Winter Solstice takes place in the season of many winter holidays. Most of these have some focus on lights in the dark, renewal, or the gifts of the season. After seeing some folks post in the ADF Parents Special Interest Group pictures of their Yule Advent Spirals, I decided I wanted something of my own, but I also wanted to create a liturgy to go along with. Thus, the Winter Solstice Spiral Liturgy was born.
I asked Rev. Michael J Dangler of the Magical Druid to design and make a spiral for me. We settled on a three armed spiral with space for seven candles in each arm and one large candle in the center. The liturgy is likewise divided up into three sets of seven, with a large candle set up for the final day, and our family celebration.
The basic outline for the liturgy is focusing on the ideas of Storm, Water, and Fire. This allows the liturgy to move from dark to light as we progress closer to the solstice. There will be more and more candles lit each day to combat the increasing darkness, up until the Sun is honored on the final day when the nights begin growing shorter again.
The liturgy itself follows a basic template with a very simplified version of the ADF Core Order of Ritual, with only the center portion, the “being of the occasion,” changing between the days. Then the last day has a ritual and tradition all it’s own. This draws from the tradition our family has developed and practiced in past years.
I’m including the outline of spirits honored each day below, and then each day I will post the full liturgy for that day. The liturgy begins on Dec 1st, and moves through December 21st, with an extra piece for the morning of the Solstice. You can purchase a copy of the full liturgy in Kindle or Paperback on Amazon or get a copy of the pdf by supporting me on Patreon.
Day 1: The Destroyer
Day 2: Solitude
Day 3: The Winds of Change
Day 4: Nourishing Rains
Day 5: Clear Skies
Day 6: Justice
Day 7: The Winner of Waters
Day 8: The Waters of Blessing
Day 9: The Waters of Purification
Day 10: The Ferryman
Day 11: Memory & Forgetfulness
Day 12: The Mistweaver
Day 13: The God of the Sea
Day 14: The Mother of Waters
Day 15: The Son of the Waters
Day 16: The Center of Worlds
Day 17: Hearth & Home
Day 18: The Need Fire
Day 19: The Fire of Transformation
Day 20: Inspiration & Vision
Day 21: Sacrifice & Order
Morning following the Solstice: The Sun
If you like the work I’m doing, please consider supporting me on Patreon for access to even more.
It’s time for the Second Annual Prayer-A-Day Challenge!
November tends to be a month when people work on doing something each day of the month, whether it’s moments of gratitude or writing for National Novel Writing Month. Last year, I decided that I would try my own variation on this trend and began a #PrayerADay Challenge. The idea was to write one prayer each day, to whatever spirit or on whatever topic called to you at that particular moment. After deciding that I was was going to take this on for myself, I thought “wouldn’t it be awesome if we were able to have a whole collection prayers compiled from clergy and other ADF members?” So, I issued the challenge to other members of ADF clergy, and the whole experiment kind of exploded from there. Many people across ADF joined in to write one or more prayers, and it has been absolutely fantastic.
So, it’s time to do this again, and this year I challenge all of you. Yes. All of you! I don’t care if you’ve never written a prayer, or if you’ve written lots and lots. The idea here is to write a new prayer each day. It’s okay if you don’t like it, but write _something_ every day in November.
The hash tags we’ll be using for this across social media are #PrayerADay and #adfdruidry. When you post it to social media, make sure you use both of those tags so we can all find it!
Our Grove has recently started kicking it up into full gear with the children’s programming. We probably have somewhere around 15 kids associated with our grove, not to mention any others who happen to show up to public high days. Our Little Oaks programming is geared towards the kids who are direct members of the Grove, rather than the public stuff we do for the kids at High Days.
Those of us who are trading around leading the meetings right now are working on getting a good routine in place so the kids start to get comfortable. I’ve got it set up in a basic outline that has an Opening, Story, Craft, Ritual, Closing. It keeps things moving and allows each thing to build right into the next.
This was our first time trying out this routine, and I think it went really well. It was structured enough to keep the kids engaged. We were done with the whole meet up in 45-60 minutes. Which is plenty long for preschool aged kids, and remarkable that they stayed relatively sane the whole time.
