Ritual Mechanics

1) Explain why purification is important prior to ritual, and what you do to purify yourself before you lead a rite. Include any prayers said, items used, and any stage directions needed to help your reviewer understand what is happening. (min. 150 words, not including prayers, items, and directions)

Purification is designed to prepare all participants and celebrants in the ritual for the work of the ritual, honoring the Kindreds, and making sacrifice.   Purification is important because as we approach our work it is important to leave behind those things that don’t serve us in honoring the Kindreds in the best way we are able.  This can be physical acts of purification, but more commonly is preparing the mind, so that “we can approach ritual pure and focused” (Newburg).  It is customary in ADF rituals to purify the Folk before they enter the ritual space.  This is often done with water and fire/smoke.  The Folk are asked to wash their hands, or are aspersed with waters and/or incense is lit and the smoke is encouraged to mingle about the body.  This covers the three parts of purification that Newburg discusses: the Folk are washed clean, thus removing ‘undesirables;’ they are then fumigated, thus adding ‘desirable’ to themselves before ritual; and the space is purified to mark it as sacred for the work ahead.   Purification with water and fire/smoke also acts as a sort of neuro-linguistic programming trigger, helping to signify to the Folk that they are about to enter a Sacred Space and the should prepare themselves for the work.

When I am leading a rite I always make sure that I am clean in the mundane sense the day of a ritual, and so if possible I shower as close to the time of ritual as possible, though if nothing else I will at least wash my face and hands.  During this process I visualize the water washing away the extraneous thoughts that weigh me down and distract me from the ritual work at hand, and think about setting aside any emotions that would distract me from carrying out the work ahead. When I do rituals at my home shrine, I also wash my face and hands first. I don’t have any set words that I say as I purify myself in this way, just the visualization.

The next step for me when I am leading a ritual is to prepare the space that I’m using, making sure that all necessary tools and sacrifices are accounted for, set up, and ready to go.  After the space is prepared, the pre-ritual briefing occurs.  This is a time to tell the Folk what to expect going into ritual.  It’s extremely brief if it’s a well-practiced group of celebrants, or can be rather long if there are a lot of new Folks who aren’t familiar with the way an ADF ritual is run. It is after this that I reconnect with anyone who has an active part in the ritual (in our grove it’s kind of a group huddle with a brief establishment of group mind, and a little pep talk), and then in the moments after that, but before the processional, I purify myself.  This where I take a moment to find my own center and take several deep breaths, once again letting go of anything that may distract me from the ritual at hand.  Oftentimes I stand with my left hand on my belly and my right hand wrapped around my Fire necklace that I received for my Initiation and represents the Fire at the Center of Worlds.  I find my own center in those breaths, and then wait for the Folk to arrive and be purified.


2) Explain how you position your body and hands when inviting the Kindreds and making Key Offerings, what that position means, and why it is important to have a position that is (or several positions that are) consistent between rituals. (min. 100 words for description and meaning, min 150 for importance)

When calling to the Earth Mother I crouch down on the balls of my feet and put my fingertips on the ground, sometime with one leg down on the ground in a kind of half-kneeling position.  I feel that it is important to have a physical connection with the Earth when calling to Her.  When I call to Hestia I have a lighter or match in my right hand and her candle flame in my left. I hold the candle chest level while I speak the prayer to her, and then light the candle and set it down.  I hold the candle at chest level because part of my typical invocation is to let “the flame in my heart kindle the flame on my hearth.”  My Grove has adopted certain postures for calling to each of the Kindreds that I use both in Grove rituals as well as in rituals at my home shrine.  When calling to the Ancestors I look and reach towards the ground, palms parallel to and facing the ground at about hip level.  When calling to the Nature Spirits I reach out to my side, looking levelly across the earth, arms bent at the elbows and palms facing in towards the center flame.  My fingers are spread and my hands are slightly cupped.  When I call to the Shining Ones I reach up and look towards the sky, arms extended upwards slightly more than shoulder width apart, palms cupped and facing up.  These positions help reaffirm in my mind the beings that are being called.  When I make the Key Offerings my body position for the invocation will depend on which of the Kindreds the being most closely matches.  Most often, my body position matches the position for the Shining Ones.  This is also the position I use when speaking the words for the Final Sacrifice.

When making physical offerings, there are a couple of things to take into consideration.  First is what I am offering.  Typically for me, I am offering either oil or wine, and less often some form of grain or a highly flammable liquid.  A mundane thing to take into consideration is where the offering will go, and how to make that offering safely.  This means when offering a highly flammable liquid to the Fire, you should definitely be careful to not set yourself on fire.  So, when I am pouring an offering, I typically hold the container for the liquids in my right hand, and bring my left hand across my belly to hold my robes and any paraphernalia I’m wearing out of the way of the flame and the splash zone.  If I am offering something else that is dry, I will typically hold the container it is in in my left hand, and reach into it with my right hand, taking up a handful to sprinkle out onto the ground (or offering bowl if I am inside).  I feel that when I am making offerings it is not just the physical offering that I give, but it is also the act of pouring or sprinkling that is part of the offering and sends the gift to the Kindreds.

