Skira Ritual

Setting the foundation of house and community.

The Procession

Priestess of Athena: This is the Skira, named after the Skiron, this white canopy. It signals the time for house-building. We are here to build our house, set on the foundation of the values we cherish. We process now to the realm of Demeter, so we may be blessed with her bounty. In the sight of the gods, let us begin!

Leading the procession is the canopy held over the three presiding clergy. Immediately behind them come the lead bards, followed by the Archdruid and the leaders of the various tribes. Following them are the athletes and warriors not participating in the race. Behind them are those who dug the offering chasm and those making the offerings. Then the choir, and behind them goes everyone else. Drummers will be evenly distributed throughout the line, in pairs. At the beginning only the lead drummers will drum. After the procession has advanced twenty feet or so the next pair of drummers will begin, and so on. The drumming will start out relatively softly and will build as we advance to the site. On arrival at the site the canopy will be set in the middle, while the bards will process once around, forming the circle.

Priestess of Athena:

We build our house on the well-founded earth. We honor Gaea, mother of all, oldest of all, who nourishes upon the earth all that is.

 

Choir sings Earth Mother Hymn

Priest of Apollo:

The sun is the source of all life. Fire is the spark of life. It burns within each of us. It is time now to kindle the hearth. When we do so, a new life will emerge, for the hearth is the life-spark of a new organism -- the heart of our community. Let our heart-fire burn with the intensity of spirit of the athletes who bring it forth. Let the race begin!

 

Drummers will start drumming to signal the beginning of the race. When each torch bearer arrives, he shall put his flame into the fire pit, but not kindle the wood. When all arrive they shall together kindle the fire. Drummers will build up intensity and speed during race, climaxing with lighting the fire.

Priests: Theesthe ta hudata biou!

All: Behold the sacred fire!

Priest of Poseidon: While the hearth is our heart-fire, the water of life is the blood that runs through our veins, and the semen that brings forth new life. Poseidon blessed us by striking the earth and bringing forth a spring. In the same act he symbolically mates with Demeter -- the sacred ploughing from which the fertility of the Mother flows forth. Poseidon, bless us with the fertility, inspiration and wisdom of the waters of life!

He goes to a spot outside the circle and strikes the earth with his trident. Someone hiding in the grass near him shakes a bottle of seltzer while the Priest of Poseidon is speaking. When the ground is struck, s/he opens the bottle and aims the spray towards the circle, with the well basin below to catch the drippings.

Priests:Theesthe ta hudata biou!

All:Behold the waters of life!

Priestess of Athena: The heart-fire of our household burns, and the waters of life course through our veins. Poseidon blesses us with the spring, but Athena won Athens with her gift of the olive tree. The tree grants us shelter, food and fuel. Most importantly, it is the tree whose roots reach down to the realms below and whose branches touch the sky, the place of the Olympians. It is the tree which connects our household to the ancestors, the nature spirits and the gods.

Priestess of Athena plants a sapling between the fire and the well.

Priests: Theesthe ta hudata biou!

All: Behold the sacred tree!

The Community

Now see in your mind's eye the tree of our household growing, stretching its roots to drink the waters of life, unfolding its branches so its leaves can take in the life-spark from the sacred fire. Our household is now connected to the realms of the ancestors, nature spirits and gods. Now it is time to people our household, to transform ourselves from a group of individuals to a community.

Relax, take a deep breath and slowly let it out. Feel your cares slip from your body as you exhale. Tighten the muscles in your feet and ankles, and then release. Feel the tension slip into the earth. Continue to breathe deeply as you relax the rest of your body. Tighten your calves, knees and thighs. And release. Now tighten your buttocks and groin. And release. Feel the tension flow away. Now tighten your abdomen and lower back. Exhale and release. Now your chest. And release. Tighten your hands into a fist. Hold the tension, then release. Now your lower arms. And release. Now your upper arms and shoulders. And release. Tighten the muscles in your neck and jaw. Hold, and release. Now your face. Exhale and release. Breathe deeply. You are feeling very relaxed and heavy.

You feel your feet sinking into the earth, turning into roots. Feel those roots sink deeper and deeper into the earth, until they come to the cool river flowing in the depths. Draw in the cool transformative power of the waters of life. Feel them as they tingle up into your feet and legs. As they tingle up the base of your spine, feel your legs and body becoming the trunk of a tree. As that cool energy tingles to your shoulders, your arms become branches reaching to the sky. You sprout leaves. Feel the sun as it warms your leaves. Feel the sacred fire enter you and flow down your branches, and let the warmth of the fire mingle with the coolness of the waters. You reach towards the sun and the earth, supported by both.

You are not alone. Beside you is another tree, and beside that tree yet another. Together we are a grove, standing together we are strong, sheltering our house from all that would buffet against it. Reach your branches out so they touch those of the trees beside you, so we all intertwine.

FM:The fire, the well and the sacred tree

All: Flame, and flow, and grow in me.

FM: In land, sea and sky

All:Below and on high

FM: Thus is our sacred household claimed and hallowed. Houtos hexoi!

All:So be it!

All chant World Tree Grove Unity Chant.

Priestess of Athena: Our household is born. But to be sure that it thrives, we need to set it firmly on the strong foundations of our values in the sight of our gods, our ancestors and the nature spirits. But first, to avoid corruption within our house we must make an offering to those outside our house, so as not to incur their enmity.

All warriors shall position themselves around the boundary of the site, with their weapons clearly visible.

Head of the Warriors: Titans, you who stood before the gods, and then against them, we recognize and respect your brute strength and make you offerings. Eris, spirit of discord we recognize and respect your power to destroy what does not stand firm, and make you offerings. And to all others for whom the only law is might makes right, or who respect cunning more than justice, we respect your powers, and make you offerings, that you trouble us not. Accept this offering

All warriors: This line you shall not cross.