So, what did we do?
For the babies (under 1 year old) we set up some sensory play for them. We had a whole bunch of different textured gourds for them to feel. We had small drums for banging on. We had a baby pool ball pit.
For the rest of the kids we followed the loose outline I mentioned earlier. For our opening song we sang a version of “My Roots Go Down” that I had modified for our Little Oaks Druidry. It was a great way for the more shy toddlers to warm up to what we were doing, to get everyone comfortable and moving, and to set a clear beginning for our meet up.
We then moved into the story. I told it as an interactive, cooperative story. They had parts where they joined in with certain words and hand motions. The preschoolers and early elementary kids stayed pretty well engaged and into the story. They enjoyed shouting “Trick or Treat” and pretending to lift a lantern up. The toddlers were a little harder, but with some parental redirecting they stayed in the same general area and didn’t go running off. I got a video of me telling the story that I’ll post when I get it off the camera.
Since the story was about Jack-o’-Lanterns it flowed very nicely into the craft portion. All the kids were able to get into this part. The first craft was to draw a Jack-o’-Lantern on a piece of orange paper. Since the story was about using Jack-o’-Lanterns to keep the fairies away, the kids were invited to make a Jack-o’-Lantern they could hang up at their house for Trick-or-Treating to make sure that only humans came to their door, and no fairies. They seemed to have a really great time with it.
The second craft we did was to write letters or draw pictures for our Ancestors. We started with a quick discussion of what and who the Ancestors are, and had the kids give examples. It ranged from the beloved cat, to a grandfather, to a parent. The younger kids were welcome to either draw pictures or dictate what they wanted to say to an adult who would write for them. The older kids were able to write and/or draw as they desired. It was explained to them that we were making these as presents for the Ancestors, and we’d be giving them to them at the party we were having in just a little bit.
That allowed the craft to flow nicely into the ritual portion of the meet up. We started with a quick discussion with our listening ears on about what kinds of things make up an altar, and how we don’t touch them or play with them. In the future I’d also like to start having a small fire for these so we can begin teaching fire safety a little more directly.
After the brief pre-ritual discussion we moved right on in to the ritual. It draws very heavily from Rev. Kathleen Pezza’s work with the Children’s Programming for Charter Oak Grove, ADF with some modification for our specific group and age range. In the future we have plans for other deviations from her work, but the basic idea of how to present ritual to kids as a birthday party is fantastic. We were able to keep the ritual moving right along by having the parents (armed with song sheets) continuing right along with the pieces, each of which had a song (with a children’s song melody) to go along with it.
During the Key Offerings each of the kids brought their present (the letter/picture they made) up to the offering bowl, said who it was for, and put it in. For the Return Flow, after I drew an omen (Omicron, Mu, Khi) and explained it in kid-friendly language we put each of those gifts into our “goody bags”, represented by cookies and juice. The kids were then able to take the blessings into themselves by eating them. We then closed out the ritual by quickly saying thank you to everyone that we invited, and hanging up our Cosmic Telephone.
Finally, after the ritual was over, we congratulated all the kids on doing so well, and sang our goodbye song, which I had my daughter teach me from her preschool class. All in all, it was a very good day and meet up for our Little Oaks. There are still things we want to do, and revisit, and modify. But this was a good day.
Prayers from Liturgical Writing 2
lighting a sacrificial fire:
I call out now to Hestia,
Goddess of the Hearth and Keeper of the Sacred Flame.
You burn ever bright within my heart,
and I ask now that you burn brightly upon my hearth.
A flame, kindled upon the earth, pillar of smoke reaching to the Heavens
that it may connect us to the realm above so our voices may be heard.
I make this first offering to you, Hestia,
as you prepare to accept the sacrifices made today
And see them carried to the mighty Theoi.
Hestia, be welcome here as you become the Good Fire around which I pray.
a meal blessing:
“A Children’s Mealtime Prayer”
Mother Earth gives us grain and bread
And all the food that keeps us fed.
Now the meal is about to start,
So we thank her from our heart.
remembering a recently-passed ancestor:
“For Dan’s Crossing” (Sept 10, 2014)
Beloved Dead, Ancient Wise, Ancestors:
One of our own begins his journey tonight.
