This essay has been approved.
1. Explain why public, inclusive ritual is important to ADF
Isaac Bonewits, the founder of ADF, had a vision of Neopaganism becoming a mainstream religion (Bonewits: “The Vision of ADF”). There are certain expectations for a mainstream religion and a mainstream church; One of them is easy accessible service and as well service for people on a low commitment base with a busy working day, the latter underlined by Pete Gold (Gold: “What I expect form my church”). Not everybody wants or has the time to be part of a greater Grove and be involved strongly in his/her religion. Not everybody wants to bring “not yet another” high commitment. Many Pagans actually are not associated with any association, grove or coven at all, but are solitary practitioners, happy to be able to “just tag along for the High Days”. Rev. Michael J. Dangler points out in the Grove Organizer’s Handbook (Dangler: “Commonly Asked Questions”) “Quite often, ADF Groves will be the only Pagan group in town that provides open, public worship” In this ADF does exactly the opposite as many other Neopagan religions, who put great emphasis on “secrecy”.
The ADF constitution underlines that the ancient Druids were the religious leaders of their tribes and on these grounds “ADF advocates and practices, as an integral part of our faith, open, inclusionary, and public ceremonies” (Article 1:2.). Ian Corrigan stresses in his essay “Magical Skills”, that there has always been a strong obligation in the Druidic tradition to do public rituals (Corrigan: “Magical Skills”). Hence if we want to step into the Druids’ footsteps, the logical conclusion is to hold open, inclusionary and public ceremonies. In accordance with the virtue of piety ADF groves not only serve the kindred, but the greater Neopagan community as well.
I believe that serving the greater community is a strong point, especially when most people are solitary practitioners. My personal vision is to see Paganism becoming an integral and equal part of the religious variety in my country. I believe this can only be achieved by behaving like a mainstream church already now, which means doing public rituals that can be visited by guests and folk alike. Psychologically this helps putting down some prejudices, as people always fear and suspect secrecy and ADF’s transparency works against this.
2. Describe the duties and function of clergy in ADF
In the Clergy council meeting of 2009 three main functions of Clergy within ADF were formulated (Dangler: “The Role of the Priest”):
1. “to ensure that sacrifices are made at the proper times and in the proper way”
Like the Paleodruids ADF priests are responsible to lead the folk in public religious rituals, ensuring the sacrifices are duly made and thus keeping the cosmos in balance. Apart from the needed practical knowledge, this may mean acting as ritual organizer, writing liturgy and divining.
2. to train themselves and “provide training and service to others”.
Everyone can perform rituals within ADF, but the Priests are experts for their religion. For this they have to be well trained and help train others. In addition to articulate the polytheology, they should be able to represent Paganism at congregations (Bonewits: “Vision”). Provide service may include pastoral counseling or running a grove with the fundraising and meetings that come with it. Other functions of service might be giving clerical support to groups without priests (wandering clergy), doing rites for special occasions, work as a prison chaplain or conduct a distinctive Faith group to support Military ADF members. In the future Hospital chaplaincy and caring for the Elderly could be included.
3. To help members establish a relationship with the Kindred.
A relationship with the kindred is not the privilege of the clergy and ADF believes that everyone willing can communicate with the kindred. But sometimes help is needed. This mentoring function brings the implication of devotion and discipline as duties of the priest. Accordingly priests have to cultivate a good relationship to the kindred themselves, usually through devotion. Moreover they should lead a good live accordance with the virtues of the chosen religion (“Clergy Council Code of Ethics”).
3. Explain why ADF has an Indo-European focus, and why we use the term “Druid” in our name
A very plausible and simple answer is given in the “Grove organizer’s Handbook” (Dangler: “Commonly Asked Questions”): It’s our identity. Any church or organization has to have a certain identity, a characteristic by which it can be recognized by others. For ADF this characteristic is that it is an Indo-European Pagan Church. Therefore it is anchored as well in the constitution (Article 0): “"ADF," is the legal structure for a Neopagan Druidic religion based on the beliefs and practices of the ancient Indo-Europeans, adapted to the needs and sensibilities of modern people.”
