‘Liturgy 1’ Posts
Discuss the ritual depiction of the relationship between Fire and Water in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)
ADF depicts Fire and Water in its liturgy with the concept of the Two Powers, also as gateways to the two Otherworlds outside of our own Middleworld. The Underworld Power (Water or Ice) is the chaotic memory-filled water of the earth that nourishes all the roots that dip into it, whether they be natural elements or humankind. These memories are of our Ancestors and all history that came before. In Celtic Lore this was associated with the Goddess Danu of the Danu river and the sacred Wells across Europe. Alternatively in German Lore, water is attributed as the Ice of Niflheim, one of the two Worlds at the beginning of all life.
The other World at the beginning of all life in Germanic Lore was Muspelheim or “fire”. In our liturgy Fire is a symbol of the Upperworld or Heavens, the place where the Shining Ones dwell. When we look at Celtic Mythology, the God Bel and even the Goddess Brigid were both Sun Deities associated with Fire. Fire was considered sacred and kept burning in temples like the on at Kildare in Ireland, sacred to Brigid.
When we align ourselves with the Two Powers, we are creating yet another symbolic union of the cosmos.
(Word Count: 205)
Describe three culturally specific models for (re)creating the cosmos consistent with the Core Order of Ritual. (minimum 100 words for each model)
All rituals within ADF include the (re)creation of the cosmos, which is a series of actions that create a sacred center by “creating the universe” through the lore of a particular hearth culture. In the Celtic culture this was seen as the creation or alignment of the Three Realms in a horizontal axis, which is one of the more prominent methods within ADF. These Three Realms were the Land, Sea, and Sky. The land aligning with the Nature Spirits and often in tune with the Middlworld, the Sea aligning with the Ancestors and in tune with the Underworld, and the Sky aligning with the Shining Ones and in tune with the Upperworld.
Alternatively, the Germanic cultures hold a similar concept of “Realms” but in greater number; nine instead of three Realms (The Druid’s Cosmos). In comparison to the Celtic Cosmos of the Three Realms, the Norse have Asgardhr and Vanaheim, which were seen as an Upperworld (Sky Realm), Midgardhr was the MiddleWorld (Land Realm), and Helheim was the Underworld (Sea Realm). Granted this is only 4 of the 9 available Realms, but these 4 more directly correlate with the Celtic Cosmology.
In addition to the similar “Realms”, the Germanic culture also has the original version of the World Tree, Yggrdasill, which was the center of the Worlds that connected them all together.
To throw an entirely different spin on the (re)creation of the Cosmos, the Greek’s had their own version of Three significant Realms that many of us learned about in grade school. Mt. Olympus was the Realm of the Gods and could be equated with the Sky Realm (Upperworld) in Celtic Mythology and Asgardh or Vanaheim in Germanic cultures. The land of humans was the Land Realm (Middle World) or Midgardhr (Germanic), and the Underworld was the realm of Hades in the Land of the Dead, equated as the Sea Realm (Underworld) or Helheim (Germanic).
(Word Count: 314)
Discuss how the Fire, Well and Tree became parts of ADF’s sacred center, and the significance of each in ADF ritual. (minimum 100 words for each of the Fire, Well and Tree)
Fire has always been a central focus in rituals across many cultures, appreciated as a gift from the Gods even. Sacrifices were thrown into the fire, it was seen as a magical force that could transform offerings into delivered goods and smoke was seen as a way of delivering messages to the Gods in the Sky in the Upperworld above the branches of the World Tree, as our connection to the Sky spirits. Fire was also significant in the home as the hearth was built around the home fire. Even in Greek culture, the Goddess of the Hearth, Hestia, was honored before all other deities. The hearth was a significant concept that was meant to be honored and protected, as well as thought to provide protection for family and children.
The Well is rooted in the ancient Celtic world where bodies of water were seen as sacred elements that jewels were thrown into as offerings to the Ancestors and the Gods. Wells were thought to give certain blessings, as even now people will throw coins for luck into Wells and fountains. In our modern liturgy, the Well is seen as a way to connect to the Underworld and a representation of the Sea. It does not necessarily have to be in a Sea, any body of water is seen as an access point or Well of the earth used to honor the Ancient ones. It is our way of honoring the Ancestors that dwell deep beneath the roots of the World Tree.
The World Tree is the great connection of the Land between the Well of the Underworld and the Fire of the Upperworld, creating a Middleworld between them. It is a representation of this World that we live in along with our connection to our Nature Spirit brethren and all life within. The origins of the tree come from Norse culture, specifically the mighty Ash Yggdrasil where the nine worlds existed. From this we build the Tree of Life that connects all manner of beings in the Middleworld together and acts as a gateway to the other Worlds of druid liturgy.
When these three things are combined they create the vertical axis or sacred center in which all of our rituals are performed. It is the sacred space that we create when we connect with the divine, and these gateways are access points and tools that help us to attain that connection.
(Word Count: 403)
Discuss the Earth Mother and her significance in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)
To me, the Earth is the sacred space in which we live. She is the mother of all things living on our planet, she is the creator the protector, and the destroyer. She is honored first in the liturgy within ADF, much like Hestia is honored first in many of the Greek rituals. Since growing up I had a lot of native american influences, I attribute much of how I view the Earth Mother like the natives of the land did, a mother of the people and of my brothers and sisters the nature spirits.
