Anniversary of Marriage Ritual

Thom and I are doing a ritual for our anniversary.  Kind of vow renewal/ reaffirmation type thing.  I wrote it so it can be done year after year.  It draws heavily from our original wedding liturgy that I wrote with some help from MJD.  We still have our familial flames and our unity candle (they live on my Ancestors altar) as well as our hand fasting ribbons.  After doing this brief reaffirmation, Thom and I both felt just as drawn together as we did the day of our wedding.  Following is the text:

 

I call out now to Hera, Queen of the Gods,

and to Aphrodite, Goddess of Passion and Love!

 

Hera,

Heavenly Queen, stately, poised, and graceful.

Queen to and Men, Partner to the Thundering Zeus.

Bestower of cool breezes, gentle rains, and clear skies.

You whose presence honors any wedding day,

Whose favor blesses any union,

I sing your praises, and bid you join us here.

Hera, you help to form the bonds of kith and kin.

Joiner of hearts, protector of marriage,

Benefactress of weddings and marital harmony.

Flexible as the Willow, Fierce as the Lion,

Love as bright as the peacock’s feather.

I sing your praises and bid you join us here.

 

Aphrodite,

Foam born, sweet and gentle,

Shaper of passions as you guide us to the bridal bed,

Spinning hearts together like the finest silk.

You who watch with honest love, O Great Goddess,

As we pledge ourselves to one another.

I sing your praises and bid you join us here.

Aphrodite, you turn the hearts of men and women towards love,

Kindle in us the deepest desire.

Laughter-loving goddess, enflaming our union,

With you our breath quickens, our hearts pound.

Brightest gold shines with your kiss on our lips.

Bountiful and Beautiful,

I sing your praises and bid you join us here.

 

We come back together now, just as we did in 2011, to rededicate ourselves to each other.  Where before we chose our own path based on our own feelings and desires, we made a conscious choice to decide now as one where our life and our path shall lead, and today, as we made that decision ___ years ago, we again choose to continue together down the same path.

 

Jan and Thom each light their familial fire.  They each speak together:

I vow to you, my love and partner, to be honest and understanding, compassionate and loving, supportive and helpful, even as I ask these things of you.  May this fire burn brightly in you as it does in me.

 

Jan and Thom light their unity flame, speaking together:

As the flames of our family merge, so are our heart once again bound as one.  We come together again after another year.  We are Jan and Thom Avende.  The roots of our love are deep and strong, the branches of our love are lush and ever blossoming, and our trunk stands steady to support us through the good and bad.

 

Now we seek to remember the gifts bestowed on us on our wedding day to help nourish our relationship, and deepen our love:

 

Jan and Thom alternate speaking:

  • I speak of the rain on the earth and the sun in the heavens; the fertility of the world brings us both new growth.
  • I speak of the guest arriving at the door, and the host who invites him in; the bread broken in hospitality sustains us both.
  • I speak of the calm in the storm and the silence of the night; in moderation will we find each other’s heart.
  • I speak of the strength of one that is now the other’s, and the drive to rise above; together, our perseverance draws us to new heights.
  • I speak of the fear we overcome in each other’s arms, and of the joy that rings in our embrace; let the song that arises in our heart sing of our courage.
  • I speak of the vows we have spoken in presence of family and friends; maintain the integrity of our word and find the world strengthened in our love.
  • I speak of the order we find in one another, and the actions that maintain it; with wisdom, we will know and do what is right by the other.
  • I speak of the far sight, shared now between the two of us forever; may we each see the same bright vision reflected in the other’s eyes.

 

Jan and Thom speak together:

We speak of the fire that never hungers, the well that ever shimmers, and the *ghosti that binds all relationships; feed each other’s spirit, honor the Gods, and live long in piety.

 

By the waters that support and surround us, by the sky that stretches out above us, and by the land that extends out about us does this union continue. May the fire that burns at the center of all things burn as one within our hearts for all our days.

