Druid Rituals For Dummies

I’ve written a great deal about my daily practice on this blog. There have been periods of prolonged drought, periods of genuine doubt, and times when I felt like my daily practice was all that was keeping me invested in my Druidism.

In my ADF Dedicant studies (which will be a central focus for me until Imbolc), one of the tasks for the student is to develop a steady daily practice. A regular practice, especially for solitaries, is key to taking your religion out of the book and rooting it in your life.

I had almost no regular practice in August. I kept the High Day, but after that I woke up and started my mornings with only a casual glance at my shrine. I was busy in my head before stepping out of bed, and I didn’t take much time to slow down and seek out the Kindred.

But I have a syllabus now. I’m a dedicated religious student (as I mentioned in my Druid School post). I’m going gung-ho, and I’m starting as a beginner.

ADF member, Melissa Burchfield, wrote a piece on ADF.org on how to adopt ADF’s Core Order of Ritual (COoR) for solitary use. For those who don’t know, the COoR is what makes and ADF rite an ADF rite. It’s the foundation for all ADF liturgy.

On this article, Melissa lays out a series of “tiers” for the beginning student. In the first tier, she strips down the COoR to these components:

  1. Initiating the Rite – Bell Ring, clap of the hands
    Light candle
  2. Purification - Breathe deeply, nine times to center
    and clear the mind.
  3. Honoring the Earth Mother
  4. Statement of Purpose - "I have come to honor the gods."
  5. Inviting the Kindred
  6. Key Offerings - Made to the Kindred
  7. Thanking the Beings - In reverse order
  8. Thanking the Earth Mother
  9. Closing the Rite - "The rite is ended."

Notice that the numbers are a little wacky? That’s because the COoR has a total of nineteen steps in its full form.

I performed the first tier of this druid ritual this morning.

For step one, I rang triple Goddess bell. I lit my candle and said,

“I light this candle in the presence of the Shining Ones above, in the presence of the Ancient Ones below, and in the presence of the Nature Spirits all around me.”

Step two was easy, and surprisingly effective. Feeling tense? Breath nine deep breaths. It’s like magic  (*ahem* — magick).

Honoring the Earth Mother is always a strange moment for me. I feel like my prayers can never be big enough. I said something to the effect of,

“Holy Earth Mother, on whom we move and live and have our being, all praise and honor belongs to you. From you we are born, and to you we shall return.”

What can I say? I was a cradle Episcopalian. I like the formalities.

After the statement of purpose (which can sometimes be elaborate, as in the case of a High Day ritual), I invited the Kindred.

I like this part. This is where I speak out loud to the Kindred and ask that they be present in my ritual space. When I call to them, I describe them, and by doing so I engage my imagination. I get to see them in form, in color, with attributes. That’s how it was this morning, at least.

I simplified my offerings today. Taking cue from Melissa, I poured a bit of steel cut oats into a small, clay serving cup, and used it for all of my offerings.

I made offerings to the Three Kindred, ending with the phrase that I hear at most ADF gatherings:

Nature Spirits / Ancestors / Shining Ones…. accept my sacrifice.

I love liturgy. I love the repetition of meaningful phrases. I nerd out over it sometimes. Saying the phrase “accept my sacrifice” with the same cadence and tone that we did at Eight Winds makes me feel — just a little — like I’m still at Eight Winds. Liturgy allows my small rite to feel like a giant group ritual.

I offered my thanks to all, and closed the rite.

The whole thing took about five minutes.

I share all of this not to present myself in a special light. My practice should not garner me any praise; that’s not what it’s for. But, I do feel that people — solitaries, especially — need to see that there is always an opportunity to begin your practice again, to start from scratch. With a beginner’s mind, you can simplify your religious life and relearn how to be what you are.

It all starts with a single flame.

Have you ever stripped things down to the basics? If so, what was that experience like for you? Do you find that a ritual with a reliable form and structure makes sense, or are you more of a ritualist who keeps it loose?

What would your “beginner” ritual look like?


25 responses to “Druid Rituals For Dummies”

  1. Sjh Avatar

    Silly question, but I’ve always wondered… do offerings ever attract ants? what do you do with the food the next day? I’m interested in incorporating this into my practice, but am curious about the logistics. Thanks!

