This is a ritual that I wrote as a theoretical exercise in Oct., 2005. Yes, I do this sort of thing for fun.
This ritual is designed to be performed at Brushwoods Folklore Center in Sherman, NY. The main portion of the ritual is to take place in the large ritual area (the one surrounded by the poles). For the purposes of the ritual, the doorway is understood to be in the east. A square fire, not very large, is laid in the fire pit. Extra fuel is laid next to it, along with matches of a lighter (in case they might be necessary), a trowel, and water. To the west of the fire pit, about 5' away, are two tall poles. They are connected by cord to the poles of the structure, to form a wedge shape. There is a long pole stuck in the ground at the center of the opening of the wedge, halfway between the fire and the wedge. There is a rope on the ground next to it. A small pit is dug a fair distance outside of the space to the west, and the dirt is left in a pile next to it with the shovel stuck in the ground.
At the pond is a papier mache horse with a bottle of water inside it. Its mouth has a slit in it and its head is attached to its body with a short length of cardboard covered with papier mache. The horse is painted white, with black lentoid eyes. It is underneath a blue cloth. More than one cloth may be used if they are available; if so each should be fairly light. Since the point of the cloths is to symbolize the ocean under which the horse lies, it would be nice if they were semi-transparent, so the outline of the horse can just be seen. Also at the pond is the "dog," a length of balsa wood or a thin clapboard (as high as can be obtained, up to five feet high), painted black with lentoid eyes and mouth painted in white, the latter filled with teeth. The dog is about three feet in front of the horse (the horse is on the pond side). There is also a bowl of water, taken from the pond, an asperger, and a bowl of mixed grain. (When grain is mentioned in the ritual, what is used is a mixture of one half cornmeal, one eighth spelt, one eighth oats, one eighth rice, and one eighth barley.)
On the campsite side of the bridge are two bowls of water and two aspergers, one on each side of the path. At the campsite of the new ArchDruid there are the tinder, kindling, and fuel required to light a fire, the fuel arranged in a round shape, as well as matches, water, barley, a small pot which can go on the fire, a fire glove, a trowel, and a cauldron partly filled with sand. The one who is to blow the horn has it with him. The warriors have their weapons, and the priests their staffs (optional). All other props are immediately outside the main space.
A feast is prepared, all except for the final preparations, in the hall.
The new ArchDruid (ArchDruid). He is garbed in white.
The old ArchDruid. He also is garbed in white.
Five warriors, one of whom is the Chief Warrior (Chief Warrior). These are chosen by the Warriors' Guild.
As many priests as is deemed desirable, one of whom is the Chief Priest (Chief Priest). The number may not, of course, go higher than the number of parts assigned to priests in the ritual. These parts are parceled out by the Clergy and the Liturgists' Guild. No Senior Druid or GO, no matter if they consider themselves to be priests or are clergy, are not to be included; they will be needed at their grove campsites.
The Chief Bard
The Fire Tender (Fire Tender). This should be the woman closest to the new ArchDruid. If he has no wife or lover, it should be an unmarried woman who is a member of his grove or a close friend. If she is not the wife or lover of the ArchDruid, she should be unmarried. If the new ArchDruid is a woman, she takes this role herself. The Fire Tender is chosen by the new ArchDruid.
Someone to blow the horn, and someone to bang the drum. These two are chosen by the Bardic Guild.
Other musicians, at the Chief Bard's discretion.
The Chief Bard
Representatives of each of the Three Functions. These are appointed by the appropriate Guild(s).
The Diviner. He is chosen by the Seers' Guild. They may, if they want, choose more than one, if they intend a form of divination that can be done by more than one person. If not, the chief of the Guild would be appropriate, but the choice is up to the Guild as a whole.
All members present
This ritual is written as if the new ArchDruid were male. It she is female, the changes will be noted. The major one is that she takes the parts of both Fire Tender and ArchDruid. Because of this, there should also be another woman to tend the fire; she is not ritually speaking the Fire Tender, but only does this from a practical point of view. Nonetheless she, like the Fire Tender, should be as still as possible during the ritual.
Copies of the script should be posted in a central location at least a day before the ritual so all can familiarize themselves with it. The Chief Bard needs to write the praise poem. The new Arch Druid needs to have the gift for the Chief Bard. The props are put in place and the regalia provided to the old ArchDruid.
The pre-ritual briefing is held the afternoon before the ritual. The songs are taught and what is expected is explained.
An hour or so before the main ritual, the Fire Tender and ArchDruid go to their campsite and purify themselves. The Fire Tender clears out the fire pit there. She removes all pieces of wood, burnt and unburnt, and rakes the coals smooth. She starts a fire. She offers melted butter or olive oil to it, saying:
Blessings to the fire of establishment.
When the fire is ready, the new ArchDruid then cooks about a handful of barley. He puts this aside in a bowl.
They both sit in silence until the ritual, except for any necessary noises. She tends the fire for that period. The goal is to have a good bed of coals ready for when the main ritual starts. A short time before the ritual, the drummer and horn blower purify themselves and go to their place at the beginning of the road to the campsites.
