Ancestors, you lived in intertwined communities, Helping each other day to day, With all manner of things, big and small. It is through these communities, This village mentality, That you thrived. Ancestors, I pray that you help me: Let me ask for help when I need it. Let me accept help when it is offered. Let me help others when I have the means.
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.
A fire ignited here at the center; a light in the darkness. Hestia, let this flame burn bright as I remember my Grandma, Elizabeth (Betty) Krueger.
When we are born, we are born of the Earth, and through life cycles, our bodies must eventually return to Her. Throughout our lives the Earth Mother supports us and nourishes us, and when the time comes for our death, She receives us. Our bones become once more part of the Earth. Our breath becomes the very air floating through the Starry Sky. Earth Mother, as one of your Children returns to you, I remember all you do for us, and I honor you.
Now, I stand in the place where the land, sea, and sky meet; in the place where the navel of the world floats in the midst of the deep sea, and the brilliant fire in the sky reflects off the waters. I stand rooted where this flame burns bright at the center, marking this space and time as sacred, and connected to all other sacred places and times. The flame brightens the waters that flow through all the lands.
There are nine streams brightened that encircle and flow through the earth. They lead everywhere and flow through all the worlds. Even if our dead don’t dwell in the underworld we know, those waters of the earth connect all the realms. It is in times like these especially, when we find the ways inaccessible or unnavigable, that we call to the Keeper of Ways, to the Guide of Souls, and trust that he knows the route.
Keeper of the Ways, you who part the veil and guide souls on their journey, a Child of Earth and Starry Sky calls to you now. You know the bright path. You know all the rivers and streams that flow between the worlds. I honor you for the tireless work that you do. I honor you for the bright path you maintain. I honor you for the tears you are paid for safe passage. Servant of the Fates, hold safe the way for me, that I may honor and remember Grandma Betty.
I call out now to the Ancestors! Passage has been paid for Betty, and she comes to join you now. All sacred places are connected, and so while she journeys to the afterlife that brightens for her, I know that all afterlives are brightened as another soul is welcomed. Light the fires for her, that her way is clear. Prepare those golden halls for her and spread wide your arms to envelop her in your warmth as she begins this new adventure. Show her the connecting rivers that she may journey to meet with all her loved ones. Ancestors, you of my heart and my blood and my soul, I honor you as you greet Betty.
Grandma, even though the spark of life has gone out, it has ignited hundreds of thousands of fires. All of the lives touched by that spark: ignited. Everywhere that flame burns, there is a memory. And with each memory, life is remembered and honored. I will speak of you and remember you, so that you may live on in our hearts and memories. Your flame will continue to burn long after the kindling spark is gone. So, Grandma Betty, drink of the waters of memory, as we remember you, and pass on your stories:
Betty, my grandma, was someone who throughout most of my life growing up, I had only minimal contact with. She lived in Florida, and later Mississippi, and we lived in Ohio. I feel like I really got to know parts of her during my first year of college. I moved away from home, and didn’t have any friends who went to the same school as me (most of them were younger). She started writing to me (real, live, snail-mail!), and enjoying that connection, I started writing back. She’s one of the few people who I’ve had actual letter-writing mail correspondence with, and that’s a feeling that all the social media, texting, and emails can’t really replace. We sent each other little things we found that we thought may interest or be useful to the other: newspaper articles, post-cards, pictures. She sent me super comfy and fluffy shoes right as the weather turned cold. I feel like I got to know her. I found out she had a whole corner of her room full of pictures of me. She saved letter I had written her. My parents brought some of them back from the funeral. She shared stores about her time in school and traveling when she was younger. I learned some of her stories, and shared mine with her as they were happening.
The love that exists in you, Grandma, overflows these rivers that connect all the worlds. The waters of the Earth flow through us all just as they flow through Her. As your life once again mingles with Her, I know that I can be connected back to those waters, ignited by your spark and brightened your love.
Ancestors, as these stories are shared, I know that you will come to know Betty. I know you will welcome her warmly amongst you and teach her the ways of connecting back to those who remember, as I always will. And for that I thank you.
And now, Keeper of the Ways, you who have held safe the path for me, I ask that as I leave this space you help Betty settle into her afterlife. Guide of Souls, for your unfailing skill as you navigate this path, and for your safe passage, I thank you.