When it was first founded Isaac Bonewits our founder, in the effort of making ADF more closely resembling the original Paleopagan Druidism, had in mind that ADF should be a Pan-European organization including Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Baltic and Greek and Roman language and cultural branches (Bonewits: “The Beginning of Ar nDraiocht Fein”). In a later stage ADF has grown to include the “Indo”- in the Indo-European branch as well, with members including now Avestan Gods. There has even formed a strong branch of Members working in the reconstruction of the Religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, including these practices as well.
The ancient druids fulfilled according to their specialization and skills different roles within the mundane and religious life of their community (Bonewits: “Indo-European Paleopaganism”). The emphasis of ADF is on serving the community and the Druids are identified by their roles within the community. The term Druid is additionally fitting as there is evidence to suggest that the Druids adhered to an organizational form. As Bryan Perrin (Perrin: “Defining One's Self”) emphasizes in his essay it is the significance of the service for the community which makes the difference between ADF and other Druid organizations, not the belief system, which is inherently mostly the same.
4. Describe the Guilds, SIGS, and Kins of ADF in general, their function within the organization, and the goal of the Guild, SIG, and Kin systems.
The Subgroups are a valuable addendum to the Groves of ADF as they cover different areas of interest and hearth cultures and give members a place to deepen their knowledge, skills and spirituality or to support each other. Some of the groups focus on exchange of ideas and background for a common interest, while others help you deepen your studies or as in the newly founded orders your magical side. In this manner everybody can chose what feels good on the personal path of the heart and can truly indulge in a lifelong path of learning within the spiritual-religious way. The exchange is mainly done online, sometimes there are gathering at festivals. Groups are open to ADF members (ADF: “Guilds, Kinds, SIGs and Orders”).
A Guild is a group based on different shared interests affiliated to Indo-European culture and Religion. Close to the medieval meaning of the word, ADF guilds are affiliated to a certain craft. The purpose of a Guild is to foster “Study, learning, and training in a particular focus area“ (ADF: “Subgroup Charter Manual”). There are currently 11 Guilds. 9 Guilds already have a Guild Study program: Artisans, Bards, Brewers, Liturgists, Magicians, Naturalist, Seer, Scholars and Warriors. For the Healers and Dancers Guild a program still needs to be approved (ADF: “Guild Study Program Overview”). It could be argued in the future, that Guilds who fail to provide a study program should become SIGs until one is provided.
The aim of a Guild is to advance the knowledge and skills in the appropriate area of interest. To promote this deepening training various methods appropriate to the subject are utilized. Learning is promoted by sharing information and giving students a structure what they could look at. As it is expected the student is helped by appropriate questions to find a bridge between Spirituality and the specific subject. Students are required to gain a greater knowledge in their area of interest, sometimes by doing a class on a specific topic and then need to bridge between the technique and how it could be used in Ritual (I. e. Artisan Guild).
A guild may be joined by any member, but enrolment in the Guild study program only takes place after the completion and approval of the Dedicant Path documentation.
Kins are based on a cultural interest. According to the subgroup charter manual (ADF: “Subgroup Charter Manual”) the purpose of a Kin is to support ADF members worshipping in a particular Indo-European hearth culture context. Currently there is a Kin for the Easter Indo-European branch (i.e. Vedics, Indo-Iranians, Tocharians, Armenians, and Anatolians), the Germanic Northern Traditions, Welsh, Hellenic, Slavic, Roman, Gaelic (Irish, Scottish) and Proto Indo-European. A Gallic Kin has been in discussion but has not yet been approved.
Kins can support their members by providing a pool of knowledge for a specific hearth culture where newcomers and proficient learned alike may engage in discussion or provide encouragement, support and ideas. Especially they can provide information about sources, references and books to read. They can help with translations and discuss ritual specifics in a certain cultural context. Especially for members whose grove is not practicing their hearth culture or who have a not wide spread hearth culture as i. e. Avestan it is a very valuable connection.
