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The Foggy Dawn

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Liturgical Writing 2

1) Define “votive offering” and write a prayer (including stage directions if applicable) for a votive offering. (100 words for definition; minimum 75 words for prayer)
A votive offering is made as bargain with the spirits, and is typically phrased as an “if-then” statement. This means that if the spirits do something for you, then you promise to give or do something in return, rather than giving something first and asking that they do. A votive offering relies less on having a *ghosti relationship with a spirit, and more on an economical transaction and promise to pay after the service is rendered. In some ways this reverses the concept of “I give so that you may give” and instead phrases it as “if you give then I can give.”

Mighty Theoi, Brilliant Shining Gods,
To this end do I petition you:
Help me to find a new home for me and my family.
I shall sing your praises should you aid me!

Hestia, Goddess of my Hearth, I call out to you!
As we are seeking a new home, one that we can call our own,
Continue to burn bright here, and light the fires at those others hearths
so that they may become welcoming to us.
When we find a new home, I will give you sweet oil and barley
and tend your flame each morning.

Zeus, Protector of my Home and my Family, I call out to you!
You’ve kept us safe in our dwelling, and aided us in finding gainful employment,
I ask now that you continue your support of me and my family,
and help us in our search to find a home of our own.
We when find a new home, I will give you libations of deep red wine,
and burn sweet incense so the smoke may fill you.

Hermes, Traveler and Trader, I call out to you!
Guide my feet as the search for a home continues,
and when it is found, honey my words, O silver-tongued one,
That our offer may be accepted and we may proceed with making the home our own.
When the home is found, and our offer accepted, I will give you ripe strawberries,
Dipped in barley and cream, that the sweetness may spread through you.

Mighty Theoi, Brilliant Shining Gods,
Lend your strength to this task at hand
and you shall partake of the gifts I bring!

2) Write three prayers, one each for three of the following occasions (no minimum word count):
lighting a sacrificial fire: “Calling Hestia”
I call out now to Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth and Keeper of the Sacred Flame.
You burn ever bright within my heart, and I ask now that you burn brightly upon my hearth.
A flame, kindled upon the earth, pillar of smoke reaching to the Heavens
that it may connect us to the realm above so our voices may be heard.
I make this first offering to you, Hestia, as you prepare to accept the sacrifices made today
And see them carried to the mighty Theoi.
Hestia, be welcome here as you become the Good Fire around which I pray.

a meal blessing: “A Children’s Mealtime Prayer”
Mother Earth gives us grain and bread
And all the food that keeps us fed.
Now the meal is about to start,
So we thank her from our heart.

remembering a recently-passed ancestor: “For Dan’s Crossing” (Sept 10, 2014)
Beloved Dead, Ancient Wise, Ancestors:
One of our own begins his journey tonight.
He comes to join you, wrapped in Crane-feathered cloak.
Borne aloft to cross the veil by the sweet and gentle wings of Garanus,
And held safe and secure within those wings for the journey.
His passage has been paid by kith and kin
As we set his spirit free to join you.

Light the fires along the way,
To brighten his path as he travels.
Prepare the hall for a great feast,
To welcome him when he arrives.
Show him the way, and where to drink,
And guide him in this new role.
Watch over him as he makes this transition,
As he begins this adventure.

Dan, the Ancestors await, to greet you with joy in their hearts.
Fly now, and know you will be welcomed.
Fly now, and know we will celebrate your time with us.
Dan, farewell for now, and safe travels on your journey.

3) Write two prayers, one each for two of the following occasions (no minimum word count):
opening a Grove business meeting
As we gather tonight to continue the good work we do as a Grove,
Let us remember that all here are Children of the Earth.
As we speak, let our voices carry respect;
As we listen, let our ears hear honestly;
As we think, let our mind seek what is best for the community.
So be it!

for blessing a house (the middle part of this borrows heavily from MJD’s work in the Crane Breviary “Anagantios Moon”)
*flame is kindled just before crossing the threshold of the house*

I call out to Hestia as I kindle this fire here,
that she may light and warm this hearth
and bring blessings for all who dwell here.
Hestia, as I enter this place, I ask that you enter with me
Filling this home with your light, protection, and hospitality.

*flame is carried to each room in the house, ending in the kitchen. charm below is spoken in each room*

May this flame brighten the lives of those who dwell here,
May its light fill this space: from wall to wall, from ceiling to floor.

*upon entering the kitchen, light a new candle for the individual/family*

May this flame brighten the lives of all those who live or visit here,
May its light fill this home: each room from wall to wall, from ceiling to floor.
Hestia, flame kindled here on this hearth,
be welcome as the Good Fire as you light and warm this home.

The hearth kindled and brightened,
I call out now to Zeus Ktesios, who protects the wealth and possessions of this home,
And to Oikoyro Ophi, who protects the individual/family in this home.
Strong Father of Justice, Faithful House Serpant,
enter this home where the Fire burns bright
and grant this hearth, home, and individual/family the blessings of bounty
as you lend your protection to all those who dwell here.
Let your power and protection be bound to this Oikos
for as long as they dwell here.

4) Write a magical working for a full ADF rite suitable for use in a group setting, including stage directions as appropriate. (no minimum word count)
For the Full Moon honoring Hepheastos, the Smith God and Crafter, we will be making ink from the ashes left from our burnt offerings and the Waters gained the Return Flow. This ink can then be used focusing the intent for other magical work, from sigil work to staining divination tools to spelled tablets or prints.

Items Needed:
1 part ash from burnt offerings
1 part water from Return Flow
1 drop white vinegar (optional for ink stability)
bowl that can be stained (for mixing)
hard-bristled brush (for mixing)

To being mixing the ink put the ash in the bowl, add the water. Each person participating in the working will stir and mix the ink with the brush while saying the charm below (the charm can then also be said when reconstituting the mixture or making more). When it looks like ink, mix in a drop of vinegar, and you’re done.

CHARM:
Great and Mighty Hephaestos, Master of the Tempering Flame
Sooty God, who is famed in many crafts,
Renowned metal-smith and skillful worker,
Inventive and Resourceful One,
Your fame and glory resound with each strike of your hammer on anvil.

We have made offerings, consumed by the Fire.
Our gifts have risen on smokey pillar to the Heavens above.
All that remains here is charcoal and ash.
Take what is left, Skillful Creator,
Take the leavings, the forgotten, the dross
And guide our hands in finding use for this too.

Now mix your magic with our
as we seek to create tools from the discarded.
Ash from the Sacred Fire,
*put ash in the bowl*
Water from the Holy Well,
*put water in the bowl*
Bound now together as we chant these words:
*begin stirring and mixing as you chant. repeat as necessary until it is well mixed*

Aithaloeis Theos! Sooty Hephaestos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
Polymetis! Resourceful Hepheastos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
Klytoteknes! Famed in Crafting Hepheastos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
Polyphron! Ingenius and Inventive Hephaestos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
*once ink is made, add drop of vinegar if desired to stabilize the mixture*

With this ink thus created
Let us not forget the power of sacrifices made.
Let us not forget the power of Hepheastos, the Crafter,
In his ability to create powerful tools
From even those things considered useless or waste.

With this ink, we may now focus our intent for future tasks.

5) Write one complete ritual for an ADF High Day. The ritual must be substantially original and suitable for use in a group setting. (no minimum word count)

Vedic Spring Equinox: Honoring Indra
(This ritual was performed at Three Cranes Grove in March 2015: all parts written here are by Jan Avende unless otherwise noted)

Opening Prayer (Three Cranes Liturgy)
The spirits of the sky are above us.
The spirits of the land are around us.
The spirits of the waters flow below us.
Surrounded by all the numinous beings of earth and sea and sky,
Our hearts tied together as one,
Let us pray with a good fire.

Statement of Purpose
Children of Earth, we come together today, when the world hangs in balance, and all is seeking to be renewed and rejuvenated. We come to honor Indra today, the Vedic God of the Storm. He who won the Waters for us and has made it possible for us to receive the blessings of the gods. In the springtime, the storms often rage, and rain pounds to the earth. From these storms we are given the life-sustaining Waters that renew the land, wash clean our beings, and rejuvenate our spirits. So, on this Spring Equinox at the Good Fire we have kindled, let us honor the Kindreds with reverence and love in our hearts.

Purification
*participants walk between two people, being censed and asperged. Cleansed by the waters, and filled with the smoke*

Earth Mother
The Children of the Earth call out to Prithivi!
Prithivi, we are your Children!
You span the heights, and give sustenance to all beings.
Rich Earth Mother, upheld through Sacrifice.
Born of the Waters, birthing the Waters, home to the Waters,
Pour out for us now delicious nectar and fill us with your splendor.
Agni who dwells deep within you:
The Fire at your heart and ours.
We sing praises of your woodlands and hills.
We sing praises of your mountains and streams.
All who worship and make sacrifice do so on your bosom,
You come from Order and maintain Order in your seasons and cycles,
Gold-breasted Prithivi, keeper and giver of treasures
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Prithivi, Accept our Sacrifice!

Inspiration: Soma Pavamana
Sweet, purifying Soma,
Roaring into everlasting, immortal life.
Bringer of gods. Bringer of light.
Light like the yellow tawniness of the fire.
Bright like the shining Sharyanavat.

Sweet, purifying Soma,
I drink you, intoxicating elixir.
Giver of life. Giver of strength.
Honey-sweet and thick, sliding down my throat
Filling me with Hero’s wealth.

Sweet, purifying Soma,
Flowing and freeing in your stream of juices.
Receiver of praise. Receiver of sacrifice.
Your joyous draught overflowing in creativity
Makes us better than we are.

Soma, fill us with your exilir!
Suffuse us with your body
As we seek to make sacrifice and honor the Gods.
Soma, accept our sacrifice!

Attunement 
Breathe deep, finding your center. Let your body relax. Breathe deep, feeling the tension drain from your shoulders. Breathe deep, feeling the tension drain from your face. Breathe deep, feeling the tensions drain from you arms and legs. Breathe deep, feeling the tension drain from your hands and feet. Breathe deep, and just be for a moment.

*Pause*

Calm now, at peace and centered, see in your minds eye mists rolling in around you, the wisps licking across your skin and obscuring your vision. Allow yourself to exist for a moment in this liminal space, expanding and reaching out for clarity without seeing.

*Pause*

A brightness begins to solidify in the mists: As you focus on it, it grows and you see it is a flame, glowing and flickering with warmth and power. This is the fire of your hearth. The fire of your community. The fire of sacrifice. Let its glow wash over you.

*Pause*

The colors of the fire ripple and dance in and out. See the spirits of the Fire as they reveal themselves. These are the spirits of your home, who cleanses and blesses your space. The spirits of your community who strengthen the ties amongst the Folk. The spirits of sacrifice, who carry your offerings to the gods. As you watch the spirits of the flames, see the colors dance in your mind’s eye. See the white hot spark of inspiration. See the warm orange glow of the burning hearth fire. See the bright yellow spirit of dance and joy. See the deep red glow of community. See the brilliant blue flame that is focused in the night. See the rippling black across the embers. See the shining lights of colors that only you have seen. Listen to the crackle and pop of the fire as the spirits call out to you.

