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Liturgical Writing 1, Question 1

Describe how ADF's order of ritual expresses the following concepts: "Serving the people"; "Reaffirming shared beliefs"; "Reestablishing the cosmic order"; "Building enthusiasm". (Min. 500 words):

Note: I do not think these terms all fit ADF's COoR well, nor do I think they are adequately explained in the source material provided, but I think I did okay with the end result.

Serving the People

The primary ways that ADF ritual serves the folk are really through the Blessing Cup, the building and maintaining of relationships with the powers offered to in the ritual, and the strengthening of the cosmic patterns of ritual within ourselves (we become the microcosm that is a reflection of the macrocosm).

The first manner in which ADF ritual expresses the concept of "serving the people" is through the Return Flow. In this step, the folk call for blessings and receive them. Participants in an ADF ritual can expect real life changes from partaking of the Blessing Cup, and that may include healing or blessings that are otherwise unobtainable.

Also, the land itself can be healed through our rituals, and the maintenance of the world's cycles can be helped by our work as well. Rituals can be done to relieve drought, help the spring arrive, or merely maintain the natural order of the world.

Other ways we serve the folk include: receiving further instruction from the Kindreds through the omen, building a relationship with a deity, or receive healing from the folk during a magical working.

Reaffirming Shared Beliefs

As an orthopraxic religion, ADF's work is less well-defined as "reaffirming shared beliefs" and better defined as "agreeing on the cosmological situation", really. ADF ritual does tend to operate on a set of principles that are considered "true" in ritual: the ideas of *ghos-ti, the multiplicity of individual deities, the tripartite division of the cosmos, the tripartite division of the world, and the triplicity of Kindred divisions are all vital parts of our rituals.

Because of this, rather than reaffirming "shared beliefs", we tend to reaffirm our agreements with how we will choose to view the world and the powers within that world from the beginning of the rite to the end of it. The agreements that we reaffirm tend to allow all of us, regardless of belief, to enter into a ritual state and work together without our individual beliefs conflicting. This is why one does not need to be a hardcore polytheist to participate in ADF rituals, or believe in the "land, sea, and sky" divisions of the cosmos.

This orthorpaxy seems very reminiscent of certain forms of Chaos Magic, where the implications of belief and non-belief are negligible: you aren't sharing "beliefs about the world" so much as you are sharing "rules about the world".

Reestablishing the Cosmic Order

The ADF Core Order of Ritual indicates that three things must be done in the section called, "(Re)Creating the Cosmos":

  • Center must be established in a triadic Cosmos
  • The Three Worlds or Realms must be acknowledged
  • The Fire must be included

This establishes a vertical axis: Upper, Middle, and Lower worlds. It the establishes an horizontal axis: most commonly Land, Sea, and Sky. Other variations might include the Earth, Atmosphere, and Heaven as a vertical axis and a horizontal axis of three earths in Vedism.

At the center, though, where these vertical and horizontal axes meet, you find the fire, which is always at the center of all. Each of these things acts to orient us to what the cosmos looks like, and it establishes the cosmos here within our ritual, too, making it immanent and real.

The Two Powers also establishes the cosmic order when used in ritual. There, you may find a high "sky power" and a deep "earth power", which helps orient us and draw the cosmos nearer to us in ritual.

Building Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is defined by Covert as "deities invoked in ritual have made themselves felt." He places it as opposed in many ways to "mana", which is the raw stuff of potential that we have within ourselves. Here, enthusiasm is the ability to use or activate mana for our ends.

As the ebb and flow of energy runs throughout the rite, peaking and occasionally diminishing, these natural rhythms of the rite serve to increase awareness of the deities by focusing on them. One might think of them as the rhythms experienced by a symphony, where the various parts of the symphony ebb and flow, but draw you deeper into the essence of the music and away from the individual parts. Intellectual appreciation and emotional reaction disappear, and the listener will find themselves experiencing the essence of the music.

ADF ritual does something very similar, playing on the rise and fall of the various parts in order to transcend the intellectual thoughts of our rather academic concept of *ghos-ti or our theological arguments about polytheism; then to allow us to transcend the emotional reaction of tears to a beautiful invocation or love for a deity of the occasion; and finally allow us to enter a state where we fully, completely experience the presence of the deity in our hearts and minds. Rather than trying to create this feeling, ADF ritual seeks to open us to the perception of this feeling, to allow us to see and feel something that is already there, by focusing our attention through the normal processes of ritual.

A central issue with the concept of "enthusiasm" as Covert describes it is that he tends to describe it as something that the deities do and then he goes on to describe ways to "increase a sense of enthusiasm", almost as if it's something you can create. His language is unfortunately confusing at this point.


Bonewits, Isaac. Rites of Worship: A Neopagan Approach. Earth Religions Press, 2003.

Corrigan, Ian. "The Intentions of Druidic Ritual"

Covert, Todd. "Elements of Ritual Composition: Part 1: Purposes, Poetics, and Prayers". Unpublished manuscript.


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