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none's picture
The following articles explain various aspects of ADF ritual and ritual performance.The Intentions of Druid RitualFrequently Asked QuestionsThe ADF Core Order of RitualThe ADF Outline of WorshipThe Full ADF LiturgyA Preritual Briefing for NewcomersA Cosmological Preritual BriefingNine Central Tenets of Druidic RitualA Druid Ceremony Step-by-StepPreparing for a Druid RitualA Druidic Ritual PrimerTiming: An Essential ElementThe Place of RitualThe Three Worlds and KindredsSacred Space, the Triple CenterMarking Sacred SpaceMagical Skills in RitualThe Well-Trained RitualistConcentration in RitualChanges in the Druid LiturgyBasic Liturgical DesignThe Goals of Group RitualNotes on InitiationConsecration of a New GroveJust What is an EquinoxADF members can also check out our Core Order of Ritual Tutorial.
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IsaacBonewits's picture
© Isaac Bonewits Originally published in Druid's Progress #2A number of people have asked me about initiations in Ar nDraiocht Fein and of how these might tie in with our Circle system. But before getting into specifics about ADF, I'd like (as usual) to indulge in just a bit of theory.....Types of InitiationThere seem to be three major approaches to initiation practiced by various cultures and subcultures around the world. These approaches are often combined and interwoven. I'll attempt in this essay to create a "typology of initiation" to make the distinctions and overlaps clear.Type 1: "Initiation as recognition of a status already gained." The ceremonies of Bar/Bas Mitzvah or Confirmation are good examples of this. The basic idea is to gather the community around you, and to announce that you have achieved a particular stage of growth and therefore you now have certain responsibilities as well as privileges. These sorts of initiations are frequently "time-bound," that is to say they happen more or less automatically when you reach a certain age or have been studying a craft or discipline for a specific period of time.Type 2: "Initiation as an ordeal of transformation." A mundane example of this would be throwing you into a pool in order to force you to learn to swim. There are a wide variety of traditional techniques for doing this in a ritualistic way, such as: Making you fast for a week, go without sleep, be flogged without crying out, be sexually tempted and/or exhausted, be buried alive or locked in a dark room, go on a vision quest, be led through a night-long guided meditation, etc.Any or all of these techniques may be augmented by the use of mind-altering substances, depending upon local traditions, but what they all have in common is this: Regardless of the specific techniques being used, the goal is to induce an altered state of consciousness within which you are forced to confront Life, Death and your own multiple Selves. While you are in this state of reality/vulnerability, you are capable of re-imprinting yourself with a new worldview (or of having one imposed upon you). This is said to make you a "new person," and indeed the commonest theme in such initiations is that of death and rebirth.By the way, Robert Anton Wilson has a lot of good material on imprinting and re-imprinting "tunnel realities," in his Prometheus Rising (Falcon Press, 1983), which should be available through your local metaphysical shop.The emphasis on difficulty is both "de"scriptive and "pre"scriptive: Being born again into a new worldview and status is not easy, since it requires giving up (some people say "growing out of") your old identity, which is usually based, at least in part, on your culture's collection of approved tunnel realities. Whatever physical or psychological pain might be involved also serves as a screening mechanism -- if you are likely to buckle under pressure, the tribal elders want to find that out before you get into a position of responsibility where your weakness could endanger others. This is a harsh reality to reside in, but for most of human history it's been a necessary one. If we're unlucky, and Pagans ever have to go back underground, we'd probably have to return to such attitudes again.As distinct from type one, this approach believes that the purpose of an initiation is to promote (or force) the achievement of a new growth stage. Although also often time-bound, with this sort of initiation it is possible to fail, with consequent devastating effects upon the body and/or mind of the would-be initiate. These negative effects are considered the unfortunate price that must be paid for safeguarding the welfare of the group.Type 3: Initiation as a method for transferring spiritual knowledge and power from the initiator(s) to the initiatee(s). (By the way, I'm using the term "initiatee" as distinct from "initiate" to indicate the difference between someone going through the process of being initiated vs. someone who has already been initiated, whether in the near or distant past.) In the Western mainstream occult traditions, this is often called the "transmission of the Gnosis" or the "Apostolic Succession," but it has been used by quite a few different traditions and organizations throughout human history. This approach assumes that the purpose of an initiation is to open you up to a source of external power that has been used by your predecessors.A properly done initiation of this sort should have the following results: (a) you are better connected to the deity who is the group's magical/spiritual focus, (b) you are better connected to the spirits of your predecessors, (c) your internal psychic hardware and software are rewired and reprogrammed to enable you to handle the group's flavor of energy better, and (d) you are given the ability and right to speak and act as a representative of those predecessors, and thus to fulfill certain spiritual and/or magical responsibilities.Initiations in the Neopagan/Craft Community:When Valiente and Gardner were inventing the modern Craft, they were unclear as to which of these three approaches they considered the most important. His Masonic background gave him the idea for the ritual "ordeals" of being bound and threatened (type 2). Their Anglican culture, combined with their desire to be in touch with those who had supposedly gone before, inspired the idea of "handing on the Craft" from priestess to priestess as a sort of Pagan apostolic succession (type 3). Masonic rules about minimal times to be spent between Degrees, folkloric references to "a year and a day" being a magical span, and the needs of their congregation for a predictable schedule of promotion, eventually led to general expectations that everyone would automatically be in intiated/ordained after they had been in the religion for set lengths of time.This time-binding could have led to any of the three types of initiation, but Gardner and Valiente had further factors to consider. They had to keep each member of their core group happy with his or her personal progress. Simultaneously, they had to generate a sufficient number of clergy to reach the critical mass necessary for survival as a religion. So they decided upon unfailable (type 1) initiations.As "Gardnerianism" (it really should have been called "Valientianism") spread to America, it's monarchial leaders had no trouble at first with American ideals of democracy, because most Americans secretly are in love with British royalty. But in the late 60s, several High Priestesses suffered rude collisions with the counter-culture's egalitarianism. They began to be faced with increasing differences of opinion about the proper purposes and roles of initiation and hierarchy. The Neopagan/Craft explosion of the 70s threw these questions high into the air, and they haven't landed yet.Implications for ADFWhat all this means in terms of how Ar nDraiocht Fein is going to handle initiations is yet to be settled. But, based on this three-part (well they say Druids are supposed to be fond of triads!) typology of initiations, let's explore the possibilities...If you think of your initiations as recognition for your hard work (type 1), then you should ask yourself from whom you wish to receive this recognition. You could gather together a group of "peers" (members of your own or neighboring groups) and/or "elders" (local Neopagan/Craft clergy you respect), and perform a quasipublic rite of elevation.If you don't feel that you're already at your desired level, but rather that you are ready to rise to that level, then you'll want an ordeal/testing (type 2) initiation, the central parts of which should be private.If you want to have a close magical/spiritual connection with an already existing tradition, then you're going to have to find representatives of such who would be willing to grant you that contact, in whatever sorts of rituals are, well, traditional for that group.For those seeking authenticity, however, I should point out that there are no Neopagan Druid groups that actually go back any further than 20 years or so. The oldest of the currently existing Mesopagan Druid orders, on the other hand, seems to have an "unbroken tradition" that goes back two or three centuries. (They might go back a bit further, as might some of the other Masonic Druid groups, but none of them have ever released much in the way of historical evidence.)The bottom line here is that, as far as "authentic" traditions are concerned, none of the Neopagan or Mesopagan groups are engaging in practices or promoting beliefs that we can prove actually resemble those of the original Paleopagan Druids. So, just as with the Craft, the odds are that anyone who tells you they can initiate you into an authentic Ancient Druid Tradition is probably (whether they realize it or not) in error.I won't deny that it's possible that some "family tradition Druids" may have survived in the wilds of Wales or the crags of Cornwall, and some of these people may have joined a Masonic Druid order or two in the last couple of centuries. But whatever authentic beliefs or practices they might have brought to these orders is by now inextricably mixed with the Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, Freemasonry, Spiritualism and "Celtic Christianity" of these groups. At this stage it would be damned near impossible to disentangle the authentic Paleopagan survivals from the Judeo-Christian accretions.The Role of the ClergyThe part to be played by a Druid priest/ess in these initiations depends entirely upon which approach or combination of approaches we eventually decide to take. There's also the practical question of whether there happens to be an available Druid clergyperson around at the time someone wants to be initiated. But assuming that there is a priestess or priest in the area when the time is right, exactly what should she or he be doing during the ceremony?In a recognition ceremony, for example, the initiation is essentially being done by the entire group. In this situation, the clergyperson is "simply" supervising the energy flow as he or she would do in any other group ritual they were leading (the importance of having competent leadership for group ceremonies is a whole 'nother kettle of fish -- one for a future essay).An ordeal or testing type initiation, however, requires that a judgement be passed as to whether the candidate has successfully achieved the level of growth sought. This judgement may be passed by either (a) the candidate, and/or (b) the initiator, and/or (c) impartial witnesses.Having the initiatee decide for her or himself whether or not they have successfully accomplished the initiation's goals, is an option that is open to a great deal of abuse, especially with younger or more inexperienced candidates. The second option requires the initiator to be able to suspend her or his own personal biases (pro or con) towards each initiatee, and can often ensnare all parties concerned in sexual, economic, magical and/or political quagmires.The third option, using witnesses, is often best, which is why initiatees are frequently expected to be able to "publically" perform certain tasks in order to prove that they have passed their tests. These proofs may be positive and/or negative ones. For example, the candidate may be required to show that she/he is alive, sane, received a key symbol in a vision, has created a good song based on themes presented by the initiator, and so forth. Or, conversely, he or she may be expected to have not screamed all night long, or broken concentration, or orgasmed, or failed to orgasm, or fainted, or forgotten important phrases, etc.It is absolutely critical to this option that all the participants in the ritual are willing to accept the results, regardless of whether they indicate success or failure. This is very difficult to handle when working with friends, which is why group agreement on standards and on what constitutes "a passing grade" should be arrived at long before any ceremony even begins. If that agreement is sufficiently firm, all parties involved will feel much better the next day. Especially since, if you know you are going to have to pass certain tests in front of witnesses, you are far more likely to put off your initiation until you are genuinely ready -- thus avoiding the problem of "quickie initiations."As for the transmission of an intact tradition, this is something that will take us many years to accumulate. However, the use of Celtic languages and proper invocatory techniques will certainly help us (both as initiators and as initiatees) to make the desired spiritual and magical connections with our predecessors. I'll have more on this in the future.Some Further QuestionsIt has been pointed out that this analysis of initiation is viewing the experience primarily from the point of view of the individual initiate. It might be useful to consider initiation from the point of view of the initiator, the group members, spectators, etc. What are their attitudes, expectations, experiences? What sort of spiritual or magical transformation takes place in these other people, or in the group as a whole? What's the best way to counsel someone who has just failed an initiation? All of these are good subjects for further discussion.
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Ian Corrigan's picture
We begin our exposition of the ways of Our Druidry with the intentions of our rites. By this we mean both the limited and specific goals of any one rite, as well as the overarching meaning that is present in the Order of Ritual itself. Every rite performed in this Order partakes of three meta-processes of spiritual intent.I: The Spiritual Intentions of Druid RitesTo Rectify and Empower the Souls of the Worshippers:The most consistent and personal result of sincere participation in ritual is the creation or strengthening of the patterns of our spiritual cosmos in the souls of individual worshippers. We need not enter into a discussion of whether this pattern exists innately in all people or whether we must create it there through our work. In either case the pattern will be strengthened and deepened by repeated meditation and ritual enactment.The lore of Indo-European Paganism clearly assumes that the Inner Worlds, Otherworlds or Spirit Lands are the original models that predated our manifest world and from which it draws its reality. When we make our simple physical images of cosmic order, our Sacred Grove, we draw these Inner realities closer to the manifest world. When we in turn meditate on these symbols, recreating them in vision in ourselves, they become a kind of map that allows a clearer, more ordered understanding of the contents of our minds and hearts.As in most of the Pagan revival, Druidry is not focused exclusively on the Light or the Heavens, nor do we value the Inner or Spiritual world more highly than the manifest world or the contents of our souls. We understand the Inner to be integral with the physical, and the physical to be as holy as the Inner. We use ritual to manifest the Powers of the Inner in our common world. By using our art, craft and skill we create physical and spiritual events that reflect and manifest Inner realities.Once these Inner realities are manifested in this way, they can have effect on much larger groups and whole communities, in the process being graven in the souls of many more worshippers. Thus is the Pattern of the Worlds translated from the Inner through Art to the physical, and into the souls of the folk.When a Pagan successfully integrates these patterns, they act as a kind of realignment for the mind and heart. Even if we assume that these patterns are inborn in us all, it is clear that the stresses of everyday life in our secular culture can leave us uncentered and distressed. Thoughtful, integral participation in ritual is one of the key answers to this modern alienation.To Serve the God/desses and Spirits:In contrast with much of Paganism, our Druidry tends to adopt a theology that views the million Powers described in tales and lore as independent, living entities. We reject, in general, theories that view the Powers as projections of our own minds, or as thought-forms created by human worship or as archetypes in the collective unconscious. Instead we prefer the traditional uniting of the nature of the God/desses and Spirits and of humanity. We can describe this uniting as having three parts.First, humankind are Powers in and of themselves. We have innate abilities to shape thoughts, words and things just as do the Powers, and are capable of magic even without their aid. The greatest of us can be the equal of nearly any being, and all of us are able to exercise a degree of spiritual accuity according to our talent and skill. Second, we know that while there are many Spirits that may be weaker than us, there are many that are vastly more powerful. Many of these Mighty Ones are connected with the very maintenance of the life and health of ourselves and our land. So, third, in order to live well we need the blessing of these great Powers. This is obtained through worship, sacrifice and Attunement. By thus bringing ourselves into contact with these beings we allow them to be reflected to some degree in our own souls, bringing their blessing into our lives.All traditional Paganism says that it is proper to give gifts of our own skill, art and substance to the Powers. The ancients offered carefully crafted objects of precious metal and wood as well as fruits of labor, food and drink to those they worshipped, and it is proper for us to do the same today. We must assume that the Spirits want and need these gifts just as we need their blessings. So by our rites of worship we feed the Powers and acknowledge our mutual interdependence with them.This worshipful approach can help us to avoid the inflation of the personal ego that has been the besetting error of the Western magical Tradition. We do not teach that we are "God" or identical with God or the Universe. Rather we acknowledge that each of us is one element in the great dance of being. If we are skilled and talented we may come to a very great spiritual power, perhaps even becoming a God/dess. Yet even the greatest of the Powers worships and sacrifices to the other God/desses and Spirits. The web of mutual obligation never ends nor would we wish it to, for it is the thing that sustains all existence.To Bless the Folk and the Land:Our Druidry is neither meant to be humble, one-sided giving to the Powers nor vague, feel-good spirituality. Pagan religion hopes always to provide real benefit to the community it serves. In traditional lore this is often expressed as three great goods - health, wealth and wisdom. Again, Paganism does not reject the things of this material world in favor of spiritual things. Every human life needs a balance of physical well-being, sufficient goods and mental and spiritual growth. We expect our religious rites to be practical aids toward these goals.The Order of Ritual contains several intrinsic benefits for all who join in wholeheartedly. First, as mentioned, is the establishment or strengthing of the Cosmic Patterns in the soul making us more firmly grounded and more effectively centered. Second is the deepening of our contact with the God/desses and Spirits. As Pagans we should be working to establish personal relationships with the Deities, members of the Faery Tribes and of course with our own Ancestors and the Elder Wise Ones. Whenever we participate in the offerings to the Three Kindreds we have the opportunity to call to our own allies among the Powers, thus strengthening our personal magic. The third source of blessing is, of course, the Blessing itself (the "return flow"). The worshipper should formulate carefully what she desires to receive from any rite, and everyone should expect real results, real life-changes from the blessing and drinking of the Blessing Cup.As modern Pagans we have a special duty to heal and defend the land itself. Our Holy Earth has been deadened by centuries of loveless abuse, and it should be part of every Druid rite to appeal to, waken and honor the land that upholds our work. Our Order of Ritual gives us several opportunities. The first is at the Earthmother Offering, when the local Goddess of the land, and/or the Earthmother of the chosen pantheon is honored. The second is at the Nature Spirits Offering, when the tribes of Spirits who enliven the area are worshipped, and the third could be at the Blessing itself, when a portion of the Blessing might be poured on the Earth, so that the land may share in the results of the work.II: Practical ConsiderationsHaving discussed the theoretical bases of our work we may now examine some more practical connotations in choosing your intent and goal for a Druidic rite. We can consider these under two headings: Choosing a Pantheon and the Occasion of the Rite. Pantheon and PatronsThe primary outer purpose of most Druid ritual is to worship the Powers, the Deities and Spirits. In much of the Pagan revival Powers from a variety of cultures and systems are often worshipped together. While this happens in Druidry as well we encourage the choice of a single cultural pantheon for each individual rite. This gives focus to the rite, ensures that the Powers are in harmony and en es the gaining of lore about ancient Pagan cultures. So the first step in designing a Druidic rite is to decide in which cultural complex the rite will be done.Of course any system that chooses to call itself "Druidry" will have a strong interest in the ways of the Pagan Celts. We are no exception, and the next volume of this digest will focus on Celtic rites for the seasons and other intentions. However Ar nDraiocht Fein is open to all Indo-European cultures and we have work occurring in the Germanic, Hellenic, Slavic and Baltic communites.Of course the strongest element in this choice will be your own interest and dedication to a particular pantheon. If you are working alone you should simply use your own first choice of pantheon, but groups will need to reach a consensus. Rather than mingling the systems of several group members, we recommend doing separate rites, experimenting with various cultures until the group's preferences become clear. Some of ADF's Groves keep to a single culture through out the year while some vary from holiday to holiday and some even perform multiple rites, one for each of several cultures for each Holy day. Choosing a single cultural paradigm allows a group to deepen and strengthen its magical connection with those Powers, while experimentation broadens experience and entails research, so the choices are yours.Once you have determined the pantheon for your rite you must also choose the particular Powers to whom the central offerings and callings will be made. This will be based on the occasion and the magical intent of the rite as discussed below, and on the inclination of its group or individual sponsors. Almost always these Patron Powers are a pair of Deities, a Goddess and a God, though rites can also be offered to the Ancestors or the Spirits of the Land.Those working alone or in a small group that shares a focus may find a desire to worship only one or two Deities from a single pantheon, that is personal Patron Deities. This is fine, but it is important to include the broader company of Powers from the pantheon from which these Patrons are drawn. Our Order of Ritual requires offerings to several categories of Deity in every case, reducing the problem of focusing on personal Deities alone, but you should be sure to thoroughly research the whole cultural pattern from which the Powers are drawn.The Occasion of the RiteThis topic divides into Seasonal Rites, Rites of Passage and personal needs.A: Seasonal RitesAr nDraiocht Fein has formally adopted the modern NeoPagan calendar of eight seasonal holy days. These are, of course, the four astronomical days i.e. the Solstices and Equinoxes combined with the so-called Fire festivals of the Celts - Samhain, Imbolg, Beltainne and Lughnassadh. We have not established a specific set of symbols or mysteries for these occasions. The form and content of each is up to you, though we will provide scripts from which you may draw in tion. Again your own research and meditation will be the best guide to the proper symbols for each feast.ADF is not attempting to revive any of the ancient Pagan religions of the cultures we study. We base our work on authentic ancient lore and effective modern magical and religious technique, realizing that we are creating a new religion for ourselves as moderns. Thus we use the standard dates and core symbols of the modern Pagan calendar, fitting various ethnic traditions into this pattern. While a Grove may choose to perform rites based on a specific ethnic tradition on dates different from the core calendar, the eight core holidays must be offered to the communty.B: Rites of PassageAs in any religion, Pagans hallow the important occasions of our lives with ritual. Births, Child Blessings, Comings of Age, Religious Vocations, Weddings and Funerals can all be proper occasions for our rites. In a future issue of the Flame we will give scripts for several of these occasions.C: Personal Magical WorkThe ADF Order of Ritual has been evolved mainly for public worship with medium to large groups. Using the Order for small workings is quite possible, but may require some variation. This booklet provides a simple script that can be used as a stepping off point for individual and small-group workings. Again, we will discuss practical Magic in a later issue.One approach to personal rites in a community context is similar to traditions in several world religions including Vedic and Yoruba ways. When a member of the community has a particular need or has had a particular stroke of good fortune they may ask their local priest/ess to perform a Rite of Offering to the Powers who will or have aided them. This sometimes be comes a community celebration or prayer and sometimes is quite private. It seems to me that this is a practice that we could profitably adopt.So then, let's conclude by recapping the central concerns for the intent of any rite:Nature of the work- is it seasonal worship, a rite of passage or an individual goal? If the rite combines one or more of these functions, which is the primary and which the secondary intention?Pantheon and Patrons- if you are devoted to a particular cultural pantheon then that choice is simple. Otherwise you will choose which complex to draw on. You will then choose which Deities are most proper to your intention. For seasonal work this may derive from customs and traditions connected to the holy day; for other intents you will need to do research to determine which Powers most closely fit your need.When these concepts are clear in your mind you are ready to proceed to the actual construction of your Druidic rite.
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CeisiwrSerith's picture
If we understand the where of ritual we are closer to understanding the why of ritual. That is, understanding where ritual takes place is a key to understanding the place ritual takes. The intent of this article is to explain both of these; the why in terms of the where.Obviously a ritual is celebrated in a physical location, which has certain physical characteristics. It has shape and size, it is oriented in a particular direction (or not), it contains and may be marked out by objects. None of this is an accident, or, if it is, it is an accident with some serious repercussions. The material has its own importance, and the physical aspects of ritual space affect the meanings of that space as well.There are other aspects of sacred space, however, and they include the ritual and the cosmic. The ritual aspect is made up not only of the acts and words by which the physical space is made divine; it also involves the way the physical aspects of the space interrelate. Each physical aspect has a ritual effect, and each of the relationships between physical aspects has a ritual effect. It might be said that just as the participants interact, so too do the physical aspects.The cosmic aspect might also be called the mythical aspect. This aspect answers the question of how the physical and ritual aspects relate to the way the universe is organized mythically.When seen as an organized whole, the Universe (at least the ordered part of it) is called the Cosmos. The great Cosmos out there is called the Macrocosm, the "big Cosmos." It is common in many religious and magical traditions to also posit a Microcosm -- the "little Cosmos." This is the essence of each human being, the soul if you will. Microcosm and macrocosm are generally seen to be the same thing in some way. In some traditions, such as Upanishadic Hinduism, they are believed to be identical.Indo-European Paganism, though, is about relationships rather than identity. From the Indo-European (IE) point of view the elements of the microcosm are not the same as the macrocosm, but they correspond in a one to one manner to them. In mathematical terms, the microcosm maps onto the macrocosm. For those who, like me, are mathematically challenged, a more literal image might help. A map (at least a good map) relates precisely to that which it represents, but its ink and paper are not the stones and soil of the land mapped. A map thus both is and is not the thing mapped. The two stand in relation to each other.Besides a macrocosm and a microcosm we can define a mesocosm -- a "between Cosmos." The exact nature of this will vary according to the context you need; it can fall anywhere between the two extremes, and there is a whole lot of room between them. Just as microcosm and macrocosm map onto each other, the mesocosm, lying between them, maps both ways.What I will be showing in this article is that ritual space is a mesocosm, and therefore maps onto the microcosm (us) and the macrocosm (everything). I hope I can show that not only is this true but that it is at the very heart of ritual.How is sacred space laid out, and in what way does it fulfill its role as defining a mesocosm in which ultimately meaningful acts might take place?The first characteristic of sacred space is that it is sacred. To be sacred is to be cut off. Most IE words used to describe sacred space derive from roots conveying the meaning "to cut" -- templum, temenos, ve -- the sacred is that which is cut off.Cut off from what? If a sacred space is to be a Cosmos, it must be cut off from Chaos. Not only is it ordered, but this order is defined in relation to disorder. This is one of the purposes of the offerings to the Outsiders in ADF ritual. We do not merely "buy off" the Outsiders or scare them away. By recognizing them we establish our space as being in opposition to the Chaos they inhabit and represent. We mark it out as Cosmos, we define it by that which it is not.The physical space of a ritual is, in IE religion, generally square or rectangular -- the Romano-Celtic temples and Celtic Viereckschanzen, Roman templum and Greek temenos, Zoroastrian pawi, Vedic sacrificial ground. A square or rectangle is oriented towards the four spatial directions; it maps the macrocosm, which is oriented in this way. It is also oriented towards the four personal directions (front/back, left/right) -- it maps the microcosm. The mesocosm of ordered space thus maps in both directions, forming a link between them. This linking is further expressed by the etymological connection between "right" and "south" -- compare Latin dexter, "right," with Sanskrit dakshina, "south," both coming from Proto-IE *deks-, "right." Microcosm and macrocosm are here defined by the same terms.A square space clearly represents the balance expressed by this connection. It is the same in each of the four directions. But what of a rectangular one?First, rectangular ones offer a practical advantage, and even the most important of symbols must sometimes bow to practicality. A temple (a house for the gods) can be built at one end of a rectangle with room for people to gather at the other.I would like to suggest a more symbolic meaning. IE cosmology includes an axis mundi, a center of the universe about which all is organized. This is expressed mythically in the image of the Well and the Tree. The Well extends downward and the Tree extends upward, forming together the axis mundi, the pillar about which the Cosmos turns. The world extends out from this point of joining.Ritually one would expect to find the same thing. However, it is rather difficult for a physical well and tree to exist at the same spot. For either of them to be in the exact center of the space would be to exalt it at the expense of the other. The axis mundi must be separated, with the Tree (or its representative) on one side of the center and the Well (or its representative) on the other. In order for them to be in some sense the center, they must be on one of the two centerlines. The connection between "south" and "right" shows that the standard IE orientation is towards the east, so the east/west axis is the one to use. Choosing that axis also allows for some additional symbolism -- the tree in the east (where the sun comes up) and the well in the west (where the sun goes down). Although not physically in the center, these two, balanced about that center, are there in a ritual sense.I will talk more about the center and what goes on there in a physical and ritual sense later. I would now like to turn back to the sacred.Since the sacred cuts off, it is a border. It defines the difference between that which is inside and that which is outside.Borders must themselves be defined. They must be marked physically, established ritually, and reflect a mythical reality.The mythical reality is first that the Cosmos is itself bounded. (Interestingly enough, the current scientific view of the universe is that it is infinite but bounded.) As implied before when discussing the nature of the sacred, the bounding, the border, is between Cosmos and Chaos, between the Macrocosm and Disorder.Second, this border is conceived in IE thought as formed of water. This water is one of the three worlds -- land, sky, and sea -- which composes the IE universe. I have discussed this in depth and given my reasons for proposing this model in Serith, < >. One example is the Graeco-Roman belief in the world-circling ocean. Cosmos is encircled by, contained within, the unordered waters of Chaos. "Beyond here there be dragons" -- and dragons are spirits of Chaos, lurking in the depths.A similar division is found in the microcosm. A person is clearly bounded. This bounding is not done with water, of course, but with skin and air, but there is plenty of history of the metaphor of "the ocean of air" which shows a connection in thought between air and sea.With these two mythical aspects in mind -- the Cosmos is bounded and it is bounded by water -- we can now turn to the ritual and physical aspects. How is such a border between sacred space (Cosmos) and non-sacred space (Chaos) established?Ritual space is cut off. When researching IE rituals for creating sacred space, I was surprised to find that they were in one way similar to those found in Wicca and Ceremonial Magic -- they involved cutting. I suppose I should not have been too surprised, since the symbol is, after all, pretty obvious.Emain Macha was marked out with a brooch pin. Zealand was ploughed around to separate it from the mainland. Romulus created the sacred borders of Rome by ploughing. Temporary pawis are marked with a knife. The Vedic sacrificial ground is laid out by ploughing. Sacred space is literally cut into existence.The evidence prescribes ploughing as the canonical method. Due to practicalities, and approved by the variations mentioned, a substitution is possible. What matters is that the implement be sharp and metal (the better to cut with). For instance, a spear could be used, which would add the rather nice symbolic touch of guarding the border. I myself use the shovel with which I turn over my garden in the spring -- my plough.All of this leads us to the physical aspect. You have to be able to see where your Cosmos ends, in this way bringing the visual sense into the ritual.In a permanent sacred space this would be quite simple. Wall of earth, wood, or stone could be built, or pillars places at intervals, perhaps with a rope or chain between them to enclose your space.Temporary space is not that much harder to mark. Its corners can be shown with poles or rocks, which might also be placed at intervals along the border. For added definition, cord or ribbon can be strung from pole to pole.Walls and cords are hard to pass through. That is the whole point. The border of sacred space is itself sacred. It is a dangerous thing, not to be crossed with impunity. Remus, to show his contempt for the walls Romulus had made, jumped over them. He was struck dead.If you cross sacred boundaries, will you be struck dead? Of course not. What will happen will be worse. You will have undone the border's sacred nature. You will have dissolved the sacrality of your space and the rest of your ritual will take place in mundane space. You will have left the mesocosm.This is not to say that IE sacred space is sealed tight. We are not talking here about a Ceremonial Magical or Wiccan circle, a bubble separated from all around it. To return to the story of the founding of Rome, when Romulus ploughed the borders at each place where a gate would be he lifted the plough. Since the gates would be crossed constantly, they had to be non-sacred.In IE sacred space the non-sealed nature is also marked with a gateway. Traditionally this is in the east. When the borders are cut a door is left in the eastern wall through which people might pass in and out.This seems to counter the idea of separating out a space; it seems to create a leak through which Chaos might enter and Cosmos escape. And that is exactly what it does. It must, or ritual space would not map to either microcosm or macrocosm.There is a peculiar but beautiful thing about the IE Cosmos. It is not completely separate from Chaos. Take the Norse cosmology, for instance. This very famous cosmology preserves the Proto-IE one almost perfectly. The World Tree stands at the middle of the Cosmos. At its foot is a well (or wells) from which it is watered. From the Tree honeydew drips down into the well.The well represents Chaos. Water is unordered, and the well connects with the underground and surrounding sea in which Chaos dwells. This means that Cosmos is fed by Chaos. In turn Cosmos feeds Chaos (honeydew drips into the well). The nature and functioning of this reciprocity rewards study, and I recommend it to all. For now, though, observe that there is an influx of Chaos into Cosmos, and that that influx is necessary.Note also, though, that Chaos does not overwhelm Cosmos. Rather, Cosmos orders the inflowing Chaos in order to continue living.This is the macrocosm. In the microcosm we have an even more obvious example. We quite literally have openings in our body. Through one Chaos enters in the form of killed life. Without this influx we would die. It does not overwhelm us, though. In fact, we transform it into the energy with which we operate and the very structure of our body.Think for a second again about the directions. If the south is to our right, what is to our front, where our mouth is? We face east. Indo-Europeans "orient" themselves when they pray; the gods are spoken to while facing east. And east is just where the gateway is in our physical sacred space. When we pray to the gods, facing east, we face the gateway. Not a bad idea in a very obvious sense; you don't want to turn you back on danger. In a more subtle sense, though, notice that the gods are seen as being in the same direction as Chaos. They are not chaotic, of course. Then why do we face both Chaos and divinity in the same direction?Like the Cosmos, the gods are fed by Chaos, transforming it into order. They might be said to ride Chaos into sacred space, keeping it from overwhelming our mesocosm. They protect us from Chaos by mediating it.Ritual space is not only sacred, it is holy. Edgar C. Polome (1982) has shown how the distinction between these two plays out in Indo-European thought, even to the extent of different words for the two (Latin sacer and sanctus, for example). We have already seen that the sacred can be dangerous, and well it should be -- it is on the border between Chaos and Cosmos, where warding power is need. By being dangerous it can serve as a guardian for the holy, which resides within the space the sacred marks out. The holy is unreservedly benevolent. One of the major intents of ritual is to make contact with the holy and absorb its blessing. The holy pours out into sacred space, filling it and bringing with it the blessings of the gods.The sacred must be crossed to get to the holy. The sacred is wild power, dangerous and difficult to restrain, but necessary for the establishment of microcosm and macrocosm. It is the border, the surrounding water.The holy is not dangerous at all. In fact, it is necessary if anything is to exist at all. The holy is the center. It is fire.In the center of the microcosm, fire is the spark of life within us. It is the body's furnace which transforms the chaos that is ingested into the cosmos of the body. It is the altar on which the offerings given by the world are burnt and shared with the divine life.The place of fire in the macrocosm is harder to see. That is because its equivalent does not exist in the form of fire. It is, rather, the point where the Tree and Well unite, the instrument by which the Chaos flowing from the Well is transformed into the Cosmos which is the Tree. The water from the Well pours through the fire, forming the fiery water that is one of the central mysteries of IE religion. (See Puhvel, 1987, pp. 277-283 for a short discussion of some aspects of this.) This is one of the meanings of the Waters of Life, a topic which deserves its own article.In ritual space the holy is represented by a fire in the center. Remember how I said that the representatives of the Well and the Tree could not both be physically in the center, even though they were mythically there? The two are equally important; since both can't be there, neither can be there.Fire, though, is the most important thing in the ritual. Remember that in the macrocosm the fire is at the most central point of all, both on the vertical and horizontal planes. It is found at the exact point where all six directions meet. That is the ultimate center.For these reasons, then, we put the fire both physically and ritually at the center of the mesocosm (our ritual space and actions), just as it is mythically in the center of micro- and macrocosms.The central physical fire is square. In this way it equates to the four directions of the micro- and macrocosms. It also reflects the square sacred space. It is the space writ small; the space is itself a container with a fire at its heart. The fire and the space map onto each other.From the fire, from the center, the holy ones enter the world. Although we may call to them facing east, it is through the center that they come. We call to them in the direction of the rising of the macrocosmic fire (the sun), and they come to us through our mesocosmic fire, that in the center of our space. In ADF terms, the center fire is the Gateway. It opens both ways; through it the gods come to us, through it our offerings go to the gods.The space where the fire burns is an altar. Many Neo-Pagans think of an altar as a place to put their ritual tools. But that is not the Paleo-Pagan view. An altar is two things. It is the place where the gods sit, and the place where offerings are made. It is a table, yes, but it is the table at which we sit down in fellowship with the gods and eat a communion meal.In an Indo-European Paleo-Pagan sacrifice, the gods were given small, usually inedible, parts of the animal. The rest was cooked and eaten by the people attending the rite. Some of the meat was thus transformed as a gift to the gods, born on the rising smoke of the fire. The rest was transformed into a gift from the gods -- their divine fire transformed the animal into something sacred by cooking it.The fire is where this miracle takes place. ADF does not sacrifice animals, so there is no meat to burn or to cook. We do, however, send our prayers and offerings to the gods, and they respond with the Waters of Life -- fiery water.In the mesocosm, then, the divine transforming of food into body (in the microcosm) and Chaos into Cosmos (in the macrocosm) is performed ritually by the transforming flame in the center.There are actually two fires in Indo-European ritual space, though. There is the fire of offering, the square one, and there is a round one. I have been talking about the square fire, the one in the center of the ritual space. This is the public fire of offering.The round fire is the domestic one. It is the representative of the home's hearth, the original offering fire. I have given the evidence of this in Serith, < >. Here I will just comment on the garhapatya fire in Vedic ritual. This fire is lit by coals taken from the hearth of the person for whom the sacrifice is being offered, and is tended by his wife. It is used to light the square fire.This is very important. The round hearth fire is the source of the square public one. Not only is the square fire lit from the round one; if the round fire goes out the ritual must be stopped. Thus although the square fire is the focus of public ritual, it is the round fire which is primary.So where does this round fire fit into the micro-, meso-, and macrocosm model I am proposing? Ask yourself where it comes form. It comes from the home.Home and world are equated in many traditions. Mircea Eliade covered this far better than I could, but just keep this in mind. The home mediates between the family and the outside world. It is, then, a mesocosm. In our everyday life we live in a mesocosm, and now in our ritual we are living in another. From our daily life we bring the fire to empower our ritual life. Our ritual life will then empower our everyday life. The round fire represents our everyday life in our ritual space.Physically, the round fire is, of course, round. It can burn in a cauldron or a round fire pan. It can be laid on the ground in a round fire ring.The round fire is located between the square fire and the gate. It is thus a stage on the journey from the everyday to the divine, from the world outside sacred space to that space's center. It is firmly established within sacred space, but since its mesocosm is of a different order than that of the public ritual it has is own center and is not in the center of the ritual space.The round fire may be carried into the space already lit if that is convenient, as it would have been carried from the home of the sacrificer in ancient times. It can also be prepared in the ritual space. That fire would be like coals carried from a hearth to the square fire.A question immediately comes to mind -- whose hearth do we bring fire from? ADF ritual is not performed on the behalf of a particular individual, but of the community as a whole.In ancient communities this would be no problem. The king or chieftain was the ritual center of the group; his hearth was the group's hearth. ADF has no kings or chieftains, though. Even a grove's Senior Druid does not take this function.A public hearth must be established. This has fine Indo-European precedent; the temples of Vesta and Hestia, as well as that in the convent of St. Brighid, were such hearths. Some groves actually keep an eternal flame burning, and that is the obvious source for the fire. Alternatively, a group hearth can be established as part of the creation of ritual space. This can be a simple as lighting a candle or oil lamp with a ritual identifying it as such. Or a fire can be lit some time before the ritual, even the night before, and then tended by grove members until the ritual, and then coals taken from it and carried in a fireproof container to the ritual site. After the coals are taken the group hearth can be extinguished or watched over by someone during the ritual. A fire can also be lit once the ritual participants are within sacred space. This would be a hearth newly lit in a new home which they share. This home would then be further sanctified by being transformed into a temple.As the heart of the mesocosmic house, the round fire becomes, when brought to the sacred space, the representative of the microcosm. It is a physical representation within the ritual space's mesocosm of the microcosm. It is a spot where all the ritual participants can be said to co-exist. It is a shared microcosm; through it we are identified with each other, and since from it comes the square fire of offering, through the round fire we approach the gods as one people, the round fire, the hearth, giving us one home.Both the microcosm and the macrocosm are present in ritual space and fires, then. And ritual space is a mesocosm that mediates between the two.The idea that ritual space can be mapped onto both the microcosm and the macrocosm is not new. And of course the equation of microcosm and macrocosm is a commonplace. What is not usually realized is that 1. ritual space is a mesocosm, 2. this mesocosm maps in both directions simultaneously, and 3. it is not only the space which serves as a mesocosm, but also the actions within it. This is, of course, true of the ritual acts which create sacred space, through which the identity of the microcosm and macrocosm is established and strengthened. But since ritual actions take place within sacred space, all ritual acts themselves are mapped into both the macrocosm and the microcosm, affecting both. All actions taken within sacred space have an effect on both worlds. All ritual acts are effective acts.What is scary is that all non-ritual acts, performed in sacred space, are also effective. This is implied in the fact that ritual space maps both ways. It is, in a religious sense, the same thing as both worlds, and what happens in ritual space happens in both worlds, whether intended or not. If there is disorder in actions performed in sacred space, there will be disorder both in the people performing and attending the ritual and the Cosmos as a whole. If, on the other hand, the actions are performed with grace, beauty, and order, the individuals and the Cosmos will be imbued with those qualities.This puts a huge responsibility on those who attend ritual, and especially on the celebrants. The latter are responsible for ensuring grace, beauty, and order. If mistakes are made -- a bowl is tipped over, words are misspoken -- they will, if not dealt with, have negative repercussions on attendees and the Cosmos. A misspoken line, a missed cue, the spilling of a bowl -- each action is seen as an irruption of disorder into even the most carefully controlled mesocosm. This is in the nature of things; order is always threatened by disorder. If such mistakes are made, it is the responsibility of the celebrants, especially the chief priest(s) to weave them into the ritual so that they appear necessary, so that what is originally and error is instead shown to be a meaningful part of the ritual.Where the celebrants can shine is by transforming the disordered act into a constructive one. The misspoken word is gently made right, the person who misses a cue is brought to say their words, the bowl is righted and refilled -- the fixing of mistakes in the most graceful, beautiful, and orderly way possible becomes a ritual act. Performed in sacred space, it becomes an act which fixes some of the disorder in the attendees and the Cosmos. Because of this, mistakes can actually strengthen a ritual, provided they are corrected properly.This is ritual space, then. The border (sacred), the center (holy), and the space between in which we perform our rites. Protected by the sacred border, blessed by the holy center, both we ourselves and the universe about us are brought into alignment. By ordering physical space to create sacred space, both microcosm and macrocosm are similarly ordered. We and the Cosmos are made perfect, complete, and ordered.Further, our actions in the mesocosm, which is so intertwined with the micro- and macrocosms, affect them, extending out into both directions. If we work our rituals with order and beauty, so will our micro- and macrocosms be. If we work our rituals in a disordered and slovenly manner, so will they be.Since by performing certain acts within the mesocosm, we can create certain changes in the micro- and macrocosms, ritual can be performed for simple acts of material magic. Prosperity can be attained, healings can be done. In Paganism, there is no good/bad dichotomy between the spiritual and the material, so this is not a wrong thing to do.But ritual can be so much more. The acts performed in sacred space (and time) not only link the micro- and macrocosms, they are them. Through the mapping both ways the ritual is identified with that on either side.Ritual in this sense might be thought of as an artwork. It does nothing but express a truth of some sort.Seen this way, ritual becomes its own reward. It is not goal-directed, but a thing in and of itself. It inspires in us a sense of beauty, and awe, and aesthetic appreciation of the way things are. By presenting us in an apparent way with the inner secrets of the microcosm and the outer secrets of the macrocosm, ritual allows us to observe the deepest realities of the Cosmos. By taking part in a properly constructed and beautifully performed ritual, we become ourselves participants in the very nature of the Cosmos.Not a bad way to spend some time.ReferencesSquares and rectanglesBrunaux, Jean Louis. The Celtic Gauls: Gods, Rites, and Sanctuaries. tr. Daphne Nash. London: Seaby, 1988 (1987).Gimbutas, Marija. The Balts. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, n.d.Drower, E. S. The Role of Fire in Parsi Ritual. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 74 (1944), pp. 75-89.Dumezil, Georges. Archaic Roman Religion. tr. Philip Krapp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970 (1966).Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane. tr. Willard R. Trask. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959.The Metrical Dindshenchas, Part IV. Todd Lecture Series XI. ed. and tr. Edward Gwynn. Dublin, Ireland: Royal Irish Academy, 1924.Ovid. Fasti. Ed. and tr. James George Frazer. London: MacMillan and Co., 1929.Pettazzoni, Raffaele. West Slav Paganism. Essays on the History of Religions. Tr. H. J. Rose. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1967.Plutarch. Romulus. Plutarch's Lives, vol. 1. Tr. Bernadotte Perrin. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1914.Polome, Edgar C. Old Norse Terminology in Indo-European Perspective. Language, Society, and Paleoculture: Essays by Edgar C. Polome. ed. Dil, Anwar S. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1982.Puhvel, Jaan. Comparative Mythology. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1987.Serith, Ceisiwr. Proto-Indo-European Cosmology. The Druids' Progress 15 (1995), pp. 19-25.----- The Hearth in Indo-European Religion and ADF. The Druids' Progress 16 (1996), pp. 2-5.Sourvinou-Inwood, Christiane. Early Sanctuaries, the Eighth Century and Ritual Space: Fragments of a Discourse. Greek Sanctuaries: New Approaches. Ed. Nanno Marinates and Robin Hagg. London: Routledge, 1993.Stronach, David. On the Evolution of the Early Iranian Fire Temple. Acta Iranica 24 (Papers in Honour of Professor Mary Boyce) (1985), pp. 605-627.Volpe, Angela Della. From the Hearth to the Creation of Boundaries. Journal of Indo-European Studies 18:1 & 2 (Spring/Summer, 1990), pp. 157-184.----- On Indo-European Ceremonial and Socio-Political Elements Underlying the Origin of Formal Boundaries. Journal of Indo-European Studies 18:1 & 2 (Spring/Summer, 1992), pp. 71-121.Vyncke, F. The Religion of the Slavs. Historia Religionum: Handbook for the History of Religions. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969.Wait, G. A. Ritual and Religion in Iron Age Britain (BAR British Series 149 (i)). Oxford, UK, 1985.Webster, Graham. The British Celts and their Gods Under Rome. London: B. T. Batsford, 1986.