Priest of Apollo: It is now time to invite our kindred spirits. First we call upon Apollo, god of music and poetry, to bless us with his silver tongue, so our words will flow like honey from our lips, and the touch of the Muses will swell our song.

The glorious son of Leto goes to steep Pytho, playing his hollow lyre, wearing divine and perfumed clothes. And his lyre makes a lovely sound with its gold pick. And then, like a thought, he goes to Olympos from earth, to the house of Zeus where the other gods are gathered. And suddenly the gods are only concerned with the lyre and song, and all together the Muses sing the divine gifts of the gods, each one answering the other with a beautiful voice.

Apollon timomen se. Isthi para hemin. Apollo, we honor you; be with us today and always!

Priest of Poseidon: Now it is time to welcome the nymphs, dryads, satyrs, maenads, naiads, okeanides, and other daimons of nature. We invite you to our home, and make offerings to you, that you may bless our house with your fertility of spirit and your good will towards us. Lambanete kai hedesthe anathemata hemon!

He makes offerings to the nature spirits.

Priests: Theesthe ta hudata biou!

All: Behold the waters of life!

All sing Fur and Feather.

Winner of the race: We whose arete shines today thank our ancestors, whose day of shining glory has past. Without you we would not be. Accept our offerings, and bless our household with your protection.

He makes offerings to the ancestors.

Priests: Theesthe ta hudata biou!

All: Behold the waters of life!

All sing Mothers and Fathers of Old.

Priestess of Athena:We now invite the gods and goddesses to join us. We will make you offerings, so that you may bestow upon our house your many gifts. Paresmen timhsonta tas qeas kai tous qeous!

She puts oil on the fire for the gods.

All sing Hail all the Gods.

Priests: Theesthe ta hudata biou!

All:Behold the waters of life!

Priestess of Athena: We have gathered here this weekend to focus ourselves on the values upon which our house is based. Our house stands upon Gaea, the well-founded earth. We are situated in the realm of Demeter, the goddess of the grain and the bounty of the harvest. In the center of the house is the hearth, tended by Hestia who cares for the household and keeps our heart-fire burning. Within the boundaries of our house shall rule the laws given to us by the gods, and passed down to us by our ancestors. Feel the nature spirits around us, and their fertility of spirit. See the ancestors as they come up from Hades. Watch as the heroes of old come again to protect the values they once fought and died for. And feel the presence of the gods, and their mantles of excellence. Merciful Zeus, faithful Hera, powerful Poseidon, nurturing Demeter, just Hades, kind Hestia, wise and clever Hermes, honorable Athena, courageous Ares, beautiful Aphrodite, skillful Hephaestus, independent Artemis, moderate Apollo, and transformative Dionysus.

It is time now to make offerings to the kindreds, that they may bless our house. In days of old, they celebrated the Skira with a sacred ploughing, to make fertile Demeter. Then the women would throw piglets into the chasm as their sacrifice. When Persephone went down to Hades, a swineherd lost his pigs into the chasm. The piglets are thus an offering to Persephone. When they go down to Hades, though they lost their present life, they were transformed so they could be reborn. So too do our sacrifices go down to Hades. We thus can sacrifice attitudes, behaviors, prejudices, etc. which keep us from excellence, and those offerings will be transformed, and live again as the strengths and virtues we seek.

Those sacrificing clay/dough piglets shall go to the offering chasm, and one at a time throw their piglets in, announcing their sacrifice.

In addition to sacrifice, we would like to offer praise to the gods.

(If Priest of Apollo has praise offering, it goes here.)

Choir sings a Hymn to Poseidon.

Priestess of Athena chants a Homeric Hymn to Athena.

Any other praise offerings.

Choir sings Let us Adore the Everliving Gods.

Priestess of Athena: Our praise goes up to you on the wings of owls, our voices on the wind. Here us now Apollo, Poseidon, Athena, and all the rest, as we offer you this sacrifice. Accept it and open our hearts to your blessings. Houtos hexoi!

Diviner reads omen as all chant Come Druids All.

Diviner announces omen and leads folk in meditation on household and personal needs.

Priestess of Athena: Athena, Poseidon, Apollo, Demeter, Dionysus, Hades, Hestia, Zeus, Hera, Hermes, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Ares, we call upon you all to bless the pentaploa, the five-fold fruits: wine, olives, olive oil, cheese, and grain, that we may partake of your blessings. Traditionally, the first to partake is the victor in the race. May he come forth!

After the victor of the race partakes, they are passed around.

All sing Share the Waters.

Priestess of Athena: The gods have blessed us. With joy in our hearts, let us return to the realm of mortals to do both their will and ours. Every time we invoke them, they become stronger and more alert to the needs of the folk . But now comes the time when we must prepare to depart. So let us give thanks to those whom we have invited here.

Athena, charin echomen soi.

All: We thank you

Priest of Poseidon: Poseidon, charin echomen soi..

All: We thank you

Priest of Apollo: Apollwn, charin echomen soi.

All: We thank you

Priests together: Panes theon charin echomen humin.

All:All the gods and goddesses, we thank you.

Priests:together: Meteres kai pateres, charin echomen humin.

All: Mothers and fathers, we thank you.

Priests: together: Nymphai, Satyroi, charin echomen humin.

All: Nymphs and satyrs, we thank you.

Priestess of Athena: We have done as our ancestors did and as our children will do and the Gods have answered!

The folk are led in a meditation of regrounding, recentering, unmerging and draining of excess power.

Priestess of Athena: Let us go out into the world secure in the knowledge that our sacrifices have pleased the gods and that we go forth under their protection. The ritual is at a close.

Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, Inc.

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