Thursday, February 7, 2013

Feb 1 2013, Informal Imbolc Celebration.

For Imbolc this year I decided to go to my local Irish alehouse and enjoy my annual pint of Guiness. While I was celebrating Brighid's aspect as Patroness of Brewing, I preached to my friends over text message about the joys of Imbolc. I sent several messages to interested pals about the Lady of Poetry, Healing and Smithcraft, the lactation of ewes, the eternal flame at Kildare and the anticipation of the exchange of the year between our beloved winter hag the Calleach Beare and bright Brighid at Beltane. I treated myself to a yummy feast and sang a hymn to Brighid aloud before I toasted with my first drink of Guiness of 2013.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Dec 22, 2012 Informal Winter Solstice Celebration

This year for winter solstice I celebrated informally. I joined my technopagan community for a dance party to celebrate the return of the sun. We danced the evening away on the scenic Toronto waterfront. There were lovely ladies dressed as winter deer on stilts, a drumming duo, LED hula hoopers, and lots of fun and fabulous costumes. I shared the day with a good friend, we had a meal together in preparation of our evening out, as well as chocolates and drinks. We dressed up in similar outfits and had a blast seeing many friendly faces. By the altar was a sign that read something along the lines of: Write something you would like to let go of from the past year on a piece of paper, and go outside and set it on fire and release it to the waters below. For me, since the winter solstice is a time of renewal and awakening, I felt more attuned to the idea of recapitulation of past successes as the new solar cycle begins, so I opted not to participate. I read an article in Yoga Journal about recapitulation and when I returned home from my journey to the city, and I spent some time releasing the hardships and celebrating the blessings so that I could more forward with the sun. I spent some time thinking about new year's resolutions, things that I would like to be born at this time and grow over the next few months. I came up with the idea of finally getting that YMCA membership I've been meaning to get for the past year. Part of that is the continuation of health and fitness goals that I'd sprouted in the fall, when I began to work out at home. A second wave of this plan was asking for home fitness equipment for Christmas (Which I still celebrate with my family and friends) and so carrying that forward into the new year by adding a gym membership felt like a good fit for the rebirth of the light.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nov. 01, 2012 Samhain Ritual - ADF style

For this year's Samhain, I did a solo ADF ritual based on the COoR as outlined in the Dedicant Program Handbook pg. 60. I chose to honour the Celtic hearth.

0 - Preliminary Rites
A) Claiming and Hallowing the Sacred Space:
Lit the fire, poured fresh water into the well, censed the tree with a smudge stick
B) Preliminary Meditation:
Explained aloud my intentions for the ritual, to honour Samhain and the end of the harvest season, acknowledge the Ancestors, Brid and Calleach Beare. I explained that this was a passing of the year from Brid to Calleach Beare, there would be a time to extinguish and re-light the hearth candle as the world descends into chaos and the year is born anew, and a dumb supper for the ancestors. Closed my eyes and worked through the Two Powers meditation from memory.
I - The Procession and Opening Prayers
A) Musical Signal and Call to the Grove:
Rang a bell three times and circumambulated the space deosil.
A1) Optional: Purification of the Folk:
Dipped my fingers in the well and drew a triskel on my brow with the waters
B) Opening Prayer:
Sang "We approach the sacred grove".
C) Earth Mother Offering:
Honoured Danu as the mother of the Tuatha de Danaan. Offered milk. Sang "Mother I feel you"

II - Opening the Grove
A) The Grove Attunement:
Sang "Well of Memory" by Diane Emerald Vaughn
B) Described the season, that this is the time when the herds are culled for the coming winter, and the crop harvest is complete. It is said that the Pooka curses any remaining vegetation, and it must be left to fallow.
Described some of the traditions I've experienced as a neopagan, including decorating the altar with apples and pomegranates, carving pumpkins, shelling out candy for trick or treaters, dressing in costume, divination, honouring the ancestors with a dumb supper, and extinguishing the hearth flame and kindling it anew.
Described the gods and ancestors, Brid as the lady of summer and Calleach Beare as the winter hag. My deceased family members by name and a few things I remember of them.
C) Honoring the Sacred Center:
Sang "Fire, Bright Fire" song three times while acknowledging the representations of fire, well and tree on the shrine. Silvered the well, dropped essential oil into the fire and decorated the tree with an apple.
D) Opening the Gates:
Called upon Manannan Mac Lir to open the gates with "Gatekeeper Open the Portals" song. Lit an incense offering to the gatekeeper and visualized the portals of each gate opening for the kindred to emerge. Declared "This fire is all fires of all worlds, it's flames reach the heavens. This well is all water of all worlds, it's depths reach the underworld. This tree is the world tree, it's branches reach all the worlds. The gates are open!"
III - Offering to the Powers:
A) Triad Offerings:
Lit an incense offering to the gods, ancestors and nature spirits with the song "Gods and dead and mighty sidhe". Called the gods, ancestors and nature spirits, saying "Kindred, I invite you to join me in this celebration of Samhain!"
B) Key Offerings:
1) Descriptive Invocation and offerings to the Patron Powers of the rite:
Called upon Brighid and Calleach Beare, described Brighid as the lady of poetry, healing and smithcraft, who presides over the light half of the year from Bealtainne to Samhain. Described the Calleach Beare as the winter hag, who presides over the dark half of the year from Samhain to Bealtainne.
Called upon my closest Ancestors by name, inviting them each to join me if they are near.
Lit incense to the Beings of the Occasion.
2) Praise Offerings:
Offered incense and thanks to Brid for a lovely summer.
Offered poetry to Calleach Beare:
Lament of the Cailleach Beara (Hag of Beara)
translated from the Old Irish by Anthony Weir
(Apparently an 11th century poem, originally in Gaelic. Weir's translation is dated 1975.)



http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/Beara/2008-04/1207934677

My life is ebbing: let it drain -
unlike the sea which flows again,
The boiling, unbegotten sea.