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none's picture
The following is the Core Order of Ritual (COoR) for ADF High Day rituals as approved in late 2006 by the ADF Clergy Council.This is not a complete re-write of our current Order of Ritual, but rather a clarification of what we're already doing, meant to answer the questions, "Just what ritual steps are the minimum necessary for a High Day rite to be considered an ADF ritual?" and "In what order should these steps take place?"Certain actions/concepts below are "suggested", often listed as "may include" or "is most commonly represented or included". In these cases, the main heading is required for a rite to be called "ADF", just not all the choices listed—and there may be other acceptable choices as well that aren't listed.However, where the word "must" appears, this is a required action. Remember that there is usually a strong cosmological or theological reason for each part of the rite to appear where it does. Some modifications to the COoR are expected, including additions to the main headings and particularly steps from past Orders of Ritual not specifically listed here, but any such modifications should have a particularly strong justification.Note also that following the Core Order is a listing of things an ADF ritual does not include.Core Order of ADF Ritual for High DaysInitiating the Rite - May include:Musical SignalOpening PrayerProcessionalEstablishing the Group MindPurification - This must take place prior to Opening the GatesHonoring the Earth MotherStatement of Purpose(Re)Creating the CosmosSacred Center must be established in a triadic CosmosThe Three Worlds or Realms must be acknowledgedThe Fire must be includedSacred Center is most commonly represented as Fire, Well and TreeOpening the Gate(s) - Must include a GatekeeperInviting the Three KindredsKey Offerings - This will commonly include:Invitation of Beings of the OccasionSeasonal customs as appropriatePraise OfferingsPrayer of SacrificeOmenCalling (asking) for the BlessingsHallowing the BlessingAffirmation of the BlessingWorkings (if any)Thanking the BeingsClosing the Gate(s)Thanking the Earth MotherClosing the RiteItems that ADF Rituals Do Not IncludeElemental Cross Symbolism (the 4 Elements)Casting Circles in public ritualCalling Watchtowers or Elemental GuardiansCalling the dualtheistic "Lord" and "Lady"Acknowledgement of one divine being with power over allBlood SacrificesNon-Indo-European mythic and deity motifs(ADF members may wish to view a Core Order of Ritual Tutorial)
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Ian Corrigan's picture
In the Druidic tradition the obligation to perform public ritual has always been strong. The ancient druids were the administrators of ceremony and acted as sacrificers, diviners and counselors for their folk. We hope to follow their example, and our work centers around modern public Paganism. While this offers many opportunities for spiritual growth, it also presents an important danger. Public ritual demands preparation. Leaders must concern themselves with props, scripts, staging and crowd control. This can make it difficult for even experienced ritual leaders to focus on the Inner and Magical skills that turn mere performance into religious experience. This presents the danger of Pagan worship becoming merely social and formal occasions. With ADF's outward focus - our stressing of public service, networking and community - we could devolve into a sort of 'protestant' Paganism. We could be relevant, involved and concerned without conveying the mighty blessings of the Powers that should be the right of our worshippers. Pagan religious experience, I believe, does not arise through 'grace'. It is not a free gift, but rather requires the skilled effort of all participants especially the leaders. In most Wiccan ritual this need is met by a clearly understood series of Magical skills that have been passed from teacher to student (even if the teacher is printed matter). Such forms are being developed for our Druidic rites, but they are easily misplaced in the hubbub of presenting quality public ritual. I believe that the primary goal of religion in modern times is to help people to form direct, personal relationships with the Inner Worlds and with the God/desses and Spirits. To that end it seems vital that those who lead Druidic ritual be well-practiced in basic and intermediate magical skills. Ritual leaders should be able to use these skills well themselves and also be able to lead even inexperienced members of the participants into the altered states that define successful ritual. In a short article like this one we can examine only an outline of the Inner Work of Druidic ritual. For more detailed instruction see my own work Druidheachd or the forthcoming ADF Book of Rites. We will examine the broad field of Magical skills under three headings: trance and meditation, invocation and mediation, and divination and seership. Trance And Meditation The primary background skill of magic is the control of the mind and its states of awareness. A great deal has been written about the basics of these skills - relaxation, concentration and visualization. The combined result of these skills is called 'trance' - directed, self-willed states of consciousness. The human mind is constantly entranced, shifting between habitual types of awareness according to the random events and reactions of daily life. In ritual we use our skill to induce special trances in which we feel awe, respect and love for the Powers and which make us receptive to the blessing offered by the rite. There are several standard trances in our ADF rites. Grounding, Centering and Primary Attunement: The work commonly referred to as the Grove Meditation has two main intentions. First the participants are led to relax both their bodies and minds, setting aside mundane concerns and habitual postures so that the new inputs of the rite can be received. This goal should not be neglected, especially when there are new, inexperienced guests present. If one leaves a rite with nothing more than the feeling of an hour's respite from the cares of common life, that alone has value in today's hectic world. The second, equally important goal is the connecting of each of the worshippers with the primal Powers of Earth and Sky. One of the key patterns of Celtic and Druidic Magic is the Two Currents - Underworld Power and Upperworld Power and their union in the body of the worshipper and in all the manifest world. Their presence informs and empowers each participant individually and the whole Grove collectively. This is usually followed, or even accompanied, by the ritual acknowledgement of the Sacred Center of the rite - the Fire, the Well and/or Tree. Thus we mirror in the physical Grove the reality of the Underworld (Well), Overworld (Fire) and Middleworld (Tree). This identity of soul with ceremony allows us to bring the power of the Powers through, out of our selves, into the common world. This primary pattern of vision should be renewed several times throughout the rite, again especially if there are new folks present. The Grove Vision: When the Cosmic Order has been established in the Grove and the Gate has been opened ritually, the Druid should lead the company in a visualization of the completed Grove. After renewing the Centering vision, all should envision the Inner reality of the Fire, Well and Tree, seen as beautiful and perfect, holy and powerful. The Druid leads them to visualize the Gate(s) - the connection of the Center with the Otherworlds through the Earth and Sky. With this vision the simple Hallows of the Grove are identified with their archetypal originals on the primal Ground of Sacrifice at the center of all worlds. Again, it also establishes the Gates in the souls of each of the participants. The Forms of the Powers: The skills of visualization are most frequently used in invocation (see below) to compose the forms of the various Deities and Powers to which we make offering. The ancient Celts seldom made anthropomorphic idols of their God/desses, but the oral tradition does contain verbal descriptions that suggest that visualized forms were known and used. So the Druid should have a set of well developed forms for the standard Powers invoked at every rite - the Earthmother, Gatekeeper and Inspirer - and have prepared clear images of the Patron Powers, the Goddess and God offered to in any particular rite. In traditional Paganism each of the Deities might choose to worship one of the the other God/desses. Especially in Vedic lore we find Vishnu and Shiva performing sacrifices to one another. So we concieve that the Triad Offerings - the calls to the Ancestors, Land-spirits and Deities in general - call a large group of Powers to the Grove to join in worshipping the Patrons of the rite. These Spirits are thought of as the personal allies, ancestors and patron Deities of all the assembled worshippers, as well as any other beings who may wish the company well. So at the end of the Triads and before the Key Offerings the Druid should establish a vision of this crowd of Spirits. They come to support their human allies and kin, and to join in the Blessing offered to the company. There are many smaller bits of vision and trance in our rites, mostly in connection with our other categories, covered below. In general, trance should mirror the outer form of the ritual in brighter, more magical detail and ritual should manifest and realize the content of Inner visions. Invocation And Mediation Invocation is the skill of making the rite visible to the Inner Powers; making the words audible and the gifts tangible to them. At the same time it makes the Powers perceptible to the assembled company of worshippers. This requires a combination of strong visualization with well-written poetry and heart-felt sacrifice, the combination of which attunes the worshippers' souls with the essence of the invoked Power. In Pagan worship invocation is not 'summoning' in the ceremonial Magic sense. We do not attempt to command the God/desses, but to come into loving relationship with them. By invocation we draw closer to the Spirits and they are drawn to us to receive our gifts and honor. In return we ask for their divine nature to be reflected in us to bless and empower our lives. Mediation is the skill of actively transmitting the essence of a Power to other humans and to the world. In the dominant Christian metaphysic this skill is limited to the professional clergy of a single God. In the pluralistic vision of Paganism a wide variety of people mediate an even wider variety of Powers. From the simplest family duty to the formal settings of religious work to the highest moments of heroism or judgement, every human has the opportunity and potential to mediate one of the Deities or Spirits. In our Druidry we are working toward knowing the Powers as objectively real, separate beings - not alone as 'archtypes' or 'aspects of self'. Yet tradition tells us that these great Powers are our own kin, made of the same soul-stuff of which we are made. So their presence can wake a corresponding power in our own souls - an archetype, making us more aware of the divinity within ourselves. When a Pagan takes a Patron God/dess she begins the process of mediation. As the worshipper becomes more attuned to the Patron, the force of that Power becomes stronger in her own soul. She comes to feel as the Patron feels and to act as the Patron acts. In time she becomes able to grant some of the blessings that the Patron grants. This is what is actually meant by Priest/esshood in Pagan ways, that the power of the Deities be increased by their reflection in the souls of their worshippers. Thus it is best if the clergy for any rite are actually Priest/esses of the Deities to be honored on that occasion. If not, then the Druid should be sure to spend some time in the days before the rite meditating on the Powers involved, perhaps making a preliminary offering to improve his own attunement to them so that he can mediate their strength in the public rite. The work of the ritual leader also includes helping the assembled worshippers to perceive and mediate the Patron Power's blessing. When the individuals leave the rite they should be able to convey some small part of the Blessing to everyone in their common lives. Here is a simple visualization to that end. The Heart-Mirror: The Druid begins by leading a detailed vision of the Deity or Spirit invoked. This image can be seen as standing in the gate, or established in the light of the Fire or in the shadows of the Well. The company is told to feel their heart as a clear, shining mirror which perfectly reflects and refracts the presence of the Deity. Thus the Deity is felt as present in the worshipper's soul as well as in the Grove. When the Deity is then praised and offered to he/she is also worshipped in each of the company and every action of the Deity is done from within as well as without. Divination And Seership In ADF's Druidic rituals we use divination, after the main offerings, to determine the type and quality of blessing the Powers offer us. The skills of divination with a symbol system such as runes, ogham or even tarot are thus vitally important to Druidic work, and should be pursued by every ritual leader. In some ways this is the simplest of our skills to discuss here. They are easily accessed from a variety of printed sources and local teachers, though actually learning the depths of such a system's symbols can occupy a lifetime. In ritual divination the goal is to read the simple three-rune omen deeply and well. It should be divined in such a way as to allow each participant to to find gain and good counsel for themselves and for their community. There has been a tendency in our Grove to read the Omen as if it were a reading for the Grove itself. I think this misses the mark for public ceremony, where the often cryptic omen must apply equally to each and all. In our work it is also becoming the diviner's job to weave the content of the Omen into the meditation on personal and group needs that should preceed the Blessing. This makes this entire section of the rite oracular, and gives the diviner some latitude for personal intuition and inspiration. It has sometimes been suggested that direct Inner vision might serve these goals better than simple symbol-based divination. It is true that the Druids of old were great seers, often able to use their poetic inspiration alone to speak true about future events and the will of the Powers. However, the diviner has a special responsibility to speak objectively, simply and with detatchment. For far too many 'psychics' these seem to be difficult goals. A symbol-based Omen presents a more or less objective meaning that somewhat constrains any tendency toward wish-fulfillment or ego gratification. In elder days Paganism was supported by a variety of potent seers. In both Celtic and Germanic cultures this seems to have centered around poetic inspiration. Celtic poet-seers were said to be able to place their wands upon a person's head and speak truely about their life and destiny. The Germanic thule was a visionary skald who spoke poetic truth from his Magical seat. Each of these was constrained by a large body of cultural precedent that is, so far, lacking in our Pagan revival. In the same way, the ancients practiced augury, in which omens were taken from the events of the natural world. This has real potential for us but, again, we lack the fullness of traditional meanings that were the treasure of the old seers. So we should certainly be working to develop this sort of true seership. When we have our own consentual body of lore, and a means of evaluating the quality of a seer's work we will have made a real stride toward a more powerful modern Magic. Until that time we should also work diligently to master symbol-based divination,especially the runes and the ogham. In Conclusion I believe that in order for any religious ritual to have its greatest possible effect it must be informed and supported by Magical skills of the sort described. The Failure of Christian ritual is traceable to the loss of these esoteric traditions, and it seems likely that the decadence of classical Paganism, especially in the Graeco-roman world had much the same cause. When ritual becomes purely a duty, merely a social, intellectual or doctrinal event it quickly comes to seem empty to the worshipper. Let us work together to make certain that Druidic ritual remains vibrant and powerfully Magical now and in the future.
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Where does ADF style ritual come from? ADF's ritual style (liturgy) is unique among various druid and Neopagan rituals because we developed it from scratch. Specifically, most of it was developed by Isaac Bonewits in the 1980s, and it has been refined slightly since then by some of our chief liturgists, such as Ian Corrigan and Kirk Thomas. If you're wondering where Isaac got his ideas for the ADF ritual structure, they were partly influenced by his previous work in the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) as well as his Wiccan priest background. However, the major influence on our ritual structure is research into the beliefs and practices of the ancient Indo-European cultures. As our website describes more fully, ADF is a "liberal reconstructionist" religion. This means that we look to the "old ways" of the ancient pagan Indo-European cultures for our inspiration. This differs slightly from other druid organizations in that we're not looking solely at the ancient Celts. Instead, we're relying on solid academic research showing that ancient Celtic cultures were part of a cultural-linguistic family called "Indo-European". The Indo-European cultures, which date from at least 2000 B.C.E. and included ancient Celtic, Germanic (Norse/Teutonic), Hellenic (Greek), Roman, Slavic, and Vedic (Indian) peoples, had many similarities. One example is the importance of a sacred river as a great mother/source goddess (e.g., the Danube, the Boyne, the Ganges). Another is the recurring mythological motif of a chieftain god marrying that mother goddess, thereby ensuring protection and fertility for the folk and land. A third is the concept that the gods are not fundamentally different from humans, but are in fact simply their (more powerful) older ancestors. Another is the idea that there is an order of gods and spirits which is unfriendly toward humans (Celtic Fomoire, Norse Jotuns, Hellenic Titans, etc.), which were driven out by our deities, and which our deities continue to protect us against. The list goes on and on. So the simple answer to the question of where ADF's ritual style came from is that it's drawn primarily from various common ancient Indo-European religious beliefs and practices, and taking into account the realities of modern day society (e.g., our prohibition against blood sacrifice) and modern Neopagan ritual practice (e.g., doing the standard Neopagan High Days, meditation to enter ritual mindset, etc.). So how close are ADF rituals to actual ancient pagan rituals? If you had a time machine and went back to any of the ancient Indo-European cultures, and performed an ADF ritual, chances are there would be very little overt similarity to those cultures' rituals. However, on closer examination, the fictional ancient bystanders would (we think) perceive a certain familiarity in many of our ritual elements. One example would be our use of a sacred fire, which was quite central to many ancient Indo-European rituals. Another is our recognition and honoring of the local area land spirits. Another is our offerings to the gods, and the expectation that they will bless us in return for the honor we give them. Again, the list goes on and on. If your question is, "Is there any evidence that any ancient peoples did the same rituals ADF is doing?" then the answer would have to be no. Interestingly, this is the same answer any strongly reconstructionist group would receive; however, we are neither trying to duplicate ancient rituals exactly, nor do we claim to. We're trying to use comparative analysis of different ancient Indo-European cultures in order to understand the main elements of their rituals, and intelligently draw from them to create our own modern Neopagan rituals which follow the patterns and "spirit" of their beliefs and practices as closely as possible. How come ADF doesn't cast circles? Circles, as used by most Neopagans and Wiccans, are essentially protective measures meant to keep undesired forces out. Often this is because the main part of the ritual is some form of focused magical working and these undesirable forces could work against the participants doing the magic. In ADF, our main focus is not magical work, it is religious offerings ("sacrifices"), so there is much less emphasis on needing to keep undesirable forces "out" since our focus is much more on inviting our gods and spirits "in". We do have a similar concept, though, in that we make an offering to a group of entities we call the "outsiders" or "outdwellers". These are a group of beings whose aims are inimical to ours. The basic concept comes from the fact that a pervasive theme in various Indo-European cultures is that there is an order of gods and spirits, usually an older order, who our gods and spirits (allies) fought with and defeated at some point, but who still linger around hoping to cause trouble. For the Celts, these were the Fomoire, for the Norse it was the Jotuns, for the Hellenes (Greeks) it was the Titans, etc. The basic idea is that our rituals are about offering to our Kindreds (gods, nature spirits, and ancestors/heroes), that these Kindreds are "on our side", and that they gladly receive our sacrifices and offer blessings in return. Our gods and spirits are honorable and are part of, and serve to uphold, the social order. The "Outsiders", on the other hand, are the reverse, and represent forces of chaos that would destroy the social order. So we officially recognize them in our rituals, make them a small offering, and ask them to leave our work in peace. That fact, and our calling to our own allies, serves to protect our rites pretty well. So, we don't cast circles because we relate to the concept of "unwanted influences" in a different way, namely by drawing upon Indo-European mythologies and relating to these forces as a group of chaos-bent spirits who we are able to ask to leave us alone for a time, in addition to calling our own Kindreds to our sides to protect us and receive honor. In effect, our token offering to the Outsiders is very similar to casting a circle, but it has a very different rationale in that we are working with specific groups of mythological entities rather than abstract negative energy. How does ADF view/handle sacred space, then? Since ADF doesn't "cast a circle", our concept of sacred space is obviously a lot different than many other pagans' concept of it. In ADF, the most basic way we make a space "sacred" is by offering to the Kindreds, but we usually do a bit of "setup" first by "recreating the cosmos". This means that we take representations of three sacred Indo-European symbols—sacred Fire, sacred Well, and sacred Tree—and "hallow" them, or do a set of actions meant to attune the material representations of these symbols to their cosmic counterparts. Usually this consists of lighting the sacred Fire, "silvering" (dropping something metal or shiny into) the sacred Well, and wafting smoke from the Fire and sprinkling water from the Well onto the sacred Tree. Where did we get these three symbols? Again, by looking at the religious beliefs and practices of various ancient Indo-European cultures (noticing a pattern yet? :). Some form of sacred Fire, sacred Well, and sacred Tree can be found in all these cultures, as can the sacredness of "threes" or triads in general. Time and time again, through all these cultures, lighting a central fire was an incredibly important religious act. Similarly, the importance of sacred wells can be seen in a number of Indo-European cultures, particularly for the Celts. The sacred tree of the Norse (Yggdrasil) is well-known, but many Celts had important sacred trees (Crann Bethadh, the Tree of Life) too, as did other I-E cultures. Occasionally, cultural variations will be used in our rituals, with sacred mountains or world navels (omphalos) replacing the Tree, or a shaft replacing the Well. So by blessing or hallowing these symbols, we are "recreating the cosmos" and preparing the ritual space for the formal invitations to the Kindreds followed by our offerings for them, and finally finished by our receiving their blessings in return. In terms of where our sacred space begins and where it ends, we don't have a firm boundary and thus we do not need to have some formal exit/re-entry for people who need to temporarily leave the ritual area, as some Wiccans do with their circles. The boundary of our sacred space is really the "immediate area" of the participants, which may be a clearing in a forest of trees, may be a stone circle, etc. For rituals with a large central fire, we might say that the sacred space is defined by "the light of the Fire", but even that is not a hard and fast rule. We're not particularly concerned with the exact boundaries because we make our peace with the Outsiders and invite our Kindred allies, and rest safe in the knowledge that our actions are just and holy, and the Kindreds will protect us and give us blessings in return for our offerings. If you offer to the Outsiders to keep out chaos or negative energy, couldn't you just cast a circle instead? We could, but we prefer to work with specific entities rather than abstract energies. In this way, we are polytheistic rather than duotheistic or monotheistic. We worship different deities as if they are actually different beings, each with their own wants and needs, likes and dislikes, etc., rather than viewing all gods as aspects of a main God and all goddesses as aspects of a main Goddess, as many Neopagans do. Similarly, we make an offering to the Outsiders as actual entities, often naming them (Fomoire, Jotuns, Titans, etc.) depending on the culture of the ritual. In this way, we like to think we are working closer to the ways of the ancients, who (by everything we know) worshipped the gods and goddesses, land spirits, and ancestors as distinct, separate entities. How come ADF doesn't call quarters/towers/etc.? The "four elements" system is another form of abstracting energies, and a fairly late (historically) invention at that, so we don't find it useful to invoke these abstract energies; they are simply not part of the ancient Indo-European cultures we base our practices on. In fact, the "calling quarters" and "watchtowers" done by most Wiccans actually dates back to the ritual magic work of the Golden Dawn in the early 20th century, later picked up and popularized in the 1950s and 60s by Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, et al. These are perfectly fine and valid systems in their own right, they are just much more modern than those we base our work on, namely the cultures and practices of the ancient Indo-Europeans. What's this "land, sea, and sky" thing? Another triad of the ancient Indo-Europeans, particularly the Celts, was the "three realms" of land, sea, and sky. This triad of realms was documented in a wide variety of places, such as oaths between different tribes being sworn as, "and if I break this oath, may the sky fall down and crush me, may the earth open and swallow me, and may the sea rise up and drown me." Many ADF groves also do something to invoke or recognize these three realms, such as throwing earth, sprinkling water, and lighting incense. This can be viewed as the "horizontal axis" of this world, whereas the Fire, Well, and Tree triad are a "vertical axis" connecting us to the underworld (wisdom of the ancestors) and the upperworld (power of the gods). It is not strictly necessary in our ritual format, but many groves do choose to do the "land, sea, and sky" portion nonetheless since it is so well attested to in ancient sources. Why are the fire, well, and tree "gates"? What does that mean? Since lighting the sacred Fire, silvering the sacred Well, and hallowing the sacred Tree really create our "sacred space", they essentially connect the ritual area to the primal patterns of the cosmos. As they serve such an important connective function, they are "gates" in that sense. In a more specific sense, sacred Wells for the Indo-Europeans have always been viewed as connections down into the Earth, into the cthonic realms of the Dead, so the Well is a "gate" for our connection to the Ancestors. Similarly, sacred Fire burns up into the sky, which is usually associated with various gods and goddesses, so it is a "gate" to the Gods. The Tree is anchored in this realm, and is our connection to the land and nature spirits around us, while also being a bridge to the lower (through its roots) and the upper (through its branches) realms. These three are "gates" because hallowing these three symbols aligns the ritual space with the fundamental patterns of the Indo-European cosmos, setting the stage for us to invite the Kindreds to join us and receive honor and offerings. Who is the "gatekeeper" and what is her/his role in terms of the Fire, Well, and Tree? The "gatekeeper" is a god or goddess who is recognized in a culture's mythology as being a guide to travelers, as someone who lives or walks "between the worlds", and who knows the magic of spiritual travel and communication. We call to this deity to "open the gates" for us, which means helping us connect to the Kindreds. If the Fire, Well, and Tree are like getting your home ready for guests, then the Gatekeeper portion is opening the door, and it is followed by inviting the guests in with calls to each Kindred (gods, nature spirits, and ancestors). Blessing the Fire, Well, and Tree makes the ritual space sacred, but calling on the Gatekeeper formally opens it to the places our Kindred allies reside, and it is through this connection that our voices may be heard by the Kindreds. Who are these "Kindreds" you invite? Like the Fire, Well, and Tree, the Kindreds are based on our research into ancient Indo-European religious practices. It is certainly clear that the ancients worshipped various gods and goddesses, regularly making offerings for important things like protection from warring neighbors, fruitful crops, etc. It is also apparent that they recognized spirits in the land around them, and strove to be on good terms with these spirits, such as making offerings before starting to build a house or move a road through an area. Finally, it's known that the dead were not simply buried and forgotten, but honored regularly and consulted for guidance and blessing, as the wisdom of one's grandmothers and grandfathers was always a welcome source of knowledge. So, in our rituals we make a place for another triad, namely our Ancestors, the Spirits of Nature, and the Gods, and we call them the three Kindreds. What's all this about "sacrifice"? Do you sacrifice humans or animals? No, ADF is firmly against blood sacrifice (killing or injuring any animal or person) of any kind—it is strictly prohibited in any ADF ritual, public or private. Sacrifice literally means "to make sacred" and when we say "sacrifice", we mean "offering something important". For the ancients, who regularly raised and slaughtered their own cattle, it was perfectly appropriate to slaughter another beast and designate it as an offering to the gods. However, in our modern culture, where we do not raise and kill our own meat, it is completely inappropriate to do so. Instead, we follow the general principle of offering (sacrificing) things which are important to us. This can be works of our own hand, such as arts and crafts, or something simpler like fruits and vegetables which we have bought with our money and which we know to be pleasing to the gods and spirits of the occasion. Forms of alcohol, such as beer, wine, and spirits, are perennial favorite offerings, but are by no means required; it is perfectly acceptable to have an ADF ritual where no alcohol is present, and in some ritual settings (such as state parks) this is actually required. It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway, that we follow the law and encourage others to do so too. Besides the High days do you do any other type of rituals? Do they follow the same ritual structure? Yes, we do many other kinds of rituals, such as handfastings (marriages), house blessings, sainings (naming of children), rites of passage, magical workings, etc. While these all follow the ADF ritual structure in general, certain elements may be abbreviated or even omitted, and other elements may be added. For example, songs/chants may be shortened or omitted, the land/sea/sky (horizontal axis) may be omitted completely, there may be special meditations in various parts of the ritual (e.g., calling to the Gatekeeper could be a whole special spirit journey), there may be a magical working after the general "return flow" blessing, etc. Can you cast spells using ADF's ritual format? Yes, after the main offerings, omen, and return flow (physical receipt of the blessings given to us in exchange for our offerings), there is an optional spell casting/rite of passage/magical working section. In terms of doing a specific magical working, we'd make the "main offerings" to a deity(ies) associated with the area of interest, such as Brighid for healing, Thor for strength/protection, Athena for wisdom, etc. Are there any differences between doing ritual indoors versus outdoors? We don't have any specific suggestions for doing ritual inside versus doing it outside. Obviously doing ritual outside in nature is preferred, as it is easier to connect with land and nature spirits, the Earth Mother, etc. However, the Kindreds appreciate our honor and sacrifices no matter where we make them, so it is far better to do ritual indoors than not to do it at all. If doing ritual outside, it helps of course if you are able to make use of your surroundings, such as choosing a large natural tree as your sacred Tree, or finding a body of water to do the ritual near, etc. Particularly nice is finding a place and doing several High Day rituals there so that it becomes imbued with the energy of honoring the Kindreds and old ways, but again, a regular ritual site is by no means necessary for ADF ritual. For indoor rituals, you will likely need to find substitutes for a deep well, roaring fire, and tall tree, such as a bowl of water for the Well, a candle or small incense pot for the Fire, and a pole-like object for the Tree. You may also wish to burn incense, open the windows, dress in special clothing, drape parts of the room with special decorations (such as cloths, ribbons, or wreaths), etc. In general, you will probably wish to make the indoor space seem less "mundane", whereas outdoor rituals benefit from the inherent sacredness of the natural environment. Again, though, these adjustments are largely up to you; it is better to perform an indoor ritual with no special alterations of the space, than not to perform the ritual at all. Can a person study with both ADF and OBOD? Yes, a person can study with both ADF and OBOD. OBOD is more experientially-oriented (applying techniques based on effectiveness rather than strict historical documentation/basis), whereas ADF is more historically-oriented (preferring to choose techniques first from those historically attested, and only when those are unavailable, resorting to more modern substitutes). More information on the differences between ADF and OBOD can be read in John Michael Greer's essay titled ADF and OBOD. Are ADF rituals better for groups or solitaries? ADF rituals were originally developed with groups in mind, so they are naturally a better fit for groups. However, our solitaries have been quite resourceful in adapting our ritual structure for their practice. It usually only requires some minor tweaking to fit the taste of each solitary. For example, some solitaries would rather do spoken parts than sing songs, some prefer longer, and some shorter, meditations, etc. Generally, solitaries tend to combine some steps of the liturgy or shorten them since the overall ADF ritual format works well for a group where several people have different parts, but is slightly on the long side for a single person. Again, though, this is an individual preference, and our liturgy is readily adaptable to shortening or even lengthening if the practitioner desires it. How can you have Norse Druid rituals? Weren't the Druids Celtic priests? Norse, along with Celtic, Slavic, Vedic, Hellenic (Greek), and others, are part of the cultural-linguistic family known as Indo-European. When ADF uses the term "druid", we are actually using it in the sense of "Indo-European priest" or, more accurately, "Indo-European intellectual", since it is clear that the druids and their other I-E culture counterparts were actually a "learned class" in contrast to warriors or farmers. As such, they included healers, bards, seers (diviners), historians, judges, scholars, etc. In fact, our ADF guilds represent many of the specialties attributed in historical documents to the druids, brahmins, etc. So, we can have Norse rituals, Hellenic rituals, Vedic rituals, etc., by the fact that our rituals are based on ancient Indo-European religious traditions, not Celtic ones in particular. These types of ADF rituals all share the same basic I-E symbolism and structure (such as Fire, Well, and Tree, the Gatekeeper deity, etc.), but are also tailored for the specific I-E culture of the ritual (such as including key phrases in the relevant language, calling to specific gatekeeper and main deities, etc.). Where do I go for more information on your rituals? Can I ask anyone questions about this stuff? Joining ADF is likely to answer many questions: with your membership packet, you'll receive access to the ADF Dedicant Path and other training, along with access to the Members' side of this site (which has many more articles) at no additional charge. Our website has several sample rituals and articles which explain our liturgical format in detail. Please see our rituals area for more information. If you are looking for a local ADF group whose rituals you can check out, please see our groups page and if you have a specific question about joining ADF please contact us .
