1.Explain why purification is important prior to ritual, and what you do to purify yourself before you lead a rite. Include any prayers said, items used, and any stage directions needed to help your reviewer understand what is happening. (min. 150 words, not including prayers, items, and directions)
Purification of the space and the folk is something that is required by the Core Order of Ritual. Why we purify can fall into a couple categories. One would be to remove things from us or the space that is counter to what we are about to do. In this respect, the offerings to outdwellers is a form of purification. A second reason for purification is to impart positive things to those present. And the third reason is to mark something as special or sacred (Newberg).
There are periodically discussions on how important the notion of purification is. The most common thing I have heard though is that it is used to to remove pollution, such as the apotropaic offerings for protection type sacrifice (Thomas). There are also questions raised of how important it is to make a space special or sacred, especially when the site being used is only used for the purpose of ritual.
The common methods I have see in ADF for purification are waters and perfumes. In a discussion I was part of at Harvest Nights festival 2011, Kirk Thomas talked about the use of water was to wash away the negative, and the use of incense (e.g. perfumes) was to make you smell pleasing to the gods. He was insistent on the order being waters first, and also insistent that if the outdwellers are dealt with after purification, the person is re-purified.
Personally, I don't believe that the purification, as done in ADF, really does much, if anything at all. What I do see it doing though is providing us cues to get us in the right mindset for the ritual. There is one thing that I do think does something anywhere near purification is the rare occurrence where you ask everyone coming into the space to leave all ill will behind, or as my grove does it, leave your ego at the door.
As for prayers and actions taken during the purification, as I don't see any real use for this besides the creation of subconscious cues to bring people into a ritual mindset, I don't have any special prayers or actions that I do. I don't use special water, or as many do well waters. I don't use any special incense or sage, just smelly stuff that is handy and that nobody present is allergic to. When doing rituals with my grove, there is one special thing that is done, and that is the passing of the ego jar. This is so that everyone takes a moment to remind themselves that we're all equal in the ritual, and to leave any disruptive feelings out of the space.... and visualize them going into the jar. This is all, 100% the creation of the subconscious cues, and not at all about any true purification, in my view.
When doing personal rites, I skip purification entirely. I believe that the Kindred will accept me and my sacrifices for who I am and how I appear to them.
2.Explain how you position your body and hands when inviting the Kindreds and making Key Offerings, what that position means, and why it is important to have a position that is (or several positions that are) consistent between rituals. (min. 100 words for description and meaning, min 150 for importance)
I have seen many people use hand positions differently. In general, there are two ways people in ADF use hand positions. The most common way I have seen is to put the palms facing in the direction the entity that is being called on would be found, e.g. Up for non-cthonic deities, down for ancestors, and outward for land spirits. The other, though less common, way I have seen hands held is with the arms held out to the sides, bent at the elbow to make a right angle with the forearm vertical. The hands are then placed with the palms facing forward. This position, if used, tends to be the only position to be used by that person throughout the ritual. With regards to body position, the vast majority of time, the person making the sacrifice is standing, with the notable exception of the Earth Mother, where the majority of the people will bend down and touch the earth.
I personally am a minimalist. I don't believe that there is any need to use any hand positions at all. When I am a participant in a ritual, I will keep my hands at my side, or clasped in front or behind me, and not use them during any of the calls or prayers outside of what is necessary for making the sacrifice, or for theatrical purposes. When I am the one making the call or prayer, I am usually holding the sacrifice I am about to make in my hands, and am unable to do any kind or hand positions other than raising the sacrifice up for all to see (a theatrical purpose). The only real exceptions to this is when I am opening/closing the gates, and that is covered later, and in reality is all done for theatrical purposes, and when calling on the Earth Mother, where I will bend down and send a kiss to the earth.
