The Classic ADF Liturgical Design


A Standard Liturgical Design for Neopagan Druidic Worship
(Version 4.0)

An Excerpt from Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism

Copyright © 1983, 2006 c.e., Isaac Bonewits

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Some pre-excerpt notes:

This is a standard outline that can be used for public or semi-public Neopagan Druid ceremonies. I’ve spent over thirty years making this pattern esthetically pleasing, historically plausible, magically powerful, and spiritually satisfying. Please don’t casually throw pieces of it away without determining how you’re going to get exactly the same effects. You should not inject Wiccan ritual procedures such as “casting a circle,” “drawing down the moon,” “invoking the Watchtowers,” etc., or Native American ceremonial activities, or other ritual elements that make no sense in terms of this liturgy’s structure, esthetics, polytheology or goals; nor should you take parts of this liturgical design and put them into a non-Druidic ritual without carefully considering those same issues.

However, while the term “Druidic“ is usually associated exclusively with Celtic cultures, experience has shown that this pattern will work well for public or semi-public worship of deities belonging to other Indo-European pantheons, such as the Germanic, Greek, Slavic, Vedic, Hittite, etc., since those cultures share a common polytheology and cosmology (see BEGD for details), albeit with appropriately varying emphases.

The duties of the ritual leaders can be combined in several ways, depending upon the individuals and talents available, resulting in anywhere from one to a dozen leadership roles. The numbers and letters in parentheses refer to observable steps,which are often blended together in performance, making the average rite of this sort appear less complex than this outline makes evident. I've adjusted the layout of this outline to match that of the book more closely.

A fuller explanation of the theory behind this outline, which is based on my "common worship pattern" can be found in my Rites of Worship: A Neopagan Approach. An old version of my "Step-by-Step through a Druid Worship Ceremony" can be found on the ADF website, and fuller, updated instructions will be found in a future book.

My only major disagreement with how some members of ADF now perform this ritual is in their omission of the "Acknowledgement of the Outsiders" step, which I consider a serious mistake. We do not banish the forces of chaos by ignoring them.

This is the outline of how ADF ritual was being done in the early 1990s. As was mentioned in Chapter 17, current ADF practice is still quite similar, but various parts of the ritual are merged so that it doesn't seem quite so intimidating to new-comers. Here you can see them in their full glory.

Preliminary Ritual Activity

(A) Briefing
(B) Individual Meditations & Prayers
(C) Lighting the Sacred Fire(s)
(D) Pouring the Sacred Waters
(E) Optional: Consecrating the Sacred Pole / Tree
(F) Optional: Consecrating the Altar & Tools

1st Phase: Starting the Rite and Establishing the Groupmind

Clearcut Beginning: Consecration of Time
(1) Musical Signal
(2) Opening Prayer
Consecration of Space and of Participants
(3) The Processional / Sigil Marking
(4) Purification(s) of Participants
(5) Optional: Purification(s) of Site
(6) Honoring the Earth-Mother
Centering, Grounding, Linking & Merging
(7) The Grove Meditation
(8) Unity Chant/Song
(9) Specification of Ritual Purpose & Historical Precedent
(10) Naming Deity(ies) of the Occasion & Reasons for Choice

2nd Phase: Recreating the Cosmos & Preliminary Power Raising

Describing the Vertical Axis
(11) Planting the Cosmic Tree / Honoring the Sacred Pole
(12) Evoking the Gate Keeper / Defining the Ritual Center
(13) Evoking the Fire & Water Deities & Linking to Center
Gaining Assistance & Preventing Interference
(14) Invoking the Bardic Deity(ies) or Spirit
(15) Acknowledgement of the Outsiders
(16) Filling Out the Cosmic Picture
Example: Triad Invocation of Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Deities in Three Worlds or..
Example: Invocation of Helpful Beings of each World/Realm or..
Example: Invocation of Helpful Beings by Province/Function or..
(Type & number will vary according to ethnic cosmologies.)
(17) Settling and Focussing

3rd Phase: Major Sending of Power to Deity/ies of the Occasion

(18) Descriptive Invocation of Deity(ies) of the Occasion
Primary Power Raising
(19) Praise Offerings, Dance, Libations, etc.
(20) The Sacrifice
(21) Seeking the Omen of Return

4th Phase: Receiving and Using the Returned Power

Preparation for the Return
(22) Meditation upon Personal and Group Needs
(23) Induction of Receptivity
(24) Consecration Agreement
Reception of Power from Deity(ies) of the Occasion
(25) Consecration and Sharing
(26) Acceptance of Individual Blessings
(27) Reinforcement of Group Bonding
(28) Optional: Spell Casting or Rite of Passage

5th Phase: Unwinding and Ending the Ceremony

Unwinding the Energy Patterns Created
(29) Thanking of Entities Invited, in Reverse Order
(30) Thanking the Gatekeeper & Closing the Gates
(31) Affirmation of Past/Future Continuity and Success
(32) Unmerging, Regrounding & Recentering: Meditation
(33) Draining off Excess Power: the Restoration
Clearcut Ending: Deconsecration of Time & Space
(34) Final Benediction
(35) Announcement of End
(36) Dissolving the Sigil
(37) Musical Signal


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