Liturgy 1.7 – Discuss the origins of the Fire, Well and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF liturgy.

16 07 2017

Discuss the origins of the Fire, Well and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words for each of the Fire, Well and Tree)

The Fire, Well and Tree are the key symbols of the centre and are used to re-create the cosmos in ADF rituals. When we re-create the cosmos with these elements, the orient us “in relation to all the other parts of the universe and to all the other beings in it” according to Bonewits. They also become the gates through which we can send praise and receive blessings.

The Fire connects us to the realm of the sky, to the world of the gods, to Osgeard, the world of order. The fire represents the sacred hearth fire so central to the lives of our Pagan ancestors. It is the spirit of inspiration, the spark of life and that which fuels us. It is also the means of purification and transformation, turning chaos into an ordered cosmos. When we put our offerings through the gate of fire to feed the gods, the fire releases the spiritual essences of the foods so that they can be consumed by the deities.

The Well connects us to the realm of the Sea, to the world of the ancestors, to Hel. It connects us to the underworld powers, to the sacred earth current and to chaos. It links us to our ancestors, to their knowledge, wisdom and memories. We can receive guidance from them through the symbol of the Well. Water is the “unordered cosmos fed by chaos”, it requires the power of fire to turn it into order. We can see it in the myths of the Norse, where water feeds the world Tree, Yggdrasil. In these myths, there are three Wells – Hvergelmir which is the source of primal waters, Wyrd, where the Norns maintain the patterns of life and the universe, and Mimir’s Well, which stores knowledge, wisdom and memory, and which Odin gave his eye to in order to receive its wisdom. In Celtic culture, there is the Well of Segais, which is also a Well containing wisdom, this time in the form of the Salmon of Wisdom who were eaten by Fionn Mac Cumhaill granting him enlightenment. There are also parallels in this story with the story of Taliesin receiving the Awen from the liquid in the Cauldon of Ceridwen.

Finally, there is the Tree. This is a boundary between all worlds and connects us to the realms of the nature spirits. It is the sacred world tree Yggdrasil which, in Norse Mythology, reaches throughout all the nine worlds and connects them. It represents the order of the universe. Trees are also central to Druidry and many were acknowledged as sacred by ancient Paleo-pagans. A particularly famous one is Donar’s Oak in Germany, which was cut down because it was a focus of Pagan worship. In Irish mythology, there is the sacred Bile. And Tacitus, in Germania, explained that for the ancient Germanic Pagans, “their holy places are woods and groves” and “the grove is the centre of their whole religion.” Likewise, the Tree is central to the ADF religion.

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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