Yule Ritual, 2003 Moonpath Chapter of CUUPS

Composed by Valan, The Druid

Ritual adapted from Ar nDraioht Fein,
Little Acorn Grove,  Yuletide ritual, 1999

 

PRELIMINARY ARRANGEMENTS:

 

The ritual site is arranged with a fire circle as the center. Space is allotted for the tree in the east. Torches mark the cardinal points. The processional enters from a gate in the north-east of the circle.

 

Sacrificial items, (“ale”, oatmeal, sea-salt, holly bough)

12 red candles,

“sun” candle

Rune  bag

4 ornaments 

Blessing cup

All these are set on altar draped with red or gold..  Each participant carries a sprig of Holly in the procession. All lights are extinguished until the lighting of the fire.

 

 

ADDITIONAL PROPS:

 

Large bell

Several  lighters (1 for each quarter, and Firestarter material)

4 Baskets of tree ornaments (1 for  each quarter)

4 cramberry juices and small cups

A large bucket of water

Evergreen tree with bright garland

Quarter torches

Big bucket of water.

 

Celebrants

 

Valan

Spel

Star

Mr. Y

Quarter teams (3 in each team)

 

Fire  Keeper   (Nereus)

2 Holly distributors (as folks leave the sanctuary)

 

Beginning signal:

 

A bell is rung three times to signal the beginning of the ritual.

 

Valan

 

By earth, by sky, by sea,

Tis time.

Tis time.

Tis time to follow the ancient ways,

tis time to follow the old ways. 

Let us begin.

 

 

We start in the sanctuary and go out the back near the labyrinth.  Drums give us a marching cadence.  Moonpath banner, Ken’s steer, Mr. Y’s crook lead. Then Valan  with gold candle,  Spel and Star with red candles,  then remaining  10 candles held by quarter teams, then participants.

 

Processional:

 

Participants proceed to the fire, circling around deosil.Valan carries sun candle, others carry 12 red candles.   These are placed on altar. Every other participant carries a sprig of Florida Holly with berries .

 

(Note:  NO fire is lit at  this time.)

 

Spel:

 

As we approach the sacred grove

With heart and mind, flesh and bone,

Join us now in ways of old.

We have come home.

 

Join now for the Druids Pledge:

(all)

We swear by Peace and Love to stand

Heart to heart and hand to hand

Mark, Oh Spirits, hear us now

Confirming this, our sacred vow.

 

Statement of purpose and precedent:

 

Mr. Y:

 

The Sun has withered and grown weak

Her strength is waning and we who are

Dependent on her light and warmth,

Wait and watch in the Wolf's darkness

On this, the longest night of the year.

 

Let our voices sound to the heavens.

Let our wills be joined as one.

Let our gifts strengthen the gods

To drive the Wolf once more to the shadows

To hasten the Sun's rebirth.

 

Invocations to earth and sea and sky

 

Valan:  I am a child of the earth, the sky and the sea.

                   I am your daughter, answer unto me.

 

Spell

Hertha, O beloved Mother Earth From whose dark womb is born all green and growing things, To whom all life descends in death's darkness, We honor you as our forefathers did before us. Offering this precious drink; which was born of your bounty, We pray that you accept our gift and bless and uphold this rite.

 

Spel pours “ale” onto the earth beside the firepit.

 

 Star:

 

Tiwaz, O beloved Father Sky From whose bright heaven comes the wind, the rain, And the lightning which first gave spark to life itself,

 

We honor you as our forefathers did before us. Offering this precious grain, which was born of your bounty, We pray that you accept our gift and bless and uphold this rite.

 

 Star takes a handful of oatmeal and casts it across the fire.

 

Valan

Njord, O beloved Guardian  of the Sea, whose gentle breath fill the sails of those who ride your waves.

 

We honor you as our forefathers did before us. Offering this precious sea-salt, which was born of your bounty, We pray that you accept our gift and bless and uphold this rite.

 

Valan takes a handful of sea-salt and casts it across the fire

  

Sacrifice to the outsiders

 

Mr. Y

 

Ancient and dark ones; unseen, unsightly, and unloved

We make this offering to you

 

You twisted and misshapen

You cold of heart .and dim of mind

Take this offering and trouble not our rites.

He takes the blessing cup and

pours  “ale” onto the earth, southwest of the circle

 

Establishing the sacred centers:

 

(At this time the FIRESTARTER kindles the central fire ablaze.

