Saturday, November 28, 2015

Votive Offering to Aphrodite

A votive offering, according to dictionary definition, is an offering made in accordance with a vow, “often as an act of veneration or of gratitude for a favor granted” (Random House). For example, a promise of a specific gift may be made if certain conditions are met (healing or fortune granted, job obtained, etc.). This gift is termed a “votive offering.” In the Roman Catholic definition, a votive offering is seen as a “voluntary” offering as opposed to a mandatory observance; optional. Votive candles specifically were often lit to denote divine presence in either a religious ceremony or a military procession in Ancient Rome (Rev. Saunders History). In the Greek world, votive offerings were gifts given to the Gods either in thanks for blessings already received or in anticipation of “future divine favors” (Univ Penn Greek)—and they could even be given in an effort to appease the Gods after committing a crime (blood-guilt, impiety, breach of religious custom, etc.). These last offerings are different from a piacular offering in that a piacular offering is made to appease the Gods for any missteps that may have accidentally been taken by the celebrants whereas a votive offering of this sort was in exchange for the old world version of “forgiveness.” Votive offerings were typically tangible items that were left on display in the sanctuary of the God for a set period of time and then ritually decommissioned. Typical votive offerings include items made from bronze or terracotta, lamps and vases, armor, weapons, jewelry, and even more costly marble works depending upon the means of the worshippers. For healing purposes, it was also common to offer replicas of the body part one wished to experience healing. (Univ Penn Greek)

In modern terms, it may be necessary for us to dedicate an item and house it on our shrines in honor and respect since our Gods no longer have the luxury of dedicated temples, and many of us do. There are tales of ADF members who have built shrines in thanks for works done for them by a particular entity, statues, abstract art, paintings and sketches, jewelry and statuary, some of which are ritually burned and some of which are given to as a gift to the Being and kept as a sacred object tended in routine prayer and offering cycles. It is from this vantage that I offer the following offering script:

A Votive Offering to Aphrodite in Return for Love
Items needed: Roses, an apple, a gilded/decorative mirror, a sea shell, incense (2), typical three-part hallows.

Prep: Light the Fire and open the Gates, per usual (Gatekeeper suggestion: Iris). Light incense before beginning the work. Once the Gates are opened, light the remaining incense and begin speaking the following:

Sea-foam Maiden, wing-ed dove,
Beauty’s inspiration,
Queen of Love,
Lady, Aphrodite,
Desire’s bright fire
Goddess, hear my prayer!

Hold up the offerings as they are named:
Roses do I bring, for their scent is that of love and devotion.
An apple do I bring, for the apple was gift to you as the fairest of maidens.
A sea shell do I bring, for the magical tale of your birth resonates in the echo of the sea.
And this mirror do I bring, my gift to you, that it may reflect the joy and thanks in my heart,
The reverence and gratitude I openly carry for you
In return for the gift of love in my life.
Lady Aphrodite, beloved of many,
For bringing to me my beloved,
I give you thanks, praise, and honor.
May this mirror I now dedicate to you hold space on my shrine,
Reflecting my offerings to you through the Fires of my piety*.
Lady Aphrodite, accept my offerings!

Place the mirror in a place of permanence on your shrine or on its own shelf, etc., perhaps arranging the shell and a votive holder together with the mirror as a sacred space dedicated to the Goddess Aphrodite. 

*You may wish to place a finite amount of time for devotion to the Goddess.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Acquisition of Fire

Among the Greek, the story of how Prometheus stole Fire from the Gods to bring it to mankind is well-known. For the purpose of this essay, I will be using the retelling of Prometheus’ tale as told by Hesiod in Theogony (l. 535-570). Hesiod tells of Prometheus tricking Zeus into taking the bones and fat instead of the meat of the sacrifice and then stealing the spark of fire for man by hiding it away in a fennel stalk for transport. Zeus punishes Prometheus by having him bound to a rock on the cliffs of Scythia where he shall remain for 10,000 generations, burning by day and freezing by night, with the Eagles of Zeus feasting upon his entrails while he yet lives. Zeus also punishes man by creating what can only be described as unrequited desire. He had Hephaistos create a maiden out of clay, whom Athene adorned with flowers and veils. Zeus then breathed into her all the beauty and wonder of the natural world, making her appearance desirable beyond compare. Then, he made her heart full of selfish desires and gave her a wicked tongue.  (Hesiod, Theogony)

