Friday, September 28, 2012

Divination part 1: One method of divination or seership technique common to three Paleo-Pagan Indo-European cultures

          When I began looking into this essay topic I was a little confused as to what a possible answer could be. I was not sure how there was a common divination tool for any of the Indo-European cultures. But then I realized that the Norse, the Celts, and the Greeks all shared a similar technique of divination, one that most people won’t think of at first glance. They all share the technique of cleromancy through drawing lots. Cleromancy is the casting of lots as a form of divination. (Wikipedia) Each of the symbols uses corresponds to a meaning given to the inquirer.

          The most commonly known and used cleromancy tool of the three is that of the Norse. The Norse Runes have been around for some time. Their origins are still greatly debated by scholars. What is not debated is the fact they were used as part of a system of magic. Many of belongs of the ancient Vikings have inscriptions of power on them through the use of Runes. Today Runes have become just about as common place amount Pagans as Tarot cards in the modern world. Placing the Runes in a container or bag then shaken to mix them well while the inquirer thought of the question that needed answered. Whatever Rune stone to fall or drawn from the container first is the answer. (Paxson 2-3) A little less common tool would be that of the Celts or more specific that of the Druids.

          Anthropologists have found the Ogham on objects of antiquity. Most of the styles of reading Ogham seem to be similar to those of the Runes. A seer places the Ogham, symbols inscribed on wood or stone, within a container of some sort. After shaking the Ogham to mix them, the Seer draws one Ogham giving the
answer to the Inquires question. (Wikipedia)

          The Greeks actually had many different versions of cleromancy The two of the most notable tools used for this kind of divination were the use of astragaloi (knuckle bones) and alphabet oracles. The astragaloi numbered five in count and would be cast on a surface. They had four readable sides, which each side had a number associated to it:

(trias=3, tetras=4, monas=1, hexas=6 )

The sum of the numeric values, based on how the astragaloi landed, corresponded to numeric values on
tablets kept on hand with corresponding meaning. As for the alphabet oracles, each letter of the alphabet
had a corresponding oracle. The first word of each oracle started with the letter on the stone or pottery
shard that was traditional for this type of tool. They were usually used in the same fashion as Runes.

          Cleromancy is a divination tool based partly off chance and the hands of fates. We can glimpse of
religious beliefs of the Norse, the Celts, and the Greeks in the tools created for divination. This is very
true, even more so in their cleromancy tools.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 16: How ADF Liturgy corresponds to personal and group practice

          In the matter of group practice and how it corresponds to ADF Liturgy the answer is easy. We are an ADF Protogrove so our rituals are based strictly on the ADF ritual format. The group is diverse in cultural focus, ranging from Celtic to Hellenic; yet using the ADF ritual format brings us all together as a unified group. It allows us to worship the different pantheons with fellow grove members while connecting to new Kindred that were not in our lives before. I have also found that the ADF Liturgy style tends to draw people to our path.

          In my personal practice, ADF Liturgy has really made major changes. Having practiced Wicca and ceremonial magic for most of my Pagan path I was accustomed to working ritual that was focused on the magical part of metaphysics rather than the spiritual parts of it. There was only a concern for balance between male and female, a single god and goddess that Wicca was based on. But with this there seemed to be something missing from my practice. While working through my Dedicate Program I slowly began to change my rituals from one of Wiccan and focusing on magic to rituals based on ADF Liturgy that I was using for worship. Though I still do magic, I usually do it separate from my religious rituals. Though there are times with I do use the ‘working’ portion of ritual to do some of my magical workings.

          As time has passed and I have worked within the Clergy Study Program the ADF Liturgy format has become the infrastructure for all my daily spiritualism. Simple daily devotions are structured within the ADF format, though more loosely than personal rituals or High Days are. It has allowed me to retrain my mind in a way that now functions instinctively from the ADF cosmology.

          Through the use of ADF Liturgy I have found myself creating stronger connections with my patrons along with the rest of the Kindred. For me personally ADF Liturgy helped me to find what was missing in my practice, spirituality.

Monday, September 24, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 15:possible cultural variances of the elements in

          Many of the symbols that have become standard for our beliefs and cosmology
in ADF leave room for the Liturgist to be creative. They can take into account variances from
within the cultural focus of groves or rituals being written. Variations in liturgy writing are
important to allow for the many flavorful cultural symbols that exist with Indo-European
cultures. Through flexibility in symbols we give a wider range of ways to reach the people and
the Kindreds we strive to server as Druids. One of the many variations that can be used is with
the Sacred Hallows, most notably the Well and the Tree.

          Within the Hellenic culture there were many times where links are made with well and
tree, but there are two other very strong symbols that fill the pre-Hellenic and Hellenic culture.
The importance of caves and fissures are seen many much through both periods (Burkert 24-26,
110, 172). They are seen as doorways or gateways into the Underworld; the domain of chthonic
gods, nymphs and the dead. Many shrines and temples were setup around these geological
features. Seeing that the Well is linked with the Underworld and the Ancestors it is easy to see
how a cave or fissure is a cultural variation.

          Mountains are another very important symbol in the pre-Hellenic and Hellenic cultures.
The high airy peaks were seen many times as the meeting place between the gods and humans.
Such places were also seen as the larger scale domain of the nymphs. Also another important
aspect of mountains beyond reaching to the heavens is the fact that they are often the home
of caves and fissures that lead into the earth. Just as the Tree is seen spanning the distance
between the realms, so can the symbol of the mountain. (Burkert 26-28, 85)

          With a little creativity and research a good liturgist will find there is a world of variations
waiting for them when it comes to writing culturally focused rituals. You just need to big a little
deeper and have some fun with it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 14: Understanding of the Blessing Cup, Or “Return Flow”

          In all religions there is some way for the divine to send blessing down onto the worshipers. In ADF this is done through the Blessing Cup and the Waters of Life.

          Offerings are made to the Three Kindreds in the form of invocation offerings, praise offerings, and then through the main ritual sacrifice creating a reciprocal relationship between Kindred and mortal. With the reciprocal relation formed ritual-goers request blessings or help for different reasons from the Kindred in return for the offerings made to Them.

         The Omen is then taken to see how the Kindreds have taken the offerings and if They
will give the ritual-goers help or blessings for what they have asked for. If the Omen is good the
celebrants then call for the “return flow” or for the Kindred to give their blessings through the
Blessing Cup changing the liquid in the cup to the Waters of Life. The Blessing Cup itself is not
the important part piece with the Cup Litany. It is actually the ‘return flow’ which transforms
the liquid contained in the vessel into the Waters of Life through the blessings of the Kindred.
Without the ‘return flow’ the liquid would remain a mundane substance leaving the people
without Their blessings.

          The Blessing Cup is passed around to all in attendance to partake in the Waters of Life.
By partaking in the Blessing Cup we are opening ourselves to receiving the help and blessings of
the Kindred that are contained within the Waters of Life as well as what They will send our way
in the future.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 13: Understanding of the Omen in ADF Liturgy

          To understand what Omens are it is important to know there is a difference between Omens and Divination. An Omen is: any perceived happening that is believed to show signs of a good or evil event or circumstance occurring in the future or a way of perceiving the intentions of the divine (Random House Dictionary). Where a Divination is: the practice of attempting to see future events or discover hidden knowledge by supernatural things (Random House Dictionary). It is a form of prophecy through intuition.

          But knowing the definition is only a part of understanding the Omen. It was something I did not totally understand until I started taking the role of Seer in our Grove’s rituals. From my work as the Seer of the Grove I learned that the Omen is actually a very powerful and important part of ADF ritual.

          The Omen in ADF ritual is used as a tool to see how our praise offerings and the main ritual sacrifices have been taken by the Kindred. Through the Omen we are able to cipher the wishes and desires of those we are honoring. It allows us to create lines of communication between the Kindred and ourselves. Omens allow us to ‘know’ instead of guessing or assuming our offerings are accepted. (Corrigan, Concerning the Taking of Omens)

           If there is a favorable Omen then the ritual continues on to the Blessing of the Waters of Life which are shared with the grove. What remains of the Blessing Waters are then returned to the Earth. If the Omen is not a favorable one, or seen as something more is needed, another round of offerings will be done before taking the Omen again. In our grove if there are three unfavorable Omen within the ritual we will stop the ritual and contemplate what went wrong, though since I have been in the grove that has not happened. There was only one Omen that I saw as an unfavorable one, in that case one of the celebrants had forgotten to give offerings to the spirits of the land that we were honoring. Making this offering is a tradition for our grove. Once that offering had been made the Omen came back as good.

