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.
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