This narrative is decidedly Greek with no evident influence from another religious bias. It is written in third person from a time before time was measured by the human race. The tone of the piece is consistent with other works of both Hesiod, Homer, and Aeschylus, all of whom describe Zeus as an angry, bitter, and vengeful God who sets himself above humans as superior and who treats them with indifference if not annoyance and wrath. The underlying emotions of the piece create a sympathy and gratefulness for Prometheus, without whom the humans would still be wandering in the dark and giving all the edible parts of our livestock to the Gods in sacrifice. Fire was a creation of the God, Hephaistos, and in order for the humans to use it, it had to be stolen from the Gods in trickery and deceit. 

Among the Vedic, the Fire is personified in the God, Agni.* For the purposes of this essay, I will be discussing the tale of Agni’s Hiding as found in the Markandeya Purana and in Mahabharata. Agni has many names and many progeny, depending on the type of fire. Once upon a time, Angi was angry, and so, he went to the forest to perform “austerities,” self-denial and reflection. While he was away, the sage Agniras became Agni, living in his home and bringing heat and light to the world—and he was good. Agni saw his skill and became frustrated, assuming the Brahma had appointed a new fire while he was away. During his time in the forest, his own “fieriness” had disappeared. Slowly, Angi approached Agniras. Before he could speak, Agniras hailed and welcomed him and asked him to return to his duties. Agni refused at first, saying he had lost his place and that Agniras should be fire now with Agni as the second fire. Agniras refused this arrangement and asked that Agni make him his son, and the Gods approved. (Ganguli)

Agni, who is prone to disappearing and hiding, also takes flight in fright during an agnistoma sacrifice. He hides three times: first in the sea, then in the earth where he dissolves, and then in the ocean. Agni’s hiding place is revealed all three times. When he is hidden in the sea and the Gods cannot find him, the fish in the sea betray him. Agni curses the fish, saying, “You shall be the food of the creatures in the various modes of being.” Agni moves on to hide in the earth, producing many metals and precious stones out of the discarded parts of his body. He is roused by the combined works of the Bhrgu, Agniras and the other Seers and bursts into flame. In his fright, he flees once more and hides in the ocean and disappears. He disappears so well, in fact, that the entire world fears for his loss. Atharvan, who had been carrying out Agni’s role in his absence, sees the fire in the ocean and creates the worlds. He churns the ocean and fire reappears from the water and forevermore is the water a carrier of oblations. In further tales, Agni hides once more in the Sami tree. The Gods made this tree the “sacred abode” of fire for all rituals, and the wood of this tree was given to man to kindle and create fire because of the remnants of his essence. (MBh. 13. 84. 42) (Feller 83-87)

The Vedic tale is also told in the third person, and there is no evidence of influence from other cultures. The time frame of this piece is also from a time outside of human reckoning. The tone of this piece, however, is quite different from that of the Greeks. Agni is adored, and his loss is felt with great pain. His work must continue, and so when he is gone, others attempt to fill his shoes, but this is never enough, for he is always sought and restored. The further hymns of Agni speak of him with reverence and adoration—a very different feel than the fear and blatant animosity expressed in the hymns and tales of Zeus.

The mixture of the fire and the water is of interest, and the common thread between the tales is evident when the story of Prometheus is continued as described in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound. After his binding, Prometheus is comforted in his lamenting by the Daughters of Ocean and later by Ocean himself.  Also of interest is the aspect of the Fire in the Water as a source of creation, and though not expressly stated, the Fire in both instances is the means by which offering is given to the Gods. 

*It may be more appropriate to relate the tale of Agni to that of Hestia, who gave up her place in Olympus to dwell in the hearth fires of men. The fire was already with man when she sought to join them and is therefore outside the scope of this essay. 

