Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cosmology 1

1.  Generation of Cosmos
Describe the generation of the cosmos, and what is done in ADF ritual to ensure that the cosmos remains in order. (300 words min.)

ADF defines cosmos as “the universe as we know it” (Newberg).  Essentially, cosmos is a term that we use to describe the way that ADF members view the universe around them.  In typical Indo-European fashion, ADF uses a triadic configuration for its interpretation of the cosmos.  This triadic approach can be found in many different cultures across the Indo-European spectrum.  Even with this recurring structure, each culture has its own unique mythology that is used to describe the generation of the cosmos. While these creation myths can vary greatly, the triad structure is present in a majority of them, either in a “Three Worlds” or “Three Realms” format (Newberg).
In my private practices my hearth culture is Hellenic, and within this culture we use the three realms as our cosmic structure with the upper, middle, and lower realms as our triad.  This triad first becomes apparent in the creation myth itself.  The Greek tale tells the story of the universe being formed from Chaos.  The myth says that from Chaos, Gaia (aka Mother Earth), Uranus (aka the Sky), and Tartarus (aka the God below the Earth) were born (Elliott). This myth shows us the beginning of order within the universe and shows the inception of the three-realm triad within the Hellenic hearth.  This theme continues within mythology, later seeing the three realms separated between three gods: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.
Within ADF, we work to ensure that the cosmos remain in order in a variety of ways.  First, within each of our ADF rites, we re-create the cosmos.  This allows us to strengthen the cosmic structure and order the cosmos in a logical path that we can understand.  It also helps us to build a connection with the cosmos and the world around us.  This re-structuring and re-creating of the cosmos helps to ensure that the cosmos remain in order. Within ADF, a large part of our worship rites include making sacrifices to different energies and beings in order to further aid this effort.  These offerings are given at the Sacred Center, which aligns us with the Kindreds and the universe around us. This practice also helps to re-affirm the order of the cosmos. (364 words)

2.  Sacred Center
Describe the physical items that exemplify the sacred center in ADF ritual, and how each constituent part reflects the vision of an ordered cosmos. (300 words min.)

The Sacred Center in an ADF context is a concept used to describe the “point of power” that we use to access the Cosmos (Newberg).  Essentially, the sacred center is the axis of the universe.  This concept of axis mundi is another one that is populated throughout both Indo-European and non-Indo-European cultures.  In the Norse cosmology they see this connection as Yggdrasil.  The Greeks use the term Omphalos to describe their sacred center.  Buddhists often regard stupas as their connection to the universe. Each of these separate instances shows a relationship to all places through a single connection point.  This concept is vitally important in ADF ritual practices because it is in this place of connection that we hold our rites.
The Sacred Center is traditionally represented within ADF through Fire, Well, and Tree symbols.  Each of these symbols is viewed as a gateway to one of the three separate realms within ADF cosmology, the fire opening the way to the upper realm, the well opening to the lower realm, and the tree connecting the middle realm and everything in between. Each of these symbols has its own place in creating order. 
The Well connects us to the lower realm.  In Greek culture this is typically connected to Hades, or the underworld, which is also a connection to the ancestors.  From the ancestors we are able to gain courage and understanding of the world around us in an effort to find order between the past, present, and future.
The Fire connects us to the upper realm, which is our connection to the Deities.  Through the fire and smoke we are able to connect to the Deities to make sacrifices and give praise. It is from the Deities that we are able to gain wisdom and understanding of the cosmos around us.
The Tree itself connects those two points, drawing the energy into the Sacred Center and representing everything in between.  It gives us a connection the physical realm and the other inhabitants of it.  This connection can help us find balance and peace, which can definitely assistant in the process of creating order.  Overall, these visual representations allow people to better comprehend the different aspects of the cosmos and connect with them logically.  They establish a time and place for ritual and allow for a connection to be made.  (390 words)

3.  Division of Cosmos
Explain the divisions of the cosmos in ADF ritual, and why the cosmos is divided in this way. (300 words min.)

