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

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Earth Mother and ADF Tradition

The following is from a post I recently made to an ADF Forum that was discussing the fact that an initial dedication to the Earth Mother is among the "required" steps in an official, public, ADF High Day rite. The list of steps, setting out the official minima for what makes a public ADF High Day rite"ADF", is referred to as the Core Order of Ritual (COoR). Some folks object to this being a required step rather than optional since their research leaves them feeling that nothing close enough to the Neopagan notion of an Earth Mother exists in the cultural traditions they personally follow.


I still stand by the assertions that:
1.) virtually all of us in ADF are Neopagans.
2.) ADF is by defintion a Neopagan Religious organization.
3.) ADF tradition infers at least one deity is to be equally revered, publicly, by all its subtraditions and that deity is the one deemed "Earth Mother" by our founder.
4.) In our usage, this Earth Mother is, at the very least, a substantive Neopagan Deity. The ancients did not know the Earth as a planet, yet we do, and we are all the more worshipfully obliged by the extent of Her splendors evident to us through that knowledge.
5.) The "Earth Mother", in the classical sense, shares at -least- as much historical verity as many of the deities honored in a number of major ADF sub-traditions, the documentary evidence for which are actually significantly slimmer and often -younger- than said "Earth Mother" (see the example below).

"EARTH,  Divine Goddess,  Mother Nature,
who generatest all things and bringest forth anew,
the Sun which thou hast given to the nations;
guardian of sky and sea and of all gods and powers;
through thy power all Nature falls silent and then sinks in sleep.
And again thou bringest back the light and chasest away night,
and thou coverest us yet most securely with thy shades.
Thou dost contain chaos infinite, yea and wind and showers and storms.
Thou sendest them out when thou wilt and causest the sea to roar;
thou chasest away the Sun and arousest the storm.
Again, when thou wilt, thou sendest forth the joyous day
and givest the nourishment of Life with thy eternal surety.
And when the soul departs, to thee we return.
Thou art duly called the Great Mother of the Gods;
thou conquerest by thy divine name.
Thou art the source of the strength of nations and of gods,
without thee nothing can be brought to perfection or be born;
thou art great, Queen of the Gods.

Goddess ! I adore thee as divine; I call upon thy name;
be pleased to grant that which I ask thee,
so shall I give thanks to thee, Goddess, with due Faith..." 

- An ancient hymn to the Earth Mother of uncertain date, but possibly Roman and likely a thousand years older than our oldest surviving source: an Anglo Saxon book of herbal charms and medicine from the 12th Century C.E., MS. Harley 1585, FF. 12 V.-13 R., Translation from "Early English Magic and Medicine" by Dr. Charles Singer, Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. IV.
NOTE:  In another work ("Anglo Saxon Magic and Medicine", Oxford 1952, pp 45), Singer states that this particular "Hymn to the Earth Mother" is found in several other documents from the Continent, dating from the 6th Century onward. I have seen several translations of this hymn myself and the one above is by far the most lyrical. Some are only very roughly translated yet it is clearly recognizable that they represent the same (now lost) source-piece. 

This hymn was one of my first points of entry into my own Druidism and I well remember standing in a small circle of stones deep in the woods on a late summer day in 1973, unsure yet brimming over with inspiration and reading those words aloud in my first self-styled "Druid" ritual...

- EARRACH of Pittsburgh

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