The horn blower gives three blasts and the drummer three beats. The horn blower goes to his campsite while the drummer remains where he is. The chief priest, the five warriors and the old ArchDruid, each in their garb and with proper regalia, go to the ArchDruid's campsite. Everyone else goes to their own campsites and prepare for the ritual. If anyone has camped on the pond side of the bridge, they go to temporary quarters on the uphill side. The warriors and priests purify themselves. The old Archdruid purifies himself and goes to the beginning of the entry into the campsites where the drummer is.
The main ritual:
The Fire Tender again offers melted butter or olive oil to the fire and then takes coals from it with the trowel and puts them in the cauldron. She extinguishes the fire with the water, stirring it with the trowel while doing so to make sure it is completely out. The ArchDruid gives the barley in its bowl to a male priest. Those at the ArchDruid's fire go in procession to the pond. The drummer falls in behind them, but does not cross the bridge. The old ArchDruid stays where he is. The order of the procession is:
The Chief Warrior, holding up his axe in both hands. The other four warriors, in two lines of two each. The Fire Tender, holding the cauldron in a gloved hand. The ArchDruid. The Chief Priest. The other priests in two lines.
At the pond, the warriors and the priests stay in their lines, except for the Chief Priest and Chief Warrior. The others are in the center. They stand, from left to right: Fire Tender, Chief Warrior, and Chief Priest, with the ArchDruid behind them slightly to the left of center. The Fire Tender puts down the fire.
The Chief Warrior sacrifices the dog, knocking it to the ground and then cutting it in two with his axe. The front two warriors take the halves and put them in the ground about six feet apart, marking out an entranceway to the place where the horse is. They stand by them, on the inside.
The Chief Priest recites a prayer calling for the horse to reveal herself. The Fire Tender uncovers the horse. The Chief Priest recites a prayer welcoming her. He sprinkles her with water and then barley. The remaining two warriors go to the horse and pick it up. The warriors by the dog pull up the pieces. They go between the lines of the priests, passing to the left of the ArchDruid, and start a procession to the bridge. The procession order is the warriors with the dog, the warriors with the horse, the Chief Warrior, the Fire Tender (she has picked up her fire), the ArchDruid, the Chief Priest, and the other priests, still in their double line.
They go to the bridge and start across it. When they reach the other side, the warriors with the dog pieces push them into the ground on either side of the path, about two feet beyond the bridge. All stop, and the warriors who had carried the dog turn to face the others. The Chief Priest says a prayer, enjoining the horse to go throughout the land and gather the scattered peoples. The warriors go on their way up the hill. The drummer falls in at the rear of the procession, and starts a beat that fits in with the pace of the procession. The others turn and go to the main site.
1. The warriors take the horse to the old ArchDruid. When the procession reaches the old ArchDruid, the Chief Warrior says:
The New Chief's horse has come to you on its wanderings. Will you follow it?
The old ArchDruid says;
I will, with loyalty.
He falls in behind the procession, but in front of the drummer. The procession then goes from campsite to campsite. At each site the Chief Warrior says:
The New Chief's horse has come to you on its wanderings. Will you follow it?
The people at each site say:
and fall in behind the horse in two lines as it goes to the next site. The old ArchDruid stays right behind the horse, and the drummer keeps himself at the end of the procession, "driving" it.
When all have been gathered, they go to the bridge, with the warriors who previously carried the dog in the lead. They stop behind the pieces of the dog and asperse the others as they pass through. When all are through, the two warriors fall in at the end of the lines. As the procession passes over the bridge, the people start to sing. If they get to the space before the priests are finished consecrating it, they wait outside. When they enter, they split into two groups, one going left and the other going right. They do not cross the wedge.
2. While all this is going on, the priests set to work consecrating the main site. Four of them enter it, and cross from west to east, scattering grain, while the Chief Priest says:
We give this grain to the spirits of the land.
May they give in return a place to hold our rites.
When they are done scattering, the priests stay at the west end of the space, one on either side of the wedge. They put their bowls down by the edge of the space and turn to face east. A priest with a pitcher of water enters, followed by a priest with jugs of water to refill the pitcher as needed. The pitcher priest holds up the pitcher, facing outwards, and says:
Our place is encircled by the world girding stream.
He goes counter-clockwise about the space, pouring as he goes. He does not pour across the entrance. When he is done, he puts the pitcher down next to the fire. Two more priests enter, one with a bowl of mixed grain and one with a bowl with four eggs in it. They go about the circle clockwise. At each direction, they crack an egg on the ground at the base of the poles and "anoint" the pole with the grain, one of them saying:
Accept this offering, gods of the border.
Watch and ward our rites.
When they are done, the Fire Tender and ArchDruid enter the space. The Fire Tender carries the hearthfire and melted butter. The ArchDruid stands about a third of the way between the fire pit and the entrance. The Fire Tender goes to the fire pit. She puts down the hearth fire and offers melted butter to it, saying:
The hearth of the chief is the hearth of the people.
She then transfers fire from the cauldron to the square fire with the trowel, saying:
Be for us a place of offering.
[Note: It is possible that Brushwoods may require one of their approved fire tenders at the ritual. If that is so, then the Fire Tender will hand things to him for him to put on the fire.]