*Brief Pause*

Feel the power of the fire brighten within you as the warm envelopes to you and dances around your limbs. See around the roaring fire the faces of those who worship in this space with you. See as the glow touches each of them and you, brightening us, and filling us with warmth.

*Brief pause*

Now step away from the flames and head back towards the edge of the firelight, as the mists thicken again. Feel the wisps licking across your skin and obscuring your vision. Breathe deep and become again aware of your hands and feet. Breathe deep and become again aware of your arms and legs. Breathe deep and become again aware of yourself. See the mists roll back as you again exist in this place warmed by the Fire, and surrounded by all those who pray around it.

ReCreation of the Cosmos 
The world was made from the Great Being Purusha!
The Lord of Immortality, who through his sacrifice, gave birth to the world!
His Head became the Heavens, where the Ancestors dwell;
His Body became the Atmosphere, where the Shining Gods dwell;
His Feet became the Earth, where the Spirits of the Land dwell.
Springing forth from his mouth, Agni, the Priest of the Gods, leapt into the world
and a Fire was kindled upon the Earth.
A Fire for Hospitality.
A Fire for Protection.
A Fire for Sacrifice.
These three Fires burn at the Center.
Their light stretches out through all the realms,
and their smoke carries our words and sacrifices to all the realms.
These three Fires mark this place as our Sacred Center.

Gates 
Now, with the Fires burning and the Center we look to the sky as we call out for our Gatekeeper.
One who stands at the boundaries and walks the liminal places between the Realms.
Ushas! O Daughter of the Sky!
You who arise from your bath each morning dripping dew upon the land.
Rosy maid, your brilliant face breaks through the Clouds,
Parting them to shine your light upon the world.
Hopeful Dawn comes: ever rising, ever resplendent,
Still there, breathing life into the world with your radiance.
Burning away the gloom that seems it will never leave.
Imperceptibly you lightens the clouds from grey to pink,
Caressing them to life, until suddenly
The sky is alight and singing new songs of hope.
As you awaken the world to life, and rekindle the Fires upon the Land each morn,
So too do you awaken our pious spirits to sing the praises of the Gods.
Ushas, Accept our Sacrifice!

Ushas, Goddess of the Dawn,
Come to us now on this holy day when the world hangs in balance.
Break through the clouds and aid us in rekindling the Fires upon the Earth
As we seek to Open the Gates, Walk Between the Worlds, and make Sacrifice.
Call Agni, the Priest of the Gods, to us, so that we might pour forth our offerings.

Rekindle the Fire of Hospitality, and let it burn here and within us,
Connecting us to the Spirits of the Land, with whom we walk in balance.
Rekindle the Fire of Protection, and let it burn here and within us,
connecting us to our Heavenly Ancestors, who’s knowledge guides our steps.
Rekindle the Fire of Sacrifice, and let it burn here and within us,
Connecting us to the Shining Gods, who we make offerings to.

Three Fires kindled and burning strong,
Connecting us to the Earth, the Heaven, and the Atmosphere.
These flames burning here and in all the Realms.
Ushas, part the Clouds and Open the Ways,
so that our Sacrifices may be carried forth and our voices heard!
Let the Gates be Open!

Earth (Spirits of Forest)
The Children of the Earth call out to the Spirits of Forest!
You who dwell on the Earth and fill the lands about us.
Allies and guides, whether you be of flesh, stone, or plant.
May the Sun warm you, and the Waters fill you,
The Mountains protect you, and the Earth support you.
We come into this space that is yours,
To be as you are in our honoring of the Kindreds.
We see you, Spirits of Forest, All you Sylvan Things
Stepping through the seven regions of the Earth
out across the many-colored grasses
where the Waters flow down from the mountains and out to the sea.
We see you rising in the east to greatness
with a hundred, thousand branches as we lift our ladles and bring you gifts.
Come to our Fire, Spirits, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Spirits of Forest, Accept our Sacrifice!

Atmospheric (Deities)
The Children of the Earth call out to the Shining Ones!
You who dwell in the Atmosphere and fill our every breath with divinity.
Brilliant, Mighty, and Awful, we sing your praises.
Bright and splendid, burning and flowing
We see your power and beseech you to come to us,
Gracious and kindly-hearted, and partake of our sacrifice.
We call and call thee, bliss-bestowers,
come to us at dawn and midday, at dusk and midnight.
Be with us as fires strengthen our prayer and our sacrifice:
Wise and Mighty, Loving and Kind, Ancient and Powerful.
You are streaming with abundance, pouring out treasures untold.
Come to our Fire, Shining Ones, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Shining Ones, Accept our Sacrifice!

Heavens (Ancestors)
The Children of the Earth call out to the Ancestors!
You who dwell in the Heavens and inspire us to reach for the stars.
Sons of mighty Asura, supporting the heavens,
Bound by the life-giving Waters
You search out the path to glory and lead the way.
Come Fathers, and sit on the grass with us
Join us in the warmth of the sun and sweetness of the waters.
We see you as Yama’s hounds roam among us, brindled and dark-eyed,
as they seek those who would ever dwell in the sunlight.
Come to our Fire, Ancestors, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Ancestors, Accept our Sacrifice!

DotO: Indra 
The Children of the Earth call out to Indra, the Cloud Rider!
On eagles’ wings, borne across the land,
You rush up from the sea upon the very clouds
That bear the waters.
Mighty Indra, Bright as Suns,
Come to us and stand by us in our need.
You are drawn onward by the tawny coursers,
sparks that strike the sky, O Tempest God,
We call to you!
Come down to us from the skies, O Wanderer,
making light where there was none,
making form where there was none.
Golden and Thunder-armed Indra,
You who struck down the Dragon,
and won the Waters for us,
Come, come!
Burst forth from the Clouds and drive us on to glory
as a bull drives on the herds.
Bright Thunderer, full of Soma,
We hear the cows roaring, bellowing, at your victory as you approach.
Come to our Fire, Indra, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Indra, Accept our Sacrifice!

Prayer of Sacrifice: Agni 
Agni, Bright One, Priest of the Gods,
We have given of our love and our wealth to the Kindreds.
Now, as this sacrifice is poured out, take it, and carry our voices to all the realms:
Through the Forest, where the Spirits may partake of it,
Through the Atmosphere, where the Shining Ones may partake of it,
Through the Heavens, where the Ancestors may partake of it.
Kindreds all, Accept our Sacrifice!

Omen (Fire scrying)
*seer makes an offering to the Fire of Hospitality and seeks the wisdom and blessings there*

*seer makes an offering to the Fire of Protection and seeks the wisdom and blessings there*

*seer makes an offering to the Fire of Sacrifice and seeks the wisdom and blessings there*

Return Flow 
**note: this portion of the rite was performed as a children’s ritual playlet during the rite in March 2015**

Cast:
OFFICIANT: The person who is doing the Return Flow portion of the Ritual
INDRA: The Vedic Storm God
VRTRA: The Dragon
CELEBRANTS: The folk at the ritual
STORM-BRINGERS: sounds of the storm (can be the same as the CELEBRANTS if needed)
Optional Cast:
DRAGONS: Vrtra’s family
SACRED COWS: to represent the Waters and Blessings

*following the Seer’s pronouncement of a positive Omen*

OFFICIANT: These are indeed good omens.

OFFICIANT: But you should know that until Indra won the Waters for us, we could not have received these blessings because Vrtra the Dragon hoarded them all for himself and his family.

OFFICIANT: Here is Vrtra now, and he is holding onto [omen], [omen], and [omen].

VRTRA: These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: But the people wanted the blessings too, and they knew only the mighty Indra could help them now. So they called out with one voice: “Indra, Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: Listen: Do you hear him coming? Here comes Indra the Storm-Bringer!

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers as Indra enters the stage*

OFFICIANT: In the thundering clouds with his lightning bolt in hand, Indra demands:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: Vrtra roars mightily and retorts:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: And the people knew Vrtra was going to hold onto those gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] with all of his might. So they again called out: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: And Indra heard their plea and prepared to do whatever was necessary to win the waters for the people. He again shouted to Vrtra:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: But Vrtra again roared his denial and shrieked:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: Indra grew angry that Vrtra wouldn’t share the blessings with everyone, and as his anger grew, so too did the sound of the storm.

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers*

OFFICIANT: The people knew now was the moment. Now was the time to give Indra all their support. And so they called out one final time: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: The storm rumbled as Indra went into battle with the mighty Vrtra, his lightning bolt held high. With a flash he struck down Vrtra with his lightning bolt. The Dragon bellowed as he fell.

OFFICIANT: The waters, the blessings, the gifts were now free. The mighty Indra won them away from Vrtra the Dragon and brought them to us.

*INDRA brings Waters to OFFICIANT*

OFFICIANT: These Waters are infused with the blessings of [omen], [omen], and [omen]. “Behold! The Waters of Life!”

OFFICIANT: As these Waters are poured out for each of us, remember how they were won for us, and how we sing the praises of the Storm God who won them.

OFFICIANT: See how the gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] can flow into our lives. See how they can flow into our grove. See how they can flow into our community. See how you and the world can be renewed and rejuvenated by these Waters so courageously won and freely given.

OFFICIANT: Drink deep, Children of Earth, and be blessed!

Thank DotO 
Mighty Indra, Thunderer, Drinker of the Soma Juice,
You who have won the Waters for us.
For joining us today, raining down your blessings upon us,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Indra! We thank you!

Thank Ancestors 
Mighty Ancestors, you who have delighted
in the sunlight with us this day:
For joining us today, sharing your knowledge and joy with us,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Ancestors! We thank you!

Thank Deities
Brilliant Shining Ones, bliss-bestowers,
so full of the riches you’ve freely poured out:
For joining us today, kindling a fire of piety with us,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Shining Ones! We thank you!

Thank Spirits of the Forest
Spirits of Forest, moving softly through the realms of the land,
and rising in greatness like the great trees:
For joining us today, teaching s to walk in balance with the Earth,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Spirits of Forest! We thank you!

Close Gates 
Now, with the Fires still burning and the Center we look to the sky
As we call out once more for our Gatekeeper.
One who stands at the boundaries and walks the liminal places between the Realms.
Ratri! O Child of Heaven!
Your Sister, Bright Ushas aided us in our arrival, as is her due.
Now we ask that you aid us in our depature, O Ratri, as is your due.
Twinkling-eyed Goddess, adorned in all beauty
You bring Order to the World as you guide us from Dusk to Dawn.
So watch over us, Ratri, as we seek to close the Gates.
Shepherd us safely on until we come to this shared space of brightness and worship again.
Ratri, Accept our Sacrifice!

Now, Child of Heaven, Goddess of the Glittering Night,
Come to us and aid us as we Seek to bid farewell to Agni,
Walk Between the Worlds once more, and Close the Gates.
Agni has kindled three brilliant flames before us, bright and strong.
They have been well-fed of our sacrifices, and consumed with delight.
Now let these fires once more become but flame.

