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Naked Gaesatae

This year, I did celebrate the Spring Equinox with Three Cranes Grove, who held this particular Rite in a Norse/Germanic ADF Format. In my beliefs, I am a Celtic Reconstructionist, but my fondness for the flexibility of the ADF liturgical format was only enhanced by this rite. Gazing upon the Spear that has been crafted for the Warriors in Three Cranes, wheels started cranking in my mind and I was inspired to craft a spear of my own to represent the Bile for the Grove Ive been planning on starting in London. Which I happened to unveil the idea to the rest of Three Cranes while feasting among them. The patrons of this rite were Frey, Freya and Eostre. The Gods offered us transitory wealth and asked that we use wisdom and communication in the omen. My dual identity became clear. I am a Celtic Reconstructionist, but I also am and forever will be a part of the vision that is ADF and a Druid as well. Ive been thinking up ideas for my Grove and having read the Dedicant journal of a Hellenic Polytheist in ADF., I became sure that ADF was what I wanted to do. Ive been only loosely involved for some time now and have struggled with my identity within ADF. I found the title of Druid to be too inclusive but I realize now that we are Druids merely by virtue of our descent from the RDNA. And so the wheel of seasons turns. ADF Format rite 2.
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In my view, as in the view of many who practice an Indigenous Spirituality, all of Nature is alive. There are two types of Nature Spirits in my opinion. Guardian Deities and Embodiments of the Land, and more chaotic and animistic interpretations of the Land Spirits. These are the dwellers in Darkness. They Haunt the Dark Wood and Hide beneath the hills. They can be Beneficient Deities who are to be thanked for their bounty and plenty. The Fruitful Land. The flowing River that provides for her Children. The crystal spring that heals the sick. The Shining sun that warms our backs. The wind that cools our heads. The Animals that provide prey to the Hunt.
They can also be more chaotic , and not as much malevolent as sly and sneaky and untrustworthy. They can also be malevolent or wrathful. Though it would seem that we suffer more from the wrath of these spirits when we don't hold true to our part of the deal and approach these Spirits with an attitude of respect and reverence. It is when we suffer that sacrifice should be given as appeasement. The Outdweelers in ADF can be identified with the Nature Spirits in this regard. The Gods are many.
We honor these deities when we take steps to protect the land that they allow us to call our home. When we spread the word and increase awareness of the things that threaten them. They are the embodiment of the Land. The Triple Mothers have charged us with a sacred duty and trust. The Goddess Sovereignty has entrusted us with her gifts. They have the power to give and also the power to take away. We share our home with them and they share their home with us. A gift calls for a gift. We may War with them or we may promote peace and live peacably amongst them. I choose the second option.
In my home, we choose to recycle cans. It has proven to be both an economically efficient as well as ecologically efficient decision. I personally enjoy spreading the word about Pagan religions that demand a certain attitude of respect toward the Earth, the Land, and the Spirits that reside therein. I chose the car I drive as it burns less fuel than others. And I also enjoy spreading awareness of ecological issues. Ive done some work with Ohio PIRG in stopping oil drilling on public lands.Ive also engaged in protests.
We have to be the change we wish to see in the World. Ghandhi said this once and we should all learn to live by it. Progressive Activism is the only way to ensure the future will be bright for our young. We have to come together one way or another.
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The Eight High Days

My personal traditions celebrate 4 major Holidays in my own personal traditions and a few lesser Holidays. ADF Policies indicate that a Grove will honor at least 8 High Days to maintain their charter. It does not however mandate that these feasts are celebrated according to nor in conjunction with the General Neopagan Wheel of the year. It merely specifies at least 8. These are adapted to suit whatever Hearth Culture a person or Grove is dedicated to. So, in place of Yule, a Roman ADF'er could celebrate Saturnalia in place of Yule. Below I've compiled the Holidays celebrated within my own Hearth Culture(Celtic, and particularly Gaulish/Brythonic Celtic) and my own understandings of the meanings of each.