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© Isaac Bonewits Originally published in Druid's Progress #4IntroductionFor the last decade or so, people in the Neopagan community, like those in the mainstream religions, have been complaining about the quality of the rituals they do. Although things have improved somewhat recently, it's my observation that, on a logarithmic scale of one-to-ten, the average Neopagan ritual still only rates about "three" or "four", as far as the actual amount of psychic energies raised are concerned (though the mainstream folks are lucky to get a "one" or a "two"). If you want to consider the question of specific, desired and verifiable results from Neopagan ceremonies, then our ratings go down even further.Even the best Neopagan ceremonies, such as the ADF Summer Solstice celebrations (he said modestly), the ones that people talk about for weeks and months afterwards, fall far short of what they could be. Yet politeness, interpersonal and intergroup politics, lack of fundamental psychic and magical training, and childhood conditioning that says "you don't criticize religious ceremonies", here all conspire to make people reluctant to voice their growing doubts about the ritual technology in common use in our community. And of course, simple ignorance of what really strong psychic energies feel like, has been responsible for many of us never really knowing what it is that we're actually missing.This essay is intended to make ADF members and friends familiar with what I consider the most important theoretical and practical aspects of creating public worship rituals with genuine power and predictable results. Although my focus in this discussion is on Druidic ceremonies, most of what I have to say will be applicable to the liturgies being created and modified by a wide variety of other religious traditions, inside and outside of the Neopagan community.I don't get into much in the way of specific detail in this essay, but that is not its purpose. ADF members know by now that I prefer to give them a thorough grounding in fundamentals, before going on to the nitty-gritty details. All too often, religious and magical teachers have focussed people's attention on the superficial aspects of what they were doing, instead of giving them the basic understanding that would allow them to make changes.The pages that follow in this issue of DP (and those I expect you to write in future issues!) will explore the applications of these basic principles to the creation and performance of ADF liturgies. Those of you who belong to other Neopagan traditions should be able to apply this material to your own systems.Throughout this essay and the ones that follow, I'll refer to the "performance" of a ritual, and make numerous other references to the theatrical and musical aspects of ceremonies. I've learned over the last twenty years, mostly from the priestesses and bards with whom I've worked, that the artistic elements of a ritual, and most especially the musical and dramatic ones, can be the critical determiners of just how much psychic, magical and/or spiritual energy gets raised by the participants, and of how well that energy is maintained, focussed and discharged.Most Neopagans won't object to an emphasis on music and singing, but will balk at the suggestion that a good ceremony should also be good theater. We've been raised in a culture that believes that "theatrical" equals "phony", and that being an actor means being a fraud. We've forgotten that what we now call theater was originally part of the Ancient Greek religion (essentially, a way to handle thousands of people in a single ceremony), and that all great performers act as mediums, channeling energy between themselves, the audience and the collective unconscious. It's difficult for those of us who are white, middle-class intellectuals (and that's most Neopagans) to relax and be dramatic in our rituals. So we tend to be inhibited both in our scripts and our performances, and to not bother to learn the dramatic skills we need -- including the scripting, directing, and acting skills necessary to make sure that everyone feels involved at every step of the ritual (so that no "performer vs. audience" distinction develops). Yet if we can manage to overcome our inhibitions, our prejudices, and our laziness, our ceremonies will improve a thousandfold in power, beauty, and glory.Part One: Preliminary DefinitionsI like to start complex discussions with a series of definitions of the terms that are going to be used. I know this is unusual in the occult community, but it does make sure from the start that everyone has a clear idea of what I mean when using various technical terms -- especially when those technical terms have vague and fuzzy meanings in the minds of most readers. In addition, an understanding of the etymological origins of various technical terms can (a) provide us with clearer concepts of what our ancestors and/or predecessors meant by those terms; and thus (b) give us clues to the ancient customs associated with their use; and (c) enable us to overcome the later monotheistic changes to their meanings. So please bear with me for the next couple of pages.The word "liturgy", says the Oxford English Dictionary, comes from the Greek word leitourgia, meaning "public service, service of the Gods, public worship." It's used most often in English to refer to the Christian (especially Eastern Orthodox) ceremony known as the "Eucharist" or "Mass". More generally, according to the O.E.D., liturgy can also be defined as "public worship conducted in accordance with a prescribed form." Interestingly enough, among the Ancient Greeks it also meant "a public office or duty which the richer citizens discharged at their own expense" -- now that sounds a lot like the current Neopagan approach!"Ceremony", on the other hand, comes from the Latin caerimonia, meaning "An outward rite or observance, religious or held sacred; the performance of some solemn act according to prescribed form." That's from the O.E.D. again, which also defines it as "sacredness, sanctity, awe, reverence, exhibition of reverence or veneration, religious rite." In other words, the emphasis in this term was originally on public rituals of a sacred nature. However, "ceremony" is now often used as a synonym for "ritual" in general, both by the mainstream western culture and within the occult community.But what does "worship" mean? It comes from the Old English weorthscipe (with about a dozen variations in its spelling). Originally, the O.E.D. tells us, it meant "the condition (in a person) of deserving, or being held in, esteem or repute; honour, distinction, reknown; good name, credit." Eventually, the religious connotations took precedence; and as a noun, worship became "reverence or veneration paid to a being or power regarded as supernatural or divine; the action or practice of displaying this by appropriate acts, rites, or ceremonies." As a verb, which is our primary concern in this essay, to worship something or someone means "to honour or revere as a supernatural being or power, or as a holy thing; to regard or approach with veneration; to adore with appropriate sets, rites or ceremonies."Because the concepts involved in worship are absolutely central to this discussion, let's take a quick glance at what some of the subsidiary words in these last few definitions mean: to "venerate" means "to regard with feelings of respect and reverence; to look upon as something exalted, hallowed or sacred; to reverence or revere." "Reverence" means "deep respect and veneration for some thing, place or person regarded as having asacred or exalted character." Lastly, to "adore" means "to worship as a deity, to pay divine honours to. To reverence very highly; to regard with the utmost respect and affection."These are typically circular definitions, but they do point out several very important aspects of the nature of worship: when you are worshipping an ancestor, a spirit or a deity, you are showing them (and any observers who may be present) that you have respect for them (or Them). You are acknowledging that their status is higher than yours in some fashion, and perhaps most important in a polytheological sense, you are showing your affection as well as reverence for them. We'll go into the psychic, magical and spiritual implications of worship much later in this essay, but for now I want to emphasise that nowhere in any of these definitions is there a requirement for groveling, abasement or self-humiliation. These seem to come in with monotheistic ideas of omnipotent deities who act as if they were Middle Eastern despots.So with all that out of the way, let's define the main term that this essay is all about: "Liturgical design" is a subcategory of ritual design in general, in this case, the art and science of creating effective rituals for public worship. That seems simple enough, but unfortunately, we still need to review the definitions of six other critical terms (this time my own definitions, the first five taken from the Glossary in Real Magic, instead of the O.E.D.) before we can continue, to wit: "magic", "religion", "ritual", "thaumaturgy", "theurgy", and "polytheology":"Magic" is, among other things, a general term for arts, sciences. philosophies and technologies concerned with (a) understanding and using various altered states of consciousness within which it is possible to have access to and control over your psychic talents, and (b) the uses and abuses of those talents to change interior and/or exterior realities.A "religion" is (again among other things), a magical system combined with aphilosophical and ethical system, usually oriented towards"'supernatural" beings; a psychic structure composed of the shared beliefs, experiences and related habits of all members (not just the theologians) of any group calling itself a religion. As a general rule, a religion shapes and expresses the entire worldview of its members, and conditions their concepts of necessary and proper behavior.A "ritual" is any ordered sequence of events, actions and/or directed thoughts, especially one that is meant to be repeated in the "same" manner each time, that is designed to produce a predictable altered state of consciousness within which certain results may be obtained. The results may be mundane, as in achieving efficiency at your job through the ceremonial ingestion of coffee, in order to alter your state of consciousness to "awake" (the worship of the goddess Caffieina).The desired results may be intellectual ones, as with the discoveries made through the various rituals known as "the scientific method." Or they might be artistic, as in the magnificent ceremony called "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony". But for the purposes of this issue of DP, we'll restrict the use of the word "ritual" to refer to those that are designed to produce psychic/magical/religious results.The primary purpose of ritual is to reduce uncertainty, through the use of (consciously or subconsciously) established patterns of behavior that are known to have "worked" in the past, and which are therefore (by the magical Law of Pragmatism) considered to be "true", "correct" or "effective". The more people who are involved in attempting to accomplish a given goal, whether it's pulling in a fishing net or beseeching the Gods for rain, the more useful ritual behavior becomes.Ritual is often confused with "ritualism", which like most other "-isms" consists of an obsession with the superficial aspects of the root word. Dry and sterile rituals performed by clergy and congregations who have forgotten the reasons behind their actions, but who are sticklers for "tradition", have given an undeservedly bad name to "ritual". As Neopagans, we have the opportunity to reclaim "ritual" as a neutral or even positive term."Thaumaturgy" is the use of magic for "nonreligious" (mundane or secular) purposes, even though it may be done within a religious context. Originally this Greek term meant the art and science of "wonder working"; we can think of it as using magic to actually change things on "the Earth Plane" of physical reality."Theurgy", on the other paw, is the use of magic for religious and/or psychotherapeutic purposes, in order to attain "salvation" or "personal evolution".Most people are familiar with the term "theology", which is from the Greek theologia, "god-knowledge". Theology is usually defined as "the study of God", meaning the monotheistic concept of a Supreme Being. This Supreme Being is almost always thought of as humanoid and male, a fact which has not escaped the notice of modern feminists.In recent years, feminist philosophers have coined a new term, "thealogy", based on the Greek thea for "goddess", and used to refer to "the study of Goddess" -- in other words, religious philosophy with an emphasis upon the feminine aspects of Divinity. But although some of these "thealogians" use their term to refer to discussions about specific historical goddesses (usually as faces of a single Goddess), most of them are still working within a monistic and monotheistic philosophical framework.As a practicing Neopagan priest for almost twenty years, I have had to search for a term to use to describe the sort of philosophical, spiritual and ceremonial studies and practices that I have been engaged in, all of which were planted in pluralistic and polytheistic soil. I tried using "theoilogy" for a while, but that spelling, based on the Greek theoi ("the gods", plural), is even more likely to be considered a typographical error than "thealogy" is. Eventually, I settled on "polytheology" as an obvious, intuitive term for "polytheistic theology" -- one that most English speakers would recognize immediately.For the purposes of this essay, we'll consider "polytheology" to include every subcategory of knowledge/speculation that "theology" and "thealogy" contain, but with an emphasis on the pluralistic, polytheistic approach, especially as manifested by modern Neopagans. And with all these definitions out of the way, we can proceed.Part Two: The Polytheology of Spirits, Deities, and WorshipA couple of centuries of Modern Science have devastated so many Judeo-Christian-Islamic ("J-C-I") dogmas that most intelligent people in our western culture have, consciously or subconsciously, decided that all J-C-I beliefs are "unscientific". Yet a person who has rejected every other J-C-I dogma will often continue to accept the one that says, "Judiasm/Christianity/Islam (choose one, and then a denomination within it) is the only real religion." This, of course, is based on the rockbottom monotheistic belief that "there's only one God, one reality, and one true religion."Once you decide that the only "real" religion (usually your childhood one) is unscientific, and therefore unworthy of belief by a modern intellectual, it's a short step to declaring all those other "inferior" religions, magical systems, and psychic technologies to be equally unscientific and absurd. The technical term for this is "throwing the baby out with the bath water." And the usual result is a conversion to atheism, agnosticism, marxism, scientism, or some other nontheistic faith.The irony here is that, although science doesn't really support any of the monotheistic religions very much any more, ever since Einstein it's tended more and more towards multi-model, pluralistic theories that fit very well indeed with polytheism and traditional non-monotheistic occultism. This makes it sad that even people who have consciously rejected monotheism for polytheism, and who practice various forms of "magical religion" (such as Neopaganism), are reluctant to let go of certain scientistic prejudices, especially those concerning materialism and the nature of reality.I've often thought that the overwhelming reason why most modern magic is so inept, is that most modern magicians, Witches, Druids, etc. (whether Mesopagan or Neopagan), really don't believe in magic. It gets worse with religion. If you don't believe that the Gods are real People, in some sense or another, then the concept of worship becomes meaningless. Worship ceremonies become excuses for socializing, or for showing off the wealth or political status of the participants.Let's recall that the root meaning of "worship" refers to respect. The showing of reverence towards spiritual entities is a logical outgrowth of this, at least for people who consider their gods to be worthy of respect. It implies that some sort of relationship exists between the worshippers and the ones being worshipped. If you want to create meaningful liturgies, then you and the folks you are working with need to have some polytheological theories of worship that make sense to you. Here are the ones I use:A few modern occultists have been upset that I equate the energies used in ESP, PK, and other "psychic" talents with the "magical" energies used in casting spells. I'll go even further, in that I believe the Indo-Europeans made no clear distinction between these energies and those we might call "spiritual", and neither do I. All of these were represented by Fire, and the fact that humans had psychic and magical talents proved that they had the "spark of divinity" within. I believe that this is the origin of the Hindu concept of atman which was both the individual spark (or the "real self") and the universal sea of divine flame. Fire became the symbol of the source of "enlightenment".The Hindu metaphysicians later divided this energy up into different "levels of vibration", a concept which the Theosophists picked up, injected a lot of Christianity into, and passed along into the western occult mainstream as "etheric", "astral", "mental", and "causal" "planes of existence" (there's another matching three-plus-one pattern for you!). But the essential unity of these energies was maintained by the Hindus.I believe that psychic energy not only permeates every human, but the entire universe as well, since I think it is part of the structure of "reality", like magnetism or gravity. This fits well with the Pagan concept of divinity as being both transcendent and immanent. So most of the time I tend to think of spiritual and psychic and magical energies as being all the "same" thing viewed from different perspectives. I believe that the Gods and all other spirits are either "composed" of psychic energy, or at least must use it to communicate with humans.In DP#1 I mentioned that sometimes Neopagans believe in the Gods as "individual and independent entities; sometimes as Jungian 'archetypes of the collective unconscious' or 'circuits in the psychic Switchboard'; sometimes as aspect, or faces of one or two major deities ..... and sometimes as 'all of the above'." Regardless of what deities and other spirits may "really" be in some abstract "objective" universe, in the subjective personal multiverse in which we experience our daily lives, these energy patterns frequently act as if they were ''real people" of various sizes and powers, who just don't happen to have physical bodies as we generally conceive of matter. Being polytheists, we are free to accept a multi-model theory that involves all these possible explanations, and many more besides.Some spirits seem to be fragments of humans who once lived, and are called "ghosts" and/or "the ancestors". Other spirits seem to be anthropomorphic modifications or filterings of energy patterns associated with natural phenomena, and are called "nature spirits". Other spirits are deliberate or accidental creations of human minds, and are known as "artificial elementals". When any of these energy patterns gets enough psychic energy fed into it, it begins to act more and more independent, and to engage in behavior designed to encourage more energy to be fed to it (if it just steals energy when it wants to, it will be called a "demon" or "evil spirit"). If a spirit gets to be large and powerful enough, and is perceived as predominately beneficial, it may become a deity. A feedback loop is established between the deity and His/Her worshippers through mythology, ritual, art, polytheology, and psychic phenomena.Most of you will recall my discussion of "the Switchboard" in Real Magic, where I defined it as a "postulated network of interlocking metapatterns of everyone who has ever lived or who is living now, expressed as constantly changing and infinitely subtle modifications of current telepathic transmissions and receptions." Another way to put it would be "the total groupmind of humanity." Perhaps Jung's "collective unconscious" and/or De Ghardn's "Noesphere", and/or even the Theosophist's "causal plane", are all concepts pointing in the same direction.Some Neopagans have borrowed the Paleopagan concept of a "High God", or a "Supreme Being", who happens to be the ancestor of one's tribe, and from whom all the Gods are "descended". Such Neopagans then think of the Gods they worship as "aspects" or "faces of this High God, a process known as "theocrasy", or "god-blending". This is something folks have been doing for millenia, though usually with local major divinities (Ra, Isis, Vishnu, Freya, etc.) rather than their High Gods. Neopagan Witches tend to have a double-gendered High God/dess, who is thought of as a blend of all the gods and goddesses that humans have ever known (should we call this "duotheocrasy" or "duotheoicrasy"?). Feminist Witches have this same approach, with only the female deities being mentioned, so we can call it "theacrasy". Regardless of the gender or genders chosen to represent the Supreme God, the principle is the same. (Neopagans may be worried about theocracy, but theocrasy doesn't bother them much at all!)Which theory of divinity is "correct"? As a polytheologian, I tend to be one of those who says, "All of the above!" Each of these views of divinity can be useful, depending upon which area of your life (which "level of reality" or "plane of existence") is of concern at a given moment. For the purposes of defining the nature of worship, it's only necessary to consider two basic ideas: Firstly, that a god or goddess is (among other things) a pattern of energy, regardless of whether you think of that energy as "psychological", "magical", "psychic", "spiritual", or any of other kind. Secondly, rather than bemoaning anthropomorphic (humanlike) descriptions of the Gods, we should embrace them as, if nothing else, useful metaphors to describe the types of interactions appropriate for humans to have with Them.The average Paleopagan culture had/has few ceremonies that concern their High God, believing that the Supreme Being is not concerned with human affairs. Instead they concentrate on interacting with the gods and goddesses who rule the tribe and the world around it. Because Neopagan Witchcraft began as a Mesopagan system, highly contaminated by the monotheistic culture surrounding its founders, the primary deities worshipped were perceived as a duotheistic variation of a High God/dess, capable of being worshipped through the use of multiple god and goddess names. As it became more "Neo-", the Wiccan movement placed more emphasis on using specific images of divinity (i.e., Diana, Bridget, Lugh, Cernunnos, etc.) instead of the generic concepts of "the Goddess" and "the Horned God". I suspect that this drift was a direct result of practical experience in liturgy. After all, when you invoke a vague deity, you get a vague answer.Regardless of the metaphor we choose to use, I think that the Gods and other spirits either exist within this realm, or at the very least, communicate with humans through it (from "where"- ever else they may "really" be). And this realm, together with the Three Worlds lived in by humans, animals and plants, constitutes a "universal ecosystem" around planet Earth, that includes all Her children, physical and nonphysical.Most Paleopagans believe(d) that "the Gods need us as much as we need the Gods." Every time you have a single thought about a deity, you feed more psychic energy into that deity's energy pattern. If a lot of people are thinking frequently about a particular deity, She or He can become very powerful indeed. It's as if everyone were making spiritual deposits in Mt. Olympus Savings and Loan. Every once in a while, to assist with the survival of His/Her worshippers (and thus His/Her own survival), or simply to encourage more energy to be deposited, a deity may decide (or be nudged by a competent magician/clergyperson) to pay "interest" or "dividends" on those deposits of psychic energy. This often takes the form of divine energy being given to or through a clergyperson to be used for magical or religious purposes, though sometimes the deity may simply release some of Her/His power to an individual worshipper in the form of inspirations, personal spiritual strengthening, or actual "miracles".This reciprocal relationship of "we scratch Their auras, They scratch ours" is known as "the worship bargain". It may not sound very "spiritual", but that gets us into the quagmire of defining spirituality.In a monotheistic system of philosophy, you can get away with defining any sort of interaction with divinity as being "spiritual". You're not supposed to get involved with "lesser" spirits, since they will all lead you either towards or away from the Supreme Spirit, and you may as well go "straight to the top" (this is another reason why many monotheistic theologians don't consider Catholicism, with it's interceding Saints, to be "really" monotheistic). Things get a great deal more complex with polytheistic systems, since spirits can be considered to have a wide variety of characters. Some will be wise, some foolish, some weird. Communications with deities are usually safe from a philosophical point of view, but the results can be confusing to the inexperienced. Galling any interaction with a spirit, whether ancestor, nature spirit or deity, a "spiritual" interaction leaves out entirely the theurgical, enlightenment-oriented aspects of the word as it's usually used in the west. Unfortunately the word "spiritualism" has been taken over by the necromancers, who use it to refer to a specific religion concerned with interacting with the spirits of dead humans. "Spiritism", on the other paw, is another technical term already in use, in this case, for the Mesopagan Afro-American religions practiced in South America.But the term "spiritual" can also be used to describe certain effects upon a percepient and her or his associates, including those that imply psychological growth and healing, in fact, the modern liberal J-C-I definition of spirituality implies that if "real" spiritual events are occurring, then people are becoming "better" people, they are being healed of physical ailments, the community of believers (the groupmind) is being strengthened, etc. Followers of the J-C-I traditions have tended to consider certain psychic phenomena to be "miracles" or "gifts of the Holy Spirit" when they supported the religious status quo, and demonic deceptions when they did not. Ultimately, this has led to the modern fundamentalist idea of "counterfeit miracles", as a desperate attempt to explain how people who belong to "false religions" can receive the benefits that are supposed to be reserved for the members of the "true religion".A value range can be drawn between the traditional ceremonial magician "commanding" spirits and a traditional Christian priest "asking for favors", with the latter end being perceived as more "spiritual" by most J-C-I theologians. The liberal western theologians will say (mostly because they don't believe in magic, since it's "unscientific") that even asking for favors is "unevolved", but that "true spirituality" consists of simply opening yourself up to whatever a deity has to tell you, and accepting whatever blessings (if any) that it happens to send your way. This very passive view is fairly common among mystical types in many religions. Some versions emphasize the inability of a person to control their own life (reach enlightenment), and thus the need for divine intervention or assistance.Many mystics say that all you have to do is "shut up and listen" to become enlightened. But 95-99% of the people can't do this, so other approaches to enlightenment get developed, including all those which have been called yogas. Physical exercise, philosophy, charitable acts, devotion, art, music, sex, drugs and magic have all been turned into yogas which have a spiritual/religious content when so directed. Most of these, except for the sex, drugs and magic, have been used by the J-C-I mainstream. (Even the sex, drugs and overt magic were used by tiny minorities.) Magical techniques are used in every religion, but are not usually admitted to be such in the west. Thus an artificial distinction has grown between "magical" and "spiritual" events, both inside and outside of liturgy.For example, although they will never admit it, a "sacrament" in Christian theology is a magical and/or psychological ceremony being done with a predefined theurgical goal. Every Christian sacrament has its counterparts in most other religions. Baptism of children is to put up psychic shield around them (for adults, to cut their psyche links with other divinities and congregations). Confirmation is a standard coming-of-age rite, removing some of those shields and making the kids responsible for their own protection, as well as integrating them into the adult psychic network of the tribe.In the Christian ceremony of the Mass, magical techniques are used to produce a spiritual result, through the symbolism of ritual cannibalism. Even if the priest is incompetent and untrained, the power the rite has in the collective unconsciousness (and even lust the conscious and subconscious minds of the congregation) is sufficient to allow him to "coast"- the consecration will "work" anyway. Probably no host (the talisman of bread) can be consecrated without a psychic charge being infused into it, visible to most clairvoyants. But even an uncharged host might produce a spiritual effect (however weak) upon a communicant, if he or she had the expectation that it would.Perhaps what is happening when you "consecrate" a cup of liquid or a piece of food is that you are using your magical arts to put a psychic charge on it that will cause the person consuming it to open his or her self to the power of the divine. Obviously this is something that the divinity involved would approve of, so He or She would assist with the process of charging. In fact, this is exactly what the priest/ess requests of Them during the consecration prayer.So this gets us to the point of examining spiritual activities in terms of their magical and/or psychic patterns of energy flow. If you do a pattern analysis on the public worship ceremonies of those cultures still maintaining a strong belief in the existence and power of the God(s) they worship, and still practicing (however unconsciously) a working magical system, you will notice strong similarities in their liturgical designs, at least within related cultures. Among the Indo-European influenced religions, for example, I've noticed a common pattern, which consists of five main phases, occurring in this order.(1) consecrating time and space, then getting the people centered, grounded, and unified into a "groupmind". This makes them ready for ... (2) opening the Gates Between the Worlds, starting a back and forth flow of energy through the Gates, culminating with ... (3) sending the major part of the congregation's energy to the primary God(s) being worshipped on the occasion. This is followed by ... (4) receiving and using a return flow of energy from the primary God(s) of the occasion; and finally ... (5) reversing the beginnings of the rite (unwinding the psychic/magical /spiritual fields woven) and closing the ceremony down.I'll elaborate on this common pattern in the step-through of the Druid rite. In the meantime, let's look at the major and minor factors involved in creating liturgies.Part Three: Primary Factors in Liturgical DesignThere are many different factors that need to be considered when designing a liturgy. Some of the main ones are: the number of people involved on any given occasion; how well they know each other, the psychic talents available among them; the selection of the ritual's goal and target; the nature of the occasion; the exacting timing of the ceremony; and finally, the precise location in which the liturgy is to be performed.The number of people involvedThis frequently overlooked factor is actually one of the most critical. It certainly has affects upon almost all the other factors, major and minor. To begin with, the following rough size categories may prove useful for the purposes of this essay:The Neopagan community has done a great deal of experimentation into solitary and small-group ritual techniques, but has had problems with larger groups. Most Neopagans have blithely assumed that the small-group methods invented by Gerald Gardner and friends would, "of course", work for medium, large, very large and even gigantic groups. This has proven not to be the case. Each increase in the size of your congregation brings new challenges and new opportunities for the aspiring liturgist.Over the last twenty years, I have led or otherwise participated in magical and religious rituals in all of the size categories (the largest was with 1500 people, at the American Stonehenge, during a total eclipse of the sun). Despite the difficulties, I continue to be enthusiastic about the larger ones because, as the number of people increases arithmetically, the amount of sheer psychic/spiritual power that is at least potentially available for magical and/or spiritual use increases geometrically. Considering how much work needs to be done to save our Mother, I think we're going to need all the energy we can get!Intragroup familiarityInterwoven with the question of sheer size is that of how familiar the participants are with each other. This breaks down into three subcategories: knowledge, friendship or love, and group identity.A small group of people who already know each other well can often generate more usable power than a larger group of people who don't. This is especially true if the people in the smaller group actually have bonds of friendship or even love between them, which is why the original Neopagan ideal of a working group being a group marriage had so much premise (most of which has never been realized, due to the inherent difficulties of making group marriages last. Oh well...).Even if a group of people have never met before, they can, all other factors being equal, generate and focus their power more effectively if they all share some sort of a group identity (and "tradition" -- I'll discuss that later). The more specific this group identity is, the better it will work for this purpose. "We are all Gardnerisns" or "we are all Frostians will work better than "we are all Witches." "We are all ADF-ers" (not "Bonewitsians", thank you!) or "we are all Reformed Druids" will work better than just plain "we are all Druids." Even saying: "we are Witches/Druids/Asatru/Faerie Folk", etc., will give more of a group identity than just plain "we're all Neopagans."All of these aspects of the intragroup familiarity factor affect your answer to this fundamental question: How good a groupmind are you going to be able to create and maintain with the people you expect to be present? Acquaintanceship creates intellectual and social bonds, while friendship and love create emotional ones. All of these "bonds" can function as "psychic links" (channels for the energy to be used in the ceremony), as can, to a lesser extent, those psychological bonds created by membership in a group. The more psychic links that there already are among the people participating in your liturgy, the easier it will be to create and maintain the groupmind necessary for a successful ritual.Throughout this essay, I'll be mentioning how the other factors to be discussed are affected by these first two of population and intragroup familiarity. More people means more power is available, but it will be harder to keep focussed. A very large part of liturgical design deals with how to create and maintain the groupmind at each of the different size levels.The psychic talents available among the participantsThis is an important factor that many people neglect. If you are doing a ritual to heal someone, and none of the participants happens to be a very good healer, then you are not going to get much in the way of useful results -- unless you have someone who is good at invoking end/or channeling divine energies and you have her or him contact a God or Goddess of Healing to provide the necessary fine-tuning of the energies (see the end of the target and goal discussion later in this essay). If all of your participants are empathic or precognitive, but none of them has any psychokinetic talents at all, then you're going to have trouble getting any rituals designed to affect matter to work veil, regardless of the sincerity of the participants. Sincerity is not a substitute for competence.Having the right psychic talents available is more of a problem with small groups than with larger ones. The more people you have involved in a ritual, the better a chance you have that people with the necessary psychic talents will be present. Since the talents necessary for theurgical results (telepathy, empathy, the clair-senses, etc.) seem to be more widespread than those needed for thaumaturgical results (often the psychokinetic talents), it's usually easier to collect the necessary people for a successful theurgical rite than for a thaumaturgical one.The distinction between target and goalPaying attention to this factor when designing a ritual is one of the great unwritten secrets of the occult. If you want your liturgy to have any positive results other than personal pleasure or egoboost (if any), then you must pay attention to this in your planning. Let's take some mundane examples first.If you are planning a garden, then your goal is to produce food, and your target may be either a particular chunk of ground in the backyard or a window box in your kitchen. Either way, if you don't plant your seeds into real, specific, locatable ground some where, you aren't going to wind up with many tomatoes.If you're a surgeon dealing with a person who has lung cancer, your goal will be to heal that person and your target will be the specific tumors that have to be removed. Doing an easier procedure instead (such as taking out her appendix) won't suffice, even if so doing constitutes a "successful" operation.If you're a technological rainmaker, and you've been hired by some farmers to end a drought, your goal will be to cause the needed amount of rain to fall over a specific area, without causing meteorological side-effects hundreds of miles away. Your target might be a specific cloud bank, at a particular altitude, over a certain location. If you don't deliver exactly the right amount of silver iodide crystals (or whatever) to exactly the right spot, at exactly the right time, you will probably not get the results you wanted. And it won't matter how much fun you had trying.It should be clear at this point: the "goal" is the final result you are after, the "target" is the precise person(s), place(s) and/or thing(s) you need to change in order to achieve your goal.Each of the examples given earlier has its exact parallels in the realm of ritual. Agricultural magic, psychic healing, and weather working all require that you focus your energy upon a specific target in order to achieve a specific goal. If you haven't clearly defined your goal, nor specified your target, nor designed the ritual to guide your energies towards that target, the odds are very high that little that will be useful is going to occur -- and some very unuseful results may happen!If you want to make the crops grow better, pick a specific hunk of dirt with plants in it. If you want to heal Aunt Matilda's lung cancer, send the power into her lungs. If you want to make it rain, choose your cloud. Don't just send vaguely fertile, healthy or rainy thoughts out in all directions with the assumption that "they'll go where they're needed." They won't.Rituals being done for "practical" physical purposes, such as starting or stopping rain, healing sick people, etc., are "thaumaturgical". Rituals being done for "impractical" spiritual purposes, such as attaining enlightenment, strengthening the Gods, honoring the ancestors, etc. are "theurgical" (as are those done for psychotherapeutic purposes, such as "empowerment" ceremonies). Like most pairs of terms in occultism, these are not opposites in a dualistic "black vs. white" fashion, but polar extremes at either end of a continuous range. The vast majority of thaumaturgical rituals contain theurgical elements and vice versa. Nonetheless, this factor needs to be clearly spelled out when designing a ritual.The mental clarity needed to define a goal and to select a target that is likely (if affected properly) to achieve that goal, is just as important when designing theurgical rituals as it is with thaumaturgical ones. If your goal is personal spiritual growth, then your target is yourself and the other people participating in the rite. If your goal is the ethical enlightenment of the whaling industry, then your target could be the specific individuals who make the decisions to kill whales (so know their names, appearances and locations). If your goal is to honor and strengthen ancestors, nature spirits or the Gods, then they (or They) are the target (and you should pick one or two by name and appearance!).The primary distinction between "magical" and "religious" rituals as such, is that when you are using divine energies you can afford to have secondary goals, each with its own target. This works better if the secondary goals are theurgical ones, whether the primary goal is theurgical or thaumaturgical. Also, in religious rituals, you can ask the Gods to help you select the correct target(s) through divination, and/or to provide necessary "fine tuning" of the energies, and/or to provide any needed ethical screening (or "escape clauses") for your target(s).Since 80-85% of the people in the world use vision as their primary sensing mode, the process called "visualization" is the one most used to keep a group's mental energies focused on a goal and target. This requires every person in a group to create and maintain the "same" mental image of the goal and the target, with the target taking center stage. The closer a given person's images are to those being used by the others, then the higher the probability is that the energies sent towards the target will be effective. But if every person in a group has a different mental image of the goal and/or the target, then even the most powerful of ceremonies will be a wasted effort. This is why there is somuch emphasis in liturgical design upon the need for focus and unity. Or to put it another way: Fuzzy rituals get fuzzy results.Remember that you need to visualize both the goal you want to achieve, and the target you wish to affect, in a future tense -- as you wish them to be. Putting more energy into the status quo will only make things werse, not change them. But merely visualizing the final goal clearly will not suffice to make your ritual work, regardless of what many popular books on the occult are now saying.The nature of the occasionNo matter how unique a particular situation may seem to be, the practicing liturgist will soon discover that almost all rituals he or she needs to design can be seen as special cases of certain common overlapping categories of liturgy: those for personal and group needs, personal and group rite; of passage, and cyclical celebrations.Rituals done for personal and group needs can be for introducing or attracting fertility, prosperity, love, healing, peace, general blessings, etc. An individual or group with a particular focus or activity may do ceremonies to achieve certain spiritual, ecological, social, economic or political goals.Personal rites of passage may include ceremonies for dedicating and protecting children, celebrating a coming-of-age, handfastings and weddings, ordinations, death watches, funerals, etc.Group rites of passage are more likely to be such things as the dedication of a new hospital, school, temple or sacred grove, the installation of new officers for the group, a change in the group's name or status, etc.Cyclical celebrations will mark various important events that occur on a regular schedule, such as solstices and equinoxes, the Quarter Days, moon phases, the beginning or end of local hunting/fishing/harvesting seasons, etc.Once you have decided into which category(-ies) your ritual fits, you'll be able to shape your liturgical design with far greater clarity. Realizing that other people have done ceremonies for similar purposes will give you not only confidence, but also (once you track down information about how others have done those rituals), provide you with concepts and material to be absorbed and transmuted in your own design work.TimingThis decision requires you to balance psychic and mundane factors, and will have multiple repercussions on everything else in your liturgical design and execution. The psychic factors have to deal with the fact that different times of day, and different days of the year, have different energy patterns (both physical and psychological) associated with them. Thus it may be easier or more difficult to accomplish a particular magical or religious goal at any specific time chosen.On a daily basis, the magical energies available for use are simply different at sunrise, noon, sunset and midnight, and the halfway points between each. Similarly, the energies available at the solstices, equinoxes, and their halfway points are also unique. These are just the solar patterns. The phases of the moon also can have profound effects, especially when the moon is above the horizon. Those of you who have a background in astrology will need no persuasion in this department. The rest of you will have to experiment in order to verify my statements here (you may also want to pay attention to the biorhythms of the presiding clergy and bards).It has been my experience over the last twenty years that performing a particular ritual, even a "simple" celebration of a Holy Day, on the exact day of the year, and at the exact (or at least the symbolic) time of the day associated with the event being celebrated, will dramatically multiply the ease and efficiency of your working. This is the reason why we in ADF celebrate the Major and Minor High Days at precisely calculated times as listed in DP#2), even though these times do not match those now used by the majority of the Neopagan community.Unfortunately, it's not easy to get other Neopagans to show up for a ritual being held at an "inconvenient" time. Often the proper date for a Holy Day is in the middle of the civil week, and the time associated with the event may be very late at night, or in the middle of the working day. You have some flexibility in the choice of a time of day, since you can choose to schedule your rite for either the astronomical or the symbolic instant of the event. For example, the spring equinox might occur on March 20th, at 10:15 pm in your local time zone. You could do your equinox ritual at 10:00 pm, or at the following sunrise, depending on which would be easier to get more people to. At the very least, you should schedule your ceremony sometime between sunset on the 20th and sunset on the 21st.If you are planning a large public celebration, you'll have to schedule it according to the convenience of the majority of your grove members and guests, usually on the weekend before or after the event. Before is generally better, and you should try to do it at the symbolic time of day if you can (a midsummer's celebration at 9:00 pm would simply not be as psychologically effective as one done at sunrise or high noon). Official ADF groves are expected to celebrate the High Days within 24 hours of the correct instant, but this does not have to be their semipublic celebration.Decisions about liturgical times should include factors such as the work schedules of the members, local transportation patterns, meals, availability of facilities, etc., since all of these will have an impact on bow many people actually show up. The trick is to balance out genuine needs in the lives of your congregation against the laziness and inertia of those who simply haven't made attending your ritual a high priority in their lives. Just remember that if you decide to do a fall equinox rite at sunset, you will not be able to get the sun to hold off setting while late-comers straggle in.That brings up the topic of planning again, which, though interwoven with liturgical design, is not quite the same thing. Planning will be covered elsewhere in this issue. Suffice it to say for now that different times of day and days of the year involve many mundane aspects of life such as transportation, clothing, noise levels, weather, etc. Don't ignore them in your design and planning, or you are likely to have unpleasant surprises disrupt your celebrations.Exactly what sort of site will you be using for your ceremony? The decisions you make in this area will have profound affects on the physical, psychological, and psychic aspects of your liturgy. It's better to be able to choose a site to match the liturgical design, but often you must work with what's available.As mentioned in the script in DP#2, for Druid ceremonies (at least in good weather) you'll want to set up your ritual site outdoors, "in as natural an environment as possible." Obviously, a grove of trees surrounding an area large enough to fit all of you is good, especially if the trees are of one of the particularly sacred species. A hilltop is good, as is the beach by an ocean, lake, or river. A small island or sandbar can be nice, etc. The hilltop of a small island in the middle of a lake could be ideal, since it would combine all three of the three worlds: Land, Water and Sky. It all depends on what you have available in your area. You may wind up using a quiet corner of a large city park.Private land is generally better than public, since you're less likely to be disturbed by tourists, hunters or rangers. However, if your grove is looking for new members, doing a few ceremonies in city parks, especially near universities, can attract folks who might otherwise never hear of you (it can also attract trouble, so make sure that security precautions are taken to prevent disruption).Most Druid ceremonies require a fire in the center, whether it's a bonfire, a cauldron full of flammable material, or just a candle. Many public parks will not allow bonfires, and In some parts of the country it's just plain dangerous at certain times of the year. Fires indoors should be limited to candles or small cauldrons, so as to not set off the smoke alarms halfway through the liturgy, which can ruin the ambiance! If you were planning on a fire being an important part of your ceremony, you'll have to take these factors into account.Speaking of working indoors, the script in DP#2 says, "If the weather is foul, try to use a cave, cabin, hut or other premedieval enclosure." I know that this isn't always easy, but trying to fit thirty people into a small living room can be just as difficult, and far less aesthetically pleasing. If you're going to have to work indoors (as most of us will during the winter), you'll need to plan ahead. If you're uncertain of what the weather is likely to be like, you should have alternate indoor locations selected, and your liturgical design should be adaptable to the change.But how do you get an indoor location? If you own some land, you may be able to find a large cave, or build a cabin, hut or longhouse (a half a dozen determined people can create one in a month, just working on weekends). Many public parks, even in large cities, have rustic looking "lodges", often with fireplaces, that your group can rent inexpensively. These are usually surrounded by trees, and can be ideal for medium to large groups. Whether you're working in one of these lodges, your own temple, a living room, or someone's garage, try to set up the site to look as nonmodern as possible. Those of you who have backgrounds in theatrical set design may be able to give the rest of us some ideas here, so please send them in for publication.Whether indoors or out, don't assume that your site needs to be circular. The ancients Celts (and the other Indo-Europeans) had temples in the shapes of circles, rectangles, ovals, doubled squares and odd polygons. As for groves, the average one is not a precise circle. Although it's aesthetically and democratically pleasing to have the congregation stand around in a circle, and this is the pattern that most Neopagans are familiar with (thanks to Gerald Gardner), you can do effective group worship/magic using other geometrical shapes. The script in DP#2 assumes that the congregation is standing outdoors in a circle, but in point of fact it has worked well with everyone sitting indoors in an oval instead. You could try having them in a triangle (with banners of the Three Worlds at the corners), or in a square, or in lines facing a particular direction.Consider the theatrical difficulties as well as the psychic energy patterns likely to be generated by your choices. For example, from the point of view of the dramatic elements of liturgy, those of you with theater experience will agree that working "in the round" can be far more difficult than working in front of the observers. Unfortunately, with the latter setup, you may then have the problem that some people in the congregation will be unhappily reminded of childhood experiences in mainstream churches, and may refuse to overcome their biases.Generally, the larger a site you have, the better, up to a point. You'll want to have enough room so that the members of the congregation can be standing/sitting/lying in whatever geometrical pattern you have chosen, while still leaving some empty space around the outside of them. Shade can be an important factor, especially with large congregations during the hotter months of the year, as we have found out during the Last two Midsummer's High Noon ceremonies. Since the average large-scale Druid rite can last an hour or more, you need to make arrangements not only for shade, but for the health of the frailer members of your congregation as well (handicapped access to your site is a whole other topic, one I hope one of you will address in future issues).Part Four: Secondary Factors in Liturgical DesignThere are a number of other factors that a liturgist has to consider when creating or modifying a ritual: is the rite to be formal or informal? What will be its verbal and movement modes? How are dramatic tension, humor, and pacing to be handled? What percentage of the congregation will be familiar with the specific rite, or at least Neopagan rituals in general? What kinds of costumes and props are involved? What are the aesthetic, psychological, and cultural themes that will fit with the congregation and the occasion?Formality vs. informalityThis factor seems at first glance to be more of an aesthetic one than anything else. After all, some folks like their rituals to be "High Church Episcopagan" and others prefer to "get down and get funky." But in point of fact, there are some technical considerations involved.To begin with, the word "formal" implies a concern with both structure and with custom. Since all rituals have some sort of structure, whether competent or not, the question of "formality" with a liturgy is one of (a) how tightly the intended structure is actually maintained both design and performance, and (b) how similar a given performance is to the customary way(s) of doing it.However, in the Neopagan community our custom has always been to be informal. for reasons both honest end dishonest. Many Neopagans tend to think of Native American, African and other Paleopagan rituals as being "informal", whereas the mainstream Judeo-Christian rituals are seen as so formal to be downright fossilized. Since it's the former kind of religions that we're inspired by, and the latter that we're trying to transcend, it makes sense that we would equate Paleopagan "informality" with authentic spiritual expression, and Judeo-Christian formality with everything else we happen to dislike about monotheistic religions. What most Neopagans don't realize is that Paleopagan ceremonies are usually very formal, both in terms of structure and custom. It's our western upbringing that conditions us to equate highly physically active, "primitive" ceremonies, with informality.But there are less honest reasons to reject formality in ritual. Most of them have to do with an unwillingness to admit just how difficult a formal ritual can be to create and perform successfully. Ceremonies that require talent, training, discipline and hard work from their clergy and congregation are simply not going to be as popular as those that can be done instantly by anyone. And they're certainly not "politically correct" in our egalitarian subculture.Let's explore some of the aspects that impinge on the formality factor. For example, what's the vocabulary level of the clergy and congregation you are designing a ritual for? Formal ceremonies (if mostly spoken -- see next section) usually have a higher verbal complexity than informal ones, and thus can be more difficult for uneducated people to perform or comprehend. Allowing for this gets you into the social quagmire of having to analyze the verbal skills (and thus the intelligence, education and socioeconomic backgrounds) of the people involved. Not allowing for it forces you to sacrifice precision of energy flow when parts of your group don't understand what you're saying and other parts are offended because you're "talking down" to them.Formal ceremonies also require greater dramatic and musical skills from the clergy and bards, especially if the rite is going to be repeated on a frequent basis, without boring all concerned. The boredom problem should not be ignored. If your rituals bore the congregation (or even the clergy!), they are not going to raise a lot of power. On the other hand, the familiarity that bores some people gives a great deal of psychological comfort to others, while building up a useful pattern of energy in the collective unconscious. You can see that the ''custom" aspect of formality is a two edged blade.What happens if you need to make up a liturgy on the spot, with no chance to do a detailed analysis of the situation? If you've developed your intuition along with your ritual skills, you'll be able to create what you need, as you go. Intuitive ceremonies are often perceived as informal, because the structure being invented during its ritual is a covert, subconscious one. But if you are stringing together bits and pieces of ritual that your group is already familiar with, and you invent a pattern that is appropriate to the occasion, you may wind up with a very formal, but nonetheless intuitive, rite.In general, the larger your congregation is, the more formality is needed to maintain the groupmind's unity and focus in timing and imagery. But it's important to remember the difference between formality and pomposity (clue: are the clergy focusing more attention on the ceremony or on themselves as being "important" people?). This is where I reverse my favorite saying: Competence is not a substitute for sincerity.Verbal and movement modesWill your ceremony be mostly spoken, sung or silent? Spoken ceremonies are certainly the easiest, and can give you very precise fine tuning of the energy flow, but they tend to get very long-winded (and thus boring) unless delivered with enough dramatic skill. Having all the speeches in poetic forms that match the aesthetic and cultural themes of the ritual will add greatly to the power. Having everything chanted and/or sung will boost a verbal ritual to the maximum, since the sounds of the chanting, singing and incidental music will add their own subconscious power to that of the words.Poetry and songs also have the advantage that they are easier to memorize than straight text. This means that a liturgy can be done without a script on the altar, and without the participants shuffling pieces of paper when they should be concentrating on generating and focusing energy. If the clergy, bards and congregation understand the liturgical design of the ceremony they are performing, they will be able to ad-lib any lines they might forget. As the person who wrote the script, you might get your feelings hurt that some of your "immortal words" were skipped or changed, but the results of such ad-libs are frequently better than the original wording. Also, requiring memorization gets rid of flapping paper sounds at dramatic moments, prevents people from reading ahead when they should be paying attention to the progress of the ceremony, and is a useful mental discipline for all involved.The script for a brand-new liturgy, or one that has had many new changes added or parts assigned, can be placed discretely on the altar for the presiding clergy to glance at as needed. A poet or songwriter who has just created a new work that she or he is going to perform as a Praise Offering, can carry a cue card in their pocket. But other than these exceptions, paper should be avoided during a Druid ritual.You can do ceremonies partly or completely in silence, or with only nonverbal sounds. These require the same sorts of nonverbal dramatic skills that a mime uses, and will work best with a smaller group (at least for complete rituals). As a ritual drama inserted into a large scale ceremony, however, the art of mime can be very effective (as was shown at the 1986 summer solstice ADF rites).The kinesthetic mode needs to be thought about as well. Will your rite be physically dynamic or static? If there is going to be a lot of processing, moving back and forth across the ritual site, passing of objects around, ritual dancing, etc., then you need to have a level site with room for people to move in, and you need to train your people in how to do all of these movements. If either the site or the training is unlikely, then you should change your design to one in which the participants can stand or sit most of the time. But watch out for the boredom problem again, and be aware that for some members of your congregation having to stay in one position for long periods of time may be physically painful or even impossible.A minor note on dancing: many Neopagan rites now require dancing by the majority of the congregation, but very few of us actually know how to dance. Holding hands and skipping (or more usually, stumbling) around in a circle is not dancing. It is, in fact, an insult to the Gods, especially when done without any true involvement in the movement. Local folk dance, square dance, and medievalist societies often have free or inexpensive classes available. These can teach the basic steps to some ritually usable dances in only a few evenings or afternoons. If the people in your group are unwilling to attend such classes, you should probably skip (you'll pardon the expression) having dancing as part of your design.Dramatic tension, humor, and pacingGood drama always involves some uncertainty on the part of the audience as to what is going to happen next. Will the winter solstice sun actually return? Will the May Queen wed the Green Man? Is the Corn King really dead? No matter how familiar the participants are with the story, they should experience at least a moment or two of uncertainty. (Thanks to Diana Paxson for bringing this to my conscious attention.)As the liturgist, you have the task of inserting this uncertainty into the ritual in such a fashion as to facilitate rather than disrupt the energy flow. For example, in the old Reformed Druids of North America rituals, after the Sacrifice is offered, the presiding clergy ask the four winds whether the sacrifice has been accepted or not. A stiff breeze, a sudden bird call, or other omen was expected (and usually received!). In the summer half of the year the clergy would declare that all was well, and in the winter half the sacrifice would be announced as unaccepted. This worked well as a way to introduce controlled dramatic tension, except for the fact that sometimes the omens would not "behave" properly (showing up when they weren't supposed to, or not appearing when they should). This disturbed some folks.In the version of the ADF rite published in DP#2, this request for an omen of sacrificial acceptability was omitted. This last year we inserted it back again, in a less constrained fashion. We now throw the runes to see if the Lord and Lady of the occasion have accepted the sacrifice. If the answer is "Yes", we rejoice and continue the ritual. If the answer is "No", then more Praise Offerings are made, the Sacrifice prayer is repeated, and the runes are thrown again. Should we ever have three refusals of acceptance, the liturgy would be immediately shortened, with the final Consecration and Passing (which is the return of energy from the Gods is) skipped, and the people sent home to meditate upon why the Sacrifice was refused.For this is the point where drama, which came out of the temple, goes back to its religious origins. We can't afford a contrived solution to every uncertainty in a worship ritual, though this is normal in mundane plays. If we are going to actually "believe" in the Gods we worship as "real" beings, then we have to be willing to accept that sometimes Their answer to us will be "No". And we have to be prepared to deal with such answers.And how does humor fit into all this? Very carefully. I have seen humor used in ceremonies with positive results on several occasions, both as theatrical inserts in large scale liturgies, and as quiet quips to bring back a congregation's focus after a minor disruption of the energy flow. I've also seen it used, often deliberately, to drain the power from rituals that are getting "too heavy" for the jesters (sometimes the clergy themselves!) to handle. Humor is a two-edged blade that should be handled with the greatest of care, or left out entirely.As for invoking Trickster deities, such as Hermes, Loki, Coyote, etc., let alone deities associated with chaos (such as Eris), these entities have a habit of destroying any Neopagan ceremonies that they actually show up at. Most of them have a nasty streak to their characters (especially Eris, or Discordia, who has become a "fun" deity only in the last twenty years) and need to be handled with the greatest of care and respect. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Neopagan ceremonies in which these deities are invoked, whether formally or informally, are invoking Them to provide an excuse for poor liturgical design and/or performance.Pacing is a topic that anyone familiar with the theater will tell you is absolutely crucial to the success of a performance. A liturgy should be designed and performed with each segment flowing smoothly into the next. You don't want segments to either slow down to the point where everyone gets bored and their attention begins to wander, nor to speed up to the point where people loose track of what's happening. The only way to learn pacing is to experiment a lot with modular design (see later in this essay) and by rehearsing with the people in your group to find out their skills and limits. A five minute guided meditation may be too long for some groups, and too short for others. Taking thirty seconds to bless each person in turn is fine if you only have a small group, but can be a disaster with a large one. A chant that builds to a peak in three minutes should not be dragged out for ten. Etc.Problems with pacing are usually solvable by artistic means, especially bardic. So make sure that your group's bards are involved in the design and rehearsal activities from the beginning. And take their advice!Familiarity with the liturgyThis factor has been touched upon in the formality discussion. If you have the same people showing up for rituals on a regular basis, and the ritual is essentially the same each time (as it probably will be if everyone belongs to the same "tradition"), then they will be thoroughly familiar with the liturgy, and your major worry will be the boredom problem. If some of them only show up once in a while, you'll need to have obvious cues built into the script. This will be even more important if many or most of the participants have never been to a liturgy of this type before. If there is a broad range of ritual experience in the expected congregation, then your ritual design needs to have plenty of things for the inexperienced members to do, with built-in instructions on how to do them, but with the cues not being offensive to the more experienced members. This is difficult to do, which is part of why liturgical design is an art form.One solution that helps avoid boredom while clueing-in those who are moderately to very familiar with your rite, is to have the majority of your liturgy be the same each time, but a minority of it change to reflect each occasion. In the Catholic Mass, for example, this is known as the "Ordinary" and the "Proper". In most Druid rites, this is accomplished by having a different God and Goddess as the primary deities for each ceremony, and by having new chants and songs for different occasions.You can also make an occasion different by having special visual effects: banners, altar cloths, tabbards, etc., done in the colors and with the symbols appropriate to the occasion and/or the deities involved.Costumes and propsMany of your decisions in this area will be based an those you make about aesthetics and cultural focus (see next section), since you'll want people to wear clothing in the colors, fabrics, and styles, and to use ceremonial tools, that fit with the aesthetics and cultures you have selected. But here too, you may be forced to work within already established constraints. If the group of people you are creating the ritual for all have robes that touch the ground, you should avoid having them process through brambles or muddy ground. If their sleeves are long and flowing, don't create parts of the ritual that involve reaching across a fire. If none of the members have staves, and there's no time to make some (let alone train anyone in their use), then don't write in a ritual combat with staves.Many Neopagan liturgical designers create rituals that require pentacles, chalices, wands, knives, etc., on the altar, without having any real reason for those tools to be there, and without any clear idea of how these tools can or should be used for dramatic or magical effect. When in doubt about whether or not a given tool is really needed, skip it. Unused or misused ceremonial tools merely clutter up the scene and either add nothing to, or sometimes actively detract from, the quality of your liturgy.Druid liturgies usually involve the following props. There are cups or cauldrons of various sorts for passing the Waters of Life around, individual cups or horns for the congregation, a sickle for cutting the sacrificial branches, small cauldrons for asperging or holding a fire, staves for marking signs on the ground, banners and ribbons for color, etc. Each of them has a specific purpose for a specific occasion, or it is simply not written into the liturgy.(By the way, one of the duties of a liturgist is to make up a complete "props and supplies" list for the organizers of the event to use early in their planning. The people purchasing and/or constructing these should keep track of the money and time required, as an aid to planning future ceremonies.)A major prop, one that most folks don't think about very clearly, is the altar. What sort, if any, will your design require? The whole question of altars is on weak historical ground. Some of the Indo-Europeans seem to have used stone altars in their temples (the Greeks put them out in front of their's), but we don't know if altars were used in the sacred groves at all. Nonetheless, they're very handy for storing the ceremonial tools and supplies, and make a good focus of attention, so I recommend them highly.If you own your own land, your group might go ahead and build a permanent stone altar (you might even want to design it so a fire can be built on or in it). If you are using public land, you can either plan on bringing in your own altar or on putting one together on-site from available rocks, stumps, etc. The challenge in the first case is to make your portable altar both sturdy and light-weight, in the second to wind up with something genuinely level at a convenient height. The altar should be two to three feet across, depending upon the number of items to be placed upon it.How many altars should you have? One near the center (the fire, if any, could be on or in it) will generally do for each site. However you might consider having additional ones for the Three Worlds, set in a wide triangle around the central one. If you decide that the four directions are important, you might choose to have small altars, shrines or cairns marking each one around the edges of the site.By the way, if you live in an area with large numbers of fundamentalists, it may be a good idea to disguise any permanent altars as something else, since conservative Christians have a bad habit of desecrating the sacred objects of competing faiths.Aesthetic, psychological, and cultural themesYou'll need ones that will fit with both the congregation and clergy available and the occasion at hand. Almost all of the secondary factors and their aspects deal with that nebulous topic of aesthetics. Every decision you make about what will be the most beautiful way to do any given part of the liturgy, is an aesthetic choice: formality, vocal type, physical activity, dramatic approaches, nonobtrusive cueing, site selection, costumes and props, etc. The best way is to make all of these decisions reinforce each other to produce a coherent whole. This in turn constantly supports the unity of the groupmind and its spiritual/magical ability to focus the energy flows involved.Your choice of psychological theme(s) can help greatly here. Is this to be a happy, sad, silly or grave liturgy? Are you dealing with a birth adding a new member to the community, or a death transforming one? What is the emotional relationship between the members of the group and the spirits or divinities to be contacted in the rite? Is the ceremony a celebration of a holy day -- if so, what meanings does that holy day have for those participating? Answering these questions can add tremendous power.Another way to improve the unity and focus of your group is to design your liturgy around specific cultural themes. A Celtic liturgy is very different from a Native American or a Chinese liturgy. Every culture has symbols, styles and metaphors that reinforce each other. Using these, and excluding ones from other cultures that aren't congruent, gives your ritual a definite assist.For example, try having your people dress in Slavic costumes, sing Slavic tunes, invoke Slavic deities in a Slavic language, and drink Slavic liquor in your liturgy. The amount of Slavic-flavored energy raised will be tremendous, and the groupmind will be a hundred times more unified and focussed than you may be used to. It's possible to blend in cultural themes from related cultures (such as the Baltics or the Norse, in this example) without too much damage. But if a culture is too far removed (say East African, Japanese or Eskimo), the clash of cultural symbols, signs and metaphors may easily destroy the psychic structures your liturgy is supposed to create.Which requires me to say a word or two about the mixing of Native American elements Into Neopagan ceremonies. There's been a lot of that lately, ever since "shamanism" became the "in" word for people to throw around (I'll talk about that some other time), but most of it has been not only magically sloppy, but insulting to both the European and the Native American deities invoked. Neopagans have been mishmashing deities, symbols, music, chants, and fragments of rituals from a dozen different Native American cultures, and injecting these whole into Wiccan style ceremonies. This is somewhat similar to what has been done to the Afro-American religions by well-meaning but grossly ignorant Neopagans.For the last ten years, two people named Sun Bear and Wabun Bear have mixed Native American beliefs from several tribes, western astrology, and Wiccan rituals into a new religion. I've participated in ceremonies based on their work, and they were beautiful and emotionally uplifting. But I don't think they were as powerful as authentic traditional Native American rituals used to be, partly because too many unrelated tribal belief systems were mixed, partly because Wiccan liturgical design tends to be confused anyway, and partly because Neopagans (rather than Native Americans) were doing them.There is merit in the argument that we are practicing our ceremonies on land that used to belong to the Native Americans, and that we ought to pay attention to the local nature spirits and to the deities who used to be worshipped here. I see nothing wrong with a grove of Druids including local references in their liturgies, provided that they have done their homework. Don't make an offering to an Iroquois nature spirit in Texas, or a Sioux buffalo goddess in New Jersey, unless the members of your grove have very strong psychic links to those tribes. Learn how to pronounce the spirit and deity names correctly, and what their associated metaphysical systems were, and what their religious symbols meant. Then you can very carefully start to blend appropriate bits and pieces into your local liturgies. But just because Native Americanism is popular in the Neopagan community now, don't assume that you can suddenly pull in all that energy without having to pay attention to the details of what you're doing.Part of the experimentation that we are doing in ADF is to discover how far apart two cultures can be before they clash instead of reinforcing each other in a ritual. So far It seems that the various Celtic cultures work well together, as do the Norse and German, the Slavic and Baltic, and the Greek and Roman. But will mixing Baltic and Roman, or Celtic and Greek themes together in one rite ruin it? Or will all the cultural members of the Indo-European language family work together? Only time will tell.Your decisions on cultural themes will usually be based on the cultural interests of the people you are creating the ceremonies for. Use the language(s) and culture(s) that they have the most affinity for. And try to use that culture's ideas of beauty to guide your own aesthetic decisions.Part Five: The Modular Approach to Liturgical DesignIt's now time to discuss the exact "how" of creating ceremonies. What I call "Modular Liturgical Design" is an approach inspired by computer programming techniques. Before anyone complains that computers are neither magical nor religious, let me point out that a computer program can be seen as a type of ritual: a program is an ordered sequence of events (in this case, instructions to be executed), that is usually followed in the same way each time, that designed to produce a predictable (altered?) state of consciousness (decision within which certain desired results (decisions) can be obtained. Yes, I know it's rather a strained metaphor, but following it has led to some interesting breakthroughs in liturgical design (besides many programmers have told me that programming is "an arcane art").How do most Neopagan liturgists now work? Generally, they start at the beginning of a ritual script, write it straight through, then try it (usually without rehearsal). Each subsequent script by the same liturgist will contain modifications designed to correct the perceived mistakes (if any were actually perceived) from the last time. Since the rewrites are usually done once a month or once every six weeks, it can take years before a liturgy has been completely "debugged" (if it ever is), and long before then, it's become a fossilized "tradition", and people aren't allowed to make any more changes.The modular approach to liturgical design starts with doing a complete pattern analysis on your proposed ceremony. Break it down into a handful of major sections of ritual activity, and each of these into subsections and subsubsections. You might even consider drawing a "flow chart" showing the path from each stage of the rite to the next.Then pick a few related subsubsections and create them. Test each individually to see how it looks/sounds/feels. Fiddle with them until each unit works just the way you want, then create something that links them all together. The linkage can be temporal (picking an order to do the subsubsections in) and/or spacial (designating where the subsubsections will be done, in relation to each other) and/or conceptual (creating words, music or other sounds and sights that will tie the basic idea of each subsubsection together with that of the others). Then try performing this subsection of the liturgy, and observe the results.When you're satisfied with the first subsection, proceed to create and test other subsections in the same way. Eventually, you can link the subsections into sections, test them, then merge the sections into the liturgy as a whole. This gets tested in the rehearsals before the first full performance. When doing the testing, make sure to pay attention to the pacing of each part, and remember the effects that different sized congregations will have on various activities (if passing food or drink among twenty people takes five minutes, doing it with 200 people can take half an hour).Just as with modular programming, this technique of liturgical design takes longer to create the first full version of a ceremony. But it has the same advantage that modular programming has, of making it easier to change and expand the results. And just as programmers build up a "library" of programming modules (or "routines") that they can use over and over again, so too can a liturgical designer build up a library of ritual modules that can be combined in a variety of ways in later ceremonies.For example, suppose you are creating a Celtic-style liturgy in which you need at some point early on to "open the Gates Between the Worlds" (a fairly standard need). You create a procedure for one or two of your ritual participants to do this, say singing a chant in Gaelic, making a particular gesture with a particular magical tool, and visualizing a Celtic spiral opening. You test different versions of the song, different gestures with different tools, and different versions of the spiral. Eventually you settle on the combination you like, figure out the exact order and spatial relations you want, wrap some Celtic music around it (to provide part of the conceptual linking), and try it without full psychic power. (In this particular example, you don't want to test it with full power until after you've created and tested a full-powered Gate closing!) Then you can precede to create and test the other parts of your liturgy that happen before and after the Gate opening, then the entire first quarter or third of your liturgy (including the Gate opening), then the entire ritual.The next time you are creating a liturgy that requires a Gate opening part, but it happens to be a Norse rite, you can start out with the basic pattern you already have for the Celtic opening. You might translate the song to Icelandic (or write a new song entirely), keep the gesture but do it with a more Norse type of magical tool, visualize a Norse sort of Gate image instead of the spiral, use Swedish music to tie it all together, etc. The result will be that you can (re-)create your Norse Gate opening in a fraction of the time it took to write the first one, since you are working with well tested and familiar modules. Provided that the cultural and aesthetic themes don't clash within or between the modules of your design, you can borrow bits and pieces from a dozen previous ceremonies created according to this approach, and put them into a new liturgy with amazing speed. Eventually you'll acquire a liturgical design library of ritual modules (processionals, Gate openings, invocations, consecrations, etc.) that can be carefully mixed and matched (via the linking procedures) to meet whatever future design needs may pop up.Many Neopagan liturgists do part of this process already, in that they will borrow and reuse favorite prayers, chants, etc. Unfortunately, they do it without the pattern analysis, linking and testing procedures we've been discussing. Most of the time some ritual design created years ago is repeated (because it's "traditional") and the favorite items are inserted willy-nilly. The results are usually chaotic and confusing, without a smooth energy flow from start to finish, without a groupmind being created and reinforced, and without the psychic/spiritual forces actually going where they are supposed to. These cannot be considered "successful" ceremonies, no matter how much fun people had putting them on.ConclusionWe've seen from the foregoing that your job, as a liturgical designer, is to make sure that every single element of your ceremony is in a state of dynamic balance with every other part, that each stage flows smoothly into the next, and that everything your people will be doing, saying and perceiving will contribute to the overall dramatic and magical/religious atmosphere (while still staying focused around the target and goal).But it's important for those of you who aren't creating ceremonies to realize that your liturgical designer (who will often, though not always, be your clergyperson as well) can't do it all by him/herself. Every person participating in a ritual must be working (and playing) hard. Clergy can't do 100% of the work by themselves, even though this is what most people, both Neopagan and mainstream, seem to expect them to do.I'm sure that all of the topics covered so far in this essay (not to mention those to follow) have convinced you that creating and performing effective ceremonies requires an incredible amount of time and effort. Yep. The name or the game is "commitment". Too many of us want the excitement and glamor of being able to call ourselves by fancy titles, without doing the work necessary to earn those titles. For people who did not grow up in cultures where effective magical and religious rituals are common, while everyone learns to dance as children and magical knowledge is commonplace, creating and performing effective ceremonies is a time consuming and often expensive proposition.You have to be willing to give up quite a bit of time in order to study theater, dance, music, magic and mythology. This isn't easy, especially if we're also trying to practice what we preach by being involved in social, political or ecological activism. But if we aren't willing to invest the time, energy and cold hard cash -- in other words, to make personal sacrifices for the deities and ideas we claim to love -- then perhaps it's time we re-evaluated our motivations and personal priorities.This kind of commitment is hard to achieve, especially for the sort of intelligent, creative anarchists who in the past have made up the majority of the Neopagan community. Most of us are afraid, for very good historical reasons, to have a really deep commitment to any belief system. Many of us have been burned(!) before by established religions that tried to coerce us into following them. As American intellectuals, most of us have a strong aversion to discipline of any sort, including sell-discipline. We've been trained by television advertising to expect "something for nothing" and "instant success", while the mainstream churches have raised us to believe that "God will do everything for you, if you just believe strongly enough." All of this cultural conditioning has been drummed into our heads from a very early age, and it's very difficult to overcome as adults.Even those of us who want to make the necessary commitments, often find that our (deliberately?) depressed economy makes it difficult for us to spare the necessary time and energy to try and change ourselves or the world around us. Now this may all mean that we are unlikely to ever become a mainstream religion ourselves, and thus to become a "danger" to others, but it also means that we are unlikely to be much help to the world either. That is a real tragedy, far more important than the pain of our wounded egos -- because Neopaganism represents one of the very few healthy religious movements around, one that could be of incredible value both to the biosphere and to our fellow humans.Creating and performing effective liturgies, re-linking ourselves and others to the Gods and our Holy Mother Earth, actively causing personal and global transformation -- this is our task as Neopagan Druids. It may be the most difficult challenge that most of us will ever face. But then, we knew the job was dangerous when we took it!
