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Liturgy Writing 1, Requirement 2

Create a prayer of praise, offering, or thanksgiving to a deity modeled on a mythic, folkloric, or other literary source of at least 75 words. Include a summary of what your sources were and how you utilized them (summary at least 150 words)

The Marriage of Lugus and Rosmerta

In ancient days when the world was young
the land herself sought out her king. 
She called out to the tribes to send 
forth all their best and noblest.

In bouts of skill and strength and word 
did each compete and each excel, 
but in the end one man arose 
and stood apart from all the rest.

His eyes shone clear, his shoulders broad, 
but gentle was his temprament. 
Of kingly bearing he was made; 
there was no question here of that.

His name was Lugus, Giant's Bane, 
his strength and honor unsurpassed; 
he knew the many arts of man 
and worked them all with skillful hand.

The land, Rosmerta, called him near 
and held aloft a cup of mead. 
"This cup," she said, "is all my love, 
and in it find your sovereignty."

His hands reached forth and grasped the cup; 
Rosmerta, though, did not let go 
and held the cup firm in her hands: 
"There is one thing before you drink."

"The people first approve their king, 
by their consent his rule is whole, 
for he serves them for all his days, 
and should he fail, they'll have his head."

And to the people she called out, 
"The land rejects an unjust king: 
Will you hold to this mighty oath?" 
And how do th'folk respond to her?
  (the folk: "We do!")

And to the people she called out, 
"And if your king should be unjust, 
then do you swear to throw him out?" 
And how do th'folk respond to her?
  (the folk: "We do!")

And to the people she called out, 
"Do you, dear people, love the land, 
and do you hold my honor bright?" 
And how do th'folk respond to her?
  (the folk: "We do!")

Rosmerta now released the cup 
and Lugus drank the mead so sweet. 
The Land had found her champion, 
and the people had found a king.

Hail to Lugus, the rightful king! 
Hail to Rosmerta who chose him! 
Hail to the folk who give him leave, 
and ever have power o're him!

In general, it's somewhat embarassing how I went about writing this prayer of praise and offering, less because it's not well done (I actually very much like it), but because it's not a lot of research, so much as a lot of interpretation of research.

The theme of our rite had to coincide with the theme of the festival we were presenting it at, which was primarily about social responsibility, environmentalism, and cooperation. To that end, we decided to do a sovregnity ritual that involved the rightful king receiving his power from his marriage to the land and the blessing of the folk. We chose the pair Lugus and Rosmerta for this.

I began by researching marriage customs (particularly as they affected kings in the Germanic warbands) via Enright and Beowulf. I added to this the information about Lugus I could glean from Mac Cana and a variety of representations I have on hand, and did the same with Rosmerta. I also spent some time working with an "Outline of Neo-Gaulish Religion and Culture (v. 7)" by Ariotanos.

We very much wanted to do some things that were obvious in this invocation, but also some very difficult to see and "hidden" things as well. Because of this, we decided to act the poem out as a play.

One of the important things stressed in Enright's work is that the hands of the lady should touch the hands of the warrior as she offers the cup. We did not want to stress this, but instead we decided to simply do it, and to have both the lady and the warrior understand that the touch of the fingers was the symbolic marriage.

A more obvious thing that we did was indicate that the land would reject an unjust ruler. In the modern world, one can never be too careful about what you say you might do to any ruler, and though we were clear before, during, and after the rite that there was no political commentary, we did not want to explicitly say that the folk would sacrifice an unjust ruler. Instead, we used a turn of phrase very common in the business world, where if someone does something wrong, those in charge "have his head." We also held a sickle to the throat of the warrior as the people were charged with the duty of protecting the land as a sign of the seriousness of this charge.

I took a lot of liberties with this, but lacking any sort of ritual or mythical context for the Gaulish Lugus or Rosmerta, I felt that such liberties were not only welcome, but necessary. They remained based in the ideas of just kingship, social contracts, and the Germano-Celtic warband, but took on an interesting (and not unappealing) tone.


Anonymous. Beowulf.

Enright, Michael J. Lady With a Mead Cup: Ritual Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from LA Tene to the Viking Age. Four Courts Press. 1995

Mac Cana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. Hamlyn. 1970.

Ariotanos. "Outline of Neo-Gaulish Religion and Culture (v. 7)". Provided by the author.


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