As a Druid Fellowship we try to be inclusive and friendly so that all people may find our rituals fun and comfortable as well as a spiritual experience. In that light, we have created this page to give a brief overview of our ritual structure so that you know what to expect when you attend our next ritual.
Ritual Cultural Traditions and Structure
Although the grove’s ritual center is a Celtic one, we also celebrate various High Days within the context of other cultures. Typically public rituals, for the four fire festivals, Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh, will be done according to a specific Celtic tradition. The Solstice and Equinox rituals are often from other cultural traditions and reflect those that are practiced among the membership of the Grove. As we are a Neo-pagan grove, we do not seek a pure reconstruction of an ancient rite, we seek the essential core of that tradition and place it within the context of a Neo-pagan Druidic approach and ADF’s Core Order of Ritual (for more about ADF please visit our links section which will guide you to their website). This Core Order, based on scholarship and magical principles, is the constant throughout the rite. As you attend more rituals, the patterns should become more familiar even though each rite is unique.
All of our rituals are primarily devotional in nature. In other words, each ritual is designed to strengthen the Three Kindred (Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones) through our remembrance, praise, thanksgiving and offering. By doing so, we seek, as a community to draw the Kindred closer to us so that we may open, strengthen, or maintain good relationship with them and accept their blessings more readily. There will be opportunity at each ritual to offer to any one of the Kindred including those deities with whom you work on a personal level, so feel free to bring offering for them or for the deity of the occasion. Appropriate offerings, also known as sacrifice ‘to make sacred,’ are anything made of your hands, praise through the spoken word, song, silent prayer, and certainly anything from your heart for sincerity is key in any ritual undertaking. Please be aware that when you offer, it is not the time to ask for something, it is only a time to seek good relationship and offer your devotion. There is another time in the rite where the asking can take place for optimal benefit. The more you participate fully by bringing your energy into ritual, the more the ritual will become a thing of beauty and peace.
Treating with Sacred Space in Public
Because our rituals are primarily devotional and meant to form and strengthen bonds with the Kindred, these are rituals of ‘drawing in’ rather than ‘keeping out.’ As such, we do not ‘cast a circle’ as may be seen in other pagan traditions. We do cleanse the space, the participants, and call on a protector at the beginning of the rite and we sanctify the Three Hallows (Well, Fire, and Tree) where we will make offering. These three Hallows are then opened as Gateways at the Sacred Center for the greatest communication possible between the Kindreds and the folk present at the rite. Without a circle that is cast, it is easier to move in and out of the ritual space if needed, but it is best if everyone stay present until the ritual is over so as not to disturb the quality of energy raised. Since magical work in a public setting can be of great consequence, we rarely do this work in a public setting. However, much of the work in ritual does realign the participants with primordial time and beginnings, and so these rites are by nature highly inspiring and healing.
Key Elements of Our Rites
Devotional, Building Elements
Honoring the Land and the Great Mothers of the Earth is central to any Druidic path. In addition, the notion of divine inspiration, or the fire in the head, is essential to those seeking the guidance of the Kindred and the indwelling of health, creativity, abundance, and true wisdom. As such we begin the work of the rite by Addressing the Earth Mother and the Powers of Inspiration, offering to them, and asking them to lend their energies to bring vitality, beauty, divine inspiration, and the presence of palpable truth and honor into the sacred space. The mystery of fire in water is also explored as the group attunes themselves with these elements, thereby placing those gathered into sacred time, as they stand and move in a place between the worlds. After the participants have been prepared, the key elements addressed, the hallows sanctified, the gates opened, and the Kindred called, a time for personal offerings are made. Once all is ready, the Main Deities of the Rite are called and offered to. Special ways to honor the deity then follow. This could include storytelling, song, mythic action, affirmations, and other special ways that the folk can participate together in honoring the deity and the energies and lessons of the season.
Blessings, Receiving Elements
In the Celtic tradition, hospitality is incredibly important to one’s relationship with their community and the Kindred. To be inhospitable was to be a disgrace indeed. Therefore, if one offered a gift with sincerity, a gift would be offered in return. This is not an obligation but an act of joy and community. In this spirit, the energy of the ritual turns, as we have given, so too, the gods wish to offer their gifts to us. We wait in anticipation and joy to hear and receive what our Dear Ones wish to bestow. An omen is taken to get a barometer of the energies that each of the Kindred offer us. We fill the blessing cup and ask the Kindred to imbue these blessings in the content of the cup with the waters of life, and then all drink heartily. It is important to know that The Blessing Cup contains an alcoholic beverage. If you do not wish to imbibe, or if you are ill, just holding it to your forehead or holding it above you, picturing the blessings moving through your body, will suffice. As you hold the cup, the perfect time has arrived to petition the gods for what you need, either quietly or spoken aloud. If you wish to offer your blessings to another, pour a small part of its contents onto the ground as you speak their name and their needs. People are also free to toast, boast, thank, or just whoop for the joy of it. Caution: dancing and drumming with abandon have been known to occur while the Blessing Cup is being passed.
Additional Work and Winding Down
After the Blessing Cup has been passed, if there are any additional workings to be done of a magical or receiving nature it will take place in this part of the ritual. Following, we will thank the Deities of the Occasion and all the other powers that were assembled at the rite. The gates will then be closed and a final blessing will be offered as the ritual comes to a close. Afterward, an additional sharing of hospitality is enjoyed by all as we share in a potluck! Please bring something sumptuous to share and remember that we also have several vegetarian and vegan guests. Anything made of your hands is always the best as it shares your blessings with the community.