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Ian Corrigan's picture
[Note: Also available in PDF format [100k], making it easy to hand out as a folded pamplet at rituals. If you can't view the file, get the Acrobat Reader.] Bright blessings, and welcome! This pamphlet is an introduction to the structure and meaning of our Pagan worship. We hope that you find our work as uplifting and fulfilling as we do. The Intention of Our Rite Any Druidic ritual has as a primary intention the re-weaving of the links between human-kind, the natural world, and the God/desses and Spirits who support both. For thousands of years human culture lived in more or less intimate communion with the unseen worlds. Over the centuries of European culture these ties have been weakened, until our modern materialism is endangering the very air and water that sustains our life. We work to reconnect with the powers of Land, Sea and Sky, honoring the spirit that is in them as well as their physical realities. As with any religious path we also seek blessings for ourselves, our families and communities. We open our hearts to the flow of divine blessing that comes from our God/desses. We seek also to awaken that same divine spark in our own souls, so that we can bless the world in return. Ár nDraíocht Féin is a small part of the neoPagan movement, one of the fastest-growing currents in modern religion. From our beginnings we have been committed to serving the whole Pagan community. Druidic worship is open and inclusive. We welcome Pagans of every tradition and path, as well as those who want to learn more about Druidry or pagan ways in general. We ask only that you respect our ways; you can expect the same from us. Principles of Druidic Worship The outer form of our worship, like all ceremony, is made up of spoken prayers, invocations and statements combined with traditional actions. While we have reclaimed some of these from pre-Christian Europe we do not grant them the status of revelation or scripture. All ritual speech is made by humans to help turn our minds more effectively toward the Divine. Druidry teaches that beautiful speech, poetry or music pleases and influences the Powers, and so we fill our rites with these things to the best of our ability. A central action of our rites is the giving of gifts to the Powers. This is commonly called sacrifice (Latin: to make sacred). We teach that the God/desses and Spirits are strengthened by our offerings, and show their gratitude by blessing the givers. In pagan ways humans are not mere dependents of even the greatest Deities. Rather they depend on our love and offerings as we depend on their blessing and aid. While it is true that the ancients offered animal and even occasional human lives to the Powers, our modern Paganism rejects any offering that takes life or causes injury. We offer our God/desses flowers, food, drink, incense and scented oil, precious metals and gems, poetry and song, but never blood. The soul-skills that bind Pagan worship together are the techniques of meditation and trance. By concentrating our minds on the symbols and words of the rite, by relaxing our bodies and letting go of our internal dialogue and by strongly visualising the rite's energy flows and Deities we induce a state of mind that allows contact with Inner worlds. In every Druidic rite there will be a series of spoken instructions intended to help induce this trance. Following these suggestions with an open mind will deepen your experience. Remember that all such guidance is just that; you are in control of your state of mind at all times. Yet it is through consenting to trance that you can know our Magic best. These three principles - ritual, sacrifice and trance combine to produce the magic of Druidic worship. The Outline of Druidic Rites Part 1: Establishing the Grove In ancient days Pagans gathered in places hallowed by tradition. Sometimes these were temple buildings. More often they were groves and glens in the deep forest, or high places. In our times we must usually recreate the holy atmosphere of the Sacred Groves by ritual and meditation. The Procession: In some cases the presiding priest/ess will come out of the Grove and lead a procession of all the worshippers into the holy place. Usually this is accompanied by song. At other times the worshippers are sent to meditate alone then called to the Grove by horn, drum or song. When approaching the Grove one tradition is to circle the Center of the Grove three times in the sunwise direction. Honoring the Mother: The priest/ess usually gives a simple statement of beginning, followed by a prayer and offering to the Earth Mother who upholds our lives and rites. One common custom is to bend and kiss, or place a hand on, the earth to honor Her. Opening Meditation: The priest/ess or a Grove member will lead a basic grounding and centering. This attunement helps us to connect our individual souls with the Two Powers. The Earth Current or Underworld Power carries the dark, mixed elements from which all forms arise. The Sky Current, or Starry Power is the ordering pattern that crystallizes forms out of the Underworld potential. Together these powers manifest the Middle World in which we live. Following the Grove meditation the Priest/ess gives a statement of the intention and purpose of the rite and its precedent in the Ways of the ancients. Affirming the World Order: Druidic ritual is anchored in the Sacred Center of the Grove. The Center is conceived as a meeting-place of the common world with the Otherworlds of the Spirits. We use one or more of the universal symbols of the Center - the Fire, the Well and the World-Tree. Fire connects us with the Sky, the Well with the Underworld and the Tree is the Boundary Between All Worlds, rooted deep and crowned high. In this phase of the ritual the Order of the Worlds is acknowledged - first the vertical axis of Under- Mid- and Starry Worlds. The rite may then honor the three worlds of Land, Sea and Sky, or the Four Directions. By affirming these symbols in our rite we acknowledge them in ourselves, making our own souls a temple in which the God/desses may dwell. Opening the Gates: Meditation on the World Order is a valuable spiritual tool all by itself. The next part of the rite transforms the simple symbols of the Center into true Magical gates. First the priest/ess invokes the Deity that has charge of the Ways Between, in the pantheon of the rite. We offer to the Gatekeeper and ask their help in the work. The symbols of the Sacred Center are then conjured to function as the Gates Between. Through these gates we send our love, worship and offerings to the powers and they, in turn, send blessing to us. As long as the Gates are open our thoughts and impulses can be heard clearly by the God/desses and Spirits. Part 2: Offering to the Powers Preliminary Offerings: There are two preliminary offerings usually made at this point. First the Bard of the rite invokes the power of poetic inspiration to indwell both the priest/esses and worshippers. This may be either an offering to a specific Deity or a general attunement to sources of inspiration in the Self. Next we offer to the spirits commonly called the Outdwellers. These are the Powers that can be inimical to mortals or oppose our own God/desses. We acknowledge their presence, asking them to leave our rites in peace. We also acknowledge the parts of ourselves that might, likewise, interfere with proper worship. Three Kindred Offerings: In each of our rites we invoke and offer to the Spirits in three categories. We call these the Kindreds to reflect their family relationship with one another and with us. The Nature Spirits are those who ensoul soil and stone, water and wind, bird and beast. The Dead are our ancestors, both those of actual blood or those of our heart and affection. The God/desses are the eldest Children of the Mother, the Brightest, Wisest and Strongest. For each of these we speak an invocation and make a proper offering. When these Triad Offerings are made the worshippers should meditate on and call to those Spirits that are closest to her. Her own Ancestors, her God/desses, her allies among the Nature Spirits are called to join us in honoring the Patron Powers of the rite. Patron Offerings: Each of our rites is commonly dedicated to two or more of the God/desses. These are usually chosen either for their connection with the seasonal holiday being celebrated, for their ability in the area of the work being done or their special relationship with the mortal focus of the rite. The Patrons of the rite are first invoked with expressive prose or poetry, sometimes accompanied by a visualized image of the Deities. A proper offering is made as the priest/ess invokes. After the formal offerings there is usually a time when members of the company can make personal offerings. Usually these are 'Praise Offerings' - offerings of art - songs, poetry etc., though they may be thanks to the Powers for blessings received. Final Sacrifice and Omen: After the Praise Offerings the priest/ess gives a final Prayer of Sacrifice and makes a large offering to the Fire. This is the moment when every worshipper sends her love and respect, her energy, through the Gates to the Patrons and Powers. After the Sacrifice the priest/ess seeks an omen, doing a simple divination to determine what sort of blessing the Powers offer in return for our gifts. Part 3: The Blessing Opening to Blessing: The priest/ess leads a meditation combining the presence of the powers with the content of the Omen. We also meditate on our own needs, those of our loved ones, and our community. At this time there is usually a litany in which the assembled company pray to be given the Blessing, in the form of the Waters of Life. In this moment your personal desires should be strongly imagined, held in the mind and heart, with harm to none and for the good of all. The Waters of Life: The Blessing of the Powers is commonly given as a cup or horn of drink. There is always clear water or fruit juice and sometimes ale, wine or even whiskey (Gaelic: uisge na beatha, water of life). The priest/ess invokes the Blessing as water drawn from the Well of Potentials and held in the light of the Fire of Transformation. We contemplate again our needs, and the Omen as we drink the Blessing. We often sing an anthem or listen quietly during this most reverent moment. Works: If there is any social or magical task to be accomplished it is done at this time. Healings, announcements of weddings, child blessings, workings for community good may occasionally be part of the rites. Part 4: Thanks, and Closing After all is done we give proper thanks to all the Powers. The priest/ess leads us in thanking the Patrons and the Kindreds. We thank the Gatekeeper and conjure the Gates to close. We renew our grounding, our connection with Earth and Sky, and center the energies of the rite in our souls. We allow any excess energy to flow away into the ground as we offer any remains of the rite to the Earth Mother. The rite concludes with a blessing and we often sing a closing chant as we leave the Grove. Some Conventions of Druidic Ritual Our rites are open and inclusive. We do not close our circles, and you are free to come and go as you please during the rite. We ask only that you be respectfully quiet and attentive when within earshot of the ritual. If you have a Praise Offering that you wish to perform, please see our Grove Bard before the rite. We ask that you not applaud the Praise Offerings, rather give the energy of your appreciation to the Patrons.
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Member-33's picture
(Originally published in Druid's Progress 7)This article is an outgrowth of what I've seen in the Grove I've been working with. The major ritual writers in the Grove insist on using Guardians of the Quarters and casting a circle. From conversations with Himself, this is not unusual. It is hard to break people of old habits.One of the major differences between Wicca and ADF is the use of circles. Wicca uses a closed circle with Guardians to both keep energy in and nasty things out. ADF is open, both psychically and physically. This is possible because demons or other nasties wouldn't interfere with a sacred space.Wicca uses the circle casting and invocations of the Quarters to establish sacred space and to orient the participants to the four directions. This creates a sort of containment vessel, like for a nuclear reactor. You can build up lots of power before triggering it. Also, if you screw up, the damage is limited to the circle. The casting of a circle is apparently an outgrowth of the Goetic (Medieval Christianity) magical system. In Goetic practice, the circle is a fortress. From within the fortress, you would summon a creature to appear in another warded area near you. The concept of the four elements plus spirit were created by Creek philosophers. This school of thinking is called Milesian. They taught that all substance is made up of one of the four elements. Various teachers thought different elements were the true one. The origin of the Wiccan elements is therefore originally alchemical. By mixing the four elements, you could create any substance, including the "philosophers' stone." The four Quarters are mapped to the elements (earth - north, fire - south, water - west, and air - east; often with a fifth added, spirit at the center). In a Wiccan circle the energy flow is circular. Except for specific occasions, you don't go widdershins.ADF uses a 3+1+1 system. It consists of the Three Worlds (Land, Sea and Sky), Fire and an Underworld. This is based upon the patterns that are found in Indo-European social and mythological systems. This pattern is: farmers and other producers (Land), clergy (Sky), warriors (Sea), a ruler (Fire) (The symbolism of Leader = Fire might come from the same idea or description as the Gods being "bright") and the outcasts (Underworld). The Three Worlds are organic, in that real living creatures can be found there. The mapping of the elements to the directions is a major difference from ADF "In Druidism, the World of the Waters is not in the west, it is everywhere." Deborah Lipp. Instead of being "between the worlds," an ADF Grove is at the center of all the worlds.[editors note: not all in ADF would necessarily agree with the Fire and Underworld elements in the preceding paragraph, though it is interesting to note how some ADF members work with the standard ADF realms of Land, Sea, and Sky and the rest of the cosmology]The ancients did pay attention to the four directions when laying out their sacred sites and temples. They oriented them along the cardinal points. This occurs in many traditions. As an example, Freemasonry uses the four directions in laying out the Lodges. The four directions are mentioned when opening the Lodge, but only in reference to where people sit. There is no evidence either way that the ancient Druids used Guardians of the Wiccan variety.ADF ceremonies are open to any people who won't disrupt the ritual. Sacred space is open for entry and egress at all times. We are an inclusive, not an exclusive organization. Part of ADF's using open rituals is based upon having sacred space. That is what this ritual is meant to create.To use physical world security analogies, a circle is a fence. A Wiccan circle is the equivalent of an eight foot barbed wire fence with four security guards. At each ritual meeting, the fence is erected, guards posted and the ritual done. At the end, the whole thing is torn down and put away. An ADF ritual doesn't want such an exclusionary barrier. An ADF Grove would instead have the equivalent of a permanent two foot picket fence around it. You can't enter the area without noticing it, but it doesn't keep you out by itself. Any nasty thing would know not to trespass. This ritual is designed to create such a permanent fence, without draining the person(s) doing the casting.Site location: There are two factors in choosing a site for a Grove. The first is psychic. The second is physical. The area chosen needs to have the right vibes. It must be friendly and receptive to becoming a permanent Grove. (See Larry Comet's article in DP #2)The physical layout: My personal preference is to work in a circular shape for Pagan rituals. It is preferable to choose a site on property you own, so that you can change it as you want it. Try to make sure it will remain dry all year long, and if you want privacy, that you'll have it, especially during the winter. Next, mark the perimeter with some sort of permanent, visible sign. A good example would be fieldstones, bricks or cinderblocks. You'll probably want a firepit of some sort. It would probably be a good idea to check with the local fire department about the town ordinances affecting such things. Lay down some sort of base in the circle that will be usable year round. These preparations should be done before the ceremony. Some, like laying in a gravel drainage system, will take money (a dirty word) and hard labor. You might also want to build some sort of seating, be it only planks atop cinderblocks. There should also be some sort of safe path laid out to the Grove that is free of roots and potholes. Provide some means of light for after dark workings. Also plan for some sort of handicap access.There are some special considerations for this ritual. First, you'll need three good-sized containers, one each for water, earth/clay/or similar, and an incense burner or smudge. The earth or similar should be in a slurry, that is liquid enough to spread, sort of like pancake batter. Second, some sort of permanent marker for each of the four directions. This could be a stone marker, wood carving or similar. This will stay outside for a long time, hopefully decades at least. Preferably it should be visible so people can orient themselves; but if you live in an area with inconsiderate Fundies, it may have to be buried. For this ritual, use more whiskey or hard alcohol for the final consecration than usual.Shadowpath Grove came up with the idea of having three Gates along the path to the Grove, one for each of the Worlds plus a firekeeper. As you pass through each of the Gates, you ask the keeper for something or answer a question. You are then marked by the Gatekeeper with smoke (Sky), water(Sea), or mud (Land). If ADF decides to map each World to an I-E social caste, it might be nice to have the question or request match the Gate that way. That is instead of asking the Gate of Sky for something cerebral (Wiccan air = thought), ask something relating to the clergy sphere of influence or something doing with, say, air travel.The RitualPeople pass through gates to the Grove. Once in the Grove, they could start a chant or stand quietly. I recommend that when people pass into the Grove, that they alternate going left and right around the circle from the entrance. Once all are there, do a settling song.Tree Meditation.Specification of ritual:D1 or D2: Today we are here to establish an ADF Grove. May it grow, and in growing provide a center for us to work within. May we nurture it, as it will nurture us and our descendents. We ask Manannon, the Keeper of the Keys, Bridget, the Matron of Bards, the spirits of the old times and of this place, people of the old times, and the Gods of the old times, to hallow this Grove. May they watch over it, and keep it from harm. May they keep it sacred.Invocation of Manannon the Gate Keeper in English (D2) and Irish (D1), and chant. Invoke Matron of Bards (Bridget). Triad invocations and consecrating of the waters. Nature, Ancestors and the Gods as a whole, being the order.Praise Offerings:Starting with D2, offerings are made to the Gods of the occasion. This is the primary energy building. For this occasion, I've chosen Manannon as he is the Keeper of the Keys, and Bridget who is the Matron of Bards and the Hearth Goddess.The Sacrifice:D2: Our praise goes up with thee on the wings of eagles; our voices are carried up to thee on the shoulders of the winds. Hear now, O Manannon, O Bridget, we pray thee, as we offer up this sacrifice. Accept it we pray thee, and cleanse our hearts, giving to us of your peace and life. (D1 repeats in Irish.)The Omen:Possible repetition of Praise offerings and Omen seeking, if needed.D1: Rejoice! Manannon and Bridget have accepted our sacrifices!Meditation on personal needs.Repetition of group needs:D1 or D2: Today we are here to establish an ADF Grove. May it grow, and in growing provide a center for us to work within. May we nurture it, as it will nurture us and our descendents. We ask Manannon, the Keeper of the Keys, Bridget, the Matron of Bards, the spirits of the old times and of this place, people of the old times, and the Gods of the old times, to hallow this Grove. May they watch over it, and keep it from harm. May they keep it sacred.Induction of Receptivity (The Catechism of the Waters).Final consecration and sharing with passing song/chant.Meditation on reception of blessings and reinforcement of group bonds.Consecration of boundary:D1: Today we mark the planting of a new Grove. Groves are at the Center of all the Worlds, and have as their edges, the Three Worlds. We mix the Waters of Life with the World of the Land! (Pour some of the waters into the bucket of dirt or clay slurry and mix.)D2: Today we mark the planting of a new Grove. Groves are at the Center of all the Worlds, and have as their edges, the Three Worlds. We mix the Waters of Life with the World of the Sky! (Pour some of the waters onto the censor of incense; this is when the Waters of Life must be whiskey or similar hard liquor so it will burn.)D1: Today we mark the planting of a new Grove. Groves are at the Center of all the Worlds, and have as their edges, the Three Worlds. We mix the Waters of Life with the World of the Sea! (Pour some of the waters into the cauldron of water and mix.)With the mixing of the Waters with the materials of the Three Worlds, D1 and D2 motion three people forward. The three Gate Keepers would be good ones for this. These three people each take one container and walk around the perimeter painting the edges as marked earlier by construction. Hopefully everyone will now see a faint circle of energy around the Grove. If the path to the Grove is easily defined, you might want to paint it also. While the boundary is being defined do a chant, such as the ADF version of the classic, "We All Come From the Goddess":We all come from the GoddessAnd to Her we have returned;As our Ancestors worshipped Her,Air, land, and sea.D2: As groves are at the Center of all the Worlds, so are they also on the Earth. Being on the Earth, they have orientation. Thus we mark the directions. North! South! East! and West! (After saying each direction, pour some of the Waters of Life upon the markers.)D1: By marking the directions we know where our Center is in this World. This Grove becomes a crossroads. From such crossroads, we can go anywhere, By knowing the directions may we also safely return to this place.D2 motions forward four people to move the directional markers from the center to their permanent locations. Try and avoid having the three Gate Keepers and the Fire Warden doing this. Another possibility is to have all of the members of the Grove lend a hand moving and setting up the markers. This is especially good if the markers are larger and/or heavy. If setting the markers will take more than a minute or so, do a chant to keep people focussed.After the markers are set:D1: To the creatures of the Three Worlds, Land, Sea and Sky; and to the four directions, North, South, East and West; I do declare this space to be sacred! Let none trespass upon it with evil intent. May it grow, and in growing provide a center for us to work within. May we nurture it, as it will nurture us and our descendents. We ask Manannon, the Keeper of the Keys, Bridget, the Matron of Bards, the spirits of the old times and of this place, people of the old times, and the Gods of the old times, to hallow this Grove. May they watch over it, and keep it from harm. May they keep it sacred. So be it!All: So be it!Affirmation of Success.The usual winding down process happens: Thanking of the Entities involved, Closing of the Gates, Reversing the Tree Meditation, Libation to the Earth, and the final Benediction.Recessional song/chant: "Walk with Wisdom," by Sable:Walk with wisdomfrom this hallowed place.Walk not in sorrow,our roots shall ere embrace.May Strength be your brother,and Honor be your friendand Luck be your loveruntil we meet again.End notes: Some of you might want to add a few lines about consecrating the hearth or firepit. Obviously, the chants I've selected are suggestions, as are the actual words. It is the intent of the words that is important. You also might want to declare the name of the Grove at some point.References:Druids Progress 2 & 4'World Civilizations': Burns & Ralph,5th edition, Vol. 1, pages 193+A Note from the Archdruid [included in original publication]This ritual is an excellent idea and I hope that every grove will eventually do something similar. I highly recommend that the firepit be consecrated, with much ceremony, perhaps at the point in the (new) standard liturgical design where the Sacred Fire is invoked (after the Gate Keeper, before the Matron/Patron of Bards). Remember that any Indo-European liturgical language can be used, not just Irish. [Note: ADF rituals are no longer required to be bilingual as they were when this article was published.]-Pete Gold
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KirkThomas's picture
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with what we do in ADF, let me quickly explain our cosmology and what we expect to achieve in our ritual.We are a sacrificial religion, which means that we strive to create and maintain relationships with the spiritual powers around us. This includes the Gods, the Spirits of the land and the earth, and our Ancestors, those kin of blood and kin of heart dear to us, as well as the peoples who lived in this place before us.When we use the word, 'sacrifice', we mean something very specific, which may not be what you think. The word 'sacrifice' comes from the Latin words 'sacer' and 'facere', which only mean 'to make sacred'. The word 'sacer' means 'to set apart', so when we make sacrifice we are only setting things apart from our normal world that they might exist in sacred space and time. It doesn't mean that we're killing animals or people or anything like that.There are three kinds of sacrifice in ADF ritual - reciprocity, the shared meal, and the mitigation of order with chaos. We can perform all three in our rituals, at various times.The most common form we use is reciprocity - we give that we might receive. Now, this isn't a quid pro quo so much as a relationship. You give love and support and, occasionally, gifts to your friends, and you expect the same love and support and occasional gifts in return. This is the normal way relationships work. And this is what we do with the Powers. We make offerings to Them, and later, we will ask for Their blessings in return.We deflect any Outdwellers, which is what we call problem spirits who are not aligned with our ways, by giving them a drink or food. And since a gift calls for a gift in return, in the spirit of reciprocity, we trust that they will stay away. Some Groves make sacrifices to a guardian God or Spirit to protect the rite in addition to, or instead of, offering to the Outdwellers.The second form of sacrifice, the 'shared meal', is when we offer something, like a loaf of bread, giving part of it as an offering to the Powers while the rest of the bread is shared among us all. The 'mitigation of order with chaos' is when we make our Praise Offerings. These slightly chaotic moments that we bring to our rituals help to keep us from becoming too rigid or formal.But how do we get the attention of the Kindreds - the Gods, Nature Spirits and Ancestors?In most religious ritual, whether we are aware of it or not, we re-create the origins of the universe, bringing ourselves into sacred space and time, that communication may be made easier.First we re-establish the Three Worlds of the Heavens (the place of the Shining Ones), the Mid-World (where we live) and the Underworld (where our Ancestors dwell) by doing the Two Powers meditation, which brings the Underworld powers, the powers of chaos, and the Heaven or Sky Powers, the powers of order, into ourselves, that we might be like the World Tree and connect the Worlds. We call this re-creating the vertical axis.Sometimes we also fill out this cosmic picture by re-establishing the Three Realms of Land, Sea and Sky (the three parts of the Mid-World), or by calling the 5 directions, or whatever. We call this the horizontal axis.The place where the vertical axis of Heavens, Mid-World and Underworld intersects with the horizontal axis of Land, Sea and Sky is the place that we call "The Sacred Center" or the "Center of the Worlds". And this place is where the veils between our world and the Otherworlds are thinnest. This sacred 'place' is where the universe was created, and it is all places and no place at the same time. But we re-create it here. We are also in sacred 'time', which is all time and no time, when the universe was created originally.To help us connect with the Sacred Center, we consecrate and re-connect the Three Hallows in our rite. These physical objects are what we will use to pierce that veil between the Worlds, and we call them the three Gates. They are the Well (which connects to the Underworld and the powers of chaos), the Fire (which connects to the Heavens and the powers of order) and the Tree (which grows in our Midworld but connects us to the other Worlds).When we open the Gates, we are sending out an open invitation to the Powers, an announcement, as it were, that we are here as a group and wish to commune with Them. We then make sacrifices to Them, which are offerings of food, drink, inspiration or precious objects, inviting Them into our rite with us. And when all sacrifices have been made, we ask for Their blessings to be given us in return.So we are here to re-create the Sacred Center, make our sacrifices to the Kindreds, and ask them for their blessings and wisdom, forging and maintaining our relationships with Them all.
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MeredithMcDonald's picture
The following is a brief outline of what a grove might want to cover in a preritual briefing for newcomers. Individual ADF groves may fill these items in differently, or even cover different items, than those below.Welcome"Welcome to the celebration of ___________! We have gathered to honor the Kindreds and to share in their gifts. May they smile on our work!"Who We AreWe are ___________ Grove, ADF. We were founded by ___ ADF members in 200_. As a group, we are committed to Neopagan Druidry through ritual and its many facets of spiritual expression. If you would like to know more about us please put your email address on the Guest Book and we will add you to our mailing list.Who ADF IsFounded by Isaac Bonewits in 1984, ADF (Ar nDraiocht Fein, A Druid Fellowship) is a federally recognized church that is committed to Public Neopagan Druidic Ritual. For more information on ADF see the ADF website at https://www.adf.org. ADF created the beautiful ritual structure that we will be following today.Ritual StructureNo Circle CastIn ADF we cast no circle. We begin ritual by treating with the Outdwellers, in order to protect the space and then we open three gates.The GatesThe Fire, Well, and Tree are the three portals through which we connect to the otherworld during ritual. The Well represents the waters of the earth and the underworld. The Fire represents the Heavens. And the Tree represents the middle realm.If the fire isn't a full fire, explain: Today's fire is symbolic due to fire restrictions. If you have an offering for the fire, you may place it in the bowl nearby and it will be ritually burned for you at a later time.Three KindredsIn ADF we work with the three Kindreds - The Ancestors (or Mighty Dead) whose wisdom fills our well; the Nature Spirits (or elves, familiars and sprites) who gather around the tree; and the Shining ones or Gods who bless our hearthfire.Praise OfferingsAfter the gates are opened and the Kindred invited, we yield the ritual space to anyone who would like to offer to the Kindred. You are free to place offerings at any of the gates or to offer praise in the ritual space.Your praise and offerings need not be limited to the deities of the occasion UNTIL we have invoked them. So, if you have offerings for the deities of the occasion please save them until they are invited.Once again, prior to the main invocation and offering you are welcome to acknowledge your own patrons and guides.Main OfferingAfter this is done we will send a main offering to the gods as one people. Today's offering will be (explain ritual offering).Blessing Cup and MagicOnce our offering has been sent we will take an Omen. If the omen is auspicious we will continue with the Blessing Cup.After (Or During) the passing of the blessing cup would be the best time to ask for gifts from the Kindreds. This is the time for magical work! (If a specific working is planned, it would be explained here.)Chants and PhrasesAny chants, especially call-and-response types, are explained here, and any non-English phrases are translated too.Wrapping UpHow to know when the ritual is ended, processing (recessing) out of the ritual space, and what happens after the recessional is over (any post-ritual pot-lucks or gatherings, etc.)
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none's picture
This ritual outline is an historical outline from Our Drudiry prior to 2006. Our current outline can be found in our Order of Ritual. (Items in italics represent optional steps) Preliminary Ritual Activity Briefing Individual Meditations & Prayers Lighting the Sacred Fire(s) Pouring the Sacred Waters Optional: Consecrating the Sacred Pole Optional: Consecrating the Altar & Tools 1st Phase Starting the Rite and Establishing the Groupmind Clearcut Beginning: Consecration of Time Musical Signal Opening Prayer Consecration of Space & of Participants The Processional/Sigil Marking Purification(s) of Participants Optional: Purification(s) of Site Honoring the Earth-Mother Centering, Grounding, & Merging The Grove Meditation Unity Chant/Song Specification of Ritual Purpose & Historical Precedent Naming Deity(ies) of the Occasion & Reasons for Choice 2nd Phase Recreating the Cosmos and Preliminary Power Raising Creating the Vertical Axis Planting the Cosmic Tree/Honoring the Sacred Pole Evoking the Gate Keeper/Defining the Ritual Center Evoking the Fire & Water Deities & Linking to Center Gaining Assistance & Preventing Interferences Invoking the Bardic Deity(ies) or Spirit Acknowledgement of the Outsiders Filling Out the Cosmic Picture by Invoking.. Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Deities in Three Worlds or.. Helpful Beings of each World/Realm or.. Helpful Beings by Province/Function or.. (Type and number will vary according to ethnic cosmologies.) (Possibly different invocations at each of five fires.) Settling and Focusing 3rd Phase Major Sending of Power to Deity/ies of the Occasion Descriptive Invocation of Deity(ies) of the Occasion Primary Power Raising Praise Offerings, Dance, Libations, etc. The Sacrifice Seeking the Omen of Return 4th Phase Receiving and Using the Returned Power Preparation for the Return Meditation upon Personal and Group Needs Induction of Receptivity Consecration Agreement Reception of Power from Deity(ies) of the Occasion Consecration and Sharing Acceptance of Individual Blessings Reinforcement of Group Bonding Optional: Spell Casting or Rite of Passage 5th Phase Unwinding and Ending the Ceremony Thanking of Entities Invited, in Reverse Order Thanking the Gatekeeper & Closing the Gates Affirmation of Past/Future Continuity and Success Unmerging, Regrounding & Recentering - Meditation Draining off Excess Power - The Restoration Clearcut Ending: Deconsecration of Time and Space Final Benediction Announcement of End Dissolving the Sigil Musical Signal This is the standard outline that we would like everyone to use for public or semi-public ADF ceremonies, at least for the eight High Days, for reasons outlined in DP. If its too "High Church" for weekly or biweekly celebration, then shorter versions may be created, but you should send copies of your scripts to DP for sharing with the rest of the membership, along with the reasoning behind your changes. Remember, an enormous amount of thought and effort has been spent to make this pattern esthetically pleasing, historically plausible, magically powerful, and spiritually satisfying. Please don't casually throw pieces of it away without determining how you're going to get the same effects, or inject portions of non-Druidic rituals (such as "casting a circle," "drawing down the moon," "invoking the Watchtowers," etc.) that make no sense in terms of this liturgy's structure, esthetics, polytheology, or goals. Also remember that the "positions" of the ritual leaders can be combined in several ways, depending upon the individuals and talents available. Detailed instructions on how to prepare and perform this liturgy will be found in the ADF Liturgical Handbook. [superseded by other efforts since] A more filled-in version of the liturgy is also available.