I whose gown was always new
am now so pitifully thin
that this old shift will outlive me.

They want only money now.
When I was young, love was what
I wanted - and so richly got.

People then were generous,
and in return they asked a lot.
They ask and give so little now.

I had chariots and horses then,
given by admiring kings.
I drank mead and wine with them.

Now among old onion-skins
of withered women I drink whey,
myself a withered onion-skin.

My hands are bony now, and thin;
once they plied their loving trade
upon the bodies of great kings.

My hands are bony, wasted things,
unfit to stroke an old man's head,
much less a young man's glowing skin

Young girls are happy in the Spring,
but I am sad and worse than sad,
for I'm an old and useless thing.

Nobody round me is glad;
My hair is grey and going thin.
My veil conceals what is well hid.

I once had bright cloth on my head
and went with kings - now I dread
the going to the king of kings.

The winter winds ravish the sea.
No nobleman will visit me
no, not even a slave will come.

It's long ago I sailed the sea
of youth and beauty wantonly.
Now my Passion too has gone.

Even in Summer I wear a shawl
It's many a day since I was warm.
The Spring of youth has turned to Fall.

Wintry age's smothering pall
is wrapping slowly round my limbs.
My hair's like lichen, my paps like galls.

I don't regret my lust and rage,
for even had I been demure
I still would wear the cloak of age.

The cloak that wooded hillsides wear
is beautiful; their foliage
is woven with eternal care.

I am old: the eyes that once
burned bright for men are now decayed:
the torch has burned out its sconce.

My life is ebbing; let it drain
unlike the sea which flows again,
the man-torn and tormented sea.

Flow and ebb: what the flow brings
the ebb soon takes away again
- the flow and the ebb following.

The flow and the ebb following:
the flow's joy and the ebb's pain,
the flow's honey, the ebb's sting.

The flow has not quite flooded me.
There is a recess still quite dry
though many were my company.

A hand is laid upon them all
whose ebb always succeeds their flow,
whose rising sinks into their fall.

If my veiled and sunken eyes
could see more than their own ebb
there's nothing they would recognise.

Happy the island of the sea
where flow always comes after ebb:
What flow will follow ebb in me?

I am wretched. What was flow
is now all ebb. Ebbing I go.
After the Tide, the Undertow.

Said: Calleach Beare, old age is the afterglow of youth, just as winter is the restful peace after a busy summer. I welcome you this Samhain to take your place as you grace us with the beauty of the first snow.
C) Seasonal Customs and the Working
Said: There are some things I would like to leave behind in this waning year. I would like to release these things, so that they can return to the source of all things, where they can gestate over the winter and be transformed into something good.
Wrote some things on paper that I want to release, and burned them in the hearth flame.
Said: Kindreds, join me in extinguishing the hearth flame, as our year ends and our world dissolves into chaos.
Extinguished all lights and candles and sat for a moment in darkness.
Said: Now join me once again in lighting the hearth flame anew, a symbol of a new beginning. Brighid, although your time to reign is over for now, you live on in our hearts and hearths throughout the winter, keeping us warm and happy when the world is cold and depressing outside.

D) Prayer of Sacrifice:
Said: Ancestors, join me now in this supper, as we share a meal of soul cakes, pumpkin bread and apple. I light this candle to lead you to my table, where you are welcome guests.
Placed a plate of food prepared especially for Samhain (a soul cake, pumpkin bread and a sliced apple) on my table and lit a candle for the ancestors to share in the feast, and joined them in a dumb supper with my own plate.
When the supper was ended, lit incense for the kindred.
Said: To all the kindred, I honour you as the wheel turns, and thank you for your continued blessings. Please accept my sacrifice!

E) Taking of omen:
From the Gods:
From the Ancestors:
From the Nature Spirits:
IV: The Blessing
A) Meditation on the Omen:
Closed my eyes and asked for visions of the blessings.
B) Calling for the blessing:
"Ancient and Mighty ones, I have honoured you. Now I pray you honour me in turn, as a gift calls for a gift. I thirst for the waters of wisdom, bounty and rebirth, from the bosom of the Earth Mother, for the blessings of:
I open my heart to the blessings of the Great ones, and pray you hallow these waters."
C) Hallowing the Waters:
Poured the waters into my chalice, held the chalice in the air and visualized the gods, ancestors and spirits charging the waters with their blessings. Sang "Pour the waters, raise the cup" chorus three times.
D) Receiving the Blessing:
Sang "Power of the spirits" song three times as I drank thrice from the cup. Visualized each of the blessings entering me and running through my body.

VI) Closing and Ending:
A) Affirmation of success:
Acknowledged the feelings of: in myself, blessings and magic begun within me.
B) Thanking the powers:
Gave thanks to the Ancestors, said "Ancestors, you are always welcome to visit me, know that you are loved and remembered. Go if you must, stay if you will. I bid you farewell.
Gave thanks to Brighid and Calleach Beare. Said "Go if you must, stay if you will, I bid you farewell".
D) Closing the gates:
Asked Manannan Mac Lir as Gatekeeper to close the gates, clapped thrice to signify the closure.
E) Final Blessing and announcement of ending:
Said "Blessings be upon all who have attended this rite. The rite has ended. " And rang the bell three times. Extinguished the Fire.
Reflection:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review #1: Modern Paganism: The Triumph of the Moon

