Autumn Equinox Recap

Our local group Daoine dhen Tamais held its second High Day ritual Friday evening to celebrate the equinox.  We had 16 attendees including three children which was a great turnout considering that a) we held it at my place, which is about a 40 minute drive from the city, and b) the weather was scheduled to suck, and in fact it did rain heavily all day.  Fortunately the rain stopped and it actually started to clear up a bit prior to the start of the rite, so we were able to hold it outdoors afterall.

As I mentioned in my essay on the equinox, this is one of those High Days with very little attestation regarding traditions and therefore many Pagans have developed their own traditions.   In this case I decided to do something a bit different and use a ritual drama to (very lightly) explore some of the themes around human aging and the Autumnal Equinox as a marker within a person’s life.  I chose to use the boyhood deeds of Cú Chulainn, mostly because I could bring one of my Irish Wolfhounds into the drama!

So, during the rite I invoked Morrigan as the Diety of the Occasion and also invoked Cú Chulainn as a guest of honour from the ranks of the mighty ancestors.  We then launched into the drama, with four people acting the various parts.  As a play it went better than I ever expected it to considering we had very little time to rehearse as a group, and of course dogs can be very unpredictable; I was worried that Artemis, the wolfhound I selected to play the guard hound of Culainn, wouldn’t perform for the actor playing Setanta.  But it all worked out, with Artemis being baited into a “down” to look like she was being duly slain.

We then read the omens, took the blessings, and thanked the beings as usual.  With the closing of the rite we had a potluck followed by a bonfire.

One of the nicest things about the ritual was the attendance of two people who are very new to exploring Paganism.  They just happened to find my event page for the ritual on Facebook and decided to attend without really knowing anything about me or the other members.   This really deepened my belief in the vision of ADF as being an open, public venue for community worship.

As this was only our second High Day ritual (we did a Pagan Pride Day rite as well), we still have a long way to go as a group to gel together.   I worry a bit that the group’s rituals won’t become really compelling until we have a good core group that is working together, but that people’s initial interest in the group will wane if the rituals aren’t really compelling.  So, as the unelected and de facto grove organizer I have my work cut out for me in trying to get things gelling, so to speak, a task which I am not one hundred percent sure that I am up to.

Anyway, for those interested in the text of the ritual drama, click on the “Continue Reading” below.  Feedback welcome!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Pagan Pride Day Ritual Re-cap

On Saturday our community had our second(!) annual Pagan Pride Day.  I offered to hold an ADF ritual for it, partially to help highlight our new Ontario Druid group.

The ritual went smoothly and was pretty well attended considering the fairly small overall attendance of the event.  Approximately 20 people came to the rite plus a few children (I really need to start incorporating kids into my public rituals).

One thing I had fretted about beforehand was the fire.  As it was in a public park I knew I couldn’t have even a small bonfire and just didn’t want to go with candles.  So, in a fit of desperation I went to our local Value Village the day beforehand and found a nice brass pot that is just a perfect size for a small fire.  I also found a short metal stand to put it on so that it wouldn’t burn the ground.  As a bonus, I also found a nice copper bowl for the well so I am now well equipped for rituals in public parks.

For simplicity’s sake I used the same basic liturgy as from Lughnasadh.  However since I had to do most of the recitation I ended up ad-libbing most of it.    This was the first time I’ve tried to do so but I think it worked out well since I had the general theme of what I wanted to say thought out in advance.  I did switch up the core of the ritual, invoking both Lugh and Tailtiu.  I then divided the participants up into two groups (Team Fir Bolg and Team de Dannan) and we had some warrior games in honour of Tailtiu (racing, wrestling, and archery) with prizes which everyone seemed to enjoy.

Our group’s ovate then read the omens (Brooch, Stag, and Crone).  I used pure water for the blessing and also added a loaf of freshly baked bread as part of the blessing, again in honour of Tailtiu.

All in all I think it went over well, especially given that it was just our group’s second public ritual.

Morning Devotional #1

At the alter, light a candle, saying:

Sacred flame, burn within me this day

Offer silver to the well, saying:

Sacred water, flow within me this day

Close eyes, ground and center, and then say:

Sacred tree, grow within me this day

Offer a sacrifice to Cerridwen, saying:

Mighty Cerridwen,
I offer you sacrifice this morning as my ancestors did before me

Touch a dab of water from the well onto forehead, saying:

..and I ask that the waters of your cauldron grant me wisdom and inspiration this day.

Blessed be.

Focus for a short while on the presence of the water, meditating on Cerridwen’s gifts.

Extinguish the flame.

On Morning Devotionals

I have, for the last couple of years, tried to incorporate a morning devotional into my daily routine.  Sadly I have found that this goal has been kind of like flossing… I’ll think about it once in a while (“oh, dentist appointment next week!  better get flossing!” … “Almost Samhain!  Better start some morning prayers!”) but usually it gets passed over in my rush to get my life together and get out the door.  Heck, some mornings I forget to take my keys or my wallet, let alone remember to engage in deepening my relationship with the gods.  At best I would mumble a few words thought up on the spot somewhere between packing my lunch and filling my travel mug with coffee.

