Ritual Mechanics

by Victoria S. – Approved on 19 May, 2019

1. Explain why purification is important prior to ritual, and what you do to purify yourself before you lead a rite. Include any prayers said, items used, and any stage directions needed to help your reviewer understand what is happening. (min. 150 words, not including prayers, items, and directions)

We purify ourselves and the space In which we do our rituals to help focus the folk and clear away any thoughts or energies that are not helpful to the ritual. Purification also helps to reinforce the idea that we are in a sacred space and it can shift the mentality of the participants to be more conducive to ritual. (Bonewits loc 374-389).

My personal purification practice is pretty fluid and gets adapted as the circumstances change.  I feel that it’s essential to be able to do ritual anywhere, so my practices reflect that flexibility. To be this flexible, I need to have several options for purification.

My purification starts with a shift in focus as I get ready for the ritual. As I place the items out for the altar and offerings, I think about what each of those items is and what the use for the item is.  I often pause and say a short, ad-lib prayer to ask for the Kindreds blessings on the ritual and my performance. 

In our local Proto-Grove, we begin with the ringing of a bell and the names of the Kindreds. This sound is the first form of purification in the ritual.  Then we process into the ritual space and are sprinkled with blessed water and censed with incense.  We then carry the water and incense around the sacred space to mark and purify it.  If we are somewhere that a procession is not feasible, then we go around the circle with the incense and blessed water. As we walk in the circle, we chant “by the might of the fire, and the power of water, this grove is made whole and holy.” This is the second round of purification for the participants and the ritual space.

If I’m doing a ritual on my own, I start with ringing my chimes to help shake off the in-helpful thoughts and energy, then cense myself with incense and anoint myself with blessed water while saying “Between fire and water, I find my balance.”  This method of purification mirrors the multiple layers of purification from the public rituals but structured for an individual.

If I am somewhere where incense or candles are not available, I bless some water and use that to asperge myself and the participants. I may also tone or chant the Awen to add some sound purification if I don’t have a bell with me. 

2. Explain how you position your body and hands when inviting the Kindreds and making Key Offerings, what that position means, and why it is important to have a position that is (or several positions that are) consistent between rituals. (min. 100 words for description and meaning, min 150 for importance)

Consistency in posture in rituals helps us to focus on the task at hand. Just like smiling can help us to feel better or putting on boots helps me to feel more confident, using a specific position for invitations and offerings helps us to be more open to the Kindreds.

When I invite the Kindreds in, I stand with my head up, looking out beyond the sacred space with my hands open and my arms spread. It is a position that is similar to when I am greeting a good friend.  If I am reading off do a script, I hold the script up so that I am still facing out of the space, even if my eyes are on the words.

When I am making Key Offerings, I may take one of two different postures. Which posture I take depends on if I am doing the actual act of offering or not.  Sometimes our protogrove rituals have one person do all the physical acts of offering for logistical reasons, and to keep the flow of the ritual smooth. 

If I am making the offering, I hold the offering up in one hand while I call to the Being of the Occasion. I keep my body position open and welcoming as if presenting a gift to someone twice my height.  I try to add a little flourish to the physical act of offering to show that it is special. If I am not making the offering myself, I use a similar posture to when I am calling in the Kindreds.

I find that it’s important to use an open posture when inviting the Kindreds and when making offerings to Them.  We are welcoming them into our company, and our posture should reflect this.  Besides, I do not believe that we are subservient to the Kindreds, so I do not use postures that reflect subservience. Instead, I welcome Them as the honored guests that I believe they are.

3. Describe your meditation practice as it stands today. Include its regularity, any positions you may use or prayers you may say, and the method(s) you typically use. (min. 200 words)

As part of my coursework, I have been starting a regular meditation practice. My schedule can be somewhat variable, so it’s difficult for me to find a regular time to meditate that is consistent.  I tried to meditate when I get home from work before anything else happens, but this is challenging on weekends and days when I work extra late.  As a result,  my practice is often interrupted, but I work on forgiving myself when I do not meditate and get back to it the next day.

I find that meditating with an app works most effectively for me.  I have tried the 10% Happier App, Calm, and Headspace. Each of them has different programs, but they all tend to mindful meditation. Swapping between them helps me to keep the meditations interesting while keeping to the mindfulness meditation method.