Earth Mother, you who support us, nourish us, and welcome us back to you when the time has come, I thank you. I honor you always because in this never-ending cycle you are who I love, and who I love is you.
So finally, Hestia, this flame is extinguished here on my hearth, though it always burns bright and strong in my heart. I know when I rekindle it I am once again connected to all sacred place and time.
Now that I’ve processed a little bit: I got a phone call from my dad yesterday morning that my Grandma, Betty Krueger, had passed. (Thom and I are now officially out of grandparents :/) She’s been touch and go for a couple of years, was in her 90s, and lived a very good life. So while there is grief and sorrow, there is also lots of joy to remember.
She is one of the main people who helped me manage through my first year at college, away from all my family and friends that I knew. We wrote letters back and forth (like actual, real-live, snail-mail letters!) and sent each other little things we found: newspaper articles, post-cards, pictures. She sent me super comfy and fluffy shoes right as the weather turned cold. She shared stories about her time in school. She was progressive for her time, and went to college and traveled abroad. She sent me some postcards she’d collected from when she visited Greece in her 20s 😉
I’ll probably be heading down for the memorial in Mississippi in a few weeks, though a date hasn’t been chosen yet. Some prayers for me and mine would be very welcome. It’s weird to feel out of words, and out of prayers, but some things, like this, are harder to do for yourself than they are for others.
Many of us hope to live in such a way that we will leave the world a better place that we found it. But even if this is the case, even if you manage to leave some lasting, positive impact, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be remembered for it. It doesn’t mean you’ll be remembered at all.
One of the things that I find the most comforting about Our Druidry is the concept of Ancestor veneration. When we die, we don’t have to lose touch with those who are still alive. And when we’re alive, we don’t have to lose touch with those who have died. We may lose touch for awhile, especially close to the time of transition, but transition is a confusing time, and we often lose touch with people when one of us is at a transition point in our live.
We maintain contact with our Ancestors by remembering them, honoring them, and sharing their stories. This is one of the reasons I think Bardry is so essential to My Druidry, to my practice as a pagan. This importance is two fold. As a bard, it is important for me to be able to learn and share the tales of those ancestors. They are remembered and honored when I tell their stories and share the works they have done. When I continue to participate in and pursue their Vision, I honor them. As a bard, I also hope that my own works will be remembered after I have died. The songs and stories and essays that I sing and tell and share. They are a part of me and a part of my practice and a part of my Vision. I hope that I can be remembered through them.
Last weekend I and four other ADF bards spent a large chunk of our time at the Trillium Festival learning a song by Bess Closs, the daughter of Anna Gail. She died a couple of weeks ago in a car wreck, just shy of her 19th birthday. This song, “A Kindred Prayer,” she wrote when she was 12. It starts out with a fairly simple melody line, and then adds in harmonies and counter-melodies as the song progresses. We learned all the parts and sang it at the memorial for Bess, as well as recorded it.
The five of us have already decided that we are going to again rehearse it and sing it at Wellspring this year. We’ve added it to our repertoire to be sung when we are together. And through that continued sharing, Bess will be remembered and honored, and share in our continued honoring of the Kindreds.
“I sing of your virtues, I sing of your flaws.
I sing of your life so that you may live on.
Live through my words and live on through my line.
Love will circle ‘round and keep your soul alive.”
~ from “A Song for Your Passing” by Rev. Jan Avende
I greet my Ancestors this morning.
Those of my blood and my bone, who have given me life.
Those of my heart and my hearth, who have guided my steps.
Those of my friends and my folk, who strengthen and deepen my relationships.
Those Mighty Dead, poets, priests, and bards.
The Apotheothenai, Heroes among the ancestors who have shaped our world.
It is to you I call out to and to you who I make these offerings.
Bright greetings of the morning, my Ancestors!