Orders are a novelty within ADF. Their purpose is to provide rituals and training in a specific Indo-European mythic or symbolic complex (ADF: “Subgroup Charter Manual”). Currently there are three approved orders: Order of the Crane, Order of Bardic Alchemy and Demeter and Eleusinian Order. It is possible to join an order right from the beginning. The approved Orders have a study program and at a certain level it is required to have the Dedicant Path documentation approved. Orders satisfy those who want to get more deeply involved in transformative, magical work. They are similar to Fraternities or Magical- Esoteric Orders, though within the greater complex of ADF. Members of an Order are traditionally bound by an initiation rite and are required to do a certain set of rituals or devotionals. In this the Orders can help deepen the spirituality as it focuses on internal work, while a Guild could be said to focus more, but not only on external skills. The difference is nicely shown in the Bardic guild and the Order of Bardic Alchemy: The Bardic guild focuses on advancing your skills and knowledge, the Order focuses on the esoterical-magical part. This shows too, that being a member of both can be very rewarding – like a warrior training both hands.
Special Interest Groups are interest based. SIG might be “anything else that members want to network and support each other about” within the ADF community (ADF: “Special Interest Groups”). There are SIGs covering popular Goddesses like Brighid and Morrigan, SIGs for Solitaries, people with disabilities, Parents, Homosexuality, Polyamory, Shamanism, American, Non-English Speakers. The Main difference between a Guild and a SIG is that a Guild has a study program and the focus on learning, while a SIG has more the focus on exchanging ideas and supporting each other. I feel, though they are often more “secular” a SIG is very important within the greater frame of a church. For example a Parent might be very interested on how to educate their child as a Pagan, while in the Grove maybe there are no other Parents. So the Pagan Parenting SIG can be a very important part where to find things and exchange ideas. Doing things like retreat-days or regular devotionals can be very demanding when having a job and one or more children non-parents could have difficulties understanding. Here again you can find kindred in a SIG who can give you ideas on how to harmonize certain things within your life.
5. Describe ADF's official ceremonial calendar, and discuss why it was designed in this way
Indo-European cultures differed widely in their ceremonial calendar. For some cultures we know about many different feasts (i.e. Roman) from others we only know of four (i.e. Celtic). We have to take into consideration that of some cultures we don’t know how many festive days they really had. Neopaganism emerged strongly influenced by British traditional Witchcraft (Wicca), which in its beginning celebrated the well known cross quarter festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh attested in Celtic Mythology. Later it added the Solstices and Equinoxes (Hutton). The eight spoked wheel of the year can be regarded as something widely common in Neopaganism and therefore, has become an identifying element. Although it could be thought of “constructed” many IE cultures have feasts around the fixed dates, as the cross quarter days mark agricultural events common in most of Europe and the Solstice and Equinoxes mark changes within the solar calendar observable by all cultures.
ADF is a Neopagan Church and in this follows a ceremonial calendar in tune with the common Neopagan High Days. It is customary to celebrate the High Day on a week-end before or after the fixed dates, which are anchored in the ADF constitution (Article 4) as:
1. Cross-Quarter - November 1st
2. Winter Solstice - December 21st
3. Cross-Quarter - February 1st
4. Spring Equinox - March 21st
5. Cross-Quarter - May 1st
6. Summer Solstice - June 21st
7. Cross-Quarter - August 1st
8. Equinox - September 21st
In many Neopagan communities although the hearth culture is not always Gaelic, the Irish Festival Names are used for the Cross-Quarter Days. In ADF, different hearth cultures may use different names as well. Using this ceremonial calendar within ADF is not only an identifying factor for a Neopagan community, but for us as a church too. Different hearth cultures may additionally observe other High Days.
The ceremonial calendar of ADF starts on Samhain, November 1st and finishes on the 31st October of each civil year (Article 4). This certainly has to do with the notion that the Gaelic ceremonial calendar starting at Samhain.
6. Compare Isaac's original “Law, Policy, Tradition, and Customs in ADF” article with how you see ADF today. Describe what is still true and what is no longer accurate in that document
Isaac Bonewits saw as one of the main differences of ADF its focus on Order and structure, which is still in a positive way true today, with regard to the modern practitioner implemented in as much as necessary, as little as possible.
For him the first primary duty of the Paleopagan Druids was: “transmitting knowledge and wisdom from previous generations to following ones”. In ADF there are many study programs one can continue studying, but the passing to the next generation is not very much stressed. It is a sad fact within the Pagan community that we don’t do as much to integrate our kids within our religion as e. g. many Christian churches do. In this ADF falls short too, although I have to say that ADF is fulfilling a pioneering role within the pagan community, as I haven’t seen so many efforts in other communities. Hopefully this topic will be even more elaborated in the future.
