Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Solitary Rite of Pagan Sacrifice

A high-church solitary
temple, with Tree at top,
Well at the base
and Fire before that.
For long-time readers, this is a new solitary script based on ADF's Order of Ritual. I felt like trying to devise some new language, and employ some new mythographic understandings as well as a couple of ritual tropes. It will be familiar to Our Druids, but I hope it may be instructive and suggestive to others looking for a modern approach to traditional-style rites of offering-and-blessing.

The Sacred Center is arranged with a Fire as the circumstance permits, and with a bowl of clean water. There can also be an offering bowl if offerings may not be directly spilled on soil, and a censer to hold multiple incense sticks if offerings cannot be directly burned in the Fire. If desired, a third symbol of the Sacred Center – a pillar ‘tree’ or stone – can be added. To these basic tools are added any images or objects proper to the rite at hand.

If you plan to work seated on the ground have a small rug or cloth to lay over the earth or floor. If you wish to stand, a low table with a cloth covering will make the physical steps easier.

Tree, Well, & Fire, with Deity images and offerings at the ready.

Basic offerings and blessing:
Silver to bless the water
Incense, either loose incense to spoon onto charcoal or sticks to place in sand, enough for at least nine individual offerings.
Bread and honey, for the Dead
Three silver-colored coins, or small semi-precious stones, for the Landwights
Scented oil or specially-chosen incense, for the Gods
A chosen drink for the Blessing – ale, wine, or non-alcohol, and a cup to drink from.

Other offerings, symbols, images and vessels may be needed for the specific purpose of any rite, but the above will serve for a basic offering.

Arrange the ritual space with a seat, and a cloth to cover the grass if working on the ground, or on a small table if working standing or seated.

The Rite:
Light the Fire (the candles and/or charcoal, or a proper Fire) and find your center and your power, as you speak:
The Fire, the Well, the Sacred Tree; Flow and flame and grow in me.
Let the Deep Waters rise; Let the Great Light shine
I sit in balance, I seek the Sacred Center
Between the Earth and Sky

Work the Two Powers or other centering in silence, then say the Opening Prayer:
I come to keep the Old Ways. O Holy Ones hear me, I pray you, as a Child of the Earth. Let my call come unto you with honor and truth, as I work the work of wisdom.
Mighty Mother of all, first Goddess, whether the Mother of this soil, of the great waters that flow, or of the whole world, I make offering to you (offer ground grain) bless and uphold this rite, I pray you with love and reverence.

• The Well is elevated, and the silver offered, saying:
Waters of wisdom, Waters of love, Waters of life
Power of the Deep, be present in these waters and in this Grove.
Sacred well flow within me
• An offering is made to the fire saying:
Fire of inspiration, Fire of transformation, Fire of sacrifices
O Light of Inspiration, be present in this fire and in this Grove.
Sacred fire, burn within me.
• The Tree or Stone is sprinkled and censed, saying:
Pillar of the Grove, Sacred Crossroad, Tree of the World,
Let the Order of the Worlds be present in us all and in this Grove.
Sacred Tree, grow within me.

• The water is sprinkled around the area, and the incense is carried or fanned saying at least three times:
By the Might of the Waters and the Light of the Fire
Let the Sea not rise, let the Sky not fall, let the Land hold fast
Let good be welcomed and ill be turned away
And this Grove be made whole and holy.

• spread hands and proclaim:
The Fire, the Well, the Sacred Tree
Flow and flame and grow in me
In Land, Sea and Sky, below and on high
Thus is the Sacred Grove claimed and hallowed!

• An offering of incense is made to the Fire, saying:
Where Sacred Fire & Water meet
There is the Boundary Between
There is the Center of the Worlds
Lord of the Sacred Center, Keeper of the Crossroads, Fleet-traveler, Teacher of the Wise, Herald of the Spirits, Keeper of Roads and Ways, hold open the way between the worlds, I pray.  Bar all ill and admit all weal as I seek the blessing of the spirits.
Gatekeeper, accept my offering.
• Make an Opening spiral (spiraling out from center to edge, clockwise) over the fire, saying:
By the Lord of the Borders, and by my magic, let this sacred center be as the boundary between all worlds. Let the voices of the spirits be heard, let my voice be heard among the spirits. Let the mist be parted, let the way be clear, let the gate be open!