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

Dedicant Oath Rite & Reflection

I took my oath on July 16th, the night following the full moon.  I stood before my altar, which is pared down and simplified because we are in the process of moving, and I began ritual in the way I have become accustomed to using for important rites of passage that I want to have a Hellenic bent.  Throughout the opening of the ritual, I didn’t feel any different really than I do when I do morning devotionals.  The sense is “yes, I’m being listened to, but just in a kind of cursor sense.”  It was when I called out first to my patrons, and then to the Oath Keeping Gods to witness my oath that I felt a sudden, strong connection . It was almost like, “Oh, this is a really important occurance… perhaps we should pay close attention.”  I could tell the Muses were flowing through me.  I didn’t pre-write any of the invocations to my patrons, but I felt my words sweetened by the Muses as I spoke.  I didn’t stumble or trip over any of my words throughout the whole.

Calling out to Helios and to Zeus was really the moment I realized this was it, this was the oath I was taking and calling on two of the most powerful Gods of Oath-Keeping to witness it.  I asked them to see through me and into the truth in my heart, and that if I spoke falsely, or failed in my oath, that they should condemn me to the Erinyes.  Here is what I swore:

I come forth now, a Child of the Earth, to profess my love for the Old Ways.  I come forth now to commit to following my heart along this path, and that I shall strive to continue learning.  I have sought knowledge and inspiration, and now that I have taken the first steps, I pledge myself to this path.  Shining Ones, Nature Spritis, Ancestors, All, hear me now, as I offer up these sacrifices and swear:

I will uphold the Old Ways and live by the virtues given by tradition.  I will strive to keep the feasts and to learn about culturally specific holidays.  I will continue to study the lore so that I may learn the ways of the Ancients.

 

My Patrons, hear me now as I offer up these sacrifices and swear to you:

Artemis, I will stay wild and free in my heart.  I will strive to protect the environment and all growing things.  I will stand up for those who lack the means to do so for themselves.  Hold me to this oath.

Apollo, I will strive to keep the Delphic Maxims, and to continue my learning of omens and healing.  Hold me to this oath.

Dionysos, I will live, truly live, every day.  I will strive to seek transformation for the better.  Hold me to this oath.

Poseidon, I will ride out the storm and I will continue my journey along this path.  Grant me safe voyage as I swear to seek truth and right.  I will strive to control my temper when I need to, but also to lash out when the situation warrants.  I will seek help when I need it.  Hold me to this oath.

 

Thundering Zeus, Keeper of Oaths,

Helios, Bright Beacon of Truth,

Moirai, Mighty Spinners of Fate and Destiny,

Hold me to the oaths I have spoken this day.

Should I fail to adhere to what I have sworn

Send me to the Erinyes so that they may exact their vengeance.

  • I used the Greek Alphabet Oracle for the omen-taking.  I’ve learned to voice record my omens if I want to even come close to remembering them, so I’ve basically transcribed what I said.  The first of the questions I asked was “What should I continue to think on?”  I drew Kappa – To fight the waves is difficult; endure, friend.  I need to learn when to fight and when to endure.
  • “What work is still ahead of me?” I drew Mu – It is necessary to labor, but the change will be admirable.  I have a lot more work ahead of me.  It’s going to hard.  It’s going to be difficult.  And it’s going to be very, very worthwhile.  This is the first step on this path, and there are so many more to come on the journey.
  • “What messages from Artemis?” I drew Tau – You will have a parting from the companions now around you. We’ve had our parting, and we are meeting again on the new path.  And my work may take me places where others can’t follow me.
  • “What messages from Apollo?” I drew Alpha – The God Apollo says you will do everything successully. Thanks for the vote of confidence!
  • “What messages from Dionysus?” I drew Rho – You will go more easily if you wait a short time. Transformation is difficult, and sometimes you must wait until you are ready for it to begin the journey.
  • “What messages from Poseidon?” I drew Khi – Succeeding, friend, you will fulfill a golden oracle.  I have a destiny.  I have something that I’m working towards, and though I may not know it yet, I will get there.
  • I felt power vibrating in this ritual.  I got very shaky there when I was actually speaking my oath, and speaking of what would happen if I were to speak falsely or break the oath.  I’m also always amazed by how nervous I feel when I think about taking omens, but then how easily the words and meanings flow when I’m actually drawing them.  The pictures just appear in my head and the Muses and Apollo flow through me and set those pictures to words and help me to describe them.

