While anyone who desires to do so may pursue a path of service and devotion of the kind the Gnostic Celtic Church offers its members, participation in the holy orders of the GCC is not suited to everyone. Those who wish to take up the Rule of Awen and follow the path of the Hermitage of the Heart need to accept and fulfill certain requirements, which include but are not limited to those of the standard AODA study program.
There is no requirement for members of the GCC to pass through all three of the holy orders. Just as a member of AODA may choose to remain in the Candidate grade, or to advance from there through the study program to the First, Second, or Third Degrees, a member of AODA who wishes to pursue a way of nature spirituality in the deeper and more personal form offered by the GCC may choose to be received as a deacon but proceed no further, or may choose to do the necessary work and be ordained as a priest or priestess and proceed no further, or may in due time be consecrated as a bishop. The requirements for each of these stages are listed below.
Reception, ordination, or consecration in the GCC is limited to members of AODA, however, and depends in part on the fulfillment of the requirements of the AODA study program. It is not a replacement for AODA’s system of Druid training, but a supplement and an intensification of that training, and it does not grant any rights or privileges within AODA apart from those inherent in the degrees of the Order. Nor, it must always be remembered, does any level of participation in the life and work of the GCC justify claiming authority over any other person, in or out of the GCC or AODA.
Requirements for Deacons
The order of deacon is primarily intended to serve as an introductory stage for those who wish to proceed to the priesthood or priestesshood, though it may also provide a valid framework for those who wish to work with some of the spiritual disciplines of the GCC but do not wish to practice the Communion ceremony on a regular basis. Members of AODA who desire reception as a deacon may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
Completion of the AODA First Degree training program, or an appropriate program in another Druid order that has been approved for transfer credit by the Grand Grove, and initiation into the First Degree of AODA. (Candidates who qualify for the order of deacon by way of transfer credit may be required to undertake additional studies and practices, during their training for the priestly order, to ensure they have an adequate background in AODA’s rituals and practices.)
Performance of a vigil of at least six uninterrupted hours of prayer and contemplation, seeking insight and guidance for the path toward ordination into the priestly order, after which a detailed description of the vigil and its results should be written up and submitted to the Grand Grove.
Submission, along with the vigil account, of a letter of intent to the Grand Grove requesting reception as a deacon.
Satisfactory completion of a process of reflection and conversation that explores in detail why the applicant wishes to become a deacon in the GCC and what goals he or she wishes to pursue through this work.
Reception as a deacon can be received in person from a GCC bishop, but it can also be conferred at a distance by means of a specific ritual formula in which a suitable token is blessed by a bishop and returned to the candidate for reception. Please contact the GCC for details of this process.
Requirements for Priests or Priestesses
The order of priest or priestess is the working heart of the GCC, and brings with it the responsibility to practice the Communion working, the core practice of the GCC, as a regular personal devotion. As already mentioned, the priests and priestesses of the GCC are regular rather than secular clergy. They may, if they so wish and others wish them to do so, engage in work with a congregation or the celebration of rites of passage, but their primary commitment is to personal spiritual practice and following the Rule of Awen, along the lines outlined in this book. They are in no way required to function in the capacity of clergy for any other person unless they consider themselves specifically called to that work. Any member of AODA who desires ordination as a priest or priestess may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
Completion of the AODA Second Degree training program, or an appropriate program in another Druid order that has been approved for transfer credit by the Grand Grove. (Candidates who qualify for the priestly order by way of transfer credit may be required to undertake additional studies and practices during their training, to ensure they have an adequate background in AODA’s rituals and practices.)
Previous ordination as a deacon in the GCC.
Close study of three books in addition to the seven books required for the Second Degree core curriculum. The books are as follows:
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James;
The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Tradition by John Plummer;
The Gnostic Celtic Church: A Manual and Book of Liturgy edited by John Michael Greer.
Creation of a home altar and daily practice of morning prayer and evening lection, following the framework provided in this book.
Regular and thorough practice of the AODA solitary Grove ritual, Sphere of Protection ceremony, and Communion ceremony, in preparation for ordination to the priesthood.
An ongoing process of mentoring and discernment, to assist the future priest or priestess in developing a personal vocation and priestly practice.
Ordination as a Priest or Priestess must be received in person from a GCC Bishop; it cannot be conferred by mail or at a distance. It will normally be preceded by a vigil.
Requirements for Bishops
The order of bishop comprises those participants in the GCC who pursue their vocation to the point of embodying the entire GCC and AODA tradition in their own lives. It is not a springboard from which to pursue some other religious direction; it is specific to those who have found their spiritual home in the GCC and AODA, and wish to assist others in the work of the church and the order. For this reason the ability to confer reception, ordination, and consecration into the holy orders of the GCC is reserved to bishops. Any member of AODA who desires consecration as a bishop may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
Completion of the AODA Third Degree training program, and initiation into the Third Degree of AODA.
Previous ordination as a priest or priestess in the GCC.
Design and completion of an extensive course of personal study, building on the foundations of the study program assigned for priests and priestesses in the GCC, which must be approved by the presiding archbishops of the GCC in advance.
Development of a continuing and intensive personal spiritual practice as an expression of priestly vocation, and the composition of a detailed written account of this practice.
A further process of mentoring and discernment to help the future bishop enrich his or her personal vocation and priestly practice.
A final vote of approval for consecration by the Grand Grove.
Consecration as a bishop must be received in person from at least one, and preferably three, GCC bishops; it cannot be conferred by mail or at a distance. It will normally be preceded by an extended vigil.