It is important to keep some postures and gestures consistent between rituals for a couple of reasons. First, it is useful from a trance standpoint. Making the same gesture or holding the same position every time you do something will create that as a pneumonic device, or an anchor. Anchors are a type of stimulus that invokes a certain mindset.  As the anchor is created and reinforced it becomes more successful.  A successful anchor is something that is a unique stimulus and can be linked to a specific state and repeated (Ellerton). This means that, for example, if you kneel to touch the ground when honoring the Earth Mother at the beginning of ritual, it may be wise to avoid that position for other parts of the ritual, especially because this happens so early in our rituals and is one of the first physical indicators that will pull the Folk into a group mind. This, and other postures and gestures, are useful to keep consistent between rituals because as they link up with a specific state of mind, it allows the group mind to be more quickly and more firmly established.


3) Describe your meditation practice as it stands today. Include its regularity, any positions you may use or prayers you may say, and the method(s) you typically use. (min. 200 words)

The form of meditation that I practice most regularly is mindfulness.  This is being aware of your surroundings and being able to acknowledge the thoughts passing through your mind and let them go.  It is one of the ways that I practice the quiet mind and let the thoughts and cares from the day go.  Mindfulness is something that I practice everyday.  By practicing mindfulness I am more able to keep my emotions from influencing my thoughts and actions.  I can be aware of them all simultaneously and make more mindful and thoughtful decisions in all parts of my life.

Another method I use is a form of active meditation.  This is done when my body is focused on doing one thing, which then occupies parts of the brain enough that a quiet mind is easier to achieve.  It helps me to calm the “monkey mind.”  When my body is engaged, the extraneous thoughts tend to go with it, and then the remainder of my mind is free to process deeper thoughts.  Activities that I use for this include practicing yoga, karate forms, as well as detailed coloring and crocheting.   I practice this active form of meditation about 2 to 3 times per week, and for around 30 minutes at a time.

I also engage in more traditional meditation practices.  These involve sitting comfortably and entering a meditative state through square breathing (breathe in 2-3-4, hold 2-3-4, breathe out 2-3-4, hold 2-3-4, repeat…).  When I do this type of meditation I spend between 5 and 15 minutes breathing like this.  I try to make time for this type of meditative about 4 times per week.  I have better luck on weekdays when I am able to wake up before my daughter is awake, and before I head to work.

While I don’t regularly pray before meditation, the prayer that I speak when I do is:

The fire in my heart flickers and flames,

Its glow warms my heart and my soul.

May the light and warmth spread throughout me,

as I breathe its embers to life.

All of these methods, mindfulness, active meditation, and square breathing, help me maintain a calm and present state where I get more out of my devotionals, rituals, and trance work.


4) Explain how two different active ADF Priests light a ritual fire. Describe the actions done, any prayers or magical work done. Explain how you light a ritual fire, including actions, prayers, and magical work you may do.

Rev. Rob Henderson lights a ritual fire:

Rev. Rob Henderson is a Hellene, so I have chosen to include his short and to the point description of how he lights a ritual fire.

“I used to keep a perpetual flame in my home, but my new living circumstances don’t allow it.  These days I just use a lighter to light the candle, then hold my hand over it and say “Hestia, bless this flame.”

For SLG, we light the candle the night before the ritual (or the day of if nobody wants to stay the night) and say a prayer to Bel, Bri’d, and Lugh.  No special magical work.”

Rev. Michael J Dangler lights a ritual fire:

Rev. Michael J Dangler probably has the most thorough explanation of lighting and consecrating a ritual fire that I have seen, so I have chosen to also include his method, as it can be adapted and applied to many cultures.

Lighting the Fire

I’m a bit picky about my fires and how they’re lit, if they’re going to be used for ritual. On the very mundane side, I tend to make teepee-style fires because they light easily and concentrate the flame and coals in the center. On the spiritual side, it’s a bit different.

I light my fires “one technological step back” from the current technology (which happens to be lighters and accelerant) wherever possible; typically, this means matches and untreated wood (though I don’t mind using kiln-dried wood, particularly with Emerald Ash Borer’s around). The reason for this is because while I’m sure that our ancestors would totally have used a lighter to light a fire used for purely mundane needs, they wouldn’t have used it to light a ritual fire or hearth fire in their home. Sacred fires were always lit in a terribly inefficient way (brought from far away on a certain night, lit by fire-bows or drilling, or lit from special woods); thus fire is the “Son of Strength” in Vedic lore.

