Liturgy 1

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:

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 <;.

Corrigan, Ian. The Intentions of Druidic Ritual. 7 October 2010 <;.

Hunt, Jenni. A Roman Ritual Template. 18 October 2010 <;.

Kami Landy of Shining Lakes Grove (SLG), with revisions by Rev. John “Fox” Adelmann and Rob Henderson. ADF.Org. 11 October 2010 <;.

Newberg, Brandon. Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual Tutorial for Ar nDraiocht Fein. 2007. 2010 <;.

Paradox. Sacred Space, an Exploration of the Triple Center. 16 October 2010 <;.

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

Serith, Ceisiwr. Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF. 2010 October 2010 <;.

Thomas, Rev. Kirk. The Nature of Sacrifice. 20 October 2010 <;.

Thompson, Anthony R. 11 October 2010 <;.

Unknown. Standard Liturgical Outline. 18 October 2010 <;.

[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).


~ by Spider Lily on December 8, 2010.

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