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none's picture
by Seán ÓTuathailADF rituals often include a few Irish phrases, so the following guide to Irish for Druids is copied on our site for easy reference.Plurals follow nouns in ()s A A ( aw ) ............................................. v áirne. abhainn - river. ábhar (ábhair) - student, subject, potential quality, fair portion. abú - interjection following proper name, loosely "hail forever". achar feadha's feadh achair - (untranslatable: "duration/area of distance /duration and/is extent of extent" etc) - premise that 1) "time" is a "field" like space, not a "flow"; 2) distance and duration interact; 3) both time and space are "subjective". ádh - "good luck" as either good dán or as indicated by líth. adhann - coltsfoot (v sponc). ádhmharaighe - lit. "lucky injury", paradoxical serendepity, i.e. the wrong thing at the right time, something wherein an error produces a result better than planned, 7rl. áer - v aoir. aerach - gay (in both "happy" and "homosexual" senses). aes dána - poets, harpers, artists as a social privileged class. ag tosú - at (the) beginning. Agallamh - 1) dialogue; 2) v Acallam na Seanórach, a seanchas. agus araile (written "7rl") - et cetera. aided - death tale, a major type of seanchas (v oidhe). aigne - nind, basic dispositions, emotional outlook, basic inclinations (cf aireachtail. ciall, cuihmne, dúil, éirim, inchinn, intinn, meabhair, meanma, meon, mothú, smaoineamh, toil). ail anscuichthe - "immovable (large) stone", validating testimony from a non-plant/animal/person. áilgeis - poet's right of (esp. derogatory or egotistical) demand (which must be granted as the force of geis). aill - cliff. ailt - cliff bordered ravine. aimhleas - harmful path in life. aíocht - hospitality as a duty. airbhe - an encircling "hedge" which protects those inside and may be crossed but with il-effect on whom does so. aircheadal - set-piece poetry or chant. aireachtail - perception, sense (both physical and 6th), cf aigne 7rl. áireán - being nocturnal, night vigil, vsiting at night. airgead - 1) silver; 2) modern word for money. airmert - 1) preparation, equipment; 2) effort; 3) prohibative bríocht (not as strong as geis. áirne - blackthorn, fiodh for letter A, associated with, among other things, quarrel, vigil. aisling (-í) - dream/trance vision much stronger more lucid than taibhreamh. aiteacht - sensation of thing or place being "not quite right" but not being able to tell why. aiteann - horse. Aithirne - Ulster druid known for áilgeasa. aithriocht - shape-shifting, actual not mealladh (v athdholb). aitire - hostage surety. Albu - 1) ársa: all of Britain; 2) modcern [Alba]: Scotland. Almu - dún of the fianna in n. Co. Kildare (cf Dún Aillinne). altramas - fosterage between generations more important tnan blood-ties. amadán - fool (esp. one with briotais of getting others in trouble). amhailt - 1) threatening phantom; 2) fomothú, etc., of threat. amhainseacht - paleo-shamanism, seizure trance. Amhairghin Glúingeal - first and greatest mortal poet-druid who challenged the Tuatha Dé Danann and called forth Ireland from behind the mists of invisibility; his name means: "Birth of Song, of the Bright Knees [= Generations]"; variant spellings include Aimhirgin, usually rendered in english as "Amergin" (v Duan Amhairghine). Amhairghin mac Eicet - Ulster poet-druid. amhlaidh - thus, used as "go raibh amhlaaidh", "so be it", but not as a wish for something to occur but that the requirements have already been met and said conditions should continue as they are now (as mallacht it means "may you be stuck with this forever"). amhra - wonder, marvel, nobility, charm. amhrán - song. amú - 1) wasted, in vain; 2) astrray (as from Sídhe). anáil - 1) breath; 2) strength; 3) (esp. verbal) influence. anam - soul (probably a loan-word, v bradán, brí). anamimirce - transmigration of soul. anfa - tempest, storm (used of magic instead of the borrowed "stoirm"). ánradh - 6th (from bottom up) rank poet. ánruth v ánradh. aoir - bríocht satire, usually mallacht. aonarán - hermit, recluse (cf díthreabach). aor - v aoir. aosán - neach Sídhe of il-intent. árach - 1) bond, security, linkage; 2) opening advantage, favorable opportunity; 3) "offer", solicitation to act a certain way to gain bua, v caoi. ard - high (often prefixed). ard-draoi - arch-druid (a social position). ardartha - salute to only extremely high authority, fists to forehead. ardfhile - high-poet, a social position. ardrí - high-king. ardtiarna - high lord, one of the ranking leaders, master adepts, etc., of the Tuatha Dé Danann or any neach Sídhe of equivelent nature (never used for any mortal). arracht (-aí) - spectre, monster, 7rl (loose term, real or illusion). ársa - ancient, archaic. ársachumadh - deliberate anacharicism or archaicization in seanchais. asarlaí - occultist, ritual magician. asarlaíocht - occultism, hermetics, ritual magic (cf piseogacht). ascalt - 1) lack of food; 2) lower level of bua than required for a specific working. astaidhbhreacht - "reading" (in the clairoyant sense of an object). athair thalún - yarrow. athdholb - shape-shifted form. athgabháil - allowable reprisal. athionchollú - reincarnation (not a regular feature of draíocht). athmhothú - (act of switching) alternative states of consciousness. athshocrú - alternate arrangement (during smhoill, etc.) audacht - (text) of learned reportage and advice (modern Irish "uacht" is "will, testament"). B B ( bay ) ............................................ v beith. badbh - 1) carrion-crow; 2) neach Sídhe of battle. bagair - threathen, beckon toward, chase away, threaten. bail - prosperity, validity. bain - extract, release, agitate, win, evoke, gain, begin, induce, remove, obtain, deprive, interfer with, stay, appease, control, relate. baint - v bain. baisleac - wisewoman, female folk-wizard, woman upthóg. bán - white, associated with emptiness, weakness (cf geal). Banda - an alternate name for Ireland. bándhraíocht - "white druidism", i.e. fake druidism drained dry of genuine elements, or diluted of difficulty to be popular. bard (baird) -low class [non-druid] songster. bás - death (considered part of dán). Beag mac Deadh - druid of Diarmaid mac Cearbhaill (qv). béalaíocht - oral tradition (in general). béalaithris - oral tradition, oral account. Bealtaine - quarter day beginning sunset 30th April, day of arrival of both mortals and TDD in Ireland. beannacht (-aí) - 1) with ar (beannacht ort): blessing; 2) with do (beannacht duit): greetings; (the word is, based on the double-n, not a Latin loan, but from "beann", "antler"). Beannú na déithe's n'aindhéithe ort - "The blessings of the gods and the non-gods upon you". béarla - 1) english language (cf sasanaigh); 2) jargon, cant. beathnua - St John's wort. beirbhéine - vervain. beith - birch, fiodh for the letter B, associated with, among other things, beginning, cleansing. beo - person's life, physical incarnation. beo fada is bás in Éirinn - "Long life and may you die in Ireland!" biáidh - blessing. bile (bilí) - any large, isolated sacred tree. bís - spiral. bliáin is lá - "a year and a day", a full 364-day solar cycle, Samhain, not part of the year proper, being the extra day. bó - cow, asssocaited with prosperity and female beauty. bobcheist - trick question. bochtóg - neach Sídhe associated with sea. bodhrán - 1) deaf person; 2) native Irish tambourine-like drum. bolg gréine - "sun bubble", magical growth on plants conferring insight when eaten. bolg is buinní - "bag and pipes" (píb uilleann, "Uillean pipes" is a modern borrowing, as is the instrument, but this term exists from pre-christian sourses, indicating an earlier form). bonn (boinn) - sole (of foot), foothold, standing (in rank), foundation, footprint, spoor, coin, token, metal. bradán - 1) salmon (v eo fis); 2) life principle of individual. bran - raven. branán - raven. brandubh - board game, apparently simpler than fidcheall and/or involving lots. brat (brait) - cloak, for a druid always without hood, multi-coloured. breac - speckled, symbolizing magical power (either brí or bua). breachsholas - twilight, the time of most powerful brí. breachtraíocht - (general term) magic (esp. folk-, herbal. breactradh - (general term) magic, charms, 7rl. breitheamh - brehon. breithiúnais - Brehon Laws. brí - inherent/intrensic personal power set by dán (lit. essence, vigour, significance), cannot be won or gained, only developed or allowed to atrope; cf bua. briathar - verb, word. bríathar - word, adage. briatharchath - egotistical laochas-like boast-speech before battle. brigh - v brí. bríocht (-aí) - spell, largely or fully verbal (the modern form of the word is spelt, and pronounced, with a short "i", briocht). briocht - v bríocht. brionglóid - dream (general term). briotais - inherent talent (in a specific thing). brosna (-í) - withered branch ordead wood gathered by hand (i.e. not requiring permission of the tree or ritual). brú - hostel, Sídhe-hill, esp. the latter (cf bruíon). Brú na Bhóinne - Newgrange. bruane - fire-seed, embers from which other fires are lit. brugh - v brú. bruidhean - v bruíon. bruigh - v brú. bruíon - hostel, Sídhe-hill, esp. the former (cf brú). brúthaoscadh - to drain pressure, loosen tightenness, psychically. bua - 1) gained or attained personal power, esp. in a given area (cf brí); 2) [usually as plural buatha:] actions which win or maintain bua v tairbhe); (lit. victory, merit, talent). buachaitheamh - to "flare power", neutral samhlchaitheamh. buachloch - power-object. búad - v bua. buannaíocht - 1) boldness, presumption; 2) having or using briotais. buas - 1) spring (water); 2) wealth (specifically one's "store" of bua, but also of gold, property, etc). buí - yellow, associated with thanksgiving and praise. bunchur - "let this happen" part of bríocht. C C ( kay ) ............................................ v coll. caerthann - v caorthann. cailleach - 1) hag (esp. as aithriocht of neach Sídhe); 2) precocious young girl. cáin - offical law, tax to rulers (as opposed to tradition or éiric). caint (-eanna) - speech, avility to talk, discourse. cáinte - (esp. unjust) satirist. caitheamh - cast(ing) fiodhrádhm coins, etc. (lit. wear, use, consumption, 7rl). cana - 1) cub, 2) 4th (from bottom up) rank poet. caoi - 1) way, path, manner; 2) opportunity; 3) proper condition; 4) thing solicited by árach. caoilíth - omen that what has been said or done is correct (cf líth, iúl, taispeáadh). caoimneadh - keen, lament for dead. caor (-a) - berry, associated with health. caorthann - common name for luis. caorthann curraigh - valerian. cas - turn, wind, sing, return, reproach, attempt, meet. cath - battle. cathais - vigil. Cathbhadh - ard-draoi of Ulster, responsible for the curse on Emhain Macha, bound whern he was lied to by the king. céadfa (-í) - bodily sense (or one of normal 5), normal perception/conception. céalmhaire - omen. cearc - hen. ceard - craft, skill, art. ceart tar críoch (also cert tar crích) - right of poets to cross all political borders with safety. ceas - 1) surfeit, excess; 2) woe, grief, debility, esp. long-lasting or repetititve, esp. as result of mallacht. céile - companion, spouse. céim - 1) step, rank; 2) pass (in mountains), ravine. ceo - 1) fog, mist; 2) anything, nothing. ceobhrán - haze, light mist. ceol - music. Cesair - v Lebor Gabála. ciall - sense. sanity, normal or habitual state of mind, faculty of logic, meaning; (cf aigne 7rl). ciapóg - (magically induced) confusion or delusion. cinnbheart - head-dress, esp. feathered. cinniúint - 1) fate (general term, cf dán); 2) misfortune, tragedy. cinnte - certainly, surely. cion - 1) share, amount; 2) love, esteem; 3) offence, crime, blame. Cithruad - ard-draoi ríogaí of king Cormac who lost to Mogh Roith (qv). ciúta (-í) - 1) quip; 2) flourish; 3) trick; 4) "extra decoration", stylistic addition in bríocht with no bua itself but used to help make it unique. claenmhíl - family totem. nascmhíl - animal to which a person's life is linked. beirmhíl - personal totem involving taking of name and geis against killing (additional) memebers of species. Claíomh Solais - Sword of Light. cláirseach - large (modern) harp, not a druid harp. clann - children, family, race, followers. clárú - 1) tablulation, listing (of kings, attributes, 7rl); 2) to beat, flatten, 7rl; 3) slang: fuck; 4) modern: to programme a computer. clé - left (hand). cleachtadh (-aí) - 1) lesson; practice; 2) habitual wont; 3) practical experience. cleas - feat of prowess, "trick" (but not with the idea of skill, not cheating). cleathainsí (pl.) - paraphernalia, odds and ends, personal belongings, (esp. minor) props and aids to magic. clí - 5th (from bottom up) rank poet. cliatha fis - "wattles of knowledge", wicker (esp. rowan) lattice sleeping-bag used for divination. cloch - stone (general term). cloch iompaithe - turning stone. used esp. for mallacht. clog - 1) bell; 2) clock; 3) skin-blister. clós - henge, enclosure. clú - honour, fame (informal, cf eineach). clúmh - feathers, down, body-hair, fur. cnáib - hemp, cannabis. cnó (-nna) - nut, associated with wisdom. cnoc (cnoic) - hill. cnúdánaí - 1) purring cat; 2) wheedler, pleasant hoaxer; 3) wannabe (person who likes druidism superficially but wants easy lessons). cochall - cowl, cloak with hood, a non-druid cloak. coill - woods, forest. Coire Dagdae - Ever-full cauldron of plenty. coire éirme - cauldron of warming, loweest of 3 coirí filíochta (qv). coire fhís - cauldron of knowledge, highest of 3 coirí filíochta (qv). coire goir - cauldron of motion, middle of 3 coirí filíochta (qv). coirí filíochta (pl) - 3 "cauldrons of poetry" within the poet/person, similar but not identical to kundalini chakras; each has 3 attitudes, giving 9 situational elements (qv naoi) and 7 states of the poet (qv seacht). cóiriú - arranging (esp. the details), used of tuning a harp or "fiddling" with a bríocht with or without somhoill. coisc - v cosc. coitiantacht - 1) [without qualifying adjective:] the consensus commonality view of the world; 2) [with adjective] (esp, agreed upon or experienced in common) way of life and view of the world. coll - Hazel, fiodh of the letter C (always pronounced as "k"), associated with, among other things, poetry and the wilds; explicited stated as tree most favoured by Tuatha Dé Danann. Colmchille - druid-trained greatest native Irish christian saint. comhaltas - joint fosterage (modern word has many meanings). comhartha - symbol, signal, gesture, token, sign, symptom. comhartha beann - sign of horns made with hand as protective gesture. comhfhearann - common ownership of land. cómhla (esp. cómhla breac) - gate (esp. to Otherworld). comhnasc - joint linkage, binding two or more things equally together, with or without sárlán. comhtharlú - coincidence, esp. simultaneous (cf comhtheangmhas). comhtheaghmas (rud) - conjuncture of things, entities in relationships. comhtheagmhas - coincidence, serial, across time/space (cf comhtharlú). comóradh - assembly, celebration, accompaniment. cóngar - 1) proximity, vicinity; 2) convenient equipment, means/tools ready to hand (cf garmheas). Conmaince Réin - mountain in Connacht, arrival site of Tuatha Dé Danann, identity uncertain, possibly Maol Réidh. Connacht - Connacht. contúirt - 1) doubt, danger; 2) place or interval of time (e.g. Samhain) of possible, not fated, danger; 3) a dangerous technique. cor - turn, whirlwind, spinning-in-place, reel, pledge, exhausion, agreement. corr - point, edge, hollow, pit, crane (bird), eel, odd (i.e. not even), curve. corrbolg - "crane bag", magical treasure bag. corrguineacht - "crane magic", bríocht, esp. mallacht, on one foot, one eye closed, one hand in belt. cosc - defence, protection, prevention, restrain. cráin - sow. crainnchaint - communicating with live trees. crann (crainn) - 1) tree ( v bile); the three most important trees are luis, iúr, and coll (qv); 2) pole, shaft, wooden frame, penis, full growth, best part, misfortune, attitude, important person, fate, tune, offer, 7rl. crannchur - 1) ársa: casting of lots, not limited to fiodhrádh; 2) modern: lottery, sweepstake. crannóg - artifical island dwelling. cré-umha - bronze. creadair - relic, power object. creideamh - (esp. non-druid) belief, faith. crios (-anna) - 1) (Irish woven) belt; 2) zone around a person, thing, place, under its influence; 3) encircling protective ward. Cromm Croich - god of non-druid pagan religious cult in ancient Ireland. Cromm Dubh - v Cromm Croich. crot - v cruit. Crúachán Aí - pagan socio-political capital of Connacht. Cruachán Aigle - former pagan name of Cruach Pádraig. cruit - the smaller, druidily proper, form of harp (whether the original druid cruit was harp- or lyre-like is disputed, but the basic three-wood body and that Uaithne (qv) is also an old word for "pillar" would argue for a harp-like instrument. cruitire - harper, i.e. a music-wizard, druid. cruitt - v cruitire. cruthú - to create and prove true, cf fíorú. cú - hound. Cú Roí (Cú Rói) - druid-king of Munster (only king of a province to be also a druid) whose totem was a salmon. cuaifeach - whirlwind. cuairt coimhgí - circle of safe-keepings. cúig - five, number of general total, fullness, or completion (cf naoi). cúige - lit. "fifth", province. cuileann - common name of tinne. cuir - bind, sow, bury, set, put, seek, consider, send, engage, take, give, provide, deprive, 7rl. cumang - v cumhacht. cumha - nostalgia, home-sickness, esp. for ideal, what one never knew one had until after one lost it. cumhacht - power, authority, influence, 7rl. cur - v cuir. curadmhír - v laochmhír. D D ( day ) ............................................ v dair. dáimh - kindered affection, affinity. dair - "robur"-Oak (only), fiodh for the letter D, associated with, among other things, hospitality, inheritance, habitation, fertility. dalta (-í) - 1) foster-child; 2) student; 3) ex-student; 4) pet. dámh - retinue (esp. of poets, druids, brehons, 7rl). damh - stag (the modern word also means "ox"). damhna - 1) substance, material; 2) cause of; 3) promising novice. dán - poetry, gift-talent-vocation, fate-destiny ("a man can't drown whose dán's to be hanged", 7rl) as a unitary concept. dásacht - 1) fit of raging madness; 2) possession by spirit; 3) sudden panic. dáthabha - monkshood, wolfbane. dealg - 1) thorn; 2) brooch. dearg - red, associated with warriors and kingship. deas - southward, right (hand), near-by. deasghnáth (-a) - lit. "right-hand custom", ritual. deilín - sing-song chant. deiseal - clockwise, to open, harvest, welcome, release, spread, invoke outward (cf tuathal). déithe - "gods" (actually a superior elder race, which while far more wise and powerful than mortals are likewise bound by the basic laws of the universe; it is never used in the singular for an individual). déithe is dual dom, na - the gods who are rightfully mine (v dual). deoch dearmaid - drink of forgetfulness. deochnair[eacht - divination by dregs or swirling patterns in liquids. diach - unpleasant aspect of dán, "punishment" for violating geis. diamhair - thing or place (not person) with magical qualities, esp. difficult to grasp, hidden, potentially threatening, 7rl. Diarmaid mac Cearbhaill - 6th century king who attempted to re-introduce druidism to Teamhair, which resulted the great curse of desolation upon the site (Pádraig curse on only the "druidry" of Teamhair was apparently over-thrown by Diarmaid's druids, but the great curse was upon the site itself, bound by Ruadán leading a christian-hermetic conclave of 13 saints (not mere priests). díbearg - 1) outlawry, state of renouncing dominant society's values, used loosely for roving bands of reveallers; 2) slang: (irresponsible) sexual promiscuity. díbirt - excorism. díchaell - best endeavour, one's utmost best, neglect (ironic). dícheadal - incantation. dícheadal di cheannaibh - mantra-like incantation using munda-like repeditive motion, which is unusual in allowably containing rudach). díchealtair - magical disquise, esp. concealnent. díleas (dílis) - special personal attributes (of person, fiodh, 7rl.). dílmain drong - lit. "restraint of crowds"; conformity to common social mind-set. dinnsheanchas (-ais) - seanchas of place. díonghabháil - "thatch-yoke", tag at end of bríocht asking it please the gods. díth - 1) loss, destrcution, derivation, lack, requirement; 2) missing element of bríocht. díthreabh - wilderness, hermitage, isolated place of safety away from other humans. díthreabhach - hermit who lives, or wanders in, wilderness; cf aonarán. dlaoi fulla - lit. "whisp of delusion", originally a twisted whisp of grass or twig magically enpowered and thrown at a person to induce madness, but generally any "bad luck" charm targetted at a specific individual which must be in their possession to work. dleacht - legal due, lawful right, duty (cf dyalgas). dlí (-the) - binding principle, (cosmic) law. dlínse - jurisdiction. dluma dirche - nuclei of darkness. dlús - 1) compactness; 2) fullness, abundance. dlúth - 1) warp; 2) nearness; 3) intensity; 4) inner essential. Do cheann im chrios - "Your head in my belt", fach. doilbh - v dolb. doiléire - indistinct image, obscure affair, imprecise fomhothuú, etc. doilfeacht - stage "magic", slight-of-hand. doineann - wild cold weather. doire - (esp. oak but also other type of) grove. dolb - bit of (usually, not always, transforming) magic, often but not always mealladh (may be actual shape-shift). Domhan-so, an - 1) the mundane common world; 2) the daily born-to world (as opposed to an Saol Eile and Tír na Marbh). dord - 1) hum, buzz, murmur; 2) (esp. deep bass) chant. dos - 3rd (from bottom up) rank poet. draighean - common name of áirne. draíocht - druidism (modern word used loosely for magic). draíodóir - fake druid. draoi (draoithe) - druid. draoi (draoithe) allta - "wild" druid, fíordhraoi" (true-druid), druid not assocaited with court (the adjective refers to wilderness and not "crazy, violent" and connotates amazement). draoi (draoithe) ríogaí - court druids, toadies, (pun on "royalist" and "most spasmodic"). dréacht (-aí) - 1) portion, part; 2) draft composition; 3) verse to entertain or at social functions (i.e. not filíocht as bríocht), or a scéal that is not a seanchas. dreanaireacht - divination by the flight of birds. dreoilín - wren. drinnrosc - 1) a request, boon (not neccessarily by a poet/druid, cf áilgeis); 2) an incitement to quarrel. druí - older spelling of, but prunounced identitically to draoi. drúide - baffoonery (v drúth). druídheacht - v draíocht. drúth - jester, baffoon. duais - 1) gift, bounty, reward; 2) gloom, distress, sorrow. dual - 1) spiral, wisp, lock (of hair, 7rl), twist, interlace; 2) native, natural, proper. dualaíocht - knotwork (in art, 7rl). dualgas - inherent rights, duty, obligation, reward as a single idea (cf dleacht). duan - song, poem. Duan Amhairghine - Amhairghin's (qv) challenge to the Tuatha Dé Danann by proclamation of superior poet-hood, the first mortal poem actually on the soil of Ireland (i.e. Amhairghin's Summoning of Ireland from beyond the magic mists was proclaimed from his ship). dúchas - heretitary claim, ancestorial estate. dúil - desire, will, expectation (cf aigne 7rl). duille - leaf, foliage, eye-lid, glory, wealth (v duilleog, duilliúr). duilleog - leaf. duilliúr - foliage. dúlra - nature (the elenents, 7rl). dumha - (esp. samll burial) mound. dún - fort, esp. of stone. Dún Aillinne - capital of pagan Leinster in s.e. Co. Kildare (cf Almu); note: not the "Hill of Allen" in english; an alternative site is Dinn Ríg in Co.Carlow. dúnchur (-a) - a closing of the entrance to a power site. dúshlán - challenge. E E ( ay ) ............................................. v eabhadh. eabhadh - aspen, fiodh for the letter E, associated with, among other things, indecision, change. each - horse, stead. eachtra - adventure, saga, unexpected event, wonderful surprise. eagna - wisdom, understanding (cf eolas). eala - swan. éalang - flaw, weak spot, debilitating trait (cf fabht, locht). éalúdach - absconder from justice, used loosely for someone attempting to escape his/her dán (which is impossible). éan (éin) - bird. eangaill - cliff notch, a small narrow ledge beneath the lip of a high (usually sea-) cliff which is thw point of hightest brí and which (dangerously) allows one to stand ON the wall at, not AT the top of the cliff itself. éaraid - magical interferance or hinderance. eas - 1) waterfall; 2) weasel. easáin - (unlawful) refusal of hospitality. éasca - 1) moon; 2) fluent, nimble, free, swift. easca - quicksand, used generally for any area of potential danger. eascaine - curse (general not neccessaroly bríocht). éicse - poetic "nuts and bolts" knowledge (cf iomas). éifeacht - depersonalized power (general theoretical abstract). éigse v éicse. éigsín - 1) poetry student; 2) fake file. eineach - honour (as a formal rank, cf clú). eineaclann - honour price paid for offence. Éire - v Ériu. éireannachas - Irish characteristics. éiric - fine or penality, esp. for violation of eineach. éirim - intellect, appitude. eisinreach - excommunication from social group. éislinn - blemish caused by aoir. eiteach - refusal, denial (of aíocht, 7rl). Emhain Macha - capital of pagan Ulster. eo - 1) salmon; 2) prince; 3) yew. eo fis - Salmon of Knowledge. eolas - knowledge, information (cf eagna). éraic - v éiric. erbe - v airbe. Ériu - Ireland. F F ( ehf ) ............................................ v fearn. fabht - (esp. hidden) defect, basic flaw, unsoundness at core (cf éalang, locht). fach - challenge, declaration of foe-ship. fáidh - 1) divinator; 2) wiseman. fail - ring, bracelet, enclosure (v fál). fáilte - welcome, happiness. fáinne - (finger) ring, v mionnfháinne. faire (-í) - 1) ward to guard against; 2) funeral wake. faisnéis - eye-witness testimony. fáistine - divination. fáith - prophet. fál - 1) hedge, fence, barrier (of protection, 7rl - v airbe); 2) Ireland. farc (-a) - ward to restrain, including to bar entrance. Farraige, talamh, is spéir. - Sea, earth, and sky (variants include "muir" for "farraige" and "neamh" for "spéir", v Thríbhís Mhór). fásach - 1) maxim, precedent; 2) wilderness. fáthlia - herbal doctor. feá - common name of páigh. fealmas (-a) - slight-of-hand, placebo. fearb - blemish caused by aoir. fearn - alder, fiodh for the letter F, associated with, among other things, shields, hearth, luxury. fearnóg - common name for fearn. fearr fear a chineadh - "a man is better than his birth", maxim that anyone may rise as his skill allows. méarsmeach (-anna) - "finger-flick" used as warding. feart - 1) miracle, wonderous event; 2) (esp passage) tomb. féath fíadha - magical mists of invisibility. feathal - 1) emblem, distinquishing feature; 2) mask. féige - roof-tree, lintel (touched during blessing on all within when entering a dwelling). feilmhleas - clairoyant charm (general term). féineas - selfhood. feis - 1) festival; 2) sexual intercourse. feoras - common name of meol. fia - deer. fiach dubh - raven, lit. "dark hunting". fiadhrádh - (a pun on/for fiodhrádh meaning "esteemed utterance"). fianna (plural) - band of warrior allowable-outlaws sworn to protect society but independent of it. Fiannaíocht - seanchais of Fionn, Oisín, and the Fianna. fidcheall - lit. "wooden sense", 1) ársa: a non-chess non-lots board game; 2) modern: chess. file (filí) - poet. i.e. word-wizard, druid. filideacht - v filíocht. filíocht - poetry, i.e. verbal magic. fine - (often greatly) extended family group. fiodh (-aí) - a single element of the fiodhrádh. fiodhlann (-a) - a fiodh-piece used in casting. fiodhrádh - lit. "wooden utterance", the druidic system of divination by means of tree-letter-names. Fionn Éiceas - druid who taught Fionn mac Cumhaill. Fionn mac Cumhaill (there are variant spellings) - leader of fianna with some druid training. fiontar - adventure, risk, jeopardy, enterprise. fíor - 1) figure, shape, image, symbol; 2) truth, pledge; cf fírinne. fíorainm (-ainmneacha or ársa: -anmann) - "true name", binding name. Fíorcheann - "True-Head", Malen Head, the norther-nmost point of Ireland. fíordhraoi - v draoi allta. fíorú - to symbolize and verify, cf cruthú. fiosaíocht - parapsychics (modern tern). fiothnais - feat of harmful magic. Fir Bolg - earlier sibling race of Tuatha Dé Danann (qv). fir fer - combat code requiring, among other things, due notice and equalisation of weapons. fírinne - truth(fulness), more abstract or impersonal than fíor (qv). fiurt - feat of magic, esp. showy or beneficial. flaith - 1) sovereignty; 2) prince. fleá - feast (cf feis). flead - v fleá. fleasc - wand (esp. of coll). focail bána - 1) "white words", words empty of truth and/or bua; 2) Latin. focal (focail) - word, pledge. fochlac - 1) sapling; 2) 1st (lowest) rank poet. foclóir - dictionary. Fódla - Ireland. fógairt (-gartha) - 1) proclamation; 2) ward to compel, esp expell. fogla dílsi - allowable plunder. fóidín mearaí - lit. "little sod of confusion", place where directions are false, deliberate pit-fall, intentional misinformation (may be actual physical place - cf frithbhuachán, or more general). foirteagal - binding by names or words of power. foladh (folaí) - essence, meaning, wealth, benefit, "claim to fame". Fomoirí - foreign enemies of Tuatha Dé Danann. forchoiméad - ward (esp. to preserve, maintain, etc.) formhothú - lit."over-sensation"; extension of (esp. bodily) perception beyond limits of body-skin, with/without iarrairdeall (qv). fortach - oath or bríocht that overrides or supersedes another. foscéal - 1) minor seanchas, or aside-seanchas within longer one; 2) by extention of above: minor matter or event. frithbheart - imcompatable element, contradiction. frithbhuachán - a place or thing which drains bua or assaults brí, may or may not be individually specific (cf dlaoi fulla). frithchosúlacht - paradox. fuath - 1) phantom; 2) hatred; 3) shape, form; 4) nightshade. fuinseog - common name of nion. G G ( gay ) ............................................ v giúis. gá - need, requirement;cf gáu. gabhlairdeall - "forked attention", division of consciousness, esp. during somhoill. gad - marker attached to object as evidence of claim. gaeilge - the Irish language the correct english is "Irish"; while "Gaelic" includes Scots and Manx). gaeilgeoireacht - (act or study of) speaking Irish. gáeth - v gaoth. gall (gaill) - person of foreign affinity. gallán - standing stone. gaol (-ta) - person of kindred affinity. gaoth - 1) wind; 2) estuary; 3) wise. garmheas - convenient judgement, approximate opinion, pragmatic (but not exact) estimation, temperary "make-do" technique (cf cóngar). garrán - grove. gáu - 1) injustice; 2) falsehood. geal - bright, pure. gealach - moon. geantraí - harp strain to (magically) induce laughter. geasán - mini-geas, esp. self-imposed, to perform only once. geilt (-e) - madman living in wilds, shunning others, with shaman-like magical powers (cf díthreabhach). geis (geasa) - magically bound injuncture or duty, individual and contextual, having force of dán, explicitedly not a taboo since many geasa required the person bound to perform, not avoid, the required activity. giorria - hare. giúis - pine, fiodh for the letter G, associated with, among other things, social-responsibity, valour. glám díceann - short exhibitionistic (magical) satire. gléas - arrangement, means, facilities, instrument, tool, dress, preparation. gnách - mundane, common. gnáth - customary thing or action. go gcumhdaí is dtreoraí na déithe thú - "May the gods guard and guide you". goirmín - woad. goltraí - harp strain to (magically) induce weeping. gorm - blue, associated with protection and magic. Greallach Dallaid - Mire of Blindness, hidden sanctuary. gréasán - 1) web, network; 2) tangle, complicatiom; 3) (esp. single) knotwork or spiral motif. grian - sun. grianchloch - "sun-stone" (quartz). grinnaitint - lit."discerning recognition": 1) recognition of thing's or event's truth nature; 2) directed perception to (attempt to) obtain the first. grinnthoil - lit. "lucid intent"; directed consciousness to influence event, thing, or person, with or without communication of data. gruagach - "hairy-head", magical being in (esp. human) disquise, used sarcastically of would-be wizard. gruaim - despond, dejection, self-pity. gúbreatha - false judgement, v gáu. H H ( haych) ............................................ v uath. I I ( ee ) ............................................. v iúr. iallach (-aigh) - bríocht of restraint or compulsion. iarlais - changling. iarrairdeall - lit. "solicitous attention"; blank-mind receptiveness. idircheo - area of overlapping liminality between an Domhan-so and an Saol Eile. (lit. between-mist). idirchian - far distant time or place (lit. between-length). idirchrios - transitional area (lit. between-belt). ilchiallú - pun, doubled entrendre, i.e. in bríocht a "sea-horse" is valid as a "horse". ildathach - multicoloured, breac. iloireadas - non-concurrentness of geography and time between the worlds. ilsaoltactaíocht - (practice of) multiplicity of realities. imbas - v iombhas. Imbolg - high day that begins sunset 31st January. immram - wonder voyage (late borrowing). Inbhear Scéine - Kenmare estuary, place of mortal's first arrival in Ireland. inchinn - brain (cf aigne 7rl). intinn - nind, intent, purpose, will, "bent" as basic mental characteristics (cf aigne 7rl). íocluibh - healing herb (general term). iodh - (esp. neck) ring (not open over throat, cf torc). iomarbhá - contention (usually used for róe [qv] of poets, 7rl). iomarta - magical influence, not direct bríocht. iomartas (-ais) - magical influence. iomas - poetic intuition or inspiration (cf éicse; poc, síúlacht, túras). iombhas - poetic knowledge won or attained. iombhas forosna - a much disputed technique of trance using or gaining iombhas with which to prophesize. iompóchur - bríocht to reverse, reflect, "boomerang" ward. iris - 1) credo; 2) journal; 3) tryst; 4) contract; 5) texts. iúl - 1) knowledge, expression; 2) guidance, direction; 3) attention; 4) an (esp. seemingly minor) event that solicits a responce or indicates a course of action (v scruth bhua, cf caoilíth, taispeánadh). iúr - Yew, fiodh of letter I, associated with, among other things, death and immortality, primordiality, adytum; tree from which all others sprouted. L L ( ehl ) ............................................ v luis. lád - watercourse. Laighean - Leinster. laochas - valour, pride, heroism, boastfulness, bravado. láthair - 1) site, loction; 2) presence (of person, 7rl), present place and/or time. láthar - strength, vigour. leabhar (-air) - 1) book (a Latin loan-word); 2) a collection of seanchais, among the most important of which include: Leabhar Buí Leacáin, L. Laighneach, L. Leasca Mhóir, and L. na hUidhre. leac - (esp. door, flat or horizontal) stone. leacht - 1) grave; 2) cairn. leannán - 1) lover (human, but specific term for of Sídhe); 2) chronic affliction, failing (character weakness). leapaidh lánlaidhí - lit. "harbourage of complete attentions"; (esp. secure or powerful) mind-set (to do bríocht or in meditation). léargas - insight, non- (or very light) trance vision, psychic sight. léaspáin - dancing coloured lights (mealladh, cf méarnáil). leathdhraíocht - "half-a-druidism" with some genuine, but many foreign elements. Lebor Gabála, an - "The Book of Invasions", seanchas (not an actual "leabhar" of the invasions of Ireland; the first three invasions (i.e. Cesair, Partholón, Nemed) of which are interpolations added by later christian scribes to bring it in line with church and Classical references. leid - hint, clue, pointer. leigheas - healing. léim thar - v ling thar. léine - long shirt, tunic, vest. léirmheas (eannna) - review (of books), critical complete assement. lia - 1) standing stone; 2) physician. Lia Fáil - stone that sang when the true king stood on it (definitely not the one so-called now). liag - (esp. ornamented standing) stone. liathlus - mugwort. ling thar tine cnámh - leap over the bonfire, to be "cooked", i.e. reaffirm social membership (cf níghe). líonadh - 1) flood tide; 2) waxing moon. lionn iomhais - drink granting magical insight. lios - 1) enclosed space); 2) cnoc Sídhe; 3) halo around moon. líth (líotha) - good omen indicating the day upon which it occurs is beneficial (cf caoilíth). loachmhír - hero's portion at a feast. Lochcrú and Lucetmael - draoithe ríogaí Teamhrach at the coming of Pádraig, the first Pádraig, the latter lost a magical battle to him by being ineptly inable to perform feats which other druids handled with ease. locht - flaw, limiting defect, slip-up (cf éalang, fabht). lodairne - badly spun yarn, scraggy weaving (poorly composed bríocht). Lúachrán (also Lúachair) - pagan capital of Munster, exact location unknown, somewhere in Co. Kerry or s.w. Co. Limertick. lúan láith - halo-like radiance around head of person in ríastrad. Lucetmail - v Lochrú. Lugbrann - 6th century (i.e. christian times) druid. Lughnasa - quarter day beginning sunset 31 July. luibh (-eanna) - herb. luibhlia - herbalist. luis - the magical name of Rowan, the fiodh for letter L, associated with, among other things, protection, investiture, and rejuvination; most important tree of (human) druids; (the American mountain-ash does not qualify as a true Rowan, which must have a hairy bud-head). lus (-anna) - herb. lusca - man-made cave, crypt. M M ( ehm ) ............................................ v meol. mac fuirmhidh - 2nd (from bottom up) rank poet. macgnímrada - youthful deeds; a major type of seanchas. machnamh - meditation, contemplation. mael - term for possible druid tonsure, contended by some to be shorn ear to ear with tuft in front. Mag Sleacht - the centre of the Cromm Croich (qv) cult. Maigh Tuireadh - 1) First Battle of, Co. Galway between Tuatha Dé Danann and Firbolg; 2) Second Battle of, Co. Sligo between TTD and Fomoire; (Tuatha Dé Danann victorious in both). mála cruite - harp-bag, for a master harper (only), of 3 lawyers: otter-skin, white-speckled kid-goat-skin, (around only the strings:) white linen. mála éithigh - "bag of false witness", bag from which lots are drawn. mallacht (-aí) - curse. mana - omen. marana - contemplation (esp. verbal). Marbán - a swineherd who rose to ardfhile of Ireland (qv fearr fear). Marcaigh Móra Géala - "Great Bright Riders", Slua Sídhe. meá - 1) mead; 2) balance-scales, weight, measure; 3) fishing-ground; (to avoid confusion, v miodh). meabhair - intellect(ual consciousness), rational sense, memory, conscious awareness of ideas (cf aigne 7rl). mealladh (mealtaí) - glamour, magically-induced illusion. meanma - thought, attention, orientation of thought, morale (cf aigne). méarnáil - phosphorescent light of (usually lesser) Sídhe. mearú - hallucination, bewilderment, insanity, insane craving. méirín púca - foxglove (one of many names). meol - spindle, fiodh for the letter M, associated with, among other things, industry, ostentation. meon - temperment, character, whims and fancies (cf aigne 7rl). Mí - v Mídhe. Mídhe - Meath. Míl - first human inhabitants of Ireland (usually fir Mhíle). millteoracht - magical attack. miodh - mead (older form, v meá). seinm - playing (music), proclamation. mionaire - lit. fine(small) attention; perception inwhich data are distinct, events staccato, time contracted (cf nascaire). mionn (-a) - 1) regalia; 2) oath; 3) relic. mionnfháinne - finger-ring as "badge of office", a king's worn on the right thumb; a druid's on either middle-finger. Mogh Ruith - "wild" one-eyed poet-druid (v draoi allta), greatest druid after Amhairghin (qv), who with a few apprentices battled the combined forces of the arch-druid and all the court druids of Ireland and their Sídhe allies, and won. móideacht - votive offering. molaim thú - "I praise you" given to trees, leser Sídhe, 7rl (i.e. not generally to average humans). moltaí - praises. mórchúis - false self-importance. mothú - sentience, sensory awareness, self-awareness, consciousness (cf aigne 7rl). mothú amhra méadú meabhraithe - very roughly , "a feeling for marvels is an expansion of awareness". muir - v farraige 7rl. Mumhan - Munster. Mumu - v Mumahn. N N ( ehn ) ............................................ v nion. namhaid (naimhde) - enemy naofa - sacred (adj.). naoi - nine, number of gestalten, inherent completion and return. naomh - lit. "ninefold-one", sacred (person or thing). naomhaidhe - ninefold of days, esp. the period afterwhich danger has passed. naonúr - a ninefold of persons. Naoú Tonn, an - The Ninth Wave (of Eternal Return). nasc - binding (one thing to another), link. nascaire - lit. "link-attention"; state of perception inwhich data are patterned, events flow, time expands (cf mionaire). nath (-a) - cant-word, (as plural) skill in adages. nathair (nathracha) - snake. neach - being, person, irregardless of sex, used as "neach Sídhe". néaladóireacht - 1) divination by clouds; 2) furtively spying. néallta fola - "Clouds of Blood", invocation of slaughter. neamh - v farraige 7rl. neamhshaolta - "otherworldly", magically intrusive into the mundane, used only as adjective/adverb, generally with or without explicitly intending an Saol Eile. neart - power, strength, both physically and magically. Neart inár lámha, fírinne ar ár dteanga, glaine inár gcroí. - "strength in our arms, truth on our tongue, clarity in our heart", definition of fianna honour (several minor variants exist). Néide - youth who contested in iomarbhá to claim the supremacy of poet-druids of Ulster (qv Immacallam). neidín - "little nest", a power-spot of rest or general safety. neimheadh - 1) outdoor sanctuary; 2) more loosely, any person, thing inviolable as sacred. Nemed - v Lebor Gabála. ní hanasa - "Not difficult", a standard beginning to answering a question requiring expert knowledge. ní heisce gan ríga gúasacht báis - maxim that a king (or any political leader) must always occupy the position of greatest danger in any battle inwhich his people take part. níghe - washing, ritually done already regalia'd, not as cleansing, but as "crossing" into ritual space (cf ling thar tine cnámh). nion - ash-tree, fiodh for the letter N, associated with, among other things, battle, asceticism, prudence. nuáil - (generally acceptable) innovation. O O ( oh ) ............................................. v omhna. ócaire (-í) - lowest grade of freeman without major skills, layman. óenach - (esp. quarter year) assembly. ogham - a Latin based rune-like alphabet of foreign origin. Oíche Samhna - Samhain (qv) Night. oidhe - doom, violent death (of an individual). Oisín - poet, last of fianna. ollamh - master, 7th rank (top) poet. omhna - sessile-Oak (only), fiodh for the letter O, associated with, among other things, law, duty, honesty. ór - gold. ortha (-í) - charm, physical not verbal, or cliché verbal. orthrus (usual form of complete folog n-orthrusa) - sick-maintenance, right of everyone to medical care (the longer term refers more specifically to long-term care). P P ( pay ) ............................................ v páigh. Pádraig - Welsh evangelist. páigh - beech, fiodh for letter P, associated with, among other things, potency, thanksgiving. Partholón - v Lebor Gabála. péist - 1) modern: worm, vermin; 2) ársa: monster, often but not always in the form of an eel (not a snake). píb uilleann - v bolg is buinní. piseog - witch (in the general sense, but in tradition and association suitable to include followers of Wicca). piseogacht - general earth (not hermetic) pagan magic, witchcraft (cf asarlaíocht). poc - 1) fairy stroke, sudden seizure, faint; 2) sudden disquieting intuition (cf síúlacht, túras); 3) buck (deer, goat. 7rl). pocmhothú - sudden non-premeditated athmhothú (qv). púca - neach Sídhe of wildwood (the horse-creature is likely a Norse borrowing/extension). R R ( ehr ) ............................................ v ruis. rá (ráite) - saying, utterance, adage. rabhadh - forewarning (of battle, 7rl). racht - paroxym. ráithe (-í) - quarter-year. rann - stanza, poem. ráth - 1) earthen ring-fort; 2) surety. rath - bounty, abundance, riches. ré - moon (-cycle). Réalta na bhFile - "Star of the Poets", the throne-room of Teamhair (note, named after the poets who proclaimed there, and not for the king). réamhfhuireach - bríocht set beforehand which awaits scorán to activate. rí (-the) - king. ríastrad - physical and mental distortion-transformation (not shape-shifting) of esp. warrior similar to Norse berserkir. rig - v rí. ríoghain - queen. ríon - v ríoghain. róe - duel, single combat (usually used for armed combat, cf iomarbhá). rófhis - lit. "excessive/most knowledge" does not apply to omniscience, but to "as much as you'd want or need", almost always applied to Tuatha Dé Danann and not humans. rosc (-anna) 1) eye; 2) a druid rhetoric, i.e. magical incantation; not a set formula but an each use unique (or at least slightly varied) extemporaneous utterance esp. incorporating ilchiallú. rudach - monotomy in a bríocht or filíocht (generally unacceptable in bríocht but allowable in dícheatal di cheannaibh, qv). ruis - elder, fiodh for the letter R, associated with, among other things, hosting, secret pathways, healing. rún - secret (this word has a long ancestry and would appear to be Indo-European and not a Norse borrowing). rúraíocht - the Ulster cycle. S S ( ehs ) ............................................ v sail. sáebmhillteacht - illusionary destruction. sagart - (christian or non-druid) priest. saigheán - sudden blast of wind or flash of light. sail - willow, fiodh for the letter S, associated with, among other things, separation, proxy. saileach - common name for sail, willow (as a herb). sainaicme - demonination, caste, sect. samhail - 1) semblence, likeness, metaphor; 2) model; 3) spectre (esp. mealladh). Samhain (gen. Samhna) - year turning, extra night-and-day beginning sunset 31 October (the setting of the actual date esp. due to calendar change reflects that this is a psycho-ritual and not an astronomical date. samhlchaiteamh - image-wearing/throwing to solicit response. saoi - sage (person). saoithoúlacht - 1) wisdom, intellectual accomplishment; 2) humour, mirth; 3) oddness. saol - world, life, existance in time and space, state of affairs, sphere of influence, totality of conditions, 7rl. Saol Eile, an - the Otherworld (used loosely in modern Irish to indicate death or Heaven/Hell). saoltacht - reality, manner of the world. sárlán - "exceeding full", gestalt. sasanaigh - english (people, cf béarla). sauntraí - harp strain to (magically) induce sleep. scáil - shadow, reflection, darkness, gleam, brillance. scál - 1) phantom; 2) hero, (cf scáil). scalach - sudden violent gust of wind or chop of waves. scáth - shadow, covering, protection, phanthom. Scáthach - woman warrior-druid living in Albu. sceach - common name of uath. scéal (-ta) - story, not neccessarily seanchas. sciath - shield. sciotán - sudden drastic unexpected change. scorán - "toggle/tally", trigger of a réamhfhuireach. scrothaíocht - limits of ad lib improvisation within a bríocht which cannot be exceeded. seabhac - hawk. seachrán - going astray, error, delusion, distraction. seacht - seven, number of ordered hierachies. séad - 1) journey, pathway; 2) gem, jewel, treasure. seaghdhaí sheanfhocail - the excellence of ancient word. séan (-a) - omen of good luck; 2) good luck charm; 3) treasured person or thing. sean-nós (-anna) - traditional custom, ancient way. seanchaí - teller of seanchais. seanchas (-ais) - ancient lore-tale (only a few of the most important are listed by title in this foclóir). seandálaíocht - archaeology. seanfhocal - proverb. seanghaeilge - Old Irish. séansaí - double, sending, apparition of person physically elsewhere. serglige - wasting sickness caused by magic. sí - v Sídhe. Sí an Bhrú - v Brú na Bhóinne. siabhradh - being (esp. minorly) effected by the Sídhe. siabhrán - minor delusion or confusion caused by the Sídhe. sián - cnoc Sídhe. sian - whistle, indistinct scream or voice (esp. of the Sídhe). Sídhe - 1) magical beings (general term as collective plural, v neach); 2) "fairy-hill", place of permanent overlap of worlds. síofa - (esp. minor) neach Sídhe. síofróg - (esp. female minor) neach Sídhe. síofrógacht - magical dealings with (usually the lesser) Sídhe. sióg - neach Sídhe. síogaí - (esp. minor) neach Sídhe. síon - (esp. sudden change to) stormy weather. síor- - prefix: eternal. Sithcheann - one of few smiths to also be a druid. síúlacht - 1) feeling of being magically influenced, not necessarily by bríocht; 2) spontaneously magic insight (esp. given by procceeding (cf iomas, poc, túras); 3) state of being fey. sláinte - health, welfare. slaitín - wand. slán - health, wholeness, security. slat - staff. Sleá Bua - Spear of Victory. slí - way, path in life, passage, journey, road, room to proceed, correct course of action, means, method, manner, appropriateness, direction, space allowed for, 7rl. slógad - v slua. Slua Sídhe - hosting (mobile assembly) of Sídhe. smaoineamh - thought, consideration, thinking-about (cf aigne 7rl). snag breac - magpie. sochastacht - "happy intricacy', love of complexity as symbolic of energy, the flux and flow of the worlds intertwined. soeis - turn, transformation, winning. soilsiú - illumination, brightening, enlightment (as in Zen 7rl). soineann - calm fair weather. soiscéal - gospel, gossip, sermon. propaganda. somhoill - suspension of bríocht in stasis to adjust details requiring gabhlairdeall. sonraí - details. spéir - v farraige 7rl. sponc - coltsfoot (v adhann). sruth bhua - current or flow of bua (v iúl). T T ( tay ) ............................................ v tinne. tagairtí - references. taibhreamh - dream (esp. clairoyant; cf ailsing). taibhse - ghost. Tailltiú - hill n.e. of Teamhair site of last decisive battle between mortals and Tuatha Dé Danann. táin (tána) - cattle raid; a major type of seanchas. tairbhe - 1) benefit, profit, usefulness, concern; 2) place, activity, or object that is condictive to gaining bua or developing brí, may or may not be individually specific. tairbhfeis - divination to choose new king. taircheadal - (esp. verbal) prophesy tairngire - 1) prophet (person); 2) promise (thing) 3) precocious child. tairngreacht - prophecy. taise - 1) wraith, spirit-double; 2) relic; 3) ruins (esp. of sacred place); 4) sudden swoon, faint. taispeánadh - 1) apparition (person or thing); 2) demonstration, revelation (esp. as a major iúl) cf caoilíth. talamh - v Farraige 7rl. Tálcheann - "Adze-head", a druid epithet for Saint Patrick. támas - indistinct trance vision. támhnéal - trance in general. taoiseach - 1) petty (cattle) lord, much lower than tiarna; 2) modern usage for the Prime Minister of Ireland. tarbh - bull. teachtaire - herald, messenger. téagar - 1) substance, solidness, robustness, stoutness; 2) shelter, warmth, comfort, beloved. teagasc (-a) - 1) instruction; 2) doctrine, texts; 3) rote bríocht [only last use is derogatory]. Teamhair (Teamhair Mhór, T. na Rí, T. Bhreac, 7r; gen. Teamhrach) - "Tara", most important socio-political sacred site of pagan Ireland under both mortals and the Tuatha Dé Danann, n.e. of Dublin. Teamhair Lúachra - v Lúachrán. teanga - 1) tongue; 2) language. teannáil - beacon fire. teannfhocal - emphatic statement, assertion (esp. of disputed matter). tearmann - 1) sanctuary; 2) protection (of one person over another). teine - v tine. teinm laída - divination by chewing on raw meat. teir (-eanna) - bad omen. Thríbhís Mhór, an - The Great Triscele (Sea, Earth, and Sky), whose binding (which is indivisble and may never be broken down to three separate parts) insures the integrity of the cosmos; as an individual binding it ensures slán, and as the penalty for breaking of a geis acts as a whole (the sea rise to drown you, the earth open to swallow you, the sky fall to crush you - v tríbhás). Tí na n-óg - v Saol Eile. tiarna (-í) - lord (esp. a major neach Sídhe; generally inappropriate for a mortal, execpt perhaps Amhairghin). timpán - v tiompan. tine - fire (v ling thar tine cnámh). tine chnámh - bonfire. tinne - holly, fiodh for the letter T, associated with, among other things, conjolery, trickery, brazenness. tiompán - 1) modern term: drum; 2) ársa: stringed instrument like lyre or harp; 3) tambourine. tiontú - 1) turning (of tide, sid, 7rl); 2) annulment (of law, 7rl); 3) (re-)conversion (in religion, politics, 7rl); 4) translation (of words). Tír Ildáthach - "Many-Coloured Land", an Saol Eile. Tír na Marbh - Land of the Dead. Tlachtga - hill n.w. of Teamhair, site of the bruane Samhna. tobar - well (water). toghairm (-í) - summoning invocation. togharmach - conjurer, spiritist. toil - will, consent, intent, mental preference (cf aigne 7rl). toinéal - trance (esp. immobile without outside originating visions). toit - smoke. toitriú - 1) fumigation; 2) using enpowered smoke-mixtures. Tongu fona déibh (Tuingim fom dhéibh, Toingim dom déibh, 7rl) - "I swear by (the/my) gods". tonn - wave. tonnchaint - communicating with (esp sea) waves (usually from shore). torann - a sudden loud noise (such as thunder, 7rl). torc - 1) neck ring open over throat (cf iodh); 2) wild boar. toríocht - pursuit, hunt; a major type of senachas. tórramh - 1) funeral wake; 2) harvest-home, crop-gathering. trághadh - 1) ebb tide; 2) waning moon. tré (-anna) - triad, three-fold (except of persons). treá - trident, threefold bunchur. tréadhacht - threefold sárlán. tréadhanas - threefold of days. tréan - "thrice richness", 1) champion(ship); 2) strength, intensity; 3) ability; 4) plenty, abundance. trí - three, number of binding. tríbhás - triple death, death by three simultaneous means. tríbhís - triscele. tríchos - triscele. tríchur - "three times (by three times)". trífháth - three causes why something happens (v tríbhás), or reasons to do something. triúr - threefold of persons. Troid ar an bhFarraige, an - The Battle Against The Sea, symbolic that magnificent failure is perferable to prosaic success, and that the means take priority over the end. trom - common name of ruis. troscadh - fasting, not as austerity but as protest. trú - person fated to die soon. tuar (-tha) - omen, good or bad. tuath - 1) tribe; 2) countryside. Tuatha Dé Danann - the "gods" (actually elder magical race) of Ireland; the name probably does NOT refer to Danu but to dán. tuathal - 1) pagan (the native Irish term, several other Latin loan words are in modern usage); 2) counter-clockwise, to bind, return to sourse, secure, close, invoke inward (cf deiseal); modernly under christianity the word means "wrong way". túis - incense. túras (-a) - precognitive or clairoyant intuition (cf poc, síúlacht, iomas). turas - pilgramage. U U ( oo ) ............................................. v úll. uacht - v audacht. uaimh - cave, crypt. Uaithne - Harp of the Dagda (v cruit). uarán - spring (water). uasal - noble (person of either gender). uath - 1) hawthorn, fiodh for the letter H, associated with, among other things, trial, quest; 2) as prefex: spontaneous. uathrosc - spontaneous rosc. údarás - (esp. self-assumed or unoffically acknowledged, but valid) authority. Uisneach - hill s.w. of Teamhair, ceremonial meeting of the five provinces. Uladh - Ulster. úll - apple, fiodh for the letter U, associated with, among other things, happiness, love. upa - folk-charm (physical object). upthaireacht - folk magic. upthóg - folk magic practicitioner. urchar (-air) - "fairy dart", a sudden physical pain or disfunction sent by the Sídhe. urnaidhm - 1) harp string-pin; 2) pledge. Copyright © 1993 John Kellnhauser/Cainteanna na Luise. May be reposted as long as the above attribution and copyright notice are retained.