           The Omen is a powerful tool to gauge the success or failure of ritual offerings to the Kindred. In ritual being a Seer is a function that I feel privileged to perform. Without the use of Omen ADF ritual would be lack the special quality that sets it apart from the rest of the Pagan community. The Omen is the tool which allows us the insight to create our reciprocal relation with the Kindred through our sacrifices and honoring.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The accumulation of 'stuff'

          So the other day there was a posting on Facebook about "How much stuff does one Pagan need?" It really is a very thought provoking question. So many of us tend to gather and horde 'magic' items that very seldom if ever are used. We buy books that never get read. So why bother? As one friend said " It seems that very few people make the jump from physical ritual items to those in your mind's eye." And I do have to agree with him on this, at least in private practice.

          A prime example of this is the use of an Athame. Many Pagan and magical practitioners have a dedicated tool called an Athame. This tool is either a small knife or sword which they use to direct energy. In the beginning these are wonderful tools to help train your mind and body in directing energy. But how long do you really need one? A year, two years, your whole life?

          Another example is the use of items to represent say the Hallows in Druidry, the Fire, the Well, and the Tree. In the beginning the use of a candle or a cauldron for Fire, a bowl of water for the Well and a stick or plant as the Tree is pretty typical. But again how long do you really need these items?

          One thing to look at is 'what purpose do these items serve?' These items in both cases are simply representations that we use to focus our psychic intentions and energies through. That's all. They are aids to help us visualize the directing of energy.

          With that in mind., how long do we need to use these tools? At some point shouldn't we have gained enough skill to be able to leave behind the physical trappings of our working? Shouldn't we be able to have a strong enough visualization skill that we can perform magic and ritual at any given time, at any given location WITHOUT these tools? I personally feel this is the entire point of mental discipline. Mental discipline is there to help us train our minds so they become strong enough in needed skills that we can leave physical tools behind.

          Now I think that there are times physical items are needed, like specific spells or the creation of talismans that are in place to provide a constant stream of magic or power so that we are not having to constantly having to give a portion of our concentration and energies to them. But then that is a totally different subject. What I am talking about are 'ritual and altar items' that so many feel they need to perform the most basic of functions within Paganism.

          I suggest you take the time to read this article and see what it is you can live without. What books can find new homes? What items can be given or sold? How can you reduce all your 'stuff' to make your life less filled with the need to have things that just gather dust.

How Much Stuff Does One Pagan Need?

ADF Liturgy part 12: Understanding Sacrifice and its place in ADF Liturgy

          Sacrifice is a word that is extremely scary to most people when associated with religion. There are many meanings and uses for the word Sacrifice but there are two that I feel have importance to this discussion. According to Sacrifice is:

1. the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage.
3 .the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim (Random House Dictionary).

(noting that we in ADF of course do not practice human or living animal sacrifices nor approve of it.) The act
of sacrifice is the action of making offerings to the divine in homage and reverence to help in creating an important spiritual link between the worshiper and the divine.

          Until coming to ADF, I had never really thought much about Sacrifice in my spiritual path. Then again there were a lot of things I did not think much of until coming to ADF. But once I started down the road of ADF cosmology I began to give thought to the meaning of sacrifice. I learned that it was not just offering things such as incense, liquids, and foods that are commonplace. Sacrifice can more meaning when the items being giving have some kind of value to them above and beyond the common value, whether it be a monetary or emotional investment. This has the effect of showing the divine that you are willing to give fully of yourself. I believe it shows that you are truly offering the best you can offer. The offering can be a bottle of high quality liquor, a piece of art work that was done by hand, goods that were baked especially for the Sacrifice, or even herbs that were planted, grown, and harvested for specific deities. (Thomas)

          Sacrifice serves another function outside of being used to honouring the divine. Within ADF it is used to help us creation relationships with the Kindred. Through the actions of sacrifice we create the expectation of reciprocal relationships. We give to Them so that they may give to us. (Thomas)

          We also sacrifice to create a type of peace treaty. It is custom for many people within ADF to make offerings to those we term Outdwellers. They are the forces, being and deities that do no have a harmonious intent with the goals we are seeking to achieve. We offer so that these Outdwellers will leave us in peace during our rites and in our lives.

          Sacrifice within ADF the most interesting concept to me. For ADF liturgy Sacrifice is used
to honor the Three Kindreds. Sacrifices are gifts we give to the Kindreds so that we may
become closer with Them in kinship. But it is also a way of creating a reciprocal relationship with
the Three Kindred.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cool fall weather

          When I woke up this morning there was a chill in the apartment. I had turned of the AC a few days back because it was getting cool enough that it would not kick on since it was set on 78. So I knew it was not because of the AC. So I showered and got ready for work. When I stepped outside I was shocked to find the temperature was a nice cool 54 degrees. The air was crisp and fresh. FALL WEATHER!

          When I went out to lunch I was confronted with a wonderful 62 degree weather! It was amazing to feel the air on my skin. My head began to swim with the excitement that fall is on its way. Though it made me take a moment to think about what our winter might be like... then I pushed it from my mind, rolled down my windows, opened my sun roof and drove to lunch. This really is my favorite time of year. I love watching the leaves change from green to red, gold, orange and yellow. I love the smells that come with fall... the smell of dried leaves, pumpkins, apple cider... oh what a glorious time of year!

          Though this time of year is the beginning of the dead time in the Great Wheel, it seems to help me reconnect with the earth and the seasonal cycles after a hot humid summer. The change of temperature, colors, and the movement of the animals lets us know the earth is starting its decent into a dormant state.

          So take a moment, breath in the cool fall air and release anything that has been plaguing you this past year. Feel it melt from you body and out through your breath. Feel yourself become lighter and more relaxed. Know deep down that this is the ending of all things, the beginning of the resting time so they can be renewed with the coming of spring next year.

Monday, September 17, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 11: How to choose the focus (or focuses) for the Key Offerings

          There are many points to consider when choosing the focus for a ritual’s Key Offering. Most of the considerations will have to be answered through looking into the cultural focus in which the ritual is geared towards. A question to ask is what Kindred are being called upon from said culture. Then you need to ask what associations pertain to those Kindred. Using the example of one ritual the Grove of the Red Earth performed, Fall Equinox ritual, I will explain why these are important aspects are important.

          The hearth culture plays an important part in choosing the offerings because it helps to create the group mind within the working group or Grove. In the case of our Grove’s Fall Equinox the culture was Greek. Part of the focus for the Key Offerings was the use of a ritual feast or sacred meal within the actual ceremony. It was common for the Greeks to use meats for this portion of a ritual. For our grove we have either beef or pork that has been cooked so that members can partake, but a portion of the animal’s bones and fat are offered up to the gods. This helps us to keep within the culture’s traditions of making offerings and allows to commune with the Kindred. (Burkert 57)

          When it comes to the god/s or Kindreds being honoured, the choice becomes even more important. Demeter was the focus for the Fall ritual so it was very appropriate for us to use pork in the Key Offering of the sacred meal being that piglets were sacrificed during the Eleusinian Mysteries to Her (Wright 51). But also we had to take into consideration other aspects of Demeter that would be important. Though Demeter is an earth goddess that rules over all growing things, She is also seen as a goddess associated with the cycles of life and death. Because of this aspect I decided to pull imagery of Demeter as the giver of immortality from the myth of how Demeter used fire to purify the child Demophon from mortality (Bulfinch 54-55). I wanted to create a powerful image of that purification as well as making it an offering to Demeter. I created a Paper Mache form of a baby that was filled with herbs and hematite stones. The members of the grove then placed slips of paper into the form that represented aspects they wanted to see purified from themselves as Demeter was purifying Demophon. The form was placed within the fire as the last of the Key Offerings.

