The High Day Rites

VIII. High Day Rites


High Day Ritual – Lughnasadh

My first High Day in this new path was Lughnasadh.  I performed my rite solitary on August 1st, and all in all I think it went pretty well.  I had spent several days planning it so I had everything ready at the time of the ceremony. The one thing I forgot was that my newest of my two cats had no clue what was going on and thought it was going to be crazy fun to dart under the table and snag the tablecloth.  He nearly dragged everything to the edge of the table.  Such a brat, my youngest furry child.

This is my first attempt at an ADF style rite as opposed to the Wiccan/Pagan style I’ve performed over many years.  I stumbled over quite a few of the passages, but I expected that so it wasn’t upsetting.  I had a really good friend with me on the spiritual side and having him there always makes things better, gives me confidence.  I know I’ll get it down eventually, get it smoother over time, after all, this was my first High Day as a new druid after so many years of casting circles. I felt the “rightness” of the Land, Sea, and Sky but am having trouble integrating it as part of the ritual.  There’s a wholly different routine to the ritual than the pagan-witch routine, and so many elements to the druid version that I’m having trouble sorting them out, it’s almost too complicated at this point, but I thoroughly expect it will get more fluid over time and practice.

With witch circles, the circle is cast, quarters are called, there can be invites, invocations for the holiday, magical workings, then dismissing quarters and closing circle.  Over simplification, yes, but I know it by heart so it’s simple in my mind.  With the Druid version, there are outsiders to deal with, and the ancestors/nature spirits/patrons to call.  There is Land/Sea/Sky.  There is the Gatekeeper.  There are sacrifices galore, well particularly with this one because there is the usual silver/well part, and then there are the Lughnasadh sacrifices with the grain and bread and ale. Then the holiday part, followed by omens, any magic work if there’s something to be done, and then all the dismissals.  It’s crazy complicated if you’ve never done anything like this and you are trying to learn it all alone.

To aid in this I read over a couple of  the Lughnasadh rites posted on the ADF site and combined them, using parts of one, and parts of another, keeping the liturgy intact.  In fact, being so new to this, I followed the order of the ritual exactly, only swapping out invocations that felt more natural to me between the two rituals I used as guides.  So basically, I borrowed heavily from “A Celtic Lughnasadh,” “Stone Creed Grove Lughnasadh” and “Wild Onion Grove Lughnasadh” for formatting and invocations.

My formatting for my personal, solitary Lughnasadh rite went at follows (I omit the invocations for brevity)

  1. Preparation of the ritual space, getting it all put together and ready. (as well as rescuing it all from the naughty cat playing hide and seek with the altar cloth)
  2. Self purifications
  3. Initiating the Rite
  4. Purification,  bidding the out-dwellers to leave my space,

This was particularly important for me to have them leave rather than invite them or to placate them. Without going into personal detail, this was the “leave now by your own volition or be banished from me forever by me and my spiritual posse” notice to one spirit in particular that has plagued me for the whole of my life.

5. Honoring the Earth Mother and Statement of Purpose.  This was especially dear to me as Danu has been my Patroness literally for decades.

6. Recreating the Cosmos

    7.    Opening the Gates, also an aspect especially dear to me as this is the first time I have invited my   otherworldly Guardian to take an active role in my rituals.

    8.    Inviting and offerings to the Three Kindred

    9.    Key offerings

    10. Prayer of Sacrifice

    11. Omen

    12. Called for the Blessings/Waters of Life, Hallowing the Blessing, Affirming the Blessing.

    13.  Workings…this is where I asked the blessings of my two amulets that connect me and my shrine,   as well as my declaration of my First Oath.

    14. Closing the gates, thanking the Earth Mother, and closing the rite.

    Despite all the hitches in speech and the problems with flow from one part to another part even with having it completely scripted down on paper in advance, it did feel quite powerful.  I felt the presence of my favorite guardian and his pleasure at being asked to act as my Gatekeeper. I got an “about time” from him at being brought to my magic on an “official” basis rather than leaving him out there just to hover.  I felt the presence of nature spirits but then they are always around and I am working on re-cultivating a host of plant life for them to fuss over inside my new apartment. As for the deities, I didn’t feel them as strongly, like there was still a cloud there between us. I expect this is because I have never developed a relationship between the Light Ones beyond Danu and have always gravitated straight to Her.  Sometimes she speaks to me as Danu, and sometimes Anu.  Actually what I hear is like a stutter in the name, like D’Anu, and that’s how She relates Herself to me.  It’s going to take some time to cultivate a relationship with Brigit and Lugh, but I made the first step on this Lughnasad.  Now as for the Ancestors, the invited ones were there, very strongly at this ritual, and I think they are gathering, helping make a wall to keep a particular ancestor out who has been very hurtful to me out, more so now that I have made a decision to banish the hurtful ancestor from my life.

    For Omens, I have been a tarot reader for a very long time.  I have dabbled in runes and intend on learning them better later, so for now I leaned on what I know best considering there was so much of “new” to get under my belt with this High Day.

    Now Omens.  I asked if they accept my offerings.  The card flipped was Father of Swords, which in the deck I was using (Haindl) is Father Ra.  So as the father god of the sun, and this being a holiday celebrating the Harvest and Lugh, I took that as a yes.