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This ritual outline is an historical outline from Our Drudiry prior to 2006. Our current outline can be found in our Order of Ritual. Note: we also have a brief version, more suited to printing and using as a ritual cue sheet. Procession Opening Prayers Grove Attunement Fire, Well, and Tree Purpose and Precedent Purification Opening the Gates Kindred Offerings Key Offerings Sacrifice and Omen The Blessings Work Closing 0: The Sacred Grove is arranged as described. The celebrants hallow the Grove; the Fire is lit, the Well is filled, the Tree is blessed. Procession ​With singing, arrive and circle the hallows deosil. The Druids complete the sigil, then give the opening prayers. Opening Prayers ​A: Earth Mother: All kneel and kiss the earth. The Chief speaks as the Sacrificer makes an offering of grain, bread or flour: O beloved mother of all From whose starry womb the green earth springs You who are the bearer of all life We pray you bless and uphold this rite. All: Mother of all accept our offering! B: Awen: The Bard invokes, saying: Power of inspiration that attends us Voice of the fire of wisdom, voice of the well of inspiration Come into our hearts' shrine O! Into our hearts' shrine Let us ken of every good or ill, Guide our rite in the way of truth I call you to place the clear heart in us O power of inspiration in this holy place O power of inspiration at this holy time So be it! Grove Attunment ​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. Fire, Well And Tree Druids or members of the grove make offerings to the Sacred Center. Silver is offered 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 Tobar naomh, ruith a steach mise! 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 holy flame warm our spirits and our lives. Teinne naomh, ls a steach mise! All: Sacred fire, burn within us! The Bile is censed and sprinkled, saying: O sacred pillar, boundary of all 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 Crann naomh, fas a steach mise! All: Sacred tree, grow within us! Purpose And Precedent ​As proper to the work. Purification A: Outdwellers: An offering is made to the south of the Grove, saying: Ancient dark ones, we make this offering to you. You who dwell in the outer dark You who stood against the gods You twisted and misshapen You cold of heart and dim of mind Take this offering and trouble not our working. Likewise we acknowledge in ourselves Weakness and perversity Hatred and spite Cowardice and ignorance We contemplate these ills and enemies And for this sacred time We set them aside! B: Fire and Water: Druids draw water from the Well and light a censer from the Fire. They quickly cense and asperge the company, while the company intones or chants. Opening The Gates ​The sacrificer makes an offering to Manannan, saying: A Manannan, a thiarna na geatai duinn, ta muid ag siul ar do bealach. O Manannan, Lord of the Gates, Lord of Wisdom, open the ways for us. We walk in your holy ways, we walk the Sacred Road. Share your magic with us, ward us as we walk in safety. Manannan mac Lir, accept our sacrifice! An offering of oil is given to the Fire. The Druid then conjures the Gates, making an opening triskel on the Fire and Well, saying: Now, lord of ways, join your magic with mine 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. Eistigi anois, a shinseara, a mhuintir 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! A shinseara, glac an h-iobairt seo muid! (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. Eistigi anois, a sprideanna na haite seo. 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! A sprideanna na talamh, glac an h-iobairt seo muid. (an offering of herbs, flowers and/or trinkets is 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. eistgigi anois, a dheithe na seanamsiri. 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! A dheithe, glac an h-iobairt seo muid. (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: Failte! A dheithe, a seanara, a sprideanna! Welcome to the god/desses, the dead and the sidhe! To all of you who have gathered at our fire, we pray you join us in worshipping the patrons of this holy rite here in our sacred grove. The druids now give the descriptive invocations of the patron powers of the rite. This is followed by any proper customs for the occasion, and by praise offerings. offerings are made, and a portion of each is held back for the final sacrifice. Sacrifice and Omen The druids prepare the final offerings and say: So we have given of our love and our wealth to the lord and lady. Now let our voices arise on the fire, let our voices sound in the well let our words pass the boundary to the otherworlds. o lord, o lady, we give you our love, our respect, our devotion as we pray you... Bhantiarna agus tiarna, glac an h-iobairt seo muid! All: Lady and Lord, 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 they offer us in return. 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. Company recenters in preparation for the blessing. The Blessing A: The litany of the waters: Druid speaks: Ancient and mighty ones we have honored you. We pray you honor us in turn, for a gift calls for a gift. Hear your children... All: Shining ones, give us the waters! We thirst for the waters of wisdom, of 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, give us the waters! We open our hearts to the great ones blessing. We stand in pride, honor and friendship with all the powers of the worlds. Hear and answer us now... All: Shining ones, give us the waters! B: Hallowing the waters: Ale is poured into the horns and elevated. Druid speaks: We draw blessing 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. Eisdigh anois a tiarna, a bhantiarna; beannaich na h-uisci seo duinn! Hear us o lord, o lady; 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. Seo iad uisci na beatha! All: Behold the waters of life! The horns are passed and all drink as a proper hymn is sung. Work As needed. 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 be come 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. O (patron powers), go raibh maith agaibh! All: We thank you! O gods and goddesses of elder days, go raibh maith agaibh! All: We thank you! O spirits of this land, go raibh maith agaibh! All: We thank you! O ancestors, our kindred, go raibh maith agaibh! All: We thank you! To all those powers that have aided us, we say again... Go raibh maith agaibh! 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: Mother of all, to you we return all we leave unused. Uphold us now in the world as you have in our rite. Go raibh maith agaibh! All: We thank you! The druids go to the center, bearing the wand. They speak: O gatekeeper, warder of the ways, for your presence and power, your guiding and guarding we say... Go raibh maith agaibh! 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. the rite is ended! The bard leads a proper chant as the company processes out of the Grove.
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© Isaac BonewitsOriginally published in Druid's Progress #4This document reflects our early ritual step-by-step, prior to 2006. Our current outline can be found in our Order of Ritual.Preliminary NotesI hope that the previous essays on liturgical design and preparation have made it clear that decisions about the structure of a ceremony are not just a matter of arbitrarily picking and choosing things to do that seem "nice", "fun" or "traditional", nor of slavishly copying a script that someone else wrote a long lime ago. The "Outline for Druid Worship Rituals", published in DP#2, was carefully constructed according to the principles we've been examining. It should, with the modifications mentioned in this essay, be usable without major changes for a few more years of further liturgical experimentation.But even the best(?) liturgical design will not guarantee an effective and satisfying religious experience unless the people performing it actually understand what they are doing, and why they are doing it. So the purpose of this essay is to give you some of the details about actual ceremonial performance that the version published in DP#2 did not have room for. I'm not going to repeat all of the rubrics, nor the text of the prayers (except for translation corrections). So you'll need a copy of that issue in order to get the most out of this. In the pages that follow, we'll go through that script, following the (modified) outline step-by-step, and taking into account comments, critiques, changes and variations that have occurred during the years it's been used.Once you've digested the materials in this and the preceding essays, you should be able to come up with new scripts based on the outline, which will be repeated in its current form at the end of this essay. You can then publish these in your zines. We are especially going to need (a) scripts based on all of our different Indo-European ethnic focuses, and (b) scripts for rites of passage and spell castings which can fit into the ceremony as currently structured. And of course, we're going to need scores(!) of new songs and chants from our bards, so send those in too.Let me emphasize this as blatantly as possible: I don't want to have to create the entire liturgy all by myself. I'm willing to figure out the basic liturgical designs necessary to accomplish various goals, but the artistic expression of those designs must be a community effort if what we are doing is ever to fulfill its potential. Don't worry about whether your new script is "as good as" mine, or constitutes immortal poesy, just work on making it better than the last one you did. As time goes by, we will all steal good lines from each other's scripts, translate them into the languages we're each using, and explore the possibilities inherent in each design.Before we begin this step through, let's review the five-part structure. (1) Starting the ritual and establishing the groupmind; (2) Opening the Gates Between the Worlds and beginning the power flow; (3) The major sending of power to the deities of the occasion; (4) Receiving and using the returned power from the deities of the occasion; and finally (5) Unwinding and ending the ceremony.First Phase. Starting the Rite & Establishing the GroupmindThe Clearcut Beginning: the Consecration of TimeEvery ritual, whether religious or not, should have a clearly designated beginning. This can be signaled by a bell ringing, by the clergy showing up in full regalia, by candles being lit, or in some other fashion. What's important is that the participants in the rite receive the cue that says to their subconscious minds, "the ceremony is Stating, it's time to be magical/spiritual/psychic."In this rite, the opening phrase in a nonEnglish language provides this vital cue: ta muid anseo leis na deithe a adhradh. "We are here to honor the Gods." The English translation immediately follows, and after this the English version of each phrase or prayer gets done first. Yes, I know that's the opposite of the way the script has them, but experience has shown that this pattern works better for congregations who are not familiar with the nonEnglish language involved.(Linguistic note: the second phrase in the published script is better translated as "O Gods, whose power gives life to everything which is alive, be you here with us rather than "give to us your presence" as published. Obviously, the quality of the Irish/English translations still needs work.)In any event, the first phrase is to announce to the subconscious and conscious minds of the human participants, and the second phrase is to announce to the Gods, that the ceremony is now starting. When loud instruments are available, a single blast of sound before the opening words are spoken helps, especially if there's a large congregation on hand. Right after the opening phrases are finished, the instruments can start up again with real music.The Consecration of SpaceHaving begun the consecration of time, you need to immediately consecrate a bit of space. In a place that is normally used for religious activities, all you need to do is to walk into the temple or grove with a proper intent, and the sacred nature of the place will become activated. In a location that is normally mundane (or at least not normally viewed as sacred), you will need to mark the physical perimeter of the area you plan to use. This can be done loosely by processing around the area, or (if you are short on maneuvering room) by having everyone sit or stand in a circle (or other shape) and hold hands while singing a song about sacred space (such as "Circles", for example).The physical perimeter of your ritual area can also be set up tightly by physically marking the edges of the area, followed by ritually consecrating those edges. The choice of a loose or tight boundary depends upon the type of magical/religious activity you intend to do. More specifically, it depends upon how critical it is that certain energies be kept in or out of the working area, either temporarily or permanently.A number of people have been astonished that this Druid ceremony pays no attention whatever to the Wiccan tradition of "invoking the Four Quarters." In fact, although some folks have insisted on inserting Quarter invocations into it, and this doesn't actually hurt the energy flow, most of the time we don't bother. Heres why:As near as I can figure, Quarter invocations probably weren't necessary for Paleopagan Druid ceremonies, since (a) everybody probably already knew which direction was which, so the orientation factor was covered, and (b) sacred groves were already sacred, so calling on spirits from the Four Quarters to "make" them sacred would have been redundant. I've seen little evidence that the Indo-Europeans paid much attention to the Four Quarters, and they certainly did not use the Judeo-Christian Cabalistic arrangement of four-elements-plus-one (Earth, Water, Air, Fire, plus Spirit). Instead they seem to have used three-worlds-plus-one (Land, Water, Sky, plus Fire). So rather than an equal armed cross with the fifth "element" of Spirit in the middle as their symbolic map of the cosmos, they would perhaps have used a triangle or a three legged spiral (triskalion) with Fire in the center. But then, for them Fire was the "fourth world" of Spirit.There's also the fact that the "Guardians of the Quarters" or "Lords of the Watchtowers" in Neopagan polytheology are very vaguely defined. Every group, and often every member within such a group, who "invokes" (actually, invites) Them seems to have a different idea of who or what They are, and what (if anything) They are supposed to do upon arriving. Actually, the "Watchtowers" are another concept lifted by Gardner, I believe from the Masons, and those who aren't Masonic initiates can never be too sure of what they, or their Guardians, really are. For the rest of us, it's a matter of invoke a fuzzy spirit, you get a fuzzy answer!Wiccan circles are an outgrowth of Goetic circles, but with the barriers meant to keep energy in, as well as to keep it out. They are very appropriate for private small group rituals, where intense magical work is going to be done by people expecting outside interference. On the other hand, Paleopagan Druid groves were, naturally, open to the air (though fenced on the ground), and were meant to attract energy, or at least the attention of spirits, ancestors and the Gods. There was no need to try and keep out energy, since no "demon" or other evil spirit would dare to invade a sacred grove. Did they have a need to keep energy in? I don't know. Keeping energy in may only be necessary for rituals involving the buildup to a single peak of power. My experience with the ADF ceremony is that the psychic/magical/spiritual energy can be successfully "breathed" in and out of the grove, throughout the entire ritual, without worrying about barriers at all. The pattern seems to turn into a vortex/whirlwind shape, with energies going up and down, in and out, simultaneously.On a practical basis, having a loose "open" ritual area means that late-comers to the ceremony can join those already present, instead of having to wait outside and passively observe. This latter effect happened during an ADF Fall Equinox rite in Kansas City. A group of local Pagans arrived late, did not realize that a traditional closed Wiccan circle had not been cast, and so assumed that they had to watch from the sidelines, which they very quietly and respectfully did. I was so focussed on the rite, and on my prayers to Taranis to hold off an impending thunderstorm, that I didn't even notice them standing there in the dark until the ceremony was nine-tenths over. Here was another situation where it would have been good to have someone whose job it was to bring latecomers into the group. (The rain started as we were heading back to the cars.) On a polytheological basis, this distinction between tightly defined, closed magical boundaries that should never be crossed during the ritual (the Goetic/Wiccan style), and loosely defined, open boundaries that can be crossed without mishap (the style used in ADF rites), is one of the major differences between an exclusionary psychic/magical/spiritual system and an inclusionary one. Either approach can be appropriate for different groups at different rimes, but it's important that a choice be made one way or the other on each occasion, since this is one case where compromises usually fail.In terms of defining the sacred space on the ground, one processional pattern that we have done successfully works like that described in the script -- the forming of a giant Druid sigil shape: Q). Other patterns could be experimented with, such as a triangle (with banners of the Three Worlds at the corners), or an egg-shape (if you are working with the symbolism of a "cosmic egg"), etc. What would be important here is that everybody gets into motion, and that they all define on the ground a shape that has meaning to them. However, if you're going to use a noncircular shape, you should mark it out physically on the ground beforehand, and be sure to mention it in the pre-ritual briefing.If this is a night Procession with torches, the torches should be put someplace safe at the end of it: either in the center bonfire, in a ring around the middle, or (if there are a lot of torches) in a ring far outside the edges of the congregation. Remember what was said in the preceding essays about the necessity of appointing a Fire Warden for supervision. His/her word should be final.Although Processions get everybody moving in unison, and thus are the beginning of getting a groupmind together, they can also scatter the energy a bit, unless they've been well rehearsed, and the chants being done during them are simple and effective. For example, consider "We All Come from the Goddess" and "Hoof and Horn'. These popular Neopagan chants go to more-or-less the same tune (along with a dozen others), and can be alternated or interwoven in a wide variety of ways. Lines or couplets or entire verses can be passed back and forth between male and female voices, parts can be inserted between spoken phrases by the clergy or bards, etc. Here's the version we used at the 1986 P.S.G. ritual: We all come from the Goddess And to Her we have returned; As our ancestors Worshipped Her Air, land and sea. Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, All that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, All that falls shall rise again. Those of you familiar with the Goddess chant will notice that the words have been changed somewhat. This was done (1) to avoid summoning rain, which the usual line about "like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean" usually does; (2) to emphasize that we have returned in our present lives, rather than "shall" return someday at our deaths; (3) to insert a punning reference to reincarnation ("As our ancestors") for those who believe in such; (4) to place a reference to the Three Worlds at the very beginning of the rite (a model that continues throughout); and (5) to put an "eee" sound at the end of the chant, which would wrap around to the beginning "We" sound (thus making it a cyclical round instead of a linear poem). It's amazing how many polytheological implications you can get out of some very simple changes. (By the by, the original version of the chant began with "All things come from the Goddess", not the actual "We all come from the Goddess" that most folks are now familiar with.)Many other songs and chants can be used for Processionals. I've used dozens over the years, and will share some of them with you in future issues. So don't fossilize the ones printed above (or in the rest of this essay). Instead, write your own, and send them in for the rest of us to enjoy.As mentioned earlier in this essay, if you are working in a small indoor area, you may not have the room to process -- especially if you have chairs or pillows set up in a circle or horse-shoe (oriented on a fireplace) shape. In this situation, it's a good idea to sing some sort of song, or chant a chant, with words that focus on the concepts of ritual space. Gwen Zack Moore's classic "Circles" song is good for this, though we could use some new ones that are more polytheistic and less Generic Wicca. You could also use the "I Circle Around" Amerindian chant here, doing it nine times.One way of settling down the energy at the end of the Consecration of Space is to do a simple plainchant, and this is the function of the "O Earth-Mother" chant published in the script. This chant goes back twenty rears to the old Reformed Druids of North America. The singing style is the Irish sean os ("old style"), with much ornamentation and abrupt stops. Other chants can and will be used, but this one (a) is Earth oriented, and therefore begins the grounding process, (b) has triads and references to sacred trees, and therefore sounds Druidic, and (c) has been used effectively in RDNA rites for twenty years. It works, and I'm nostalgically fond of it. For those of you who can't find your copy of DP#2, here it is again: O Earth Mother! We praise Thee: that seed springeth, that flower openeth, that grass waveth. We praise Thee: for winds that whisper through the shining birch, through the lively pine, through the mighty oak. We praise Thee, for all things, O Earth Mother, Who givest Life! Naturally, other plainchants could be written for this section, and I encourage you to do so. The idea is to have something striking, yet dignified.Centering, Grounding and Merging: the Tree Meditation"Centering" is a term used in Neopagan ritual technique to refer to each person finding the center within him/herself. If you close your eyes and say to yourself, "Where am I in this body, anyway?", some of you will find your center behind your eyes, some of you in your heart area, some of you in your belly, or elsewhere. There is no right or wrong place to have your center in (at least not for the purposes of this ceremony) from a polytheological aspect. However, from a movement awareness aspect, you might be better off to move your center of awareness to the solar plexus region, tuck your pelvis under, and otherwise stand or sit in a fully relaxed manner, in order to open your body up for the maximum internal flow of psychic energy (comments from martial artists, yoga students or dancers on this would be appreciated)."Grounding", on the other foot, is one of those quasi-technical terms that Neopagans commonly use for two very different ideas. The first one is that of making a physical and psychic connection to the ground, both as a source of physical and psychological stability, and as a spiritual source of energy (the Earth-Mother). The second way in which the term "grounding" is used is as an electromagnetic metaphor for draining off "excess" psychic energy into the ground (or occasionally into one's ceremonial tools). At this point in the ADF worship ceremony, it is the first sense that is primary.The next step is to merge into a "groupmind." For those of you unfamiliar with this term, think of it as getting everyone present to be "on the same wavelength", experiencing the same emotions and seeing the same visual and mental images. This is usually done through individual centering and grounding, followed by a reminder to the congregation of what they have in common (ancestry, beliefs, relations to the divine, etc.), and some sort of meditation, song or other activity designed to promote a sense of unity and to begin the circulation of coordinated psychic energy by the group.In the ADF rite, this is all accomplished by the "Tree Meditation." This can be done as a spoken guided meditation by one of the presiding clergy, as mentioned in the script, or can be sung or chanted by one of the bards. See Karl Steinmayer's zine in this issue for the text and music to an excellent sung version of it. The Tree Meditation was deliberately designed (a) to accomplish the centering, grounding, and unifying steps just mentioned; (5) to use dynamic organic images in keeping with a Pagan worldview, rattler than static inorganic ones, and (c) to use the overall image of a tree, and thus to induce a Druidic feeling into the participants early on in the rite.Let's go through this part of the liturgy in detail, because this is the first really critical stage of the ritual. We begin with individual centering. Each person in the group, including the presiding clergy and the bards, focuses their attention on finding their personal center, as described above. This can be seen as finding your "seed" of individual power and awareness.Then it's time to put down "roots." You can visualize and/or feel psychic roots growing out of the bottoms of your feet (those of you who know how to "drop a cord" from the bottom of your spine should do this as well). You ground yourself to the actual dirt/sand/rocks that you happen to be standing upon, feeling the connection between yourself and the planet. If you are indoors, extend your awareness through the floor and directly downwards as far as necessary, until you connect with the Earth. If you are several stories up in the air, you may need to link yourself to the building first, then feel its connections to the Earth. If you are in an airplane or space station, you may need to skip grounding entirely.....Think about all those dead ancestors of yours, buried in the earth, as well as your predecessors (the folks who have done these sorts of ceremonies in the past, whether as clergy or congregation). Make the psychic link to them, feel yourself as a part of something very ancient. Then return your mind to the recent past, thinking calmly (like a tree would) about any important events that have occurred to you in the days or weeks previous. Contemplate the highs and lows with equal dispassion, and think briefly of the lessons each had for you. Then feel yourself absorbing nourishment from all these sources: the rock of the Earth-Mother and all Her holy biosphere, the rich psychic soil of your ancestors and predecessors, the spiritual compost of the lessons you have recently learned. Feel this nourishment flowing into you like sap rising up a tree.As this sap rises up your legs and into your trunk(!), lift your arms as if they were branches. Feel your entire being glowing and growing, visualize branches sprouting out from you in all directions, reaching out to the limits of your aura. Feel the breeze blowing through your branches, let yor! mind become very clear and settled (your leaves will rustle in the wind, but your center should remain calm).You are now in touch with all Three Worlds: the Land beneath your roots, the Water running through your trunk, the Sky caressing your branches. Now let your leaves begin to absorb the Firey light from above (whether sun, moon or stars) and the hidden Fire within the Earth below. This Fire will circulate throughout your entire being, making your body, mind and soul glow with its creative power. You have become a human tree.So now is the time to create the grove, by extending your roots and branches until they meet and intermingle with those of the others participating in the ceremony. Realize(!) that you are all rooted in the same Land, drinking the same Water, beneath the same Sky, and receiving the same Fire. With that realization, feel yourself becoming one with the others, merging into a single being -- the grove, something that is far more than the sum of its parts.Now is the time in most religions where an affirmation of group beliefs would be done. With Neopagans, however, creedal statements are difficult to write in a way that genuinely includes everyone. Small groups should experiment with trying to write such statements for themselves, but for most of us (especially with large-sized ceremonies), songs work far better than prose, and have the additional advantage of beginning an almost automatic circulation of energy around the grove. Such songs should have easy melodies and memorable choruses, so that literally everyone can join in, and be serious rather than humorous. If you can come up with polytheistic (rather than duo-) themes and Druidic images, so much the better. But for pacing purposes, you'll want to keep it down to three or four verses plus choruses.Speaking of pacing, the entire Tree Meditation section should take five to ten minutes, depending upon the time necessary for the slower members of the group to trance out. It won't hurt for the more experienced ones to spend extra time being trees, but the less experienced folks need to be brought thoroughly into the groupmind. Yet spending more than ten minutes may (with some groups) offend and/or start to bore the majority of the congregation.Specification of the Ritual Focus and DeitiesOnce the groupmind has been created, it is reminded of the deity or deities that it is supposed to be concentrating on for that occasion, what the purpose of that occasion's ritual actually is, and of why the deities chosen are appropriate. This gives everyone the intellectual, artistic and spiritual themes they need to be concentrating upon. Unfortunately, with a small group, this part is easy to forget, since "everybody already knows" all this. Rut all you need is one newcomer or unexpected guest who doesn't already know, and he or she can generate a lot of confusion. So try not to forget this vital internal reminder.Second Phase: Opening the Gates & Preliminary Power RaisingInvoking the Gate KeeperHaving gotten the groupmind ready, it's necessary to next "tune" the groupmind's psychic powers to whatever "wavelength" the ancestors, spirits, and/or Gods will be communicating on. This is often symbolized in Pagan ceremonies as "Opening the Gates Between the Worlds", and is usually accomplished by invoking (although that may not be quite the correct term here) a particular deity who is considered a "Gate Keeper", and Who is the easiest of all deities to contact, since He/She is always halfway into this world already. The Gate Keeper is then requested to open the Gates, which She/He will usually do with little fuss. This deity was Ogma in the published version of the script, but we have also experimented with Manannon, based on suggestions from various members that the latter might be more appropriate.(Another linguistic note: Molann muid thu mar gheall ar do chumhacht should really be translated as "We praise you for the brightness of your power".) Brightness/light/fire were considered primary attributes of divinity among the Indo-Europeans.)The prayer of invocation is followed by a chant. So far, we've used two versions each of two different chants, in varying ways. The tunes for both chants are traditional Irish. The first one goes like this: Siuil linn a Oghma... ("shool-leen ah oh...mah") ...Walk with us Ogma. Siuil linn a Mhanannon... ("shool-leen ah wah-na-non") ...Walk with us Manannon. The pattern is sung either three or nine times. It's also been used successfully as a Processional chant. The second chant goes like this: We invoke thee Ogma, Opener of every Gate. (repeat) You shall reach us, You shall teach us, and reveal our fate! (repeat) The three-syllable name "Manannon" can be substituted for the words "thee Ogma" in the first line. Each line is done twice, and the whole pattern is sung either three or nine times. (This habit of repeating things in threes and nines not only fits aesthetically with the Indo-European patterns, but also makes it easier for people to know when to when to stop, something that script writers frequently forget about.)When the Gates are Opened, exactly where are they? Generally, I've noticed that they seem to manifest in the center of the circle, over the fire or altar, and anywhere from six to ten feet up. Different groups will visualize and perceive them differently, and this is something that should be discussed during your planning sessions.One way to remind people of this (at least if you're outdoors or in a large area), and to focus their psychic energy towards the task of invoking the Gate Keeper, is to do some sort of choreography involving physical movement by a few clergy or bards (or even banner holders) circling around the Gates' intended location during the chanting. These Gates function as the ritual Center of the grove, regardless of their space-time coordinates. I'll have more on this later, but in the meantime I can't recommend too highly Mircea Eliade's writings on the mystical/magical importance of the Center.Invoking the Matron/Patron of BardsAlthough it is not mentioned in the script published in DP#2, this is now followed immediately by an invocation of a deity in charge of bards, since bardic activity is our primary means of raising and tuning power. This deity should be of the opposite gender from the Gate Keeper, in order to maintain balance in the ceremony. So far, this has usually been Bridget in the ADF rites. This invocation (which deserves the term fully, since we are attempting to pull Her energies into ourselves) will begin the first trickle of energy from the Other Side, which is used to inspire the bards and the congregation to generate more energy. Here's the song, called "A Hymn to Bridget", that I've been using for the last couple of years (the transliteration is on the right):A Bhrid, ar goroi, an-gheal Bheanrion;(ah vree, ar gree, ahn-yawl von-reen)Lo de thoil e beannachta sinn.(low da dolly bah-nacht-tah sheen)Is sinn bhur leanai, is tu ar mamai(iss sheen vur lanni, iss too ar mom-wee)Bi ag isteacht duinn mar sin.(be ah gay-stot dween mar shin)Is tu an coire, anois inar doire;(iss too ahn hweer-ah, ah-neesh in-ar deer-ah)A Bhean-domhan tinfim orainn.(ah van-dowan tin-feem or-rin)A thine ghra, a thine bheatha;(ah hinna hrah, a hinna byah)Lo de thoil e ag teacht Bhrid duinn!(low da doily ah tockt vree dween)O Bridget, our heart, O brightest Queen; Cast your blessings unto us. We are your children, You are our mother; So hearken unto us.You are the cauldron, now in our grove; Earth-Mother inspire us. O fire of love, O fire of life; Please Bridget, come to us!A Bhrid, ar goroi, an-gheal Bheanrion....Obviously, this is used to invoke Bridget as the Matron Goddess of Bards. The words are by myself and Shenain Bell, and the music is Irish traditional ("Roving Galway Boy"). Currently the first verse is repeated after the English verse. The English translation-verse needs work, and it would be nice to have several more verses in Irish or English.We've also used a chant called "Lady Lift Us Up", which has a jazzy sort of tune, and which (when done nine times) does a very good of of exalting the participants. It goes like this:Lady ... lift us up.Up ... where ... we belong.Lady lift us up where we belong!And higher and higher!The Triad InvocationsIn the ADF rites, the next step is the "Triad Invocations", which are designed to invoke entities associated with each of the Three Worlds. Each invocation, consecration, and passing of (or asperging with) the Waters of Life brings more power to the groupmind and makes the subsequent invocations more powerful. In effect, since we are tapping into a very sleepy and distant part of the collective unconscious, we are "lifting ourselves by our own bootstraps" through a back and forth exchange of energy through the Gates. Other religions accomplish the same effects in different ways. All of them spend time and effort to get the groupmind (a) generating lots of energy and (b) focussed on the needs of the occasion.If you have set up three altars around your site, you can do one of these invocations at each of them. The first at the Land altar, the second at the Water altar, the third at the Sky altar. Naturally, the fourth and final invocation (see Phase Four) would be done at the central altar.I have recently come to the conclusion that the nature spirits should be invoked first, and the ancestors/predecessors second, even though this is the opposite of the way the published script has them. Originally I associated the ancestors with the World or the Land because of the common Indo-European tradition that the dead lived beneath the ground, in a mirror universe, where they walked "upside-down" to our perspective. The justification for associating the spirits with the World of the Waters was not quite so clear. The Waters are often seen as the Gateway to the Other Side, where the spirits exist, but the Gods and the ancestors exist there too.Eventually it occurred to me that the nature spirits are, first and foremost, the spirits of the Land, and that their primary impact is on the producer caste -- the hunters and the farmers (fishers, on the other fin...). To keep the tripartite Indo European motif throughout the ritual, the first of the Triad Invocations should be of those entities who affect fertility, and the second be for those associated with death, such as dead people. There may even be occasions when warrior spirits may be appropriate to Invoke then instead of, or in addition to the ancestors/predecessors. (I'm not sure that I really understand the connections between war/death and the World of the Waters.)However, I think that the most important principle here is to have the liturgy maintain the sequence of (1) fertility, (2) mortality, (3) divinity, and (4) transcendence.So we now begin with invoking the nature spirits, both those of the ancient times and those in the locality where the ritual is taking place. The spirits being invoked here are those of the trees and the grasses, of the deer and foxes, the birds and the fishes. Even if you now live in the middle of a large city, you can make the psychic/spiritual link to the continent-wide forests that once covered Europe, as well as the woods, prairies and swamps that once covered North America. This is the part of the ritual where you may want to think of Native American nature spirits who were once worshipped in your area.In this part of the ceremony we are asking them to give us the comfort, knowledge and blessings that we will need to accomplish our goals for the rest of the ceremony, as well as in our private lives and group activities to come. The purpose of the consecration is to make the Waters a bridge between them and ourselves, so that as we partake (through drinking or asperging) each of us has a clearer and stronger connection to them -- one that will last long after the ceremony has ended.As mentioned in the rubrics, the energy flow during the invocation is directed from the center of the grove downwards and outwards, in a radiating cone. In the moments after the words are finished, the nature spirits reply by reversing the energy flow into the grove and thence into the Waters (thus consecrating them). The clairvoyantly inclined will "see" an arc of energy going from the center into the containers of Waters. Even after the Waters begin to be passed around, the energy flow continues to climb up the cone into the center. As the Waters go around the grove, the arc of energy from the center will touch each person. Eventually, everyone present will have a direct psychic link to the nature spirits through the center.In order to keep everyone focussed during the passing of the Waters, it's important to have some sort of chant or song, preferably one that reflects the flavor of energy being absorbed. Here's one (written by Sable) that we've used very successfully (it should be done at least nine times, and continued until everyone has partaken): Fur and feather and scale and skin, Different without but the same within. Many of body but one of soul, Through all creatures are the Gods made whole. Next comes the invocation of our ancestors and predecessors. The vast majority of folks interested in Druidism have at least some European ancestry; even those who haven't feel a strong psychic and/or psychological link to the Ancient Druids/Godis/Flamans, etc. Here the energy flow is directed from the center outwards into the world around us, psychically connecting us to the ever-present spirits of those who have gone before. This energy pattern may be perceived as a horizontal disc floating around the center, or as the space between two shallow cones radiating from the center. (Stand with your arms pointing out horizontally from your shoulders. Lift them 15 degrees and slowly turn around in a full circle. Drop them to 15 degrees below horizontal, and turn around again. The area between your upper and lover arm positions is the sort of shape I'm talking about.)As with the preceding invocation, the return response of energy comes from the center and arcs towards the containers of Waters, from whence it passes around the grove as the members partake. These energies are added to those of the nature spirits, which continue to radiate into the grove.Here's a chant that we've used for this passing of the Waters. It should be done at least nine times, and continued until everyone has partaken. It's the blood of the Ancients That runs through our veins. And the forms change, But the Circle of Life remains. The last of the Triad Invocations is of the Gods "in general". Most congregations will probably have a particular pantheon of divinities that they feel closest to, such as the Celtic Gods, the Norse, the Slavic, the Greek, etc. Or a given ceremony may be focussed around a particular ethnic group, so its divinities would thus be the appropriate ones. In any event, the purpose of this invocation is to open ourselves to the powers of the Gods as 12 collectivity. The power flow from each divinity will not be as strong as the energy to be received later from the specific god and goddess of the occasion, but neither will it be as tightly focussed. Thus if a weather working is to be done later, with a weather god and goddess as the ones for the occasion, a person who needs healing or prosperity may receive at this point of the rite some appropriate strengthening from a healing goddess or god of wealth. Everyone in the grove will, at the very least, find themselves exalted spiritually to the point where they will find it easier to absorb the powers of the specific god and goddess to be invoked later at the high point of the ceremony.The geometric pattern of the energy flow for this third invocation is the opposite of the first one -- a cone of energy going from the center and radiating upwards, then reversing its direction as the Waters become consecrated. Again, an arc of energy will come from the center into the containers of Waters, and follow it around the grove as each person partakes.Naturally, another chant or song is need for the third passing of the Waters. Here is one that we've used in the past (as before, nine repetitions minimum are recommended): Mother I Feel You, under my feet. Mother I hear Your heart beat! (repeat) Father I see You where the eagle flies. Spirit gonna take me higher & higher! (repeat) This is OK, since it tends to establish the symbolic link between the earth and sky, but does have the drawback of being focussed on only two divinities. Another, more polytheistic one we've used is my own "Will Ye Now Come Back Again?" song, which has a simple chorus for people to join in on and a tune almost all Celtophiles will recognize instantly ("Bonnie Charlie's Now Awa'").By the time the Waters have gone around the grove three times, the participants will not only be thoroughly charged up with psychic/magical/spiritual power from each of the Three Worlds, their groupmind will be a thousand times stronger than it was at the beginning (if each of the Triad Invocations strengthens it by a factor of ten...). Those drinking even tiny sips of whiskey or mead will be loosened up, but probably not drunk (and for some reason hangovers are very rare from these rites!). The total energy pattern for the grove will be one of energy flowing in and out of the grove, from below, around and above. The center of the grove, being the intersection point, should be glowing so brightly at this point that even folks who aren't normally clairvoyant may be able to "see" it. The Gates Between the Worlds will be wide open and waiting...Third Phase: The Major Sending of Power to the Deities of the OccasionThis is the stage at which most ceremonies will have some form or another of "sacrifice". There's no room here to go into a general theory of sacrifice, so suffice it to say that the purpose of a sacrifice is to "feed" the Gods with as much psychic energy as possible, in order to trigger a return response of divine power. Anything that will generate psychic energy can be (and has been, throughout history) used for this purpose. This includes chanting, singing, dancing, drama, storytelling, sex, drugs, the slaughter of animals, etc. The overwhelming majority of Paleopagan religions, including the predecessors of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions, have practiced human, animal and/or plant sacrifices, because any living thing will release psychic energy when killed.However, blood sacrifices are messy, difficult for modern folks to do (unless they were raised on a farm) without excess pain to the animal, and are generally unnecessary. Additionally, most Neopagans (especially the vegetarians and animal rights activists) consider them morally repugnant (and far too reminiscent of Satanism), so including a blood sacrifice in a modern ceremony is far more likely to offend your congregation than it is to uplift them. Sacrificing any animal (or human!!!) in any Neopagan Druid ceremony is absolutely forbidden. After all, that's one of the reasons why we're Neopagan instead of Paleo-.Depending on the season, people may bring fresh cut flowers or recently harvested fruits and vegetables to be used as sacrifices, but most of the time our rituals, like those of the Reformed Druids before us, use small branches cut from trees. These do not contain enough psychic energy to be very effective sacrifices by themselves, but they make an excellent Focus of attention for sending the energies raised by singing, music and other artistic offerings by the congregation. These energies constitute the real sacrifice in our ceremonies.This procedure begins when the presiding clergyperson says something on the order of, "Has anyone brought praise for the Lady and Lord of this feast?" or "Now let us praise the Lady and Lord of this feast!" The first cue is most appropriate with a small group, all or most of whom are planning to offer Praise. The second cue is better with medium sized or larger groups, where particular people have been selected ahead of time and a performance order decided upon.Praise Offerings most often consist of songs and poems, preferably original, designed to have the maximum emotional impact. We have also had ritual drama performances and storytellings, as well as ritual dances.Dances done as performances are usually not as effective by themselves as those done with the participation of most or all of the other people present. However, a badly done group dance is much worse than no dance at all, so if a proposed participatory dance has not been thoroughly rehearsed by all parties concerned, you are best off to have your grove's dancer(s) do it as a performance piece between two other carefully chosen verbal/audio pieces. Even better, you can have them do it at the same time that a song or chant is being done. Either method will prevent the damage that a poorly done group dance can do to your ceremony's focus and pacing, while still allowing for group participation.Pacing is absolutely critical here, because this is the main "power raising" for your ceremony. The folks who plan to offer Praise should show their material to everyone during rehearsals, or at least to the presiding clergy beforehand, so that the best possible performance order be worked out ahead of time. Then people can be called upon to offer their Praises in such an order as to generate the greatest possible amount of energy.You can, of course, just pick a person to begin, and go around the grove deosil, hoping that the energy will grow and that the last person will be terrific. With small groups where everyone is offering something, this approach is fairly common. But as far as results are concerned, it's very unpredictable, and of ten the last Praise Offering is not as good as an earlier one was.With this sort of a situation, or if some outside event has disrupted the steady buildup of emotional power, the presiding clergyperson may want to end this section by calling upon the best bard present to do a specific piece that she/he is known to be good at. Clear this with her/him beforehand, and make sure that they know what pieces they may be asked to do, so they won't spend precious time retuning their instrument, or trying to remember words they haven't sung recently. If the presiding clergyperson is a bard him/herself, then he/she can make this decision isntantly, knowing (we hope) their own strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps doing the final Praise Offering him/herself..Another option you have hear is to have ready a simple, powerful, and well-rehearsed chant to use as the final Praise Offering. Start it out softly, then gradually build up the volume and speed of both the voices and the music (especially drums). Decide on a cue (such as raising their arms high) for the presiding clergy to use to indicate that the last verse is coming up. This part gets tricky. You can't just stop the music abruptly at the end, since folks are likely to start yelling and screaming (especially at a large festival rite), and your carefully woven web of energies will go splattering in all directions. If the musicians and chant facilitators drop their volume on cue and slow down for the final verse (which they should), with no visible signal to the rest of the grove, then the other participants may not notice, but instead continue to increase the volume and the speed of their chanting until it all falls apart.Try this: When the cue is given, have your chant facilitators step three paces towards the center, turn around with their arms held high, and gradually lover their arms as they lover and slow their voices (and the musicians lower and slow their music). The presiding clergyperson can be doing the same gesture near the main altar, slowly rotating in her/his place. The chant will end with everyone slowly whispering it, then stopping simultaneously. The chant facilitators can then return to their previous positions, and the energies in the grove will be at a strong and steady peak. (This technique will work even better if it's been used a few times earlier in the rite, or at previous ceremonies.)It's important to remember that the primary purpose of all these Praise Offerings is to raise as much psychic/magical/spiritual power as possible, all of it focussed around the deities of the occasion -- not to boost the egos of the performers (that can be a secondary or tertiary purpose). By the time the last Praise Offering is done, the grove should be charged up with as much energy as it is capable of generating.The Prayer of SacrificeIt is at this moment of supreme tension that the presiding clergyperson lifts up the sacrificial branch (and perhaps one of the flowers or fruits, etc.) towards the Center. She/he then touches the branch with a sickle or other blade (to symbolize death, mortality, harvesting, etc.), and intones the Sacrificial prayer. The one in the previously published script is a variation on the Reformed Druid version, but the concepts involved are universal ones. With this prayer/incantation. she/he sends the power in the grove through the Gates Between the Worlds to the God and Goddess of the occasion. All present should feel their energies going through the branch and out the Other Side. After a moment of silence, the clergyperson puts the branch back on the altar.The Seeing of the OmenNow he/she asks the deities of the occasion if they have accepted the Sacrifice. The reply from Them may be through a sudden wind, bird calls or flights, the fire leaping up, etc. If possible, you should have a grove diviner present to read these auguries, or to cast the runes, or to otherwise do some on-the-spot divination. She or he should announce the results clearly, in such a fashion as to make it clear that this is a legitimate divinitory process (for example, by calling out the runes that appeared, naming the omen observed, etc.). If the Omen is positive, the ceremony continues in the usual fashion. If not, further Praise Offerings are necessary, in which case the clergyperson or bard should lead another song or chant. Then repeat the Sacrificial prayer and the divination.If the results are still negative, try one more time. Make more Praise Offerings, repeat the Sacrifice, seek for the omen. A third answer of "No" indicates that the deities of the occasion, for Their own reasons, are not inclined to assist the grove in achieving the ceremony's goal. So this should be announced, the members of the grove should be advised to meditate upon these events, and the fourth phase of the ritual skipped. Instead, jump directly to the fifth phase of winding down the ritual.But most of the time the Sacrifice will be accepted and the branch can be cast into the fire, alone with the aspergillims. Some folks object to the symbolism of burning flowers, so you may want to dispose of any sacrificed (and decorative) flowers in running water after the ritual is over. Fruits and veggies can be kept where they are, and consecrated (or just blessed) along with the Waters (see next section), then consumed as part of a ceremonial feast.