 

Following is the full script for my Oath Rite:

 

 

  1. Pre-Ritual Purification
    1. Bathe, dress in clean, ritual clothes. Enter ritual space.
  2. Procession
  • Purification of the Sacred Space (Khernips)
    1. Wash face and hands in fresh, clean water outside of ritual space.
    2. Incense may also be included in the purification.
  1. Ritual Lighting of Sacred Fire
    1. Light the Sacred fire with the flame of Hestia.
  2. Tossing of Barley (kanoun)
    1. Barley is thrown into the fire, and scattered all about the ritual space for further purification of the space.
  3. Statement of Intent

I come to this sacred space today to declare myself a pagan and to dedicate myself to this path I choose.

 

  • Call to the Muses (“To the Muses” by Underflow):

http://underflow.livejournal.com/20975.html

 

Clio, mistress of history, holder of tales

old and new, you know of truths long lost to time.

In days of old lay wisdom, goddess, in the experience

of our elders lie lessons more precious than gold.

Through you do we gain understanding, through you

do we discover the legacy of the past.

Clio, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Euterpe, giver of delight, words of the heart

are yours, sonnets and ballads and poems of love.

Goddess, we see your hand in the songs of Sappho,

we hear you in the interplay of metre and rhyme.

By your art we hold open our souls to the world;

your touch gives voice to the truth within us.

Euterpe, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Thalia, joyous goddess, ivy-wreathed goddess,

in your works we find laughter, an excellent gift.

In wit there is wisdom, good cheer builds good will,

and a merry heart lightens the weight of the world.

O goddess of comedy, what in life surpasses

the delight we know in your mirth and merriment?

Thalia, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Melpomene, you sing of our sorrows, of hardship

and struggle, of perfect despair and savage fate.

So strange it is, that tales of melancholy

and ordeal should bring us pleasure, and yet it is so.

You teach us, muse, that each step and misstep we take,

unknown and unthought, directs our luck and our lot.

Melpomene, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Terpsichore, graceful one, in dance you take delight,

in swaying form and nimble step, in the heartbeat

of the drum. In the practiced pace of the rhythmic waltz,

in the wild, whirling joy of the maenad, we know you.

As the heart speaks, the body moves; as the body moves,

the mind transcends all and pauses in awe and reverence.

Terpsichore, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Erato, honey-tongued goddess, persuasive one,

beloved of lovers, wrapt in myrtle and roses,

companion of Eros, you know of longing

and devotion, of the flame that burns within us.

Yours are the words that warm our hearts and our loins,

that stir our desires, that turn us from thought to action.

Erato, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Polyhymnia, goddess who grants to the poet

the shining spark of divine inspiration,

whose gift guides us to speak of the mighty ones

with love and with reverence. With prayerful lips

we approach the gods, with words of praise and devotion

given us by you, O ever-mindful one.

Polyhymnia, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Urania, celestial goddess, reflective one,

cloaked in the shimmering stars, eyes cast toward the night sky,

yours are the seekers of reason and truth, yours are

those who struggle and strive for understanding,

who conceive the unseen, who argue the unknown;

your gift, a level head and a wandering mind.

Urania, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

Calliope, elder muse, wise-hearted sister,

mother of silken-voiced Orpheus, friend of Homer

whose gift of mighty words for noble deeds inspired

verse enduring, tales undying, fame everlasting.

Granter of fine voice and fair speech, of a swift wit

and a ready tongue, of the skill to shape legends.

Calliope, goddess, child of Olympos, I honor you.

 

  • Honoring Hestia

For Hestia, I pour these first libations,

First-Born, and Last-Born,

Keeper of the Sacred Flame,

Tender of the Hearth and Guardian of the Home.

I sing your praises.

 

  1. Centering with the Land, Sea, and Sky
    1. Land  (Gaea)

Gaea, Mother Earth, ground me in your soil.

