Turning the Corner

•March 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve posted my admission of “History of Paganism and Druidry” to keep an online copy in case I need to find it again if I have a computer hard-drive catastrophe like I had two years ago.  I am not, however, continuing with the course, in fact I believe I am going to step away from ADF all together.

There are some issues that bother me, but I feel it’s extremely inappropriate for me or anyone to get on a public soapbox and have any comments made taken out of context or misconstrued into a warped meaning of the original intent and I do strongly believe that ADF is an important organization.  It is not, however, the right organization for me for the same reasons that other organized religions bother me.

Some folks are of the make-up that religious community is very important to them, and sharing their thoughts and building a group of like-mindedness is good for their need for spiritual fellowship, and that’s where blogs can be a wonderful thing.   It is not, however how I am built.  I am going to continue studying along my spiritual paths, but I really have no egotistical inclinations to inflict my blatherings on other folks, because that’s what they’d be since I am not of the cloth that needs that fellowship.

I wish you good health, good spiritual fellowship, and peace.






History of Neo-Paganism and Druidry

•March 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

1. Define Paleopaganism, Mesopaganism, and Neopaganism, giving examples of each. (minimum 100 words for each)

Paleopagans were the oldest followers of the old Gods, for our purposes specifically, that of the Indo-European world.  The term “Paleopagans” does however include the entire gamut of the original polytheistic religions of not only Europe but also of Africa, Asia and the Americas and technically this also includes Hinduism, Taoism and Shinto (Bonewits, Defining Paganism: Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo- (Version 2.5.1)).  These were the “first” Pagans.  Under this definition it may be assumed that Paleopagans are not necessarily extinct but that there are modern day Paleopagans following those Eastern philosophies (i.e. Taoists) still today.  Isaac Bonewits defines Celtic Paleopagans as the first Celtic people living in central Europe around 750-500 BCE during the first phase, and then lists a second phase he calls “La Tene” after a lake in Switzerland around 500 BCE to 50 CE (Bonewits 41).

Mesopaganism (term coined by Isaac Bonewits) refers to the revival movement of Paganism (and those that continue today following this vein of Paganism) that attempted (or continues to attempt) in recreating Paleopaganism fueled by a spectrum of motives and methods ranging from the well meaning and honest desire to rediscover and restore the “ancient ways,” to in a few cases, unsavory manipulations.  These were founded on assorted combinations of scanty archeology and unclear historical facts, romanticism and romanticized fiction, unproven “family traditions” and in some cases downright forgeries.  This “flavor” of Paganism was and in many cases still is heavily influenced by dualistic, monotheistic and non-theistic religions (Bonewits, Defining Paganism: Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo- (Version 2.5.1)) as well as the “high magic” or ceremonial traditions. These Mesopaganism traditions include the aforementioned “family traditions” as well as but not limited to:  Hermeticism, Golden Dawn, Rosecrucian, Gardnerians, Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (which in ways can be also classified as Neopaganism), the RDNA (Reformed Druids of North America), Mahayana Buddhism and Freemasonry. It cannot be assumed that any or all of these varieties of Mesopaganism are worthless in building current traditions, however, simply because they are not necessarily based on hard facts.  Paleopaganism was not founded on factual evidence either and unverified personal gnosis goes a long way in any spiritual path.

Neopaganism (coined in the ’60’s and ’70’s by Oberon Zell) refers to the movement starting around 1960 CE which also came about as an attempt to recreated and revive Paleopaganism but blended modern aspects and in some cases political agendas such as fighting for changes in the treatment of the environment and equality in genders and sexual orientation while making an effort to weed out the influence of dualism and monotheistic ideals. This included bringing back the practice of acknowledging a multitude of gods.  ADF Druidry falls into this category (Bonewits, Defining Paganism: Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo- (Version 2.5.1)).

Not all modern groups practicing Paganism today can fall strictly into only one of the above classifications as they are not truly clear-cut, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) being a classic example.


2.   Name and describe several of the literary sources that contributed to Neopaganism in the first quarter of the 20th century, and discuss their impact on its development. (minimum 300 words)

The first and foremost I believe to be The Golden Bough and was first published in 1890 as a two volume set and then later in 1906-1915 in twelve volumes.  It can be currently found in a hefty paperback abridged version.  This book was penned by Sir James George Frazer, a Scottish anthropologist, and is said to have influenced Margaret Murray, whom I will discuss in a moment.  The Golden Bough is written in promotion of the idea that the ancient Pagan religions were founded on fertility worship and supported this thesis using mythologies that revolved around the idea of the cyclical worship and sacrifice of the sacred king.  This book became a catalyst that spawned a romanticized “revival” of goddess and fertility groups which bred much of the later Wiccan movement.

Margaret Murray was an anthropologist and Egyptologist who was known to be influenced by Frazer’s work.  Though she is known primarily for her Egyptology, she is known for several bodies of her written work supporting the “Witch-cult Hypothesis” which was started by other authors such as Karl Ernst Jarcke and Jules Michelet with her own “The Witch-Cult in Western Europe” which was first published in 1921 and is still in print.  Based on her scientific background as an anthropologist and Egyptologist, her work was generally believed to be accurate, became quite popular and came to inspire the founding of small modern (modern as of the 1940’s) covens and is said to have inspired Gerald Gardner who is generally thought of as the father and founder of Wicca.  Though Murray’s work in regard to witchcraft and Paganism has been criticized heavily to the point of making it more of a fiction than a book of factual study, the influence it spawned cannot be discounted.  Any Neopagan groups that hold to the year’s 8 sabbats and monthly lunar esbats can look back to Murray’s work.

This brings us to Gerald Gardner, an amateur anthropologist and archeologist who developed Gardnerian Wicca and initiated others who would go onto notoriety such as Patricia Crowther and Doreen Valiente and Sybil Leek. He was also later associated with Aleister Crowley.  Gerald Gardner claimed to have met practicing witches in the 1930’s and supported the witch-cult hypothesis of the ’20s and ’30’s.   His “Witchcraft Today” was first printed in 1954 and his “The Meaning of Witchcraft” in 1959.  While his work was not that of the first quarter of the 20th century as is required of this question posed for this course, I think it’s important to mention as a line can be drawn from Frazer to Murray to Gardner who then spawned a plethora of Wiccan branches.

Another important literary source that cannot be missed is “The White Goddess” by Robert Graves which being first published in 1948, which again, does not qualify as falling in the first quarter of the 20th century as is asked for in answering this course’s question, but it is an important literary source in the development of Neopaganism for its inspiration factor with its poetry in goddess worship.

One more book that actually does qualify as coming from the first quarter of the 20th century would be “Aradia” (aka “Gospel of the Witches”) by Charles Godfrey Leland in 1899.  Aradia is a book that Leland wrote as a translation of what he believed was a tale of Diana, Queen of the witches who bore a child sired by Lucifer.  Diana named the daughter Aradia and the child’s purpose in life was to teach the oppressed peasants how to use witchcraft to battle against their oppressor, the Catholic Church.  He claims the story was brought to him by a woman named Maddalena who claimed she was a descendant from a witch family (Adler 54-55).  In the story, when Aradia is born and descends to Earth, she becomes the first witch. The historian, Ronald Hutton challenges the authenticity of Leland’s sources.  Regardless, this book became important to Neopaganism, particularly in Wiccan sects that came to use Aradia’s name as their Moon Goddess.  Leland’s book is said to have influenced Gerald Gardner (particularly his Charge of the Goddess in his book “Gardnerian Book of Shadows”) as well as influencing Alex Sanders, the Farrar’s, and Z. Budapest (Nachete93).

The most important book to me personally, however, that took me on a side-trip away from Wicca and the Goddess Worship strains of Neopaganism is a book I found in 1984 titled “The Druids” written by Stuart Piggott and published in 1968.  This is well beyond the timeline of the question presented but influenced me personally nonetheless as it was the first book that made me examine the previous books I’d read in a different light and I started mentally categorizing them as to what could be called romanticized poetry or conjecture opposed to what could possibly be supported by archeological facts.



3. Describe several examples of authentic folk customs absorbed into Neopaganism, and describe how they have been adapted. (minimum 300 words)

This is a tricky question because one has to decide how far back a custom must be a practiced tradition before it can be called authentic.  The first legal reference to the Maypole may be in 1583 when a puritan named Phillip Stubbs wrote negatively about them in his “The Anatomy of Abuses”[1] (Stubbes).  The Maypoles had been banned as heathen totems at the time period of Stubb’s writings, and he speaks of it again in part II, Chapter 1 in “The Maner of Maie-Games in England” where he says “Folks spend the night in the woods, draw the Maypole home with oxen, and dance around it” (Archives).  They are phallic representations of fertilizing Mother Earth around Beltaine. 

Clootie trees and wells are associated with Scotland and Ireland where strips of cloth are tied to branches of the trees and prayers and offerings are made to the wells which may be a continuation of a Celtic custom of leaving offerings at wells and pits. Piggott points to a the tradition of depositing offerings into wells and pits dating into the second and third century BC, finding nearly two thousand objects at a sites such as La Tene, Lake Neuchatel and Llyn Cerrig Bach in Anglesey (Piggott 83).

That bonfires are a part of pagan past celebrations that have been revived or adopted into Neopagan times is quite common and one would have to be blind to not trip over the multitude of references towards the bonfires and their meanings.  For Beltane the fires are specifically for purification as Bonewits states, “…to the ancient Celts, as with all the Indo-European Paleopagans, fire was a physical symbol of divination, holiness, truth and beauty…Whether in Ireland or India, among the Germans or the Hittites, sacred fires were apparently kindled on every important religious occasion” and it still is to this day (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 182).

Another lovely tradition is the corn dollies made of straw and has been a part of European custom since before Christianity.  They can be found in Prussia where they are called Old Woman” and were said to also be found in 7th century Germany.  They were made of straw, wheat, barley, rush leaves and in the south of France area they were made of palm leaves. Though commonly in modern paganism they are mostly associated with Brigid and Imbolc where a corn dolly is made, dressed with ribbons and decorations is laid in a little bed made for it.