She offers the square fire melted butter or olive oil, and sits down by the two fires. For the rest of the ritual, she tends them, moving only as much as necessary, and only speaking when required. She does not sing any of the songs, or take part in any of the group prayers or acclamations. She keeps the hearth fire very low; it need only be coals, although she may add wood as necessary. The main fire is also kept rather low, except where noted.
The priests bring in the rest of the props. The bowl of cooked barley is placed to the east of the single pole. After the props are put in place, the priests stand between the fires and the pole, facing out, with the Chief Priest to the front. The Chief Priest takes grain and anoints the pole with it, saying:
Stand, O Straight One, here where you are,
the place of sacrifice which creates all worlds.
The priests stand there for a moment or two, facing outwards, and then go to the either side of the wedge, where they stand facing the center. The Chief Priest stands halfway between the single pole and the opening of the wedge, facing the center. None of the other priests stands in the wedge; it is kept clear for the whole rite. If they have finished before the others arrive, they wait in meditation. A heartbeat drum may be provided to aid their meditation.
3. The others arrive, singing in procession. If the space is not prepared, they wait outside, singing. If it is, they enter, and break to either side. None of them crosses over the wedge. The warriors bring the horse to the single pole, passing to the left of the fire on the way. They go once about the pole, clockwise, and then put down the horse facing westward on the right side of the pole. They tie it to the pole, and then take places at the gate, with the Chief Warrior and two of the others to the north side and the other two to the left, passing the fire with their right side to it. The Chief Priest says a prayer defining the occasion.
The gates are then opened. The gatekeepers of all of the IE peoples are invoked. The invoking starts with Xakwom Nepot, as the first gatekeeper, and then goes on to the Celts and then moves east and south. Then the unknown gatekeepers of the Tocharians, Illyrians, Phrygians, and others are called to. Then those of allied traditions. ("All those gatekeepers friendly to our ways, come to us.") The callings may be done by priests or by people close to the particular traditions (assigned before the ritual).
The Kindreds are then invoked. A priest says:
We call the Spirits of the Land about us
to be present for this rite
to aid us in the work which we will do.
A priest scatters grain around the fire of offering, and all sing. A priest says:
We call the Ancestors from the world beneath us
to be present for this rite
and to aid us in the work which we will do.
A priest pours out beer around the fire of offering, and all sing. A priest says:
We call the Deities from the world above us
to be present for this rite
and to aid us in the work which we will do.
A priest pours melted butter, whiskey, or olive oil into the fire of offering. (The offerings given to the deities in this ritual must be flammable, consumable, and liquid.) All sing. The Chief Priest says:
With the Kindreds present
and under their watchful eyes
we perform our rites.
Representatives of each of the functions come to the horse and each put a patch of their functional color on it. A priest puts a swath of white on its head, saying:
May the people be blessed with the presence of the Kindreds.
A warrior puts a swath of red on its back, saying:
May the people be blessed with power.
A producer puts a swath of black on its rump, saying:
May the people be blessed with prosperity.
Warriors go to the ArchDruid and pick him up on their shoulders. The Chief Priest says:
Is this your Chief?
What say the solitaries?
What say the groves?
What say the people?
What say the producers?
What say the warriors?
What say the priest?
What say the ancestors?
[drumming on the ground]
What say the Land Spirits?
[Bards play a measure or two on flutes]
What say the deities?
[A priest puts melted butter, whiskey, or oil on the fire]
The people, the function, the Kindred, have given their assent to this one's inauguration.
The ArchDruid is then set down. The Fire Tender builds up the fire. The previous ArchDruid comes forward, wearing a belt and carrying an axe in his left hand and a staff in his right. A representative of the producers comes to him, and the previous ArchDruid removes the belt. (He will need to shift the staff temporarily to leaning against his shoulder in order to do this.) He gives the producer the belt. The producer puts it on the new ArchDruid, saying:
Be the chief of the producers,
protecting their interests.
He returns to his place, and a warrior comes forward. The old ArchDruid gives him the axe, and he puts it into the new ArchDruid's left hand, saying:
Be the chief of the warriors,
protecting their interests.
He returns to his place, and a priest comes forward. The old ArchDruid gives him the staff, and he puts it in the new ArchDruid's right hand, saying:
Be the chief of the priests,
protecting their interests.
He returns to his place, and the old ArchDruid goes to the new ArchDruid, places his hands on his head, and says:
Be the chief of all the people,
protecting their interests.
He then returns to his place with the others.
The ArchDruid says:
No matter who,
I will serve the people of Ar nDraiocht Fein,
with justice and with truth.
The ArchDruid goes to the Chief Priest and gives him a sack of money, saying:
Accept this on behalf of the people.
Their chief has an open hand.
The Chief Priest accepts it, saying:
From hand to hand is wealth carried.
[He later donates this money to the ADF treasury.]
The Chief Bard then recites a poem in praise of the new ArchDruid. This is followed by a song, written for the occasion, sung by the Chief Bard, all of the bards, or as a call and response with the people. The ArchDruid gives a gift to the Chief Bard, and says:
May the Chief Bard be the Chief Bard.
May the Chief Warrior be the Chief Warrior.
