Winter Tree

The Solstice has passed, and the Wheel continues to turn. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the days begin to grow incrementally longer. Our friends in the South begin to see the sun retreat; bit by bit, day by day. For all of us, we honor and recognize that the movement of the Earth is a sacred symphony, and we dance along joyfully to the music.

This week on the SDF blog we join one another in a dialogue about our experiences with the SDF liturgy. This is the time to make our voices heard about what it felt like to use the liturgy in our observances of the Solstice. It is our opportunity, as a congregation in solitude, to reach out to one another, to listen to one another, and simply to remember that we are not alone in our journey.

Our Dialogue

Here are a few ideas about how to support one another in this dialogue:

  • Start by sharing your experience of using the liturgy. Offer up only what feels comfortable to you.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Before responding to another person, remember that words are powerful.
  • Be kind to one another.
  • If you feel that someone isn’t making sense, or you don’t share their perspective, try asking questions, gently. There may be something valuable for you to learn from that person.

When you share your thoughts and feelings about your experience, you may also want to describe which parts of the liturgy were a good fit for you, and which parts you made adjustments to. This is great for everyone to know. It may also be enlightening for you to discover which parts of the liturgy were meaningful to other people. Each person has the freedom to customize the SDF liturgies to suit their specific needs. No one is bound to one, specific way of doing things.

And lastly, there were over 450 people who received the SDF liturgy for this High Day. We cannot know how many people actually incorporated the words into their solitary observances, but that it not ours to know. However, we can rest in the knowledge that there are many others out there like us; people whose practice is done primarily or exclusively in solitude; people who find comfort in the stillness and the silence.

As it is said by the Solitary Druid Fellowship:

 

I am one, and we are many.

Fellowship in solitude.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001321892479 Kate Dennis

    The most powerful part of the liturgy to me was the affirmation/opening:” I am one, and we are many.” It felt very solid yet warm. It opened a portal that thrummed with presence.

  • http://twitter.com/SophiaCandle Sophia Catherine

    I loved that sense of connection with others. This was shared solitary practice in fellowship, which is already starting to redefine solitary work, for me. The liturgy was beautiful – a wonderful first high day ritual for my Dedicant Path.

    - Leithin Cluan

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you for sharing, Kate. I feel the same way about that line. There’s something about it that really sticks with me. It pops into my head every so often, and seems to serve as a reminder of the breadth of the Fellowship. That last sentence you wrote warms my heart.

    I appreciate you being a part of this, Kate. Blessings to you.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    I’m honored, Leithin, that the SDF liturgy is connected to your Dedicant work through ADF. Thank you for sharing that here.

    I’m eager to learn how the experience of solitary practice in fellowship is redefining solitary work for you. That sounds like a beautiful premise for a blog post! :)

  • Sam Carranza

    I was fascinated by Seeking the Omen…it doesn’t seem tarot is common in Druidry, but for now it’s what I’m most familiar with. I drew the Tower (destruction, imbalance), the 2 of Pentacles (earth, play, learning) and lastly 1 of Swords (air, power, conquest and strength). Unusual, but I think it means that this path will require tearing down some walls and being disoriented but that I’ll end up being better off after the struggle.

  • Alioth

    This was my first real ritual, ever — I am very much still an egg, full of doubts, and I’m delighted to say that I really Felt Something. I look forward to using the next SDF liturgies!

    I have no experience with any form of divination, so I defaulted to the RDNA practice of “sit quietly and attentively and wait for Nature to tell you something”. I got to that point, I sat back and took one deep breath, and immediately two crows flew overhead, cawing. I don’t know what to make of this in detail, but I can’t help getting a feeling of approval from it.

    I can’t quite say whether I experienced a feeling of congregation-in-solitude. I suspect, because I’ve only ever been to one group ritual and that not particularly moving, that once I’ve had some powerful group experiences the SDF congregation-in-solitude effort will have something to draw on.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thanks for sharing this, Sam. I like your interpretation of that omen. I wonder if the “play” and “learning” aspect of the 2 of Pentacles also speaks to the way in which this process can have a light-hearted, inquisitive spirit. There may be disorientation, yes, but perhaps it will also feel a bit like play.

    Again, thanks for engaging in this shared practice!

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you so much for this comment, Alioth. How wonderful that your first real ritual was done with SDF! What an honor.

    I think the RDNA practice sounds really wonderful. From my experience, the tools we use for divination are simply intended to help us direct our focus in the way of the Kindred (the Divine, in their many different forms). The most important part of the practice may be that act of turning toward them, and the messages we receive simply offer us new meditations, new ways of thinking that break own our assumptions.

    After reading your comment, I think it’s worth saying that it seems completely natural to me that one might not experience a real “feeling” of congregation in solitude. There can, however, be an awareness that one exists. Because it does. You were joined by so many other solitaires in this shared practice, and that give you a common point of reference; a shared, albeit different, experience. I hope that helps to clarify, and help you to be ok with feeling what you felt.

    Most importantly, though, I’m glad for you that you (and I love the capitalization) Felt Something. That’s fantastic. That should be (in my opinion) the first halmark of a good ritual experience.

    Thank you for your willingness to engage in this shared practice, Alioth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wendy-Elliott-Marino/644545985 Wendy Elliott Marino

    A bout of pneumonia kept me from my usual solitary practice. But I did light my candles and read it through. I loved it! Hopefully, next Yule I’ll be able to put it to good use.

  • Alioth

    I love that line. It encapsulates the whole opening and closing poems in seven words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tavey Tavey Be

    “I am one, and we are many.” As I said these words, standing before the flame that I had watched in vigil the night before I undertook the the liturgy, I felt as though I was connected to so many others. In my mind, I could see many other solitary practitioners also saying the exact same thing. It was a powerful moment.

    I have not been a member of ADF for a few years due to time constraints, finances and lack of energy to complete my Dedicant Path work, so I was thrilled when I realised that this option existed. This High Day liturgy was a fitting way to allow my feet to find that path again, and take the first, hesitant steps.

    The Omen was very personal to me, but the overall message was to allow my Spiritual path back into my daily life and “Walk my talk” more than I have been in the past year.

    This was a wonderful way to celebrate the Solstice. Thank you.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    And thank you for taking part, Tavey. By joining in this shared practice, you helped to strengthen the Fellowship. I’m glad you felt moved to be a part.

    I’m also glad that you are feeling a renewed sense of purpose in the development of your own Druidry. Take the steps as slowly as you need to, and remember that you are not alone in the journey. I pray that as the New Year comes, this experience of “walking your talk” is meditative, rejuvenating, and filled with a good spirit.

    May you be blessed.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Oh, I hope you’re on the mend, Wendy! I’m glad that you were able to have the words, and even a small, candle-lit reading of a liturgy can be meaningful. I encourage you to join us in the next shared liturgy which will be released on the 25th of January.

    Peace!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wendy-Elliott-Marino/644545985 Wendy Elliott Marino

    Thank you, Teo. I’m looking forward to it.

