A Féinnid Training Program – A Link

Preparedness for anything is a key feature of the modern féinnid, and to be prepared you have to train.  Working with the ADF training material with additional material specific to the féinnid, I have put together a training program for a proposed Order within ADF.  While this Order is being discussed by the leadership I can’t share the training material but with a select few who have influenced its development.  However being a blog about being a féinnid, I think it important to share training material with the readers and I have just learned that another féinnid has just posted her training outline.

I invite my readers to head over to the website Shadow of the Hooded Crow and check out the training program written by Saigh Kym Lambert, “Outlaw Warrior Path Training“.  If you do like her work let her know, make a donation, and please respect her intellectual property.

Building Community Part 2 – A Gentlidecht group in ADF

This is the second part of a series on building an Irish Polytheist community.  I realized after writing the first part, that it did not include any real methodology but was simply a structure of the community not necessarily how to build it.  In this essay I will not only cover how typical ADF groves are structured, but how I can envision an ADF grove founded and run by people who practice gentlidecht may change the structure and what actual methods are used to bring in individuals and families to build a community of genti, around the ADF grove.

A few local folks who identify as Irish Polytheists have joined me in starting what is called a protogrove of  Ár nDraíocht Féin in the Baltimore area.  ADF at its core is a Neopagan church but due to its orthopraxic nature allows for many traditions to function within it at the local group and individual level.  What is most attractive to us was the longevity of the organization, an established ritual structure created using reconstructionist methodology, and a built in community at the national and international level.  Being a protogrove or grove of ADF also has the advantage of being an immediately recognizable body within the community, most Neopagans know that ADF is a druid organization, making the process of building a community a little simpler…name recognition goes a long way.

Organizationally, ADF requires that each Provisional and Chartered Grove have a Senior Druid, a treasurer (Pursewarden) and a secretary (Scribe), a Protogrove is only required to have a Grove Organizer.   The required duties are also defined by ADF, but outside of these requirements a grove can operate according to its own bylaws.  As we plan to remain focused on gentlidecht we expect to have some roles defined that are not found in other groves.

While not explicitly stated in any official document the Senior Druid is the expected leader of the grove as can be seen by the existence and function of the Council of Senior Druids. However, as Irish Polytheists we are considering having another role that is more of a secular leadership position that functions along side the Senior Druid.  The religious duties and those ADF expects would be handled by the Senior Druid, with as yet undefined responsibilities falling to the secular leader. 

It may even be possible to establish an ADF grove or protogrove and function in nearly the same way as the dearbhfine as described in Part 1. With the Conn Fine being the secular leader mentioned above and the Senior Druid as the spiritual leader and adviser to the Conn Fine.  Another poissble adjustment would be to only allow ordained ADF Priests to function as Senior Druid, as they are trained to lead ritual and be the spiritual leader of the group.  Mind you this is just an example as we have not yet even started to consider organizational structure of our future Provisional Grove, just want to give you an idea of how, as an Irish Polytheist, you can adapt to the ADF system and remain true to your identity. 

So now that you have decided that  ADF is the way to go, it only takes is one ADF member with at least 6 months membership to form a Protogrove…that means it only has to be you.  Even if you are the only CR person you know in your area forming a Protogrove is a good start to building community. It demonstrates that you are serious in your intent and again provides you with instant name recognition, and places your ‘group’ into the searchable ADF grove database. 

Now you have a “Protogrove, ADF” and it is time to start building that community.   To get started use social media to get word out that you are going to hold some sort of  meet and greet for folks interested in Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism or be even more specific, it is up to you.  In our case, we established a Facebook page for our protogrove and MeetUp site to advertise events.  Once the event is created use every means you have to get the word out – e-mail lists, social media, and online forums.  Hold the event – even if no one has RSVPed you should ALWAYS hold the event.  You do not know who will drop by unannounced.