Athanassakis, Apostolos N., trans. Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and Shield. MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. Print.

Feller, Danielle. The Sanskrit Epics’ Representation of Vedic Myths. Jawahar Nagar, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: 2004. Print.

Ganguli, Kiseri Mohan. Trans. The Mahabharata. 1883-1896. Web. 25 April 2014

Sargent, Thelma, trans. The Homeric Hymns. NY: W.W. Norman and Company, Inc., 1973. Print.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cleaning with the Kiddos: A Rite of Passage

I’m busy. I am a mom, a partner, a full-time manager, a priest, and a grad student. Actually, I’m very busy. When I first sat down to write today, I thought I’d be writing about that—about how being busy means it is more important than ever to seek balance in your relationships, and about how finding time for self-care is necessary to decrease and alleviate burnout.

And then I got frustrated with the younger two children.

I’ve been telling them to clean their rooms for months, and because I am busy, I’ve let them slide with the occasion load of laundry leaving their rooms and habitual round-up of dishes. Yesterday, I decided to take the time to “Mommy clean” their rooms. This is usually met with tears and sadness. “Mommy clean” means I go in with garbage bags and throw away anything that is gross, broken, or old and without sentimental value.

Timmy was a trooper. I had to reassure him several times that he was not in trouble, but for the first time, he didn’t lose his cool and have an emotional breakdown. He had a couple moments of sadness, but we were able to talk through it and finish the task together. I am so proud of how far he has come!

In Jessica’s room, my goal was mostly to get rid of all the clothes that are too small to make room—and then I opened her closet. Piled high with blankets and stuffed animals, boxes and bags, random shoes and clothes and who knows what else, her closet looked like an entropy-bomb went off inside. We decided we needed to clean the closet.

Over the next two hours, we pulled everything out and sorted it. We filled eight garbage bags full of trash and donations. This simple purge of her room became a right of passage. Jessica made some choices as she was looking through her life, through everything she owns, and began to throw away the little girl that she once was. She threw away broken crayons, old drawings, shoes, games, and her Barbies. I sat with her as we remembered all the little memories that lived in each of those old things and made room for who she is to become.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Importance of Self-Understanding and Introspection

Self-knowledge is crucial for working magic. It simply is. In order to offer magical services or manifest a magical working, we must know where our strengths and weaknesses lie. Introspection is one of the main avenues for learning about ourselves. It is the hindsight with which we analyze our life experiences that aid us in become better versions of ourselves, teaching us to be make decisions about what is possible for us to accomplish now and what work we need to do in order to make ourselves ready to accomplish our goals. In terms of psychology, the degree to which we know ourselves is termed “personal intelligence.” According to the Psychologist, John D. Mayer, who co-developed the theory of emotional intelligence, it is equally as important for us to know ourselves as it is for us to know others. People who know themselves well are better able to acknowledge their own limitations and know when to say when to avoid getting in over their heads. (Mayer Know Thyself) 

 As a society, we are a busy folk. We tend to be always “on the go,” with little time built into our schedules for taking a look at our own thoughts, our feelings, our behaviors, and the outcomes of our actions to truly learn from our everyday experiences. Having a deeper understanding of ourselves is paramount to opening ourselves to the growth and increase in abilities that comes from learning from those experiences. My plan of action for increasing self-knowledge is to start by being cognizant of my everyday “mundane” experiences. I have taken a few courses through my employer about self-introspection as a means of leadership development, and it is clear to me that in order for us to operate in a magical realm in which our actions have effect on not just our own lives but potentially the lives of many others, we have a responsibility to be certain of our own abilities and an ethical responsibility to only undertake those actions for which we are well-suited. I plan to accomplish this goal through routine journaling and continued professional development. In addition, I plan to assess any magical workings I do for success/failure and seek instruction from those ahead of me on the path whenever possible.