While the fire is catching on the tinder/kindling, I recite a prayer to the flames.

Because of the very nature of fire, this prayer expands and contracts a bit with the amount of time it takes to light the fire and get it to a point where it can receive offerings (without being put out by someone pouring beer on it, thinking it will burn). Despite this, the fire always includes some very specific things: it references the fire as the center, and its importance to all three realms; it mentions the birth of fire and its relation to the waters; and it describes the fire as first guest and first host. Other things that are commonly added talk about the fire bringing the Kindreds forth, devouring the sacrifice, and other similar images.

Here might be a basic prayer for a quick fire-lighting:

Quick Fire Lighting Prayer

Born in the waters,

Kindled upon the land

With a pillar of smoke that rises through the atmosphere

And supports the heavens:

This fire burns at the center of all.

May it carry our voices to the Kindreds.

Longer Fire Lighting Prayer

Born in the waters,

Kindled upon the land

With a pillar of smoke that rises through the atmosphere

And supports the heavens!

This fire burns at the center of all.

First guest and first host:

You bring the Gods to sit with us,

Light the ways for the Blessed Dead,

And shine in the eyes of the Nature Spirits.

As we make our offerings here today,

May our voices be carried to the Kindreds.

Extra-Long Fire Lighting Prayer

Born in the waters,

Kindled upon the land

With a pillar of smoke that rises through the atmosphere

And supports the heavens!

This fire burns at the center of all.

First guest and first host:

You bring the Gods to sit with us,

Light the ways for the Blessed Dead,

And shine in the eyes of the Nature Spirits.

We see them as they sit among us,

Your voice singing them down the old roads.

As we offer to you, you offer to them,

Devouring and transforming the sacrifice.

As we make our offerings here today,

May our voices be carried to the Kindreds.

By now, I typically hope that the fire is finally lit, or I keep praying until it is.

Throughout the process, I am concentrating on the flame: watching it move from place to place, encouraging it with smiles, helping it spread. I will typically move the flame about, and feed it a bit more. Very often, at the end, I will pour out or place a small offering in the fire, the first of many.

Consecrating the Sacred Fire

If I light the fire, then I have no difficulty at all with the fire being sacred and prepared for ritual. If I do not, though, I will often re-consecrate the fire with a bundle of sacred woods. The process of making these bundles is a bit laborious, but it gets the job done.

I begin with collecting woods from nine sacred trees. As I do this, I pray to each of the trees a short prayer to the tree in question.

Prayers for The Nine Woods:

  • Oak (quercus robur) – English Oak

Mighty Oak, cup of study!

You who love the lightning

And are loved by the gods of the sky:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Birch (betula pendula) – Silver Birch

Birch, tree of authority!

You go first into the brave new world

And teach others through your example:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Hazel (corylus avellana) – Common Hazel

Hazel, voice of the Bard!

The Salmon ate your wisdom,

And those who eat him have wisdom’s voice:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Rowan (sorbus aucuparia) – Mountain Ash

Rowan, tree of magic!

Strong and resilient with blood-red berries,

You grant tools to those who know you:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Hawthorn (crataegus monogyna) – Common Hawthorn

Hawthorn, bough of piety!

Purifying flame that frightens evil,

Protective thorn that guards my life:

I ask that you give of yourself

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Willow (salix viminalis) – Common Osier

Willow, depth of understanding!

Liminal Tree of the world’s edge,

With Cranes among your branches:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Fir (abies alba) – European Silver Fir

Fir, words of silver!

Favorite of the hungry fire,

Whose voice crackles  when he sings of you:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Apple (malus sylvestris) – European Wild Apple (crabapple)

Apple, tree of the Ancestors!

Your silver fruit lines the land of the dead,

And the wind in your leaves rings clear:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

  • Vine (vitis vinifera) – Common Grapevine

Vine, knower of truth!

You wrap around the issue,

Digging in and rooting for the cause:

I ask that you give of yourself,

That I may grow in your ways.

Bundling the Nine Woods

You will need:

  • Your Nine Woods
  • A white cord of cotton (approx. 9” long)
  • A red cord of cotton (approx. 9” long)
  • A green cord of cotton (approx. 9” long)

When you have all Nine Woods brought together and the three cords cut, light a fire upon your altar and lay the wood so that one end is away from you. Speak these three prayers as you tie the woods together:

As you tie the green cord at the far end:

From the land I have brought these woods:

The Spirits of the Land have aided me in finding them.

I tie a knot of fertility;

I tie a knot of moderation;

I tie a knot of hospitality.

May this bundle of woods make my good fire

Warm and welcoming to all.

As you tie the red cord in the middle:

From the waters I have brought these woods:

The Spirits of my Ancestors aided me in finding them.

I tie a knot of perseverance;

I tie a knot of integrity;

I tie a knot of courage.