Establish a schedule of events and be as consistent as possible.  As mentioned in Part 1, monthly meetings help foster community and ADF does require its groves to hold monthly business meetings and quarterly public service activities, so you may as well get into the habit.  You can change up the purpose of the meeting, the location even the time to give others an opportunity and reason to attend.  My protogrove is planning to hold monthly events that range from the simple “Meet and Greet” to classes on topics of interest to Irish Polytheism.  As an ADF grove we will also have classes specific to ADF, such as for those going through the Dedicant Path and general introduction classes on ADF topics.

The trick to building any form of community is commonality and communication.  Community members have something in common, in our case Irish Polytheism, and they have to be consistently informed of what is happening, the Facebook page and MeetUp.   Throw in consistency and you will find that the same people tend to show up time and time again.  When this happens you get to know them better and eventually, you invite them to be an active member of your small group.  Rinse and repeat and you will not only end up with a Chartered Grove, you will have an extended community outside the grove to whom you provide services.

End Part the Second.

Why I do not worship the Morrígna

Original Post

I must be one of the few people in the Irish polytheism community that does not worship the Morrígna is some way.  In fact, not giving her offerings is so important to me that we made it a rule within my group, that we would not allow anyone to make offering to any of the Morrígna in our group rituals.  Being one who has been involved in warriorship for most of my adult life, it confuses my peers when I tell them of
my total opposition to the worship of the battle goddesses known as Nemain, Badb and Morrigu  (I am leaving Anand and Macha out of this for now.) I was spurred to write this entry after reading about a
Temple of the Morrigan at Pantheacon run by a group known as Coru Cathubodua, the idea of a temple to these goddesses being established at a Neopagan gathering of hundreds of people actually scares me a little.
There are plenty of blogs out there written by people who I respect a great deal that go into all the reasons they worship the Morrígna, you can read one of them, Shadow of the Hooded Crow.  I am
going to focus on the reasons why I do not worship her and won’t be part of any ritual that does, except under a very specific circumstance.
The very first thing that must be understood is that I have seen war, rather I have seen the effects war has on people’s lives, psyche and most importantly their body.  During my time as a medic in the United States Air Force I was often pulled to a unit know as am aeromedical squadron.  These teams were the ones that transported patients from around the world back to the United States for treatment.  On a few
occasions this included Somali’s who were injured during their clashes.  All of the wounds we were  treating were either from gunshots or explosives, inflicted on men, women and children.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than helping a kid who has an arm blown off to eat.
Then there was the American helicopter pilot that had a phosphorous round explode in the cockpit.  Out of everyone on the crew, he survived…in a way.  I say that because when he came back to the United States he was still alive, but with +90% 2nd and 3rd degree burns.  We kept him in a coma so that he would not have to be in pain.  I saw his dressing change.  You simply cannot imagine what that looked like, or how it would make you feel if you saw it up close.
Finally, there is my friend.  He carried a ‘saw’ while deployed in Iraq.  The fact that his gun is called a ‘saw’ should give you a pretty good visual of what this gun can do.  During one patrol his squad came upon a kid no older than 14 with an AK-47 in his hands and walking towards the squad.  While the entire squad screamed and yelled for the kid to drop the weapon, he raised it to his shoulder.  My friend has a recurring dream of this incident, each bullet hitting that kid in slow motion.  It’s not a dream.  It’s a fucking nightmare.
That is war. War at a distance at that because I saw them all cleaned up or in the case of my friend learned of it second hand.  Imagine seeing those wounds fresh, or witnessing the events as they occured.  This is what the Morrígna want, they want death and blood and slaughter.  Even when making prophecy it is death and war that they prophesize.  No, they are to be respected and feared but I give them no offerings and I won’t be part of any ritual that does.A few years ago, I would be trying to convince people to think as I do on this topic and I tended to avoid having close relationships with people who did worship them (I no longer do this, nor think it is appropriate).  Even Alexi Kondratiev would on occasion try to explain why it is a bad idea to “invite them into your home”, his term was “psychopath”.  As it is, I know some very nice people who worship one or more of the Morrígna and none of them have died a horrible death…yet.  So now my position is simple – Not in my house.  Easy to enforce and doesn’t step on anyone’s beliefs.
Addendum March 25, 2014.Dear reader, based on responses in other forums I feel it necessary to make this statement.  This blog post is about my experiences.  I understand that in the lore and your practices there is more to the Morrígna than just being a blood thirsty goddess of war but this is not a blog about her it is a blog about my experiences. Want to know all about her there are plenty of places to go, I suggest starting with http://caithream.blogspot.com/
Addendum August 17, 2014.
The discussion with Alexi Kondratiev in which he used the term ‘psychopath’ to describe the Morrigan occurred at the Chesapeake Pagan Community Gathering in 2008.  I no longer try to convince people it’s a bad idea to worship any of the Morrígna (it is rude and inappropriate). And the comment about people not being killed by her “yet” is meant as a joke.  Lighten up.