 

Spel:

 

In ancient times fire, man's greatest tool and nature's fiercest weapon, defined the meeting place of the sacred and the profane, the heart of the home and of religious ceremony. Therefore, when we come together to celebrate the rites of our ancestors, we light a fire. We light this fire as the center of our circle, the symbol of the ancient ways, and as a means by which our sacrifices may be conveyed to the realms of the gods.

 

Valan

 

O sacred fire that consumes and transforms

Ancient enemy and first-born friend of humankind.

 Accept this offering of fragrant bough

Become for us the living door to the heavens

The manifestation of the Shining Ones .

And the path of our return to the ancient ways. 

 

Valan tosses Holly branch on fire.

 

Star:

 O sacred bough of fragrant memory

May your sweet, rising smoke

Reach the halls of the gods.

 

May we pray with a good fire!

 

All participants, cast your Holly sprigs into the fire.

 

Invoking the quarters

 

(3 per team. 1 speaks, one has a  Bic, and all are charged with passing out ornaments and juice and c ups)

 

The East quarter team proceeds doesil till it reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The speaker remains, the other  proceed to east. The Eastern torch is lit.

 

Eastern caller:  I  invoke the creatures, elementals and beings who dwell in the East. Whose element is Air, whose aspect is communication and thought.  Be welcome at our Rite, hear our call. Caller goes back to the East.

 

The  Southern quarter team proceeds doesil till it reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The speaker remains, the other proceed to South. The Southern torch is lit.

 

Southern caller:  I  invoke the creatures, elementals and beings who dwell in the South. Whose element is Fire, whose aspect is  vitality and transformation.  Be welcome at our Rite, hear our call. Caller goes back to the South.

 

The West quarter team proceeds doesil till it reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The speaker remains, the other proceed to West. The Westerm torch is lit.

 

Western caller:  I invoke our Ancestors, the creatures, elementals and beings who dwell in the West. Whose element is Water, whose aspect is  memory and wisdom.  Be welcome at our Rite, hear our call. Caller goes back to the West.

 

 The North quarter team proceeds doesil till it reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The speaker remains, the other  proceed to north. The Northern torch is lit.

 

Northern caller:  I  invoke the creatures, elementals and beings who dwell in the North. Whose element is the earth itself, whose aspect is  stability  and growth.  Be welcome at our Rite, hear our call. Caller goes back to the North.

 

 

Valan steps away from the circle to the east and spreads arms to gather attention.

 

 

Valan:

 

A great tree stands, I know  it by the name Yggdrasil.

 

 

Mr. Y:

That tall tree lifts its branches to the heavens. It stands ever green on this plane, Midgard. Its roots wrap around the Well of Fate.

 

 

Spel steps forward, picking up the basket of tree ornaments.

 

Spel:        

 

From the fire of the heavens to the watery abyss of the underworld, all trees are one tree, the Shaman's stallion that joins heaven and earth. So also is this tree, Yggdrasil, by which we may travel between the realms of mortals and gods: with us our hopes, our dreams, arid our desires.

 

Quarter attendants around circle, handing each person an ornament: when all have one,

 

Star:

In ancient times our ancestors would dedicate a tree in every grove and village to be what were later called “fairy trees”. On this tree they would hang ornaments, ribbons, little bits of metal, or other tokens as symbols and sacrifices that their wishes might come true. From that comes today's custom of raising the Yule tree. So tonight, we take this opportunity to remind the gods of our wishes and dreams. Take an ornament and dedicate it to some special desire, to some message you have for the gods tonight and hang it on the tree.

 

Spel demonstrates by hanging the first ornament on the tree, then moves aside.

 

 Everyone comes forward to put an ornament on the  tree.  When all are hung,

 

Mr. Y says:

 

By fire and by water,

Between the earth and sky,

We stand like the World Tree,

Rooted deep, crowned high. 

Come we now to the well,

The eye and the mouth of earth.

Come we now to the well

And silver we bring.

Come we now to the well,

The waters of rebirth.

Come we now to the well.

 

Together we sing.

We will kindle a fire,

A door to the Shining Ones.

We will kindle a fire

And offerings pour.

We will kindle a fire,

A light beneath the moon and sun.

We will kindle a fire.

Our spirits will soar.

   

Gather we at the tree,

The root and the crown of life.

