Indo-European Language 1

Required for all:

 1.     Compare and contrast the language you have chosen to study and your native language (and any other languages you have studied, if you like). Consider each languages’ syntax and grammar, as well as vocabulary matters, such as cognates, derivatives or borrowed words. (minimum 300 words)

 

German is one of the many language that English has stolen from, and as English itself is a Germanic language, there are many similarities between the two that English speakers will notice.  Grammatically, in German there are four cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive.  These show up in English as well, though often in a more vague sense than they do in German.  One of the first differences I noticed between German and English was that nouns are gendered.  They are male, female, or neutered.  These cases and gendered nouns are clearly linked in German, while they are not evident in English:

 

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
I ich mich mir mein
you (singular/plural) du/irh dich/euch dir/euch dein/euer
him er (der) ihn (den) ihm (dem) sein (dessen)
her sie (die) sie (die) ihr (der) ihr (deren)
it es (das) es (das) ihm (dem) sein (dessen)
they sie (die) sie (die) ihnen (denen) ihre (deren)
we wir uns uns unser
you (formal) Sie Sie Ihr Ihnen

 

When considering syntax, German is very lax compared to English.  The differing endings of words thanks to case and gender in German allow word placement within a sentence to be flexible.  The subject will have a nominative ending.  The direct object will have an accusative ending.  The indirect object will have a dative ending.  If there is something showing possession, it will have a genitive ending.  The verb in German will always take second position if it is a declarative sentence.  In a question or command, the verb will always come first.

 

In addition, because English has borrowed heavily from German, there are many cognates in older words, loan words that have been borrowed long enough that they’re part of the English language now, as well as Anglicized words and -ieren verbs for more modern words.  Some cognates, for example: house = Haus, brother = Bruder.  These are pronounced somewhat similarly, and would be recognizable to speakers of both languages when they are used in context.  Loan words are similar to these cognates, except that they are identical in spelling but may have a slightly different pronunciation or meaning.  Some examples of loan words are kindergarten, angst, and delicatessen (or deli, as we’re more familiar with). The Anglicized words are often more modern, and are nearly always gender neutral.  For example, das Fax and das Email are gender neutral and mean fax and email.  Verbs that end in -ieren are another type of word that has been influenced by the English language, such as fotographieren (to photograph) and reparieren (to repair).

 

 

2.     Based on what you understand about the language studied, linguistics in general, and your knowledge of the associated culture(s), briefly describe how the characteristics of the language may reflect the attributes, history or values of the associated culture(s). (minimum 300 words)

There are many moments in history and in linguistics that have allowed for the development of what we know today as modern German.  In her book German: Biography of a Language, Sanders narrows down the main events in the life of German as a language to six major turning points that correspond with historical events (5).

The first turning point was when a pre-Germanic language split off from its PIE roots.  This moment in history is perhaps the most pivotal and telling in the values of the people.  Sanders references the work of David W. Anthony in his book The Horse, The Wheel, and Language. As the Germanic speaking peoples moved west they took their culture, values, and language with them.  They were able to travel quickly and extended distances because they had domesticated the horse and learned the skill of horseback riding.  The Germanic language they brought took hold in the lands they moved into because of three main aspect of these people culture.  First they became a dominant force in trading and in politics because they valued their oaths and kept their word.  They were welcomed by the regions they traveled to because of this trust and also because of their strong rules regarding hospitality.  They believed in the value of trade more than war, meaning they incorporated themselves and their language into these societies rather than conquering them.  They made themselves a desirable class of people to be respected and welcomed rather than feared and hated.

The final reason, and the main way the Germanic language took hold, was because of the rituals, specifically rites of passage, and feasts that contained speech and songs in their Germanic tongue (Sanders 22).   Because the Germanic speaking people were welcomed into the new cultures and regions, and merged themselves in rather conquering, the people of the western regions began to learn the new language so that they could make better trade alliances, marry into the new blood, and participate in the rituals and feasts.  There would have been a period of bilingualism, but eventually the new, Germanic language took hold because as the children of the western regions saw the technological advances that the Germanic speaking people brought with them and the elite status they held in society, the old language would have become stigmatized and the Germanic language became preferable (Mallory 258).

The remaining five turning points are still important in the history of the German language, though aren’t quite as telling regarding the cultural as the first point.  The second and third turning points in German’s linguistic history deal with moving further down the IE language tree.  When the Germanic tribes were victorious over the Romans, the Germanic language split off from the romance languages (Sanders 44).  Then, with the Second Sound Shift, the Germanic languages split into the variations that would lead to German and English (the Northern Germanic languages that include Norse, split off before this sound shift).  This is the shift that explains why English words sound different than German words that have the same meaning and often even look similar (93).

The fourth turning point regarding the history of the German language is when the Bible that was published in German.  This allowed the common people to read in their own language and split off German into many dialects.  It allowed for more independent cities, towns, and villages (Sanders 117).  The fifth and sixth turning points are more modern in their history. In the 1800s many German-speaking areas were politically unified into a country.  This unification allowed the new Germany to become a world power and the language to become a world language.  People around the globe now had a reason to learn German so that, like with the first turning point, they could become involved in trade and politics with Germany (157).  The final turning point in German’s history involves the two world wars which first stigmatized the German language, and then with the cultural and moral recovery of Germany, the language has begun to restore some of it’s standing (175).

 

Required-one of the following:

3.     Copy of college transcript for any Indo-European language (minimum one semester/quarter with at least a grade of “B”).

German Transcripts from The Ohio State University

Works Cited:

 Mallory, J. P. In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archeology and Myth. London:

Thames and Hudson, 1991. Print.

Sanders, Ruth H. German: Biography of a Language. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.

Liturgy Practicum 1: Requirement 1

Requirement #1: Key concepts from required reading:

1.  What three factors (“subcategories”) does Bonewits identify as determining the impact of “familiarity” on the success of a ritual? Briefly discuss the ways in which personal or family-only ritual is aided or hindered by these factors when compared to public group ritual. (Minimum 100 words)

The three factors that Bonewits identifies as determining the impact of “familiarity” on the success of a ritual are knowledge, affection, and group identity.  These three aspects of intra-group familiarity are what help to create and maintain the group mind necessary in ritual space.  The group mind is needed in order to raise and use mana, or energy.  Knowledge creates intellectual and social bonds, affection creates emotional bonds, and group identity creates psychological bonds.  The better these aspects can be developed and nurtured, the greater the psychic bonds will be that fuel the group mind.  In general, “having more people present makes more mana available, yet also makes it harder to keep that mana focused” (Bonewits 58).

Knowledge can be defined as what skill sets you have present at a ritual.  Are some people good at singing and chanting, others good at drumming, and still others who are excellent at visualizing?  In order to accommodate varying levels of knowledge the folks leading ritual may need to put strong vocalists next to weaker one, or have a strong mother beat in a drum set, or keep visualizations shorter or better guided to help folk maintain focus.  This is all a matter of differentiating the ritual to best serve the needs of the folk so that the needs of the Earth and the purpose of the ritual can be served.  A personal or family-only ritual means that you have less specialized skills to draw on, but that less accommodations may need to be made.

Affection can be defined as the genuine bonds of friendship and love that exist between people.  Lovers and family members will have the strongest bonds, followed by friends, and then by acquaintances.  These bonds can be nurtured to help have a stronger connection and stronger group mind.  In a personal or family-only ritual the affection level is likely very high unless there is a lot of strife in the family.  This means that the bonds that exist will be much stronger and the energy more accessible because the group mind is easier to maintain.

Group identity can be defined as the specific identity for the group.  The more narrow it is, the stronger the identity is among the groups’ members.  For example, I consider myself not just a Pagan, not just an ADF Druid, but also a Crane.  At Three Cranes Grove rituals, this common identity allows us to have more focused group mind.  We can reinforce it by the common things we do at every ritual that bind us together, such as reciting Serith’s “The waters support and surround us…” prayer.  A personal or family-only ritual will end up having a very narrow group identity, so the bond between participants in this aspect would be very strong.

The benefits of personal or family-only ritual is that an intimate group of people is far more likely to have more things in common than a larger group of people who have less contact with each other.  This means that there is less fumbling with scripts, a more open sense of community and less fear of judgment, and a likelihood, though not necessity, that similar deities will be worshiped.  In a public group ritual, if not everyone is familiar with each other, there may be hesitancy in sharing, or making offerings.  There may also be disruptions in the flow of ritual as the congregants are not sure what part to expect coming up.  In addition, there are likely to be many different pantheons represented in the congregants’ beliefs, which can lead to a chaotic feeling in ritual, or hurt feelings on the part of those participating.  However, despite these possible problems, there is also a benefit to group rituals.  More energy can be raised and directed, more diverse styles of liturgy are represented, and more can be attempted and accomplished because of the broader range of skills available to the congregation.

 

2.  What six methods of prayer does Ceisiwr Serith describe? Briefly suggest an example of how you might employ each in your personal worship practices. You may include worship with a group if applicable. (Minimum 200 words)

Praying Through Words

Praying with words is perhaps the most obvious way of praying.  I couple most of my prayers with words, though a few remain silent or only observable through other means.  Most notably when I call to the Kindreds and my Patrons I speak with words for them to hear me.  I find the words to be a good focus, and a way of reminding myself that I’m talking to someone, not just talking.  I also take great joy in writing, and have applied that to writing various thing including spoken prayers.

Praying Through Posture

Depending on what I am doing, my posture will alter.  When calling to the Earth Mother I will either crouch down on the balls of my feet and put my fingertips on the ground, or I will kneel in seiza, and then lean over to place my forearms on the ground, with my hands forming a diamond and my forehead placed between them.  When I call to Hestia I have a lighter or match in my right hand and her candle flame in my left. I hold the candle chest level while I speak the prayer to her, and then light the candle and set it down.  My Grove has adopted certain postures for calling to each of the Kindreds that I use fairly often, though not all the time.  When calling to the Ancestors we look and reach towards the ground, palms parallel to and facing the ground.  When calling to the nature spirits we reach out to our sides, looking levelly across the earth, arms bent at the elbows and palms facing in towards the center flame.  When we call to the Shining Ones we reach up and look towards the sky, arms extended and palms facing up.

Praying Through Motion

In Hellenic ritual it is important to separate the mundane space from the sacred space.  I keep this by washing at least my hands before a ritual for purification and then processing into the space I will be conducting the ritual.  I then recess out after the ritual.  I’ve found this is very helpful in getting into a ritual mindset where I can focus on the work at hand and not be so worried about the mundane things going on outside the rite.  In addition, as I mentioned above, there are times when I deliberately shift from one posture to another depending on what I am doing and who I am calling. One of the things that Serith specifically mentions is walking in circles, especially clockwise circles, around the sacred space.  My home shrine backs up against a wall and my fireplace, so I don’t walk circles at home.  I do however use circle motions when opening and closing the gates (clockwise for opening, and counterclockwise for closing), and when I do outdoor rituals I circle the space spreading barley, incense smoke, and/or water for purification.  At my home shrine I cense the altar top in a circle motion, moving clockwise, though it is not truly moving in a complete circle around the space.

Praying Through Dance

I have not tried dancing in my own personal rites, at least not in the traditional sense of the word ‘dance.’  I have found kata, or martial arts forms, to be extremely beneficial to me as a method of meditation and prayer.  It helps to clear my mind and allow more thoughts to enter unimpeded.  In a group ritual I led a Crane Dance that I wrote for a magical working.  The intent was to raise energy to break away the chains of our lives that were holding us back.  It is described in more detail in my journal.  Dance can also be used for ecstatic trance, though I have not tried this either.

Praying Through Music

Praying through music is one of the ways I like praying best.  Whether it is instrumental or with voice, I find it very rewarding.  Certain chords can strike certain moods or certain thoughts in a person, and I can strum through a progression on my guitar and achieve a mental state similar to others ways of praying.  When combined with words, music gains even more for me.  I sing my prayers to some of the Kindreds, specifically the Muses.  I chant other parts of ritual, or other invocations.

Praying Through Gestures

Praying with gestures often coincides with magical work for me, in one form or another.  When I make offerings, I pour oil or wine, or sprinkle oats, corn meal, or barley.  It is not just the physical offering that I give, but it is the act of pouring or sprinkling that is also part of the offering and sends the gift to the Kindreds.  When opening and closing the gates, I move my hands in a spiral either opening or closing my fist.

 

3. What arguments does Ceisiwr Serith make in support of set prayers (as opposed to spontaneous prayers)? Discuss how these arguments apply (or do not apply) to solitary Pagan prayer. (Minimum 200 words)

Serith argues that set prayers offer many benefits as opposed to spontaneous prayers.  I believe that both types have their place in ritual and worship.  The first point Serith makes regarding set prayers is that from a historical point of view we are following the way of the ancient when we speak a set prayer.  In Vedic religion one of the ancient source is the Rig Veda, which is literally a collection of set prayers.  In pagan Rome the exact words war so important that the priest had an assistant with a prayer book whispering the words to him through the rite (Serith 66).

Another point that Serith makes is that there is nothing wrong with using the prayers of others.  We all have skills, and some people are simply better at writing prayers than others (Serith 66).  Even if you write your own prayers, there is absolutely nothing wrong with repeating them time and time again.  It is rather a good thing to do, because if you wrote the prayer while inspired you will continue to find more within that prayer.  If you were sincere then, there is no reason it makes you less sincere now. However, as Bonewits states “sincerity is not a substitute for competence” (Bonewits 64).

This feeling of continuing to be inspired with a prayer relates to what Serith describes as “deepening.”  This is a phenomenon where the more you memorize and use a prayer, the more it gets ingrained in your unconscious mind.  It begins to “pray you” rather than you “praying it.”  It works its way into you soul and you see more and more with it each time you use it (Serith 67-8).  I’ve found this to especially true in my own practice as I went through the Order of Bardic Alchemy work and wrote, polished, and used my Muses song nearly every ritual.

Another important aspect of set prayers that Serith examines is the because “there are times when we want to pray, but words fail us” (Serith 66).  This is especially applicable in solitary practice.  When you feel the intense need to pray, you often are alone, or feel alone.  In times of mourning this is especially common.  A set prayer is very useful when you are seeking comfort, but don’t know the words to say.  I have found that litanies combined with prayers beads are especially useful for me in this way.