May the Chief Priest be the Chief Priest.
May all the Guilds and Kins be as their laws require.
May all be according to Order.
The Chief Bard goes to stand two the right of the gateway. The ArchDruid goes to the horse. He gives his staff and axe to a priest. A priest then turns the horse so it faces east. The ArchDruid feeds it cooked barley, saying:
Be filled with seed.
He sprinkles it with water and grain. The priest with the ArchDruid's axe gives it back to him, and the ArchDruid raises it high, facing the people, and goes clockwise about the space. As he does, the others chant "Strike, strike, strike," perhaps beating on the ground or using percussion instruments. As he moves, the chant increases in volume and tempo. When the ArchDruid is at the horse again, he turns to face the others, holding the axe as high as he can. When he thinks it is time, he turns and cuts off the horse's head with his axe. The instant he strikes, all fall silent and are still. After a moment's silence, the Chief Bard begins to keen, and all join in. The ArchDruid opens the bottle of water and pours it into a bowl. He cuts off the horse's tail and gives it to a priest. The priest picks up the horse's head from the ground and puts the tail in its mouth. He lowers the single pole, puts the head on it, and puts the pole back in the ground, with the head facing west. The ArchDruid puts the horse's body in the fire. He is given back his staff. The priests lower their arms and the keening stops.
A priest takes the bowl of water to the Fire Tender, who stands up and takes it. She holds it for a moment over the hearth fire and then over the fire of offering. The ArchDruid has followed the priest. The Fire Tender offers the water to the ArchDruid, who leans his staff against his chest and drinks from the bowl using his hands. A priest gives him a cup, which he fills with some of the water. He gives his staff to the priest.
The ArchDruid goes to the entranceway and stands in it, the cup in his left hand and the axe in his right. The drummer starts a heartbeat rhythm. All join in, drumming on the ground. A priest says:
Spirits of the Dark Outside,
the Straight One comes into your realm with a gift of the Waters.
May there always be peace between your and ours.
The ArchDruid goes out and goes counter-clockwise to the hole in the west. He puts the cup down next to the hole, averts his face, and pushes the cup in with his left foot. The drumming stops. With his left hand the ArchDruid covers the cup with dirt. (He need not fill the hole completely, so long as the cup is covered.) He then comes back to the space, clockwise, reenters it, purifies himself, and goes to his place by the fire. A warrior goes to the ArchDruid, and he gives the warrior the axe.
The Fire Tender goes to the ArchDruid and give him the bowl of the waters. She returns to her place by the fires. He pours some of it into the four bowls.
The Diviner comes forward and divines to see what the course of the ArchDruid's term will be like. During the divination the people may, if the diviner prefers, sing or drum. What he likes, these or silence, is determined before the ritual and included in the ritual briefing.
People come and fill the bowls the rest of the way with water left over from the pouring of the borders, and mix the old water with the new. They then distribute them, while a song is sung.
When all has been distributed, the Chief Priest pours the remainder into one bowl and then pours it out clockwise around the square altar. The ArchDruid is given back his axe and staff. He holds the staff in his right hand and the axe in his left. The Chief Priest says:
Behold your Chief, O People,
Protector and Supporter of all!
The Chief Priest puts the horse's head on the fire. When it is burning well, the ArchDruid gives his axe back to the warrior and says:
We give our good-byes to all the Kindreds.
To the Shining Ones we say, go if you wish,
but be ever close to us,
here in our hearts where you live.
To you many thanks.
Many thanks to you.
To the Ancestors we say, go if you wish,
but be ever close to us,
here in our hearts where you live.
To you many thanks.
Many thanks to you.
To the Land Spirits we say, go if you wish,
but be ever close to us,
here in our hearts where you live.
To you many thanks.
Many thanks to you.
Great and Holy Ones, as you go on your ways
Many thanks to you.
He then closes the gates, using his staff. He closes them in reverse order of the way they were opened. When all of them have been closed, the Chief Priest says:
The gates are closed,
the flow from the gods ends,
and our flow to them ceases as well.
The Fire Tender then extinguishes the fire of offering. She then offers to the hearth fire, saying:
Extinguished here, the hearth of the Chief will always burn brightly.
She extinguishes the hearthfire. The Chief Priest says:
With our hearth fire extinguished, our sacred space dissolves about us.
We will carry it deep within us though,
nestled deep with the love of the gods.
All reply with an affirmation, in their own ritual tongues, meaning "So be it."
The Chief Priest faces the ArchDruid, raises his arms, and says:
You who have been named chief among us,
know that it is to responsibility and service that you have been raised.
The ArchDruid replies:
I know it and accept it, with gratitude to the people for their trust.
The Chief Priest lowers his arms and says:
We go now to feast in honor of the Kindred and our Chief.
The people once more respond with an affirmation in their own ritual tongues, meaning "So be it," and the recessional starts. There is a recessional song, one that is upbeat (i.e., not in a minor key) and all recess. The bulk of the people go first, followed by the priests, the five Warriors, the ArchBard, the Fire Tender, and the ArchDruid.