Let the Fire of Sacrifice no longer burn here and within us,
but dissipate out into the Atmosphere.
Let the Fire of Protection no longer burn here and within us,
but dissipate out amongst the Heavens.
Let the Fire of Hospitality no longer burn here and within us,
but dissipate out across the Land.

Ratri, as this, our Sacred Center, is no longer lit and shining brightly with Sacrifice,
As we travel between, no Fire at our Center,
Let the Gates be Closed!

Thank Inspiration
Sweet, purifying Soma, bright and potent and overflowing,
Honey-sweet intoxicating elixir:
For joining us today, filling us with the joyous draught of Hero’s wealth,
and lending your Magic to our work as we sang the praises of the Gods,
We say, Soma! We thank you!

Thank Earth Mother 
Rich and Bountiful Prithivi, we are your children, and you are our Mother,
We growth and flourish as you growth and flourish.
For joining us today as you do every day, and supporting us always in our work,
Earth Mother, we return to you all that is unused as we seek to continue to walk in balance.
Prithivi, Earth Mother! We thank you!

Closing the Rite (Three Crane Liturgy)
Go now in Peace and Love and Fellowship, Children of the Earth,
This rite is ended!

Works Cited:
Thomas, Kirk. “The Nature of Sacrifice”. Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF. 2011. Web. 4 Apr 2015. <http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nature-of-sacrifice.html&gt;.

Indra Wins the Waters

“Indra Wins the Waters”

 
This playlet was written for the children’s programming for
Three Cranes Grove 2015 Spring Equinox Ritual honoring Indra.
 
Lexile: 680L (late 3rd grade, early 4th grade reading level) 
 
Cast:
OFFICIANT: The person who is doing the Return Flow portion of the Ritual
INDRA: The Vedic Storm God
VRTRA: The Dragon
CELEBRANTS: The folk at the ritual
STORM-BRINGERS: sounds of the storm (can be the same as the CELEBRANTS if needed)
Optional Cast:
DRAGONS: Vrtra’s family
SACRED COWS: to represent the Waters and Blessings
 
*following the Seer’s pronouncement of a positive Omen*
 
OFFICIANT: These are indeed good omens.
 
OFFICIANT: But you should know that until Indra won the Waters for us, we could not have received these blessings because Vrtra the Dragon hoarded them all for himself and his family.
 
OFFICIANT: Here is Vrtra now, and he is holding onto [omen], [omen], and [omen]. 
 
VRTRA: These gifts are mine! All mine!
 
OFFICIANT: But the people wanted the blessings too, and they knew only the mighty Indra could help them now.  So they called out with one voice: “Indra, Give us the Waters!”
 
CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!
 
OFFICIANT: Listen: Do you hear him coming?  Here comes Indra the Storm-Bringer!
 
*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers as Indra enters the stage*
 
OFFICIANT: In the thundering clouds with his lightning bolt in hand, Indra demands:
 
INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!
 
OFFICIANT: Vrtra roars mightily and retorts:
 
VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!
 
OFFICIANT: And the people knew Vrtra was going to hold onto those gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] with all of his might.  So they again called out: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”
 
CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!
 
OFFICIANT: And Indra heard their plea and prepared to do whatever was necessary to win the waters for the people.  He again shouted to Vrtra:
 
INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!
 
OFFICIANT: But Vrtra again roared his denial and shrieked:
 
VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!
 
OFFICIANT: Indra grew angry that Vrtra wouldn’t share the blessings with everyone, and as his anger grew, so too did the sound of the storm.
 
*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers*
 
OFFICIANT: The people knew now was the moment.  Now was the time to give Indra all their support.  And so they called out one final time: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”
 
CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!
 
OFFICIANT: The storm rumbled as Indra went into battle with the mighty Vrtra, his lightning bolt held high.  With a flash he struck down Vrtra with his lightning bolt.  The Dragon bellowed as he fell.
 
OFFICIANT: The waters, the blessings, the gifts were now free.  The mighty Indra won them away from Vrtra the Dragon and brought them to us.  
 
*INDRA brings Waters to OFFICIANT*
 
OFFICIANT: These Waters are infused with the blessings of [omen], [omen], and [omen].  “Behold! The Waters of Life!”
 
OFFICIANT: As these Waters are poured out for each of us, remember how they were won for us, and how we sing the praises of the Storm God who won them. 
 
OFFICIANT: See how the gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] can flow into our lives.  See how they can flow into our grove.  See how they can flow into our community.  See how you and the world can be renewed and rejuvenated by these Waters so courageously won and freely given.
 
OFFICIANT: Drink deep, Children of Earth, and be blessed!

General Bardic Studies for Liturgists

General Bardic Studies for Liturgists

 

1) Write two poems of at least 16 lines each appropriate for performance at a High Day ritual. One poem may be in free-verse form, but one must employ some form of meter and/or rhyme. Note in each case for which High Day the poem is intended.

 

Appropriate for any light-hearted High Day: Three Kindreds Praise Offerings:

 

“Come Pray With Me”

 

A Fire lit with piety in the center of the rite

The Druids pray around it, around the fire’s light.

They call to the Gods and Goddesses so bright.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!

 

Sacred Waters far below, flow into our Well

And with our voices raised together our song will surely swell

Remember all our Heroes, their stories we’ll tell.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!

 

Standing tall and strong is the all-connecting Tree

Beneath its arching branches we stand in harmony

Honoring the spirits so wild and free.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!

 

So it’s into the Grove, and beside the Tree

Come you pious pagans, and make your offerings

Let’s honor the Kindreds of earth and sky and sea

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!

 

We pagans all together still long for the day

When all honor the Earth upon which we lay.

She holds us forever; in her arms we’ll stay.

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!

 

So it’s into the Grove, and beside the Tree

Come you pious pagans, and make your offerings

Let’s honor the Kindreds of earth and sky and sea

Sing praise you joyous pagans, and come pray with me!

 

 

 

 

Vedic Spring Equinox: poem intended to be performed for the Return Flow:

 

“Indra Megahavahana”

 

Sing to Indra the Cloud Rider!

On eagles’ wings, borne across the land,

He chases Vrtra, drawn valiantly onward,

Rushing up form the sea upon the very clouds

That bear the waters.

Like a thunderbolt striking a mighty tree,

Split asunder by the tawny-armed Thunderer.

Indra, give us the Waters!

 

Waters of the sea

Set free from the dark and boiling clouds.

Waters of the mountain

Set free as he cleaved the earth in two.

Flowing streams released by his bolt

As he watches from the clouds.

The cows roaring, bellowing, at the victory

As the fort-shatterer gives us the Waters

That we may drink them as

Mighty Indra consumes Soma.

As he is infused with strength

So might we too be emboldened.

Indra Megahavahana, we glory at your victory

And partake of the gifts you have won for us.

 

 

 

 


 

2) Compare and contrast examples from the work of three poets in one cultural tradition from at least two historical eras. (minimum 300 words of the student’s original essay material beyond the verses provided, at least one poem per poet)

 

India has a rich, and often overlooked, literary and poetic tradition.  While I will be examining poetry from the Early Vedic Period through the Modern Era, I would like to note that I will be examining the first two of the works in translation, and will not be diving into the complexities of the texts in the language they were initially written in.  This means some of the poetic devices that I note are likely put there by the translator, Ralph, T.H. Griffith, whose translations I am using for both of the earlier works.

 

The Rig Veda is the primary and most important of the Vedas, which are the foundational religious texts of ancient India.  It was composed somewhere between 1500 and 1000 BCE, and told through oral tradition.  It was eventually written down, and was likely codified by about 200 BCE. The Rig Veda contains hymns of praise to the important deities of the time, and while there are more than one thousand hymns in the ten books of the Rig Veda, two hundred of them sing the praises of Agni   (Violatti).

 

This is hymn comes from Book 3 of the Rig Veda:

 

“HYMN XXII. Agni.”

1 THIS is that Agni whence the longing Indra took the pressed Soma deep within his body.

Winner of spoils in thousands, like a courser, with praise art thou exalted, Jātavedas.

2 That light of thine in heaven and earth, O Agni, in plants, O Holy One, and in the waters,

Wherewith thou hast spread wide the air’s mid-region-bright is that splendour, wavy, man-beholding.

3 O Agni, to the sea of heaven thou goest: thou hast called hither Gods beheld in spirit.

The waters, too, come hither, those up yonder in the Sun’s realm of light, and those beneath it.

4 Let fires that dwell in mist, combined with those that have their home in floods,

Guileless accept our sacrifice, great viands free from all disease.

5 Agni, as holy food to thine invoker give wealth in cattle, lasting, rich in marvels.

To us be born a son and spreading offspring. Agni, be this thy gracious will to us-ward.

(Griffith RV 3.22)

 

The poetic style used in the hymns of the Rig Veda is complex, and relies heavily on epithets and metaphors.  For example, in line 2 “winner of spoils in thousands” is a phrase that is used to refer to Agni.  Agni is also called “Jātavedas,” or He who knows all things. This use of epithets is a poetic device that is carried through all three of the works I’ll be examining.

 

Rather than the use of rhyme or meter to give the hymn structure, this hymn, like most in the Rig Veda, relies on the use of other poetic devices such as parallel structure.  This can be seen in line 2 “…in heaven and earth…in plants…in the waters,” as well as in line 3 “those up yonder…those beneath it,” and line 4 “that dwell in mist…that have their home in floods.”  This parallel structure lends itself well to the longer, extended sentence structure that makes up the hymn.

 

This hymn follows a formula that can be carried out and applied when we are writing our own hymns of praise and invocation.  The first three lines tell who Agni is, and why he is worthy of praise   Then there is a shift in the 4th line when the speaker asks Agni to accept the sacrifice the speaker is offering him, and the final line asks for gifts in return for that sacrifice.  A shift can be seen in each of the pieces that I’ll be examining.

 

The next poem I’ll be analyzing is an excerpt from the beginning of The Birth of the War God, by Kālidāsa.  Kālidāsa is an Indian poet from the 5th century CE, who is known for being the pioneer that led the way in the Kāvya style of poetry.  This style is known for using many poetic devices, especially metaphors, similes, and hyperbole to create descriptive and emotional pieces (“Kāvya”).

 

Lay, Indra, lay thy threatening bolt aside,

My gentle darts shall tame the haughtiest pride,

And all that war with Heaven and thee shall know

The magic influence of thy Kama’s bow

For Woman’s curling lip shall bow them down,                5

Fainting in terror at her threatening frown.

Flowers are my arms, mine only warrior Spring,

Yet in thy favour am I strong, great King ;

What can their strength who draw the bow avail

Against my matchless power when I assail?                      10

Strong is the Trident-bearing God, yet he.

The mighty Siva, e’en, must yield to me.”

 

Then Indra answered with a dawning smile,

Resting his foot upon a stool the while :

” Dear God of Love, thou truly hast displayed                   15

The power unrivalled of thy promised aid

My hope is all in thee—my weapons are

The thunderbolt, and thou more mighty far

But vain, all vain the bolt of Heaven to fright

Those holy Saints whom Penance arms aright                  20

Thy power knows no bound—thou, only thou.