The final argument Serith makes in regard to set prayers is the only that does not apply to solitary prayer: that you can’t pray spontaneously as a group (Serith 67).  On the surface this seems true.  In order for people to speak the same prayer together, they need to know what to say.  However, an area of gray in this that qualifies as more of a sub-point is the call and response prayer.  The person leading the prayer, the call, could be praying spontaneously.  The response given by the congregants would then be repeating this spontaneous prayer.  So whether or not this still counts as a spontaneous prayer I’m not sure, but it is an interesting argument to consider.

 

Works Cited

Bonewits, Philip Emmons Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals That Work. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.

Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2002. Print.

Divination 1

1.     Name and briefly describe one method of divination or seership technique common to three paleo-pagan Indo-European cultures. (minimum 100 words each)

The Drawing/Casting of Lots:  This method involves a collection of symbols, commonly from a writing system, from which the Seer picks from, and then interprets.

Norse: Runes

The Runes of the Elder Futhark is a writing system for the Germanic people.  Each symbol stands for a letter/sound, as well as additional divinatory meanings.  The runes are associated with wisdom and divination through Odin.  His story of how he learned the runes and gained their wisdom is related in the Havamal.  This discussion is more related to the magical uses for the runes.  Further meanings that apply more to the context of divination as used by man are found in the Rune Poems, whether they are from Norse, Anglo-Saxon, or Icelandic versions.  The traditional way of casting lots with the runes involved not only interpreting the meaning of each symbol, but also where it fell during the casting process (Thorsson).

Celtic: Ogham

The Ogham was a system of writing for the Celtic people in general, though it is found most commonly in Irish.  The alphabet dates from the 4th century CE, and most inscriptions are from the 4th-8th century.  Each symbol represents a letter, since the ogham was likely first used as a writing system rather for divination.  The Tree Ogham is the set of oghams that is used for divination.  The fews, or individual symbols, are broken down into five groups of five (called aicme (aicmi= plural), some of which are not commonly used in divination since they appear to have been meant solely for use in manuscripts (Ellison 1-12).

Greek: Olympian Alphabet Oracle

The Greek Alphabet Oracle comes from the Ancient Greek system of writing.  Unlike other symbol sets, where a collection of key words may accompany each symbol, the Greek Alphabet Oracle has a phrase that matches to each symbol.  The phrase starts with a word that begins with the corresponding letter.  So, when interpreting from the Greek Alphabet Oracle, not only does the Seer work with keywords and intuition, but also with an oracular phrase that references some aspect of life or the Gods within Ancient Hellenismos.  Traditionally the letter was chosen either by rolling five astrogaloi (goat knucklebones) and calculating the corresponding letter based on the associated numbers or by shaking pottery fragments that had been inscribed with the letters from a bowl or frame drum (Sophistes).

 

2.     Within the context of a single paleo-pagan Indo-European culture, discuss three different forms of divination or seership, and give an example of each. (minimum 100 words each)

Within the context of Ancient Greece, divination can be divided into roughly two categories: natural and artificial.  Both types were considered to be a communication between mortals and gods, but artificial divination is something that could be taught, whereas natural divination is something that is untaught and considered more reliable because it is a direct communication from the gods, rather than going through the channels of interpretation by mortals.  Another division that may make more sense and be less convoluted is to say that the two types of divination can instead be divided into institutional oracles and independent diviners (manteis) (Johnston 7-29).

Perhaps the most famous method of Greek divination is the Oracle, specifically the Oracle of Delphi.  This is both an institutional oracle and on that is noted for its natural method.  This specific natural method is called enthused prophecy.  The idea here is that a god, in this case, Apollo, god of truth and prophecy, possessed an oracle, called the Pythia at Delphi, and spoke through her with his voice.  The “breath” of the God filled the Pythia, and she spoke as Him.  One important thing to note is that the oracles were tied to their location, rather than to a specific person.  Thus we have the Oracle of Delphi, the Oracle of Dodona, etc.  A Pythia, serving at the Oracle of Delphi, is a woman born in good standing and who has been influenced as little as possible by the thoughts of man so that she may speak clearly Apollo’s words without overtones of human thoughts (Johnston 33-50).

Dice oracles were also popular.  These were a kind of “self-service” oracle.  The person seeking a divinatory reading would go to a statue or pillar where there were numbered phrases inscribed on the side.  They would take up five of the astrogaloi (four sided dice made from a sheep’s knucklebone) that lay on a table in front of the statue and roll them, adding up the resulting numbers.  They would them find the numbered phrase on the statue, which was the advice or answer to their question.  In Anatolia the oracular phrases were inscribed on a statue of Hermes.  Each phrase was “sponsored” by a particular deity.  The seeker would have to determine for themselves how the phrase and deity represented by their number applied to their question.  It is likely that there were manteis, or freelance, diviners present offering their services of interpretation to the seeker (Johnston 98-100).

Another type of divination that was common in ancient Greece, as well as many other cultures, was the reading of entrails.  One reason this was so common was because those animals that were most often sacrificed to the gods (sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs) always shad their entrails read as part of the sacrificial procedure.  This was done often simply for the sake of making sure that the offering was acceptable to the gods.  The reading of entrails is thought to be rather straightforward.  The diviner would look at the innards of a creature, most notably the liver, and receive a yes or no answer to whatever question had been asked.  There is debate on the subject, but it is generally agreed on that this process can only be done three times each day for the same question.  This was more a sense of omen taking than other methods were. The belief was that certain signs would always precede creation events.  The manteis was trained to know what those signs were and what they were known to precede (Johnston 125-128).

 

3.     Discuss both the role of seers within at least one Indo-European culture and the relationship of seers to other members of the society, including in that discussion how seers or visionaries would have supported themselves or how they would have been supported by their people.(minimum two paragraphs)

The Institutional Oracles were an important part of the economic ecosystem of the cities they existed around.  Generally speaking, they did not provide for themselves in the way of sustenance, but rather relied on the folk they served to bring that to them.  In the Homeric Hymn to the Pythian Apollo there is story asking how the people chosen by Apollo to care for his temple shall be provided for.  They were reminded that “the glorious tribes of men will bring gifts to you as Iepaeon (`Hail-Healer’), and you will receive with delight rich sacrifices from the people dwelling round about” (Evelyn-White).  This meant that when the people brought forth sacrifices to the altar of Apollo at his temple, the priests there would be well fed as long as the fame of the oracle lasted. In this same sense, it was also beneficial for the surrounding towns to enhance their Oracle’s reputation.  The more people traveled through, and stayed for extended period of time, the better business was for that town.  This was especially true of the Oracle of Delphi, which later became the site for the Pythian Games (Johnston 34-46).

For the independent diviners (manteis), they made their living much the same way other merchants did: by selling their wares and services to the public.  They were well-respected as part of the aristocratic class of men (and sometimes women) who would seek to further themselves and their reputation not only through their divination, but also through feats of strength and courage.  The manteis was a crisis manager; he was an integral part of the Hellenic society.  When something went wrong, the manteis would not only look to the future, but would also look to the past.  It was their job to determine how the folk might have offended the gods at some point in the past so that the correct amends could be made to set the course of history back on a good path.  The manteis also had a very important role in the military history of Greece.  In myth, every army had its own manteis, because of how important it was to consult the will of the gods when approaching something that their good or ill will may determine the outcome of the battle.  The manteis would bring out sacrificial animals before a battle.  They would kill these animals and read their entrails, determining how the battle would go and what would need to be done in order to win the battle.  Generals were known to put great weight in these divinations, and would even delay battle until the omens were fortuitous.  The independent diviner had more freedom than the institutional oracles to peruse the life they wanted.  They were less tied to the people in the sense of dependency, but also had to prove themselves much more than the institutional oracles to maintain their reputation and thus be able to sell their services (Johnston 116-118).

 

 

4.     Identify and describe one method of divination to which you find yourself attracted, and discuss its relationship to paleo-pagan divination.(minimum 300 words.)

I am attracted to divination by lots.  This method is common across many cultures, and I find the juxtaposition of the simplicity of drawing a symbol against the complexity of interpreting that symbol within the context of the question and all the sublets that it may represent to be very effective and rewarding.  Since I am drawn almost exclusively to the Hellenic deities, I am specifically attracted to the Greek Alphabet Oracle, also known as the Olympian Oracle.  Within this symbol set are the 24 letters of the ancient Greek alphabet.  There is very little source material regarding this symbol set specifically (discussed in further detail in the following question), and what there is, is difficult to find translated into English or find at all.  In general, it is a method of divination that involves choosing a number of symbols seemingly at random and interpreting their meanings in relation to the individual symbol, in relation to each other and the placement of each symbol drawn, and in relation to the question asked.

The Greeks have many documented methods of divination, but I’ve found that the Greek Alphabet Oracle fits well within methods used across many paleo-pagan cultures.  The important part of this for me is that it means it fits well within ADF cult practice.  Drawing or casting lots is the most common method of divination I’ve seen in ADF public ritual, making the method of taking an omen in ritual familiar both to me and to the Folk (who are used to seeing Runes or Oghams drawn from a bag as a method of taking an omen).  This is why I’ve chosen to use the Greek Alphabet Oracle in my divinatory practice, even though it lacks in the way of obtainable source material.  It is familiar in application to other methods of divination commonly used.  On a practical level, it is also easily transportable, and can be consulted rather easily in a variety of situations and locations.

 

5.     Briefly describe the symbology of your chosen method of divination, and include a method of application for that system. (minimum 100 words overall description plus at least one sentence or line per symbol)

The system of divination that I used most often is the Greek Alphabet Oracle.  There are three traditional ways of using this system.  The first way is through the drawing of lots.  Traditionally this would have been done with pottery fragments, each inscribed with a letter.  This is the method that I use, drawing inscribed wooden disks from an opaque bag.  I found that pottery fragments were both too brittle, since I had no way to fire them, and the shapes weren’t uniform enough, removing some measure of objectivity.  The second method is through the casting of five knucklebones, or astrogaloi.  There are four “sides” of a knucklebone, and each is given a value (1, 3, 4, and 6).  When those values are added together they correspond to a letter.  There are 24 possible different sums, between 5 and 30, with 6 and 29 being impossible.  The third method is similar, except that it uses five six-sided die, rather than bone.  The possible values are again between 5 and 30, with both 13 and 25 being uninterpretable from a reconstruction standpoint.  Generally, the die will be recast, though some may choose to interpret 13 as having to do with sacrificed and resurrected Gods (i.e.: Dionysos) and 25 as having to do with perfection (being the square of 5) (Sophistes).

Each letter in the alphabet oracle correlates to a phrase containing a key word that starts with that letter.  Below I’ve written the phrase that goes with the letter in italics, as well as the phrase I wrote to add some of my own insight while maintaining the structure that these omens where taken in. I had the phrases that I wrote begin with the same letter, or at least sound, so that as I was learning them it would be easier for me to remember.

Alpha: “The God [Apollo] says you will do everything {Hapanta} successfully.” 

All you do is successful.

Beta: “With the help of Tychê [Fortune], you will have an assistant {Boêthos}, the Pythian [Apollo].” 

Because you asked for help

Gamma: “Gaia [the Earth] {Gê} will give you the ripe fruit of your labors.” 

Gaia gave what you need.  Harvest it.

Delta: “In customs inopportune strength {Dunamis} is weak.” 

Deciding how to act and when strength is necessary

Epsilon: “You desire {Eraô} to see the offspring of righteous marriages.” 

Eager to see the results of union

Zeta: “Flee the very great storm {Zalê}, lest you be disabled in some way.” 

Zeus causes the storm: flee before his anger

Eta: “Bright Helios [Sun] {Hêlios}, who watches everything, watches you.” 

Every word you speak, Helios knows the truth

Theta: “You have the helping Gods {Theoi} of this path.” 

Throughout your journey, you will have the gods help.

Iota: “There is sweat {Hidrôs}; it excels more than everything.” 

If you lose all else, your hard work remains

Kappa: “To fight with the waves {Kuma} is difficult; endure, friend.”

Keep on enduring the inevitable with courage.

Lambda: “The one passing on the left {Laios} bodes well for everything.” 

Learn that blessings come from the most unsuspecting places

Mu: “It is necessary to labor {Mokhtheô}, but the change will be admirable.” 

Much good will come through labor and toil.

Nu: “The strife-bearing {Neikêphoros} gift fulfills the oracle.” 

Notice when strife has come, for it is a sign.

Xi: “There is no fruit to take from a withered {Xêros} shoot.” 

Expectations should be rational

Omicron: “There are no {Ou} crops to be reaped that were not sown.” 

Only what you plant will yield a harvest

Pi: “Completing many {Polus} contests, you will seize the crown.” 

Perseverance through adversity will win many battles.

Rho: “You will go on more easily {Rhaion} if you wait a short time.” 

Remain a short while and you will proceed more easily.

Sigma: “Phoibos [Apollo] speaks plainly {Saphôs}, ‘Stay, friend.’” 

Stay and hold your ground

Tau: “You will have a parting from the {Tôn} companions now around you.” 

Travelers must eventually part ways.

Upsilon: “The affair holds a noble undertaking {Huposkhesis}.” 

Understand whether you should seek a noble quest, or whether your quest is being hindered.

Phi: “Having done something carelessly {Phaulos}, you will thereafter blame the Gods.”

Fate is yours alone – take responsibility for it and do not blame the Gods.

Khi: “Succeeding, friend, you will fulfill a golden {Khruseos} oracle.” 

Completion of your goals is excellent

Psi: “You have this righteous judgment {Psêphos} from the Gods.” 

Suitable judgment has been passed down by the Gods.

Omega: “You will have a difficult {Ômos} harvest season, not a useful one.” 

Onerous times await you.

 

6.     Describe the results of three divinations performed by you. These divinations may be text assisted. (minimum 100 words each)

Omen for Querant as she worries about her health (3/28/12)

Kappa — Theta — Beta

Things are going to be rough ahead, but you are loved, so stay strong.  The gods are with you.  Apollo the Healer is with you.  Good Fortune (Tyche) is on your side.  As the waves crash over you, you may find it harder and harder to endure all the tis being thrown at you.  Remember to float.  Work on just being.  The Gods are watching over you, and they are here to help you.  The path ahead has many obstacles, but allow them to guide your steps.  And remember that you specifically have the assistance of Apollo and Tyche.  They will help you get through the struggles ahead, but in return you must ask for help when you need it.  They can open the doors for help to be given, but you must walk through those doors and ask for what you need.

