General Bardic Studies for Liturgists

General Bardic Studies for Liturgists


1) Write two poems of at least 16 lines each appropriate for performance at a High Day ritual. One poem may be in free-verse form, but one must employ some form of meter and/or rhyme. Note in each case for which High Day the poem is intended.


Appropriate for any light-hearted High Day: Three Kindreds Praise Offerings:


“Come Pray With Me”


A Fire lit with piety in the center of the rite

The Druids pray around it, around the fire’s light.

They call to the Gods and Goddesses so bright.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!


Sacred Waters far below, flow into our Well

And with our voices raised together our song will surely swell

Remember all our Heroes, their stories we’ll tell.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!


Standing tall and strong is the all-connecting Tree

Beneath its arching branches we stand in harmony

Honoring the spirits so wild and free.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!


So it’s into the Grove, and beside the Tree

Come you pious pagans, and make your offerings

Let’s honor the Kindreds of earth and sky and sea

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!


We pagans all together still long for the day

When all honor the Earth upon which we lay.

She holds us forever; in her arms we’ll stay.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!


So it’s into the Grove, and beside the Tree

Come you pious pagans, and make your offerings

Let’s honor the Kindreds of earth and sky and sea

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!





Vedic Spring Equinox: poem intended to be performed for the Return Flow:


“Indra Megahavahana”


Sing to Indra the Cloud Rider!

On eagles’ wings, borne across the land,

He chases Vrtra, drawn valiantly onward,

Rushing up form the sea upon the very clouds

That bear the waters.

Like a thunderbolt striking a mighty tree,

Split asunder by the tawny-armed Thunderer.

Indra, give us the Waters!


Waters of the sea

Set free from the dark and boiling clouds.

Waters of the mountain

Set free as he cleaved the earth in two.

Flowing streams released by his bolt

As he watches from the clouds.

The cows roaring, bellowing, at the victory

As the fort-shatterer gives us the Waters

That we may drink them as

Mighty Indra consumes Soma.

As he is infused with strength

So might we too be emboldened.

Indra Megahavahana, we glory at your victory

And partake of the gifts you have won for us.






2) Compare and contrast examples from the work of three poets in one cultural tradition from at least two historical eras. (minimum 300 words of the student’s original essay material beyond the verses provided, at least one poem per poet)


India has a rich, and often overlooked, literary and poetic tradition.  While I will be examining poetry from the Early Vedic Period through the Modern Era, I would like to note that I will be examining the first two of the works in translation, and will not be diving into the complexities of the texts in the language they were initially written in.  This means some of the poetic devices that I note are likely put there by the translator, Ralph, T.H. Griffith, whose translations I am using for both of the earlier works.


The Rig Veda is the primary and most important of the Vedas, which are the foundational religious texts of ancient India.  It was composed somewhere between 1500 and 1000 BCE, and told through oral tradition.  It was eventually written down, and was likely codified by about 200 BCE. The Rig Veda contains hymns of praise to the important deities of the time, and while there are more than one thousand hymns in the ten books of the Rig Veda, two hundred of them sing the praises of Agni   (Violatti).


This is hymn comes from Book 3 of the Rig Veda:


“HYMN XXII. Agni.”

1 THIS is that Agni whence the longing Indra took the pressed Soma deep within his body.

Winner of spoils in thousands, like a courser, with praise art thou exalted, Jātavedas.

2 That light of thine in heaven and earth, O Agni, in plants, O Holy One, and in the waters,

Wherewith thou hast spread wide the air’s mid-region-bright is that splendour, wavy, man-beholding.

3 O Agni, to the sea of heaven thou goest: thou hast called hither Gods beheld in spirit.

The waters, too, come hither, those up yonder in the Sun’s realm of light, and those beneath it.

4 Let fires that dwell in mist, combined with those that have their home in floods,

Guileless accept our sacrifice, great viands free from all disease.

5 Agni, as holy food to thine invoker give wealth in cattle, lasting, rich in marvels.

To us be born a son and spreading offspring. Agni, be this thy gracious will to us-ward.

(Griffith RV 3.22)


The poetic style used in the hymns of the Rig Veda is complex, and relies heavily on epithets and metaphors.  For example, in line 2 “winner of spoils in thousands” is a phrase that is used to refer to Agni.  Agni is also called “Jātavedas,” or He who knows all things. This use of epithets is a poetic device that is carried through all three of the works I’ll be examining.


Rather than the use of rhyme or meter to give the hymn structure, this hymn, like most in the Rig Veda, relies on the use of other poetic devices such as parallel structure.  This can be seen in line 2 “…in heaven and earth…in plants…in the waters,” as well as in line 3 “those up yonder…those beneath it,” and line 4 “that dwell in mist…that have their home in floods.”  This parallel structure lends itself well to the longer, extended sentence structure that makes up the hymn.