May this bundle of woods make my good fire

Bright and visible to all.

As you tie the white cord at the near end:

From the sky above I have brought these woods:

The Shining Gods and Goddesses aided me in finding them.

I tie a knot of piety;

I tie a knot of vision;

I tie a knot of wisdom.

May this bundle of woods make my good fire

The shining Fire of Sacrifice.

Once the woods are bundled, I bless them with fire, water, and additional prayers. Here’s the basic instructions on how to do this step:

Blessing the Bundle of Woods

You will need:

  • Your Bundle of Nine Woods
  • Blessed waters from your rite

With the woods gathered and bundled, now is the time to bless them. Speak these words in the presence of fire, as you sprinkle waters upon them:

These are the blessings from the Holy Ones,

Granted to me through sacrifice and blessing:

May the omens of this rite bless these woods.

May these woods soak up the blessing from above.

May these woods soak up the blessing from below.

May these woods soak up the blessing from all around.

I shall remember the omens drawn tonight,

And I will work with these blessings,

Bringing them to the Folk,

As the Spirits require.

So be it.

Consecrating the Fire

Of course, when all is done, you’ll use them to consecrate a flame. The basic prayer here is similar to the one above, but since the fire is already going, it doesn’t typically have to account for “OMG THE FIRE ISN’T GOING YET!” sort of thoughts.

Here at the center, this fire burns:

Born of the Waters,

Kindled upon the land,

Reaching through the atmosphere,

Supporting the heavens with a pillar of smoke.

May our words reach the ears of the Kindreds.

May our sacrifices be pleasing to them.

May this flame see all, and never burn the just.

Jan Avende lights a ritual fire

I am a Hellene, so when I am doing a ritual at my hearth, or in a Hellenic culture for a public rite, I call to Hestia.  She is the sacred flame, and therefor is who I call when I am lighting a fire for a sacred purpose.  I have written many variations on the prayer I say from the simple one that I use at my hearth, to the version for public ritual, to the version used within the Hellenic Kin (Oi Asproi Koukouvayies) for tending our communal flame.  I am including here the version of this prayer that I use in public ritual:

The Children of the Earth call out to Hestia!

First-born and last-born,

You are the Lady of our Hearth and Heart.

Your fire burns strong in us,

And we ask that it burn brightly here on our hearth now.

Hestia, sweet fire-maiden,

Join us here.  Be our good fire and sanctify our hearth.

Warm us and light our way.

Hestia, accept our sacrifice!

To light the fire itself, I light a long stick of incense.  Before blowing it out I light the Hestia candle.  The incense becomes the offering that is made to her.  If it is an indoor rite, this is all the physical actions that need to be done.  If it is an outdoor rite with a large fire, then I will have done some work ahead of time such as laying the wood, and lighting the larger fire. I avoid as much as possible using accelerant of any kind (inclement weather can sometimes impede this desire), and instead rely on the careful laying of kindling, and the controlled air that breathes the fire to life.  Then, in the very beginning of the ritual, I take the lit incense and transfer the flame to the fire that the Folk will be sacrificing to.

The magical actions that are done when lighting a ritual fire for me include a visualization of the flame that I tend at my hearth and that I maintain as one of my connections to the relationship with the Kindreds.  I hold this flame within myself always, and when I’m light the flame for ritual, I see my inner flame joining with the ritual flame.  I then see the fire licking around the logs and making the earth glow as the embers heat.  These embers connect the fire to the earth.  I then see the smoke spiraling up into the sky.  This smoke connects the fire to the heavens.  Our prayers and sacrifices are sent to the gods on the smoke when they are burned, so establishing this connection between the fire and the heavens is vitally important.


5) Describe three different methods of (Re)creating Sacred Space, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the (Re)creating of Sacred Space portion of the ritual. Provide an original script with stage directions for (Re)creating of Sacred Space based on one of these methods.

Rev. Sue Parker describes (Re)Creating Sacred Space:

We use the Fire, Well, and Tree to recreate the cosmos with those symbols. We purify the area with fire and water. Fire and water are the first elements. It’s what all things come from and sustains all life. The magical work we are doing when we recreate the cosmos is connecting with all the sacred fires and all the sacred waters that exist within us all. We are focusing on having that magic come into our grove and into our heart to aid us in our work.  

Rev. Melissa Hill describes (Re)Creating Sacred Space:

I primarily work with the hallows as the Fire, Well, and Tree when I recreate sacred space. One way that I like to work in ritual is by having the Folk tone while I speak words over each of the hallows in turn.  I usually start with the well, and will silver the well and hold my hand over the well.  I might say something like:

This is the sacred well of the world, this is the place where the ancestors dwell.  Let this sink deep into the earth and let our words travel deep down to the waters under the world.  See now as the waters swirl upward from the depths, and settle in this place and time, connecting us to our ancestors and the primordial waters. Let this well be part of the triple center.

