Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha – Festival of the Rivers 2014

Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha
Ayluh Ow-wen-uch-ah)

Collect the items from the items
list (end of the document.)  Outdoor rituals shall be
organized based on availability of fire with the fire alter being at the center
and everything else in relation to its location.  For indoor rituals the main alter should be a
table on which symbols of the gods and ungods, the Apple Branch, the representations of the Hearth Fire, Well of
Wisdom and Bile, the seers bowl, saining smudge, and the apples are
places.  For both indoor and outdoor
rituals a smaller table should be placed in a convenient location, on
which the offerings shall be placed in order of need to facilitate a smooth

ritual leaders should be selected for the follow roles:  Guide, Druid (1,2,3, etc.), and Seer.  Roles will overlap and others created as
needed. Prior to the ritual the Druids should light the flame, fill the well
with fresh water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
A bell
is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemeton.
of Purpose

At Lúnasa
we gave thanks to Lugh and told the story of how he made Bres teach man the way
of agriculture.  Now we are mid-harvest
and at this time it is only proper to give thanks to the goddesses of the lands
from which our harvest comes.   The rivers of Maryland are the lifeblood of our
agriculture, industry and family lives.  They have provided water, food, and means of
transportation for thousands of years and yet we forget their importance. Let
this ritual and festival serve as a reminder of their importance and that a
spirit inhabits these lands and deserves our thanks.
today we have come together to pay tribute and honor the life giving waters of
our rivers.  Whether it is to irrigate
the fields, turn the turbines of a power plant, provide running water to our
communities; the rivers are the sources of life in any community.  Today we honor the goddesses of the lands on
which we live and rely upon for our survival; Potomac, Patapsco, Susquehanna,
Gunpowder, Patuxent and all of their tributaries and runs.


the land beneath us
the sea surrounding us
the sky above us
come unto the gods and ungods.
they light our way and
our days,
A guide
is selected to lead this guided meditation. 
Going through it with a calm voice and steady voice.
Guide: Close your eyes clear your
mind and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the
spiral of the cosmos around you.
Guide: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór.            
Guide: Inhale and as you exhale visualize your feet firmly planted on the
Guide: We stand firmly upon the
Sacred Land.
Guide: Inhale again and as you exhale imagine you are surrounded by the great
calm ocean.
Guide: The Eternal Sea always
surrounds us.
Guide: Inhale and exhale seeing the great blue expanse above you.
Guide: The Endless Sky spreads
itself above us.
Guide: Inhale while visualizing the great spiral around you, with you at its
Guide: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór. 
Guide: And breath, open your eyes when ready.
the Local Land Goddesses
D2: We honor the Five Rivers, the
goddesses of the land; Potomac, Patapsco, Susquehanna, Gunpowder, and Patuxent.
 Givers of life that flow from the mountains and form estuaries of the
honor you and make this offering to you in gratitude for your waters that
nourish this land.
D2: makes an offering and says: Mighty
goddesses of the land accept this offering.
the Sacred Grove
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 Knowledge       
Let the tree be the bile,       
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts butter on the fire, then
I light
the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within us.
Well of
Druid 2
I make
sacred the well,
From which the five rivers flow,
Salmon swimming, hazels hanging high.
Bubbling brightly Segais, source of wisdom,   

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 Knowledge       
Let the tree be the bile,       
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: dips the apple branch into the
well then says:
In the
depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within us.
Druid 3 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 flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
Let the tree be the bile,       
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses (takes water from well
and pours it or rubs it on the tree) the bile, then says:
the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within us.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth,
the Well of Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
the Mists
D1: prepares an offering for the
gatekeeper and says:
D1: says: We honor Oirbsen
(orib-sheen), Manannan, Patron of our tribe, Lord of the Mist, Ruler of
Tir na mBan (
teer na man), Guardian of the gate of the Otherworld.
 Oh Lord of the Otherworld, bearer of the silvered apple branch, hear us
this day and aid in the passage of the ancestors through the misty veil.
D1: makes an offering and says: Manannan
mac Lir, accept our offerings and gratitude as you part the mists.