4.  Of the following names, identify and explain the importance each has had in Neopagan history and/or the magical revival (minimum 100 words for each):

1.         Gerald Gardner: (1884-1964) Gardner was an anthropologist, archeologist, nudist and writer, he is most importantly known to Neopaganism as the Father of Wicca, founding Gardnerian Wicca and he influenced the likes of Valiente, Crowther and Aleister Crowley.  He wrote Witchcraft Today in 1954 and The Meaning of Witchcraft in 1959. He claimed to have been initiated into The Craft by a wealthy woman named “Old Dorothy” Clutterbuck who may (if she actually ever existed) or may not have actually been a teacher named Edith Woodford-Grimes (aka Dafo), who actually did exist and was a friend (and/or secret lover) of Gardner for a great many years. He coined the phrase “cone of power” and later he joined the Ordo Templi Orientis with Crowley and ran a museum dedicated to magic and witchcraft (Midnightblueowl) (Adler 58-61).

2.         Robert Graves: (1895-1985) Graves was an English poet producing over 140 works, a writer and translator, he is best known of importance to Neopaganism for his “The White Goddess” published in 1948 in which depicts a “White Goddess of Birth, Love and Death” (LaaknorBot) and he is said to have inspired Gerald Gardner along with a great many others interested in Goddess worship, and thus, was important to invention and evolution of Wicca. His more commercially successful writings include King Jesus, and The Golden Fleece, as well as two works, I, Claudius and Claudius the God of which he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Something new that I learned in researching Graves is that in 1927 he wrote Lawrence of the Arabs which was a very successful biography of Thomas Edward Lawrence, a story of which in 1962 was filmed as Lawrence of Arabia staring Peter O’Toole (Ebrambot) (Bovineboy2008).

3.         Dion Fortune: (1890-1946) Fortune was born Violet Mary Firth Evans but was better known as Dion Fortune, a name taken from her family’s motto of “Deo, non fortuna” meaning “by God, not Faith.) She was a writer of fiction tales such as Sea Priestess, The Secrets of Dr. Taverner, and Moon Magic as well as non-fiction titles such as The Mystical Qabalah, Applied Magic, and Psychic Self-Defense, all of which were seeped in the occult.  Dion Fortune is said to have inspired Marion Zimmer Bradley with the writing of Bradley’s book, Mists of Avalon which in itself inspired a great many more to Neopaganism.  She is also credited with organizing a meditation group that attempted to fight for Britain during the 2nd World War which is documented in letters to students and was later published as Dion Fortune’s Magical Battle of Britain (Cydebot).

4.         Oberon Zell: (1942-   ) One of the more colorful characters in Pagan history, Oberon was born Timothy Zell in St. Louis Missouri and has gone by several names including Otter G’Zell and currently as Oberon Zell-Ravenheart.  He describes himself as a wizard and Headmaster of the Grey School of Wizardry.  He is one of the founders of the Church of All Worlds, a Neopagan religious order inspired by a fictional church of the same name written in Robert A. Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” (Adler 300-334). Rather than looking to the past, the CAW focuses on science fiction, fiction of the future.  Another of Zell’s accomplishments, one of which is particularly important in Neopagan history is that he is the publisher of the Green Egg Magazine, which in its apex was an extremely important publication for networking Pagans before the rise of the internet.  He has authored a great many books and of his artistic sculptures, I’d predict that his Gaia is the most well known, and is quite lovely indeed (Zell-Ravenheart) (Rosencomet) (Adler 300-301).

5.         Starhawk (1951 –    ) Born Miriam Simos, she has penned eleven books including Neopagan works as well as science fiction.  The most well known of her books is “The Spiral Dance” and this book along with many of her others has had a huge influence on Goddess worshippers.   Her writings have been translated in many languages across the world (Starhawk).  She was involved in politics and as of Drawing Down the Moon’s 2006 publication, Starhawk had been arrested more than twenty times in her protests.  She has been listed as a leader in teaching ritual and leadership skills to covens across the United States and Europe (Adler 406-407).  Besides her influence to Wicca, spiritual feminism and the Goddess movement, she is one among the numbers who have joined the service of Pagan Clergy, where rather than taking on the roll of Priest/ess leading at small Coven rites, there is a now a growing emergence of Clergy and congregation, with the Clergy serving a bigger role than leading those High Day rites but in also serving in community building and as members of larger organizations than small covens (Adler 450).

6.         Isaac Bonewits:  (1949-2010) Phillip Emmons Isaac Bonewits was a prominent Neopagan and influential force in the Neopagan and Druidry movement, publishing several books, one of which really stuck a chord with me, “Real Magic.” He was the first and only person to graduate from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Magic, the only kind of degree in Magic ever from any accredited university.  He coined phrases such as Paleopagansim, Mesopagansim, and wrote the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (ABCDEF) which is still in use with some governments (Saretto).

He founded Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship in 1984 and ADF was incorporated in 1990 as a U.S. 501©3 non-profit organization.  He was loved in some circles and hated in others, particularly because of his debunking Neopagan groups professing to claims of traditions passed down unbroken from Paleopagan times.  While he pointed out nothing ill of the “traditions” themselves, it was their claims of restoring a secretly surviving craft of a universal “Old Religion” and their lack of historical proof that he spoke out against as he set forth in trying to establish legitimacy in Neopaganism founded in facts rather than romanticized fantasy.   He argued that there was never such a thing as the “Unitarian Old Religion of White Witches,” as he called it (Adler 65) and that while he conceded that there may have been some richer families (the rich don’t get persecuted as often) that may have retained some of their old traditions, there was actually no proof of any secret organized religious movement keeping the “old religion” alive in the Middle Ages (Adler 67).

This argument to establish proof and base tenets  on more concrete facts rather than fantasy was an important step, I believe, in moving Neopagan spirituality/religions towards a more widely accepted  ligitmacy into the mainstream.   A foundation based on fantasy is easily scoffed at and dismissed.  A foundation based in honesty in regard to their creation has more solid legs to stand on, and for me personally, Bonewits’ humor and spiritual outlook founded on his demand to ground one’s variety of esoteric beliefs found in Neopaganism in an envelope of public honesty towards their backgrounds and history rather than cloak it in secrecy and fabrications, is the very reason I looked to ADF as my own choice in religion.

7.         Ross Nichols: (1902-1875) Nichols was the founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) in 1964 and was a chairman of the Ancient Druid Order (ADO) which by some accounts claims a lineage tracing back to 1717 (see question 9 below.)  Ross was a friend of the aforementioned Gerald Gardner and while Gardner was putting breath to Wicca, Ross was stirring interest in Celtic spirituality, Druidry in particular (Yobot).  OBOD embraced teaching their members through a mail order course which now employs not only written material but offers the each course on DVD format.  This mail order method made it possible for members to participate in the program at long distances and has since survived its founder (led now by Phillip Carr-Gomm) and is believed to be the largest Neodruid organization in the world with an estimated 8,000 members (The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, FAQ page).

8.         MacGregor Mathers: (1854-1918) Born Samuel Liddell Mathers, he was one of the three founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (Cathbhadh).  More simply called “The Golden Dawn,” (not to be confused with a newer incarnation of the now defunct original order that currently also goes by “The Golden Dawn”) and in some circles called the “Holy Order of the Golden Dawn” (Alder 80).  The order was quite a large magical order in Great Britain in the late 19th century to early 20th century and though none of the temples of this original order continue today, there are several organizations that have revived the teachings including the Rosecrucian Order of the Golden Dawn (ROGD) and the aforementioned newer descendent of the order, Order of the Golden Dawn. The original order had a large influence on Western occultism combining traditions of Thelema and Wicca with High Ceremonial Magick, with an initiation process akin to Freemasonry’s Lodges.  Mathers was, in fact, once a member of a Freemason Lodge which is where likely borrowed his ideas from .  Of the three founders of the HOGD (the others being William Woodman and William Westcott),  Mathers became more well known due to his translations of books such as “The Key of Solomon”, “The Lesser Key of Solomon” and “The Kabbalah Unveiled.” He was also, notably, an enemy of Aleister Crowley, another heavy hitter in the history of magical revivals.


5. Compare and contrast your understanding of three various forms of Neopaganism, such as Wicca, Asatru, eclectic Neopaganism, shamanism, and discordianism. (minimum 300 words):

All of these forms fall under the umbrella of Neopaganism that they do not embrace the dualistic religious philosophy of good versus evil and they are all a type of reconstructionism except perhaps for Discordianism.

Wicca is rooted in the worship of God and Goddess, the sexual duality of male and female in divinity, and quite often the Goddess is depicted in one of three aspects, Maiden, Mother or Crone.  They hold the 8 High Days common to Neopagans, with rites that involve drawing a circle either to keep out evil influences or to contain a cone of power that is built up within the circle.  They connect many aspects such as directional points with colors and elements (blue, green, red and yellow with water, earth, fire and air) and often include invoking the Watchtowers in their invocations.

Asatru is based in a Germanic hearth culture, also called Norse Heathenism and has grown a great deal in popularity since the 1970’s.  Asatru is polytheistic with a basis in existing historical records such as the Norse Eddas with deities such as Odin, Thor and Frigga who fall into one of three categories, the Aesir, the Vanir and the Jotnar.  Modern Asatru followers point to the Hávamál for a list of Nine Virtues, those of Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance and Perserverance.  Their religious celebrations fall closely in line with modern Pagan holidays (i.e. Valpurgis falls on April 30th rather than celebrating the Wicca Beltane of May 1st) and they call these holidays “blots.”  These celebrations do not involve the ritual drawing of a circle, though an area is sanctified, mead (or drink) is hallowed, a blessing is performed and there is a sharing of the hallowed drink, and an offering is made to the deities. This falls more in line with the ADF style of rituals than Wicca.

Eclectic Neopaganism is an umbrella term for Neopaganists who combine the best elements (for them) of a variety of NeoPagan systems to one that works individually for their personal spiritual practice.  This may combine Wicca, Asatru, High Magic and Kitchen Witchery among the mix.  In my search for finding a defined path that worked for me, this is precisely where my own spiritual practice fell and the path I raised my children in, taking pieces of philosophies and different traditions and combining them into a system that worked well for teaching my children a variety of Pagan workings, neo-traditions and beliefs.  Before the internet, when Neopagans found themselves far apart and communication wasn’t instant as in today’s times, many found themselves solitary, without teachers, and it’s estimated that a great majority of NeoPagans in North America were of the self taught, Eclectic variety, combining pieces of paths from whatever they could get their hands on and minds into.

Shamanism: Shamanism is quite often mis-defined and attributed to either the North American tribal “medicine man” or African “witch doctor” but in truth the reality is the Shaman comes historically from the Tungusic cultures of ancient Siberia.  They played an important part of belief systems of ancient Turkic, Hungarian and Bulgar people.  Magic practitioners in other parts of the world with similar practices are often called Shamans, but the earliest archaeological evidence shows shamans in what is now the Czech Republic in the Upper Paleolithic era.  Shamans of the past and modern Shamans of today, regardless of location across the globe, play the role of healers by entering into the spirit world.  Ecstatic trance is often involved, and the Shaman traveled the Axis Mundi to get there.  Their spirit guides are said to be always present within the shaman and enables the Shaman to enter the spiritual dimension where they do their healing work. They also act as mediators between the living community of this world to the community of the spirit world, and they preserve traditions by telling stories and songs and leading sacrificial rites.