  2. Elinor Predota Avatar

    Hi Teo. I love hearing about people’s regular practice, so thank you for this post. I’m a Witch in Reclaiming tradition, and training in Anderson Faery tradition.

    I find that I am governed very much by moon cycles in my devotions. During the phase of the waning moon, my practice… grinds to a halt. I’ve not long realised this (although really, it should have been obvious! I’m a Cancerian, after all 🙂 ).

    I’m trying out allowing that waning in my practice to happen, and then restarting with the dark moon, and doing more intensive work up to and just past the full moon, then winding down, ready for the still period before the dark moon.

    I’ve been beating myself up for years for not being able to stick to a daily practice, or if I do, not being able to keep it going longer than three months. Now I’m just going to follow the moon.

  3. LaurelhurstLiberal Avatar

    Once a week I offer oatmeal to the landwights and vodka to the gods and spirits in a very similar way to what you describe, with the variation that I sip the drink three times, saying the prayer each time, and then make a libation of the rest of it. I think of it as a “blot for one”. I like to buy those little airplane bottles of premium vodka, so I can keep one in my pocket, ready to go.

    Despite being basically a Heathen reconstructionist, I have found that persistent experimentation within the tradition works best for me. Since nobody knows for sure what Germanic pagans did for home worship, there’s no option for me but to try to feel my way forward, one day at a time. I think I’ll try upping my game to daily ritual, as you are doing. Thanks for the inspiring post!

  4. Rebecca Marjesdatter Avatar

    I have a morning self-blessing ritual that I customized from elements of my Dianic training. Time permitting, I light a candle and a stick of incense, but as I’m the antithesis of a morning person, more often than not the only component in use is ritual oil. I call on the Goddess in words very similar to the ones you use to call on the Earth Mother (I swiped my phrasing from Starhawk). The blessing begins with a touch of oil on the crown of my head and the words “Bless me, Mother, for I am Your child…” Afterwards, I perform a centering meditation, thank the Goddess and begin my day.
    I’ve been considering adding offerings beyond just incense to my practice, so your post is more food for thought, as it were. It really is unfortunate that in Wiccan-based trads, the creation of a daily practice is too often passed over with barely a mention in favor of the “fun stuff” of spellcasting or Sabbat rituals, when it’s the discipline of everyday committment that develops one as a priest/ess of the Gods. Devotion to Deity is a major strength of Reconstructionist trads like your own, and I think we could greatly benefit from your collective experience in that realm.

  5. Tressa Belle Disney Avatar

    Ian Corrigan wrote an event simpler short devotional: http://www.adf.org/rituals/general/short-devotional.html
    I may try it out. I love the liturgy.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks for sharing, Tressa. I’ll be sure to check it out as well.

  6. Soli Avatar

    I’ll speak of my main tradition, Kemetic Orthodoxy, since a) we have a ritual given our in the beginner’s class which b) is meant to be done once daily. It follows a lot of the same points as in the ADF ritual, just with different cultural context. This is the best way to bring spirituality, and the gods and spirits, into our lives more often and make us more aware of T/their presence. It’s the foundation for all future spiritual work.

    I wish more of the polytheistic traditions would offer up material like this. It seems like a devotee would have to do a lot of work to develop even a short daily ritual, unless they are in a group which already supplies one.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you for the comment, Soli. I didn’t know that there were similarities between the ADF form and that of Kemetic Orthodoxy — that excites me.

      I’d like to see more of this kind of sharing, too. This is one thing I love about ADF’s website. There is a wealth of material on how to make ritual relevant in different situations, particularly how to make your practice relevant on a daily basis.

      Again, thanks for being a part of the conversation!

  7. Autumn Aelwyd Avatar

    Seems my post was ate last night. I have been using this prayer I adapted from Sigrdrifa’s prayer, for over a year now. It reflects my Norse, Celtic and Baltic worldview. I wish I was motivated enough to say it immediately upon rising but usually it is when I first step outside to water the garden, take out the compost or when I was working I said it on the drive to work.