1.Samonios/Samhain-Oct. 31st-Nov. 2
Samonios is the Feast of the Dead and a time to honor the Ancestors. It heralds the Darkening of the World and a plunge into the Cold grip of Winter. It is a time for Culling the Herd Sacrificing and utilizing the livestock that would not survive the Winter.It is the Final Harvest when the last stalks are cut and stored, as those that are left uncut and unharvested are considered to be unclean. This is the new year, the beginning of the First month of the Celtic Calendar and On the liminal night between which the Old Year Ends and the New Year begins, the veil between this world and that of the Dead is considered to be at it's thinnest. It is customary to leave a plate of food that night for the Spirits of the Dead.

Winter Solstice/Otherworld Feast-Dec. 21st
This is actually a Celtic Mythical Feast which John Matthews makes claims was commemorated by the Celts around the Winter Solstice. Whilst I am not entirely sure as to the Historical Accuracy of this, it seems a good time for it as the Final Harvest is over and the Food Stores are at their fullest. The Otherworld Feast was hosted in Irish Myth by Goibhniu the Smith of the Gods. He was actually a Triad with Luchta and Creidhne, also Craftsman Gods. He is found in Gaul under the name Gobannus and in Wales as Govannon. It was said that at this feast was served a pig that regenerated itself each time it was consumed and Goibhniu had brewed a special ale that conferred immortality to its drinkers. I've invented a feast of my own to commemorate this mythical scene, with Gobannus as the guest of honor. It would seem appropriate to serve Ale to the participants and delve into exactly what type of Immortality can be conferred on this mortal plane. It would also seem appropriate to include Pork in this feast as a symbol of plenty and to commemorate the magical pig served by the Smith God.

Imbolc-Feb. 1-Feb. 2nd
Imbolc is a celebration that was not on a set calendrical date when celebrated by our Celtic Ancestors. However,the Christianized Celebration of St. Brigid (a Baptized version of Brighid, a Celtic Pagan Goddess) was placed on February 1st or 2nd and this is the date adopted by the vast majority of Neopagans who celebrate Imbolc. The original celebration would coincide with the lactation of the ewes. Brighid was a Goddess connected to the Hearth, Healing, Fire, Wells, Fertility and Household Crafts. She appears all throughout Celtic lands under various guises. In Britain, Brigantia, in Gaul , Brigindo. Brigantia's Fire is primarily that of the Head and of the Hearth. This is a Celebration of the Home and the Family that dwells within. It is a celebration of the Fire that burns and serves to protect that family from the cold. It is a celebration of Hope, of Brigantia as a light in the Darkness. A Beaconing that Hails the renewed warmth and fertility of the Land. This is a traditional time to get that spring cleaning done. Perhaps to tidy up the home for a visit from Brigantia herself. The making of a Bridie Doll is another traditional Imbolc pastime. The Bridie Doll is a Doll fashioned from Straw. Another Straw effigy is that of Brighids Cross which is placed around the Fireplace or in the Kitchen to protect the home from Fire and Lightening.Bridies Bed should then be Fashioned from loose straw placed inside a Basket and the Doll should be placed inside. This is done to invoke fertility and bring back Life and Light to the Land. Remember also that this is a feast to celebrate the Hearth and Family so, Its a time to focus on those who matter to us most: Our Families.

Spring Equinox-March 21
This is a Festival that is generally celebrated by the Neopagan Community, however it bears no real precedent within Celtic Paganism outside of the various adaptations of more general Neopagan celebrations within the various Druidic Organizations. I have friends of more Germanic/Norse leanings who celebrate a Goddess by the name of Eostre about this time. In the agricultural year, It is a time to start planting for the new growing season. So planting will be the main theme I will discuss. It would seem then appropriate to start sowing seeds in a literal sense if you live on a farm. But for most of us, this is simply not applicable to us. So what then would be appropriate for us who live in the cities? Well, literal seeds are not the only seeds that can be sowed. I am referring to ideas for the trials and events that fall ahead. What "seeds" do we want to plant within our lives? It would be likely that Spring was also a time to start planning for the growing season amongst all our Ancestors, not just the Norse. So that then would be the focus at this time of year. I tend to utilize this time if I can to be among my friends within ADF even though this may not be a major celebration for me personally.