Discordiansim: This is the one I actually had to look up for information as I’ve rarely heard this term in the 30 years I’ve been practicing Paganism beyond reading about it in “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler.  Discordianism is a religion that believes that chaos is all there is.  There is no balance or war between disorder and order, it’s just Chaos, Chaos is all.  Discordians follow the diety Eris (Greek) or Discordia (Latin).  Adler calls these “Erisians” a “Neo-Pagan phenomenon that will never become too serious: the Erisian movement and groups connected with it have been engaging in absurdist and surrealist activities for many years” (Adler 343) and that one of their mottoes is “We Discordians Shall Stick Apart” (Adler 347). .  She goes on to state that the Discordian Society was founded in 1957-58, and that there was an Erisian notice in the Green Egg publication that stated that “the Erisian path generally appealed to those who have ‘an affinity toward taoisim, anarchy and clowning around…'” She believes that Discordianism is a “satire on human intelligence and is based on the idea that whatever your map of reality, it’s ninety percent your own creation” (Adler 349).

6. Discuss the origins and practices of hermetic or ceremonial magic, and how they have influenced Neopaganism. (minimum 300 words):

Hermetic/Ceremonial or High Magick (that is magic spelled with a K at the end per Aleister Crowley) are the labels to the description of intricate, lengthy and detailed ritual theater enacted by occultists that incorporates many movements, symbols and elements where metaphysics combine with spirituality. It became popular in the19th century which influenced the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn I’d talked about previously while pointing out MacGregor Mathers as an important name of influence to the NeoPagan movement that would follow.  Where spirituality once came in the form of influence of religion and the deities, Ceremonial Magic on the other hand brought in the “science” of attributes that could be found in the astronomic geometry of astrology, the science of chemistry with the influence of alchemy and herbology, the science of varying physical composition of stones and gems attributing to the varying magical attributes that could be assigned to those gems.

This all occurred in an era where science was gaining over religion in the measurement of what made man a civilized creature.  Rationality and reason became popular with the human sciences of Freud and Jung, the study of the mind and “altered states” that were studied as well as the paranormal investigations of Oliver Lodge  and Frederic Myer’s “Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death.”

Society quit looking at “how to go to heaven” but instead looked to “how the heavens go” and all this science flavored High Magick in the 19th century which in turn affected Neopaganism as it began its infant stirrings in the so-called modernity of the times.  Spirituality combined with science became popular with the society clubs that sprung up across England in those times, and they came forth with a mix of heraldry to old mythologies combined with these new magical “sciences” of the 19th century’s High Magicians, incorporating these things such as astrology, elemental assignments and the power of gems and herbs, numerology and the “science” of studying the bumps on one’s head (phrenology) combined into the physical acts of ritual, the practices of spiritual works and traditions of country folk and their healers, along with the romanticized pageantry of the medieval days of knights and wizards (and forgetting the medieval horrors of poverty, disease and mistreatment of the poor) congealed into what would become the foundation of modern day Neopagansim today.


7. Discuss the influence of the Pagan festival movement, and how the festivals changed Paganism in the 1980s. (minimum 100 words)

This question and the one that follows are connected, as they both touch on the importance of communication and the power of numbers.  Communication pre-internet was slow, Neopagans were separated by distances, and most practiced their religion privately and because they kept their religion closeted, they wore very little in the way of identifying themselves as Neopagans in the form of jewelry or clothing (where in contrast, any Christian could identify another with wearing a cross, a Jew by wearing a Star of David) so finding each other was difficult.  When the Pagan Festivals started in the 1980’s, suddenly people were able to find each other, come out of their closets and began the slow process of opening up about their beliefs with others.  They discovered that they were not alone, that there were others out there sharing in their beliefs with enough people to carry out successful attendance to these festivals.  Strength and confidence came with those growing numbers, and more people were able to come out of their closets and declare their Neopagan beliefs. In attending these festivals, the movement grew, the numbers grew, and more people became more confident to stand out of their closets and declare who they really were, what they really believed in, with the emotional security that they were no longer alone.

8. Discuss the influence of the Internet, and how it has changed Paganism in the 1990s (minimum 100 words)

The internet caused an explosion of information in every aspect, including Neopaganism.  Communication and organization of those festivals came quicker and more efficient.  More people had access to larger vaults of digital information on Paganism, and more pagans found other pagans to join together with in common ideology.  Mail-order courses in pagan schools became online courses.  The growth of available information saw with it a growth of Neopagan followers as they were more readily able to explore the variety of paths, the many opportunities to find spiritual learning and the camaraderie of others through Pagan forums, Pagan chat rooms, Pagan dating sites, and online shopping to find those books on Neopaganism and online places to purchase deity statues of whatever pantheon the creative pagans could sculpt.

I think most importantly however, is the effect of “exposure.”  Not only are Neopagans exposed to others, but non pagans are as well are exposed to the Pagans, and with consistent and continual exposure, eventually a society comes to accept that something is not just going to go away if they close their eyes.  Furthermore, this accelerated exposure of Paganism to non paganists can act towards dissolving unwarranted fears of the unknown.  More people are seeing other choices than their great grandmother’s religion, and more people are seeing there are other religions that are moving into the mainstream and that perhaps it’s time to learn to coexist.

I have to be honest here, a little something about the internet…were it not for the internet I’d have been unable to answer question eleven of this course with the required 600 words, because all I could find with the reference material that I could actually get my hands on in the recommended reading list in the way of branches coming away and from the ADF is the Henge of Keltria.  But behold the wonders of the internet…I “googled” and “Binged” myself bloodshot until I “googled” Isaac Bonewits and Carleton (where the RDNA started) together and found http://orgs.carleton.edu/Druids/ARDA/.   I think I’d really like to print and bind the full copy of the set of documents on that site because it’s a pretty darn good read.  This is but one example of its effect on paganism, not to mention that were it not for this magical conduit of data and information called “the web,” it might have been yet another score of years before I’d have even found ADF at all, which would have been a damn shame for me, as I’ve spent 45 of my near 52 years searching for a religious home that fit my personal gnosis with such perfection as I discovered here with ADF.

Information and choices, networking and connecting, the internet has been a huge boon for Paganism across the world. So all hail the internet and it’s magical web, because with proper use and attention to protecting one self’s and security, “the web” is a thing of knowledge and freedom.



9. Discuss the origins of the Druidic revival in 18th and 19th century England, naming its key players and describing their contributions. (minimum 600 words)

When England moved out of the Medieval eras of oppression by the Church, it moved first to the Age of Reason of the 17th Century, then into the Age of Enlightenment in the early 1800’s with its focus on Western philosophy and scientific rationalization of nature, and then civilization moved in the mid 1800’s into the Romantic era which was a bit of a revolt of that focus on the scientific and turned to the enjoyment of the arts of music and literature, and also turned to an intellectual movement to revive some of the medieval elements through a romanticized outlook.  Medieval oppression was forgotten and knights were viewed in shining armor with tales of chivalry.  While people were listening to Mozart and Beethoven, they were also reading books based on the supernatural and occult mixed with human psychology such as tales authored by Nathaniel Howard and Edgar Allen Poe, and translations of the medieval writings of Táin Bó Cúailnge.  A popular interest in Celtic stories and history arose and people became interested in the ancient writings of Caesar, Cicero and Strabo who spoke in those writings of the poets and singers in Celtic society called the bardoi.

John Aubrey had been the first modern writer to connect Stonehenge to the druids and his ideas reached a bigger audience with William Stukeley.  In 1969 Aubrey published “Templa Druidim” (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 68).  From there, a man named John Toland (1670-1722) became famous for a book he wrote, “Christianity Not Mysterious” which was prosecuted in London and burnt by the public hangman in Dublin (Nelson).  This is the same John Toland that in 1726  published “History of the Druids,” depicting druids as con artists just nine years after helping a friend found a druid order, the Ancient Druid Order (ADO) in 1717 and not to be confused with the AOD group listed later) though some accounts place the birth of the ADO in the late 1800’s) and yet other accounts connect the founding of ADO and AOD to the same 1717 date and tavern (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 71).

John Toland had embraced John Aubrey’s work (without giving Aubrey credit).  Next enter Henry Hurle who in 1781 was said to have founded the Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) which is sometimes referred to as simply “the Druid Order.”   The AOD (Hurle’s group) would later split into two groups by 1964 and boasted the names of past chiefs such as Willaim Stukeley,  Godfrey Higgins (writer of “The Celtic Druids” published in 1827 and 1829) and Gerald Massey (Egyptologist who wrote about the parallel between Jesus and the Egyptian god Horus in his “The Natural Genesis”).

In 1964, this split in the ADO became the United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD) and the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) founded by Ross Nichols who used the concept of the three druidic orders of bards, ovates and druids from the ancient Greek historian, Strabo who wrote of the bardoi, o’vateis and druidai in his “Geographica” (Yobot).

As for written works, the first of which comes to mind for me is the work of  “The Iolo Manuscripts” which is a collection of written work by Edward Williams who was better known as Iolo Morganwg who lived from 1747 to 1826.  Theses manuscripts were compiled by his son, TaliesinWilliams, after his father’s death.  These manuscripts included collections of poetry and hymns, mostly great works of fraud and fabrications, marrying old Arthurian influences with Christianity with a mix of metaphysics and his own personal philosophies including his own runic system called the “Bardic Alphabet”(Picapica).  With his quite extremely popular and yet inaccurate creative works he webbed fiction and fact together into masterful works of forgeries that went far in recreating and reinventing, romanticized history Welsh spirituality. Despite the fact that a great deal of his work has been debunked, to this day there are Mesopaganists that cling to his Welsh “druids” and bardic traditions.  He held a ceremony, the Gorsedd in 1792 with a dozen other poets that in 1819 became a part of the Eisteddfod in Wales, claiming it to be an unbroken tradition (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 74-75). The Eisteddfod is still going on strong in modern times. Despite that a great deal of the body of Iolo Morganwg’s literary work is now accepted as forgeries, and he is still often pointed to as a large influence to the neo-druid movement (Hare).