The other main function was (2) “maintaining the cosmic order through the correct performance of the sacrifices”. In our modern day, we don’t see sacrifice as to be as important for the cosmic order as it was for the Paleopagans. But the sacrifice is still one of the main points of ADF, though I doubt that many today in ADF would give it as much as importance as our historical antecedents did.
The last of the main points is (3) “guiding their tribes towards physical and spiritual wholeness.” Here I feel that we can ask for guidance, but have to do much on our own, which is not a bad thing. It maybe would be good though to have an all ADF-Members Email-address where clergy specialized in crisis response could answer. But I have to say that I see the Pagan community as being very self-responsible, so the question would be certainly if such a service would be needed.
Isaac described too, that the practices of our Indo-European predecessors need to be adapted to our needs. I see this as a continuing process within ADF, as now more IE cultures and even Proto-IE cultures have been adapted as well as more magic oriented orders have now emerged within ADF, which shows that ADF clearly is adapting.
As far as I can tell the Laws of ADF stated by Isaac are still in place. Human sacrifice and committing felony crimes with victims as well as discrimination is still rightly forbidden within ADF, as well as the drug policy during official ADF ceremonies. I especially like the special mention of the forbidden associations with racist movements. The exception is ordination where priest cannot be members of an inimical creed and membership to the Board of Directors. This is a legitimate rule and compared to other churches even quite tolerant.
The policies of ADF as seen by Isaac are as well still in place: While groves may have “members only” meetings, the High Days are still public, as is ordination of clergy, Animal sacrifices are forbidden, nepotism is not something that should be followed and the self-bleeding of a few symbolic drops is still forbidden in official ceremonies. This is especially something which may belong to private part of special rites like oath rites or ordinations e.g.
In the main traditions Isaac mentions the use of the Logo and the Druid Sigil. I can’t really see the Druid Sigil having gained so much popularity. I see the ADF Logo as being more strongly supported throughout the community and as far as I could see many adapted the sacred tree as a symbol in their grove banner.
The “standard liturgical outline” has been replaced by the Core Order of Ritual, which should be used in official ADF rituals. Members can practice how they want in their private rites, which I think is very important and hope it will never change! With the exception of the changes in the clergy training the items on the list are still valid.
The minor traditions and customs within ADF are all still more or less as stated by Isaac. I believe the all night vigil has been dropped by most, though their certainly may be some people still doing it. Now I haven’t been to any official ADF rituals, but judging by the photos found on the internet not so many people actually always wear white robes at rituals. As far as I could see mostly the people involved in rituals are the ones wearing robes anyway. This observation has been underlined by a discussion on ritual robes on the Mailing list (“Ritual Wear”).
7. Describe ADF's use of Dumezil's “tripartition” and its effect on ADF's structure, study programs, and the religion of ADF members in general.
According to Wikipedia Georges Dumézil (1898 – 1986) was a French sociologist and scholar of religions. He developed the theory that the Indo-Europeans were divided into three castes corresponding to three functions in society: Priests (sacral – First function), warriors (martial – second function) and producers / traders (economical – third function). This classification is known as the trifunctiontal hypothesis or tripartition theory (“Georges Dumézil”).
Dumézil has formulated the trifunctional hypothesis especially as a theory to classify Indo-European cultures. In this way his theory certainly does have a certain weight within ADF. I had the impression that the greatest impact of the theory is to be found in the discussion of the virtues. Looking at the structure of ADF, we could argue that there is a tripartite division: The clergy council, the mother grove and the folk. But the translation into the Dumézilian framework functions only well for the sacral, as the mother grove cannot really be seen martial (unless you see the warriors as the executives of the governing bodies and therefore see the administrative governing body as martial and the folk as economical. In liturgy I can see the “cosmic tripartion” (Land, Sky and Sea – three Kindred) as having a much greater influence within ADF liturgy as does the trifunctional hypothesis. Aspects of a certain specialization of the three functions can be found within the Guilds: The clergy training, Orders, Bardic-, Liturgist-, Scholars-, Healers-, Magicians- , Dancers- and Seers Guild (first function), the warrior Guild (Second function), The artisan Guild, Brewers, Naturalists (Third Function) – although here we can see already that the functions aren’t as clear cut as we would like them to have: The ancient Druids were known to have fulfilled different “jobs” including being healers and the “historians” of their tribe, so that Healers and Scholars could be first function. We could argue though that they belong to the producers too. The same argument could go for the Dancers as often the folk is known to Dance, but priests fulfilling sacred dances are known in different cultures, so that we can’t be sure about that either.