Beltane-May 1
Beltane is one of the Four Celtic Fire Festivals along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh. In this particular Feast. The Fire in question is that of the Sun. Particularly of the Sun-God Belenos. Belenos, along with other Celtic Divinities translated into Apollo by the Romans is also connected to Thermal Springs. The Union of Fire and Water in Celtic Theology is the Spark of Creation. In Irish myth, The original pair of Deities from whom the Gods sprang was Danu and Bile or Bel....or rather the Goddess of the River Danube(Danuvia) and Belenos. Belenos is thus the Fire of Creation and a God of Healing springs. This is significant in the Beltane celebration because Beltane translates from the Celtic Bele(Shining) and Tennos(Fire). So here we are honoring the Healing and Fertile Fires of Bel. The Spark of passion between lovers and the Creativity this represents. Also, the Healings Thermal Waters from that Cauldron of Creation that spill onto the land and renew its own Spark of passion and brings back the lush green of the fields and forests are honored at Beltane. Like Samhain with which the Celtic year began, Beltane is a time when the veil that separates the worlds is thin, as we are in a liminal time between the Light and Dark half of the year when the Light defeats the Darkness.

Feast of Epona/Summer Solstice-June 21
Ive found two different dates for this celebration. Ive chosent this one for practicalities sake as opposed to Historical Accuracy. And also because of the fact that the other date was likely a Roman Innovation. In all honesty, the only traditions I am aware of concerning this Deity is the placing of a Garland of roses in the barn. Epona is the Horse Goddess and the wreath is offered to Her that she might bring her blessings and protection to the Home , Family and their Horses, Mules and Asses. She is also a Fertility Goddess, The most obvious feature of this Holiday is the blistering but radiant Sun that shines above us. And so I also honor the Sun itself upon this day.

Lughnasadh-August 2nd
Lughnasadh on the Celtic Calendar is a celebration of the Second Harvest. There is a deep kinship between Lugus and the Goddess of the Land as Lugh is the God of Kings. And under his guidance, the land was fertile and the Harvest was reaped. The Grain Grew High to be Cut down and to grow High Again in the Future.Lugus loves games and on this day it is traditional to hold games in his honor.. Also, the burning of the Wickerman is a commonly accepted Modern Neopagan Custom. Faeasting and Baking is also traditional.

Autumnal Equinox-Sept. 21
The Autumnal Eqinox, like the Spring Equinox has no major relevance in Celtic Paganism. However, like the Spring Equinox, the Autumnal Equinox aka The Second Harvest can be a great time to fellowship. Three Cranes Grove, ADF has had a significant impact on my spiritual life and It was on this High Day that The Grove was formed. This is the Anniversary of the locally based community that Three Cranes created. On this day, they honor Teutates, the God of the Folk and Protector of the Tribe. It was this day that with His guidance, a tribe came together and had their first public ritual. Myself, I just like to eat. And it is the First Harvest, a time to share in Natures Bounty and to reap what was sown in the Spring.
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The Three Kindred

I will start this essay by establishing an understanding of who the Kindred are for the reader. They are many in number but tend to fall into one or more of Three Categories. These are as follows in the order that I will discuss each: 1. Gods 2. Ancestors and 3. Nature Spirits.
They seem pretty self explanatory. However, when I say that the Kindred are not always limited to one category I mean that there is a lot of overlap in many instances. For example, Danuvia/Don/Danu is a Celtic Goddess. That would seemingly put her into "Gods Category" when speaking of the Kindred. But Danuvia is not simply a Goddess. According to the Irish myths Danu was the Primal Mother, the First among the Tuatha along with Bel. And seeing as how many a Celtic Tribe claim ancestry from one or more of the Celtic Gods. It would thus seem to make her an Ancestor in addition to a Goddess. So now shes an Ancestral Goddess. But there is more to Danuvia than meets the eye. The Celtic people are thought to have originated along the banks of the Danube River and The Rhine which would thus explain her role as Ancestral Mother. But when one takes a look at this data, we also see a linguistic connection between Her name as well as the name of the very River just discussed. It is quite likely that the Danube and the land it ran through was considered the Motherland for the Celts. And it is also likely that Danuvia was either A. The Sovereignty Goddess connected to that Motherland and thus a personification of that land itself or B. The Guardian Goddess of the River Danube. Or perhaps she is C. A little bit of both. Whats all this mean? It means that she simultaneously falls into all Three Categories of Kindred. She is a Goddess, She is our Ancestress, and she is also the Guardian spirit of a River and a spirit presiding over the Land surrounding that River and thus, Nature Spirit. However This essay is meant to explore each Category individually and my efforts to work out my connection and relationship with them. So lets take a look at the Three Categories Individually.

