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.