Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week 50: Lamas Recap and Dedicant Oath Rite

For Lughnasadh I chose to celebrate in a non-ADF style ritual with my coven on Friday, August 2, 2013. The ritual lasted about one hour and afterward we had a potluck style meal. I announced to my group that I would be finalizing my Dedicant Path work for ADF and submitting it soon, and how much I look forward to the next step of this spiritual journey.

For the ritual, I chose to combine the ritual wording of ADF rituals I found particularly touching to use in our non-ADF ritual to honor Lugh and Danu.

Non-ADF Lughnasadh 2013 Ritual in Celtic Style

1.       Cast a circle by spreading wheat (or bird seed or another form of grain, cornmeal), saying:

We bless this circle and surround ourselves with the power of Lugh, who has given his life that we may be fed, and Danu, whose bounty sustains us. The circle is cast.

2.       Call the elements (I know you like this part so if you want to do the traditional LBRP)

Manannan mac Lir, gatekeeper between the worlds, we ask that you come join this rite, so that our realms may be open to one another and our offerings of thanks be pleasing to the Tuatha de Dannan.

3.      Next, give a brief introduction of Lughnasadh.

Lughnasadh is the time we observe the days growing shorter as we approach the waning half of the year. The time when the sun’s power enters the grain for the first time, which is harvested so life can continue. Lughnasadh is also called Lammas, which is short for ‘loaf mass’, when bread was baked to offer to the poor and in honor of Lugh, the Golden one-master of all arts, and the corn king. He who is the Shining Sun.

Today we call to Lugh, the Golden one, and Crom Dubh, the one whose back is bent from carrying the blessed wheat to feed humankind. Bring us the power of the sun, the mysteries of the underworld, and the golden wheat that we may survive the winter once again. Hail Lugh, and welcome. We call Danu, mother of the Gods, She who brings renewal and rebirth in all things, without whom life would not flourish. Hail Danu, and welcome.


Note for Coven: Optional-this can be read by us both or omitted. It would make the ritual longer if we did this so depends on who all is coming and our feelings-
From Wild Onion's Grove Lughnasadh -http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/lughnassadh/wog-lughnassadh-04.html

Hail the Sun of Summer - Golden One, Brightest, Warmth of the Green Earth.
Hail the Sun of Summer - Crown of Striving, Gem of the Heavens, First among Lights
Hail the Sun of Summer - Father of Earth, Eye of Burning, Fire of Noontide.


Yet now is the Season of Darkening, the Time of Ripening, when the night and the moon call the Earth to fruit. It is the time of the tender Goddess, the Maker of heroes, the Old One's Daughter. Who can tell of the fate of the Earth?

If the Sun does not die, the green turns to gray!
If the Sun does not die, red turns to black!
If the Sun does not die, the earth will burn dry!


So the Gods' man mated with a woman of the Giants, in magic and courage. And of Their union was born the Child of Light and Shadow - Lugh, whose name means light. Fostered in the Isle of Apples, he learned every skill - thus is he called Samildanach - Master of All Arts.

How like a Spear is the Ray of Dawning
How like the dawn is the Rising Light of Victory
How like Victory is the Joy of Wisdom


So it was that in the last battle of the Gods and Demons it was Lugh who struck down the Baleful Eye of Burning. When the Sun's Fire becomes poison to the earth, when the Maiden of Bounty is imprisoned in the Tower of Day, it is Lugh of the Long Arm who strikes the blow. It is Lugh who struck down the Poison Eye, who defended the Holy Earth against hail and flood and drought and blight.

The Sun must die That the earth may live
The Darkness rise - The Land freely give
Milk and Honey, Ale and Corn


Thus do we join the Shining Ones' Prince to the Lady of the Earth.
By this joining may Lugh be the Ward and Guardian of the earth.
By this joining may the Earth be the Throne of Joy and Delight.
May the grain, and our lives, grow green and golden as the hair of the Goddess.
May the ray of the westering sun be as the Spear of the Champion.