Mayer, John D. PhD. “Know Thyself.” Psychology Today. 11 March 2014. Web. Retrieved 02 May 2014 from

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


I lie next to expectation
In comfortless stagnation
Thinking and sinking deeper inside
To the place where I hide
My most dangerous fears
I give in and cry the litany of tears
Each holding pieces of heart
Character flaws and body parts
My unfulfilled and broken dreams
My rapidly sinking self-esteem
Until empty I lie her and stare at the ceiling
And wonder if anything you might be feeling
Is triggered by happiness or warmth or desire
And I stand here alone at our together fire


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Offering to Persephone/Kore and the Blessing of the Tools

At this time in Ancient Greece, they celebrate Anthesphoria, the Festival of Flowers. It is now that Persephone returns from the Underworld to walk with her mother, Demeter, Goddess of Grain and the Earth’s Fertility. She is known in the Middle World as the Kore, the Maiden of the Spring Time, and as she walks among us, green begins to appear once more upon the land at each place where her feet have touched the ground. It is only after her return that Demeter will allow the sleeping greenery to come to full wakefulness.

Call to Kore

Kore, Daughter of the Sky Father, Zeus and the Earth Goddess of Growing Things, Demeter; Beloved Queen of the Underworld! The time is come for you to resume your reign as Maiden of the Spring! The world has wept and all went cold and barren in your time of absence. You return now, to your sacred gardens, reminding us that loss is inevitable, but sorrow is temporary. As you walk upon the earth once more and flowers fall from your feet, we are reminded that all things have cycles—life and death and rebirth are an integral piece of order in the cosmos. The time of rebirth has come!

Beloved Kore, Mighty Queen! Accept our offerings! Esto!” (Offer wine)

Blessing of the Tools

During this awakening of the Earth, we see the flowers peeking their heads bravely above the ground, greeting our Lady of the Spring as she passes by. These first flowers awakened by the magic of the Goddess are now used to spread that magic to the gardens ‘round our hearths. By Kore’s charge, we place these flowers upon the tools of the trade.  We water them with the blessings of the Kindreds, given to us in exchange for our piety and right action. May they be blessed by her hands. May they be blessed by her mother’s hands. May they bless the hands that hold them. May the work completed through these tools come to full fruition in their time.

So say we all!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Working to Benefit the Folk Through the Core Order of Ritual

  1. As stewards of the Land and the Folk, it is desirous that our work provide real benefit to the community we serve. The needs of the Folk and the land are simple: health of body, wealth of materials, and wisdom/intelligence. The Core Order of Ritual provides an avenue for the Folk to commune with the Kindreds and obtain the blessings they hold for us.  (Corrigan Intentions)
Our Core Order serves the people through the building and maintaining of relationships with the Powers. It provides a means for offering our gifts to the Kindreds and a means for receiving the Blessings they have for us in return. As Celebrants of the Core Order, it is our duty to channel the gifts through the gates to the Kindreds, harness the blessings they give in return and transform them into a usable form for the Folk. This is achieved through the Return Flow portion of the rite in which we imbibe the waters we have set aside with the Blessings of the Kindreds. The Blessings are first communicated to us through the taking of an omen using whatever chosen form of divination the practitioner sees fit (based merely on preference and/or familiarity). The questions asked may range anywhere from asking for healing and asking for information and clarification, when indicated to a simple, open-ended, “what blessings do you offer to us in return?” This continued reciprocity, over time, serves to build and maintain relationships between the Kindreds and the Folk.

The reaffirming of shared beliefs may seem vague at first, as ADF is an orthopraxic faith, based on right action, as opposed to being orthodoxic, right belief. As ADF does not require the Folk to even believe the Kindreds are real, sentient beings, the reaffirming of shared belief is far-fetched. However, we have all agreed that the “right action” is to give to the Spirits, to observe the Eight Neopagan High Days following our ritual format, and to be open to receive from them in return. We agree that the universe may be built around a sacred center consisting of three divisions that tie us to the realms of the Land, Sea and Sky and whatever beings happen to be in them.