This hymn follows a formula that can be carried out and applied when we are writing our own hymns of praise and invocation.  The first three lines tell who Agni is, and why he is worthy of praise   Then there is a shift in the 4th line when the speaker asks Agni to accept the sacrifice the speaker is offering him, and the final line asks for gifts in return for that sacrifice.  A shift can be seen in each of the pieces that I’ll be examining.


The next poem I’ll be analyzing is an excerpt from the beginning of The Birth of the War God, by Kālidāsa.  Kālidāsa is an Indian poet from the 5th century CE, who is known for being the pioneer that led the way in the Kāvya style of poetry.  This style is known for using many poetic devices, especially metaphors, similes, and hyperbole to create descriptive and emotional pieces (“Kāvya”).


Lay, Indra, lay thy threatening bolt aside,

My gentle darts shall tame the haughtiest pride,

And all that war with Heaven and thee shall know

The magic influence of thy Kama’s bow

For Woman’s curling lip shall bow them down,                5

Fainting in terror at her threatening frown.

Flowers are my arms, mine only warrior Spring,

Yet in thy favour am I strong, great King ;

What can their strength who draw the bow avail

Against my matchless power when I assail?                      10

Strong is the Trident-bearing God, yet he.

The mighty Siva, e’en, must yield to me.”


Then Indra answered with a dawning smile,

Resting his foot upon a stool the while :

” Dear God of Love, thou truly hast displayed                   15

The power unrivalled of thy promised aid

My hope is all in thee—my weapons are

The thunderbolt, and thou more mighty far

But vain, all vain the bolt of Heaven to fright

Those holy Saints whom Penance arms aright                  20

Thy power knows no bound—thou, only thou.

All-conquering Deity, canst help me now !

Full well I know thy nature, and assign

This toil to thee, which needs a strength like thine

As on that Snake alone will Krishna rest.                           25

That bears the Earth upon his haughty crest.


Our task is well-nigh done—thy boasted dart

Has power to conquer even Siva’s heart

Hear what the Gods, oppressed with woe, would fain

From mighty Siva through thine aid obtain                       30

He may beget—and none in Heaven but he

A chief to lead our hosts to victory

But all his mind with holiest lore is fraught.

Bent on the Godhead is his every thought

Thy darts, Love, alone can reach him now.                        35

And lure his spirit from the hermit vow.

Go, seek Himalaya’s Mountain-child, and aid

With all thy loveliest charms the lovely Maid,

So may she please his fancy—only she

May wed with Siva—such the fixed decree.                      40

(Kālidāsa 22-23)


In this excerpt Kama, the God of Love, is talking Indra down from his wrath.  He is agreeing to do Indra’s bidding instead of Indra going full-on angry Storm God to achieve his ends.  After all, who can resist the power of love?  Indra admits that Kama is all-conquering and agrees to send him to rile up Siva and bring him out of hiding, because Siva has become lost in thought and enthralled with magic and knowledge.  A battle is coming, and they need him ready to fight.  Indra sends Kama to fetch Uma and help her win Siva’s heart, and thus breed warriors for battle.


This translation of the poem makes use of rhyming couplets to tie the story together.  The kāvya’s use of poetic devices, such as hyperbole can be seen in line  5 and 6 of this excerpt “For Woman’s curling lip shall bow them down, / Fainting in terror at her threatening frown” as a women’s frown is unlikely to cause literal fainting.  In line 7, metaphor is used as Kama describes that “Flowers are my arms, mine only warrior Spring” and in line 35 “ when Love is described as “darts.”


One of the poetic devices that is used most extensively in this, as well at the other two poems I’m examining, is the epithet.  This can be seen here in line 10 “the trident-bearing God” referring to Siva, in line 15 “the God of Love,”  and line 22 “all-conquering deity” referring to Kama, and in line 37 “Himalaya’s Mountain-Child” referring to Uma.


There is a distinct shift in this excerpt, where Indra goes from all out assault, to sending Kama in to do his bidding through love.  The over-arching theme in this chunk refers to the idea that Love can conquer all, and is even seen in one of the epithets for Kama.  The epic continues on to tell the story of how Uma and Siva are wed, and the subsequent birth of Kumara.


The final piece I am examining is a modern epic by Sri Aurobindo.  Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist and spiritual leader.  His epic Savitri is a modern retelling of the story of Satyavan and Savitri from the Mahabharata.


This excerpt is from Book I (The Book of Beginnings), Canto I (The Symbol Dawn).


A message from the unknown immortal Light

Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,

Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues

And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.

An instant’s visitor the godhead shone.                                         5

On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood

And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.

Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss

In colour’s hieroglyphs of mystic sense,

It wrote the lines of a significant myth.                                          10

Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,

A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.

Almost that day the epiphany was disclosed

Of which our thoughts and hopes are signal flares;

A lonely splendour from the invisible goal.                                    15

Almost was flung on the opaque Inane.

