Ritual Mechanics, #5

Describe three different methods of (Re)creating Sacred Space, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the (Re)creating of Sacred Space portion of the ritual. Provide an original script with stage directions for (Re)creating of Sacred Space based on one of these methods.

I have to admit, creating sacred space has always been the single most difficult part of ritual for me, not because I think the act is as difficult as I perceive it, but the layout of this part of the COoR is cloudy to me.  Some people combine this with opening the gates in so many different ways, I have not yet found a method that is familiar and comfortable to me.  The core seems to be the same, in that you are invoking the well, the fire, and the tree and creating a sacred cosmos, or axis, or whatever you want to call it, and then opening the gates between the worlds after inviting the Gatekeeper.

I suppose the order that makes the most sense is to create the sacred center, then invite the gatekeeper, then open the gates.  But how should I envision creating the sacred center?  This is the toughy for me.

So I’m looking at what other Priests have done. Fortunately I am blessed with having a fellow Priest in my Grove who has likely more experience under her belt than any other Clergy in ADF.  Reverend Caryn MacLuan:

Fire: A small fire is lit in the cauldron, a candle if necessary.
I kindle the sacred fire in wisdom, love, and power.
Sacred fire burn within us.

Well: Silver is offered to the well and its waters are poured.
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom.
Sacred water, flow within us.

Tree: An Incense stick (lit from sacred fire) censes the tree, asperging too.
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree.
Sacred tree, grow within us.

The Fire, the Well, the Sacred Tree, flame and flow and grow in me.
In land, sea and sky,
All: Below and on high.
Thus is the sacred grove claimed and hallowed.
All: Biodh Se!
By the cleansing of water, and fire, let all ill turn away from me and mine.
All: Biodh Se!

That’s a little different than what I’ve seen performed at the Grove, but the jist is the same.  In a way, creating the cosmos is another form of purification.  You’re cleansing and preparing the space to become sacred for ritual work.  Much like we do in the beginning by cleansing and purifying our minds and bodies.

One that I know we use a lot in our Grove, is through the use of the Portal Song by Ian Corrigan:

By Fire and by Water, between the Earth and Sky,
We stand like the World Tree, rooted deep, crowned high.
By Fire and by Water, between the Earth and Sky,
We stand like the World Tree, rooted deep, crowned high!

Come we now to the Well, the eye and the mouth of Earth.
Come we now to the Well, and silver we bring.
Come we now to the Well, the waters of rebirth.
Come we now to the Well, together we sing.

Repeat Chorus

We will kindle a Fire, bless all and with harm to none.
We will kindle a Fire, and offerings pour.
We will kindle a Fire, a light ‘neath the Moon and Sun.
We will kindle a Fire, our spirits will soar!

Repeat Chorus

Gather we at the Tree, the root and the crown of all.
Gather we at the Tree, below and above.
Gather we at the Tree, together we make our call.
Gather we at the Tree, in wisdom and love.

Repeat Chorus

What I like about using a song to create the cosmos, is (as mentioned in previous courses) my affiliation with music and rhythm helping me to maintain focus in ritual work.  Having drumming and singing allows everyone to stay “on beat” as it were during the process.

During this particular song, we’d have either one volunteer creating the sacred space as it was being sung, or in order to promote more ritual experience for upcoming liturgists, we’d have three individuals assigned to a “gate” to open that particular gate and create the sacred space.  This is typically done by pouring water or silver down the well during that verse, pouring water or touching the tree during that verse, and adding wood, incense, or alcohol to the fire during that verse, respectively.

I personally like it when multiple people are involved, it enhances community contribution to the space and ritual as a whole.

I also sat with Reverend Sean Harbaugh briefly to get an insight on how they do things on the WEST SIDE:

“We cense and asperge the space for our participants at the beginning of ritual, which is when we create our sacred space.  With palms out and arms upwards we chant “By the might of the Water, and the light of the Fire, this space is made whole and holy, three times.”

As for my own liturgy, outside of song (because I do like song, and may create my own Sacred Space song at one point), I’ve come up with the following that I’d like to work with and familiarize myself more with this portion of ritual:

While kneeling by the well, hands touching the stone while pouring water into the well or placing my hands within the water: Let the Well Waters of the Underworld and our Ancestors flow within us to sanctify this sacred space.

While standing with the tree, touching its long branches or pouring water at its roots: Let the Tree of Life in this world and those Spirits in Nature that walk in balance with us, grow within us to sanctify this sacred space.

While standing by the fire either arms raised high towards the heavens with incense lit, or pouring offerings into the fire: Let the flames of this Fire reach the Upperworld, the smoke delivering our prayer to the Gods, and let it burn within us to sanctify this sacred space.

I like to involve action that symbolizes the direction of that particular portal, as visual aids and symbology have always helped me better understand ritual practice.  I also visualize lots of light blue beams of light for some reason going into the directions that these sacred centers and gateways are supposed to go 🙂  I feel like I should say a prayer to Captain Planet here, or something.

And then invoke the Gatekeeper, depending on who is being called at the time (so it would vary) and opening of the Gates:

Let the Fire, the Well, and the Tree come together, connecting the realms in this sacred space.  Let the gates be open!

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