SPRING EQUINOX 2005 LITURGY
Raven's Cry Grove, ADF
Composed by Todd Covert, RCG Liturgist & Sr. Druid Emertis            Additional text by Douglas R. Dean

HALLOWS OF THE NEMETON: Cauldron filled with water (some from the members homes) Fire altar, to be lit from a candle brought from the PD's home, and Bile (sacred tree). Additionally, a small mound of potting soil has been amassed at the foot of the Sacred Tree and is adorned with living, flowering plants. A trowel, packages of flower seeds, and enough peat moss seedling pots are at hand for the rite. A seasonally decorated basket, containing three colorfully decorated raw eggs and carrots with greens, is brought in to the nemeton.

PD leads a brief introduction and orientation to the rite of Spring. Someone lights the source fire.

Call to the Rite
Thrice-three chimes announce the rite.

Protecting the Hallows (           )

PD: "We will now seek to protect our rite from the powers that may wish to hinder us."

A Druid lights a flame in the South and speaks:
"Ancient and Dark Ones of the deep and the wild,
You who held this place of old and would hold it once again,
I light this flame against your return,
But invite you to take of it what warmth you will."

An offering of grain (or other food) is made to the South of the Hallows.

"Accept this offering and trouble not our rite, Nor hinder the forces of prosperity in this time."
"Biodh sé amhlaidh."

All: " Biodh sé amhlaidh."

Entrance Processional (Sunwise)
Participants are lead by druids (one caring a basket with the coloured eggs, a satchel of sunflower seeds, a vessel with scotch, and greens) and they circle the ritual site three times sunwise to music and then settle. The basket is placed before the altar in front of a large pile of potting soil. Participants enter the Hallows, sunwise. The chant, “We Approach the Sacred Grove” is sung at this point. When participants are settled and the altar fire is lit, PD [ DOUG ] speaks: 

PD: "May we pray with a good fire. As our ancestors did and our children may do in times to come, let us honor the Mighty Ones in the old ways.

Today we celebrate the Vernal or Spring Equinox, known in Ireland as Meán Earraigh and in Wales as Alban Eilir — both mean in their respective languages "Middle-Spring". It is the festival of the greening on the earth, when the hours of night and day stand in equilibrium. Let us look with in to discover the balance that lies within us all. Spring is also a time of youth and fertility, when the land around us reawakens and new life begins to burst out and show signs of great promise for the future. As life on Earth peeps out after a long winter hibernation and plant life flourishes, so too may we thrive and prosper in all that we do."


Invocation of the Awen

PD: "Let us now join together in calling on the Awen, spirit of divine inspiration, that our words and our rite may be fit for the gods and goddesses.

RCG Bardic Group invokes with the song “Brigid, Bright Lady” (short version)


Consecration of the Hallows

PD: "Let us begin by sanctifying the Hallows by which we make offering."

THE WELL (           )

"Sacred Source, Cauldron of making and unmaking,
Fathomless Sea, bountiful Spring,
Mother of the Rivers, you who were known of old as Danu.
We honor you here with this offering."
(An offering of silver is made to the well)
"May we be nourished in body and mind by you."

Uiscí naomh, sruthaigh ionainn!
Sacred Waters, flow within us!"

ALL: Sacred Waters, flow within us!


THE FIRE (           )

"Sacred Fire, sacrificed and sacrificer,
You who rise to meet your Father the Sun
And your Sister the Moon,
Holy flame of hearth and altar, known of old as Belenos.
We honor you here with this offering.
(An offering of oil is made to the fire)
May we be strengthened in spirit and honor by you.

Tine naomh, loisc ionainn!
Sacred Fire, burn within us!"

ALL: Sacred fire, burn within us!


THE TREE (           )

"Sacred Tree, rooted deep and crowned high,
Center of the Earth and axis of the Worlds,
Most honorable of the Kindred of this place.
May your roots drink deep of the Waters below.
(An offering of water from the Well,)

"May you draw life from the Fire of the Heavens."
(smudging of incense lit from the Fire is made to the Tree,)

"You hold the very mystery of Life,
Piercing the Sky, yielding to the Waters,
We honor you here with this offering.
May we grow in love and courage
Each time we gather around you."
( ...and the tree is annointed with fragrant oil.)

