Setting Up an ADF Home Shrine
In Ár nDraíocht Féin, rituals center around what are called the triple center; the three hallows of fire, well, and tree. These are considered our connection to the Otherworld. They are also a conduit by which we make our offerings to the Three Kindreds; the ancestors, nature spirits, and deities. You may also want to have representations of the Three Kindred on your shrine, though it is not absolutely necessary.
A Hearth Shrine
Ideally, the family shrine would be on a fireplace mantle and the hallowed fire kindled in the fireplace. The fireplace is a threshold of magic. The fire lit inside the fireplace becomes one of the three hallows for ritual. A bowl or cauldron of water may be used to represent the well hallow and placed in front of the fireplace or on the mantle. The tree hallow may be represented by a stick, some kind of artistic representation, or even by a real miniature tree, and placed in the center of the fireplace mantle.
An advantage to having a fireplace shrine, is that you can toss offerings directly into the flames. You will want to have an offering bowl on your mantle as well, to hold offerings that you’ll want to take outside later.
A Table Shrine
Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a fireplace, but setting up a shrine on a table or shelf is much the same as for a fireplace mantle. The main difference is that you’ll need to add a candle or oil lamp to represent your fire hallow. I use three candles, representing the Three Kindreds. When using candles, you won’t be able to toss offerings directly into the flames, so you will need to have an incense burner as well.
You will notice that the rituals I post here emphasize making offerings. If you have read some of the articles on adf.org, you will notice that they call offerings “sacrifice”. They mean the same thing I mean and vice versa. Before you begin ritual, you need to decide what kinds of offerings you are going to use, how much of it you will need, and have it all ready and close to your shrine/altar. For offering to the Earth Mother, I like to use a little grain, cornmeal, or seeds. The hallows are offered to as well. Usually its silver (like a silver coin) to the well, incense to the fire, and the tree is sprinkled with water from the well and censed with incense. Offerings to the Three Kindred can be food (a portion of the feast to follow), grains, beverages of many sorts, and in addition to this- songs, poetry, or any other talents you can perform in honor of the Kindreds can also be given as an offering.
The purpose of the omen is to determine what sort of blessing the Spirits offer in return for our offerings. Use whatever form of divination you are most comfortable with. Some within ADF believe that the omen is also to determine whether or not the Spirits have even accepted our offerings- personally, I disagree. Also, I feel that taking an omen isn’t necessary for all rituals, but I usually include it in the seasonal rituals that I write.
After a prayer for blessing, all drink in the blessing in the form of the ‘waters of life’. This can be water, juice, mead… whatever is appropriate for the occasion and ritual attendees. If you are concerned about getting germs from all sharing the same cup, you can have individual blessing cups for everyone and dip out the waters of life with a ladle from a large punch bowl or cauldron. In the rituals I have written, I have left blanks in the “prayer of blessing”, so that it can be customized/ personalized. So you may want to think ahead about what to ask for.
~Read through the ritual carefully before you start to make sure you have all supplies ready- don’t forget the matches. You may also want a bell to signify the beginning and end of the ritual.
~Divide up speaking/action parts among participants. You may want to choose the youngest member of the household to be official bell ringer- if s/he has the restraint to ring only before and after the ritual!
~Learn chants ahead of time.
~Don’t forget the food! Celtic rites are generally followed by feasting.