It can be argued that having consistent gestures between rituals builds a common “language” that the people attending the ritual can learn, and makes it easier to know what is going on when and feel more comfortable with the ritual as there is consistency. To me, this is a false argument. Apart from two parts of the Core Order of Ritual, I have yet to see any consistency between priests, or participants. The 2 parts that do seem to have coalesced around a standard practice are the offerings to the Earth Mother (most people bend down and touch the earth if they are able) and hallowing the waters (most people will hold the waters up to the sky). Otherwise, I have seen just about any conceivable gesture and posture used for every sacrifice. These may be consistent for that one person, but they are not consistent throughout ADF. From my own personal experience outside of ADF, I have also seen rituals that were done entirely in dance or American Sign Language. Obviously, in both these cases, hand gestures that are consistent with previous rituals are not possible. There is also no policy that I am aware of that certain physical actions must be done at certain points of the ritual or that people use consistent gestures from ritual to ritual. The only mention of this that I have seen is in this course. As a result, I have to say that ADF as a whole does not hold it important that gestures are consistent from ritual to ritual, or part to part, otherwise there would be some kind of policy with regards to it.
3.Describe your meditation practice as it stands today. Include its regularity, any positions you may use or prayers you may say, and the method(s) you typically use. (min. 200 words)
I have tried to do meditation on a regular basis many times throughout my time in ADF. I have never found it to be easy for me, and rarely have I ever found it to be something that I enjoy doing, or useful for me. As a result, I really do not do much meditation, and definitely not on a regular basis.
As a part of the DP, and also as a part of Trance 1, and now Trance 2, I have done meditative and trance based practices for the required period. In all cases, the regular practice was forced, and not enjoyable for me. I have tried the majority of the positions and techniques that are listed in the various courses, but none of them really have worked well for me, or when they did work, they didn't continue to work long term.
The only, somewhat regular, practice I have is the clergy mound journies. I am rarely able to attend on the designated night, so I am usually not able to participate in the group journey. What I do though occurs during grove rituals, or at times during personal rites. When the grove is doing the meditation at the start of the ritual, usually some variant of the Two Powers meditation, I will do a quick mound journey. The purpose of the journey is to ask the Ancient Wise to aide me with the ritual, and to guide my words to speak what I need to say.
As I don't find meditation or trance work to be of great use to me personally, I do not expect to ever have a truly regular practice.
4.Explain how two different active ADF Priests light a ritual fire. Describe the actions done, any prayers or magical work done. Explain how you light a ritual fire, including actions, prayers, and magical work you may do.
Barbara does not treat the fire as a sacred object before it is hallowed during the ritual. As a result, she lights the fire as any regular fire she would have to light, taking into consideration the conditions and restrictions of the site, and if outdoors, the weather (Wright).
When Jean lays the fire, he does so in a tee-pee fashion. If he feels that there is an Ogham that is pertinent to the work to be done, or if one comes to him, he will either carve it into the kindling or write it on a piece of paper used to light the fire. He then clears his mind, and lights the fire, in essence becoming one with the fire during the initial moments of the fire. Then he sends some of his energy into the fire as a gift and says a short prayer:
Grow, fire, grow:
Grow within me,
Grow without me,
Grow, fire, grow (Pagano)
I agree with what Barbara does. I don't see the fire as being sacred until it is hallowed later in the ritual. As a result, I will light the fire by what ever means necessary before the ritual (never during the ritual as I have see attempts at that fail miserably). I don't say any prayers, and I don't do anything special.
5.Describe three different methods of (Re)creating Sacred Space, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the (Re)creating of Sacred Space portion of the ritual. Provide an original script with stage directions for (Re)creating of Sacred Space based on one of these methods.
When Barbara does this in a grove setting, she uses the Portal song. She also does a few things in addition to just using the song as cues for what actions to do when.
For the fire, she will either cup her hands around a candle, or if open fire hold her palms towards the fire and recite a simple charm, such as:
Bright fire, beautiful and terrifying, your flame rises on the wind to the upper world carrying our prayers of praise and honor to the realm of the Gods.
For the well, she envisions a double door over the opening to the well, and slides it open holding her hands, palms down, over it and recites a simple charm such as:
Deep well, open the gate to the underworld that we may speak with the ancient wise and receive their words of inspiration and counsel on our journey in this world.