Once more a tread perturbed the vacant Vasts;

Infinity’s centre, a Face of rapturous calm

Parted the eternal lids that open heaven;

A Form from far beatitudes seemed to near.                                 20

Ambassadress twixt eternity and change,

The omniscient Goddess leaned across the breadths

That wrap the fated journeyings of the stars

And saw the spaces ready for her feet.

Once she half looked behind for her veiled sun,                           25

Then, thoughtful, went to her immortal work.

Earth felt the Imperishable’s passage close:

The waking ear of Nature heard her steps

And wideness turned to her its limitless eye,

And, scattered on sealed depths, her luminous smile.                  30

Kindled to fire the silence of the worlds.

All grew a consecration and a rite.

Air was a vibrant link between earth and heaven;

The wide-winged hymn of a great priestly wind

Arose and failed upon the altar hills;                                             35

The high boughs prayed in a revealing sky.

(Aurobindo 4)


In this excerpt we are introduced to the Dawn, who is described as she crests the horizon and brings light to he world.  It is her job to rekindle the fires of earth, and prepare the world for the day.  This whole chunk is an extended metaphor and personification describing the Dawn.  Unlike the first to texts I examined, this piece relies less on epithets and far more on other poetic devices such as alliteration, personification, and metaphor.  Some alliteration can be seen in line 17 “Vacant Vasts”, line 20 “form from far” and line 34 “wide winged…wind.”


There are many examples of personification and other metaphors through the text.  This represents the view of the gods well, since the Vedic gods in most cases literally were the things they were representing.  Aurobindo describes this epic as more than “a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life” (Aurobindo).  This can be seen in the ancient texts such as the Rig Veda as well.  Agni is the Fire.  Indra is the Storm.  Ushas is the Dawn.  So when Aurobindo uses personification and metaphor in his epic, it fits well in Vedic mythology.  Some examples of this can be seen in line 28 “the waking ear of Nature”, line 35 “the altar hills”, line 36 “the high boughs prayed”, and line 12 where the sky is described as an open book.  This shift in this poem can be seen between lines 20 and 25, when the Dawn finally steps out onto the Earth.


The Dawn herself is personified greatly in this excerpt.  There is an extended metaphor in lines 6-12 where the Dawn is described as a scholar who is bent over a book, and deciphering its knowledge.  Her colors are the words that must be interpreted.  In lines 17-18 she is described as treading across the horizon and having a “Face of rapturous calm.”  The whole attitude of this text is a tone of awe at the beauty of the Dawn and the work that she does.  This excerpt takes place in the 4th stanza of the whole epic, and as it focuses on the Dawn, is both a symbol for the beginning of the work, and a symbol for the beginnings to come throughout life.


In these three poetic works the rich language of India can be seen.  In the early periods the poet relied on complex sentence structure, elaborate epithets, and vivid imagery to convey the meaning of the text.  Later poets, like Kālidāsa, relied heavily on poetic devices and figurative language to convey the text.  Modern poets, such as Aurobindo, relied on extended metaphor to convey the meanings in the text, and blank verse to tie it all together.  All of the pieces made heavy use of personification and related metaphors to bring the subjects of the poems to life.






3) Compare and contrast examples from the work of two poets of the same historical era from two different cultural traditions. (minimum 300 words of the student’s original essay material beyond the verses provided at least two poems per poet)


The two poems I am analyzing are from World War I.  The first is “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian poet Lt. Col. John McCrae and was published in 1919 (McCrae).  The second is “A Shadow on the Wall” by German poet Gottfried Benn, and translated by Michael Hoffman.  Benn published this poem as part of a collection in 1912 titled Morgue und andere Gedichte (Morgue and other Poems) (“Gottfried”).



“In Flanders Fields”


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.





“A Shadow on the Wall”


A shadow on the wall

boughs stirred by the noonday wind

that’s enough earth

and for the eye

enough celestial participation.


How much further do you want to go? Refuse

the bossy insistence

of new impressions—


lie there still,

behold your own fields,

your estate,

dwelling especially

on the poppies,


because they transported the summer—


where did it go?




Both of these poems focus on themes of remembrance, and both use the imagery of a poppy to do so.  So, while the poets come from two different cultural traditions, they are focusing on similar themes and having a similar reaction to war and unrest.  Mourning the dead and wanting to remember and honor their memories is a universal desire.


The image of the poppy became the symbol for remembrance in part because of its method of germination.  The poppy seed can live in the soil for long periods of times, and then when the ground is disturbed it sprouts, grows, and blooms.  The battlefields during World War I were subject to a lot of ground disturbance, between trenches, shell holes, and marching armies.  This created a fertile ground for the poppies (“Papaver Rhoeas”).  In McCrae’s poem the stark imagery of the blood-red poppy is juxtaposed against the white crosses (McCrae ln 1-2), and is reminiscent of the men who died on the battlefield.