Crann naomh, fàs ionainn!
Sacred Tree, grow within us!"

ALL: Sacred tree, grow within us!



Sanctifying the Participants
(simultaneously with the Call for Peace).

PD: "Let us make ourselves ready for the working of the rite.  Let all present here be likewise cleansed by the water of the sacred Well and by the heat of the Fire of Mid-Spring."

Druids (           ,            ) draw water from the well and light a censer from the fire. While druids cense and asperge the participants, the "Call for Peace" is made.

The Call For Peace
PD makes the Call For Peace.

To the East: "May there be peace in the East, ancient Leinster, source of Prosperity."

To the South: "May there be peace in the South, ancient Munster, source of Harmony."

To the West: "May there be peace in the West, ancient Connacht, source of Wisdom."

To the North: "May there be peace in the North, ancient Ulster, source of Strength."

In the Center: "Here in the Center, let peace rule over this rite."

PD offers grain to the Earth:
"May we be united with you, Lady of the Land,
Sovereign of the Realm under Sídhe,
Grant us the abundant blessings of the Land,
Lady Áine, as our ways find favor in your eyes.
Bíodh sé amhlaidh."

ALL: "Bíodh sé amhlaidh."


Opening the Gates to the Otherworlds

PD: "We now call on Manannan Mac Lir, our Lord of the Gates to the Otherworlds, to make open the portals for our worship."

D1: (             )
"A Mhanannain Mhic Lir, Gatekeeper, Sidhe King,
Shrouded in mist or met at the crossroads,
Let our words sound in the depths of the Well."
[ Oil is poured on the waters of the Well. ]

"Let our words rise on the Fire to the Shining Ones."
[ Oil is poured on the Fire. ]

"Let the Sacred Tree carry our words to all the Worlds."
[ Oil is annointed on the Tree. ]

"A Mhanannain Mhic Lír, oscail na Geatai anois!
Let the Gates be open!"


The Three Kindreds

PD: "Let us now give honor to the Three Kindreds, that they may honor us in return."

Honoring the Ancestors (           )

"A Shinseara! Ancestors!
You who guide our steps,
You who carry the honor of the People to the Otherworlds,
We honor you here."

[ Ale is poured in the Well and the remainder set in a cup on the altar. ]

"We honor you with the first portion and offer this cup for your taking.
Ancestors, come to our hearthside and guide us in our rite."
"Bíodh sé amhlaidh."

All: " Bíodh sé amhlaidh."

Inviting the Spirits of the Land (           )

"A Sprideanna na talaimh! Spirits of the Land!
Kindreds of fur, fin, and feather,
Of bark, leaf and blossom, of rock, soil, or crystal.
Fair folk, green kin, and totem beasts!
We honor you here."
[ Flowers or fruit or the like is placed amongst the Hallows. ]

"We thank you for sharing this place with us and offer these gifts in return.
Earth Spirits, come to our hearthside and join us in our rite."
"Bíodh sé amhlaidh."

All: "Bíodh sé amhlaidh."

Offering to the Deities (           )

"A Dheithe! Shining Ones!
Highest and mightiest,
First among the Kindreds, worthiest of honor,
Ancient of the Tuatha De Danann, we would offer to you in this place.
Deities of this place, known to us or unknown,
Gods and Goddesses of all those here, Patrons and Matrons,
We would offer you like honor.
Join us at our fire, o Shining Ones.
A Dheithe, glacigi ar h-iobairt seo!
[ Oil is poured on the Fire ]

"Shining Ones, accept our sacrifice!"

All: "Shining Ones, accept our sacrifice!"


Acknowledgement of the Patrons of the Rite
PD [ PD ] speaks, saying:
"Failte! A dheithe, a seanara, a sprideanna!
Welcome to the god/desses, ancestors, and the sidhe! To all of you who have gathered at our fire at this time in the Wheel of the Year, we pray you join us in worshipping the Patrons of this holy rite here in our sacred grove.”

ÖSTRA [             ]
The Month or Moon of Greening, which corresponds to the period from mid-February to mid-March solar, is sacred to Östra. Østre or Ostara is the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring who has given her name to the Spring festival of Easter. The animal that accompanies her is the Hare, which comes down to us through folklore as the Easter Bunny.

“Östra, Goddess of the Dawn,
Keeper of the hare of Fertility,
Sign of the greening of the Earth.”



