Well, it's official. I am now a member of ADF. I figured that since I signed my Honored Dead into the Grove's Book of the Dead that I am now in it to win it, and should probably give the organization some money instead of just taking all their good shit and going home. I was, however, pleased to note that upon joining I promptly got a lot of welcome-y stuff including an email from the regional druid, and of course a book! Since then I've been reading through my nifty Dedicants Handbook, and really really digging it.
From hanging with the folks at GoG for a few years now, I know when they rock out magically, they rock out HARD. Even in something as "simple" as honoring the Gods. What I did not know was the intense focus on real scholarship in the ADF. All this scholarship going on! Right under my nose! Just from the things in the Dedicants manual I am confident that it is not exaggeration that the ADF has one of the most intensive Pagan Clergy training programs.
And the weird thing is.. no one is making a huge deal about how much they know. I am frankly unused to this. Coming from a ceremonial background intellectual hubris is kind of a given. Who has read what, and who has access to what secret documents, etc. A lot of secret squirrel shennanigans going on. "Oh my have you DONE the Abramelin Working? Oh I've done it YEARS ago. The Dehn translation, dear, not the Mathers. I am surprised the Mathers got any results at all."
I think it comes from a culture where there aspiring Practitioner starts off as a baby Magician who engages in scholastic study, then becomes a Scholar who does Magic, then a full fledged Magician. Many get stuck at step two.
Scholars who are Magicians, as opposed to Magicians who are Scholars. In the ADF it is Pagans who are Scholars generally.
It's about where you put your focus. I am sure that a person can do both, equally. I have never met a single person who does so. I didn't realize till relatively recently how much I had fallen into a Scholar (know-it-all, bookworm) who does Magic. And honestly I don't like that. I am good at research, and I have a natural inclination towards it. However, it does not actually get me as much as doing the work. That, honestly, is my bottom line. The benefit of interesting pondering and conversation are far outweighed by potential cash and prizes.