One of the priests stays at the site and starts to clean up once everyone is left. Others come to join him once the feast is under way. They scatter any remaining grain about the site. They cut the sacrificial pole into threes and burn it at the earliest convenience. The poles and rope marking the wedge they simply take down and do with them as they will. The props are dried and cleaned off and put in boxes according to the groves which have loaned them. When the site is cleaned up, they take the boxes to the feast and make sure the props are returned to the appropriate groves.
One of the priests checks to make sure that the hole has been filled in completely; if it has not, he does so. He adds the shovel to the other props.
Some of the priests go to the bridge with the sacrificial rope and tie the two halves of the dog together with a weight. They then throw the dog into the pond. Any extra water is poured into the pond.
This ritual is of course based on the horse sacrifice rituals of Ireland, Rome, and Vedic India, with a bit of a Breton folk celebration and Rus funeral rite thrown in. The whole has been put into an ADF format.
The horse sacrifices were intended to create a king, honor a king, or promote a king. (In the Roman example, the honoring of the king has atrophied due to the disappearance of the kingship.) ADF does not have a king, of course, but it does have a Chief, and that is what this ritual is designed to install. ADF calls him the ArchDruid, but this is left over from the days when ADF was conceived to be an organization of priests. In the total society that ADF has become, the ArchDruid's role has changed to that of a chief administrator and a sign of unity; in short, to that of a Chief. It is therefore that which this ritual is meant to create.
The Fire Tenders of ancient Paganism (in Rome, Greece, and Ireland) were unmarried women. In Vedic India, the representative hearthfire in the sacrifice is tended by the wife of the sacrificand. The point is that the hearthfire belongs to the man of the woman who tends it. For this ritual, the hearthfire of this ritual, which is the hearthfire of all ADF, is also the hearthfire of the Chief, and should be tended by a woman who is close to him. In the case of a female Chief, it is her own hearthfire which is used, and she therefore tends it.
Why is it tended by a woman at all? First, because that is the way that the ancient Indo-Europeans did it, and they must have been on to something. More important, note that there are two fires in the ritual, one that represents the hearthfire and one that is the fire of offering, the public fire. The hearthfire comes from the home and is the source and sustainer of the fire of offering, just as the female is the sacred source and sustainer of everything. This is why the Fire Tender is still during the ritual. She is the center of the wheel, the still point about which the ritual turns. If she does her job right, most of the time (when she is actually tending the fire) no one will even notice she is there. The still point is assumed, and we may do what we do, safe in the knowledge that it is there so that we might define ourselves in relation to it.
If the new ArchDruid is female, she is her self the still point about which the ritual and, indeed, all of ADF turns. She is the hearthfire incarnate.
The ArchDruid cooks barley at his fire because that identifies the cooking with him. The cooked barley symbolized semen, with which the mare will later be fertilized. This is cooked to make it a gift of culture, which will be given to nature -- the cooked given to the raw. It is equated to the rice in the Vedic ritual, the bread in the Roman, and the sexual intercourse in the Irish.
In the space a wedge shaped space is marked out in the west. This physically establishes the entrance to the world of the Outsiders (the dark place, where the sun goes down). The ArchDruid faces it because he is our protector against the Outsiders.
The west is, in Indo-European tradition, the place associated with the Transfunctional Goddess, who is envisioned as a mare. The connection between the place of the Outsiders and the place of this goddess is something to be meditated on.
The pole (the sacrificial stake) is placed in the west because death is itself a form of disorder. Through the sacrifice this disorder will be incorporated into the Cosmos.
The Chief Priest stands in front of the wedge because he is the conduit through which the power of the Outsiders is safely brought into our world. In this position he is facing east, which is the direction associated with the Priestly function in Indo-European thought.
The horse is white because that is a common color for Otherworld horses in Indo-European, especially Celtic, tradition. For instance, Rhiannon rides a pale horse. I have seen it suggested (Mallory, 1981), that the fact that the horse was white supports the October Equus version of the sacrifice as preserving the original date, since the horses at the time of the Proto-Indo-Europeans would have turned white in the fall. Of course, it can work the other way round; if we accept that the Roman date is primary (the Vedic date is in the spring), then the use of a white horse makes sense. The black eyes are for contrast, lentoid to recall Celtic art and in part yonic symbols -- the horse is identified with the Transfunctional Goddess.
This latter is important. In Indo-European religion, the deity of sovereignty is a goddess. The king must get in good with her if he is to rule. This is done through marrying her or in some sense mating with her. The latter is done through intercourse, either as ritual (in Ireland, and mythically in Wales and Greece) or symbolically (in Rome and India). The goddess of sovereignty is a horse goddess (for instance, the Irish Medb and the Welsh Rhiannon ("Great Queen")). Oddly enough, sacrifice is a symbolic way of mating; in an actual sacrifice, the meat of the animal was eaten (a "communion"), and eating is a symbol of sex.
