Focus on Ritual for Each Group
The sample ritual outlines I have included below are just that — samples. In many of the groups, ritual content may vary depending on the nature of the ritual and the preferences of the individuals or groups performing the ritual. Sometimes the ritual outline and content may vary greatly from one ritual to another within the same group. Other groups may have a basic framework that is always or nearly always used with minor variations in content.
In OBOD, the purposes of ritual are to help the participants change consciousness, so that they may contact sources of inspiration and wisdom; to make them aware of the sacred nature of the time and the space they are in; to create a time and space from which beneficent forces may be radiated; and to express deep interconnections among ourselves and between the participants and other realms, beings or forces. (1)
OBOD has both seasonal rituals and various rituals for each grade to introduce the student to experiences taught within a grade or to mark progress within a grade. The seasonal ritual calendar includes: Samhain, Alban Arthan (winter solstice), Imbolc, Alban Eilir (spring equinox), Beltane, Alban Hefin (summer solstice), Lughnassa, and Alban Elfed (fall equinox).
There are no ritual tools required for all rituals, nor is there a set way to physically prepare the ritual space that applies to all rituals.
Ritual components may be reordered, modified, omitted or added to as fits the particular ritual or group or individual performing the ritual. Often, rituals will combine some elements from the BDO ritual format, such as honoring the Spirits of the Land and the Ancestors.
Notice that invoking or inviting Gods is not a usual part of OBOD ritual. This is partly because OBOD regards Druidry as a spiritual philosophy rather than a religion. Individuals and groves/seed groups may include invocations to deities as they wish.
View the text to a Samhain ritual.
I could find no example of BDO ritual from the BDO web site. The sample ritual below is derived from examples given in books by Emma Restall Orr and from a book by Philip Shallcrass (see resource list), who at the time of writing were Joint Chiefs of BDO. Both Orr and Shallcrass are OBOD members as well, and their rituals have much in common with OBOD rituals. (4)
Much of BDO
ritual is done at public gatherings, such as Druid camps, Gorseddau,
Ritual set up varies with the particular ritual being done.
Sample Ritual Outline
The AODA doesn't require a specific liturgy for its members, and in fact the task of writing a personal set of rituals for the holy days of the year is one of the things members do in the course of the study program for the AODA's Second Degree. Solstices and Equinoxes are the main seasonal rituals; the Celtic cross-quarter days are optional.
There are, however, set rituals for AODA Solitary Grove opening and closing and for the Candidate’s Initiation ceremony (the latter is only available to members). See http://www.aoda.org/about/lodge.htm for an example of the opening and closing ritual.
Rituals may be open to non-members, except for rituals involving initiation, confirmation or exaltation for a particular grade.
AODA Grove Opening and Closing Ritual (5)
RDNA rituals were developed from Episcopal liturgy and emphasize sacrifice to the Earth Mother and receiving blessings from the Earth Mother. Rituals are not required, if done, are usually performed on Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnassadh. Solstices and Equinoxes may also be kept, but are optional. RDNA ritual can be very loose; anyone can omit any part. Rituals are open to anyone who shows up. (6)
Sample Ritual Outline
Rituals should honor only one pantheon in each rite. Each ritual usually has one or two Patron powers to whom the central offerings and callings are made. Which ones are chosen depend on the specific nature of the rite. Usually these are a God and Goddess pair, but may also be the ancestors or spirits of the land.
Rituals may celebrate the seasons, rites of passage or for personal needs. ADF “High Day” rituals are open to the public and ADF encourages its groves and protogroves to advertise the rituals far and wide. There is usually a pre-ritual briefing to inform participants about how the ritual works, what will happen, how it happens, background on the mythology behind the ritual, etc.
High Day rituals include: Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnassadh, and Fall Equinox. Some groves also have lunar rituals as well.
ADF ritual requires a representation of a well (for example, a pan, a basin, a cauldron), of fire (such as a fire pit or fre bowl, or one or more candles, if inside), and the world tree (a pole or branch or, perhaps, an actual tree) and often a sacrificial branch or other sacrificial items/offerings. One of the groves local to my area also has altars for the realms of land, sea and sky or for ancestors, nature spirits and Gods, depending on the cosmology used in a particular ritual. ADF ritual does not create “sacred space”; space is already considered to be sacred all the time. The ritual space is open and people may leave or join in as they will.
ADF ritual structure can be quite complex and some groves have simplified liturgies that follow the basic format. Order of service may be different from grove to grove.
Sample Ritual Outline (8)
View an example of an ADF Samhain ritual.
Henge of Keltria (9)
The Keltrian Book of Ritual (fourth edition) states that ritual is a way through which faith is expressed. Ritual also provides ways to keep in time with earth cycles and life cycles, to honor the Gods and the spirits of nature, to integrate participants with the essences of earth and sky, the energies of male and female, so that harmony can be obtained.
According to the Book of Ritual, all Keltrian ritual is public except the Vervain Rite, an initates-only ritual and any initiations or elevations.
The Keltrian ritual calendar includes: Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnassadh, and Fall Equinox. There are also rituals done at the sixth day of the moon (the Mistletoe Rite — focus of this ritual is healing the community, finding balance in our lives and the sharing of food and drink) and, for initiates, rituals done at the third quarter of the moon (the Vervain Rite — focus is on working magic). Two other yearly rituals round out the calendar: The Feast of Age (or its equivalent; this celebrates “our spiritual immortality and the invincibility of our faith”) and The Feast of Remembrance (this honors Druids slain at Mon in 60 CE and all who have been persecuted or killed because of their beliefs). (10)
Ritual space is considered sacred space, which is set up so that it is separate from the mundane world, but not moved “outside” the mundane world. In the ritual, a portal is opened to allow the Divine to come to the ritual space. Ritual space should be outside, whenever possible.
Within the ritual space, Keltrians stand in a horseshoe shape, rather than a circle. Altar placement may be placed in the east, by tradition, or may be placed in any direction according to season or purpose of ritual.
Ritual set up
three “cauldrons” or bowls,
one for each of the triads; altar plate; two chalices; libation bowls;
two white candles; a freshly cut “sacrificial branch”; a
fire pit/place/candle; a shell or other symbolic tool for the Deity who
parts the veil; essential oil for anointing; an offertory basket or container;
two “remembrance” bowls;
gong or bell;
mead or other
be of natural
Sample Outline of Keltrian Ritual
According to the Book of Ritual, there is no “official” Keltrian ritual, but variations to the suggested outline are limited to moving a few parts around. The following is the suggested outline given in Book of Ritual:
Updated February 19, 2008. |
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