Jacki Moss
Book Review: Modern Paganism Study
Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon. New York: Oxford UP, 1999.
Triumph is "a history of modern pagan witchcraft" (iii). It is a rundown of the origins of witchcraft traditions in Britain, from 18th century onward. It focuses on British language, folklore, literature, scholarly writings, and groups and individuals. It includes recent American developments that have influenced contemporary British witchcraft.
This book explains the origins of the modern pagan revival, with witchcraft at the forefront. It explains that traditions we take for granted as pagans may not be from an unbroken line of authentic, paleo-pagan traditions. Hutton addresses the origins of key phrases, ritual tools, actions and ceremonies such as: being closed to outsiders (52), initiation through degrees (53), passwords given upon admission (53) liturgical order, and deity concepts such as Pan (43) and "the (Great) Goddess" (32). Hutton analyzes the contributions of scholars like Margaret Murray (194) witches like Gerald Gardner (205) and magicians like Aleister Crowley (171), among lesser known individuals. Although his focus is witchcraft, there are implications for neo-paganism in general. 
For druids, his taking issue with the universal goddess religion makes room for a wider scope of archaeological evidence. The notion of "invoking and working with deities and spirits" (76) is a feature of what Hutton calls "high magic" rather than a survival, and we must realize that Our Own Druidry is really our own. Hutton mentions druidry in the book, mentioning mystical druidry in the 1930s (224) and that neo-pagan druidry in America by the 1970s was founded by witches. He suggests that modern druidry was partly reactionary to Wicca (372).
I found this book fascinating. Each page was loaded with useful information and each chapter was a personal breakthrough. I would like to see a wider range of Indo-European influences on neo-paganism, since Gardner and others were worldly. I was pleased to grasp why figures like Margaret Murray and Aleister Crowley are controversial, despite their substantial contributions. Triumph provided me with a valuable portrait of Doreen Valiente, whose writing I have found essential to my paganism. Hutton writes that "her enduring greatness lay in the very fact that she was so completely and strong-mindedly dedicated to finding and declaring her own truth" (383). I too seek my own truth and answers to tough questions, and it's one thing I cherish about neo-paganism. I have also found the contributions of Starhawk essential and it is interesting that her work stems from American feminism, pantheism and the "California cosmology"(350) rather than the original, conservative package of Wicca. My ideas of Witchcraft come from being an outsider, reading the works of the Farrars, Cunningham, Starhawk and Valiente, so I have held a much later concept of modern pagan witchcraft until I read the wider scope presented in Triumph.
Hutton writes as a historian; he is biased toward factual evidence, such as crediting the diaries of Aleister Crowley over the claims of witches. He does not, however, make value judgements such as discrediting traditions of witchcraft as inauthentic, (as many pagans do) when evidence points to their alternative origins. Hutton presents the evidence and leaves much open for speculation.
For non-pagans and non-academics, it is a dense read and a lot of the information will seem insignificant. I would definitely recommend this book to practicing pagans, as I consider it essential reading for anyone who is interested in where our customs and beliefs come from, the interesting figures and leaders of the witchcraft revival or our history as neo-pagans, as well as where the intolerance of our adversaries comes from. I was not disappointed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sept. 22, 2012 - Autumn Equinox Ritual - ADF style

Sept 22, 2012 Autumn Equinox Ritual - ADF style

For this year's Autumn Equinox, I did a solo ADF ritual based on the COoR as outlined in the Dedicant Program Handbook pg. 60. I chose to honour the Hellenic hearth.

0 - Preliminary Rites
A) Claiming and Hallowing the Sacred Space:
Lit the fire, poured fresh water into the well, censed the tree and the room with a smudge stick, cast barley onto the altar.
B) Preliminary Meditation:
Explained aloud my intentions for the ritual, to honour the Autumn Equinox and the harvest season, acknowledge the Elusinian Mysteries, and specifically Demeter, Persephone and Dionysus. Closed my eyes and worked through the Two Powers meditation from memory.


I - The Procession and Opening Prayers
A) Musical Signal and Call to the Grove:
Rang a bell three times and circumambulated the space.
A1) Optional: Purification of the Folk:
Dipped my fingers in the well and drew a triskel on my brow with the waters
B) Opening Prayer:
Sang "We approach the sacred grove”.
C) Earth Mother Offering:
Honoured Demeter as goddess of agriculture, fertility, grain crops, the earth, and maternal relationships. Sang "Earth Mother I sing to your body" song three times and "Mother I feel you" nine times. Offered oats.

II - Opening the Grove
A) The Grove Attunement:
Sang "Well of Memory" by Diane Emerald Vaughn
B) Described the season, that this is the time when the grains are sown for the coming year, and the crops continue to be harvested. This is also the time that wine grapes are heavy on the vine.

Described some of the traditions I've experienced as a neopagan, including decorating the altar with many different coloured fallen leaves, acorns and pinecones, harvesting rowan berries, cooking with pumpkin and squash, picking apples (while avoiding hungry/irate wasps), preserving herbs, fruits and veggies for the winter. 
Described the Gods, Persephone as goddess of rebirth, maidens, youth, beauty, and the underworld, and Dionysus as god of rebirth, wine, intoxication, madness and ecstasy. 
C) Honoring the Sacred Center:
Sang "Fire, Bright Fire" song three times while acknowledging the representations of fire, well and tree on the shrine. Silvered the well, dropped essential oil into the fire and decorated around the tree with a coloured leaf, acorn and pinecone.
D) Opening the Gates:
Called upon Cerberus, as the three-headed hound who guards the gates to the underworld, and the Horae as the goddesses time and the seasons, and gatekeepers of Olympus, to open the gates with "Gatekeeper Open the Portals" song. Lit an incense offering to the gatekeepers and visualized the portals opening for the kindred to emerge. Declared "The gates are open!"


III - Offering to the Powers:
A) Triad Offerings:
Lit an incense offering to the gods, ancestors and nature spirits with the song "Gods and dead and mighty sidhe". Called the names of my matrons, cherished ancestors and several nature spirits of land, sea and sky.
B) Key Offerings:
1) Descriptive Invocation and offerings to the Patron Powers of the rite: 

Called upon Persephone, and recalled the story of how she was taken by Hades to become Queen of the Underworld for half the year.
Called upon Dionysus, and recalled his processions of maenads and satyrs, his thyrsus and fox skin, "whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful"-wikipedia.org, "Dionysus"
2) Praise Offerings:
Offered poetry to Persephone (an excerpt from "Persephone, Goddess of Spring and the Underworld" by Tianie Bessent, http://paganandproudofit.com/Persephone-Goddess-of-Spring-and-the-Underworld.html )

"With Autumn’s call, you descend into the darkness.
You take up your torch and become Persephone, the light bearer, the way shower.
Bearing the fruit of life, you go down into the shadows
To bring comfort to the shades waiting there.