Gather we at the tree,

The branching and tall.

Gather we at the tree,

The pillar of heaven bright

Gather we at the tree,

The center of all!

 

 

Star:

 

Tonight we come together to witness the longest night of the year and the beginning of winter. Over the centuries this has become a joyous time, as families join together and exchange food and gifts. We must remember that this was not always such a happy season. In ancient times, the first day of winter marked the beginning of a long, cold, and often hungry wait until spring. During that wait it was not unusual for many members of the community to die. The oldest and the youngest, those too weak to survive without fresh fruits and vegetables, and victims of diseases that passed quickly in small houses around smoky fires would past away. This night was a preparation for the harsh times ahead. No one knew when death would come nor in what dark year Ragnarok's demons would swallow the sun entirely along with the gods and the men whom they protected: So it is on this night we join together, as they did then, to remember that all things die. Cattle, kinsmen, and even the gods themselves will someday pass away. We can only hope and pray that this night will not be the beginning of that endless night, that the sun will rise tomorrow, heralding a spring still far to come.

 

  

Spel:

 

Tonight we remember the darkness and the doom which will overtake even the gods by recounting the tale of how Odin came to know his own fate. He traveled the road to Hel to raise the ancient Volva from her grave to foretell the fate of Balder, the beloved God of the Sun.

 

 

OMEN TAKING:

 

 Valan

 

The gifts of the people rise to the gods on the smoke of sacrifice. May our prayers go clearly and without hindrance to those we have praised  A favor requires a favor; a song another song, and a gift given requires a gift in return. This is the law of ancient times, alike between man and man and mankind and the gods.  We have offered our gifts to the gods and we ask them in return for knowledge of what tomorrow will bring. Will our vigil bear fruit and the darkness pass?

 

 I ask then, that the youngest among us draw a Rune that we may know our Fate.

 

The youngest draws and  Valan interprets a rune. If an, unfavorable omen is drawn, the participants  are asked to meditate on the gods' message and consider how to respond individually.

 

  

Mr. Y raises the Blessing cup filled with  cranberry juice.

  

Mr. Y:

 

Ancient and mighty ones we honor you. Having established the bond of hospitality with the gods, what the gods have given to us we distribute freely. Behold the drink of the gods!

 

All:

 

Behold the drink of the gods!

 

 Quarter teams pass out cups and pour juice.

 

 When all have  a drink,

 

Star says:

 

When we give we receive and are blessed

What we share will be shared in return.

Those we praise in joy will respond in our need.

We are kin to the gods when we drink their mead.

 

 

Spel:

 

Now the formal sacrifice is ended. We bid  the gods and elements farewell; to  go  or to stay as they will. We bid our Ancestors to watch over us and guide us on our path.

Remember well this closing thought:

 

 

Valan:

 

Now is the sun returned to glory.

Now is the darkness banished once more.

Now is our long vigil ended in victory.

Fire, carry our dreams to the heavens

Then may you rest, your night's work done.

 

Let the fire be flame. .

Let the well be water.

Let all be as it was before.

 

The. rite is ended.

 

Fire-keeper  extinguishes the fire with water (Big bucketful of water = big smokey finale..

 

 

 

WORKS REFERENCED AND CITED:

 

Burkert, W (1985). Greek Religion. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

 

Corrigan. (1998). ADF - A Standard Liturgy. http://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/liturgy.html

  

Corrigan. (1998). .The Yuletide Blessing. http://www.adf.org/rituals/norse/nyule.html

 

Ellis-Davidson, H.R. (1986). Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. New York: Penguin.

  

Gordon, E.V. (1978). An Introduction to Old Norse 2 Edition. Oxford: Oxford/Clarendon.

 

Havamal (W H. Auden & P .B. Taylor, Trans.).

 

Munch, PA. & Hustvedt, S. (Eds..). (1954). Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation. 

 

O'Flaherty, WD. (Ed.). (1981). The Rig Veda: An Anthology. New York: Penguin.

 

 Serith, C. & Green, G. Ostara Rite. 

 

The Song of the Sybil (W.H. Auden & P.B. Taylor,Traps.).

 

Sophistes, A. (1994). Neoclassical Sacrifice (Ta Hiera): General Celebratory Ritual Outline.

 

Tichenell, E. B. (1988). The Masks of Odin: Wisdom of the Ancient Norse. Pasadena: Theosophical University Press.

 

 

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