          Through research into the cultural aspects of the hearth culture, Kindreds being honored, and associations of those Kindred you will find the choice of what focus to take for Key Offerings fairly easy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Druidry is to me

          So I figured I would take the time to talk about my views are on what Druidry is. I talk about about my studies in Druidry but not really what I see Druidry being. Lets get started.

          Part of Druidry to me is learning. The ancient Druids were all about education. They were the law makers, the judges, the scientists, and teachers of their time. That to me should not change in the modern world. A good way to think about it is being a 'renascence' person, being well rounded in education. I spend a great deal of time studying and learning new things from law to science, art to music. The more I learn the more I am aware of the world around me, the differences and similarities to the people who live in it with me.

          Part of Druidry for me to learning to live in harmony with the earth. This is a challenge in the modern world that is so driven by consumerism. Everything in our lives consumes wither it is energy or resources. To help with my consumption of energy I have tried to find every possible way to cut down on its use. Some of the steps I have taken involve the use of different types of lighting options, keep my AC on 78 in the summer and on 69 in the winter. I turn off and unplug anything that is no in use. It is unbelievable how many devices we use that are vampiric, leeching energy constantly. I take shorter showers which means less energy to heat water. The level on my heat water heater turned down. As for using less resources, I use only rechargeable batteries which are recycled at the end of their lifespan. Shorter showers of course means less water. I use towels and wash cloths for cleaning instead of paper towels. I recycle everything I possibly can, though we are limited in our area on what the recyclers will accept. I use devices until they are no longer working, then recycle them, before replacing. There are so many things we can do to live in harmony, just need to find them.

          The other part to Druidry is the spiritual part. We work to find a spiritual connection and balance with the Kindred. The Kindred are the gods, the nature spirits, and the ancestors. Through making these connections we expand our souls and the relationships we have between the Kindred, the Three Realms, and the Three Worlds. We learn to live with piety  in our lives, to live by virtues that help guide us in our learning and day to day dealing with other humans. We learn mental discipline which allows is to take control of our thoughts, emotions, and our reactions to our lives.

          So as you can see Druidry can be multifaceted. And these are not the only ways I define Druidry but the most prominent. And the most important thing to know is that Druidry is a personal journey and evolution. I encourage everyone to take that first step to exploring this powerful spirituality.

2210: The Collapse? - National Geographic Channel

So I have been watching this movie by National Geographic. It is one that is powerful when you really allow it to sink in. We are so close to a great collapse of everything we know, sending us back into a dark age, even worse than what we experienced before.

What do you do to change the way you live? What do you do to make your life more sustainable? What do you do to lower your impact on the planet?

As for me, I lower my power consumption. I have changed all my lights over to either compact florescent lights or LED lights. I grow many of my own herbs. I buy ebooks instead of paper books more and more to help save trees. My Nook only has to be charged every couple of months so that saves energy. I turn off and unplug what isn't being used so they do not keep leeching energy from the grid. I recycle what I can. This coming spring I will have a garden in which I grove much of my own food. What I can't grow I will continue to buy locally at the farmers market that is held each Saturday throughout the growing and harvesting season.

It is time to start making changes, though they may be hard, to live a better more sustainable life. Take the time to watch this movie. It is very powerful when you think we are on the same road so many civilizations where before us that fell from their great status. As a Druid I want to do more for my planet and home. Perhaps it is time humanity stopped wanting more and more everyday. Perhaps it is time to use what we have until it is no longer useful then recycle it before replacing it. Stop getting that brand new cell phone just because it is newer and better. Stop upgrading your car just because it is now 4 years old and paid off.

Seriously take a moment to think about what you do, what you need, and where you can save energy and materials. You will be shocked at how much more money you have in your wallet in the end as you help save our civilization. Because I promise you this... the planet will go on without us. It will take time to heal the damage we have done but it will go on very happily without the human race. Make no mistake we are not fighting to save the planet. We are fighting to save our species and those that we are destroying with our greed.

ADF Liturgy part 10: Other possible models for ‘Filling Out the Cosmic Picture’ sections

          Though we in ADF are accustomed to the working with the Three Kindreds in our respective ways, there are other views that can be used to fill out the Cosmic Picture. One of the ways to ‘Fill Out the Cosmic Picture’ would be to conduct ritual in such a way as to not gear the invocations specifically towards the Kindreds but more towards all the beings that live within the Three Realms. Through this approach we can be sure not to leave out any of the Kindreds that happen to reside in different realms than we would normally associate them being in.

          A prime example of Kindreds residing in different realms than would normally would be associated with them can be seen in the Hellenic culture with it comes to some of the deities. Within the Hellenic culture there are deities that reside within the Upper World. This can be seen to include Olympus but also the actual heavens themselves. However there are also deities that dwell upon the earth. They are known as chthonic deities. Though some had Their own place within the heavens, such as Demeter (Crudden 7 Line 3, 16 Line 332) (Burkert 161) and Hecate (Crudden 4 Line 25). They chose to remain here in the Middle World. This would also include all the local deities of the land, rivers, and seas. We also have to consider the deities that reside in the Underworld, such as Persephone and her husband Hades. (Burkert 159) The gods can be found living in any of the Three Realms not just in the Upperworld.

          When looking at the possibility of the Ancestors residing within different realms, we do not have to look further than here in the Middle World. Our history is filled with accounts of the dead living among us. One of the customs among the Greeks was to place food and drink into the tombs of the dead so that they would not thirst or go hungry (Johnston 38). This could be seen as the Ancestors still residing within the Middleworld. There are those who believe as well that the Ancestors can evolve enough to move beyond the cycle of life, death, and rebirth; that they can move among the heavens (Willoughby 60, 79). This would then allow them to live in the Upperworld in the realm of the gods. Even the soul of mortals seems to be unfixed when it comes to where it can reside.

          Though physical animals must live within the Middleworld, the Nature Spirits are not necessarily bound to reside just within it. Mythology from the Celts tells us that Nature Spirits like the Sidhe left the Middle World to live within the Underworld (Squire 135-138). There are also stories where the Spirits of Nature travel from one world to another. Norse mythology tells us that the raven is seen as one of those Nature Spirits, because traditionally it is seen as a messenger that travels between the Three Realms (Lindow 187-188). There are many other Nature Spirits such as birds that are seen to be messengers (Crudden 5 Lines 45-46) and travel from this world into the other realms. Even among the Nature Spirits not all seem to be confined to a single realm.

          It is not hard to see how calling to the Kindred through the Three Realms would be a valid way to ‘Fill Out the Cosmic Picture.’ Through the use of Upper, Lower, and Middles Worlds we are assured to truly call to ALL of the Kindreds no matter where They may reside.

Friday, September 14, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 9: What is the intention and function of the Three Kindreds invocations?

          The invocation of the Three Kindreds is designed to call out to them, to turn their attentions toward the ritual of worship being performed in their honor. The invocations also work as an invitation to the Kindred to join us once we have Their attention. Also the invocations themselves can be a way of honoring the Kindred. However there is a function of the invocations that gets overlooked at times. The invocations also help the ritual goers and celebrants create an emotional and spiritual connection with the Kindred by invoking the powerful imagery of Them.

          The Three Kindreds within our ADF cosmology are The Gods, The Ancestors, and the
Nature Spirits.

          The gods are also known as the Shining Ones. They are the oldest and mightiest of all the beings. They are the children of Light and Shadow that were born out of the chaos at the beginning of time. With their birth came all the great wonders of the universe. The Shining Ones are the forces that keep all the worlds in all the galaxies functioning as they should. From the gods come your patrons, the ones that take a special interest in teaching and guiding you. In some ways the Shining Ones can also be a type of parental figure for you. (ADF)

          There are many thoughts on who and what the Ancestors are. From my understanding they are all those who have come before us. They are the friends and family that have passed from this world into the Land of the Dead where they rest from their lives as mortals. They are the teachers, the healers, and the great minds that are the builders who created our present so that we would have a future. The Ancestors are also the Heroes, both men and women, who are honored within the world’s many cultures. They are the ones whose actions and suffering brought great change to the world around them. Whether Hero or relation, the Ancestors watch over us, protecting us, and lending to us their knowledge and experience when we ask for it or are in need. (ADF)

          The Nature Spirits are the non-human spirits or beings that share the Middle realm with us. They range from the squirrels that we see every day in trees to the spirits of rivers and streams, all the growing vegetation, even of the land itself. But the nature spirits also include what we today call Fairie or Sίdhe, like the noble beings of the Tuatha De Danann, deities from the Irish culture that were driven into the land and later viewed as land spirits or Nature Spirits. The Nature Spirits are the closest to us of the Three Kindred. They share this world with us on a day to day basis. I have always seen them as being more easily accessed than the others because of this fact. Many times we have Nature Spirits living with us, just think of your dogs, cats, even your birds and fish. How many of Them call out to us, asking to come be a part of our

          Invocations serve many functions within ritual and magic. The invocations of the Kindred within ADF rites serve to connect us on many levels with the Kindred, our groves, and

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Upcoming Ganesha Festival!

