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DRUID RITUALS
(About Rituals)  (Index)  (The Eight Fold Year)
 
 
 
 
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INDEX

The following links lead to short summaries of information on this page

Links to the full ritual pages can be found under each set of notes

About Druidry - FAQ related to the spiritual practise of Druidry - a recognised religion in the world today  (goes to a new page)

The Eight Fold Year - Spiritual Rites of Passage through the seasons of the planet and Life

 Samhain - The Celtic New Year - mid-Winter - Connecting with the Otherworld

Yule - The Spiral of Rebirth - Winter Solstice - Accepting inevitable Transitions

Imbolc -The Feast of Torches - Spring's Beginning' - Seeding the Future

Ostara - The Feast of New Life - Spring Equinox - Accepting Blessings

Beltane - The Rites of Fertility - Summer's Beginning - The Tree of Life

Litha - The Rites of Love - Mid-Summer Solstice - Sharing Gifts.

Lughnasadh - The Feast of Bread - Harvest Home - Thanking the Light.

Mabon - The Feast of Reflection - Autumnal Equinox - Meditations of Blessing

Initiation - A ritual for aligning oneself to a Druidic or pagan path

Hand Fasting - A ritual for uniting a couple in consentual marriage

House Blessing - A ritual for Cleansing and Energising a Home

Naming - A ritual for Welcoming a Baby to the World.

Death - A ritual for Saying Farewell to an Incarnation.

 

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ABOUT THESE RITUALS     

(Index )

 

Rituals are a way of reaffirming the power of life by recognising its rites of passage and reconnecting with the elements of life and the cosmos you honor. 

 

While rituals aren't necessary for life to go on, they can help you feel less disconnected, and to align to what you believe empowers you.  Just as meditation and prayer are rituals that are recommended to be done often, so that their modes are well instilled, honoring the divine regularly, in whatever form you believe life to be divine, helps you to adjust your attitudes and behaviour when you are feeling lost or disconnected in some way. There are many types of rituals you can use to do this. These are just some, but they are recognised by pagans of European origin everywhere - the Rituals and Feasts of the Eight Fold Year

 

We do not promote these rituals above all others. We believe that even these should be rewritten to suit your own modes, practices, and beliefs. They are offered as guidance, only, and represent modes to reaffirm yourself in life, and to re-acknowledge the divine.  Nor do we promote paganism above all other forms of spirituality or religion. We are neo-druids cum buddhists because our paganism is inclusive, not exclusive, and encompasses all religions, all faiths, and all spiritual paths, even when those other paths do not wish to encompass US. 

 

We believe in ALL that is divine, and in the right of ALL people to find their own methods to recognise divinity and spirit. And that includes the rights of atheists and agnostics to reject what we believe in.  We offer these rituals to expand your insight into paganism, apart from propaganda and misconcepts led by popular opinion.

 

 

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THE EIGHT FOLD YEAR

RITUALS FOR NEO-PAGANS

(Index )

 

Tree Seasibs - Gif Copyright by Lilipily Spirit

(GO to times of Festivals )

 

The eight fold year is based on an ancient European pagan Wheel calendar system that used the solstices and equinoxes to define times of the year to celebrate rites of passage among the clans. The eight points on the Wheel include the 'fire' festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain, along with the festivals of the solar year solstices and equinoxes

 

These points mark the cycles of the year in the natural world (which were important to our ancestors, whose lives depended on their crops and livestock, and were deeply affected by the changing seasons and their vagaries), and are used today to reflect similar processes in our lives as human beings, as well as in our emotions and spirit. 

 

The 'fire' festivals, (or Cross-quarter Days) are attuned to the local seasons in the areas in which they are celebrated. They are therefore not absolute, and the dates or timing of these celebrations has some flexibility. 

 

The solstices and equinoxes do have an absolute time and date, and occur when the sun reaches 0°/360°, 90°, 180°, and 270° of celestial longitude.  These are the festivals that occur everywhere at the same time (hemi-global ). It is said that stone circles were erected in ancient times to assess the exact timing of the solstices and equinoxes for the four solar festivals, (which is probably likely, since they didn't have our modern almanacs to look them up in ). 