All-conquering Deity, canst help me now !

Full well I know thy nature, and assign

This toil to thee, which needs a strength like thine

As on that Snake alone will Krishna rest.                           25

That bears the Earth upon his haughty crest.

 

Our task is well-nigh done—thy boasted dart

Has power to conquer even Siva’s heart

Hear what the Gods, oppressed with woe, would fain

From mighty Siva through thine aid obtain                       30

He may beget—and none in Heaven but he

A chief to lead our hosts to victory

But all his mind with holiest lore is fraught.

Bent on the Godhead is his every thought

Thy darts, Love, alone can reach him now.                        35

And lure his spirit from the hermit vow.

Go, seek Himalaya’s Mountain-child, and aid

With all thy loveliest charms the lovely Maid,

So may she please his fancy—only she

May wed with Siva—such the fixed decree.                      40

(Kālidāsa 22-23)

 

In this excerpt Kama, the God of Love, is talking Indra down from his wrath.  He is agreeing to do Indra’s bidding instead of Indra going full-on angry Storm God to achieve his ends.  After all, who can resist the power of love?  Indra admits that Kama is all-conquering and agrees to send him to rile up Siva and bring him out of hiding, because Siva has become lost in thought and enthralled with magic and knowledge.  A battle is coming, and they need him ready to fight.  Indra sends Kama to fetch Uma and help her win Siva’s heart, and thus breed warriors for battle.

 

This translation of the poem makes use of rhyming couplets to tie the story together.  The kāvya’s use of poetic devices, such as hyperbole can be seen in line  5 and 6 of this excerpt “For Woman’s curling lip shall bow them down, / Fainting in terror at her threatening frown” as a women’s frown is unlikely to cause literal fainting.  In line 7, metaphor is used as Kama describes that “Flowers are my arms, mine only warrior Spring” and in line 35 “ when Love is described as “darts.”

 

One of the poetic devices that is used most extensively in this, as well at the other two poems I’m examining, is the epithet.  This can be seen here in line 10 “the trident-bearing God” referring to Siva, in line 15 “the God of Love,”  and line 22 “all-conquering deity” referring to Kama, and in line 37 “Himalaya’s Mountain-Child” referring to Uma.

 

There is a distinct shift in this excerpt, where Indra goes from all out assault, to sending Kama in to do his bidding through love.  The over-arching theme in this chunk refers to the idea that Love can conquer all, and is even seen in one of the epithets for Kama.  The epic continues on to tell the story of how Uma and Siva are wed, and the subsequent birth of Kumara.

 

The final piece I am examining is a modern epic by Sri Aurobindo.  Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist and spiritual leader.  His epic Savitri is a modern retelling of the story of Satyavan and Savitri from the Mahabharata.

 

This excerpt is from Book I (The Book of Beginnings), Canto I (The Symbol Dawn).

 

A message from the unknown immortal Light

Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,

Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues

And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.

An instant’s visitor the godhead shone.                                         5

On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood

And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.

Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss

In colour’s hieroglyphs of mystic sense,

It wrote the lines of a significant myth.                                          10

Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,

A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.

Almost that day the epiphany was disclosed

Of which our thoughts and hopes are signal flares;

A lonely splendour from the invisible goal.                                    15

Almost was flung on the opaque Inane.

Once more a tread perturbed the vacant Vasts;

Infinity’s centre, a Face of rapturous calm

Parted the eternal lids that open heaven;

A Form from far beatitudes seemed to near.                                 20

Ambassadress twixt eternity and change,

The omniscient Goddess leaned across the breadths

That wrap the fated journeyings of the stars

And saw the spaces ready for her feet.

Once she half looked behind for her veiled sun,                           25

Then, thoughtful, went to her immortal work.

Earth felt the Imperishable’s passage close:

The waking ear of Nature heard her steps

And wideness turned to her its limitless eye,

And, scattered on sealed depths, her luminous smile.                  30

Kindled to fire the silence of the worlds.

All grew a consecration and a rite.

Air was a vibrant link between earth and heaven;

The wide-winged hymn of a great priestly wind

Arose and failed upon the altar hills;                                             35

The high boughs prayed in a revealing sky.

(Aurobindo 4)

 

In this excerpt we are introduced to the Dawn, who is described as she crests the horizon and brings light to he world.  It is her job to rekindle the fires of earth, and prepare the world for the day.  This whole chunk is an extended metaphor and personification describing the Dawn.  Unlike the first to texts I examined, this piece relies less on epithets and far more on other poetic devices such as alliteration, personification, and metaphor.  Some alliteration can be seen in line 17 “Vacant Vasts”, line 20 “form from far” and line 34 “wide winged…wind.”

 

There are many examples of personification and other metaphors through the text.  This represents the view of the gods well, since the Vedic gods in most cases literally were the things they were representing.  Aurobindo describes this epic as more than “a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life” (Aurobindo).  This can be seen in the ancient texts such as the Rig Veda as well.  Agni is the Fire.  Indra is the Storm.  Ushas is the Dawn.  So when Aurobindo uses personification and metaphor in his epic, it fits well in Vedic mythology.  Some examples of this can be seen in line 28 “the waking ear of Nature”, line 35 “the altar hills”, line 36 “the high boughs prayed”, and line 12 where the sky is described as an open book.  This shift in this poem can be seen between lines 20 and 25, when the Dawn finally steps out onto the Earth.

 

The Dawn herself is personified greatly in this excerpt.  There is an extended metaphor in lines 6-12 where the Dawn is described as a scholar who is bent over a book, and deciphering its knowledge.  Her colors are the words that must be interpreted.  In lines 17-18 she is described as treading across the horizon and having a “Face of rapturous calm.”  The whole attitude of this text is a tone of awe at the beauty of the Dawn and the work that she does.  This excerpt takes place in the 4th stanza of the whole epic, and as it focuses on the Dawn, is both a symbol for the beginning of the work, and a symbol for the beginnings to come throughout life.

 

In these three poetic works the rich language of India can be seen.  In the early periods the poet relied on complex sentence structure, elaborate epithets, and vivid imagery to convey the meaning of the text.  Later poets, like Kālidāsa, relied heavily on poetic devices and figurative language to convey the text.  Modern poets, such as Aurobindo, relied on extended metaphor to convey the meanings in the text, and blank verse to tie it all together.  All of the pieces made heavy use of personification and related metaphors to bring the subjects of the poems to life.

 

 

 

 


 

3) Compare and contrast examples from the work of two poets of the same historical era from two different cultural traditions. (minimum 300 words of the student’s original essay material beyond the verses provided at least two poems per poet)

 

The two poems I am analyzing are from World War I.  The first is “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian poet Lt. Col. John McCrae and was published in 1919 (McCrae).  The second is “A Shadow on the Wall” by German poet Gottfried Benn, and translated by Michael Hoffman.  Benn published this poem as part of a collection in 1912 titled Morgue und andere Gedichte (Morgue and other Poems) (“Gottfried”).

 

 

“In Flanders Fields”

 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

(McCrae)

 

 

 

“A Shadow on the Wall”

 

A shadow on the wall

boughs stirred by the noonday wind

that’s enough earth

and for the eye

enough celestial participation.

 

How much further do you want to go? Refuse

the bossy insistence

of new impressions—

 

lie there still,

behold your own fields,

your estate,

dwelling especially

on the poppies,

unforgettable

because they transported the summer—

 

where did it go?

(Benn)

 

 

Both of these poems focus on themes of remembrance, and both use the imagery of a poppy to do so.  So, while the poets come from two different cultural traditions, they are focusing on similar themes and having a similar reaction to war and unrest.  Mourning the dead and wanting to remember and honor their memories is a universal desire.

 

The image of the poppy became the symbol for remembrance in part because of its method of germination.  The poppy seed can live in the soil for long periods of times, and then when the ground is disturbed it sprouts, grows, and blooms.  The battlefields during World War I were subject to a lot of ground disturbance, between trenches, shell holes, and marching armies.  This created a fertile ground for the poppies (“Papaver Rhoeas”).  In McCrae’s poem the stark imagery of the blood-red poppy is juxtaposed against the white crosses (McCrae ln 1-2), and is reminiscent of the men who died on the battlefield.

 

“In Flanders Fields” is written in the style of an English rondeau, which follows the rhyme scheme of aabba aabR aabbaR.  This structured form draws attention to the refrain (“In Flanders Fields”), as well as the ‘b’ rhymes as they contrast with the ‘a’ rhymes.  This can be seen especially in the last stanza as “die” contrasts with “grow” (McCrae ln 13-14).

 

“A Shadow on the Wall” is written, or at least translated, in free verse, and does not rely on rhyme or meter for emphasis, but rather on line- and stanza-breaks.  Most notably is line 14 “unforgettable” (Benn).  The very fact that that is the only word in that line makes it stand out and be unforgettable.  Also noteworthy is the stanza break between the third and fourth stanza, leaving line 16, “where did it go?” to stand alone at the end of the poem.  This draws attention to that question, and adds a note of forlorn heartbreak to the text.

 

The speakers of the poem “In Flanders Fields” are the dead who perished during the Second Battle of Ypres.  A metaphor that is made throughout the poem compares the graves of the soldiers to beds, telling how the soldiers now “lie / In Flanders Fields” (ln 8-9) and that they “shall not sleep” (ln 14). The speakers of the poem encourage those who are still fighting to continue on.  They have passed “the torch” (ln 12) to the new soldiers, and it is their job now to fight for their country and fellow man.  This tone of hope is likely one of the many reasons that this poem became so famous.

 

“A Shadow on the Wall” has a less hopeful tone that “In Flanders Fields.”  In the former the speaker references the listener’s desire to back away from analyzing anything to deeply.  Seeing a shadow and hearing the trees blow is all the nature that the listener can stand to see and hear, but the speaker is pushing for the listener to look deeper.  The speaker is demanding that the listener take responsibility for what is around them, particularly with the phrase “dwelling especially / on the poppies, / unforgettable / because they transported the summer — / where did it go?” (Benn ln 12-16).  Looking at the cultural implications through the lens of hindsight, it is possible that Benn was demanding of his countrymen, or perhaps of all those involved in the war, that they see the damage the fighting was causing, and the lives it was destroying.  The youth, the summer of our lives, was taken from those fighting in the war.

 

In both of the poems there is a focus on the elements of nature that are remembered.  “In Flanders Fields” draws attention to the poppies blowing across the landscape (McCrae ln 1) and the larks singing out despite the gunfire (McCrae ln 4-5).  The speakers also emphasis that they remember the dawn and the sunset (McCrae ln 7).  In “A Shadow on the Wall” the images from nature are again emphasized.  The trees are blowing in the wind (Benn ln 2) and the poppies are growing in the fields (Benn ln 10-13).

 

I think it is interesting to examine the works of two different poets who have experienced the same historical event, but on the different sides of the conflict.  This set is particularly interesting to me because they use similar imagery, and focus on similar themes.

