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Us vs. Them; the OUTSIDERS and ADF Liturgy

Like it or not, the Outsiders serve to define who we are....

A common practice in the liturgies of religions around the world is the assemblage of parts into a whole; a re-membering of the history and the structure of the world as we see it.

Even many nomadic peoples without fixed temples carefully demark their ritual sites in some methodical fashion and, at its center, build a mound, platform or fire-altar about which they arrange ritual objects, offerings, and secondary platforms to represent levels of existence or abodes of certain spirits, deities or ancestors. The process is often done in stages, each phase representing a step in the story of how the world came to be and thereby revealing how it is structured in relation to the other realms in the Cosmos. The world order was thereby being preserved through their intervention, the retelling of this story, done in the appropriately traditional manner. Many tribal peoples held this retelling as being literally integral to the continuity of the world as they understood it. It was not only our modern physicists who have come to the conclusion that the world, if left to its own tendencies, would inevitably revert to chaos. 

So, yes, the hyphen in the word "re-membering" in my first paragraph was intentional. 

Eliade and the ADF Liturgy
This pattern in which the world is ritually remembered and re-assembled was a favorite theme in the works of Mircea Eliade (1907-1986). Eliade's works on shamanism and the themes and practices common among religions around the world have had a strong influence on the original plan and subsequent growth of ADF's liturgy. The second phase in the the classic five-fold structure of the ADF Liturgy bears an homage to his work, actually being referred-to in some of our literature as "The Recreation of the Cosmos," a term right out of Eliade's personal lexicon. 

So, if "we, the people" came to be in such-and-such a manner as a consequence of the gods and the worlds having come into existence in such-and-such a manner, then, who else dwells in or close upon the same realms in which we tread? What types of beings comprise the "Others"? In ADF we recognize the "Kindreds," three classes of beings who dwell in or adjacent to this Middle World of Form: the Worldly Spirits, Ancestors, and Deities. Among these beings we can find allies, simply neighbors, or even adversaries. The latter are those that we'll consider next. 

Both in spirit and in flesh there are those who stand against us; those who do not (or will not) understand our ways and would bring us difficulty or misfortune. In the religious rituals of many cultures, early in the ritual, the people chose first to exclude those who, by their very differentness, virtually serve to define who they themselves are. Often later, in a credo or litany detailing the creation story of the Folk, they seek to establish the answer to the perennial question: "Who are we?" In one sense the explanation comes directly from our discussion so far - - by answering succinctly that the response to -

"Who are we?"  
WE are not THEM." 


"WE are HERE,  
and  'THEY' are THERE."

In Wiccan ritual it is customary to establish the sacred order of space and identity by casting a firm circular boundary around the working group, keeping what is wanted within and protecting those within from that which is outside. Further work is done to remember the structure of the world (in their method, "four-fold,") and call in the assistance of powerful guardian-spirits to stand at the quarter-stations of this magical fortress-temple. Thus their working space and participants are "warded" from harm and interference.
In ADF High Day rites we intentionally do not set up such a firm boundary but, although it is not officially required by ADF in the Core Order of Ritual, for many years most groves have included, early in their rites a ritual action addressing the need for some type of a warding for the rite. This action can be seen as being as important in its effect on us as it is in the actual establishing of a zone of peace and protection for the event. You see, by doing this, we set ourselves apart from "Them" (others), thereby defining ourselves in the process, conceivably as the first step in building that sacred ritual model of the world and our place in it. Most groves refer to this action as the "Offering to the Outsiders," and there has been much discussion in ADF over the years on what this is and how it should or should not be done. I've always had serious reservations about these other groves choosing to format this action as an "offering", and I continue to feel they surely need to rethink their choices... 

In our grove I've always strived to see that a different term is used for this action, preferring instead to say "The Acknowledgement of the Outsiders" This hinges on an important principle, in my opinion woefully lacking in the approach used by some other groves: the healthy and pragmatic desire to not draw the attention of the Outsiders. It is vital that we do this action without tainting ourselves with their "otherness," neither attracting their attention with an "offering," nor provoking them with an insult or a challenge.
The following illustration sums up the standard or "default" method of addressing the Outsiders used in the rites of our grove. Note that whereas others may use the term "the Offering to the Outsiders", we specifically do not want this action to be taken as an invocation and/or "offering", we see this part of the rite's setup as very important and not to be overlooked, yet in accord with the sentiments expressed above, we format it solely as an outward ritualized expression of our "acknowledgement" of their place in the world relative to ours.

  • "The Offering to the Outsiders"
  • "Outsiders Invocation"

  • "The Acknowledgement of the Outsiders"
  • "Remembering the Outsiders"

Suggested Method:
Acknowledgment of the Outsiders / Procedure for the Warding of the Site...

The remaining blessing-water is given to a participant, preferably someone with whom we are least familiar. The instruction is given that it is to be taken to the threshold of the Nemeton or obvious entrance to the hall and poured across it as a sign (to ourselves) of our separation from the Forces of Opposition and that we do not proceed in denial of their presence; we wish simply to be left alone... 

"We are here, and they are there."
Note: This is not to be construed as an offering.

- (c) 2009 Earrach of Pittsburgh
From time to time on the ADF email-lists dicussions there pop up flickerings of a very interesting and disturbing effect: some of our practitioners are perceiving disruptive or antagonistic psychic activity localized in or emanating from the areas of their ritual sites where those "Outsider offerings" have been repeatedly made or deposited...


  1. This makes so much clearer. Thank you.

  2. The more I practice the clearer and more resonant this post becomes.
    I shared it today with the Solitary group.

    Thank you again Earrach!

  3. Thanks for sharing this on Facebook. It's got me thinking about how I've handled Outsiders.

  4. made well to understand. I had thought differently, to appease with offering to let us be.

  5. Ya, don't feed what you don't want to grow stronger.