10. Discuss the origins of the RDNA, and the influence of Isaac Bonewits, and the founding of ADF. (minimum 600 words)

Part protest, part rebellion, part joke, the Reformed Druids of North America began in 1963 in response to Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, requiring all students to spend a mandated minimum amount of attendance (chapel credits) in a church or religious service of their own religion.  A group of students were sitting around in the campus cafeteria and one of them, David Fisher, told a tall tale of his family having been druids.  They decided this could be a way around those chapel credits requirements, if they created a “church” of their own.    The RDNA never intended to be a real church.  They called themselves “reformed” to cover any errors they made on reconstruction of a druid religion and wrote up scriptures that were only half serious, written to read much like the King James Bible.

They met on Sunday afternoons and performed rituals that gradually got the attention of other students who would attend to get their chapel credit slips to turn in.  Two years later the college dropped the chapel attendance requirement and with the win of that protest, the RDNA was no longer needed.  Much to the surprise of the founders, however, a lot of the people who’d been a part of that protest wanted to continue with the RDNA and keep it going.  They’d brought to it a mish mash of Mother Earth, Celtic gods and goddesses, a little bit of Zen, a little bit of Christianity, and an “open ended philosophy” that had quickly become an important part of their spiritual lives (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 87).

After students graduated, they took the RDNA with them, one of which was Robert Larson, who met up with Isaac Bonewits while attending Berkeley University in California.  By then the RDNA had 40 plus congregations they’d called “groves” which were run as either Mesopagan or Neopagan.  Bonewits became an ordained priest on the RDNA in 1969 (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 89) and he worked at trying to convince the members that they were pagans.  This met with a lot of resistance.  The RDNA had been made up of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Agnostics, a cross section of a great many religious paths, of people who still clung to their spiritual roots, despite the fact that they were enacting pagan rituals, celebrating pagan holidays and calling on pagan gods.  They believed that what they were creating was not a real religion in itself but a philosophy that that was compatible with a great many mainstream religions and could be practiced along side whatever religious path they’d declared themselves to be (Adler 337).

A great many branches grew from the RDNA including Isaac Bonewit’s Schismatic Druids of North America (SDNA) who had an eclectic Gaulish and Celtic bend and was described as “…the embodiment of Isaac’s reforms…” (ARDA  664).

The New Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA) and a multitude of other branches that did not survive.  The Hasidic Druids of North America (HSDA) where another branch, which concentrated on Jewish culture and was also helped by Bonewits in creating their “Mishmash of Hasidic Druidism” also called the HDNA’s Theory of Couthness (a play on the Jewish concept of Kosher.)  Bonewits also helped the HDNA creat a book of commentaries and arguments akin to the Jewish Torah and they called the book “The Te-Mara.”

Bonewits left the RDNA after 1982 and most of the RDNA groves broke away form each other, dissolved, or nearly died off including the original Carleton branch until some students found some of Bonewits’ writings left in the attic of a house off campus.  These papers inspired  another round of RDNA groves and as Bonewits writes, “By 1993, a new era of Reformed Druidism was vigorously underway, much to the credit of one of the Archedruids, Michael Scharding, who began the International Druid Archives and collected much of the RDNA, ADF and Keltrian materials (among a dozen groups), re-establishing communications between the RDNA groves and other offshoot Druid groups” (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 99-100).

Bonewits became the Archdruid of Mother Grove of the NRDNA (one of the aforementioned branches that broke off from the RDNA)  in Berkeley, possibly out of frustration with the RDNA refusing to accept that they were practicing Neopaganism and thus started the New Reformed Druids of North America to be born specifically as a Pagan organization.  He is quoted in Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon” as saying, “They (the RDNA) had a philosophcal approach, applicable to any relgion.  Most of the RDNA were not Pagans.  They resented me and felt I was infiltrating their group” (Adler 341).  So, he created a new group, a new reformed group, that would not resent being called Pagan, that would accept that Paganism is what they were doing.

By the time Isaac Bonewits had started his publication, “The Druid Progress” and  had founded ADF, he’d already had a long resume of work and experiences behind him that he’d fueled into growing the Druidism movement in America, and in doing so, Isaac Bonewits had a strong hand in forming and shaping exactly what American NeoDruidism is today.


11. Describe the groups that have split off from ADF, their history and work. (minimum 600 words)

According to Bonewits (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 117), The Henge of Keltria was the first branch to break from ADF and they did so in 1988 after five people decided they didn’t like the direction ADF was going.  In 1986 they’d taped a list of thirteen issues that they thought wasn’t being handled properly to the outside of the door of the camper Isaac had been sleeping in during the Pagan Spirit Gathering in Wisconsin.  One of their concerns was that ADF focused on Indo-Europeon cultures and these five wanted a strictly Celtic focus.  Another issue is they wanted to keep their rituals private like much of the other practicing Neopagan groups rather than ADF’s requirement of having the rituals public.  Isaac Bonewits quotes one of those dissenters, Pat Taylor, with saying “You know all those bureaucratic rules in ADF that we objected to so much in the beginning?  We’ve wound up having to institute most of them in Keltria!” and then he comments “Time, tide, and the Internal Revenue Service affect all public religious organizations, sooner or later” (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 118).   They are a healthy group to this day with a large web site and with a focus on study and research, dividing the paths into categories of Bard, Seer and Druid (Keltria).

Though Bonewits writes in his “Bonewits’s Essential Guild to Druidism” that the Henge of Keltria was the first group to break away, I’ve read there was a Shadow Path Grove that broke from ADF earlier in the mid 1980’s (ARDA  673) because they didn’t want to have public rites either, but continued to have ADF style rites in private and they are listed as possibly inactive by 1993.

In 1988 a group left ADF and formed Uxello-Druidactios in 1988, founded by Tom Cross going by the name of Tadhg MacCrossan.  It had a Gaulish focus and the founder apparently had a personal habit of sending “poisoned pen letters” around trashing the shortcoming of all the other Druid groups as being infected with Wicca and Neo-Pagan garbage (ARDA 673).

In 1991 Janette Copeland tried using ADF’s “A Druid Fellowship” booklet to recruit for her own “Divine Circle of the Sacred Grove” and using fake ADF credentials.  After gettting in trouble with tax authorities the group left the Twin City area and moved to Arizona, forming a new group calling themselves “The American Druid Church” in 1992 founded by Jay Tibbles and Patricia Fields (ARDA 673).

In Seattle in 1992 the Primitive Celtic Church broke off from ADF to focus on Celtic Druidry, much like the Henge of Keltria with some help offered from ADF and OBOD (ARDA 673), and though they had a webpage, I’d found the webpage closed and the ARDA PDF file I’d found much of the information for these branches states they believed the group to be also disbanded.

The Reformed Druidic Wicca is a bit cloudy. It may have broken off from RDNA directly (Bonewits, Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism 99), or it may have broken off from ADF or might have been an attempt to create a new NRDNA protogrove or even an ADF protogrove.  They renamed themselves “Missionary Order of the Celtic Cross” (ARDA 673).  They are listed on an unofficial RDNA web sight of one of their members as being an offshoot of RDNA as well as of the Order of the Mithral Star (Mikerdna) which according to the ARDA document may have founded in 1993 (ARDA 674).

There is a website for the Order of the Mithral Star as well (Order of the Mithral Star), where they offer online courses, and like the Church of all Worlds, they apparently use ideas found in the Heinlein novel, “Stranger in a Strange Land” as stated on their faq page (Mithral Star FAQ)  and according to the ARDA document their roots can be pointed to have grown both from the CAW as well as the RDNA, that they came from the CAW and adopted elements of the RDNA. Though they do not appear to have been sprouted from ADF directly, Issac Bonewits had a pronounced influence on the RDNA that Order of the Mithral Star came from, a system which the ARDA document claims to have been overhauled and used as a blueprint by Bonewits to create the ADF organization.


Works Cited


Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. New York: Penguin Books, 2006.

Archives, Scanned by American Libraries Internet. Full Text of Phillip Stubbe’s Anatomy of abuses in England in Shakspere’s youth…. 24 October 2010 <http://www.archive.org/stream/phillipstubbessa00stubuoft/phillipstubbessa00stubuoft_djvu.txt&gt;.

ARDA . The New Reformed Druids of America, Part Eight, A General History of Reformed Druidism in America, aka The Gregarious Epistle of Michael or the Adventures of Prolix the Druid. Ed. Drynetemtum Press. 2004. <http://orgs.carleton.edu/Druids/ARDA2/ARDA2part8.pdf&gt;.

Author, Unknown. Rosecrucian Order of the Golden Dawn. unknown. 8 December 2010 <http://www.rogd.org/&gt;.

Bonewits, Isaac. Bonewit’s Essential Guide to Druidism. New York: Citadel Press Books, 2006.

—. Defining Paganism: Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo- (Version 2.5.1). 1979, 2007. 24 October 2010 <http://www.neopagan.net/PaganDefs.html&gt;.

Bovineboy2008. Wikipedia: Lawrence of Arabia (film). 30 September 2010. 25 October 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_of_Arabia_%28film%29&gt;.

Cydebot. Wikipedia: Dion Fortune. 30 September 2010. 25 October 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dion_Fortune&gt;.

Cymru, University of Wales: Prifysgol. Iolo Morganwg and the Romantic Traditions in Wales. 24 October 2010 <http://www.wales.ac.uk/en/CentreforAdvancedWelshCelticStudies/ResearchProjects/CompletedProjects/IoloMorganwgandtheRomanticTraditioninWales/IoloMorganwgFullerDescription.aspx&gt;.

Ebrambot. Wikipedia: Robert Graves. 23 October 2010. 25 October 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Graves&gt;.

Foxbot. Wikipedia: Margaret Murray. 3 October 2010. 24 October 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray&gt;.

Hare, John B. Sacred Texts: The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg by J. Willaims, Ab Ithel. 6 November 2005. 24 October 2010 <http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/bim1/index.htm&gt;.

Hutton. Blood and Mistletoe: The History of Druids in Britain. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2009.

III, Cathbhadh. Wikipedia: Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. 21 November 2010. 8 December 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermetic_Order_of_the_Golden_Dawn&gt;.

Keltria. The Henge of Keltria. 8 December 2010 <http://www.keltria.org/&gt;.

LaaknorBot. Wikipedia: The White Goddess. 23 October 2010. 25 October 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Goddess&gt;.

Lorynote. Wikipedia: Golden Bough. 23 October 2010. October 24 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Bough&gt;.

Midnightblueowl. Wikipedia: Gerald Gardner. 26 September 2010. 24 October 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Gardner&gt;.

