Liturgy 1.4 – Discuss why ADF rituals need not have a defined outer boundary, or “circle” and the sacralization of space in ritual.

16 07 2017

Discuss why ADF rituals need not have a defined outer boundary, or “circle” and the sacralization of space in ritual. (minimum 100 words)

While some Neo-Pagan religions, such as Wicca, have strict outer boundaries and circles for magical purposes, ADF does not need defined outer boundaries. Rather, according to Isaac Bonewits, ADF has “loosely defined, open boundaries that can be crossed.” There are many reasons for this – some are practical, some are historical and some are spiritual.

The practical reason is that ADF acknowledges that people aren’t perfect and life gets in the way sometimes. Therefore, by having no strict outer boundary, people are free to come and go. Latecomers can join in rather than waiting outside the circle, and people can go to the bathroom if they need to.

Historically, there was no reason to have a strict boundary. Paleo-pagan ceremonies were often open air, and they didn’t acknowledge the four directions and elements, nor call the quarters. Instead, they acknowledged three realms – land, sea and sky. And they believed that sacred groves were already sacred so there was no need to make them so. As ADF seeks to base its practices on historical precedent, there is no acknowledging of the four directions or calling the quarters in ADF rituals.

There is also a spiritual reason. Rather than trying to keep energies in or out, an aim of ADF ritual is to attract energy and the attention of the deities and spirits. While ADF acknowledges the existence of chaotic powers called “the outsiders”, it placates these with offerings early on in a ritual and therefore there is no need to worry about having a boundary to keep them out during the rest of a ritual.

However, it is important to acknowledge that sacred space is still a significant concept within ADF Druidry. At the beginning of a ritual ceremony, both time and space are consecrated. Sacred space is often physically marked and consecrated. This can be done through a physical perimeter of the area (such as fencing), a procession or a sigil. Another very interesting idea highlighted by Ceisiwr Serith is to use a sharp metal object to plough or cut the boundary around the sacred space, similar to the myth about the ploughing around Zealand. In places often used for religious purposes, Bonewits argues that “all you need to do is walk into the temple or grove with a proper intent, and the sacred nature of the place will become activated.” However, in places that are not normally used for religious purposes, marking the perimeter is a good idea and there may also be a need to “purify” the site by ensuring it is clean and tidy.

In conclusion, it is important to mark off sacred space, to acknowledge the boundary between order and chaos, innangeard and utangeard, but as we are not trying to keep energies in or out, there is no need to have a strict boundary.

Bonewits, Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work. Minneapolis: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.

ADF. “Standard Liturgical Outline.” ADF. Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “Step by Step through A Druid Worship Ceremony.” ADF. Web.

Brooks, Arnold. “A Druidic Ritual Primer.” ADF. Web

Brooks, Arnold. “Goals of Group Ritual.” ADF. Web.

Corrigan, Ian. “The ADF Outline of Worship: A Briefing for Newcomers.” ADF. Web.  

Corrigan, Ian. “The Intentions of Drudic Ritual.” ADF. Web.

Corrigan, Ian. “The Worlds and the Kindreds.” ADF. Web.

Paradox. “Sacred Space, an Exploration of the Triple Center.” ADF. Web.

Thomas, Kirk. “The Nature of Sacrifice.” ADF. Web.

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