    I asked “What are the blessings you offer in return” and they gave me, what has been for years the worse card in the deck. Ten of Swords…Ruin.  The most final and destructive of all cards whenever I do a reading and it turns up.  Ahh, enlightenment strikes.  Between that card coming up during this ritual and now writing this down two weeks later, I have assumed that Ruin was aimed at me, and I was taking that pretty seriously, and pretty hard.  Life has been majorly ruinous for me of late and without going into detail, well I was sure that card meant more of the same.  Nice “blessing.” But now, in writing this all down two weeks later, now I realize Ruin is not aimed at me, but at the ruin of something else.  Someone else.  Someone that falsely claimed to be something it was not and has carried that lie for 43 of my 50 years in this incarnation.  I had put my foot down. I had made a decision. I declared during the calling of my Ancestors which ones were welcomed and which “one” has the choice of walking away of his own will or being banished forcefully from me forever in the near future.  The “blessing returned” card is Ruin, but not the ruin aimed my way, but a ruin to the one I am banishing. This one who will be “ruined” from my life has been a life-long problem to me and is now finally being dealt with now that I have realized the problem and I am finally decisive about it.  My welcomed Ancestors and Patrons have my back.  Now that IS powerful, and truly is a great blessing, indeed.

    Final card, “What are your further needs of me today?”  The same card that keeps coming up despite how thoroughly I shuffle those cards was the very next card I flipped over.  Mother of Stones, Spider Woman.  Since deciding upon turning to Druidry, Grandmother Spider keeps being given to me, showing up in the deck as my significator. It is because of this constant repetition, of this card showing itself to me over and over that I’ve had to say to my Ancestors, “okay, I get it, I get it.” I have taken Spider Lily as my spiritual name.  This is what They require of me and affirm to me now in this final Omen card, the Ancestors call me the Spider.  My Gatekeeper calls me “my little golden spider on the red dragon’s back.” He says this in a teasing tone, as though I am a welcomed annoyance.

    All in all, a very powerful celebration ritual, a “thanksgiving” and harvesting ritual, a celebration as I return to a pagan path in the harvesting years of my life as I embark on my 5th decade in this lifetime.  I would like to close with a quote I used for the Invocation of Intent:

    As I stand firmly upon the Mother Earth, I give praise and offerings to the Kindred in the ways of those who have gone before me.

    Now is the beginning of the Time of Ripening, when the labor of the Folk brings the Land to bear, when the Power of the Sun gives itself to the Power of the Earth. I come in this moment of rest and pleasure, before the labor of the harvest.

    This invocation has special meaning to me.  I am at the beginning of my time of overall ripening in my life.  This applies not just to the Wheel of our Year, but to the Wheel of my own personal life.  I have reaped a great deal in my 50 years.  Some of it good.  Some of it foul.  Now is time for me to deal with my labors, harvest in what can be saved, and prepare for a better harvest as the Wheel turns to a new cycle in my lifetime.  I rest now, pause and reflect on what has been behind me in my lifetime.  The time between Lughnasadh and my Celtic New Year will be spent reflecting on these things, clearing up the loose ends at Autumn Equinox, so that when Samhain comes, I will enter a clean new cycle in my life with feet firmer on the ground, more accustomed to the fit of my druid walk and gait in this path, and I will be looking to the future.

    Bibliography and Resources:

    Ceisiwr Serith, “A Celtic Lughnassadh” found at: http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/lughnassadh/cei-lughnasad.html

    Ian Corrigan, “Lughnassadh Rite” found at: http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/lughnassadh/lughnassadh.html

    Wild Onion Grove’s Lughnassadh 2004 found at: http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/lughnassadh/wog-lughnassadh-04.html

    Second paragraph of the Invocation of Intent is a direct quote from the “Statement of Purpose and Precedent” from the Lughnasadh Rite written by Ian Corrigan.

    High Day Ritual – Autumn Equinox

    This is my second High Day ritual performed ADF style.  I used the “Solitary Celtic Rite Template.  I’ve been practicing the liturgy, and while I still stumble a bit, I am becoming a little more comfortable with it.  What I found myself most uncomfortable with at this High Day was finding a reason for the rite.  I know the history of it, the background, and had in fact already written my essay on it, not to mention that I have been a practicing pagan for the whole of my daughters’ lives but for a U-Turn of 7 years into Christianity with my now errand partners in life.  Then it struck me, that it was the lack of my daughters still living at home that made this particular holiday very “meh.”

    With Lughnasadh, I still get the “let’s barbeque” party with the girls and we did, indeed, have that yearly barbeque tradition if not a bit early this year.  But Autumn Equinox in our household has always been centered on preparing for the coming year, as in school.  School clothes shopping, supplies, getting ready to buckle down to indoor studies with the approaching winter months while I get the outdoors ready for winter.  I no longer own any property that requires the last mowing of the lawn, the cutting back of trees and roses, nothing left to prepare for winter and to be ready before Pooka comes and I can salute him on my clean yard.

    So with a need for inspiration on this Equinox, I sought my happy place, Lacamas Lake on the afternoon of September 22nd, and spent some time there after work. Driving home afterwards towards the west, the Sun began to set, waves of gold and reds turning to purples as it lowered.  I always feel so much power in the Sun, a burst of it as it sets.  I took that burst with me when I entered my apartment.  I went straight to my kitchen, pulled out a box of cornbread mix and popped muffins in the oven to bake while preparing my sacred space.  I decided that with the girls not here, I’d invite girls from the other world, my kindred and goddesses and I iced up my blender with strawberry daiquiris for the alcohol offerings.  Whisky and beer are fine in mixed company, but Ladies like Cocktails.  Oh, I did offer a jigger of straight whisky to the out-dwellers, served it in a boot-shaped shot glass.  I thought that significant, as I was giving them “the boot” to take it outside and leave us Ladies to our party.