    Hail to the Day! Hail to the sons of Day!
    To the Sun and her daughters hail!
    Hail to the life giving Earth!
    To the Land and the Landwights!
    To our Housewights and Hearth Goddess we hail!
    Hail to the Gods and Goddesses!
    To our Matrons and Patrons we hail!
    Hail to our Forefathers and Mothers!
    To our beloved Ancestors we hail!
    May the Kindred bless us, may our honor be true
    May we live this day with Wisdom, Vision and Piety,
    Courage, Integrity and Perseverance grant us,
    And my we show Fertility, Moderation and Hospitality
    To all who cross our threshold!

    I need to get back to lighting a candle each day and making a small offering a that time. Currently my main form of offering is actually part of tea ceremony (well modern ceremony in the kitchen). Whenever I brew and new or high quality tea, I pour out a good 2 ounces of the first three steeps (infusions) into three cast iron cups set up above our kitchen sink (I do not drink from these so they are only used for offering).

    These offerings are for the Housewights and Gods of our Household, which to me include a parallel to the Roman Lares and Penates as well as our Ancestors, the goddess of our hearth: Brighid and our Patrons. This doesn’t mean when I pour I am offering to each of my grandmothers and grandfathers, to Thor, the Dagda and Lugh, but rather a sort of household representative of the Ancestors and Deities.

    The Housewights also are at least monthly (though sometimes more frequent) recipients of three our more mini short stacks of pancakes with a pad of butter and local honey or syrup poured on top as well as small portions of special meals like stews. They also get a libation of beer or wine whenever there is quality alcohol in the house, which is not too often (husband has been buying coolers and such ::shakes head::)

    1. Éireann Avatar

      I really resonate with this type of practice and offering. It speaks more to a folk practice than to an elite/priestly/druidic rite, as it is less formal and less oriented specifically towards a/the god/s, but also encompasses land wights and ancestors in the regular offerings. I like the tea offering too. I may do that when infusing my homegrown peppermint for morning tea. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    2. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I love this! Thank you for sharing your practice!

  8. Shawneen Bear Avatar
    Shawneen Bear

    Start simply, but start! For me it begins and ends with the All Mother/The Earth Mother/Our Mother. Add as you are able and are called to. Symetry helps…offer/Ask…give/receive… guest/host. A daily practice seems more efficacious to me than an ellaborate one….build in blessing!

  9. Kilmrnock Avatar

    Hiyas Teo , my daily practice is quite simple first off as an ADF Druid /Sinnsreachd my daily practice is Celt Centered . My ADF grove is also Celt centered . In the mourning apon awaking i just do a very simple blessing request then at night just b/f retiring for the night i do a more involved prayer acknoleging[sp?] my gods and ancestors , what i am trying to do within my faith and asking for a blessing and help/giuldance from my Gods and Ancestors to live properly within my faith . My offering to them is my service and devotion to them . Have you chosen a ethnicity or pantheon to work within ?, a set of gods to work with ? As ADF practice is polytheistic i have found having a pantheon to work within makes it all easier . Also from a CR point of view daily material offerings are not required , devotion and faith is more or just as important . Also as. a warrior how i live and conduct myself is quite important to me as well . I live by a strong code of Honor and Conduct , very close to the Norse NNV…….also part of ADF btw.But at this point of my life/journey my beliefs are interwoven into my daily life , how i act ….what i do . I live as best i can in a Celtic way and Celtic pagan mindset .The Tuatha de Dannon are my Gods they and my Ancestors are at the center of all i do , and how i live as a ADF Druid /Sinnsraithe and Warrior . Kilm

    1. Éireann Avatar

      I’m actually surprised that daily offerings are not a part of more CR practices, as they are seen in the folk traditions by way of leaving out milk or meal, or cleaning up any spilled bread scraps and leaving them out for the fae.

