Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha – Festival of the Rivers 2014

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

Preparation
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. 

The
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.  
Gathering
A bell
is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemeton.
Statement
of Purpose
D1:

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.
So
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.
Opening
Prayer

All: 

By
the land beneath us
By
the sea surrounding us
By
the sky above us
We
come unto the gods and ungods.
May
they light our way and
Bless
our days,
Centering
Meditation
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.            
   
ah-heeveesh-vohr
Guide: Inhale and as you exhale visualize your feet firmly planted on the
earth.
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
center.
Guide: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór. 
Guide: And breath, open your eyes when ready.
Honoring
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
Chesapeake.  
We
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.
Establishing
the Sacred Grove
Sacred
Hearth Fire
Druid
1:
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,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts butter on the fire, then
says:
I light
the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within us.
Well of
Segais
Druid 2
says:
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,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
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.
World
Tree
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,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
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:
From
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.
Parting
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.
Inviting
the Gods and Ungods
An
Sinsear  
(en
shen-shoor)
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come
before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this
rite.
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors,
accept this offering.
Aos Sí
 
(ees-shee)
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.
Spirits
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
rite.
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods
and goddesses accept this offering.
Key
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
praise.
With
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.
The
Fríth
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.
The
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
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.
Tell me
what I need.
Seer: then takes the omen,
interprets it, and records it.
Receiving
the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup
high and says:
Tuatha
de Danaan
(tooah-de-danyan),
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.
Thanking
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.
Taking
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.
May
love and laughter light your days,
and
warm your heart and home.
May
good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever
you may roam.
May
peace and plenty bless your world
with
joy that long endures.
May all
life’s passing seasons
bring
the best to you and yours!

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

Items List:
Bell or gong for calling the folk to the temple
space.
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
rituals.
Local
River Goddesses
Corn
meal
Manannan
Mac Lir
Alcohol,
water grasses, yellow flower
Mighty
Dead
Food/bread
Spirits
of Place
honey/sage
smoke
Tuatha
de Danaan
Alcohol
Land
Goddesses
Harvest
Items
The
folk
Apples

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 Holiday Cycle

In Irish legend there are only four documented feast days: Samain, Imbolc, Beltain, and Lughnasadh or Brón Trogain, as it is called in Tochmar Emire (Wooing of Emir.)  As a result many folks who identify as Celtic Reconstructionists of the Irish persuasion only celebrate those four days as their annual religious cycle. However, neolithic sites, folklore, and evidence in other Indoeuropean cultures show that something could have been going on at other times of the year and just not mentioned by the monks who wrote down the Tochmar Emire.  Further, being a modern religion there is no reason why groups or individuals can’t have feasts and festivals specific to their religious practice.  What follows are a few examples of feasts and festivals folks in the CR community have added to their ritual year with links so you can do further research.

March 17 – Hero-Feast of Cú Chulainn:  Promoted by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus (PSVL) blog posts and a Facebook Page this Saint Patrick Day alternative is gaining popularity. 

March 25 – Latha na Cailliche: While the festival is Scottish in origin there is no reason why followers of Gentlidecht can’t also make offerings to her as she is found in Ireland as Cailleach Beara.  Being a goddess associated with the winter and storms it may not be a bad idea. Brian Walsh goes into some detail on his blog.

June 17 – Hero-Feast of Suibhne Geilt: Another feast day promoted by PSVL this one is for the legendary Irish king who was afflicted by the curse of a saint (one called Rónán), went mad as the result of being adversely affected by the spirits of battle, and then lived in the wilderness for many years, taking on bird-like characteristics, and occasionally uttering inspired nature poetry.

June  25 (or Summer Solstice)  – Midummer, Paying Rent to Manannan and Lá Fhéile Oirbsen (Law Ayluh Oribsheen) are all terms that can be applied to a holiday that many Irish polytheist have taken on to honor Manannan Mac Lir.  The practice comes from the June 25th Manx tradition of paying rent (in the form of rushes) to the first king of the Island so that he does not allow the sea to rise up and swallow the land.  Many examples of rent paying rituals can be found with a simple search.

September 20 (or Fall Equinox) – Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha (Law Ayluh Ow-wen-uch-ah) or the Festival of the Rivers.  This is a festival day I devised to give thanks to the local land goddesses during the harvest season. Just as the Boyne and Shannon are goddesses in Ireland, the rivers in North America are goddesses and we should thank them for the life they bring to our land.