    After the shrine was set with the tablecloth and regalia, I smudged myself with sage and performed purification throughout my apartment with the sage (careful of course to avoid the fire detector.)  I followed the rite nearly verbatim of the template but for leaving out the songs to which I do not know the tune and added in my personal conversations with each kinship and deity.  Danu, Bridgid, my Grandmother and other female ancestors and female nature spirits were honored and offered strawberry daquiris and cornbread muffins.  Fire, Well and Tree were offered incense, a silver pentagram charm, and lavender.  I also give an offering to my Gatekeeper.  He’s very special and personal to me.  Fafnyr has an oil burner held by a trio of dragons at His candle.  Into the glass dish that the little dragon statues hold over the small candle I offered pomegranate oil.

    Now this may seem a bit sexist to some, and perhaps irreverent.  I assure you, my personal kinship was…amused.  They understood my feeling of “lack” with my daughters not here and how I’m used to having so much female energy around me this time of year and how quiet it is without them bustling about preparing for winter and upcoming studies, so many years of tradition being suddenly unnecessary as there is but one to ready for school and for winter, and she doesn’t live with me.  My son-in-law jokingly and lovingly refers to us, my daughters and me as the “Coven of Estrogen.”  Anyway, the rite was started, the Holy Ladies and Guests were a bubbly energy about me, and the Holy Lords who attended kept to the edges to happily watch their Ladies.

    The order of the rite as per the Solitary Celtic Rite Template that I performed included the purification and preparation of the sacred space, with which I used sage smudging.  I honored my Earth Mother, meditated to center myself and then made my Statement of Purpose.  I gave the out-dwellers “the boot.” I established the sacred space through the Fire with the offering of jasmine incense, through the Well with the silver offering, and through the Tree with the offering of lavender flowers to the candle that burns with my Tree representation.  With my pomegranate oil offering to Fafnyr, we opened the Gates.  I have a small candle for each of the kindred and to their candles I also offered lavender flowers, first to the Ancestors, then to the nature spirits, and then to the Shining Ones, particularly the Daughters of Danu.

    I meditated again, re-centered again, and then rather than making a pretty speech, after having all these scripted words, I just let it flow.  My “honoring the Spirits of the Occasion” was not a prewritten invocation, but a heart-felt talk to Danu, to Bridget, and to Grandmother about my path, where I have been and where I am going.  I gave them all praise and thanks and huge heapings of corn muffins and daiquiris.  It made quite the slushy.

    For the Omens, I asked, “Are my offerings accepted,” and received the King of Pentacles inverted.  I cannot remember if I’d mentioned this before in other essays, but I do not read inverted cards as opposites but rather as dilutions of an up-righted card. For me, they read as the same meaning as an upright card but without as much strength behind it.  This method came from years of recording readings and going back to look at them later to see how things turned out, and it just seems to be the way that works best for me.  Financially, things are tight and I’d attribute the card to that as a positive sign, but to be honest, the King of Pentacles has been appearing a lot lately in readings appearing to be an actual person so I suppose I’ll find out more on this later.

    For “what blessings have you for me” I received Three of Wands, that I will have the vision and confidence to succeed in my long-term planning.  Grandma always said I could accomplish anything I ever wanted, if I just wanted it bad enough.  It’s part of the stubborn nature of the women ancestors I have.  Grandma also used to say, “When someone calls you Bitch, you say Thank-You.”  Alright, I do want it bad enough.

    For “what do you require of me” the omen card turned to Princess of Cups.  This card has also been coming up quite a bit lately as I have turned more introspect, shoring up my thin skin from the betrayal and upheaval in my personal life, my surrendering back to the pagan path, and now that I am spending so much time in meditation.  The Mental Training of the “Dedicant Through the Wheel of the Year” couldn’t come at a better time, when I need the constant re-centering to get through my personal upheavals.

    I asked for and received the blessings, blessing my own portion of the daiquiris and a muffin, enjoyed the cold frothy goodness and acknowledged the blessing. It was now time to thank my Sacred Guests in reverse order.  I meditated and re-centered myself one more time, then closed the gates with Fafnyr and ended the Rite.

    It is with a measure of sadness that I leave this year behind me.  I started it with hopes and happiness.  I am now standing before the next year suddenly betrayed, single, and financially a bit strapped for it.  But I am a strong woman, one who survives.  I have the backbone of my grandmother and her mother before her.  Though I face standing at Samhain alone, and perhaps a lone Crone for the rest of my days, it will be a better life than the lie that was kept from me before it was revealed.  And because of all this I have left a path I walked with a false soul-mate and embark on the path I had always been happiest in, walking again beside The Mother.

    Bibliography:

    The Solitary Celtic Rite Template by Anthony R. Thompson at http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/general/sol-template-art.html

    High Day Recap: Samhain

    I spent the better part of two days working on my Samhain celebration’s rite.  This is a very important High Day for me, in this particular year.  Samhain is the third harvest festival, literally called by some customs Third Harvest, and the final preparations for this harvest must be complete to set the tone of the New Celtic Year for me for very personal, important reasons. I am in fact, on this Third Harvest, also entering into the Third Phase of my life.