He comes to join you, wrapped in Crane-feathered cloak.
Borne aloft to cross the veil by the sweet and gentle wings of Garanus,
And held safe and secure within those wings for the journey.
His passage has been paid by kith and kin
As we set his spirit free to join you.
Light the fires along the way,
To brighten his path as he travels.
Prepare the hall for a great feast,
To welcome him when he arrives.
Show him the way, and where to drink,
And guide him in this new role.
Watch over him as he makes this transition,
As he begins this adventure.
Dan, the Ancestors await, to greet you with joy in their hearts.
Fly now, and know you will be welcomed.
Fly now, and know we will celebrate your time with us.
Dan, farewell for now, and safe travels on your journey.
opening a Grove business meeting
As we gather tonight to continue the good work we do as a Grove,
Let us remember that all here are Children of the Earth.
As we speak, let our voices carry respect;
As we listen, let our ears hear honestly;
As we think, let our mind seek what is best for the community.
So be it!
for blessing a house
*flame is kindled just before crossing the threshold of the house*
I call out to Hestia as I kindle this fire here,
that she may light and warm this hearth
and bring blessings for all who dwell here.
Hestia, as I enter this place, I ask that you enter with me
Filling this home with your light, protection, and hospitality.
*flame is carried to each room in the house, ending in the kitchen.
charm below is spoken in each room*
May this flame brighten the lives of those who dwell here,
May its light fill this space: from wall to wall, from ceiling to floor.
*upon entering the kitchen, light a new candle for the individual/family*
May this flame brighten the lives of all those who live or visit here,
May its light fill this home: each room from wall to wall, from ceiling to floor.
Hestia, flame kindled here on this hearth,
be welcome as the Good Fire as you light and warm this home.
The hearth kindled and brightened,
I call out now to Zeus Ktesios,
who protects the wealth and possessions of this home,
And to Oikoyro Ophi, who protects the individual/family in this home.
Strong Father of Justice, Faithful House Serpant,
enter this home where the Fire burns bright
and grant this hearth, home, and individual/family the blessings of bounty
as you lend your protection to all those who dwell here.
Let your power and protection be bound to this Oikos
for as long as they dwell here.
Representative Journal Entry from Divination 2, Magic 2, or Trance 2
14 May 2014
Apollo Full Moon.
This was the Apollo full moon, so I wanted to bless our divination tools. Everyone was using sortilege so I had everyone pull one symbol from whatever system they use and give a brief interpretation. And it was awesome. We had something like 4 variations on sun and light, some in rebirth and new beginnings, some on gifts given or earned and some on the work of the journey. And then after everyone shared the meanings I wound them all together and it all fit so perfect.
Then we let the light radiate over and through our tools and into us. *shivers* the juju. It was awesome. There was that buzz inside yourself that happens when you really know the magic is working.
And, I totally forgot to turn on my recorder. I thought about it. Because I knew this would be a divination that wasn’t for me per say. And when it’s not for me its like a conduit and I don’t remember what I said. But it was awesome. And afterward each person was telling me how it all rang true so much for them. There’s bits and pieces, but it was not meant to be recorded apparently.
I wrote down all the symbols, so I can get close. (Nu, the strife-bearing gift; Sowilo, the sun/victory; Gebo, gift; Birch, new beginnings; Khi, fulfills the golden oracle; Gamma, Gaea the earth, ripe fruits of our labors; The Clinging, illumination and enlightenment; The magician, power/willpower and creativity; Eta, Helios who watches all watches you, the sun; 8 of Stones, apprenticeship and practice of skill; Ivy, the journey, guidance, and travel; 7 of Arrows, insecurity, and facing your doubts; Honeysuckle, lay down your burdens/have fun; Iota, there is sweat, work hard; Rebirth, new beginnings) But not the exact words that I said.
It was something like “with the bright like of the sun illuminating our path, we have been blessed with many gifts. It is now time to take these gifts and focus our willpower and creativity to work on and practice our skills as we set down our burdens so that we might pick up burdens anew as we, face our fears and set out on our new, enlightened path”
Everything just seemed to fit together so perfectly. The script for the working is below, and the whole thing was couched within the basic Hellenic COoR I use.
