13. Discuss your understanding of the Omen. (minimum 100 words)
The omen is the point in the ritual after the offerings and sacrifices have been made when the Seer steps forward to ask of the Kindreds what their reaction to the offerings will be (Newburg). Some groups ask specifically if offerings have been received (and make more offerings if the answer is “no”), while others assume that all offerings will be received in the spirit in which they were given and will thus be returned with blessings (Dangler, Newburg). The omen is typically taken through the reading of runes, oracles, cards, or other divination methods (older Druid groups typically read bird flight or natural omens instead, which is sometimes still done in ADF). It is up to the Seer to determine the nature of the omen, whether it is positive or negative, and what it means for the grove as a whole. In general, this omen also applies to the individual participants, who should think on what it might mean for them in particular.
14. Discuss your understanding of the Blessing Cup, or “Return Flow”. (minimum 100 words)
Once the omen has been read and interpreted, the Priest/ess/Druid will ask that these blessings be transferred into the cup of (usually) drink that has been sitting on the altar. This is the direct return flow for the energies of the sacrifices and offerings that have been made. While they traveled through the gates to the otherworlds, the return flow travels exactly in reverse, from the otherworlds through the gate, to be caught in the vessel and presented to the people. This energized water, a mingling of “fires” and “waters” represents the Waters of Life. It is then shared among the participants of the ritual as a way of internalizing the blessings into each person and feeling the transformative power of those blessings. Individuals are directed to visualize the blessing pouring into them in whatever form they might need, as it is at this time that each individual can receive a personal and direct blessing from the powers.
Typically the Return Flow is thought of in three parts: Calling (asking) for the blessings, Hallowing the Blessing, and Affirmation of the Blessing (Newburg). Calling for the blessings is the step that initiates the return flow, where the *ghosti relationship is reaffirmed and reminds the Kindreds of when and how to confer the blessings, and sometimes what blessings are called for specifically. Hallowing the blessing realizes the arrival of the blessings, which permeate the beverage in the blessing cup and confer holiness and sacral power to the drink. Affirming the blessing has two parts – confirmation and integration. Confirmation is the full acceptance of whatever blessings the Kindreds give. Integration is the process of consuming the blessings and making them a part of the imbiber physically, mentally, and spiritually. (Newburg)
In rituals for large groups of people, sometimes the waters are asperged over the group instead of forming long lines of individual people and waiting for each to drink, as a way to keep the ritual energy from stagnating.