The Core Order of Ritual was established by the ADF Clergy Council in 2006 as a replacement for the Standard Liturgical Order which dated from earlier in the history of ADF. The Core Order was designed to be a standard which applied everywhere that ADF rite is observed.
I have been fortunate in my travels to attend ADF rites on four continents and in those situations where a different language was spoken, I was still able to understand what was going on by its location within the Core Order.
I am going to go through each of the steps and explain them so that people can get a better comprehension of the reason behind the step in the Core Order.
Core Order of ADF Ritual for High Days
1. Initiating the Rite – May include:
-Establishing the Group Mind
2. Purification – This must take place prior to Opening the Gates
3. Honoring the Earth Mother
4. Statement of Purpose
5. (Re)Creating the Cosmos
-Sacred Center must be established in a triadic Cosmos
-The Three Worlds or Realms must be acknowledged
-The Fire must be included
-Sacred Center is most commonly represented as Fire, Well and Tree
6. Opening the Gate(s) – Must include a Gatekeeper
7. Inviting the Three Kindreds
8. Key Offerings – This will commonly include:
-Invitation of Beings of the Occasion
-Seasonal customs as appropriate
9. Prayer of Sacrifice
11. Calling (asking) for the Blessings
12. Hallowing the Blessing
13. Affirmation of the Blessing
14. Workings (if any)
15. Thanking the Beings
16. Closing the Gate(s)
17. Thanking the Earth Mother
18. Closing the Rite
Let’s start where we left off:
Opening the Gate(s) – Must include a Gatekeeper
The notion of a Gatekeeper, regardless of where our Founder Isaac Bonewits encountered it, is firmly founded in the Indo-European tradition. Gatekeepers are liminal entities who can span the various realms, Land, Sea, and Sky, as well as the Other Worlds. Gatekeepers from the lore include Heimdall from the Norse hearth; Hermes and Iris, from the Hellenic hearth; Mercury from the Roman hearth, Manannan mac Lir from the Irish/Manx hearth; the bee from the Hittite hearth, just to name a few. The earliest reference that I have found for a Gatekeeper, by name, is in the Old Anatolian Myths:
“Let him open the gates of the Dark Earth”
Sacrifice and Prayer to the Storm God of Nerik, paragraph 4.
The purpose of calling to a Gatekeeper is to help to open the Gates to the Otherworld and to help keep them open. In my opinion, a Gatekeeper may not be needed in our everyday work to reach the Kindreds: Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones. By employing a Gatekeeper, however, to open the Gates serves as a magical act in our High Day or Full Core Order rites of opening the passages between this world and the world of the Kindred spirits.
Since we are invoking the aid of the Gatekeeper, it is appropriate to make an offering to the Gatekeeper, in order to build a better relationship with them. This offering can be many things, but often items which are combustible in the fire are best: olive oil, spirits, incense.
N.B. When making offerings, do not pour anything into the fire that will extinguish it. The idea is to feed the fire, not to put it out.
Opening the Gates
Opening the Gates is the first magical act of the Core Order of Ritual. In this part of the Core Order, we will convert the well to a portal to the Ancestors; we will convert the fire to a portal, leading to the Shining Ones; and we will convert the Tree to a portal that links the heavens and the earth, with roots that reach into the Earth, past the Ancestors, and trunk that exists in the Middle Realm of the Nature spirits, and branches which reach high into the sky, all the way to the Shining Ones.
For this example, we will use Manannan mac Lir as a gatekeeper.
“Hail to you, Manannan mac Lir, he who walks upon the waves, he who rides beyond the ninth waves, he who travels between Land, Sea, and Sky. I call to you today as Gatekeeper, to help me open the gates and to hold the ways open, between this world and the world of the Kindreds. Please, Manannan mac Lir, help me in this work that we are about to do together. For this, I make you this offering of whiskey.”
Pour whiskey into the fire or into a vessel to be offered up after the rite.
“Manannan mac Lir, accept this offering.”
“I call to you again and ask that you mix your magics with mine, as we open the Gates between the Worlds.”
Place your fingers in the well and speak:
Well and Ancestors
“Manannan mac Lir, let the well open as a gate between this world to the realm of the Ancestors. Let them hear our voices. Allow them to feel our hearts and our loves. Let their guidance come pouring through.”
“Feel the Ancestors as they draw near, familiar faces, as they come to stand behind you. Feel their presence and remember them as they once were and as they are now. Also be aware of those who approach and who are unknown to you. These Ancestors of the Family, the Heart, or of the Land, also draw near although we may not be familiar with them, yet.”
Fire and Shining Ones
Move yours hands around the fire, feeling the warmth of the flame, or, if the flame is artificial, feel the warmth of this fire in your heart and in your hands, and speak:
“Manannan mac Lir, let this fire open as a gate between this world and the realm of the Shining Ones, the Goddesses and Gods of our people, the people here assembled, and of those who could not be with us in person today. Allow our blessings to be transmuted by the fire and rise up to the Shining Ones and please let the light of their presence shine upon us.”
Tree and Nature Spirits
Take water from the well and anoint the tree with this water, saying:
“Manannan mac Lir, let the tree open as a gate for this middle realm, the world of the Nature Spirits. Let its roots reach deep into the Earth, past the Ancestors, let its branches reach high into the skies, up to the Shining Ones, and let its trunk be firmly founded in this world, the world of Nature.”
“With the ways open through these gates, let us say ‘Let the Gates Be Open!’. The gates are now open, let only truth be spoken here in the presence of the Kindreds.”