Mikerdna. The Reformed Druids (And Their Spin-Offs too!). 8 December 2010 <http://rdna.info/&gt;.

Mithral Star FAQ. 7 December 2010 <http://www.mithrilstar.org/druidfaq.htm&gt;.

Nachete93. Wikipedia: Aradia (goddess). 22 October 2010. 25 October 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aradia_%28goddess%29&gt;.

Nelson. Wikepedia: John Toland. 7 December 2010. 8 December 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Toland&gt;.

Order of the Mithral Star. 8 December 2010 <http://www.mithrilstar.org/&gt;.

Picapica. Wikepedia: Iolo Morganwg. 6 October 2010. 24 Octoeber 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iolo_Morganwg&gt;.

Piggott, Stuart. The Druids. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., Publishers, 1968.

Rosencomet. Wikipedia: Oberon Zell-Ravenheart. 8 December 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberon_Zell-Ravenheart&gt;.

Saretto. Wikipedia: Isaac Bonewits. 10 November 2010. 8 December 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Bonewits&gt;.

Starhawk. Starhawk’s Bio and Bibliography. 8 December 2010 <http://www.starhawk.org/starhawk/bio.html&gt;.

Stubbes, Phillip. Anatomy of the Abuses in England in Shakspere’s Youth A.D. 1883. 15 November 2010 <and with a focus on study and research, dividing the paths into categories of Bard, Seer and Druid>.

The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, FAQ page. unknown. 8 December 2010 <http://www.druidry.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=PagEd&file=index&topic_id=2&page_id=6&gt;.

Yobot. Wikipedia: Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. 8 September 2010. 8 December 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Bards,_Ovates_and_Druids&gt;.

Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon. Biography of Oberon Zell-Ravenheart. 8 December 2010 <http://www.oberonzell.com/biography.html&gt;.


[1] The full text of Phillip Stubbe’s Anatomy of the Abuses of England in Shakspere’s Youth A.D. 1582 can be found as Part I at http://www.archive.org/stream/phillipstubbessa000990mbp/phillipstubbessa000990mbp_djvu.txt and Part II at http://www.archive.org/stream/phillipstubbessa00stubuoft/phillipstubbessa00stubuoft_djvu.txt

Finished for now…

•January 19, 2011 • 1 Comment

It’s time for me to take a step backwards, at least for now.  It’s hard for me to put publicly into words what has been bothering me because I dislike drama, but in a nutshell, it’s institution and bureaucracy even in teensy symptoms of a virus that might never manifest.

I’ve been a solitaire pagan for so long, not because I could not find others with similar beliefs because indeed, I have found many.   It’s because I have a deep dislike of feeling like I’m being herded.  And I don’t know how to publicly vent my frustrations without someone, somewhere feeling hurt, taking exception, or otherwise feeling that there is drama being fostered or festered.

So I won’t.

I’m just done.

For now.


Approaching Solstice

•December 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Liturgy 1 is completed and approved.  History of Neopaganism & Druidry is uploaded to the ADF site to be reviewed.  Presents are wrapped.  I’ve got the song written for the performance I’ve instigated with two co-workers for the company holiday party.   I am I’ve two parties to host, Yule this weekend for one side of the family, and Christmas the following weekend for the other side of the family.  Also next weekend, on Saturday morning is the second meeting of the Vancouver Druids at Celestial Awakenings (10am-noon.) Busy, busy girl.

I also worked on a project I’d been mulling around. The “mental discipline” work in the DP was really rather easy for me.  They say that shamans are “called” and become connected to the spirits at an early age because of some trauma.  Maybe the fictitious Luna Lovegood is right, maybe it really is easier to see spirits when you’ve seen death, and I’d seen a lot of death at an early age.  Anyway, I digress again as usual, so cheating…yea mediation is kind of like cheating for me because it’s too easy to call it a discipline.  Meditation and spirit walking isn’t that difficult for me, so it’s cheating for me to call it a “discipline.”

So I thought I’d see if I can spend this next year on a discipline that’s a lot harder for me…art.  I do 3D art compositions, and quite often I spend half the time wanting to beat my head into my keyboard and stab my eyes out with the pen to my Wacom pad.  That being said, for “discipline” work, I’m going to spend this year, just prior to each High Day, creating one of those 3D compositions dedicated to each of those High Days.  It’s for my own good, disciplining myself to do what’s hard for me to do, creating the art pieces with purpose and dedication, and then I can turn any of them over to the Art guild to use (or not use) however they see fit.

My first piece towards this is for Winter Solstice.  Full size can be seen at: http://defafnyr.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d34pn37

Liturgy 1

•December 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Liturgy I

1. Describe the purpose and function of ritual. (minimum 300 words)

I did a lot of internal searching before writing this paper, my very first small essay towards my CTP.  I read a lot of material seeking answers that ultimately, were less important to me than the answers I found within myself.  Rather than asking what is the purpose and function of ritual, I asked why is the function of ritual important.   In doing this, I found myself dividing the purpose and function into three areas of importance; that of development in the relationship between the otherworldly and this one, development of the relationship of those wholly in this world as fellowship and community, and thirdly in personal development.

I.  The most common answer that likely comes to mind when considering the purpose of ritual is communication and communion with the Deities.  In ADF this expands to more than ritual dance with a single godhead but to a hearth culture of Gods as well to the Kindred of Nobles and Ancestors.  There is a draw, a need to feel close to one’s Patrons, to honor and give devotion to Those Honored that support us and to further retain that support.  This can be done singularly with a single Solitary worshiper or with a fellowship, either method furthering and strengthening the ghosti relationship between Kindred and the devotee. Ritual is a formal opportunity to push energy to Them, so that They may push that wave of energy back stronger to us, and with each instance of opening the gate between us and the Kindred, that pathway refines from a rarely traveled footpath to a well kept conduit between the Devoted and the devotee.

II.   There is a social aspect that is nourished with ritual.  In older times rituals were the high point of festivals, of gathering of folk to exchange a great many things, ideas, goods, fellowship, mutual plans of prospering and aiding each other with community service.  For ADF, ritual follows these lines.  The rites are not exclusive and secretive.  They are public and inclusive, inviting anyone who wishes to join to come and go as their needs dictate.  Some will be led by personal reasons, others by a need to help, to serve and are looking for an outlet to do this.  The doors to our rites are open, inviting to serve the folk, the community (Brooks). The coming together in ritual not only strengthens the ties between devotee and the Kindred, but it also serves as an important purpose towards strengthening the ties between neighbors, in community as they join together in worship, joining to become friends, allies, folk with common goals that when sparked in worship can continue those bonds beyond the ritual celebrations towards the mutual development of projects for the common good of the community.

III. While the first reason above lays the spiritual foundation of the temple of liturgy, the base of the liturgy temple and the devotional purpose of ritual, and the second reason above builds the walls that house this temple, that makes the practice of ritual a temple supported and planked by folk. The third purpose and function of ritual, I find, is in the development of the souls that come to live within in that temple that liturgy builds.  The devotees are secured and strengthened by that foundation, housed by the walls of fellowship; and the third purpose of ritual is in the growth and development of our souls that live within these rituals.  During this spiritual communication with the Kindred, and during this social building of fellowship joined together in worship folk, the individual souls that live within this structure grow, are nurtured and reach out to others to aid nurturing them.  This non-physical temple that is the rote and body of ritual, houses the souls within the practice of these rituals and by this they are enriched.  They give and they take and they give back.  I believe that the souls of people grow, they heal, they nurture.  And that is, after all, why we are here in life, to enrich and mature our souls and to help those souls all around us reach their own potentials as well.  This is the purpose of ritual, to build this place to do these things, to grow with our Deities, to grow with our fellowships, and to grow within our own spirits.

2.  Describe some of the roles individuals might take on within the context of ritual. (minimum 100 words)

With the many individual steps of the Core Order of Ritual (COoR) there come many places for individuals to contribute to the totality of a single COoR rite.  A full COoR rite can be as few as one solitary practitioner or perhaps as many as 15 individual roles or more not counting drummers and musicians as listed in Shining Lakes Grove’s Samhain rite of 1997 (Kami Landy of Shining Lakes Grove (SLG)).  Individual roles can include greeters who might also lead the procession, a bard to lead the songs and chants; another may have the role of leading in the purifications and getting the group centered and grounded together, and yet another might have the role to call the Kindred.  There is the role of orating the invocation, of making the sacrifices, and of calling for and receiving the blessings and aiding in delivering those blessings to the attendees.

Hearth Grove listed a “D1” , “D2” “D3” “D4” and “D5” all the way up to a role titled “D7” as well as a bard leading in a “Unity Chant” , a “Fire Maiden”, “Tree Tender”, “Keeper of the Well” putting 11 individual roles to their Samhain rite (Thompson).  Bards may lead chants and song, where Fire Maiden, Tree Tender, and Keeper of the Well may be either named roles for the occasion or perhaps designated roles an individual keeps as their responsibility for a time in the Grove in tending to the Hallows.

Some of the roles can be but are not limited to:

  • Greeter, who will welcome people to the rite and will lead the folk in the procession to the place of ritual.
  • Main clergy, one who will do the bulk of the orating.
  • Clergy Assistants, who will assist the Clergy with the physical acts such as pouring the sacrifices and dispensing the blessings, lighting the fires and tending the Hallows.
  • Bard, who will lead the songs and chants
  • Seer, who will draw and announce the omens.
  • Musician and Drummers who accompany the songs, or if having neither of those, then someone whose role is to play recorded music at the appropriate times.
  • Attendees who may or may not participate in the answering calls.

There really are no set rules and each Grove is given a great deal of autonomy in setting such roles up, and the liturgist has a great deal of freedom in writing any particular ritual and in what roles can be created, as long as they follow the COoR.

3.  Describe the concepts of the Center and the Gates in ADF’s Standard Liturgical Outline. (minimum 300 words)

There are two concepts in regard to “center,” the centering found within oneself, and that of the Sacred Center when performing the re-creation of the cosmos in the Core Order of Ritual.  Both are important to establish before performing the opening of the ritual Gate.

Of the first, the finding one’s center, when one meditates, where do they perceive themselves existing within themselves?  Do they feel their spirit living within their body predominately in their mind (and so the center would be the sparking around in their head and brain) or when they think of themselves do they see their spirit living within their heart, feeling the warmth of their spirit in their chest?  When they meditate do they concentrate on the center of themselves being at the naval?  When one meditates where do they feel that the center of their spirit is attached to the body?