To complete the cosmos, she uses a real tree, or if indoors a picture of a world tree by Bryan Perrin, or if nothing is available, envisions a tree in her mind. She extends her arms, palms facing each other around the trunk and recites a simple charm such as:
Great tree, whose roots and branches bind this world to those above and below, hold us fast as we stand in the midworld between the Gods and the Ancestors (Wright).
Jean uses hand positions when he is calling on the three kindred and recreating sacred space. When dealing with the ancestors and underworld he holds his arms open with palms up, like an extended long distance hug. With the land spirits and the lands around us, he has his upper arms down at his sides, forearms out in front at a right angle, and palms up. For the shining ones and upper realms, he holds his arms and hands as if he is raising a bowl up to the heavens.
In all cases he is opening himself up to the spirits he is calling on. With the ancestors he's giving a hug of thanks for those that have passed. With the Nature Spirits, he's centering himself and feeling himself as one of them. With Shining Ones, he's opening his hands as an offering, and to open himself to receive “grace” from them (Pagano).
For recreating Sacred Space, I pretty much exclusively use the Portal song, and follow the cues that go with the song. So, when the offering is made in the song to the fire and well, I'm making that offering. I am also sending my energy into the different hallows as a personal sacrifice, and ask that they give back to us to do the work we ask.
With the tree, the sacrifice I make is the combining of the well and fire. This may be seen as a purification of the tree by some, but I only see it as connecting all 3 hallows at the point that will be used as a crossroads. It is also a form of sacrifice to the tree for the job it will be asked to do. As with the well and fire, I do send some energy into the tree, asking that it does what we ask of it later.
When I don't work with the portal song, which is rare, I will make the same kind of sacrifice to the three hallows, but I usually also mention something along the lines of the underword is below us, the land is around us, and the heavens are above us.
At the center of our space is a fire. We give to the fire, and make it sacred, asking that it aide us soon as a gate to the upper worlds. <make sacrifice to the fire of oil and/or incense... incense should also be lit in preparation for tree> Sacred Fire, burn within us.
At the roots of our tree is a well. We give to the well, and make it sacred, asking that it aide us soon as the the gate to the underworld. <make sacrifice of silver to the well, and draw some water in preparation for the tree> Sacred Well, flow within us.
And here is the tree, the center of it all. We combine the waters from the well with the smoke of the fire, making offerings of the other hallows to make it sacred and ask that it aide us soon as the road between all worlds. <smudge with incense and aspurge with water throughout speaking. Return water to well and incense to fire when done> Sacred Tree, grow within us.
Below us are the lands of the Ancestors. Above us are the lands of the Shining Ones. Around us are the lands of the Nature Spirits. In the center is the well, our connection to the Ancestors. In the center is the fire, our connection to the Shining Ones. In the center is the the tree, our path between all the worlds.
6.Describe three different methods of Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the Calling/Hallowing/Affirming of the Waters. Provide an original script with stage directions for the Calling/Hallowing/Affirming of the Waters based on one of these methods.
When she hallows the waters, she holds them up at eye level so that all can see it. She then calls on the Kindred o bestow their knowledge, blessings, and advice into the waters so that all present can receive them. She also speaks the following:
Shining ones, ancient wise, nature spirits, we stand before you ready to receive your wisdom. Accept our offerings and grant us the blessing of your words. Behold the waters of life! (Wright)
As with Barbara, he holds the waters at eye level, and acknowledges they are just water, soon to be waters of life. By holding them out, he's presenting them to the powers that are present. Also, by holding them in such a position, he's stating his intent. When he is ready, he raises the waters higher to bring them closer to the Shining Ones and says:
“Hail to you, Shining Ones, descend into these waters and make them holy”
For the Affirming, I hold the waters out, at chest-level, and move the waters from left – to right to present them to all assembled and say:
“Behold, the Waters of Life” (Pagano)
When I hallow the waters, I have the intent of filling them with the omens we have just received moments earlier. As with Barbara and Jean, I hold the waters eye level or higher. I call on the Kindred (or if the omens were from a specific being or Kindred, just them) and ask them to fill the waters with the omens, calling out the specific omens individually by name. I then raise the waters a bit higher and visualize the waters filling with the omens, and when I feel the energy flowing through them, I declare loudly “BEHOLD THE WATERS OF LIFE”.