Three Kindreds Offerings
• In this phase the offerings to the spirits are presented and set at the center. They are not burned or spilled until the Prayer of the Sacrifice
• Pause for a moment to contemplate the whole pattern of the Sacred Center, and the Boundary. Then begin the offerings by saying:
I come to the Sacred Center, to the Crossroad, where three meets three at the Threefold Hallows. Let my voice be heard by the Gods, by the Dead, by the Noble Ones as I make to them due offering.
• Prepare the simple offerings: Ale for the Dead; worked silver or crystal, or three silvery coins for the Wights; scented oil or special incense for the Gods.
• The Dead: Hear my voice, Ancient and Mighty Ones. You who first were born and died, you enthroned in the House of the Dead, First Memory, hear me.
Hear my voice, oh Mighty Dead. Grandmothers and Grandfathers, Progenitors, Wisdom-Keepers, Warders of our line, hear me. Likewise, to all those of my blood who stand by and watch, who will give aid, I call to you.
Hear my voice, oh Ancient Wise, Heroes of the ancient world, and of our times. All you men and women of renown, whose names we know, and whose deeds inspire us, hear me. To you all I make this simple offering, bread and honey from my store. I welcome you at my fire; I set a feast for you in my heart. Mighty Dead, accept my offering!

• The Landwights: Hear my voice, Wild and Lovely Ones. You noble kindreds of the land who dwell in the world with us, Spirits of the World, hear me.
To the Uncounted Clans, those who dwell in the flesh of the Land, in the blood of the Sea, in the breath of the Air; vast or tiny, to you I call.
To the Gentle Court I call, to the great ones who guide, the Queens and Kings of the clans. Let me be welcome among you, and hear my call.
To you spirits who are my allies, known to me or unknown, who share my life with me and mine; keep my luck by your aid, and hear my call.
To you all I make this simple offering, wealth from my store. I welcome you at my fire; I make a gift to you in my heart. Noble Ones, accept my offering!

• The Deities: Hear my voice, Shining Ones, Gods and Goddesses. Ancient Victors and Rulers, you who Order the Worlds and turn the Seasons, hear me.
You Ancient Fate-Weavers, Eldest, Silent, you who turn the wheel and draw out the future, spin good weal for us.
First Mothers and Fathers, Enthroned Ones, Kings of the Realms, Great Queens, let my path be well-walked by your guiding.
All the Tribe of the Mother, gods and goddesses, of wise arts and clever skill, of the Warrior, the Farmer or the Wise, known to me or unknown, grant me your blessing.
To you all I make this simple offering, oil/incense to sweeten the Grove for your presence. I welcome you at my fire; I feed a flame to you in my heart. Shining Ones, accept my offering!

• To all the Holy Beings, whether in Land, Sea or Sky, in the Shining Heavens, in the dark wealth of the Underworld or in our green Middle World, I say again: Mighty, Noble, and Shining Ones, gather at the Center, drink from the Well, be welcome at my Fire!

Pause for a time, if you wish, to open your Inner eyes to the vision and presence of the Spirits. Whatever your ability to ‘see’, know that they have come in answer to your offerings. Be open in heart and mind for their voice or spark.

The Key or Special Offerings:
If you have additional gods and beings to convoke, according to the season, or a magical intent, that is done at this time. A magician might devise a personal pattern of invocation and offering for her allies among the Spirits, naming them and inviting them specifically. When the seasonal High Day rites are kept each will involve a constellation of beings proper to the feast. These Beings of the Occasion need not be limited to Deities – the Dead and Landspirits can also be involved, either collectively or as individual names. In short any invocations specific to the special intention of the rite are worked in this place.

For simple general worship a rite may proceed directly from the Three Kindreds Offerings to the Sacrifice:

The Sacrifice
• All of the offerings assembled from the invocations are now burned, spilled or given. This represents the magician’s offering of honor, respect and even love to the beings of the rite. This is a point at which ex tempore or personal, heartfelt speech is proper, as long as focus is maintained. Magicians may sing, or ‘om’ or intone, expressing the emotional truth of the rite as the offerings are made. Of course spoken words are always proper. Here is a charm written for a rite intended to invoke the spirits for magical work:
Now let my voice arise on the fire; Let my voice resound in the well
Let my call pass the gate to the land of spirits and bring the spirits to my aid.
Holy Kindreds, Gods, Dead and Noble Ones
A Child of Earth calls you to the Sacred Grove;
By Three Realms and Four Winds
By the World Tree’s root and crown
By Fire’s Light and Well’s Might
By the Sacred Center where Magic is made
Come to the Fire, Holy Ones
Come to the Fire, as you hear my voice.
Come to my Fire, and receive this offering.
You who would aid me in my work,
I send you love and honor with this gift, saying - Holy Ones, accept my sacrifice!

