Ritual

“RITUAL IS THE POETRY OF THE WORLD OF ACTS” ~ROSS NICHOLS.

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What is Rituals/Rites

Ritual: A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.
There are many types of rituals out there, and it can get a little intimidating and confusing for someone new. Do not let that be a burden. It just takes time to familiarize the self with the art of ritual. The more one researches it; it is more likely one will not do it. Please do not get caught up in all that. The act of ritual lays within all, not in a book.

Rites: A formal or ceremonial act or procedure prescribed or customary in religious or other solemn use. These would be important moments in one’s life. Rites apply to religious practices. While rituals can be applied to religious practices, they can also be applied to cultural and traditional practices. One could say Rite is a title term, and ritual is a descriptive term

A songwriter can bring awareness to the listeners connecting them to things unnoticed. The same is with ritual as it has no powers on its own. The powers come from the effects it has on those that take part in it. Ritual helps the individual focus, consciousness, intuition, intentions, and many more things. It helps to remind us of the bigger picture of the universe and that we are just a small part of it all. We use rituals to get closer to the gods and the natural world, give thanks, & bring more awareness of the Sacred. 

The act of ritual is symbolic.

It is an art form that should be honed, just like anything else. Done with skill and the basic layouts can bring meaning and many wonders to the individual’s life. Ritual is diverse; while it is often done outdoors, some choose to ritual indoors. It can be solo or in a group gathering.

Most Druid rituals are done in circles; this symbolizes the unity of each one of us as one people. We honor the four directions and the earth, the sky, the sun, and the moon, the ancestors, the gods, and goddesses. And consists of blessing members within the circle with fire and water. At times, a man and a woman face one another at the circle’s entrance, symbolizing the gateway into which we are brought into the world. Prayers and chants are offered. Ritual clothes are worn, and it is a big celebration with many people.

These are some things that are within each Druid Order and each Druid Grove, and they vary from one to the other. This is a big thing in a group setting, but many do not have people to gather for significant rituals. At the same time, others will not have an outdoor space to have things set up. Some of us live in small areas and lack the means to have a significant flashy ritual. Nevertheless, you still can have rituals. 

Below is a stripped-down version of ritual: just the basics that you can do in a small place with which you can then make it much more to incorporate into the outdoors or with a gathering of people. You can add to it and make it your own.

Purification of the self and space first must wash one’s self and turn anything off that will disturb you. It is essential and often forgotten: Lighting! Turn off any cool lights and have at least one warm light to set the mood & quiet the mind naturally. A quiet mood helps purify oneself. This also should include washing, grounding, and centering to balance yourself before the ritual.

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Basics of a Rite

Here are the basic ingredients to help you with the ritual. There are many Rituals one can do, but they all have the necessary steps; this one has the most critical ingredients.

  • Purification/Cleansing
    • This is done before we start our ritual. You can take a shower or wash your hands, face, and, arms maybe say some words to purify your thoughts.
  • Opening
    • This is declaring what’s about to happen. Say some words
  • Make a Sacred Space/Sanctifying the space
    • Mark out your space that will be sacred. Do this by either lighting a flame ringing a bell walking in a circle around the space, and declaring the directions. One can do all the above or just one of the things or even what makes you feel comfortable.
  • A prayer of the recipient.
    • Invocation – This is the naming of the Go/desses or spirits you are calling on. So descriptive words about them.
    • Argument – This is the reason you are calling the deities or spirits.
    • Petition – Asking the deities or spirits to aid you.
  • An offering to the recipient.
    • Items given to the deities or spirits for helping you. This is part of the gifting cycle as they give we give.
  • Closing
    • Closing prayer thanking the deities and spirits, putting out the flame, ringing a bell, or any other acts such as thanking the directions.

For an example of a Basic Ritual, you can modify this any way you chose. I filled in some things to help with your creative flow.

