Îwos Eponâ: Festival of Epona Ritual

Îwos Eponâ: Festival of Epona Ritual

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By Trebomâros Auigani

This ritual can either be done indoors or outside.  If this ritual is more of a family event or group event with children, children related activities can be added to the Key Offerings section, like the person performing the omen could dress like a hobby horse and present gifts to any children who are there as a symbol of the abundance of the land before or after the omen is taken.  This ritual can be performed either on December 18th (traditional date for Eponalia) or for Medigiamos (Winter Solstice).

Ritual:

Purification:

Before starting the ritual, as people gather around the altar, light up incense and from person to person, in a counter-clockwise motion, circle it in front of each person saying:

May all that holds you be released,

May all the binds you be released,

May all that enslaves you be released,

Then, with blessed water, have each person dip their fingers in the water to rum on their hands and face.  As they do, say:

So that you may be pure and true.

Once everyone has been purified, have them gather around the altar in a semi-circle formation (horseshoe).

 

Opening Statement:

As the nights become long and the cold wind howls, we come here this night to honor Epona, horse maiden, sovereign queen.  She who rides the fields and the land, bestowing her blessings to the people and guiding the spirits of the Otherworld back to their holdings.  As we gather together, may she find joy in our celebrations and gift us with prosperity in the coming year as well as the protections of her warrior host on these long nights.

 

Opening Prayers:

A: Earth Mother: Chief speaks as the Sacrificer makes an offering of grain, bread or flour:

Before we begin tonight’s festivities though,

May we give honor to the first mother, Danu.

Danu, beloved mother of all

From whose starry waters the green earth springs
You who are the bearer of all life
We pray you bless and uphold this rite.

All: Danu, accept our offering!

B: The Bard invokes the Hearth, saying:

Brigantiâ, Lady of the Sacred Hearth

Voice of the fire of wisdom,
Voice of the well of inspiration
Come into our hearts and sound in our voices.

 

Brigantiâ!
Let us ken of every good or ill,
Guide our rite in the way of truth.
We call you to place the clear heart in us,
in this holy place, at this holy time.

All: Brigantiâ, accept our offering!

 

Grove Attunement:

The Druids lead a meditation intended to attune the company to the Earth and Sky powers and to join the company in spirit. This might conclude with an intoning or a proper chant or hymn.

 

Blessing the Hallows:

The Druid stands before the alter addressing the group:

At the dawn of creation, there were two fundamental forces, symbolized by water and fire.  The tension between these forces created life and thus, the world and the world tree was born.  Through these forces, life continues and within this space, we honor these forces for they not only give birth, but they also connect us to all of creation.

An Offering of silver is made to the well, saying:

O sacred waters that flow and swirl beneath all being accept our offering! Let us know the elder depths within ourselves the source of all, the well of elder wisdom

All respond: Sacred well, flow within us!

An offering of oil is made to the Fire, saying:

O sacred fire that consumes and transforms
True and holy light of the Shining Ones, accept our offering!

O sacrificed and sacrificer, let your holy flame warm our spirits and our lives.

All: Sacred fire, burn within us!

The Bile is censed and sprinkled, saying:

O sacred pillar, boundary of all the worlds,
Stand at the center of the sky,
Stand at the center of the sea,
Stand at the center of the land on which we dwell.
Let us be deepened in your depths
Raised to your heights
Strengthened in your strength

All: Sacred tree, grow within us!

 

Opening the Gates:

The sacrificer makes an offering to Cernunnos, saying:

Cernunnos, Lord of the Deep Wood.

Open the ways for us.

We walk in your holy ways, we walk the Sacred Road.

Share your magic with us and ward us as we walk in safety.

Cernunnos, accept our sacrifice!

An offering of oil is given to the Fire. The Druid then raises his hands and says:

Now, Master of Ways, join your magic with ours and let the fire open as a gate, let the well open as a gate, let the tree be the crossroads of all worlds. Open as a road to our voices and to the spirits. Let the gates be open!

All: Let the gates be open!

 

Kindred Offerings:

The druids make proper offerings to each of the kindreds, standing at the fire.

Ancestors:

The children of the earth call out to the mighty dead. Hear us, our ancestors, our kindred.

To all those whose bones lie in this land, whose hearts are tied to it, whose memory holds it; ancient tribes of this place, we offer you welcome.

To all of our grandmothers and grandfathers, our own beloved dead, blood-kin and heart-kin; ancient tribes of our blood, we offer you welcome.

To all those elder wise ones who guide their people, poets and seers, judges, and magicians; wise women and men of ancient days, we offer you welcome.

So, o mighty ones, we call to you as our kin, in the love of the all-mother, to join in our magic. Come to our fire, spirits; meet us at the boundary. Guide and ward us as we walk the elder ways.

Ancestors, accept our sacrifice!

An offering of food and/or drink is made onto the ground or into a shaft.

 

Nature Spirits:

The children of earth call out to the spirits of this land. Hear us, companions and teachers.

To all our allies, kindreds of stone and stream, crystal and fertile soil, pools, and every water; kins of the earth, we offer you welcome.

To all our allies, kindreds of the growing green, herb and flower, shrub and mighty trees, root and stem and fruit. Green kins, we offer you welcome.

To all our allies, kindreds of fur and feather and scale, all who walk or fly or swim or crawl, we offer you welcome.

So, o noble ones, we call to you as our allies, in the joy of life upon earth, to join in our magic. Come to our fire, spirits; meet us at the boundary. Guide and ward us as we walk the elder ways.

Land-spirits, accept our sacrifice!