I end up meditating three or four days a week for about 10 minutes each time.  After getting home and changing into comfortable clothes, I sit cross-legged on my bed, looking out onto my patio and the trees and birds that grace my view.  I take a few moments to look outside, feel the breeze if the doors are open, and bring my awareness to the Earth Mother. With the app on my phone, I launch one of the 10-minute mindful meditations and let my eyes drift closed.  In general, the meditations start with a focus on breathing, and then a body scan to bring my awareness to my body.  My thoughts often stray, and I bring my focus back to my breath to bring my attention back to my meditation. As the meditation ends, I slowly open my eyes and spend another few moments connecting to the Earth Mother and the Nature that’s outside of my patio doors.

4. Explain how two different active ADF Priests light a ritual fire. Describe the actions done, any prayers or magical work done. Explain how you light a ritual fire, including actions, prayers, and magical work you may do.

From Archdruid Rev. Jean “Drum” Pagano:

I build the fire in a teepee fashion; paper, kindling, sticks, logs. If there is an ogham or a particular purpose in mind, I will etch that ogham on one of the pieces of paper or pieces of kindling to provide a base for the fire. As I light the fire, I clear my mind and watch the fire grow, like a new life form coming into being. I try to let myself go into the nascent fire and encourage it. Once the fire is substantial and self-sufficient, I hold my hand open near the base of the fire and allow some of my energy to flow into the fire, as an offering or a gift. I say the following prayer:

“Grow, fire, grow:

“Grow within me,

“Grow without me,

“Grow, fire, grow” (Pagano, “Ritual Mechanics for Others”)

From Vice Archdruid Rev. Sean Harbaugh:

The ritual fire for Sierra Madrone Grove starts out as a candle lit outside the ritual space, which represents the home hearth.  The Grove then processes with the lit candle into the ritual space along with the pitcher of water used to fill the Well.  Neither the Sacrificial Fire is lit nor is the Water poured into the Well until the Recreation of the Cosmos portion of the ritual.  Until then, both fire and water are placed on the altar.  Since both the Fire and Water are still considered mundane until the Sacrificial Fire is lit and the Well is poured, there are no prayers or any other work involved. (Harbaugh)

How I light a ritual fire:

When I lite a ritual fire, I start first with lighting an oil lamp using a lighter while I say the prayer for the Flame of Unity by Archdruid Emeritus Kirk Thomas.

Kindled from the Great Flame

Kept by prudent skill,

Join with our common Hearth

That these flames be one! (Thomas)

As I say the words, I center myself and extend my awareness to all the other flames of Druidry that are out there through space and time.  In this way, I center my Hearth fire with the flames of all the other ADF druids.  I use a small beeswax birthday-style candle to light any additional candles or incense from the oil lamp.

5. Describe three different methods of (Re)creating Sacred Space, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the (Re)creating of Sacred Space portion of the ritual. Provide an original script with stage directions for (Re)creating of Sacred Space based on one of these methods.

From Archdruid Rev. Jean “Drum” Pagano:

When I am recreating sacred space, my hands are held at three different levels. When I acknowledge the Ancestors, I hold my arms open with my palms up and it is like an extended, long-distance “hug”, for lack of better words, between me and those who have gone before. For the Nature Spirits, I quiet and center myself and feel myself as one of them. I extend my arms out, at a ninety-degree angle to my body with my forearms parallel to the ground and palms up, with that thought that I open myself to the spirits with which I share this earthly plane. For the Shining Ones, I hold my hands up at the same level as my face, palms open, as in offering and as if to receive grace from the Shining Ones above. (Pagano, “Ritual Mechanics for Others”)

From Vice Archdruid Rev. Sean Harbaugh:

Prior to recreating the cosmos, the participants and the ritual space are censed and asperged—purifying the space.  The group then goes on a meditation, and then the Cosmos Song by Cei Serith is sung.

In Sierra Madrone Grove we combine the Recreation of the Cosmos/Calling the Gatekeepers/Opening the Gates into one step.  First, as the sacrificial fire is lit from the candle, I call upon a Fire Tender to act as a Gatekeeper.  I then end the invocation with opening of the Fire Gate.  I repeat the same process with the Well, invoking a Cup Bearer to act as a Gatekeeper to the Well Gate.  I then cense and asperge the Tree, and call upon the Tree to connect the worlds—opening this final Gate.  