  10. Kristin McFarland Avatar
    Kristin McFarland

    We’re very same wave-lengthy these last few weeks. I, too, am trying to revive my personal practice, and thinking about why I do the things I do in my devotionals. I gave Missy’s system a go awhile back, but in the end, I developed my own shortened ADF-style ritual for my devotionals. It goes something like this:

    1. Light candle, fill well (if needed)
    2. Ring bell
    3. Ground/center using Two Powers
    4. Thank and make offering to Earth Mother
    5. Establish Sacred Center via well, fire, and tree
    6. Invite/make offerings to Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities
    7. (optional) Make offerings to Patrons
    8. (optional) Take ‘omen’, usually asking, “What message have you for me in the coming day?”
    9. Reverse process to close out

    I use some variant of this process for both my morning and evening devotional, though I typically perform the optional steps at night, when I have more time. Nine steps makes it seem quite intricate, but this whole process takes me fifteen minutes maximum: that’s not really a virtue, but when you’re trying to do a morning devotional in the space between showering and catching a ride to work with your husband, you take what you can get! 🙂

    I didn’t exactly go through, systematically, and choose what steps I wanted to perform. What you see here developed organically. I don’t typically work with a Gatekeeper or imbibe Waters of Life during an ‘ordinary’ rite, so those automatically get left off. I melded together calling for and offering to steps for the Kindred just for the sake of efficiency, so that, for example, I call the Ancestors and immediately make my offering to them… though I don’t mean I was trying to save time, just that it was seemed natural to do those things simultaneously for a simple, informal rite.

    Woof, that’s a lot. I’ll stop before I write a novel.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I love it! Thank you for sharing your process, Kristin. I think this goes to show that there are many approaches to a devotional, all of which can be informed (to a greater or lesser degree) by the COoR. I love that you adjusted your ritual based on what *felt* right.

      I’m excited at trying Missy’s approach because ultimately I want to become more comfortable with performing full rites myself. My experience today felt delightfully short (having gone through longer daily devotionals in the past), and I’m kind of excited about adding elements to the ritual.

      Like I said, I get nerdy about this stuff. 🙂

      1. Kristin McFarland Avatar
        Kristin McFarland

        Yep, yep, yep. I, too, want to get more comfortable with performing full rites. Perhaps I’ll embark back on Missy’s system, myself… though for the moment, I’m working on making my daily practice such an ingrained part of my life that I have difficulty functioning without it. (That’s the dream, anyway.)

        As I discovered with my recent Oath Rite, writing an entire ritual from start to finish feels so very much different than these short, extemporaneous devotionals. It’s definitely a learned skill, but it’s also incredibly fun and uplifting. 🙂

  11. Teo Bishop Avatar

    I second this recomendation, @FaeoftheRoots:disqus. this is a great place to start.

    Thanks, Amanda!

  12. Wes Isley Avatar
    Wes Isley

    My regular practice really seems to have bottomed out lately, and I so need a new start! Thanks for the post.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      We appear to be in the same boat, Wes. 🙂

      Perhaps the ritual I mentioned above is a good staring point. I’m going to be working my way through the 6 tiers listed on Melissa’s article (be sure to give that a read), so if doing this simple version works well for you maybe you can join me in working my way through!

      In any case, here’s to a new start! Cheers!

  13. FaeoftheRoots Avatar

    Thank you for sharing! It’s always interesting to see ritual layout. I come from a non-Druish background and I’m curious if there is a particular book that you would recommend for the Druid-curious?

  14. Michael Putnam Avatar

    Thank you again, Teo. I have stated before that my morning ritual is extremely informal and ever since my shoulder surgery I have stopped making offerings (I have this thing about doing anything respectful with my non-dominant hand). However, I have been thinking that I will begin a new morning ritual routine when I come out of my sling and this is what I needed to see to help me along this path.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Glad that post resonated with you, Michael. I wonder if there’s any way to imagine making offerings that doesn’t involve your dominant hand. Perhaps a verbal offering? A poem? You may be able to get a jump-start on a new practice by thinking “outside the box” about what offerings need to be.

      Speedy healing to you!

  15. Ila Avatar

    I found this very helpful. I have not begun to do this and maybe this is just the model I need to get me started. Thanks.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I’m glad, @fd0ca08ff355c715d5c2256e69d8128d:disqus. What I love about this model (and Melissa does a great job unpacking the rationale in her article) is that you can introduce new elements at your own pace. Start simple, then build.

      I wish you the best in your practice!