As part of my outreach to the members of ADF, and to bring ADF to the Pagan world at large, I have taken to giving workshops on a variety of subjects, both scholarly and spiritual, at both ADF Festivals and other Pagan festivals.
Workshops, even more than rituals, can facilitate communication and understanding between people, and I love it when my audience engages me with questions and comments during the course of my presentations. And some of these workshops can get quite lively!
I have presented at 9 ADF festivals so far: Medieval Madness, Trillium, Desert Magic, Wellspring, Summerland, Muin Mound Madness, Midnight Flame, Eight Winds and Three Realms. I have presented at four non-ADF festivals as well: Starwood, Summerfest, the gay male event Between the Worlds, and Pantheacon.
Below is a list of my current workshops with short descriptions:
The Irish Sacred King
The office of the sacred king in late prehistoric and early medieval Ireland carried great significance in a religiously cosmological sense both for his people and his kingdom. Such a king would be considered sacred because he would be 'set apart' from all others. He would be seen as having both special powers and obligations, all of which determined the fate of his reign as an ideal and fruitful one, or as one marked by disaster, starvation, and death.
Before a man could become a sacred king he had to prove his worthiness and be accepted by Sovereignty, usually personified as a goddess or lady, who would only mate with the rightful king. He must be perfect in mind and body, uphold truth through justice, and be constrained by both taboos and prescriptions, for any deviations from these ideals would lead to his destruction.
This workshop will explore these themes through the folklore, tales, and selected monastic writings of early medieval Ireland, often contrasted with similar works from related Indo-European cultures.
Ancient Celtic Religion
Modern Neopaganism has drawn greatly from the lore of the early medieval Irish and Welsh, knowing that what we have now was handed down to us through the Christian monks and bards who preserved it for posterity.
But what do we know about the actual religions of the pre-Christian Celts? One common belief in modern times is that the Druids performed their rites in forest groves and glens, but is this supported by archeology and our primary sources? How did the Celts view the nature of deity? Can we trust the testimony of the writers of the ancient Mediterranean? This workshop, which includes a Powerpoint presentation, will explore the religions of pre-Roman Gaul and Britain as well as some of the religious changes that occurred during the Roman occupation.
The Celtic Arthur - Just who was he, anyway?
Most of us have grown up with the stories of King Arthur and Camelot, but are they the original tales? And just how old are they? Were they based, as some believe, on the life of a warrior King at the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain, or might there be other possibilities? This workshop, which includes a Powerpoint presentation, will explore the primary sources for the Arthur myth back to the 6th century CE, including historical, pseudo-historical and mythical ideas. We we also take a trance-journey to meet and talk with him.
Basic Ritual Skills
Those of us who do public ritual for groups both small and large realize that there are certain skills necessary for a successful rite. Much preparation is required to create or learn the parts of a specific ritual, to rehearse any ritual plays or lore recitations, to memorize and/or research any invocations needed, to obtain a ritual space and arrange the potluck…..the list goes on and on.
But we don’t necessarily take into account the presentational skills needed by the aspiring ritualist to ensure that everyone present, both human and divine, can take in and comprehend everything going on. We must be both seen and heard, and what we present must be both understandable and effective with a minimum of distraction. This workshop attempts to aid ritualists to begin training our bodies and voices, allowing us to be able to trust them to carry our words and actions to all in attendance.
The Nature of Sacrifice
Much of what ADF does in ritual is based on the concept of reciprocity through sacrifice. What does this word actually mean? What relevance does it have in the modern world? How can we have sacrifice without killing animals? This workshop will explore the ancient origins of the practice, how sacrifice has changed over the centuries and what it means now for modern Pagans, especially those of us in ADF.
Chaos and Cosmos: Bringing Them Together
ADF has a very distinct and coherent way of looking at the cosmos and how it relates to our reaching the Gods, Spirits of Nature and our Ancestors in ritual. Based on the beliefs of ancient Indo-European Pagan peoples, this cosmology embraces tripartition and such concepts as the Sacred Center, World Tree, Three Worlds, Three Realms, Fire in Water, etc. This workshop will examine this cosmological system, its origins, and its use in ADF Ritual.
A Welsh Wheel of the Year
While there has been much work done in ADF on the Wheel of the Year for some hearth cultures, especially the Irish and Norse, scant attention has been paid to Welsh hearth culture. In this workshop, we will examine a possible Welsh approach to the ADF High Days using folk customs, folklore and storytelling.
Living in Integrity by Being Real
Wisdom can be found in the strangest places. In this workshop, we will explore the concept of 'being real', and how that feeds into personal integrity, through the children's story, The Velveteen Rabbit.
Concentration in Ritual
When we perform public ritual, we need to focus on many different levels at the same time - on a personal level, on the level of working with the other celebrants, on the level of the congregation, and in the Otherworlds. This workshop will give attendees the opportunity to learn and practice a set of techniques to enable them to work on all four levels simultaneously.