          OK so the Ganesha Chaturthi is nearing, which I am extremely excited about. Ganesha is one of my foremost patron deities. He has many shrines in my home and at work. I have been to several of the festivals at some of the Hindu temples in the cities I have lived in. They are wonderful events that really make you feel welcomed and loved. If you have a temple near you, go! It’s worth the time!

          If you are in northwest Arkansas you can visit the local temple here!

          Part of the ritual consists of a chant done several times including all 108 names of Ganesha. The following is a list of names. Any of these can be used to call upon Ganesha depending on the devotees need.

1. Akhuratha : One who has Mouse as His Charioteer
2. Alampata : Ever Eternal Lord
3. Amit : Incomparable Lord
4. Anantachidrupamayam : Infinite and Consciousness Personified
5. Avaneesh : Lord of the whole World
6. Avighna : Remover of Obstacles
7. Balaganapati : Beloved and Lovable Child
8. Bhalchandra : Moon-Crested Lord
9. Bheema : Huge and Gigantic
10. Bhupati : Lord of the Gods
11. Bhuvanpati : God of the Gods
12. Buddhinath :God of Wisdom
13. Buddhipriya : Knowledge Bestower
14. Buddhividhata : God of Knowledge
15. Chaturbhuj : One who has Four Arms
16. Devadeva : Lord! of All Lords
17. Devantakanashakarin : Destroyer of Evils and Asuras
18. Devavrata : One who accepts all Penances
19. Devendrashika : Protector of All Gods
20. Dharmik : One who gives Charity
21. Dhoomravarna : Smoke-Hued Lord
22. Durja : Invincible Lord
23. Dvaimatura : One who has two Mothers
24. Ekaakshara : He of the Single Syllable
25. Ekadanta : Single-Tusked Lord
26. Ekadrishta : Single-Tusked Lord
27. Eshanputra :Lord Shiva's Son
28. Gadadhara : One who has The Mace as His Weapon
29. Gajakarna :One who has Eyes like an Elephant
30. Gajanana : Elephant-Faced Lord
31. Gajananeti : Elephant-Faced Lord
32. Gajavakra : Trunk of The Elephant
33. Gajavaktra : One who has Mouth like an Elephant
34. Ganadhakshya : Lord of All Ganas (Gods)
35. Ganadhyakshina : Leader of All The Celestial Bodies
36. Ganapati : Lord of All Ganas (Gods)
37. Gaurisuta : The Son of Gauri (Parvati)
38. Gunina : One who is The Master of All Virtues
39. Haridra : One who is Golden Coloured
40. Heramba : Mother's Beloved Son
41. Kapila : Yellowish-Brown Coloured
42. Kaveesha : Master of Poets
43. Krti : Lord of Music
44. Kripalu : Merciful Lord
45. Krishapingaksha : Yellowish-Brown Eyed
46. Kshamakaram :The Place of Forgiveness
47. Kshipra : One who is easy to Appease
48. Lambakarna : Large-Eared Lord
49. Lambodara : The Huge Bellied Lord
50. Mahabala : Enormously Strong Lord
51. Mahaganapati : Omnipotent and Supreme Lord
52. Maheshwaram : Lord of The Universe
53. Mangalamurti : All Auspicious Lord
54. Manomay : Winner of Hearts
55. Mrityuanjaya : Conqueror of Death
56. Mundakarama : Abode of Happiness
57. Muktidaya : Bestower of Eternal Bliss
58. Musikvahana : One who has Mouse as His Charioteer
59. Nadapratithishta : One who Appreciates and Loves Music
60. Namasthetu : Vanquisher of All Evils and Vices and Sins
61. Nandana : Lord Shiva's Son
62. Nideeshwaram : Giver of Wealth and Treasures
63. Omkara :One who has the Form Of OM
64. Pitambara : One who has Yellow-Coloured Body
65. Pramoda : Lord of All Abodes
66. Prathameshwara : First Among All
67. Purush : The Omnipotent Personality
68. Rakta : One who has Red-Coloured Body
69. Rudrapriya : Beloved Of Lord Shiva
70. Sarvadevatman : Acceptor of All Celestial Offerings
71. Sarvasiddhanta : Bestower of Skills and Wisdom
72. Sarvatman : Protector of The Universe
73. Shambhavi : The Son of Parvati
74. Shashivarnam : One who has a Moon like Complexion
75. Shoorpakarna : Large-Eared Lord
76. Shuban : All Auspicious Lord
77. Shubhagunakanan : One who is The Master of All Virtues
78. Shweta : One who is as Pure as the White Colour
79. Siddhidhata : Bestower of Success and Accomplishments
80. Siddhipriya :Bestower of Wishes and Boons
81. Siddhivinayaka : Bestower of Success
82. Skandapurvaja : Elder Brother of Skand (Lord Kartik)
83. Sumukha : Auspicious Face
84. Sureshwaram : Lord of All Lords
85. Swaroop : Lover of Beauty
86. Tarun : Ageless
87. Uddanda : Nemesis of Evils and Vices
88. Umaputra : The Son of Goddess Uma (Parvati)
89. Vakratunda : Curved Trunk Lord
90. Varaganapati : Bestower of Boons
91. Varaprada : Granter of Wishes and Boons
92. Varadavinayaka : Bestower of Success
93. Veeraganapati : Heroic Lord
94. Vidyavaridhi : God of Wisdom
95. Vighnahara : Remover of Obstacles
96. Vignaharta : Demolisher of Obstacles
97. Vighnaraja :Lord of All Hindrances
98. Vighnarajendra : Lord of All Obstacles
99. Vighnavinashanaya : Destroyer of All Obstacles and Impediments
100. Vigneshwara : Lord of All Obstacles
101. Vikat : Huge and Gigantic
102. Vinayaka : Lord of All
103. Vishwamukha : Master of The Universe
104. Vishwaraja : King of The World
105. Yagnakaya : Acceptor of All Sacred and Sacrificial Offerings
106. Yashaskaram : Bestower of Fame and Fortune
107. Yashvasin : Beloved and Ever Popular Lord
108. Yogadhipa : The Lord of Meditation

ADF Liturgy part 8: Outdwellers and Their Significance in ADF Ritual

          The idea of an Outdweller in the practice of my spiritual life was not totally new to me. Though the concept of dealing with them within ADF was different from what I knew. It took me a while to fully understand the ADF concept of what or who the Outdwellers are. There was just a part of it that confused me. So I asked the Dedicant Discussion List for some help in understanding the full idea of the Outdwellers when I was working on my DP. The responses varied from respectful to not so respectful views of who and what the Outdwellers are, which confused me a little about Their nature. But then I got an e-mail response from our Rev. Skip Ellison. He told me to think about the Outdwellers as kids playing in sand boxes. They are the kids in one of the sand box you aren't playing with at the moment.

          From that description I realized that the Outdwellers were not just evil or dark beings out to get everyone. I do not think that very many things in creation are either purely good or purely evil. Most beings fall somewhere between the two extremes. All beings have their place in the makeup of the worlds so they should be treated with respect, no matter what their function. Life has a way of changing to make us take a second look at our points of view and who we call on for help. Just because a being is viewed as an Outdweller today does not mean that They will be tomorrow.