 

Probably the best-known of the solar festivals is the Summer Solstice, which is observed in modern times by Druids at Stonehenge (in the UK ) who watch the sun rise over the Heol Stone and celebrate the peak of the power of the sun at Midsummer. It's opposite nodal point is at the Winter Solstice, when the year is said to be reborn and darkness is apparently defeated by light. 

 

It is during Midwinter that the Sun King is said to be reborn as the Mabon, to manifest a fresh year with new opportunities. The beginning of the pagan year, however, is always at Samhain, or Holy Eve (hallowe'en), when the parallel world of the supernatural opens its doors, and angels, powers, and our dear departed mingle with us in a blessed celebration of life in all realms.

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the festivals are:

 

February 1-2:

IMBOLC, (Candelmas).

March 20-22:  

OSTARA, (Alban Eiler, Mean Earraigh), or Spring Equinox.

April 30-May 1:

BELTANE, (Belteinne).

June 20-23

LITHA, (Alban Hefin), or Summer Solstice.

August 1:

LUGHNASADH, (Harvest Home).

September 20-24

MABON, (Alban Elfed), or Autumn Equinox.

October 31

SAMHAIN, Samhuinn (Hallowe'en).

December 20-21

YULE, (Alban Arthuan, Mean Geimhridh), or Winter Solstice.

 

 

In the Southern Hemisphere, the festivals are:

 

February 1-2:

LUGHNASADH, (Harvest Home).

March 20-22:  

MABON, (Alban Elfed), or Autumn Equinox.

April 30-May 1

SAMHAIN, Samhuinn (Hallowe'en).

June 21-22

YULE, (Alban Arthuan, Mean Geimhridh), or Winter Solstice.

August 1:

IMBOLC, (Candelmas).

September 20-24

OSTARA, (Alban Eiler, Mean Earraigh), or Spring Equinox.

October 31

BELTANE, (Belteinne).

December 20-23

LITHA, (Alban Hefin), or Summer Solstice.

 

 

These dates only noted the beginning of these celebrations in ancient times, because when the clans got together the actual celebrations could go on for two to three weeks before breaking up.  ( In our own celebrations, in modern times, we use some leeway based on that knowledge, as not all our family and friends can always join us mid-week for a ritual, so we often have our rituals on the closest weekend to the point marked on the Wheel in that year ).    

 

( If you are circle dancing in the Southern Hemisphere, don't forget that moving clockwise is actually Widdershins, or unwinding the energy... Deosil, or winding the energy, is an Anti-clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere ! )  

 

NOTE: There is some disagreement among (European origin) pagans about the sources, actual dates, and meanings of these festivals and their rituals, that are celebrated so widely, today.  In our opinion, anyone celebrating a ritual should get over the roleplay and history, and get down to the business of why they want to celebrate in the first place. All rituals began with someone's idea that was made manifest.  It doesn't matter if it came from ancient times or was begun in modern times - the point is that the ritual has meaning and that the process has relevance. There's absolutely no point in keeping on doing things just because they were done in ancient times, unless those processes still have meaning in our modern world.  The reason why these celebrations have so much meaning for pagans today is not so much that they were celebrated by their nominal ancestors, but because the reasons for these celebrations have as much meaning for spirit and connection, and the rites of passage in life, today, as they ever did, long ago.

 

Additional Information from: arachne, Wight Druids, Alexa Duir  

 

Poetry segments on this page are by L. O. Hennig (copyright)

 

 

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SAMHAIN

[pronounced SOW-WEN, like 'cow']

(Hallowe'en) the beginning of the New Year   

(Index )

 

 

" T'was at Samhain the Sidhe rode out to view the world of men,
And found some good, and found some bad - yet found some hope in them,
For e'er the mortal woes they felt, they still produced a line
Of bairns to bring the elders forth to live another time. "

 

 - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

Samhain or Samhuinn in the Irish Gaelic means “Summer’s End” and is the time of the Celtic New Year

 

At this time, the dark, bitter and uncertain days of winter lay ahead, and thanks were given to Divinity for the fruitful harvest that would see the people through. 

 

Winter could be dangerous, and people prepared themselves spiritually for the reality of Death. The ritual of Samhain still reminds us of it's importance in the balance of Nature, today.