An offering of herbs, flowers and/or trinkets is placed in an offering bowl on the edge of the ritual space, or if the rite is performed outside, scattered around the nemeton’s edge or hung on the tree.

 

Deities:

The children of earth call out to the shining ones. Hear us, eldest and brightest.

To all the shining ones, first children of the mother, wisest and mightiest, loving and comforting; gods and goddesses, we offer you welcome.

To the gods and goddesses of this place, ancient and powerful, known to us or unknown; Gods of this place, we offer you welcome.

To all the deities of those here gathered, you whom we worship, you who bless our lives; o patrons and matrons, we offer you welcome.

So, o shining ones, we call to you as our elders, in reverence and love, to join in our magic. Come to our fire, shining ones; meet us at the boundary. guide and ward us as we walk the elder ways.

Deities, accept our sacrifice!

An offering of scented oil is poured on the fire.

After all the offerings have been made, the druids recenter the company and lead an attunement to all the spirits that have been called, and a proper chant or hymn is sung to the three kindreds.

 

Key Offerings:

Druid speaks, saying:

The ways have been opened and the host has been called.  Tonight, we gather to honor she who rides the land clearing the fields and bestowing her blessings to the people.

Epona, Lady of Horses, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona, Queen of Sovereignty, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona of the Fields and Stables, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona of the Warrior Host, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona of the Healing Wells, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona, protector of travelers, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona, Queen of the Otherworld and the Sacred Ways, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona, Great Mother, we call you!

All: Hail!

Epona Regina, friend, guardian, guide, and teacher, we call you!

All: Hail!

 

May our words and praise be heard throughout the Realms and across the land.

A horseshoe wreath of roses is laid out on the altar around the statue of Epona:

These gifts we give to you oh Might Mare.  May these rose be a symbol of the love we share with you.

A set of keys is laid out in front of the statue:

May these Keys be a symbol of your sovereignty of not only the abundance of the land but the riches and secrets of the Otherworld.

Pour Mead into a cup:

And may this mead be a symbol of your Sovereignty as you share your gifts with the people as we gather in celebration of your Holy Day!

Epona Regina, we honor you.

All: Epona, we honor you!

At this time, additional offerings in celebrations are performed (singing, dancing, possibly a ritual meal, etc.)

 

Sacrifice and Omen:

Once all the offerings have been given, or the meal is coming to an end, the druid chimes a bell three times.

As we have come to honor the mighty Epona Regina, let our voices arise on the fire, let our voices sound in the well let our words pass the boundary to the Otherworld.

Epona Regina, we give you our love, our respect, our devotion as we pray you...

All: Accept our sacrifice!

All are led to send their energy through the gates to the powers, meditating on the deities and the nobles. Then druid speaks:

Having prayed to the powers, let us open to them, asking what blessings or wisdom they offer.

Omen is taken as usual. The seer then interprets the omen, leading the company to contemplate the things they would ask of the powers, especially as suggested by the omen. The company then recenters in preparation for the blessing.

 

The Blessing :

Druid speaks:

Ancient and mighty ones, you have honored us with your blessings.  We thirst for the waters of wisdom, the bounty of rebirth from the well of wisdom, from the spring of renewal, from the bosom of the earth mother. Hear us...

All: Shining ones, bless us with the waters!

We open our hearts to the blessing of the great one. We stand in pride, honor and friendship with all the powers of the worlds. Hear and answer us now...

All: Shining ones, bless us with the waters!

Ale is poured into the cup and elevated. Druid speaks:

We draw blessings from the cauldron of blessing. We pour the ale of inspiration. Behold the holy cup of magic, the outpouring of blessing from the mighty ones. When we share the draught of the gods we drink in wisdom, love and strength to do as we will in the worlds, in service to the shining ones.

Hear us Epona Regina and all the Shining Ones that are here tonight; hallow these waters! We, your children, rejoice in your gift. Bless our spirits and our lives with love, magic and bounty as we drink these sacred waters.

All: Bless us with the waters of life!

The cups are passed clockwise and all drank as a proper hymn is sung.

 

Closing:

When all is done, the druids lead a resettling, then begin to close the grove, saying:

The mighty ones have blessed us. With joy in our hearts let us carry the magic from our sacred grove into our lives and work.

Each time we offer to the powers they become stronger and more aware of our needs and our worship.

So now as we prepare to depart let us give thanks to those who have aided us.

Epona Regina, Might Mare and Queen,

All: We thank you!

O gods and goddesses of elder days,

All: We thank you!

O spirits of this land,

All: We thank you!

O ancestors, our kindred,

All: We thank you!

To all those powers that came and celebrated with us, we say again...

All: We thank you!

Druids renew the company's centering once more, signaling the return to common awareness and ease of access to the centered state. Then any unused offerings, return flow, incense, water, etc. is given to the earth, saying:

Blessed Danu, to you we return all we leave unused. Uphold us now in the world as you have in our rite.

All: We thank you!

The druids go to the center and say:

Cernunnos, warder of the ways, for your presence and power, your guiding and guarding we say...

All: We thank you!

Druid makes the closing sign over the hallows with the wand, saying:

Now by the keeper of gates and by our magic, we end what we began.

Now let the fire be flame
Let the well be water;
Let all be as it was before.

Let the gates be closed!

All: Let the gates be closed!

Go now, children of the earth, in peace and blessings. this rite has ended!

The bard leads a proper chant as the company processes out of the ritual space/Grove.

 


 

-Ritual outline originally from the ADF website: https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/liturgy.html