You plumb the depths and unearth riches beyond imagining.
You give healing to those who come to you, suffering.
You give us the crown of wisdom when our suffering is ended.

You are the light in the darkness, the guide along the way.
You give rest to the weary and succor to the suffering. 
You are the voice in the dark depths of the Self."

Offered wine to Dionysus, thanking him for his gifts of grapes and wine, freedom, madness and ecstacy.
 

C) Prayer of Sacrifice:
Offered whole grain cookies and an apple to the kindreds, saying:
To Persephone, who rules from below, and has caused a beautiful spring and summer, which now come to an end. To Dionysus,who rules from within, and reminds us that there is light, warmth and life inside us when the world seems cold, dark, and barren. To all the kindred, I honour you as the wheel turns, and thank you for your continued blessings. Please accept my sacrifice!

D) Taking of omen:
Shuffled the oracle deck while focusing on the fire candle and asked for omens for the near future. Drew three cards. Recieved: The Sun in Pisces in the 5th house
From the Gods: 

Blessing: The creation of / spirituality to ultimately experience / the power of love.
Message: Demonstrate / your dreams / with the trust of a child.
From the Ancestors: 
Blessing: The gaining of respect for or from / trusting your psychic knowledge of / investment gambling and other games.
Message:  Realize / your idealization of / fun, romance and making art.
From the Nature Spirits:  
Blessing: Things brought to life or light / resulting from the indecision of or about / your creations.
Message: Act like a leader / be a part of something overwhelming and / do it dramatically.

IV: The Blessing
A) Meditation on the Omen:
Closed my eyes and asked for visions of the blessings.
B) Calling for the blessing:
“Ancient and Mighty ones, I have honoured you. Now I pray you honour me in turn, as a gift calls for a gift. I thirst for the waters of wisdom, bounty and rebirth, from the bosom of the Earth Mother, for the blessings of loving spirituality, respectable intuition, and the unveiling aspects of indecision. I open my heart to the blessings of the Great ones, and pray you hallow these waters.”
C) Hallowing the Waters:
Poured the waters into my chalice, held the chalice in the air and visualized the gods, ancestors and spirits charging the waters with their blessings. Sang “Pour the waters, raise the cup” chorus three times.
D) Receiving the Blessing:
Sang "Power of the spirits" song three times as I drank thrice from the cup. Visualized each of the blessings entering me and running through my body.

VI) Closing and Ending:
A) Affirmation of success:
Acknowledged the feelings of
loving spirituality, respectable intuition, and the unveiling aspects of indecision in myself, blessings and magic harvested and preserved within me.
B) Thanking the powers:
Gave thanks to Persephone and Dionysus, Demeter, Cerberus, the Horae, the nature spirits, ancestors and gods for their presence and blessings. Said "Go if you must, stay if you will, I bid you farewell".
D) Closing the gates:
Asked Cerberus and the Horae as Gatekeepers to close the gates, clapped thrice to signify the closure.
E) Final Blessing and announcement of ending:
Said "Blessings be upon all who have attended this rite. The rite has ended. " And rang the bell three times. Extinguished the Fire.








Followed the ritual with music, wine and dancing.

Reflection:

I confused certain parts of the ritual for other parts, and had to repeat myself a few times, to do it in the order I wanted to / meant to. For example, I sang "fire bright fire" at the very beginning when I was establishing the cosmos, rather than saving it for later on when I was consecrating the hallows. So I sang it for both. 
I really enjoyed working with the Hellenic hearth again, because the deities keep calling to me to honour them (as well as Egyptian deities, who are excluded from being the deities of the occasion in my ADF rites. I sometimes wonder if Neos Alexandria is a better place for me to put my spiritual energy, but ADF just really works for me. But I feel a little silly doing anything other than "Celtic stuff" as a druid and I have to get over that. But I digress.)
I called several gatekeepers this time, which I'm not sure if it's legit or not, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I called Cerberus, guardian of the Underworld, and the Horae, gatekeepers of Olympos. I didn't have a gatekeeper for the tree/otherworld portal so I called to Pan spontaneously (which I don't have written down on my script) and I'm not sure if he's a suitable gatekeeper deity because I haven't researched him at all, but I think he wanted to join the fun, and since he has a few references in the pagan revival, I don't mind.
My Earth mother, appropriately, was Demeter, who ushers in Winter when her beloved Persephone (one of my DotO) descends to sit as Hades' Queen. I felt it was appropriate to scatter barley on the altar (which I realized I didn't have, so I substituted oats) before I called her, so I added that to my preliminary rites. I believe that it was common to do this at a festival, but I'm not sure which one, and I can't even remember if it's a Hellenic thing, but it just felt right. I should really get my research under control, but spontaneity wins.
My deities of the occasion were Persephone, whose descent begets autumn and winter, and Dionysus, who keeps us warm and happy through the dark season. Both are deities of rebirth, so at this time of the waning sun, as I say goodbye to the fair weather, I gladly recall that summer will come again next year, and with it all the fruit and flowers I care to enjoy.
I had trouble with my meditation, since there was so much information packed into my oracle reading, it was a really dense and slightly confusing reading with many different perspectives. What I got out of it was that I should continue my journey toward my goals/dreams, I need to push myself to be more active in my destiny in a variety of ways and if I do, I will flourish.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Aug 4, 2012 Informal Lughnassadh

I chose to do an informal ritual for Lughnassadh this year.