    Peace to you and yours, also.

  • http://www.facebook.com/herumori Kallel Peterson

    First, some context: I’m what Star Foster would call a “Slacker
    Pagan”. Because I’m so active in school and at work, life intercedes in my
    spiritual practice more frequently than I’d care for. As such this is the first
    time in a loooong time I’ve been able to ANY form of High Day ritual—let alone
    a full ritual.

    I went outside to a local park to partake in the liturgy, under
    a sleeping oak by a creek. I had a couple of technical difficulties (printer
    was out of ink, forgot things I wanted to say in some of the custom sections,
    etc). Despite all that, I felt really good about the liturgy. I actually
    thought, “Wow… there are other Pagans around the world engaging in similar
    rituals right now and all throughout today.” I left the hill with a profound sense of peace
    and connection to the Kindred, the Land, and the Pagan community at large. I
    felt like I was Heard and being welcomed back after too long from Home. It was
    a beautiful experience, and a really profound reintroduction to the practice of
    Paganism and first real, concrete work for the Dedicant path.

    After reading some others’ comments, I’d also like to echo the sentiment that I too, Felt something upon intonation of the opening, “I am one, and we are many.” I also think that the Omen i got from listening is an overwhelming sense of hope.

  • http://twitter.com/CaitlinSorcha Karen Dougherty

    I haven’t run a full ritual since the early days of ADF, so I was a little apprehensive about doing this at first. But once I started, everything came together beautifully, though not perfectly. I ended up punting on the divination, since I’d forgotten to grab my runes or tarot. However, some wonderful things have happened for me in the last couple of days, so I concentrated on thanking the Deities for those blessings. In all, it was a good experience, and I’m looking forward to Imbolc.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    That’s wonderful, Karen. I love that your response to the “punting” was to focus on gratitude. I found that one of the sections of the rite that most moved me was when I gave thanks, so your words really resonate with me.
    I’m glad that you’re a part of this fellowship of shared practice, Karen. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.a.singh Elizabeth A. Singh

    I made a deal with the Goddess Rhiannon to offer Her my first Yule after having gone through some difficult weeks; and to make it the start of the Dedicant work in earnest because I want to complete it and go on to Clergy training. I had never done a real, full solitary rite before, just maybe lit a candle and said some prayers, especially in the 1990′s when I was working from Cunningham’s books for solitary Wiccans. I used to end up just feeling out of the loop, disconnected.

    The very first line, “I am One and we are Many,” moved me to tears and I mean literally. Not the depressing kind though. I had an immense and intense sense of gratitude throughout the rite. This is the first time I did not feel pathetic going solo, or totally disconnected. Teo, this is a ministry of service to an underserved community that is desperately needed and I thank you.

    I made my offerings of mead and bird seed, and catnip in memory of two cherished kitties whom we had to help to the next world shortly before Yule to ease their sufferings. To honor the presence of Rhiannon in my life and home, I gave Her the gift of a My Little Pony to represent Her upon my altar.

    I am very new to runes, but something nagged at me to get a set before Yule. I drew for my omen Kenaz, Sowilo, and Fehu, which I thought a powerful and very uplifting omen. I truly believe the Goddess and nature spirits, my blessed departed little ones and my unknown ancestors (long story, I do not know my family history beyond the names of my parents and grandmothers) accepted my offerings and the ritual itself. And I walked away feeling very empowered, and a lot less lonely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.fotiades Lauren Fotiades

    This was my first experience performing any sort of ritual on a solstice/equinox, and I think I’m glad I picked this one. I couldn’t actually do it on Friday, since we were traveling after work, so it had to wait until Saturday.

    On Saturday, I ended up having to make more changes than I expected. There was non-stop wind outside, so a working I’d planned that involved fire was out – couldn’t even get a candle lit because even in my sheltered spot the wind was just strong enough to keep putting out my lighter! I giggled a bit reading the part about “this season of stillness” since the night outside the porch where I was seating was anything but! Plenty of winter cold about, though.

    I left out the sections marked optional, just because I couldn’t really think of anything to put there (like I said, this was my first attempt at formally marking the solstice).

    Probably the two biggest changes I made to the liturgy was changing the references to “the Kindred” to “the universe” and assorted synonyms, so I didn’t feel like an absolute twit saying “the universe” over and over. And I condensed sections 8 and 11 into one, shorter section, for basically the same reasons. Making any sort of offering just feels uncomfortable to me because I don’t really believe there’s anything to make the offering *to*. I’ll probably expand on this more on my blog, if I can work up the courage. I absolutely loved the language in that section, the repetition gives it such power, but when it came to it I couldn’t do it; I just felt too self-conscious.

    I loved the initiation and the closing. I was seated for the opening but I had to stand for the closing; it just felt right to stand looking up at Orion, huge overhead, and thinking about all the other Druids looking at the same text, whenever and wherever they were. I think that may be the image that stands out for me most. That’s what I see when I think of last night: Orion, huge across the sky, standing just above the waving treeline.

  • Arden Star

    I’ve been looking into ADF for a few months now, but never went much farther than reading about it. SDF came along just at the right time for me, so I’m glad I’ve had a chance to experience this ritual style in a way that works for me as a solitary. I’ve been looking for a way to have some sort of consistent practice with regards to the sabbats/High Days, rather than doing it in a haphazard way, so I thought I’d take the plunge and try ADF style and see what that’s like.

    Because it’s shared liturgy, and the opening and closing statements reinforce that (which I loved), I decided to tweak the liturgy to include references to both the summer and winter solstice. I’m in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia), so I was technically doing summer solstice, but I wanted to include everyone doing the rite at the same time as I was to reinforce that congregation in solitude feeling. The two paintings I did referenced each solstice: the new-born sun in the north, and the departing sun in the south.

    I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of it, particularly as I’d picked a Roman style which is rather new to me; it is the hearth culture that appeals to me the most, though I do work more with Hestia than Vesta. I’ve spent most of my Pagan life worshipping in a Kemetic style, so this was a big change for me. The non-reversion of offerings in Roman style is not something I’m used to because I feel like I’m wasting good food, but I may be able to negotiate around that because I think reversion of offerings makes a bit more sense in this context than if I was dong a straight-up reconstructionist ritual. I’ll play it by ear and see what happens.

    The Omen was interesting, though. I used my Goddesses and Sirens deck because it’s the easiest to use for these sort of short readings. Pomona reassured me I’d offered enough, and the Kindred responded by asking me to have faith and trust Them. I also need to have more confidence in myself. Overall, I thought that wasn’t a bad response from Gods and spirits I’ve not had much contact with before, being so new to this. I’m definitely going to stick with this liturgy for the time being, and see what happens. I really enjoyed it.

  • Dave

    Hi, Teo.