Varied Sept – Nov – Hero-Feast of Finn mac Cumhaill: The third Irish hero feast proposed by PSVL’s blog. Now my placement and reason for this feast do vary from PSVL, and I expect to do a post about it in the future in some detail.  For now though, I place what I will be calling Lá Fhéile Finn mac Cumhaill around the start of deer hunting season in hopes for a good hunt.

Decmber 13 – Lá Fhéile Badhbh:  This feast is celebrated by Faoladh who has yet to fully explain it other than to say “it’s got to do with werewolves.”

In addition to the major feast days of, Oíche Shamhna (Eekhuh Hownuh), Lá Fhéile Bhríd (Law Ayluh Vreedj), Lá Bealtaine (Law Byaltinyuh), and Lá Lúnasa (Law Loonuhsuh), and any monthly feasts held,  genti could have a busy year of festivities that would be the envy of any other Neopagan religion.
_____________________________________________

If you are interested in developing feasts and holidays of your own, I encourage you to read the books listed below to get started.

Danaher, K. (1972). The Year in Ireland: Irish Calendar Customs. Dublin: Mercier Press.

Ó Súilleábhain, S. (1977). Irish Folk Custom and Belief. Cork: Mercier Press.

Lá Lúnasa Ritual

Wanted to get this out BEFORE the festival date this time. 

CLICK!

Lá Lúnasa
Preparation
The
participants gather the following offerings 
Local
River Goddesses
Corn
meal
Manannan
Mac Lir
Alcohol
Mighty
Dead
Food/bread
Spirits
of Place
honey/sage
smoke
Tuatha
de Danaan
Alcohol
Lugh
Harvest
Foods
The
folk
Apples

Prior
to the ritual the participants should light the flame, fill the well with fresh
water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
Gathering
A bell
is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemed.
Opening
Prayer
May the rains sweep gentle across the fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed planted bear fruit,
And late summer find us among fields of plenty.
Centering
Meditation

D1: Close your eyes clear your
mind and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the
spiral of the cosmos around you.
D1: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór.            
   
ah-heeveesh-vohr
D1: Inhale and
as you exhale visualize your feet firmly planted on the earth.
D1: We stand firmly upon the
Sacred Land.
D1: Inhale
again and as you exhale imagine you are surrounded by the great calm ocean.
D1: The Eternal Sea always
surrounds us.
D1: Inhale and
exhale seeing the great blue expanse above you.
D1: The Endless Sky spreads
itself above us.
D1: Inhale
while visualizing the great spiral around you, with you at its center.
D1: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór. 
D1: And
breath, open your eyes when ready.

Honoring
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 Chesapeake
 
We
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.
Statement
of Purpose
Imagine if you will it is The
Second Battle of Moytura, Lugh has slain his grandfather Balor of the Baleful
Eye and now he and his men have found the vile King Bres who wished to
negotiate being spared.
Bres said: ‘It is better to give
me quarter than to slay me’.
‘What then will follow from
that?’ says Lugh.
‘If I am spared the cattle of
Erin will always be in milk’.
‘I will ask our wise men of this”
, says Lugh.
Hence Lugh went to the brehon,
and said to him: ‘Shall Bres have quarter for giving constant milk to the cattle
of Erin?’
‘He shall not have quarter’,
saith Maeltne; ‘he has no power over their age or their (offspring) though he
can milk them so long as they are alive’.
Lugh returns to Bres saying:
‘That does not save you, for you have no power over their age and their
(offspring) though you can milk them’.
‘Is there aught else that will
save you Bres?’ asked Lugh.
 ‘There is in truth. Tell your brehon that for
sparing me the men of Ireland shall reap a harvest in every quarter of the
year’.
Said Lugh to the brehon: ‘Shall
Bres be spared for giving the men of Ireland a harvest of corn every quarter?’
‘No, this will suit us, the
spring for ploughing and sowing, the beginning of summer for the strengthening of
corn, and the beginning of autumn for reaping of it. Winter for consuming it.’
Returning to Bres, Lugh says: ‘That
offer does not rescue you, but less than that may,
 ‘What?’ says Bres.
‘How shall the men of Ireland
plough? How shall they sow? How shall they reap? After making known these three
things thou wilt be spared’.
‘Tell them’ says Bres ‘that their
ploughing be on a Tuesday, their casting seed into the field be on a Tuesday,
their reaping on a Tuesday.’
With that, the men of Erin learned
agriculture. 
So now comes the harvest and we
tell this story as a reminder of the magic that is the cultivation of food and
how man had to learn to harness the power of the land and the sun.  We give thanks to the gods for the guidance
in making the harvests possible.
Establishing
the Sacred Grove
Sacred
Hearth Fire
Druid
1:
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,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts oil on the fire, then
says:
I light
the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within me.
Well of
Segais
Druid 2
says:
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,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: taps the well then says:
In the
depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within me.
World
Tree
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,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses the bile, then says:
From
the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within me.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth,
the Well of Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting
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.
Inviting
the Gods and Ungods
An
Sinsear  
(en
shen-shoor)
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come
before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this
rite.
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors,
accept this offering.
Aos Sí
 