I made a playlist of pagan songs in the general order they would appear in liturgy. It was a mix of ADF songs and chants with other generic pagan and some Wiccan songs and chants. I turned on the playlist, lit the candles on my altar to "spirits of fire come to us, we will kindle the fire", and made offerings of incense, corn meal, oats and whiskey to the gods, spirits and ancestors, and Lugh specifically. I took an omen, receiving the Five of Earth: Insecurity, Six of Water: Pleasure, and IX the Hermit. I was initially going to make more offerings and ask for a replacement blessing for Insecurity, but realized that it's actually a piece of advice, that I've been doing a lot of shopping lately, and I should really keep myself in check or I'm inviting disaster. I accept that advice as a blessing. And I decided to spend some money on things I can use productively, like jewelry making supplies, rather than only on things I don't need like earrings and gloves and more clothes.
I let the incense burn down and put out the candles when the playlist was over. I didn't invoke anyone before I made offerings, so I didn't have to dismiss anyone. That was it, just a kind of devotional.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 20th 2012 Summer Solstice Ritual - ADF style



For this year's Summer Solstice, I am performing a public ADF ritual based on the COoR as outlined in the Dedicant Program Handbook pg. 60. I chose to focus on the Celtic hearth culture.

Supplies:
Script
Song sheets
Lighter
altar cloth
Candle holder (bowl with dirt and tea light candles) (the fire)
Bowl with water (the well)
World tree representation (staff, cane, wand, or actual tree)
Incense
Incense holders
Main offering bowl
Drum
Smudge stick
offering of corn meal
offering of oatmeal
bowl of salt
bowl of water
asperger (pine cone or sprig of evergreen)
cans of beer
coins
essential oil
herbs
pitcher of drinkable water
vessel/chalice for the blessing waters
string
scissors


Participants:
ALL: everyone
BARD: drumming, meditation, leading song, story
DRUID 1: instructions
DRUID 2: prayers
SEER: divination

0 - Preliminary Rites
A) Claiming and Hallowing the Sacred Space:
DRUID 1: Lit the sacred altar fire, poured fresh water into the well, censed the tree

B) Preliminary Meditation:
DRUID 2: Call to everyone “Gather around, come closer, come closer. Can everyone hear me? Have a seat.”
DRUID 1: Explain aloud the intentions for the ritual, “We will celebrate the summer solstice in ADF Druidic style. We begin by purifying ourselves, honouring the Earth Mother and calling on a Gatekeeper to summon the gods, ancestors and nature spirits. We will make offerings, celebrate the solstice with a story, sing, dance, take an omen, call for blessings and work some magic. Then we will give thanks and close the rite. You will be given the opportunity to honour any being: living, dead, immortal or never-born. Feel free to make an offering of food, drink, incense, or anything you feel called to share at the appropriate time by bringing it up to the altar when we call out for your offerings. The ritual should take about an hour and a half. You are welcome as a participant or observer. If you need to leave for any reason, you may go quietly at any time. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask them, otherwise, please save your questions for the end of the ceremony.”
ALL: any questions are asked, answers are given
BARD: “Let's go over some of the songs we will be singing in ritual, so that we can all sing along.”
Song sheets are distributed amongst the participants. Bard teaches the songs.
DRUID 1: Call on everyone to “Let us first ground and center ourselves, close your eyes and join us in meditation”
BARD: Recites the two powers meditation:
“Begin, O seeker of wisdom, with your breath... breathe deeply, from your belly... in... and out... make your body comfortable... stretch if you need to, settle in place... and focus on your breath... observe your breath as it flows in and out of your body... and with each breath, allow your body to relax... let your breath carry away tension from your flesh.. relaxing your feet and legs... letting your belly soften and relax... breathing away tension from your shoulders and arms... from your neck... relaxing your face and mouth, your eyes... with each breath your body becoming warmer, comfortable and relaxed... your mind alert and prepared for magic...
“Now, with your body still and calm, imagine that from your feet, or the base of your spine, roots begin to grow downward... roots reaching and growing into the earth, down through soil and stone... deepening and spreading... reaching to touch the waters under the Earth... the Earth current... the dark, cool, magnetic power that nourishes and sustains life... as your roots touch this current it is drawn in and up toward your body... your breath draws the Earth power upward... into your body... the invisible, magnetic power fills your legs, energizing and strengthening... waters rise from the earth, into your legs... rising... into your loins... and pooling in your loins, a cauldron of Earth power... You breathe the power upward... rising from the earth, through your loins, rising up your spine... into your heart... pooling and filling a cauldron in your heart with healing, restoring energy... power rising from the deep, through your loins, through your heart... rising up your spine and into your head... filling a cauldron of wisdom and vision behind your eyes... and rising still, filling all your body and flowing out again through the crown of your head... through your hands... flowing out around your body and back into the earth... the power under the Earth flows in you... grounding you in the source of life...
“Now imagine the sky overhead... The sun and moon and, far beyond them, the stars... imagine a single star at the center of the sky, shining directly over your head... the center of your inner sky, your own pole-star...see a flash of light shining down from that star... streaming down between moon and sun... gold, silver and blue-white light... the bright, warm, electric power of the sky... the light touches your head, filling and illuminating the cauldron like sun on still water... shining from above... filling your head with warm, awakening power... flowing down into your heart... warming the cauldron... shining down through head and heart, illumining the waters... downward to reach your loins... The cauldron shines with sky power in your loins... Tingling, electrical light in head, heart and loins... the light flows downward into Earth, and you are shining and flowing with the mingled powers of Earth and sky... the raw material of magic... the chaos of potential and the world order...
“These powers are balanced in you... yours to shape and use... always with you in some degree... But for now, allow the powers to recede... waters to the Earth, light to the sky... knowing that each time you attune to them you become more attuned, more at one with the powers... breath deep... and allow your awareness to return to your common senses... as you open your eyes...”