    What am I harvesting?   I took a vow at Lughnasadh, to step upon this Path.  I did not take that vow lightly. I have spent the time between these three Harvests weighing, looking back, and culling.  My life thus far has been primarily of the phase of Matron, my Maiden phase being far too short.  I have spent the last 33 years raising daughters and all that entails and then some, for what can a Matron be without a Mate, and there have been many maelstroms in that regard in my life.  At this Samhain, I am willfully stepping from Matron to Crone.

    I am going to step a moment from this holiday of the Dead to talk about The Dead.  This IS a holiday of remembering them, is it not?  There is a woman who was once a friend of mine (and no, she is not one of the dead, I’m leading up to that.)  She writes a lot of books, books that are not recommended by ADF.  In fact the ADF recommends that people do NOT read her books.  Myself, I call them “pagan lite” and I know that what she writes is partly what her publishers force her to write and then she slips in between the things she can get in that are important to her.  In order to even get published, it was a long hard road for her in picking her battles between what she wanted to compose and what she was required to compose in order to continue doing what she liked.  I know. I was there.  I heard the battles over her manuscripts and read some of her early ones first handwritten and then typed not on a computer but from her old fashioned word processor.  Yes, publishing with big known publishers can be and is a nasty business.  Now that aside…do some of the things she presents have questionable and undocumented basis?  You betcha.  But I also happen to know that some of what she presents comes not from research but at the word of several spirits she channels.

    Now let me tell you about the people she channels.  The Dead.  I do not accept things just because someone says it is so.  There are those that would look skeptically at me of my talk of my Patron, Fafnir.  There are those that would look skeptically at You when you talk of speaking personally to your Gods.  Because someone “channels” a spirit doesn’t mean they are legit, or if they are legit, that the spirit itself is legit and well meaning either.  But this particular spirit that my friend of the past channels really nailed me one day.  My “then husband” and I were packing for a weekend trip to our friend’s home when I took myself aside and on a plain piece of notebook paper secretly wrote out 12 questions. I let no one know I had done this, and so no one but me ever set eyes on this list of questions, including my spouse.  No one.  I folded that paper and put it in my right front jeans pocket and there it stayed until that night when we’d arrived at the friend’s house, settled down, had dinner, and then she asked if we would like her to channel.  The spirit came forth, it turned my friend’s head to me and said quite seriously, “You have many questions.”  I nodded solemnly and pulled out that paper from my pocket.  Still no one could see the list but me.  That spirit proceeded to answer every single question, in order, without me asking a single one of those questions.

    This spirit also told me that I came into this lifetime after a long strew of lifetimes to spiritually clean house.  I had a great deal on my plate and a great many ties to sever so I would not have to suffer through them again in future lives.  Everything, all twelve of those questions, and all that this spirit predicted to me of my life has come true. This is also on the heels of a promise made to me in a spiritual event that happened to me way back when I was but 7 years old and had no clue what spirituality or angels or gods or spirits were.

    And now at Samhain, I stand with a foot in both worlds, within my sacred space between the living and the dead, and with a foot lifting from my personal past as my other foot reaches to step into the future.  I have completed my tasks. For more than three decades I have acted the Matron to my children and to the children of other parents who were too selfish to meet the needs of their own offspring.  I have also been the Matron mated to too many, and cleared away a cache of many karmic debts.  I have not been without my own sins and selfishness.  I have been harsh and cruel, and I have been victimized and punished. I have reaped what I have sown and then some.  And I have cut the ties of many, many relationships, not only in this life, but forever more.  And now…I am tired.  My soul is old and I am just damn tired.  I have done all that was asked, and I know there will be more asked.

    I performed the Samhain ritual with all this in play.  I used ADF liturgy and added a few OBOD elements including the ritual to initiate myself into their Bardic order as I begin their course concurrent with this ADF Dedicant program.  But this time I approach my Kindred not as a maiden and child, not as a matron looking to my Matron and Mother for help, and yea, I’m expecting flak for this, but it’s right, and They expected this, so here goes with the blasphemy and failure at piety…I entered into this Rite no longer asking, groveling, pleading, no longer hopeful and wishful, and not so much in a “thankful celebration” attitude.  I entered this Rite with specific questions and demands. Demands. This was not all about celebrations. This was a Rite with work to be done, things to declare.  Reaping, and Culling. And it was long overdue to set things straight and set things right.

    The Morrigu gives all the women in my family a backbone of steel.  In this ritual, I used it.  I stood in defense of myself.  I accepted responsibility for my actions and took ownership of my transgressions.  But I will not and did not beg for wisdom, for mercy, for forgiveness.  I will not and did not beg for favors and blessings.  This Full Moon of Scorpio I stood as a Crone respectful of my Elders and Shining Sisters and Brothers, respectful to the Druids who have gone before me, and honoring those who will follow after me, but I stood also, finally, with respect to myself.  I shed away decades of feeling not quite good enough, not quite worthy, not quite acceptable. I am me, I am strong, and I am worthy.  And of me, this is what They expected. I was met eye to Eye, strong and affirmed.