ADF divides the cosmos into three separate sections.  The specific divisions may vary slightly depending on the hearth culture that someone is working with, but the division is still present nonetheless.  This division of the cosmos is one that we have inherited from different Indo-European cultures, as they regularly divided their view of the universe in a triad (Newberg).  The Greeks have their view of the cosmos divided into three separate realms, the Upper, Middle, and Lower realms, which is first seen in the creation mythos and is continued throughout Greek mythology in many different forms.  The Celts, however, view the cosmos as Land, Sea, and Sky, which divides the Middle realm to match the idea of upper, middle, and lower realms (Dangler).  Even in cultures such as the Norse tradition, which typically is represented as nine realms, can be interpreted in a triad formation (3 x 3).  There are also other triad features in these cultures, such as the Norns, who are three demi-goddesses who control fate (Lindemans, 1998). 
We see this idea of tripartition repeatedly within ADF as well. The dedicant’s path includes the three triads of practice.  The Kindreds themselves are identified in three separate groups, Shining Ones, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits.  There are also people who view the nine ADF virtues three triads as well.  Our clergy program is also divided into three separate systems as well.  Within ADF there is definitely a repeated occurrence of triads for cosmology, study programs, and many other factors. 
These divisions are made as a way to incorporate the practices of the Indo-Europeans into our own rituals and rites.  My preference is to view the realms on a vertical axis, recognizing the Upper, Middle, and Lower realms, but this division allows for people to create a ritual that works with their world view, while still working within a cosmological view that works for the organization as a whole. (318 words)

4. Fire Essential
Explain why the fire is an essential element of ADF ritual, and what relation it has to the sacrifice. (150 words min.)

Fire was a vital part of survival and worship in ancient Indo-European cultures.  It was used to help feed, warm, and protect people long before we had other ways to do these things.  It was revered in many cultures, and is one feature of Indo-European cultures that is remarkably common (Newberg).  The Greeks personified the hearth in the Goddess Hestia.  The Romans called her Vesta.  In some situations, the fire itself could be used as an altar for worship (Fickett-Wilbar). 
On a more spiritual level, fire is our way of connecting to the Upper realm, which is the real that the Shining Ones reside in.  Through the fire we are able to send our praises and messages to the Gods, and receive theirs in return.  This is also the way that we can make sacrifices to the deities.  It is what gives us our ability to have a *ghosti relationship with the Kindred.  Fire takes the sacrifices and transforms them into smoke, to rise to the realm of the Shining Ones, essentially to deliver our gifts.  This gift is then returned to us in the form of a blessing (Fickett-Wilbar, Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF).  (195 words)

5.  Gatekeeper
Describe the purpose and function of the Gatekeeper in ADF ritual. Explain also who or what makes a good Gatekeeper, along with why they do, with at least two examples of mythological figures that could fill the role of a Gatekeeper and give an explanation of why they can. (300 words min.)

            A key portion of the ADF Core Order of Ritual includes the opening of Gates for each realm to communicate and share energy with the Kindreds.  ADF uses a Gatekeeper to open these gates and help us to establish our connection between the realms.  The Gatekeeper is defined as “a power that opens and closes the Gates with us” (Newberg, Step Six: Opening the Gate(s)).  I enjoy this premise because it is a combination of the powers and not the reliance upon someone else to do this work for us.  It is one of the many ways that ADF tries to build a relationship with the cosmos. 
            A good Gatekeeper is typically a being that has the ability to traverse between the realms and communicate with different aspects of the Kindreds.  The term that ADF uses to describe this type of being is “liminal”.  This description can include a vast array of beings, each with a unique approach to the role of a Gatekeeper.  However, the general role is the same, to build a connection between the realms and help establish communication and connections with the Kindreds. 
            There are numerous figures that could be used as a Gatekeeper in ADF rituals.  The two that I am most familiar with are Hermes and Ratatosk.  Hermes is the Greek messenger God.  He has the ability to move between the realms to communicate with each of the Kindreds.  His ability to travel throughout the Cosmos, from Olympus to Hades, gives him a unique ability to connect the Greek cosmos and share messages between the realms.  These traits make him a fantastic Gatekeeper.  Ratatosk is a part of Norse mythology that also acts as a messenger.  The squirrel runs up and down Yggdrasil to share messages between the realms. Ratatosk’s ability to traverse between the realms also makes him a prime candidate for Gatekeeper.   (310 words)

6.  Earth and Sky
Describe the relationship between earth and sky in ADF ritual. (125 words min.)

            Within ADF rituals, actions are taken to establish a Sacred Center.  This Sacred Center is the axis of the cosmos, and place of balance between the earth and sky.   It is done in an effort to order the chaos of the universe and to build a connection to the cosmos. This balance is incredibly important with ADF, and among numerous Indo-European cultures.  Equilibrium can also be found between these two realms through grounding and centering.  Within ADF, this is frequently done through the Two Powers meditation.  This meditation draws power up from the earth and down from the sky to meet and mingle in the middle.  It is through this meditation that we learn to balance the nourishing and supporting chaos of the earth with the warm order of the sky. It can be used to build a connection between the powers of the cosmos and to assist with balancing these energies (Corrigan).  (152 words)

7.  The Nature of Sacrifice
Summarize each of the five contexts of sacrifice in Rev. Thomas' "The Nature of Sacrifice" paper in your own words. Explain the effect of sacrifice on the cosmos and on the participants. (100 words min. for each context, 150 words min. for effect.)