    I ended up running through the scripted rite twice, once in rehearsal and again in actual practice. Neither time was bad but neither time was satisfying. Below is a rough (and rather long I’m afraid) rundown on the rite I actually did perform translated into English from my native tongue and with explanations where appropriate. The biggest inspiration was your script. Also, the comment system might screw up the formatting, apologies in advance.

    When initiating the rite I held a silent vigil beginning with the
    intonation, “From Many, One”. From there I proceeded to meditate upon
    the idea of solitude emerging from the dialogue between individual and
    community. Since my rite took place in my garden I was able to ritually
    bathe the area I was working in, the tools I was working with, and
    myself. Instead of speaking I continued my silent vigil into the
    beginnings of the rite. To honor the earth I touched my right hand to
    the ground. I spoke, “I remember you” and poured a libation of water
    unto the ground. In stating my purpose I spoke, “I act now to remember
    what is greater than myself within, without, and around. I act now to
    cherish those powers, places, and people who are unique, distinct, and
    worthy of praise. I have come to remember what is sacred.” For the
    grounding and centering I took a moment of silence. I relaxed my mind
    and concentrated on my intentions, bringing my awareness into sharp
    focus.

    In recreating the hallows I sat down before a large stone in my
    garden. To my left and behind me I placed a large silver bowl and filled
    it with water saying, “I make sacred this water that I might be wise”.
    To my right and behind me I built a fire in a stone fire pit saying, “I
    light this fire that my spirit might shine with love”. Upon the stone I
    placed my hand after first placing it into the mud I had prepared.
    Leaving a hand print in mud with a drop of my blood in it saying, “I
    call out to the world that I might know my place in the pattern of
    nature, I remember my people so I might know who I am.” When opening the
    gates I called to the powers which have always protected me to ward my
    rite. I poured libations to the spirits of love and friendship which
    have long watched over me saying, “Let my luck yet hold that I might
    live long, let my friends be strong that I might live well. Let the
    light of the fire shine through my spirit as love, let the sacred waters
    reflect the wisdom in my soul, and let the stone remind my heart of
    where I belong and who I am. Let this place be worthy of remembrance.”
    Next I offered sacrifices to each of the powers in turn. I said, “To the
    gods, those powers who I feel as a presence of greatness inspiring me
    to wonder and terror I offer a libation, I remember you!”. I poured a
    libation into the fire, removing it from human hands as a symbol of that
    which is beyond human lives. Next I said, “To the dead, those who have
    gone before and whose lives have brought us into being, I remember
    you!”. I then placed flowers into the waters as a symbol of life and its
    dependence upon death. Finally, I placed my hand upon the stone before
    me and said simply, “To all the world and all the spirits who dwell in
    her who uphold my life through our interconnectedness, I remember you!”.
    I then bowed to the stone out of respect for all of nature.

    I honored the solstice itself as the “being of the occasion” giving it a praise
    offering by singing a favorite winter song of mine from childhood which
    is very simple. It is one verse of nonsense words, “Inga da bunga chunga
    yunga” and carries on like that until you tire of it. Clapping
    optional. I continued to sing it until I moved on to the prayer of
    sacrifice part of the rite. For the prayer of sacrifice I did one of my
    culture’s traditional dances crying out, “I am upon the earth, I have
    sought wisdom, love, knowledge, luck, and friendship, I have set apart
    that which is worthy of praise and I have remembered the powers. Powers,
    I remember you!”. I continued to dance until I worked myself into a
    state of ecstasy. Seeking the omen in the ecstasy brought on by my dance
    I fell to the ground and opened my heart to the world around me. I
    could feel the presence of all the powers and all of nature singing back
    into and through me and I took it as a good omen. I then took a moment
    to recenter myself and meditate upon the current state of my life and
    how I could best live ably and well into the future, the revelations I
    obtained I also took as good omens. During the call for the blessing I
    ate the picnic I prepared as a sacred feast offering food and drink to
    the fire in the name of all the powers. When making my offerings I said,
    “I set part of this meal apart so that that which is worthy of worship
    in the powers might be cultivated in my own character. I accept your
    wisdom!”

    In the final affirmation I simply said, “As light returns to the
    world let that light grow within me as joy so that it might shine
    without me as love.” In winding down the rite I expressed my gratitude
    for my life, gave thanks for the presence of the powers and brought all
    that was set apart back into the world. I let the fire be fire, the
    waters be waters, and the stone be stone. I gave thanks for the luck
    which has kept me alive and for the friendship that has made life worth
    living. I gave thanks for the peace that was present in my rite. Finally
    I gave thanks for the earth that my rite was upheld. I leaned down
    again touching the ground and said, “I remember you.” I poured the last
    of my libations upon the ground. In closing the rite I said simply,
    “From Many, One.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.fotiades Lauren Fotiades

    “This is the first time I did not feel pathetic going solo”

    I think fear of this is a big part of why I never tried any ritual work before. Like you, I found the opening very powerful because it helped dispel that fear entirely.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Tremendous. Truly tremendous. What an experience you created for yourself. I’m honored that you would share such detail here, and I’m glad that the SDF might have been an inspiration for your observance of the Solstice. And I *really* love that the Solstice was the “being of occasion” for you. That’s so imaginative, inventive, and perfectly appropriate, I think.

    One thing I love about this, Dave, is that while you spoke different words and shaped the liturgy to suit you, changing the language completely it seems, the spirit you brought was done in tandem with every other participant in the Fellowship. There was a shared observance, a shared movement where we all made the movement toward reverence and piety, even if we each approached the ritual in a different way.

    Thank you for being a part of this, Dave. Thank you for sharing your experience, and for being willing to bring your spirit so fully into your worship.

    Blessings.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    I’m glad you were willing to embrace the liturgy and make it your own, Adren. Bringing both hemispheres into your ritual was inspired, and I love that the motivation behind it was to reinforce the feeling of congregation in solitude. That inspired me.

    I’m honored that SDF can be a part of your introduction into Ár nDraíocht Féin. Your omen speaks volumes; have faith, and trust. Your self-confidence during ritual will grow the more you become grounded in your practice. And remember – that’s all this is: practice. A reverent practice.

    Blessings, Adren.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you, Lauren. Thank you for being brave enough to try using this liturgy, and for sharing your experiences here. I would love to read more about your engagement with the liturgy, so please be sure to share a link here should you decide to blog about it. And as I’ve said to others, this liturgy is offered up to you. Condensing sections, leaving bits out, adding things — all of that is encouraged.

    Then there are moments when the liturgy speaks back to us; when it shows us something about ourself we might not have expected to see. We observe beauty in the words, recognize their power, and then experience resistance within ourselves. I see all of that as a wonderful opportunity to go inward and reflect; to be contemplative about where we are on our path.

    May you be blessed as you move forward into the Winter season, Lauren, and may Orion always offer you a feeling of deep comfort and peace.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you, Elizabeth. Thank you for engaging so deeply with the words of the SDF liturgy, and for allowing it to be a part of your observance of the Solstice. Your words are moving, and much appreciated. I’m grateful to be a part of this with all of you, and grateful to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

    I pray that your feeling of empowerment stays with you as you move forward in your DP studies. And should it waver, look back to this thread and remember what it felt like to stand before the Kindred, standing with the feeling of immense gratitude, and know that you are not alone.