In ADF liturgy encompasses most of these same principles. She is honored first in every rite, which shows her significance within ADF liturgy. She is the all-mother, and though she is often represented through local rivers or bodies of water rather than the land itself, she is a known aspect of the divine across many cultures and many religions, comparatively.
(Word Count: 155)
Discuss why ADF rituals need not have a defined outer boundary, or “circle” and explain the ADF’s method of sacralizing space. (minimum 100 words)
In an ADF ritual, we create a vertical axis and sacred center that brings the three worlds together to create our sacred space for ritual. Before we open the gates between these worlds, we offer a distraction of some sort to the Outsiders so they leave us be during this sacred rite. This is the equivalent of the Wiccan’s casting a circle to keep Outsiders out of their ritual space, but since Druids work within the natural world and within the space surrounding us, we have no need to cast this circle but instead appease the beings in it, one way or another.
To make our space sacred, we not only establish the sacred center, but we also purify the space in which we work, to bring the intention of all the participants together in a holy way through meditation, music, or some other method.
(Word Count: 145)
Describe some of the roles individuals might take on within the context of ritual. (minimum 100 words)
Within CedarLight Grove, ADF, we have our own variety of individuals that have important parts in creating a ritual. They occasionally differ from what I’ve seen across other Groves within ADF, but it’s always interesting to learn how other people organize their liturgists.
To start with, the main person is our Chief Liturgist who is pretty much in charge of the entire skeleton of the ritual. They perform the pre-ritual briefing, they help assign out parts to the ritual team and those that wish to volunteer to help and take roles, they offer the main sacrifice, and help to hallow the waters. They fill in any roles that are abandoned or empty, they make sure the ritual continues through any nuances and derailing circumstances.
The Ritual Team consists of the volunteers that help to fill in roles within any ritual. Whether they are just honoring the Outsiders, whether they are opening the gates between worlds, they are the very appreciated and necessary volunteer liturgists that act as assistants to the Chief Liturgist.
The Bard has the important role of making sure all of the music and drumming stays consistent and on task. They usually are in charge of the procession, recession, any chants sung during Waters of Life or Opening of the Gates. They keep the rhythm going and prevent it from going off-course. To me they are the heartbeat of the ritual that keep it flowing in sync with the intention and its energy.
The Seer is assigned to read whatever message or omens the Gods want to send us after our praise has been given to the Kindred. They pay attention to signs and omens throughout the ritual as well and help determine what message from the Gods throughout the entire ritual, not just during the time we take in the omen and accept the blessings into the waters. Sometimes we have multiple seers that are assigned to different realms of the cosmos to read the different energies that they provide. One may be assigned to the sea, the well, and the ancestors. One may be assigned to what the nature spirits have to say. It can vary and provides interesting and new perspectives on what message we are supposed to receive.
The Firewarden is one of the most important roles, but also the most mundane and often under appreciated roles in our High Rites. They make sure the ritual space is set up how the Chief Liturgist wants, they tend the fire throughout the ritual and make sure none of the praise offerings are going to float off in a heap of crimson ash and light things on fire. They make sure everyone is safe during the pouring of their offerings. Essentially they make sure everything is as it should be in the physical plane for the Chief Liturgist while they make sure everything is as it should be in the spiritual plane.
The Circle Dragon is not something we use all that often in CedarLight, but it is essentially the “warrior” who protects the rite. They help disperse any negative influences or participants, they provide support towards parents that have rowdy children or even giving warning to those parents that are not exactly paying much attention to their children’s actions. They help protect the Rite from mundane outside influences and outsiders.
(Word Count: 555)
Define ritual, especially as the term applies to religious and spiritual work. (minimum 200 words)
In Isaac Bonewits book, “Rites of Worship” (Bonewits, 29) , he states “A ‘ritual’ or ‘rite’ is any ordered sequence of events, actions, and/or directed thoughts, especially one that is meant to be repeated in the ‘same’ manner each time, that is designed to produce and manage one or more altered states of consciousness (ASCs) within which certain results may be obtained.”
Within ADF we perform rituals as a way to connect with the divine through sacred space, sacred actions, and sacred invocations. For my personal practice, however, it is not just a way to connect with the divine, it is also a method for connecting with the Earth Mother and the seasons of life and seasons of the world. These seasons are repetitive in nature, and the blessings we often ask for and receive are also repetitive in nature, as mentioned by Isaac’s definition.
For example, we celebrate Samhain as not only a time to honor our Ancestor’s due to the veil between worlds being thin, but it is also the third harvest festival in which farmers would use the remains of our harvested goods in a great feast so that we do not waste food and can preserve food for the winter. This is a perfect example of a seasonal ritual and high rite. Again at Yule we are celebrating the long night with prayers that the sun will return, this is another example of a seasonal high rite (though of less practical nature like the farmers would do), but with less ties to agriculture and more ties to weather.
Ritual is a way of making a transition, be it a transition of life events or a transition of the earth, a sacred event. By definition a ritual is a way for us to recreate the cosmos and reconnecting with the divine in order to acknowledge something sacred or important. It is a process of motions that we go through to make our ritual space sacred, and through thoughtful actions and words, creating the necessary state of mind and energy to allow our desires to come together in one great union of intent.
(Word Count: 293)