Describe how ADF’s order of ritual expresses the following concepts: “Serving the people”; “Reaffirming shared beliefs”; “Reestablishing the cosmic order”; “Building enthusiasm”. (Min. 500 words)
The ADF Core Order of Ritual provides so many wonderful liturgical opportunities, some that intermingle with each other and then others that have a specific purpose.
As far as “Serving the People”, we as Clergy (really all types of Clergy), don’t do this type of work for the glory or the amazing pay. Mainly because there’s no glory, and right now there’s not any pay either 😀 So clearly there is a motivation behind what we do and why we do do it. That main reason is to serve the people. One of the functions we server through is our rituals.
Rituals are a great community activity. It brings people together, gives the opportunities to give praise, appreciate the season, and receive blessings from the Gods. Clergy have the training to be able to bring all of this together for them, do it well, and do it in a way that makes sense. One of the biggest reasons behind ritual is to create a relationship with not only the season (I don’t necessarily mean agricultural seasons), but also with the Deities. We act as a safe liaison in these instances for the people, and this is another way we server through ritual, whether it is through invoking deities or opening the gates while creating the cosmos, we are there to serve the people by creating ritual.
One of the larger tasks we as Clergy have in ritual is what is called “Reaffirming Shared Beliefs”. This, in my mind, is about getting everyone on the same page. We do this initially through the procession into ritual, where we all come together at the same time, with the same rhythm, and enter sacred space with good intent. We purify ourselves to remove any bad intent or distractions before entering sacred space (we often do this with incense that we all process through on the way to sacred space). We state the purpose of the ritual so all of those see and unseen are aware as to why we are there. We meditate and center ourselves so our energy is all at the same level and not spiked in one direction or the other. We also blend our energies together to create the cosmos and open the gates, every participant contributing his or her own “wyrd” to make these events happen in ritual, whether they necessarily know it or not.
Afterall, if the energy is consistent among the participants, than the energy raising, waning, and general flow of ritual remains consistent and you have a more productive output in the end.
If we dive further into ritual, we have the “Establishment of Cosmic Order”, another fun task for us Clergy. To me this is the end of the beginning of ritual. This is where we say “Alright, we’ve came, we’ve set up the gear, now lets get busy”.
When we establish the Cosmic Order, we are setting everything in place to do magical work. To do this we need a location or “place” for this to happen, and this is our Sacred Center. We create this Sacred Center by honoring the Well, the Fire, and the Tree, and opening them as gates between the three worlds, thus creating an axis of sorts that links us to the Ancestors of the Underworld, the Nature Spirits seen and unseen of this world, and the Shining Ones of the Aboveworld.
So now that we have everyone on the same page and created the cosmic order and everything is in place, we get to the meat and potatoes of the ritual. This is my favorite part because the energy is raised so high you can’t help but feel some sort of endorphin rush from it. This is what we call “Building Enthusiasm” in ritual. We’ve done different tasks and ceremony to create the stage for this moment, and now we want everyone to be at their peak energy to create that cosmic link with the Deities. We build up the momentum and then we push it upwards towards the Deities through our Praise Offerings. As the energy continues, the Praise Offerings get more passionate and from the heart.
I personally have a method for contributing to the building of energy that I find very effective in ritual, and might contribute to an Oak Leaves article in the near future. The method is through drumming, and through the course of ritual keeping a steady low rhythmic beat. This beat will increase and get louder as we grow closer to the Praise offerings portion. As people give their offerings and then offer a “Hail”, my rhythm suddenly gets crisp and loud in order to reinforce the “Hail” and then drops back down into the rhythmic beat to allow the next person to go. This process continues until the praise offerings are done and the final sacrifice is given. At this point my drumming is generally at it’s most intense as the energies we send forth are accepted. It continues as the omen is given and received, and then we receive the blessings through the waters of life. All the while, rhythm is keeping everyone in sync and their energies high until I slowly work them down towards the end of the rite.
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