    Bright blessings to you.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you, Kallel, for this comment. I shared that feeling with you, that sense that I was doing something that other Pagans were also doing, and it was meaningful to me. I’m so glad that your first real, engaged work with the Dedicant path was such a positive experience for you.

    Sometimes I feel like the “slacker pagan,” too. Even with all of the work I do that’s centered around my religiosity, I often catch myself getting wrapped up in the day-to-day details and obligations. Our life — our school, work, relationships — they may seem to interfere with the work of our spiritual practice, and sometimes they are. But they also inform our spirituality. They are the things which give us opportunities to experience joy, gratitude, love, happiness.

    Thank you for reminding me of that. And thank you for being a part of this shared practice.

    May the blessing of hope be with you.

  • Kris Hughes

    I was pretty excited to be using this liturgy. I’ve enjoyed hearing what one or two ADF bods have had to say about liturgy in recent months (I’m not an ADF member). I usually do things to mark the main holidays, but it tends to be more spontaneous and intuitive. I am drawn to liturgy, though. I changed almost nothing – which, if you know me, is saying a lot!!

    Before I talk about how the ritual went for me, I need to digress, though. Please be patient. I set my alarm for early on Friday morning, so I could see the sun rise. I didn’t have a plan beyond that. (It isn’t a good time for me to do a complex ritual, as I have too many farm/domestic chores at that time.) While I was still in bed I found awen with me, giving me a poem. It was short, so I went over it a few times without bothering to write it down. I pulled on some clothes, stuck a candle and some matches in my pocket, and headed outdoors. I had a walk over my pastures, which are very drought stricken, and felt I needed to get to an area where I could at least stand on grass, rather than bare dirt, I found a spot, and watched the sun rise, thinking of all the ancestors who must have done that on this day in the past. I offered some thanks and also a request for help with some things. I lit my candle, and walked back to the house with it, and left it burning on the breakfast table while we got on with things. Also wrote out my poem and read it for hubby – who is basically a casual and supportive observer of my spirituality.

    It was a busy day, and it felt hard to fit the SDF ritual in, however I was quite determined. After lunch I set up an alter near my shrine to Epona, as she was to be one of my honoured ones. I liked doing that, although I was a little worried that I would forget some crucial item. (I didn’t)

    - I did forget to light my candle, though. I think I thought it would be part of the ritual – so it might be good to remind people in future ones, that they need to do that before they begin.
    - I didn’t personally like the line “solitary Druids of ADF” because I’m not in ADF, it felt sort of dishonest. I think I probably changed it.
    - I wasn’t quite clear on what I was intended to do in the offering section. Maybe I’m being dense, but a little more description of what one might do here, would have helped me.I also wasn’t quite clear as to the difference between sections VIII and IX and XI. For X I read my poem, which was fun.
    - Although I use divination quite a bit, using an oracle I developed myself, the omen fell flat, and I think I was expecting it to, for some reason. Not sure I felt that I understood the meanings of the three questions – particularly the difference between 1 and 2. I haven’t had time to go back and meditate on them, unfortunately.

    I have quite a sense of the theatrical, and I really enjoyed saying many parts of the ritual – of course, I’d better keep my ego in check, I know, but I think spirituality and drama can work well together. The hardest thing for me, personally, is that I’m not solitary by choice, but due to geography, and in a way the ritual seemed to serve to remind me that I am a bit lonely, as opposed to making me feel part of something.

    The question for me is whether the elaborate liturgical marking of the day was more meaningful to me, or to the gods, than my own intuitive rite earlier in the day. I think I would like to do another one or two of these, and then I might have a clearer answer to that.

    Thanks to all who put effort into making this project possible!
    Kris

  • Dave

    Thank you, Teo. For your generous praise and your kind spirit.

    I knew from the beginning I couldn’t use the language as written but it was my intention right from the start to make this somehow fit into the overall framework of what was trying to be accomplished. I’m happy that that intention came through in my description of the rite.

    To be honest, this was kind of a fun test drive of what it meant to be a solitary Druid SDF style so I wasn’t too serious overall and I think the sense of fun is really part of what made it so special. I also wanted to bring in cultural and seasonal elements to flesh it out and using my own culture helped me connect both to the rite and to the sense of community in solitude.

    As an orphan from birth and the last living representative of my culture in all the known world a lot of my sense of personal identity is tied up in identification with my people who I no longer have access to physically. Carrying on their memory while using that memory to connect to the friends I still have, priceless. It’s what completely made the rite for me. And I absolutely credit not just SDF, but you personally, with inspiring me. You’ve helped show me how to walk my own path through the mists of Druidry, a few steps in the light of the fire and a few steps in shadow. For that I’m very grateful. Thank you my friend.

    May the wind be at your back.

  • Karen Waxler

    Hi Everyone. Solstice was my first Liturgy. It was deeply meaningful. I wrote a blog piece about it. Hope you don’t mind me posting the meat of it here.

    The Wanderer
    I’ve spent the last several years of my life stripping away a small
    lifetime of religion. It started with total abandonment, then became
    experimentation, then denial and anger. Then slowly, it matured. I
    found something to hold onto, it stuck. And that maturity developed
    into a quiet, very private spiritual practice.

    I have friends of every imaginable creed and religion. I have good, very close friends
    who practice the kind of cornbread-dressing Christianity that I claimed
    for the first 25 years of my life. And at times, I find it difficult to
    interface with them. I no longer share their wide-eyed, sterile views
    of the world. I don’t agree with the staunch conservativism with which
    they conduct their lives. I go quietly home to my meditations, my
    prayers, and my beliefs without arguing.

    I find peace and quiet lighting my candle and rubbing the wooden prayer beads between my
    fingers. Mine is a practice I have chosen not to name. Having spent so
    much time being labeled, I detest it. Identity is fine. Identity
    grounds us, it makes us feel safe. Labels alienate. I hate labels. I
    choose, instead, to be label-less. I choose to be a wanderer.

    And so it’s interesting that tonight, on this cold dark night of Winter
    Solstice, I find myself huddled on the floor of my bedroom alone. There
    is my candle, my prayer beads, and a tiny dish filled with water. The
    wanderer is reciting her first ADF Liturgy.

    Teo wrote this Liturgy. I can only assume he has spent months, years – honing his
    knowledge of the Druid principles, practices, rites, and rituals. The
    words are like velvet, as they’re sectioned into neat stanzas. The
    Kindred, Sacred, Gatekeepers. These words feel foreign, metallic, in my
    mouth. But as I speak them, a smile grows inside of me.

    Something very sincere is happening to the wanderer.