Hold me in your arms, let my roots sink down

And be nourished by you.

 

  1. Sea  (Okeanos)

Okeanos, Mighty Ocean, flood around me

As I feel the ebb and flow of your waves.

Pull me to the watery depths, let me bob on the surface and

Let the tide lap around me as I come ashore.

 

  1. Sky (Ouranos)

Ouranos, Brilliant Sky, encircle me in your great dome

Let your breezes whisk by me, and as I breathe in

Fill me with endless infinity.

 

  1. Placing the Omphalos at Sacred Center & Creation of Sacred Space

 

*place omphalos and anoint with oil*

I place this omphalos at the center of worlds, just as it marked the center of the ancient world.  My hands, like two eagles, flying to meet in the middle and establish this as the sacred center of worlds.

 

*sprinkle water around the boundary*

Now let this area around me be purified sacred space where I go to meet the gods, and the gods descend down to meet with me.

 

*waft incense smoke around those gathered, or pour oil on fire*

Let the smoke from my sacred fire carry my voice to the heavens and be heard by the gods. 

 

  1. Orphic Hymn Honoring the Gods
    1. “Friend, Use it to Prosper” by RC Hogart (pg 40) with small adaptations by J. Krueger.

Hear this song.

Know a scared way.

 

Thundering Zeus,

Father of Gods,

Mother Earth, shining sun,

Splendid moon and starry night,

 

Poseidon, king of the poignant sea,

Shadow haired Earth belter;

Demeter of the grain harvest,

Delicate Kore, Dawn in dark,

We honor you.

 

Arrow pouring Artemis;

Blazing Apollo, sun beam archer

Whose joy sings songs of prophecy at Delphi;

Intoxicating Dionysos,

We honor you.

 

Impulsive Ares,

Quick to spill blood;

Hephaistos, lord of artistic fire;

Great Aphrodite, risen from foam to light

And dark Hades, lord of shadows,

We honor you.

 

Hebe, giver of youth;

Virile Herakles, master of work;

Artemis protector of birth,

Opened of the gates to Earth,

We honor you.

 

Dike, mother of justice,

The noble God Piety,

Brilliant Nymphs,

And musical Pan, lord of all,

We honor you.

 

Sacred Hera, queen of Gods,

Beautiful Memory and pure Muses,

Golden Leto, gentle Dione of Dodona,

Clanging Kouretes, domestic Korybantes

And all children of Zeus,

We honor you.

 

Idaean Gods, the sky angel,

Hermes, runner on winds,

Agathodaimon, poppy in hand,

Gentle spirit of good luck;

Themis of the prophetic eyes;

Primordial Day and Night.

Faith and Fortune forever entwined,

We honor you.

 

Kronos, eater of children;

Motherly Rhea; Thetis veiled

Deep blue,

We honor you.

 

Okeanos, nymphs of the brine,

Steady Atlas, shining Eternity

And endless Time, we honor you.

 

Splendid lake at the shore of death,

The Gods who rest beside it,

Spirits good and bad,

Irresistible Fate, we honor you.

 

Spirits of light and of fire,

Of water, earth and shadow,

We honor you.

 

Leukothea, bright Dawn at sea,

Amorous Semele,

Mothers of great Dionysos,

We honor you.

 

Honey tongued Nike, drunk with success;

Asklepios, skillful hunter who raised the dead;

Dread Athene, master of war

Who leaped full grown and armored

From the head of father Zeus,

We honor you.

 

Thunders and winds caged in mighty columns,

Roaring in furious fight for release.

Attis, father of spring and immortal Adonis,

Beginning and End, we honor you.

 

We honor you all

And invite you

To a feast of love.

 

  1. Offerings to the Theoi as a whole

I pour these libations now for all the Greek Gods,

Those dwelling on Mt. Olympus,

Those dwelling in the world of Men,

And those dwelling in the deep Underworld.

I sing your praises.

 

  1. Offerings to Patron Gods
    1. Artemis
    2. Apollo
  • Dionysus
  1. Poseidon

 

  • Calling on the Witnesses to the Oath

For the gods who witness the lives of men,

And for the gods who witness oaths

I pour out the next shares,

For it is under your auspices I come.

