- a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
- a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism

Friday, October 7, 2016

What if GHOSTI is NOT what its all about?

What if 



what it’s all about ?

The Rites of the Wheel and priorities

IMO, although it’s a critically important factor in the execution of our rituals and, to a degree, in our relationships with the gods and spirits, the *ghosti principle is not the only thing to be concerned with in the design and execution of our annual eight high day rites. It should not be the primary reason for doing the rites nor should it suffice as our motivation when we find ourselves having difficulty in creating one. It is my contention that there is more to Our Druidry than that.

Then, who are we and what are we here (in ADF) “for”? - - I have come to feel that although ADF was founded on a certain set of intentions, those that one would cull from a current survey of its membership would differ in point and degree significantly from the original.

Yes, for one, ADF was intended to be a “priest-making machine” and in this I would concede that the organization is now well along its way toward that goal. 

And then?

Then, the perennial question:  “Whom does the Grove serve?”

On the other hand, and more central to my concerns, is the matter of Isaac’s earnest desire for ADF groves to be an open and continuous service to their local communities. This means that our high-day rites were to be not only open to attendance by non members but one of the main reasons for these groves and these rites is to serve the spiritual needs of our greater Neopagan communities. The vision rendered to me in the early 1990’s when I was founding my own grove was simply that: we were here to serve others, not our own memberships. We were to find ourselves best serving the Gods, Spirits and Ancestors through our ability to facilitate the spirituality of our neighbors. Our membership was to consist of those who wanted to join us and lend a hand in carrying out that service, not to be inwardly-oriented groups primarily serving their groves’ own interests. Quite simply, a grove was to be a “team”, not a “club”.

Isaac saw Neopaganism as a great field for potential development, both in ADF’s basic service to these communities through providing free, reliable, and quality public services, and also to address the great need for public education and the promotion of a more scholarly foundation for the future of Neopaganism. With his classic ADF tag-line challenge to Neopaganism at large, “Why not Excellence?” I feel he was also setting up ADF as a standard for other Pagan groups to emulate or to even do better.

So, our mission is not to solely be an exclusive haven for priests training in “reconstructionist” study and ritual. It is to serve the Mother of All Life, the Gods and other Kindred Spirits by serving our local communities. And by “serving” I mean to provide for them an annual cycle of high quality open, inclusive and inspiring public liturgies to enrich and facilitate the growth of Neopaganism in our culture as a viable and respectable form of modern spiritual expression.

A Priesthood of the Seasonal Mysteries...

Earlier I said we should not allow the *ghosti principle to be the singular reason for doing the Rites of the Wheel, nor should it suffice as our motivation when we find ourselves having difficulty in creating one. There is much more we can be achieving with our annual cycle of rites, for, just as is so easily seen in the practice of other modern western religions, the seasonal/traditional factors often trump the role of the deities involved, and for good reason, for that is where the many of the most important motivations in tribal religious societies become motivated. From my perspective, the spirit being venerated in our rites is as much or more structured in the seasonal traditions and the season itself as it is in the deities ascribed to the season’s expressions.

- Earrach, 2016


* Ghosti: building a reciprocal relationship with the gods and spirits by honoring them with appropriate offerings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Summer Solstice sunrise
(c) 2016 earrach
Worshipful Things
A personal inventory...

I am not a monotheist or panentheist, nor am I in agreement with any definition that would end up positing a Universal-Godhead separate from This World, nor even of “One” utterly permeating it.

Nor do I believe in a "Creator" or a Creation.

I believe that there is a spectrum of Worshipful Things: 
- - things to which I reflexively feel a profound need to render my reverence.

They are not all "spirits".   Nor would they all qualify as "beings".
Note here that I am actually more comfortable worshiping THINGS than beings...

We are trained by Western Culture to assume that “worship” is
            (a.)       for “God” (only.)
            (b.)       who is an entity…
            (c.)       who is of a discarnate, transcendental, nature.

I do not feel constrained by those criteria in the least.
As a matter of fact, I find them particularly offensive to my religious sensibilities.

It might actually help to cite a couple of the things I worship…
( Listed here in descending order; the greatest first, followed by the successively lesser...)

1. The Earth, Our Ultimate Mother (Land/Sea/Sky).
The Thing; not the "idea"...)

2. The Sun
The Thing; not the "idea"...)

4. "Bliadhna" - The Seasons
("blee an-uh" Scots.Gaelic for The Wheel of the Year )

3. The Great Way of Things / -a.k.a. "The Wyrd"
The great virtually ineffable and interconnected Fabric of Existence.

5. "The Kindred"
-An ADF term for the IndoEuropean set of the three kinds of Spirit-Folk, inhabiting the Three Worlds (Middle, Lower and Upper realms) recognized in the IE lore:
i.   The Wordly Spirits: the others, dwelling along-side us in the World of Form:       
                 The Creatures/ The Fey/& certain genius locii(Spirits of Place).
ii.  The Ancestors: in the Underworld Realm/Eternity
iii. The Blessed Ones: in the Celestial Realm/ the Ideal- or Perfected Ones/ 
                 certain ancient Gods and Goddesses; including ehumerized Heroes 
                 (the undying oversouls of certain superb once-mortals).