          We make offerings to the Outdwellers to convince Them to leave us in peace during our ceremonies. It is better to give something to those that you do not want to be at your ritual, showing them that you are not inhospitable, than to block them out, making sure they understand completely that they are unwanted. We make offerings to the Outdwellers to show respect to Them because all beings deserve to be acknowledged no matter what their relationship to us. I see it as making a peace treaty between both parties. I also think it is very important when offering to the Outdwellers that it is done with as much respect as the offerings made to the Three Kindred. To do otherwise would defeat the purpose of giving the offering in the first place. Throwing the offering, knocking it off a table, or other offensive acts not only show the Outdwellers that they are not good enough for our attention, but it is a violation of at least three of our valued virtues, hospitality, piety and integrity. So in a way one of the unexpected functions of the Outdwellers is to test us in our faith and values.

          Overall, the importance of the Outdwellers is multi-dimensional. They are an important part of the worlds around us so should be treated with respect. They are also another chance for each Druid to practice the Virtues that we hold dear in ADF. Though it is good to remember that some people do not see a need to call the Outdwellers, they may feel that to segregate beings in this manner closes them off from potential allies.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 7: The origins of the Fire, Well, and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF Liturgy

          The Three Hallows that we use in ADF are symbols that can be found in many ancient Indo-European Cultures. They are symbols that speak to the deeper understanding that our forebears had of the spiritual world around them.

          Anthropological studies show that Fire throughout the history of the human race has been seen as the power of the divine manifest within the physical world. It is the most intrinsic tool of man that lead to the evolution of all societies. Fire was the power to fight away the darkness and to cook. In Hellenic times it was common to make offerings to the gods by placing votive offerings, incense, libations, and foods into the sacred Fire so that it would be carried to the gods (Burkert 170). In ADF, Fire symbolizes our connection to the Shinning Ones. Our Fire also becomes one of the Three Hallows that we use as gateways to reach those beings of the heavens, the Upper World. (Corrigan, Sacred Space, an Exlporation of the Triple Center)

          Water, just as Fire, can be seen as an ancient and powerful symbol within human spiritualism. In many of the Indo-European cultures, river and ocean deities were worshiped at the waters edge. There seemed to be an underlying belief that all the waters of the world were connected. The source of these waters was seen as coming from underground, deep within the core of the planet. With this belief it is not hard to see how our common ancestors saw Wells, that tunneled deep into the earth would be their connection to the Waters of life and rebirth. This connection also can be seen in some of the mythologies where the dead must cross over
waters such as rivers, lakes, or even oceans ; many of which were underground, to reach the afterlife. Today the Well is a symbol of the Ancestors (Corrigan, Sacred Space, an Exlporation of the Triple Center). It is the gateway to the Elysian Fields, to the Underworld, where the honored dead go to rest before returning to this life in their new incarnation. (Burkert 157-158, 293-294)

          Though views varied from culture to culture among the ancient Indo-Europeans on what the importance of the Tree was, there was very little variation on the fact that the Tree was held as sacred. From the Celtic Druids to the Priesthoods of the Greeks, Trees were symbols of gifts from the gods and revered as the very symbol of nature (Burkert 39). Today the Tree holds a great many purposes within ADF. It is our symbol for the Nature Spirits. Though in many cases there is no need for a gateway to reach Nature Spirits, the Tree is still seen as the gateway to connect with them. Also the sacred Tree symbolizes the path between the Three Realms. Its roots reach deep into the Underworld while its branches reach towards the heavens giving us a path to the Upper World. The trunk grows stoutly here in the Middle World, the realm of mortals, Nature Spirits, and the earth deities. (Corrigan, Sacred Space, an Exlporation of the Triple Center)

          The Fire, Well, and Tree are more than just symbols and tools of our faith. They are the gateways for us to reach beyond our mundane existence into the worlds of the Kindred.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 6: Ritual significance of Fire and Water in ADF Liturgy

          ADF is a religion filled with powerful symbolism. Fire and Water are among the most prominent ones. The ideologies of these two symbols hearken back to ancient Indo-European cultures, and speak to the very fabric of whom we are as a species. To understand the significance of Fire and Water in ADF, we must first understand the baser meanings of Fire and Water within the Neo-Pagan community.

          Throughout the world’s cultures there are many beliefs that Fire was originally the power of the gods alone; through different explanations, Fire came to be in the hands of man. Ancient humans used fire to survive the harshness of their climate. Fire also became a way for the leaders of religion to gain access to the gods since Fire was once Their power alone. Offerings from worshipers were sent to the gods through the flames. Fire is also seen as the force that drives all life. It is the force that transformed life from primordial waters. It is also the purifier which burns away all impurities. (Corrigan, Sacred Space, an Exlporation of the Triple

          Water is no less prevalent within the world’s symbolism. Water has always been seen as a force for change. It has the ability break down walls and to reshape the land. Water was also seen as a purifier to the land as well as the soul. It is also seen as the life blood of the Earth. The waters fill well which the foundation of the Tree. But Water was also seen as a gateway, just as Fire was, into the other realms of existence. Many times Water was seen as the gateway into the Underworld, into the realm of the dead. Through the link of Water with the Underworld it also gains the property of being a symbol of rebirth, or reincarnation, which in turn becomes a symbol of the Well. (Corrigan, Sacred Space, an Exlporation of the Triple Center)

          Within ADF these two common symbols can be seen as a part of the Three Hallows. Fire is the gateway and symbol of the gods and the Upperworld. It is the receptacle for offerings to many of the great Shining Ones. Water is in the form of the Well in ADF rituals. The Well is connected with the Underworld and the Ancestors. Just as in ancient times, the Fire and Well are significant in our ADF rituals as gateways to reach the Kindred.

          But even with this important part there is another important significance to Fire and Water. They are the two powers that the Two Powers Meditation is based upon. The Fire is the symbol of divine potential that comes from the heavens reaching down into the Water that is the symbol of all life that is, was, and ever shall be. When these forces combine they bring life into the world. They bring power to those who learn their secrets.

A day of remembrance

          To day is a day in which we reflect upon a tragedy which was brought upon us by a small fanatical religious group. Many lives where lost in the 9/11 indecent because of the actions of a few. As we take time to honor those that have fallen through the attack, those helping rescue, and those that took action to prevent further destruction at the cost of their own lives we should also take a moment to really ponder the lessons to be learn from this.

          Since this attack on the US many people have decided that all Muslims are a part of this fanatical group which works so hard to bring destruction to anyone they disagree with. But this is not so, if you take a moment to look at their culture many Muslims reject such groups as this because it betrays their teachings of love and peace. Remember Islam branched from the same religion as Christianity did. To say all Muslims are evil hate filled people that attack other is like saying because a few of the Christian faith have attacked and killed large numbers of people all Christians are evil.

          I think being a Druid and having studied many religions I can separate myself from the madness that surrounds the topic and look at this from a prospective that many cannot. If you look back on history there are reason why some Muslims hate Christians. Simply look at the Holy Crusades. Hundreds of thousands where slaughtered by Christians because they wanted to 'free' the Holy Lands. That kind of attack can linger for many generations. The add to the fact that our own brand of fanatics in America want to see this nation as a Christian, and so do these fanatical Muslims, we end up with a big target painted on ourselves. It does not help that over all our nation boast that we are a better nation and try to dictate to others how they should live and how they should run their own countries.

          I say all this not to demean what happened to citizens of our nation but for us to take a moment to think about some of the history that has brought us here to this point. To learn something about cause and effect so we can try to put forth forgiveness to help prevent such tragedies from occurring again. We must put aside our religious differences so that we can find peace with one another.

          I end this post with a prayer to the fallen and to the Kindred themselves: Oh this day of remembrance of all the lives lost on 9/11, I pray to the Kindred that all the lost souls from that day rest peacefully in the Summerlands, that those who remain are held in the Kindreds healing embrace, and that through their wisdom we learn to forgive those that brought this tragedy to our doorsteps.

Monday, September 10, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 5: The Earth Mother and Her significance in ADF Liturgy

          The Earth Mother is an iconic image that any Neo-Pagan will be able to recognize. She is the symbol of the earth itself and the source of all life upon Her. We in ADF are no different in the respect that we acknowledge Her. But we are different in the fact that we have given Her a specific place within our rites that helps to form the structure of our Liturgy.