When working within a ritual space I’ve called out the Three Kindreds in two different ways. Each ways has its place depending on what the focus for the rite is, and depending also on what pantheon I’m working with. The first way I call out to them, and the way I tend to do more often and feel more comfortable with, if by calling out first to the Ancestors, and feeling the power of them raising up from the ground and soaking up through the Well. I associate the Ancestors with the Well. I then call to the Nature Spirits all around me, within this world and realm. I associate the Nature Spirits with the Tree. Then reaching up to the sky, I call out to the Shining Ones, and feel their warmth wash around me. I associate the Shining Ones with the Fire. As I’ve deepened my work however, I’ve begun to question whether or not this way of calling to them is always the best way. After all, are there not Deities who reside below me, and Spirits of Nature in mythical forms that aren’t of this realm, and the Mighty Dead, the Heroes, who may drift up from the Underworld, who’ve been made constellations, or even those more modern heroes whose accomplishes still influence the world today? So if I’m always calling to them in a way that partitions them into the Three Realms, am I then, in essence, unintentionally skipping some of the Kindreds?
The result of this argument in myself was to begin changing the way I call to the Kindreds as the circumstances necessitate. So now, the other way that I call out to them is by first calling to the numinous beings of the chthonic realm. The Ancestors who dwell there, the Spirits of Nature who dwell there, and the Shining Ones who dwell there. I then call out to the numinous beings of this realm, the beings in the world around us. The Ancestors who dwell there, the Spirits of Nature who dwell there, and the Shining Ones who dwell there. And then finally I call out to all the numinous beings of the Upper Realm, those in the heavens, on Mt. Olympus, or in Asgard. The Ancestors who dwell there, the Spirits of Nature who dwell there, and the Shining Ones who dwell there.
With this broadening understanding of where each of the Three Kindreds dwell, my understanding of each of them has also broadened. The Ancestors are the Mighty Dead; the Ancient Wise who have gone before, and as such they have knowledge beyond my comprehension that can help me on my path, my journey. There are three ways that I connect to the Ancestors. There are ancestors of my blood, ancestors of my country/culture, and ancestors of my hearth. My immediate thought has always gone to blood-kin first, and I at first believed that was the only way to approach the Ancestors. So, that caused major problems for me because I’m adopted. Trying to forge a connection the ancestors over bloodlines and ties hasn’t worked at all for me. I think I probably have a bit of mental block against connecting that way. I’ve tried to do some family history work to trace back my adoptive family, but even that only goes back four generations or so. My family isn’t very talkative, and doesn’t seem to have any desire to talk about stories from their past, and there are no tales about the “Old Country.” I’ve only got a couple of names and a few stories to connect me back, and it’s not a connection I feel particularly strong about to begin with.
I’ve had more luck connecting to the cultural ancestors. The me these are all the people who have helped to shape our world and culture, and made it what it is today. For me, this means important figures in science (Galileo, Copernicus), philosophy (Socrates, Plato), literature (Shakespeare, Homer), history (Caesar, Queen Elizabeth, Washington), and human rights (Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa), etc. By honoring the cultural ancestors I connect both to the culture of humanity as a whole, as well as to sub-cultures of people and professions that have shaped out society. For instance, in healing I may honor or Brighde as well as someone like Alexander Fleming.
The third way I make connections with the Ancestors is through the myths of the heroes. This goes back so far as to include people like Herakles, Daedalus, and Theseus, but I also see it including folk heroes such as Paul Revere, Paul Bunyan, and the Chocolate Pilot. They are the people who’ve experienced the world, strove to make it a better place, and because of that have had their stories told to millions.
I see the Nature Spirits in two broad categories. Those beings of nature that we can see, and those we can’t. The first type of Nature Spirit is the more obvious. They are the creatures that inhabit our world: the birds, fish, insects, reptiles and mammals, but they are also the trees, rivers, rocks, plants, dirt, and oceans. They are all part of the ecosystem that makes our world work together and function, and that is a large part of why they deserve honor. Of the Three Kindreds, the Nature Spirits are the ones I connect the most to. I can see them everywhere, and interact on them in a physical sense everyday. I can go out to my garden and I can honor and worship the Nature Spirits in a way that I can see results.
