In a previous article I talked about how to celebrate High Days without a ritual, yet still with meaning and reverence. For this one I’ll be covering the middle ground; having a bit more structure; with an ADF ritual that flows organically, and is totally unscripted. I formulated this guide with solitaries and families in mind, and the rituals are to take place in the home- in the dining room area.
To do an unscripted ritual, the first thing you need to know is the structure of your ritual by heart. ADF ritual structure may seem quite complicated to new comers, but after you’ve done that type of ritual for a while, you will indeed see the logical order of it. You may find Druid Ritual Beads quite useful to keeping track of ritual sequence in the beginning, and if that still doesn’t help as much as you need, put off doing unscripted rituals until it comes naturally for you. You don’t need to memorize liturgy, but you may find it helpful if you have some favorite turns of phrases memorized, and I will go more into wordage below.
The following basic formula pretty much adheres to the Core Order of Ritual. The “musts” of the Core Order are included, so you can count it as specifically ADF-style on your Dedicant Program documentation. Some items in the Core Order are optional, and so I have adapted and rearranged things a bit to be more appropriate to a home setting. In my personal practice I have replaced the Outsider appropriation with a simple Anglo-Saxon Hallowing because I don’t want to set up a ghosti relationship with Outsider spirits; I’d rather drive away, than appease such entities. After all, whatever is fed, comes back, right? I have placed the Hallowing and the purification portions of ritual at the beginning of ritual. Opening prayer and the Earth Mother prayer are combined for simplicity like the one in “The Standard ADF Liturgy”.
Before beginning ritual, the basic set up it to have your house cleaned to your satisfaction and to have a High Day altar set up in your dining area and easy to see, and get to, from the table. You may want to get the whole family involved in preparing items and decorations for this. Be sure to include symbols of the Three Hallows, offering and libation bowls, and a goblet for the Waters of Life. Your Fire Hallow should be a candle or lamp that will burn for the full length of the ritual. If using music, have that close at hand as well, to turn on and off easily. You may want to use a High Day playlist with a guided two powers meditation (or just meditative music) included at the beginning for the Three Realms centering, and an ending song at the last. You will also want to have a meal prepared and table set. You may also want to have additional offerings (besides portions of the meal) at the ready; incense and dry grains, as well as Three Hallows offerings such as silver beads (for the Well), spice, red ochre, or vermillion (for the Tree), and oil (for the Fire).
As I mentioned above, I do a fire hallowing instead of an Outsider appropriation to drive any unfriendly entities from my ritual space. Doing this is pretty straight forward; I walk around the house carrying a lantern or sheltered candle while singing the Anglo-Saxon Hallowing Charm. It’s pretty easy to memorize short chants/songs like this. If you are not comfortable singing, you could just say it like a poem. Or one could also simply say “Thunor (or “gods/spirits of fire”) hallow this home.” After making the round, use the flame from the lamp to light the Fire Hallow on the altar.
(If you choose to do an Outsider appropriation instead of a fire hallowing, do so at the edge of your yard or property and you can say something very simple, like “Outsiders, take this and turn away from our rites.” then libate or give offering.)
Simply sprinkle the ritual area with water. You can also infuse the area with juniper smoke, as per Celtic tradition. Then place a drop of water on everyone’s forehead. No words are necessary, but if you want, you can say something like “May all ill turn away.”
You can combine the opening prayer with honoring the Earth Mother by memorizing this simple line: “Earth, Holy Mother, bearer of all life, we pray that you bless and uphold this rite (on this day of _______).” Kneel to touch the earth and give offering.
Three Realms Centering
For this you could use a recording of a guided centering meditation that includes water, earth, and sky (such as the Two Powers meditation), or memorize a Three Realms blessing and say it while centering. The simplest blessing I know is “As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be, I stand at the Center- of Earth, Sky and Sea.” Another option would be to learn an ADF Land, Sea, Sky Chant and center yourself while singing it.
(Light the Fire Hallow, if you haven’t already.) For this portion of the ritual, you could simply offer to the Hallows without saying anything at all. You could also just say what you’re doing while doing it, for example: “I give silver to the Well. I give oil to the Fire. I give spice (or incense, red ochre, or vermillion) to the Tree.” Another option is to sing the ever popular Portal Song while offering to the Hallows.
Gatekeeper & Opening the Gates
In you own words, simply hail/call a Gatekeeper, make an offering, then ask the Gatekeeper to be a ward. For example: “Hail Manannan, Gatekeeper, accept this offering and ward the ways between.” Then place hands or a wand over the Hallows and say “May the Hallows open as a Gate.” lift hands or wand while taking a step back, then say something like “The Gates are open between the Worlds.”
Calling & Offering
*At this point of the ritual, the food is brought out and everyone sits at the table for the feast.
Invoking Spirits can be quite a simple matter if need be. One can simply say “Hail <name>, (<title>, <descriptor>,) be with us and accept our offering”. Then place an offering (a portion of the meal) on the offering bowl and a libation in the libation bowl. You can go around the table and have everyone (who wants to) make hails, offerings, and libations. Go around once for the Nature Spirits, once for the Ancestors, and once for the Deities. Then make another round for the Deities of the Occasion.
You may choose to proceed with the meal, in communion with the Kindreds, before going on to the rest of the ritual.
Simply say something like “Do the Kindreds accept our offerings?” and divine using your preferred divination method. Make more offerings, if they’re called for. You can also divine an omen for what the following season holds in store.
Pour a drink into a goblet and say something like “Kindreds, we ask for your blessing. Holy Ones, give to us the Waters of Life.”
(Hold goblet out with both hands and feel the energy flow into it.) Then, “We drink in the name of the Kindred.” Pass the goblet around the table for all to drink. This would be a good place in ritual to sing (or play) a blessing chant. (“Blessing in the Waters” is my favorite.)
Music & Merriment
Enact the customs of the season; play music, games, magic, tell stories, or whatever seems fitting to the mood of the High Day.
You may want to save dessert for this stage of the ritual.
Make sure each participant is given a chance to approach the altar in one’s own way. Perhaps make available little strips of flash paper on which to to write prayers and devotions. The slips will instantly burn when touched to the Fire Hallow.
Thanking & Ending
Simply thank all the Spirits in reverse order and close the Gates. Sing or play an ending song and extinguish the flame.
I like to say (or sing, to the tune of a Lisa Thiel song) “As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be… with the ebb, with the flow- blessed be.”