          The open of all our rituals start with an offering and call to the Great Earth Mother. We give honor to the Earth Mother for the life She has given to us. We give honor to the Earth Mother for being the sustaining force of all life, for without Her there would be no life.

          I see Her importance to us as being the embodiment of all life and the Middleworld. She is the Earth goddess from which all life, even from some views all gods, sprang from. She is the greatest of all Ancestors, for we have all come from Her flesh. And She is the most wide spread and powerful Nature Spirit, for She is the spirit of the land. By honoring the Earth Mother we are honoring all of life and all of creation. And that is what our Druidry in ADF is about.

World coming to an end December 2012?

          So there are many people who think that the world will come to an end on December 2012 all because of the Mayan calendar. I find this most interesting that people become so obsessed with an prediction that marks the end of the world or a great change in the world due to disaster.

          I have read a lot about the Mayan calendar... watched many documentaries on the subject and I have come to a singular conclusion... all calendars must have an end date. It is like saying the world will end because the current calenders in the US end on December 31st.

          So with that thought, WHY ON EARTH are people so obsessed with the world ending? I remember the HUGE scare people had about Y2K. The world didn't come to an end then like so many believed. Do people hate their lives so much they want things to end? It's something to really think about.

          As a Druid I firmly believe that life will continue on unless something super catastrophic occurs like a planet killing meteor hits the planet or the sun belches out a massive solar flare to cook the atmosphere off. Even then I am so sure that Mother Earth won't find a way for life to continue in some fashion even if we humans were not around to be a part of it. I guess it really is a matter of how you look at life. I do not see us as something super special in the grand scheme of things. We humans like to think of ourselves as the pentacle of all living things... well guess what we are not. We are nothing more than a really clever animal that adapted faster than some of the other animals. In the end we are just one part of the great web of life.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 4: Why ADF Ritual need not have a defined outer Boundary, or ‘circle’ and the sacralization of space in ritual

          When I first started learning about ADF ritual I was rather concerned with the fact there was no circle cast as part of the rituals. There were several aspects that concerned me. The first was how the energy that was raised during the ritual was going to be contained until the release for the final goal. The second was how did celebrants of the ritual plan to protect the members of the grove from unwanted energies or beings during the working.

          I was to find that the answers were rather simple: ADF Rituals are designed specifically for worship, not especially for the working of magic. When you are worshiping the Kindreds there is really no need to contain power for a single release. That resolved the first concern I had about the lack of circle within ADF Rituals.

          ADF ritual and cosmology were created so that the area where the rituals are preformed is blessed by the act of worship itself. Through the re-creation of the cosmos and Sacred Center, sacralization occurs as an energy radiating outwards from the Three Hallows, eliminating the need for a defined physical boundary. (Gold) It can be seen that a boundary is created on a metaphysical level when making our Outdweller offerings. Though I can see the validity in this I am not so use that is what is happening. In the Outdweller offering we are requesting that in return for the sacrifice we are giving that all unharmonious energies and being to our rite please leave us in peace. This leaves open the option for the Outdwellers to not accept the offering and come on in to the ritual, breaking the hospitality created by the offering itself. A true boundary or barrier would prevent them from passing through or at the very least make it very difficult.

          As for protection from unwanted entities, that is taken care of through the offering given to the Outdwellers. This shows Them the respect that is rightfully theirs as well as creating a type of bound of hospitality that even the Outdwellers would not dare break before the mighty Kindred (ADF). And something else to consider that our Senior Druid said, ‘Do you really think that the gods we are worshiping aren’t capable of protecting us while we worship Them?’ That is something I very much take to heart.

          The very design of ADF Cosmology creates an atmosphere of openness and welcome to all beings. At the same time it is also designed to protect all those attending from negative influence. This is done without the need for a set boundary or circle. Through the Sacred Center the land is blessed and protected.

ADF Liturgy part 3: Description of the Concepts of the Center and the Gates in ADF’s Standard Liturgical Outline

          One of the most powerful and endearing parts of ADF cosmology within liturgy to me is the concept of the Scared Center. All of my magical and spiritual workings prior to joining ADF have always been done with the casting of a circle for protection and containing the energy raised. I would even cast a circle just to worship the gods. The circle was created using the four elemental gateways of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. The concepts of the cosmology and practice within ADF Liturgy are completely different.

          To understand the concepts of the Scared Center I had to really look deep into the ideology of ADF ritual. What I learned was that the main function of ADF ritual is first and foremost the worship of the Three Kindreds. Though there are times when magic may be worked by groves during a ritual, it is not the central focus. To reach the Kindreds we create the Sacred Center. Through the Sacred Center we gain access to the worlds in which the Kindreds reside; The Upper World, the Middle World, and the Lower World (Paradox). Through the creation of the Sacred Center, and in turn the recreation of the cosmos, we are able to reach all the worlds and all beings.

          With the idea that ritual within ADF is mainly for worship, I began to understand a little more about the Scared Center. But I had to understand the use of Gates within the ADF cosmology to create the Sacred Center. The gateways that are more commonly used within ADF are the Three Hallows; which consist of the Well, the Tree, and the Fire. There are several variations that can be used. Since we are required in ritual to acknowledge the Three Worlds or the Three Realms it is easy for us to use either of these as our gateways in recreating the cosmos. The one element from the Three Hallows (Fire, Well, and Tree) that is a requirement for ADF is the Fire. In case of using the Three Hallows; Celebrants of a ritual call to each of the Hallows, asking them to open as gateways between the Three Worlds for the duration of the celebration. Once open, the gateways create the structure of the Scared Center, allowing energy to flow both to and from the Three Worlds. The energies flow outward from the Sacred Center creating a Sacred Space in which all are blessed and welcome. Fire opens as the gateway to the Shining Ones and the Upperworld. The Well opens as the gateway to the Ancestors and the Underworld. The Tree open as the gateway to the Nature Spirits and the Middleworld, but it also becomes our pathway between these worlds, allowing us to tread the worlds of the
Kindreds. Another variation of this can be seen in the Hellenic culture. A mountain can be used as the pathway between the worlds as it reaches to the sky and the Upperworld. It is firmly planted in the Middleworld. And can be seen as leading into the Underworld. Caves were seen as gateways into the land of the dead and the Underworld. Streams and creeks were seen as the domain of the Nature Spirits here in the Middleworld. As you can see looking into the cultural themes you can find many variations on what can be used as a gateway in our rituals.

          Another important fact to look at for the Gates is the idea of them being part of the microcosmic makeup. They are not simply external gateways but they are also internal.

          The human body on average is made up of about 58-60% water (USGS). This amount, of course, varies from male to female, according to age, and other facts such as health. Parts of our bodies are composed more of water than others. The human brain is composed of nearly 70 percent water. Our blood, however, is around 80 percent. As the Well is associated with the Sea and all waters of all the worlds on the macrocosmic level it is a simple step to see how the Well can be associated with the human body on a microcosmic level. When we are opening the Well as a gate we’re not only opening a gate in the physical world to the Underworld but we’re also opening the Well as a gate within our bodies. The very water that makes the 58-60% composition of our bodies becomes linked with all the waters of all the worlds, making us one.

          The body water percentages would leave the other 40 to 42% of the human body being composed of organic materials (Wikipedia). These organic materials that compose the human body are part of the life that makes up the Middleworld. They live, grow, and die as part of the cycles of life. They are affected by gravity and time. As beings of Middleworld, we are intricately linked with the World-Tree. The World-Tree symbolizes the pathway between all the realms of existence. The roots of the great World-Tree reach deep into the Land and the Underworld. The trunk stands as the axis to all the worlds in the Middleworld. The branches reach high into the Sky and beyond into the Upperworld. When opening the Tree as a gateway we are calling upon our physical organic form to become part of that gateway. Our bodies themselves become that pathway between the worlds just as the World-Tree does. This is also why the Two Powers meditation is such a powerful source for our workings and our daily lives.

          Fire has been seen throughout the ages as a symbol of spirit and the divine. Every living cell within our bodies is infused with Fire, with life and spirit. In this case fire can be seen as a representation of the life force that drives all beings. Our bodies are made up of millions of living cells. Each of those living cells have a spark of the divine Fire within it. Fire then brings the macrocosm even further into scope of the microcosm because with it even our very cells house the Sacred Hallows. So when we are opening the Fire as a gate we are also opening our spirit as the gate to the Upperworld. We are also opening the very life that forms our bodies as gateways. We’re opening ourselves as the gate to the divine.