    I managed the Liturgy, with as much sincerity as I could muster. I had a
    hard time putting out the fire. I chose instead to look at it for a
    long time. My back began to ache I sat so long. I put my hand over it,
    feeling the heat. My familiar candle was now burning for a completely
    separate but equal reason- summoning the blessings of another season.

    I reckon in the long run, spirituality is all about the same. We find
    someone, some gods or thing to connect with. The comfort that we are
    seeking is the same. We may all get to it differently, but the end
    result is identical. We want to belong, to feel whole, and to know
    we’re ok.

    I feel honored to have access to the SDF, to be allowed
    to interface with these sincere and loving Druids. Even as a
    self-proclaimed outsider, who has no proper vessels or sacred items, I
    feel the profound affect of the Liturgy. It belongs inside of us.
    Tomorrow I will get up and go to my yoga mat, do my meditations, and
    resume the daily practices that are truly mine. But it feels good to
    wander into the trees for a while, to pray with a good fire.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you for your comment, Kris, and for your sincere engagement with the liturgy. You bring up some wonderful ideas, and I’m so grateful that you’re a part of this dialogue.

    There are times when I think that our intuitive rites are inherently more meaningful than anything we could possibly script. Our intuition becomes the voice of the liturgist, the voice of the poet speaking words of reverence in real time. I’m glad that this kind of observance was a part of your High Day.

    I’d like to speak to the specific points you brought up.

    - I agree with you that it would be good to make mention of what to do with the candle. I didn’t include any specific direction about lighting it, and I’ll see if I can find a way to include that in the next liturgy.
    - When I make the offering, I often speak the words while holding up my offering to the sky. It’s a bit theatrical, but more importantly it is a physical way for me to show that I am giving this gift to the unseen forces. Would this kind of description (or an abbreviated one like it) be useful? Is that what you mean?
    - I can understand why the line “solitary Druids of ADF” might not feel right to you. I think I included it to give the sense that there was a pre-existing body of ADF solitaries who were showing their support in this practice, but if you’re not a member I can see how it might make you feel on the outside. I wonder if something like “with the solitaries of the Fellowship” might work?
    - Many people group the offerings of the sections you listed into one. ADF, as I understand it, tends to break them up so that each figure in the ADF cosmology (the Gods, the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Beings of Occasion) are recognized. One could, is she chooses, combine them all, and I believe a few other people did.
    - I’m re-thinking the idea of offering 3, preset questions. I feel like that imposes something onto people that may not be appropriate. Or, perhaps 3 questions can be offered, but it can also be encouraged to ask what feels relevant to you; to make up your own 3. (There will be a forthcoming post about the Fellowship Omen that I pulled, one in which I hope to get a good deal of feedback and participation from everyone.)

    I appreciate you giving this a try, Kris, and I really appreciate your feedback. It helps me a lot.

    Bright blessings of the Reborn Sun to you!

    Teo

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    This touches my heart, Karen. So much.

    I feel honored that you would join in this shared practice, and approach it with such sincerity and openness. I pray that as you wander, you know peace, you feel the warm reach of the Fellowship, and that you never feel alone on your journey.

    Bright blessings to you.

  • Guest

    Hi Teo, and everyone: Just a short catch up to say this was my first ritual. I too was a day late but, I made the effort to show up anyway.

  • Aj / Melia

    Since my first post disappeared, I’m going to copy my post from my DP blog:

    So for the 4th day of Heliogenna, I ask Demeter to visit her daughter to see for herself how she fares and when she returns to bring back Helios who has been away for too long. This is the first part of my High Ritual. This year the candle is in a yule log (the portion removed from the base of my Solstice tree). Being that I was ill yesterday and today is Thursday, I also honored the Khthonic Gods, ancestors and Zeus.

    My tweaked High Ritual template has parts in it form the Solitary Druid Fellowship liturgy. When I read the “Initiating the Rite” and the added bit to the Purification, I got chills. The Kindreds got acorn bread slices drizzled with cinnamon honey (baked earlier today), Zeus got incense and a prayer, the Khthonic Ones and Ancestors got honeyed milk and a prayer while Helios and Demeter got the candle in the yule log to light their way back and a prayer. Every thing was going well until, I realize mid way through the ritual that I hadn’t figured out whether to close the gates or leave them open. If I leave them open, how do I manage that? So when it came time for the omens, the first question I asked was “Should I close the gates?” I drew Page of Wands/Spirit Message. The pearl earring in my right ear promptly fell out. What the heck does that mean? Best I could figure is that closing the gate, something precious would be lost.

    The other omens:

    How were my offerings received? Queen of Pentacles/Practicality – Thought that the use of the acorn bread was practical. Not sure if that is good or not… (card also has cyclical meanings as does the next card which is interesting in that Solstice is a major hinge point in the year)

    How shall the Kindreds respond? Wheel of Fortune/Rebalance – balancing things/events. Anything can happen.

    What more would you have me learn/do? Empress/Guardian Spirit – work on my relationship with my Lady? Change my Agathos Daimon’s (ktesios) offering jar? (Bad girl, I keep forgetting to do that with all the seasonal preparations happening. I was out of town when I would have normally done it.)

    I asked Hermes to keep the gates open through the night until Helios rises and I can resume the ritual. Then offered him the sweets I had on the offering dish. I put out the flame while praying to Hestia explaining it was for safety and practicality reasons (as tapers are hazardous with a kitten in the house). The yule log candle will be fine as there is no way to knock it over. I paused the ritual with “Stay if you will go if you must” to the Kindreds.

    Not sure how much, if any clean up I should do because technically the ritual isn’t over so wouldn’t it be rude to pull the offerings for disposal? Yet milk in the libations bowl may start to stink…yikes. I know others do a similar pause in ritual but I’ve never heard of how to handle such practicalities. Maybe that is part of omen #1 meaning. Be practical with the offerings. I think that is how I’m going to interpret it.

    When I pick up the ritual in the morning, I will relight Hestia’s flame and the tapers, finish the prayer, lighting another candle in thanksgiving, then move onto the farewells and closing.

    ******

    As seen in the previous post, I left the gates open and the ritual unfinished with a candle burning to light Demeter and Helios’ way from the Underworld. Today I read this second half of the prayer, closed the gates and returned everything to the ordinary. I did this right after we got up and before we opened gifts. So I had an anxious 5 year old “helping” me do this. Nothing extraordinary happened though there did seem to be a sigh of relief. I don’t know if it because I had the gates open so long, if it was because the sun came up and something metaphysical had changed or what. There just seemed to be a sense of relief.