 

 

4) Compare and contrast two mythological or folkloric tales from two Indo-European cultures. Include a discussion of the use of narrative point-of-view, the element of time, and any relevant issues of religious (or other) bias influencing the narrative. (minimum 600 words)

 

Dragons and dragon slaying are a myth and legend that many cultures have found fascinating, and as such have told stories that relate to these great beasts. These can all be classified as the Aarne-Thompson Folktale type 300: The Dragon Slayer (“Aarne–Thompson Classification System”).  Hittite mythology tells how the Sky God Teshub slays the dragon Illuyanka.  Norse mythology tells how Sigurd slays the dragon Fafnir.  Christian mythology tells how St. George slays the dragon. There are many iterations of this myth across many cultures, not just Indo-European cultures.

 

In Greek Mythology, one of the famous stories that tells of a hero fighting a dragon is the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece.  King Pelias sent Jason on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece, which was, unfortunately, guarded by the fierce Dragon Kholkikos in the sacred grove of Ares at Kholkhis.  The dragon supposedly never slept, and hoarded the fleece in his jaws.

 

Some versions of the story say that Jason slew the dragon and made off with the fleece.  Pindar, in Pythian Ode 4 says “he slew that drakon of the glaring eyes and speckled back” (Atmsa).  Other versions of the story describe how Medea, the daughter of Aietes (the King who felt he owned the Fleece), put the dragon to sleep so that Jason could go in and steal the Fleece out from under him.  Apollonius Rhodius, in the Argonautica, says Jason heard Medea “in her sweet voice invoking Hypnos” and calling on Hekate to aid her.  The dragon, “enchanted by her song” relaxed except for his head and jaws.  So “Medea, chanting a spell, dipped a fresh sprig of juniper in her brew and sprinkled his eyes with her most potent drug; and as the all-pervading magic scent spread round his head, sleep fell on him” (Atmsa).  Then she called to Jason, who was able to come and steal the Fleece.

 

Depending on the version of the story you read, will change on the point of view you get.  Many versions tell this story from the third person limited point of view, allowing the reader to see what is going on around the main characters.  We can see the actions of the characters, and are also privy to some of the motivations behind a few of the characters.  For example, we know that King Aietes feels the Fleece belongs to him, and that he hopes to trick Jason so that he will fail in his quest.  We also know that Medea has fallen in love with Jason (thanks to a little help from Aphrodite) and plans to help him however she can.  We are not, however, given the opportunity to see inside the hero’s head and instead only learn about him through his actions and speech.  In the version told in the Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius, there is dialogue that helps flesh out the characterization.  Because the Greeks were writing things down before other religious influences took hold, we can be reasonably sure that this text is relatively free from outside issues of religious bias.

 

When Jason and his Argonauts arrive at Kholkhis, there is a series of things that Jason ends up having to do before he actually confronts the dragon.  Apollonius Rhodius tells a version of this story: Jason meets with King Aietes, who feels that Fleece belongs to him.  The King agrees to give the Fleece to Jason if he can complete a few simple tasks “to test [his] courage and abilities” that prove him the equal of King Aietes.  First Jason must plow the fields with the fire-breathing bulls, and sow dragon teeth in the field.  The dragon teeth then sprout into fierce warriors, who luckily turn out to be not terribly smart, and Jason defeats them through quick wit.  This plowing and sowing, and subsequent fighting, all took place over the course of a day.  King Aietes claims that this is what he does each day, and “if you, sir, can do as well, you may carry off the fleece to your king’s palace on the very same day.’” (Atmsa).  Following this incredible feat, Jason and Medea sneak to the grove where the dragon and the Fleece are that same night, meaning that this whole ordeal takes place within the same 24 hour period.

 

An interesting note about the Dragon Kholkikos is his obsession with wealth. In Imagines, Pilostratus the Elder says that the dragon is supposedly “devoted to gold and whatever golden thing it sees it loves and cherishes; thus the fleece in Kholkhis and the apples of the Hesperides, since they seemed to be of gold, two drakones (serpents) that never slept guarded and claimed as their own” (Atmsa). This matches up well with the mythological theme of dragons across cultures. We always hear of dragons hoarding gold, or wealth.

 

This hoarding is also true of Vrtra, the dragon in the Rig Veda that Indra slays in order to free the wealth, the waters in this case, and disperse it out to the people.  This story is told in Book 1, Hymn 32 of the Rig Veda.  Vrtra, the dragon on the mountain, was hoarding the waters all for himself and his kin.  Then Indra, the Thunderer, having drank of mighty Soma, struck the mountain with his thunderbolt and slew Vrtra and his kin. Vrtra broke in to pieces, and still tried to challenge Indra, but Indra continued to remove the limbs of the dragon, until finally he slew him “with his bolt between the shoulders” (Griffith RV 1.32.7). When Indra slew Vrtra the waters flowed forth like cattle, finally free, down to the ocean.

 

In the story of Indra slaying Vrtra, we aren’t given as clear a time frame as we are with the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.  We know that there were many things that Indra did, and one of them was this great deed of slaying the Vrtra, the dragon, and setting the waters free.  To do so he drank Soma, took up his lightning bolt, and went up to the mountain to confront the dragon.  He broke Vrtra into pieces, until finally with a final blow he killed the beast.  The timeline in the hymn jumps back and forth between what happened before the slaying and what happened after the slaying.  Each line seems to tell us ‘Indra slew the dragon, and here’s how’ or ‘Indra slew the dragon, and here’s what happened after’ or ‘Indra did this to prepare, and then slew the dragon.’  This keeps the reader from getting a clear sense of timing, but also lends a sense of timelessness to the hymn as well.  One thing that seems clear is that this happened a very long time ago.  This story is told from the third person point of view as well, but in this one we’re not given any indication what the characters are thinking, or even what they are saying.  The only descriptions we are given in the hymn are the actions that are taken by the characters and the results of those actions.  Additionally, like the Greek texts, the Vedas were codified and written down long before the influence of a religious bias could take hold and alter the text of the hymn.

 

 

Works Cited:

 

“Aarne–Thompson Classification System.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aarne–Thompson_classification_system#Supernatural_opponents_300.E2.80.93399>.

 

Atmsa, Aaron. “The Dragon Kholkikos.” Theoi.com. The Theoi Project, 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theoi.com/Ther/DrakonKholkikos.html>.

 

Aurobindo, Sri. “The Book of Beginnings: The Symbol Dawn.” Savitri. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1999. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://savitrithepoem.com/the-poem/toc/56-the-symbol-dawn.html>.

 

Benn, Gottfried, and Michael Hoffman. “A Shadow on the Wall.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/241260>.

 

“Gottfried Benn.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_Benn>.

 

Griffith, Ralph T. H. “Rig Veda.” Internet Sacred Text Archive. 1896. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda>.

 

Kālidāsa, and Ralph T.H. Griffith. The Birth of the War-God. London: Wm. H. Allen, 1853. Print.

 

“Kāvya.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kāvya>.

 

McCrae, John. “In Flanders Fields.” Lost Poets of the Great War. Ed. Harry Rusche. Emory University, 1919. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.english.emory.edu/LostPoets/McCrae.html>.

 

“Papaver Rhoeas.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papaver_rhoeas>.

 

Violatti, Cristian. “The Vedas.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited, 18 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.ancient.eu/The_Vedas/>.

 

 

Teething Charm: Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment

The Artharvaveda is a collection of spells, prayers, charms, and hymns designed for a variety of purposes.  Many of these relate to healing work that can be done.  The example quoted below is a charm for teething, specifically for the first two teeth that break through.  The text of the charm calls directly to the teeth themselves, as well as to Agni.  Many of the healing charms within the Artharvaveda call to Agni.  I think this is both because he is the priest of the Gods and the one who accepts sacrifices, but also because Fire itself is purifying when dealing with illness or pain.  The charm calls on Agni to sooth the teeth that are breaking through the gums.  Offered to the teeth themselves are rice, barley, beans, and sesame, with the intent that the child will eat these rather than harm his parents.  This is especially apt, as breastfeeding a teething infant can lead to biting, which is supremely uncomfortable.   The next part of the charm asks that the teeth come forth gently and that the fierceness, the pain, be passed away from the body.

 

“VI, 140. Expiation for the irregular appearance of the first pair of teeth

  1. Those two teeth, the tigers, that have broken forth, eager to devour father and mother, do thou, O Brahmanaspati Gâtavedas, render auspicious!
  2. Do ye eat rice, eat barley, and eat, too, beans, as well as sesamum! That, O teeth.. is the share deposited for your enrichment. Do not injure father and mother!
  3. Since ye have been invoked, O teeth, be ye in unison kind and propitious! Elsewhere, O teeth, shall pass away the fierce (qualities) of your body! Do not injure father and mother!” (Bloomfield VI, 140)

 

“HYMN CXL

A blessing on a child’s first two teeth

(1)Two tigers have grown up who long to eat the mother and the sire:

Soothe, Brāhmanaspati, and thou, O Jātavedas, both these teeth.

(2)Let rice and barley be your food, eat also beans and sesamum.

This is the share allotted you, to be your portion, ye two Teeth.

Harm not your mother and your sire.

(3)Both fellow teeth have been invoked, gentle and bringing happiness.

Else whither let the fierceness of your nature turn away, O

Teeth! Harm not your mother or your sire.” (Griffith CXL)

 

In creating this healing work for modern use, I have written a charm to be said while mixing the ingredients together for “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment.”  As a baby is able to start of solid foods around the same time that they will be getting teeth, I decided that a concoction that can actually be consumed and eaten by the child easily would be the way to go.  One of the ingredients called for in the ancient charm is beans.  Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are the main ingredient in hummus, which can be easily eaten by most infants who have started on solid foods (though it may cause gassiness).  Both rice cereal and barley cereal can be mixed into the pureed chickpeas, and then seasoned with just a little bit of sesame oil or tahini.  This will create a pureed food that even babies who are just starting solids could eat, as it could be thinned with as much water as necessary for them. There have been reported cases of sesame seed allergies, so as always, before introducing new foods to your baby, consult their doctor.

 

To make “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment” combine the following ingredients in a food processor while saying the charm that follows (alternatively, say this charm over the dish before you serve it if you aren’t the one who made it):

  • 1 can of drained chickpeas (or chickpeas that you’ve cooked yourself)
  • 2 Tbsp tahini (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp rice cereal
  • 1 Tbsp barley cereal
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • water to desired consistency

 

“Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, you who have broken through,

Be eased, bright tigers, in your work by this gift.

Come forth, and bring with you smiles of joy, rather than grimaces of pain.

Be soothed, sweet tigers, and be not over eager in your entrance.

Come forth, and partake of this share allotted to you.

Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, born of blessed Fire, be warmly welcomed here!”

 

Indo-European Mythology 1

  1. List and discuss the major primary sources for the mythology of three Indo-European cultures, including their dates of origin and authorship (if known). Discuss any important factors that may cause problems in interpreting these sources, such as the existence of multiple revisions, or the presence of Christian or other outside influences in surviving texts. (minimum 300 words)

Norse:

The major primary sources for Norse mythology come from the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson, and the Poetic Edda. These were written after the rise of Christianity, in the 13th century CE, and as such one should consider what influence Christianity had on these myths. The myths were written down based on oral tradition, and by authors whose cultures had already been exposed to Christian influences. Other sources regarding the Norse and Germanic peoples come from invading cultures, like the Romans. This means that when examining these sources the reader should take everything with a grain of salt.