For everyone it may be a different place.  Finding this center of oneself is important in order to ground oneself in preparation for magical and ritual work.  Why? What is “grounding?”  As with electricity, when power flows through a conduit there must be an extra wire set for releasing out excess or stray currents safely so it doesn’t get shot dangerously through one’s body.  Grounding of one engaged in ritual can come in both (or either) the form of psychological grounding (the spiritual source being the energy and the physical and mental well-being as the grounding circuit of the energy) and/or metaphysical grounding where one sets a ground to absorb excess psychic/magical energies if too much is drawn during magical workings.  A ritual tool can be used for this (Bonewits).

My preference is not a metal tool but wood (a tried and true element where metal, for example an athame, tends to just further conduct energy) which in my eclectic-pagan days would be the wood pentacle or my wooden wand.  This has been replaced by the wood of my Tree at my home shrine. Without establishing one’s “center” where the mental, emotional and physical body are connected is akin to not having that circuit breaker box in place before playing around with electricity.

In group ritual, centering can come in the form of all the attendees finding their individual centers and then coming together as a centered “group-mind.”  In ADF this is achieved with meditation on the Two Powers and/or the Tree Meditation, when the group is simultaneously brought together by the way of guided meditation.

Now we come to discussion of the Sacred Center.  In ADF we acknowledge a concept referred to as the Three Realms of Upper Realm, Middle Realm and Lower Realm (sometimes referred to the Underworld).  The Shining Ones dwell in the Upper Realm, the Nobles and nature spirits exist in the Middle Realm, and the Ancestor’s domain is the Lower Realm.  This creates a vertical axis of the universe.  The ADF views another layer to the universe as the triad of Land, Sea and Sky with each hearth culture having a variety of this. The centering of the ritualist or group-mind of a ritual gathering becomes an important step in recreating this triad in the form of the rite’s sacred space with Well, Fire and Tree.

For me, I am of the mindset that the Sacred Center is in the Middle Realm but reaching to touch both the Under Realm and the Upper Realm as a tree exists in the Middle Realm with roots stretching below into the Under Realm and the tallest branches brushing the Upper Realm (Newberg 22).   When one succeeds at fully “centering” themselves, they will find themselves at an axis where all these realms touch, finding oneself at the very center of where all these junctions meet into a vertical and horizontal axis also referred to as the “axis mundi.” In some cultures the axis mundi also is the conjunction where all four directions connect, east and west and north and south at the center of the world where we as those meditating, as worshipers and as ritual practitioners are each at the center of this world.

Again, with group ritual, this can be particularly important.  If the group-mind does not succeed in coming together and centering with a singular focus, creating the sacred center and axis mundi of the group rite, the power and strength of the rite will be scattered with diffused energies.

Now for the matter of “The Gate,”   the opening of the Gate refers to formally opening a doorway or portal between the material realm in which we reside with the spiritual realm where most of our Kindred reside so that we can invite them in.  Now some are of the mind that a gate is not necessary for the Kindred to come visit, and that they are often around us whenever need or desire warrants and that no gate is going to keep them out.  In this case, the opening of the Gate would represent the formal opening of the door of hospitality, formerly inviting the guests to enter our sacred space and join in with us to participate in the ceremony that is to be performed.  This is done after the solitaire singularly centers or that have centered as a group-mind.  In ADF Liturgy we utilize a Gatekeeper, a formal deity assigned to assist in opening that gate as our powerful doorman to formally allow entrance of the welcomed and invited Kindred as our spiritual guests.

4.  Discuss why ADF rituals need not have a defined outer boundary, or “circle” and the sacralization of space in ritual. (minimum 100 words)

The most apparent difference between ADF style ritual and non-ADF Pagan ritual is that ADF liturgy does not allow for the drawing of a boundary signifying a circular sacred space.  The reasoning for the drawing of the circle in other neo-pagan traditions and in ceremonial magical styles comes in two forms.  The first is in the belief that the circle keeps the practitioner safe within that circle from evil beings or intent, from malicious or trickster forces or beings that may be drawn to the building of power and they are thus kept outside of that encircled sanctified space and away from the practitioner.  The second reason is that within that circle, a practitioner may use the boundary to encase the building of power like a well holding rising water within in what is referred to building the “cone of power.”

In ADF ritual, those unfriendly beings are kept away by giving a token offering to the “outsiders” or “outdwellers,” and we do not practice the drawing of the “cone of power” during COoR rites.  In High Ceremonial rites a circle is drawn for protection because there are times that they invoke entities that are known to be hostile and can be dangerous.  ADF does not make a practice of doing this type of ritual where the dead are forced from their places to attend a rite unwillingly by the means of any invocation.

The lack of a circle also serves to provide a more inclusive religious space, where spectators drawn to the public rite can join in if they feel so moved, rather than being kept out by a circular boundary that cannot be stepped across. All in all, a great many of the other Neo-Pagan and High Ceremonial types of rites use boundaries that place a separation between the practitioner/coven’s space and the space of those beings that are called, and the divine space or magical space is contained all within that circle. Their rites are exclusive, only the invited of this realm as well as the undead realm are welcomed.   In ADF the rights are inclusive and all are welcom, the designated area is consecrated as divine and sacred and all of the community of the living as well as all of the friendly kindred are welcomed to join without any separation between the practitioner/grove attendees and the spirits and Gods that are called.

5. Discuss the Earth Mother and her significance in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

ADF is an earth/nature religion and as such our rites honor the planet we live upon.  The Earth Mother can be thought of in a variety of ways, from being the Earth herself as a planetary Goddess or a soul that embodies the Earth, or as being a specific deity who nurtures the Earth, or even perhaps can be thought of as one of the many Goddesses that takes turn in Their role of perpetuating the Earth and fertilizing nature as do the harvest and fertility Goddesses such as Demeter or Gaia (Newberg 18).  There is probably as diverse an opinion in ADF on exactly who or what the Earth Mother is as there is a wide diversity of membership in ADF.  None can be touted as the “correct” or “incorrect” ideology as ADF, like many Druidic orders, do not hold to any dogmas.

The Earth Mother is addressed in the third step of the Core Order of Ritual and is significant to ADF ritual because our religion has a special emphasis on nature and environmental awareness.

6.  Discuss the ritual significance of Fire and Water in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

Fire and water are the most significant primal elements to many religions, past and present, including those non-pagan ones that make use of holy water, candles and incense.  Furthermore, both fire and water are used in purification and sacrifice elements of the rituals of both ancient Pagans and present day NeoPagans.

Fire and water are a consistent magical division and primary duality in Indo-Europeon cosmology from Celtic to Vedic symbolism and traditions.  In my own hearth culture, Danu is often associated with water and the sea, is the Goddess of the Primal Waters, and her mate, Bel, is the God of Primal Fire (Corrigan, Exploring Celtia: The Primary Division).  I find that in present day this also touches on the non ADF concept of Yin and Yang where water, female, and Danu all fall into Yin for me, and Fire, male and Bel fall into Chaos and Yang.  Balancing the two forces of Fire and Water is an important aspect in balancing the Cosmos both in the past and today in the present for the NeoPagan.

In ADF view of the triad of the realms (Upper Realm, Middle realm and Lower Realm) it is these two elements that connect the three.  Fire burns in the Middle Realm and the smoke rises to the sky.  Water seeps and fills below the earth into the Under Realms in underwater chasms and wells.  The heat of Fire transmutes the Waters rising from the depths to mist that ascends to the upper worlds and then rains down again in a cyclical pattern.  Through these two elements we have elemental communication between the three realms.

7.  Discuss the origins of the Fire, Well and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words for each of the Fire, Well and Tree)

Fire, Well and Tree are three gates that unlock the creation of sacred space in ADF liturgy and re-forms the Cosmos as the vertical axis of the axis mundi during ADF rites.  In ancient Celtic lands, the triple realms were referred to Land, Sea and Sky which now forms the horizontal axis of the axis mundi.  Among the Vedas this triple realm of the cosmos was referred to as Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Celestial (Dangler). This concept of the triple cosmos and the sacredness of each of the three elements of it in the form Fire, Well and Tree was strong across ancient Europe and Asia through many cultures as the Sacred Well (i.e. the Cootie Wells of Ireland and Scotland), the Sacred Fire (i.e. the Sacred Fire of Vesta in ancient Rome) and Pagan bonfires that are so prominent in several of the big bonfire High Days, and includes the sacredness of the Tree from the Druidic ideals to the Tree of Life found in the Bhagavad-gita’s 15th Chapter (TheSoundAndTheFury). Indeed, the symbolism of Fire, Well and Tree have been a reoccurring theme throughout spiritual history.

In ADF ritual with the trio of Fire, Well and Tree, Fire is the gate that connects us to the Upper Realm.  When fire burns and rises to the sky, it reaches towards that Upper Realm.  When we ritually light our ceremonial fire or flame, it makes the lighting of those flames much more than a mundane act but one of sacredness, making the fire used in our ceremony “hallowed.” This hallowing of the fire and the flame reaching towards the Upper Realm is then capable of connecting us to those of the Three Kindred that dwell in the Upper Realm, the Shining Ones.

Of the Well in ADF liturgy, the water of the well seeps down and connects us to the Lower Realm.  We ritually “silver” the well, sacrificing metal to our representation of “The Well”.  This act of silvering the waters can either be thought of as an offering to the spirit of the well, or it can be considered a magical act that transmutes the well from ordinary water to a holy conduit that reaches below to the Under Realm. By whichever vein of thought, this silvering of the well hallows it.  By this act we can also connect with those of the Three Kindred that dwell in the Under Realm, the Ancestors.

Finally, of this trio collectively called “The Hallows”, Tree is the gate that is mainly embodied in the Middle Realm, rooted in the Under Realm and reaches into the sky towards the Upper Realm.  It connects the Well gate and the Sky (fire) gate in a vertical pillar when it is hallowed and this can be done by either aspersing the Tree representation with the water from the hallowed well, or from the smoke of incense lit from the hallowed flame, or both.  With this gate and its hallowing we connect to the Kindred that dwell in this Middle Realm, the Noble Ones and nature spirits.

These three Gates to the Three Realms are transmuted from the mundane to the sacred during the process of hallowing and once sacred become ready for opening when the Gatekeeper is called upon to perform this act with the ritualist.

