Sunday, September 9, 2012
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.