 Greek:

The major primary sources in Greek mythology are those written by Hesiod and Homer, around the 8th Century BCE. This includes Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad, as well as the Homeric Hymns, written by those who followed in Homer’s tradition. The work of Homer, while influential and an excellent resource for Greek myth, should be carefully chosen when used for interpretation of ancient religion because there are so many translations. There is also the issue that the majority of the Greek lore started out as an oral tradition, and thus, changes likely occurred before Homer began writing it down (“Homer”).

Vedic:

The primary sources for Vedic lore are all contained in the Samhitas, which was written during the early Vedic period, somewhere between the 17th and 11th centuries BCE. The Samhitas is a collection of the four Vedas: the Rig-Veda (for recitation), the Sama-Veda (for chanting), the Yajur-Veda (for liturgy), and the Atharva-Veda (which was named after a type of priest). The Rig-Veda is the largest and most important of these. Unfortunately since no physical remnants remain of the Vedic time period, reading from the Rig-Veda and trying to reconstruct the religion of the time is a lot of guesswork done in the context of a Christian society. It is simply a collection of hymns, though most of the hymns are to Indra, Agni, and Soma (Puhvel 46). One of the problems in understanding this work is that the connotation of some words has shifted in translations. For example, in the word mitra, the meaning shifted from “contractor” to “friend” (Puhvel 48). There is also the current problem of the knowledge that Hinduism has grown out of Vedic lore, and thus current culture and current influences may have an effect on the reconstructed worship of this ancient religion.

 

  1. Summarize, then compare and contrast the myths of at least two Indo-European cultures with respect to the following topics (you need not use the same two cultures as a basis of comparison for each topic): (minimum 300 words for each)

tales of creation

Both Norse and Greek mythology describe a tale of creation that begins with a sort of nothingness, a void, that is then suddenly expanded and organized to create the world. In both myths, after the world is created, the various things that make up the world and the beings that live there are added. The Greek tale of creation is told in Hesiod’s Theogony. In the beginning there was nothingness, a void of Chaos. From Chaos came Gaea (the earth), Tartarus, and Eros. This titanic form of Eros (procreation) caused Gaea to create Ouranos (the sky), Ourea (the mountains) and Pontos (the sea), and Chaos to also create Nyx (night), Erebus (darkness) and Kronos (time). From these beings the rest of the world continued to form, from the oceans, to the sun and moon, day and the air, the beings that dwelt on the earth, and then the Titans. The Greeks continued to talk about how the Olympians came to be from the Titans, and the betrayal that led to the Olympians becoming the principle gods of the land (Hesiod Theogony).

The Norse myths describe the creation of the world as it came into being guided by three brothers: Odin, Vili, and Ve. In the North was icy Nilfhiem, and in the south was fiery Muspell. In the middle was Ginnungagap, a mild place where Ymir, a frost giant, lived and sweated out the race of frost giants. This is similar to how in Greek lore there was a place of Chaos, and then from that void came Gaea, where things could begin to live and thrive.

The Norse myth goes one to explain how Ymir was killed by the three brothers, Odin, Vili, and Ve as they grew tired of his and the other frost giants evilness. This is much more violent that what happens in the Greek myth, where Eros served as a catalyst for the creation of the rest of the things. The Norse world was made out of Ymir’s body. His flesh became the earth, his bones the mountains, his blood the lakes and seas, and his skull the sky, held up by four dwarves. The brothers took the embers from fiery Muspell and threw them up into the sky making the sun, and moon, and stars. This follows a similar pattern to Greek myth when Gaea created the sky, mountains, and sea and how then other parts of the world were formed from there.

The Norse brothers Odin, Vili, and Ve then divided the world so there would be a place for the giants, Jotunheim, and a safer place made of Ymir’s eyebrows, Midgard. This division of the world in Greek myth happens earlier in the creation of the world. Gaea (who holds both the realm of man and Mt. Olympus, the realm of the gods) and Tartarus both come from the void of Chaos. The Norse brothers then made man and woman from an ash and elm tree and put them in Midgard. In Greek myth the addition of man comes much later, and the gods must experiment with different types of mortals until they finally create the race of man as we know it. In Norse myth the Sun and Moon were children of a man, Mundilfari, and were put in the sky guiding the chariots of the sun and the moon while chased by wolves. The dwarves were made from the maggots that had crawled over Ymir’s body. This differs from the Greek myth where the Sun and the Moon were Titans, from the line of Gaea.

The creation story in Nordic lore explains next how Odin, Vili, and Ve built their own realm above Midgard, and called it Asgard, and they were linked together by Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. The Aesir all crossed the bridge to dwell in Asgard. All the regions of the world are under the branches of Yggdrasil, the great ash tree (Crossley-Holland 3). In Greek myth, the realm of the Gods is not as firmly separated from the realm of man. The closest place is Mt. Olympus, which exists on Gaea, just as the realm of man does.

tales of divine war

Divine war, as described in the lore of various Indo-European cultures, is often the tale of a new set of gods replacing an older set of gods. Often the older gods have more primal qualities, and the newer gods introduce levels of wisdom and reason. This can be seen in the Greek myths where the Titans have many more of the primal qualities, having been the creating forces of the world, and the Olympians begin to introduce new concepts, like justice and order, into the world. This is similar to what can be seen in the Norse divine war between the Aesir and the Vanir. The Vanir, being fertility and wilds gods have more primal qualities, whereas the Aesir are more logical, creating order in the world. In the treaty that exists in the Norse myth this is even more pronounced, as the Aesir give Honir and Mimir (thought and memory) to the Vanir, even as the Vanir teach some of their more primal and magical skills to the Aesir via Njord, Freyja and Freyr.

The divine war that is most recognizable in Greek mythology is the war between the Titans and the Olympians. The story is told in Hesiod’s Theogony. The Titans were the gods that came first, out of Gaea and Ouranos. During this war, the sides were not as clear as initially implied, since some Titans sided with the Olympians and other Gods who fell into neither category also were involved. The overthrow of the Titans takes place when Rhea, mother of the Elder Olympians, saved Zeus from being eaten by his father, Kronos. This was the beginning of the division. Zeus and the Olympians were constantly at odds with his father, Kronos, and the Titans, and war broke out that lasted ten years, with neither side being able to win.

Zeus appealed to the other Elder gods, specifically Obriareus, Cottus, and Gyes, who had been cast down by Kronos, to aid him in the fight. They recognized that if the war continued, only strife could come out of it, and so, having been rescued by Zeus after having been betrayed by Kronos, they decided to join the ranks of the Olympians and other deathless gods to fight Kronos and the Titans. At this point Zeus no longer held back his power of thunder and lightning, and seemed likely to destroy the world itself in his wrath. With the new aid of Cottus, Obriareus, and Gyes they were able to bury Kronos and the Titans in rocks down in Tartarus. There they are guarded by those three, bound in chains, and sealed off from the rest of the worlds by a great golden fence made by Poseidon (Hesiod Theogony).

The divine war in Norse mythology is between the Aesir and the Vanir, and the tale is recounted in the Völuspá of the Poetic Edda. It seems as though they are fighting to determine who should receive the honor, worship, and sacrifices of man. Odin leads the Aesir after he has tried to kill Gullveig three times over with his flaming spear, and the Vanir retaliate. It looks like neither side can win, similarly to what happened in the war between the Olympians and Titans, and so they exchange hostages. Honir and Mimir for Njord and his children: Freyja and Freyr (Bellows). In both myths members from each group of gods needed to be switched sides in some way so that one side could come out victorious. In this sense it is interesting to note what values carried forward as the new gods came into power. 

tales which describe the fate of the dead

The Norse and the Greeks both have stories that delineate where the dead go after life. The Greeks have a very complex view of the afterlife, with proper burial of the dead being very important in getting the psyche to its final place, and the Underworld is a huge place with many different ends for people within it. Generally speaking though, those who were heroes in their lifetime, or who did good deeds, were sent to the Elysian Fields (Homer Odyssey), while those who committed crimes were punished in Tartarus, which is also where the Titans who fought against Zeus ended up (Hesiod Theogony).

The Norse view of the afterlife is similar in that those who are heroes in life, who die valiantly in battle, are picked up by the Valkyries and taken either to Freyja or to Valhalla. Valhalla is a wonderful place where the warriors can fight all day and feast all night. When Ragnarok comes, these warriors will fight with Odin in the last battle. Others who die a less eventful death are sent to Hel, the Goddess and the place, which is very cold. Hel appears to also be where Gods who die are sent, as in the case of Baldr.

In both Norse and Greek myths access to the Underworld is said to lie somewhere to the north. In Greek myth, it is “somewhere in the northern mists, on a shore at the ends of Ocean, among the Cimmerians on whom the sun never shines” (Puhvel 138). In Norse myth when Hermodr is sent to bring Baldr back from the dead, he must ride Sleipner “downward and northward” until he gets to the gates of Hel (Puhvel 214). It is interesting how this general view of the Underworld has shifted from being presumably north, to being to the south, which is what we typically think of now as “down” since the invention of maps. I think it is likely that since in both cultures the further north they would travel, the colder and less civilized things would get. To the north were likely places that either had no life, or where life was so alien to what they were used to that they found it difficult to recognize.

  1. Explain how each of the following elements of ADF ritual does or does not resonate with elements of two different Indo-European cultures (you need not use the same two cultures as a basis of comparison for each element): (minimum 100 words each)

Earth Mother

In ADF Ritual the Earth Mother is honored both first and last.  In Greek mythology Gaea is the Earth Mother.  She is honored as the supporting force of the world, and a Titan Goddess.  The Earth was still honored in Ancient Greece; however, for the purposes of a deity that is honored both first and last in Greek cosmology, that place goes to Hestia.  She is the Goddess of the hearth and home and is honored both first and last in ritual for all that she provides for us, and as both the first- and last-born of Kronos (Hesiod). So, worshiping within the Greek hearth culture in ADF, honoring the Earth mother fits, though not as the first and last honored in ritual.

This differs from the presence of an Earth Mother type deity in Norse mythology. In the Prose Edda, in the Gylfaginning, there is an explanation of how the earth was created and divided up, but the earth is not personified in the same way that it is in other cultures (Sturluson). In this case, the earth seems to get convoluted with the spirits of the land. So honoring the Earth Mother in a Norse context as a deity figure in ADF ritual does not resonate well, though respecting and thanking the earth for the bounty it provides does. 

Deities of Land

The Deities of the Land are those Gods and Goddesses who dwell on the earth with man. In Greek mythology this get convoluted because the Twelve Olympians are designated because they dwell in the sky on Mt. Olympus, but they are clearly not all Sky Deities, and each have their own role that they fill. Generally I consider the Land Deities to fall into two categories: the domestic (including the hearth) and the wild. So, in Greek mythology some Land Deities in the domestic sense may be Hestia, Demeter, and Dionysos, whereas some of the wild Land Deities may be Pan, Gaea, and Artemis (Atsma).