OISÍN [ PD ]
“In this Month of Greening, youth abounds and can be found all around us. Baby chicks and ducklings, new lambs, calves, and fawns have long been associated with this time year. One Youth stands out amongst our Lore as a symbol of the great promise of the future. The story is a long one, as all good one are. So I’ll be brief. While Finn Mac Cumhal, leader of the mighty Fianna, was away doing battle with the enemy, his pregnant wife Sadbh (who he met under Otherworldly circumstances...chasing a gorgeous doe while hunting) was lured out of the keep by a stranger who was disguised as Finn and she was magically transformed back into a doe and was taken away. His people searched everywhere but they could not find her and on his return Finn became consumed with the search for his love.”

“After seven years of end searching, Finn’s hunting party came upon a wild and beautiful young boy. They adopted the young lad and gave him the name Oisín. They fed him, cleaned him up, and before long the child lost his wildness and became one of them. Finn soon began to recognize the likeness of his wife in the boy and when the Oisín learned to talk told everyone his story. He was born a fawn and raised by a beautiful doe trapped in a cliff-wrapped valley. A dark stranger would visit every now and then and try to talk with the doe, but the doe would run away with scorn in her eyes. This happened again and again, until one day the stranger became furious and struck the doe with a hazel wand and forced her to follow him, leaving Oisín behind. Oisín, distraught and overwhelmed over losing his mother, fell to the ground sobbing and soon fell asleep. When he awoke was surrounded by Finn’s hunting hounds, he was now a human boy and the rest of the story they all knew. Oisín was recognized as Finn’s son and continued to live and fight among the Fianna, eventually becoming a great warrior and their chief bard and poet.”

“Oisín, Little fawn, young Lord, son of Finn,
When all hope seemed lost,
You appeared
And hope and promise returned.”

“As nature slowly reawakens form a long winter sleep, and the snow and cold fades, giving nourishment to all that rests in the earth’s fertile soil, the seeds of rebirth begin to sprout up from the darkness. Let us awaken from the darkness of our sleep in praise of the life within and around us. Let the light shine forth from within our essence to shine upon the greening earth.”

Invocations
D1 [             ] : “We call to you Östra, Goddess of the Sunrise. We ask that you come to us today to celebrate the return of Spring. We ask you to bring with your Hare, the symbol of fertility, to give our fields and our lives the fertility needed for growth. Östra, we ask that you be with us today!”
[D1 makes an offering of carrot tops and other leafy greens to Östra into the fire.]

PD: "We call to you Oisín, little fawn, pride of the Fianna. We ask that you bring to us today the spirit of the young stag. Come and celebrate with us the greening of the Earth! You were raised in the woods with your mother, who was in the shape of a doe. After your father, Finn, found you, you were taught the ways of the tribe. Oisín, we ask that you be with us today!"
[PD makes an offering of scotch to Oisín in the fire.]


Praise Offerings

PD: "At this time, let all who offer praise or sacrifice come forth."
--- ("It Was A Lover & His Lass -- In Springtime -- hey dinga-ding... " bardic offering) ---
[This is each participant's opportunity to speak their heart, make a simple sacrifice, read a poem, or simply take a moment for silent reflection.].



Main Offering / Sacrifice
After personal offerings are made the bardic group will sing/chant "The Heat of the Sun, the Green of the Earth, Return, Return...", while the coloured egg(s) are cracked open over the soil and then mixed in with a trowel or stick by PD.
PD says:

"Great Maiden of Springtime and Bright Spirit of Youth,
we give you our love, our respect,
our devotion as we ask you…
Östra agus Oisín. Glacigi iobairt seo!
Östra and Oisín, Accept our sacrifice!"

Taking of the Omen   (           )

PD: "Having prayed to the powers, let us open to them, asking what blessings they offer us in return."

SAC consults ogham and announces the results of the omen-taking. If the omen is inauspicious, further offerings may be made and a second omen taken. If the omen is again unfavorable, the rite should be ended, with due thanks made to the Kindreds. If the omen is auspicious, the rite proceeds.


Seeking the Blessings of the Deities

PD: "In our custom, a gift calls for a gift. Having offered to the Shining Ones, we seek their blessings in return."

D1(           ) pours ale (or the like) into a cup and holds it up.