To me, these things are worthy of veneration.

There's a start.
                                                ( False Gods "R" Us ® )


The following is an excerpt from my essay "Neopaganism and Belief"...

Ok, ok, but what do you REALLLY believe?? "

In case you've read this far and aren't aware, like most of my essays, this is an opinion-piece. I just wanted to check-in with you on that before I proceed to my next point. For a start, I shall hereby submit an admission of my general SKEPTICISM toward most persons' ( all persons' ?) statements-of-belief as not being truly representative of their personal "reality-constructs." I suppose that makes me somewhat of a cynic, but I believe that this is a terribly important idea, no matter how bitter a pill it seems.

Perhaps a logician could show us an equation illustrating the "reasoning" behind each of the various contemporary "faiths"... yet even if these people have achieved logically-valid systems of "belief" –in my opinion, the fact remains that most people internally sustain numerous conjectural models, sorting them and finally grooming a current "preferred" model to "bind" themselves-to ( re-ligio: "to bind").

Initially an intellectual choice and later an obligation to one's personal history and self esteem, they do NOT always (or even "often") represent the basic reality-construct that the person employs reflexively to apprehend the world from moment to moment. No, I do not have a lot of facts to support this notion; just a very strong intuitive conclusion based on careful observation of others and as objective of an analysis of my own behavior as I can muster.

The ordinary "statement of belief" springs from the reflective realm, not from the reflexive. More a matter of politics, they all too clearly resemble press-releases: public statements to others, and to ourselves, of

(a) how we'd like to think of ourselves… -and-

(b) how we'd like to be thought-of by our peers.

This is why, in the Glossary, instead of saying "the theist believes in god" I've chosen to use the phrase "the theist asserts a personal faith in the existence of a deity."

Don't get me wrong, I think statements of belief are wonderful things; I think everyone should sit down and write one out right now. And then write another one tomorrow. And another one the next day... So yes, I'm taking the position that it's more useful to discuss statements of belief as being simply what people choose to say about themselves, today, and that we should always reserve judgment on knowing what it is they actually "believe", regardless of what they say.

(end of excerpt.)

Monday, August 1, 2016


painting by Winslow Homer


Saturday, June 25, 2016

BRYAN PERRIN This is Why You Should Know Who He Is

Bryan's Blog...
Bryan's ADF Grove...

BTW,    Bryan is a professional artist and holds copyright on all of his works, so please don't repost his work without his express permission.  -earrach

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Grail and the Stricken King

The Lore tells us of gods, demigods or great kings of a solar nature who, in the height of their potency, are struck down and then fade away into a twilight state as the landscape of their kingdom likewise fades into a literal wasteland. Some, like the great King Arthur are borne away across the Waters to the West to an otherworldly place of healing and rest, to someday return in the Hour of Greatest Need. Among the various justifications offered for the symbolism of these stories is the easily seen seasonal theme of the solar lord rising to his apex at the Summer Solstice and thereafter ever so gradually declining in stature through the rest of the year.

The Golden One, Struck Down...

The myth of the stricken Solar Lord, wasting away in impotence and desolation, is a particularly tragic version of the Sun’s cycle through the year, perhaps most clearly so in the story of Balder the Beautiful from the Northern Tradition...

The gods, marveling at the radiant Balder’s invincibility ( hmm... Solis Invicti ?), were making a sport of casting weapons at Him: there was virtually nothing which could harm the Golden One. The ever-jealous and crafty Loki had managed to find the one thing in the world which hadn’t promised to spare Balder harm: the mistletoe. Placing a dart fashioned from the mistletoe in the hand of the blind god Hoder, Loki whispered directions into his ear and Hoder loosed the dart, felling Balder, who then lay slowly dying in the arms of His grieving mother, Frigga. The whole world, it is said, wept...

Although in the Northern Tradition, the Sun and the Moon had specific deities assigned to them (the Sun in fact was once Sunna, a goddess,) Balder has long been rec­ognized as a Solar metaphor and His story may have passed into the northern pantheon from an earlier or neighboring tradition. 

