|A small private nemeton, showing the firepit, altar and tree.|
Some of you may be wondering what you will see if you join us at one of our High Days. What, indeed, makes up an ADF Druid ritual? Think of it as a series of concentric circles.
In the outermost circle, we first create our sacred ritual space. Unlike many Pagan traditions, we do not cast a circle to contain the energies we plan to generate. Instead we purify ourselves and our ritual space, usually through water and smoke (representing fire). We make offerings to Mother Earth and (often) to the Spirit of Inspiration, and frequently we send a gift or bribe outside our ritual area to those ill-intentioned spirits we call the Outdwellers, asking them to take it and leave us in peace.
Our next circle of ritual places us in contact with the Three Realms: the Underworld, home of the Ancestors; the Middle World, which we share with the Spirits of the Land; and the Upper World, where dwell the Shining Gods and Goddesses. Through our own magic and offerings, we create Gates to these realms in the shape of our Fire, Well, and Tree. Then, with the aid of a God or Spirit called the Gatekeeper, we open those Gates.
Having created our sacred space, and connected it to the Three Realms, we come to the inner circle, the center of our ritual. ADF worship is based on the old Indo-European idea of reciprocity: we give gifts to our Gods, and expect (or at least hope) that they will give to us in return. Our gifts take the form of offerings to the dwellers in the Three Realms, usually offered through the Fire or poured out on the ground. Having given them, we first ask for an omen, and then (assuming the omen is favorable) for the Blessing of the Gods and Spirits, in the form of one or more cups of blessed liquid (called the Waters of Life) which is shared among all participants.
Having reached the climax of our ritual, we end as we began. First, as good hosts, we thank our mighty Guests for their gifts and their attendance. Next, we close the Gates between the Realms and thank the Gatekeeper for his or her aid. And finally, we deconsecrate our ritual space, returning our Fire, Well, and Tree to their original nature. With that, we thank the Spirit of Inspiration and Mother Earth for their aid, and the ritual is ended – until the next time.
There are more details involved in all of these steps, of course, and I’ll write more about them another time, but this post has covered the basics of an ADF ritual. In the meantime, feel free to ask questions – or to join us and see for yourself!