Sacrifice is one of the words used with ADF that I have always been slightly uncomfortable with because of the negative connotations that it holds within modern society.  However, this paper gives a very interesting insight into the act of sacrifice and the five contexts in which they are presented. 
The first context that sacrifice is presented in is maintaining cosmic order.  Essentially, this type of sacrifice is made in an effort to help support and balance the cosmos.  Creation myths from Indo-European cultures show us that the universe was created from chaos, either through the pieces of a single being, or directly from chaos. Each sacrifice in this context is distributed to the cosmos in order to maintain balance between these parts. However, while we uphold the cosmos through our sacrifices, we also gather the energy from them into ourselves. This type of sacrifice is done as a way to continue the cycle of life throughout the cosmos.  
            The second context that sacrifice is presented in is delivering services through gifts. It is through these sacrifices that a *ghosti- relationship is established with the Kindreds.  *ghosti- is a term that means “a reciprocal relationship” in the context of sacrifices (Pagano).  Hospitality was an incredibly important obligation to Indo-European cultures and relationships were formed upon the idea of mutual exchange.  This idea doesn’t expect extravagant gifts to be given, especially if they cannot be afforded.  Each person should only be expected to make sacrifices within their means because it is not the gift itself that is important, but the action of giving that is important. Sacrifices given in this context are meant to build a relationship with the being that the sacrifice is made for. 
            The third context that sacrifice is presented in is apotropaic offerings for protection. Apotropaic is defined as “designed to avert evil” (Merriam-Webster) and that is essentially what these types of offerings are meant to do. They are traditionally used to guard against bad luck and evil influence.  In Greek culture, purification itself could be a form of sacrifice through reparation.  They would use water to purify themselves and cleanse them from both physical filth and to make amends for their wrong-doing (Thomas). They would also use a “scapegoat” to stand as a representative of evil and by punishing this single person they would purify everyone else.  These types of ideas seem drastic in today’s society, but these types of sacrifices were popular in Indo-European cultures.  They were used to protect the people of their culture and maintain order.
            The fourth context for sacrifice is the shared meal. This type of sacrifice is prevalent in both modern and ancient cultures.  A meal would be prepared for the group and a portion of this is given as a sacrifice, sometimes to a specific deity or Kindred, while other times it is given to the world.  This type of sacrifice is another way that relationships were built and unity was reinforced.  How these sacrifices are handled varies from culture to culture, but the purpose is the same.  The sharing of a meal is meant to build a safe, respectful, and harmonious community.  
            The final context for sacrifice is the idea that chaos mitigates cosmos.  This is the current practice of sacrifice.  This type of sacrifice is another one that is meant to help create a balance in the universe.  While ancient cultures required orderliness and perfection in their rituals, modern rituals are allowed to be more spontaneous.  Spontaneous actions or offerings can help to give a bit of chaos to the cosmos, which may help to balance the two ideas.  It is a concept that was not present in ancient cultures, but has become very valuable in modern ritual, especially within an ADF context
            Sacrifice was a huge part of Indo-European cultures.  The idea of giving sacrifices has been heavily incorporated into ADF spirituality, typically by giving sacrifices through ritual. These sacrifices affect both the cosmos and those participating in the offering.  Sacrifices are meant to strengthen the cosmic structure and order the cosmos in a logical path that we can understand, while also aligning the cosmos with the participants. The participants also benefit from giving sacrifices as well.  Sacrifices can be used to build relationships with the Kindreds and the cosmos.  There may be the physical benefit of sustenance through food or drink, but the affect may also be a deeper spiritual effect, such as a deeper connection with the world around them, or inspiration for a project they are working on. Group offerings can also be a way to build a community and create bonds between people.  (771 words) 

8.  Purification
What does it mean to be "purified" in ADF ritual? Why is purification important? What must be purified, and who may do the purification? (150 words min.)