Comfest: Querant (6/23/12)

Past: Phi — Present: Omega — Future: Zeta — Overarching Connection: Nu — Further Clarification: Theta & Xi

In the past she had made some actions or mistakes that she was perhaps too hard on herself for or didn’t accept that that’s how fate or the situation should or was meant to go.  Presently she’s in a holding pattern, sending out all these feelers and none of them are taking hold.  Her advice to get out of the pattern is to stop pouring her energy into that which isn’t serving her, and stop per suing those things that are only draining on her.  The overarching connection is the strife-bearing gift.  What is the silver lining she can take from Phi, Omega, and Zeta?  She can learn not to be careless with others emotions, to continue trying to find a way out, and to recognize what is helpful to her.  For further clarification she was reminded that though she’s struggling on this path, the Gods have her back.  She also needs to be sure that she properly cares for and tends the seedlings she plants.  Either be all in, or don’t water your energy bothering at all.

Comfest: Querant (6/23/12)

Past: Nu — Present: Omega — Future: Theta

Maybe something bad happened a little while ago, but now you’re trying to fix, but aren’t really getting anywhere.  So, to work on fixing it you need to remember all the people around you and the divinities have got your back. You just need to remember that you can ask them for help.  You’re not in this alone, even though it may feel like it sometimes.  Learn from the mistakes of your past.  Every bad experience has a lesson within it.  Try to find that lesson and apply it to what you’re struggling with now.  You’ll find that your relationship with the divinities will deepen as you work through this current struggle and apply the lessons they gave you to learn.

 

7.     Discuss your view of the purpose of divination. (minimum 100 words)

Sarah Iles Johnston states that the purpose of ancient divination is “to gain knowledge of what humans would not otherwise know” (Johnston 3).  This general statement is true in all regards, but I think in terms of divination for religious purposes, if a general goal can be set that we’d like to live our lives to the fullest in the best way we can, then divination can guide us.  I believe that in our lives and in this world we’re each set on a path.  Our general course has been set by the fates.  Our threads spun out, woven, measured, and will eventually be cut.  The specifics are left up to us to determine how we spend our thread, how we burn our wick. Divination can help us see more clearly the path laid out before us so that we can make more informed and conscious decisions about the direction we’re heading.  It can also offer reassurance for choices made, or guidance to view a situation from another perspective.  In general, I see an omen taken as the way things will pan out if no changes are made in the course you are taking.  So, but seeing the path ahead you are more able to make an informed choice as to whether or not you should hold your course, or set your sails to divert a different direction.  As with all things, divination is no substitute for the thoughts and work and actions we put into our lives.  It cannot make the changes, but can help to clear the clouds so we can see a bit further and with a bit more wisdom.

 

8.     Discuss the relative importance and effect of divination within your personal spiritual practice. (minimum 100 words)

Within my spiritual practice there are a few ways that I approach and use divination.  On a personal level I will take an omen for guidance on the coming days.  I rarely look further ahead than a month, simply there are so many choices and branching of paths in that amount of time that an omen and the wisdom it provides could really go any which way.  I find it useful in this way to brace myself in a sense.  The other piece of this is that oftentimes taking an omen for myself will force me to see a situation in a different light, from a different perspective, allowing me to change my course if I need to.

I also use divination in ritual space, especially when working with a new or unfamiliar deity, to see if the offerings I’m making have been accepted.  I find this especially useful when I’m unsure of what kinds of things the deity would like to receive as offerings.  Following up on that, the other way I use divination is to see what blessings or wisdom are offered to me in return for the offerings I make.  I’ve found that I more often receive wisdom and guidance than I do specific blessings, but perhaps that is the nature of the Greek Oracle.

 

9.     Discuss your view and understanding of the function of the Seer. (minimum 100 words)

The role of the Seer is to serve as an intermediary between the Folk and the Kindreds.  The Folk can be anything from a solitary, to a Grove, to a larger community.  The Kindreds can be from any of the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, or Shining Ones depending on whom the Seer is addressing.  The Seer can serve as one in a ritual setting with a larger purpose, or in a more intimate setting with the main goal being to seek guidance from the Kindreds.  In the case of a ritual, the Seer takes the Omen, serving as the voice of the Kindreds.  In a more intimate setting, the Seer is directed more by the querant and the questions they ask.

 

10.     Discuss the importance and value of divination as it relates to ADF. (minimum 100 words)

The Seer directs the divination within an ADF ritual.  The Seer’s job here is three-fold: to find out whether or not the Sacrifices of the Folk have been accepted, to interpret the blessings and wisdom that is received in return, and to help the Folk determine how to apply those blessings and wisdom to their lives.  I think this is important because finding out if our gifts are well received helps to deepen our relationship with the Kindreds.  In addition, once we have learned what we’re being offered in return, it is sometimes overlooked how to apply those blessings and wisdom to our lives.  I’ve found that the Socratic method works well for this part because though you can give someone wisdom, if you cannot help them apply it to their own life, it does them little good.  By asking questions that help them focus on the blessing and think on multiple meanings of it, you can help them find the ways it applies to them.

 

Bibliography

Sophistes, Apollonius. “A Greek Alphabet Oracle.” A Greek Alphabet Oracle. Biblioteca Arcana, 2005. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://web.eecs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/LAO.html>.

Ellison, Robert Lee. Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids. Tucson, AZ: ADF, 2007. Print.

Evelyn-White, H. G. “The Homeric Hymns 1-3.” Classical E-Text. Theoi.com, 2011. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theoi.com/Text/HomericHymns1.html>.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Thorsson, Edred. Runecaster’s Handbook: The Well of Wyrd. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1999. Print.

 

Indo-European Mythology 1

  1. List and discuss the major primary sources for the mythology of three Indo-European cultures, including their dates of origin and authorship (if known). Discuss any important factors that may cause problems in interpreting these sources, such as the existence of multiple revisions, or the presence of Christian or other outside influences in surviving texts. (minimum 300 words)

Norse:

The major primary sources for Norse mythology come from the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson, and the Poetic Edda. These were written after the rise of Christianity, in the 13th century CE, and as such one should consider what influence Christianity had on these myths. The myths were written down based on oral tradition, and by authors whose cultures had already been exposed to Christian influences. Other sources regarding the Norse and Germanic peoples come from invading cultures, like the Romans. This means that when examining these sources the reader should take everything with a grain of salt.

 Greek:

The major primary sources in Greek mythology are those written by Hesiod and Homer, around the 8th Century BCE. This includes Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad, as well as the Homeric Hymns, written by those who followed in Homer’s tradition. The work of Homer, while influential and an excellent resource for Greek myth, should be carefully chosen when used for interpretation of ancient religion because there are so many translations. There is also the issue that the majority of the Greek lore started out as an oral tradition, and thus, changes likely occurred before Homer began writing it down (“Homer”).

Vedic:

The primary sources for Vedic lore are all contained in the Samhitas, which was written during the early Vedic period, somewhere between the 17th and 11th centuries BCE. The Samhitas is a collection of the four Vedas: the Rig-Veda (for recitation), the Sama-Veda (for chanting), the Yajur-Veda (for liturgy), and the Atharva-Veda (which was named after a type of priest). The Rig-Veda is the largest and most important of these. Unfortunately since no physical remnants remain of the Vedic time period, reading from the Rig-Veda and trying to reconstruct the religion of the time is a lot of guesswork done in the context of a Christian society. It is simply a collection of hymns, though most of the hymns are to Indra, Agni, and Soma (Puhvel 46). One of the problems in understanding this work is that the connotation of some words has shifted in translations. For example, in the word mitra, the meaning shifted from “contractor” to “friend” (Puhvel 48). There is also the current problem of the knowledge that Hinduism has grown out of Vedic lore, and thus current culture and current influences may have an effect on the reconstructed worship of this ancient religion.

 

  1. Summarize, then compare and contrast the myths of at least two Indo-European cultures with respect to the following topics (you need not use the same two cultures as a basis of comparison for each topic): (minimum 300 words for each)

tales of creation

Both Norse and Greek mythology describe a tale of creation that begins with a sort of nothingness, a void, that is then suddenly expanded and organized to create the world. In both myths, after the world is created, the various things that make up the world and the beings that live there are added. The Greek tale of creation is told in Hesiod’s Theogony. In the beginning there was nothingness, a void of Chaos. From Chaos came Gaea (the earth), Tartarus, and Eros. This titanic form of Eros (procreation) caused Gaea to create Ouranos (the sky), Ourea (the mountains) and Pontos (the sea), and Chaos to also create Nyx (night), Erebus (darkness) and Kronos (time). From these beings the rest of the world continued to form, from the oceans, to the sun and moon, day and the air, the beings that dwelt on the earth, and then the Titans. The Greeks continued to talk about how the Olympians came to be from the Titans, and the betrayal that led to the Olympians becoming the principle gods of the land (Hesiod Theogony).

The Norse myths describe the creation of the world as it came into being guided by three brothers: Odin, Vili, and Ve. In the North was icy Nilfhiem, and in the south was fiery Muspell. In the middle was Ginnungagap, a mild place where Ymir, a frost giant, lived and sweated out the race of frost giants. This is similar to how in Greek lore there was a place of Chaos, and then from that void came Gaea, where things could begin to live and thrive.

The Norse myth goes one to explain how Ymir was killed by the three brothers, Odin, Vili, and Ve as they grew tired of his and the other frost giants evilness. This is much more violent that what happens in the Greek myth, where Eros served as a catalyst for the creation of the rest of the things. The Norse world was made out of Ymir’s body. His flesh became the earth, his bones the mountains, his blood the lakes and seas, and his skull the sky, held up by four dwarves. The brothers took the embers from fiery Muspell and threw them up into the sky making the sun, and moon, and stars. This follows a similar pattern to Greek myth when Gaea created the sky, mountains, and sea and how then other parts of the world were formed from there.

The Norse brothers Odin, Vili, and Ve then divided the world so there would be a place for the giants, Jotunheim, and a safer place made of Ymir’s eyebrows, Midgard. This division of the world in Greek myth happens earlier in the creation of the world. Gaea (who holds both the realm of man and Mt. Olympus, the realm of the gods) and Tartarus both come from the void of Chaos. The Norse brothers then made man and woman from an ash and elm tree and put them in Midgard. In Greek myth the addition of man comes much later, and the gods must experiment with different types of mortals until they finally create the race of man as we know it. In Norse myth the Sun and Moon were children of a man, Mundilfari, and were put in the sky guiding the chariots of the sun and the moon while chased by wolves. The dwarves were made from the maggots that had crawled over Ymir’s body. This differs from the Greek myth where the Sun and the Moon were Titans, from the line of Gaea.

The creation story in Nordic lore explains next how Odin, Vili, and Ve built their own realm above Midgard, and called it Asgard, and they were linked together by Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. The Aesir all crossed the bridge to dwell in Asgard. All the regions of the world are under the branches of Yggdrasil, the great ash tree (Crossley-Holland 3). In Greek myth, the realm of the Gods is not as firmly separated from the realm of man. The closest place is Mt. Olympus, which exists on Gaea, just as the realm of man does.

tales of divine war

Divine war, as described in the lore of various Indo-European cultures, is often the tale of a new set of gods replacing an older set of gods. Often the older gods have more primal qualities, and the newer gods introduce levels of wisdom and reason. This can be seen in the Greek myths where the Titans have many more of the primal qualities, having been the creating forces of the world, and the Olympians begin to introduce new concepts, like justice and order, into the world. This is similar to what can be seen in the Norse divine war between the Aesir and the Vanir. The Vanir, being fertility and wilds gods have more primal qualities, whereas the Aesir are more logical, creating order in the world. In the treaty that exists in the Norse myth this is even more pronounced, as the Aesir give Honir and Mimir (thought and memory) to the Vanir, even as the Vanir teach some of their more primal and magical skills to the Aesir via Njord, Freyja and Freyr.

The divine war that is most recognizable in Greek mythology is the war between the Titans and the Olympians. The story is told in Hesiod’s Theogony. The Titans were the gods that came first, out of Gaea and Ouranos. During this war, the sides were not as clear as initially implied, since some Titans sided with the Olympians and other Gods who fell into neither category also were involved. The overthrow of the Titans takes place when Rhea, mother of the Elder Olympians, saved Zeus from being eaten by his father, Kronos. This was the beginning of the division. Zeus and the Olympians were constantly at odds with his father, Kronos, and the Titans, and war broke out that lasted ten years, with neither side being able to win.

Zeus appealed to the other Elder gods, specifically Obriareus, Cottus, and Gyes, who had been cast down by Kronos, to aid him in the fight. They recognized that if the war continued, only strife could come out of it, and so, having been rescued by Zeus after having been betrayed by Kronos, they decided to join the ranks of the Olympians and other deathless gods to fight Kronos and the Titans. At this point Zeus no longer held back his power of thunder and lightning, and seemed likely to destroy the world itself in his wrath. With the new aid of Cottus, Obriareus, and Gyes they were able to bury Kronos and the Titans in rocks down in Tartarus. There they are guarded by those three, bound in chains, and sealed off from the rest of the worlds by a great golden fence made by Poseidon (Hesiod Theogony).

The divine war in Norse mythology is between the Aesir and the Vanir, and the tale is recounted in the Völuspá of the Poetic Edda. It seems as though they are fighting to determine who should receive the honor, worship, and sacrifices of man. Odin leads the Aesir after he has tried to kill Gullveig three times over with his flaming spear, and the Vanir retaliate. It looks like neither side can win, similarly to what happened in the war between the Olympians and Titans, and so they exchange hostages. Honir and Mimir for Njord and his children: Freyja and Freyr (Bellows). In both myths members from each group of gods needed to be switched sides in some way so that one side could come out victorious. In this sense it is interesting to note what values carried forward as the new gods came into power. 

tales which describe the fate of the dead

The Norse and the Greeks both have stories that delineate where the dead go after life. The Greeks have a very complex view of the afterlife, with proper burial of the dead being very important in getting the psyche to its final place, and the Underworld is a huge place with many different ends for people within it. Generally speaking though, those who were heroes in their lifetime, or who did good deeds, were sent to the Elysian Fields (Homer Odyssey), while those who committed crimes were punished in Tartarus, which is also where the Titans who fought against Zeus ended up (Hesiod Theogony).

The Norse view of the afterlife is similar in that those who are heroes in life, who die valiantly in battle, are picked up by the Valkyries and taken either to Freyja or to Valhalla. Valhalla is a wonderful place where the warriors can fight all day and feast all night. When Ragnarok comes, these warriors will fight with Odin in the last battle. Others who die a less eventful death are sent to Hel, the Goddess and the place, which is very cold. Hel appears to also be where Gods who die are sent, as in the case of Baldr.