According to Dumezil these three functions reflected as well a social hierarchy. Now I’m actually glad ADF hasn’t adopted so much of this theory and has a rather flat hierarchy. Moreover I think nowadays it gets even more complicated as our society and how we earn our living today is so much different. Moreover there could be person’s fulfilling a third function role within ADF but a second function one for living. Now where would that put them? I think the Theory can be of worth and does show in some points within ADF, but I think there is a good reason for the critical voices too and am glad that the imprint it has on ADF is not too strong. Again it’s about finding the balance between scholarly reconstruction and our modern society today.
8. Explain the difference between “orthopraxy” and “orthodoxy.” Where do you feel ADF falls?
Orthodoxy is usually translated as the “right or correct believe” or the “right doctrine”, orthopraxy as “right” or “correct” behavior. If we look at orthodoxy and orthopraxy being on the two extremities of a continuum, all religions can be placed somewhere in between. All religions require a certain amount of both orthopraxy and orthodoxy, but they differ on the specific amount of importance placed on it.
Orthodoxy implies that to a specific doctrine there is a right interpretation and believe, which makes other interpretations wrong. For orthodox believers it is important that their doctrine stays clean from arbitrariness and followers believe in the same doctrines. On an extreme point of view other doctrines are regarded as heresy. This differentiation has become especially important for the monotheistic religions based on revelation (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), with some using the word in their denominations (e. g. “Greek Orthodox Church”, “Orthodox Judaism”).
As Ian Corrigan points out (“Discussing pagan theology”) the ancient Paleopagans where more concerned with orthopraxy, doing the rituals and sacrifices in the right way. This means that an ancient priest would probably repeat the whole ritual again when doing a mistake or do some pacifying action. The importance of the correct behavior was not only a practice of the Indo-European people, but was inherent in many different ancient religions as shown by the elaborate ritual descriptions of the Sumerians (Maul “Zukunftsbewältigung”). On the other hand there were household shrines and a private practice. The difference is shown in Roman Religion where you’re fine as long as you’re doing the public practice well and it is not relevant if someone actually really believes in what is done.
In accordance with ADF’s implications to live a modern path of the ancient IE-Religions, I would put ADF more on the orthopraxy side of the scale.
Certainly there is some commonality in belief too, but the actions count more. Groups have to adhere to the Core Order of Ritual (COoR). Members can believe what they want in their personal work and do rituals and devotionals the way they want to. Orthopraxy is a solution in dealing with differing pantheons during a High Day rite (Cox “When your personal pantheon”) and ADF has Atheist, Agnostics and Stoics in his ranks. Though in our modern times the rope is looser and the intention counts a lot too, so that a priest would not repeat the whole ritual just because s/he made a mistake.
De facto I still see the choice of the word as problematic as orthopraxy implies with the “right” way a “wrong” way to practice. But ADF does not say that they are the “right” way to practice (and for example Wiccans are wrong) but simply that a ritual may not be called ADF if it doesn’t follow to a certain amount the COoR. ADF is united in combined action, the Core Order or Ritual, despite the individual belief. The binding quality of the Core Order of Ritual is again stressed in Newberg’s Ancient Symbols modern rites (Newberg “Ancient Symbols”) and there translated as shared practice through the COoR. The COoR actually unites Groves across countries. So actually I would rather prefer a word symbolizing this united, shared practice instead of “right”. Following these lines, without having ever learned ancient Greek and only using Wikipedia as a source I would suggest koinopraxy from koinós “together” or enopraxy from enóno “combine” (caution, these words should be checked by someone actually speaking Greek), for a better description what ADF is about.
9. Describe why we make Praise Offerings, how they are made, when they are made, and who they are made to. Be sure to describe this in both solitary practice and in two or more Groves'practices
For this Essay I used a few Emails from the ADF-Discuss list. I had asked a question there concerning praise offerings and when writing this essay realized I could use some of the answers:
Praise offerings are personal offerings. They can be physical objects or performance pieces including prayers, songs, dances or praises. They have to go from human into divine hands, which means, that objects need to be destroyed or made unusable for humans.
