelt before the fire pit. Just then, a pop in the fire sent a spark right onto my neck and shoulder. Rev. William noted my hair was on fire, and tapped it out for me. I had a bit of hair on my shawl that was no longer attached to my heard, so I offered it to the fire. 

After the rite, I went to assess the damage, put burn ointment on the one spot on my neck that was red, and see what I would need to do with my hair. Surprisingly little was out of place. The spark from the fire landed on a strand of hair behind my ear at the base of my hairline, leaving behind a curl of about two inches in length: the fire gave me a new clergy curl. 

I am a Priest of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, Inc. and Mountain Ancestors Grove. I am a member of the board for Fort Collins Pagan Pride. I hold a Masters Degree that has already helped many groups in the polytheist community to improve or legitimize their work. I am a voice for our faith, a servant of the people, and a beloved child of the Earth Mother and the Deities, who are many. Who I am and What I do are valuable. And if I doubt that, I have a curl to remind me. 

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