Or a more general Sacrifice Charm:
Let my voice arise on the Fire, let my voice resound in the Waters.
Hear me Holy Ones, as I give you due offering. Respect I offer, and honor; love I offer, and aspiration to the divine; a feast I offer with these simple gifts. I set a place for you in my temple and in my heart. Holy Ones, accept my sacrifice!

This is another moment during which silent contemplation may be valuable. The magician may envision the whole composition and structure of the rite, and abide in the presence of the spirits that have been invoked, before proceeding to the Blessing:

The Blessing
Pt 1: Taking An Omen.
Using whatever traditional divination system you prefer, draw an omen, asking whether the Powers will offer you a blessing, and of what sort. You might pray:
Holy Ones, I have offered to you and now I would ask, in turn, your blessing. Let me hear your voice, let me see your signs; reveal to me, in these symbols, whether my offering has pleased you and whether your blessing will be sweet.
Draw the omen, and interpret it for yourself. Does it seem to display the pleasure and reward of the Holy Ones? If you feel unsatisfied with the offered blessing you might choose to make a second round of offerings, and again ask for a better blessing. However some would simply choose to take a no for a no, and try another time.

Pt 2: Calling the Blessing
(Holy Ones)(or names of the Beings of the Occasion) I see your signs, I listen for your voice, I call for your Blessing. Give me the flow of fullness, the light of your power; I call for your Blessing. By this blessing let the whole world be blessed; three times I call for your Blessing!

If it is expedient, the drink might now be poured into the vessel.
Let the Blessing be poured from the Well of the Deeps, from the Starry River, from the stores of the gods’ feast, into this cup of blessing. Gold of Sun and Moon’s Silver, heat of the Sacred Fire. River of Memory, Fountain of Wonder, Cauldron of Nourishing, let the Blessing of the Holy Ones be poured.
Elevate the vessel over the Fire, saying:
Let this drink be the spirit of the Holy Ones given to me for my good and gain.
Behold, the Waters of Life

The Blessing is reverently and contemplatively consumed. It can be valuable to deliberately drink three times, perhaps accompanied by a charm or hymn:
We take up Wonder with this holy cup
The Draught of Druid’s Ale that stirs the soul
In joy and power we are lifted up
So drink the Blessing, that our hearts be whole.

The spirit in all things is in us too.
The Well flows deep, the Fire shines in our heart
The power fills us, deep and good and true
We drink the Blessing, filled in every part

So blessed are we in belly, heart and head
On every side, in Land and Sky and Sea
The power of the Gods, the Sidhe, the Dead
We drink in Blessing, and so let it be!

With the sensation of the drink cool in one’s belly, sit in contemplation of the whole spiritual
form of the rite. If you have called special gods or beings for the occasion, see them enthroned
with the Fire before them, or however they present themselves to you. See again the Triple Host of spirits arrayed around them, and the Three Hallows holding all at the Sacred Center. Abide a while in contemplation, communing with Them as you may. When you are finished, return awareness to the material temple and the Hallows, and begin the closing, saying:

I am blessed by the Blessing of the Holy Ones! Secure in their blessing, I prepare to go from the Grove into my life and work. I go forth with the blessing of the Gods in body, mind and spirit.
To you Holy Powers to whom I set this feast, O (names of the Beings of the Occasion, if specific) I give you mythanks for your blessing.
To the Three Kindreds of Spirits, Mighty Ancestors, Noble Tribes of the Land, Shining Gods and Goddesses, I give thanks for your blessing.
To all those who have come to my fire, all who have given their blessing, to all those who aid me, I give thanks. I bid you go in peace, if you will, or stay at my sides in blessing. Spirits, I thank you!

The Gatekeeper is thanked and the gate closed, saying:
Keeper of Gates, Lord of Ways, for watching and warding the ways between, I give you my thanks.
Make a closing spiral, beginning from the outer edge and turning anti-clockwise inward, over the Fire, saying:
Now let the Fire be but flame; Let the Well be but water
Let all be as it was before; Save only for the magic we have made.
Let the gates be closed!

At last, To the Mother of the Land, Mother of all Life, for upholding this rite as you do all our lives, I give you my thanks.

 Then recite a closing Blessing:
The blessings of the Holy Ones, be on me and mine
My blessing on all beings, with peace on thee and thine
The Fire, the Well, the Sacred Tree
Flow, and flame and grow in me.
Thus do I remember the work of the wise!