Since joining ADF and starting the Dedicant Path I have worked on being a bit more diligent about it to the point of at least coming up with some more or less standardized wording.  Right now my devotional, when I remember to do it, starts with a grounding micro-meditation.  Then, if I am in front of my Earth Goddess shrine, I’ll say “Great Mother, I thank you for another day on your bountiful Earth.  Blessed Be.”.  Or, if I am in front of my Cerridwen shrine, where I keep my ADF hallows, I’ll touch my forehead with a drop of water from the well and say “Cerridwen, I ask that the waters of your cauldron bless me with inspiration and wisdom this day.”or something to that effect.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to take this further and so recently posted on the Dedicant list asking for people to describe their morning spiritual practices.  Teo Bishop asked me to blog about it, so there you go.  A fair number of people responded, and I’d like to summarize some of the suggestions I received.

Betony suggested preparing prayer cards in advance that can be read.  I like this idea for a couple of reasons; first because it doesn’t require me to do any pre-coffee thinking, which is always a good thing.  Second because it would allow me to add some variety to the devotional.  Definitely a great suggestion.

Deb recommended prayers during the drive to work.  My commute is about 45 minutes so this seems like it would be an excellent use of the time, but on the other hand I live in deer country and need to stay alert.  Somehow I don’t think it would be a good thing to be saying a prayer to the Land Spirits just to have them end up in my windshield.

Ceisiwr and Michael Dangler suggested prayers in the shower.  I do like this idea although I have a certain black cat who believes that my only purpose in life should be delivering food into his gullet as quickly as possible once the alarm goes off, and any time spend dilly-dallying is like as not to cause him to decide to bite me back to the stone age as a warning to other humans.  So this would require some re-arranging of my routine.

All in all, lots of great ideas.  I’m going to take some time this weekend to contemplate them and see what I come up with.  I’ll let you know.

Now, anyone have any ideas on how I can floss more regularly?

Imbolc ritual part 2

The completion of my Imbolc rite.  My plan was to do this ceremony this Saturday upon my return from business travel, but it appears that the Earth Mother has other plans and dumped a couple of feet of snow onto the pile of dry pine I planned to use for the bonfire.  So, I may need to tweak it for an indoor rite.

Workings

[note that this section is specific to this particular rite!]

  • D1 takes up the acorns and asperges them with water from the well, saying:

The sacred well at the source of the river Boyne
imparted the gifts of knowledge and wisdom to the
hazelnuts that surrounded it.
Wise Boann, bless the water of this well with your gifts, that these acorns may drink and grow and become great Oak Trees such that those who sit amongst them and listen to their words may also become wise.

  • D1 then takes the acorns and holds them before the fire, saying:

Exalted Brigid, I ask that you bless these acorns and
impart your flame into them, to wake them and call
them to become great Oak Trees such that those who
sit amongst them and listen to their songs may be
imbued with inspiration and creativity.

Boann and Brigid, I thank you!

  • D1 returns the acorns to the altar.

Thanking the Beings and Closing the Gates

  • D1 says:

Exalted Brigid, thank you for joining us and honouring
us with your presence this Imbolc.

  • D2 says:

Thank you Brigid!

And to those other Gods and Goddesses who joined us this Imbolc, we thank you!

  • D1 says:

Thank you, Shining Ones!

And to the Spirits of the Land who joined us this Imbolc,
we thank you.  Stay if you will but go if you must.

  • D2 says:

Thank you, Mighty Ones!

And to our honoured ancestors who joined us this Imbolc, we thank you.  Stay if you will but go if you must.

  • D1 says:

Thank you Nobles Ones!

  • D2 says:

Thank you, Sky Father, for your gift of life this Imbolc.

  • D1 says:

Thank you, Earth Mother, for your gift of life this Imbolc.

Great Manannan, Keeper of the Gates,
we thank you for your assistance this Imbolc.
Lower the mists,
Lead us back to our world.
Manannan MacLir, may the gates be closed!
Biodh sé!

Closing the Rite

  • D2 says:

The gates are closed.
Let us go forth with the blessings of Brigid.
This rite is ended.
Bíodh sé amhlaidh!


List of Offerings

Earth Mother – Corn Meal
Sky Father – Powdered Incense
Well – Silver
Fire – Oil
Tree – Water + Fertilizer
Gatekeeper – Powdered Incense
Ancestors – Cider
Spirits – Seed
Gods/Goddesses – Cider
Brigid – Bowl of Pine cones and evergreens from my Yule wreath
Blessing Cup – Cider

Also used

Incense sticks for purifying
Acorns to be blessed

Imbolc ritual Part 1

Here is the first part of my Imbolc ritual. Being my first ADF ritual, it is going to be pretty rigid in its structure. Comments welcome!