“In Flanders Fields” is written in the style of an English rondeau, which follows the rhyme scheme of aabba aabR aabbaR.  This structured form draws attention to the refrain (“In Flanders Fields”), as well as the ‘b’ rhymes as they contrast with the ‘a’ rhymes.  This can be seen especially in the last stanza as “die” contrasts with “grow” (McCrae ln 13-14).


“A Shadow on the Wall” is written, or at least translated, in free verse, and does not rely on rhyme or meter for emphasis, but rather on line- and stanza-breaks.  Most notably is line 14 “unforgettable” (Benn).  The very fact that that is the only word in that line makes it stand out and be unforgettable.  Also noteworthy is the stanza break between the third and fourth stanza, leaving line 16, “where did it go?” to stand alone at the end of the poem.  This draws attention to that question, and adds a note of forlorn heartbreak to the text.


The speakers of the poem “In Flanders Fields” are the dead who perished during the Second Battle of Ypres.  A metaphor that is made throughout the poem compares the graves of the soldiers to beds, telling how the soldiers now “lie / In Flanders Fields” (ln 8-9) and that they “shall not sleep” (ln 14). The speakers of the poem encourage those who are still fighting to continue on.  They have passed “the torch” (ln 12) to the new soldiers, and it is their job now to fight for their country and fellow man.  This tone of hope is likely one of the many reasons that this poem became so famous.


“A Shadow on the Wall” has a less hopeful tone that “In Flanders Fields.”  In the former the speaker references the listener’s desire to back away from analyzing anything to deeply.  Seeing a shadow and hearing the trees blow is all the nature that the listener can stand to see and hear, but the speaker is pushing for the listener to look deeper.  The speaker is demanding that the listener take responsibility for what is around them, particularly with the phrase “dwelling especially / on the poppies, / unforgettable / because they transported the summer — / where did it go?” (Benn ln 12-16).  Looking at the cultural implications through the lens of hindsight, it is possible that Benn was demanding of his countrymen, or perhaps of all those involved in the war, that they see the damage the fighting was causing, and the lives it was destroying.  The youth, the summer of our lives, was taken from those fighting in the war.


In both of the poems there is a focus on the elements of nature that are remembered.  “In Flanders Fields” draws attention to the poppies blowing across the landscape (McCrae ln 1) and the larks singing out despite the gunfire (McCrae ln 4-5).  The speakers also emphasis that they remember the dawn and the sunset (McCrae ln 7).  In “A Shadow on the Wall” the images from nature are again emphasized.  The trees are blowing in the wind (Benn ln 2) and the poppies are growing in the fields (Benn ln 10-13).


I think it is interesting to examine the works of two different poets who have experienced the same historical event, but on the different sides of the conflict.  This set is particularly interesting to me because they use similar imagery, and focus on similar themes.



4) Compare and contrast two mythological or folkloric tales from two Indo-European cultures. Include a discussion of the use of narrative point-of-view, the element of time, and any relevant issues of religious (or other) bias influencing the narrative. (minimum 600 words)


Dragons and dragon slaying are a myth and legend that many cultures have found fascinating, and as such have told stories that relate to these great beasts. These can all be classified as the Aarne-Thompson Folktale type 300: The Dragon Slayer (“Aarne–Thompson Classification System”).  Hittite mythology tells how the Sky God Teshub slays the dragon Illuyanka.  Norse mythology tells how Sigurd slays the dragon Fafnir.  Christian mythology tells how St. George slays the dragon. There are many iterations of this myth across many cultures, not just Indo-European cultures.


In Greek Mythology, one of the famous stories that tells of a hero fighting a dragon is the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece.  King Pelias sent Jason on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece, which was, unfortunately, guarded by the fierce Dragon Kholkikos in the sacred grove of Ares at Kholkhis.  The dragon supposedly never slept, and hoarded the fleece in his jaws.


Some versions of the story say that Jason slew the dragon and made off with the fleece.  Pindar, in Pythian Ode 4 says “he slew that drakon of the glaring eyes and speckled back” (Atmsa).  Other versions of the story describe how Medea, the daughter of Aietes (the King who felt he owned the Fleece), put the dragon to sleep so that Jason could go in and steal the Fleece out from under him.  Apollonius Rhodius, in the Argonautica, says Jason heard Medea “in her sweet voice invoking Hypnos” and calling on Hekate to aid her.  The dragon, “enchanted by her song” relaxed except for his head and jaws.  So “Medea, chanting a spell, dipped a fresh sprig of juniper in her brew and sprinkled his eyes with her most potent drug; and as the all-pervading magic scent spread round his head, sleep fell on him” (Atmsa).  Then she called to Jason, who was able to come and steal the Fleece.


Depending on the version of the story you read, will change on the point of view you get.  Many versions tell this story from the third person limited point of view, allowing the reader to see what is going on around the main characters.  We can see the actions of the characters, and are also privy to some of the motivations behind a few of the characters.  For example, we know that King Aietes feels the Fleece belongs to him, and that he hopes to trick Jason so that he will fail in his quest.  We also know that Medea has fallen in love with Jason (thanks to a little help from Aphrodite) and plans to help him however she can.  We are not, however, given the opportunity to see inside the hero’s head and instead only learn about him through his actions and speech.  In the version told in the Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius, there is dialogue that helps flesh out the characterization.  Because the Greeks were writing things down before other religious influences took hold, we can be reasonably sure that this text is relatively free from outside issues of religious bias.