 

This is also one of two points in the year, (the other being Beltane ), when the Otherworld (or the supernatural realm ) is enjoined with ours, and we can visit with our Ancestors to celebrate the bounty and love of life (in any realm). 

 

It is always a night-time ceremony, performed after dusk, and is traditionally the most important of all the Festivals. 

 

The Sidhe (or Irish gods, who later became the faeries), opened their hills at Samhain to ride out into the world, which is the basis for the Halloween celebrations in modern times, when all sorts of supernatural beings are said to wander the night. 

 

Superstitious people would place a Jack 'o Lantern with a lit candle outside their door, to ward away any mischief makers.  (Jack 'o Lanterns were only carved from pumpkins after the Americans took over the tradition. In ancient times, they were usually carved from vegetables like turnips or swedes).

 

Pagans are not afraid of the supernatural realm, because this is the place our spirits emerge from when we are born into the world, and also the place our spirits return to when the body dies.  Instead, like the South Americans, we celebrate the lives of the 'Dead,' and honor them for their gracious help and guidance.  (Since pagans believe in reincarnation, these 'dead' people may be reborn in the world one day, so you could call it 'networking').

 

A plate is laid at the feast table for our ancestors, who we hope will join us in our celebration.  (But we do light a lantern outside the door, to let mischief makers know they have to move on...)

 

 

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YULE

[pronounced YOOL]  

   (Winter Solstice) Alban Arthuan

(Index )

 

 

" T'was on the winter solstice that we strewed baubles on the tree
And thanked life for all the gifts, that had brought to us such glee.
We gave each other tokens, too, to cheer the days ahead,
When our bones creak far too often and we're loth to leave our bed.


At Yuletide we light the fire log that warms our homes and heart,
And stays alive within our minds so we know we're ne'er apart
From love and life, and thus all strife can be endured with might,
So long as we remember that our spirit lives in Light."

 

 - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

Alban Arthan means ‘Light of Winter’ and personifies the God of Light who is reborn as the Mabon on this day. 

 

This is the time of the Longest Night, and the world is faced with overpowering darkness, (especially in the Northern Hemisphere, where people in ancient times didn't have the lighting we have in our homes today, and often fumbled in the dark, day and night, during winter). But then the Sun is reborn and begins its long journey back to its full power. 

 

This ritual is performed in the mid afternoon, usually including the sunset. 

 

It is a quiet but merry celebration that includes good food, gift-giving, and a symbolic kindling of fire (the Yule log).  This is the traditional 'Christmas' - the celebration of the birth of Mithras, Christ, and various other solar deities

 

Yule was a major festival celebrated by the pre-Christian Anglo Saxons, who called it 'Modraniht' or 'Mother's Night' - possibly a reference to ancestral or supernatural female guardians. 

 

 

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IMBOLC

[pronounced IH-VOLC

   Candlemas

(Index )

 

 

" T'was Imbolc when the longest nights had made our bones so cold,
And yet the flames of candles seemed to warm us with their gold,
As we gazed into the Truth that their flickering betold - 
And saw all that had gone before, and all yet to unfold. "

 

- Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

This Festival was linked with Brigit, who was both one goddess and three (all of whom bore the same name). Brigit was a goddess of healing, smithwork and poetry, as well as of fertility

 

During the coldest time of the year, Imbolc marked its quickening with the first signs of SpringCandles were lit at this time as a sign of faith, to remind people that Winter was halfway over. 

 

After Brigit was claimed as a Saint by the christians, this festival was known as Candlemas.

 

The ancient Celts aligned it with the time when ewes had milk, as pregnancies swelled toward coming spring births (Oimelc, and Imbolc).  (I always enjoy this ritual, as I was born on the 2nd August, which is the proper season for Imbolc in the Southern Hemisphere, where I live). 

 

For Imbolc, our family light candles and look into them to remember the past we have seeded, and to dream of the future we want to become manifest.

 

 

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OSTARA

[pronounced OS-TAR-AH

   (Spring Equinox) Mean Earraigh or Alban Eiler  

(Index )

 

 

"T'was in the peak of Springtide that the sunlight kissed the Earth,
And brought to life new buds and babes to frolic with such mirth,
That we couldn't help but join them, to dance and sing with glee, 
And delight in leaves unfurling on the family tree."

 

- Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

Alban Eiler means ' Light of the Earth.' 