  • Purification – Wash/Breathe deeply, clear the mind.
    • Clean Hands
    • Clean Mind
    • Clean Soul 
  • Initiating the Rite – Ring bell, Light candle
    • Ring bell stating you are going to open a sacred space.
    • Enter from the west, walking in a circle stoping in each direction to declare peace, then head to the center and light the fire and say 
    • “I light this candle in the presence of the ( Gods, Spirits, or Ancestors).”
  • Prayer, Inviting the Gods, Ancestors, Or Spirits
    • Honoring the Earth Mother
      “Earth Mother, I call to you”
      “Mother of Plenty”
      “Queen of the Tribes”
      “Life Giver”
      “I praise you, Earth Mother, for you give us ground to stand on. As we come from you, so shall we return.”
      “I call to you as many have before”
      “Within your embrace, I have the gift of life.”
      “Because of you I am”
      “I ask you, you Earth Mother, Highest Mother”
      “To keep me grounded”
      “So that my roots will feel all that is around”
  • Offerings
    • “In my greatest thanks for all that you are and all that you do for all that you give and all that you will give, I give to you this—- Earth Mother.”
    • Give what every to feel is appropriate.
  • Closing the Rite
    • Closing Prayer
    • Thanking the Gods, Ancestors, Or Spirits
    • Thanking the Directions
    • Put out the fire
    • Ring bell

Rituals can be much more involved, offering to the fire, deity, spirits, ancestors. Meditations and prayers can also help with connecting to deities, spirits, and ancestors.

Within Druidry, there are bunches of different rituals for many things.

  • Rites of Passage
  • Handfasting
  • Funerals
  • Coming of age
  • Divination
  • Holiday/Celebrations
  • Births
  • And many more

Now we will share some of the basics of a Rite from some of the Druid Orders.

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AODA

Grove Opening and Closing Ritual

  • Altar in the center of the grove, covered with a white altar cloth.
  • Incense and incense burner (east of altar).
  • Oil lamp or candle (south of altar).
  • Cauldron is half-filled with water (west of altar).
  • Platter of earth (north of altar).
  • Golden sickle and mistletoe in West of the circle.
  • Sounding board in the North (for staff-rapping).
  • The elements alternately can take the form of four identical cauldrons containing incense, a lamp or candle, water, and earth each.
  • The Chief Druid carries a staff; Druid of Air carries a sword in scabbard; Herald, Pendragon, and almoner carry staves with golden sickles; Druid of Fire carries matches or a lighter.

Grove Opening and Closing Ritual Outline

  • Declared Opening
  • Call for Peace
  • Purification of the Grove by the Four Elements
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Druid Prayer
  • Awen Chant
  • Banishing Negative Influences for Each Quarter
  • The Center Working (grove meeting, holy day celebration, etc.)
  • Determine That Work Is Done
  • Open grove in the cross quarters and invite the Candidates (NE), Druid Apprentices (SE), Druid Companions (SW), and Druid Adepts (NW) to speak or share with the grove.
  • After they are done “peace” is reiterated for each quarter
  • Oath of Officers to serve the Earth
  • Awen Chant
  • Banishing the Elements/Quarters
  • Procession Out

http://aoda.org/publications/articles-on-druidry/aodas-solitary-grove-opening-and-closing/

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OBOD

  • Ritual Outline
  • Grounding Meditation
  • Opening Statement
  • Peace to the Quarters
  • The “Universal” Druid’s Prayer
  • Awen Chant
  • Casting the Circle
  • Consecrating the Circle (with water and fire)
  • Opening the Quarters
  • The Working
  • Unity Prayer
  • Awen Chant
  • Thanking the Quarters
  • Unwinding the Circle
  • Ending Statement

There are no ritual tools that are needed for the rituals, and there is no one-size-fits-all method for physically preparing the ritual space for all rituals.

OBOD is not a religion but rather a Spiritual Philosophy.
The God/desses are not usually part of said rituals. Now different Groves might do things a little different and incorporate the God/desses.

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ADF

  • Establishing the Grove
  • Procession in
  • Opening Prayers and Offerings to the Earth Mother
  • Grounding meditation
  • Establishing and affirming the Center/“Three Worlds”
  • Opening the gates to the Powers.
  • Offerings to the Powers
  • Preliminary Offerings (to poetic inspiration and to the Outsiders)
  • Offerings to the Three Kindreds
  • Offerings to the Patron Powers
  • Sacrifice and Omen
  • The Blessing
  • Meditation for Blessings
  • The Waters of Life Blessing
  • Other workings (if any)
  • Giving Thanks
  • Giving Thanks to the Powers
  • Closing the Gates
  • Releasing the Grove
  • Procession out

Some groves have simplified liturgies that follow the basic model, as the ADF ritual structure can be very complex. The order of service can vary from one grove to the next.

https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/intentions.html
https://www.adf.org/rituals/index.html
https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/brief-lit.html