When Jason and his Argonauts arrive at Kholkhis, there is a series of things that Jason ends up having to do before he actually confronts the dragon.  Apollonius Rhodius tells a version of this story: Jason meets with King Aietes, who feels that Fleece belongs to him.  The King agrees to give the Fleece to Jason if he can complete a few simple tasks “to test [his] courage and abilities” that prove him the equal of King Aietes.  First Jason must plow the fields with the fire-breathing bulls, and sow dragon teeth in the field.  The dragon teeth then sprout into fierce warriors, who luckily turn out to be not terribly smart, and Jason defeats them through quick wit.  This plowing and sowing, and subsequent fighting, all took place over the course of a day.  King Aietes claims that this is what he does each day, and “if you, sir, can do as well, you may carry off the fleece to your king’s palace on the very same day.’” (Atmsa).  Following this incredible feat, Jason and Medea sneak to the grove where the dragon and the Fleece are that same night, meaning that this whole ordeal takes place within the same 24 hour period.


An interesting note about the Dragon Kholkikos is his obsession with wealth. In Imagines, Pilostratus the Elder says that the dragon is supposedly “devoted to gold and whatever golden thing it sees it loves and cherishes; thus the fleece in Kholkhis and the apples of the Hesperides, since they seemed to be of gold, two drakones (serpents) that never slept guarded and claimed as their own” (Atmsa). This matches up well with the mythological theme of dragons across cultures. We always hear of dragons hoarding gold, or wealth.


This hoarding is also true of Vrtra, the dragon in the Rig Veda that Indra slays in order to free the wealth, the waters in this case, and disperse it out to the people.  This story is told in Book 1, Hymn 32 of the Rig Veda.  Vrtra, the dragon on the mountain, was hoarding the waters all for himself and his kin.  Then Indra, the Thunderer, having drank of mighty Soma, struck the mountain with his thunderbolt and slew Vrtra and his kin. Vrtra broke in to pieces, and still tried to challenge Indra, but Indra continued to remove the limbs of the dragon, until finally he slew him “with his bolt between the shoulders” (Griffith RV 1.32.7). When Indra slew Vrtra the waters flowed forth like cattle, finally free, down to the ocean.


In the story of Indra slaying Vrtra, we aren’t given as clear a time frame as we are with the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.  We know that there were many things that Indra did, and one of them was this great deed of slaying the Vrtra, the dragon, and setting the waters free.  To do so he drank Soma, took up his lightning bolt, and went up to the mountain to confront the dragon.  He broke Vrtra into pieces, until finally with a final blow he killed the beast.  The timeline in the hymn jumps back and forth between what happened before the slaying and what happened after the slaying.  Each line seems to tell us ‘Indra slew the dragon, and here’s how’ or ‘Indra slew the dragon, and here’s what happened after’ or ‘Indra did this to prepare, and then slew the dragon.’  This keeps the reader from getting a clear sense of timing, but also lends a sense of timelessness to the hymn as well.  One thing that seems clear is that this happened a very long time ago.  This story is told from the third person point of view as well, but in this one we’re not given any indication what the characters are thinking, or even what they are saying.  The only descriptions we are given in the hymn are the actions that are taken by the characters and the results of those actions.  Additionally, like the Greek texts, the Vedas were codified and written down long before the influence of a religious bias could take hold and alter the text of the hymn.



Works Cited:


“Aarne–Thompson Classification System.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <–Thompson_classification_system#Supernatural_opponents_300.E2.80.93399>.


Atmsa, Aaron. “The Dragon Kholkikos.” The Theoi Project, 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <>.


Aurobindo, Sri. “The Book of Beginnings: The Symbol Dawn.” Savitri. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1999. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <>.


Benn, Gottfried, and Michael Hoffman. “A Shadow on the Wall.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <>.


“Gottfried Benn.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <>.


Griffith, Ralph T. H. “Rig Veda.” Internet Sacred Text Archive. 1896. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <>.


Kālidāsa, and Ralph T.H. Griffith. The Birth of the War-God. London: Wm. H. Allen, 1853. Print.


“Kāvya.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <āvya>.


McCrae, John. “In Flanders Fields.” Lost Poets of the Great War. Ed. Harry Rusche. Emory University, 1919. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <>.


“Papaver Rhoeas.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <>.


Violatti, Cristian. “The Vedas.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited, 18 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <>.