1.The Gods and Goddesses
These are the Individual Gods and Goddesses of worship. They come from cultures abundant. They both Rule over and reflect within the worshipper the Cosmic Order of things. In some cultures, Such as the Celtic Culture, we are seen as being descended from them, just as Julius Caesar makes mention of The Druids teaching that the Celts are all descended from the God of the Dead. I personally therefore view them as family in a quite literal sense. And so I treat them as such. They are my Mothers and Fathers and Grandmothers and Cousins. I face each day with their blessing and it is only because of them that I have even existed. Let alone have made it this far.The Gods rule over such concepts as Divine/Human Law, Rulership, War, Love and reflect the principles embodied within each. Why do they do this? Its because they started it all, and thus are charged with maintenance. We serve the Gods because they are charged with the representation of our own Cultural Ideals and though they sometimes stumble and falter, their eternal nature grants them wisdom enough to learn from those past failures and preserve their offices and duties. They are so ancient that there is hardly anyone amongst us mortals more qualified as we have not lived enough years to claim as such.

2. The Ancestors of Blood and Spirit.
I've heard it said that you do not have to be physically related to someone to make them your ancestor. And though some may argue otherwise I see a valid point in this, and especially in the modern practice of Indo-European Paganisms. We all need to feel a certain degree of rootedness as human beings and it can be observed that indeed every culture on the planet has lended a sacred importance to the Family and those Ancestors of our blood. We have all felt the hurt of loss. We've all seen things that reminded of those we have lost and for a second, we could almost see them and hear their voices once again. We are told stories of our Grandmothers and of our Grandfathers. We are told how great of people they were. And so we draw from that. We take their ancient wisdom for what it is and everything that it is worth. I can not tell you how many times I've called off work and then been chastised by my mother having said " You know, my Father only missed work once and that was when he went to the hospital for Cancer." or Ive lit up a cigarette that was followed by my Grandma saying "You know you really should quit. That's how Jim died.". Ive heard these things a thousand times(Love you, Grandma.) But thats how powerful these people touch our lives. Now I have mentioned Jim as a rather ethereal creature. I should now mention that he is one and the same as my mothers Father. But more than that, He was my Mothers stepdad. I hail him as one of my closer Ancestors yet I am not physically related to him, at least not by blood. What of those who practice our faiths who have been adopted? It should seem obvious then that their adopted family would then fulfill that role. Those who are of mixed blood and have no choice but to call themselves simply American? Those who seek that sense of rootedness so sacred in our traditions. It would then seem that they pick a Hearth Culture and stick with it. That Culture and those people that were part of that Heritage and legacy become their spiritual Ancestors having practiced these traditions long before any of this Neopagan thing was around.But the Ancestors remain alive so long as they are remembered as do we all. What will my children say of my character when I am dead and gone? My Friends? Other Family? Indeed the Ancestors are very much alive and their stories are told again and again. Forever.