Lugh hear us Your children!


 

Share the bread prepared/baked by the High Priestess. The High Priestess will say-
(From Eaarach of Pittsburgh)

there is "...an essential need for our rites to combine ancient tradition with a season theme to assure that the rite functions in a way that makes some sense to the modern soul[...] The seasonal connection can be used as a personal metaphor for the current cycle in one's development or life-passages." With that in mind, we meet here today to celebrate this harvest not only in the literal sense, but as a personal spiritual harvest. With much hard work and dedication, we have sown the knowledge, dedication, and commitment to the Gods, and each other, in our spiritual growth. We have endured difficult times and happy events, and as we overcome our obstacles we become stronger, forged like a sword in the fires of adversities overcome. With the Gods, we are strengthened, empowered, and ever faithful. From all of these things, we can reap the rewards and rejoice in the harvest of what we have learned and gained in this past year.

Each member will then state what they have learned this past year and are thankful for.

The High Priest will make an offering of the bread, mead, and any other offerings near a sacred tree. He will then ask the Gods to find the offering pleasing, and may it honor the Gods, the Fae, the land, and ancestors.

Lugh, God of Grain and the Sun, we give you this offering. Danu, She who is the Mother of the Gods and of the Morrigan, we give you this offering. We feed you as you feed us. Take this nourishment and live again as the wheel of the year turns to winter and then spring.

After the offering, the coven (and any family/friends) can eat the bread.

Once this is complete, LBRP to close circle.

The High Priest/Priestess will bid farewell.

We thank the Gods for joining in this rite. 

Lugh and Danu, Go raibh maith agait!        (gora mah ahgit, singular-this is Gaelic for ‘thank you’)

Manannan mac Lir, Go raibh maith agait!

Gods and Goddesses, Go raibh maith agaibh  (gora mah ahgeev, plural-this is the Gaelic for ‘thank you’ to more than one person)

Nature Spirits, Go raibh maith agaibh!

Ancestors, Go raibh maith agaibh!


Now by the keeper of the gates and by our magic we end what we began.
Let the fire be flame,
Let the well be water,
Let all be as it was before.
Let the gates be closed!


We have done as our ancestors have done, and as our children will do, and the Kindreds have answered. We go now, children of the Earth, in peace and blessings. The ritual to honor the harvest is at a close.

Biodh sé amhlaidh!  (bee shay ow-lee/means "so be it")

When the lots were cast for an omen of ritual, which I have come to prefer from practicing ADF rituals, our High Priest drew runes to ask a general omen/guidance from the Tuatha de Dannan for our coven. The runes read-

Works Cited-
Earrach of Pittsburgh. "On the Nature of Sovereignty" ADF Website.  http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/lughnassadh/nature-of-sovereignty.html


Wild Onion Grove's Lughnasadh Ritual. ADF Website. http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/lughnassadh/wog-lughnassadh-04.html

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Week 49: Final High Day (Lughnasadh) and Dedicant Oath Rite

Lughnasadh is one of the major Celtic holidays, marking the first harvest and traditionally celebrated on the day of the full moon on or around August 1 ("Deeper Into Lughnasadh").  This high day marks the shortening of days as the land and inhabitants prepare for the coming winter months, and the Celts were known to offer their first cutting of grain, as well as breads made from the grains.  Although Lugh is the main God associated with this high day, the Goddess Danu is also honored as the Mother of the Tuatha de Dannan and humankind, which is fitting as Danu is associated with fertility of land, growth, and life itself.

As my path and research have grown, I have learned the significance of making offerings to the Gods and Ancestors is a form of hospitality, which is one of ADF's Nine Noble Virtues. "By making offerings to the spirits, not only are modern Gaelic polytheists honoring our ancestors’ ancient contract, but we are coming into harmony with the , strengthening the bonds between humans and the divine, and thereby ensuring our health and prosperity" (An Chomhairle Ghaol Naofa).  Countless tales and research all suggest that offerings made to the Tuatha de Dannan were either burned in pits, buried in the earth, thrown into bodies of water, or placed by sacred stones or trees. My offerings are also made to the earth by placing near sacred trees within my own area, which I feel are a way I can connect with the land, the Gods, and the traditions of the Celts.