 

This festival marks the point in the year when day and night are the same length, worldwide. The earth reawakens as Spring returns and rejuvenates our own life force. 

 

This Equinox is also known as Eostre (pronounced “Eas-tra”) and is celebrated as a festival of new growth, renewal, a re-balancing of energies and the return of longer days.  The christians also celebrate this ritual as Easter, with the same symbols long known to pagans of the rabbit or (Mad March) hare, and eggs.  Even christ's rebirth from the cross reflects upon the pagan theme of returning to life. 

 

Ostara is all about rebirth and reincarnation

 

Even today, Morris Men in English folk communities 'wake' the earth by thumping the ground with their staves. 

 

(Our family eat eggs at this time, although it's held in September in the Southern Hemisphere. We have a wonderful spring breakfast of omelettes together on this day).

 

 

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BELTANE

[pronounced BEL-TAYNE]   

Walpurga

(Index )

 

 

"T'was at Beltane we once again strewed baubles on the tree,
And singed our toes to send our woes into infinity. 
We danced around a ribboned pole, which was a lovely sight,
But the best thing was the battle 'tween darkness and the light."

 

  - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

This was one of the two great festivals celebrated by the Celts

 

Beltane means bright fire or lucky fire, a reference to the two fires made at this time, through which cattle were driven to ward off illness after the winter.  (Revellers also jumped freely through these fires, for much the same reason). 

 

At Beltane, the fertility of all living things is honored, and in ancient times sexual activity was par for the course in these celebrations.  The returning warmth of the Sun and the greening of the Earth after the long darkness of the winter months is well and truly celebrated as the natural world burgeons with an exuberance of creation. 

 

At this time, we seek to bring into our own lives the strength, vitality, passion and joy that is now present in the natural world. 

 

At Beltane, we honor Life

 

( In ancient times, children conceived during Beltane were not considered illegitimate or fatherless, but as 'children of the God.' )

 

 

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LITHA

[pronounced LITH-THA]

(Summer Solstice) Mean Samhraidh or Alban Hefin

(Index )

 

 

"T'was on the summer solstice that we gave each other gifts,
And we burned up all our bitters, to heal and bind the rifts.
The words were brief, the revels long, and we stayed up until dawn,
But what delight to spend the night to see the sun at morn."

 

 - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

Alban Hefin means ' Light of Summer.'  It is Midsummer and the time of the Longest Day, when spring waxes in its power and summer reaches its zenith

 

This ritual is celebrated in the late afternoon and into the evening.  It can go all night, and in ancient times (or on modern weekends), watching the sun come up is par for the course, with celebrations continuing the next day (if possible). 

 

At this time, the Land graces us with abundance - flowers, fruit, light summer clothing, dancing, music, and feasting in the great out-doors.  The Earth Mother Goddess crowns the Sun God as the King of Summer, and we open our hearts to the warmth of their love, that lives within us all.  

 

(As this time of year is in December for our Southern Hemisphere celebrations, we give gifts to each other at this time - tokens of love, affection, and blessings - and our children don't feel that they are missing out on 'christmas').

 

 

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LUGHNASADH

[pronounced LOO-NAH-SAH]L

Summer's End

(Index )

 

\

"T'was on the day of Summer's End we scoffed veggies and bread,
And said thanks to the god of Light who'd made sure we were fed.
We danced a song of rain to ponds so we'd have more to drink,
And leapt through the fire of good luck, to keep us from the brink."

 

- Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

Lughnasadh is the festival of Harvest Home, when ancient people gave thanks to the divine for the bounty of life after the first harvests had been reaped.  The name of this ritual comes from the deity of Light, or Lugh, the Shining One

 

In ancient times, the light from the Sun was seen to triumph over cold winds and frosts, to nurture and mature the crops.  In gratitude, the people gathered a tithe from those crops, and gave it to the Sun God

 

Baked bread and cakes, brewed beer and wine, and corn dollies, were created to honor these goods, and competitions were held to see who had grown the largest and best produce.  Of course, someone had to eat it all for the God !  So the people would dance and make merry to celebrate the harvest, and in being so alive, gave thanks. 

 

(The Anglo-Saxons called this festival Thing-tide - and it revolved around a gathering to assess the extent of the food available for the coming winter, and plan for the community accordingly).

