Foundations: Cosmology

Yggdrasil, the World Tree -  Some rights reserved, geert roels
Yggdrasil, the World Tree by geert roels

Cosmology is defined as the study of “the universe as a whole: its birth, growth, shape, size and eventual fate.” (“Introduction: Cosmology”).  In modern science, this study is limited to the stars around us and the evolution of the physical galaxy.

To the ancient people, there was not a whole lot more universe than the world around them.  The ancients saw the universe as an upperworld (the sky above), an underworld (below the earth) and the middleworld (where people live).  In general, the gods lived in the upperworld, the humans and fae lived in the middleworld, and the dead lived in the underworld.  While modern humans may have a different view of the sea, land and sky, many of the pagan religions still recognize the symbolism of the three realms.

In the ADF, we often use the Well, Fire and Tree for symbolism of the different worlds.  The Fire represents the Shining Ones and the connection to the upperworld.  The Well delves into the underworld and the connection to the Ancestors there.  Finally the Tree represents the Nature Spirits that reside here with us in the middleworld.  The Tree also represents the connection between the three realms.

In every ADF ritual, we re-create the cosmos as part of the rite.  Defining, or re-enforcing the definition of, the cosmos in ritual helps us to connect with both the gods and the earth and reminds us that we are all part of the same system.

Works Cited:

“Introduction: Cosmology – space – 04 September 2006 – New Scientist.”Science news and science jobs from New Scientist – New Scientist. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. <;.

Our Own Druidry. Tucson, AX: ADF Publishing, 2009. Print.

“The Druid’s Cosmos.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF). N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. <>.

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