The  Grail  as  a  Symbol  of  the  Hope  for  Restoration

The Holy Grail or Sangreal comes down to us in the tales of King Arthur compiled by Thomas Mallory in the 15th Century CE, although the Grail Romance itself is a story-form popularized by earlier continental writers from medieval France, Germany and Italy.  The Grail is depicted as the holiest object on earth; the most hallowed, sought after and desirable object in existence. The Grail most often is portrayed as the long lost link with the sacred past which can only be apprehended after a long and dangerous quest, yet  it also sometimes shows up unannounced and uninvited. Encounters with it can result in harm, for the unworthy, or transfiguration and healing for the few who reach or maintain a state of purity worthy of its blessing. Similar transformative vessels or more commonly,  cauldrons,  with magical or regenerative powers are common in the lore of the Celtic peoples. 

Most of us are familiar with the Grail as a feature of the Mystical Christian side of the Arthurian myth. Just as the earliest written stories of Arthur date from 500 years after his time, the heroic and mythic themes in those stories are perhaps more representative of the ending-twilight of the Northern Tradition in the 15th century British Isles than it had to do with themes current in the age of Arthur (ironically, who lived around the 5th century, at the dawn of Britain’s overrun by the Scandinavians). Arthur as a tragic-hero, again clearly in the type of the stricken solar-lord, became a fitting substitute for Balder in the minds of a people too long distanced from their ancient heritage by centuries of Northern influence. 

Often, as traditions undergo radical change, vital new symbols enter the mix, sometimes powerful symbols, long suppressed; symbols which return from the distant past as if called back to reconcile an ancient disorder; to heal an ancient wound.           
                                      - Earrach
(c) 1996, 2016
About the Above: 

This was originally an article I did for our grove newsletter back in the late 1990's. It was an effort to link the Stricken Solar Hero and the Grail themes for use in a Summer Solstice grove rite. Nonetheless, I still hold firm with gods and myths and spirits taking a back seat to the use of overt veneration of the REAL SUN (yep, that one, up there) at the Summer Solstice.

Ah, but that year's Sassafras Summer Solstice “Grail Rite”? 

It was memorable… 

Our Pagan community had just suffered a serious fracturing and many of our groups suddenly were cut off from the meager local resources we had come to rely upon for getting together and worshiping as Pagans, Wiccans, Druids, and Goddess Worshippers (yes, worshippers of "The" Goddess; this was the 90’s,). There was a palpable sense of our ragtag community being now wounded and in danger of losing hope. 

Our rite took place at the Unitarian (UU) church’s garden garth with the church’s great black stone tower and walls wrapping around us on three sides. We had about 35 attendees and it was nighttime and the event was lit solely by a group of tiki-torches… At the height of the rite we called out an invocation to the Stricken Solar Lord in His various mythic guises to come forth, to as it were, “return to us, in our hour of greatest need…” Then, slowly out of the shadows at the side of the garden there emerged three veiled maidens, the middle of whom was dressed and veiled all in white (“white samite”?). She held out before her a beautiful silver grail-chalice, also veiled in white. The three of them came before me, the presiding priest of the rite standing before the hallows on the flagstones of the head of the ritual space, and she presented to me the Grail, our symbol of Hope for Restoration…  As she stood there holding it aloft, I bent down and in the space between us, I pried-up a large flagstone, under which I had earlier dug an offering shaft… She handed the Grail to me, I held it aloft for veneration of the assembly and then after a choice few words binding our intention to it, I plunged it down the shaft and carefully re-positioned the big flagstone covering it. 

It’s been over 15 years since we’ve done a rite in that garden and I often wonder if that chalice is still buried there, working its magic. It certainly seems to have, since it was only a year or two later that our grove quickly “blossomed” and really began to attract a number of the very special folks that have carried it through the years from then, to now.

occurs on MONDAY JUNE 20th at  6:34 PM, EDT

Here's an illustration I did back in 1977 which was used recently on the cover of ADF's magazine Oak Leaves...

"Midsummers Eve"

(c)1977 earrach






-Earrach of Pittsburgh

"If I am asked whether it accords with my nature to worship the Sun, then I say once again, ‘Completely!’ For it is a revelation of the most high, and in fact the mightiest which has ever been granted us mortals to perceive. I worship it in the light and creative power of God, whereby alone we live and move and have our being, and all plants and animals together with us.”

 - - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Gespraeche, Vol. IV: 441-42).


"Why Not the Sun?" 
- my standard essay on the Sun and Neodruidic practice. 