(ees-shee)
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.
Spirits
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 offerings and says: Aos
Sí , accept this offering.
Gods of
the Tribe
D3: Great gods, you who are
mightiest in all things,
Deities of my faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this
rite.
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods
and goddesses accept this offering.
Key
Offering
D1: Lugh,
Master of all trades, King of the gods
You who slew Balor and defeated Bres.
You who through victory brought us ploughing, sowing and reaping.
Hear us.
Mighty Lugh we give thanks for the gifts you have given mankind
and come with an offering of the fruits of our work.  We bring you this harvest, from our own
fields and the fields of our community.

D1: makes an offering and says: Lugh
accept this offering.
The
Omen 
Seer: 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.
Seer: then takes the omen,
interprets it, and records it.
Receiving
the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup
high and says:
Tuatha
de Danaan
(tooah-de-danyan),
Aos Sí , (ees she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you
and made a sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and 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.
Thanking
the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have called upon the Gods
and Ungods and they have answered.  With love and loyalty we carry the
blessings into our daily lives.  As we prepare to depart let us give
thanks to those who have aided us.

D1: {more praise for Lugh}
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, today we celebrated
you and gave you praise and offerings.  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.
D1: Mighty Rivers, these are your
lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting
my offerings of peace and respect.
Taking
down the Sacred Grove
D1: We came and honored the
Gods, the Spirits and the Ancestors 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.

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

Féile Manannán – Midsummer Ritual

 I put the following ritual together for my Protogrove to use as part of our Midsummer celebration for Manannan Mac Lir but due to vacation schedules performed it alone at the edge of the Chesapeake near my office.  Some parts of the ritual are taken from the “Paying Rent” ritual written by my friend Erynn Laurie.

Féile Manannán

Preparation
The participants gather the following offerings 
Local River Goddesses
Corn meal
Manannan Mac Lir
Alcohol
Mighty Dead
Food/bread
Spirits of Place
honey/sage smoke
Tuatha de Danaan
Alcohol
Manannan Mac Lir
Rushes, yellow flowers, meade or food.
The folk
Apples

Prior
to the ritual the participants should light the flame, fill the well with fresh
water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
Gathering

A bell is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemed.
Opening Prayer

In the honor of Manannan mac Lir, to the fruitfulness and profit
of our plantings and our work, in the name of the gods and ungods we offer
blessings to those gathered here.
Centering Meditation

D1: Clear your mind and focus on your
breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the spiral of the cosmos
around you.
All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.    
           
ah-heeveesh-vohr
As you exhale lower yourself and place a palm of your hand on the
ground.
All: We stand firmly upon the Sacred Land.
As you inhale, 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.
All: The Eternal Sea always surrounds us.
As you inhale, move your 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.
All: The Endless Sky spreads itself above us.
Inhale; lower the hands to the heart again.
All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór. 
Exhale; lower the hands to the sides
Honoring 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 Chesapeake.
 