    Now, to the meat and content of the ritual.  The sacred space was cleared and prepared.  I washed and smudged myself and my apartment with sage.  I used the Nine Breaths to center myself at the altar I’d prepared and then made an offering to the Out-dwellers. I do this first and a bit out of order so I don’t have to give them anymore thought to the rest of the work I must do.

    I acknowledged the four directions.  I did not call towers or cast any circles.  For me the practice of calling peace to the quarters as OBOD does speaks to my Native American heritage.  I then honored my great Earth Mother, my Mother of all, Danu and used the OBOD’s druid’s prayer.  Next came the Statement of Purpose:

    I bring you forth to perform the Rites of Samhain with me

    With the thinning of the veils,

    The passing of the Wheel to the New Year of Celts

    We open fully the portals, You and I,

    We widen the gates and tear aside the thinness of the veil

    With the fully ripened moon of Scorpio.

    We cast a foot to each side,

    Into two existences

    This world and the Beyond

    Looking to the Past and to the Future

    Learning with the wisdom of retrospect

    And preparing for what growths we seek ahead.

    I recreated the Cosmos with the invocation and offerings to the Sacred Fire, Sacred Well and Sacred Tree.  I invoked Land, Sea and Sky and then drew them all together with the intonement of Awen thrice.  I called on my dragon Patron, Fafnir, to open the Gate and guard it.

    I invited and lit candles and made offerings to the kindred, with Ancestors first, then the Nature Spirits, and then the Tuatha de Danann. I made a prayer of sacrifice and a final offering to all that were called.  And then, I beseeched the Morrigu.  It had struck me as I was writing this ritual, that my inadequacies in feeling close to Brigit and feeling uncomfortable with working with Her came not only from a past life where She was called forth in disguise as St. Brigit (which I seriously need to get over and put in the past) but in the fact that the female Patron that I am bound to beyond Danu, is actually, Morrigu, and She has rock hard ties to my kindred.  Brigit has always had a backseat to my personal Gnosis in favor of Morrigu who for me is second only to Danu.  I, in fact, named my third child Morrigan after Her.  It was for this daughter that I called Morrigu and invited Her to this Samhain rite.  That and we had some unsaid business that needed to be said.  Part of taking stock of the yield I had reaped in my life required laying that stock verbally on the table between She and I, Goddess to Crone.  Also in this conversation, well, there’s a particular Out-dweller that has been an issue, one that I threatened with banishment from our Kinship.  In my conversation with The Morrigu, this Out-dweller was given a name and a plan was set forth in that regard, terms of an agreement were made.

    I then beseeched the Kindred, a Gift for a Gift.  We had a heart to heart and a “tell it like it is” conversation, going point by point of all that had transpired over the years and where everything stood, of what I was turning away from, of what I was turning toward with the Wheel’s rotation into a New Year.

    I drew the Omens. I used the Druid Craft tarot deck.  I asked “Do you accept my offerings” and received the Princess of Pentacles.  I asked “What blessings do you have for me” and received “The Magician.”  I asked “What further do you require of me at this time” and received Nine of Cups.”

    I called for the blessing of the Gift in Return, acknowledged the receiving of the blessings, hallowed the blessings and affirmed receiving them. Mmm, hot apple cider and …oops out of whiskey, used rum.  And by the way, toasted some really, really nummy pumpkin seeds for the offerings as well, salted and a hint of garlic.

    For workings, here I performed the initiation into the Bardic Grade of the OBOD and declared my intention to follow OBOD as an Order and Craft, and the ADF as my Religion, using both paths towards the goal of self growth and molding myself to someone that would better serve others with a more mature wisdom and administering to the hearts of friends and strangers alike for those in need, which I do run across quite often in my secular profession.

    My work complete, I thanked Them all in reverse order, asked Fafnir to close the gates, and thanked Morrigu and finally Danu, closing the ritual.

    Whew…and thank you to anyone that has bothered reading all this. I know it’s quite a lot, and I expect the future write-ups of the High Days will not be nearly as extensive.  It’s just that this High Day in particular, had a lot of heavy importance to me so there was a lot of preparation over the last several months to get here, to where I am now.  And now…I look forward to the future.

    I have cleared my plate completely this Third Harvest, at the end of my life’s Summer.  I start a New Year, and a new phase in my life, the Third Phase.  I am Damhán alla Líle, little sister to Grandmother Spider.  I am a Druid, and I am a Crone.

    High Day Ritual Report – Yule

    Winter Solstice in my family is our celebration of “Yule.”  We find ourselves at the longest night of the year, and with the return of the sun, our days will grow longer.

    It is a very busy, busy time of year for me, even more so this year as I was involved in my granddaughter’s rehearsals and 6 performances of the Nutcracker Ballet.  Somewhere after our final performance with nearly the whole family in attendance, we squeezed our family’s Yule feast with the usual merriment and trimmings. Then it was home for me to perform my Yule ritual.

    With all the hustle and bustle, what I wanted for my ceremony was a bit less bustle and a simpler, calmer and centered rite so I started with meditation and then prepared everything slowly and unhurried.  Rather than writing out a complicated rite, I simply printed out the Core Order of the ADF Ritual for High Days and went through the rite, steps one through 18, winging it with what I’ve learned over the previous three High Day rites.

    I initiated the rite with the start of my CD player, soothing meditation music.  I set out my boot-shaped shot glass with an offering of rum to the Out-dwellers.  It’s my personal joke, my giving them “the boot.”