  • Michelle

    Last weekend, I attended my first ADF ritual, and this solstice ritual was the first ritual I’ve done on my own. I was a bit intimidated trying to figure out what I was doing… what I am supposed to offer? What do I do with the offering after it’s done? What should I use to represent a tree? What’s a gatekeeper, and how do I choose an appropriate one? Which deities should I address? But I spent some time trying to figure things out, and I think it went well… I felt that this ritual was much more meaningful to me than the public one I attended, and it got me to actually set up an altar. It also inspired me to try to keep up a daily devotional… it’s only been a few days so far, and I’ve just been making it up as I go based on some of the wording and basics from the solstice ritual, but its brings me a peaceful feeling. I’m not really sure whether or not I am connecting with deities (I’m still rather agnostic on whether or not its something I really believe in), but I am trying to invite them in, and see what happens. I would really like it if there were some suggestions for daily devotionals. I also think it could be helpful to have a bit of ADF ritual 101 to figure out the basics… I did look up stuff on the ADF website and some blogs, but I felt that I could have used a bit more explanation. But I felt the ritual inspired me, and I am excited about trying to keep this up and explore more!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.fotiades Lauren Fotiades

    I also changed the solitary Druids line, to “other solitary Druids”. I like “with the solitaries of the Fellowship” better since it just sounds more poetic, but for this time I’m glad I went with my wording, since it was the first time I dared to own the word for myself.

    I skipped the divination section myself because I’ve never done much in that line, and I forgot about preparing something (I have a Tarot deck, but that didn’t feel quite right). I’ll think about it more for the next one, and I’m looking forward to the discussion of the Fellowship Omen simply because I have no idea what to expect from it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.fotiades Lauren Fotiades

    I thought your description of your ritual was absolutely beautiful. I felt a little funny about commenting before, since I don’t have anything profound to add… But, now I feel I should just share that I thought it was… beautiful.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you for your comment, Michelle. I’m glad that the SDF liturgy was a part of your observance of the Solstice.

    You ask great questions. There is no one answer to any of them. Your choice of offering, your representation of the tree, your gatekeepers and deities — these are all things you decide each time you approach your altar. There are resources provided to people upon joining ADF which help to give some 101 context. I’ve found them to be very useful. That said, I may see about including some posts on the SDF blog which offer the kind of information you were looking for.

    Daily devotionals are also on the list of things to create. I love that you’re already working toward a daily practice. There will be SDF devotionals provided soon. I’m curious though, before those are published, as to which parts of the liturgy feel useful to you in your daily practice. Would you mind sharing that?

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you for showing up and joining us in our shared practice. I think the timing is much less important than the sincerity one brings to their observance. I hope you found the experience to be meaningful.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thanks for this account of your High Day observance! I’m grateful to get this window into your personal practice, and I’m glad that the SDF liturgy served you in some way.

    The thought just occurred to me that it might be worth doing an experiment between this and the next high day. You might leave out a bowl of milk overnight in an innocuous place and see if creates any foul odors. My thought is that it won’t be that noticeable after just one night, but I could wrong. The temperature of the house could also make a difference. But if you did this experiment in advance, you’d know for sure, and then be able to leave the milk out if you felt moved to do so.

    Again, thank you for being a part of this shared practice. Blessings to you and your family!

  • Kris Hughes

    It’s quite an undertaking for you, answering each person’s post, Teo. Thank you!

    I think that Michelle has asked some great questions. I would really
    love it if the next ritual came with a longer interpretive introduction
    that included a few ideas about why things are done in a certain way,
    what changes can be made, maybe a list of the things one needs to gather
    up beforehand. Having it in the fine print is okay, but I’d rather be
    able to read a longer version for preparation.

    Yes, I held my offering up to the sky, too. (Like I said, I like a bit of theatre.)

    I also like”with the solitaries of the Fellowship”.

    The offering sections need to be explained better. I was still coming to grips with the ADF jargon “beings of occasion, kindred, etc” and figured a lot of it out by inference only.

    There are different approaches to divination. One holds a belief in asking very precise questions, in order to be as sure as possible of being able to interpret the answers correctly. Another asks more open ended questions, and expects to have to do some homework, meditation, etc. in order to gain deep understanding of the answers. Both have their merits, but where I think you can get into trouble is if you lack clarity about which approach you’re taking.

    Thanks for your efforts!
    Kris

  • Dave

    Thank you for your kind compliments. Happy Yule.

  • Adara

    I did my usual solitary ADF Yule ritual in the early morning. Brighid and Aengus Mac Og were the beings of the occasion. She is associated with light, and he with Newgrange so it felt appropriate. Then later before dinner I did the SDF Yule ritual Teo wrote up. I called on Brighid and Aengus Mac Og again. It did feel strange having two rituals that day. Almost like inviting them over to dinner twice on the same day. Maybe I’ll get used to it.

    I’ve never done Step X – the personal praise offering. I’ve only ever done Step VIII, the General Offerings, of actual physical items. I didn’t know what to do at first. I couldn’t think of anything more personal than offering up my gift of reiki to the Kindreds. I was worried – it seemed like offering dandelions to a florist. But I believe it was well received, and my ogham cards were positive. I felt encouragement from them.

    I am glad that the SDF is here. It makes me feel not so alone. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/FulbertAvebury Fulbert-Avebury

    Dave, this was amazingly powerful, and your sharing of your rite has taken some of its power and brought it to us. Thank you.

  • Dedra

    Teo, Thank you for all of the time and energy (both physical and emotional) that you put into this liturgy. As I have never been to any Druid rituals, this was fascinating. As others have said I like the “I am one, we are many”. This line resonates for me as well. The line “May you pray before a good fire” rings so true. As I learn more I’m sure I’ll be more comfortable with different aspects of the liturgy but I do find comfort and meaning in the Kindred and the Hollow. I did the ritual on the solstice and could feel a uniting with others.
    Again thank you,
    Dedra

  • Michelle

    I’ve been using the purification, grounding and centering, recreating the cosmos, opening the gates, and closing the gates… I feel the opening and closing of the gates is really what gets me into the right state of mind.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you, Dedra. I’m glad that you found parts of the liturgy that resonated with you, and that you were able to incorporate it into your High Day observance.

    May you continue to pray with a good fire!

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Reiki to the Kindreds — I LOVE that.

    I found myself wondering that at the same spot. It seems I hadn’t planned out a praise offering in advance. I was so consumed with the details and preparations involved with launching the liturgy that I let a few things slip in my own personal work. But, like you, I went with what felt right to me. I moved with the inspiration (Imbas or Awen), and I sang. It just came from my heart, and that felt right.

    I’m that that SDF is here for you, Adara, and I’m glad that you’re here. May you always know that there is a congregation of people who walk along a similar path, who seek to pray with a good fire before their shrine.

    May you be blessed.

  • VikingRunnerGirl

    I finally finished my blog entry on the liturgy the other night. Came out a lot longer than I expected! I thought I’d do some background on why I was doing the ritual and it sort of got away from me. Like the title says, the final wordcount IS 1658. So if you don’t feel like reading all that, I did post elsewhere on this thread and I put the gist there. ;)

    I just logged out to post the blog link because I’m trying to do what I can to keep the blog from showing up with my name on a Google search… would kind of defeat that point if I posted the link under my name here!

    http://creekofconsciousness.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/yule-word-count-1658-you-were-warned/

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    This is wonderful. Just wonderful. Thank you, VRG. I read every word, and my heart beamed. I’m honored that SDF was a part of your observance of the Winter Solstice.