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RDNA Ritual Outline

  • Opening invocation
  • Humbling before the divine
  • Procession
  • Earth-Mother Chant
  • Drawing sigil in the ground where the priest stands
  • Chants of praise
  • The Sacrifice (plants only)
  • Seeking an omen (augury or aeromancy)
  • Priest & Preceptor call & response of the Waters-of-Life (Waters-of-Sleep in winter)
  • Consecration of the Waters-of-Life or of Sleep (Lord of the Groves invocation)
  • Partaking of the Waters
  • Libation to the Earth-Mother
  • Forum (open discussion or speech)
  • Meditation
  • Closing blessings
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NRDNA (New Reformed Druids) Ritual Outline

  • Earth-Mother Chant
  • Opening invocation
  • Procession
  • Centering (getting into ritual mindset)
  • Individual goals & dedications
  • Statement of beliefs
  • Group goals & dedications
  • Offering & praise (individual attendees make plant sacrifices or bardic offerings)
  • The Sacrifice (plants only)
  • Seeking an omen (usually augury or aeromancy, but others have been used)
  • Statement of needs
  • Priest & Preceptor call & response of the Waters-of-Life (Waters-of-Sleep in winter)
  • Partaking of the Waters
  • Libation to the Earth-Mother
  • Group bonding
  • Meditation
  • Thanking the gods
  • Closing blessings
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HoK (Henge of Keltria) Ritual Outline

  • Druid Preparation
  • Designating parts (D1, D2, GT: Grove Tender)
  • Fasting prior to ritual
  • Herbal bath or pre-ceremony purification
  • Wear only a robe (mundane clothes block mindset per HoK)
  • Solo meditation
  • Site Preparation (GT)
  • Cleaning ritual area
  • Soothe nature spirits
  • Bless the firewood (if indoors use one special candle)
  • Use natural fire starters (no lighter fluid)
  • Don’t light the fire yet
  • Cover clocks if indoors
  • Disable mobile devices and electronics
  • Altar Preparation (GT)
  • Fill two chalices: one of mead, one of water, covered with patens
  • Light two matching candles for Matron & Patron
  • Three cauldrons: one of water, one of earth, one of incense
  • Sea shell for Manannan
  • Wicker basket (only natural materials, no paint)
  • Branch with a bell or many bells on it
  • A separate sacred branch
  • Sickle
  • Sacred oil
  • Sacred plant extract that is safe for consumption
  • Candle snuffer
  • D1 checks GT’s work
  • GT makes 3 musical signals indicating all is ready, stays at site
  • Processional
  • D1 leads participants single file to ritual site
  • GT anoints D1 and other participants with oil on forehead in Awen pattern as they enter site
  • GT states with each anointing “May you be blessed in Mind / Body | and Spirit \
  • D2 at rear of procession is anointed second to last, then anoints GT
  • D1 & D2 face altar, salute by drawing Keltrian Druid Sigil in the air
  • Making Sacred Space
  • D1 or D2 gives bell branch to volunteer
  • Volunteer invokes druids of the past, present, and future, ringing the branch each time
  • Another volunteer invokes the directions with associated mythical city and legendary object
  • –East, City of Finias, Sword of Nuada, and rising sun, rings bell branch
  • –South, City of Gorias, Spear of Lugh, midday sun, rings bell branch
  • –West, City of Murias, Cauldron of the Dagda, setting sun, rings bell branch
  • –North, City of Falias, Lia Fail (stone of destiny), stars or auroras, rings bell branch
  • –Center, City of Uisnach, declares all time & space is here & now, rings bell branch and plants it as the World Tree
  • Statement of purpose
  • Unity Song
  • Tree Meditation (think like a tree: you’re a tree now)
  • Parting the Veil: D1 or D2 hands shell to volunteer, Manannan invoked and asked to unite the worlds
  • Triad invocations
  • D1 or D2 hands cauldron of water to volunteer
  • Volunteer invites the ancestors, anoints, and blesses attendees on forehead with water
  • D1 or D2 hands cauldron of earth to volunteer
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A Druid Ritual Based on John Greer

Your altar should be in the center of a circle

  • 4 small bowls placed on the altar
  1. For the North – Half filled with salt or earth
  2. For the South – Half filled with sand with a votive candle
  3. For the East – Half Filled with sand with incense
  4. For the West – Half filled with pure water
  • Distilled water is dead water – Tap water is treated and can contain chemicals. 
    • Use well or spring water
  • The bowls represent the four elements
  1. Air- East
  2. Fire – South
  3. Water – West
  4. Earth – North
  • We are representing the three druid elements with
  1. Incense – Nwyfre
  2. Water – Gwyar
  3. Salt/Earth – Calas
  • You will also represent three rays of light with the candle.
  • You will sit in the north
  • Three more items are needed
  1. A Knife/Sword/Dagger
  2. Drinking horn, with wine, mead, juice ~ you pick
  3. Robe/Ritual clothes
Opening The Grove

To begin, get your ritual space all set up. Clear your mind and begin.