    My step of purification included my usual smudging of Sage; it honors Grandmother Spider of my Native American background.  I honored the Earth Mother and stated the purpose of the rite and then after meditation of the Two Powers, I established the Three Worlds of Land, Sea and Sky and made offering of silver to the Well (a tiny sterling silver pentacle charm) and lit my cauldron candle and the candle held in the base of my World Tree, offering both those candles lavender blossoms.

    I called for my Gatekeeper, my Guardian Fafnyr to open the gates and felt a greater rush as the gate was opened this time than I’d previously felt, as though a breeze had whooshed through the room.  I didn’t look for it but it wouldn’t have surprised me if the candles had flickered at that.  My eyes were closed in concentration as I held a quick meditation to center myself again before calling the Kindreds.  I made offerings to them (more lavender blossoms) as I lit their candles and this brought me to the key offerings, which for Yule this year was Hot Buttered Rum. I made my Prayer of Sacrifice, calling on Danu. I did not call any typical seasonal Gods/esses, keeping it simple between me and my Kindred and my Matron.

    I used Tarot for the Omens, as usual.  They are as follows:

    1. “Do you accept my offerings?” and of this I received the Ace of Pentacles.

    2. “Do you have blessings in return for me?” and of this I received the King of Pentacles.

    3.  “What further work do you require of me?” and of this I received the Three of Pentacles.

    I called for the Blessings, affirmed it and enjoyed it, and for “workings” I did a few simple tarot readings regarding a few questions I wanted to mull over.   I thanked the beings in reverse order and then asked Fafnyr to close the gate, and finished with thanking the Earth Mother and closed the rite.

    While the ritual itself was very simple, it felt as well received as my more formal rites, and afterward I felt even more contemplative and relaxed.  Overall there was less a sense of energized rush and more a sense of calm, like a night in the cold woods covered in a quieting hush of chilled snow.  Ultimately it was that quiet hush that I needed more as I’d spent the last two weeks depleting my energy stores in concentrating on my granddaughter and her needs as well as the usual holiday shopping, sewing, wrapping and the holiday events of school Winter Concert all mixed in with long drive after drive back and forth to ballet rehearsals.

    I found that at the ebb of it all, a door remained quietly opened and an understanding seeped into my being regarding several personal matters and spiritual growths.  A year ago at Yule I stood unknowingly on a ledge and with Imbolc that ledge was sledge-hammered out from under me.  I found my personal life was not a sturdy mountain but a cliff collapsed.  I spent this year falling, hitting deep waters and nearly drowning before realizing the pattern and the reason behind it. 2009 was a hellish year, but with its ending comes an end to too-many tasks I’d laid on my plate to accomplish in this lifetime.  I’m done.  Done, done, and done.  I am not asking, I am telling the Kindred I am done.  If there is any more I had planned to do in this life, well it’s going to have to wait until the next incarnation.   From this time forward, all I want to do is live, quietly, enjoying my family, enjoying my mate. I want to plant flowers and watch them grow now. I want to tend to my spiritual garden and take care of my loved ones.  No more culling and exorcising of my karmic connections with certain people I’d spent too many lifetimes with.  Done, done, and again…done.

    With Yule, the Solar Year begins anew, and this year, the year of 2010 is the beginning of the rest of my life, the Crone years.  Oh…and Happy Birthday to me.  I mark my 51st year on December 28th, 2009.  I earned every gray hair that Lady Clairol colors away, and this last year of 2009, I earned too damn many extras. Cheers to 2010 and whatever it may bring.

    High day Ritual report:  Imbolc

    For Imbolc’s ritual I sought out our ADF site for a Celtic solitary rite and found one that I liked quite well, by Rob Henderson and Kami Landy[1] which was written March 31st, 1999.  Though I expect I will be doing a more personal version of my holiday rites later, I felt it was important to continue to use the ADF COoR format while I am still in the DP phase to give my personal practice a better foundation before I add and subtract elements from it to personalize it to “My Own Druidry” version of spiritual practice.

    I began with getting my main offering baking in the oven and while it baked I set about doing a bit of “spring cleaning.”   The tradition I raised my daughters on is that our “Bride cake” is the most heavenly of cakes….brownies.  For some reason it always worked out that this was a holiday started early with the day rather than waiting till moonrise and so this was always our “brownies for breakfast” day.  When the jokes would arise about what kind of parent would feed their kids brownies for breakfast the usual retort involved the fact that brownies have protein (eggs) , grain (flour), and dairy (milk) in them so “shaddup you.”

    After cleaning the home, making the brownies, the cleaned space was prepared with purification, and in my case, this involves smudging with sage.   I consecrated my shrine with the Henderson-Landy invocation and recited the Opening Prayers, stumbling a bit over them and then adding my own unscripted personal words.  I invoked the Earth Mother and then gave the Outsiders “the boot.”  For those that have not read my previous High Day reports, I have a glass boot-shaped tall shot glass that I pour whiskey into as an offering to the outsiders.  Today, in particular, I felt their wry approval, like neighbors that do not approve but peacefully agree to coexist.

    The Henderson-Landy ritual has the Two Powers at this point as written by Ian Corrigan which is a wonderful version.  There was another version that was shared recently on the Lists, I wished I’d copied it, saved it to share at this point as it was quite impressive and I’d love to have been able to share and give credit to that author, it was very, very well done.  What I actually used, however, was my own version, which in the latest incarnation (as the Two Powers has been evolving in my personal practice) with the Earth Power represented as the earth’s placental energy rising up through me and then I pulled the Sky Power and felt the flash as the Two Powers connected and splashed across a horizontal axis, feeling myself become the tree that reached with root and branch to join the two forces within my vertical axis.