8.  Discuss the Outdwellers and their significance in ritual (or not, as the case may be). (minimum 100 words)

The “Outdwellers” or “Outsiders” can be thought of either as individuals, or as “chaos” or simply negative energy.  Of those beings if we are considering them as individual spirits rather than forces, they are spirits or forces that may not have our best interests at heart.  They may be attracted to the power raised during ceremony and ritual but are there for their own purposes and not to aid us in ours.  They can range from curious to malicious or anywhere in between.  In ADF ritual when we make an offering to them, it is to distract or appease them and ask them politely to not interfere with the work we are about to do as we begin our rite.

The inclusion of appeasing the Outsiders or Outdwellers in ADF liturgy is a supplementary step that entered our ADF liturgy in 1991 (Brandon) and is not a requirement of the COoR.   Some may choose to exclude this step as they may feel they have no need to exclude or bribe any entities from causing any grief to their rite.

9.  Describe the intention and function of the Three Kindreds invocations, and give a short description of each of the Kindreds. (minimum 100 words for each of the Three Kindreds)

The purpose of the invocations to the Three Kindred is to formally invite Them to join us in the rite in hopes they will also join us in the ghosti[1] relationship, that with Their presence and our offering to them, they will reciprocate with an offering.  These Three Kindred consist of the Ancestors, the Nobles, and the Shining Ones that dwell in the Lower Realm, the Middle Realm and the Upper Realm respectively

The Ancestors consist of those who have lived before among us in the Middle Realm but have died and their spirits have moved on to the Lower Realm.  They are those who can be made up of our blood relations, but are not exclusively so.  This lack of exclusiveness leaves an opening to consider a greater spectrum of spirits as our Ancestor Kindred, that we may adopt, beings that though unrelated to us still share an ethnicity to ours or they may be even farther removed from us and of a hearth culture that though not biologically related to us, we feel a strong attachment and affinity to. Personally, I feel there is precedence for this in the custom the ancients had for “fostering,” where children were traded among unrelated tribes to foster peace and unification and to widen the gene pool.  These fostered out children considered both their biological and their completely unrelated foster family as their own Kin.  In this way too, we can adopt unrelated spirits of the Lower Realm as our own Kindred too.

The Nobles are the nature spirits that dwell in the Middle Realm that opens closest to the horizontal axis of the axis mundi.  As such, I believe that this is why of the Three Kindred, it is the Nobles and Natures Spirits that are the ones seen first most readily seen by those who start seeking a spiritual path. They consist of sprites, pixies, spirits within spiders, bugs, and animal creatures.  For those of us that believe, they also consist of the fae folk, fairies and noble elfin kind who care for their hierarchy of nature beings.  Among them are the spirits and deities, Gods and Goddesses of locality who are attached to our local streams and lakes, mountains and forests. To some, the chthonic deities might be placed with this group of Kindred as the Greek word khthon is one of the words for “earth” and as such the Chthonic Deities might fall into the category of Earth Dieties of Nature and thus might dwell within the Middle Realm.  However, on the other hand there are those that would place these Earth Deities elevated unto the final category of Kindred, the Shining Ones, as they are the Shining Gods exalted over the other spirits of nature.  Demeter and Persephone are an example of this dilemma.  Both are associated with fertility of the earth, yet the cults of Demeter were typically Olympian and thus could be categorized as Shining Ones, while Persephone typically honored by chthonic cults as well as being honored later in poetry as Olympian(Makela). To further complicate this, Issac Bonewits refers to the chthonic deities as being associated with the Underword Realm (as opposed to the middle realm of the Earth and Noble deities, or the Upperworld realm of the shining ones) and with the land of our Dead (Bonewits, The Druid Cosmos).

Finally, of those Three Kindred we come to the Shining Ones who are associated with the Upper Realm.  These may consist of the higher deities, the greater Gods and Goddesses of our assorted pantheons in our myriad of hearth cultures welcomed in the ADF religious practice.  These Shining Ones may also include the children of the Gods, for example if one holds Danu and Bel as their supreme Godheads, or as the Mother and Father of the Gods, then the Shining Ones might consist of Their Children, the Tuatha de Danann.  In addition to these, or perhaps alternately, the Shining Ones may consist of the Ancient Heroes, those who would have been Ancestors but their exalted acts of heroism elevated them to that of the Ancient Heroes and garnered them a special place in the Halls of Valour or like honor depending on one’s Hearth culture.

10.  Describe other possible models for the “Filling Out the Cosmic Picture” sections. (minimum 100 words)

The recreating of the cosmic picture in ADF liturgy includes creating the vertical axis (Tree Meditation, calling the Gate Keeper, the Hallows) as well as recreating the horizontal axis of Land, Sea and Sky, finding the Sacred center of this in the Axis Mundi.  Alternately, the Sacred Pole can replace the Cosmic Tree.  The Kindred are called.  Additionally spirits may be called including those of song and inspiration to assist.  Spirits of sovereignty, the local spirits of the locale of the rite including those of a nearby stream or those dwelling in a particular park where the rite may be held can be invoked.  Meditation of the Two Powers can be included here and some wish to include the option of acknowledging the Outsiders with an offering to keep them away.

These steps in recreating the Cosmos need not be done, however, by standard invocative or chants.  Songs may be sung and dancing may be performed to entice the spirits invoked to come join. Drumming and a procession around the hallowed fire holding images of the Kindred being invoked may be performed.  A solitaire may perform the act of lighting three special candles for each of the Kindred and making offerings of small lilac blossoms to those flames.  The method of filling out the Cosmos once re-created can be anything from a somber recitation to a joyous dance with uplifting song to fulfill whatever tone the entire ritual is meant to portray.

As far as actual models or representations that can be used for filling out this cosmic picture, this can be done in the most simplest of manners with no more than a bowl for water, a bowl to hold a votive candle for flame, a couple of cups for the offerings and return blessing and a stick to represent the Tree (M. J. Dangler 88).  Another model one can use in filling out the cosmic pictures is in using a very natural setting, holding their rite in front of a living tree near a pool of water (or provided for with a bowl of water from a natural source) with either a small candle or if allowed, real bonfire which is what I personally.  While I personally have held my solitary rites indoors, this natural model is the one I chose to perform at the base of a Dogwood tree when I made my Oath upon finishing the Dedicant Program.

Of the Celtic and Norse hearths, the Sacred Center in ADF is usually formed in hallowing Fire, Water and Tree.  Another method involves calling more than the Three Hallows but also in calling deities that rule these elements, perhaps water and fire spirits.  Still some, while sticking with the Fire may switch Water out for Well specifically to point to water below earth and the connection of the sub-earth power, and they may also alternately switch out the Tree with the Sacred Pillar or Sacred Pole.  But what of those who follow Roman hearth cultures?  Jenni Hunt uses in her Roman Ritual Template, “a focus, a mundus and a portus” in the form of a sacrificial fire, an offering shaft into the earth (she suggests a pot of earth can be used) and a doorway (Hunt).  Paradox writes that the Sacred Center can be likened to three gates and refers to them as “The Deep Gate,” the “Bright Gate” and “The All-Reaching Gate” (Paradox). Bonewits associates the Triple Hallows with each of the triple realms, that of Fire associated with the Upper World or the world of the Heavens which is associated with the Shining Ones of the Kindred, that Well is associated with the Underworld and the realm of our Ancestors Kindred, and that Tree is the Axis Mundi that connects the Middle World to the Upper and Under realms (Bonewits, The Druid Cosmos).

11. Discuss how one would choose the focus (or focuses) for the Key Offerings. (minimum 100 words)

Choosing the focus for the key offerings of any given ritual, are for me one of the easiest particulars to fulfill.  One can ask themselves, “What is this ritual for?”  Or perhaps, “Who is this rite for?”  Well if it’s Lughnasadh, the focus would be, of course, Lugh and so offerings appropriate to the occasion and to Lugh would be the choice.  For multi hearth cultured Groves, a decision would have to be made in planning the rite, which hearth culture will be centered upon,  and then they would chose which God or Goddess to focus the key offerings to for the rite.  For example if the Samhain rite is being planned, will the patron that will be focused on for Samhain be Morrigan or Pluto?  Hearth culture considerations are part of the equation in choosing the focus for any given High Day as well as consideration as to what the meaning behind the High Day is for, say for the fertility of Beltaine versus one of the harvest festivals.

What if the rite to be performed is not a High Day?  Let’s say a Proto-grove wants to do a rite that is not falling on a High Day but rather is of the intent to ask for help and guidance in growing their grove.  They might choose Brigid, Rhiannon or the Muses for inspiration as their focus and whichever one is chosen would require a key offering that is pleasing to whichever particular God or Goddess was chosen.  If the rite is being done with the purpose of using the working section of the COoR for healing one of their member’s who is quite ill, then the focus for the key offerings might be Airmid or Brigid if their hearth culture is Celtic, or Panacea if they follow a Greek hearth culture. Once a God or Goddess is chosen that is appropriate for the occasion or need, then a key offering is chosen that is traditionally pleasing to or is connected to in mythology to that particular god or goddess that has been chosen to primarily address in that ritual.

12.  Discuss your understanding of Sacrifice, and its place in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

Sacrifice is an important part of the ghosti relationship in the Core Order of Ritual and likely the first answer to “what is sacrifice in ADF liturgy”.   “We (the worshiper) give that They (the Gods) may give.”  I’ve no idea who originally coined that phrase but it says it all in a nutshell.  We sacrifice in our small way so that those more powerful Gods/Godessess that we make those sacrifices to can reciprocate in the ghosti relationship by offering a return gift to us, a bigger and more powerful gift as they are more powerful beings.  Ceisiwr Serith offers three meanings to sacrifice and perhaps the role of it in our liturgy.  He cites the ghosti-relationship, but also the “shared-meal” and the “relationship with Chaos”  (Serith, Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF).  All three ideas of the reason for Sacrifice in ADF Liturgy involve a reciprocating give and take between our Patrons and ourselves.

I’ve actually partaken of the shared meal method in solitaire ADF style rites where I’ve prepared a holiday meal and shared the food and drink with my Matrons (It was a “girls’ night out” type of rite involving fruity cocktails between me and the Goddesses so the Gods were respectfully excluded).  The shared meal ideal of sacrifice leans on the hospitality virtue, of the tradition of “breaking bread” between the guest and host.  Serith’s “relationship with Chaos” is an entirely new concept for me but I can see where it might have its place in ADF Liturgy as well.  Serith explains that “if the Well is Chaos and the Tree is Cosmos” and that “the Well draws up the waters of Chaos” then the Tree is fed by the waters of Chaos and thus Chaos feeds Cosmos  (Serith, Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF). If we feed Chaos and sacrifice to the Well, it then feeds to the Cosmos and to the Patrons that live within it.  Completing the cycle of giving and receiving, the Tree then blesses the Well with its Fruit.  I highly recommend this web page  cited above, by the way, “Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeons and ADF” written by Ceisiwr Serith, for it really helped me understand the nature of Sacrifice when coming from an eclectic Pagan/not-quite-Wiccan background to the Druidic liturgy of ADF and why sacrifices must be made.