Our Core Order is centered on reestablishing the Cosmic Order. We have come to agree that the Center is established in a tripartite manner, with three distinct realms, accessed by three distinct gates, and giving us a direct connection to three categories of Beings. The Upper gate through the Fire connects us to the Gods, the Midrealm gate through the Tree connects us to the Noble kin, and the Lower gate through the Well connects us to the Ancestors, though there are variations of this section of ritual and Fire is the only required element. When we reestablish the cosmic order, we further tie ourselves into the creation myths of the Indo-European peoples whose myth cycles describe the ordering of the rampant chaos into a concise, cohesive whole in which life is able to thrive. Feeding this cosmic order provides stability and order to the lives of the participants.

In his article, “Elements of Ritual Composition,” Todd Covert equates enthusiasm to energy. We refer to the “energy of ritual” in many of our publications; it is the moveable form of our intentions and gifts that we give to the Kindreds and the gift they give to us in return. However, the term energy, Covert suggests, may be replaced with the “sturdy” word of Greek origin, enthusiasm. The original definition was not only the “positive feeling toward something” that we know it as today, but also embodied the “state of inspiration that has flowed into a person from the divine realm” (Covert Elements).  Thus, to be enthused was to be infused with the divine. Enthusiasm, then, is achieved by our Core Order during the Return Flow when the energy gifts given to us by the Kindreds are given to the Folk through the Waters, infusing the Folk with the powers of the divine.  In other words, our Core Order builds enthusiasm within the folk by providing a means for affecting change within the participants and penetrating beyond the intellectual plane of their psyches to the emotional and “uncanny” places (psychic, or magical) where the Folk will feel as though they have felt the presence of the Kindreds in a memorable and useful way. (Covert Elements)

Our Core Order has evolved over these few decades into a format that serves the folk not only through mechanical means, but also meets their needs of body, mind and spirit. It is through our practices that we have made and kept connections between the Folk and the Kindreds, ordered the cosmos to maintain balance, and brought the Elder Ways into our modern society. These gifts, perhaps less acknowledged than they should be, are an ongoing part of Our Druidry and the underlying foundation that will continue to carry ADF into the future.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Together We Will Weather all the Storms

Together We Will Weather all the Storms

Capo III
A                                  E
I’m no good at writing love songs
D                     A
I’m too used to sharing pain
Too used to broken promises
And efforts spent in vain
But my pen can’t leave this paper
As I write what’s in my heart
And send these words across the miles
To find you where you are

I’ll wrap you up in words of love
Of comfort for your tears
I’ll hold you close and heal those wounds
You’ve gathered through the years
You’ll find the strength to carry on
The work you’re meant to do
As you and I combine our paths
We’re stronger when we’re two
            Bm                              A
You’ve been alone and lonely
Bm                                          A
Suffered through heartache and pain
Bm                                          A
You’ve grown to be the man before me
Bm                                         E
Laughing and smiling in the rain
A                                                      G
Hold me in your arms and we can weather all the storms
D                                             A
Raging ‘round your heart together
(A)                                                       G                             D
I’ll be here with you when there is nothing left to do but wait—
     F                         G                      A             G         D         A
And we’ll wait here in our calm within the storm

There’s a different kind of yearning
A softened lover’s grace
That longs to see your gentle smile
And waits for your embrace
There’s a burning deep inside that glows
and smolders in the dark
Igniting us to blazing every time
We make a spark

The distance seems cold and lonely
With so much to do on our own
We’ve grown in love and trust on our journeys
10,000 Tuesdays soon in our own home

I know it can be hard when I’m so far from where you are
But we’re under the same stars together
And deep within the night when you feel lost without the light
Just wait—
I’ll soon be on my way back to your arms
Alone we’ve grown
As one we’ll soar
Alone we’ve hurt
As one we’ll heal
Alone we’ve cried
As one we’ll try
Bm                                               E
To heal our memories with our song

Make Fire with me, my love, as we embrace the love above—
The love that’s streaming down upon us
And deep within your soul when hear my voice you’ll know I’m yours—
            F                      G                     A          G         D
And together we will weather all the storms
    F                        G                     A                G         D
Together we will weather all the storms

    F                       G                       A
Together we will weather all the storms