In both Norse and Greek myths access to the Underworld is said to lie somewhere to the north. In Greek myth, it is “somewhere in the northern mists, on a shore at the ends of Ocean, among the Cimmerians on whom the sun never shines” (Puhvel 138). In Norse myth when Hermodr is sent to bring Baldr back from the dead, he must ride Sleipner “downward and northward” until he gets to the gates of Hel (Puhvel 214). It is interesting how this general view of the Underworld has shifted from being presumably north, to being to the south, which is what we typically think of now as “down” since the invention of maps. I think it is likely that since in both cultures the further north they would travel, the colder and less civilized things would get. To the north were likely places that either had no life, or where life was so alien to what they were used to that they found it difficult to recognize.

  1. Explain how each of the following elements of ADF ritual does or does not resonate with elements of two different Indo-European cultures (you need not use the same two cultures as a basis of comparison for each element): (minimum 100 words each)

Earth Mother

In ADF Ritual the Earth Mother is honored both first and last.  In Greek mythology Gaea is the Earth Mother.  She is honored as the supporting force of the world, and a Titan Goddess.  The Earth was still honored in Ancient Greece; however, for the purposes of a deity that is honored both first and last in Greek cosmology, that place goes to Hestia.  She is the Goddess of the hearth and home and is honored both first and last in ritual for all that she provides for us, and as both the first- and last-born of Kronos (Hesiod). So, worshiping within the Greek hearth culture in ADF, honoring the Earth mother fits, though not as the first and last honored in ritual.

This differs from the presence of an Earth Mother type deity in Norse mythology. In the Prose Edda, in the Gylfaginning, there is an explanation of how the earth was created and divided up, but the earth is not personified in the same way that it is in other cultures (Sturluson). In this case, the earth seems to get convoluted with the spirits of the land. So honoring the Earth Mother in a Norse context as a deity figure in ADF ritual does not resonate well, though respecting and thanking the earth for the bounty it provides does. 

Deities of Land

The Deities of the Land are those Gods and Goddesses who dwell on the earth with man. In Greek mythology this get convoluted because the Twelve Olympians are designated because they dwell in the sky on Mt. Olympus, but they are clearly not all Sky Deities, and each have their own role that they fill. Generally I consider the Land Deities to fall into two categories: the domestic (including the hearth) and the wild. So, in Greek mythology some Land Deities in the domestic sense may be Hestia, Demeter, and Dionysos, whereas some of the wild Land Deities may be Pan, Gaea, and Artemis (Atsma).

In Norse mythology the Deities of the Land are generally the Vanir. Some of the deities in the wild places are Skaði, Goddess of winter and the hunt, as well as fertility deities such as Freyr and Freyja. A more domestic land deity could be Gefjun, an agricultural goddess that helped with plowing the land to make the earth in the beginning, and Idunna , guarding the orchard of golden apples (Sturluson).

In ADF ritual we don’t generally worship the deities by division of location, though that is not to say that they aren’t honored, just that they are more often grouped collectively as the “Shining Ones.” However, when doing invocations to the Shining Ones it is not unusual to see them divided up in some way and called upon based on the archetype they represent, such as “Those Shining Deities who dwell in the realm of Man.” So in both Greek and Norse mythology is makes sense to honor the Deities of the Land.

Deities of Sea

The Deities of the Sea are those Gods and Goddesses who have dominion over the waters of the earth. I would consider this to be both the freshwater sources and the saltwater sources. We don’t do much with the sea deities in ADF, and when we do they generally get clumped in with the deities of the land as those who dwell in the realm of man.

In Greek mythology the older, Titan God who has dominion over the waters is Okeanos (Hesiod Theogony). Okeanos is the firstborn of the Titans and is the great freshwater river that encircles the earth and is often paired with Tethys, as the mother of all rivers.    It is interesting that the English word for Ocean comes from Okeanos, but when we refer to oceans we are referring to bodies of saltwater and Okeanos is associated with freshwater. In Greek mythology the God that is in charge of what we would consider the sea is Poseidon. He has dominion over the saltwater ocean, and he is the one that the people would pray to in order to gain his blessing in sailing out to sea (Hesiod Theogony).

In Irish mythology the Deity of the Sea that is most recognizable is Manannan mac Lir, the son of the sea. Similar to Greek mythology, the saltwater sea is associated with horses, and the waves are often described as having the look of horses. Manannan is often called to work with the Folk as a Gatekeeper because he can “travel beyond the ninth wave.” The freshwater deity within Irish mythology is Danu, the flowing one. She is associated with the sacredness of pure water sources, such as rivers like the Danube (Rees).

It makes sense to honor the deities of the sea within the Greek or Irish hearth culture, but as we don’t generally worship the deities by division of location in ADF, or the deities of the sea specifically, I would say it currently doesn’t resonate. I think if people did begin to honor the deities of the sea more, that it would definitely resonate, but in current practice it simply isn’t done that often. By expanding our understanding of the Deities of the Sea to include both freshwater and saltwater entities it becomes easier to identify with them, and honor them in ritual. I think the reason we don’t often honor the Sea Gods in ADF may be because many of our members are in land-locked areas, or even if they do live near a water source, their livelihood or life is not intrinsically linked to the sea like it was for the ancients. I think this is something that members can and should begin addressing as nature awareness. Just as they explore how they interact with the land around them, exploring how they connect with the waters of the earth is equally important. If that were the case, I think worshiping the Deities of the Sea would resonate more within ADF ritual. 

Deities of Sky

The Deities of the Sky are those Gods and Goddesses who have dominion over the things in the heavens, above the realm of man. In Greek mythology some of these deities are Titans, some major gods, and some minor gods. The Titans, Helios and Selene are the Sun and the Moon, respectively. Zeus is the Olympian taking the role of the thundering/ weather deity, while some of the minor sky deities are Boreus, Iris, and the Aurai.

In Norse mythology, just as not all Olympians are Sky Deities, not all of the Aesir are either. Sunna is the light of the sun. Thor is the Thundering God, though unlike many of the other Indo-European mythologies, he is not the patriarch of the pantheon, but rather the son of the patriarch, Odin.

As before with the Deities of Land and Sea, in ADF we typically don’t specifically worship the deities based on their location, so in that sense this does not resonate with ADF ritual; however, they are often honored as deities of the occasion. The Sky Deities who are associated with the sun are often honored at Winter and/or Summer Solstice as a deity of the occasion.

 Outsiders

The Outsiders in ADF liturgy are those beings or things that are cross with the purposes of the ritual. In Greek mythology the role of the outsiders could be given to the Titans, though they are not typically shunned in Greek myth, but were rather just the older generation of gods. Popular culture likes to paint them as the ‘evil’ that came before the Gods, but in most cases this is highly inaccurate. Ancient Greek culture puts much more emphasis on coming into ritual clean, both physically and spiritually (Hesiod Works and Days). Thus, the portion of the ritual designated to treaty with the Outsiders would fit best with the purification of entering ritual space and ‘casting off’ those things that aren’t needed, or would be at cross-purposes with the ritual within yourself, and in that way it does still resonate with ADF ritual.

In Norse mythology the giants are most often given the role of Outsiders. The frost giants are those beings with whom Thor was always fighting. In the lore they are even separated from the rest of Midgard by mountains, and there is a wall around Asgard in part due to them (Sturluson). The treaty with the Outsiders in this sense is a more traditional bargain where an offering is given in exchange for the beings leaving the ritual alone, and resonates a bit better with ADF ritual.

 Nature Spirits

In Greek mythology the spirits of the land are generally called nymphai. The nymphs are broken up into categories based on what aspect of the land or natural phenomena they are associated with. For example, the dryads are associated with trees, the okeanids with freshwater and rain clouds, the naiads with the rivers, the anthousai with flowers, and the epimelides with pastures and meadows (Atsma “The Nymphai”).

In Irish mythology the sidhe-folk would be what we could consider to be Nature Spirits. They, like the nymphs, were otherworldly, but didn’t carry nearly as much weight and interacted with humans on a much more regular and intimate level. The sidhe-folk are said to live in mounds or hillocks and show mankind wondrous things. Sometimes these are good, and sometimes the sidhe-folk are acting mischievously and causing trouble (Squire 136).

In both mythologies these beings resonate well with how we approach the Nature Spirits as one of the Kindreds. In ADF ritual I think we offer more generally to the spirits of the land and the nature that surrounds us, not necessarily deifying things as much of the lore suggests was done in some way in the past. We also offer to the more otherworldly creatures though, which fits very well with the lore.

 Ancestors

The Ancestors are those, often heroic or wise, who have come before. In both Greek and Norse mythology the Mighty Dead and Ancient Wise are revered and honored, which resonates very well within ADF ritual. The other aspect of working with the Ancestors to gain knowledge and guidance is also well supported in the lore of both cultures.

The Greeks have several myths that involve going to speak with the dead either to get advice, gain wisdom, or retrieve loved ones, as with Odysseus when he goes to meet Tiresias (Homer The Odyssey) or Orpheus when he tries to bring back Eurydike (Atsma). The heroes, such as Herakles, Perseus, Jason, and Odysseus are also remembered in the stories and myths that were told. In addition, we have evidence that the ancient Greeks participated in Ancestor worship. For example, one of the Greek festivals celebrated was Genesios, a festival to honor the dead (Parke).

The Norse also honored their dead, as is evidenced by the lore in reference to where the Honored Dead would go, namely Valhalla. The heroes, such as Sigurd, were also remembered in the stories and myths like in Greece. Another similarity is going to the dead to gain wisdom. In Baldr’s Drapa, Odin goes to the underworld in order to find out why Baldr is having bad dreams. He raises the dead and forces the corpse, the volva, to talk to him and reveal the reason why (Bellows). There is also evidence of seiðr magic, or communing with the spirits, likely the dead, for knowledge, with Thorbjorg the Volva in the Saga of Erik the Red (Sephton).

 

  1. Discuss how the following seven elements of ADF’s cosmology are (or are not) reflected in the myths of two different Indo-European cultures. For this question, please use the same two cultures as a basis of comparison for the entire question. (minimum 100 words each)

 Upperworld

The Upperworld is the world of the Gods, specifically the Shining Ouranic Gods. In ADF we call to the gods of the Upperworld often for their wisdom and power. In Norse mythology this place is in Asgard. This is where the Aesir, the guardians of man, dwell alongside the Einherjar, slain warriors, in Valhalla, the Vanir in Vanaheim, and light elves in Alfheim. Asgard is connected to the other worlds via Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

In Greek mythology this place is Mt. Olympus. This is where the Olympians and others of the Theoi dwell. While Mt. Olympus is still part of the earth, it is inaccessible to man. The majority of the myths in Greek lore have to do with what the Gods do when they are in the realm of man, or how they interact in the middle realm, before going back to dwell on Mt. Olympus. So, while they live in the sky, on Mt. Olympus, above the middle realm, the place itself is not well defined like it is in Norse myths (Atsma).

Middleworld

The Midworld is the world where Man dwells, sometimes with various mythological beasts, nature spirits and other Gods. In ADF we call to the beings in the Middleworld to join us at our fire and accept our reverence for sharing this world with us. We know we’re not alone here, and seek to walk in as much harmony as possible with all the beings that dwell alongside us in the Middleworld.

In Norse mythology the Middleworld is called Midgard and a vast ocean that contains Jormungand, the world serpent, surrounds it. Jotunheim, the land of the giants, and Utgard, the giants’ citadel in the outerworld also exists in the middle of the Norse tricentric view of the worlds. Man also shares Midgard with the Dwarves and the Dark Elves (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

The Greek middle world is not as well defined as it is in other cultures. The whole world is described as the earth, which is completely encircled by Okeanos, the deep-running river. There is a great sky dome (Ouranos) that stretches over top of the earth, from river’s edge to river’s edge. Even the sun, moon, and stars were said to rise and set in his waters. Below the earth is the pit of Tartarus. It forms a sphere that contains everything divided into two hemispheres. In the top half, live the gods and men, and in the bottom, the Titans (Atsma).

Divisions Of Middleworld (e.g., 4 Quarters, 3 Triads, 8 Sections)

In Norse mythology Midgard was divided vaguely into four different sections. Midgard was the land of Man and surrounded by a vast ocean. Beyond the ocean was the land of Jotunheim, where the giants dwelled. Their citadel was called Utgard. North of Midgard was Nidavellir where the dwarves lived, and south of Midgard was Svartalfheim where the dark elves lived (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

The best division of the Greek middleworld would be the land, sea, and sky. The land, deified in Gaea, is defined best as a disk that is surrounded by the encompassing waters of Okeanos. Okeanos would be the sea, the deep-running river that holds the land together. The sky, deified by Ouranos, is the dome that covers the sea and the land. This fits within ADF cosmology, specifically with Ceisiwr Serith’s prayer: “The waters support and surround us / The land extends about us / The sky stretches out above us” (Serith).

Nether/Underworld

The Underworld is the Land of the Dead and the chthonic deities. In ADF the Underworld is where we direct our call when we’re seeking to gain the wisdom of the Ancestors and the Deities that dwell there alongside them. In Norse mythology this is Niflheim, and the citadel is Hel. Hel is the realm of the dead for those who didn’t die valiantly, and those who are considered evil pass through Hel to die again in Niflheim, the world of the dead. There is also Valhalla, which is technically in the Upperworld, but is the place for the warriors who die in battle to go (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

In Greek mythology the Underworld is where Hades and Persephone rule over the dead. It is divided into multiple realms for the dead to dwell, based on how they lived in life, including Tartarus and the Elysium Fields (Atsma). Some interesting similarities between the Greek and Norse Underworlds are both are said to be far to the north, both have a river that separates them from the realm of the living, both are in some way guarded by dogs, and both can substitute the name of the ruler (Hel/Hades) for the name of the place.

Fire

In ADF we hallow the Fire and call to it as a Gate between the worlds. In ritual it becomes more than mere flame and becomes one of the ways that the Kindreds hear our words more clearly and are able to receive the sacrifices we send them. Fire is an important part of Greek culture and resonates well within ADF cosmology. It is how the sacrifices the Folk make actually get delivered to the Gods. This sacred fire is deified in Hestia. She is the sacrificial fire and the hearth fire, dwelling both in the homes of man and on Mt. Olympus. Because she is the sacrificial fire, every time sacrifice is made, part of it goes to her. She is honored as the first- and last-born of the Olympians, and because she chose to continue serving the hearts and hearths of man (Hesiod Theogony) (Atsma).