(mah-nuh-nahn’ mak leer)
D1: Let the mists be parted!!
All: Let the mists be parted.
the Gods and Ungods
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors,
accept this offering.
Aos Sí
D1: Great nature spirits, you who
frolic in the wild world,
Spirits of this place,
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
of family and the people that came to this land from faraway lands.
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
D1: makes an offering and says: Aos
Sí , accept this offering.
Gods of
the Tribe
D3: Great gods, you who are
mightiest in all things,
Deities of our faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods
and goddesses accept this offering.
D1:  Potomac, Patapsco, Susquehanna, Gunpowder, and
Patuxent born of the mountains you flow to the Chesapeake bringing with you – life.  Because of you we can irrigate our fields,
power our homes, and provide fresh water to our people.  For these things we give you thanks and
gratitude we make this offering of the fruits of our harvests. 
D1: makes holds up the offering
and says:  Blessed goddess of the
land, accept our gift.
Seer: Ritually washes their hands
then forms the left hand into a tube, blows through the tube then says:
I am
going within
To the doorstep of the sí
in the name of Finn
Stronger in sight then all.
augury made by Finn to his men,
That Bride blew her palm,
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
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.
Tell me
what I need.
Seer: then takes the omen,
interprets it, and records it.
the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup
high and says:
de Danaan
Aos Sí , (ees she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you
and made offerings and now a gift calls for a gift. We pray to you and ask that
you give us your blessings.  Make sacred these apples and infuse them with
your vitality, strength and inspiration.
Lo, the
blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
D1: Slices and eats the blessed
apple and passes it around.
the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have given gifts to the gods and ungods
and received gifts in return.  Take these
blessings into the world and use these them to live fruitfully and with
honor.   At this time we have come to the
closing of this ritual and will give thanks to those who have come to aid us.
D3: Tuatha de Danaan, gods of our
tribe, we thank you for your presence and blessings.  
D1: Aos Sí, these are your lands
and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting our
offerings of peace and respect.         
D2: Mighty Dead, thank you for
attending and accepting our gifts.  Pass back through the mists and return
to the Otherworld.  .
D1: Manannan, we thank you for your
attendance and parting the mists.  We ask that you allow the mists to fall
as our ancestors pass back into your realm.    
D1: Let the mists return and the
veil be whole.
D2: Mighty Rivers, these are your
lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting
my offerings of peace and respect.
down the Sacred Grove
D1: And now the Sacred Grove
must be taken down. We honor the Hearth Fire and restore it to flame.  We
honor the Well of Segais and restore it to water. We honor the bile and restore
it to branch.  All is as it was and the Sacred Grove is dismantled. The
ritual is ended.
love and laughter light your days,
warm your heart and home.
good and faithful friends be yours,
you may roam.
peace and plenty bless your world
joy that long endures.
May all
life’s passing seasons
the best to you and yours!

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

Items List:
Bell or gong for calling the folk to the temple
Juniper bundle for saining the attendees. 
Representations of the Hearth Fire, Well of Wisdom
and Bile.
Bowl with fresh water and ogham staves for the seer.
 Butter for
the consecration of the fire
Apple Branch for consecration of the well
Cup for water from the Well of Wisdom to consecrate
the tree.
Offerings to the gods and ungods
Apples for the blessings on the folk.
Basket or bowl to collect offerings during indoor
River Goddesses
Mac Lir
water grasses, yellow flower
of Place
de Danaan

Lá Fhéile Finn mac Cumhaill and Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha

In the article Gentlidecht Holiday Cycle I mentioned several possible additional seasonal events that Genti can include in their calender to flesh out the ritual year.    Two such events occur in September, with  Lá Fhéile Finn mac Cumhaill (or if you prefer the Hero-Feast of Finn mac Cumhaill) at the start of hunting season and Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha towards the end of the month around the time of the fall equinox.  Both are modern events created by genti to make offerings to specific beings that they consider to be special and worthy of devotion.

Lá Fhéile Finn mac Cumhaill is a festival that I propose should fall at the start of deer hunting season.  Finn is a hunter, warrior, outlaw, poet and seer; living off the land and protecting his people from outsiders. In a forthcoming article on him I will make an argument that he is a hunter god (representing both hunter and prey) but for the purposes of this article lets just call him a ‘god of the hunt.’  As such placing his special day at the start of a hunting season is perfect, I chose deer season due to his associations with deer in the names of his son (Oisín) and grandson (Oscar) and in the name of his warrior band ‘fianna’ being modern Irish for a herd of deer. 

