My last blog entry was about my rediscovery of Ár nDraíocht Féin. This, I suppose, is a continuance of that. Only now I feel more convinced that I’ve found the path for me. Looking back, I don’t know why I wasn’t this convinced before. I once wrote that a successful ritual should be spiritually moving. Lately, even just thinking about certain aspects of ADF ritual gets me near teary eyed…
One of the first things done at an ADF ritual is worshiping the Earth Mother. A prayer is said to her and participants bend down to touch or even kiss the Earth. I have never been to any other style of ritual in which people do this. This is true Nature worship! Why do so many Pagans think “worship” is a dirty word? I can think of no better purpose for ritual than to come into closer relationship with the Kindreds; the Sacred Three of Deities, Nature Spirits and Ancestors.
ADF liturgy has a special magic to it that at once inspires and makes me feel at home. Participants are addressed as “children of the earth”; “The children of the earth call out to all those Spirits who share this world with us… The children of the earth call out to the beloved Ancestors… and to the Shining Gods and Goddesses…” Lately I’ve been thinking about the significance of those oft used words in the liturgy and am comforted by them. And those words I’ve used so often to start out ritual, even when not in ADF, Ceisiwr Serith’s “I kindle the sacred fire in wisdom, love, and power… Sacred fire, burn within me.” My ears recognize all these words as sacred scripture.
Another aspect of ADF that is unique to the tradition is the “Triple Hallows” of well, tree, and fire. They are thought of as gateways to communing with the Spirits and Deities. The symbolism of each is deep and multifaceted, but I have begun to realize that I had only touched the surface in my understanding of them when I was studying Druidry before. The power of fire to transform is so magical, like nothing else on earth. Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, yet when we place an object in the fire (say, an offering or a prayer) that object is instantly and utterly transformed. It is reduced to almost nothing before our eyes- ashes and smoke; hardly anything is left of it in our world for us to see. Surely the offering/prayer has been sent to the realm of Spirit. This is powerful symbolism. This is deep magic.
So too is the magic of water and the well. Water is the source of all life. Water seeps deep into the earth, combining with earth energy and the realm of the dead, making water a conduit for deep spiritual connection. What many people don’t know though, is that water remembers. It holds all the knowledge and experience it has acquired. So too, may it carry our prayers and offerings to deeper realms. And the tree? The tree traverses all worlds, at once reaching deep into the earth and far into the sky. They hold our world together and give us the air we breathe. In my reasearch into Ozark folk magic, a great deal of what I found has to do with tree magic. (So it seems to me that there should be a natural Ozark-Druid connection.)
All these things and ideas have made me fall in love with Ár nDraíocht Féin like never before. The things I took for granted are still there; the liturgy, songs, cosmology… and I’m finding new meaning in things I didn’t fully understand; the role of the Gatekeeper and the Triple Hallows… Also, I’m finding that I really groove with the balance of scholarship and inspiration; they reconstruct but are not ‘reconstructionists’. There is also a well tuned balance of structure and freedom.
And then there is also the feel of the group; how can a religious tradition at once be so laid back and homey and at the same time so eloquent and meaningful in their liturgy and ritual style? I don’t know, but they have figured out how to do it. Ár nDraíocht Féin is a classic, and I am proud to say, my religion.