Inviting the Three Kindreds
Now that the gates are open, it is time to honour the individual Kindreds. The Kindreds are the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones.
Let us begin with the Ancestors. The Ancestors are those who have gone before and I group them into three sets: Ancestors of the Family, Ancestors of the Heart or Hearth, and Ancestors of the Bone or Place.
The Ancestors bring us guidance and we make offerings to them to build better relationships with them. Often, alcohol is used as an offering, but it really can be anything: a poem, a beer, an old photograph, there are many choices.
Approach the well and say: “We call to the Ancestors through the portal of the well; the well which reaches deep into the Earth. We make you this offering of to honour you and to help build a better relationship between you and I. Accept this offering as a symbol love and care.”
“Ancestors accept this offering.”
If the offering is liquid, pour it into the well. If it is something else, place it next to the well.
Feel the Ancestors surround you, faces you recall and faces that are unknown to you. They come and surround you with love and understanding.
Let us continue with the Nature Spirits. The Nature Spirits are those spirits, seen and unseen, real and imaginary, that populate this middle realm, this place between the sky and the underworld. This includes the spirits of animals, animal spirits, animals themselves, and the spirits of places, such as the rivers, vales, and similar locations. It also includes gnomes and sylphs and other imaginary creatures. Household spirits and the winds are also included in this group.
The Spirits of Nature teach us about the cycles in our lives and about our place in the world. The natural world observes an annual cycle, but we too go through our own cycles which may be of shorter or longer duration. The symbol of the Nature Spirits, often depicted as a tree, can be the world tree, with roots deep in the ground and branches high in the sky, spanning the worlds of the Kindreds.
Approach the tree and say: “We call to the Nature Spirits through the portal of the tree; the tree who’s roots reach deep into the ground, past the Ancestors, into the deep waters under the Earth. Your branches reach far into the sky, into the realm of the Shining Ones. This great tree spans all the worlds. We ask for your presence in this rite. Lend us your understanding. Accept this offering of water from the well as a symbol love and care.”
“Nature Spirits accept this offering.”
Take water from the well and sprinkle it onto the tree.
Listen to the Nature Spirits around you: the wind through the trees, the sounds of the water in rivers and streams, the sound of the world around you.
Let us continue with the Shining Ones. The Shining Ones are the Goddesses and Gods of our people, the people here assembled, and those who could not be here with us today. They are called Shining Ones because they are radiant, whether they are solar, terrestrial, or chthonic. They can make changes in the world around us and are beings of great power and potential. When we need changes in our lives, we often look to the Shining Ones to make those changes. It helps to have a relationship with the Shining Ones when asking for such assistance. Offerings placed into the fire are transmuted into a form that can be readily accepted by the Shining Ones.
A good offering for the Shining Ones can be alcohol spirits, beer, wine, mead, artistic or bardic gifts, poems, songs, and many others. Offerings to the fire should be consumable by the fire. Pour offerings such as beer, wine, mead, and other non-flammable liquids next to the fire.
Approach the fire and say: “We call to the Shining Ones, the Goddesses and Gods of all those assembled here and of those who were unable to join us today. We ask for your presence and your blessings on this day. Please join us in the work that we are about to do. When we need changes in the world, we come to you. Help us to come to a better understanding. Accept this offering as a symbol of love and care.”
“Shining Ones accept this offering.”
If the offering is flammable, place it in the fire. If it is not, place is next to the fire.
In your minds eye, see the Shining Ones as they arrive at the rite. Many you will recognize, larger than life and shining like the sun. Others will be unknown to you but will still be radiant. Feel the power of their presence.
“Kindreds all, accept these offerings!”
Key Offerings – This will commonly include:
Invitation of Beings of the Occasion
Seasonal customs as appropriate
Being(s) of the Occasion
Being of the Occasion can be a variety of entities. It can be Kindreds, such as Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and / or Shining Ones. We utilise this portion of ritual to make offerings to them and build relationships with them.
Beings are chosen related to the ritual being celebrated, such as Brighid for Imbolc or Lugh for Lughnasadh. Choose Nature Spirits for Beltaine; for Samhain, choose the Ancestors, for example.
We acknowledge these beings and welcome them to the rite. We honour them by making an offering to them and ask them for their presence in the ritual.
Let’s invite the Goddess Badh to a Samhain rite:
“We call to the Badh, Goddess of Prophecy and invite you to our Samhain rite. We look to you for insights in the Samhain season that is to come. Please recall that Muin is the ogham of prophecy and we offer you this wine, this fruit of the vine, in the form of the ogham “Muin”.
“Badh, Goddess of Prophecy, accept this offering.”
Pour wine in the form of the ogham Muin:
Make sure to make offerings at the proper destination.
Individuals attending the ritual make praise offerings. These offerings praise the beings or entities of those in attendance. These beings or entities may be the same as or different from those already mentioned in the rite. Make praise offerings to the fire, well, or tree.
Make praise offerings en masse if there are lots of people, do so one at a time if there are fewer.
Beings and entities may include other Goddesses and Gods, the Earth Mother, the Sky Father, Ancestors, Nature Spirits, household spirits, the living, the dead, and imaginary creatures. This is a time to make offerings and build relationships with those entities that are important to you, the person attending the ritual. Bring offerings to the fire and speak words of praise, such as:
“Ariniti, Goddess of the Sun, please shine on my family and myself for all of our days. Please accept this offering of whiskey, which, when added to the fire, will blaze like the Sun. Ariniti, accept my offering.”
“Ariniti, accept my offering.”
Next, in part three:
Prayer of Sacrifice