We 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.
Statement of Purpose

D1:  At Saint John’s Eve, near Midsummer on
the Isle of Man, the people paid rent to Manannán mac Lir, the first king of
the island. The Manx Traditional Ballad says:
“If you would listen to my tale
And if you thought the narrative pleasant
As best I can with my mouth
I shall speak to you of the blessed Isle
Who was the first man who possessed it
And how came it to him
How Patrick sent the first Christian
And how it came to Stanley
Young Manannán, son of Lir
That was the first man who possessed it
As far as I can see
He was nothing but a heathen
Not with his sword did he defend it
Nor with his arrows nor his shield
But when he saw ships a-sailing
He would hide it round about with mist
Some would go, bearing their rushes
Up to the summit of the great mountain Barrule
Others used to leave their rushes below
With Manannán upon Keamool
Until Patrick came among them,
Who was a mighty man filled with magic art,
He drove Manannán into the sea
With his evil company, unjustly”
The ballad was written by Christians, yet Patrick is described as
driving out Manannán unjustly. To this day Manannán’s name is regarded with
reverence on the Isle. Rent for the Isle of Man was paid to him in rushes,
though the word may also translate as flags or wild irises. Some went to the
top of Barrule, Inis Man’s holy mountain. Others paid their rent at the
seashore.
Though we do not live on the Isle of Man, Manannán is for us the
keeper of the gates between the worlds, the lord of mists who allows us passage
in our journeys through the Otherworlds, and teacher and guide for our tribe.
And so it is at this time that we pay for our passage by giving honor and
offerings to Manannán mac Lir. We bring him food and drink, and we bring him
yellow flowers to symbolize gold and jewels for his pleasure.
Establishing the Sacred Grove

Sacred Hearth Fire
Druid 1:
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,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts oil on the fire, then says:
I light the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn
within me.
Well of Segais
Druid 2 says:
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,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: taps the well then says:
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow
within me.
World Tree
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,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses the bile, then says:
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree,
grow within me.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth, the Well of
Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting 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.
Inviting the Gods and Ungods

An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor)
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this
rite.
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors,
accept this offering.
Aos Sí  (ees-shee)
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.
Spirits 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 offerings and says: Aos Sí ,
accept this offering.
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan)
D3: Great gods, you who are mightiest in all
things,
Deities of my faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this
rite.
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods and
goddesses accept this offering.
Key Offering

D1: Manannán mac Lir, Lord of Mists, Lord of the Sea and of Change,
Rider of Aonbharr the Splendid-Maned, hear us.
Shapeshifter, holy trickster,
Keeper of the Gates between worlds, hear us.
Manannán mac Lir, Lord of Wisdom
Father of Mongán, armorer of Lugh,
Keeper of the Crane Bag of Wisdom and Secrets, hear us!
Patron of our grove, protector of our tribe.
Guardian of wisdom and knowledge, hear us.
Manannán mac Lir, King of the Land of Women.
Husband of Fand, lover of Aine,
Keeper of the Cloak of Mists that drowns all sorrow, hear us.
Husband, lover,
Guardian and beloved of women, hear us.
D1: makes an offerings and says: A Mhanannán,
accept our offerings! Hear our prayers and share in our joy and celebrations on
this night that is dedicated to you.
The Omen 
Seer: 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.
Seer: then takes the omen, interprets it, and
records it.
Receiving the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup high and says:
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan), Aos Sí , (ees
she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you and made a
sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and 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.
Thanking the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have called upon the Gods and Ungods and
they have answered.  With love and loyalty we carry the blessings into our
daily lives.  As we prepare to depart let me give thanks to those who have
aided 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, today we celebrated you and gave you
praise and offerings.  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.
D1: Mighty Rivers, these are your lands and here
you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting my offerings
of peace and respect.

Taking down the Sacred Grove
D1: We came and honored the Gods, the Spirits
and the Ancestors 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.

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

Outlaws/Outsiders Part 2 – A Personal Address

Having exposed ADF to the outsider/outlaw warrior the feedback has been interesting and slightly frustrating.  The basic concepts are all covered in the article Outlaws/Outsiders Part I – Fénidecht  but misunderstandings still exist.  They don’t understand how anyone would be drawn to such a status, how such a person would be involved in ADF or why ADF should even bother caring about such people.  The last is most problematic for me but I hope I can address each of these in turn.

People wonder “Why would anyone want to be an outsider?” and the answer is simple, in most instances no one asked for it.  Personal experiences have driven us to the outskirts of our chosen communities.  Be it negative experiences with the community-at-large or experiences unrelated to the community that makes us more unable or unwilling to take part in certain types of community rituals.  Sometimes, it is a foolish oath made in youth that forces us to be non-participator in certain situations.