– all participants have divination tools
– three burning candles with enough space in the center for all tools to be placed OR if outside, space for everyone to stand around the Fire in a circle
– offerings of bay or oil
We come together now in the presence of all the Theoi, but most especially Apollo Mantikos, Apollo Aphetor. Prophetic One, Giver of Oracles.
Klûthi mou, Apollon! (Hear me, Apollo!)
Elthé moi, Apollon! (Come to me, Apollo!)
Deûro Mákar! (Hither, Blessed One!)
We come with our tools, and we come with open heart and empty mind. We ask that you give us the gift of the Mantis, and the gift of your blessing, that our Sight might be improved.
*All Speak Together or Call & Response*
Phoebos, Radiant One,
Shine your light down on me.
Mantikos, Prophetic One,
Send your truth down to me.
Aphetor, Oracle Giver
Send your wisdom down to me.
Proopsios, Farseeing One
Send you visions down to me
Send your voice down to me
Send your words down to me.
Pythian Apollo, of Delphi,
Let your Oracle speak through me.
*if all are using a sortilege, each person draws a single lot and interprets (otherwise each person seeks an omen in whatever manner they generally use); whoever took the rite’s omen should make sure they are drawing lots from the full set for the working*
We have received the blessings of [all omens].
Apollo Mantikos, Prophetic One,
I seek to know of these omens.
Let your truth be told through me.
Apollo Aphetor, Oracle Giver,
I seek to know of these gifts.
Let your wisdom flow through me.
Apollo Leskhenorios, Converser,
I seek to know of these messages.
Let your voice speak through me.
*Seer makes offering of Oil and/or bay*
These blessings and wisdom that we have received, when taken together, grant us [interpretation of all omens together]. Reflect a moment on these gifts and how they pertain to your Sight.
We now take our tools of divination and ask that they be infused with the gifts we have received.
*tools are placed in the light of the fire*
*All Speak Together or Call & Response*
We stand at the center,
In the light of the moon, in its fullness,
And by the light of the Fire, and the truth it reveals.
We stand infused with the blessings,
In the presence of the Kindreds,
With open heart, and empty mind.
We call now for the powers of the Mantis (Seer)
to fill us, and radiate over our tools,
Blessing us with the gift of Sight.
*envision the fire’s light filling the tools to blinding capacity*
Fire, Bright Fire!
Light, Shining Light!
Truth, Radiant Truth!
Our tools thus blessed, and our Sight thus confirmed.
We each now stand, mantis in our own right.
What calls you to become an ADF Consecrated Priest? How does this step fit with your calling as an ADF Priest?
Much of my work as an Ordained ADF Priest has been focused on a more local level, with only a bit of branching out beyond that. However, I keep feeling more and more of a drive to expand my work in such a way that I can serve more people, that I can do more for a broader audience, that I can help more folks feel the connection they crave and build the practice they want.
My Vocation Statement for Ordination included the following statement: “For any who seek the flame, I will act as a guide on their path, aiding where I can, challenging when I need to, and supporting always.” My call to become an ADF Consecrated Priest is a furthering of this call. I can continue to expand what I’m doing, and continue to develop skills, both internally and externally, that will allow me to continue to serve a broader community. It feels like a natural next step for me, my practice, and my service.
How have the specializations you chose within the CTP prepared you for the deeper work of an ADF Consecrated Priest?
The two specializations I chose, Leadership and Ritualist, reflect some of my interests that I’d like to develop further, though I’d also like to take on Professional Helping Skills at some point. I think leadership skills are important for all our priests, as we’re all viewed as leaders to at least some degree. Considering that I want to continue to grow in my leadership roles both locally and beyond, the self-reflection parts of this course were particularly beneficial. They helped me to recognize my leadership style and its strengths and weaknesses. This allows me to better compensate in situations where my leadership style is not as well heard or recognized. I am a gentle leader, and so in contexts with lots of loud and outspoken individuals, I have to very consciously focus on holding my own so that I am heard.