Fire, Well, and Tree and Gate Openings

Sacred Well, you who are the Gateway to the Ancestors,

You who are the primordial water of the Underworld,

We pour this water into this Well,

And as we pour this water, the Gates open into the world

of the Cythonic Deities and the Ancestors.

Cup Bearer, we call upon you to act as a ward of this gate.

We offer silver into the Well, as a recognition of its purity and as a recognition that the ancients offered precious objects into bodies of water (Silver is place into the Well).

As the Water is poured, the Gate is opened.

(The pitcher of Water is poured into the Well).

Let the Well open as a Gate!

Let the Gate be opened!

All: Let the Gate Be Open!

PC 1: Sacred Well, Flow within us.

All: Sacred Well, Flow within us.

Sacred Fire, you who are the Gateway to the Shining Ones,

You who are the Fire of the Celestial Gods,

As we light this Fire, the Gates open into the world

of the Celestial Gods and Goddesses.

Fire Tender, we call upon you to act as a ward of this gate.

We offer oil into the Fire, as recognition that the ancients knew the sacredness of the sacrificial fire.

It is the avenue of our offerings.

(Oil is offered into the Fire).

As the Fire is lit, the Gate is opened.

(The Fire of is lit and is fueled by offerings of oil).

Let the Fire burn and open as a Gate!

Let the Gate be opened!

All: Let the Gate Be Open!

PD 2: Sacred Fire, Burn within us.

All: Sacred Fire, Burn within us.

Sacred Tree, you who are the Gateway and connector of the worlds,

You who are the pillar between of the Celestial Gods and the Underworld,

We cense and asperge you.

You who also represent the Middleworld, the place of the Nature Spirits;

Might Sidhe, we call upon you to act as a ward of this gate.

(The Tree is censed and asperged).

Let the Tree connect the Worlds!

Let the Gate be opened!

All: Let the Gate Be Open!

PD 1 and PD 2: Sacred Tree, Grow within us!

All: Sacred Tree, Grow within us.

PD 2:

Children of the Earth, we are now woven into the fabric of the Otherworlds. Here, the Kindred can hear our thoughts and know our hearts. Let there be only Truth here. (Harbaugh)

From Rev. Jan Avende

This one has always been a challenge for me to divide out, because the recreation of sacred space flows so seamlessly into the gate opening for me (and for my grove). The part that I focus on, that is the most important for me, is marking this space and this time as sacred.  Because all sacred time is the same, and all sacred space is the same, I’m carrying out the recreation at the same time and in the same place as the original creation.  The point is to line up the realms so they’re overlaid in all dimensions.

When I Re-Create the Cosmos I first hallow the space around the ritual participants, to be sure that the miasma is washed clean and chaos is left behind.  Then I initiate the connection to the worlds by declaring that the smoke from our sacred Fire will carry our prayers to the gods.  I then Hallow the Fire and the Well, allowing the objects that represent them to become fit for the purpose of ritual.  Then I take the omphalos and bring it to the center, declaring that it marks the Sacred Center of all the Realms.  I literally pick up the rock that is my omphalos and move it from outside of the altar space to the altar space.  Then I put oil on my finger tips, and as I move my hands to the center I anoint the omphalos with oil.  Because I am mimicking the first establishment of the Center, the magic being performed here is sympathetic.  I am mimicking the directions of Zeus, as he searched for the Center of the World.

Below are the words I say most often when (Re)Creating the Cosmos:

“Let this area around us be purified sacred space where we go to meet the gods, and the gods descend down to meet with us.

Let the smoke from our sacred fire carry our voices to the heavens to be heard by the gods.

I place this omphalos at the center of worlds, just as it marked the center of the ancient world.  My hands, like two eagles, flying to meet in the middle and establish this as the sacred center of worlds.

Through this sacred center, let the World Tree grow, plunging deep within the earth to touch the Sacred Waters below and reaching through the sky to embrace the Sacred Fires above.” (Avende)

Original Script for (Re)creating the cosmos:

I wrote this ritual component for a solitary ritual that is designed to only take a few minutes so it’s pretty short. This script is inspired by the simple cosmos (re)creation of Rev. Pagano.