I - The Procession and Opening Prayers
A) Musical Signal and Call to the Grove:
BARD: Beat the drums to get everyone's attention, bringing them to full alertness.
DRUID 1: Calls on everyone to “Please stand, join hands and circle the space as we sing”,
Walk in a slow circle, singing:
BARD / ALL: “We approach the Sacred Grove
With hearts and minds and flesh and bone.
Join us now in ways of old;
We have come home.”
Lead into a spiral dance, once folks have picked up the tune, end in a spiral just wide enough so all can hear/see.


A1) Purification of the Folk:
Pass around the smudge stick and lighter for people to purify themselves, instructing them to:
DRUID 1: “Pass the sage smoke over your body and let all negative thoughts and troubles leave you, let all mundane thoughts of the everyday world pass away. You are in sacred space, you are sacred beings, be cleansed and purified.”


B) Opening Prayer: while people are smudging,
DRUID 2: “May we pray with a good fire. As our Ancestors did in times before and our children may do in times to come, Let us honor the Gods in the Old Ways.
DRUID 1: In Ancient Egypt, the Summer Solstice was the most important day of the year! When the sun was at its highest, it meant that the Nile River was beginning to rise as well. The rising of the Nile indicated the coming floods which would feed and nourish the crops of the Nile Valley and feed the community. In this way, the Summer Solstice was a day of hope and gratitude for the rebirth of the community! It was a sign of fertility and abundance.
“The Mayans built and gathered at the Temple of Kukulcan, which signaled the precise moment of the summer solstice. When the sun shines on the north and east sides of the building, it casts a shadow over the south and west sides. From the sky, it would look as if the pyramid were diagonally split into two parts.
“In Britain, the Iron Age Celtic peoples gathered at Stonehenge and other megaliths, to celebrate Midsummer with fires and feasting. On this day, we too gather, we too light a community fire and we too feast and make merry!
This is the time of the Solstice, when the Sun is at its height and the Land graces us with abundance. But this also marks a turning of the wheel of the year, a turning toward the dark half of the year. This is a time to honor prosperity and fertility, but it is also a time to remember that all gifts have a cost. It is a pagan custom--as with so many others at this time--to honor the dying God as the sun reaches it's peak and begins to wane. Today, we honor Miach, the Irish god of healing, who, in dying, brought healing herbs to the Land. In the Celtic Lands, Midsummer is the time to gather these herbs. We shall hear the tale of Miach and his sister, Airmid, shortly. First, let us honour the gods, the ancestors and the spirits on this beautiful midsummer day! Please be seated!”


C) Earth Mother Offering:
DRUID 2: Danu, Mother of us all, Goddess of the Earth and the life-giving waters, you who were first among gods, to you we give the first offering! (offers cornmeal to the bowl)
Earth Mother, Birth Mother, Birch Mother,
Sea Mother, Stone Mother, Star Mother,
Queen of night and death and birth,
Womb of deep and fertile earth,
Dame of heaven's silver wheel,
Lady of the greening field,
Keeper of the apple grove,
Mistress of the arts of love,
Shine out in the fearsome dark,
Teach us how to strike the spark,
People, we can feel Her near,
She is coming! She is here!”
(Take a moment to let the Earth energy settle.)
D) Statement of Purpose:
DRUID 1: “Who knows what the Summer Solstice is?” Raise a hand to indicate same to speakers.
ALL: A few answers are given
DRUID 1: “Each year, the timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. This occurs annually on June 20 or June 21 in North America, depending on your time zone.
“The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time.
“In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. The Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at "high-noon" on the summer solstice, creating more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day then any other.
“Join hands as we celebrate this amazing astronomical event!”


II - Opening the Grove
A) The Grove Attunement:
DRUID 1: “Let us attune ourselves to each other as one grove.”
BARD / ALL: "The leaves on the trees
Reach up to the sky
As their roots reach down
Through the deep, dark Earth.”
Sung nine times


1) Offering to the Outdwellers:
DRUID 2: Walk to the outside of the circle and declare: “Hail to the Outdwellers, you who are not invited to join in our celebration, those of you who cause mischief and chaos, and any being who would disturb this rite... accept this offering of beer and may peace be between us!” (pour the beer outside the circle)

2) Cleansing by salt and water:
DRUID 1: Now we cleanse this space of all negative energies and thought forms with this consecrated water.
DRUID 2: Pour a bowl of salt into a bowl of water, and sprinkle it around the circle, counterclockwise, with the asperger, saying "Negative vibrations be gone from here, this is no place for harm or fear" three times. Return bowl to altar.
DRUIDS Dip their hands in the water and symbolically wash hands and face with the water.


D) Honoring the Sacred Center:
DRUID 2: raises and replaces the representations of fire on the shrine.
BARD / ALL: "Fire, bright fire
Gate to the Shining Ones
Fire, bright Fire
Our passage to the Sky
Fire, bright Fire
Warmth of our Community
Spark of Life
We honor you now
(DRUID 2: offers essential oil to the fire, raises and replaces the well)
“Well, deep Well
Gate to the Underworld
Well, deep Well
Our passage to the Sea
Well, deep Well
Wisdom of the Ancestors
Waters of Life
We honor you now
(DRUID 2: Offers coins to the well, raises and replaces the tree if possible, or gestures to it)
“Tree, great Tree
Gate that reaches everywhere
Tree, great Tree
With you we share the Land
Tree, great Tree
Our passage to the Otherworld
Source of Life
We honor you now"
(DRUID 2 censes the tree with incense)


F) Opening the Gates:
Call to the Gatekeeper:
DRUID 1: “Hail to Manannan Mac Lir, Opener of the Ways, Gatekeeper, Shrouded in mist or met at the crossroads, We call to you to open the gates between the worlds! Let our words sound deep in the well, let our words rise on the flames of our fire, let the tree carry our words to all the worlds! Manannan, accept our offering!”
Incense is lit for Manannan. Beer is poured into the offering bowl.
BARD / ALL: "Gatekeeper open the portals,
Between the Gods and mortals,
Power freely flows,
As our magic grows.”
Sung three times.