(assuming runes that are liquid safe were used for the omens, and the question asked of the omen was “What blessings do we receive from XXX” where XXX is a specific Kindred or being)
<hold the waters in one hand, runes in other hand and do the following for each rune in order of how they were pulled>
XXX, you have given us OMEN. Fill theses waters with OMEN<drop rune into waters>.
(once all omens are done and all runes are in the waters)
<raise the waters as high as possible and say the following while visualizing the omens entering the waters>
We have given to you, and in the spirit of *ghosti, we ask that you give to us in return. Give us the OMENS.
BEHOLD THE WATERS OF LIFE!
Let us first pour waters for those who are not here. <pour a libation of waters, then pass waters around>
7.Describe three different methods of Opening the Gates, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the Gate Opening. Provide an original script with stage directions for the Gate Opening based on one of these methods.
Barbara stands with her arms extended in front of her, with the palms facing towards each other or slightly upwards and recites the following:
Manannan Mac Lir, Keeper of the Gates, we have made our offerings to the fire, well, and tree. We wish to honor the Gods and the Ancient Wise and receive their advice and blessings. Grant us this wish oh Manannan and Let the Gates be Open! (raising arms to the sky and opening them while saying loudly and clearly the “Let the Gates be Open” part)
She also does a visualization of seeing a light mist or fog around her, and sees the tree grow to reach the highest parts of the sky, and the roots grow deep into the well.
When closing, she reverses the process and waves her hand over the fire, well, and tree saying that they can become a fire, well, and tree again. Then raises her arms again and says “Let the Gates be closed”.
When doing each hallow, she sees the gates over the fire and well close, and the tree return back to normal size. The mist or fog then dissipates (Wright).
When Jean opens, he sees it as drawing things towards himself, and when closing, you move them away. To open the well, he puts his hand in the well and moves it in a spiral motion to open the gate towards himself, and visualizes the ancestors moving through the gate as he opens it. To open the fire he does similar, but doesn't put his hand in the fire (this may change after he saw me open the gates), and visualizes the Shining Ones moving through the gate as it opens. The tree, he joins his hands at the tree, then extends one down towards the well, and one towards the heavens to symbolize the linking of the worlds, and visualizes the Ancestors and the Shining Ones standing with the land spirits and the folks gathered.
For the closing, he does the same things, with similar hand motions, but in reverse and pushing the gates away to close them. While closing, he sees the appropriate spirits move en mass through the gates, leaving the ritual space. (Pagano)
Here, I have the major visualization happening. For the well, I will swirl my hand with no particular reason for which direction. What I am doing is I am putting my hand into the well and visualizing opening a gate down through the well. I will physically pull my hand up because that is the only possible way to physically go, but I am visualizing pushing the gate open through the bottom of the well. When I open the fire as a gate, I again put my hand into the flames. Again, I visualize a gate in the flames and in this case I am seeing myself as opening the gate with the pulling of my hand up, but visualizing it as pulling it open. Then, I visualize the axis mundi as a big double door, and I push the doors open. It is with this opening that I visualize the other worlds all coming into our space through the axis mundi, and us now being in between all worlds.
Closing is similar. Again, I put my hand into the well and this time I'm pulling up on the door I visualize. I also try to make noise with the water to add an audio effect. With the fire, again I put my hand into the flames and visualize pulling the door close. Finally, with the axis mundi I visualize the double doors again, but this time I pull them close. The act of closing to me will cut off all the otherworlds and it dissipates extremely quickly.
The key things really are I am pushing the gates open at the start, and pulling them closed at the end, and I put my hand physically into the well or the fire.
opening the gates:
Gatekeeper, join your magic with mine.