    Off to share this post on FB & Twitter!

    May you pray with a good fire!

  • http://sageandstarshine.wordpress.com/ Daniel Grey

    Holy crap! I started writing this response back when this blog post was first posted, and now I come back and there are already 50 replies! Fantastic, this group makes me so happy. <3

    I had some curious experiences this High Day that I'm still mulling over, and this solstice week in general has just just plain /strange/. There was a confluence personal and familial stress as well as some spiritual… well, let's call them spiritual revelations (even though that sounds overdramatic) that I'm not willing to share just yet. They were about the nature of Manannán mac Lir, one of the three deities I work most closely with (the others being Brighid and the Morrígan) and the fact that for all its making-spirits-bright, Yule still falls squarely within the season of Samhain. I don't really know what it was that I experienced, just that I Found Something, as one sometimes does on the spiritual path, and I don't have a clue what to do with it.

    At any rate – I was excited for this High Day and gathered the appropriate sacrifices (fresh-baked bread and tons of booze!). I found the rite itself less than fulfilling, but because of the environment, not the content of the rite. I found myself pressed to celebrate during the Longest Night, or immediately after at the sunrise on the 22nd, and the only place I had to worship was my own home. My family is understanding enough but I'm still shy and awkward and I found myself whispering through the entire rite, moving as softly as I could across the room, while my family was asleep in the rooms to either side of me.

    It was the weirdest thing because I knew that wasn't the best time to hold ritual but I also needed to do it /right then and there/. Feeling spiritual was less important than /being/ spiritual. So I lit candles and gave thanks and spoke from the script, and from the spirit when I could.

    For what it's worth, a lot of rituals don't do much for me, or leave me hanging halfway through. (My "spiritual libido" could use a few doses of Viagra sometimes. :P ) I usually get more during the preparations beforehand and analysis after. And this Solstice, I got the feeling of "now I'm done with ritual so I can talk to the gods!" whereas I felt like I /couldn't/ during the rite itself.

    Here's the omen I drew using the Wildwood Tarot:

    How were our offerings received?
    Page of Vessels/Otter – moving between the spheres of Land and Sea, earth and water, marking querent as a dreamer and visionary, loyal, devoted, and fair. The will is tempered with a deep understanding of the otherworld. There is also cooperation, a willingness to serve, and perceptiveness.

    How shall the Kindred respond?
    Page of Stones/Lynx – the lynx is a fast and cunning protector of its young. The book says to "pay attention to the physical realm, and be aware of the effects generated by everything you do. A strain of wildness and lack of forethought can sometimes hamper your forward passage, but her careful consideration redresses the balance." There's also an emphasis on study, apprenticeship, carefulness, and reflection.

    What more would you have us learn?
    Three of Bows/Fulfillment – `this card is about spiritual nourishment, security, and joy that comes from the attainment of desires and a feeling of peace and wholeness. There's an emphasis on allowing knowledge and energy to flow within you in a balanced manner that carefully addresses both spiritual and intellectual approaches to religion. Vigilance and dedication are necessary to reach this place, as does trust and the act of letting go.

  • Dave

    Thank you, I’m glad I could bring some sense of meaning to our shared project. Happy Yule.

  • Tami Olsen

    I used the liturgy nearly word for word. It was a beautifully easy ritual to follow. My rite was short and sweet by necessity, but felt good. My omens were positive and encouraging, while reinforcing a need to push harder in my spirituality, which I expected.

    I always find myself at a loss for “extra” things to do during a ritual. I often default to reading passages about the High Day that I’m celebrating, or remembering the purpose for the season in quiet meditation.

    Overall, it was a great experience. I felt connected to others like me with the beginning and ending of the rite… almost like calling on the group as well as calling on the kindred. That was one of the most inspiring parts for me.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you for sharing this, Tami. I’m glad the experience was so positive for you, and your feedback is so valuable to me. The suggestions you’ve made on the “Crowdsourcing” post are really helpful as well, and I’ll begin to think about how to provide more things in the middle of the ritual to help keep established that feeling of group unity.

    Bright blessings to you!

  • Tami Olsen

    No problem. :) Feedback is important. I’ve really been enjoying the discussion with you as well. It’s awesome to hear the opinions of others and I learn a little bit about myself and the world with each one.

  • Tami Olsen

    It was a blessing to share your fire, whether it is for one rite or many to come. Thank you for sharing your story and good journey to you.

  • Alioth

    When you move with the Awen to sing, what do you sing? Does it move you to pick a song that you already know, to improvise free-form, or something in between? (I gave a song as a praise offering to the sun, and another to the oak tree I was talking to during the Working section, but both were pre-planned.)

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    During this rite I sang two songs. Well, one and a half.

    I started to sing a song that I wrote, one that really is about being in a place of reverence in the world. It’s primal, and the chorus repeats the phrase “Be the light!” This felt good for a moment, but as I was singing the song it started to feel like like a song of praise and more like a song of affirmation, if that makes sense. So, mid-song, I switched to a song called “Hail All the Gods.” I’d just been singing, so it was fresh in my mind. That one felt absolutely right.

    There are other times when I feel called to sing the liturgy. That is really the Awen moving, because there is no pre-written melody. Everything is sung, every word, and the notes come as they come. Other times, there are no words. It’s just formless singing.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    This is wonderful, Daniel. Thank you for being so engaged and active in the dialogue here, and at the Crowdsourcing post. I’m very grateful that you’re a part of this!

  • http://sageandstarshine.wordpress.com/ Daniel Grey

    I’m grateful there’s a /this/ for me to be part of. :) (Terrible grammar, I’m sorry!)

    I’m already starting to look ahead toward Imbolc and would like to make some suggestions, especially regarding the worries that some have brought up re: fellowshipping (even long-distant) with strangers.

    In some of my rituals I’ve worked with a “Peacekeeper” deity, which originally came from a Norse Yule rite on ADF. The Peacekeeper in my mind works in tandem with the Gatekeeper; the latter opens the gates so Spiritual Stuff can come through, while the Peacekeeper ensures that negativity, imbalance, or chaos (of the unhelpful sort) does not disrupt the rite or affect the participants. I know that I personally prefer working with the Peacekeeper than addressing the Outdwellers directly.

    (A very quick aside, which is more a comment on my struggle with ADF theology re: the Outdwellers. I’ve seen the Outdwellers sometimes characterized as the gods before the IE gods got there, like the Titans and the Formoire and sometimes the Jotuns; or specifically as gods like Eris, sometimes Loki, and once during an Imbolc rite, the Cailleach. It doesn’t feel right on a bunch of levels for me to name the Outdwellers like this, and if they don’t have names and faces, then it feels like I’m just invoking “the spirits of screwing up your rite” long enough to give them an offering and make them go away.)