Liturgical Writing 1

1) Describe how ADF’s order of ritual expresses the following concepts: “Serving the people”; “Reaffirming shared beliefs”; “Reestablishing the cosmic order”; “Building enthusiasm”. (Min. 500 words)

ADF’s order of ritual expresses “serving the people”:

When discussing how the folk are served in ADF ritual, it is important to acknowledge that not all celebrants are looking for the same thing when they enter a ritual space, nor are the purposes of all rituals the same. Bonewits discusses how various age groupings of people may come to and enjoy a ritual for varying reasons.  A teen and a senior are likely not expecting to get the same thing out of ritual, and so serving each of them exclusively would look different (Bonewits 66-70).  Corrigan highlights some of the many purposes of ritual, which range from season celebrant to rites of passage (Corrigan “Intentions”).

In general however, the folk are served in ritual as their connection with the Kindreds is deepened.  This is done throughout the ritual as we engage in acts of sacrifice and *ghosti.  Offerings are made to each of the Kindreds in turn as they are invited (“ADF COoR” Step 7), and then, during the Return Flow (“ADF COoR” Step 11-13), gifts are given back to the folk.  In our local rituals, the folk are always given an opportunity to bring forth their own offerings of praise to the Kindreds, which I think helps to further deepen the connection that each individual can feel with the spirits.  This personal offering can also make the blessing received during the Return Flow more personal as well.  Each individual is more likely and more able to take the Omen and the Blessing within themselves as they connect to the spirits.

ADF’s order of ritual expresses “reaffirming shared beliefs”:

As an orthopraxic, rather than orthodoxic, religion, our shared beliefs are perhaps more understated and less necessary than the shared practices of our ritual.  Beliefs that we are likely to share are reaffirmed through our expression and practice of them.  For example, we revere the Earth, and this belief is reaffirmed through our practice of honoring her first and last in the core order of ritual (“ADF COoR” Step 3).  We believe in the concept of reciprocity, and this belief is reaffirmed through the act of making sacrifices and partaking of the Return Flow (“ADF COoR” Step 11-13).  Reaffirming shared beliefs can also occur during the pre-ritual briefing, though this is not an official step of the core order of ritual.  This allows the people leading the ritual a time to briefly explain things such as the worldview and mythological setting that the ritual will be occurring in, and to field any questions that folks may have to that everyone is on the same page going in to the ritual (Bonewits 59-60).

ADF’s order of ritual expresses “reestablishing the cosmic order”:

The purpose of reestablishing the cosmic order is to provide an orientation for our ritual and to help “orient the ritual participants in relation to all the other parts of their universe and to all the other beings in it” (Bonewits 31).  This is done rather explicitly in the core order of ritual where the cosmos is (re)created with the Sacred Center situated in a triadic cosmos where the Three Realms are acknowledged and the Fire is included (“ADF COoR” Step 5).  In this way an axis mundi is established connecting the vertical realms (the Lower Realm, the Mid Realm, and the Upper Realm) as well as a horizontal division of the realms, often the land, sea, and sky.

I find it most effective to first find the Center within ourselves.  This is often done by acknowledging the Outdwellers and purifying and preparing ourselves for ritual (“ADF COoR” Step 2).  Then find the Center within the group.  This is where the Two Powers meditation comes into play, allowing the participants to establish a group mind (“ADF COoR” Step 1) where they connect to the Waters deep in the earth and the Fire high in the sky, becoming their own axis mundi.  Then finally establishing the Sacred Center of the Worlds where the ritual will take place and making sacrifice as we (Re)Create the Cosmos and order the world (“ADF COoR” Step 5).

ADF’s order of ritual expresses “Building enthusiasm”:

We build enthusiasm in our ritual when we raise energy through the ritual performance.  This often begins by calling to a power of inspiration to fill us, such as the Awen, the Muses, or Soma, and it is often the person filling the role of Bard who has a large part in maintain the flow of energy and enthusiasm (“ADF COoR” Step 1).  Enthusiasm can translate to mana, or energy, or power.  The Bard keeps the energy level high, keeps the folk focused, and the power steady and building throughout the ritual until it comes to the point to use it for something, whether that is taking the Blessings into ourselves or performing a working.

The enthusiasm continues to build as the Gates are opened (“ADF COoR” Step 6) and the connection to the powers deepens.  As each of the Kindreds are called, and sacrifices are made, more enthusiasm is generated (“ADF COoR” Step 7).  “Mana stimulates mana — the more you generate, the more you attract, and vice versa” (Bonewits 139).  While there are many ways of generating mana, one of the most common we see in ADF rituals is sacrifice, as we make offerings through the ritual.  The power and enthusiasm continues to build in waves as more songs are sung, chants are chanted, and sacrifices are made up through the Final Sacrifice (“ADF COoR” Step 9), when it can be sent as part of this offering.  Following this the energy we are gifted in return is taken into ourselves for the work that is to come.


2) Create a prayer of praise, offering, or thanksgiving to a deity modeled on a mythic, folkloric, or other literary source of at least 75 words. Include a summary of what your sources were and how you utilized them (summary at least 150 words).

