Submitted by RobbMLewis on Mon, 09/05/2016 - 19:21

While I was at Summerland Festival a few weeks ago, myself and a few other priests were talking, and one thing that came up is that for many people, the various parts of the ritual need to be de-mystified.  We do have a good resource in ADF by Brandon Newberg in the Core Order of Ritual Tutorial (https://www.adf.org/members/training/dedicant-path/articles/coortutoria… for those that are members) but that's long and both a review of where things came from along with mostly his viewpoint.  So, I'm going to be going through various part of the core order and give a variation of my usual verbiage, and then go through and explain it.

So, tonight, I'm going to start with the Gatekeeper role.  This of course should vary depending on who you're calling for Gatekeeper, but, my general call goes like this:

Gatekeeper!  You who guard the ways between the worlds.  You who wander all the worlds.  You who have taken our messages far and wide before.  We call to you tonight.  

Wander of the sacred road, join us and aid us with opening the gates tonight.  Watch over us as we travel the holy roads.  Take our messages far and wide and bring back to us what we need to hear.

Gatekeeper!  Accept our sacrifice!

Now, lord of the ways, join your magic with mine. Let the well open as a gate!  Let the fire open as a gate! Let the tree be the crossroads, open to our voices and open to our spirits.  Let the gates be open!

And all you of the outer dark.  You who abide beyond the light of this works fire.  You who are not aligned with our purpose here tonight.  We offer you this ale, and we will pour it when we are done if we are not disturbed.

So, probably the first thing you noticed is that this is also an outdweller offering too.  My personal preference is to deal with the outdwellers after the gates are open.  If we were to deal with them at the beginning, before we open the ways of communications so that everyone and everything can hear us, are we sure that all the outdwellers have heard us?  Admittedly, I haven't really seen any problems in general, and this could honestly be because the outdwellers don't care about us.  But, I personally like to be sure that they hear it.  I am also one of the first, if not the first, to treat the outdweller offering as 1) an offering, and 2) a bribe that isn't given until they prove themselves.  Lets be honest here, we are bribing them, so not actually giving them anything until everything is done is in line with that... if we give when we call on them, apart from breaking *ghosti (which I'm not sure they would be concerned about) what do they have to lose in disturbing our ritual?

Lets look at the first line.  First, I declare who I am calling to.  In a cultural context, this would be a name and a list of characteristics about that deity.  For example, "Odin!  One eyed! Wanderer!  Seeker of Knowledge! Traveler of all worlds!  We call to you tonight!"  This is done to get their attention, and to get us to focus on who it is we are calling.

The second line repeats many of the themes in the first line.  This is where I tell the being what I am expecting of them.  For me, there are three things we are looking for in a gatekeeper.  First, and most obvious, is we're looking for someone magical that is able to help open the ways between the worlds.  A second goal is that we want them to watch over and protect us by warding the gates while we do the ritual.  Finally, We want them to take our messages far and wide, wherever they need to go, and bring back what we need to hear.  Now, not every gatekeeper will fit all three, but I try to get at least two of the three.  Not being mentioned in the call though is the concept of the gatekeeper being a psychopomp.  This is an old argument in ADF, does the gatekeeper need to be a psychopomp?  Really, it comes down in most cases to be, "does it matter if the gatekeeper is known to have traveled all worlds?"  If it does, then the most basic definition of a psychopomp will likely be filled, namely a magical being that has traveled all the worlds.

The third line is just making a sacrifice or offering to the being.  We can't forget to do this.

The fourth line is the actual opening of the gates.  Here I ask the being to join their magic with mine so that they can aid me in opening the gates.  We then work together to open the gates through the objects we recreated the cosmos with, namely the fire, well, and tree in most of our practices.  What is not listed there is what I am visualizing while doing the openings.  For the fire and the well, I see us opening a round door (well, the objects are round, so of course the door will be round) down to the underworlds for the well, and up to the heavens for the fire.  The tree, that for me is a big double door that I pull open.

Finally, the last line is the outdwellers.  I have already discussed why I do it here.  What I am doing with this line though is defining who is an outdweller, and defining the boundary of the ritual site.  The boundary of the site is the fire's light.  This tells the outdwellers where they are allowed to go.  It is also defining where we will make the offering.  Defining who is the outdwellers is a more delicate task.  It is best to not speak specific deities, but be more general as I was by saying "all those not aligned with our purpose".  There have been issues in other groves in the past where specific deities, such as Eris or Loki were named to stay away.  The reason they were named was because someone in the ritual had a connection to them, if not outright patronage.  A couple reasons this is not wise... first calling a name will attract their attention.  Attracting their attention, especially trickster type beings, and telling them to stay away is just asking for trouble.  The other reason is that doing these kinds of things when someone present works with that being, you are telling that person that they, or part of them at the very least, is not invited.  Either way, you're asking for issues to pop up if you do such a thing.

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