III - Offering to the Powers:
A) Triad Offerings:
BARD / ALL: “Gods and Dead and Mighty Sidhe,
Powers of Earth and Sky and Sea,
By Fire and Well, by Sacred Tree,
Offerings we make to ye.”
Sung three times,
DRUID 1: Let us call upon the kindred to join us in this celebration, we honour them so that they may honour us in return. We begin with the nature spirits, those who surround us in our world and the otherworld, living spirits and those who are never-born. Nature spirits, we call upon you this day! I call on the wind and the waters, the oak, ash and thorn, the birds and the bees, the unicorns and dragons, Who do you call?” (gesture to the participants).
ALL: shout their invitations
DRUID 2: “Nature spirits, accept our offerings!” (oatmeal is poured into the offering bowl)
DRUID 1: “Now we call upon the ancestors from the underworld and the heavens, our beloved and mighty dead, family, friends, warriors, providers, teachers and leaders of the past. Any person who has touched our lives and who we want to remember. Ancestors, we call upon you to join us this day! I call upon (Name your chosen ancestors), Who do you call?” (gesture to the participants)
ALL: shout their invitations
DRUID 2: “Ancestors, accept our offerings!” (beer is poured into the offering bowl)
DRUID 1: “Finally, we call upon the gods and goddesses, the shining ones, our most powerful allies. They are the creators, preservers and destroyers, the gods above and gods below, both immanent and transcendent. Gods of all cultures and peoples. Blessed gods, we call upon you to join us this day! I call upon (Name your gods), Who do you call?” (gesture to the participants)
ALL: shout their invitations
DRUID 2: “Gods, accept our offerings! (beer is poured into the offering bowl and incense is lit)
DRUID 1: “To any of you who would give offerings and praise to the kindred, please come forward and do so now!”
ALL: individuals come forward with offerings.


B) Key Offerings:
1) Descriptive Invocation and offerings to the Patron Powers of the rite:
DRUID 1: “We call now upon the principal deities of the occasion. Hail Miach and Airmid, skilled healers, we honour you on this solstice day!”
BARD: “Airmid is the Celtic Goddess of the Healing Arts. She was also a member of the Tuatha De Danaan, the most ancient race of deities in Ireland and just as they did, she had great magickal powers. When the Goddess Danu first created the Tuatha De Danaan, she made sure that its members were very powerful gods, filled with great wisdom and skilled in every possible area of expertise.
Some people believe that the Tuatha De Danaan was comprised of Druids, who were extremely knowledgeable in both prophecy and magick. When the members of the Tuatha De Danaan decided to study something, not only did they simply learn about it, they actually went much farther, by deeply immersing themselves in that particular field to the point where they became the greatest experts in the world. They believed strongly in the three components of life: the Earth, the Mysteries, and the Spirit realm and that they were all of equal importance.
Airmid was the daughter of Diancecht, the God of Medicine, and the Chief Physician and Magician of the Tuatha De Danaan. She also had four brothers: Miach, Cian, Cethe, and Cu, and they all followed closely in their father’s footsteps. Airmid also had a sister named Etan, who was a poet who was also married to Oghma. Coming from that kind of a heritage, there can be little doubt that Airmid and her brothers excelled in the healing arts.
When the Fir Bolgs first arrived in Ireland, the Tuatha De Danaan fought against them in a great war, protecting its people and land from invasion. During the first battle, the Tuatha defeated the Fir Bolgs and killed their king, Eocchid MacEric. Nuada, the King of the Tuatha De Danaan was also seriously injured in that battle when his arm became severed from his body.
Since Diancecht was the Chief Physician of the Tuatha De Danaan, he was immediately called upon to attend to Nuada’s wounds, and he brought Airmid and Miach with him to assist. While Diancecht was working upon Nuada, it became increasingly clear that Airmid’s and Miach’s skills as healers were much greater then those of their father.
While Diancecht had decided to replace Nuada’s severed arm with one that he had constructed from silver, Airmid was actually able to regenerate the King’s own arm to perfect working order. Then Miach, using his amazing surgical skills, took the regenerated arm and re-attached it to the King’s body. These actions were extremely important to the Tuatha De Danaan and especially to Nauda, because according to its laws, no one could ever be its king, whose body was not completely whole. If Nuada’s arm had not been re-attached to his body, through Airmid and Miach’s amazing skills, then his reign as King would have ended.
Airmid, Miach and Diancecht built the Well of Slaine in Ireland, which was also known as the Well of Health. They then caste spells over it, so that the well’s magickal waters could not only restore life to those warriors who had been killed in battle; it could actually return them all to perfect health. When a wounded warrior was brought to the well his body was immediately immersed in its waters, which not only brought him back to life, but also made him well enough to return to the battle.
However, during the second Battle of Moytura, things did not go well for the Tuatha De Danaan because their enemies had filled the Well of Slaine with stones. That made it impossible for them to bring their warriors bodies back to life, and the well soon became known as the “Heapstown Cairn.”
Airmid's brother Miach was an extremely talented healer, and when Diancecht realized that his son’s abilities were so greatly superior to his own he became extremely jealous. Soon, that jealousy began to turn into rage, and that rage became so great that he drew his sword and slashed Miach quite badly. Miach, however, using his superior medical knowledge and magickal skills, immediately healed the wound.
That just made Diancecht’s anger grow even greater, and for a second time he drew his sword, this time cutting Miach through to the bone. Just as quickly, however, Miach was able to heal himself once more.
It was at that point that Diancecht finally lost what little control he had left over his rage and, once again taking his sword in his hand, he sliced directly into his son’s brain tissue. What happened then was truly miraculous. Miach showed himself to be the outstanding physician that he was, and he actually was able to heal himself one more time.
Finally, it became extremely clear that Diancecht’s hatred of his son had reached the point of no return. Slowly, Diancecht drew his sword and then, for the final time, he struck his son in the head, this time severing Miach's brain completely from his skull. It was then that Diancecht just walked away, leaving his wounded son who was no longer able to heal himself lying there on the ground to die. Legend has it, that when Diancecht looked down upon his dying son, he never once exhibited even the slightest bit of remorse.
Airmid also had great magickal powers and herb craft was her specialty. Miach had taught her well, and she knew the different uses of each and every plant. When Airmid buried her brother it was with great sorrow. She missed him dearly, since they had always been so very close, and she frequently would go to visit his grave. One day, when she arrived at Miach’s grave, she was amazed to find 365 healing herbs growing on and around his grave, with one herb for every joint and organ of his body.
Methodically, Airmid began to gather up the herbs. Then, quite amazingly, the herbs began to speak to her, telling her of the full range of their healing powers. Airmid then took the herbs and separated each from the other. Then she arranged them systematically upon her cloak, each according to its own particular use or special properties. With the knowledge she had gained from the herbs, she then proceeded to use it to heal people who needed medical attention.
Amazingly, Diancecht’s obsessive hatred for his son did not end with Miach’s death. Still consumed by his enormous rage, Diancecht went over to Airmid’s cloak and overturned it, scattering all the herbs into the wind; thereby making certain that no one except Airmid would ever know the use of the herbs’ healing properties or the secret of how to achieve immortality which was made possible through the herbs proper use.
Even though Diancecht was her father, Airmid found herself unable to have any feelings for him, and refused to have anything to do with him. In fact, she found it so impossible to even go anywhere near him, that she travelled far away to a place where she would never have to see him again.
It is believed that Airmid still works as a Physician, high in the mountains of Ireland, spending much of her time healing Faeries, Elves and humans; bringing them all back to good health through her practical knowledge and amazing magickal skills.”