The second question is of involvement.  Just as we may prefer to remain on the periphery in rituals, we also serve our communities from the periphery.  In a ritual context we may prefer to function outside of community rituals as guides and watchers, looking for safety issues, helping people find their way etc.  Some groups have incorporated us into the ritual structure by allowing us to stand just beyond, in the liminal area between the ritual space and ‘mundane’ space.  Socially and politically we tend to be very active in our communities, to include running for leadership positions.

This last one is problematic for me because it came from an ADF leader.  Mind you, these are not exact words but after several statements made this is the impression being given.  ADF is no place for people who ‘want to stand apart’.  The fact is we don’t always want to ‘stand apart’ and we don’t always have to do so and we are always looking for a community to which we can belong.  One that understands we won’t always fit in, or be part of the festivities and accepts us for what we are.  In return we would find ways to serve that community in ways that make sense to that community.

Being one who identifies as the ‘outsider warrior’ does not mean we will always stand apart.  That is the paradox of being an ‘outsider’ in the 21st century.  Sometimes we are very much the insider.  I myself am a Grove Organizer and so by default within the context of my grove I am the leader of a community and not on the periphery.  Yet, when I go to my next pan-Neopagan festival I will be taking all those things that identify me as a féinnid and function as such in relation to the tribe that will be brought together.  It is a fluid state of spiritual being in which I live and am comfortable.

Dear reader, you know people who fit this profile.  Please open your communities to them and come to understand them.  Like the wolves, once we become part of your pack we are loyal and fierce.

Lá Bealtaine

Bealtaine was done with my grove co-founders as part of our ‘practice’ runs for ritual.  So this will be the first publication of a multi-participant ritual.  It ran fairly smoothly, we identified some changes to be implemented for the next ritual to make things run even smoother.  The only incident was the juniper smudge stick going up in flames due to the breeze igniting the embers.

What follows is the ritual.

Lá Bealtaine

(La Beltina)
Preparation
The participants gather the following offerings
Local River Goddesses
Corn meal
Manannan Mac Lir
Alcohol
Mighty Dead
Food/bread
Spirits of Place
honey/sage smoke
Tuatha de Danaan
Alcohol
Beings of occasion
 Alcohol
The folk
Apples

Prior to the ritual the participants should light the flame, fill the well with fresh water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
Gathering
A bell is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemed.
Opening Prayer
Bless those minding cattle,
And those minding sheep,
And those fishing the sea
May the rains sweep gentle across the fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed planted bear fruit,
And late summer find us among fields of plenty.
Centering Meditation
D1: Clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the spiral of the cosmos around you.


All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.                                      ah-heeveesh-vohr

As you exhale lower yourself and place a palm of your hand on the ground.

All: We stand firmly upon the Sacred Land.

As you inhale, 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.

All: The Eternal Sea always surrounds us.

As you inhale, move your 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.


All: The Endless Sky spreads itself above us.
Inhale; lower the hands to the heart again.

All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.

Exhale; lower the hands to the sides
Honoring 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 Chesapeake.  
We 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.
Statement of Purpose
D1:  Summer has finally arrived and as we begin the light half of the year the foci are fertility and growth.  In Ireland our ancestors would build great bonfires and herd the animals between the fires to bless them on their way to the summer pastures.  The druids would bless the fields that had been planted since Imbolc all in efforts to produce a good crop.  We honor Aine, the sun, and the rivers for without whom there can be no growth.
As a fledgling grove we extend those blessings of fertility and growth to our own efforts of community building.  We planted the seeds of our new community at the Solstice and now we have to promote the growth while keeping out the weeds; divisiveness, insincerity, stagnation. We honor Nuada, great chieftain of the gods who ruled with wisdom, whose blessings on our grove will aid in growth.
As individuals we ask for blessings upon our attempts at personal growth.  To help us nurture positive relationships that facilitate our growth as understanding, caring, and forgiving people. We honor Ruad Rofessa, the keeper of knowledge whose blessings will aid each of us to be wise in our choices.
Establishing the Sacred Grove
Sacred Hearth Fire
Druid 1:
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,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge
                                                         
Let the tree be the bile,
                                                                              (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts oil on the fire, then says:
I light the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within me.
Well of Segais
Druid 2 says:
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,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge
                                                         