Ushas, Shining Dawn”

O, Daughter of the Sky, dancing in the light arising from darkness

I stand entranced by your beauty,

Your radiant form laying across my mind just as it drapes across the sky.

Rosy gold droplets stream down your freshly bathed limbs, bright and beautiful maid,

As you waken the pious spirits to sing your hymns.

Rekindling my heart just as you rekindle Agni each new day.

Burning hot and strong in me, just as you do on earth.

I court you, O brilliant maiden, as you shower me with your riches,

Singing praises with my voice just as the sky itself sings colors for you.

Breath and life of all, awaken all to motion as you dance across the rim of the world.

Goddess of the ever-rising sun, glowing in radiant splendor,

Never far from my thoughts, never far from me.

Ushas, Bright greetings of the morning!

I have had a growing interest in the Vedic deities, and have always loved the dawn.  This led me to begin reading from the Rig Veda the many hymns to Ushas, the Vedic Goddess of the Dawn.  One of the things I’ve found most interesting about the Vedic deities in general is that they do not represent the things of their domain, but rather they simply are the things of their domain, similar to the Titans and earlier deities in Greek mythology.  For example: Agni is the Fire, Soma is the juice of Inspiration, and Ushas is the Dawn.

I read the hymns that mentioned Ushas in the Rig Veda, both silently and aloud.  I must throw in an aside here: always, always read hymns aloud.  This is how they were meant to be conveyed, and there is a certain power held within the words that is released when they are spoken.  Some of the things I noticed in particular in the structure of the Vedic hymns is the use of repetition and parallel structure.  Ushas is often addressed as “Ushas”, “Daughter of the Sky,” “Lady of the Light,” with “O” often beginning these phrases.  This makes the whole hymn seem more regal, and while perhaps simply a product of the translation, it is common across most of the Vedic hymns.  The structure of the many of the hymns to Ushas set up to describe her, and then tell what she does, and then describe her some more, and then tell more of what she does.  The hymns then often end with a petition, asking her to give something to those who are signing her praises.  These aspects of the original hymns are what I kept in mind as I wrote mine: the regal use of her name and her titles, the descriptions of what she looks like, telling what she does, and in this instance a greeting to her rather than a direct petition for something from her.   I’ve included a list below of some of the specific imagery that that I’ve pulled from the Rig Veda in writing my own hymn to her.

I addition to reading about her, mostly straight out of the Rig Veda, I spoke with others who have worked with her, and I wrote a lot.  I filled pages and pages of my bardic notebook describing her, praising her, exploring her facets, and courting her.  I spent pages detailing how she looked on a clear morning, and even more pages on how she looked as she forced the clouds to parts to make way for the sun.  I wrote excessively on all the colors she displayed as she arose, and lamented the mornings where the fog was too thick to see her clearly, writing about those as well.  I spent a lot of time both in exploring how my view of her reflects and matches the view of her in the Rig Veda, but also how to phrase the hymn so that it carried aspects of the style of the hymns in the Rig Veda.

Here are the hymns I referenced when writing this prayer (Griffith), as well as what imagery or phrasing I used from it:

RV I.48 (O Daughter of the Sky, breath and life of all, answer our songs of praise with your brilliant light)

RV I.113 (Agni being rekindled, breath and life of all)

RV I.123 (resplendent, always appearing at the appointed time and place: rta)

RV IV.51 (awaken the pious)

RV V.79 (use of repetition, O Daughter of the Sky,

RV V.80 (freshly bathed limbs, rta)

RV VI.64 (arising from the waters dripping, rta)

RV VI.65 (waken pious spirits, rta)

RV VII.77 (stirring all life to motion)

RV VII.78 (rekindling Agni and the fire-priests, Daughter of the Sky, inspired with thoughts of you)

RV VII.79 (painting the Sky with her colors)

RV VII.80 (awaken pious spirits and the fire-priests to sing her praises, turns our thoughts to fire and sun and worship)

RV VII.81 (O Daughter of the Sky, giver of wealth)


3) Discuss a poem of at least eight lines as to its use of poetic elements (as defined by Watkins): formulaics, metrics, and stylistics. Pay particular attention to use of meter and phonetic devices, such as rhyme and alliteration. (Minimum 100 words beyond the poem itself.)

“Do not go gentle into that good night”

by Dylan Thomas


Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,


Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Formulaics is the use of repetitive words and phrases across languages.  These are common phrases that have the same meaning, as well as the same root, morphology, and syntax.  They are especially common in Vedic and Greek poetry, and the closer a language is to the common proto-language, the more instances of common phrases across the languages occur (Watkins 12-16).  The use of formulas was extremely useful for ancient poets, because it gave them phrases to gather and use when orally reciting and embellishing their text, and allowed the work itself to focus on a particular theme or themes.  This meant that the oral tradition was in part so successful in this time piece due to the phrases that were well-recognized and used through many of the works of the time (Watkins 16-19).