<putting hand in the well and pulling out in a spiral motion while visualizing the pushing of a gate open>
Let the Well open as a gate.
<putting hand in the fire and pulling out in a spiral motion while visualizing the pulling of a gate open>
Let the Fire open as a gate.
<run hands down vertically in front of tree and then push out to the side, visualizing a double door and pushing it open>
Let the Tree be the crossroads between all worlds, open to our voices and to the spirits.
<pause and draw in the energy from all gates and say the following loudly and clearly while taking hands that are held together and open them>
LET THE GATES BE OPEN!
Closing the gates:
Gatekeeper, once again, join your magic with mine and
<put hand in the well and draw water out to drip in while visualizing the pulling of a gate closed>
Let the Well be but a well.
<put hand in the well and pull out in a spiral motion while visualizing the pushing of a gate closed>
Let the Fire be but flame.
<run hands down vertically down the center, then open up and bring them close as if closing a double door visualizing the closing of a double door>
Let the Tree be just a tree once more.
<pause and release the energy from the gates and say the following loudly and clearly while bringing your hands from wide into an audible clap>
LET THE GATES BE CLOSED.
8.Explain the purpose and function of the Pouring of Waters for an ADF Unity Rite. Provide a script with stage directions for this portion of the Unity Rite. (min. 150 words for explanation)
The pouring of the waters during the Unity Rite is referring to the pouring of the waters during the magical working part of the ritual. What is done here is that the waters are blessed, very often being the well used for the ritual but that is not necessary, by the people running the ritual. If the waters being used are the well, then this is done during the hallowing, otherwise, it would likely be done just prior to the magical working.
When it comes time for the magical working, the waters that travel with the unity cauldron are added. These waters are the remnants of all previous unity rites, and signify all the groves of ADF. We are mixing these old waters with the new, and newly energized waters, from this rite and symbolically mixing the energies of all the groves and protogroves of ADF (ADF).
Now that the waters are mixed, the list of groves (remembering to also include the Solitary members and Prison Worship Groups) is read in order of founding date. During this time, water is poured in libation to strengthen our Druidry through our groups and members.
Overall the purpose of this magical working is to strengthen ADF through the sacrifice of this water, which represents the unity of ADF, and physically is the unity of waters of all the previous rites.
(This requires at least 2 people. One to be reading the script. The rest to be pouring the libation as the names are called.)
We are gathered here to ask the Kindred to help us build ADF stronger. To help us grow. To help us flourish. We ask the Kindred to aide us through strengthening our unity of purpose.
To this cauldron, we add waters from the well of this rite. The hallowed waters of all those who are gathered. We also add the waters of prior Unity Rites, the waters of all the members of ADF.
If anyone has waters from their home Groves or personal shrines and want to add it to the cauldron, please come up and do so now.
<wait until all the waters are mixed>
These waters represent all the members and groups of ADF. Behold the Waters of ADF.
We now pour these waters and ask that the Kindred strengthen Our Druidry through ourselves and through the many groups of ADF.
<read list of ADF (Proto)Groves by founding date, starting with the Solitaries of ADF. While reading, a libation is poured to the ground by another member(s). This does not need to be kept in time with the reading or the rite will take an extremely long time>
We have joined the waters, and we have poured the waters. Mighty Kindred, Accept our sacrifice to strengthen and grow Our Druidry.
<after the ritual, people can gather their own vial of water. A vial must be drawn to send with the cauldron to the next ritual too.>
ADF, ADF Unity Rite FAQ, n.d., http://www.adf.org/rituals/general/unity/faq.html, Jan 9, 2012, web
Newberg, Brandon, Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites, 2007, http://adf.org/members/wiki/Main/COoRTutorial/Ancient_SymbolsModern_Rit…, Jan 8, 2012, web
Pagano, Jean, Personal Communication, Dec 5, 2011
Thomas, Kirk, Nature of Sacrifice, Mar, 2008, http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nature-of-sacrifice.html, Nov 25, 2011, web
Wright, Barbara, Personal Communications, Dec 7, 2011