3. Spirits of the Land

As I write this essay, the temperature is well below zero in my neck of the woods. I live in Columbus, Ohio, where the weather patterns tend to be a little erratic. We have severe snow storm warnings one day, freezing rain the next, and still we have glorious sunshine the day after. You can walk outdoors in the morning and not even recognize your front yard as being the same lawn you stepped on the day before. It's all part of the Cosmic Order around here. We in Ohio have come to accept this as a part of living upon the land we call our home. It is however still my home nevertheless. Honestly, Ive never really lived anywhere else outside of my brief stint in Pennsylvania. I have often wondered about leaving Ohio and what it would be like to carve a living in the world beyond. But Ohio is my home and its spirits always draw me back. No, not the kind you drink but rather the kind that inhabit the Land. If you listen, you can hear their voices in the wind. You can feel their touch in the stones and the soil below. They watch us through the face in the moon and the hole in the stump. They carry the rays of sun to their resting places upon our backs. And they demand our respect and our attention. Failure to do so could have devastating results upon an individual and his people. We ignored the signs brought about by Hurricane Katrina and we suffered as a Nation. We all felt the pain. We all feel the pain of Global Warming and the dramatic shifts it has brought about. And So long as we approach them as living entitities worthy of respect and treat them with the dignity they deserve, we will all survive and prosper.And indeed it will be so with all the Kindred.
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1.Written discussion of the Dedicant's understanding of each of the following nine virtues: wisdom, piety, vision, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation and fertility. The Dedicant may also include other virtues, if desired, and compare them to these nine. (Suggested 125 words min. each)

2.Short essays on each of the eight ADF High Days including a discussion of the meaning of each feast (Suggested 125 words min. each)

3.Short book reviews on at least: 1 Indo-European studies title, 1 preferred ethnic study title and 1 modern Paganism title. These titles can be selected from the recommended reading list in the Dedicant Program manual or the ADF web site, or chosen by the student, with prior approval of the Preceptor. (Suggested 325 word min. each)

4.A brief description, with photos if possible, of the Dedicant's home shrine and plans for future improvements. (Suggested 150 words min.)

5.An essay focusing on the Dedicants understanding of the meaning of the "Two Powers" meditation or other form of 'grounding and centering', as used in meditation and ritual. This account should include impressions and insights that the Dedicant gained from practical experience. (Suggested 300 word min)

6.An essay or journal covering the Dedicant's personal experience of building mental discipline, through the use of meditation, trance, or other systematic techniques on a regular basis. The experiences in the essay or journal should cover at least a five months period. (Suggested 800 words min.)

7.An account of the Dedicant's efforts to work with nature, honor the Earth, and understand the impacts and effects of the Dedicant's lifestyle choices on the environment and/or the local ecosystem and how she or he could make a difference to the environment on a local level. (Suggested 500 word min)

8.A brief account of each High Day ritual attended or performed by the Dedicant in a twelve month period. High Days attended/performed might be celebrated with a local grove, privately, or with another Neopagan group. At least 4 of the rituals attended/performed during the training period must be ADF-style. (Suggested 100 words min. each)

9.ONE essay describing the Dedicants understanding of and relationship to EACH of the Three Kindred: the Spirits of Nature, the Ancestors and the Gods. (Suggested 300 words min. for each Kindred and 1000 words total)

10.A brief account of the efforts of the Dedicant to develop and explore a personal (or Grove-centered) spiritual practice, drawn from a specific culture or combination of cultures.

11.The text of the Dedicant's Oath Rite and a self-evaluation of the Dedicant's performance of the rite. (Suggested 500 word min.)

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Imbolc 2003 was my first Celtic rite within ADF and my very first rite with Three Cranes Grove in Columbus. And now in 2007 Im still here and still connected to the folks within Three Cranes and within ADF as a whole. I moved here to start a new life. And thats the reason for the season. Brigantia is a light in the Darkness. A Symbol of hope for the return of spring. And this day we honored her at Blacklick Woods Metropark as we have done in so many years past. It was a lovely ritual and I had brought a couple of guests which is always nice to celebrate your Holy Days in the company of good friends. Again there is much more to the spirit of this season. Its not just a celebration of Hope. Its the Warmth inside and out that you feel gathered around Brigantia's Fires with the ones you care about the most. Friends Family and Tribe.

We had a Gas fireplace in the shelter we held the rite within and so direct offerings to the fire were out of the question. The Main offering to Brigantia was that of Praise and so I proclaimed " Your Eighteenth candle lit is a healing, a White dog at the Portal. The Chalice of your smile." And although the Fireplace did not emit much heat, with those words Brigantias Warm Fire filled my Heart and soul. The Omen was good. And as I drank the Waters from the Cauldron of Blessing, The Waters of Life, I drank Her smile deeply. ADF Format Rite 1.
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