  • Enter into your circle, walk around it with the sun. Walk around to the north side of your altar and face south. 
    • Raise your palm to salute the sun saying.
  1. Let the powers attend as I am about to open a grove of druids in this place. The first duty of druids assembled in the sacred grove is to proclaim peace to the four quarters of the world, for without peace, our work cannot be done.
  • Take your sheathed blade and go to the east. Face outward, raise the blade head level and horizontally—left hand on sheath right on the hilt.
    • Pull the blade halfway from the sheath, push it back in, saying.
  1. I proclaim peace in the east.
  2. Lower the blade and proceed to the south and repeat all
  3. I proclaim peace in the south.
  4. Go to the west; repeat the steps.
  5. I proclaim peace in the west.
  6. Go to the north; repeat the steps.
  7. I proclaim peace in the north.
  • Now return the blade and go to the north.
    • Facing south across the altar saying.
  1. The four quarters are at peace, and the work of the grove may proceed. Let the grove and all within it be purified with air.
  • Now head to the eastern part of the altar, pick up the bowl with the incense, and carry it to the eastern edge. 
    • Walk-in a circle around the circle’s outer edge; you can move your arm in a slow sweeping or side to side motion to help widen or spread the smoke. 
    • Visualizing that the smoke is purifying and blessing everything in the grove. 
    • Making your way back to the east to return the bowl saying.
  1. Let this grove and all within it be purified by fire.
  • Go to the southern part of the altar, pick up the bowl with the candle – without sweeping or excessive motions. 
    • Repeat above but this time – visualize fire purifying everything in the grove saying.
  1. Let this grove and all within be purified with water.
  • Now take the bowl with water and go to the western edge. Repeat the above this time, visualizing water purifying saying.
  1. Let this grove and all within be purified with the earth.
  • Now take the bowl with earth to the northern edge repeat visualizing earth purifying everything.
  • At the north of the altar say.
  1. I invoke the blessing of the mighty ones with the words that have been the bond among druids.
  2. Grant o holy ones thy protection
  3. And in protection strength.
  4. And in strength understanding.
  5. And in understanding knowledge.
  6. And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice.
  7. And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it.
  8. And in that love, the love of all existences.
  9. And in the love of all existences, the love of
  10. Earth our mother and all goodness
  • When finished, say “Ah-oh-en” three times.
  1. Awen Awen Awen
  • Feel that word flow through all in the grove.
  • Now take the seat in the north. This completes the opening of the grove.
Closing the Grove
  • When your work is complete, take a seat in the north and return to stillness in your mind. At the north side of the altar, face across to the south and say.
  1. Let the powers attend as I am about to close a grove of druids in this place. Peace prevails in the four quarters and throughout the grove. Let any power remaining from this working be returned to the earth for its blessing.
  • Ritual work leaves energies behind so visualize the energies flowing towards the altar down into the center of the earth. Concentrating on that till the space feels clear of energy, say.
  1. I invoke the sword of swords.
  2. Draw your blade to the sky and say
  3. From the rising sun, three rays of light.
  4. From the living earth, three stones of witness
  5. From the eye and mind and hand of wisdom
  6. Three rowan staves of all knowledge
  7. From the fire of the sun, the forge
  8. From the bones of the earth steel
  9. From the hand of wise, the shaping
  10. From these Excalibur
  11. By the sword of swords, I pledge my faithful service.
  12. To the living earth, our home, and mother
  • When finished, say “Ah-oh-en” three times.
  1. Awen Awen Awen
  • Raise your right hand to salute the sun and walk around the altar to exit.
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Any ritual can be easily modified and put the “meat” of what you are doing in between the Opening and closing Offerings to the gods, spirits, ancestors, etc.

Remember there are many Druid Rituals out there do not overthink it.

For those that are Recon Druids, you would want to make your Rituals in tune with your Tradition/Custom. So if one is a Recon Gaulish Druid or Gaelic Druid keep things in those realms. Using the language as much as possible and Invoking those God/ddesses keep the culture in the ritual.