The doctrine of the Paleopagans regarding sacrifice was “do ut des” (I give, so that you may give), implying reciprocity: The folk strengthens the Gods and keeps the cosmic order in balance while the Gods give gifts back. It is noteworthy, that mostly things cultivated by humans were sacrificed: art, weapons, food, herd animals – but no wild animals. Alongside with the home cult and the High Days or state cult, there would be temples to different deities and people would go there and do offerings to a special deity as needed and for thanking. Following this lead, ADF gives ritual participants the possibility to worship in public their Gods. This can help people who haven’t started private practice yet, as well as having a stronger declarative effect because of the publicity.
Step eight of the COoR includes offerings to the Deities of the Occasion but as well praise offerings. In practice a certain variety can be found within the different Groves: Three Cranes Grove asks after the invitation of the three Kindred if the folk brought praise for them. Then the folk can give praise offerings to whomever they like (Dangler). While Stone Creed Grove focuses tightly on the BotO for their High Days with no space for praise offerings, they can be done during their monthly rites (Corrigan). Nemos Ognios does the praise offerings after the sacrifice to the BotO (Serith). B- J. Rogers explains, that Larrea Tridentata asks the indulgence of the BotO after they have received the “lion’s part”, that offerings may be made to other beings present (Rogers). Some Groves have an offering bag, where people wanting to come forward and do a praise offering can take something out (Michael J. Dangler, personal communication, August 21, 2012); while in others those items have to be bought from the Grove (Carraig). Others do craft workshops before hand so people can offer those items (Catsidhe).
While ADF encourages performing a personal praise offering to the BotO it is possible to do a performance for any (Patron) Deity, Nature Spirit, or Ancestor. In some cases this may even include deities from other religions.
There is no set rule how solitary practice should be performed. They can be included in a solitary High Day rite, or a person can chose to do a rite when the need of an offering to a certain Deity arises, like the people used to visit certain temples at certain times in need.
10. Describe ADF's administrative structure
Note: Since the writing of this essay a change has been made in the administrative structure which is not reflected in this essay!
The Basis of ADF form the Members and the Groves. Through the Members Advocate (MA) the Members are in close contact with the Mother Grove (MG) the governing body.
According to their domicile ADF members appertain to a certain Region, supervised by the Regional Druid (RD), in charge of fostering growth and communication within that region.
The RD belongs to the Council of Regional Druids (CoRD) whose Chief (CotRD) belongs to the MG.
The Council of Senior Druids (CoSD) is composed of all past and current Senior Druids and Grove organizers. Its purpose is to share information and support between groves. It is lead by the elected Chief of the Senior Druids (CotSD). There are two subcommittees: Grove Organizing Committee and Grove Coordinating Committee, to supervise and approve Grove activities.
The Council of Lore (CoL) is led by the ADF Preceptor and is composed by the Chiefs of every Guild. It governs all Guilds, Kins, and SIGs and oversees all study programs including that of the clergy.
The Clergy council is lead by the AD and additionally composed of the VAD, AD Emeriti and all Ordained and Dedicant ADF Clergy. Its purpose is to train, ordain, and supervise all ADF Clergy and its activities, determines the liturgical standards, and governs all ADF Orders. The CC Preceptor is responsible for representing the CC and to lead and create the training program.
The supreme authority within ADF is held by the Mother Grove (MG), equaling a Board of Directors (BOD). Its purpose is the general management of ADF.
It is comprise of the Archdruid (AD) as the leader of ADF, the Vice Archdruid (VAD), the Secretary or Scribe, the Treasurer or Purse warden and the Members Advocate (MA). Additionally the elected Chiefs of the different Councils are present, such as the Chief of the Council of Regional Druids, the Chief of the Council of Senior Druids (CoSD), and the ADF Preceptor as the Chief of the Council of Lore. Additionally there are three Non-Officer Directors (NOD) representing the membership.
Additionally there are Non-Director Officers who are not voting members of the BOD:
ADF Administrator (Admin), responsible for the daily operation of the corporation, including Emails-lists, website, the ADF Office.
Other officers not on the MG include the Chronicler in charge of all the publications and office Manager and the store manager.
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