A brief entry on my training.

Féinnidi should make attempts to be physically fit and prepared to defend themselves and others.  For me this meant joining a local Krav Maga studio, running at least 20 miles per week and a heavy bag.

I used to belong to a gym and I went nearly every day, but only because it was next to my house.  I hated it.  When I moved I stopped all training and continued to expand the waistline.  Sometime in April 2012 I decided to take control and manage my diet.  This kind of worked in that I stopped gaining weight and even began to lose a little.  It wasn’t enough though, I need to either lose 40 pounds are convert it to muscle and make it worth having..

Since then I have taken up running with a goal of 20 miles per week (have not met this goal).  This will grow as my stamina and speed improves…about 30 minutes of running to increase my heart rate is my goal for now.  My real change is Krav Maga.  For those who do not know this is the hand-to-hand combat system used by the Israeli Defense Forces.  My studio is part of the Krav Maga Worldwide and is the version taught by Darren Levine.    These classes are simply fun, and each class is 1 full hour full of cardio,  strength building, toning, fighting and if its a rough day…puking.   I have yet to the last but I have come close.    I call this having fun, since for the first time I have enjoyed training.

As a member of ADF I am also a member of the Warriors Guild and working on the training program they offer.  It requires keeping a journal, so I thought to share the to-date journal here:

May 2013

April 2012 I woke up and started to change my diet to 1700 calories a day with minimal exercise, starting at 250 pounds I dropped to 219 by the time I got married in October.   By April I was back up to 240 due to not sticking to the calorie counting.  So in May 2013 I started eating about 1900 – 2100  calories a day and using my elliptical to hit 3 miles about 3 times a week.

June 2013

Monthly weigh in brings me to 231.8 pounds.  I have introduced actually running outside using an application called “Zombie Run.”  I don’t have much stamina to actually run the entire distance but I am hitting 2 miles walking/jogging 4-5 days a week.

July 2013

Monthly weigh in brings me to 228.6 pounds. For both self-defense and the training I am now part of a Krav Maga studio.  The classes I take focus on teaching the offensive and defensive techniques of Krav Maga along with some core and strength training. Coupled with the cardio I am now hitting the triad of physical improvement.  By the end of the month I felt compelled to do something every day.  The last week of July was spent resting from an injury and preparing to go to a weeklong festival in Canada.  NOT doing some sort of exercise made me feel lazy and kinda depressed.  So I would say by this point physical activity has become a habit and a necessity to well being.  During the month of July I trained at the Krav studio for 8 hours (thats an average of twice a week) and ran/walked a little over 32 miles.

August 2013

Monthly weigh in is 226.6 pounds.  The month started out poorly with a trip to Canada followed by three weeks with poison ivy that prevented me from being able to train at the studio.  That was followed by a week long trip to Atlanta.

September 2013

Monthly weigh in is 229 pounds.  Expected some weight gain with the lack of exercise, not as bad as I expected.  Got started on my program again by walking/jogging 3.81 miles on the 8th followed by Krava Maga on the 9th.

October 2013

Fail month.  I did not weigh in and I attended the studio just once.  However, I did get a heavy bag and started training on that to practice various assault techniques.   I also ran my longest distance of 4.23 miles in a single go using Zombie Run.

November 2013

Monthly weigh in is 232 pounds