 

  1. The Moirai

For the Moirai, I pour this libation.

Mighty spinners of Fate and Destiny,

Binding the world together with fragile strands.

You work adamantine shuttles, weaving human threads

Artfully blending lives together. 

I sing your praises.

Of Klotho, she who spins, drew forth my thread on my birth.

Of Lakhesis, she who measures, follows my steps and directs the consequences of my actions with the counsel of the Gods.

Of Atropos, she who cannot be turned, will be waiting at the end to cut my thread.

I sing your praises.

 

  1. Helios

For Helios, I pour this libation.

Great, all seeing father of Supreme Justice,

You who witness the oaths and promises made by all man-kind.

Faithful defender, and the eye of right

You who are ancient, wise, and strong.

Let your brightness pierce my soul

And see in me what is true.

Hears my words and my thoughts,

And know that I speak honestly this day.

Helios, I sing your praises.

 

  1. Zeus

For Zeus, I pour this libation.

Father of Justice and Keeper of Oaths,

I call out to you to hear me this day

And to witness this Oath I take.

Let your thunder wash over me,

And the sky flash with your arrival.

Blind me and bind me in truths spoken.

Thundering Zeus, Oath-Keeper

I sing your praises.

 

 

  • Working: Oath

I come forth now, a Child of the Earth, to profess my love for the Old Ways.  I come forth now to commit to following my heart along this path, and that I shall strive to continue learning.  I have sought knowledge and inspiration, and now that I have taken the first steps, I pledge myself to this path.  Shining Ones, Nature Spritis, Ancestors, All, hear me now, as I offer up these sacrifices and swear:

I will uphold the Old Ways and live by the virtues given by tradition.  I will strive to keep the feasts and to learn about culturally specific holidays.  I will continue to study the lore so that I may learn the ways of the Ancients. 

 

My Patrons, hear me now as I offer up these sacrifices and swear to you:

Artemis, I will stay wild and free in my heart.  I will strive to protect the environment and all growing things.  I will stand up for those who lack the means to do so for themselves.  Hold me to this oath.

Apollo, I will strive to keep the Delphic Maxims, and to continue my learning of omens and healing.  Hold me to this oath.

Dionysos, I will live, truly live, every day.  I will strive to seek transformation for the better.  Hold me to this oath.

Poseidon, I will ride out the storm and I will continue my journey along this path.  Grant me safe voyage as I swear to seek truth and right.  I will strive to control my temper when I need to, but also to lash out when the situation warrants.  I will seek help when I need it.  Hold me to this oath.

 

Thundering Zeus, Keeper of Oaths,

Helios, Bright Beacon of Truth,

Moirai, Mighty Spinners of Fate and Destiny,

Hold me to the oaths I have spoken this day.

Should I fail to adhere to what I have sworn

Send me to the Erinyes so that they may exact their vengeance.

 

  • Omen

What should I continue to think on?

 

 

What work is still ahead of me?

 

 

Any special messages from my Patrons?

 

 

  1. Thanking the Witnesses of the Oath

 

  1. The Moirai

Klotho, Lakhesis, and  Atropos,

Mighty Weavers of Fate and Destiny.

Thank you for joining me today

And witnessing this oath.

 

  1. Helios

Helios, Bright and Shining Truth Seer.

Thank you for joining me today

And witnessing this oath.

 

  1. Zeus

Father Zeus, Keeper of Oaths.

Thank you for joining me today

And witnessing this oath.

 

  1. Patrons
    1. Artemis
    2. Apollo
  • Dionysus
  1. Poseidon

 

  • Return to the Ordinary

For all the Theoi I pour these final libations.

Mighty deities, we offer you many thanks for joining us today.

May the door always remain open,

The fire always burn,

And our voices always sing in harmony.

 

Removing the omphalos


For Hestia, I pour these last libations,

First-Born, and Last-Born,

Keeper of the Sacred Flame,

Tender of the Hearth and Guardian of the Home.

May you always keep my hearth-fire burning bright.