As I do this I envision the waters in the aquifer below swirling upward and connecting with our physical representation of the well.

Then I give oil to the fire and holding my hand over the flames I might say something like:

This is now the sacred fire of the gods, touched by the blessings of the kindred. The flames of this fire reach up and light the way for us, transforming our offerings and letting them rise like smoke to the highest and wisest of us, the gods and goddesses.  See now as the fire burns ever more brightly and the spark of divinity resides within it. Let this fire be part of the triple center.

As I do this I envision the fire becoming more intense.  Pouring oil on the fire is a nice way to create the physical reality of this phenomenon.

Lastly I light incense from the fire to cense the tree with.  Rather than holding my hand over this hallow I start from the top and cense the tree from top to bottom and back to the top again.   As I do this I say something like:

This is the sacred tree which connects all the realms.  Let the roots of this tree reach deep into the otherworlds, let its branches span the heights.  We are connected with all the realms by the will of the tree.

Rev. William Ashton describes (Re)Creating Sacred Space:

What method, or methods, do you use when recreating sacred space? 

Honestly, nothing that I see as out of the ordinary or unique. It’s pretty much the standard ADF Fire/Well/Tree model. We mark a center, and within the visible Firelight is our ‘space’.

What do you do?

Light Fire, Silver Well, Cense Tree.

Why do you do that?

As per ADF custom, and Pan-IE traditions, these hallows are the Triple Center of the Cosmos. Essentially, in recreating the Triple Center, we’re making our space, for that time, THE space.

Are you doing any specific magical work?

Not that I would define as magic. I believe that by naming Fire/Well/Tree as sacred, and as a trifunctional center, that the consciousness of the Folk helps to create that Truth.

Jan Avende describes (Re)Creating Sacred Space:

The Re-Creation of the Cosmos lines up the different realms, so that they are overlaid, or parallel. It is common to sanctify the space around the ritual and the ritual participants as part of the (Re)Creation of the Cosmos.  This works well, since we are creating the Sacred Center of ritual, and setting aside the mundane for a time in order to commune with the spirits.

When I Re-Create the Cosmos I first hallow the space around the ritual participants, to be sure that the miasma is washed clean and chaos is left behind.  Then I initiate the connection to the worlds by declaring that the smoke from our sacred Fire will carry our prayers to the gods.  I then Hallow the Fire and the Well, allowing the objects that represent them to become fit for the purpose of ritual.  Then I take the omphalos and bring it to the center, declaring that it marks the Sacred Center of all the Realms.  The (Re)Creation of the Cosmos works because it establishes the Sacred Center and primed the space for the Opening of the Gates.

Because I am mimicking the first establishment of the Center, the magic being performed here is sympathetic.  I am mimicking the directions of Zeus, as he searched for the Center of the World.

Below are the words I say most often when (Re)Creating the Cosmos:

“Let this area around us be purified sacred space where we go to meet the gods, and the gods descend down to meet with us.

Let the smoke from our sacred fire carry our voices to the heavens to be heard by the gods.

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.

Through this sacred center, let the World Tree grow, plunging deep within the earth to touch the Sacred Waters below and reaching through the sky to embrace the Sacred Fires above.”


6) Describe three different methods of Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the Calling/Hallowing/Affirming of the Waters. Provide an original script with stage directions for the Calling/Hallowing/Affirming of the Waters based on one of these methods.

Rev. Sue Parker describes Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters:

We are taking the blessings of the omen and the blessings of the Kindreds and imbuing the drink with that power and those blessings. I visualize the omen in the water, either through the symbol or through other means. I see the lights, the colored lights, coming in from all around and imbuing the waters with those lights. A lot of it is visualization. I get tingly and can feel it.  

Rev. Melissa Hill describes Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters:

With the waters in a bowl, I ask two or three ritual participants to help me by holding the bowl.  It works particularly well if these people have been part of the hallowing of the fire, well and tree, or had another significant part in the ritual.  If I’m not holding the bowl with them, I put one hand up with my palm toward the bowl.  The idea is that I am serving as one channel for the energies that will flow back to us in the blessing of the waters.   Certainly the gods and spirits can choose to bless the waters without using me as a conduit, but I find that it aids in the power of the moment if we provide multiple channels.  I find that it is also useful to ask the congregation to quietly tone while I speak the words of the blessing over it.  It allows the entire group to become a conduit and also is a nice way of increasing group unity.

I usually call on each kindred in turn to bless the waters, as well as trying to incorporate the omen into the blessing, which requires some improvisation.  I put the kindred that includes the BotO last. That means on Samhaine the ancestors would be the last group I call on, but for Yule it would be the Shining Ones most likely since we often celebrate the return of Saule for that holy day.   Here is an example of something I might say:

I call to the Ancestors to bring their blessings to us on this day

Let these waters be filled with their energy and their love

Let these waters swirl and move with the dark energies of potential and the strength of the lessons learned from the past.

