Liturgy 1.6 – Discuss the ritual significance of Fire and Water in ADF liturgy.

16 07 2017

Discuss the ritual significance of Fire and Water in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

The Fire and Water are the two building blocks of creation in many Indo-European myths. It can be most clearly seen in the Norse creation myth, where the worlds were created when the fire of Muspelheim realm and the Ice (water) of Niflheim met in the middle at the abyss of Ginnungagap and their meeting resulted in the creation of the first giant, Ymir. The importance and sacredness of fire can be seen throughout other Paleo-pagan religions, from the Celtic goddess of Fire Brighid, to the Greek goddess Hestia who was represented by a flame on an altar, to the importance of the flame-keepers of the Roman Goddess Vesta. Similarly, the importance of water can be seen in the worship of sacred wells, springs and rivers, in the stories about the Well of Wyrd and the Well of Segais, and the universal identification of water with purification.

The importance of Fire and Water in ritual can be seen from the high regard and sacredness with which the hearth fire was treated in Paleo-Pagan cultures, as well as the use of fire in their rituals such as the Bonfire at Celtic fire festivals. Like water, Fire was often used as a source of purification, such as when the ancient Druids drove cattle between two bonfires on Beltane eve to purify and protect them. The flame is also seen as a “universally recognised symbol of the divine” according to Bonewits. This can be seen most clearly in the Greek Hestia and Roman Vesta goddesses whose flames were never allowed to go out. Many Indo-European deities were also named after Brightness of Fire such as the Celtic goddesses Brigantia and Belenus.

In ADF, every ritual must have a fire as part of this, even if simply a candle flame. It is important in ADF rituals, not only because it is part of the ritual centre and therefore a gate to the world of the gods, but because it can help to add drama and wonder to the ritual and therefore facilitate changes in consciousness for the participants so that they can communicate more effectively with the deities and spirits. Similarly, water is a very important aspect of ADF ritual, as a representation of the Well and the door to the Ancestors, as well as the Waters of Life themselves, through which ritual participants receive the blessings of the Kindreds. Without both of these elements, the fire and the water, being present, the flow of energy from participant to deity and from deity to participant would not be possible.

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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