On this high day, I plan to perform my Dedicant Oath Rite as part of the completion of my Dedicant Path. Since beginning this journey last year, I felt that I have grown spiritually and mentally. By researching the history of traditions and mythos, I better understand the importance of reconstruction in ritual by NeoPagans, as a means to connect to the Gods, land, and each other. Prior to ADF, I was a devoted NeoPagan but often felt the material I encountered was often the same recylced information, often geared toward beginners, and after 13 years of practice I yearned for something more scholarly and challenging, which ADF provided. According to Earrach, there is "...an essential need for our rites to combine ancient tradtion with a season theme to assure that the rite functions in a way that makes some sense to the modern soul[...] The seasonal connection can be used as a personal metaphor for the current cycle in one's development or life-passages." With that in mind, I celebrate this harvest not only in the literal sense, but as my personal spiritual harvest. With much hard work and dedication, I have sown the knowledge, dedication, and committment to Druidry and my spiritual growth with and for the Gods and myself. From this sowing, I can now rejoice in the harvest of my Dedicant Path journey, and look forward to the next step with ADF.


Works Cited:

An Chomhairle Ghaol Naofa. "A Gift for a Gift: Offerings." http://www.gaolnaofa.com/articles/offerings/

Earrach of Pittsburgh. "On the Nature of Sovereignty." ADF Website. http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/lughnassadh/nature-of-sovereignty.html

Eilthireach. "Deeper Into Lughnasadh."  The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. http://www.druidry.org/druid-way/teaching-and-practice/druid-festivals/lughnasadh/deeper-lughnasadh

Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 42: Summer Solstice Recap

My 2013 Summer Solstice/Litha was celebrated in non-ADF style on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm with my local Pagan group, which took place outdoors in our local forest/park. For this high day, we chose to honor Danu and Lugh, which we felt best embodied the spirit of Summer Solstice and it's blessings of prosperity, regrowth, renewal, and hope. Each member of the group chose to make an offering to the lake of something deeply personal, and I chose my favorite earrings with semi-precious stones and silver, which I felt were appropriate as I have grown accustomed to silvering the well for ADF style ritual.  In addition, I made an offering of one of my great grandmother's costume rings, and asked Manannan mac Lir to carry these offerings and the intention/energy to the Tuatha de Danann.

Although I am the only Druid of the group, I am fortunate that the members are accepting and welcoming of Druidic ritual aspects that I no longer feel comfortable omitting after beginning my Dedicant path. For example, the group now asks Manannan mac Lir to open the gates between our world and the realm of the Gods, as well as to take offerings,which are often made in lake, stream, or well.  In addition, at the close of ritual I have grown accustomed to saying 'Bíodh sé amhlaidh' which means 'So be it' in Gaelic, which I use to close each of my ADF rituals.  In addition, the runes were used as an oracle to verify the Gods were pleased, which yielded Ansuz as a favorable sign.