Let them be infused with the blessings of (whatever the omen was)

Give us the waters!

All repeat: Give us the waters!

I call to the Nature Spirits, those of green shoot and red blood.

I call to the Alfar and the Totem spirits great and small who guard the land

With wild eyes and glowing green light I call to you and ask that you bless these waters with your energies and gifts.  As we have given to you so we ask that you give to us and let these waters be infused with the blessings of (whatever the next omen pulled was)

Give us the waters!

All repeat: Give us the waters!

I call to the Shining Ones, the goddesses and gods who guide the worlds

I call to those who shine in the darkness and those who dwell in the light

Blessed ones, wisest and mightiest of us all I ask that you share your powers with us and imbue these waters with your gifts!  Let these waters be infused with the blessings of (whatever the last omen was)

Give us the waters!

All repeat: Give us the waters!

Each time we say Give us the waters the people holding the container of the Waters of Life raise them up a little higher until at the end they’re over our heads.  At the end I say, “Behold, the Waters of Life!” and then we distribute them according to what is appropriate for the rite.

Rev. William Ashton describes Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters:

How do you do the Return Flow? 

Recently, I’ve taken to speaking (or sometimes singing) Rev. Melissa Burchfield’s “Send Down the Waters”, ending with a call and response of “Behold, the Waters of Life!”

What do you do?

In short, sing the song while visualizing the lyrics in offering energy, flowing to the realms, and the filling of the Horn from those realms.

Why do you do that?

There needs to be a physical, liturgical and magical component of the return flow. I believe that utilizing the song (with the Folk joining in the chorus) as well as visualization, accomplishes the complete practice of securing the return flow for the Folk.

Are you doing any specific magical work?

Other than visualization, and “energy” directing, I wouldn’t say so.

Jan Avende describes Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters:

The Return Flow takes place after all the offerings have been made.  It is the reciprocal part from the Gods, that as we have given gifts to them, now we ask for gifts in return.  When we ask for blessings from the Kindreds, we take an Omen to see what form those blessings will take.  Then the Blessings are infused in some way, often within the Waters, so that the Folk can imbibe them and take them within themselves, and carry them into the work ahead and into their lives.

When I Call for the Blessings, I first reflect on the omens that the Seer has received and interpreted.  It is important to understand the omen, because that is what you are going to be infusing the Waters with, and offering to the Folk.  I find it useful in larger, especially diverse, rites to also call on the Folk themselves to consider the omens and their interpretation, and how it applies to them.  I then ask for the Theoi to give us their blessings, as we have given of ourselves.

I use the imagery of the moon to help the Folk visualize the Blessings filling the Waters.  I hold the vessel of water aloft as I ask for the Theoi to send down their blessings and Hallow the Waters. As I am doing this I reach out in all directions with tendrils of awareness, and use them to act as a conduit and a funnel for the blessings, so that they make it into the vessel.

As I feel the vessel getting heavier, more dense, and often slightly warmer, I declare that with the blessings of the gods we can grow ourselves, and symbolize this mixing of our energies by pouring the blessing infused waters into the wine (or juice).  Some of the water is reserved for any workings that will be done, as well as for those who desire a non-alcoholic drink (when wine has been used).  The Folk are then invited to imbibe and reflect on the blessings.  The Blessings are Affirmed as we declare that we accept and welcome them, and take them into ourselves.

Below are words, or a variation on them, that I commonly say when conducting the Calling/Hallowing/Affirming of the Waters:

*have vessel filled with wine, and vessel filled with water.  Water is infused with the blessings and poured into the wine.  Some water is set aside for the working*

Having given of ourselves, and received wisdom and blessings in return, we now seek to take of those blessings to enrich ourselves for the work that is to come.  We seek to fill ourselves with these blessings so that we may be thusly imbued with the sacred powers and apply ourselves to the work ahead.

*take vessel filled with water and hold it aloft*

Theoi, Give us the Waters!

See the Power of the Fires Above filling these waters.

Theoi, Give us the Waters!

See the Power of the Waters Below filling these waters.

Theoi, Give us the Waters!

See the Power of the world around us filling these waters.

*vessel held now at chest level with one hand holding it below and one hand hovering above.  The hand above trances the symbol of each omen, then hand, palm down, focusing the intent of that symbol into the waters*

Let the brightness of the Shining Gods fill these waters with the omens we have received, [Omen, Omen, and Omen].  Let their blessings grow in strength like the light of the moon, shining with the brilliant power akin to the noon-day sun.

*vessel is held aloft as water is infused with the blessings*

Theoi! Rain your blessings down upon us, and fill our Sacred Cup.