The second type of Nature Spirit, the kind you can’t see, are the mythical beasts. This incorporates creatures that live hidden in our world, are described in myths, or take on roles beyond that of their mundane counterparts: the unicorn, phoenix, griffin, dryads, and nymphs, but also the creatures like the crane, wolf, falcon and owl, who have extended responsibilities and duties. These nature spirits are those who are our spirit guides, our totems, or those to deliver omens. I connect to these in many ways the same way I do to the visible Nature Spirits, especially in the plants and waters. I feel extreme connection to the wide variety of nymphs (the dryads, naiads, okeanides, etc.) and see them in the world all around me. I see this second group of Nature Spirits as the tenders of the first, and it is my job to aid the second group in their care for the first. And because of this relationship between us, the way I worship the Nature Spirits best and the way I am the most fulfilled by it, is through my active work out in nature, experiencing the world around me.
The Shining Ones are grouped more based on their “job description.” There are those who work in the Upper Realm, Gods of the sky, air, sun, wind, etc. or those who are specifically said to dwell in the Upper Realm. There are those who work in the mid-realm, like Gods of the forest, hearth, commerce, war, etc. And then there are those who work in the Underworld, mainly the Gods of death. When I work with the Theoi, I approach them first on a professional level. When I’m learning about a deity and first begin my approach toward them based on what their “job” is. I read the myths and occasionally ask others who work with the deity, but I approach them on that professional level. It’s only after I’ve started to develop that base relationship where we can talk on a professional level that I can then begin to deepen my relationship with certain deities on a more friendly level. So the Shining Ones are a great in power and in number.
I find myself most strongly drawn to the Gods of the Mid-Realm, and I think that is probably because I’m so strongly drawn to the Nature Spirits. And just as the mythical beasts protect nature, the Gods of this realm protect and work with all beings of this realm. That includes the plants, animals, minerals, and humans. In the sense that it is easier to connect to the Gods of the Mid-Realm because they are more connected to and invested in the affairs of humans.
The Gods of the Upper Realm and the Underworld I generally have less connection to. I still feel connected to the Upper Realm Gods who I can see and feel and interact with, like gods of the sun, wind, air, and rain. Though they dwell above me, I directly feel their influence. I think the reason I still feel only a slight connection the gods of the Underworld is because of my trouble connecting with the Ancestors.
In conclusion, all of the Three Kindreds are tied together. Each of their relationship to each other affects how I, in turn, am able to relate to them. Because of my comfort with the more tangible aspects of the Kindreds, it is those particular entities in each of the delineations of the Kindreds that I best relate to, and the more work I have to do to grow the relationship with the others.
On the 5th day of the month of Boedromion Genesios is celebrated. It is a feast to honor the dead, the ancestors. Originally the plan was to celebrate this feast with the Delos, but since moving it’s been difficult to drive up to Columbus as often as I’d like. So Thom and I decided to celebrate here at home. He’s been a real sport with the Hellenic rites, since I know he doesn’t feel much from the Olympian Gods; he’s much more in tune with the Tuatha Dé Danann.
Tonight Thom and I did our first Core Order of Ritual by ourselves. It was very brief in and of itself. I asked Hermes to be the gate keeper since he can function as the guide of souls. I don’t usually work with him, though I have felt a relationship just beginning to bud recently. The omens I took asked for advice from the Ancestors. I pulled Xi, Khi, and Iota. I interpreted it to mean that the Ancestors were reminding us that in order to succeed we must put in the work. We need to plan and labor, but we will have great success if we do. One of the reasons our rite itself was so short was because in feasting with our Ancestors, we wanted to go back downstairs, so we breezed through the main part of the rite. I think my phrasing was something like “Ancestors, we’re here to honor you tonight, to socialize and tell stories, and to introduce you to another member of the family, however, we don’t want to burn the house down, so we’re gonna tie up this portion of the ritual and we’ll meet you downstairs for food and alcohol.” It was kind of silly feeling, but also seemed like the smart thing to do, and the family didn’t seem to mind.
The plan that Thom and I had was to each pick an ancestor and tell a story about them, and then introduce them to the other. We ended up telling stories for nearly an hour and sharing in the memories and good company. It was a lot more emotional that I was expecting, though I think I should have expected it. I offered ice cream to my grandpa, and Thom offered beer to his. We each met some of the other side of our new family, and learned some things about one another that we didn’t know before.
I definitely want to keep doing rites at home with Thom. Though we occasionally frustrate each other in these situations, it is also very bonding and healing. I think I would like having some time set aside for us where we can continue to visit with our Ancestors, and begin the process of introductions and co-mingling. All in all, the rite went well, and I’d do it again.