In Norse mythology the Deities of the Land are generally the Vanir. Some of the deities in the wild places are Skaði, Goddess of winter and the hunt, as well as fertility deities such as Freyr and Freyja. A more domestic land deity could be Gefjun, an agricultural goddess that helped with plowing the land to make the earth in the beginning, and Idunna , guarding the orchard of golden apples (Sturluson).

In ADF ritual we don’t generally worship the deities by division of location, though that is not to say that they aren’t honored, just that they are more often grouped collectively as the “Shining Ones.” However, when doing invocations to the Shining Ones it is not unusual to see them divided up in some way and called upon based on the archetype they represent, such as “Those Shining Deities who dwell in the realm of Man.” So in both Greek and Norse mythology is makes sense to honor the Deities of the Land.

Deities of Sea

The Deities of the Sea are those Gods and Goddesses who have dominion over the waters of the earth. I would consider this to be both the freshwater sources and the saltwater sources. We don’t do much with the sea deities in ADF, and when we do they generally get clumped in with the deities of the land as those who dwell in the realm of man.

In Greek mythology the older, Titan God who has dominion over the waters is Okeanos (Hesiod Theogony). Okeanos is the firstborn of the Titans and is the great freshwater river that encircles the earth and is often paired with Tethys, as the mother of all rivers.    It is interesting that the English word for Ocean comes from Okeanos, but when we refer to oceans we are referring to bodies of saltwater and Okeanos is associated with freshwater. In Greek mythology the God that is in charge of what we would consider the sea is Poseidon. He has dominion over the saltwater ocean, and he is the one that the people would pray to in order to gain his blessing in sailing out to sea (Hesiod Theogony).

In Irish mythology the Deity of the Sea that is most recognizable is Manannan mac Lir, the son of the sea. Similar to Greek mythology, the saltwater sea is associated with horses, and the waves are often described as having the look of horses. Manannan is often called to work with the Folk as a Gatekeeper because he can “travel beyond the ninth wave.” The freshwater deity within Irish mythology is Danu, the flowing one. She is associated with the sacredness of pure water sources, such as rivers like the Danube (Rees).

It makes sense to honor the deities of the sea within the Greek or Irish hearth culture, but as we don’t generally worship the deities by division of location in ADF, or the deities of the sea specifically, I would say it currently doesn’t resonate. I think if people did begin to honor the deities of the sea more, that it would definitely resonate, but in current practice it simply isn’t done that often. By expanding our understanding of the Deities of the Sea to include both freshwater and saltwater entities it becomes easier to identify with them, and honor them in ritual. I think the reason we don’t often honor the Sea Gods in ADF may be because many of our members are in land-locked areas, or even if they do live near a water source, their livelihood or life is not intrinsically linked to the sea like it was for the ancients. I think this is something that members can and should begin addressing as nature awareness. Just as they explore how they interact with the land around them, exploring how they connect with the waters of the earth is equally important. If that were the case, I think worshiping the Deities of the Sea would resonate more within ADF ritual. 

Deities of Sky

The Deities of the Sky are those Gods and Goddesses who have dominion over the things in the heavens, above the realm of man. In Greek mythology some of these deities are Titans, some major gods, and some minor gods. The Titans, Helios and Selene are the Sun and the Moon, respectively. Zeus is the Olympian taking the role of the thundering/ weather deity, while some of the minor sky deities are Boreus, Iris, and the Aurai.

In Norse mythology, just as not all Olympians are Sky Deities, not all of the Aesir are either. Sunna is the light of the sun. Thor is the Thundering God, though unlike many of the other Indo-European mythologies, he is not the patriarch of the pantheon, but rather the son of the patriarch, Odin.

As before with the Deities of Land and Sea, in ADF we typically don’t specifically worship the deities based on their location, so in that sense this does not resonate with ADF ritual; however, they are often honored as deities of the occasion. The Sky Deities who are associated with the sun are often honored at Winter and/or Summer Solstice as a deity of the occasion.

 Outsiders

The Outsiders in ADF liturgy are those beings or things that are cross with the purposes of the ritual. In Greek mythology the role of the outsiders could be given to the Titans, though they are not typically shunned in Greek myth, but were rather just the older generation of gods. Popular culture likes to paint them as the ‘evil’ that came before the Gods, but in most cases this is highly inaccurate. Ancient Greek culture puts much more emphasis on coming into ritual clean, both physically and spiritually (Hesiod Works and Days). Thus, the portion of the ritual designated to treaty with the Outsiders would fit best with the purification of entering ritual space and ‘casting off’ those things that aren’t needed, or would be at cross-purposes with the ritual within yourself, and in that way it does still resonate with ADF ritual.

In Norse mythology the giants are most often given the role of Outsiders. The frost giants are those beings with whom Thor was always fighting. In the lore they are even separated from the rest of Midgard by mountains, and there is a wall around Asgard in part due to them (Sturluson). The treaty with the Outsiders in this sense is a more traditional bargain where an offering is given in exchange for the beings leaving the ritual alone, and resonates a bit better with ADF ritual.

 Nature Spirits

In Greek mythology the spirits of the land are generally called nymphai. The nymphs are broken up into categories based on what aspect of the land or natural phenomena they are associated with. For example, the dryads are associated with trees, the okeanids with freshwater and rain clouds, the naiads with the rivers, the anthousai with flowers, and the epimelides with pastures and meadows (Atsma “The Nymphai”).

In Irish mythology the sidhe-folk would be what we could consider to be Nature Spirits. They, like the nymphs, were otherworldly, but didn’t carry nearly as much weight and interacted with humans on a much more regular and intimate level. The sidhe-folk are said to live in mounds or hillocks and show mankind wondrous things. Sometimes these are good, and sometimes the sidhe-folk are acting mischievously and causing trouble (Squire 136).

In both mythologies these beings resonate well with how we approach the Nature Spirits as one of the Kindreds. In ADF ritual I think we offer more generally to the spirits of the land and the nature that surrounds us, not necessarily deifying things as much of the lore suggests was done in some way in the past. We also offer to the more otherworldly creatures though, which fits very well with the lore.

 Ancestors

The Ancestors are those, often heroic or wise, who have come before. In both Greek and Norse mythology the Mighty Dead and Ancient Wise are revered and honored, which resonates very well within ADF ritual. The other aspect of working with the Ancestors to gain knowledge and guidance is also well supported in the lore of both cultures.

The Greeks have several myths that involve going to speak with the dead either to get advice, gain wisdom, or retrieve loved ones, as with Odysseus when he goes to meet Tiresias (Homer The Odyssey) or Orpheus when he tries to bring back Eurydike (Atsma). The heroes, such as Herakles, Perseus, Jason, and Odysseus are also remembered in the stories and myths that were told. In addition, we have evidence that the ancient Greeks participated in Ancestor worship. For example, one of the Greek festivals celebrated was Genesios, a festival to honor the dead (Parke).

The Norse also honored their dead, as is evidenced by the lore in reference to where the Honored Dead would go, namely Valhalla. The heroes, such as Sigurd, were also remembered in the stories and myths like in Greece. Another similarity is going to the dead to gain wisdom. In Baldr’s Drapa, Odin goes to the underworld in order to find out why Baldr is having bad dreams. He raises the dead and forces the corpse, the volva, to talk to him and reveal the reason why (Bellows). There is also evidence of seiðr magic, or communing with the spirits, likely the dead, for knowledge, with Thorbjorg the Volva in the Saga of Erik the Red (Sephton).

 

  1. Discuss how the following seven elements of ADF’s cosmology are (or are not) reflected in the myths of two different Indo-European cultures. For this question, please use the same two cultures as a basis of comparison for the entire question. (minimum 100 words each)

 Upperworld

The Upperworld is the world of the Gods, specifically the Shining Ouranic Gods. In ADF we call to the gods of the Upperworld often for their wisdom and power. In Norse mythology this place is in Asgard. This is where the Aesir, the guardians of man, dwell alongside the Einherjar, slain warriors, in Valhalla, the Vanir in Vanaheim, and light elves in Alfheim. Asgard is connected to the other worlds via Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

In Greek mythology this place is Mt. Olympus. This is where the Olympians and others of the Theoi dwell. While Mt. Olympus is still part of the earth, it is inaccessible to man. The majority of the myths in Greek lore have to do with what the Gods do when they are in the realm of man, or how they interact in the middle realm, before going back to dwell on Mt. Olympus. So, while they live in the sky, on Mt. Olympus, above the middle realm, the place itself is not well defined like it is in Norse myths (Atsma).

Middleworld

The Midworld is the world where Man dwells, sometimes with various mythological beasts, nature spirits and other Gods. In ADF we call to the beings in the Middleworld to join us at our fire and accept our reverence for sharing this world with us. We know we’re not alone here, and seek to walk in as much harmony as possible with all the beings that dwell alongside us in the Middleworld.

In Norse mythology the Middleworld is called Midgard and a vast ocean that contains Jormungand, the world serpent, surrounds it. Jotunheim, the land of the giants, and Utgard, the giants’ citadel in the outerworld also exists in the middle of the Norse tricentric view of the worlds. Man also shares Midgard with the Dwarves and the Dark Elves (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

The Greek middle world is not as well defined as it is in other cultures. The whole world is described as the earth, which is completely encircled by Okeanos, the deep-running river. There is a great sky dome (Ouranos) that stretches over top of the earth, from river’s edge to river’s edge. Even the sun, moon, and stars were said to rise and set in his waters. Below the earth is the pit of Tartarus. It forms a sphere that contains everything divided into two hemispheres. In the top half, live the gods and men, and in the bottom, the Titans (Atsma).

Divisions Of Middleworld (e.g., 4 Quarters, 3 Triads, 8 Sections)

In Norse mythology Midgard was divided vaguely into four different sections. Midgard was the land of Man and surrounded by a vast ocean. Beyond the ocean was the land of Jotunheim, where the giants dwelled. Their citadel was called Utgard. North of Midgard was Nidavellir where the dwarves lived, and south of Midgard was Svartalfheim where the dark elves lived (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

The best division of the Greek middleworld would be the land, sea, and sky. The land, deified in Gaea, is defined best as a disk that is surrounded by the encompassing waters of Okeanos. Okeanos would be the sea, the deep-running river that holds the land together. The sky, deified by Ouranos, is the dome that covers the sea and the land. This fits within ADF cosmology, specifically with Ceisiwr Serith’s prayer: “The waters support and surround us / The land extends about us / The sky stretches out above us” (Serith).