[stand before your altar and center yourself with  three breaths.]

May the Fires of the Heavens flow through us,

[Light the candle from the sacred fire or make an offering to the Fire. Feel the warmth of the fire flowing through you]

May the Waters of the earth flow through us,

[Add silver or an offering to the Well. Feel the cool waters of the earth flowing through you]

May the Tree connect us,

[Anoint the tree with water from the Well. Feel the fire and water mixing within you to connect you to everything]

May the Cosmos be whole!

6. Describe three different methods of Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the Calling/Hallowing/Affirming of the Waters. Provide an original script with stage directions for the Calling/Hallowing/Affirming of the Waters based on one of these methods.

From Archdruid Jean “Drum” Pagano:

For Calling, I take the waters and hold them at eye level. This is acknowledging that these are soon the be the waters of life, but at this point are only water. By holding them out, I am presenting them to the powers that be. Depending upon the ritual and the audience, this may be the Earth Mother, or it may be the Shining Ones. By holding them such, I am stating intent and putting forth the vessel. For the Hallowing, I hold the Waters higher, to bring them closer to the Shining Ones. I say:

“Hail to you, Shining Ones, descend into these waters and make them holy”

For the Affirming, I hold the waters out, at chest-level, and move the waters from left – to right to present them to all assembled and say:

“Behold, the Waters of Life” (Pagano, “Ritual Mechanics for Others”)

From Vice Archdruid Sean Harbaugh:

Our Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters is very basic.  All of the major action has been done, including all the offerings and the omen.  The only action is that the cup is raised very high, and it is lowered with each Hallowing.  The magic is done through the act itself.

PC 1: Mighty Kindred! Noble Ones! Shining Ones! Hallow these waters!

Ancestors, we ask you, Give us the Waters!

All: Give us the Waters!

PC 2: Nature Spirits! Give us the Waters!

All: Nature Spirits! Give us the Waters!

PC 1 and PC 2: Shining Ones! Give us the Waters of Life!

All: Shining Ones! Give us the Waters of Life!

PC slowly lowers the cup, seeing the power of the Kindred filling it as he does so…

PC 1: Behold, the Waters of Life!

PC 1: Children of the Earth Mother, do accept the gifts from the Kindred?

All: We accept the gifts from the Kindred!

PC 1: As do I (Harbaugh)

From Rev. Ayliah Cannon:

The Waters is probably my least innovative process. I call for the Waters three times, asking the guests to affirm that they want to receive them and getting them to give the affirmative three times. The Hallowing I do is loosely based on the Wiccan practice of drawing down the moon – I visualize that the blessing streams through the portals into the libations empowering them and charging them, and I always affirm that blessing is received by telling guests that they can see it as clearly as I do. The “Affirmation” for me, is reminding people of the blessing that has been sent and affirming that when the waters are drank, or sprinkled on the guests, they will be connected with the blessing and it will become a part of them. (Cannon)

Original Script for Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Waters: 

This script is based on Rev. Harbaugh’s script but I’ve added components such as intoning the omen to add a bit of theatre.

With one hand, hold the cup with the water up around head height. With your other hand, project the energy of the omen into the cup.  If you are using omen with short names, such as runes or Ogham, intone the names of the omen into the cup.

Now holding it in two hands, and slowly rotate to show the cup to all in attendance. 



Gifts we have given, and Blessings we ask in return.

Shining Ones, Nature Spirits, Ancestors,

Bless these waters so that we may

Accept your Blessings.”

Pause for a moment, seeing the energy of the Kindreds streaming into the cup and present it to those assembled for the ritual.


“Behold! The Waters of Life!”

Pause for a moment, then ask:

“Do you wish to receive the waters of life?”

All answer:

“We do!”


“Then let us share the Blessings of the Kindreds.”

Pass the cup around or pour some water into individual cups for each person to drink.

7. Describe three different methods of Opening the Gates, as used by at least two different active ADF Priests. Explain the actions done, the reason for those actions, and any specific magical work the Priest does during the Gate Opening. Provide an original script with stage directions for the Gate Opening based on one of these methods.