The horse is at the pond and covered with water colored cloths because the horse comes from the Otherworld, which is associated with the sea (cf. Manannán mac Lir as the guide to the Otherworld, or the mists in which the Indo-European hero wanders as an entrance to the Otherworld). The connection with water also links the horse to the horse of the sea gods (Manannán and Poseidon; the wave as a horse). That the horse is, in fact, under the sea links it with the sea horse and the Vedic submarine mare. The latter is a horse (or a horse's head) that was submerged by the gods because otherwise it would destroy the world with fire. In fact, at the end of the world this is exactly what it does. The uncovering of the horse in the ritual destroys the world so a new one can be created through the sacrifice of the horse and the installation of the Chief. The Fire Tender can safely uncover the horse because she is herself fire and cannot be harmed by it. Once it is uncovered, though, the world as such is destroyed and the horse can be safely carried by the warriors who take part in the last battle. For the priests to carry it would make them ritually impure, since it would require contact with a power which is other than that which they mediate. Later, in the cosmos of the sacred space, they will be able to come into contact with her.
The dog has a number of meanings. It is the dog at the opening to the Underworld (Cerberus, Sabala). In this way the horse comes from the Underworld, from the waters beneath the earth. It is death itself, which must be overcome before the horse, source of life (through the destruction of order so that a new order, a new life, can arise) can be approached. A dog is actually sacrificed at the beginning of the Vedic horse sacrifice, and dogs are associated with horses in several Indo-European traditions (for instance, Rhiannon and the puppies, the Morríigain and Cú Chulainn, the Rus funeral ritual recorded by Ibn Fadlan).
The splitting of the dog was actually done in Hittite ritual and in Macedonia, and symbolically done in Rome (although in that case it involved human sacrifice). The puppies of Rhiannon may refer to this. Walking between the halves of a sacrificed dog is an act of purification. That is why they are walked through to approach the horse; it is an act of purification beyond that performed at the fire. Later the people will be walking between the halves of the dog as they are purified.
The dog is black with white eyes in part to symbolize death and in part to contrast with the horse.
The coverings of the horse are best partly transparent because in that way the horse is dimly visible beneath the sea.
The horse is sprinkled with water and grain because that is how Indo-European sacrificial animals are treated. It is a purification. In Rome the sprinkling with water was done in part to make the animal not its head, giving consent to the sacrifice. And even though the horse is ritual the horse, in actuality it is a horse, and this must be respected. The water comes from the pond because that is where the horse comes from, and its water may therefore be considered to be particularly sacred.
The processions to and from the pond are preceded by the warriors as protection during the opening of the way.
The carrying of the horse from camp to camp is taken purely from the Vedic horse sacrifice. In that, the horse wandered for a year, accompanied by warriors. If it came to the realm of another king, that king would either have to submit or fight. In this ritual this has been toned down to the folk accepting the vote selecting the ArchDruid. By joining in with the procession, they are joining in with ADF as a whole; by getting behind the horse they are getting behind the king. The acceptance of the Chief will be repeated several time throughout the ritual.
The priests stay out of the space because it is unconsecrated ground. Some enter it as they perform their part of the ritual, until, when this portion of the ritual is complete, they all enter.
The scattering of grain is an offering to the local spirits. It is best to get in good with them before taking their land for our ritual. In Indo-European thought, a gift requires a gift; we give them grain, and they give us land. Throughout the ritual a mixture of cornmeal, wheat, oats, rice, and barley is used. Cornmeal is the sacred grain of this land, wheat is the most common grain we eat, oats is the second most common throughout the Indo-European area, rice is the grain used in the Vedic ritual, and barley is the sacred grain of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Several priests do the scattering because the place is big.
The entrance is ritually considered to be in the east. The entrance way to the space is where it is, and cannot be moved. But that which is done in a ritual is true for the time of the ritual, so by treating the doorway as east it becomes ritually east.
The pouring of water around the border homologizes the space to the cosmos. A ritual occurring within it may thus be said to have occurred throughout the entire cosmos. The pouring separates the space from that land about it, making it sacred ("cut off") as opposed to profane. This is emphasized by the priest pouring the water counter-clockwise, the direction of separation. (For instance, Romulus ploughed the border of Rome counter-clockwise.)
The offerings of eggs and grain at the four directions is a symbolic sacrifice to the guardian(s) of the borders. This exact form of this part of the ritual is taken primarily from Italic tradition (Terminalia and the Iguvine Tablets), but foundation sacrifices are found worldwide. The offerings are made clockwise because now that the space has been made sacred by being cut off, it must be made holy. To do this the borders must be firmly established. There must be a sharply delineated space within which the holy may manifest itself.
The Fire Tender and ArchDruid may enter the space once the borders are established because they are themselves centers, the Fire Tender of the cosmos and the ArchDruid of ADF society. The sacred has been established, the holy has begun, but now it must truly be made manifest. This is done through the fires. The ArchDruid's fire, the hearthfire, is first offered to, establishing it in the sacred space. It is then used to light the fire of offering, which is then offered to, establishing it in its place. The Fire Tender sits down, and the ArchDruid stands, and through this the center of the cosmos may considered established. Because of this, the Chief Priest now consecrates the pillar which will be the sacrificial stake. It too is a center, the axis mundi in fact; sacrifice takes place at the center of all, and the universe is created and ordered through it.
The priests go to their places on either side of the wedge to the Outsiders, guarding the space from any disorder that might enter.