Their strength shall augment our strength *blessed waters are poured into wine.  reserve some waters for the working* as we approach the workings ahead.

Drink deep, Children of Earth, and think on the gifts we’ve been given.



7) Describe three different methods of Opening the Gates, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the Gate Opening. Provide an original script with stage directions for the Gate Opening based on one of these methods.

Rev. Sue Parker describes Opening the Gates:

We say a prayer to Manannan mac Lir and ask him to ward the ways. I see a mist and use a spiral along with breath work and visualization and open my hand as the gate opens. Always move the spiral clockwise to open and counter-clockwise to close. The hallows are arranged in a triskel and the final let the gates be open is the circle that surrounds a triskel.   The spiral motion is used for each of the hallows at their point on the triskel and for the final openings.  When the Gates open it’s more of a veil that is opening and parting. The mists flow around and part as each gate opens.  Each individual gate is like a key that must be turned in order for the Gates to open, and when the Gates open it is more like a light tingly curtain that is opening across a stage.

Rev. Melissa Hill describes Opening the Gates:

One way I enjoy using to open the gates in public ritual is using my staff.  First we sing the portal song and hallow each of the gates in turn with silver for the well, oil for the fire, and incense for the tree. Then the I ask the grove to help me open the gates and we make a pushing motion with our hands as we repeat, “Open the Gates!” over and over building from a quieter voice to a louder and more authoritative one. I hold the staff in one hand and use it as a baton to direct the energy.  When I feel that the energy has built to a crescendo I use the staff as a focus to push open the gates as I raise it up in a physical signal to the grove that we are releasing the energy.   After that I stand solemnly and state that the gates are open and say something like, “The ways between the worlds are open and our words will resonate to the edge of all things for we stand at the center of the all.”

Rev. William Ashton describes Opening the Gates:

How do you Open & Close the Gates?

After offering to The Ferryman, our Gatekeeper, I name the Fire and Well as gates, and the Tree as the connection and highway between the realms… then ask together with the Folk that the gates be open (sorry, I don’t do the Thomas-Twist).

What do you do?

Post offerings, I “draw” druid sigils over the Fire, Well and Tree as I say,

Let the Fire open as a Gate

Let the Well open as a Gate

Let the Tree hold fast the Way between

By our will, and by our words…

Let the Gates be OPEN!

Why do you do that?

It’s the way I learned how to do it, to be honest. I’m still not fully on board in the historic relevance of a “Gatekeeper”, but since I’m an ADF loyalist, I do the gate thing to the best of my ability in service to the Folk, and to the order.

Are you doing any specific magical work?

Absolutely. There’s some high theurgy goin’ on here.

By inviting The Ferryman, and asking for His aid in fostering connection between the realms, and carrying our words and intentions to the Kindreds at the Otherworld Fires, combined with the sigil making and naming ‘will’ and ‘word’, the Gates “magically” open. 😉 poof!

Jan Avende describes Opening the Gates:

After the Cosmos has been Re-Created, the space is primed and the Gates are ready to be opened.   When the Gates are opened the space between the realms is connected, so that we are better able to hear the Kindreds and they are better able to hear us. It is akin to ringing the doorbell of a spirit.  While they are all around us, Opening the Gates allows us to get their attention.

When I Open the Gates, I call on a Gatekeeper for assistance.  In my personal rites, this is usually Hekate.  I say an invocation that praises Her and extols the reasons why I desire to work with Her in particular.  Then I ask that She join Her magic with mine, and help me open the Gates.  The physical motions that I make are echoes of what many in ADF do. When Opening the Gate to the Underworld through the Well I make a spiral motion from my center, counter-clockwise down towards my feet.  When Opening the Gate to the Upperworld through the Fire I make a spiral motion from my center, clockwise up towards the sun towards my feet.  The reason these spirals go opposite directions is because they are meant to form a single ‘corkscrew’, so as the orientation changes as it passes the horizontal horizon, the direction of the spiral appears to change.

To connect the realms I first form a ball (Tai Chi “hold the ball”) at my navel with my right hand on top and left on bottom, then I press my right hand up towards the heavens, and my left hand down towards the earth.   Finally, as I proclaim the Gates to be open I take my hands from a ‘prayer’ position and open them out to my sides.

The motions help to focus the intent of the magic, and the gatekeeper helps provide the power to do so.  It is the relationship with the spirit that makes the magic possible.

Below are the words I say most often when Opening/Closing the Gates:

“We call out now to Hekate to guide us in walking between the worlds:

Hekate, at moonlit crossroads, you befriend the helpless.

Keyholding Mistress of Earth, Sea, and Sky.

Dark Mother Hekate,

Ghosts and hounds follow you.

You are the black puppy and the black she-lamb.