 

This ritual is performed at dusk. 

 

While we celebrate the abundance of life at this time, and have expectations of more to come, we also prepare for the Autumn ahead of us. 

 

 

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MABON

[pronounced MAY-BEN]

(Autumnal Equinox)  Alban Elfed

(Index )

 

 

"T'was in the deep of Autumn we paid homage to the Green,
And said thanks to the faerie folk who gave, but stayed unseen.
We wished into eggs we ate, to seed blessings in our life,
And reflected on the Mabon, to learn to keep from strife."

 

 - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)

 

The Winter Finding, Full Harvest, or Mean Fomhair are when night and day are of approximately equal length, world-wide. 

 

Alban Elfed means “Light of Autumn” and at this time the second harvest was once celebrated. 

 

The fields were nearly empty and the crops had been stored for the coming winter.  It was still a time of plenty, but the descent into winter lay ahead, so the celebration of Mabon was about reflecting upon the gifts of life, making sure that what was stored would be safe in the coming months ahead so that it would be good to eat later, and spiritually cleansing one's thoughts, attitudes, and spirit so that the future had a good basis for new beginnings. 

 

(In our family, in the Southern Hemisphere, the world-wide celebration of Easter coincides with this ritual, but we have two egg rituals a year - Mabon and Ostara.  We instil prayers and wishes into the chocolate eggs we purchase at this time, to eat and seed within ourselves for the unfolding year ahead).

 

 

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A PAGAN INITIATION RITUAL FOR BEGINNERS

(Index )

 

 

Dedication is a way of promising your Self and Mother-Father God that you are going to honestly and seriously explore this Path. 

 

It will not make you into a Druid. That is a lifetime process.

 

In opening your Self to the Path of the Druid, you also open your Self to new ways of experiencing things, and Knowledge may come in surprising ways.  Druidry is a Path of constant examination of the inner and outer Worlds to explore what God is trying to teach You

 

It is not necessary to travel your Path in Initiation. Druidry is not everyone's right Path. There are many Paths leading to Truth, which the true Druid recognizes

 

Druids believe that all Gods are one God; that all the names of God are simply the many names of the one God; that all entities of God are simply aspects of the one God; and that God is a multi-Faceted, universal, multi-gendered Force of Life and Creation Therefore, as a Druid, you must be prepared to commit your Self to the respect of all religions, and of the place and importance they hold in the hearts, minds, and lives of others.

 

Tools, robes, rituals, etc. do not make us Druids. Such things, without proper intention and purpose, merely become role-playing and games.  

 

The eight annual Druid Rituals and Festivals are processes we go through so that we may come to terms with our lives, and with what is required of us in the course of those lives. Rituals help us to stop asking: Why???

 

What follows is a basic Dedication Ritual that you can use or change as you want.  Remember, it will not make you into a Druid, but if you go through it, it will help you focus your purpose.

 

 
 

 

"T'was two hearts met and beat as one, spread heat throughout their world,
Till neither could abide a night without their bodies curled
In fine embrace of limb, or days enlinked in spirit, mind, and goal -

To which we now bear witness of the binding of their Soul."

      - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)  

 

This ritual is for uniting a couple in an oath of love and commitment, and is performed in the midst of the seasonal ritual they select.

In ancient times, the oath made by the couple this day was only valid for a year and a day, when it would have to be renewed if the couple were to continue to go forward together.

 

 

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HOUSE BLESSING

(Index )

 

 

"."

      - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)  

 

This ritual is for blessing and purifying a new home or apartment.

 

CLICK to go to the HOUSE BLESSING Ritual (coming soon)

 
 

 

"T'was with delight we met the Light of new Life in the flesh,
A glorious Child from ancient lines rejoined us in the Thresh. 
We gave our Blessings gladly and safe-kept with Mother Earth,
Then showed our new Beloved the way to dance the Mirth.
"

      - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)  

 

This ritual is for welcoming a new child to the world, and is performed in the midst of the seasonal ritual that falls closest to the date when the child was born.

 

 
 

 

"."

      - Poetry by L.O.Hennig (copyright)  

 

This ritual is for saying goodbye to a dear departed soul.

 

CLICK to go to the DEATH Ritual (coming soon)

 

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