“Do not go gentle into that good night” is a villanelle, which means that it follows a strict formula in the repetition of its lines as well as its rhyme scheme.  A villanelle is a 19 line poem that uses the first and third lines of the first stanza alternating as the last line of each remaining stanza, until the final stanza where they form a rhyming couplet.  The repeating lines in this poem are “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Thomas 3, 7).  Thomas also juxtaposes throughout the poem with these lines the idea of light and dark, death and life.  As these lines repeat they emphasize the theme of the poem, which is to fight against the end of life and continue living with passion until your last breath.

Metrics is how stressed and unstressed syllables combine to form words, lines, and phrases.  Ancient poetry was often isosyllabic and if lines were longer would often contain a caesura in the middle of the line near the 5th syllable.  Poems analyzed with metrics are often viewed by looking at the chunks of syllables based on where the breaks in the line are, meaning both the caesura and the end of the line.  The formulas that are used often conform to these syllabic boundaries (Watkins 19-21).

“Do not go gentle into this good night” is written in iambic pentameter, which is notated as [10 -] (except for line 14, which is 11 syllables, and notated as [11 -]) and divided into five tercets followed by a quatrain (Watkins 123-4).  Each stanza explains a thought: the first introduces the idea of living until your last breath and fighting against dying; the second through fifth stanzas each give an example of the type of men that fight against death; and the sixth stanza (the quatrain) implores the speakers father to be as those men described and fight against his death (Thomas).  Additionally, the strong meter creates a rhythmic quality to the poem, making it feel more like a call to arms, and really augmenting the “rage, rage” imperative of the poem.

Stylistics are all the other poetic elements that are examined when analyzing texts.  This includes things like alliteration, parallel structure, assonance and consonance, rhyme, repetition, simile, metaphor, among others.  Alliteration was one of the most common poetic elements that ancient poets across many Indo-European cultures employed, and was often used as an embellishment to the text (Watkins 21-25).

The rhyme scheme of a villanelle is a strict ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABAA.  Thomas makes extensive use of repetitive sounds using alliteration, assonance, and consonance.  Each of these devices emphasizes words in the text to highlight their meaning as it relates to the overall theme of the piece.  Some examples of alliteration in the poem are “Go Gentle..Good” (1), “Learn…Late” (7), and “ Sang…Sun” (10)  Some examples of assonance are “Age…rAve…dAy…rAge…agAInst” (2, 3) and “dEEds…grEEn” (8).  An example of consonance is “bLinding…bLind…bLaze” (13, 14).


4) Create a prayer suitable for the main offering of a High Day rite which includes invocation of at least one deity suitable to the occasion, description of the offering and its suitability to the occasion, and the purpose of the offering, totaling at least 100 words. Any stage directions necessary for performance of the offering should be included.

This invocation was made at Three Cranes Grove’s Summer Solstice ritual in 2014, celebrating Prometheia and honoring Prometheus as the deity of the occasion.

Prometheus, flame-haired Foresight and friend of mankind

The Children of the Earth call out to you!

Sculpting our flesh from the banks of the sacred River Styx

You made us: Children of the Earth and starry Sky.

You see the future, and know what may come.

You stole the Divine Fire, the Sun itself,

Giving us this gift of Fire, knowing the cost to you.

Through you we know the ways of the land,

We gather together as community, bound together by your gift,

Though this gift yet binds you to the Earth.

The Fire, burning light of the Stars, burning light of the Sun,

Meant only for the Gods.

You won it for us, your Children.

Your fiery spirit burns hot and strong,

sharing its heat with us here on Earth.

Flame-haired trickster, and Mighty Titan.

Your wisdom shines brightly down upon us

As the Sun rides high in the Sky today.

Prometheus, you who sacrificed for us

So that we may sacrifice for you and all the Gods.

We call out to know and honor you this day!

Come, be warmed at our Fire, that we have kept burning for you,

Join us at our Sacred Hearth, that we would not have if not for you,

Meet us here at this time when the Fire is strongest,

And continue to aid and guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.

We bring you sweet oil *hold aloft*, for your Fire to drink in.

Prometheus, Fiery Titan,

Accept our Sacrifice!

*pour oil on the fire*


Works Cited

“The ADF Core Order of Ritual for High Days.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF. Web. 6 Jan. 2015. <>.

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

Corrigan, Ian. “The Intentions of Drudic Ritual.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF. Web. 6 Jan. 2015. <>.

Griffith, Ralph T.H. Rig Veda. Sacred Texts, 1896. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. <>.

Thomas, Dylan. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” Academy of American Poets, 1937. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. <>.




The Foggy Dawn

Sweet Ushas, rising slowly above the horizon,
You brighten the world with your beauty.
As the fog lays thick upon the land,
Let your rays loving brush the heavy sleep of the night aside,
Swirling the mists as you warm them,
encouraging them to rise from their beds.
Warm and light the Earth, O Daughter of the Sky,
As the crisp autumn air beckons you on.