After ritual, we celebrated the prosperity of the season with a potluck, which we took portions of each dish and made as an offering to the Tuatha de Danann, Shining Ones, Ancestors, and Fae.  The most striking part of the ritual was we all felt the energy of Dagda and Danu as we made our thanks and offerings, so much so that myself and others felt an intense heat and heaviness of energy in ritual, something I have experienced similarly in ADF rituals. Overall, I felt the ritual focused on honoring the Gods and the meaning behind Summer Solstice, which was enhanced by being outdoors to truly honor and observe the changes in our own area as the heat grows and the humidity brings the flowers to fruition everywhere, all while teaching us to appreciate the shade that the trees provide. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Week 41: The Seventh High Holy Day-Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice has many traditions and claims behind celebration, meanings, and culture, but overall this high day honors the transformation of the land as plants grow, animals emerge, and the days are long (and hot in Kentucky).  This high day can also be known as the midpoint between Spring and Fall, since Beltane traditionally marks the beginning of Summer while Lughnasadh marks the end of that season. As Druids, we focus upon the Sun as a means to connect and honor our Gods, and this high day primarily focuses on the sun, which not only marks this time of year by being the longest day, but also its effect upon the land and seasons. When considering deities to work with from the Celt hearth culture, those who come to mind are Brighid, Danu, and Lugh, all of whom are associated with prosperity and fertility.  Brighid is a Goddess I have come to regularly associate with hearth and home since beginning my Dedicant path, and any ritual or working that centers on prosperity, fertility, or family centers around Her.  Danu, a part of the triad Morrigan, is associated with the land, prosperity, and wisdom, all fitting attributes for the Summer Solstice and with blessing the land and ourselves.  Lugh, known as a Sun God, is known for multitasking abilities and also comes to mind when celebrating this solar-focused high day.

According to Ross Nichols, on Summer Solstice, "Branches were collected and houses heavily decorated. Also often collected was a strange assembly of special plants; fernseed which gave invisibility and belonged to the fairies; vervain, traditionally the cure and improvement for sight [...] St John's Wort [...] trefoil, which marks the footsteps of the spring goddess, and rue, herb of exorcizing and disinfecting" (84).  Previous research on Celt festivals suggests this high day would also be celebrated with a feast and bonfire at night, which is honored with the ADF Triple Hallows of Well, Fire, and Tree (Nichols, 298 and Our Own Druidry, 20).

For this high day, I plan to attend a group ritual that is not ADF style, but will honor the Gods of the Celt hearth culture that are affiliated with prosperity and fertility.  I plan to make offerings of grain, whether in the form of homemade bread to honor Brighid or with mead. During the ritual, I will be asking theTuatha de Danann to assist in prosperity of my home and family, specifically in our search for a home and for our finances.


Works Cited/Consulted:
Earrach of Pitsburgh. "What Would the Druids Do at the Summer Solstice?" ADF Website. http://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/midsummer/wwtdd-summer-solstice.html

Nichols, Ross. The Book of Druidry. New York: Castle Books, 1975.

Our Own Druidry.  ADF Publishing, 2009.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week 44: The Nine Virtues-Moderation

As outlined by Michael J. Dangler, moderation is often thought of as reducing something you enjoy and increasing something you dislike in order to seek balance, but moderation is simply the act of seeking balance in all things for health, happiness, and well-being (36-38). One definition of moderation is, "avoidance of extremes or excess; temperance" (Dictionary.com). Again, the main focus is that of avoidance and in instances of excess, such as in food, drink, or harmful activities/substances. However, moderation is a virtue that extends beyond the concepts of food and drink and is a guideline for living.

When considering moderation as one of the Nine Noble Virtues, a broader definition can be used to encompass balance between life and spirituality, daily life and daily incorporation of spiritual practice and growth, between rest and work, family and personal time, and even volunteering and living a sustainable lifestyle as one of many life forms on this planet. Moderation extends much more beyond avoidance of excess, because a main tenet of our Druidry is to not only observe and spend time within nature, but to also live as part of the Earth, which includes adopting a lifestyle of sustainability and conservation. Even in the mythos of the Gods, there are mentions of great feasts and times of rest after great battles, such as the Tuatha de Dannan defeating the Fir Bolg (Cath Maige Tuired).

With this in mind, moderation is an integral virtue that is learned and refined as one observes and becomes more educated about spiritual practice and life. Moderation is not a virtue that can be cultivated or developed in a short time, but is integral as one embarks upon the Dedicant path to deepen their spirituality and relationship with the Gods and the Earth.