C) Prayer of Sacrifice:
DRUID 2: “To Miach and Airmid we offer healing herbs, that they may continue to heal us in our times of need.” Offering is made to the offering bowl.
DRUID 1: “Please stand and join hands as we sing,”
BARD / ALL: “Hoof and Horn, Hoof and Horn
All that dies shall be reborn.
Corn and Grain, Corn and Grain
All that falls shall raise again.”

D) Taking of the omen:
SEER: shuffles the tarot deck and draws three cards, one for each of the kindreds.

IV: The Blessing
A) Meditation on the Omen:
SEER: interprets the cards and tells the group what blessings the kindreds offer.

B) Calling for the blessing:
DRUID 2: “Ancient and Mighty ones, we have honoured you. Now we pray you honour us in turn, as a gift calls for a gift. We thirst for the waters of wisdom, bounty and rebirth, for the blessings of (list omens), from the bosom of the Earth Mother. We open our hearts to the blessings of the Great ones, and pray you hallow these waters.”
C) Hallowing the Waters:
DRUID 1: Pours the waters into the vessel, holds it high in the air and visualizes the gods, dead and sidhe charging the waters with their blessings. Then cup is passed around to participants.
BARD / ALL: “Pour the waters, raise the cup.
Drink your share of wisdom deep.
Strength and joy now fill us up.
As the elder ways we keep.

When in ancient pagan days,
Fire was lit in sacred groves,
Powers of the gods did flow,
Bringing healing, wit, and love.

We in our time likewise go,
To the grove our trove to give,
To the gods, the dead, the sidhe,
And their blessings to receive.

So pour the waters, raise the cup.
Drink your share of wisdom deep.
Strength and joy now fill us up.
As the elder ways we keep.”
Sung three times.
D) Receiving the Blessing:
As the cup is passed around,
BARD / ALL: “Power of the spirits... Flowing through me...
Power of the spirits... Shining in me...
Power of the spirits... Growing with me...”
(repeat as desired until Cup makes the rounds)


V) The Working:
DRUID 2: passes around foot long lengths of string to participants.
DRUID 1: “It is customary at this time of great solar power to make magic. Today we will each store the power of the sun for use on a personal goal, when finished, you should keep it in a safe place, and carry it with you whenever you work toward your goal. You may untie the knots as needed to release some of the sun's power. Now, visualize a beam of energy flowing from the sun into your cord. We will be tying knots in the cord as we do this spell. Keep your goal in mind as you tie the knots into your cord.”
DRUID 2: “By knot of one, the spell's begun,
By knot of two, the spell comes true,
By knot of three, it comes to be,
By knot of four, this power I store,
By knot of five, this spell contrive,
By knot of six, the spell is fixed,
By knot of seven, by earth and heaven,
By knot of eight, by the web of Fate,
By knot of nine, the thing is mine!”


VI) Closing and Ending:
A) Affirmation of success:
DRUID 1: “We have honoured the kindred, received their blessings, made magic and celebrated the solstice. Feel the blessings and magic running through your body this day and all days.”


B) Thanking the powers:
DRUID 2: “To Miach and Airmid, Thank you for attending this solstice ritual, Go if you must, stay if you will, we bid you hail and farewell”
ALL: “Hail and Farewell”
DRUID 2: “To all the gods, ancestors and nature spirits, Thank you for attending this solstice ritual, Go if you must, stay if you will, we bid you hail and farewell”
ALL: “Hail and Farewell”
C) Closing the gates:
DRUID 2: “Manannan Mac Lir, Gatekeeper, Thank you for your role in this ritual, Manannan, May the gates be closed!”
D) Final Blessing and announcement of ending:
BARD / ALL: “Walk with wisdom from this hallowed place.
Walk not in sorrow, our roots shall ere embrace.
May strength be your brother, and honor be your friend,
And luck be your lover until we meet again.”
DRUID 1: "Blessings be upon all who have attended this rite. Thank you all for coming. The rite has ended."
BARD: Bang drum three times.
DRUID 2: Extinguished the Fire.
ALL: Disperse
DRUID 1: Returns the offerings to the earth.
DRUIDS: Clean up the ritual area