Torchbearer, we praise you for the brightness of your power.

We offer you [eggs and wine].

Hekate of the Crossroads be our Guide!

Guide us as you guided Demeter in her journey.

Reveal to us the way to walk in safety.

Radiant Hekate of the Torches,

Guiding Light, Keeper of the Keys,

Join your hidden knowledge and power with ours

and help us to open the Gates between the worlds.

Let this water become the Well, and open as a Gate to the worlds below.

Our connections deepen to the Chthonic beings as the Gate is opened.

Let this flame become the Fire, and open as a Gate to the worlds above.

Our connections deepen to the Ouranic beings as the Gate is opened.

Let this Omphalos stand at the center, and mark our sacred center here and in all the world.

Let the tree wrap its roots around the stone and sink into the Well, and let it’s branches stretch upwards and reach for the Fire.

We stand here, connected at the Sacred Center to all the realms of Land, Sea, and Sky.

Let the Gates be Open!”


8) Explain the purpose and function of the Pouring of Waters for an ADF Unity Rite. Provide a script with stage directions for this portion of the Unity Rite. (min. 150 words for explanation)

“The ADF Unity Rite is designed to foster growth of the spiritual egregore (group mind) of ADF. In this rite, all ADF Groves and Protogroves are called and all ADF members are represented as being spiritually present. The rite is done for ADF as one people” (“Unity Rite FAQ”).  During the Unity Rite, there is a Pouring of Waters for all the Folk of ADF.

While the Pouring of the Waters can be placed at many different locations within the COoR, I have most often seen it performed during the Return Flow portion of the ritual.  The idea behind this is that when we Call for the Waters, we are drawing forth the waters from a common source, from a common well, from the sacred waters that dwell within all the waters.  We then Hallow the Waters by drawing forth the blessings we have received in the ritual and putting them into the waters.  Then, as we Affirm the Waters, the Waters are poured so that the blessings can be provided to all all of ADF through the Waters as they return to us.  Of note, is that the ADF Unity Rite is specifically done in a way that does not embrace any one cultural specialty but embraces the commonalities of these many practices” (“Unity Rite FAQ”).

Pouring the Waters for an ADF Unity Rite

*when calling for the Waters, have three vessels full of the blessed waters, as well as the Unity Cauldron that contains the Waters from previous rituals, and a small chalice that will be used for the Pouring.*

We have honored and we have offered.  The Blessings have been received.  Into these three sacred vessels the Waters have been drawn forth.  We have received the Waters from the Shining Ones *gesture to one vessel*, the Waters from the Nature Spirits *gesture to another vessel*, and the Waters from the Ancestors *gesture to the last vessel*.

These Sacred and Blessed Waters that we have been gifted with, now mix with the Waters of Ar nDraiocht Fein, that they may fill us, nourish us, and sustain us.

*pour water from the three vessels into the Unity Cauldron*

In these Waters, see reflected the Bright Fire around which we gather.

*stir the Cauldron*

As these Blessings are ours, may they sustain our Wisdom, Vision, and Piety.

*stir the Cauldron*

As these Blessings are ours, may they sustain our Courage, Integrity, and Perseverance.

*stir the Cauldron*

As these Blessings are ours, may they sustain our Moderation, Fertility, and Hospitality.

*stir the Cauldron*

In these waters, see reflected the Sacred Fire to which we Sacrifice.

Now let us pour out these Blessings for all the Folk of Ar nDraiocht Fein, that they may be shared though our hearts, our communities, and the world.

In each place where Our Druidry roots deep, may these Waters flow.

In each place where Our Druidry springs forth, may these Waters flow.

In each place where Our Druidry burns bright, may these Waters flows.

Let these Waters flow forth into the hearts, minds, hands, and souls of all those who walk these ancient ways.

*take chalice and fill with water from the Cauldron*

The Solitaries of ADF *pour*

*Name Groves, Protogroves, and Worship Groups in sets of three, pouring after each set.*

*After all have been named, take one final chalice of water*

As the Waters flow forth to all of the Folk of Ar nDraiocht Fein, we pour a final libation of these Sacred and Blessed Waters that Our Druidry itself may be nourished, and continue to grow.  *pour*

Let the Waters fill us, as we stand as one Folk, one People, one Grove, and let our voices sound together as we continue Our Druidry.

So be it!


Works Cited:

Ellerton, Roger. “Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts.” Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts. Renewal Technologies Inc, 2005. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://www.renewal.ca/nlp31.htm>.

Newburg, Brandon. “Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual Tutorial for Ar nDraiocht Fein” Ar nDraiocht Fein. ADF, 2007. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <https://www.adf.org/members/training/dedicant-path/articles/coortutorial/index.html>.

“Unity Rite FAQ” Ar nDraiocht Fein. ADF. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/general/unity/faq.html>.