In Norse culture fire is seen as important, especially when used to send off the dead. The dead in Norse myths, for example, Sigurd and Baldr, had funeral pyres that were lit. A similarity to Greek culture is the fire being seen as a way to send sacrifices to the deities. Perhaps this is why it made sense to burn the dead, because if they were going to Valhalla, then they were going to the realms of the gods, and could be delivered there via fire, the same way the sacrifices were.

Well

In ADF we hallow the Well and call to it as a Gate between the worlds. The liturgical phrasing that is often used is “Let our voices resound in the Well” meaning that we’re calling through this Gate so that, like the Fire, the Kindreds might hear our words more clearly. In Norse mythology there are three Wells that immediately come to mind. They are said to be at the roots of Yggdrasil, presumably feeding the World Tree. There is the Well of Memory (Mimir) where Odin gives up an eye to gain the knowledge and wisdom that is there. This is also where Heimdall leaves his horn until Ragnarok comes. There is the Well of Fate (Urd), where the Norns live and carry out their business. There is also the well where the dragon Nidhogg lives (Hvergelmir). It is from this place that he delivers the insults to be carried by the squirrel Ratatosk up to the Asgard (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

Okeanos is the “deep-running water” and “completely encircling” river of the world. All waters are said to draw their source of water from Okeanos, all rivers, streams, seas, and deep wells (Homer Iliad). This fits into ADF cosmology because we view the Well as the deep, chthonic waters that are the source of all waters, and that all waters are by their very nature sacred. The Underworld is said to lie on the far shore of the River Okeanos, which also continues the theme that the Well is in some way connected with how we communicate with the Ancient Wise. In this case, one would have to cross the river (reach through the Well) to gain their wisdom. The theme of the druidic number nine is also carried through in the waters of Okeanos. He is said to have “nine loops of silver-swirling waters” that split off to form the rivers of the world (Hesiod Theogony).

Tree

In ADF the Tree serves as the axis mundi, as the crossroads between the worlds. We hallow it and call for it to open as a Gate between the worlds so that we can feel connected to all the worlds around us. It serves not only as the center of our world, but aligns to the centers of all the worlds allowing our words, actions, and sacrifices to be more easily received by the Kindreds. In aligns our world with theirs so we can feel closer to them.

In Greek mythology the omphalos is the center of the world. It was established as such when Zeus wanted to find the center and sent his two eagles to fly in opposite directions around the world. Where they met, at the Delphi, was considered to be the Center, and the omphalos, the stone that was given to Kronos to swallow in place of Zeus, was placed at that spot at the Oracle of Delphi. The omphalos is said to allow direct communication with the gods. There were also “many sanctuaries in later Greek culture centered on a sacred tree” and ancient Hellenistic celebrants did dances in order to establish a connection between the worlds (Jones 6).

In Norse mythology Yggdrasil, the ash tree, is the world tree. It is considered to be the center of the worlds. Its branches stretch over all the worlds, and its roots grow through all the worlds. The squirrel, Ratatosk, is able to use Yggdrasil as a pathway to travel between the worlds and deliver messages. It truly serves as an axis mundi in the cosmology of the Norse myths (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

 

  1. To what extent do you think we can offer conjectures about Indo-European myths in general? Are the common themes strong enough that the myths seem like variations? Or are the differences so powerful that the themes are less important than the cultural variations? (minimum 300 words)

When looking at Indo-European mythology I think it is absolutely fascinating how there are similar themes that present themselves across the cultures and ages. In Comparative Mythology, Puhvel makes an excellent argument for the similarities between the various Indo-European cultures to be more than mere coincidence. The cultures seem to have a similar myth cycle. Campbell makes similar arguments in his presentation of the monomyth in The Hero With A Thousand Faces when describing the archetypes and trials in the hero’s journey.

The archetypes that present themselves in the various myths give us a wealth of information that can be used to help reconstruct myths, or at least give us general information about a specific culture. For example, in cultures that are missing archetypical myths, such as a creation myth for the Celts, or any wealth of Gaulish information, the lack of a myth doesn’t mean that one didn’t exist, simply that we don’t have the records of it anymore. There are archetypes that cause some deities to seem extremely similar, though they have different aspects. These deities are distinct and different beings with similarities that exist due to the common themes pervasive throughout human life, and the great unanswered questions that are raised as we examine the human condition. The deities in each culture fill the roles of the archetypes that are needed.

I think the themes across the myths are strong enough to allow us to postulate what missing myths might have looked like; however, the differences are also very important in giving us information about individual cultures. If we accept there is a common myth cycle across the Indo-European cultures, then it is the differences between the myths that will teach us the most about a particular culture’s values. Not all pantheons will have a deity that takes on all the same roles, or even a role at all. This can help to tell us what roles were often combined in the thoughts of the people in that culture, or what roles didn’t hold value in a particular culture. The similarities of the myth cycle, and the differences in the specific myths allow us to study what kinds of things were important to the peoples of the different cultures.

We can also look at language to see the similarities in various deities. For example, the Thundering Sky God is a strong archetype present across the Indo-European cultures, and in Greek myth Zeus “is in name identical with the old Vedic sky-god Dyaus (Indo-European *Dyews ‘Bright Sky’)” (Puhvel 130). Similarly the Norse Thor shares a root with the Gaulish Taranis, both reducing to *thunar-, meaning thunder (169). The similarities in the roots of the deity names are another point towards showing these archetypical roles being filled across Indo-European cultures as they are needed.

All in all, I think the similarities in myth cycles and language point towards the commonalities being more than just coincidence. It seems likely that all of the Indo-European cultures came from some base culture that then spread out and painted its way across the continent, sharing the language, myths, and values as it went. With that hypothesis we can use what we know of the myths and the languages to explore and compare the differences in the cultures and the values that they held.

 

Bibliography

Atsma, Aaron J. The Theoi Project : Greek Mythology. 2011. Web. 06 Apr. 2012 <http://www.theoi.com/>.

Atsma, Aaron J. “The Nymphai.” The Theoi Project : Greek Mythology. 2011. Web. 06 Apr 2012. <http://www.theoi.com/Cat_Nymphai.html>.

Bellows, Henry Adams. The Poetic Edda. Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen, 1991. Print.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2008. Print.

Crossley-Holland, Kevin. The Norse Myths. New York: Pantheon, 1980. Print.

Evelyn-White, Hugh G., trans. The Homeric Hymns. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1914. Perseus Digital Library. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu>.

Hesiod. Theogony ; Works and Days ; Shield. Trans. Apostolos N. Athanassakis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004. Print.

Hesiod. “XXIX: To Hestia.” Trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Epic Cycle, Homerica. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1922. Bartleby.com. Feb. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <https://www.bartleby.com/241/229.html>.

Holland, Leicester B. (1933). “The Mantic Mechanism at Delphi”. American Journal of Archaeology 37 (14): 204–214.

“Homer.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 06 Dec. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270219/Homer>.

Homer. The Illiad. Trans. Samuel Butler. The Internet Classics Archive. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.mb.txt>.

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. Ed. Bernard Knox. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.

Jones, Prudence, and Nigel Pennick. A History of Pagan Europe. London: Routledge, 1997. Print.

Parke, H. W. Festivals of the Athenians. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1977. Print.

Puhvel, Jaan. Comparative Mythology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1987. Print.

Rees, Alwyn D., and B. R. Rees. Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales. London: Thames and Hudson, 1961. Print.

Sephton, John, George Ainslie Hight, and W. G. Collingwood, trans. Viking Sagas: Erik the Red, Grettir the Strong, and Kormac the Skald. St Petersburg, FL: Red and Black. 2008 Print.

Serith, Ceisiwr. “Blessings, Honor and Worship to the Holy Ones.” ADF Neopagan DruidismAdf.org. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/rituals/chants/land-sea-sky/blessings-honor-worship.html>.

Squire, Charles. “The Gods in Exile.” Celtic Myths and Legends. New York: Gramercy, 1994. 132-52. Print.

Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda. Trans. Arthur G. Brodeur. Vol. 5. London: Oxford UP, 1923 Scandinavian Classics. New Northvegr Center. 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2012 <http://www.northvegr.org/>.

Initiate Intention Letter

1.     What draws you to the path of Initiation within ADF?
When I completed my DP I knew I was going to want to progress further, I just didn’t know in what way.  I started the GSP because the courses interested me, and would need to be completed for some of the Guild Study Programs I’m interested in, and along the way have found more and more that I want to delve deeper into my studies, my relationship with the Kindreds, and myself.  I have felt the urge to walk further down the path and continue further in my journey in the study and practice of worshiping in the Old Ways.  I never thought I would be a deeply religious person, but with each step further I take on the path, the further I feel myself drawn onwards, and I think the way of the Initiate is how I want to focus my training.
As I grow deeper within myself I want to be in a place where I can explain and guide others.  As an Initiate I want to be able to be a mentor to those also walking the path.  I want the training to be able to answer questions and be better able to guide the Folk.  I want to explore the liminal spaces that surround the work we do when we connect to the Kindreds.  I want to explore the different ways of doing magical and trance work, and experiment with new ways to find what works for me and what doesn’t in a framework that provides training as a baseline for that experimentation.  I want to be a part of work that is being done to strengthen our bonds with the Kindreds, strengthen our power in magical aspects, and strengthen the ties that bind ADF and all of it’s congregants together.
2.     What does being an Initiate mean to you?
I am hoping that walking this path will teach me what it is to be an Initiate.  It’s hard to say what I think it is now, but I see myself exploring the boundaries and focusing on the liminal aspects of Our Own Druidry.
In a group setting, I see an Initiate as a person who uses their training and focus to guide the folk on journeys.  They are someone who has the experience, willpower, and training necessary to safely and effective walk between the worlds and guide others in and out.  They can do magic on behalf of the Folk, and serve as a guide or voice in trance or divinatory work.
In relation to the Clergy, I think the Initiate can help serve the Folk in ways the Clergy may find difficult.  For instance, an Initiate may be more approachable in some situations or more freely able to meet a person on their level, or in a place that they find comfortable. They may also have more of an ability to travel and perform works of magic for the Folk, as they need.  These would be more than the celebratory rites and High Days and would be more focused on a task. As ADF grows as an organization I believe the Initiate will have more flexibility to be available to the Folk.  The Initiate would also be equipped with training similar to the Clergy, so in ritual would be a valuable tool that the Clergy could direct with confidence to complete magical workings on behalf of the Folk gathered.
As an individual, I see the Initiate as someone who is constantly striving to find a deeper connection with the Kindreds.  They are someone who is constantly forcing themselves to reexamine their own self and perceptions, as well as someone who is experimenting with ways to interact with the Kindreds.  They use their experience, knowledge, and devotion to gather around them powers that help them further the deeper work of magic and trance, allowing them to further their own practice and hopefully be able to apply that gained knowledge to eventually aid the Folk.
3.     What services do you hope to provide to your community with this training?
I want to be able to be a mentor to the Folk.  I see myself being someone that a person can come to for guidance and advice on a spiritual level or a more personal level.  Teaching is where my strengths lie, and I see that continuing and being adapted to the role of mentoring, counseling, and guidance. Beyond the ability to converse with people comfortably, I could see it taking the form of trance work combined with divination or other magical tasks, as well as helping others find where their own paths will take them.  When others find where their paths will take them, they can then begin applying knowledge and skills they have hopefully in turn learned from me.
I’m also very interested in the liminal spaces of devotion, ritual, and magic, specifically rites of passage.  Helping someone transition from one place in society to another.  I’m interested in the whole process taking them out of society, completing work that helps them transition, and then reintroducing them to society again in their new role.   In this transition I hope to help people learn more about and reflect on themselves in a deeper way.  I think this will be very important as ADF becomes a multi-generational organization.  We’re going to start having more and more children growing up as pagans, and I think Coming of Age rites will be needed in addition to any other training we can give our children.  I want to be a part of this progression.

Liturgy 1

  1. Describe the purpose and function of ritual. (minimum 300 words)

In general, the purpose of ritual is to form a relationship and connect with the divine, so that we then get something back from the divine. In the case of ADF, this means forming a *ghosti relationship with the Three Kindreds. We are praising them and offering to them so that we might receive their blessings. We are seeking to not only to receive blessing for ourselves and our kin, but also to “awaken that same divine spark in our own souls so that we can bless the world in return” (Corrigan “ADF Outline”).

There are also specific purposes for holding rituals. For example, when observing the eight High Days, we are holding ritual essentially in honor of the seasons. There are various deities who can be associated with each High Day, but the when and the why for the ritual is due to the occurrence of the world changing around us. The structure and predictability allows us to build community with those around us and also build a relationship with the Kindreds (Corrigan “Intentions”).

Another reason to hold ritual is for Rites of Passage. These are an important part of any religious tradition, being able to properly honor and mark those big moments in life: birth, death, coming of age, marriage, divorce, etc. These rituals invite the Kindreds to share in those important moments in our lives and also invite the community to take part (Corrigan “Intentions”).

The third reason to hold ritual, because we Druids work in threes, is for personal work. This can be in the form of simple devotional work, praise offerings, or offerings of thanks. It can be to seek out the help of patrons or other magical allies. It can be to do trance work or energy work. These are all valid reasons for ritual, and each have a purpose (Corrigan “Intentions).

So, in holding ritual, the participants are looking for help with a task, for a relationship with the divine, and/or building a community around shared beliefs or practices. I think in pagan traditions, as in many others, there is a desire to blend our religious practices and beliefs into our lives as much as possible. It therefore becomes difficult to separate out the magical from the mundane, and it is through setting out specific liturgy and rituals that we are able to do that.

  1. Describe some of the roles individuals might take on within the context of ritual. (minimum 100 words)

In ritual, as each step in the Core Order is worked through, there is a person performing the magical acts surrounding the steps.  That being said, one role that an individual could take in ritual is either reciting the words for a step, or performing the magical act, or preferably both, since words hold power.  This could be either Bard or Clergy. It is certainly not necessary for the same person to take on every magical act in a ritual.  For instance, it may be preferable to have one set of folks purifying and sanctifying the space and the folk, another set calling to the Kindreds, another set taking the Omen, and so on.  Another role that an individual could take would be the role of Sacrificer.  I’ve found in larger rituals it’s helpful to keeps things moving without losing energy to have one person designated to give the offerings, whether it’s libating wine, pouring oil of the fire, or lighting incense.