"The (Neopagan) Solar Apostasy"


Remembering THE SUN at the SUMMER SOLSTICE


"What's a SOLSTICE ? 
(vs. Equinox, etc.)"
SOLSTICE (SOLC): Either of the two extremes of the Earth’s constant 23.4° axial-tilt, relative to the sunlight falling on its surface. Only at the June Solstice is the Earth’s north pole tilted the full 23.4° towards the Sun... and only at the December Solstice is it tilted the full 23.4° away from the Sun.
EQUINOX (EQX): The Spring or Autumn quarter begins as the Earth’s terminator, the boundary-line between night and day, momentarily crosses the North and South Poles. Therefore, with the Earth’s day/night boundary line briefly poised simultaneously over both poles, only on dates near these times of year are the number of hours of night and day equal all over the globe.


more info at 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

RITUAL TECH, Sorting It All Out for Your High Day Themes

To me, the Rites of the Wheel are primarily for the celebration of seasonal mysteries, not just being occasional opportunities to call on certain deities and pay tribute to them...

Unfortunately I fear many ADF groves out there these days are only doing the lesser model. It seems that the seasonal content I hold to be fundamental to our Work is held to be secondary or sometimes even virtually irrelevant to the setup many of their high-day rites. Such an outcome is utterly abhorrent to my vision of Our Druidry.


Sorting out the seasonal, symbolic  and practical meanings related to a high day is a very important process in having things end up “making sense” and thereby having your annual round of liturgical works become  a dynamic,  interrelated system  - rather than just a series of thematically disparate ‘events’.


        The SEASONS of a LIFE:

The "standard" Neopagan names for the High Days are not carved in stone. The current revised set of names, fair to everybody, Celt or Norse, USA or Australian, goes as follows:
December Solstice;  February Crossquarter; March Equinox; May Crossquarter
June Solstice; August Crossquarter; September Equinox; November Crossquarter.

        The Nornic Modalities :

 From          Past         Urd            Formerly
 Through    Present    Verdandi      Presently
 To              Future      Skuld         Consequentially…

The Seasonal Delineators

What’s  peaking?           = The  beginning of the end  of...
What’s  finally ending?   = The  end  of...
What’s  beginning?        = The  beginning  of…

A better approach for getting a handle on seasonal factors? SEE THIS...

Symmetry :  oppositional relationships across the Wheel…

         Yule               is opposite          Summer Solstice
         Imbolc           is opposite           Lughnasa
         March Eqx.    is opposite          September Eqx.
         Beltane          is opposite          Samhain

A good exercise:  
Come up with a sensible and dynamically functional justification for the following: “Why would ( “should”)  Imbolc/Brigantia  be held on the February crossquarter-day instead of some other time of year (ewes and lambs excluded) ?” - see " **Answer..." at bottom of page...

Think back / think ahead..
The core of this factor is about seeing if there is a sensible relationship between this rite and the last and/or this rite and the next - but make sure you’re not just duplicating one of the following...

Beware of the Neopagan High Day "SEASONAL SMEARS” 
You’ll have to make a decision. These simply can’t  all  be “right”…
HINT:  Clear this up by using the Seasonal Delineators above.
Candle-rite:       Samhain                                                              
Candle-rite:       Yule;                                                            
Candle-rite:       Imbolc.                  

Springtime!        Imbolc
Springtime!        VernEqx
Springtime!        Beltaine
Wedding rite:    Betaine**   
Wedding rite:    Summer Solstice  
Wedding rite:    Lughnasa    

              Harvest!           Lughnassad
              Harvest!           AutEqx
              Harvest!           Samhain

Dark Descent:   AutEqx
Dark Descent:   Samhain
Dark Descent:   Yule

**BTW, there’s a wealth of old European traditions about May weddings being unlucky.
…leading consequently to the familiar June-weddings custom

The Methodology of the Mysteries

The Rites of Eleusis, the grand religious initiatory celebration of the ancient Greeks was performed continually for nearly 1400 years and thereby developed a specific and apparently very effective set of operants for the dispensing of its profound mystery-teaching. A writer contemporary with the Rites tells us that the Eleusinian Mysteries were delivered through a sequence of special methods:

the    dromena                  “things acted”,
the    legomena                  “things said”,

the    deiknymena          “things shown”

AND so, we put it all together, and come up with a map...

------------------ **ANSWER to "Example" question above...

Deriving “THE MEANING of IMBOLC / BRIGANTIA” from the "Seasons of a Life" diagram?
IMO, we have an opportunity to discover a dynamic here having begun at the midnight NATIVITY of the December Solstice, carrying-forward its infant through the next step of its WEANING here in the FebXQ (hence the recurrent milk-themes), to its inevitable Indo-European life-step of FOSTERAGE, wherein the child now can first be handed-off into the care and tualage of someone other than strictly its mother; i.e. day-care, kindergarten, and “school”. So, in the Nornic modality of “From/Through/To”, the Mystery of Brigantia / Imbolc can be summed-up in the phrase “From Nativity, through Weaning, to Fosterage”. In support of this I offer the fact of the traditional image of Brigid to the Irish and Scottish was that she was the “Foster-Mother of Christ”, and figurehead-matron of their people.