          The reason for creating the Scared Center is so that the blessings of the Three Kindreds spread outward into the world around us during our Druid rites. The Scared Center creates a two-way door for our offerings to flow to the Kindreds and Their blessings to flow to us in return. In this way we are making the land and the world better than it was before we came to it for worship.

ADF Liturgy part 2: Functions people can take in ritual

          There are many roles within ritual that members of a grove can take part in other than being one of the celebrates running the ritual. The roles are just as important to the flow of ritual as that of those leading. It helps people feel engaged and prevents boredom. (Bonewits 116-122)

          One of those roles which is very important is that of a fire warden. This person watches over the Sacred Fire. A fire warden keeps the fire from leaving the area created for it. Also the fire needs to be tended so that it will burn throughout the duration of the ritual. And of course the fire has to be put out at the end of the ritual. A fire warden would put the fire out, making sure that even the embers were snuffed so that no fire could spring back up.

          Having pre-ritual helpers in setting up the ritual area is invaluable. Many times those who are running the ritual are busy getting people prepared for the activities of the ritual or doing pre-ritual meditations. Having members of the grove help with setting up tables, getting offering items set out, etc. really helps the keep the flow of ritual smooth.

          In our grove we have a role that we jokingly call the food czar. Currently this is a role that I myself hold. This role was created so that the ritual feast would relate and enhance the full ritual experience. We also have a member who helps visitors during the ritual with any questions that might come up concerning what is being done at any point in the ritual.

          Within the ritual, people can take the roles of Bard, bringing music and storytelling to the ritual. Seers can be in the ritual to lead group meditations and reading the Omen. Roles for ritual can be endless for a grove. The more members that are willing to help the more roles that can be created to help assure a smooth running ritual.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

ADF Liturgy part 1: The purpose and function of ritual

          Ritual is a function of spiritually that has been with us from the dawning of our species. To understand the purpose and function that ritual plays in the spiritual lives of people we first need at least a simple definition of ritual. Ritual is an established set of procedures or acts outlined for a religious or social event that can pertains to a divine nature (Random House Dictionary). Rituals also help us mark the passage of time and the Rites of Passage that mark turning points in our lives.

          There are many purposes for ritual ranging from marking births to marking the passing of a loved one from this world. Rituals can be for an individual or for groups of varying sizes. But no matter the occasion for the ritual, the main purpose of ritual is to allow us mortals to have access and contact to the Other Worlds that are beyond our normal perception, to the Kindreds. (Bonewits 102)

          Throughout recorded history there have been rituals marking the milestones of human lives. Births in many cultures are marked with some type of ritual. These kinds of rituals run the gambit from baptisms in the Christian faith to Pagan communities. Up until modern times there were rituals for our youths that marked their movement from childhood to adulthood. There are parts of the world where tribal societies in remote regions still have rights of passages for youths. Sadly these types of rituals are beginning to fade because of modern influences. Unions of couples are also marked with rituals, though there are many people don’t really see this event as ritual anymore. Some of the hardest rituals can be those we do for loved ones that have passed from this life into the next. Even though these rituals mark the end of a life they also give those left behind a way of saying good-bye and bring closure. Rituals that mark the passage of time help us connect to where we come from and where we are headed. They also help us define who we are as a people and as individuals. (Corrigan)

          Rituals also function as tools that allow us contact the worlds beyond ours. They give us a doorway to connect with the three realms and to the Kindreds themselves. It is important for us as a people to feel a connection with things larger than ourselves. It gives us a spiritual fulfillment (Brooks). Through ritual we take formulated steps to move our minds and souls to a level of consciousness where contact with Natural Spirits, the Ancestors, and the Gods can be reached. In a group setting the steps of ritual are designed to help create a group mind that is focused on the same goal of reaching the Kindreds. The goal of contact is to help create
relationships with the Kindreds. But working ritual as a group has another effect; it creates a sense of community within the group of people worshiping together. (Corrigan)

          Rituals are also done to seek the blessings of the Kindreds. It could be that a new endeavor we are seeking blessings for. Or it could be the birth of a child or a union that the blessings are being sought. There are times when blessings are asked for those who are ill or in great need. Within Pagan practices there are times when we seek blessings for the land and the life living on it. Rituals can be a place for seeking the blessings of the Kindred for any of life’s needs. (Brooks)

          Rituals have many purposes and functions within our lives. Most importantly rituals allow us to create connections with others outside of ourselves; be it mortal, Nature Spirit, Ancestor, or Gods.

Works Cited/Consulted For ADF Liturgy series

ADF. ADF Dedicant Program Handbook- Samhain 2005 Edition. Ár nDraíocht Féin Publishing,

2005.—. "Supplementary Step: The Outsiders." 2008 <

wiki/view/Main/TheOutsiders>.Bonewits, Isaac. Rites of Worship- A Neopagan Approch. Earth

Religion Press- A division of Dubsar House Publishing, 2003.Brooks, Arnold. "Goals of Group

Ritual." July 2008 <

goals.html>.Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch's Mythology. Crown Publishers, Inc., 1979.Burkert,

Walter. Greek Religion. Basil Blackwell Publisher and Harvard University Press, 1985.Corrigan,

Ian. "Concerning the Taking of Omens." March 2008 <

working/taking-omens.html>.—. "Intentions of Druidic Ritual." June 2008 <http://>.—. "Sacred Space, an Exlporation of the

Triple Center." May 2009 <

space.html>.Crudden, Michael. Hymns: A New Translation by Michael Crudden. Oxford

University Press, 2002.Gold, Pete. "The Consecration of a New Grove." 2008 <http://>.Johnston, Sarah Lles. Restless dead:

encounters between the living and the dead in anciet Greece. University of California Press,

1999.Lindow, John. Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford

University Press, 2002.Paradox. "Sacred Space, an Exploration of the Triple Center."

September 2009 <>.Random House

Dictionary. "Divination." 2009. March 2008 <

browse/Divination>.—. "Omen." 2009. March 2008 <http://>.—. "Ritual." June 2008 <http://>.—. "Sacrifice." 2009. April 2009 <http:/

/>.Squire, Charles. The Mythology Of The British

Islands: An Introduction To Celtic Myth, Legend, Poetry And Romance. Kessinger Publishing, LLC,

2007.Thomas, Rev. Kirk. "The Nature of Sacrifice." Oak Leaves Issue No. 41 2008: 43-

55.USGS. "Water Science for Schools." 13 May 2009. USGS- Science for a changing world. May

2009 <>.Wikipedia. "Body Water." 21

September 2009. May 2009 <

Body_water>.Willoughby, Harold. Pagan Regeneration: A study of Mystery Initiations in the

Graeco-Roman World. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2008.Wright, Dubley. Eleusinian Mysteries and

Rites. Kessinger Publishing, 2003.

Solar oven makes drinking water?

          One of the things I love is to see all the wonder eco technologies that are being developed. Here is one that is extremely interesting. Imagine if you could turn salt water into drinking water... that opens up an amazing world filled with water. Check out the article... it really is an amazing step forward.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Delphic Maxims

          The following were the Delphic Maxims which were found at the Delphic temple. These have been added to over the ages but I find them most interesting and figured I would post them. The first two were part of the original three Maxims, the third being "Give surety, get ruin". Surety is pledging the body, rather than property, to secure a debt. If the debtor defaults, he or she became the slave of the creditor. In the modern age we might think alternatively of 'debt is disaster. This practice was abolished a long time ago so doesn't hold as much sway today as it did in the past. The remainder were added over time and believed to be influeniced by the great sages Solon of Athens, Chilon of Sparta, Thales of Miletus, Bias of Priene, Cleobulus of Lindos, Pittacus of Mitylene and Periander of Corinth.