[Note: later ADF Liturgy, as of 1997, provided one round of praise offerings.]Once your Sacrifice has been accepted, it's time to precede to the.....Fourth Phase: Receiving and Using the Returned PowerPreparation for the ReturnThis is what the whole process of a worship ritual is leading up to, so it's important that everyone be ready to receive and handle the divine power that is about to be returned to them through the Gates. This has (naturally) three steps: meditation upon personal needs, a repetition of the group's needs, and the induction of a state of receptivity.The first step is relatively simple, since the presiding clergyperson will ask everyone present to meditate upon what they need from the Goddess and God of the occasion. In a primarily theurgical ceremony, this process will take somewhat longer than in a mostly thaumaturgical one, since receiving these blessings will be the main point (the goal) of the entire liturgy. So folks should be given a few minutes to think quietly, with no outside sounds other than those provided by Nature, or perhaps some serene harp or flute music.In a predominately thaumaturgic ritual, the second step becomes more important than the first. It's here that the participants are reminded of the group's goal(s) and target(s), and of the need for unity to achieve them.The third step is a matter of getting the participants into a state of maximum openness and receptivity, by reminding them of what is about to happen and why. This encourages them to drop whatever remaining psychic shields or psychological blocks they may have between themselves and the deities. This third step is meant to be accomplished by the old RDNA "Catechism of the Waters", which was put into the script more for reasons of nostalgia, than because it's really effective.It should be possible to write a quiet, powerful song to accomplish all three steps, with verses to add or subtract to change the pacing and focus. This would probably work best in a verse-plus-chorus or litany format being led by one or two singers, and including long pauses for meditation.So now we come to the fourth and final consecration of the ceremony. Just as the first three represented the Three Worlds of Land, Water and Sky, this one represents the Fourth World -- Fire. As the presiding clergyperson lifts the two main cups towards the Center, she/he enchants the words that ask the Goddess and God of the occasion to bless the liquids within them (and the other containers to be passed), to make them truly the Waters-of-Life.As before, an arc of energy will leap from the Center/Gates and into each cup (or other container) being consecrated. The power will be stronger and clearer than before, and may appear as twin area of differently "colored" energies. As each participant sips from the Waters of her/his choice (this is the consecration where asperging is not normally an adequate substitute for drinking), and does the breathing exercise mentioned in the script, the God and Goddess will fill her/him with the maximum amount of power that she/he is capable of handling safely.Thus each individual and the group as a whole receive what they need in the way of "healing, blessing, power, and inspiration". Bonding within the group as a whole will be reinforced, something that will last beyond the ceremony, whether it's bonding with the community at large, or with the members of one's local grove. Some people will have visions or be healed of ailments, others will be filled with a holy joy or suddenly recognize a psychic link to a deity they never really knew before. The changes may be simple or complex, subtle or obvious. Every participant will have a unique experience, as well as sharing those of everyone else. "Communion" with the Goddess and the God, as well as with each other, will be achieved.We've used the following chant (given us at PSG 86 by Nicholas Sea) successfully for the final passing of the Waters. It should be done softly, a minimum of three times. Generally it's continued until all have partaken. Burn bright, flame within me, Kindled of eternal fire. Of the people I do be, And the people part of me. All one in many parts, A single fire of flaming hearts! Larry Cornet has collected this chant in a slightly different form, with the second line being "Kindle love's eternal fire." This has different polytheological implications, and folks may want to discuss which seems more appropriate at this point of the ceremony.If food has been offered up as part of the sacrifice, the presiding clergy may choose to consecrate all or part of it along with the Waters. However, unless the food is bitesized and ready to eat, it may not be a good idea to pass it around with the Waters, since the distribution and consumption of food can easily destroy both concentration and pacing. Often it's better to do a lesser blessing (rather than a full consecration) on the food, and to consume it afterwards as part of a feast.Optional Activity.- Spell Casting or Rite of PassageNow is when the participants will be able to perform the most powerful spell castings and/or rites of passage. There's no room here to go into either category in detail, and the high points have mostly been covered in the preceding essays. I will, however, mention one bit of magical "tech" here: the use of the Center for casting spells, instead of the "cone of power" method.The idea of "raising a cone of power" is that the participants are supposed to create, usually by dancing and chanting, a large, cone-shaped field of psychic energy. At a peak of energy buildup, the cone is supposed to "fire" a blast or energy towards the target, carrying the power and information content of the spell. Nice theory. Unfortunately, most of the time it doesn't work very well.Leave aside the rude comments I've previously made about Neopagan ceremonial dancing, and the fact that most Neopagans don't physically mark the edges of their circle, and thus have no clear idea of where the base of the cone is supposed to be. Ignore the fact that no two cone raisers ever seem to agree about the size, shape (sharp or squat?), color, dimensionality (solid or hollow?), etc. of their cone. These are all symptoms of lack of planning and training in the community, and can eventually be overcome. We can even ignore the fact that the imagery is completely male. Let's look Instead at a different cluster of factors, ones of physics and metaphysics.When you fire off a spell in a straight line towards a distant target, you are essentially broadcasting a message. And like any other message broadcast, through normal space and time, a spell is subject to deterioration of (a) its power level, (b) its directional vectors, and (c) its information content.The further away your target is, the more power will be used up simply in getting there. So when it does arrive, it won't be strong enough to do much. If your target moves, or you didn't really know where it was in the first place, or some other energy field deflects your "beam", your spell will wind up missing the target completely. And if the distance is great, the sheer psychic static of our biosphere (let alone deliberate efforts by others) can disrupt the psychic structure of your spell, causing it to lose all or most of its information content, or to suffer major changes in meaning. Thus, even if it arrives "on target" with lots of power, it may well wind up doing little or nothing that you wanted done.How do you get around the problem of a spell deteriorating when it goes through normal space and time? You just go "around" normal space and time completely, by using the Center of your working area as a "shortcut". You see, every ritual Center is connected to every other ritual Center, since in one sense they are all the "same": each is the Center of the Multiverse. SO if you have previously created a sacred space around the target of your spell, or if you create one symbolically ("by remote control") at this point of the ceremony, you can establish (recognize, actually) a magical/psychic/spiritual connection between the ritual Centers of both places.A spell that you cast into the Center of your grove will arrive instantly at the Center of the other location, without going through time or space as we know it. It will pop out of that other Center with full power and information content (directional vectors become irrelevant). It won't matter if your target is ten miles or ten thousand miles away (note to my great-great-grandchildren: or ten light years away).I first discovered this technique by accident over fifteen years ago, when I was living in Berkeley and heard on the radio that the Canadian nesting grounds of the whooping cranes were about to be engulfed by a major forest fire. I had already noticed a 500 mile limit in my previous spell castings, and the distance involved was a couple of thousand miles, but I figured I had to do something. So I got out a map of Canada and drew a circle centered on the nesting grounds, then invoked Thor and did a rain spell. The circled map was in the middle of my altar, which was in the Center of my working area. I cast the spell into the map and hoped for the best. Much to my surprise and delight, a few hours later I heard on the news that a sudden rainstorm had "come out of nowhere" and stopped the forest fire a mile away from the nesting grounds.For years I thought it was the use of a mandala/pentacle that had been the key, but eventually I figured out that the critical steps had been defining two ritual Centers and then merging them. So now I hardly ever do "cone raisings" if I want to affect a distant target, and I highly recommend this "Center-to-Center" technique as a replacement. And now, back to our ceremonial step-through, which is still in progress...Remember when you do spell castings or rites of passage at this stage of the liturgy, that you'll have no need to generate more power, since everyone will already have as much Gods-given power in them as they can handle. Instead, use chants, talismans, and gestures (mantras, mandalas, and mudras) as devices to focus your visualization and timing. That way, everyone can release their divinely enhanced power into the Center at the same instant, towards a uniformly visualized target, with a unified intent, to achieve the agreed upon goal.Now obviously with most rites of passage, or specific healings/blessings on people present in the grove, you are not going to be sending energies outside the boundaries of your current sacred space, but rather into the bodies/auras of folks right there. The ritual-within-the-ritual of child blessing, ordination, coming of age, healing, etc., should give everyone all the information they need to send or receive the energies. We'll talk more about this in future issues of DP. For now, let's go on to the...Fifth Phase: Unwinding and Ending the CeremonyAffirmation of Success: Following ThroughThose of you who are familiar with golf, tennis, bowling, baseball, croquet or any other sport that involves casting or striking a small object away from you, will know about the importance of "follow thru". You don't just stop moving abruptly the instant the ball is struck or thrown, you continue the bodily motions you were engaged in at that instant. This insures that your motions will be smooth and continuous, rather than abrupt and jerky, and thus improves the accuracy of your casting/striking.Oddly enough, this can be a very useful metaphor for casting a spell instead of an object. This is true even for purely theurgical workings in which you are, In essence, casting a spell upon yourself. The way you do a "follow-thru" in a ritual is by proclaiming that the blessings have been received, the spell is already working, Etc. This "affirmation of success" alerts your subconscious to stop receiving and/or sending energies. Just as importantly, it tells your subconscious to let goof the target(s) psychically. Without this letting go, your subconscious is likely to continue "worrying at" the target(s), which usually has the effect of draining away the energies sent, often ruining the results. So you need to have your conscious mind say to your subconscious mind (and any spirits who might be listening?), "Hey! It worked!"In the script this affirmation of success is represented by the phrases, "the Lady and the Lord (of the occasion) have blessed us" and "Every time we invoke Them, They become stronger and more alert to the needs of Their people." That's because the primary goal of this liturgy has usually been to strengthen and awaken the Old Gods, and the secondary goal has been to obtain blessings for the participants. The affirmation is interwoven (incorrectly) with the silent contemplation and the "Let us return to the realm of mortals" cues necessary for the Recovery process (see next section).RecoveryAfter the follow through, it's necessary to bring people back in touch with the Earth plane level of reality, regardless of whether you have done a spell casting or rite of passage or neither. Otherwise folks will drift in their altered states indefinitely, and the energies absorbed and/or channeled will not be properly "digested". So at this point the presiding clergy should remind the participants to refocus their attention through the Three Worlds: thinking about what they've been doing, feeling the emotions that have been generated as a result, and sensing their physical connections to the "realm of mortals" again. This recovery process will continue through the rest of the ceremony, gradually returning everyone to their "normal" slates of being (through we hope in an improved condition).Thanking of Entities InvokedThis portion of the ceremony accomplishes three tasks: (a) it shows courtesy to the entities invoked and invited, (b) it further affirms the ceremony's success, and (c) it lets the Gods and the lesser entities, not to mention the people, know that you are winding things down and that They can leave if They wish. As a general rule, you do not "dismiss" goddesses and gods. If nothing else, it's rude.Yes I know that some ancient Egyptian magicians were in the habit of bossing their deities around, as are some modern followers of Voodoo/Hoodoo. But I've always considered these to be corruptions from the earlier states of these religions, something that happens when the magicians involved no longer believe in the Gods as Gods.In the fully developed Afro-American religions unlike Hoodoo and Voodoo (which have lost most of their religious character and become mostly grab-bags of magical techniques), the initiated clergy will sometimes have to urge a possessing deity to leave Her/His "horse" (the human being possessed). However, I believe that they do this through reminding the deity of the contractual agreements made at the time of the clergyperson's initiation. It's done with love, courtesy, and respect -- not with the typical arrogance of the Goetic magician (the source of Wiccan style "dismissals"). In general, I tend to think that the current Neopagan phrase of "Go if You must, stay if You will," reflects a much more appropriate attitude.The entities are thanked in the reverse order of their invocation or invitation: first the God and Goddess of the occasion, then the deities as a group, the ancestors and predecessors, the Nature Spirits, the Matron/Patron of bards, and the Gatekeeper (even though it's not in the script). When the Gatekeeper has been thanked, this effectively closes the Gates, but it's still a good idea to overtly ask Him/Her to close them. That way, folks will know that they should stop having an "open line" to the Other Side.Reversing the Tree MeditationIn keeping with the unwinding process, it's now necessary to go through four steps: (1) to "unmerge" the groupmind, though some psychic links will remain in potentia; (2) to drain off any excess psychic/magical/spiritual energies that might be remaining; (3) to return the participants to a more mundane consciousness; and (4) to recenter each of them within themselves as unique individuals. In this liturgy, you accomplish all this by doing a reprise of the Tree Meditation, which should be done by the person who led it at the beginning of the ceremony, in a similar delivery style.Step 1 - Everyone is told to pull back their psychic branches and roots from being interwoven with each other's, and to become individual trees again.Step 2 - Folks are instructed to release any remaining excess energy that they might have and which they don't need. They can send the excess through their roots into the ground (the other sense of "grounding" mentioned earlier), or else into the ceremonial vestments or tools they may be wearing.Step 3 - All are guided in pulling back their roots and branches and "becoming humans" once more.Step 4 - Everyone is told to refocus their attention on their personal centers.The LibationAt this point, you should pour any remaining Waters onto the ground or into the fire. The traditional RDNA prayer is a nice one for this: "To Thee we return this portion of Thy bounty, O our Mother, even as we must return unto Thee." (If you like, you can consider the fire to be masculine and say, "O our Father" instead.) If there is going to be a ceremonial feast afterwards, you may want to save a little of the consecrated Waters to mix Into the punch bowl or ale cask, but you should not casually pass cups of consecrated Waters around, in order "not to waste" them. It's not wasting the Waters to return them to the Earth or the Fire, it's a sign of love, respect, gratitude, and courtesy, just as the various thankings are. Furthermore, it's a clear indication that you're not greedy, that you know when to stop taking and start giving.Just as every ritual needs a clearcut beginning, it also needs an equally definite ending. Your ritual space will need to be deconsecrated, unless you are lucky enough to have a temple building or sacred grove which you expect to be able to remain holy. Usually, however, deconsecration is necessary (a) to prevent outsiders from wandering through a still "charged" area and accidentally connecting up with the psychic links of the folks who have been worshipping there; (b) to prevent your people from worrying about fundamentalists or other hostile intruders committing sacrilegious acts there; and (c) to announce to the subconscious minds of the participants that they are "back" in the "real world" again.You also need an overt cue to each person's subconscious that it's no longer "magic time". So announce that "this ceremony is over" verbally, then follow it up with snuffing out the candles, ringing a bell, or playing a special piece of music.A good way to combine all this is through a Recessional (balancing out the Processional at the beginning). Make your announcement, then have everyone leave the area (thus destroying the temporary definition you had of sacred space by crossing its boundaries physically), while singing an appropriate song. Here's the Recessional hymn that we've been using since Summer Solstice of 1986: Walk with wisdom, from this hallowed place. Walk not in sorrow, our roots shall e'er embrace. May strength by your brother, and honor be you friend, And Luck be your lover, until we meet again. This should be sung a minimum of three times. The words and music are by Sable, of the Minneapolis Grove. See her zine in this issue for the musical notation, and Susan Kirsch's zine (also in this issue) for a "sitting" variation of the words. Some people may prefer to use "sister" instead of, or simultaneously with, "brother".Cleanup and CritiquesAs soon as the liturgy is over, the presiding clergy and bards should go off somewhere to remove their ceremonial gear and perform any additional grounding and centering which they might need. In the meantime, their assistants can be packing up the ritual tools and supplies, putting out the fire, etc., while volunteers check the area to make sure that nothing has been left behind (especially litter -- Neopagans, like scouts, always leave a site cleaner than it was when they arrived!).Comments about the liturgy should be limited at this time to positive ones. Individuals may want to share visions with each other, or to write down any insights sparked by their experiences during it, but a critical analysis should wait at least twenty four hours. This is to enable everyone to digest what has happened and to enable any workings done to "solidify" without "second-thoughts chasing after them on the astral."A few days later, but no more than a couple of weeks at most, gather together as many as possible of the participants to discuss the ceremony in depth. This is the time to say things like: "That chant we wrote for the second consecration just didn't sound right." "George, you kept missing cues. Do we need different cues or were you having an off day?" "The harmonies on the Processional were terrible. We'd better practice them some more." "Susie, your Anglo Saxon pronunciation needs work." "The altars for the Three Worlds are too big, the dancers kept running into them." "The clergy didn't project their voices quite loud enough." "I had an insight about the wording of the consecration prayer, and I'd like to rewrite it." Etc.It's very important to state the criticisms in a friendly way, with the emphasis on future improvements rather than assigning blame. Positive feedback about every aspect that went well should be included. People should share any psychic/magical/spiritual events that occurred to them during or after the ritual. In effect, you should be doing the same kind of fair-but-firm critique session that a theatrical troupe or symphony orchestra would have after a major performance. Who knows, perhaps we will even have genuine ritual critics writing reviews in the Neopagan press someday!Detailed notes should be kept, to be used in future planning, preparation and performance. These notes can be copied and distributed to all the members of the group who might be interested, including the ADF Mother Grove!!An Update on the Liturgical OutlineThis is the version of the Outline for Druid Worship Ceremonies that I would like people to use for the next few years, and which I've been discussing throughout this essay. Please make sure that the new liturgical scripts you send in for sharing with the other members all follow this basic pattern: First Phase: Starting the Rite & Establishing the Groupmind Clearcut Beginning Consecration of Time Consecration of Space Tree Meditation Centering Grounding Merging Affirmation of Group Beliefs Specification of Ritual Focus and Deities of the Occasion Second Phase: Opening the Gates & Preliminary Power Raising Invoking the Gate Keeper Invoking the Matron/Patron of Bards Triad Invocations, Consecrations and Sharings Nature Spirits Ancestors and Predecessors Gods as a Group Third Phase: The Major Sending of Power to the Deities of the Occasion Praise Offerings Prayer of Sacrifice Seeking of the Omen (Possible Repetitions of Praise/Sacrifice/Omen Seeking) Fourth Phase: Receiving and Using the Returned Power Preparation for the Return Meditation upon Personal Needs Repetition of Group Needs Induction of Receptivity Final Consecration and Sharing Reception of Individual Blessings Reinforcement of Group Bonding Optional Activity: Spell Casting or Rite of Passage Fifth Phase. Unwinding and Ending the Ceremony Affirmation of Success: Following Through Recovery Thanking of Entities Invoked Deities of the Occasion Deities as a Group Ancestors and Predecessors Nature Spirits Matron/Patron of Bards Gatekeeper -- Closing the Gates Reversing the Tree Meditation Unmerging Energies Draining of Excess Energies Pulling back of Branches and Roots Recentering Libation Clearcut Ending Deconsecration of Space Deconsecration of Time Conclusion: The importance of JoyAfter reading sixty (very) odd pages on liturgical design, preparation, and performance, many of you may have decided that this is all a lot of grim, dull work. Nothing is (or should be) farther from the truth. Any harper will tell you that the joy of composition and performance comes after you have mastered the basics of your instrument, and learned your scales. A painter may spend years learning color mixing, anatomy, the laws of perspective, etc., yet if there were no joy in the learning and the practice, she/he would have stopped being a painter early on.Creating, preparing, and performing a ceremony requires a series of artistic decisions and actions, no matter what other polytheological, psychological, magical, or technical factors may be involved. And for Neopagans, joy is an integral part of every art we practice. Regardless of whether your liturgy is one of thankfulness or of grief, of love or of rage, of celebration or of entreaty -- if it is to be a Neopagan liturgy, it must be filled with joy. This may be the quiet, serene joy that strengthen,- as in times of fear and sorrow, or the noisy, boisterous joy of friends sharing pleasure, or the wild and dangerous joy of the tigress defending her young. Balder or Bacchus or Kali. If our liturgies are truly to transform both ourselves and our world, there must be joy! So make sure that you and the people you are working with pay attention to having fun during the entire process. The average Neopagan Druid liturgy is no more complex than putting on a three-act play, or a Beethoven symphony, things that thousands of people every year manage to do in high school -- while having a great deal of fun at the same time. With sufficient determination, practice, imagination, love and joy in our hearts, we can create ritual experiences that will have longterm positive effects on ourselves and the entire world. And remember...The Gods are watching us, so let's give Them a good show!
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IsaacBonewits's picture
© Isaac Bonewits Originally published in Druid's Progress #4Ceremonial Baths - It's usually a good idea, whenever possible, to do some sort of personal cleansing before starting any kind of ceremony. Why? There's nothing spiritually "unclean" about the average Neopagan, and we don't believe in "original sin" (although Neopagans generally approve of originality). So we're not talking about "washing away sin", so much as we're dealing with the topic of altering our state of consciousness. Now every ritual does that, one way or another, but with personal cleansings (or banishings or exorcisms) what you are altering is the focus and flavor of your attention more than anything else.Here are some simple examples: If you had been cooking an Indian curry, and then decided to bake an apple pie for dessert, you would naturally wash any lingering curry powder off your hands before starting to cut up the apples. If you were a doctor who had been working with ill patients and then had to attend another with open wounds, you would make sure that your hands were thoroughly sterile before touching her. If you had been doing a weather spell, and your mind was full of low pressure zones, jet streams and cirrus cloud formations, and you then desired to do a fertility spell for the crops, you would need to clear your mind of all the weather oriented thoughts before attempting to get fertile.In the first two examples, neither curry powder nor microbes are necessarily evil (though some would argue on both), but their leftover presence could cause the results of your later activities to be less than satisfactory. The washing of hands can be a powerful symbolic act, so it should come as no surprise to know that many cooks and surgeons make a much bigger fuss over cleaning themselves than either the culinary or the medical arts require.In the third example, again, what you want to get rid of is not evil, wicked or "sinful", just inappropriate. Here a physical cleansing of your self (and the working area and tools) becomes more obviously symbolic. As in other rituals, what you are doing is giving your subconscious a series of cues, in this case to wipe your internal blackboard clean so that you can start writing new thoughts upon it.On the practical, Earth-plane level of reality, if your hands are full of axel grease, you're going to leave permanent fingerprints on your white robe. If you've been engaging in some strenuous activity that has left you covered with sweat, the odors wafting from your body are likely to compete with the incense. If you're feeling dirty, oily or gritty, you're going to have a much harder time concentrating on relaxing and opening yourself up to the spiritual energies to be invoked.So I always recommend to people (especially clergy) that they take a shower or (preferably) a long, hot, soaking bath before doing any important ceremony. One tradition is to bless a handful of salt and mix it into tile water, thus exorcising the water of any energies at all other than cleansing ones. Depending on the sort of ritual coming up, you might want to mix crushed herbs into the bath, so that you can breathe in their odors while you bathe. Play soothing music on a recorder, burn appropriate incense, light a candle, or add any other elements you like that will reinforce two primary ideas: (1) getting rid of all previous thoughts and obsessions, and (2) beginning to focus on the energies to be worked with in the upcoming rite.When you get out of the water, put on clean clothing, whether it's traveling clothes or your actual ceremonial garb (which should have been cleaned/ironed beforehand) Then go straight to the site without letting your mind drift too far into other topics.Diet and Drugs - If your ceremony is to be short, you'll want to avoid having red meat or other heavy foods in you when you start. If it's going to be a long ritual, you may want to eat a good solid meal a couple of hours beforehand. Obviously, good nutrition is very important in maintaining your alertness and stamina.As for the drug question, a small dose of caffeine or sugar may be useful to some people just before the ritual begins. Others find that alcohol or THC in very small amounts is useful for reducing preceremonial jitters. However, large amounts of any of these four drugs can ruin your sense of timing, and the latter two can affect your memory and make you miss cues. As with everything else in magic and religion, common sense and moderation will usually be your best guides.Site Preparation - The site should be prepared well ahead of time. Outdoors, clear the ground of sharp rocks, twigs, etc. Clear the leaves and animal droppings from the altar. See what the light and/or shade is likely to be like at the scheduled time, as well as the views in different directions (what tree is the sun going to rise over?). Check out the acoustics to see if that bagpipe is really practical. In fact, most of this should be done at or before the first rehearsal.If you are going to have a fire, see to it that someone who knows what she or he is doing has been appointed as Fire Warden. Let her/him set up a proper firepit, and arrange for the necessary fire fighting tools to be available if needed. The fire, by the by, should be started at least fifteen minutes before the ceremony begins.When working indoors, make sure before the ritual begins that the telephone is unplugged and "Do not disturb" signs are on the outside doors. Turn off any noisy air conditioners or heating systems that are otherwise likely to roar into action during the rite.Chalices - This is an area where both population and health factors need to be taken into account. With a small group, all of whom are known to be in good health (i.e., with no contagious conditions), the main chalice or drinking horn can be passed around with a secondary cup of spring water (for the teetotalers in the group). If the presiding clergy have colds (or other unpopular viruses), both of the main cups should stay at the altar and additional ones be passed. Each participant can then drink from either or both container, and pass them on.With a medium or larger group, it's safest to assume that at least some of them have a cold, flue or other virus that should not be shared along with the waters. Therefore, the main chalice of waters should usually stay on the altar and larger vessels, (such as cauldrons, pitchers, etc.) of waters should be filled and consecrated along with the main chalice. Under these circumstances, you'll want to suggest to people in your early announcements (and perhaps your Processional songs at a festival) that they each bring their own ritual cup or drinking horn. These can then be filled from the larger vessels of alcoholic and nonalcoholic fluids carried around by the cupbearers.Another thing that these bigger vessels, especially cauldrons, are used for with larger groups is asperging. With a small or medium sized group, passing the waters around four times is not a major problem, but with large groups, the amount of rime required for each participant to meaningfully partake can add up to the point where it destroys the ritual's pacing. For this reason, small cauldrons filled with spring water (and a dash of alcohol) can be consecrated along with the main chalice during the Tried Invocations, then taken around the circle by the cupbearers, who asperge the congregation and bards with a ritually appropriate bundle of twigs. This is not quite as effective as drinking the waters would be, but with more than forty people, it may be necessary. However, if you have many cupbearers available, you could try having each one fill up the cups of a small segment of the congregation (such as an eighth of the circle) after each consecration, instead of asperging.All of these drinking vessels (large or small) should be of horn, stoneware, metal, wood or other natural substances. They do not have to match, however the one(s) for nonalcoholic waters should be very distinctive in appearance. If all you have are multiple identical vessels (or if none of them match each other), try putting silver or blue ribbon around the one(s) containing nonalcoholic waters, and gold or red ribbon around the alcoholic one(s). Generally, the proportion of alcoholic to nonalcoholic vessels should be one-to-one for a small or medium sized group, and four-to-one with larger groups. If in doubt, it's better to err on the side of caution and have extra vessels and cupbearers.Branches - With a small congregation, you'll only need one cut branch from Atree of the appropriate seasonal or occasional species. This should be 12-18 inches in length, cut from a sucker shoot or other part of the tree where your removal will not damage it. Always ask permission from the tree first, explain what you are doing and why, and put some healing energy back into the tree where the cut was made.If you have a large enough group of people that you decide to do aspergings for the first three consecrations (instead of passing cups around), then you'll need in addition three small branches (9-12 inches) of birch, yew, and oak (or their local symbolic equivalents) to use as aspergillums (sprinklers). If you take multiple thin twigs from a tree, you can tie them together with the proper color of ribbon (black for birch, red for yew, white for oak). For special occasions, you may want to use gold ribbon to tie additional sprigs or twigs to the main branch (such as holly and mistletoe to oak for Yule). Use your imagination, remembering that the aspergillums should be sturdy, and that they will be burned or otherwise disposed of at the end of the ceremony.Clothing - The presiding clergy, at least, should wear long white robes. The rest of the congregation can wear white robes, tunics or dresses. Everyone's clothing should be of natural fabrics, with plenty of colorful embroidery or applique work. The styles can be Celtic, Germanic, Russian, etc. Different groves may choose to have a common cultural theme running throughout their ceremonies and thus through their clothing, or may choose to be Pan-Indo-European. Almost any style of clothing will do, as long as the general effect is Paleopagan, rather than modern. People should be encouraged to wear their fanciest, brightest ceremonial garb. If you have any medievalists in your grove, they may be able to loan appropriate clothing to the other grove members.All of the preceding is, of course, based on the standard seasonal and holy day rites. If you are doing a ceremony for a specific purpose that is not bright and cheerful, you may wish to have the participants wearing more somber garb. Solid black is, however, to be discouraged, as it is too reminiscent of Satanism and other Christian sects.Black, red and white cords should be avoided as belts, since many Neopagan Witchcraft traditions use these as signs of rank, if people are going to wear belts at all, wear the sort that would be worn by the folks who originally wore that type of clothing.If your grove decides to work barefoot (apparently an old Indo-European custom, at least during good weather), then shoes should be of the easily removed sort. The white berets and any other head coverings should be removed at the entrance to the ritual site (this is when shoes would be removed too), at least by the presiding clergy and bards. Both these customs are to symbolize our connections with the Earth and the Sky.Since most Druid rites are done outdoors, sensible precautions should also be taken for the weather. Druid ceremonies tend to last 45 minutes to an hour or longer. In hot weather, you don't want people in heavy robes and bare heads standing around in the sun for long periods of time. In cold weather, you want warm robes that are loose enough to be worn over multiple layers of woolens, etc., and you may want to add white gloves to the presiding clergy's regalia.Misc. Items - It's nice if you can manage to have a large sickle on the main altar, and/or if the presiding clergy are wearing small ones. These do not have to be gold -- bronze or iron will do fine. If you are indoors, or in an area where you can't have a bonfire, you naturally need to remember to bring a small cauldron or candle stick(s). Banners symbolic of the three worlds, or of various deities, add a wonderful splash of color, especially in the Processional and Recessional. Whiskey, mead or other alcoholic beverages should be brought, remembering that you will need more of it if everyone partakes at each consecration (instead of being asperged for the first three). Ordinary spring water should also be on hand, for the benefit of those members of the congregation who cannot or will not drink alcohol. All these liquids should be in aesthetically pleasing storage containers. Fuel for the fire or candles will be needed. Don't forget to bring properly colored ribbons for tieing to chalices and/or branches.Intellectual and Artistic PreparationsPlanning Sessions - Even if you were just going to use the script straight out of DP 2, with no modifications (something I don't recommend, since even I have been making changes in it), you would still need to make additional plans. Get the folks together who you know intend to take part, at least two weeks beforehand. Decide on who is going to play what role, who will have responsibilities for what preparation work, who will bring which supplies, etc. Decide on a theme for the rite, and thus on the colors, symbols, deities and songs to use. Decide if more research into the deities and/or the occasion might be needed, and who will do it. Decide on the exact place and time for the rehearsals and the ritual itself, on how its going to be publicized (necessary for the semipublic celebrations of the eight holy days), and how everyone and everything will be transported to the rehearsals and the ceremony.Making all these decisions may take more than one session. If you are having regular weekly or biweekly grove meetings, you can incorporate this planning into them, simply spending more time on it as you get closer to the actual date. Otherwise, you should schedule at least two planning sessions, one to focus on making the decisions just listed, and the other to hand out scripts, song lyrics, driving maps, etc. Try to give everyone enough time to enable them to memorize their parts, since all ceremonies look better without scripts and cue-cards being visible.The presiding clergy and the bard(s) should figure out ahead of time how they are going to handle mistakes and unexpected events during the ceremony: flubbed lines, missed cues, absent people with important functions, actions going faster or slower than expected, intruders showing up on the scene (or late-comers), etc. The person who knows the script the best (usually the Senior Druid of the grove), should be ready with lines like "Now let the Ancestors be invoked!" or "Now let us thank the spirits we have had with us today!", in order to cover for missed cues. The bard(s) should be ready to sing or play music to fill in or stretch out parts of the ceremony that are not matching the desired pacing of the energy flow. The grove guardians should be instructed on how to invite in people who show up after the ritual has started. Etc.Casting - You'll want the most qualified folks available for each role. Don't have a chief bard who can't play his/her instrument adequately, or sing on the pitch, when someone competent is available. If there's only one person around who can pronounce the Irish (or Welsh, or Polish, or Norse, etc.) correctly, let her or him do the words in that language. If that person's not an experienced or competent ritualist, pair them up with someone else who is. For a medium or larger group ceremony, screen the folks who want to do Praise Offerings, and select the best ones. If you're going to do a ritual drama or dance in the middle of the rite, get people who know how to do it well.Obviously, if your grove is just starting out, and you only have five or six people who are working with you, then you can't be picky. Just assume that we're all growing in our arts and pass the available roles around as democratically as you like. But as soon as your grove begins to have twenty or thirty people shoving up for the High Days (within a year or so), you're going to want to start selecting and training specific individuals to take on more and more responsibility- Newcomers who vent to perform major roles In the rituals should be tested and (if competent) immediately drafted. The idea is not to be snobbish, but to exercise at least as much discretion in casting as your local little theater group or community chorus does.Watch out for nepotism! Your spouse, lover, or best friend may not be the best person for a particular role, no matter how much you love them. The owner the site is not automatically qualified to be the presiding clergyperson, despite Neopagan customs to the contrary. A member who makes a large donation to your grove's expenses should not be casually handed an important role that he or she is not competent to fulfill. Special thanks, blessings, or social positions may be given to people of these sorts, but personal preferences (or animosities) should not be allowed to interfere with giving the Gods, and the members of your grove, the best possible ceremonies.What roles are there? Obviously, you need one or two presiding clergy to do the Invocations, sacrifice, and consecrations, etc. To be really authentic, you might want to have your Senior Druid stand by during the rite to supervise (supplying missed cues, covering for mistakes, watching for omens, etc.) You should have at least one good bard for the occasion, to play the music for and lead the songs and chants. If you are going to use some form of divination in the rite, then you'll need a diviner to handle it.Cupbearers/aspergers are necessary for medium or larger sized groups. Ritual dance and theater sequences require dancers and actors. If you have banners for the Three Worlds, you may want people to be banner holders. If you expect that your ritual may be disturbed by unfriendly outsiders, you may also want to have a few warrior types with quarterstaves guarding the perimeters of your site -- these should be people with extremely cool heads, since you're likely to lose any subsequent lawsuits. You may also want them to take responsibility for helping anyone who has a medical or psychological problem during the ceremony (in which case they should know what they're doing).And oh yes, don't forget your shills (excuse me, "chant facilitators"). Any ceremony with a medium sized group or larger needs to have some people who really know all the chants and songs well, and who can deliver them loudly enough to lead the rest of the congregation. The choreography of the rite should make sure that these folks are evenly distributed throughout the congregation at all times. Perhaps your group's chief bard may select and train these people, and you may want them to have some distinctive symbol or article of clothing (that way the pre-ritual briefing can include something like "listen to the people with the blue sashes, they know all the songs".) You should have one facilitator for every ten people, but they can also be taking other duties, such as being cupbearers, provided that they are evenly distributed around the circle (or whatever shape the congregation is in) whether moving or standing, and they keep singing or chanting throughout.Each of the major roles should have understudies (who can double as shills). Not only is this a good way for less experienced members of your group to learn your customs, but can be a goddess-send when one of your major officers is suddenly called out of town or gets the plague. And if one of the understudies winds up doing a better job of memorizing and performing the ceremony than the person originally cast, then she or he should be given the part. Yes, there will be screaming about this. But if your group is really interested in ceremonial excellence, then they are going to have to be able to subordinate their artistic egos to the cause of better ceremonies.Above all, when selecting people to handle functions in a large public ritual, remember yet again: Sincerity is not a substitute for competence.Rehearsals - Oh yes! You need to have at least one full-dress rehearsal for any ritual with any degree of complexity, especially if you want to avoid some of the problems already mentioned. For a lengthy ceremony, you may want to have two or three rehearsals, with possible additional work for the singers, musicians, dancers, etc. I've been hearing complaints about demanding rehearsals for years, but there is no escaping it-- every really powerful, beautiful and effective large group ritual I have ever participated in had plenty of rehearsal. Folks who are unable to unwilling to rehearse have made their choice of priorities, and have thus decided to be part of the congregation rather than clergy or bards.Your final dress rehearsal is the time for photos and recordings to be made. That way you can ban photographers and audio/video tapers from the ritual (unless they have long distance lenses and mikes). No one should ever be filmed without their express permission, though ceremonial masks are an option for large gatherings.Pre-Ritual Instructions to Congregation - When everyone has gathered at the site, someone other than the presiding clergy should tell them (1) any parts of the ceremony that have been changed at the last minute, (2) any chants, song choruses, or litany responses that they may not be familiar with, (3) who will be responsible for what duties during the ceremony, (4) which chalice(s) will hold non-alcoholic liquid, etc., --- all the facts they need to know to participate fully, without the use of written scripts. If it's a small group for whom an unscheduled Praise Offering would not disrupt the planned flow of the ceremony, everyone should be encouraged to offer something if they have it well memorized. Since Druid rituals usually have newcomers at them, this sort of pre-ceremonial briefing should never be skipped.At a large Pagan festival, the Processional may occur before all the members of the congregation have arrived on the ritual site, since they may join the Processional as it winds through the festival area. In that case, the pre-ritual announcements will need to be made after the Processional has arrived and the people have distributed themselves into their intended places. This style of announcement should be fairly Formal and dignified, so as to not disrupt whatever spiritual energies have already been raised among the congregation. If at all possible, have your bard put the necessary information into a poetic form and either chant or sing it.Emotional and Social PreparationsIndividual Emotional States - As a general rule, a ceremony will work best if the participants begin in an emotional state similar to that which the ritual is supposed to reflect. Getting into the appropriate mood should be part of the pre-ritual meditations of all participants, but is especially important for the presiding clergy and bards. Members of the congregation can "go with the flow" during a rite, but the clergy and bards must keep a portion of their consciousness separate even during the most emotionally intense moments, in order to keep track of and guide the energy flow of the ritual as a whole. If this necessary separation is not to be emotionally and spiritual distressing to them, they must saturate the rest of their consciousness thoroughly with the mood(s) that they intend to create within the congregation.On the other hand, anyone who is in a particularly foul mood, where of anger, fear, depression, pain, etc., should not participate in a magical or religious ceremony without warning at least some of the other participants, including the presiding clergy. Otherwise they are likely to poison the groupmind's emotional focus and/or disrupt its psychic unity. This does not mean that people in need should be abandoned, or banished from the community's rituals. On the contrary, it means that a special effort should be made (either before the ceremony, or very early on in it) to cheer them up or, if appropriate, to encourage them to share their emotions with the congregation in a way that gives the unhappy person meaningful psychological support and which restores their sense of belonging to the group. They can then participate in a positive way.Social Factors - Much of this was covered in the discussions on intragroup familiarity in the previous essay. Obviously, a group of friends who see each other frequently are going to create a more unified groupmind than an equal sized group of people who barely know each other. Thus, the more activities of any sort that a group engages in together, the more effective their liturgical interactions will be. It used to be that people made their religious group the center of their social lives, and thus their ceremonies used to be more powerful and effective. This is one of the reasons, by the way, that people living in large cities, with many social distractions available, often have more difficulty creating and maintaining working ritual groups.But in any social group, whether tight or loose, you're going to have problems arise between the members. Intragroup and intergroup politics, personality clashes, and love relationships can wreak havok with your efforts to create a groupmind For a ceremony. This is where the clergyperson needs all of her or his psychological and social skills to prevent such problems from destroying a ritual before it starts. If two or more members of the group are having a conflict, or someone shows up who is actively disliked by most of the membership, or the ceremony is an open "ecumenical" one with people from fueding groups likely to show up, the presiding clergy need to deal with the situation quickly and effectively, yet compassionately. This can be one of the hardest tasks that a clergyperson ever faces, yet evading it will ruin even the most beautifully designed and executed liturgy.Psychic/Magical/Spiritual PreparationsExorcism of the Site - This shouldn't generally be necessary, especially outdoors (unless you forgot to check out the vibes of the place first). But if you or someone else has been doing magical or religious rituals of an incompatible sort in the same location recently you'll want to psychically clean the area along with the physical cleansing mentioned earlier. This exorcism can be done by the presiding clergy just before they retire to meditate (see next section), or by their assistants (if they really know how). There are a wide variety of ways to do this, but you should choose a Pagan style that fits with the ceremony to follow. Taking the Processional all the way around the site while singing a chant in praise of the Gods is usually effective. You may also want to take this opportunity to set up "wards" (psychic defenses) around the site to prevent disturbance by unfriendly folk, should that be a matter of concern.Pre-Ritual Meditations - The presiding clergy and the bard(s) will be most responsible for directing the energy flow of the ritual, so they should be able to spend at least fifteen minutes to half an hour in meditation before the ritual starts. Such meditation would consist of "grounding and centering", dwelling upon the theme of the rite, contemplating their ceremonial tools/instruments, getting into the appropriate mood, reviewing their relationships with the deities of the occasion, etc. The purpose of all of this is to clear their minds of every nonritual thought, so that they can concentrate on the work they are about to do. For that reason, other members of the grove should take care of trivial end routine matters during this time period.If there ore no trained subordinates in the grove, or if you have a very small group (as most of you will when starting out), the presiding clergy can announce a five minute meditation break, five minutes before they intend to start. Encourage everyone to be silent and to make themselves ready for the ceremony. While they're doing that, the clergy can get some meditation of their own accomplished, perhaps while putting the final touches on the altar. In fact, even with a larger congregation, such an announcement and preparation period isn't a bad idea. If you're going to have a long processional walk, that can serve a similar purpose in starting the group focus. But you should absolutely not go from a casual social or party atmosphere directly into a ceremonial one.