The site is now both sacred and holy, and the rite may continue. If there is a pause here, the priests may sit and the ArchDruid squat (he must not sit, since that would identify him with the still point, and he is the center of society, not cosmos. Of course, if the ArchDruid is female, she will be performing her duties as Fire Tender at this point. This is OK, since that is a primary duty). The ritual will be long, and there is no point in getting tired so soon. I have found that a heartbeat drum relaxes and entrances, and entunes one's breathing with it. This creates an attitude of relaxation and concentration, which is the goal of meditation.
The others arrive in procession after having been doubly purified (by water and the dog); they may even be said to have been triply purified if the procession itself is considered to be purifying. They are led by the warriors, who again open the way and defend against any malevolent forces. If they get there before the priests are done blessing the space, they wait outside so that they might enter a sacred space. (Plus it keeps them out of the priests' way.)
When they enter they split to either side so that 1. they do not cross the wedge or interfere with the position of the priests and 2. they might arrange themselves quickly, but with decorum. If the priests and ArchDruid have been sitting or squatting, they now stand, and the drumming stops. The Fire Tender, of course, continues to sit, quietly tending her fires.
The horse is taken clockwise around the pole because that is the direction one takes around a sacred site or object, and as both the axis mundi and the place of sacrifice the pole is very sacred. The warriors keep their right sides to the fires on the way to and from the pole for the same reason. They tie the horse to the pole because that is, after all, the sacrificial stake.
The opening of the gates is standard ADF theology and follows standard ADF practice. All of the ethnic traditions are invoked so that all ADF members, both actual and potential, might be included in the rite. The Proto-Indo-European gatekeeper, Xakwom Nepot, is invoked first because the Proto-Indo-Europeans stand at the root of our traditions. If there are people there who are particularly drawn to any of the traditions, it is from them that the invoker of the appropriate tradition is drawn. This involves more people in the ritual and results in more powerful and therefore more effective invocations. The allied traditions are invoked to include those friendly traditions, such as the Egyptian or Wiccan, that might be practiced by some members. This is no time to make enemies. Assignments of gate openers must be done before the ritual to maintain order.
The Kindred are, of course, called, in accordance with ADF custom, and because they must all be there to approve of the selection of the ArchDruid.
The horse is painted with the colors of the functions because the horse goddess of sovereignty is trifunctional. The marking may be assigned to anyone who identifies themselves with one of the functions. This of course must be worked out before the ritual. The colors are the standard ones associated with the functions.
If the ArchDruid is a woman, she is also marked, identifying her with the horse. A male ArchDruid receives sovereignty; a female ArchDruid becomes sovereignty.
The ArchDruid is literally raised to his position. From the shoulders of the warriors (out of whom the traditional Indo-European kind came) he can see and be seen.
The people are once more asked to acknowledge the ArchDruid as their leader. They are asked first in an organizational sense, and then in a functional one. Here the functions are not meant to mean classes, and those who identify themselves with more than one function may answer for each function.
The Kindred are asked for their approval. The Ancestors answer from the ground. The Land Spirits answer from on the wind. The Deities answer through the leaping up of the flames (which is why their offering must be flammable).
The ArchDruid is given the symbols of all of the functions he will administrate. Note that during the different parts of the ritual he may be without his axe and/or staff, but he is never without the belt. He must never forget his responsibility to the people as a whole. He takes an oath of service, and with that he is officially ArchDruid.
The first thing that happens to him as ArchDruid is that he receives an honor. The Chief Bard recites a praise poem, and then leads the people in song. The song is best done in a verse/chorus format, with everyone joining in on the chorus. This will allow for a longer and more complex song than otherwise. The song should praise the office rather than the office holder; after the praise poem he needs something to bring him down to earth.
Reciprocity is at the heart of Indo-European religion. Thus, in return for the praise, the ArchDruid gives a gift to the Chief Bard. This is also the first act of the generosity required of a Chief; he gives "with open hands."
Once he has given the gift to the bard, he now gives gifts to all, in the form of an establishment of the social order. He assured all that he has no intention of making any changes in the organizational structure of ADF.
The horse is turned to the east. It faces in the same direction as the priests, identifying it as a sacrifice. It turns in such a way that it seems to come out of the dark space and to travel towards the light; it goes to the gods. (This is a ritual detail from the Life of St. Molasius.)
The horse is fed cooked barley by the ArchDruid. Barley is the ancient sacred Indo-European grain, which has been cooked so that it represents a gift of both nature and culture. White, sticky, and made up of seeds, it is a symbol of semen. Eating is ritually equated to sex, so this is an act of sex between the ArchDruid and the horse. It is also a gift to the horse in return for the gift it is about to give us. By this it will complete the act of reciprocity -- we feed the horse as the horse is about to feed us. Historically, this equates to the bread that is tied to the head of the horse in the October Equus as well, of course, as corresponding symbolically with the intercourse in the Irish sacrifice.
The horse is once more sprinkled as a sacrifice, this time with everyone present.
The ArchDruid presents the sacrificial weapon to the people, and by chanting they take part in the sacrifice. This also adds a touch of drama.