  1. Describe the concepts of the Center and the Gates in ADF’s Standard Liturgical Outline. (minimum 300 words)

The Center of the World is what is created in order to bring the focus of the Kindreds to us, and to allow our focus to extend beyond the mundane world. In many Indo-European cultures this is symbolized by the Fire, Well, and Tree, however only the fire is consistent through all Indo-European cultures. For, example, the Vedic culture there is only a fire, and in the Hellenic culture, rather than a tree there is an omphalos. However, the Center is still represented in these varying symbols. In any case, the idea is that as we create the Center of the World, we are aligning the Center of our world to the Center of all worlds. It is this alignment that allows us to communicate with the spirits on all levels.

The Gates are opened into what can be called Sacred Space both in our own minds and in the world(s). When the Gates are open the magic can flow more easily and the Kindreds have an easier time reaching us so that they can hear us and bless us (Brooks). When the Gates are opened, normally a Gatekeeper is requested to aid in the opening The gatekeeper is a being who often takes the role of psychopomp, which is a being that can walk between the world, or exist in all the worlds. One Gatekeeper who is invited to aid in the work is Hermes in Hellenic rituals. Through studying the lore we know that Hermes was able to transverse the worlds as Zeus’s messenger between the Upper-, Middle-, and Underworlds. In our grove we invite Garanos Crane to aid us in Opening the Gates. He is an example of a being that exists in all the Worlds. He has one foot in the water, one foot on the land, and an eye cast to the Sky, where he soars beyond the ninth wave.

  1. Discuss why ADF rituals need not have a defined outer boundary, or “circle” and the sacralization of space in ritual. (minimum 100 words)

All of the earth is sacred, and so we do not need to “create” that sacred space. What we do do in ADF ritual is recreate the cosmos to bring the attention of the Kindreds to us. They are already there, and the space is already sacred, we are more creating a space, like a room, that makes it easier for them to hear us and for us to hear them. It’s like filtering out the distractions of the mundane world. Most often in our rituals a boundary is still loosely defined, because we stand in a circle-ish shape, and this helps with visualization of the Center of the World, but it is not a locked out boundary, rather is more permeable than that. In ADF ritual people can come and go as they please. This helps because if someone has to depart for some reason (bathroom, children, etc.) they can leave with minimal disruption to the folk around them.

  1. Discuss the Earth Mother and her significance in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

The Earth Mother is a common thread through Indo-European mythology. In ADF ritual she is honored both first and last, and is given any and all unused offerings. This is fitting because while we arguably cannot be surrounded by the other aspects of our religion at all times, the Earth Mother is ever present, and existed before we arrived here, and will exist beyond our parting. So it is right that we should honor Her and respect Her, because she is our great provider and gives a home. The Earth Mother is sometimes addressed simply as such, or as the All-Mother, but in specific Indo-European cultures she is given a name, such as the Hellenic Gaea (who is rightly a Titan, and came before the Olympians, who are most commonly worshiped). Some people and Groves also prefer to think of the Earth Mother as a more localized spirit, specific to their place of worship. All of these ways of interpreting the honor that should be given to the Earth Mother are valid.  Another reason that the Earth Mother holds such significance in ADF liturgy is because not only is she generally the root and mother of us all, she is also very important in RDNA, one of the prominent organizations that ADF grew out of.

  1. Discuss the ritual significance of Fire and Water in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

Fire and Water are the two main ways of giving and receiving praise and blessings in ADF ritual. As the Fire and the Well connect us to the Kindreds, so do they connect the Kindred back to us. So when we make offerings, it is generally done in one of two ways. When an offering is made to the fire, the essence of that offering is transformed and sent up as smoke to the Heavens. When and offering is made to the Well, it is sunk in the waters. In ancient times this would more likely have been a natural well or river, and the offerings would have literally sunk down into the depths and darkness, to the place where the Ancestors dwell.

When seeking a return flow of blessings, this too is done through fire and water. In purifying the sacred space, incense is often lit, and wafted about each ritual participant, to grant the purity and blessings of the Kindreds to the participant. In the same way, after the Omen is taken and the folk call for the return flow, this is done through water. The folk call for the Waters, which are by their very nature sacred, and ask the Kindreds to fill them with their blessings, which are then drunk to bring those blessings into our body.

  1. Discuss the origins of the Fire, Well and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words for each of the Fire, Well and Tree)

The Fire is a great power. It brings light in the darkness. It brings warmth in the cold. It transforms our offerings into smoke that rises to the Heavens, carrying it to the Gods. The Fire is what brings the shining light of the Ouranic powers down on to us, to bathe us in wisdom, light and warmth. The Fire is prominent in many creation myths, as being something that the Gods had and the humans needed to make them “man.” In Greek myth Prometheus convinced Zeus to not destroy the race of man in addition to giving them fire (“Prometheus”). This fire was needed not only to help mankind survive, but also allowed them to burn offerings to the Gods. In ADF we use it as a piece of our sacred center because of its prominence in ancient worship and because it is a transformer and through it was can send our offerings to the Kindreds and allow them suffuse us in their blessings.

The Well contains the sacred waters and connects us to the dark cosmic and chthonic powers below. The Well connects to the underworld and allows the wisdom of our Ancestors to flow up through the blood of the Earth to fill us, sustain us, and nourish us. The idea concept of the Well being the connection to the Ancestors comes from the idea that in many myths the dead needs to cross water in order to move on. For example, in Greek myth the river Akherosian must be crossed with the help of Charon in order to reach the Underworld where the Ancestors dwell (“Charon). The concept of the Well and the origin of it comes from the idea that in Norse mythology Yggdrasil was rooted deep within the Well and from the Well came the Ancestors, our own fate, and great power. This is described in the Poetic Edda in the Grimnismol (Hare). In ADF we use it as a piece of our sacred center because it connects us to the Kindreds, and through archeological findings we know that metal was often offered to rivers and wells in ancient times.

The Tree is the crossroads. Its roots stretch deep into the Well and travel out through the world. Its branches reach up into the Heavens, where the primal fire dwells, and cascade around us here in the Mid Realm. The trunk is the center of the universe, connecting the fire and the water. The tree is like a great line of communication that connects us to the Ancestors below, the Nature Spirits here, and the Shining Ones above. It transverses the worlds and connects us to all beings. In ADF we use the tree as a piece of our sacred center because it is what holds the other pieces together. We use it as a crossroads to open the lines of communication and hold them open so that we may commune with the spirits (Paradox).

  1. Discuss the Outdwellers and their significance in ritual (or not, as the case may be). (minimum 100 words)

The Outdwellers are a rather unique feature to ADF ritual as opposed to other Neo-pagan rituals. Since we don’t form boundary to separate ourselves out from the world completely, there is the chance that being who would disrupt our ritual may interfere. So, the treaty with the Outdwellers is the part of ritual where we make a peace offering to beings whose purposes are cross with ours so that they will leave us be for us to perform ritual. I prefer to also think of the Outdwellers not only as beings who would distract from the work, but also as the feelings and emotions that have no place in the ritual work. When I make offerings to the Outdwellers I try to remove all things that would distract me from my purpose in ritual space. That means stepping aside from thoughts that resonate in the mundane world so that I can focus on the work at hand.

  1. Describe the intention and function of the Three Kindreds invocations, and give a short description of each of the Kindreds. (minimum 100 words for each of the Three Kindreds)

The Three Kindreds are the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones. The idea behind the invocations is that we are welcoming them and asking them to listen to us in our ritual. We’re going to give them gifts, and would like to receive blessings in return (the *ghosti) relationship. We invoke them to get their attention specifically so we can give them praise.

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. The Ancestors of my blood are those who I’m directing related to: grandparents, great-grand parents, and so on. The cultural Ancestors are all the people who have helped to shape our world and culture, and made it what it is today, whether through scientific discoveries, or work in the humanities, or through exploration. 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. The Ancestors of my hearth are those who are reflected in the lore, often as heroes. 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. 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. These nature spirits are those who are our spirit guides, our totems, or those to deliver omens. I see this second group of Nature Spirits as the tenders of the first.

The Shining Ones, the bright and numinous beings, are the Deities. They are the Gods talked about in myth and legend. They each have a domain that allows them to connect to each other and/or the mundane world. 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, generally considered to be the Gods of death. In this sense, calling them the Shining Ones, is generally a misnomer, since not all those Gods would “shine,” but the idea that they all radiate power fits.

  1. Describe other possible models for the “Filling Out the Cosmic Picture” sections. (minimum 100 words)

The common way that we fill out the cosmic picture in ADF is by invoking the Shining Ones, Nature Spirits, and Ancestors to join us in ritual space (Corrigan “Standard”). In this way all Shining Ones are called forth at once. A different way this could be done is by calling the beings based on the realms that they dwell in, such as the Underworld, Mid Realm, and Heavens. Thus, one could first call for all the beings of the Underworld to join in ritual. One would address each of the Three Kindreds residing in the Underworld, rather than assigning a Kindred to a place. In a similar fashion, one could call based on the Land, Sea, and Sky. I think the way that you invite the Three Kindreds to join in ritual and fill out the cosmic picture depends on the hearth culture that you’re working in. Some ways of calling out make more sense than others. For example, in Norse mythology, there are nine realms that spirits dwell in. It may make sense in this case to fill out the cosmic picture by calling out the beings of each realm rather than in other groupings.

  1. Discuss how one would choose the focus (or focuses) for the Key Offerings. (minimum 100 words)

The Key Offerings should be chosen after the purpose of the ritual is chosen. If the ritual is a High Day, and specific deities are associated with the culture that the High Day is being celebrated in, then the offerings made should reflect the purpose and values of that High Day and that Deity of the Occasion. If the ritual being held is more of a general blessings ritual with no specific deity being called, then what kinds of general offerings were made to all the spirits being offered to? For instance, knowing that Apollo in Greek myth valued bay or laurel, that is what you could offer to him specifically, but if the ritual was for a general blessing in the Hellenic hearth culture, then oil, wine, or barley would be acceptable because those were common offerings made in Greek ritual. If the rite being held is for a specific purpose, such as healing, then what kinds of offerings do the healing Deities being called on ask for? Or, more generally speaking, what kinds of materials or tool would be beneficial in a healing and could be offered? So, overall, it is more important to identify the purpose of the ritual, and the Key Offerings will follow.

  1. Discuss your understanding of Sacrifice, and its place in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

Sacrifice is literally “to make sacred,” from the Latin roots sacer (sacred) and facere (to make), so in ritual, when making a sacrifice, you are taking the thing that is being offered and making it sacred so it can be a gift to the Kindreds. It applies well with the general idea that a sacrifice is a gift to the Gods of something that is being removed from human usage.  So, a sacrifice should then be something that has meaning to both the person making the sacrifice, and the being that they are sacrificing to; it should be a gift. When this gift is given part of the *ghosti relationship is formed. We, the folk, have given of something to the Kindreds, and they will in return give us something back. Some examples of this are the Return Flow or the shared meal. A sacrifice is made and we are then given something in return to bless us and sustain us (Thomas).  The shared meal can take a few different forms.  In a Dumb Supper (normally this occurs at Samhain, or another celebration of the Ancestors) a food plate is prepared specifically for the Ancestors and the Folk, or the family, eat in silence at the table with the Ancestors.  The idea behind the silence is that we speak all throughout the year, and so at the Dumb Supper we are to listen to the Ancestors, and we we speak it is only about them.  The potluck feast after a ritual is another example of the shared meal.  During this time, after we have tended the relationship we have with the Kindreds, we are coming together as a community to share a meal with our fellows and the Kindreds.  Part of the meal is offered to them, and the reset is shared amongst the Folk in fellowship.

  1. Discuss your understanding of the Omen. (minimum 100 words)

The Omen is the part of the ritual where the Seer asks questions of the Kindred to some end. In our personal Grove rites we ask three questions: 1) What is our path? 2) On what should the Grove focus until the next Druid Moon? and 3) On what should each individual focus until the next Druid Moon. I think these demonstrate one way of taking the omen. The Seer is asking for guidance as a whole: where have we been, where are we now, and where are we going? He is then asking for a focus to get us where we are going on two levels: the level of the folk and the personal level. I think it’s important that when the Omen is taken that it resonate with each person present. By deliberately asking for an individual focus, this call for that. Some other common ways of taking the Omen are by asking for what each Kindred offers as a blessing (or a warning, in the case of a bad omen). Some ask whether or not the offerings have been accepted as the first question and some assume that since the offerings were made in good faith, that they have been accepted.

  1. Discuss your understanding of the Blessing Cup, or “Return Flow”. (minimum 100 words)

The Return Flow is a very important part of the *ghosti relationship that we share with the Kindreds. By sacrificing we have given of ourselves and that means that something must now be given in return. As far as what is given in the Return Flow, what we are drinking from the Blessing Cup, is determined by the Omens. One of the common ways of taking omens is by specifically asking what each Kindred blesses the folk with. By asking these questions it is then determined what we are receiving in return from the Kindreds. For example, sometimes the Kindreds offer us wisdom, gifts, or advise us of new beginnings, and sometimes they caution us against difficulties to come.  These omens, of course, depend on the divination system used and the Seer in question.  In any case however, when the Folk drink of the Blessing Cup, they take the energies of the Kindreds into themselves. Following the Return Flow is either a working if required by the rite, or the beginning of restoration of the ordinary. The Return Flow is the first step in “powering down” from all the energy that has been circling around in a ritual. The folk take of the blessings and that thereby takes them out of the space. If there is a working to be done then the folk have been filled with the power of the Kindreds when they drank from the Blessing Cup and so have enough energy to be able to complete the working. If there is not, then the folk take what they need of the Return Flow and, as with all else left unused, give the rest back to the Earth Mother.