Nether/Underworld

The Underworld is the Land of the Dead and the chthonic deities. In ADF the Underworld is where we direct our call when we’re seeking to gain the wisdom of the Ancestors and the Deities that dwell there alongside them. In Norse mythology this is Niflheim, and the citadel is Hel. Hel is the realm of the dead for those who didn’t die valiantly, and those who are considered evil pass through Hel to die again in Niflheim, the world of the dead. There is also Valhalla, which is technically in the Upperworld, but is the place for the warriors who die in battle to go (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

In Greek mythology the Underworld is where Hades and Persephone rule over the dead. It is divided into multiple realms for the dead to dwell, based on how they lived in life, including Tartarus and the Elysium Fields (Atsma). Some interesting similarities between the Greek and Norse Underworlds are both are said to be far to the north, both have a river that separates them from the realm of the living, both are in some way guarded by dogs, and both can substitute the name of the ruler (Hel/Hades) for the name of the place.

Fire

In ADF we hallow the Fire and call to it as a Gate between the worlds. In ritual it becomes more than mere flame and becomes one of the ways that the Kindreds hear our words more clearly and are able to receive the sacrifices we send them. Fire is an important part of Greek culture and resonates well within ADF cosmology. It is how the sacrifices the Folk make actually get delivered to the Gods. This sacred fire is deified in Hestia. She is the sacrificial fire and the hearth fire, dwelling both in the homes of man and on Mt. Olympus. Because she is the sacrificial fire, every time sacrifice is made, part of it goes to her. She is honored as the first- and last-born of the Olympians, and because she chose to continue serving the hearts and hearths of man (Hesiod Theogony) (Atsma).

In Norse culture fire is seen as important, especially when used to send off the dead. The dead in Norse myths, for example, Sigurd and Baldr, had funeral pyres that were lit. A similarity to Greek culture is the fire being seen as a way to send sacrifices to the deities. Perhaps this is why it made sense to burn the dead, because if they were going to Valhalla, then they were going to the realms of the gods, and could be delivered there via fire, the same way the sacrifices were.

Well

In ADF we hallow the Well and call to it as a Gate between the worlds. The liturgical phrasing that is often used is “Let our voices resound in the Well” meaning that we’re calling through this Gate so that, like the Fire, the Kindreds might hear our words more clearly. In Norse mythology there are three Wells that immediately come to mind. They are said to be at the roots of Yggdrasil, presumably feeding the World Tree. There is the Well of Memory (Mimir) where Odin gives up an eye to gain the knowledge and wisdom that is there. This is also where Heimdall leaves his horn until Ragnarok comes. There is the Well of Fate (Urd), where the Norns live and carry out their business. There is also the well where the dragon Nidhogg lives (Hvergelmir). It is from this place that he delivers the insults to be carried by the squirrel Ratatosk up to the Asgard (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

Okeanos is the “deep-running water” and “completely encircling” river of the world. All waters are said to draw their source of water from Okeanos, all rivers, streams, seas, and deep wells (Homer Iliad). This fits into ADF cosmology because we view the Well as the deep, chthonic waters that are the source of all waters, and that all waters are by their very nature sacred. The Underworld is said to lie on the far shore of the River Okeanos, which also continues the theme that the Well is in some way connected with how we communicate with the Ancient Wise. In this case, one would have to cross the river (reach through the Well) to gain their wisdom. The theme of the druidic number nine is also carried through in the waters of Okeanos. He is said to have “nine loops of silver-swirling waters” that split off to form the rivers of the world (Hesiod Theogony).

Tree

In ADF the Tree serves as the axis mundi, as the crossroads between the worlds. We hallow it and call for it to open as a Gate between the worlds so that we can feel connected to all the worlds around us. It serves not only as the center of our world, but aligns to the centers of all the worlds allowing our words, actions, and sacrifices to be more easily received by the Kindreds. In aligns our world with theirs so we can feel closer to them.

In Greek mythology the omphalos is the center of the world. It was established as such when Zeus wanted to find the center and sent his two eagles to fly in opposite directions around the world. Where they met, at the Delphi, was considered to be the Center, and the omphalos, the stone that was given to Kronos to swallow in place of Zeus, was placed at that spot at the Oracle of Delphi. The omphalos is said to allow direct communication with the gods. There were also “many sanctuaries in later Greek culture centered on a sacred tree” and ancient Hellenistic celebrants did dances in order to establish a connection between the worlds (Jones 6).

In Norse mythology Yggdrasil, the ash tree, is the world tree. It is considered to be the center of the worlds. Its branches stretch over all the worlds, and its roots grow through all the worlds. The squirrel, Ratatosk, is able to use Yggdrasil as a pathway to travel between the worlds and deliver messages. It truly serves as an axis mundi in the cosmology of the Norse myths (Crossley-Holland xx-xxv).

 

  1. To what extent do you think we can offer conjectures about Indo-European myths in general? Are the common themes strong enough that the myths seem like variations? Or are the differences so powerful that the themes are less important than the cultural variations? (minimum 300 words)

When looking at Indo-European mythology I think it is absolutely fascinating how there are similar themes that present themselves across the cultures and ages. In Comparative Mythology, Puhvel makes an excellent argument for the similarities between the various Indo-European cultures to be more than mere coincidence. The cultures seem to have a similar myth cycle. Campbell makes similar arguments in his presentation of the monomyth in The Hero With A Thousand Faces when describing the archetypes and trials in the hero’s journey.

The archetypes that present themselves in the various myths give us a wealth of information that can be used to help reconstruct myths, or at least give us general information about a specific culture. For example, in cultures that are missing archetypical myths, such as a creation myth for the Celts, or any wealth of Gaulish information, the lack of a myth doesn’t mean that one didn’t exist, simply that we don’t have the records of it anymore. There are archetypes that cause some deities to seem extremely similar, though they have different aspects. These deities are distinct and different beings with similarities that exist due to the common themes pervasive throughout human life, and the great unanswered questions that are raised as we examine the human condition. The deities in each culture fill the roles of the archetypes that are needed.

I think the themes across the myths are strong enough to allow us to postulate what missing myths might have looked like; however, the differences are also very important in giving us information about individual cultures. If we accept there is a common myth cycle across the Indo-European cultures, then it is the differences between the myths that will teach us the most about a particular culture’s values. Not all pantheons will have a deity that takes on all the same roles, or even a role at all. This can help to tell us what roles were often combined in the thoughts of the people in that culture, or what roles didn’t hold value in a particular culture. The similarities of the myth cycle, and the differences in the specific myths allow us to study what kinds of things were important to the peoples of the different cultures.

We can also look at language to see the similarities in various deities. For example, the Thundering Sky God is a strong archetype present across the Indo-European cultures, and in Greek myth Zeus “is in name identical with the old Vedic sky-god Dyaus (Indo-European *Dyews ‘Bright Sky’)” (Puhvel 130). Similarly the Norse Thor shares a root with the Gaulish Taranis, both reducing to *thunar-, meaning thunder (169). The similarities in the roots of the deity names are another point towards showing these archetypical roles being filled across Indo-European cultures as they are needed.

All in all, I think the similarities in myth cycles and language point towards the commonalities being more than just coincidence. It seems likely that all of the Indo-European cultures came from some base culture that then spread out and painted its way across the continent, sharing the language, myths, and values as it went. With that hypothesis we can use what we know of the myths and the languages to explore and compare the differences in the cultures and the values that they held.

 

Bibliography

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Atsma, Aaron J. “The Nymphai.” The Theoi Project : Greek Mythology. 2011. Web. 06 Apr 2012. <http://www.theoi.com/Cat_Nymphai.html>.

Bellows, Henry Adams. The Poetic Edda. Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen, 1991. Print.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2008. Print.

Crossley-Holland, Kevin. The Norse Myths. New York: Pantheon, 1980. Print.

Evelyn-White, Hugh G., trans. The Homeric Hymns. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1914. Perseus Digital Library. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu>.

Hesiod. Theogony ; Works and Days ; Shield. Trans. Apostolos N. Athanassakis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004. Print.

Hesiod. “XXIX: To Hestia.” Trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Epic Cycle, Homerica. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1922. Bartleby.com. Feb. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <https://www.bartleby.com/241/229.html>.

Holland, Leicester B. (1933). “The Mantic Mechanism at Delphi”. American Journal of Archaeology 37 (14): 204–214.

“Homer.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 06 Dec. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270219/Homer>.

Homer. The Illiad. Trans. Samuel Butler. The Internet Classics Archive. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.mb.txt>.

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. Ed. Bernard Knox. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.

Jones, Prudence, and Nigel Pennick. A History of Pagan Europe. London: Routledge, 1997. Print.

Parke, H. W. Festivals of the Athenians. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1977. Print.

Puhvel, Jaan. Comparative Mythology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1987. Print.

Rees, Alwyn D., and B. R. Rees. Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales. London: Thames and Hudson, 1961. Print.

Sephton, John, George Ainslie Hight, and W. G. Collingwood, trans. Viking Sagas: Erik the Red, Grettir the Strong, and Kormac the Skald. St Petersburg, FL: Red and Black. 2008 Print.

Serith, Ceisiwr. “Blessings, Honor and Worship to the Holy Ones.” ADF Neopagan DruidismAdf.org. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://www.adf.org/rituals/chants/land-sea-sky/blessings-honor-worship.html>.

Squire, Charles. “The Gods in Exile.” Celtic Myths and Legends. New York: Gramercy, 1994. 132-52. Print.

Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda. Trans. Arthur G. Brodeur. Vol. 5. London: Oxford UP, 1923 Scandinavian Classics. New Northvegr Center. 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2012 <http://www.northvegr.org/>.

Summer Solstice Recap

I celebrated Summer Solstice with Three Cranes Grove on June 20th, 2010.  This rite worked with the Vedic Pantheon, specifically with Savitar, the deity of Solar Light and often of Healing.  The ritual itself was particularly interesting because rather than having a Fire, Well, and Tree we instead had three fires; the hearth fire, the sacrificial fire, and the fire of Agniras (the priest for the gods).  I took the role of aspersing for this rite, cleansing the folk as the entered the sacred space. Some of the main forms of offering for this ritual were oil and ghee.  I brought summer tea and spices to offer to the Kindreds.  I don’t feel any specific connection to many Vedic deities, and so I wasn’t sure how I would feel during the ritual, but there was some connection.  It was much more like a first introduction to someone you’ve never met, rather than a meeting between old friends, and this makes sense as I’ve had little connection to Vedic gods before.

Our omens for this rite were taken via fire scrying, which our grove has not attempted before.  MJD did a wonderful and poetic job.  A flame of green accepted our offerings as “songs of praise are heard as our words transcend the boundaries.”  The Kindreds offered the grove joy and dance in return as the flames spun in circles, danced and leaped, flew apart only to touch and dance again.  The Kindreds require offerings and sacrifices of us, forever and always.  The fire is ever hungry “seeking out with nine tongues silvered and buttered with ghee.”  I like the way our grove has taken to infusing the Waters with the blessings of the Kindreds using either toning, chanting, or song.  We used the “Power of the Spirit” chant to bless the Waters.

During the working portion of the ritual, we honored the fathers, in part because the rite happened on Father’s Day.  This was especially moving for me.  Missy started out by praising an honoring the father’s of modern paganism, and of our druidry, our past and present leaders in ADF, the clergy of ADF, and then her own personal father figures.  We then went around the circle of folk and each person was given a chance to offer praise for their father figure.  Hearing of others connections and struggles was emotional and unifying.  (394 words)