    I opened the Portals but substituted their calling of Mannanan mac Lir with my own personal gatekeeper and friend, Fafnir.  Next came the invocations to the Kindreds, lighting a candle for each of the trio and offering lavender blossoms to their candles.

    Just before performing the invocation to the Deity of the Occasion, Brigit, my hearth candle with its triple wicks sputtered completely out…all three wicks snuffed out.  I took a deep breath and watched the residual smoke waft up from those three snuffed candles and thought to myself, “Well, it is tradition in many households to snuff out the hearth fire, rake it and see if Brigit leaves any signs of her passing in the freshly raked ashes.  So I paused a few moments thinking on this and then reached over to another candle.  I hadn’t really thought about why I had brought that other candle to the shrine, a tall thick white one on a glass pedestal, but it seemed “right” to put aside that snuffed triple wicked candle and replace it with the clean white one on the glass pedestal.  I lit it and continued with the rite, reciting the Brigit Invocation written by Rob Henderson and Kami Landy.

    After placing my Brigit doll to Her “bride’s bed” I made the offering of the “bride cake” or in this case, brownies and to wash it down I offered butterscotch schnapps.  I then had a little chat with Brigit.  She is not a Deity I have ever been close to.  My matron and shelter is Danu.  My strength has come from Morrigu.  But his last year, it was a very difficult year, one of the hardest of my life where many things a year ago in my hearth and home blew up.  That Tower in the tarot deck…kablooey!  It was absolutely horrible, heart ripping and spirit rendering.  But ya know what?  I am in a better place now, and much of that is the influence of Brigit.  Through Danu I found shelter once again. Through Morrigu I had the strength to persevere, to pick myself back up and continue on.  And through Brigit, the destroyed bricks of my hearth have been re-grouted and made whole once again.  We had a little talk about this, where I was one year ago today, to where I am now.   I am on my way “home” and it was Her that put me on the path again.  I am so blessed and grateful for this.

    I shuffled my tarot and asked if my offering was acceptable and She gave me back my own significator card.  I asked what my blessing would be and was given the Seven of Pentacles and when I asked what further work She required of me She gave me the Two of Wands.

    I performed the Return Blessings and then made the Closings as prescribed by this ritual as written by Henderson and Landy.  It was a good ritual, and a good day.  I expect this is going to be a good year.

    High Day Ritual Report – Spring Equinox

    I’m a bit in awe that this is my 6th report, that I only have two left.  So far I have attempted to use ADF liturgy for each one and every one of them and I think I succeeded in doing so.  I considered that now I have done the required minimum of 4 in the ADF method that I should start finding a method that merges ADF with my “own personal” style as ADF is after all, “Our Own Druidry.”  I went into the planning of this ritual, for Spring Equinox with the idea of doing it “my” way but still, I found myself at least using the COoR.

    What I did omit was any lengthy, elaborate speeches.  That part is just not my way.  It’s part of why I prefer a solitary practice.  My connection with the Kindred is very personal, and rather than memorizing songs and rhymes, poetry by rote, rather than giving a gift of creative words, well I’m really not too bad a writer, or so I am told, so there isn’t much sacrifice in that effort.  What is more meaningful to me, and more meaningful I think to them is if I set aside my ability to mash words together into a pleasing statement and give them something more important, words straight from the heart, from deep in my spirit.  It is when I open my spirit up the most that I receive back the greatest gifts and so, that is what I brought to the table.

    I initiated the rite with the ring of a single bell.  Purification involved clearing my mindset with 9 Breaths and then the Two Powers Meditation.  I gave the Outsiders “the boot” with the tall boot-shaped shot glass I offer whiskey to them with.

    I honored the Earth Mother and felt the hug of the Spirit.  I simply stated my purpose.  I then performed the step of Creating the Cosmos, meditating on the Three Realms as I established each representation of them and lit the candle representing my Sacred Flame. I’ve posted quite a few times on my not connecting with the order of those three realms, my need to place Sea above Earth and then Sky (so the order is Earth, Sea, Sky in that order from bottom up) on top rather than the ADF tradition of Sea, Earth, Sky.  The funny thing is I had rearranged my table and found my pot of earth at the bottom, my well silvered above it, and the boughs of my tree representation stretching above them.  I don’t know if my mind-set has changed on this or if this is just a coincidence.

    Opening the gates involved my faithful friend, Fafnir, who is bringing in another friend to aid me now that he feels he has “delivered” me to where he’s been leading me to, protecting me all along the way and chastising me when needed. I have a candle for him that holds a glass plate over it to offer him oil.  He liked cinnamon oil in the Winter but with the Spring here, I felt him wanting the Pomegranate oil again.  I invited the Three Kindreds. They each have their own votive and I offered lavender flowers to them.

    The Prayer of Sacrifice is where we had our deep, hearth felt talk and the offering was, well I considered milk for some reason, and liquor, and chocolate is never turned down so a combination of the three came to me in the form of bringing a nice cold Mudslide to the table for them and for them to bless in return.

