So ADF ritual has two main phases – an offerings phase, where we send all our love, devotion, and offerings through the portals into the otherworld, and a blessings phase, where we accept blessings in a “return flow” from the otherworld. Those blessings are concentrated into a sacred drink, called (usually) the Waters of Life.
Originally the Waters of Life were whiskey (or sometimes water). ADF ritual has expanded to include mead and other alcoholic beverages. The alcohol represents the “life” part. As Nine Waves got started, we typically had mead for our Waters of Life, since that fit with our hearth culture and was tasty.
However, a few things happened that got me thinking about including alcohol in our rituals:
- We now meet in a park that does not allow alcohol
- We now have an underage regular ritual attendee, and in Texas it is VERY illegal for us to give him even a sip of alcohol
- I have circled in the past with recovering alcoholics, who would not be able to partake of our blessings
- I myself am on medication that is contraindicated with alcohol, so I was dancing with danger already
- There is nothing in ADF ritual guideline that specifies that the Waters of Life must be alcoholic
- There was a spirited discussion on the ADF Facebook group about the topic, where several good arguments were made
We figured we could do two things – we could have two cups/mead horns, one with actual mead, and one with water (which presents a logistical issue, even in a group of only 10 people, and would still be breaking the rules of the park where we meet), or we could just go with a non-alcoholic option.
One of the best posts on the ADF Facebook discussion came from Ceisiwr Serith, who spoke of making his own sacred drink for rituals. His recipe included barley (which I can’t consume, having celiac disease) but it got me thinking about ways to make a sacred drink that we could all enjoy, that would feel special (since that’s important), but wouldn’t exclude anyone.
So I went digging for recipes, and came across some recipes for “soft mead” – basically honey water. And I got creative, and came up with the following:
Spiced Sacred Drink
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 cup honey
- 2 lemons
- 2 inches fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 8 whole cloves
Juice the lemons and toss them – peel, juice and all – into a large, non-aluminum pot with all the other ingredients. Cover and place over very low heat (do not allow to boil) for up to 3 hours, stirring frequently. Remove the lemons, and let sit for up to another 3 hours. Strain and serve warm or at room temperature.
Nine Waves was, overall, very skeptical of my creation. They liked having mead, the alcoholic “life” was important, and it felt special to us to share mead from our mead horn together. But they humored me, and I have, I must say, converted them all. This is extremely tasty, especially warm on a cold night around a campfire, and it requires preparation and is “special” – I only make it for our rituals. And we now don’t have to worry about new people being averse to anything (other than a possible allergy to any of the sacred drink ingredients) or not being able to consume alcohol.
It’s a win for everyone. (And it really is tasty.)