From Archdruid Jean “Drum” Pagano:

My mentor taught me long ago that gates are opened by drawing things towards you and are closed by moving them away. To open the well, I put my hand in the well, profoundly, and then move my hand in a spiral motion to open the gate towards me. I visualize the Ancestors moving through the gate as my hand moves through the waters. For the fire, I typically would put my palm to the fire and do a similar spiral motion to open the gate, while visualizing the Shining Ones moving through the gate. For the tree, I would have my hands joined at the tree and then extend one hand to the well, and another one extended into the sky to symbolize the linking of the worlds. At this point, I would see the Ancestors and the Shining Ones standing with the rest of the terrestrial entities.

For closing the gates, I do the reverse. For the well, I put my hand again in the well and spiral downwards. I see the Ancestors, en masse, moving back towards the well. This is a symbolic image because I feel that the Ancestors always surround us, even in this world. For the fire, I put my palm back to the fire and spiral inwards to close the gate. I see the Shining Ones shining brightly in the flames, radiant. For the tree, I take my hands, extended towards the well and fire, and bring them together at the center of the tree, signifying the closing of the gate, but continuing the linked nature of Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones. (Pagano, “Ritual Mechanics for Others”)

From Rev. Jan Avende:

When I Open the Gates, I call on a Gatekeeper for assistance.  In public rites this is often Garanus, though it is sometimes another hearth-culture specific/appropriate spirit.  Notice I don’t say deity, because we often work with Nature Spirits in our Grove.  In my personal rites I work very much with Hekate, but also with “The Mistweaver” who seems to be an embodiment of the ADF Gatekeeper that I met during my initiation.

The things we focus on in the Gatekeeper invocation are that they are of all realms, and have the ability to move among and between all realms.  We then ask that they join their magic with ours (making this theurgic magic) and aid us in opening/closing the gates.

This is also one of the parts of ritual where the hand/body motions are very much a part of what I do, and I do the same motions in both my personal rites, and in public ritual.  The physical motions that I make are echoes of what many in ADF do. When Opening the Gate to the Underworld through the Well I make a spiral motion from my center, counter-clockwise down towards my feet.  When Opening the Gate to the Upperworld through the Fire I make a spiral motion from my center, clockwise up towards the sun towards my feet.  The reason these spirals go opposite directions is because they are meant to form a single ‘corkscrew’, so as the orientation changes as it passes the horizontal horizon, the direction of the spiral appears to change.

To connect the realms I first form a ball (Tai Chi “hold the ball”) at my navel with my right hand on top and left on bottom, then I press my right hand up towards the heavens, and my left hand down towards the earth.   Finally, as I proclaim the Gates to be open I take my hands from a ‘prayer’ position and open them out to my sides.

The motions help to focus the intent of the magic, and the gatekeeper helps provide the power to do so.  It is the relationship with the spirit that makes the magic possible.

Below are the words I say most often when Opening/Closing the Gates:

“We call out now to Hekate to guide us in walking between the worlds:

Hekate, at moonlit crossroads, you befriend the helpless.

Keyholding Mistress of Earth, Sea, and Sky.

Dark Mother Hekate,

Ghosts and hounds follow you.

You are the black puppy and the black she-lamb.

Torchbearer, we praise you for the brightness of your power.

We offer you [eggs and wine].

Hekate of the Crossroads be our Guide!

Guide us as you guided Demeter in her journey.

Reveal to us the way to walk in safety.

Radiant Hekate of the Torches,

Guiding Light, Keeper of the Keys,

Join your hidden knowledge and power with ours

and help us to open the Gates between the worlds.

Let this water become the Well, and open as a Gate to the worlds below.

Our connections deepen to the Chthonic beings as the Gate is opened.

Let this flame become the Fire, and open as a Gate to the worlds above.

Our connections deepen to the Ouranic beings as the Gate is opened.

Let this Omphalos stand at the center, and mark our sacred center here and in all the world.

Let the tree wrap its roots around the stone and sink into the Well, and let it’s branches stretch upwards and reach for the Fire.

We stand here, connected at the Sacred Center to all the realms of Land, Sea, and Sky.