  1. Describe possible cultural variances for elements discussed in questions 3 through 14 above. (minimum 100 words)

The cultural variances to the above questions are what give a ritual its flavor. One of the places where there is often cultural variance is in the creation of the Sacred Center with the Fire, Well, and Tree. In Vedic culture Agni is a deity of fire, and it is his fire that accepts the Sacrifices. A Vedic ritual will have three fires associated with Agni, the domestic fire, the ritual fire, and the solar fire, rather than the Fire, Well and Tree (Elout). This means that in Vedic ritual there may only be the Fire, and in that culture, the Fire connects all things and so is all that is necessary. In Hellenic culture Zeus found Delphi to be the Center of the world, and it is designated by the omphalos (navel). Thus, in Hellenic rites the Tree can beis replaced with the omphalos. In Roman rites, the Tree is often replaced with the Doorway of Janus. Janus is the god of the threshold, and thus stands at the Crossroads and the Center of the Worlds. Another variance that takes place regarding Hellenic ritual is the placement of the Earth Mother. Traditionally in a Hellenic ritual, Hestia is always honored first and last, thus when working through the opening prayers, Hestia may be honored prior to the Earth Mother in order to keep consistent with that hearth practice.

  1. Describe how ADF liturgy corresponds with your personal or group practice. (minimum 100 words)

I have found the standard Core Order to be a bit cumbersome for personal work that takes the form of devotionals at my home shrine; however, I enjoy the feeling that I get from following the ritual format in other work. For instance, at least once a week I like to do a full Core Order ritual (minor adjustments made for my Hellenic hearth). I find it to be very powerful for creating and maintaining a sacred and creative space. While I do devotionals more to offer praise to the Kindreds, I prefer the structure of the Core Order when I’m doing workings at my hearth, such as writing for religious purposes. I also perform rituals that are more of a reconstructionist bent when I’m celebrating a specific Hellenic Feast Day that has no easy equivalent to general Indo-European Feast Days.

Being a member of Three Cranes Grove, in our High Day rituals we follow a full Core Order, though our Druid Moons use a modified Core Order that have the Gates being opened first, and then having the folk enter. I like the variation of ritual formats that I experience because while I find the Core Order to be powerful and meaningful, I think I would get caught up too easily in “going through the motions” if that’s all I did. So, for me, I think the variation is better. It leads each individual type to be stronger for the experience of the many.

Additional Question: Is it possible that we give offerings to the Kindreds for what they have already given us? Is it presumptuous to think that if we give gifts to the Kindreds that they must be returned?

I think it’s a totally fair assumption that we are giving offerings to the Kindreds for things that they’ve given us. The nature of the relationship is that we can never give enough thanks for what they give us. This means that we give what we can, when we can, and from our hearts. It is the kind of close relationship where you don’t worry about who gave first, or keeping track to make sure you’re even. A relationship of love doesn’t require that things be even, only that each give as he can in a truly meaningful way. It’s like getting a birthday card from a child. They drew it and spent time on it, and it means so much more than any store bought card they could have gotten.

This also means that in giving gifts, because we’re not keeping score, we don’t need to expect every gift be returned. All will come around in the end, and if it doesn’t, then just as a one-sided friendship eventually fades, so too will that relationship with that particular Deity. In this sense, it is also important to remember that not all gifts are tangible. A child can give little to a parent beyond joy, hope, love, and wonder. And for most parents that is more than enough to maintain that relationship. So too is our relationship with the Kindreds.
Bibliography

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20 Jan. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/ritual-primer.html>.

“Charon.” Theoi Greek Mythology. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <http://www.theoi.com/

Khthonios/Kharon.html>.

Corrigan, Ian. “The ADF Outline of Worship: A Briefing for Newcomers.” Ár NDraíocht Féin:

A Druid Fellowship. ADF.org. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/rituals/

explanations/prerite-briefing.html>.

Corrigan, Ian. “The Intentions of Drudic Ritual.” Ár NDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF.

Web. 22 Jan. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/intentions.html>.

Corrigan, Ian. “Standard Liturgical Outline.” Ár NDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF.

Web. 20 Jan. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/brief-lit.html>.

Elout, Maarten. “The History of Fire Ritual in Asia.” The Mouth of the Gods. 2006. Web. 20

Jan. 2012. <http://www.maartenelout.com/com/history-of-fire-ritual-in-asia.html>.

Hare, John B., ed. “Grimnismol.” The Poetic Edda. Trans. Henry A. Bellows. Princeton:

Princeton UP, 1937. Sacred Texts. July 2001. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <http://www.

sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe06.htm>.

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Fellowship. ADF. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/

sacred-space.html>.

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/Titan/TitanPrometheus.html>.

Thomas, Kirk. “The Nature of Sacrifice.” Ár NDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF. Web.

20 Jan. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nature-of-sacrifice.html>.

General Bardic Studies

  1. Indo-European Culture: Discuss in general terms the bardic arts prevalent within a single (preferably ancient) Indo-European culture; explain how those bardic arts fit into that culture and religion. (300-600 words)

Ancient Greece was very prolific in the arts. One is able to see what types of bardic arts by looking at the gods. The Greeks honored the nine Muses as the leaders in these arts. Each had her own specialty: Calliope was the Muse of epic poetry; Erato, love poetry; Euterpe, lyric poetry; Melpomene, tragedy; Thalia, comedy; Clio, history; Urania, astronomy; Polyhymnia, sacred song; and Terpsichore, dance” (Littleton). They were well honored by the artists of their time. Most plays, epic poetry recitals and works of music and art began with an invocation to the nine muses to hear and bless the works. The first of the bardic arts to flourish in Ancient Greece is the oral tradition of poetry. This was because writing had disappeared for a time, and the stories and histories were kept alive through songs and oral poetry (Krentz). This reflects the value that the Greeks placed on remembering the past glories of their heroes and the stories that told of their people and their gods. Around 800 BC writing returned to Greece, and Homer is famously remembered for writing down two epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey (Krentz).

Once writing had returned to Greece a plethora of works began to be created, including drama, epic and lyrical poetry, philosophical essays, and histories. The dramatic plays in Ancient Greece were both tragedies and comedies. Not only were these written works of drama, but they were also often accompanied by music. Musicians also performed at festivals and private parties. “The music of the Greeks relied chiefly on melody and rhythm. Harmony was unknown to the Greeks” (Krentz). The plays told stories of the gods in such a way that they would be like the soap operas of their time. They also told of how the ethics and morals of the gods came into play in the lives of man.

The great tragic playwrights of the time were Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The tragedies explored human emotions and also how the people of Ancient Greece viewed the gods in their lives. Many of the tragedies that are described happen because the characters have offended the gods or have gone against one of the decrees or values that the society held at the time, such as controlling hubris, offering hospitality, and caring for one’s family. Aristophanes is the most famous of the comedic playwrights. “His plays reflect the spirit of Athens at that time, with the Athenians’ sense of freedom, vitality, and high spirits, and their ability to laugh at themselves” (Myrsiades). This is especially true because once Athens lost the Peloponnesian War, their freedom of speech was curbed and the comedy plays that included political satire were banned, meaning that only comedies about individuals and their personal problems could be written about. The comedic plays reflect the same types of stories that were told about the gods in the myths, making the gods lives more relatable to the humans on earth.

Another art form that Ancient Greece is known for is poetry. Epic poems, such as those written by Homer, are ones that often relate the histories of the people and the culture. In them, the reader can see how the people lived, what kinds of things they valued, and how they viewed and interacted with the gods on a daily basis. “The Iliad and the Odyssey emphasized ideals of honor and bravery and had enormous influence on Greek culture and education as well as Greek literature” (Myrsiades). The epic poems were tales that explained how intimately the people were involved with the gods, and how the gods were part of the lives of the people.

Hesiod is another famous Greek poet that wrote Theogony and Works and Days. These tell, respectively, the story of how the gods came to be, and how the Greek peasants lived. The former is an important piece of work because of how it codifies the stories of some of the gods and is where many of the creations myths of the gods are told; the latter is essential in understanding how the day-to-day lives of the people played out. It not only explained to the peasants how they should live, but also shows us now how they carried out tasks and how the gods influenced their lives everyday (Myrsiades).

One other art form that was prevalent in later Greek culture was philosophical writing. Prose became the preferred form of writing over verse. These later writings focused more on rhetoric, the art of composing and delivering persuasive speeches. These became an important part of life in Greece, especially in Athens, as a way to operate with a democracy. Famous orators, such as Isocrates and Demosthenes, used this bardic art in their political careers (Myrsiades).

 

 

  1. Genres: Describe four “genres” of bardic arts, at least one of which must be poetry. For each genre, compare and contrast its appearance and/or use in two single (preferably ancient) Indo-European cultures. The two cultures need not be the same for all four genres. (300 words each)

Poetry

Poetry is seen in both Hellenic and Norse Indo-European cultures. The most notable examples of epic poetry in the Hellenic culture are The Iliad and The Odyssey. These were works by Homer that were excessively long (more than 16,000 verses) and followed a strict formula of repetitive hexameter using noun-epithet pairings. Homer used what is called “cumulative poetic structure,” where a verse is made up by adding phrase upon phrase, and a description of a single person or event is made up by adding verse upon verse (“Homer”). The works of Homer were likely written between the 7th and 9th centuries BC, more than 1000 years before the Poetic Edda was recorded 11th century.

Edda, meaning story or song, is what the Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson called his work, and it was later given to the Poetic Edda as well. The Poetic Edda is collection of 38 anonymous poems, with a bit of prose thrown in between, that tells the stories of the gods and heroes of Iceland. Twenty-four of the tales tell about the heroes of Iceland, their deeds and their values. The other fourteen are more founded in mythology, containing information about both the beginning and the end of the universe. The longest of the lays, “The Sayings of the High One,” is most useful in studied the medieval people of Scandinavia, because is reveals the morals they held and the wisdom they followed (Ringler “Edda”). The structure of the Poetic Edda uses alliteration and strophic, or chorus form. Like nearly all oral tradition poetry, these devices made the pieces easy to remember, and flow well off the tongue.

Both of these examples of poetry were the main ‘textbooks’ for the children and folk of their cultures to learn the legends and mythology of their cultures (Shelmerdine). The examples also hold similar worth to modern culture and studies today, being some of the important bits of written work from the culture that have been preserved and give us the same insight into those cultures as the ancient people had by reading or hearing them the first time. They differ in their writing style, Homer’s work being truly epic in size and scope while still telling a singular storyline, and the Poetic Edda being more serialized in it’s stories, much as an anthology would be. In structure, the work of Homer utilized the cumulative poetic structure in order to aid memorization, while the Poetic Edda used a variety of poetic devices.

Music & Song

Music is a truly ancient art that has its roots as deep as human history. People most likely began singing as soon as basic language was developed, and that singing has progressed and transcended through cultures and changing times and regimes. People use music and song to express feelings and ideas, like love, pain, sadness, and revolution. People use music and song in religious ceremonies and in work. Music is used to create sacred space and set a tone that separates sacred space from the ordinary world. Song is use in work to help the work seem easier by keeping spirits high and in tasks that require cooperate, keeping all the people in rhythm with each other (Tunks).

One of the oldest surviving pieces of music from ancient Greece is the Epitaph of Seikilos. It demonstrates the way in which music of the time still captured the motions and feelings of the folk then. Because the Greeks existed in a culture where writing flourished and was encouraged, the music is notated (surprising in what seems a rudimentary form of ABC notation) and the lyrics are clearly written in 4 lines of iambic pentameter. There were many other songs in ancient Greece that have passing descriptions, from work songs to songs praising a specific deity, to songs of advice, and songs recalling adventures. Most of these songs have not survived other than begin mentioned by writers like Athenaeus, Pollus, and Plutarch (Mathiesen).

The music of India first became popular in Hindu temples and in the courts of the maharajahs of India. Indian music operates very differently that Western music, using a different scale than we are used to hearing. The notes of the scale in Indian music are called ragas, and each has a meaning that is associated with certain moods, seasons, or time of day. Whereas Western music (with the exception of jazz) rarely improvises and uses written music to perform he same way each time, in Indian music that performer chooses a raga that fits with what they are trying to achieve with their music, and then improvises around the notes in that scale (Tunks).

These two cultures differ in their notation of music and the style of performing. Whereas the Greeks have many examples of written music, and perform the music as written, the Indians know the ragas, but rely on improvisation in performance rather than following a score of music.

Storytelling

Storytelling was a popular pastime for many ancient cultures. Oral tradition was a way to pass on information that couldn’t be recorded due to lack of writing or illiteracy. It connects generations, cultures, and societies (Carlson). Bards in ancient cultures were the transmitters of knowledge and the people who had the ability to bridge cultures as the ‘cultural paintbrush’ swept across Europe. They often did this through stories that explained how to react to different situations, taught morals, stories of the gods, and provided answers to what came before and what comes after. Early storytelling in cultures probably took the form of chants that praised the heavenly bodies and expressed joy in life. As people became curious about the world around cultures developed stories and myths that tried to explain natural occurrences, such as day and night and the earth and oceans. While many people in a community told stories, the best became the bards. They were the entertainers and historians of the group (Carlson).

In Scandinavia, there were poets called skalds. They were the court poets, and came mostly from Iceland. Most of their stories praised the kings and rulers whom they served. Much of their work is preserved in the Icelandic sags of the 1100s and 1200s. It was a formulaic form of storytelling that made it easy to memorize, thanks to regulated patterns of alliteration, consonance, and kennings (a type of extended metaphor) (Ringler “Skald”).

In the Celtic world stories were told by the filidh, the Celtic bards, who were educated upper-class men designated as guardians of their oral-based culture. They kept track of the Celtic history and mythology. Each filidh had at least 12 years of training in order to learn a huge number of stories, verse, histories, and genealogies. They were trained to maintain a deep concentration, be able to memorize easily and weave words as easily as a spinner weaves a tapestry. They were highly respected members of society, and it was an honor for people to host them in their homes in exchange for tales. The Celts believed the spoken word and the power of memory were gifts from the gods. “The spoken word held the power of breath, was literally inspiration, which was considered a gift from the great goddess Brigit, patron of poetry and divination” (Freeman). This power of the spoken word linked simple tales from entertainment to magical acts and gave words the power to invoke the deities. The title fili, which in generally translated as meaning “poet” or “storyteller,” has also been interpreted as meaning “weaver of spells.” As Christian religion came to the Celtic world the filidh survived taking over many of the roles that had once belonged to the other two groups of the three-fold division, the bards and druids (Freeman).

These two culture differ in their approach to storytelling in that the Norse skalds created stories based on how they would be received. They told of histories and conquests, and served the kings rulers. The Celtic filidh were part of the hierarchy and commanded respect and rank in their own right. They were highly trained and knew literally hundreds on stories. Another difference is the difference between stories that were written and those that were spoken. In Nordic culture the lays were more likely to be written down, even if later in history. In the Celtic world, because of the magical acts tied to the spoken versus the written word, tales weren’t written down much until Christians came and began writing things down, but influencing the written product.