The Ritualist specialization I actually chose more because I’m interested in the 3rd Circle course than specific interest in this one. Comparative ritual theory fascinates me, and I use basics of it often in planning rituals. I’m looking forward to that course to learn more. With this course, while foreign language interests me, in most rituals I find it’s impact is minimal, or possibly detrimental if not well planned and scripted, to the overall effect of the ritual. I do like to include hearth flavor in rituals with the hearth’s language, but the translation needs to also be included, or the ritual has a tendency to lose its focus, especially in large groups.
Both of these specializations will help me continue my growth as I deepen the work I’m doing as a Consecrated Priest. The Leadership skills will help with the more in depth outer work I foresee doing with the broader community. The benefits from the Ritualist skills will likely be seen in my broader work with the community, but they will also significantly help me continue to deepen my own practice, and give me a broader knowledge base from which I can plan rituals, draw inspiration, and interpret omens and spiritwork.
What does your inner work look like? How has your inner work prepared you for greater outer work with the community of ADF?
My personal work involves a fairly large amount of self-reflection on how I’m working both to maintain my practice and working with my community. I consider how that aligns with my values, ethics, and motivations. This has been, and will continue to be, something that benefits both me and others who find themselves in similar situations. I have found myself having more conversations with folks considering the upper level study programs, and by sharing my own experiences and struggles that I have processed through, I am more able to be a sounding board and mentor to those still working through them.
Other inner work that do is continued trance work and continuing to build relationships with various spirit allies. Part of this inner work takes place during the regular clergy Mound work, and part of it takes place during other trance experiences. Having a strong set of spirit allies to back me up and provide inspiration is useful in serving the greater community because it not only gives me ideas for new things to try and how to implement them, but also allows me to tap into more energy when leading rituals and workings.
I find I am called on regularly for both minor and major magical workings, and because my inner work involves a fair amount of personal magic, I am better able to work off-the-cuff for immediate requests as well as better plan major workings for specific purposes. I lean on my spirit allies when I need ideas for how to get something done. I’ve also been continuing to experiment with different methods that work well for me, such as sigil work and more types of thaumaturgic magic that in the past I haven’t dabbled too much in. This will continue to allow me to serve the folk by choosing methods that speak to the requesting individual or group, and that I have personally worked with before.
The last bit of inner work that I do is maintaining my personal devotional practice. It has ebbed and flowed with changing life situations, but continued to be a part of my practice. In general, it takes the form of a very brief devotional at my home shrine, where I light my Hestia flame, burn some incense, and honor the Earth and Three Kindreds. Often times my daughter joins me. When she doesn’t, I am able to spend a bit more time at my altar and add in an omen-taking, praise for my patrons and spirit allies, and/or a more in-depth working. Maintaining this level of inner work keeps me centered, balanced, and in-tune with the spirits so that I can approach the clergy work I do from a more active and centered place. In addition, the struggles and adjustments I’ve had to make with my personal practice have given me a better background for helping others work through similar struggles and adjustments.
What further skills would you like to develop as an ADF Consecrated Priest, and how will these skills help grow Our Druidry?
One of the things I noted in my journals during the past two years is the general lack of good religious materials written specifically for a pagan audience, to say nothing of materials written with a focus on our particular flavor of paganism. I want to work more on producing materials for those who aren’t local to me, though I recognize that the local crew will also benefit. This includes articles, books, study guides, and video materials to name a few. I want to focus on making materials that are accessible to all and that fill the various niches and holes that I’ve noticed in published works. This will help grow Our Druidry because it will put our name out there in conjunction with quality and valuable work.
I would also like to continue to deepen my personal practice where magic, trancework, and divination overlap. I would like to continue my experimentation with new magical techniques, and work on learning and polishing skills in that area that I’ve only just started to read about and touch on. By learning these new methods and techniques I’ll be able to use those skills for others, as well as begin explaining and teaching others to use them.
I’d also like to deepen my trancework further, and work on carrying this over into sharing methods of building relationships with spirit allies. Additionally, the information I gain through both trancework and divination will allow me to share the useful bits with our community as a whole.