Let the tree be the bile,
                                                                              (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: taps the well then says:
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within me.
World Tree
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,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge
                                                         
Let the tree be the bile,
                                                                              (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses the bile, then says:
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within me.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth, the Well of Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting 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.
Inviting the Gods and Ungods
An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor)
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this rite.
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors, accept this offering.
Aos Sí  (ees-shee)
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.
Spirits 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 offerings and says: Aos Sí , accept this offering.
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan)
D3: Great gods, you who are mightiest in all things,
Deities of my faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this rite.
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods and goddesses accept this offering.
Key Offering
D1: Áine, hail to you, sun of the seasons.
As you traverse the skies;
Your steps are strong on the wing of the heavens,
You glorious mother of the stars.

You lie down in the destructive ocean
Without impairment and without fear;
You rise up on the peaceful wave-crest
Like a queenly maiden in bloom.

Áine, of the summer sun we honor you.

All: Áine, of the summer sun we honor you.

D2: Nuada, hail to you, wise leader of the gods.
You guided your people from the North;
Defeating the chaos and taming the land,
Resigning per the laws of the gods.

You of the Silver Hand,
Restored to glory
Again resigned in wisdom,
Showing true Kingship.

Nuada, chieftain we welcome you.
All: Nuada, chieftain we welcome you.
D3: Ruad Rofessa, hail to you, keeper of knowledge.
You are the wisest of the gods
The Good God you are skilled at all things,
You of the red eye glowing.
Possessor of Undry and Uaithne
You provide nourishment of both body and mind
Most wise and knowledgeable
An Dagda.

Ruad Rofessa, god of great knowledge we honor you.

All: Ruad Rofessa, god of great knowledge we honor you.
The Omen
Seer:   
Seer: 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.
Seer: then takes the omen, interprets it, and records it.
Receiving the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup high and says:
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan), Aos Sí , (ees she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you and made a sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and 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.
Thanking the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have called upon the Gods and Ungods and they have answered.  With love and loyalty we carry the blessings into our daily lives.  As we prepare to depart let me give thanks to those who have aided us.
D1: Áine, you are the light of our days.  We give you praise and thank you for your blessings.
D2: Nuada, noble chieftain.  We thank you for your blessings. 
D3: Ruad Rofessa, mighty red one your blessings shall guide us in our actions. Thank you.
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, 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.
D1: Mighty Rivers, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting my offerings of peace and respect.
Taking down the Sacred Grove
D1: We came and honored the Gods, the Spirits and the Ancestors 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.

All: Biodh Se!            (bee-shay)



Offerings, Blessings and Omens – Why I do things as I do.

In the previous post I have brief explanation of each part of the ritual.  There are four sections of particular interest that I wanted to expand upon and explain how I, being a practitioner of gentlidecht, would handle them in group rituals.

Offerings during invitations – When inviting the gods and ungods we make physical offerings of various items.  These offerings should be consistent with the nature of the beings and over the years I have taken great care to consider what is provided to them.

  • Irish Gods – This can vary, some give mead, some give physical items.  It depends on what part of the ritual.  During the invitation I tend to use some form of alcohol or a meal that the group will share.
  • Local land goddesses and nature spirits – These are the two groups of beings I am most particular of when making offerings.  Being native to North America they have been receiving offerings from the local tribes for centuries before we arrived and while they may accept what we give them the BEST gifts are those they expect.  Untreated tobacco, maize, corn flour are three items I use.  One thing for sure, I NEVER give them alcohol.
  • House spirits – These beings are only included in my private rituals indoors. They are more likely to have come with us from other places, even followed families for generations. I like to make them small offerings of sweets.
  • Ancestors – I offer them items from a meal that I am eating or that will be shared with the group.  Barring that, I give them good bread and something to drink.

 Praise and Offerings –  I differentiate between the offerings of a physical nature given to the gods and ungods during invitations and those offerings given as praise to them.  Praise offerings can been verbal, silent, physical objects, dance, poems…I have seen many types of praise offerings.

However, during public rituals allowing people to make offerings in whatever fashion they choose can prolong the ritual beyond a reasonable time and can become a bit of showmanship which I do not think is appropriate – after all the offering is not about the giver and having witnessed what I thought was one-up-man-ship when it comes to offerings I think it appropriate to define or even limit how offerings will be given.