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Member-711_2's picture
A Druid ritual may appear complex and confusing to an outsider. This primer will cover some of the basics so that you will be able to get the most out of rituals that you attend. It will cover some of the basic ideas behind druidism so that you can understand why we choose to do things in the way that we do. It will also include some of my own opinions. It is your right, and perhaps your duty to disagree with me or ADF or anyone else.Basic Ideas1. Everyone is capable of praying to the Gods and Goddesses (the Shining Ones) and acting as their own clergy. Some of us are better at being clergy than others. This does not mean that you need them to worship or that you should not participate in a ritual. ADF has a long and difficult training program aimed at producing the best clergy possible. Here in Mud, Fire, Wind, Spirit no one has completed this program; the clergy people that you see performing our rituals are there because of hard work and merit, or because they were the only people who wanted to do it.2. Druidism is public worship for relatively large groups. This affects our rituals on a purely practical level. We do not draw a circle because someone will have to go to the bathroom. Or if someone arrives late we want them to be able to join us. Anyone can attend our rituals, there are limits but as long as someone is not disruptive or is a danger to someone else they may attend. A ritual for 20 people will be different than a ritual for 200 people.3. The way that we worship should change. It must change to deal with different situations. It must change so that it is constantly fresh and exciting.4. With all this change everyone must still be on the same sheet of music. This is not easy. A ritual briefing is given before each ritual. Written copies of the ritual may be handed out. One of the functions of the weekly ritual is to develop a core group that is familiar with the basic ritual.5. What you get out of a ritual depends on what you put into a ritual. We want the people who worship with us to get the most out of a ritual as possible. Therefore we let them participate as much as possible. You may do everything from the offerings to invoking a personal deity to taking on the role of clergy.6. People aren't perfect. You are allowed to make mistakes.Who's in charge here?Every Grove has at least three officers, a scribe/secretary a pursewarden/treasurer a Senior druid/head honcho. These officers are elected on a yearly basis. Most rituals have three people acting as clergy: the Bard who is in charge of music, the Ritual Organizer who is overall responsible for the ritual, and the Seer who is in charge of divination. The people who act as clergy change from ritual to ritual. They are selected by common agreement. We usually go with our best on High Holy Days or when the ritual is considered very important such as a healing. You will find out who is acting as clergy in the ritual briefing.A Ritual OutlineThe Ritual Briefing is given by the Ritual Organizer before the ritual begins. This will be a brief outline of the ritual including the chants and songs that will be used. At this time it will be decided who will do the offerings and the Bard and Seer will be chosen or introduced. Drafting newcomers to do an offering is common. At the end of the briefing the ritual begins with a procession to where the ritual will be. This allows the ritual site to be set up beforehand and kept ready for the ritual. This also lets everyone know that the ritual is now started. The procession and chanting also helps us to go into a ritual state of mind and builds group unity. The procession usually circles the ritual site perhaps several times to allow all of the group to arrive and kind of shake out as to where they want to stand. Some of the ritual participants need to wind up standing at certain places so don't be surprised if they step out of the procession and wait for it to end.When the procession stops an earth mother prayer or offering is given. A short meditation is given to build group unity and again prepare us for the ritual.An offering to the outsiders will be made. This offering is to the negative forces of the universe or forces unfriendly to us. The offering should be respectful enough so that they dont get pissed off but it should also make it clear that we know what they are and want nothing to do with them. Just as the Shining Ones exist in us so to do the negative forces exist in us therefor during the outsider offering it is a good time to set the negative parts of ourselves aside and perhaps leave them there. There is one more reason that we should have some respect for the outsiders, even though we ally ourselves with the Shining Ones, the forces of love and creation: this world we live in could not exist without the forces of destruction and decay. The participants are purified usually with a sage stick (if you are allergic or have asthma let the Ritual organizer know).The gates between the worlds are then opened. At this point we should be in a sacred state of mind but also in what we call Sacred Space. The gates are open, we stand underneath the sacred Tree, the forces of magic can flow and the Shining ones can more easily be with us hear us and bless us. A series of offerings are then made. They usually go in this order:Fire: An elemental spirit and gate to the upper world. A companion to man since time out of mind. The spark of inspiration is one of this element's gifts. Therefor Fire symbolizes the power of thought.Water or the Sacred Well: An elemental also that serves as a gate to the lower world. The symbol of our emotions. The Sacred Well is a powerful symbol of rebirth.The Sacred Tree: We are Druids and trees have many things to teach us. This tree is special it stands at the center of everything and exists as we hope to do in all of the worlds. Standing beneath the Sacred Tree is one of the ways to enter sacred space. It serves as a gate to both the upper and lower worlds and our world as well. It also a symbol of the completeness of creation. Some people call existing in all the worlds as being centered.The next three offerings are usually in a chalice and are then passed around the group so that all may share in the offering.The Ancestors: All that we are is built on their successes and failures. To me this is to all of the ancestors, the good the bad and the ugly. Our ancestors of our blood and of thought, and also the ancient ones of the land.The Nature Spirits: The fairy and the wee folk the spirits of animals and plants and of the wild places. Nymphs and Dryads Oh My!The Shining Ones: All of the Gods and Goddesses, the forces of creation and love. The best of us. Bread is also offered to the Shining Ones along with the chalice. Pass the bread first.We now enter the organized chaos part of the ritual. This is the time when anyone can make a praise offering or invoke a patron or matron deity or some element that they have been working with. A lot of this time is used for simply saying thanks. This is also the period that we would do magic if needed. At the end of this period the Seer will do a reading to see if the offerings have been acccepted and what kind of blessings have been given in return.All that we have invoked or made offerings to will be thanked and asked to stay or go as they will in reverse order. There are two exceptions here: the Outsiders because we never invited them, and the Earth Mother because she is always with us. The gates are closed and the ritual is ended. At the end of the ritual we may sing a song to ground out any energy that was raised.The How To PartSo you have been asked to make an offering. What do you do? There are levels upon levels to this but we will begin in the beginning with the simple stuff and since this is a basic primer we will end there too. It does not really matter what you say or how well you say it, what matters is that you say it with feeling and are sincere. Try to put yourself into the words. You have two responsibilities here. One is to yourself, to say what you want to say the way you want to say it. Your second responsibility is to your fellow worshipers. For them you should try to speak loudly and clearly so that they can hear the offering being made.But first you want to say what you want to say. Offerings usually follow this formula. First you say who you are making an offering to, followed by a brief description of who or what your making an offering to, not only the common meanings but also what it means to you. At the end say what it is you are offering and light the incense, pour the nectar, or pass the cup, or whatever. You can say this simply or with poetry. You can say it in another language just as long as you translate. Some people do very well right off others take longer. It really does not matter. What is important is that you do your best. I usually take a brief moment to collect my thoughts before I begin and if I stumble I don't let that throw me; I just continue on. If they want perfection they are in the wrong place.Be aware that there are more advanced ways to do this. In the future you can learn them if you want to but this is a good place to start and adequate for our needs.Saying goodbye is just as easy. Say thank you and that we have to go but that the spirits may go or stay as they choose.A lot of people know very little about meditation. This is a real shame because it is a very useful tool not only for magic and worship but many everyday things like relieving stress or controlling difficult emotions. I would urge you to learn more about it. Buy a book and ask members of the grove for help. For now simply try to relax breath normally or in the recommended pattern and let your mind imagine what the person leading the meditation is saying. It's normal to have stray thoughts go through your mind; don't let them distract you. You may move faster or slower than the meditation guide is going, that's not a problem. Go with the flow until you are where you need to be. You will find that this gets easier with practice.I hope that you enjoy many rituals with us. Blessed Be.Arnold A. Brooks, PursewardenMud, Fire, Wind, Spirit Grove, ADF
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IsaacBonewits's picture
The Druid Liturgy A.D.F Standard Outline Summer 1991 C.E. Preliminary Ritual Activity (A) Briefing (B) Individual Meditations & Prayers (C) Lighting the Sacred Fire(s) (D) Pouring the Sacred Waters (E) Consecrating the Sacred Pole (F) Consecrating the Altar & Tools 1st Phase: Starting the Rite & Establishing the Group Mind Clear-cut Beginning: Consecration of Time (1) Musical Signal (2) Opening Prayer Consecration of Space & of Participants (3) The Processional/Sigil Marking (4) Purification(s) of Participants (5) Purification(s) of Site (6) Honoring the Earth Mother Centering, Grounding, Merging (7) The Grove Meditation (8) Unity Chant/Song (9) Stating Ritual Purpose & Historical Precedent (10) Naming Deity(ies) of the Occasion & Reasons for Choice 2nd Phase: Recreating the Cosmos & Preliminary Power Raising Describing the Vertical Axis (11) Planting the Cosmic Tree / Honoring the Sacred Pole (12) Evoking the Gatekeeper / Defining the Ritual Center (13) Evoking the Fire & Water Deities & Linking to Center Gaining Assistance and Preventing Interference (14) Invoking the Bardic Deity(ies) or Spirit(s) (15) Acknowledgement of the Outsiders (16) Filling Out the Cosmic Picture Ex.: Triad Invoc. of Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Deities in Three Worlds Ex.: Invoc. of Helpful Beings of each World/Realm Ex.: Invoc. of Helpful Beings by Province/Function (17) The Settling & Focusing 3rd Phase: Major Sending of Power to Deity(ies) of the Occasion (18) Descriptive Invocation of Deity(ies) of the Occasion Primary Power Raising (19) Praise Offerings, Dance, Libations, etc. (20) The Sacrifice (21) Seeking the Omen of Return 4th Phase: Receiving and Using the Returned Power Preparation for the Return (22) Meditation upon Personal and Group Needs (23) Induction of Receptivity (24) Consecration Agreement Reception of Power from Deity(ies) of the Occasion (25) Consecration and Sharing (26) Acceptance of Individual Blessings (27) Reinforcement of Group Bonding (28) Spell Casting/Rite of Passage 5th Phase: Unwinding and Ending the Ceremony Unwinding the Energy Patterns Created (29) Thanking of Entities Invited in Reverse Order (30) Thanking the Gatekeeper & Closing the Gates (31) Affirmation of Past/Future Continuity & Success (32) Unmerging, Regrounding & Recentering: Meditation (33) Draining off Excess Power: The Restoration Clearcut Ending: Deconsecration of Time & Space (34) Final Benediction (35) Announcement of End (36) Dissolving the Sigil (37) Musical Signal
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Earrach's picture
Just ask the average suburban seven year old two days before Christmas. Perhaps you still have that child inside you? Perhaps you can't help but remember that child as the sun sets on Halloween night or as the last seconds in the Old Year are counted-off at a party on New Year's Eve. Whether in the experience of a child or an adult, the power of an impending special-moment or calendar date is an aspect of magical or religious experience we cannot afford to overlook.Power Made and Power FoundTo ‘raise magic' toward a goal we often have to work quite hard at it to get anything but the mildest effect and are thus reminded that at least one universal principle governs the laws of magic as in the rest of life: what you get out of something is usually directly proportional to what you put in. The success of our work often hinges on whether any one specific factor or combination of a whole group of factors, is actually able 'raise the power' necessary to effect a change in the world. Power can be 'made-the-hard-way' (sometimes it's the only way-) yet, power also can be 'borrowed' from pre-existing flows of power or potential existing in the natural world and the sea of consciousness around us.For example, it might be said that doubt kills magical effects, or rather: that the-suspension-of-doubt facilitates their achievement. Here we see a great source of magical effect that literally doesn't need to be created but instead presents itself through the suppression of a simple cognitive reflex. Doubt is usually dispelled by our knowledge of the world and the understanding of what is ordinarily possible; yet, when we approach a goal which requires magical power, we realize that it's the very nature of magic to challenge the structure of what is ordinarily possible. Our set of assumptions is our own obstacle to success. Any student of magical disciplines can tell you that wonders may be achieved by culturing the simple ability to stop assuming that they are 'not possible'.Small actions can cause large effects in the world: the tiniest pin-point can burst the biggest balloon. Why kill yourself trying to shovel all the snow off the mountainside when one well placed snowball can bring down a mighty avalanche?The Power of the Impending MomentI'd like to suggest that we modern magical practitioners don't utilize the power of sacred timing half as much as we could. A couple of years ago, I was at a week-long national pagan festival and found myself in a crowd of five or six hundred people being entertained by a major pagan rock band on the night of the Summer Solstice. As the show went on I became increasingly more uncomfortable with my recognition that no one had planned to even briefly stop the show to honor (what I consider) the passing of one of the most sacred moments of the year. The show continued, the moment of Solstice came and went, I did my own little observance sitting there on the grass amid the hundreds of other "pagans", and the band played on... and didn't miss a note. Somehow I don't think I'll ever forget that moment; I suppose it may be the very reason I'm writing this now.The moment of a solstice or an equinox marks the 'happening' of a very real event; much more real than most pagans understand as such. These events are special moments in Nature; momentary transitions of the attitude and inclination of the Earth Herself relative to the Sun's light upon Her surface. They are the absolute cause and demarcation of the Seasons which eternally delight and sustain us. Sadly, few of us gather anything but the most vague and imprecise understanding of what a solstice or equinox really is in the first place, and as a consequence, this tends to limit our very ability to see or place personal value on their specific 'moments-in-time'.Capturing the Moment: Ritual TechOne very effective way to "capture" the power of an impending moment is to record its passing in the creation or modification of an object at the very moment of the sacred event. Over the yearsI have used this technique in a number of ways. One of my favorite methods is to break a stick at the exact moment, working from a clock which had been calibrated to a very accurate source like the WWV shortwave signals broadcast from the National Bureau of Standards in Fort Collins Colorado. This sounds like tech that's out of reach for most people but actually these self correcting WWV clocks are becoming very common and several are available at Radio Shack from $15 through $40.The more obsessive about accuracy and timing you are, the more sacred the moment becomes to you, and all the more magical power is availed to you in its capture. The Sanctity/Veneration feedback loop is another of the basic principles at work in personal magic: the more you venerate a principle or object, the more sacred it becomes in turn.The broken ends of the stick hold in them the imprint of the sacred moment which, in our calendrical rites, we present to the assembly for veneration. I often have used the ends to charge and bless the waters or other objects used in the receptory phase of the ritual in which the blessings or magical power is given to the people in return for their offerings.Pouring molten wax or lead into water can create an object of considerable power, having captured in its form much of the essential nature and magical power of the moment. Rendering an offering to the Fire or the Waters or burning an inscribed piece of paper; smashing an object-link reperesentative of some woe or binding in your life; or simply "winding up" and launching the power of a spell at the sacred moment, may just send it out into the Cosmos, riding the crest of that mighty tidal wave of natural power.The Correct Dates of the Solstices & EquinoxesHowever can we get our fellows to approach the sacred potential of the moment if we can't even get them to understand the basics of the Sacred year? It's really not that hard to find the correct calendrical information to work from but you'd never suspect it, given the variety of misinformation disseminated in the Neopagan and New Age literature.Ok, ask any Neopagan, "What are the great Pagan holy-days?" and you'll be told, "The Wheel of the Year, made up of the solstices and the equinoxes and the midpoints between them called cross-quarters..."Then ask them, "What are the calendar dates of those feasts?" Well, if you happen to have your cheat sheet (see fig.1,) you are in for some big surprises... I don't know if I've found one 'pagan' reference book yet that lists the correct general date for the Autumnal Equinox!!!Even if they include it in a range of possible dates, rarely does any source infer that the 23rd of September is the principal date for the Autumnal Equinox and the other is an occasional variant. It simply does NOT fall on the 20th, 21st, or 25th - those are just plain wrong : it usually falls on the 23rd and occasionally on the 22nd.The same nonsense prevails for the Vernal Equinox (for you Llewellyn readers out there: Vernal= 'spring' and autumnal= 'fall'); March 20th is the principal date: not the 22nd, 23rd, 25th or whatever you commonly find printed. Its just usually on the 20th and occasionally the 21st.Regardless of what you may have read, the Summer Solstice usually falls on June 21st (otherwise it falls on the 20th) and the Yule Solstice falls on Dec. 21st; otherwise it's on the 22nd.You know what? The fixing of the solstices and equinoxes to those particular dates was the very reason for the Calendar Reform of the 16th century, - T H E - very reason we have the calendar we now use, known as the Gregorian Calendar. That calendar was created to keep the old table of days and months from drifting ever away from the seasons as they had done under the Julian Calendar current up until that time. The British Isles and American colonies didn't catch up until 1752 and by that time had to excise eleven days of error to get the calendar realigned to the seasons!Why do they all still continue to get it wrong? Surely it's not that they don't care; more likely they simply don't know where to get reliable information and just turn to other, clueless 'authorities' instead of tracking down the simple facts of Nature from the disciplines which really understand them (here Astronomy*, not Astrology; there is a significant difference.) QUARTER DAYACTUALStarhawk says: Cunningham says:Buckland says: Farrar says:Bonewits says: usual *occasionalYULESOLSTICEDec. 21(71% @EST)Dec. 22Dec. 20 -23"circa"Dec. 21Dec. 21stDec. 22Dec. 21st "or so"VERNALEQUINOXMar. 20(94% @EST)Mar. 21Mar. 20-23"circa"Mar.21Mar. 21stMar. 21Mar. 21st or soSUMMERSOLSTICEJune 21(88% @EDT)June 20June 20-23"circa"Jun.21Jun. 21stJun. 22June 21st "or so"AUTUMNALEQUINOXSept. 23(53% @EDT)Sept. 22Sept. 20-23"circa"Sept. 21Sept. 21stSept. 21Sept. 21st "or so"This mistake is not limited to the undereducated, unedited, 'low-brow' press but is found just as strong among those who should know better; including brilliant authors such as John and Caitlin Matthews. This buggering of our sacred calendar has been going on for decades, not only in pagan publications but in the works of 'scholarly' folklore, anthro-pological and archaeological writers as well.Wouldn't you at least like to feel that you're celebrating a 'holy-day' on the right day? It reminds me too much of how, in our city, the mayor and city council decided for a couple of years recently to hold the public celebrations of the 4th of July on the 3rd or the 5th to save on the holiday overtime-pay for all of the police involved. Perhaps it would be more economical to move New Year's Eve to another night too... Grrrr!
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Member-711_2's picture
A Ritual always has more than one goal. There may be many goals or only a few. How many goals a ritual has does not affect how complex a ritual is. The goals of a ritual will affect what is said and done, but not the difficulty of the ritual. Let us now look at some of the common and uncommon goals of a ritual.The most common goal of a religious ceremony is to enter into a relationship with supernatural forces. In general we want to strengthen our relationships with positive forces and weaken our relationship with negative forces. The nature of these relationships depends on the individuals own beliefs. In any group there are differences in what the group believes and what the individual believes.It is human nature that every group has unwritten rules on who is and is not a member. These rules determine the freedom given to express differences and what must be held in common. The ritual writer must know and consider these rules. Stop right now and think about this! If you belong to a group that allows a great deal of freedom your ritual must allow room for individuals to express or hold to their beliefs. If you belong to a group that does not allow much freedom, your ritual should be very specific and spell out exactly what your group believes. The various Christian communion rituals are good examples of this.The second most common goal of a ritual is spiritual fulfillment. This is not an easy goal to achieve because people receive spiritual fulfillment in many different ways. Some people get it from music or poetry. Some need a moment of silence or prayer. Style is important here: some need a very solemn rite, others a very joyous rite. Your rituals should include different elements and be varied enough to satisfy everyone's needs. Just remember that you can not please everyone all of the time.A common goal is to receive or ask for a blessing. When there is a specific need the ritual should emphasize that need and more effort should be expended to meet it. Even if the blessing is not received this will still have a profound impact on the individual in need and the group.A common goal is to build group unity and a sense of community. This is necessary to meet the goals I have already outlined. It is important to consider what degree of group unity you will have going into your ritual. If this will be done with a new group or a group of strangers. You may be starting from scratch and need to expend a lot of effort on establishing group unity. Your first ritual for a new group will have a great deal of impact on those unwritten rules I talked about earlier. If your group is established you should have some group unity going into the ritual. Your ritual may not need to devote much time to achieving group unity.A common goal is to improve the status of the ritual writer and the clergy performing the ritual. Even if this is not your goal it is going to happen. Status will go up or it will go down. A sincere effective ritual competently done is your best protection. How this constant change in status effects the power structure in your group is something worth thinking about. If you want a democratic group where everyone's status is judged by merit, than ritual writing and the clergy roles must be open to everyone. If you want a more restrictive power structure. Than you will have to restrict access to ritual writing and limit who can act as clergy.An uncommon goal is to reduce status. Some members of your group will prove themselves to be very competent at ritual writing and performing clergy roles. If you want a democratic group you will have to insure that they will not write or perform all of the rituals. If you do not than a few years down the road there will be an unwritten rule that these people must perform all of the rituals. If your aim is to reduce status include as many people as possible in performing the ceremony. Have your high status people work on the sidelines or perform parts of the ritual they are weak at. Better yet do'nt include them at all. Accomplishing this is not easy.A common goal is to clarify a belief or practice. To remind the group or at least get them to think about it once a year. There are a lot of tools to accomplish this, plays mysteries and catechisms are all good tools to educate. The nature of the group will limit how much educating can be done in one ritual. Be aware that there are exceptions. For example the Christian church rarely uses mysteries or plays until Christmas comes then they are used extensively. Rites of initiation are common to all most all religions. A ritual of this type should spell out what the group expects from the initiate. The core beliefs of the group and the rules of behavior. A sense of community is very important during a ritual of this type. The ritual should basically remain the same because common experiences build group unity. Groups expect new members to pay dues either before or during the initiation. Examples of this are everywhere: basic training/military service catechism class/Christianity fasting or feats of valor/chivalry pledge week/fraternities and sororities. The nature and severity of the dues may vary but they must be paid. This practice again increases group unity and weeds out those who are not sincere. Rites of Passages are fairly common births, deaths, marriages all have to be acknowledged. rituals of this nature may be done in front of the entire group or at a special time and place with only a part of the group. since these events are very important they should be the rituals primary goal.Training is rarely a goal but it is always happening. If you have new people attending then it is happening. If children are present then you are showing them your ritual. If nothing else your clergy is gaining experience. You should evaluate every ritual you write. Ask people what they thought. Ask them what the highs and lows were. If you are a nice person, the only people who will say anything to you are nice people who want to be nice. That isn't good feedback. Value the people who criticize you for they are the only ones who will make you better. Ask yourself if the criticism is valid. "It Sucked" is not a valid criticism. "It sucked because it rained" is a valid criticism. You may be able to do something about rain in the future or you may not. If there is nothing you can do about the rain do'nt worry about it. Concentrate on improving the things that can be changed.Ritual FaultsMost of us realize that we are not perfect, yet we set high standards for ourselves this section will deal with what can go wrong. You should try to do the best you can and not be to hard on yourself and the people you work with. It is possible to have some major faults and still have a powerful and meaningful ritual.Boredom is a major fault, there is a limited attention span that groups and individuals have . This will vary according to the group and individual. The most common cause of boredom is delays. Some examples are waiting for musical instruments to be tuned, waiting for the ceremonial fire to finally start burning. It may be a case of many small delays. If each person is slow to perform their part and does their part slowly boredom can set in. Devoting to much time to an activity can cause boredom, people can only sing so long. They can only wait for the chalice to be passed so long. Any activity that someone can not participate in will cause boredom. Fore example, if someone can not meditate they will become bored during a guided meditation. If someone can not speak Latin they may become bored during a Latin mass.The cures for boredom are usually simple. Tune the musical instruments and light the fire beforehand. You can do two activities at the same time. Sing a song while the fire is lit, have someone talk while the instruments are tuned. Doing two activities at the same time is a good idea for any activity that will take some time. When there are many small delays it is more difficult to overcome. This is usually caused by a lack of experience which can only be improved with time. Since inexperienced people are usually concerned with when they should do their part prompting them will help things go faster and reassure them. The prompt can be everything from a nod and a wink to announcing, "Now let the --------- prayer be given." This is especially good when you have forgotten who is doing what. If possible use mixture of experienced and inexperienced people. Rehearsals can also help a lot with this problem.If individuals are having difficulty participating in an activity they may need training and that training should be provided. Of course you can not teach everyone Latin but you can use a running translation and incorporate a lot of group responses.Good preparation and foresight are essential prevent boredom. If it happens anyway, humor is your greatest ally. Huffing and puffing while you attempt to light the ceremonial fire is funny! Remember no one can be bored while laughing.Overload is another ritual fault. This happens when an individual or the group is asked to do too much. You can not ask the group to hold a candle in one hand, a sprig of holly in the other, and than pass the chalice around. It is a talented individual who can usher, act as choir director, and also be the priest during the same ceremony. Keep things simple, split the ritual duties up, act out the parts of the ritual to make sure there are enough hands to go around.Look for activities in conflict with each other or the environment, chanting or singing while doing a procession uphill is a good example. Speaking where there is a lot of background noise is another. A ceremonial fire indoors can cause unique problems. Identify these conflicts as you write the ritual and seek ways to overcome them. You may need to change the ritual itself or get a PA system. For a ceremonial fire you will have to disable the fire alarm and do something about smoke.Loss of control is another problem. The clergy can usually handle this, but you should also pay attention to this while writing the ritual. If parts of the ritual are done in two or more different areas of control will become more difficult. Consult with the clergy people about whether they feel they can handle it or not. Splitting the participants up into groups will make it more difficult to coordinate between them. Allowing the group to break up for an Easter egg hunt is a good example. You will have to allow time for the group to reassemble and get organized again.The time of day the ritual is scheduled for dictates special preparations. An evening ceremony will lose the daylight if it runs too long. An evening ritual must be simple to stay within the abilities of the group or some provision for lighting must be provided.Be advised that if the clergy does not show up you might get stuck doing the ritual yourself. If this happens I recommend the K.I.S.S principle (keep it simple, stupid). If you daydream and ride the nightmare while you write your ritual you will eliminate most of these faults, let your clergy do the rest for a successful ritual.-Arnold A. Brooks
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Member-33's picture
(Originally published in Druid's Progress 10)This article deals with sacred space in two ways. The first is the concept of the Center. The other, equally important aspect of space, is the Edges. The concept of the Center is important to ADF ritual. By being at the Center of the Three Worlds, we can travel to any of the Three Worlds, Land, Sea or Sky, or to any other Center. ADF has left the outer boundaries very open, and undefined. By loosely defining the Edges of our sacred space, we are allowing late comers to join into the ritual by just walking in.The CenterIn the July 1990 (V3N2) issue of News from the Mother Grove, Ian Corrigan had an interesting article on physically representing the Gods. He suggested using carvings, which could be placed on poles . The carvings could then be lifted over the alter or sacred fire. Ian mentioned how this was common to all European religions.Ian's images of the Deities is very useful for defining the Center of the sacred space. A similar custom of using carvings existed in the Balkan states with regards to the Center.In the Balkans, the markers that designate the Center, are called zapis (South Slavic). The marker is usually "a holy communal or ancestral tree, usually a linden", into which was carved a cross. The zapis was not the geographical center, but the sacral center. As implied in Eliade and Stoianovich, the zapis connected to the Otherworlds. Sacrifices were offered at the tree. This partially ties in with the Norse concept of Yggdrasill, or World Tree. For ADF, the Sigil or, as Ian mentioned, the carving of a deity, instead of a cross, would be the appropriate decoration. Multiple posts would also be appropriate, one for each deity desired to be represented. In areas where the Grove owns the land, the poles could be left up to permanently define the Center.The EdgeAnother concept important to defining sacred space, is that of the Edges. The early European terms for towns and cities generally have as part of their connotation, that of circle or stakes around the town. To mark the outer boundaries, the Balkan people used wreaths attached or carved to posts. The posts could be found near the side of the roads leading into the village. The markers designating the outer boundaries are known as potka (South Slav), omphalos (Greek), or mundus (Roman). These outer markers, effectively said to pre-literate people:I am the ancestral demon of this community or family. If you are not of my community or family, do not go and do not allow your animals to go beyond the point where I stand because I have the magical power to inflict evil and harm upon those who do not heed the sacred taboo. The community in turn will impose a penalty or fine upon anyone who offends me or disregards my inviolate instructions.(from A Study in Balkan Civilization by Traian Stoianovich,)Non-villagers could pass, but if they meant harm, they would be punished. The potka acted also to "procure abundance and fertility and to ward off alien and evil spirits". Children were shown the markers as part of a religious ceremony every year, on "Summer's Day".ADF could use the potka symbol in a number of ways. A number of people have insisted that they will not worship in a Grove without erecting "wards", or other protective entities such as "Lords of the Watchtowers", totem animals or similar exclusive boundary markers in the four directions. The potka, or similar items can be carried into the Grove area, and then placed at each of the NATURAL entrances. They would not be placed in the four directions, as they are not directional markers, and have no theological relationship to the "Lords of the Watchtowers" or similar directional spirits. If you have one entrance to the Grove, you would have one marker, twenty entrances (for very large spaces) you would have twenty markers. In a permanent working area, the markers would be permanent also.ReferencesAll quotes are from A Study in Balkan Civilization by Traian Stoianovich, published by Alfred Knopf, New York, 1967; especially pages 38 to 45 in the chapter on Earth Culture.Also read The Sacred and Profane by Mircea Eliade, published by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, New York, 1957-Pete Gold
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Earrach's picture
Let's not waste any time. I've worked on this definition , for years so here it is:Equinox: The Spring or Autumn quarter begins as both the North and South poles are momentarily poised on the Earth's 'terminator' the globe's boundary line between night and day. As a consequence, only at these "times of the year are the hours of night and day equal.That's it. The great mystery' at last revealed! It's not the definition you will find anywhere else; yet is correct and I feel it's the best, for a number of reasons.Do you understand it though? I've tried to keep it as simple, extremely brief and to the point as possible but yet still focusing on the nature of the actual physical event, the reason, rather than trying to reach a. definition of it by listing the effects it causes. The cause of the equinox is something which I feel is never really addressed in the definitions you find in popular or technical reference works. You can expect to find whenever you look, over and over, definitions which rely on Spherical Astronomy and it's subjective or 'geocentric' view for describing the workings of the world."equinox: one of the two opposite points at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when the days and nights are equal... " - Encyclopedia Britannica World Language edition of Funk & Wagnal's Standard Dictionary of the Finish Language, 1959"Crosses the celestial equator..."? What we're being told here is that if we were to plot the Sun's apparent position against the background stars on a map of the heavens we would find that on the equinox the sun has progressed to the point: where it is crossing the equator of that map, only then standing precisely half way between the two celestial poles. This is all the conventional explanation has to tell us: the position of the Sun relative to the background starts, if we could see them; but, you know what?.. we can't.Should one really need a working knowledge of the elements of Spherical Astronomy to unlock a simple 'definition' in the dictionary? It seems to me that the choice has always been made for us here and as such, it reflects the arrogance of the academic mind which insists that we must 'learn it the hard way' (i.e., as they did; often they don't understand it well enough themselves to explain it simply, to others...). Although geocentric Spherical Astronomy painstakingly interprets the sky and its motions as seen from an observer's viewpoint on the ground, this seemingly 'persona!' mode of modeling the world was the very culprit behinds Western Culture's hundreds of years of resistance to the simple truths of the solar system which Copernicus finally forced upon us. Although it may be argued that, philosophically, we are at the center of the universe, geometrically we are not. In this neck of the great cosmic woods, there's no doubt whatsoever that the Sun is at the center. Whether it's in Nature or in our personal lives, the subjective viewpoint usually limits our ability to interpret the world accuratelyThe Wondrous AngleEverything 'seasonal' relating to the year: the seasons themselves, the solstices and equinoxes, varying length of the daylight hours, the varying times of sunrise and sunset, the elevation of the Sun at noon, and... other matters, perhaps even the initial development of Life on Earth leading to our very existence... are inextricably linked to one magical and, we shall consider here, sacred thing...the Angle: 23.43493° (hereafter '23.5°)Chances are you may already know that 23.50 is the amount of tilt the Earth's axis maintains as we make our yearly sweep around the Sun. Most folks who remember that much still don't understand the next specifically important fact about the tilt, an extra fact which would lead to a more correct and revealing picture in one's mind... Try adding this to your notion of the Earth as always being slightly 'cock-eyed' as it swings around the Sun:At any given moment, the Earth's axis will always be found to be parallel to any of its previous positions.A minor deviation in the above rule of thumb shows the axis completes only one whole 'wobble' out of parallelness over a period of approximately 26,000 years!
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Ritual and Practice