"Shining Ones, we seek the blessings of the three Cauldrons,
Of Wisdom, of Plenty, and of Rebirth.
We would share in your magic.
And so we say as one folk: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!"

All: "Shining Ones, give us the Waters!"

D2 (           ): "We would stand in fellowship with you
And feast at your side and proclaim ourselves your People.
And so we say again: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!"

All: "Shining Ones, give us the Waters!"

D3 (           ): We have offered of our love and our work to you;
We have shared our hearthside,
And, as a gift calls for a gift,
We say one last time: Shining Ones, give us the Waters of Life!"

All: "Shining Ones, give us the Waters of Life!

D1-3 elevate the cup saying:
"Is e seo na h-Uisci Bheatha!
These are the Waters of Life!"

The cup is passed among the participants.

PD: "As you share in the blessings of the Mighty Kindreds, do not hesitate to salute or otherwise honor them. At this time, the Gates are still open and offerings may yet be made."

When all have had a chance to drink from the cup and make any offerings, the rite proceeds.


Ritual Planting
[A Druid (           ) recites the following during the first example planting:]

Seed Blessing by Marae Price [SLG Sprg rite 2k]

“Seeds hold my dreams,
Carry them to earth
That they may root and grow and blossom,
Blessed by the Sun,
Watered by our Mother,
That our harvest be great and full.”



PD [ DOUG ] says the following invitation to all gathered…
“As a token of the spirit of this rite, each of you may step forward and, in a celebration of the powers of Youth and Fertility, combine some of this soil and a seed. We ask that you take this gift home as a memento of this rite.”

ALL SING THIS BASIC “Östra Chant" DURING THE PLANTING HUB-BUB…

“Spring has come
Oh spring is here
Feel the new life powers.
Come now Östra
With your hare
Bringing eggs and flowers.”
(Repeat ‘ad nausium’)



Thanking the Kindreds

PD: "Let us now give thanks to the Powers we have honored here."
(The same Druids who invited and/or offered to each Kindred thank them here:)

D1(           ): "Östra, wondrous Lady, we thank you for joining us in our ritual. Danke schön! We thank you."
All: "We thank you."

PD(           ): "Oisín, little fawn, we thank you for joining us in our ritual. Go raibh maith agat! We thank you."
All: "We thank you."

D(           ): "A Dheithe! Deities! Go raibh maith agaibh. We thank you."
All: "We thank you."

D(           ): "A sprideanna talaimh! Earth Spirits! Go raibh maith agaibh. We thank you."
All: "We thank you."

D(           ): "A Shinseara! Ancestors! Go raibh maith agaibh. We thank you."
All: "We thank you."

D(           ): "A Bhríd! Lady Brigit! Go raibh maith agat! We thank you."
All: "We thank you."

PD: "To all those Powers that have aided our rite, we say once more: Go raibh mile maith agaibh!
We thank you all."
All: "We thank you."

PD: "We return to the Earth those blessings we have left unused."
SAC makes libation from the blessing cup.


Closing the Gates

PD: "We call once more on Manannan Mac Lir to close the gates."

D1 (           ): "A Mhanannain! Gatekeeper and Sidhe King!
We thank you for guiding our prayers to the Otherworlds.
We thank you for guiding and warding our steps in all the Worlds.
Let the Fire now be but flame.
Let the Well now be but water.
And let the Tree now be no more than the true heart we carry forth from this place.
A Mhanannàin Mhic Lìr, dún na Geatai anois!
Let the Gates now be closed!"

PD: "As we started, so let us end."

Thrice-three chimes are sounded.

PD: "Brothers and sisters, go in peace and blessings. The rite is ended."

A PAGAN VERSION OF “HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL” SUNG NOW...if so inclined.

"Pagan Peter Cottontail"

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hopping down the bunny trail
Hippity-Hoppity Oestre's on her way.

Bringing every girl and boy
Baskets full of Oestre's joy
Things to make your Springtime bright and gay.

She's got Springtime herbs for Tommy
Colored eggs for sister Sue.
There's an orchid for your Mommy
And some wildflowers for you.

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hopping down the bunny trail
Hippity-hoppity Springtime's on it's way!!!


The Participants may process forth from the Hallows as deemed appropriate.
Feasting ensues...

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