    Of the Omens I used my Druid Tarot deck.  When I asked if they accepted my offering the answer was the card titled “The Sun.”  When I asked what blessings they have for me, I received “6 of wands” and when I asked what they require in return from me I received “9 of Cups.”

    I called for the blessings, affirmed them, and enjoyed my portion.  I had no workings to add and thanked Them for attending.  I asked Fafnir to close the gates, thanking the Earth Mother last, and closed the rite.

    All in all, it was a quiet, peaceful celebration, just like I like it, and the last one I would perform in my apartment.  During the course of this DP and the turning of the Wheel of the Year, that red dragon of Wales that once led me centuries ago away from my native Eire to a mating and hand-fast to a Druid on the Isle of Anglesey, has led me once again to that same man.  Fafnir says “I have returned you to him” with much triumphant flourish, as though He’s planned on leading me back to this old druid of my past all along.  I love Big-Red but sometimes that dragon’s puffed up gloating can be a bit annoying.   Cute, enduring, but if I could just tweak a scale of His once and a while, it would be very satisfying.  Should dragons preen so much?  Anyway, my next High Day will be performed in my newl home as my old mate from ancient Anglesey and I, once again, cohabitate in a mundane world.

    High Day Report: Beltane

    In the past, Beltane has been a full day of celebration following an either a small rite the eve before or on the morning of.  Our family celebrated with the Beltane Bunny baskets, finding the painted Orphic eggs, making wishes on small slips of paper and burning them in our Beltane fire lit in our little cauldron that was our portable hearth as we had no fireplace.

    This year Beltane was more centered on the tradition of the “trial marriage of a year and a day” as I spent the week prior to Beltane and the week after moving two households into one large house as my significant other and I joined our home together as one.  Another family tradition was the planting of our gardens, starting herb seeds in little pots, planting bulbs and sunflower seeds directly into the ground.  This year, in the midst’s of all that moving, I planted 48 lily bulbs in the garden of our new home.  Yup, Spider Lily planted lilies.

    The actual rite waited until my altar supplies were unpacked, the room cleansed and organized.  I performed the ceremony more eclectically than my previous 6 ADF styled ones.  I still used the COoR by ADF standards, though it was greatly abbreviated and personal.

    I have found that while my personal Gatekeeper has been with me for the whole of my life, mentoring me along the way, he has also been leading me to a specific place, and now that I have arrived, He sits side by side with my actual Guardian, one who is draconic like He is, but my Guardian is a golden yellow in color.  I first met Her many many years ago but She has been in the background all these years while the red one who calls Himself Fafnyr (or Fafnir) has been prodding me.

    I have chosen to keep my shrine very, very simple in the new house as I am leaning very much towards the uncomplicated and beauty-in-simplicity thought now as I cannot really find harmony in the chaos of so many elements placed on my dedicant table as I once had.  I have spent a lot of time contemplating this, and have decided that while I will enjoy all the bells and whistles of full blown ADF rites should I attend Grove celebrations for pageantry’s sake, for my own personal Druidry, however, when I make my vows they will be to a more simple style that is more fitting to me.

    The initiation of the rite was a tone of my small brass bell; I honored the Earth Mother, stated my purpose and meditated on creating the cosmos.  My gatekeepers were called, I invited the Kindreds and then made my key offerings which were raisins and sunflower seeds and a nice brewing of Earl Grey tea.  My Diety invoked was Bel, who has coincidentally been my Patron along with Danu for several decades.

    The omens were called via Tarot and I received first the High Priestess, secondly The Moon, and the final card was the Four of Swords reversed.    The blessings were called and hallowed and I had no workings to do so after thanking the kindred and deities present, I closed the gates and the rite.

    My 7th High Day report…hard to believe I have only one left, it has gone by quicker than I expected and I find myself thinking about what I shall set as my next goal towards spiritual development.

    High Day Report – Midsummer

    This has previously not been a very important High Day in my personal religion and it definitely was overshadowed by my preparing for my Dedicant Oath, and arguably this is not a High Day that was celebrated by my Celtic hearth culture according to current research that says the Celt’s pretty much ignored the solar events (though I strongly disagree)… so I asked for some advice on the Dedicant lists.

    Despite lack of information on whether Summer Solstice was celebrated by the Celts, it is, however, mundanely a day that has always got me “amped” since childhood.  The longest day of the year!  Yule is always important to me because the Sun is returning and the days are starting to grow! Midsummer is the peak of that ultimate solar energy.  I really can’t define WHY this is so important to me personally other than the fact that I have been able to feel the power of the Imbas through the sun’s rays since before I knew what to define that power as.  I have always been neo-pagan.  What never felt right for me on other paths however, was the focus on Lunar and moon magic when I clearly feel all my energy through solar energies.

    So…my High Day Report will found more in depth as my Oath Rite at the end of this Dedicant Path completion document.  So…on my ritual to declare my Oath, to walk a path forever more as a druid which, in my personal gnosis is to follow the sun through the Wheel of the Year, it is to soak and delight in the rays of Imbas, it is to feel that Sun’s power and rejoice at its zenith, so I choose Midsummer, Summer Solstice as the day I will perform this rite.

    For details of the Midsummer rite, please refer to “Dedicant Oath Rite” on page 85 of this documentation.


    [1] http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/imbolc/slg-solimb99.html

    Advertisements

    ~ by Spider Lily on August 29, 2010.

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

     
    %d bloggers like this: