Ritual for the Winter Solstice

 Not mentioned in the mythologies this day is generally ignore by folks coming from a Celtic Reconstructionist background.  At the same time this day was honored in some way by the Neolithic Irish as can be seen by the sun entering mounds on this day.  Modern Irish celebrate it as Christmas and Saint Stephens Day.

So despite it not being mentioned in the mythology, it is difficult to imagine that they did not do something.  With that in mind, this is my something.  A celebration of family and friends…which includes the gods and ungods.

Anyone have a good Irish name for it, please share in the comments.
MidWinter Ritual
The participant gathers the following offerings (vegetable oil may be substituted if necessary):
Local River Goddess
Corn meal or tobacco
Incense, silver-colored item (e.g., coin), branch
Mannanan mac Lir
Mighty Dead
Spirits of Place
Tobacco or corn meal, milk, honey
Tuatha de Danaan
Spirits of Occasion
A plate of the after ritual meal….

Prior to the ritual the participant should light the flame, fill the well with fresh water, and place whatever tools are needed on the alter.  
Participant gathers at the ritual area and sounds a musical signal (bell branch) three times, then says:
I come to honor the patrons of family, hearth and home.                        
Centering Meditation
Participant performs the “Center Point”.
Stand quietly facing the north and relax with your hands resting at your sides. Clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly and follow along with this meditation, which will place you in the center of the cosmos.

I am at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.                         ah-heeveesh-vohr

Exhale, move to one knee with palms on the ground before you

I stand firmly upon the Sacred Land.

Inhale and rise to your feet, moving the hands behind at hip height, palms up, cupping. Exhale and move the hands in an arc until they meet in front.

The Eternal Sea always surrounds me.

Inhale, move the hands to the sides, spread the fingers wide, palms forward. Exhale and raise the arms, bringing the hands together above the head, thumb & forefinger meeting to create a triangle.

The Endless Sky spreads itself above me.

Inhale, lower the hands to the heart again.

I am at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.

Exhale and lower the hands to the sides

Honoring the Local River Goddess
P: Mighty Patapsco and Susquehanna.  Givers of life that flow from the mountains to the Chesapeake.
I honor you and make this offering to you in gratitude for your waters that nourish this land.       
P makes an offering and says: Mighty Patapsco, Great Susquehanna , accept my offering.
Statement of Purpose
Various religious traditions have festivals this time of year and disappointingly the practices of  gentilecht don’t appear to have done so.  Despite this we modern genti come together in the spirit of the season as reflected in the secular communities in which we live.  To celebrate family and friends with feasts and gifts.   During this rite we will honor our patrons of family, hearth and home and celebrate with them as we celebrate with our families.
Establishing the Sacred Grove
Sacred Hearth Fire
I make sacred the fire,
The first fire born of lightning
from which all fires are lit.
The hearth fire which warms our homes
and binds our people.
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Segais                        (shay-gish)
Let the tree be the bile,                            (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
P puts oil on the fire, then says:
I light the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within me.
Well of Segais
Participant says:
I make sacred the well,
From whichs seven rivers of Ireland flow,
Salmon swimming, hazel hanging high.
Bubbling brightly Segais, source of the Boyne,                    (boin)I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Segais
Let the tree be the bile,
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
P silvers the well and pours water from the well to the blessing cup, then says:
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within me.
World Tree
Participant says:
I make sacred the branch/tree,
Towering high, hanging heavy with hazel,
Spanning and connecting the Three Realms,
The mighty bile of the grove,                        I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Let the flames be the hearth fire,
Lets the waters be the Well of Segais
Let the tree be the bile,
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
P dresses the bile, then says:
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within me.
P raises arms
With the Flame of the Hearth, the Well of  Segais and the Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting the Mists
P prepares an offering for the gatekeeper and says:
P says: Oirbsen (orib-sheen), Manannan, Lord of the Mist, Ruler of Tir na mBan (teer na man), Guardian of the gate of the Otherworld. I ask that you hear my call. Oh Lord of the Otherworld, bearer of the silvered apple branch, join with me this day, so that you may guide me in my workings. Mist-shrouded rider of the maned waves, accept my offering and  open the Spiraled Gate between the worlds. .
P makes an offering and says: Manannan mac Lir, accept my sacrifice.    (mah-nuh-nahn’ mak leer)
P: Let the mists be parted!!
Inviting the Gods and Ungods
An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor)
P: Mighty dead, you who have come before,
Ancestors of my blood,  Heros of my people
I offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this rite.
P makes an offering and says: Ancestors, accept my sacrifice.
Aos Sí  (eeth-shee)
P: Great nature spirits, you who frolic in the wild world,
Spirits of this place,
I offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
P makes an offering and says: Nature spirits, accept my sacrifice.
Tuatha de Danaan
P: Great gods, you who are mightiest in all things,
Deities of my faith,
I offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this rite.
P makes an offering and says: Gods and goddesses, accept my sacrifice.
Praise and offerings to the Patrons
P: Lugh, god of all things, living lighting, the god in the machine hear this prayer.   Brigid Ambue, goddess of the outsiders, initiator of the civilized hear this prayer.  Manannan god in the mists and under the seas hear this prayer.  Finn, god of the hunt, god of the hunted hear this prayer.  Brigid of the pen, goddess of inspiration hear this prayer.
O Gods,
In my deeds,
In my words,
In my wishes,
In my reason,
And in the fulfilling of my desires,
In my sleep,
In my dreams,
In my repose.
In my thoughts,
In my heart and soul always,
May your blessings,
And the promised inspiration and wisdom dwell,
    Oh! in my heart and soul always,
    May the blessings you bestow,
    And the mighty strength you deliver dwell.
P makes an offering and says: Gods of hearth, home and family. Accept this offering with my love and respect.  
General Praise Offerings to the Gods and Ungods
P: The Gods, Aos Sí  (eeth shee), and Ancestors have come here today and it is proper to offer them praise, love and loyalty.  Hail the déithe and an-déithe.
(Three rounds of praise offerings, which may include drink: Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Gods.)
P: Gods, Aos Sí  (eeth shee), and Ancestors, accept these praises and sacrifices.
The Omen
Participant   Ritually washes their hands then forms the left hand into a tube and blows through the tube then says:
Gods over me, gods under me,
Gods before me, gods behind me,
I am on your path oh gods.
    You, my gods, are in my steps.
I am going within
To the doorstep of the sí
in the name of Finn
Stronger in sight then all.
The augury made by Finn to his men,
That Bride blew her palm,
Did you see the augury gods of art?–
    Said the gods of art,  they saw.
Message of truth without a message of falsehood
That I myself shall see
The semblance, joyous and mild
Of all that is hidden to me
Good spirits and gods of my people,
Give me the sight to see all I need,
With vision that shall never fail, before me,
    That shall never quench nor dim.
P then takes the omen, interprets it, and records it.
Receiving the Blessings of the Gods and Ungods
P raises the blessing plate/cup high and says:
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan), Aos Sí , (eeth she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), I have praised you  and made a sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and I pray to you and ask that you give me  your blessings.  Make sacred this and infuse it with your vitality, strength and inspiration.
Lo, the blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
P then eats/drinks the blessed food/drink
Thanking the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
P: I have called upon the Gods and Ungods and they have answered! With joy in my heart I carry their magic into my life and work. Each time I offer to the powers they become stronger and more aware of my needs and worship. So as I prepare to depart let me give thanks to those who have aided me.
Tuatha de Danaan, we thank you for your presence and blessings.  Come or go as you will with  my love and loyalty.  Mol na déithe.    
Aos Sí, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting my offerings of peace and respect.  Mol na Aos Sí                   
Mighty Dead, thank you for attending and accepting my gifts.  Pass back through the mists and return to the Otherworld.  Mol na sinsear.
Manannan mac Lir, thank you for your attendance and parting the mists.  I ask that you allow the mists to fall as my ancestors pass back into your realm.  Moladh agus buíochas a ghabháil le Oirbsen!  
Let the mists return and the veil be whole.
Patapsco and Susquehanna, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  I thank you for attending and accepting my offerings of peace and respect. Mol an bandia abhainn
Taking down the Sacred Grove
P: I came and honored the Gods, the Spirits and the Ancestors and now the Sacred Grove must be taken down.  I honor the Hearth Fire and restore it to flame.   I honor the Well of Segais and restore it to water.  I honor the bile and restore it to branch.  All is as it was and the Sacred Grove is dismantled  The ritual is ended. Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

Telling time through worship

Modern life is fast paced, time consuming and full of distractions where time gets lost and activities fall through the cracks.  We are forced to make schedules and just hope that we are able to keep them.  While there is no evidence the ancient Irish held monthly ritual observances, in modern America regular ritual observance of the gods can help us maintain our relationships with them. If you are looking to build a local community of like minded worshipers monthly gatherings are a necessity.

As to when to hold the rituals there are a few options.  Using the modern 12 month solar calender would be the simplest, but gentlidecht is a faith based on the practices of the ancient Irish. There for we should be following the calender used by the ancient Irish to dictate out religious schedule.  We have two sources for a lunar calender on which to base the schedule, the Coligny
Calendar used by the Gauls and Irish Neolithic art in and around passage mounds.  Admittedly we do not know if the Iron Age invaders (Celts) of Ireland
adopted the calender inscribed by the Neolithic Irish but knowing that the
Gauls, another Iron Age Celtic people, did use a lunar calender we will continue to work on the assumption that the ancient Irish did as well.

The carvings on Kerbstone 52 at Knowth

Based on the scholarship of the available calenders the year, month and days were split into a dark half and a light half with the beginning being the dark period of each.  This would place the start of the year during the darker months (Winter), the start of the month at the astronomical new moon (dark moon) and the start of the day at sundown.  Sounds simple but scholars have spent years working out the exact calender cycle and several theories exist.

Just based on this information genti could hold their monthly gatherings on or shortly after the dark moon.  This would provide 12-13 annual opportunities for community building and worship.  Of course each group could delve into the research further and come up with more exact religious calenders as well. I prefer the notional Celtic calender created by the Time Meddler which is a 12 month lunar calender with an occasional leap month.

The point is genti (followers of gentlidecht)  need to build a community, starting at the local level.  The best way to do so is to slow down and start getting together.  Establishing a religious calender and then sticking to it will help achieve that.