There are two ways to handle this particular feast.  The first way is to do it as a celebration of the opening of hunting season and to make offerings to Finn for his aid in a successful hunt.  Another purpose would be to hold the feast after the first successful hunt and make offerings to Finn in gratitude.  In either instance the offering of prey meat would be the most appropriate, though you would have to have something remaining from the previous year if you did it as a season opening feast.  Other options would be pig, salmon or even mead…everyone likes mead. 

The second event of September is called Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha, the Festival of the Rivers.  In this instance the rivers are the deified river or land spirits of our local major water sources.  I chose the equinox for this one to give genti a ritual to celebrate the second harvest and to give thanks to the rivers that provide the life giving fluids to our crops.  Here in Maryland our offerings are to the five mountain born rivers that run to the Chesapeake, irrigating our fields, turning our turbines and providing the water supply.   Of course you should look local for your land goddess.

There really is only one offering to make to the land goddesses this time of year, seasonal harvest foods.  With all the farmers markets or even our own gardens this is a simple offering and makes the most sense since such crops could not exist without their life giving waters.

So, for us Genti the month of September can be a busy month.  With two opportunities for the community to come together to worship and feast.  In a coming post I will share my groups ritual for  Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha.

Gentlidecht: Outsiders/Outdwellers

In Part 1 of the Outlaw/Outsiders series, I talk about the mythological Fianna protecting Ireland from outsiders, this includes foreigners from other lands and Otherworldly beings bent on harming the people of Ireland.  In the stories these beings are not given a special name and by there nature, Otherworldly beings are ‘outsiders’ to our world so for purposes of this article and discussion the term ‘outsiders’ will only represent those beings that are hostile and/or disruptive to us.  In most ADF groves they include a section of the ritual where they make offerings to the outsiders as an offering to appease or make peace with them so they do not interfere with the ritual.  Others portray the outsiders as negative emotional baggage carried by the ritual attendees which is cleansed by the appeasement of the outsiders.  In the version of Gentlidecht
I practice we view the outsiders as beings not emotions, and we do not make offerings to them during the normal course of our rituals.

Among the various Irish Polytheist folk, treating with the outsiders is something that varies from group to group and the reasons for and against are also varied. My group of genti have chosen to not include offerings to the outsiders for a few of reasons.  Reason number one is that we have no evidence that I am aware, of the pre-Christian Irish doing such things.

Of course absence of proof is not proof of absence so that leads into the fact that in the legends such beings were dealt with by other outsiders, in Ireland’s case the Fianna lead by Fionn mac Cumhaill, not the members of society.  Trained specialists who could travel between the worlds to deal with the hostile forces in an effective, and deadly manner.  They did not bribe them, they defeated them. So reason number two is, it is not the place of the community to keep the hostile outsiders at bay, but the responsibility of the ‘friendly’ outsiders.

Finally we do not wish to call to them or attract them with goodies and create a situation of ‘blackmail’ in which we have to constantly provide for them.   This situation is not obvious to most but for those groups that have regularly made such offerings in the same space for a period of time, the area used begins to develop a ‘darkness’ about it that doesn’t go away without some serious work.

There is a way for those who wish to include some sort of acknowledgement of the outsiders to do so without creating a ‘hostile’ zone.  I have already pointed out that in legends there are beings whose job it is to defend against outsiders.  If you wish to include an outsider section in your rituals my suggestion is to make the offerings to a defender being and not the ‘hostile’ forces.  Two such beings would be Fionn mac Cumhaill and Angus mac Og who both have qualities of being an outsider or defender from outsider forces.  This way you are asking for the being to protect you from those things that are not friendly to what you are trying to accomplish.

During the development of Gentlidecht na gCuain we have chosen to not include a section for the ‘outdwellers/outsiders’ in our rituals for three clear reasons.  One is that we have no evidence that it was part of ancient Irish Pagan rituals, the legends show that it was other outsider beings dealt with outsiders rather than anyone within the community, and because anecdotal evidence shows that having a regular place where offerings are made to hostile outsiders develops a relationship of blackmail, bribery and an unfriendly space near the ritual.