15. Describe possible cultural variances for elements discussed in questions 3 through 14 above. (minimum 100 words)
ADF’s Core Order of Ritual is designed to remain coherent even while being adaptable to different hearth cultures. The following are cultural variations that might be found for the various elements of the Core Order:
- Center and Gates – The sacred center can be represented by the World Tree (Yggdrasil/Eormensyl – Norse/Anglo-Saxon), or by the Sacred Mountain (Olympus – Hellenic). It can also be seen as the “center place” between Niflheim and Muspelheim – the Ginnungagap, the center of creation. The gates could be represented by something like the Bifrost Bridge in Norse mythology, making a direct connection to the world of the Gods.
- Sacred Space/Outer Boundary – Roman rituals typically took place in temples, with defined boundaries and spaces, so a Roman rite might provide specific space as sacred (especially if they repeatedly use the same ritual space) rather than allowing for a completely open ritual (Wikipedia “Roman Temple”).
- Earth Mother – A Hellenic ritual might substitute Hestia as the Hearth Goddess instead of an Earth Mother figure (though I believe substituting out the Earth Mother invalidates the Core Order, so substitutions here are a little problematic, but you might ADD an offering to Hestia as the one who gets the first sacrifice).
- Fire and Water – As purification goes, some ritualists might add “earth” to Fire and Water, to make Land, Sky, and Sea as elements of purification (though I don’t know that this is specifically attested in any hearth culture, the Irish particularly liked references to Land, Sky, and Sea). As the two powers, chaos and order can be substituted for fire and water, or even Niflheim and Muspelheim (Fire and Ice).
- Fire, Well, and Tree – Hellenic ritual might substitute a mountain (or rock) for the tree, and a pit for the well, as those are culturally significant in Hellenic mythology (Mount Olympus and the pit to access the underworld). Depending on the rite, a Vedic ritual might make reference to the pillars that hold up the world instead of a great tree.
- Outdwellers – In the Irish hearth, these would likely be seen as the Fey/Faerie folk, and would generally be appeased, rather than warded against. In an Anglo-Saxon or Norse hearth, you’d be more likely to see warding against the Jotun, especially with invocations to Thor/Thunor, as that’s part of his function.
- Three Kindreds – An Irish Celt might call to the beings of Land, Sea, and Sky instead of the three typical Kindreds (Corrigan “Worlds”).
- Filling out the Cosmic Picture – An Irish Celt might make reference to the five provinces rather than the three worlds. A Norse ritual might acknowledge the nine realms (instead of three) and possibly make mention of each one.
- Key Offerings – For a warrior ritual, one might make offerings to The Morrigan, or to Odin and Freyja, or to Mars, depending on one’s hearth culture. Similarly, depending on the type of divination being done, Odin (runes), Freyja (seidhr), or Apollo (oracle) would be appropriate.
- Sacrifice – Perhaps the most dramatic (in size at least) culturally specific sacrifice is the hecatomb – a sacrifice of 100 cattle to Apollo, Athena, and Hera in the Hellenic culture (Wikipedia “Hecatomb”). (Someday I would like to see this replicated with a herd of children’s toy cows, or possibly of hamburgers.) Norse mythology also has the very dramatic (in function) sacrifice of the King in order to reverse a series of bad crops or famines. Less dramatically but perhaps more realistically, the Anglo-Saxons typically “sacrificed” the first loaf of bread to the fields at Lammas (hlaf-mas) to ensure good crops the next year.
- Omen – Different forms of divination would be typical to different cultures. The Romans were particularly fond of watching the flight of birds, where Norse divination by casting lots/symbols is attested in Tacitus.
- Blessing Cup/Return Flow/Waters of Life – The word “whiskey” (or “whisky”) is an Anglicization of the Gaelic word “water”, as part of the phrase “waters of life”, so you are very likely to see whiskey used in Irish rituals. (Whether this is because it’s significant or because people generally like whiskey I’ll leave up to the reviewer.) The Latin “aqua vitae” also is a reference to distilled spirits and means “waters of life”, so Roman ritualists may also use a distilled spirit. Norse rituals are more likely to use mead, as that drink was sacred in their culture, and the Norse have a direct “cup” symbol in Odhroerir (Wikipedia “Óðrerir”).
While leaving the original structure intact, there is a great deal of variation that is possible within the Core Order.
2. Describe how ADF liturgy corresponds with your personal or group practice. (minimum 100 words)
I am currently involved with two groups that use the Core Order of Ritual fairly extensively. First, Protogrove of the Live Oaks does core order rituals every high day (as you would expect for a functioning protogrove). I have written several rituals for their use, and aside from not usually evoking the spirits of Inspiration, have found that they appreciate the structure of the core order and that it works well for our groups to have 3-4 people perform the ritual each high day, while the crowd of participants/laity sometimes approaches 15-20 people.
In the study group I lead, as we work through the Dedicant Path, we specifically have studied the core order, and use it for our own high day rituals every season as well. I help my students write these rituals, but primarily it is an exercise for them to get used to writing rituals so they will develop good liturgical skills. In the study group, everyone participates in some way in all the rituals, since there are only 5-8 of us, and we divide up the parts before the ritual so that everyone can be involved in gaining ritual skill. While this sometimes makes for less powerful rituals, it does a good job at helping us feel connected to one another, even if not everyone is destined to be a great liturgist and performer.
Privately, I occasionally do full core order rituals, especially if I am doing a particularly serious working, but in general I do condensed forms of this structure. I like the core order a lot, and I like high ritual, so I enjoy it, but for everyday use, it is much more likely for me to be able to continue a regular practice that only takes 3-5 minutes at a time. As I work on the Liturgy Practicum portion of the Initiate’s Path, I will be adding more core order elements to at least a weekly ritual, if only so that I can get better at improvising aspects of the ritual and can get away from using a ritual book.