adapting the ADF ritual format to a family-style setting

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Those of you have been reading along since the beginning know that I have a few idiosyncrasies concerning the details of Pagan ritual. I have come to dislike the set up of Wiccan rituals. (“Casting circles” has no meaning nor purpose for me, and I’m ambivalent about “calling directions”.) My ideal preference is for Celtic Reconstructionist rituals, but there are a lot of things I like about ADF rituals. I became a member of ADF because I identify with their worldview and cosmology, I am inspired by much of their liturgy and chants/songs, and its easier to find fellow ADF members that it is to find other CR Pagans locally- and having Pagan community is very important to me.

Having said that, there are a few things about ADF-style rituals that I have seen fit to adapt for “home rituals”- that is, rituals where it is just the family, or family and friends. According to the “ADF Core Order of Ritual”, there are just three things absolutely necessary for a ritual to be considered “ADF style”, and these are #1 Purification (and it must take place before Opening the Gates), #2 Establishing a Sacred Cosmos including: Three Worlds/ Realms, and establishing a Sacred Triple Center, with fire being an essential component (most common set-up is fire/well/tree), and #3 calling a Gatekeeper to open the gates between the worlds.

Much to my surprise, the Core Order does not include a propriation to the “outsiders”- which is something that most ADF rituals have. For those who are unfamiliar with this, in ADF rituals, an offering is commonly made to the outsiders- any spirit beings who are unfriendly to our deities/spirits. Essentially, it is a bribe to leave us alone while we do our ritual. I have always had reservations about this aspect of ritual. If you leave food out for the dogs, won’t they keep coming back? And if malevolent spirits really want to disrupt our rites, are they really going to be appeased with some ale poured out on the ground for them? Offering to the Outsiders just seems like another addition to an already elaborate ceremony. I think family style rituals should be simple, with an emphasis on the customs of the holiday being celebrated, and deities being worshipped. I prefer this alternative to appeasing the “outsiders”– do a blessing & protection ritual on the ritual area (the whole house and/or area of your yard) that you use on a regular basis. (In Norse tradition, this is called a warding.) Doing one of these warding type of rituals once a year should suffice, and can be reinforced through simple prayers on a regular basis. (I will include an example of a house blessing and protection rite in my next post.)  If doing a spontaneous ritual in an unfamiliar place, I would think that a simple purification and protection prayer would suffice instead of an outsider propriation- the blessing and protection rite isn’t just for your house or ritual space but also works as protection on yourself and family.

Other adaptations of the ADF format to more simplistic family style rituals would be adapting the nature of the language used in liturgy. References to “our grove” would naturally be changed to “our family (and friends)” or “our household/hearth”. Simple and short invocations would be used, and songs/chants that appeal to all ages strategically placed. Favorite phrasing, call and response, classic elements memorized for each ritual would add special significance for younger members. This is the type of liturgy framework I’ve been working on, and which I will share with you, my readers, during the course of this year.

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One response »

  1. Pingback: More on Outsiders | The Lefthander's Path

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