Purification is defined as “to make pure” (Merriam-Webster).  Ancient cultures often had a very strict set of rules that they followed for purification and who was viewed pure in order to participate in rituals.  Within an ADF ritual, purification is done to prepare for connection with the cosmos by cleansing, either physically or spiritually.  There are very few specifications on how this should be done.  The Core Order of Ritual does require that purification be done “prior to Opening the Gates” (Newberg, Step Two: Purification) but no other specific rules are given for purification within ADF.  Purification is important part of ritual because it establishes the difference between ritual and the mundane world.  It also prepares the area and people for ritual by removing impurities, adding desirables, or marking something as special. ADF has no specific rules on who or what has to be purified within ritual or who may do the purification, but simply requires that it be done.   (160 words)

9.  Kindred Blessings
In many rituals we call for the blessings of the Kindreds. Where do these blessings come from, how are they provided to the folk, and why are we entitled to them? (200 words min.)

Within ADF ritual, sacrifices are given to the Kindreds in order to build relationships and maintain order within the cosmos.  The relationship that is built is on the idea of reciprocity.  The Kindreds give their blessings in return for the gifts they have received.  This reciprocal relationship is based on the idea of *ghosti and hospitality (Newberg, Step Eleven: Calling (asking) for the Blessings).  Creating this type of relationship is one of the goals of sacrifice.  These blessings come from  the beings that we have previously given sacrifices to in a ritual, which is typically the Kindreds and the Deity of Occasion.  Within my protogrove, we ask for the blessings from the Deity of Occasion specifically, and then also acknowledge the relationship with all of the Kindreds.  For example, in our Celtic-focused Beltane ritual, we began our call for the blessings by speaking to Herne and Aine, our Deities of Occasion.  We asked for blessings from each of them.  We then blessed the Waters of life by stating “In our tradition, a gift calls for a gift.  Having offered to the Kindreds, we week their blessings in return.”  We call to each of the Kindreds and for them to hallow and bless the waters.  After the blessing has been consumed we all say “"By the blessing of all the Kindred, by the passion of <Deity of Occasion>, may the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face.  Honor to the Kindreds!" This type of blessing acknowledges the *ghosti relationship that has been built with the Kindreds, and the expectations of that relationship.  
ADF usually shares these blessings with the folk through a practice called the “Waters of Life.”  These “waters” are held in a vessel. After the blessings are called for the beverage in the vessel is imbued with the blessings.  The waters are then consumed by the folk, allowing them to receive the blessings from the ritual.  The actual contents of the vessel may vary from water to wine, but the intent remains the same.  These blessings are received as a part of the relationship that is built through ritual and sacrifice.  This relationship is what “entitles” us to receive them, but I see it as much more as a blessing of spirituality than one of entitlement.  (375 words). 

Works Cited

ADF Mother Grove. (n.d.). ADF Organizational Structure. Retrieved May 2014, from

Corrigan, I. (n.d.). The Two Powers Meditation. Retrieved May 2014, from

Dangler, R. M. (n.d.). Nine Central Tenents of Druidic Ritual. Retrieved May 2014, from

Elliott, D. (n.d.). Greek Creation Myths. Retrieved May 2014, from Encyclopedia Mythica:

Fickett-Wilbar, D. (n.d.). Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF. Retrieved May 2014, from

Fickett-Wilbar, D. (n.d.). The Prot-Indo-European Hearth. Retrieved May 2014, from

Lindemans, M. F. (1998, December 27). Norns. Retrieved May 2014, from Encyclopedia Mythica:

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Purifying. Retrieved May 2014, from

Merriam-Webster, n. W. (n.d.). Apotropaic. Retrieved May 2014, from

Momigliano, A. (1984). Georges Dumezil and the Trifunctional Approach to Roman Civilization. History & Theory , 23 (1), 312-331.

Newberg, B. (n.d.). Step Eleven: Calling (asking) for the Blessings. Retrieved May 2014, from

Newberg, B. (n.d.). Step Five: (Re)Creating the Cosmos. Retrieved May 2014, from

Newberg, B. (n.d.). Step Six: Opening the Gate(s). Retrieved May 2014, from

Newberg, B. (n.d.). Step Two: Purification. Retrieved May 2014, from

Pagano, R. J. (n.d.). *Ghosti and the Return Flow. Retrieved May 2014, from

Thomas, K. (n.d.). The Nature of Sacrifice. Retrieved May 2014, from

No comments:

Post a Comment