13.  Discuss your understanding of the Omen (minmum 100 words)

The Omen is performed as step ten of the classical 18 steps of the Core Order of Ritual described in Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites (Newberg).  There are two styles of the Omen question.  Basically one form is where the solitary practitioner or the grove seer asks “have our offerings been accepted” and the other version is “what blessings are offered to us.”  The first method is riskier because if an answer is received in the omen that can be perceived as negative, then more offerings might need to be sacrificed in order to appease the deity that is being focused on.  Still, with more risks can come more power in the resulting blessing that one might expect to come with the calling of that blessing in the next steps.  The type of omen used for this method is customarily something that would give a yes/no answer and in a pinch can be done with the mere flip of a coin that hasn’t been sacrificed to the Well.

The second method is safer and open ended.  In these cases negative answers can be looked upon as challenges, or perhaps helpful warnings given by the Kindred so that we know to sidestep something looming ahead.  Good forms of divination for this type of omen question would be something that reads with more nuances such as tarot or runes.

14.  Discuss your understanding of the Blessing Cup, or “Return Flow”. (minimum 100 words)

Ahhh, the reward.  We give that we may receive, and this is the step in the Core Order of Ritual where we receive.  We’ve re-created the cosmos and built a space between the worlds.  We’ve made offerings and sacrifices, songs and praise to the Gods.  We’ve communicated through Omens.  We’ve spent a great deal of time, effort and magical energy in building power, devotion and hospitality, pushing it out there like pushing a wave of water out to the center of a pool.  The Return Flow is when that wave rolls back to us, with a blessing upon its crest.  Here is the point of our liturgy where we Call for the Blessing and ask that the Gods reciprocate on the Ghosti relationship; we Hallow that blessing and acknowledge that the blessing has been transferred from Their hands and into our Blessing Cup (or wherever we indicate we’d like it to arrive to) and partake of it; and then we Affirm that we have drank and that we have indeed received that blessing.

15.  Describe possible cultural variances for elements discussed in questions 3 through 14 above. (minimum 100 words)

In researching questions #3 and 10 I found some cultures use the ideal of a gate while others a veil or doorway.  In other cultures and practices the opening between our realm and the other realms is worked in such as way as to open their world to us.  In question #7 we are asked the significance of water but as far as sacrifices and offerings go, not all Indo-European pagans used wells for their sacrifices.  Archeology has found deposits in water such as pools and lakes such as Llyn Cerrig Back in Anglesey but elsewhere dotted across Gaul from Rhineland to the Pyrenees and in the Germanic areas, offering pits and shafts have been discovered (Piggott 80-83).   In question #10 we are asked to describe other possible models for filling out the cosmic picture and I cite Jenni Hunt’s template for the Roman Hearth ritual in which a focus, a mundus and a portus are used to fill out the cosmic picture in the form of sacrificial fire, shaft of earth, and a doorway rather than the trio of fire, well and tree (Hunt).  Some cultures use a Sacred Pillar or Sacred Pole instead of a Tree.  There is also the matter of what is sacrificed (in relation to question #14 regarding the Return Flow/Blessing Cup) where different cultures would customarily sacrifice different things such as the Irish would lean towards offering whiskey and the Roman Hearths would offer wine.

16.  Describe how ADF liturgy corresponds with your personal or group practice. (minimum 100 words)

Well there’s an ironic twist to this.  I spent the entire year of my Dedicant Program study balking at how complicated the Core Order of Ritual is while I was finding myself needing to simplify and de-complicate my spiritual practice.  And yet…I performed every single one of those High Days with a COoR format.  During this time I found that I was reducing and further reducing the clutter on my home shrine, putting all the witchery and heathen tools and toys away little by little between each High Day until I had what I felt to be a very modest, clean, uncluttered space to settle down my internal marbles that were always clicking loudly within my ADHD mind, and it clicked into place, like the last and biggest marble dropped into some elaborate internal puzzle within me.  Now I used the COoR, our ADF liturgy in its most simplified terms in my devotions.  I created COoR charm-beads and Virtue charm-beads and the story behind that can be read at:  https://spiderlilydruid.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/coor-beads/

And with that last marble in place, something else clicked.  I’ve been religious my whole life without a religion.  When I was seven years old I had a religious experience that mesmerized me and enveloped me in a sunny field 44 years ago.  Ever since that day I’ve been talking to my Kindred and to my Gods.  I’ve spent my life searching for a path that would feel right for me and spent it feeling the frustrations of instead finding a variety of “almost but not quite” to “oh my stars, get me out of here.”  In that search I’ve been on preaching a band-wagon with a calling to help others find their paths, whatever that path may be for them, and giving courage to those who really don’t want to stay in line with their peers when their hearts felt a calling that was different from the mainstream.  When that great marble clicked into place and I finally started to understood the ADF’s liturgy, when the dance of the COoR started making real sense to me, I knew then that I’d found the final home for the calling I’d always had.

Works Cited:

Bonewits, Isaac. Step by Step Through a Druid Worship Ceremony. 2010 <http://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/stepbystep.html&gt;.

Corrigan, Ian. The Intentions of Druidic Ritual. 7 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/intentions.html&gt;.

Hunt, Jenni. A Roman Ritual Template. 18 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/rituals/roman/template.html&gt;.

Kami Landy of Shining Lakes Grove (SLG), with revisions by Rev. John “Fox” Adelmann and Rob Henderson. ADF.Org. 11 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/samhain/slgsamhain97.html&gt;.

Newberg, Brandon. Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual Tutorial for Ar nDraiocht Fein. 2007. 2010 <http://www.adf.org/members/wiki/Main/COoRTutorial/Ancient_SymbolsModern_Rites.pdf&gt;.

Paradox. Sacred Space, an Exploration of the Triple Center. 16 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/sacred-space.html&gt;.

Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. San Francisco: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2002.

Serith, Ceisiwr. Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF. 2010 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/sacrifice-ie-adf.html&gt;.

Thomas, Rev. Kirk. The Nature of Sacrifice. 20 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nature-of-sacrifice.html&gt;.

Thompson, Anthony R. ADF.org. 11 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/samhain/art-samhain.html&gt;.

Unknown. Standard Liturgical Outline. 18 October 2010 <http://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/brief-lit.html&gt;.

[1] Ghosti is a Proto-Indo-Europeon word meaning “someone with whom one has a reciprocal obligation of hospitality” (Serith, Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF) and in the context of liturgy, the steps we use to build this “ghosti” relationships are steps to create that ghosti or guest/host reciprocal relationship of giving to the guest and in turn receiving a blessing from Them.  Bonewits states that the English words “guest” and “host” both come from the word “ghosti” and defines ghosti as “someone with whom someone has reciprocal duties of hospitality (Bonewits, The Druid Cosmos).

The CTP and its squeeky wheel…

•December 7, 2010 • 2 Comments

Nothing new really to report.  I’m almost done with History of Neopaganism and Druidry and would have had it done weeks ago but I’m sort of losing my normal ambitious drive to study and excel because the review process is pretty long and painful.  The first course, Liturgy 1, was turned in October 23rd.  It took a couple of weeks before it was even looked at.  It got downloaded for review on November 3rd.  Then it spent a couple of weeks being reviewed.  It was returned for corrections, mostly my inexperience with MLA formatting as I expected, I made corrections and sent it back in only a few days after receiving it back and then I uploaded it back to the submission site on November 20th.  There is more lag time while it sits to get downloaded again to the reviewer, and then it sits there waiting to be reviewed for a few more weeks.  All said and done, it’s taking longer to get the course reviewed than it is to actually study and write up the course.

Am I bitching about it?  I don’t mean to be, but it’s frustrating.  I’d planned on completing my first Clergy circle in 12-19 months.  At this rate, I’m three months into the first course of the program and still have not gotten it through to Approval stage due to the slowwwwww grind to get it reviewed and I can’t turn in any other work until the one that’s submitted is passed and approved through review.   It’s not the study, reading, research and writing that is taking the time in courses of the Clergy Training Program for me, it’s just getting the darn essay questions even looked at to be reviewed.

I could just keep to my planned schedule in my studies and course completions for the program, but then I’m going to end up with 14 courses finished with maybe 3 approved and the other 11 sitting for a year as they are only being processed singly, one course at a time with a couple of months time spent on each of those slowly reviewed over the course of a couple of months each.  Frustration.

I’m definitely used to a faster turn over of work done at collegiate speed with terms and semesters, not spending months on getting 16 essay questions reviewed on a single course within a program.



Racked the Second Batch

•November 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

My first batch was very sweet, very concentrated, and thus very potent.  I got a lot of compliments on it, and it is very yummy, but to my taste it is more like a sweet cordial, something one sips in a fancy tiny glass.  So I gave Luana a bottle of it and Shannon, and I have bottle of this Honey Cordial stashed for Sam.

I went to the brewing supply house and discussed the problems we had with the zork corks leaking and he found a solution for me.  We need to soak the corks in hot water to make the plastic more malleable so the tear-offs don’t split when we pound them down.  The owner there is very nice, gave me three corks free just because of the trouble I’d had so now I have new corks.  I’ve uncorked the remaining bottles and poured them into a 5 gallon covered glass container to finish racking and then when the sediment drops, I will siphon the mead out to collect only the clear mead for the bottles. I will draw off a bottle of this for the White Elephant gift for work’s Xmas party and wait to bottle the rest later.

My second batch is ready to rack and upon taste test I’ve decided that while that first batch was too sweet, this second back is less concentrated and more bitter ( I expect because this second recipe had me putting the oranges in with the peels where the first batch and recipe did not), so I racked off a gallon of it into the too sweet batch to even it out. The remaining three gallons of the racked 2nd batch I expect to turn out a lot drier.  They’re racking off in fresh plastic gallon jugs with balloons.

Plans for my third batch are going to be to use real wine yeast instead of bread yeast to reduce sediment, I’ll use oranges but no rind, clove, cinnamon stick, a pinch of allspice, pinch of nutmeg, and to this third batch, I’m going to add pears.  As for honey concentration, while that first sweet batch made 3 gallons and the second drier batch made 5 gallons of pre-racked mix to ferment with the same amount of honey for each batch, for the third batch I will split the difference in honey concentration and divide the honey between 4 gallons.