Let the Gates be Open!” (Avende)

From Rev. Ayliah Cannon:

When I open the Gates, I am inspired to move around the circle as Kirk is famous for, only I don’t spin. I encourage the people to send energy toward the center and I imagine it weaving a portal as I move around the perimeter.  I visualize the center opening and affirm loudly that the gates are open with all inflection I can muster. (Cannon)

Original Script for Opening the Gates

Like Rev. Ayliah, I am inspired by Rev. Kirk Thomas and his method of Opening the Gates. 

We start everyone chanting “Open the Gates” while I start pacing around the inner circle, modeling chanting and clapping.  When the chanting has raised some energy, I move to the Hallows and open the gates while the chanting continues.  The chanting helps to raise the energy, and it tends to be directed towards wherever I am, so it gets sent towards the gates.

Making a clockwise circle in front of the Well, I say “May the Well open as a gate!”

Making a clockwise circle in front of the Fire, I say “May the Fire open as a gate!”

Making a clockwise circle in front of the Tree, I say “May the Tree open as a gate that connects them all!”

 I turn to face the audience, gesture to them to them to quiet down, and in a loud voice say “May the Gates be Open!” while I clap my hands loudly.

Everyone repeats: “May the Gates be Open!”

I then say: “We stand connected at the Sacred Center. Let us welcome the Kindreds into our Sacred Space.”

8. Explain the purpose and function of the Pouring of Waters for an ADF Unity Rite. Provide a script with stage directions for this portion of the Unity Rite. (min. 150 words for explanation)

The Waters in an ADF Unity rite represent the co-mingling of all the different groups and individuals in ADF. The waters from each Unity rite are carried forth to the next ritual, and water from members, groves, and protogroves are added. Bringing the water from one ritual to the next helps us to continue the feeling of Unity and tradition through time. We also combine the existing Water with water from the new groups, individuals.  This allows for adding to the tradition while still keeping the foundation. By blending the water from each group and individual, we are blending our energies to promote working together and a common goal in ADF.  In the Unity rite, the solitaries, groves, protogroves, and prison worship groups are called, and offerings are made as the names of the groups are called to connect us all to the Kindreds. Groves and individuals are also invited to take a portion of the Water back home to their altars to keep the connection to the rest of ADF  (Pagano, Personal Interview).

Original Script for the Pouring of the Waters in an ADF Unity Rite

The priest faces the Unity Cauldron which is currently empty and pours into it the water from the previous rites as well as any new water that people brought to add to the Water. As they pour the water into the Unity Cauldron, they say:

“As these waters combine, so do we come together in Ár nDraíocht Féin.

We call upon the members and groups of Ár nDraíocht Féin as we recognize each other”

The priest then calls the different groups in ADF, starting with the Solitaries, then each Grove, Protogrove, and Prison Worship Group in order of founding.  Another priest pours out an offering of water for every three groups that are called. The size of the offerings should be reflective of how much water there is.

At the end of the list, the priest says:

“As we recognize the different groups of ADF, may we recognize the shared goals and spirit in each other. Let us go forth with a renewed sense of kinship and fellowship on this day, and in all days, wherever our paths may lead us.”


Avende, Jan. “Re: Ritual Mechanics Question.” Re: Ritual Mechanics Question, 18 Apr. 2019. Email.

Bonewits, Issac. Neopagan Rites: a Guide to Creating Public Rituals That Work. Kindle ed., Llewellyn Publications, 2007.

Cannon, Ayliah. “Ritual Mechanics Help.” Ritual Mechanics Help, 18 Apr. 2019. Email.

Harbaugh, Sean. “Fwd: FW: Opening the Gates, and Creating the Cosmos.” Fwd: FW: Opening the Gates, and Creating the Cosmos, 10 Apr. 2019. Email.

Newberg, Brandon. “Step Two: Purification.” COoR Tutorial, Ár NDraíocht Féin, 2007, http://www.adf.org/members/training/dedicant-path/articles/coortutorial/step-two.html.

Pagano, Jean “Drum”. “Ritual Mechanics for Others.” Ritual Mechanics for Others, 10 Apr. 2019. Email.

Pagano, Jean “Drum”. Personal Interview 20 Apr. 2019.

Thomas, Kirk. “The Flames of Unity.” Archdruid Blog, Ár NDraíocht Féin, 31 Jan. 2014, http://www.adf.org/blogs/ad/20140201.