For this reason I prefer the rituals of the Asatru known as the blot.  As praise offerings a horn is passed around to the congregation, the holder of the horn makes a silent or verbal offering to whomever they choose and then passes the horn to the next person (drinking is optional.)  This continues until all have give up a praise offering (some kindreds pass the horn three times.)  This allows for every attendee to give praise in a manner that is consistent with everyone else and prevents showmanship.

A gift for a gift – This is the point at which the congregants ask the gods for a blessing in return for the offerings.  This blessing is not placed on the congregation but on a consumable product that is then taken in by the congregation.  In Greeks rituals I have attended they have used bread but in most ADF rituals I have attended they use water or some other form of liquid.

In my rituals I have started using apples as the medium in which we receive the blessings.  Apples are mentioned in the lore as fruit associated with the Otherworld.  They are also fairly abundant year round due to modern agriculture but what I feel is just as important as its connection to the Otherworld, is that no one is allergic to it and it can be broken apart so that it can be shared without concern for communicable disease without a logistical solution.

The Omen – In ADF the most common thing seems to be a set of questions to learn the direction the group should go.  In some instances I have seen them include a question regarding the offerings.  In CR group I have only ever seen them ask if the offerings were acceptable and other types of divination were done OUTSIDE of the public ritual, see Imbas Forasnai.  

Maybe is it my being a gent that influences me but I agree with the reconstructionists, that the omen in these public rituals should be about determining if the offerings have been accepted, and if not, making more offerings or determining why the offerings were not enough and moving forward.

So there you have it.  Brief explanation of how I would run each section and why.  If there is anything readers would like me to write about, feel free to comment or contact me.

A ritual structure explanation

I have adapted the Core Order of Ritual for ADF for my use and want to share and explain each section of the ritual itself.

Gathering – The call to come together for worship is made by some sort of musical signal, a horn, a gong or bells, are perfect.  Once the signal is given participants should process to the ritual fire/well either in silence or with some sort of group unity song, poem, statement or chant or chant. 

Centering Meditation – A ritual meditation to help the group get into the mindset of meeting the gods and ungods and to aid in creating a group mind set to the purpose of worship.

Honoring the Local Land Goddesses – ADF requires that each ritual begin with honoring the ‘Earth Mother’.  As reconstructionists we do not deify the planet but we do deify the land and rivers.  The spirit of this section is to honor the life giver and we meet this requirement by honoring the local rivers as the goddesses of the land; the givers of life to our region.

Establishing the Grove – Even when using a space that is well worn with sacrifices we re-sanctify the area by building a sacred grove.  A hearth fire, a well and a bile are established and blessed.

Parting the Mists – While the gods are imminent and the spirits are local, the ancestors are in the Otherworld, so the mists that separate our world from the world of our ancestors must be parted to allow them to come through.  

Inviting the Gods and Ungods – We do not invoke, or summon our gods, the spirits or the ancestors to witness or accept a sacrifice.  We invite them as guests to our grove, attendance is up to them.

Praise and Offerings – We offer praise and make offerings to the three groups of beings that are important to our religion.  The gods, the nature spirits and the ancestors.  This section may change each ritual to offer praises to specific beings as well, such as to our grove Patron at Midsummer or the Land Goddesses at Fall Equinox.  You will notice that our form of praise is to give toasts to the gods and ungods, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available.

The Omen – When giving offerings it is wise to ask if they are acceptable.  The omen is the time to ask and if not accepted an opportunity to make further offerings or ask what else can be done.

Receiving the Blessings of the Gods and Ungods – We have given gifts to the gods and ungods, and now we ask for a gift in return.  We ask for good set aside for the occasion to be blessed so that the people may receive the blessings by eating the food.

Thanks the gods and ungods and closing the mists – One should always thank guests for stopping by and close the door once they are gone.

Taking down the Sacred Grove – While the sacredness is never dispelled by our words, the physical representations should be removed or snuffed.

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
Preparation
The participant gathers the following offerings (vegetable oil may be substituted if necessary):
Local River Goddess
Corn meal or tobacco
Fire/well/tree
Incense, silver-colored item (e.g., coin), branch
Mannanan mac Lir
Mead
Mighty Dead
Food/bread
Spirits of Place
Tobacco or corn meal, milk, honey
Tuatha de Danaan
Alcohol
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.  
Gathering
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
Participant:
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)