Delphic Maxims:

1. Nothing too much
2. Know thyself

3. Aid friends
4. Control anger
5. Shun unjust acts
6. Acknowledge sacred things
7. Hold on to learning
8. Praise virtue
9. Avoid enemies
10. Cultivate kindsmen
11. Pity supplicants
12. Accomplish your limit
13. When you err, repent
14. Consider the time
15. Worship the divine
16. Accept old age

All of these are most interesting when you stop and think about them. They reflect so many modern values people try to live by.

Meditation/Prayer Beads for a Druid

I am one of those people that have almost an uncontrollable need to fidget with something throughout the day. It started when I was in the sixth grade and continues even to today. This has really been an issue when it comes to my daily meditation and prayers. Years ago, a therapist told me that my subconscious was restless, which is what caused part of the issue. She taught me that if I used an object like a writing pen or pencil, I could learn to do a type of spinning technique that would create a rhythmic behavior that would help me to still my subconscious mind. It worked!

But this technique really is not fitting for use during meditation and prayer for me. So I decided that by creating a set of meditation beads I would have a tool that would help me walk through the steps of my works but it would also help me by giving me something to do with my hands while I worked. Each bead has its own meaning, as you will see in the prayer/meditation listing below. This allows my subconscious mind and even my conscious find a point of focus

I wanted to share this technique in case there were others it might help. The following is an image of my beads as well as the prayer/meditation I use for each bead on the set. There are large wooden beads that are used for the individual prayer/meditation points. The large clear glass beads are used for my mantra “I am Druid, I am Light, I am Divine.” This helps me to create the link between each prayer. The smaller metal and wooden beads are used for silent reflection and connection at each step. Of course I have the beads set into groups of three that reflect the Three Hallows, the Three Realms, and the Three Kindreds.

  • As the roots of the Great Oak I am rooted deep within the Earth. My roots growing ever deeper into the wisdom of times past, deep into the great well, deep into the great underworld seas of rebirth.
  • As the body of the Great Oak grows in the mortal world fulfilling the needs both of kindred and mortal alike, I too grow within the mortal realm; bringing virtue, piety, and wisdom to all in the light of Truth.
  • As the branches of the Great Oak reach into the heavens, to the fire of the heavens, seeking connection with the Shinning Ones, I reach to further my connection with the Gods. As the Great Oak opens the path to the heavens in return, I open the path for ours to reach the home of the Gods.
  • I honor the Land within which I live, upon you I stand firmly with my animal and plant brethren, a fulcrum in the mortal realm. I seek all your hallowed places which will lead me to further connection with you.
  • I honor the Sea which gave birth to all things, within you I drift freely with my brethren of fin, in the cradle of all living things. I seek your depths which will lead me to further connection with you.
  • I honor the Sky  which my out stretched arms reach for, within you I fly towards the heavens with my feathered brethren, the home of the gods. I seek your unlimited boards to further my connection with you.
  • I honor you Kindred of Nature; creatures of flesh and spirit with which I share this, the middle world. Be my guide, my friend, my structure as I walk in light, the path of Truth.
  • I honor you Kindred of the dead; great ancestors, those who came before, readying all the paths we walk upon today. Be my guide, my friend, my conscious as I walk in light, the path of Truth.
  • I honor you Kindred of the gods; great shining spirits of the heavens, those who keep the order of the universe so that all possibilities are open to us. Be my guide, my friend, my inspiration as I walk in light, the path of Truth.

Dilemma with first oath

Coming from a Wiccan background, I was a little nervous about doing my first oath for ADF.  A part of me was concerned about how the deities and spirits I had worshiped and worked with  in the past could take to me, as I was seeing it at the time, breaking the oath I had given to them already. This dilemma ended up causing me to put off my first oath for about 6 months into my DP studies while I worked through this conflict.

The Senior Druid of our grove, James, suggested that I include a part in the oath speaking to those I had followed before. He explained that this way they were not being forgotten or excluded, also it would show that they still would be a part of my practice just in a different way. This seemed like a very good idea from the start, but still I was left with the struggle  of how to incorporate this into the oath. I read through a lot of different first oaths on the ADF members’ sites and in some of the DP journals posted on the web. I was able to see how others had written their oaths and tailored them to the individual.

Still, even with this help, I was torn on how to write the oath so that I would show my desire to embrace the spiritual and intellectual teachings of Ár nDraíocht Féin while still respecting the wonderfully rich path that had lead me though most of my life.

Finally, during the meditation portion of my devotionals one afternoon there was a small thread that appeared to me… it was attached to the ring I was using as the symbol for my newfound druidity. I picked up the thread and followed it through paths of memory in my mind. I saw all the places I had been with my studies. I saw all the people that had been  a part of those studies. When it finally ended I was rather shocked.  It ended with the previous owner of the ring, my dearest and most beloved friend Lane. He had passed into ancestry only a few years earlier. He was the most intelligent well-read person I have ever met. He had given me a  passion not only for reading in general but also for history and research. He held out his hand to me, which I took. He said, “Just remember what you said to me when you moved out.” We had lived together for more than 12 years. He was very much a big brother to me, but  my moving out had been rather hard on him. I had told him that though I was moving forward and on a different life path than him I was not leaving him or forgetting him in any. I had told him I loved him just as much as I did before.

From that point, it only took me a few days to get the oath completely ironed out to the form I wanted.  So in October of 2006 I did my first oath with the Grove of the Red Earth as part of our Samhain ritual. I would like to share that oath with you now:

I, David Crawford, reaffirm to all those present, Kindred and mortal alike, that I am a child of the Old Ways, of the Elder Gods. Though I have walked a Pagan path through out my life, I now set my foot upon a new path.

As the roots of the great oak grow and change paths seeking the deeper mysteries, I  too grow, seeking the deeper mysteries.

As the oak grows in the mortal world fulfilling the needs both of Kindred and mortal, so do I seek to grow within the mortal realm.

As the oak reaches into the heavens seeking connection with the Shining Ones, so I seek to further my connection with the Gods.

With my new found Druidity I shall live a virtuous life, seek piety in all ways, and always seek knowledge that will further my studies so that Truth is the light that guides me. For those whom I followed before, see this not as a turning from your ways, but as growth coming from what you taught me, to bring me closer to you and your kin.

These things I swear to the Gods, to the Spirits, to the Ancestors, and to all mortals gathered here today, be my witness, be my strength as I walk this path.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The virtue of fertility

Virtue: Fertility

When I first saw that fertility was listed as a virtue I really wondered why on earth it would be considered a virtue, especially with the issues we have as a species with population. But again, like a lot of the virtues, I looked up the meaning. Though I had heard fertility used in phrases like ‘a fertile imagination’ I never really thought of it as a virtue. Then I read one of the several definitions and realized that it could be a very good virtue.

Fertility by definition means the state of being fertile or capable of producing offspring, yet it also means the property of producing and sustaining growth. This last meaning is the one I believe would be the most important as a virtue to me personally.

Sustained growth and production are driving forces in life. They prevent stagnation in the cycles of nature. With everyday mundane life, growth allows us to advance and keep moving forward in our lives. With our population growing every second, fertility of the Earth should be something we think about more. We have to find new ways to sustain the Earth’s ability to provide food for the great numbers of creatures that live upon Her surface. I think that with our growth we should also very concerned with the value of moderation. Through moderation with the amount of foods that we consume we will be able to help keep the Earth healthy enough to sustain life.

Fertility in art or craftsmanship allows the individual to produce on a scale where there is enough to sustain themselves. But I think that fertility in this form works well with the value of vision. They seem to complement one another in a way that the vision the artist carries about his work and the world around him helps to fuel the fertility within his craft, which in turn then sustains the artist.

As for spirituality, growth is a must. One should never have stagnation in this part of their lives. Fertility on one’s path allows the seeker to grow, reaching further than they currently are. One of the ways of growing spiritually is to continue to learn, reaching further for knowledge of the past and present. The fertility that I see in ADF is one of the things that drew me to the faith. I had become stagnate in my spirituality, not really knowing where to turn. Then through my friend James I found ADF. I saw for the first time in many years a place where I could grow from where I was in my life and continue to grow throughout my life working within all the guilds and with my grove.

Like all the virtues, fertility is a powerful tool, when used in moderation and tempered with wisdom, to make life better. It also is a virtue that others will see you living, in many cases giving them the chance to change their own lives.