    Perhaps a discussion on ritual security or hygiene or whatever would go over well with the group – cull a list of ideas and suggestions and perhaps add an optional section near the beginning of the rite for those who are concerned. However, I also think a discussion on /what is actually going on ritually/ is important too. As I said elsewhere, I’m not concerned about the intent of others because I don’t feel like i’m being ritually connected with them in any sense. It would be curious to see what others are feeling and doing.

  • Pingback: Reflecting on a Solitary Yule Ritual | Through the Distant Trees

  • http://twitter.com/ValValkyrie ValerieValkyrie

    Winter weather prevented me from traveling to the Grove with which I have been celebrating so I was very glad to have this liturgy to try. I joined ADF a number of years ago but I let my membership lapse for the last couple years and have had a pretty non-existant home practice in that time. It’s been rather dissatisfying but every time I feel an urge to do something about it, some other part of my psyche pulls in the other direction.

    Having an essentially pre-packaged and ready-to-go ritual made things a no-brainer for me this Yule. If I can at least make the right actions, perhaps the rest of me will eventually follow, you know? Not having to make up my own ritual or find something on the web site that I can alter to fit pretty much took all the roadblocks out of the way for me.
    I enjoyed the ritual, although I made a few changes to the prose so it was more personal. I don’t know that I felt connected to other members of ADF or achieved any sense of community of solitaries but I also had a lot of my own slacker baggage to deal with and I suppose that was more of a focus for me.
    Also, I really liked the blanks to fill in. I’m a big fan of notes in the margin and that little bit of formatting made it easy to plug in my particulars. I also like to note what I’m giving as an offering at each point so I popped those into the margins.

  • http://fulbert-avebury.com/ Fulbert-Avebury

    I literally spent every day over the past week considering a response to this, and finally wrote it in the form of a longer response on my blog http://fulbert-avebury.com/2012/12/29/reflecting-on-a-solitary-yule-ritual/ which I will copy and paste below:

    As it was a rainy and stormy morning, I could not go outside to commune with nature as I wanted lest I become too distracted with the weather, so instead I celebrated in my apartment, standing in front of an antique French wooden table with a 3-wicked candle burning on top of
    it. I was home alone and engaged in a combination of 2 rituals — the first one arranged by Teo Bishop at the Solitary Druid Fellowship and the second one an internally created ritual shared among a small group of OBOD folk who are experimenting with creating a new grove in Manhattan. Doing more with druidry from a distance on discussion boards than in ritual, I decided to do them both.

    I will start with the OBOD one first, as I have had several years interaction with OBOD. While I never seem to be able to make it to the East Coast Gathering, I am familiar with OBOD rituals and sensibilities. I breathed deeply, saluted the four quarters, and with words of stag and hawk and fire and water, I performed the rather simple ritual, made even more that way as it was not initially intended for individual use, but with a small community. I did minor adaptations, and it still felt strangely familiar though I spoke all the parts. As I celebrate all of the druid festivals as a solitary druid, this is what I expected–do it as written insofar as it feels comfortable, and leave the rest. I like that sensibility. However, their rituals and such are rather flexible, so I adapted as I went along to feel comfortable with the words and focus on why I was saying them.

    I then performed the Solitary Druid Fellowship one, a newly written ritual written by Teo (who I fondly admire for his energy and intentions) with its stated purpose of using this individually, all
    while knowing others, elsewhere, are doing the same thing. As the website declares, The Solitary Druid Fellowship is an experiment in Pagan liturgy, and an exercise of congregation in solitude. The notion of a shared liturgy is developed a bit, though this is rather based on the Outline of Worship of ADF, Our Own Druidry. That was probably my biggest challenge, in that ADF is a druid group that has formalized rituals and beliefs, very much like a druid church, and while adaptation is encouraged a bit, it had a feeling of Catholic Druidry to me. While this is certainly related to my baggage with Catholicism, I found the stylized ritual similar enough to
    mass (which is mainly how I defined the term liturgy for many years) that by the time I got to the Opening the Gates and Seeking the Omen, it stopped feeling of peaceful ritual and started feeling of an odd assembly of . . . formalized oddness. Granted, this was probably due
    to my baggage coming up, but it had too much of a sense of calling a deity (choose whichever one you want) and then casting some divination to try to determine how the offering was received and what to do next. Again, with my personal baggage, this seemed the same as a Catholic mass, though with switching out the names of deities and bringing in some divination (again, not much different). While I read the ritual a few times before I did it, it still felt . . . odd to me. TO switch one god for several and then to do what in many ways was the same thing just did not feel well for me. Again, my baggage, but that is what I am trying to process by sharing it here.

    As all of this was a bit much for a non-ADF member, I just felt . . . odd. It did not speak to me, and while I was fortunate that the end of the ritual happened at the time when I had to move on to leaving for the office, it left me a bit introspective as to what it all means for me and what I should do with it moving forward. I am eagerly reading what others thought about the Solitary Druid Yule Ritual, as when I am uncomfortable, sometimes that means there is the most room for growth.

    While I am not interested in joining or otherwise following ADF druidry, and after this reflection on it I may not be welcomed to engage in it anyway, it was a useful experience that, in the process of making me uncomfortable, demonstrates how much growth I need to let go of my
    baggage. The OBOD one felt a bit more like me, though again it was tailored for a group and I am an individual working alone, something that the Solitary Druid Fellowship focuses on exclusively.

    On to Imbolc!

    As a final note, thanks Teo for the week of time to process this and allow us to share what and how we celebrated. I think a week of time for discussion after a ritual is a fitting and realistic amount of time. You are doing a fine service, Teo, and again thanks for making it available.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    Thank you for this comment, Valerie, and for joining in this shared practice.

    I think it’s worth noting that *not* feeling that sense of fellowship or community is not a bad thing. Ultimately, what is most important is that we each, as individual solitaries, engage with our own practice. We work with the liturgy in the way that makes sense of for us, and we become as present as we can be.

    The sense of congregation in solitude will come, and it will be more easily felt by some than others. What’s important is to remember that, in time, it will just simply be the reality we share. (It’s already begun.) We will be able to take a step back and see that, yes – we have become a congregation in solitude, a body of solitaries with commonalities and differences, who make a point of observing the changing of the seasons in tandem with one another; apart, but together.

  • http://www.bishopinthegrove.com/ Teo Bishop

    And thank you for your willingness to be a part of this process. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to process on your own, and very pleased that you shared it with us here.

    We each bring to this process a variety of life-experiences. None of us are expected to discount those experiences, to alter who we are in order to “fit” into this Fellowship. As far as I’m concerned, you’re welcome to take part in this shared practice in whatever way feels most appropriate to you, even if it is only partially relevant, or relevant as a source of reflection and mediation. You don’t have to fit any “ADF mold” (if such a thing existed) in order to join in this practice. You can be you. Solitaries are allowed this freedom. SDF is simply attempting to provide them with a few more tools; a few prompts for deeper reflection.

    Blessings to you. You are welcome here.