Works Cited:
Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired.  Trans. Elizabeth A. Gray. Sacred texts. http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

Dangler, Michael J. A Virtuous Life: The Nine Virtues of ADF. 2006. (pgs. 36-38). ADF Website. http://www.adf.org/members/training/dp/publications/dp-req-1-nine-virtues.pdf

Dictionary.com. 2013. http://www.dictionary.com.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Week 43: The Three Kindred-Deities

The Tuatha de Dannan are the pantheon of Celtic Gods and Goddesses I have felt most called to throughout my Dedicant path journey with ADF. Every day I feel Their presence whether it is through prayer, elaborate rituals and/or magic, and even small things such as seeing a bumblebee fly about or the miracle of my son's existence. Within everything I see the power and energy of the Gods, as it is from Them we exist and through us They remain worshiped and remembered. The relationship itself, then, is symbiotic, one of trust, give, take, and coexistence. The Gods, then, exist all around including within each of us.

Although I feel there are sacred/holy sites on this planet that are ideal for worship or feeling a more intense energy exchange between Gods and humankind, I believe the Gods can be felt and do exist everywhere. They can be felt and reached through multiple paths and I believe religion/spirituality is simply humankind's attempt to better understand life, the unknown, death, and the Gods. A hard polytheist, I believe each God is unique, and although some Gods share characteristics, whether due to similar interpretations due to trade/geographic location/etc., each God and Goddess are unique. For example, Odin and Dagda are both seen as the Fathers of their respective pantheons, and although both Gods share similar traits, I have firsthand felt the energy and presence of each God in rituals and the two are very much different entities.

I find myself thinking of the Gods several times per day. It is second nature to thank and invoke Brighid's blessings when I am doing work for hearth/home such as cleaning, cooking, and caring for my family. I pray with and to the Tuatha de Dannan, specifically the Morrigan and Lugh, each day. Sometimes, the prayers are simply in thanks and to ask for strength and guidance, while other times it is asking to help me to better listen and learn from Them. I don't see my relationship with the Gods as a simple transaction of offer/praise/ask for something, but rather as a symbiotic relationship that is designed to give both the Gods and myself nourishment, love, and to continue learning and building a relationship with the Others.

If I could tell someone one thing about the Gods, it would be that They truly do exist and you always have free will in terms of whether or not you want to work with one or more God, or if you choose to heed the calling of a God. I would also say that each God is different, and if you are attempting to know and work with a God who does not feel a connection with you (or vice versa) I have found it to be a stern message or one that points me to something different. For example, for a year I had tried to work with Bast, and although She is an amazing and strong Goddess, there was a lack of connection between us. Finally, I felt the call of the Morrigan and in a ritual thanked Bast for allowing me to learn more about Her and for helping to point me in the right direction of the Gods I feel most home with.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Week 36: Beltainne Recap

The Beltainne ritual took about an hour with special focus on honoring the Sidhe/fae, in which I made offerings of bread with butter, ice cream wtih sprinkles, and song.  This was the firs time I offerd song as part of my ritual, and although I was nervous, I felt reassurance by Brighid and Her inspiration.  As I perform each ADF style ritual I find that I am more easily called to and by the Tuatha de Danann while feeling Their presence more in my life and home each day.  This Beltainne I specifically asked for propserity for my family and to assist myself and my partner as we prepare to move in together later this year.  Because I was working outside I did not use tarot for the omen as originally planned, but rather I listened and not only 'felt' the approval of the Gods and fae for my ritual offerings, but a gust of wind also blew many flower petals around which I interpreted as a favorable sign. 

After ritual I spent time with my partner and I felt that our own activities honored the Gods and the spirit of Beltainne, which is of fertility and love and union. Although I would like to keep those details private, I will say that we felt the presence of the Gods inspiring our own love.

I did find that after this ritual, I felt more connected to working with the Sidhe specifically as opposed to just using the terms 'Shining Ones'.  I am also in my spare time beginning to read more about the Feri tradition of Paganism as part of my spiritual growth and journey, although I do plan to further my path with ADF by rejoining once my Dedicant path is complete.