Imbolc Rite 2011

Initiating the Rite

  • The participants proceed to the ritual space and circle it three times deosil
  • D1 picks up the drum but does not use it yet
  • D1 says:

Let us close our eyes
Take three deep breaths
Feel the power flowing beneath the frozen land, like water flowing under ice
Feel the tentative but waxing power of the sun above you
The power of the water flows up into you from the Mother
The power of the sun flows down into you from the Father
You are a cauldron
The powers of water and sun intermingle within you
You are the cauldron
The power fills you

  • D1 beats the drum nine times and then says:

The rite of Imbolc has begun! Biodh se amhlaidh!

  • D2 lights the bonfire, saying:

I kindle this fire in the name of Brigid
To be a fire of warmth
To be a fire of inspiration
To be a fire of magic!

Honouring the Earth Mother and Sky Father

  • D1 gives corn meal to the earth, saying:

Earth Mother, though you sleep beneath ice and snow
we, your children, honour you with sacrifice.

  • D2 gives incense to the fire, saying:

Sky Father, though you are still yet more night than day,
we, your children, honor you with sacrifice.

Purification

  • D1 lights the sticks of incense from the fire
  • D1 touches their forehead of each participant with water from the well, saying:

May the waters of the Earth Mother cleanse you

  • D1 then fumigates the participant with the incense, saying:

May the air of the Sky Father purify you

  • D2 performs the purification on D1

Statement of Purpose

  • D1 says:

It is Imbolc, and today we gather, as our ancestors did,
to give honour to the triple goddess Brigid,
she who gives us warmth, inspiration, and healing during the cold winter.

Creating the Cosmos

  • D1 gives silver to the well, saying:

In the deeps flow the waters of wisdom.  Sacred well, flow within us!

  • D2 gives oil to the fire, saying:

From the fire come the flames of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within us!

  • D1 pours the fertilized water on the tree, saying:

From the depths to the heights spans the world-tree.  Sacred tree, grow within us!

Opening the Gates

  • D1 gives incense to the fire and calls:

Great Manannan, Keeper of the Gates
Part the mists for us,
Show us the way,
Accept our sacrifice,
Manannan MacLir, 0pen the gates for us!

Let the fire open as a gate!

  • D2 calls:

Let the well open as a gate!

  • D1 calls:

Let the tree be the crossroads of all worlds!

  • D1 and D2 call:

Let the gates be open!

Inviting the Kindreds

  • D1 pours cider on the ground, saying:

Ancestors!
We welcome you to join us here,
to do honour to the Triple Goddess Brigid,
As you did in the past, so we do now.
Noble Ones,  accept my sacrifice!

  • D2 scatters seed on the ground, saying:

Spirits of the land,
creatures of the forest, the water, and the sky,
we honour you and invite you to join us this Imbolc.
Mighty Ones, accept my offering!

  • D1 pours cider on the ground, saying:

Gods and Goddesses,
of hearth and home, forest and stream,
We welcome you to our sacred space,
to join in welcoming Brigid.
Shining Ones, accept my sacrifice!

Key Offerings

  • Participants make offerings to Brigid

Prayer of Sacrifice and The Omen

  • D1 offers the bowl of evergreens to the fire, saying:

Triple Goddess, we have made you offerings,
Brigid, accept our sacrifice!

  • D2 takes the omen.

The Return Blessing

  • D1 holds up the blessing cup of cider and says:

Exalted Brigid, Lady of the Hearth,
bless us with your gifts of healing and health!

  • D2:

Exalted Brigid, Lady of Inspiration,
bless us with your gifts of wisdom and craft!

  • D1 and D2:

Exalted Brigid, Triple Goddess,
bless us with the water of life!

  • D1 offers the blessing cup to each participant, saying:

Drink and be blessed.

Continue to Part Two

First Oath

Although not technically part of the DP documentation, I’d like to share the text of my First Oath.  I made this oath under the full moon just before Samhain last year.

In Elder Times, the White Hart was the harbringer of a quest.
May the spirits of this land, and the spirit of the White Hart hear me now.
I, Kévin, declare that I am a Pagan,
that I am a follower of the White Hart seeking the Elder Ways,
that I am a worshipper of the Elder Gods.

With this oath, I set myself upon this quest,
To follow the White Hart along the Druid’s path,
and I vow to make my dedication plain.

I make this offering to the spirt of the White Hart.

And in return I call upon and ask the White Hart to be my symbol of virtue,
And I vow to pursue virtue in my life,
To do right by my kin, my friends, and my community,

I call upon and ask the White Hart to be my symbol of piety,
And I vow to pursue piety in my life,
To make my Paganism real and keep the rites and work that call to me.

I call upon and ask the White Hart to show me the Elder Paths,
And I vow to pursue these Ways through study,
To fill my mind with knowledge, wisdom, and truth.

These things I swear to the Gods, and before the spirts of this land.
So mote it be.