The head and tail are cut off and joined together. This is also symbolic of sex, and as well the two represent all of the horse (both ends = all). The head is raised on a pole to present it to all, even as the ArchDruid was raised up. (Cf. also the October Equus, with the horse's head nailed to the wall.) In Norse tradition, a horse's head on a pole was considered magic against someone; in this case it is directed against the Outsiders.
The water is poured out from the horse. This is the horse's essence, and substitutes for the meat which would have been consumed in an actual sacrifice. It is the broth drunk by the king in the Ulster coronation ritual and the red ale given to the king by sovereignty in several Irish tales.
The horse's body is put in the fire because, frankly, something had to be done with it. I would have preferred to bury it, but practicality forbids that.
By holding the bowl of water over the fire, the Fire Tender identifies it with all the fire in water mysteries of Indo-European religion -- red ale, mead, the Well of Nechtan, ambrosia and nektar, Xvarenah in the water, haoma, the Submarine Mare, soma. The water is nektar, "undying." Coming from the mare, it is this already, but this act makes it clear. Coming from the Fire Tender, it comes from the human version of sovereignty. If the ArchDruid is female, at this point she identifies herself with sovereignty.
The ArchDruid drinks from the bowl using his hand. He performs a very primitive act, practically the most basic form of drinking. (In the Ulster ritual he doesn't even use his hand; he sticks his head right in the broth.)
Before handing out the waters, the ArchDruid performs an apotropaic rite to the Outsiders. He goes counter-clockwise (the direction of dissolution, of chaos) to the hole in the ground (the darkness that the Outsiders dwell in). He gives them their share, but does not look as he does so; he uses his left foot (as opposed to his right hand); he leaves the cup and covers it with dirt, incorporating it into the world of the Outsiders.
The drumming on the ground intensifies the drama of the moment and gives people something to do in what would otherwise be a dead spot. This is not to downgrade the importance of the drumming; it adds an atmosphere of dread to what is going on.
The ArchDruid returns to the space, also counter-clockwise. In this case it is the direction of separation; he leaves the Outsiders behind.
The Outsiders get some of the Waters of Life? And they get it unmixed? And they get it after the Chief but before the People? Of course. Remember that in the Indo-European cosmology the Waters come from the Well to feed the Tree, and that the Tree in turn feeds the Waters, and that the Waters are the dwelling place of the Serpents, of Chaos, of the Outsiders. Chaos feeds Cosmos and Cosmos feeds Chaos; the principle of reciprocity is existent right in the center of the Universe.
And where do the Waters come from in this ritual? From the death of the horse, from the insertion of entropy into Cosmos. The well-ordered life of the mare is destroyed, Chaos enters into Cosmos, and it brings the Waters with it. When the Chief drinks from it, he is drinking in Chaos.
But he is himself identified with the Tree. It is his job to take in Chaos and mediate it so as to form Cosmos. Once he has mediated it, however, he must return some of it to Chaos; he must act as the Tree and give some of the fruits of the Tree (the Waters he has mediated) back to Chaos. So he offers some to the Outsiders.
Note that this time none of it comes back, not even the empty cup. The reciprocal flow is interrupted, and pure Cosmos can be formed, without the baneful influence of the Outsiders. The Waters are then further mediated. They are mixed with this-worldly water. The Chief drinks the unmixed Waters (the mix of Chaos and Cosmos) and the People drink the mixed Waters (the unmixed Waters of Cosmos). Through the mediation of the Chief, Chaos is removed and Cosmos is established. This will indeed be one of the functions of the Chief, to form from the Chaos of conflicting views the Cosmos of an harmonious organization. He may as well start now.
There is, of course, a practical reason for the mixing. A large group of people cannot drink solely from a single bottle of spring water. Thus the ritual and the mundane support each other, which is always a good thing.
He pours out the waters (they are now his to give) and it is mixed with other water. This is both for practical reasons (all of those present cannot drink from water in one bottle) and for religious ones (only the Chief may drink straight from the source). Note, thought that all drink of the waters from the mare. In other words, the sovereignty that she gives is present in us all; although she is the primary source of sovereignty, it lives in all of us, and we are the ones who actually decide who is going to be subjected to the ritual in which it is granted.
After the waters are distributed, and with the Kindred still present, it is the time to determine the tone of the ArchDruid's term, and thus there is divining.
The left over Waters are poured into one bowl; after which each have drunk our Waters are once more made one. It is then poured out around the square altar, clockwise of course, since the altar is a sacred place and this is a ritual of honoring it. The fire is another mediator, between the Kindred and the People. The Kindred are again given some of our Waters, an open but reciprocal arrangement is established with them. Blessings are sure to follow, to be received by ADF as a whole.
There is one more acknowledgment of the ArchDruid, this time by all together, and the sacrifice is concluded by burning the head and tail of the horse.
Since the ArchDruid has been established as a priest, he closes the gates himself. He does so in reverse order, as is only proper; we are unwinding that which we have created. It would be wise to have a priest at his right arm with a list to make sure that none are left out.
Since the gates center on the fire offering, with them closed there is no point in keeping the fire lit. Since the offering fire has its root in the hearthfire, the latter is extinguished last. With the center gone, the edge cannot hold, and dissolves around us.
The recessional goes to the feast. The feast links the people with each other and with the new ArchDruid.
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