 Law

The practice of law goes back far in human history, probably because fairness is universal human drive and desire, and justice is often considered an important virtue to cultivate. The important Gods of a pantheon nearly always contained one whose domain included Justice. For example Zeus in Greek mythology and Jupiter in Roman mythology both were defenders of Justice. Law is a bardic art because it was those educated people who were chosen by both the public and the will of the gods to dispense the justice that the gods demanded. The bards had the responsibility and skill to handle difficult conflicts and use the written laws to explain the consequences.

In Rome the people created their first written public code of law in 451 BCE called The Twelve Tables. It was simple and basic, printed on tablets that were attached to the speaker’s podium in the Roman Forum. The idea was that all Roman citizens were equal and afforded the same basic rights. They were based on civil, criminal and religious customs that dealt with everything from building codes, to marriage, to murder. The laws themselves were written up by decemvirs, members of a council of 10 men, and later all Roman boys were required to memorize these laws. It is thanks to this required memorization that the basic tenets of the laws were preserved (Bannon). The legal system in Rome grew and became more complex as time went by and more detailed tenets were needed to answer the growing problems. There was still a general law called jus gentium (law of nations) that was mostly common-sense ideas of fairness and took local tradition and customs into account. Rome became the first society with bards specially trained to interpret the law for people seeking counsel. These bards are now called lawyers (Nice). 

In Greece the first written code of law was introduced by Draco in 621 BCE. Before it was introduced many people in Athens were unhappy with the justice system because if was unfair and unclear. Only a few aristocratic judges knew the laws, and they often favored the higher-class citizens. When Draco put the laws into writing he made it so people could read for themselves what the laws were. It took a lot of the unfair power out of the hands of the nobility and put in back in the hands of the people where everyone was on equal ground. Draco is often criticized today for the laws he wrote because of how harsh the consequences were. “Draco’s code was said to be “written in blood” because it made almost all crimes punishable by death” (Kagan). However, even though the punishments may have seemed cruel or harsh, they were at least fair to all prosecuted. Before the written laws retribution for murder was left to the victims family, and bloody feuds between families happened all too often. The Draconian Code helped Athens become one of the first city-states in Greece because it placed the responsibility for upholding the law with the government (Kagan).

The difference in these two cultures is hard to separate due to their similarities, but exists more in the complexity of the laws. In the Greek culture, the laws were harsh, but equal. They were more a written form that clarified those customs and traditions that many knew. The Draconian laws are criticized later in history due to their harshness. This differs from the Roman laws, which are often praised for being the beginnings of modern law. The Roman laws were much more complex, probably in part because as the Roman Empire grew, so did it’s need to take other cultures into account. The Greeks didn’t have as much to worry about on that front, and so didn’t have as much need for specialized knowledge or specialized laws.

 

  1. Forms/styles: Describe four forms or styles of bardic arts in either ancient or modern times or a combination of each. Include examples of each form. At least one such description should be for a poetic form; the remainder can be for any bardic form or style. (100 words each [examples not to be included in word count])

Epic Poetry

Epic poems are long narrative poems. They generally tell the story of a hero and his deeds or the acts of the gods. At first epics were part of an oral tradition meaning that they were very formulaic. This allowed for the ease of memorization. The singers of these epics would play the lyre while they used the broad outline of a tale to sing their story. They used oral, formulaic writing, meaning that they had a set of memorized descriptions, phrases, and scenes that they fit into their story.

Later epics were written in a metered form, began with an invocation to a divine being for inspiration, and started in the middle of the story (in medias res). In Greek epics, such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, noun-epithet pairings were used to help the poet fit into the metered form (hexameter in this case) and to aid in memorization.

An example from The Odyssey that includes an epithet is: “So when rosy-fingered Dawn made love to Orion, you precious gods were all of you furious till Diana went and killed him in Ortygia. So again when Ceres fell in love with Iasion, and yielded to him in a thrice-ploughed fallow field, Jove came to hear of it before so very long and killed Iasion with his thunderbolts” (Homer).

 

Lyric Poetry

Lyric poetry is called such because it was originally sung as lyrics, accompanied by the lyre. It came after the epics, as most often describes personal feelings rather than heroic acts. A famous Greek poet, Sappho, was especially well known for his compositions in melic poetry, a sub-section of lyric poetry. “No Greek love poetry has ever matched the passion and tragic feeling of Sappho’s verse” (Myrisiades). Melic poems are extremely emotional and rarely include didactic or satirical elements. It is also written for a single voice, as opposed to choral arrangements, which were meant to be sung by many voices. Melic poems were also mean to be sung in front of close friends of the gods, as opposed to in groups.

Here is a love poem written by Sappho in the lyric style, translated by Ambrose Philips:

Blest as the immortal gods is he,

The youth who fondly sits by thee,

And hears and sees thee, all the while,

Softly speaks and sweetly smile.

 

‘Twas this deprived my soul of rest,

And raised such tumults in my breast;

For, while I gazed, in transport tossed,

My breath was gone, my voice was lost;

 

My bosom glowed; the subtle flame

Ran quick through all my vital frame;

O’er my dim eyes a darkness hung;

My ears with hollow murmurs rung;

 

In dewy damps my limbs were chilled;

My blood with gentle horrors thrilled:

My feeble pulse forgot to play;

I fainted, sunk, and died away.

Rhetoric/Speeches

The art of rhetoric, or oration, is the art of writing and giving speeches that persuade others to the way you want them to see things using literary devices, such as similes, metaphors, and hyperbole. Speech-making began in Athens around 400 BC, and Aristotle wrote extensively on the art of rhetoric, famously divided the types of arguments one can use into three categories: “(1) ethical (the influence of the speaker’s personality); (2) pathetic (the influence of the speaker’s use of emotional appeal); and (3) logical (the influence of the use of formal principles of reasoning in proof)” (Copeland). These are still the same three categories that are taught in speech and argumentative writing classes today, where they are referred to as ethos, pathos, and logos. Cicero is perhaps the most notable orator, and is still remembered for his division of steps to prepare for a speech: “(1) invention (analysis of speech situation and audience, investigation and study of subject matter, and selection of speech materials); (2) disposition (the arrangement of the speech materials under what we now call introduction, discussion, and conclusion); (3) style (the use and grouping of words to express ideas clearly, accurately, vividly, and appropriately); (4) memory (methods of memorizing material); and (5) delivery (the oral presentation)” (Copeland). When working to write, memorize, and deliver a speech, it is still good practice to take Cicero’s five steps into account to be sure the speech carries the weight the speaker intends.

Here is an excerpt from a speech given by Cicero:

“When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now? Do not the nightly guards placed on the Palatine Hill—do not the watches posted throughout the city—does not the alarm of the people, and the union of all good men—does not the precaution taken of assembling the senate in this most defensible place—do not the looks and countenances of this venerable body here present, have any effect upon you? Do you not feel that your plans are detected? Do you not see that your conspiracy is already arrested and rendered powerless by the knowledge which every one here possesses of it? What is there that you did last night, what the night before— where is it that you were—who was there that you summoned to meet you—what design was there which was adopted by you, with which you think that any one of us is unacquainted?”

Drama

Drama in the context of Ancient Greece fell into two very broad categories: comedy and tragedy. Both were used to both entertain and teach moral lessons regarding those who went against the laws of the gods or the customs of their culture.  Drama also often allowed the people of the city-states to examine a political situation that could not have otherwise been brought to light or been discussed. For instance, in Medea, when a match is made between Jason and Medea on questionable grounds, it all ends tragedy, with her children killed by her own hand, a reprehensible act. In the ancient version, the children were killed by the people of Corinth, but with Euripides retelling the people of Greece were able to examine the concept of the mother versus the motherland destroying her own people and for what reasons. Drama in our modern society is still used to draw eyes to situations and circumstances that could not be broached by polite discourse. Such is the case with The Crucible, commenting on the Red Scare, and Gone Too Far, commenting on racism.

 

 

  1. Bardic Figure: Describe the life, fame and general techniques of a historical or mythical bardic figure in a (preferably ancient) Indo-European culture. (minimum 300 words)

Homer is the great blind poet of Ancient Greece, blessed by the Muses and well known, specifically for his writing of The Iliad and The Odyssey. It is unknown if all of these works were even written by the same man or if two or more different men wrote them. Very little is actually known about Homer. The only things that are known about him have been gleaned from his works. He is thought to have been from Ionia, due the prevalence of the Ionian dialect in the epics, though there is no record of him having lived in any specific place. The people of Chios claim him, as his descendants and prodigies, the Homeridae, lived on Chios, one of the islands in Ionia. It is postulated that he lived sometime between the 7th and 9th centuries BC. The elements that point to this are certain technological and martial advances of that time period, as well as the slang and idioms common during that era. It was Homer who codified the epics in writing (“Homer”).

Before Homer wrote down The Iliad and The Odyssey the great bards of old were known as aoidos, or singers. Homer refers to them as such in his works, and describes them singing songs that tell stories, but could be related in one sitting to their audience. Before Homer, poetry remained an oral tradition, and as such descriptive details in the poems would change and grow with each telling and depending on who the audience was (Gascoigne).  When Homer wrote down his epic poems, he introduced a new concept: stories that could be recorded in writing, told nearly the same way every time, and told in episodes. These poems “could achieve new and far more complex effects, in literary and psychological terms, than those attainable in the more anecdotal and episodic songs of his predecessors” (“Homer”).

The style of writing that Homer used classifies him as an aoidos, though of longer works. It seems through his use of words in his work that he must have started as an ordinary aoidos and began memorizing and building his own repertoire of songs and phrases, thus it would have been easier for him to replicate the style and form in The Iliad and The Odyssey. He wrote formulaic poems, using commonly known epithets that were already being used in other works of oral poetry. These were used because they fit the requirements of hexameter, and were already accepted as the contemporary form of poetry and song at the time, and because of their easily memorizable nature.

The work of Homer is perhaps the most influential classical work in Western literature. This is in part to the sheer number of translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey, but also because of the value that the Greeks at the time placed upon the great epics. The stories reflect the values of the Ancient Greek culture, and as such were used as educational sources for teaching about morals and living in the world in general, and were viewed as a representation of the unity of the Hellenic peoples through their common heroes and acts of heroism. Homer did not only influence the writing of contemporary western society, but also many of the same things he used in his oral poetry are still observable in living oral traditions today. He was building on the ability of oral poets to elaborate and expand on existing works. An aoidos would listen to others tell a story and replace unfamiliar words or parts with some phrase, scene or theme he is already familiar with. He would also expand on the story to include parts that he knows that are missing. “Every singer in a living oral tradition tends to develop what he acquires” (“Homer”).  Homer, whether one man or many, has literature that has remained alive and viable for more than 2500 years, and as such is still considered an important part of our education today.

  1. Role of the Modern Bard: Describe the role of the modern-day, Neopagan bard in the context of ritual (100 words), Ar nDraiocht Fein (100 words) and the greater Neopagan community (100 words).

The role of a bard in history had many faces. They were teachers and keepers of history, entertainers and mediators, and also aided in rituals by calling out to the gods and lending their energy. This is similar to how the role of the bard translates into the modern context.

The duties of the modern-day, Neopagan bard in the context of ritual include a few different things. The first of which is to be present to be sure the folk are prepared with the songs, and to lead in the energy raising that is produced with music and song. The bard is often also in charge of leading or having integral parts of the working or the Calling of the Waters. While this may seem to be a more priestly duty at first, it is also an act which requires a great deal of “meta-physical juice” and that is something that the bard is able to create and, with practice, control and guide in the workings required. In addition to this kind of energy work, the bard is often also tasked with being sure that the energy raised in a ritual doesn’t fade. For instance, between parts of the CooR, the folk can sometimes lose focus and thus the energy level will fall, but the bard can keep all the folk engaged and the energy level high with song while the leaders of the ritual prepared for the next portion.

In Ar nDraíocht Fein, the bard continues some of the same functions as she does in ritual, but also takes on more of the teaching and keeper of history role. This is something that we have not seen too much of yet, mostly I think because we are still a very young organization. As keepers of history, the idea of having the bards write out our history in song and story has been toyed with, but not too much has come of it yet. There have been a few who have written down some of the bigger happenings in ADF, but more have been on a playful note, rather than serious. This isn’t to say that the two can’t be mixed, but rather that there is a lot more that can be done to further the keeping of our own history. I also see the bards of ADF taking on a more active role in teaching through song. It is one of the most effective ways that young children are taught, and those methods work for many people. In addition, as ADF grows and matures as an organization more children will have the opportunity to be raised in our tradition, and it will be then that having songs to teach the young will be very beneficial.

As far of the modern-day, Neopagan bard in the larger community is concerned, I think there are leaps and bounds that can be made, especially using the “mediator-hat”. Music is a universal language, and that means that even if our beliefs don’t align exactly with other groups, or even not at all, there is something to be said for the power of music to bring folk together. As a larger Neo-Pagan community, there is a long way to go before equal rights are recognized for our minority status as a religion. If the modern-day bards, from multiple traditions, can create and perform music that helps to unite us as a movement, then that’s one more step that can bring us further away from having to fear prejudice in our secular community.

 

  1. Practical Bardry: Compose or find a bardic piece (of any appropriate genre or form) suitable for ADF ritual. Describe the process you used for discovery and/or composition of the piece and how it was (or could be) used effectively in a ritual context. (100 words [text of piece not to be included in word count])

This piece, “The Call the Brighde,” is something I wrote and use as an invocation when making offerings to Brighde in ritual space. I like using it because it addresses each of her domains succinctly, and as it praises her also asks for her blessing in those areas. As happens most often when I write, the tune came to me first, with some of the words to accompany it. I first worked out the rhythm and syllabic counts of each line (so it would fit the tune I kept hearing in my head), and then determined if I wanted to have a firm rhyme scheme. Then it was a matter of listening for the message and writing down the words that would fit with the format I’d come up with.

“The Call to Brighde”

Brighde of the Sacred Flame,

Hold me in your arms tonight.

Brighde with your healing words,

Fill me with your healing light.

 

Brighde of the heated forge,

Strengthen and temper me.

Brighde with your waters pure,

Let the rain wash down on me.

 

Brighde, you’re a poet wise.

Let your wisdom flow through me.

Brighde with you honeyed words,

Fill me with your melody.

 

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